Can A Leopard Change Its Spots?

vintage leopardDo people change? We ask this a lot on this site. I always say they don’t change.  Some people agree with me but most do not.

The other night I was talking to, Ben. He’s been a teacher for 35 years. He said he’ll meet a kid when they’re in 3rd grade and then meet them again when they’re in 8th grade. Invariably, it’s the same kid. The kid will have not changed one bit.

“If the kid was a wolf, they’re still a wolf. If the kid was a whiner, they’re still whining. Leopards don’t change their spots and I don’t know why people think they do,” Ben explained.

He said the kids do learn to better mask themselves.  They’ll come up with ways to hide, but beneath the mask, it’s same kid.

Since I published my book, Heaven, I Mean Circle K, I’ve been prompted to go back to read parts of it. There is a kid in that book and sure enough, it’s the same kid who writes and runs this blog.

Astrology agrees of course. I was born with Mars conjunct Mercury. With that, the die was cast.

Who believes they’ve changed their spots?

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Can A Leopard Change Its Spots? — 82 Comments

  1. Ahha, a topic of my interest!

    I don’t know the astrology to add, but I believe over the last two years I have changed my spots (addressed deep rooted issues in me that caused me to have low self-esteem and anxieties).

  2. People morph and mature and grow, for sure. Attitudes and opinions certainly change. The core of a person is what stays consistent throughout life.

  3. I had a weird experience last night, at a party. It felt like I was bumping into all the people I had bumped into at the same kind of party back in 2008.

    The past was being thrown in my face (a universal test, maybe?) and so was the ex..and his old manipulation technics, and his emotional push and pulls….conclusion : People seem to evolve and grow as long as it’s beneficial for them…Changing means looking at oneself’s dark sides and some people simply cannot go there.

  4. Great post, Elsa. I don’t think people change. And Ben is right: …. kids do learn to better mask themselves.

    Adults do too, w/life experience.

  5. “Adults do too, w/life experience.”

    Yep, but you’re still you!

    I see this from every perspective. For example, how long have I known, Ben? 30 years? He’s not changed one bit.

    I mean, we do age. I used to go to the gym and work out on a cross-trainer on level 20, every chance I got. I don’t do that anymore, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t face rigorous challenge just as frequently, because I most certainly do!

    I am a person who tries to do things – big things. And I try to build things, or whatever. I am not going to ever stop being like this, it’s just impossible to be anything other than what I am.

  6. I don’t know. I think I was the same person until Pluto crossed my ascendant in 2006. I used to say I was the same person I was when I was a kid, but now I can reach the faucet in the bathroom.

    I used to say that.

    I lost my innocence, though, through my marriage to the fundamentalist and then the death of my mother. Things I thought I always wanted, I don’t anymore. Who I believe I am has drastically changed.

    This is partially I think because I received some very bad feedback about myself which is now gone.

    But maybe for most people what you’re saying is true.

  7. me. I am a pisces. I did not have a strong sense of who I was. I was trying to be what others want me to be. On the other hand, my Taurus husband always had a strong sense of who he is. Also, I have known shattered people who are not what they once were. Some individuals are born with a strong defined personality, others do not.

  8. I don’t believe that one’s core energies and predispositions may change. Nonetheless, one may change the way the core energies are channelled and put to use. For better or for worse.

  9. I agree with anotheravatar. The more I live, the more I recognise who I was when I was born. I’ve spent my adult life trying to unlearn the stupid things I learned as a kid. I agree also with Elsa that a person’s basic personality remains pretty much who they are. My mom was a teacher and she could pick out which kids would end up in jail later in life. That doesn’t mean they can’t wake up and go straight one day. So their spots haven’t changed; they’ve just learned how to direct their will in a better way.

  10. I haven’t changed one bit. I am the same person even though my responses and reactions have shifted.
    My situation and my goals have changed significantly, but me I am the same little girl. Actually the more my horizons expand the more me I am. I agree you can mask your spots but you can’t change them. I’ve always had an intense love affair with mySelf. I learned the importance of being humble, self sufficient and self reliant.

