Like it or not, eclipses of the sun and moon are historically associated with malefic events and influences, from earthquakes and plagues to the death of royalty. The solar eclipse in particular was cause for dread, supplication and sometimes animal sacrifices. Before we look at why this is so, and what eclipses mean to us today, it`s important to review the technical components of an eclipse.
A lunar eclipse is, of course, when the earth comes directly between the moon and the sun, causing the moon to fall into earth`s shadow. A solar eclipse throws the earth into the moon`s shadow, as moon comes directly between Earth and Sun. A lunar eclipse always occurs on a full moon, while a solar eclipse always occurs on a new moon. When a new or full moon occurs The moon`s orbit is tilted (roughly 5 degrees) with respect to the Earth`s orbit around the Sun. Therefore, there are only two points where the moon`s path intersects the elliptic (Sun`s path through our sky). These two points of intersection are called the North and South Nodes of the moon, otherwise known as the Dragon`s Head and Dragon`s Tail. The moon passes over each Node once a month, while the Sun passes each Node once a day. When both heavenly bodies cross a Lunar node at the same time, it means that the Earth, Sun and Moon are on a single axis, and light must therefore be blocked.
While the mechanics of eclipses are no longer a mystery, their energetic and astrological signature remains one of upheaval, changing of fortunes, affliction, and/or the resurfacing of neglected areas of our lives. Mysteries and blind spots are the bread and butter of eclipses. Because eclipses always occur on the Nodes, opportunities and blockages come into focus - powerful channels open through which we can pay off karmic debt, learn from the past, and progress into the new. Eclipses are widely considered to be collective, planetary events first, and individual events second. In other words, eclipses are important to mundane astrology (general astrological interpretation, planetary in nature and not linked to an individual). When applying eclipses to individual interpretation, astrologers look for very close aspects between the eclipse and the natal chart. For instance, particular care is taken when an eclipse is closely conjunct an individual`s natal Sun or Moon.An eclipse is also coloured and characterised by its house location and aspects to the other planets. For example, a solar eclipse conjunct Mars might reveal something being withheld or taken away in the realm of vitality and initiative - the earth might nod off. A lunar eclipse in favourable aspect to Jupiter could be interpreted positively as emotion is brushed aside in the name of science, academics or other forms of growth and exploration.
Enhanced New and Full Moons
A solar eclipse can be seen as a volatile new moon. The new moon is a time to start new projects and take first steps. The solar eclipse new moon indicates that special care should be taken, as the new moon energy could be amplified, distorted, or weakened by the eclipse.Likewise, a lunar eclipse can be seen as a volatile full moon. The full moon is when things come to completion. We begin to let go, sweep up, express gratitude, and integrate lessons to prepare us for the next incarnation of the moon and life. The lunar eclipse full moon indicates that special care should be taken, as the full moon energy could be amplified, distorted, or weakened by the eclipse.The energy of an eclipse lasts longer than the eclipse itself. The eclipse puts a stamp on the zodiacal degree where it occurred, but just how long the effects last is a matter of opinion amongst astrologers. One rule, old but still in use, says that for every hour of a solar eclipse, the energetic imprint is felt for one year; in the case of a lunar eclipse, every hour equals one month. During that time, the imprint is triggered or awakened by transiting planets.
Themes of the Solar Eclipse
The destiny of emperors, death of royalty, affairs of the the State, loss of leadership positions. A total solar eclipse occurred in China on October 22nd, 2134 BC. Famously, two court astrologers who failed to predict the event were executed by the emperor. In 682 AD, the Japanese Empress Suiko died on the day of a total solar eclipse. Cultures throughout the world, including Asia, Africa and South America, have attributed solar eclipses to dragons or demons attacking the sun. Ancient Greece thought it to mean the gods were angry - the ancients generally didn't greet solar eclipses with excitement or fascination. Many would gather and make noise, banging drums and yelling to scare the dragon off. History also gives us instances where solar eclipses have a positive effect.
In 585 BC, around the area now known as Turkey, two tribes were engaged in battle when they witnessed a total solar eclipse. Both sides immediately stopped fighting and signed a peace agreement - an eclipse has the power to arrest our activity and force us to reconsider the path we are walking. Solar eclipses have also born the fruit scientific discoveries, including the discovery of Helium and the confirmation of Einstein`s theory that gravitational fields bend light.
Themes of the Lunar Eclipse
Appraisal of habits, rethinking old ways, letting go of what no longer serves. The heightened energy of the full moon is well known - police stations are busier, psychiatric wards have their hands full, more babies are born than usual, and your inner wolf is howling. A lunar eclipse puts the brakes on all this, encouraging us to step back and view our habits and behaviours from a different angle. Again, the themes of the lunar eclipse are based more in inner tides and changes than the more explicit implications of a solar eclipse.There is usually an emotional and energetic build as the lunar eclipse draws near, and the suspension of these energies leaves us in a strange silence from which we can learn something about ourselves.
While there is no reason to freak out during an eclipse, it is good to understand the historical significance, current astrological and astronomical knowledge, and most importantly to exercise caution and be watchful. Celebrating an eclipse on a lawn chair with a six pack, without giving thought to inner work or what lessons the stars may be trying to impart, is not the best course of action. If you wish, find out where the eclipse falls on your birth chart and whether or not any strong aspects are made. During the build up and actual eclipse, be meditative and compassionate - look for ways in which you can be more honest with yourself.