Alan Leo had good cause to consider himself a child of Saturn, for his life was rigidly disciplined from the start. His mother was a narrow-minded bigot whose sour and earnest application to duty was nurtured by her devotion to a fanatical religious sect […]. Although he was born after his parents had been married seven years, a younger brother and sister soon followed. By the time he was five years old, young Alan's time was entirely consumed by household drudgery. His mother never questioned the idea that fun and laughter were tools of the devil and that only incessant labor could keep Satan at arm's length. She herself always arose at five in the morning and spent two hours in prayer before commencing the daily struggle to serve the bodies and save the souls of her hapless offspring. Her husband finally grew weary of her overbearing ways and fled abroad, sending back a modest allowance but effectively removing himself as an influence in his children's lives.
Alan Leo […] never played with other boys and had no time for pleasures and games. His sole respites from the care of his younger siblings were much-enjoyed visits with his grandparents. However, his mother could never spare him for long and soon came to fetch him back to work. For a while, he went to an excellent school for boys and was an apt student, but by the age of fifteen his school years were finished. He found employment as a grocer's assistant, slept at the place of business, and turned all his wages over to his mother. […] "Sunday," he said, "was a dreadful time in our home." […] Amusements and recreations were strictly taboo.
Saturn's proximity to the Ascendant aptly portrays the austerity of Alan Leo's formative years, and it was not until this planet finished progressing over the eastern horizon in his mid-thirties that his burdens began to lighten. As a general rule, Saturn-dominated people have unhappy childhoods but thrive in later years and enjoy a prosperous old age.
The irreconcilable conflict between Alan Leo's parents is indicated by the close opposition between Mars, which rules the fourth house of the mother, and Venus, which rules the tenth house of the father. Thus, his mother was the aggressive organizer of the family (Mars in Capricorn), while his father retreated across the sea (Venus in Cancer). Since this opposition is squared by the Moon, this sensitive child suffered the most during his early years.
The manner in which Alan Leo bore the discipline imposed from infancy, and continued throughout his life to be a worker and server of his fellowmen, suggests that Virgo must have been his rising sign. A birth shortly after 6:00 a.m. would still bring Saturn sufficiently close to the Ascendant to describe his conscientiousness, sense of responsability, and self-control.
A natal chart with Saturn exactly rising in Leo would not explain Alan Leo's characteristically Virgoan capacity to cope with masses of small details, his willingness to take on humble domestic chores, and his fastidious ways which included being a nonsmoker, teetotaler, vegetarian, and lifelong celibate. Saturn on the ascending degree would also have made him less attractive. Saturn in the first house tends to give a plain appearance while in the twelfth house it is more likely to manifest as an unconscious sense of destiny. […] If Pluto had been discovered, our hero might have ascribed his many traumatic personal and financial reverses to that planet's close square to Jupiter and the Sun, instead of trying to account for his problems by alining Saturn and the Ascendant. Thus, at the age of sixteen, he found himself in Liverpool, penniless and friendless, but twelve months later he was holding a good position. At eighteen he was again reduced to poverty; at twenty he was managing a grocer's shop and employing several helpers; at twenty-two he was ruined by the dishonesty of an employee, and at twenty-five he was in charge of a firm of sewing machine manufacturers. Then, once again, through no fault of his own, he slid down the ladder. Only when he embarked upon his true vocation of astrology did his rise to eminence continue unabated. At this point, he began to transcend the negative side of his square aspect and to utilize its energies constructively by making money (Jupiter) through the exercise of psychological insight (Pluto). His financial reverses may also be ascribed to Neptune in the eighth house of business sesquare the Sun. […]
Discovery of Astrology
Alan Leo was in his twenties before he became seriously interested in astrology. While managing a grocery business, overwork brought on an illness of mysterious origin. Having no faith in orthodox doctors, he visited an herbalist recommended by his landlady. Much to Alan's surprise, the practitioner, known as Dr. Richardson, requested the date, time, and place of Alan's birth and proceeded to draw up an astrological chart. Finally he pronounced, "You are suffering from kidney trouble, but will be quite well in about three weeks." Writing out a prescription, the herbalist told Alan to report back in a week.