  11. “He said the kids do learn to better mask themselves. They’ll come up with ways to hide, but beneath the mask, it’s same kid.”

    So true! I agree that every individual has a unique predisposition.

  12. “MoRich:
    I haven’t changed one bit. I am the same person even though my responses and reactions have shifted.
    My situation and my goals have changed significantly, but me I am the same little girl. Actually the more my horizons expand the more me I am. I agree you can mask your spots but you can’t change them. I’ve always had an intense love affair with mySelf. I learned the importance of being humble, self sufficient and self reliant.”

    WOW! spot on, MoRich!

  13. I think people do change somewhat, and a few make BIG changes sometimes because of a dramatic event in their lives. But, lol, I can see, even today, what you say is quite true.

  14. I think a person can make progress if the try like hell. For example, a stingy person can strive to become more giving, but their essential nature is still there.

    Or in my case, I have a big mouth. I can shut that mouth, but probably not for long. 😉

    I mean, I am never going to be a small-mouthed person. That would be impossible.

  15. My mom used to say that people don’t change, they only become more themselves. I think that’s right. Of course people grow and mature over time, but the overall potential is probably set at birth.

  16. I think Ben is right, but not so much that people learn to mask themselves, more that they learn to control themselves, mitigate the bad bits and reinforce the good parts of their character.

    The smart people do anyway..

  17. The essence (the color of the soul) does not change, however, people are certainly capable of refining their personalities along the endless mile.

  18. One thing though- have you ever changed in some fundamental way and people act like the “real you“ is someone different because of how you were as a child/ younger?

    It’s possible you were debilitated in some way, or whatever.

    There’s that confirmation bias- you look too see whatever confirms your view of the person, and you ignore whatever doesn’t support that. So you might say someone hasn’t changed when they have.

    I’m not really disagreeing, but as a Scorp I am aware of transformation. Good and bad.

    • I agree about transformation. When Pluto crossed my Ascendant (and is in fact still conjunct) I started to respond to events and people in a distinctly different way…so yes transformation is possible…I do think people can change…sometimes change, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.

  19. I agree with this. I think that you can learn to become a more whole person so that your demons don’t overrun your life, but you are who you are.

    When people seemingly make big changes for the better, I think they’re often just removing the masks that they’ve built up for themselves.

  20. “When people seemingly make big changes for the better, I think they’re often just removing the masks that they’ve built up for themselves.”


  21. “My mom was a teacher and she could pick out which kids would end up in jail later in life”

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with my oldest sons teacher when he was very young, 1st grade. She said she saw patterns then that if not corrected would cause school to be a challenge all his life. It angered me when she said it. He was such a nice Libra kid. But as time went on he sure did face some challenges. He just hated school and had no use for it and no one could change that in him. No matter who the teacher, no matter how I tried he was going to learn what he wanted to learn in his own way. He is a very bright man and loves to read and learn even today…but in his own way.

    I have often made the comment to people from watching my children grow up that they have the exact same personalities that they had when they were born. They were born the way that they are.

    The oldest walked at 7 months old and took everything we owned apart. He was not a baby for long. The youngest didn’t care if he walked or not and was 14 months old when he took his first steps…and was very high maintenance. Telling everyone what they should be doing from the time he could talk

    The oldest still takes everything apart but can put it back together today…he works on computers by trade. The youngest is a manager and still sitting down telling others what to do. The only thing that has changed about them is time.

  22. I used to be crazy. Gemini Sun much? Then at 19 I changed, I wasn’t crazy anymore. You may say I directed energy somewhere else, but I didn’t, I just chose not to be crazy anymore. I don’t go to the gym to work off my energy to not do something crazy. I don’t go skydiving instead of jumping off the house roof. I also don’t obsess over my skin instead of slitting my bloody wrist.

    It may happen to only 10% of the 7 billion people on earth and it may happen to only 1%, but it’s possible. I’m sure as hell not the same person I was at 18 or 19.

