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Alan Leo: Astrological Martyr

Very few astrologers achieve lasting fame, but ‘Alan Leo’ (William Allan), who died 100 years ago on August 30th, is remembered today as the ‘Father of Modern Astrology’ and something of a martyr to the cause. His yoga-filled chart has Venus and Mars both retrograde forming a close Maha Raj Yoga across the fifth and eleventh houses and lagnesh Sun and exalted Jupiter making an outstanding pairing in the twelfth. These combinations promise fame and influence through higher knowledge and publishing, though if anything the twelfth house association of loss and confinement loomed even larger in Leo’s legend.

Leo was a spiritual and progressive character by the standards of Edwardian England, a pioneer in the Theosophical movement and a vegetarian teetotaller when this lifestyle was seen as positively arcane. His stellium in the twelfth house of faraway places and spiritual liberation is disposited by the Moon in the 8th, and during Moon’s mahadasha he spent time in India – Moon and Jupiter also exchange signs in a potent Vipareeta Raj Yoga. Whether he profited by anyone else's misfortune is unclear, but certainly an unfortunate event in his own life ended up creating his reputation in 20th Century astrology. A prolific author, Leo ran a thriving mail order horoscope service until, a victim of his own eminence, he was sued by a disgruntled client and prosecuted under The Vagrancy Act, an English statute of 1824 that effectively outlawed professional astrology, on pain of prison time with hard labour.

Alan Leo: 7th August 1860, 5:47am, London UK

Leo was first tried for ‘professing to tell fortunes’ at Mansion House Magistrates Court, London, in February and April 1914, during Mars-Jupiter dasha. Dasha lord and yogakaraka Mars is nominally in the fifth house, but its late degree (and Bhava placement) can be read in the sixth of lawsuits, enemies and debt. Strong Mars in the sixth, in his own period, is a good symbol for overcoming rivals and Leo’s first prosecution was thrown out for lack of evidence, though costs were awarded against him – exalted Jupiter in the twelfth spared him confinement and excess expense. Leo’s second trial, in mid 1917 during Venus antardasha, had a less fortunate outcome after his counsel’s 'trends and tendencies' defence foundered on a statement from one of his own almanacs: “At this time a death in your family circle is likely to cause you sorrow”. This was an open goal for the prosecution: "Was this death a tendency, or was there a tendency to be dead?" Such a philosophical argument may have played better during Jupiter’s subperiod. Despite making a good witness and impressing the judge with his character, Leo was found guilty and fined £5 with £25 costs (about £2000 in today's money). Antardasha lord Venus, which is the one Jyotish planet that performs materially in the twelfth, by Bhava is also in the twelfth house of loss, and again protected Leo to some extent.

Theosophical Society, Bangalore, India

Leo died only a matter of weeks after his trial and his friends believed the turmoil of a potential – though unlikely - custodial sentence was a contributing factor. Mars in Bhava chart and Rahu in the sixth are good symbols for a robust defence, but his stellium in Cancer ruled by Moon in Pisces shows a sensitive soul, more worrier than warrior. Mars aspecting his Cancer cluster is also a ruler of the head (along with Rahu), likewise sixth lord Saturn directly on the ascendant degree: not good. Leo died of apoplexy – a cerebral haemorrhage - on August 30th 1917 (Mars-Venus-Jupiter).

The Mansion House Case’s impact has reverberated through Western astrology down to the present day. It forced Leo to rewrite his extensive back catalogue of books and personal horoscopes, rephrasing traditional predictive readings in favour of a more self-determined approach, which had apparently been his long-term intention in any event (From a Western standpoint, his secondary progressed Jupiter conjoined natal Mercury in 1917, showing a change of philosophy). Though he did not live to see his revision completed, he founded a whole new school of interpretation, which was furthered by likes of Rudhyar and the later school of Jungian astrologers.

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