How Dr. Richardson arrived at this diagnosis is not known. However, the modern astrologer can see that Libra, which rules the kidneys, is the unoccupied sign of a T-square involving Mars, Venus, and the Moon, and therefore reflects the negative effects of this stressful configuration. Fire-sign people (particularly Arians) are notably prone to kidney infections. With his afflicted Mars in Capricorn, Alan Leo was also bothered by rheumatism in later years.
The cure was successful and for the next few years Alan became an assiduous student of astrology. […] In 1888, a monthly magazine called The Astrologer was founded by Mr. Powley in London. The magazine attracted a number of astrological enthusiasts, but soon foundered. On November 21, 1889, Alan Leo and F.W. Lacey ("Aphorel") came to the rescue of the virtually defunct periodical. Renaming it The Astrologer's Magazine, they published their first issue on August 1, 1890. As an inducement to persuade people who knew little or nothing about astrology to look into the subject, they offered free horoscopes with short delineations to annual subscribers. Both men already held demanding jobs and were free only on weekends. Yet somehow, with Leo casting charts and Lacey writing interpretations, they managed to produce four thousand personally erected horoscopes and interpretations between 1890 and 1894. In July 1894, in a completely amicable parting of the ways, Lacey withdrew because of business commitments, and Alan Leo continued on his own. In August 1895, he changed the magazine's name to Modern Astrology and began to branch out.
It was Lacey who persuaded Alan Leo to substitute the Leo-rising horoscope for the Virgo-rising chart he had previously been using. Perhaps Lacey would not have done this had he known that his friend's major lifework was to involve writing, editing, teaching, and lecturing, all of which are Virgoan vocations. Although the conjunction of the Sun, Mercury, and Jupiter indicates a powerful literary bent, it hardly accounts for the capacity to sort and arrange thousands of small items which enabled Leo to develop a coherent astrological system.
Virgoans are the toilers of the world, and duty is something Alan Leo never shunned. His assistant Annie Besant said: "His work was the mainspring of all his actions. Frequently, when in the presence of people not directly connected with the work, he would keep up a light kind of airy banter, immediately dropping it as soon as they had gone, with an air of - "Now then, let's get back to business." With him, the work was everything, and all else was mere bubbles on the water."
Despite his seriousness of purpose, Leo's character was more sanguine than one might expect from a chart with Saturn exactly on the Ascendant. His longtime friend and fellow worker H.S. Green gives the following description: "One of his most prominent characteristics was his extreme cheerfulness, accompanied by an exuberant vitality. When visiting him at his office on a dull winter day, he told me that to him the room appeared as if flooded with sunlight, so much so that he found it difficult to realize that the Sun was not actually shining." […]
Marriage and Theosophy
In September 1895, Alan Leo married Bessie Phillips (1858-1931), a union which the bride consented to only on the condition that it be platonic. (A previous husband had proved unwilling to abide by this stipulation, and the marriage was annulled on the grounds that his physical condition rendered the marriage relationship impossible.) Bessie Leo had practiced professionally as a palmist, phrenologist, and physiognomist. However, most of her time had been consumed caring for a cantankerous elderly father who made his daughter's life almost as miserable as Alan's mother had made his. […] Ultimately, Bessie Leo come into a modest inheritance from her irascible father. But since the old man did not die until the age of 102, at which point he had dissipated much of his fortune, the money was never as useful as it should have been. Alan Leo's eighth house, which indicates the partner's money, is ruled by Neptunian Pisces, and Neptune itself is in this house sesquare the Sun. For many years, Leo's father-in-law refused to accept the idea of his daughter's marriage outside his own Jewish faith, but eventually he relented and the two men became firm friends.
