Leah Wellbaum is a musician, artist, and writer living in Los Angeles, CA. She is the principal songwriter, guitar player, and unrepentant aesthete of the band Slothrust, and also has a side project called ANMLPLNET. On the upcoming Slothrust album, Parallel Timeline, Wellbaum constructs a luscious, ethereal cosmos perforated with wormy portals and unexpected magical iconography. She is a lover of all things mystical and absurd. When she isn’t on the road, she offers lessons in music and creativity. You can find her art at www.leahwellbaum.com.
We have finally arrived at the most glorious, sun-soaked season of them all: Leo season. I myself am a child of this hot AF season, so in classic Leo fashion, I’ll tell you a bit about my entry into this world.
The story goes that my parents took a trip to Africa and while on a safari, they saw a pair of lions getting it on. They did what most people on safaris would do, which is take a photo. My parents were so inspired by the mating of the lions that they decided it was the right time to conceive their first child — me! Hello! The photo of the lions doing their thing now hangs outside of my childhood bedroom door in Boston, and serves as a reminder to anyone I ever bring up there that the first spark of my existence came from an intimate moment between two lions in Africa.
This story is both very cool, and also makes me feel a bit shy. Really? A leo, shy? It’s true. Even though my sun is in Leo, I have a bunch of other things going on in my astrological chart that sculpt my instincts and predispositions. They don’t always contain as much glitter.
Navigating my inner-landscape has not been a simple journey, and it’s one I am still on. It is my understanding that I was born with my hand covering my face so, go figure. As I get older I find myself wanting to lean into the energy of Leo more and more. I wish to embody the brave lions, unapologetically themselves at all times and inspiring others to be the same. That’s not always as easy for me as I would like. My moon is in Libra so I often find myself consumed with those around me being pleased, and with fairness across the board. At times this, people-pleasing feels in contradiction to my sun sign and I find myself frustrated, even resentful at times. I look back on certain moments and realize that I have abandoned myself in the favor of someone else for the sake of avoiding conflict. Womp — a lesson in boundaries when it comes down to it. At my most self-conscious, I feel like a Leo on mute, gold covered in a layer of dust. But the truth is, in a world where most people inevitably are consumed with their own satisfaction, it is up to me to step into the glory of Leo and to hold my flame up proudly, unafraid of casting accidental shade on those around and trusting that my aim is true. I will say I have never questioned my altruism despite questioning so many other things about myself.
I feel the presence of my Leo-ness the most in one very obvious place, the stage. I have loved theater for as long as I can remember and always wanted to be a part of it. I loved to perform as a child but around age 14, my confidence got shook as it does for many at that age, and I no longer felt particularly confident in musical theater. I felt awkward and out of place, fearful of dissociating onstage and losing track of the meticulous plan that makes this style of theater so magical. So I zoomed in one of the aspects I always loved so much about it, which is music! Also, I was briefly in an improv troupe and found myself feeling liberated by the lack of structure and the encouragement to live in the moment. Flow state has always been a favorite of mine. So fret not, I found my way back to the stage and the journey will continue.
Since this is MY season (lol), I am going to select the fruit that first blew my mind, and made me question how the world worked: the strawberry!
With its little green mane of hair and gorgeous cavernous inside, the strawberry is an absolute star in my eyes. It’s a beautiful piece of fruit, like a fat gem known and loved by pretty much everyone — much like the Leo. The taste of strawberries is transportive, and when you cut one open and look inside, it appears like a portal, beckoning the adventurous into a magnificent world of wonder. Here is a strawberry Leo in all its glory, beneath a pale blue moon, going after something it wants and deserves — a sweet purple flower.
I would like to take some time to review five iconic lions who came to mind when thinking about this season. Leos are known for being stars, and it’s about time we review the lion in its natural state: in ~the media~.
1. Mufasa from The Lion King
Mufasa is a kind but firm leader. Assertive and sure of himself, but with ever-golden ethics. Ethics so gold in fact, that he was blind to the deviance of his own brother, ultimately leading to his demise. Let this scene serve as a lesson to Leos to not assume others have intentions as pure as theirs. RIP Mufasa!
2. Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia
Let me start by saying this book and movie (the 1979 animated version obviously) thoroughly disturbed me. Between the frightening ice sculptures and the Aslan crucifixion-esque scene, the big bad of this movie (the White Witch) was terrifying. I found this depiction of a lion all tied up with his mane cut off deeply upsetting and still do. Perhaps I take it personally, which is ridiculous but definitely a traditional Leo misstep to make things about you when they aren’t. Just like Mufasa, Aslan was a kind and firm ruler, but one who overlooked the malevolent qualities of those who might be jealous of his flame. Classic. Thank god for all of us, Aslan has a triumphant return and even defrosts all of the ice sculptures!
3. The Cowardly Lion from Wizard of OzThis movie was one of my favorites growing up. I even loved Return to Oz, which stars Faruiza Balk and is seriously scary (ask literally anyone who has seen it). The Cowardly Lion character is interesting because it is built upon the idea of inverting the typical Leo archetype. The Lion in this movie is afraid and constantly second-guessing himself. It is a good example of a character in a cage of his own making. Luckily he does indeed step into his power by the end of the film. And he even wears a cute little green crown, which — conspiracy theory moment— might be a nod to the next lion I am going to share with you.
4. The Alchemical Vitriol Lion
I learned about this iconography quite recently after seeing a post by art knowledge wizard, Stephen Ellock. I was blown away by what I learned. The alchemical lion has been depicted in art going back thousands of years. He is usually green, and taking a big bite out of the sun! This lion is a symbol for vitriol, which is about purifying matter and leaving behind only gold. I am excited to continue to learn more about it since there is such a vast body of work about this particular icon and its mystical history.
5. The Strength card from the Rider-waite Tarot deck
This card represents exactly what you think it does, strength! This trait is inherent to Leos at their best, and even their worst. Leos are a force that encourages standing up for what you believe in, and following your destiny despite the inevitable resistance that comes up in any complete process. The hero’s journey, if you will.
And as a bonus, my cat Sweet Lion. His name says it all. We used to think he was a Leo but with some of the chaos he has pulled, we decided he’s actually a Sagittarius.
As always, here is a playlist to listen to while you frolick pridefully in the sunshine until Virgo season hits.