Dear Friend and Reader:
I consider eclipses to be a kind of religious event, worthy of stopping everything for. They are akin to the quarter days (equinoxes and solstices) and the cross-quarter days (Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Sahwen). These kinds of events are the natural basis of what we think of as a holiday. Eclipses seem to arrive with even greater emphasis. They are the events that move around the calendar, coming gradually earlier each year and arranging themselves in distinct, interesting patterns.
Rather than being on the strictly solar calendar (as are the seasons), eclipses are made of the combined cycle of the Sun and the Moon, what I call an epicycle. Total solar eclipses are a kind of hieros gamos, the male and female principles engaging and interpenetrating one another fully. For an individual out of partnership or meeting another person face-to-face as an individual, think of it as solos gamos, or masturbation taken to the depth of authentic self-lovemaking. At its essence, this is the meeting of the inner male and inner female identities (what Jung called anima and animus).
Note that it is the Moon or interior principle that dominates the Sun, the expressive principle. An eclipse represents a moment of respite from this thing we call the patriarchy, both internal and external. It is an opportunity to stop expressing oneself. It is a chance to let go of one’s self-concept and embody oneself with full awareness. And adding a touch of the spectacular to this event, the Moon makes an eclipse to Mercury shortly after it gets through with the Sun. To me this is an invocation of the androgynous principle (of which Mercury is ambassador): again, a reference to creating a sense of balance between our inner sexual identities. Easier said than done, but well worth exploring.
This particular event occurs on the high sabbat of Lammas, one of the cross-quarters, granting it a touch of the numinous and some extra astrological significance (a sesquisquare to the Aries Point) that I will mention again at the end of this letter.
Let’s look first at the basic astronomy, then consider some possible metaphors for how it can be interpreted.
At the core, an eclipse is a New Moon, but it’s a much more precisely aligned one. The Sun and the Moon form a conjunction. Yet rather than passing slightly above or below the Sun (as usually happens), the Moon completely obscures the Sun’s disk. A total eclipse means that the Moon is close enough to the Earth at the time to entirely obscure the Sun. (The Moon moves in an elliptical orbit, and thus has varying distances from the Earth. The closer the Moon is, the bigger it appears to us. When the Moon is distant from the Earth, what would be a total eclipse appears as an annular eclipse, or an eclipse with a ring of the Sun around it.)
Most ephemerides (planetary table books) list a New Moon separately from an eclipse, as the time generally does differ by a few minutes. [Here is an article that helps explain why. It relates to lunar eclipses, but the principle is the same.] Friday’s Leo New Moon occurs at 6:14 am EDT.
The eclipse’s peak of totality is a few minutes later than the New Moon, occurring at 6:21 am EDT and 3:21 am PDT. In London, the peak of totality will occur at 11:21 am BST and in Paris at 12:21 pm CED. In Sydney and Melbourne it will occur at 8:21 pm AEST and in Johannesburg, it will occur at 12:21 pm SAST. This National Geographic video will tell you if it’s visible in your area. Here is the NASA webpage on the event, a little gift that NASA provides for every eclipse. (NASA is married to the military, but they give us some cool stuff to play with, including the APOD website.)
Eclipses happen near one of the lunar nodes, those mysterious karmic points whose meaning everyone wonders about. Eclipses are precisely what the nodes indicate — the approximate location of the next eclipse. Friday’s is an eclipse on the South Node, representing a release from the past; in particular, a past concept of your identity.
The nodes are points in space rather than objects. But they have the full power of any planet, whether there is an eclipse in the vicinity or not. They represent the place where the path of the Sun and the path of the Moon, which exist on different planes, will intersect. They also indicate approximately when it will happen, usually within a few days. Therefore, I consider them multidimensional points, combining two planes of space and the dimension of time.
The nodes dominate many, many charts and many lives. In interpretation, they act like portals to other dimensions, typically one’s sense of what one has become (Ketu, or the South Node) and what one is becoming (Rahu, or the North Node). The South Node is now in Leo, representing a kind of sum total of “what egoic identity we have become” and are in the process of unbecoming (the eclipse). These are usually experienced less like concepts and more like interior realities. In other words, they relate to how you feel, which can reflect who you are. Inevitably, with the act of letting go we open up to new possibilities.
