By Joy Vernon


Leo: The Authentic Self




Leo is represented by the tarot card Strength. The Strength card shows a woman holding a lion’s jaws with an infinity sign above her head. In some decks, a male hero subdues a ferocious beast, or sometimes a woman sits next to a broken pillar. The lion in the Strength card represents the difficult-to-control passions of the unconscious. The theme of the Strength card is to reveal yourself authentically — and inspire and empower others to do the same.

The sign of Leo is ruled by the Sun, the tarot’s Sun card, reminding us to step into our light, which is easier said than done. It is natural to define ourselves by comparison: I’m like these people; I’m not like those people. We’re encouraged to find our tribe or join like-minded people. Those are Aquarian concepts, but the Sun, the symbol of our true Self, is in its detriment in Aquarius. There it compromises itself by putting the community first at the sacrifice of Self.

In the first week of July, the Sun meets up with Mercury, learning and communication, in Cancer, our private world. This pair looks across a chasm at transformative Pluto in Capricorn, emphasizing the public world. Here we explore self-identification by contrasting our role in our family or at home versus our career. We can define ourselves as Mother, Daughter, Father, Son, Sister, Brother. Or we see ourselves as our career, and the work we do becomes who we are. Ultimately, none of these can express our true Self.

Meanwhile, Venus, the planet of love and relationship in homey Cancer gets fired up with Mars, the planet associated with strength and sexuality, in sexy (and deeply transformative) Scorpio. One of the most powerful ways to come to understand ourselves is through partnerships, specifically romantic relationships. We desire to have others see us as we truly are.

It is an act of ego to equate ourselves with our community, our jobs, or our relationships. Ego is identifying with a limited understanding of the Self and placing that understanding at the center of who we are. On the path to spiritual growth, it becomes necessary to put ego aside so that Spirit can shine through. However, when we sacrifice ego, we arrive at the realization that the only thing we truly are is what cannot be taken from us. And when Spirit shines on what cannot be taken from us, we reveal our higher Self and express our soul purpose. We shift our desire for connection away from community, relationship, or public acknowledgement, and toward Spirit, which is larger than we can imagine. We seek out and boldly cross the boundaries of who we think we are into who we authentically are. This knowledge (Mercury) of the limited growth (Saturn in Sagittarius) of our visible relationships (Venus in Leo) precedes the revelation of Self. The Sun enters Leo and turns the spotlight away from these misleading identities and back on us.

Now with the Sun at our back and a clear path before us, we see the last adversary in our development — the shadow. This is what remains after the healing has occurred, like a scar of remembrance. The shadow cannot be released. It must be integrated. In doing so, we learn its power and purpose. No longer fearing it, we gently close its roaring  muzzle and expand into the depth of stillness. And the bright noon of day becomes the everlasting moment as hurt and healing dissolve.

Thus released, at the end of July, Mercury enters Virgo and the mind steps deliberately onto the solitary and personal path of inner illumination. With this we are able to become of service to others. Not through sacrificing the Self, but through being our Self so truly and honestly that others can’t help but shine their own light a little brighter, like a smile returned.

Virgo: Finding Answers Within

P33_Tarot_Nine of Coins


The Sun enters Virgo on August 22. The tarot’s Hermit card corresponds to this sign. The image shows an old man with a long white beard, wrapped in a hooded cloak and holding a lamp and staff, standing on a mountain top. The lamp represents spiritual illumination gained through inner work. In some decks, he holds an hourglass, associating him with Kronos, the Greek god of time, known as Saturn in Roman mythology. The Hermit asks us to walk our own path with discipline and austerity, to discover our answers within. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, represented by the tarot Magician, who demonstrates that we bring Spirit into manifestation via the tools we already have.

August begins with the Sun, our Self, looking gently over to Saturn, the planet of endings and boundaries. With both in fiery signs, we feel encouraged to honestly acknowledge our limitations and through that truthful assessment expand ourselves into more than what we are. A few days later when Venus joins Mercury in Virgo, thoughts of socialization grow stale and we are drawn to the solitude represented by our tarot card. The planets conspire to assist us in our lonesome walk towards personal and spiritual growth.

The second week of August sees Saturn ending its four and a half month retrograde, and, moving forward, giving us the opportunity to integrate what we have learned. Venus, feeling isolated in Virgo, enters into a difficult relationship with Saturn and Neptune, but steps into the ten degree period of Virgo that she rules. She busies herself beautifying her environment or expanding beyond the loneliness of Self into the eternal comfort of Spirit—think of her tarot card, the Nine of Coins, showing a woman alone but satisfied in a beautiful garden.

Then in the third week of August, the Sun in Leo casts a friendly nod to Uranus, who represents the freedom of rebellion and breaking boundaries. With lonely Venus in orderly Virgo now feeling the support of Pluto, planet of power and transformation in Capricorn, the sign which develops systems … our Self, recognizing its limitations, is inspired to break the mold and reform. The week ends with a full Moon in Aquarius and cresting the hill we see our soul’s journey laid before us.

On August 22, with Mercury and expansive Jupiter conjunct in Virgo, the Sun enters that sign and momentarily reaches out to the Taurus Moon, who lovingly reminds us of the benefit of structure in our personal regimen or spiritual practice. Meanwhile, two important things happen. Mars connects with Saturn in Sagittarius, the ambitious warrior challenging Father Time’s naysaying in the sign of the cosmic hitchhiker, raring to go anywhere you will take him. These two planets square off against a retrograde Neptune in Pisces, where we can engage deep spiritual immersion or lose ourselves in escapist fantasies. The Saturn square Neptune configuration is considered by most astrologers to be the epitome of this year’s energy.

Maximized right now with the charisma of Mars, this is the time to harness and ride it toward your desires or sit back and watch it swing a wrecking ball at your castles in the air. If you need the destructive wakeup call, remember that sage advice: rock bottom is perfect to build a solid foundation. But if you did your work, then you can watch the crumbling towers from a safe distance in the soft security of Mercury and Venus, mind and heart, nestled with the sage teacher Jupiter while a compassionate Moon in Cancer lends her nurturing support.

Mercury goes retrograde in Virgo on August 30, allowing us time to review the damage, or, if we navigated this sequence well, pull out our comfy practices and simply be…walking our lonely path and embracing the internal inspiration and expiration of our meditation practice which releases us from the external cycles of creation and destruction.

Joy Vernon

With twenty-five years’ experience, Joy Vernon brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional images. Joy works as a reader at Isis Books. To see how this month’s astrology affects you, please visit to schedule an appointment