Sun in Leo I – Hephaestus

Astrology chart for 22 July 2023 at 9:51 pm EDT over western Massachusetts: Sun at 0° Leo, Moon at 27° Virgo, ASC at 3° Pisces

The Sun enters Leo I on July 22, 2023, at 9:51 pm EDT. Austin Coppock called this part of the sky The Spotlight, in part for its associations with Saturn and Hephaestus — there is a degree of skill and expertise in this decan which has worked with professionalism for what feels like eternity. But T.Susan Chang called it Under Pressure, noting its associations with the 5 of Wands, where a group of youths contend with one another. Getting knocked flat by someone else’s stick, and then trampled in the free-for-all, is no laughing matter: there’s a fair bit of incentive, not just to win, but to not-lose.

I’ve written about the planetary Saturn and mythic Hephaestus associations of this decan before in 2022, 2021, 2020, and 2019. Today marks the start of my fifth year of writing, after putting out thirty-six columns a year for four years (too gross – 144 columns). As a result, I’m truncating my remarks from here on out, about the nature of the decan.

That said, the nature of Saturn here, filtered through Coppock and Chang’s names for this decan, is about the simultaneous power the master of their craft feels — the effortlessness with which quality work can be produced — combined with the sense of risk and dismay the expert artisan feels when looking at the work of younger and more inventive fellows in the craft. The master martial artist has many techniques at their disposal for disarming and neutralizing an opponent — but it is the junior opponent who has made new discoveries that they fear the most, for that is the opponent who has discovered insights that might defeat them.

Hephaestus, or Vulcan, has no equal among the gods as craftsman, artisan and artist. Wedded to the beautiful Aphrodite (who must be adorned in the beautiful objects he makes or else feel naked), he continually produces new and inspiring jewelry and matchless garments for her. Yet consider how much pressure there is to do something new, to create again and yet create that which has never existed before? Leo demands that we be constantly and endlessly inventive and performative — while never quite repeating what has already been done. Therein lies the power of the Spotlight… and the challenges of constantly being Under Pressure.

The dodeks, or twelfth-parts, speak to this problem. Reifying Leo, Virgo, Libra and Scorpio, these four 2° 30′ sectors of the sky speak to the quality of the journeyman artisan’s work, followed by the careful analysis of their mistakes and errors. When the failures in the work are discovered, the work is rebalanced so that the right attention is paid to the problems at the right stage of the work. This gradual accretion of the ‘secrets’ of the craft that result in mastery is reflected in Scorpio at the end of the process, when the master artisan knows much but rarely knows how to convey it clearly to the student except by urging the student to the work.

Planetary positions

The Sun, Mercury and Venus are all in Leo in this chart, but below the horizon, making this a night chart. Pisces on the eastern horizon makes Jupiter at the sextile the Lord of the Ascendant, but he’s both cadent and co-present with Uranus: an authoritarian school vice-principal confronting a gaggle of recent graduates misbehaving on the playground: there’s not much he can do, and everyone feels a fair bit of heady power that, for once in their life, they can safely ignore him. Meanwhile, the presence of Saturn and Neptune promises that both old age and visionary experiences are in close proximity this week — we’re unlikely to escape from our future visions even as we experience our growing limitations.

Jupiter’s relative impotence privileges the Moon and Mars in Virgo, which are both functioning as triplicity lords in the seventh house as a result — the most significant Others in our lives, whether spouses or rivals or partners in romance or business, should have our complete attention in coming days; and our attention should be on daily routines and plans with the folks in these categories. Mars suggests that some of these relationships need pruning — which is not to say cutting off at the root! But not every relationship grows in productive directions, and it’s time to recognize and snip those unproductive creeping vines that create fruitless tangles. Similarly, the Moon in the Fourteenth Mansion, The Unarmed, invites us to psychic and emotional reconciliation with persons with whom we have had contentions. The temptation may be to have a blow-out fight with someone, and throw around the unforgivable words like “divorce” or “buyout” or “our friendship is over,” — but the planets here invite you to a more nuanced and carefully-analyzed position, in which the direction of relationships is steered into more useful paths without adopting anything like a salted earth strategy.

