Dear Friend and Reader:
WE ARE PUBLISHING on the eve of Friday's total solar eclipse in Leo, and time permits me just a few more comments. We covered it in last week's edition and in our daily as well.
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
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.
Feelin' Groovy: Grammy Award winner Bill Danoff serenades a female friend in 1971, when the last South Node Leo solar eclipse happened.
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,
Additional research: Tracy Delaney, Kirsti Melto