Bessie Leo appears to have been as emotionally constricted as one might expect from her Sun and Venus squaring Saturn, and the Sun squaring her Moon in Capricorn, but whatever assets she had were appreciated by her husband. The noted astrologer Charles Carter, usually the most moderate of gentlemen, said of her: "She was possessed of an itch for power but she was totally incompetent and very indolent. This led to an attitude of constant ineffectual interference." […]
Evidently, Alan Leo could not escape the pattern which attracted him to strong-minded women, but at least Bessie was dedicated to his work and she greatly stimulated his interest in theosophy. In the May 1907 issue of Modern Astrology, Leo wrote: "I must admit that I have been swinging very much in the direction of the esoteric side of astrology, for, to speak candidly, it is the only part of the science that really interests me."
With four planets in the twelfth house of hidden causes, trining the Moon in the ninth house of philosophy, Alan Leo was preconditionated to plunge into the deep waters of occultism. Although he managed to put astrology on a paying basis, he always regarded it as a sacred art. […] In Leo's daily routine, this twelfth-house emphasis showed up in his need to find time to play the piano, to walk in the garden, and to meditate. His private life was solitary to the point of reclusiveness and, unlike a typical Leonian, he rarely entertained. Possibly his wife's possessiveness provided an excuse for him to indulge his natural reserve and remain aloof.
Since Leo is an artistic sign, the presence of four Leonian planets in the twelfth house shows latent artistic talents. However, with Virgo on the Ascendant, Alan Leo indulged this side of his nature in private, and presented a more practical and businesslike face to the world.
Traditionally, the twelfth house rules "hidden enemies." Early in his career, unscrupulous employees (Mercury conjunct Saturn) caused Alan Leo to lose several jobs. Later, his enemies tended to be authorities (Sun and Saturn in Leo) to whom astrology was an archaic superstition. Nevertheless, Alan Leo believed he was guided and protected by higher beings (Jupiter in Leo) operating behind the scenes.
Venus in Cancer supports Bessie Leo's statement: "Alan Leo was a home lover and a real server in home life, quite as capable as a woman in the domestic sphere, and when there occurred one of those domestic upheavals which occasionally happen in these days of servant-scarcity, he cheerfully and successfully filled the gap."
Since Venus is also in the eleventh house of group activity, Alan Leo had many strong attachments and belonged to numerous associations. However, this natural companionability was suppressed by the conjunction of his Venus with Bessie's Saturn and its square to her Sun and his Moon in Aries. Consequently, she was not popular with his friends. Since Venus rules the Midheaven, most of Alan's friends were people with whom he was professionally affiliated.
Alan Leo's work prospered after his marriage, aided and abetted by his theosophical cohorts. Gradually, he expanded his enterprises to include book publishing, correspondence courses, and an astrological society. By 1903, he was employing nine people.
To a large extent, Leo's success stemmed from his emphasis on logic and reason (Mercury conjunct Saturn). He was determined to promote an easily comprehensible, do-it-yourself system of astrology, rather than to issue authoritarian pronouncements. His goal was to enable the student to develop skill in interpretation and not merely to memorize a mass of rules carried down from the past like debris embedded in a glacier.
Leo was the first entrepreneur to mass-produce inexpensive horoscopes. Individual readings were compiled out of previously assembled descriptions of the various planetary positions and aspects so that all his staff had to do was collate the appropriate pages. These so-called "test horoscopes" cost one shilling and often led to more remunerative work, as well as to the sale of books. Within three years, Leo & Co. mailed out twenty thousand prefabricated horoscopes, initiating a trend which has grown continuously and which has now been metamorphosed into computer astrology.
Prefabricated horoscopes can never include the all-important synthesis of the chart, but, for a shilling, people received their money's worth. Those who wanted more information were encouraged to purchase Alan Leo's seven massive textbooks which still serve as standard astrological works. Numerous smaller volumes, plus books and pamphlets written under his supervision, swelled his literary output.