In the sixth house of daily routines, Mercury and Venus indicate that you may have to spend time in the coming week diplomatically advancing the cause of something you may not entirely believe in; while the Sun suggests you must perform tedious daily routines with the added attention of a boss or supervisor looking over your shoulder.

In the third house of extended family, friends, and neighbors, Jupiter and Uranus continue their approach toward an apparent conjunction — which will be delayed by a double retrograde that keeps them apart until April of 2024! Uranus promises ongoing long-term upheavals in our spiritual practices and prayers, but also indicates shifts in our neighborhood and the relationships between ourselves and our non-human neighbors; while Jupiter encourages us to stand up for our rights with our relations, and also to attend to our responsibilities, constantly and immediately.

The Nodal Axis has finally shifted, from Taurus-Scorpio to Aries-Libra. For the next 18 months, the North Node will be in Aries — and for about the next 6 months, we’ll find ourselves pulled in the direction of our self-defining passions. Whatever you feel is most essentially you, you’ll get pulled toward those processes and activities with greater impetus than usual. However, you’ll likely find that this pull is accompanied by a range of pushes and pressures from all sides that make you want to fall down and collapse from all the expectations. Recognize that these two sets of forces are largely subjective and personal — not objective or directly real. You can act on both, but don’t be entirely trusting of either.

A bit about the Nodes

The nodes are the positions where eclipses occur. At least three eclipses occur every year, but also not more than six, and usually in pairs two weeks apart with one Lunar and one Solar eclipse in each pair. The North Node represents where eclipses occur from south to north, or from ‘below’ to ‘above’. Astrologers have usually characterized North Node eclipses as being about more or hungers or desires, and often indicate the start or opening to some new process. South Node eclipses are from north to south, or from ‘above’ to ‘below’ , and indicate less, or waste, or denials, and often indicate the ending or closure of some process that is drawing toward a conclusion. The Nodes are always opposite one another — and shift signs every 18 months (meaning that they spend about six months in each sign). Unlike the planets, they rotate in reverse order through the Zodiac.

Saturn and Neptune occupy Pisces, lurking just below the stars on the eastern horizon. Retrograde Saturn draws our attention to the ways in which we age — our stiffness, our formality, our weariness — while Neptune allows us to have space for our wildest fantasies and hopes for a better tomorrow. The two visions seem incompatible to the young, while remaining possible for the middle-aged and the old.

In the eleventh house of friends and associates, Pluto retrogrades in Capricorn III The Throne. We’ve seen this placement a lot over the previous few years, and it’s often signified the misuse of wealth and power to fulfill imperious desires and authoritarian demands. We’ll see this combination a lot over the next 5-6 years, and in different configurations — but this week, it warns us against jealousy toward our friends, and envy of their successes. It also throws shade at the unusually wealthy, both in the world and in your community or circle of associates, who may be using wealth and power in inappropriate ways.Are you the most-well-off? How can you be kinder to those around you without expecting anything in return?

The Lot of Fortune, though, is in the first decan of Capricorn, called The Headless Body. Associated with the festive atmosphere and frantic preparations of the season between the Winter Solstice and New Year’s Day, it’s a reminder of merry-making and celebration, and the enjoyment of the pleasures of the flesh: food, drink, euphoria, singing, dancing, massage, relaxation, sex, laughter, festive clothes, and joy. Your friends may be a cause of jealousy or envy in your life, but maybe the best thing to do right now is throw a summer party.

Horoscopes by Rising Sign

Decan I of any sign (usually covering the 21st of the month to the first of the following month) is free to all visitors; Decan II is only available to Patreon and subscribers; and Decan III is available to Patreon, Ko-Fi, and MailChimp subscribers.

Pisces: Whatever your age, you’re likely to have an “I’m old” moment this week… and also get really excited about something that is beyond both fact and rationality. It’s good to get swept up in excitement, but also not let yourself get carried away by dismay. Review both your health routines and daily practices in some detail. You are likely to be in a long-lasting, deep argument with a spouse or significant other — however it’s important to see this as a problem that can be solved through rational analysis and a series of proportional responses to issues rather than going for the “scorched earth” policy. Plough, seed and weed the ground here, don’t start a fire if you don’t have to.