  23. You are right, there are certain personality traits that will not change, but yes, I do believe that people change, if they want to. Scorpios change, I know, because I am a Scorpio. Scorpios shed parts of their personality and get reborn, and leave people, places, desires behind forever on a periodic basis. I have a North Node in Scorpio in the 8th house which is about shedding your spots. But a fierce determination to be true to myself and look for what feels the most authentic, that is something that will not change for me. Also, to be always cognizant of others’ right to live without opression, that will also not change for me.

  24. “Scorpios shed parts of their personality and get reborn, and leave people, places, desires behind forever on a periodic basis.”

    Yes. And they do that over and over, which is what does not change. 🙂

    • I was hunting for something to understand my Scorpio self this morning, as the old Year of the Green Goat prepares to give it up the Year of the Fire Monkey. I googled “do leopards change their spots” … of course there’d be something to feed on.

      Here it is. With stellium (in Scorpio and Leo) squaring off natally the issue of power is locked into my circuitry. Like you wrote earlier in this thread you USED TO go to the gym and work at some astronomical level, you don’t now, but that doesn’t mean you don’t face rigorous challenges. It’s that kind of perspective about Natal Chart Energy that could really help me as Pluto crosses my ASC now … my real self, my spots, still remain in place wanting to achieve, succeed, be powerful … The question isn’t why did that? Cuz the answer is that’s me. The ‘shed parts of their _____ is how to make it through Pluto’s transit on my way to the First House. Wheww.

    • I’m not Scorpio, but very much 8th house Sun: shedding what’s outworn is part and parcel of normal life. Happily so.

  25. Well we’re free to all believe whatever, but trust me I ‘believed’ crazy things and did crazy things. But I do agree with you here, most people (90%+) do not change. I’d have to agree with you there. It’s magical (LOL), meet someone when they’re 8, then forward to age 38, same person!

  26. Yes, Scorpios shed parts and get reborn, and lately I’ve been noticing that I recognize thoughts, feelings, and inclinations and desires that I had in childhood. I thought there were long gone; they were just buried. I am who I am, and thank God I can deal with that better, and am learning to keep myself safer and channel my energy better.

  27. Interesting.

    My dad used to tell me this story; when I was a newborn, he watched me in the newborn room/ward/whatever it’s called. There were a few other newborns in there and the rest were either crying or sleeping. He told me I was wide-eyed and looking around the room, kind of confused. “Where the hell am I?” is how he described it. Not scared, just… confused curiosity.

    Yeah, just shedding the mask and the self-loathing. Still the same kid.

  28. One truth i have always known is that the strongest emotion which conclude your situation will exhibit your interaction to stimuli.

  29. Hee! I’ve got outer planet transits battering me for roughly the next 2 years. I’ll let you know if I’ve changed my spots after that’s all over!

  30. The thing is: there’s a huge difference between not changing and not being able to change.

    What mostly might happen is that people don’t want to go through the tough evolutional process, because it requires hard work and pain in some level.

    But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t meant to change. That would just defeat the whole purpose of being born in the first place. If we’re meant to overcome challenges and become better versions of ourselves, spiritually even, change is the way to do it. Evolution requires changes. And nature shows us that all the time.

    People CAN change, they more often opt not to. No matter how much they hurt even themselves because of that.

  31. Once upon a time I was a cucumber, now I am a pickle.

    Have I changed? Yes! Am I different? No!

    I still give you gas

  32. It almost feels like the question should be rephrased to “Do bad people change?”

    Also – Once upon a time I was a cucumber, now I am a pickle.

    Have I changed? Yes. Am I different? Yes! In so many ways! I don’t taste the same, I now have to live in brine and weirdly sometimes I get deep fried. That never happened as a cucumber.

  33. We were talking about this last night actually. It comes up every now and then, and the general agreement is always the same. Our core personality traits don’t change, you are who you are. We learn to fine tune it or understand it better but we don’t change at our core.