With Venus, ruler of his Midheaven, in Cancer, sign of the masses, Alan Leo always tried to appeal to the public rather than to a small, technically trained elite. He was the originator of the cookbook form of horoscope interpretation in which various items of information were presented in such a way that anyone with a modicum of learning might mix together the ingredients of the natal chart and come out with a passably accurate delineation. Since Venus is a feminine planet, it was often women who bought his books and sustained his groups. Moreover, his allegiance to the teachings promulgated by Helena Blavatsky and Annie Besant made him attractive to the growing number of theosophists who became the main promoters of his work.
Gentle Venus is opposed by Mars in Capricorn, so that Alan Leo's troubles often came from the government. In May 1914, he was prosecuted for fortune-telling but was acquitted on a legal technicality. He was brought to court again in July 1917, and fined twenty-five pounds. The outcome of Leo's persecution by the government may have been constructive since it forced him to place less emphasis on direct forecasting (a dubious business at best) and to recast his teachings in psychological terms.
Uranus, the planet of breakthroughs, in literary Gemini, and domiciled in the tenth house of career, shows that Alan Leo was born to pursue an unusual profession. Uranus sextiles the midpoint of the trine from his Jupiter-Sun conjunction to the Moon, crystallizing the energies of the twelfth house of occultism and of the ninth house of philosophy into recognized achievement. Nine out of ten planets are above the horizon, favoring his mission of bringing astrology before the eyes of the world. Mars, the only planet below the horizon, is in the energetic fifth house of self-expression and exalted in Capricorn, enabling him to put the whole force of his personality into the furtherance of his ambitions. The quincunx from Mars to Mercury in Leo enabled him to succeed in a literary way.
The strongest point in the chart is the trine of the Moon in Aries to a multiple conjunction of the Sun, Jupiter, Mercury, and Saturn. These five fire-sign planets endowed Alan Leo with the zeal and enterprise to carry forth his unique mission. Aries on the cusp of the ninth house led to a considerable amount of energetic travel, including two trips to India, and also made him a leader in the realm of ideas. The Moon at the end of the eighth house shows that it was his wife's money which enabled him to give up his former occupation and become a pioneer in the business of astrology. Since the Moon is on the hidden side of the ninth house, it inspired Alan Leo to beam his philosophy to the public and to place his faith in the ability of the common man to grasp abstract truths. […]
If Saturn in Leo were on the Ascendant, one would expect to find a power complex. However, while Alan Leo eventually became the foremost authority in his field, he had no complex about it. Quite simply, he felt himself to be the humble sservant of the governing Powers of the Universe. Although his broadness of vision was typical of Jupiter conjunct the Sun in Leo, the plethora of fine details with which his books are replete is far more suggestive of Virgo. Virgo arranges facts in their proper order and this is exactly what Alan Leo's textbooks succeed in doing. They analyze and classify all the separate factors which make up an astrological delineation, reducing a mighty mass of data to a systematic arrangement. […]
The Significance of Alan Leo's Work
The five fire signs in Leo's natal chart account for his immense vitality, but only a Virgo Ascendant could explain his passion for purity. […] Among the many groups which he founded and sustained was an Astrological Institute for the promulgation of astrology and allied truths. Its object was described as, "To purify and re-establish the ancient science of astrology." Supplementary to this was an independent Astrological Society, an Astrological Lodge of the Theosophical Society, and the Hermes Masonic Lodge. He also devised a complete set of correspondence lessons for people who were unable to attend meetings.