When I mention that a solar eclipse is happening and that I am planning to do something or be somewhere, most people assume that I’m planning to watch the event with my eyes. (This possibility is unusual, as the path of totality is narrow and you can’t see it from many parts of the world — but if you are willing to travel, you can see it if you want.)
What I like to convey is that an eclipse is a holistic event. It is something we experience with our entire being. In human consciousness, it is primal material. The Sun (our immediate local source of energy) “going out” is powerful territory for a tiny little human in a great big cosmos. The Moon blocking the Sun is the perfect metaphor for shadow, which is to say, engaging what in depth psychology is called shadow material: fear, deep eroticism, surrender to death and all the great many emotions associated with these things. We have an image of ego death, doubly iterated because the event is in Leo or Meo (meow), the sign of what we think of as the “self.”
They are also intersection points between the personal and the collective. This is why they are seen alternately as harbingers of disaster (collective events that affect our lives) and as openings or opportunities (moments when the collective stands aside and makes a little more room for who we are). And this peculiar, almost alchemical power, is why we need to treat them with so much intention.
Friday’s lunation is a total solar eclipse, with approximately the same intensity of the Aug. 11, 1999 total solar eclipse. This was the infamous grand cross and total solar eclipse associated with the Cassini Space Probe. It was also the most recent total solar eclipse in Leo. Scanning a calculation of recent Leo solar eclipses provided to me by Serennu.com, we discover that they are somewhat unusual in recent decades. I have mentioned this pattern before, and would like to give a few more details for your notebook.
Beginning our study in the early 1970s, there was a partial solar eclipse at 27+ Leo in 1971. That was the only Leo solar eclipse for that cycle of the South Node through Leo.
When the North Node returned to Leo, we had a cluster of three solar eclipses, an annular at 29+ degrees in 1979, an annular in 1980 at 18+ degrees, and a total in 1981 at 7+ degrees.
As the South Node returned to Leo in May 1989, something unusual happened: there were no eclipses of the Sun in Leo. Since we know that the South Node represents the collection of what we have become (i.e., where we may be stuck) and that Leo represents our expression of self, we could say that beginning in the late 1980s through late 1990, we missed an opportunity to get unstuck. We did not experience any direct release points in Leo. There were lunar eclipses, but that’s not quite the same thing.
Then the North Node returned to Leo in the late 1990s, and for that cycle we had a single solar eclipse — the infamous grand cross of Aug. 11, 1999. Again, here is a reference to our coverage of that event, and here is a kind of snapshot in time of the summer of 1999.
While the turn of the millennium seemed to pass without incident (though the bombing of Los Angeles airport or LAX was averted by the Clinton administration, with some help from an employee of the Washington State Ferries), the grand cross / total solar eclipse of Aug. 11, 1999 stands as the first of many warnings about the Sept. 11 incidents that followed soon after. If you recall, our nation and to a great extent our world were catapulted into lives of fear and reactionary greed as a result of these false flag attacks.
Now, eclipses have returned to Leo, in the form of the South Node. There has not been a South Node solar eclipse in Leo since 1971. Looking at history, the early 1970s were a very unusual time, when we could say that people were willing to exchange an old idea of who they were for a new one. This mighty charge was led by the Baby Boomers, who succeeded in being the first generation to refuse to go to war. Then the war ended and opportunity beckoned and many of them, well, got stuck in that land of plenty. Notably, Pluto was in Leo in the birth charts of a massive swath of Boomers, and this last Leo solar eclipse seems to have activated that Pluto placement to full force.
Friday’s eclipse comes within about seven degrees of the Pluto placement of those born between 1942 and 1948 — the vanguard of the Baby Boom. The entire Pluto in Leo generation is the beneficiary of this kick in the ass, and frankly the world needs it.
Bernadette Brady writes, “This Saros Series [group of eclipses] concerns itself with breaking out of a very negative situation where no hope can be seen to a more positive space containing many options. A worry that may have been affecting a person will suddenly clear. The solution is shown by the Cosmos and needs to be taken up without too much delay.”