    I was born a very grateful, honest, kind, generous, forgiving person who has looked deep into human behaviour and abuse/religion/psychology to better understand since i was a little girl, who couldn’t bare to be angry with people, who has always talked too much for my liking. I continue to be that today, no matter how hard i’ve been hit. I have evolved and learned and changed certain lifestyle choices, but my core is dead set the same. Though i try to be less generous, it slips out before i know i’ve done it; i have to keep a constant watch on myself. Neptune/Jupiter conjunct; i’ll never be able to change my utopian view of the world, and i’ll always be taken advantage of, no matter how wise i get. That hopeful neivity just can’t be killed off, even for my own good. I’ll always talk too much, and be shockingly honest. I’ll always be saving 3 legged dogs. I’ll always be taking the heavy end of the blame, irrelevent of guilt.

    I have done intense soul work most of my life, always will. It certainly helps, but you are who you are.

    My son from the day he was born..quiet, happy, cheerful, kind, loving, easy going..nothings changed. My daughter.. charming, stress bunny, demanding, temper, funny, animal lover, materialistic, self centered, vain; nothings changed. Fathers as he was, as are sisters and brother and mother.
    The generous people i knew, still doing it, can’t help themselves to save their own life lol. The happy contented group generally still are. The care bears group are still around cuddling everyone. The miserable bully’s, still being asshats. The cheaters, liars and deceivers didn’t magically turn over a new leaf and if they found god, they just used him as a scapegoat. Shock life experience can alter a persons course, but they will react with the core personality traits they were born with.

    It’s amazing and a little frightening to think that we don’t change. Guess we are destined to become who we were born to be.

  34. Oh from my psychology studies they say we are set by around 10-12 yrs of age. Whatever we are by that age, is our set core. Even with heavy deprogramming, studies and experiments show we will revert back to those core traits. We may apply those traits differently according to our situations and current knowledge, but even when they strip a human back to core level, they can not alter the core. It will rebuild itself upon that foundation. I’ve studied core imprinting also, to see if that could be altered, but no, there is no tangible proof that imprint reprogramming can change the core.

  35. A leopard can never change it’s spot. But a leopard does grow and become an adult leopard and as they grow, so do the spots.

  36. Sometimes it can be hard for some people to look past the cynical/critic voice inside their own heads..people always just ‘see whatever they want to see’ in others, & yes, if it does not support their previous views/opinions of that person..then they abandon whatever ‘new’ traits or persona that particular ‘person in question’ exhibits that might conflict with the usual ‘status qua’, & if we are talking astrology here..i believe it can be a very Neptune quality, as some people just have a very skewed &/or rigid ‘reality tunnel’ of the world, & other fellow human beings around them.
    I believe this can be the most biggest reason/problem within personal relationships IE; the expectations, Vs seasonal changes within the individual/s.

    As i always say..
    ”opinions are like ass holes, everyone’s got one”
    ..but YES.. the shape of everyone’s ass holes never change, also what comes out of it… o.0 !! but the smell, shape, size & general color of what comes out, will never always be the same.

  37. @fushion, dido! 😉

    But i still believe we should take personal responsibility for our core traits. & do our best to stop the ancestral & familial imprints that block our core progression that could change the very face of our own future.

    (Sorry Elsa…me taking over the thread

  38. To some extent, I agree that we don’t change. We usually mature and grow over time, though. If no one ever did, then what’s the point in trying to improve yourself or overcome your weaknesses?

  39. I think its appropriate to say that both ideas are true.
    Some things change about a person, some things don’t. Lol.

  40. It is a bit academic. You can say that we change in order to stay ourselves. Or that we don’t change.

    I always liked the Carl Jung quote: The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

    I guess our chart will be the same but the way we live it out and what we value will change. And some meetings and life experiences will definitely change quite a lot.

  41. I disagree, I think people do change…as ‘towards future’ said maybe ‘they grow’ rather than change. I am much more organised and methodical now than I used to be and I think that’s because of my Saturn in Virgo – I only came really used it when I had my Saturn was quite hidden in 12th so that might contribute too. As a trainee counsellor I would say people can let go of stuff and change and evolve. Perhaps the chart is a blue print of our potential but we may surpress energies and disassociate/project some planets – if in 7th for example but begin to own them as we become more conscious…then again some people may never change …but I think many people do..although growing is a better word.

