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The Labors of Hercules - Labor V
The Field of the Labor

The sign Leo is one of the four arms of the fixed cross in the heavens, the cross on which the Cosmic Christ and the individual Christ are ever crucified. Perhaps the word "crucified" would have a true significance if we substituted for it the word "sacrificed", for in the unfoldment of the Christ consciousness in the form, stage by stage, various aspects of the divine nature are seen as being sacrificed.

In Taurus, the symbol of creative force expressing itself through desire, we see the lower aspect of the divine creative force, sexual desire, transmuted into, or sacrificed to, its higher aspect. It had to be raised up into heaven.[104]

In Leo, we see cosmic mind working out in the individual as the lower reasoning mind, and this lower aspect has likewise to be sacrificed and the little mind of man must be subordinated to the universal mind. In Scorpio, which is the third arm of the fixed cross, we find cosmic love or cosmic attraction. There it is shown in its lower aspect, and this we call the great Illusion; and in Scorpio we see the aspirant upon the cross, sacrificing illusion to reality. In Aquarius, we have the light of the universal consciousness irradiating the human being and bringing about the sacrifice of the individual life and its merging in the universal whole. This is the true crucifixion: the sacrifice of the reflection to the reality, of the lower aspect to the higher, and of the individual unit to the great sum total. It was these characteristics that the Christ so marvellously demonstrated. He showed himself as the Creator. He showed himself as functioning under the influence of the illuminated mind; he personified in himself the love of God, and he announced himself as the Light of the World. The problem before Hercules, therefore, was the problem of the sign; the crucifixion of the lower self and the conquering of individual self-assertion.

Originally the zodiac consisted only of ten constellations and, at some date practically unknown, the two constellations, Leo and Virgo, were one symbol. Perhaps the mystery of the sphinx is connected with this, for in the sphinx we have the lion with a woman's head, Leo with Virgo, the symbol of the lion or kingly soul, and its relation to the matter or Mother aspect. It may, therefore, signify the two polarities, masculine and feminine, positive and negative.

In this constellation is the exceedingly bright star, which is one of the four royal stars of the heavens. It is called Regulus the Ruler, the Lawgiver, holding in its significance the thought that man can now be a law unto himself, for he has that within him which is the king or the ruler. Hidden in the constellation is also a vivid group of stars, called "the sickle". To the ancient initiates, who saw all the external constellations as personifications [105] of forces and as symbols of an unfolding drama vaster than even they could understand, the constellation conveyed three major thoughts: first, that man was the ruler, the king, God incarnate, an individual son of God; second, the man was governed by law, the law of nature, the law that he makes for himself, and the spiritual law to which he will eventually subordinate himself; third, that the work of an individual is to apply the sickle and to cut out, or cut down, that which hinders the application of the spiritual law and so hinders the flowering forth of the soul.

The constellation Leo has in it ninety-five stars, two of them of the first magnitude. Its Egyptian name, we are told, meant "a pouring out", the Nile giving its fullest irrigation at that season. This has also an interesting esoteric significance for, according to the teaching of the Ageless Wisdom, the human family came into existence through what is technically called "the third outpouring", which was the term given to the coming-in of a great tide of souls into the animal bodies and, therefore, the formation of the human family composed of individual units. Another technical term for this third outpouring is "individualization", becoming an individual with self-awareness, thus linking it up with the great happenings in the sign, Leo.
The ninety-five stars in this constellation also have numerical significance for we have there 9 x 10 + 5. Nine is the number of initiation, ten is the number of human perfection, five is the number of man, and thus in this grouping of stars we have the story of man, of the personality, the initiate and his ultimate spiritual achievement.

The Three Symbolic Constellations

There is an immense constellation called Hydra, the serpent, associated with the sign Leo. We find also Crater, the cup, and Corvus, the raven. All three sum up in their significance the problem of the man who is seeking initiation. They picture to him distinctly and clearly the work that he has to do. As Leo, [106] the king, the soul, starts upon his work, he realizes that he has the cup of suffering and of experience to drink, the serpent of illusion to overcome, and the bird of prey to eliminate Hydra, the serpent, in the ancient pictures is portrayed as a female serpent. It covers more than a hundred degrees and lies beneath the three constellations, Cancer, Leo and Virgo.

In Scorpio, this serpent of matter or of illusion, with which the soul has identified itself for so long, is finally overcome. It y has in it sixty stars, and again we come in touch with a significant number, for six is the number of mind, of the creative work of the universal Mind, and of the six days of creation. In the sixth sign, Virgo, we have the completed form. We are told in the Book of Revelations that the mark of the Beast is 666, and Hydra, the serpent, lies under three constellations and its number 6 is, therefore, three times potent. Ten is the number of completion. Six expresses, therefore, the limitations of the body nature working through form and the utilization of the personality; it symbolizes God in nature, whether cosmically or individually. Hydra the serpent, represents the matter aspect, as it veils and hides the soul.

The Crater, or the cup, has in it thirteen stars of ordinary magnitude and about ninety small stars, though some books of astronomy say three brilliant stars and ninety small. So we have again the number of matter, or of form-taking, and the number of what is called "apostasy" , and of "the turning of the back", as Judas Iscariot did, upon the soul or Christ aspect. This cup forms really part of the body of the Hydra, for the stars at the foot of the cup form part of the body of the Serpent , and both constellations claim them. It is the cup that every human being has to drink, full of that which he has distilled out of his experience in matter. It is the cup of obligation certain of the ancient Masonic rituals, and symbolizes the drinking of that which we have ourselves brewed. In other words, the same truth can be expressed in the words of Christian Bible, "As a man soweth, so shall he also reap." [107]

Then we have, thirdly, Corvus, the raven, that stands upon Hydra, the serpent, and pecks at it. It has nine stars, again the number of initiation. The Old Testament started with a raven, the New Testament starts with a dove. Experience starts with the bird of matter and ends with the bird of spirit. It is interesting to note that in Aquarius, the consummating sign to Leo, we find Cygnus, the swan, the symbol of the bird of spirit. In The Voice of the Silence we read: "And then thou canst repose between the wings of the great bird. Aye, sweet to rest between the wings of that which is not born, nor dies, but is the Aum throughout eternal ages". And in a footnote H.P.B., referring to the bird or swan, quotes: "Says the Rig-Veda ... The syllable A is considered to be the bird Hamsa's right wing, U its left, and M its tail..."
(The Chakras by C. W. Leadbeater)

In the zodiac of Denderah, Leo and the three attendant constellations are pictured as forming one great sign, for the lion is seen treading on the serpent. Corvus, the raven, is perched upon the lion's shoulder, while below is a plumed female figure (again, the symbol of matter) holding out two cups, for there is ever the cup which symbolizes the cup of experience, the cup of penalty. The cup is the cup which is offered to the initiate, to which Christ referred in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he pleaded that the cup be taken away from him, but which he ended by drinking.

So Hercules, the aspirant, expressing himself in Leo, visions the great battle that lies ahead of him, knows that his past must work out to fulfilment in the future, knows that before he can climb the mountain in Capricorn he must slay the Hydra, and knows that he must no longer be the raven, but must manifest as Aquila, the eagle of Scorpio, and as Cygnus, the swan, in Aquarius. This he must begin to do in Leo, by demonstrating the power to dare, by facing the terrific struggle that lies ahead of him in the next three signs and by the slaying of the lion of [108] his own nature (king of beasts) alone and unaided, and so earn. the power to overcome the Hydra, in Scorpio.

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