Alan Leo was the forerunner of a new breed of astrologers who were to regard astrology not only as a predictive science but as a way of finding meaning and significance in life. To him, the zodiac was the evolutionary pathway of the soul. […]
As his understanding of astrology matured, Leo became less concerned with mapping out the circumstances through which a person might pass, and more preoccupied with showing ways of reshaping character in accordance with the plans and purposes of the higher Self. He affirmed that man was capable of cooperating with the forces that determine his destiny and need not remain a pawn of fate. […]
Alan Leo once wrote the following words to a woman who, he felt, was about to misuse her knowledge of astrology: "Madame, you are contemplating an immoral act, and I cannot help you; but I warn you that one day you will bitterly regret it if you follow your unworthy course. My advice to you is to go home and in the privacy of your room, fall upon your knees and pray earnestly that God may forgive you and grant you the strength to walk in paths of righteousness." The woman was thunderstruck at his penetration of her secret motives but eventually she thanked him for having turned her life to better purposes.
Although Alan Leo's rising Saturn caused him to believe implicitly in "the Great Law" to which men and planets are subservient, his philosophy was interfused with a luminous faith which caused him frequently to repeat the words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox - "Whatever is, is best." Toward the end of his life, when he was being prosecuted for fortune-telling, he was asked: "How now, Alan, do you still affirm, "Whatever is, is best."?" With undimmed optimism he replied: "Yes! It's all experience, and, therefore, must be for the best; I have surely some lesson to learn." […]
Saturn is a planet which looks to the past. Hence, Alan Leo saw himself less as an innovator than a restorer of a long-degenerated science. His expressed desire was to introduce logic and reason into the complicated jumble of aphorisms handed down by tradition and to reformulate the wisdom of the Babylonian seers who believed that an affinity exists between the stars and the souls of men, and that the soul is a spark derived from a stellar essence. […]
Although Alan Leo released a tremendous torrent of words about astrology, his greatest contribution to the subject was not what he said but what he was. […] In Alan Leo's horoscope, Mars serves as the point of a wedge directing the energies of the nine planets above the horizon through the fifth house of self-expression. (In the natal chart, the fifth house corresponds to the fifth sign, Leo.) This compelling configuration enabled Alan Leo to dramatize his ideas, even though the placement of Mars in Capricorn made him careful and businesslike in the projection of his creative inspirations. Thus, with four planets in Leo in the introspective twelfth house, he evoked illumination from the illimitable spaces of the psyche while, with outgoing Mars functioning like a lens, he also knew how to beam that light into the world.
Alan Leo breathed his last at Bude, Cornwall, England, at about 10:00 a.m. Summer Time on August 30, 1917. His demise is shown by the exact (within a minute of a degree) conjuntion of transiting Saturn, planet of finality, with his natal twelfth-house Jupiter in eight degrees twenty-five minutes Leo. Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions usually indicate the start of a new cycle of endeavor.
Alan Leo's death was attributed to a "shock" or seizure, and was an unexpected and typically Uranian event. The suddenness of his passing may be accounted for by the conjunction of transiting Jupiter at nine degrees fifty-seven minutes Gemini to natal Uranus in eleven degrees twenty-four minutes Gemini. This transit provided a channel of release for the applying trine between his progressed Sun and natal Uranus.
At the same time, progressed Jupiter was applying to a conjunction with Alan Leo's natal twelfth-house Mercury showing the likelihood of momentous, but hidden, revelations. Transiting Neptune, which rules and is natally domiciled in the eighth house of death, was in five degrees forty-eight minutes Leo close to natal Jupiter, and was preparing to transit his natal Sun, Mercury, and Saturn. If it is true, as some astrologers have surmised, that the horoscope continues to operate after death, then Alan Leo must have had an exceptionally pleasant sojourn in "the heaven world" under these spiritualizing Neptunian vibrations. Virtually all the major aspects correlating with his demise involve conjunctions to or from Jupiter, "the greater benefic." These expansive aspects, plus the trine from the progressed Sun and transiting Venus to natal Uranus, made his passing quick and easy.
The only technically bad aspect was the transit of Mars over his natal Mars-Venus opposition. This transit had reached full force on the morning of August twenty-seventh when, after having been in excellent health, he complained of feeling shivery and cold saying: "I feel I have taken a chill." Evidently, this Mars transit represented the temporary discomfort of dying, for it was already passing out of orbs at the moment when he actually left the body. […]