  42. I believe the leopard *can* change its spots…BUT it takes one hell of an experience to make the leopard realize that it has control over its spots, that the spots are a result of his doing, and that the spots are a problem for him. Does that mean he simply removes all the crap that was piled on over time…to return to the purer version of himself that he came into the world…well maybe. Maybe those spots were a mask resulting from all the crap that everyone else piled onto him. Maybe he wasn’t spotted at all, just dirty and needed a good bath 😀

    • Yes, when you confuse your response to what happened to you in life with who you really are, that can make the truth tough to uncover. And all I can see now is this image of a wriggling little cheetah cub being washed and showing a different spot pattern as his coat dries :).

  43. I definitely know the leopard can change.

    Your friend may be right about the majority of people not changing, but I know I am perfectly capable of change. In elementary school I was awkward, shy, no confidence, then in Jr highschool I completely morphed into the opposite, confident social butterfly and popular. I was also prettier, because of make up. (Neptune). And boobs, but the same people who bullied me and left me out in elementary were wishing they were my friend in Jr high.

    I think this is my 8th with all the Pisces/Neptune. Also with my Pluto in the 3rd, my mind set never stays the same. My values are always transforming and the way I process information. I can’t stay the same. I can’t relate to any of the ‘me’s I’ve been in the past. Everything about me changes every few years it seems.

    • Lol, well this was me 3 years ago and I don’t recognize this person at all. I can’t believe I would even write that. Really?

      I basically agree that people don’t change their basic nature. Maybe their style can change and the way their nature is expressed, but the core identity stays the same. And yes, I think part of my basic nature is to transform the way I process and relay information. I do this on the regular. My nature has always been the same though. Sometimes I just filter it through a different lens. The comment above would have been a small-minded slightly arrogant lens. But Ban does have a point about the mask. Perhaps we build up a mask only to later take parts of it away as we realize we don’t really need it anymore or it doesn’t serve us anymore. Basically, I am still a hardcore daydreamer/romantic/idealist who sometimes likes to say things for the shock value and play the devils advocate and I’m sometimes jovial, plus I’m an 8th house shadow magnet picker-upper- I tend to observe, I’m tenacious too. Yep, I’ve had these traits since I was a child; some things never change.

  44. I think people become more themselves as they age.

    I still feel the same as I was when I was 4. I’m just more mature now. As for the changes I am making, they were wishes of what I wanted to be when I was 4, but they were locked in. (Cap rising) I am starting to blossom, but I am the same flower.

  45. I read this, had a think, read the next post, then agreed with Ben.

    I haven’t changed at all. I’m probably still the same person I was when I was 1 and now at 26. I may have learned to cope better and have better reactions and to be more silent at times but I’m still the same. The only things that have changed are my principles, values and perspective. I suppose that comes with age and with learning about the world and people.

    Leopards don’t change their spots at all.

  46. Sure, they change. They grow up, mature, learn from mistakes, grow wiser. Not everyone. But at least some, hopefully. Every time you look back on your life and think “man, what an idiot I was back then,” it means you changed.

  47. I do – I didn’t become a different person, I am still me but I am more me – you know.
    8th house sun – yes of course people change – all the time

  48. I was born with mars conjunct mercury too, conjunct my MC in Libra, and i feel the same way. People can slowly evolve, but they do not drasticly change, unless they love to change. Uranus conjuncts my ASC so this is the case with me. For instance, i had to sell my flat, finish my master’s theses, move to another apartment in the same time so i decided to work out after years of neglecting the body, change my diet and live without the Internet. It tourned out great since it was all different and new to me. If you want changes – nothing should stop you. It is all for the best so you might as well have it all at once.

  49. I have met some people who were down in the shitter, depressed, overweight, introverted alone. Weighed down by a very difficult past and they transformed their lives and took themselves out of their comfort zone. I’m not sure if they changed or they had it in them. Usually they have aries. Dude healed his own diabetes.

  50. As a kid I was a bit dark and intense and affected by the fancy Oscar movies and stuff my family introduced me to. I also cut up worms once. I was bright and verbal and spoiled. In my own world and had difficulty making friends and following directions. Stirring up trouble with my family. I don’t know if that kid relates to the worried self involved person I am now.