Aries:  Some new hungers are likely to come your way for potentially irrational reasons, and they’ll require that you put your hands on some new sources of income.  Getting those financial streams figured out is likely to take some work, and cause some trouble — but once operating, they’ll function well.  Your spouse, significant other, or business partner, may be be worried about entrepreneurial adventurism, so it’s important that you build a rational plan, and take advice from both sensible experts in the field as well as those who are willing to take big chances immediately.  Spend some time hanging out with friends; that’s likely where the best ideas for building a new revenue are likely to come from.  But you also have to plan on creating a new set of routines for yourself … and actually doing the work. 

Taurus: A sibling (or really close friend) may experience an upset, and they’ll expect you to take the lead in solving their problem. Recognize that the best solution is to do nothing.  A lot of folks in the US recognize that “thoughts and prayers” is a useless solution to gun control, but when it comes to this crisis with your sib, immediate advice and long-term compassion… aka, thoughts and prayers… is probably the best medicine.  You also have your own household to get together in the first few days — a lot of work goes into planning or preparing for a party, and you need to be prepared to prune, redirect and organize some familial energy to grow in predictable ways. The next few months will see you needing more downtime to work on your personal stuff, but recognize that you need to work on some new skills, and you also can’t shut out your friends (even when they’re annoying). 

Gemini: Household matters may be a source of joy in the next ten days, because your personal “me time” is likely to be the place where you have to exercise leadership and find the most interruptions and upheavals.  Your friends call during your bubble bath time; your employees expect you to make the decisions that keep things running, and even your time taking care of your plants is likely to require some conflict resolution skills.  Familial issues may expect you to become the diplomat and peace-maker, too.  Oh, and did I mention that your boss wants you to be bold and visionary, but fiscally disciplined, too?  The place where you have the greatest freedom to act is in acknowledging that new responsibilities require new compensation plans: ask for what you want and need — you’re worth it.

Cancer: You’ve got personal pleasure time on the brain, but familial expectations may create a conflict? Great-aunt’s birthday party with a big 0 at the end of her numbers? Yeah, you gotta go to that?  A niece’s graduation, or first communion? Not getting out of that one either. The advantage is that your mind is on your money and your money is on your mind; and the usual expectations and restrictions are perhaps more loose than usual due to school vacations or an opportunity to pursue a new vocation. Your freedom lies in helping a partner or close ally secure their position, and helping them celebrate their accomplishments.  Just remind them that too much of a good thing can’t be expected to last forever: sooner or later you have to do the work (and that’s just past true for you as for them).

Leo:The next ten days are a creative grind for you; you’ll be firing on all cylinders, delivering your best and most creative effort, and you’l be able to explain it all in more detail than anyone will be able to stand.  It’s good, because the next ten days may see some financial setbacks that require the help of important Others in your life to resolve. You can also expect that you’ll be able to pay them back later, but it’s going to be a bit of a tangled mess for a while.  Professionally, do your work in such a way that your intimate friends and old associates will be able to recognize their contributions to who you are now in your work; and recognize that if you give in to every indulgence in order to stay in the chair doing what needs doing, you’re going to succeed more fully than if you let yourself chase every whim that leads you away from your major project.

Virgo:The Others in your life are going to be more important than you are, and that may at times be hard, especially when their lack of resources winds up having an effect on what you can afford to hold back for yourself. You can expect arguments with some folks about what belongs to you and what belongs ‘to our shared partnership’.  Do your accounting publicly, but be diplomatic about making your decision private about what you’ll share of what’s genuinely yours. Your freedom and your enjoyment should be an important part of your calculus: don’t give away what puts you in someone else’s power, even if its seems like the right thing.  The burst of enthusiasm is a generous insight in your kindness; but it’s time to learn a little placid, ascetic reticence: let the petitioner know something of dearth and lack. 

Libra: Trouble comes in the form of too much going on, and a whirlwind of activities that put you in the driver’s seat as the responsible one, while others seem to get a free ride at your expense, simply going where their desires lead them.  This will feel heartbreaking in your private time alone — especially as private time alone is usually spent in the company of someone who doesn’t even seem to be there, or who is an ongoing source of contention and conflict.  Management of resources is challenging; so is the question of answering a sibling or relation’s concerns with appropriate information. You have some freedom — but it’s the sort of freedom that house arrest has: with everything available in arm’s reach, there’s other things like hanging out with friends and performing with and for others, that seem unattainable. This too shall pass, but the next ten days may be a bit of hardship.  Plan for better times beyond.