Eclipses stand alone. And in particular, Leo eclipses stand apart. Leo is the sign at the center of the zodiac. It is not the precise temporal center — that would be late Virgo. But in the astrological system, it is the sign that is ruled by the Sun, and the Sun is not a planet; it is the star that feeds us light, life and energy. It is our origin and our point of return. It, too, has an origin; stars are born, live and die, like all living creatures. They are as close to being alive as a supposedly inanimate object gets.
A total eclipse of the Sun in Leo stands as a direct invitation to wake up and pay attention to who we are. But rather than trade one Self-Concept for another, we have a bold calling to trade a Self-Concept for an actual sense of self. We can trust that the events of this time, some of which will feel fated and others we will invoke, are designed to help us do precisely that.
Yours & truly,
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, August 1, 2008, #725 – By ERIC FRANCIS
Aries (March 20-April 19)
You may be wondering when your luck is going to catch up with you, but the issue is not about chance or fortune; it’s about the willingness to do things differently. In this case, different would amount to opening up a few alternative goals than the ones you usually work with. One of the reasons we cling to old goals is because we have so much invested in them. We’ve given them time, effort and often money; we may also have an investment in pride. But that doesn’t always make them work; certainly it’s not a guarantee. I suggest you think of goals not as what you want to do, but rather as who you want to become. I suggest you consider carefully what you want to learn, and make it a priority as you are going through your daily motions.
Taurus (April 19-May 20)
This week’s total eclipse of the Sun will shake you out of some of your slumber. You are working through a combination of creative passion and paralyzing fear. There seem to be so many details, so many contradictions and so much responsibility associated with what you want, that it can be appealing to let go of what you know are your more daring objectives in life. It helps to be reminded of what is truly important, and by that, I mean what allows you to feel that you belong in your skin, in your environment and in your existence. The message seems to be that you put way too much emphasis on security as a means of feeling like yourself, or of validating your existence. It verges on impossible to have both stability and passion. Which do you want?
Gemini (May 20-June 21)
You have a lot of ideas, and many of them are truly creative. But in the coming days, one is likely to get your attention above all the others. This is something that’s more likely to choose you than you are to choose it. And it’s the one that’s most likely to make you a little nervous. You seem to be trying with such great emphasis to stabilize your life and your emotional state. It would seem that the last thing you need is an idea that takes over your life, encourages you to neglect other responsibilities or to jeopardize your sense of safety in the world. Just about everything is optional, and this one counts; which is fine, as long as you remember that what is available now will not be available for long.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
This is the time to put your financial plans into action. In the immediate term, you will benefit from eliminating unnecessary expenses, particularly the ones you don’t know about. But that is not enough. Economy is based on exchange, not on conservation. But it’s also based on embracing a concept of abundance that you are both comfortable with, and that leaves you room to grow. That, in turn, usually requires letting go of some old values, and those are among the most difficult things to release. It would help if you know what they are before you let them go. What do you consider important that really drains your resources or hurts you? Who in your life has proven to contradict the most important reasons you consider yourself alive? Make sure everyone and everything is in its proper place.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
This is a defining moment for you, or more accurately, a redefining moment. Take advantage of it; if you feel yourself helplessly getting pulled along by the tide, you’re not steering your ship. The planets are placed so auspiciously for you that I can call this a wildcard. There must be a reason; I am guessing that you have one situation that, if you could, you would completely erase from your life; something that needs a radical improvement. Choose one thing, your top priority. You can use the opportunity of a total eclipse in your birth sign to resolve many things, and to make a break from the past unlike anything you’ve done in recent years, but I strongly suggest you prioritize. You need to know what is important to you, and work your way from there; if you focus on what matters most, the rest will follow.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
You may be overwhelmed with all that you think you don’t know. Or you may be obsessed with all that you do know, despite how it is obscuring your vision. Still, you seem determined to stay on your path, certain that you’ve earned your passport to one particular future. Still, I suggest you pay homage to the unknown. It goes deeper than you may suspect even in your more reflective moments. And the respect that you need to embrace the unknown exactly contradicts the determination you have to succeed in one particular way. The main quality of the unknown is not that we don’t know it, but rather that we don’t even suspect it. You’ve had many clues as to the nature of what resides behind the veil; you have even seen glimpses. Yet its greatest power is in its mystery, or rather, your greatest power is standing in conscious, respectful relationship to the unknown.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