  51. I don’t think people at their core change but sometimes what appear to be spots may be a response to trauma that are covering the true, uh, spotting and obscuring the authentic self.

  52. I have. Family members are mortified.
    They follow me with screens.
    I carry a window and a filter.
    From the abyss, I throw a diamond’s light.
    They throw back the mirror’s shade…

    • (Somehow missed this, before posting, below.)
      I do,in fact, believe real change is possible. We are each captain of our own ship – whatever weather. Only, like the lightbulb who wants changing.. 😀 *sorry! old,corny joke*

  53. People don’t change, but parts that are intrinsically theirs might lay dormant for long times. Still part of who they are, but invisible. Until some exchange, with someone or an event, that sparks that ability/trait.
    True for me, too.

  54. You’re right leopards don’t change there spots. Just don’t try to take advantage of people and you’ll find you won’t have to where a mask everyday;)

  55. I don’t think people change, basically, but perhaps they are better able to “control” themselves (unless they get worse!).
    Or maybe their ideas evolve, so their reactions are not the same.
    Some problems drop by the wayside (by themselves) and the person doen’t have to behave the same way anymore. (Change by default)
    Trying to think of an example, but can’t find one! So maybe yes, people don’t change.
    Very old men still look at porn, very old ladies still try to hook up. (And the twain shall never meet)
    It’s probably just as well!!!!!

  56. I agree that leopards don’t change their spots. I imagine that I am older than most posters on this site.Although I usually give people the benefit of doubt; on more than one occasion my “spider senses” told me that someone was a bad egg. Nevertheless, I tried to shrug it off and accept the people at face value. In every case, I was eventually proven right about them and they did not improve over time at all regardless of how much caring or forgiveness was given.In each case I truly “hated” being right and was actually very hurt not only for myself, but most of all for members of my family.

  57. The birth chart is the same on day one and still the same one when your seventy! No one can change their spots. They can learn to navagate the spots so people dont see them clearly but….. still the same spots! Have lived long enough to know I am right.

  58. Down the street from me lives the Leopard. I see him from time to time. In some of those “times”, years go by. Recently, we spoke to “catch up on things.” He said to me, in a language quite queer, that he had been studying the language of Zebra. In fact, he had become fluent. The affluence shown by his big belly. But, as you can imagine, he was not readily accepted by those of the native tongue. He was quite depressed in that he felt like a “man” without a country. He said that even though he could not change his spot in life, he could change his mentality in how he perceived it; the spot.

    And, that made all the difference in the world.

  59. A brutal Saturn or Pluto transit in a natal or progressed chart is a definitive change agent. Otherwise, maturity and environmental experiences alter your life’s progress.

  60. I agree,I used to work with a woman that was just miserable with life.She tried for years to have a child, finally she got pregnant.When she was 5 months pregnant she had a horrible accident with a train, but by some miracle she recovered and even gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Now I thought certainly there would be some kind of change when she came back to work. No she was the same miserable hateful person she was before.

  61. I think people can and do change. I feel like some people are just afraid or unwilling to evolve and so their “spots” remain the same.

  62. I believe ppl can learn to be different, like in 12 step programs, by making an effort to make healthier choices on a day to day basis. Ultimately the fundamental personality is always there, imho.

  63. I think one can. But it takes A LOT of work and opennes. And I dont think anyone can get to them all in a lifetime. Its probably wise to work on the ones that make you miserable, first and go from there.

    But still, theres only a certain range of potential from which to pull from. Im venturing to guess that that range is wider than we usually perceive it to be. Ive seen miraculous changes in myself from 12 step program. Its all about changing your spots. Or more accurately, letting God change my spots, by allowing Him to mold me. Hes pretty good at it, when I let Him.

  64. I’m with Ben! I’ve been teaching for most of the last 30 years and I have run into a lot of kids as they grow up. Sometimes they mask better and sometimes the learn to use their basic personality better. For instance, I had an eighth grade girl that was bossy, she told everyone what they should do and she was usually right, but most 8th graders and 8th grade teachers don’t appreciate that quality, but she is now in college studying stage management and has won national awards for her ability to tell people what to do and see the big picture.

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