Scorpio: Some burdens of the recent past are now fully relieved, and this gives you the liberty to pursue future goals and financial aims with speediness and urgency.  The duties of a freelancer are different, though, than those of an employee; just as the obligations of a single person are different from someone in a committed couple.  You may be used to thinking in one such modality, and not be used to the change in your status. As a result, your first order of business is to establish yourself in your residence with a friendly invitation — a drink, a dinner, a game, a cup of coffee… maybe more.  You may misread the signals, or find that former enthusiasm has cooled; no matter. Truthfully, it’s a great time for you to shine professionally, and prune some parts of your network that don’t serve your ongoing career goals.  No hard feelings, just … take care of business.

Sagittarius: You may find that this is a week when your bank account fills with cash and you have more freedom than usual to buy and sell as you wish.  But it’s accompanied by new forces pressing on your daily routines.  IF you haven’t got your spiritual program worked out, as well as a useful daily schedule for maintaining your health… this might be the week to do it. You have some household management projects that need handling, and gardening and water issues that may need to be addressed. You have to work out some long-rang learning and travel plans, too, or your career goals may falter.  And a spouse may not be entirely pleased with your employer or entrepreneurial goals… but this is where the training wheels come off, and new possibilities open up.

Capricorn: Use your considerable freedom in the next ten days to make plans with friends, but recognize that some of these are going to have be Zoom calls or online catch-ups rather than leisurely face-to-face connections.  A round of popular enthusiasms among them may need your more considered and experienced counsel — and you are the right person to match agency with long-term issues that others haven’t thought through.  The time is right for you to address, manage, and combine several complex duties into a single process that is simpler and easier — but it may take several weeks to implement this solution.  Sometimes the family that sweats together, swears together: acknowledge the fight; prune away the central issues, and re-activate the love through reconciliation.  Don’t stay mad — this isn’t the big blowout you might think it is.

Aquarius:Sometimes “depression” comes along for no reason, and requires retreat from the world. Sometimes it comes for very obvious reasons, like a leaky boat instead of a bank account, and a funds overdrawn notice; or a broken car and a challenging landlord.  Remember this week that you carry much of your wealth in your friends — and that isn’t to say you should start a GoFundMe to get all your social media contacts to give you ten dollars apiece —but it is to say that you need to recognize the way that Others in your life have helped you become who you are. SHow great gratitude for what you have, even as you acknowledge the depths and heights of your current needs.  If you need to call on someone, recognize that your neighbors and immediate circle of close friends are likely to be more engaged and helpful than the people you went to college with a decade or more ago — and that what you need is not so much an infusion of cash, as a hybrid solution of goodwill and allyship and aid.  Money can be taxed or delayed. Friends who pick up moving boxes are priceless.


I have a Patreon account for those who want to support this column as it continues its third year. Those funds support artists, artisans and thinkers that I regard as contributing to the well-being of the world. You can also buy me a Ko-fi in $3 increments; any column I write after receiving a Ko-Fi donation will be open to the public).  You can also schedule an appointment with me using Accuity Scheduling, for a natal or solar return consultation.

If you want to read some of my astrologically-oriented poetry, the largest collection is called A Full Volume of Splendor and Starlight, available through my Etsy shop, and containing poems and hymns to the planets, constellations, decan deities, and Moon Mansion angels. While not astrological, Festae contains hymns to some of the older Roman gods and spirits from the calendar created by Numa Pompilius, the second ancient King of Rome.

I use iPhemeris for my charting software, and screenshot it to make charts. I want to thank the team that develops iPhemeris for the addition of Terms and Decans to their charts. I also use Hugh Tran‘s Physis typeface to craft logos for this blog, as well.

I use Christopher Warnock‘s The Mansions of the Moon as the basis of my Moon placement delineations, and Austin Coppock‘s 36 Faces for much of my planetary delineations. Neither gentleman endorses me.

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