For a millennium, kabbalists have known the gifts of transformation that the calendar presents us with each month. To discover what is in store this month, let’s begin by observing the personality of those born under the sign of Leo, with the intention of understanding how that energy expresses itself for every individual. Since their biggest challenge is trust, Leo’s are sometimes emotionally hindered, and because opening up is not easy, they think their vulnerability will be read as a sign of weakness; like their animal namesake, they are known to hide their wounds, suffering in silence until the hurt is gone. Wanting to be loved is a natural desire for a Leo – it is the root of their happiness as well as their sadness. They must learn not to let their sense of self be dependent upon what others think of them.
Unlike other months, the first half of Leo is heavier, meaning that the energy can feel very negative, while the second half is very positive. This darkness and Light is a metaphor for our spiritual process. Kabbalists teach that to get the fulfillment we desire, we first have to go through difficulty; in essence, we have to go through darkness to find the Light. As we all know from difficulties we’ve experienced in our own lives, our process is not always an easy one. At our lowest, there are few who have not felt complete hopelessness and an inability to see how things might ever be okay again. However, as painful as that process is, blessings and difficulties are not two different situations; they are one and the same. Kabbalists explain that shells of darkness, called klippa, surround potential blessings, and before there can be blessings and fulfillment, the klippa must be removed.
One of the goals of the month of Leo is to develop the consciousness to appreciate that ups and downs can change a negative situation into a positive one. The challenge is not to run away from difficulties, but rather to find the blessing within the shell, the klippa. Every setback and challenge happens for a reason and it is our task to find the hidden blessing. Often, shifting our consciousness to focus on the blessing is all that is needed to resolve the difficulty.
It is imperative that we face difficult emotions and situations rather than avoid them. If we are honest, most of us have quick remedies for feelings of anxiety, depression, and anger, such as drinking, eating, shopping, yelling, or disconnecting. These coping mechanisms, while effective in making the discomfort abate temporarily, do nothing to bring us lasting fulfillment. True and lasting fulfillment is actually within the pain. When you find yourself in a moment of challenge, let your first thought be ‘This is all for the best. I trust the Creator and the process of life.’
Another lesson of this month is to feel the pain of others. Just as we shouldn’t try to dodge our personal difficulties, we shouldn’t look away from the struggles of others. Kabbalists teach that we can only completely connect to the Creator if we have developed our empathy and truly care about the pain of others. Connecting to the Creator means being like the Creator, who is in pain for every person who is ill, hungry or abandoned. The Creator is like a loving parent who feels the pain of everyone. Having a profound empathy for suffering is how we connect to the light of the Creator and how we draw blessings into our lives. More than a spiritual concept, feeling the pain of others is a tool to bring fulfillment into our lives.
Many great kabbalists would go into what they call “gallut,” or exile. They left their houses and villages and traveled from place to place, meeting new people and learning about their lives. They traveled without money and therefore could not secure lodging or food or drink. They waited for people – complete strangers – to invite them into their homes. They did this because they knew in order to achieve their purpose, they had to experience the pain in our world and internalize it. In this way, impoverished and dependent, they humbly lived upon the generosity of others.
To connect to the opportunities of Leo, we must strive to feel the pain of others when it is uncomfortable and when we don’t want to do it, because this is how to achieve the purpose for which we came into this world. Truly open yourself to others, seeing and internalizing their pain. While it is impractical for most of us to go into “gallut,” we can be mindful and take a “gallut” of consciousness. When we deeply connect with the pain of others, we have to act. We have no choice. Just as you physically cannot keep your hand in a fire, you can’t keep yourself from taking actions to help others. Imagine how you would change and grow as a person if this deep level of empathy and action became a part of your daily life.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Every single one of us can do much more about the pain that is in this world than we are doing now. Find a new way to help. Is a neighbor in need? Is there a cause that you can dedicate yourself to that would make a difference in the world? When we think we have found all of the ways and done everything we can, there is ALWAYS something more that can be done.1