Here is what I know about Mercury in Leo from having a Mercury in Leo: our favorite reading material would basically just be something that says a million times over, your thoughts are the best thoughts, your opinions are the best opinions, yes get it grrrrrl.
But that book is just our diary, and that is written only with about 18% intention of having it published later in our life, after we are devastatingly famous, of course. We probably leave it lying around so that other people can “accidentally” read parts of it, or we may publish that nonsense online and get it over with, but we re-read it constantly, probably even going so far as to admire our nice turns of phrase, god we are so narcissistic.
The other thing I know about Mercury in Leo is that we will say anything, write anything, think anything that will get us a lot of attention. Swearing, yes. We use profanity in our conversation the way other people use accessories in their wardrobe, to add dazzle and pop and to catch your attention. We love a (our) hot take.
And I don’t mean any of that The Artist’s Way self-help stuff, or that neuroscience lite Imagine by serial plagiarist and liar Jonah Lehrer either. Those books, the ones that say creativity or artistry is something that can be taught, that’s for the amateurs. Mercury in Leos are working with energy that is innate, that was there at birth.
So no to the “you too can write/think/be just like Bob Dylan,” Leos still believe in genius. Leos believe in listening to their betters, and so they believe in reading and absorbing the teachings of geniuses. We want to know about process. And luckily geniuses really love talking about how genius they are.
There are a million memoirs, diaries, letters, interviews, documentaries, and biographies to absorb. One of my favorites lately (and books on this topic fill up about half of my library) is:
The genius photographer writes wonderfully about her own process, but also how she has been misunderstood and misrepresented throughout her very long and very brilliant career. Sometimes the most important artistic process is just to keep doing what you’re doing while everyone around you tells you you’re crazy and wrong.
The Opera is catnip to the Leo-flavored, it gives us so much: drama, wonderful outfits, those tremendous voices, great performances. It transports you. It also is a really good excuse to wear your most dramatic dress in public, something certain to cause a stir.
It’s also an art form, unlike the kind of trickster-y conceptual art we have today, that rewards research, theory, and thought. The more reading you do, the more you get out of the experience. And while I could go tell you to go read more thoughts by the thinkers, like Stravinsky’s lectures or Mozart’s letters, this time let’s go with an appreciator.
Clement, the French feminist and scholar, looks at the all the put upon women of opera, from the characters in the plays to the singers, and the men controlling and writing them. She writes as an audience member, albeit a particularly bright and attentive one, but, importantly, not as a fan.
Royals are the ultimate celebrity, and their historical excesses are a treat to read about. Now that they’re not actually ruining the world with their appetites for slaves, spices, bloodshed, and religious persecution, of course. Now that we’re not in danger of being screwed over by their whims.
So you can read Marie Antoinette’s karmic return in Kathryn Davis’s Versailles, gossipy intel on what really happened with the Habsburg Crown Prince Rudolph in Mayerling with Frederic Morton’s A Nervous Splendor, or perhaps you’d prefer to read about the architectural excesses and demented pleasures of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, and for that Christopher McIntosh’s The Swan King will serve you well.
I prefer a more global approach, to learn about why monarchy has fallen out of favor as a ruling system, and for that I trust:
He tracks the end of monarchy as a center of power and the transition into the ribbon-cutters and ceremonial wavers (well dressed and always with a nice hat, of course) that they’ve become. And I’ve recommended Everdell before, because he is great.
We covered mothering in the Mercury in Cancer column, but the actual act of making a new human body with your human body, which is bonkers if you think about it for too long, falls into the realm of Leo.
It’s so bonkers a thing that you’d think there’d be amazing writing on the subject. There isn’t. Let’s blame the patriarchy, bunch of dudes thinking, well, if women do it naturally how interesting can the process actually be? So interesting! And there should be more writing on the subject of pregnancy, because so much of it is fearmongering (What to Expect — Everything Super Terrible — When You’re Expecting), overly sentimental (love letters to the unborn child blah blah blah), or just too scientific. Luckily there is:
I don’t normally like Nelson, I find her cold as a writer. But sometimes we need cold, particularly in realms where the overly passionate and overly emotional has taken over. Her writing about the physical pregnancy and childbirth is fascinating. Harrowing, but fascinating. Also her description of the placenta as “a bag of whale hearts” will forever be stuck in my brain.
I think it’s important to understand the mythological grounding of all of this stuff, to give us a deeper, more nuanced way of thinking about it. And about fifty years ago, a series of new inscriptions, having to do with Apollo, Leo’s ruler, were unearthed and completely changed our understanding of how that god operated in Greek polytheism.
is a philosophical look at what the new inscriptions mean, and how it changes our understanding of human nature. It’s a beautiful book.
Jessa Crispin is the editor of Bookslut.com and Spoliamag.com. She is a tarot card reader, specializing in issues with creativity and writing. For more information, go here. Her first book, The Dead Ladies Project, about love and travel and art, is just published.
Image: Emily Balivet
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