Look at this guy, he’s calmly surveying his domain and it’s clear he’s proud about what he sees!
The lion. The icon of the African savanna.
But we shouldn’t forget about the Asiatic lion which seems to get far less press despite being endangered.
As I’m sure you all know, it is the male lion who has the mane and thus we shall focus on him. Although in my opinion, the female lion is far more interesting… Perhaps at a later date I shall do a post about her as well…
As a species, lions are more sociable than most cats and generally live in prides which are made up of females, their offspring and one or two males. Where fatherhood is concerned, lions have variable temperaments… some will allow cubs to play with their tails whilst others will bat cubs away. The male lion often spends some of it’s life in a nomadic existence, having been kicked out of their birth pride.
Generally it is the females who hunt, cooperatively (see, they’re far more interesting already…) and the male just hangs around, possibly keeping an eye on the cubs… and then dominates the kill once it’s been made… This is a king who is milking his status for all it’s worth… He literally does get the lion’s share of the food…
The mane is the key feature of males although very very rarely, females have been known to have one. The darker the mane, the healthier the lion and thus the more attractive to females.
They spend a lot of time sleeping, like most cats, and tend to hunt at night or dusk. Although they prefer to scavenge, presumably as it’s more energy efficient. See also the hyena which has a difficult relationship with the lion where food is concerned…
Of all of the big cats, lions have the most developed frontal cortex, the part of the brain which is associated with voluntary movement, planning and predicting consequences. This card is asking you to use the power of your mind. Yes, you have the strength to leap straight into an intense physical fight, but that’s often not the best way forward. As we’ll see in the strength card from the wild unknown tarot, being able to control our emotions and tame our feelings is often a much better way. That leaves you able to direct your energy and physical strength in a more focused and more productive manner.
The male lion may have been pictured for his leadership qualities. Or for his force of personality, his power, his strength or his dignity. These graceful beasts are also associated with protection. Whilst males and females will defend the pride, it is the male who is physically more suited to the task.
Just a little about the lioness
I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, the lioness is far more interesting… They are amazing hunters. Males do hunt but far less so. Lionesses on the other hand are experts. They have the largest jaw of the cats which they use to suffocate their prey, unlike a lot of cats who sever the neck. They hunt in packs and have a highly coordinated approach where everyone knows their role. Their tactical approach means they can take down bigger prey and have more chance of success. They go for an ambush style kill as, whilst they can run fast, they can’t run far and are much more designed for sprint and pounce. This only works is everyone is part of the team and carries out their part.
The lion is often used to symbolise royalty, although feelings about the lion do vary across the world. In some parts of the world the lion is a sign of healing whereas in other parts they are considered lazy and gullible. In ancient Egypt, it was the lion’s hunting prowess that was revered and they were associated with war gods. In Hinduism, lions are associated with gods and are considered sacred and lions feature on emblems, coats of arms etc the world over.
Do you recall the story of the lion and the mouse? In the post about the mouse we considered the world from her viewpoint – everything was so big and overwhelming. Think about the world from the lion’s eyes – there are few threats (only really other lions and humans), everything appears to be masterable, size is no issue as you are pretty big yourself… But, in the fable, the lion was brought down by a simple net and could not escape without the tiny mouse’s help. Don’t overlook the little things and don’t get overly confident about your sense of power. It’s easy to be calm if nothing is threatening you, what matters is how you act when there is a danger.
We have the constellation Leo which gives us the zodiac sign of the same name. The story goes that the lion was killed by Hercules during his twelve labours. The lion had take women hostages and was unable to be killed by any weapon. Hercules realised he would have to kill the lion with his own hands and thus snuck into the cave. When the lion pounced, Hercules grabbed it and bent it backwards breaking its back. The trapped women were freed and Zeus placed the lion in the sky to remember this act of bravery.
In terms of the zodiac, Leo people are supposed to be outgoing, creative, enjoy the spotlight, natural born leaders and passionate.
The lion is almost always associated with the sun, despite being more active at night. Perhaps this is down to his colouring, lions being seen more often during the day or simply because his traits are those associated with the sun. As we’ve seen before, the sun is about confidence, it’s about being true to yourself, putting yourself out there, energy and power.
Wild Unknown Tarot
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the lion is pictured on the strength card. But don’t overlook the details. This lion is carefully holding a rose in it’s mouth. Whilst it is a symbol of strength it is also showing gentleness. There is strength in non-action, there is strength in kindness, there is strength in vulnerability. Strength is not all about physical action.