Leo, Alan

Leo, Alan

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Alan Leo, an important turn-of-the-twentieth-century English astrologer, was born in Westminster, London, England, on August 7, 1860. He was brought up by his mother in difficult circumstances and had no formal education beyond grade school. His given name was William Frederick Alan. He pursued various jobs but found nothing satisfactory until he became a traveling salesman for a vending machine company. He stayed in that work until 1898.

Leo taught himself astrology and in 1888 became acquainted with another astrologer, F. W. Lacey. Through Lacey he met W. Gorn Old, who belonged to the inner circle of the Theosophical Society. Leo joined the society in 1890 and formed a partnership with Lacey to publish Astrologer’s Magazine. For years, the magazine advertised a free chart-reading for new subscribers. (Leo met his wife through such an advertisement.) Although the offer and consequently the magazine proved popular, Lacey withdrew in 1894 to pursue other interests, which left Leo as sole proprietor. He renamed the magazine Modern Astrology in 1895.

By 1898, the prosperity of his magazine was such that Leo was able to abandon his sales job and give his full energies to astrology. His Modern Astrology Publishing Company grew steadily and built up a big business in astrological materials. In the early 1900s, he wrote seven substantial books as well as a number of short works on astrology. His books were so popular that they were repeatedly reprinted, and after almost a century they are still in print.

Leo founded the Astrological Lodge of the Theosophical Society in 1915. The lodge thrived and became a permanent part of the society. His success in creating popular interest in astrology was such that he was prosecuted for “fortune-telling” twice. In the first case, in May 1914, he was acquitted on a technicality. In the second case, in July 1917, he was fined 25 pounds (equivalent to thousands of dollars in today’s money). These cases were not much different from religious persecution. Some of Leo’s friends thought these prosecutions contributed to his death (from cerebral hemorrhage) in 1917.

Sources:

Holden, James H., and Robert A. Hughes. Astrological Pioneers of America. Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, 1988.
Leo, Alan. The Art of Synthesis. 9th ed. London: L.N. Fowler, 1968.
Leo. Astrology for All. London: L. N. Fowler, 1969.
Leo. Casting the Horoscope. 11th ed. London: L.N. Fowler, 1969.
Leo. Esoteric Astrology. London: L. N. Fowler, 1967.
Leo. How to Judge a Nativity. London, 1903. Reprint, London: L.N. Fowler, 1969.

Leo. The Key to Your Own Nativity. 10th ed. London: L. N. Fowler, 1969.

Leo. The Progressed Horoscope. 1905. Reprint, London: L. N. Fowler, 1969.