You seem to be a few paces ahead of your friends figuring out what you think should be obvious. And you are right, it should be obvious. You can count on the people around you doing a lot of noticing all at once, and it may take them by surprise; don’t let it take you unaware. But also don’t act too smart when it turns out you were right all along; keep your mind focused on being an additional two or three steps ahead. You may not be able to act on what you know quite yet, but the moment of action will come; and at that point, you will see that a long-term plan is involved. There are events developing that will come to fruition a year from now; but at the moment the thing you need to focus on is what you know; what the people around you know; and in particular the place where the two intersect.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
I am inclined to say, “This may be the most interesting, productive time so far in the history of your career.” Except that some of you, perhaps more than usual, will disagree, and in spades. This is because not all changes instigated by an eclipse are necessarily welcome or seem helpful. For you, time will tell. For people who are engrossed in the intrigue, intensity and sweeping changes that seem to have stormed into your professional life, enjoy not just your moment in the limelight but also your threshold to the future. What you are experiencing is not one of those transits that comes and goes; it is what I describe in my sessions as a gateway event. A door is opening; indeed, it is wide open. You have the option to go through, and to concern yourself some other time about the details, the consequences or whether you really feel confident doing all of this.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
You are someone for whom faith in the universe equals faith in yourself. And what happens when your faith blinks, shudders or stumbles? Well — you in particular use it as an occasion to go higher. There is something about the personal nature of your relationship to the universe that has now come into the spotlight. The Bible tells us that God created mankind in his own image. I would say that you created God or Goddess in your own image, and now that image is changing. You are deciding, it would seem, that both you and the wild cosmos are capable of more than you ever imagined. Yet to get there, you may first need to face a moment of doubt. That will not last long, if only you will remember at every turn that love is the one cosmic force that brings the dream to life.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Now is your moment to renegotiate an important agreement. This may feel daring and you may have this sense that you are putting yourself on the line. True enough, but that is the nature of any undertaking where something meaningful can be gained. Indeed, you may feel you have a lot to gain; there seems to be plenty of gold in the hills. Yet you’re also sorting out some limitations on what you admit is possible. I suggest you work with those immediately. Where did you get those ideas? Where did you get the idea that the Divine Spirit of the cosmos has to work out every single detail like an accountant collaborating with an industrial hygiene manager? Faith is faith; you need to bring some of the stuff into this sequence of events if even the least of your hopes are to be attained. That is not demanding a lot.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
An eclipse of the Sun in your opposite sign, Leo, is presenting you with an option, an opening or a chance to combine forces with someone of equal intelligence and intensity as yourself. This does not happen every day, and it does not happen in every lifetime. Your sign happens to be the one most associated with progressive thought, and you spend most of your time around people who can’t get their eyes off of the rearview mirror. You now have a chance to match the thoughts of someone whose potential is as vast as your own. Yet to touch the alchemy of this situation, you need to hold steady and acknowledge that you are equal to all the potential you see. You will know that you’re looking in the right mirror because the person you see there is certain that their potential is worth investing in you.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Yours is one of the most sensitive signs of the zodiac, and yet you are blessed with a kind of indomitable vitality. There seem, however, to be two kinds of Pisces. There are the kind who are here to develop the highly popular art of hedonism, and there are the ones who are here to fulfill a mission. Let’s assume you are the second kind. If so, pay attention, because you seem to be in line for new orders from the central office. Some new mission, close to the core of who you are, is coming, and you can trust that the space, time and resources you need to fulfill that are coming as well. You have reached a stage where you take your life seriously, perhaps more so than ever. Keep your sense of humor, keep your childlike imagination, and by all means allow yourself to identify fully with the work you do. But remember, you can take your life seriously. You are real and you know it.