“Beam of the Sun! O thou that seest from afar, what wilt thou be devising? O mother of mine eyes! O star supreme, reft from us in the daytime! Why has thou perplexed the power of man and the way of wisdom by rushing forth on a darksome track? Art thou bringing a sign of some war, or wasting of produce, or an unspeakably violent snow-storm, or fatal faction, or again, some overflowing of the sea on the plain, or frost to bind the earth, or heat of the south wind streaming with raging rain? Or wilt thou, by deluging the land, cause the race of men to begin anew? I in no wise lament whate’er I shall suffer with the rest!” (Greek poet Pinder, addressing the Thebans, referring to the solar eclipse of 30 April 463 BC, which was nearly total at Thebes, quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth’s Rotation, by F. Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 344, and, in part, in Encyclopedia Britannica CD 98.)
Welcome to Part III of my Great American Eclipse series. In Part I and Part II, I laid the groundwork for this and my next and final article. In this installment, I explain something about how astrology analyzes eclipses in general. In the next and final installment, Part IV, I will offer my analysis of the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017. One thing that is important to understand is that the eclipse day itself may or may not be eventful, but more importantly, eclipses often point to changing trends and larger cycles which extend sometimes for years going backward or forward. That said, the eclipse day itself, as well as the days and weeks around eclipses, are a sensitive time, which I have discussed in my previous articles.
What do eclipses mean astrologically? In a nutshell, they shine a spotlight on a certain area of the zodiac, just as with any other planetary transit. Astrologers then superimpose the transit chart of an eclipse over an individual birth horoscope or a mundane (world) horoscope, i.e., a chart for a country, business, or other entity. When the eclipse closely aspects planets or sensitive points, then matters relating to these planets or points will be highlighted. In natal astrology, eclipses often awaken new awareness and bring changes in the areas of life they activate according to the sign, house, planets, and points that the eclipse activates. Whether these changes are “good or bad” depends on the natal significations of that planet or point, as well as aspects, other transits, natal combinations (yogas), and dasas (progressions). In mundane astrology, solar and lunar eclipses are omens of change which reflect important and far-reaching world events extending over some considerable time.
A solar eclipse closely stimulating a natal horoscope, especially a planet or one of the four angular cusps (chalit chakra kendra cusps), which are 1-ascendant/lagna, 4-imum coeli/patala lagna, 7-descendant/asta lagna, and 10-midheaven/madhya lagna, can be an omen of positive events and/or of extreme reversals and difficulties, and sometimes both at the same time or in the same time period. It is typical to see a drop in vitality, a significant loss, or a health crisis in the months or weeks preceding or following an eclipse. But many times, we see eclipses pointing to a new professional path, often an advancement; quite often they can signify a love affair or marriage (often a difficult one ending and a new better one beginning); birth or adoption of a child; a considerable financial windfall; a book publishing contract or any kind of new creative venture; and all kinds of other upside-down, life-changing experiences.
Around eclipses, a new awareness often emerges about a change that is needed; for example, perhaps there is something that is no longer serving our best interest in life, which may even be blocking our success and well-being, which needs to be eliminated or transformed. Another way to think of eclipses is that they figuratively “clear the air,” and are thus akin to rebooting a computer that goes haywire, so they often offer the potential for release, reorganization, and fresh new beginnings. Often secrets are revealed or events from the past come up again and are begging for closure. Eclipses occur in the same general vicinity (opposite signs) of the zodiac for a year and a half, so this is one reason that matters coming up will often take place over a broader range of time. When I work with individuals whose natal charts are impacted by an eclipse, I look into many factors to determine the eclipse meaning and influence, including:
- Desha-kala-patra, one’s current place, time and situation in life, which includes one’s natural constitution, long-term and current state of health, and developmental processes.
- Natal chart dynamics such as overall condition of the birth chart with its lessons, strengths, and weaknesses, especially those related to the house (bhava) where the eclipse falls and the planets and points being activated.
- The current dasas/cycles (and other progressed cycles) will have a lot to say.
- Other transits in place are important.
- I sometimes work with family charts, as well as prasna (horary astrology), along with my other oracles to try and glean the meaning of the eclipse and offer guidance and remedial support as needed.
- It can be useful to look at the results of eclipses igniting a natal or mundane chart in the past to see possible trends for current or future eclipse activation.
Determining how long eclipses will manifest is quite a complex and controversial subject which is beyond the scope of this article. For now, I suggest a simple method which considers the August 7 lunar eclipse resonating backward and forward for a few months, and the August 21 solar eclipse resonating back for several months, and forward until the next solar eclipse in February 2018. The month or two preceding a lunar and solar eclipse will involves a lot of churning of the negative power as well as karmic events that are creating significant change.
In the month of the eclipses, it is best to avoid making significant decisions or radical life changes as the electromagnetic shifts in energy are somewhat disruptive and unpredictable. Yet, when an eclipse is impacting one’s natal chart, there may be a great urge to break free or make a big change, which is the “Catch 22” of eclipses. I recommend riding the winds of change, and waiting until after the winds settle down, meaning after the unstable period is over, to actually take action and move forward. Events that happen on eclipse days (and ~three days either side of them) take on a fated quality and often have an unsteady and possibly also volatile nature. Such events can have long-lasting consequences, but of a more negative than positive quality.
I prefer not to initiate anything really important between two eclipses and for at least three days after the last eclipse in the cycle. In regard to the 2017 Great American Eclipse, it is best to wait at least until August 25, and if possible, even better to wait until after the first week of September due to the Mercury retrograde cycle (August 12 to September 5) and also because Mars will transit through the eclipse degrees which looks to be a potentially unsettling period through the first week of September. Western and Vedic astrology have many rules and methods for interpreting eclipses per mundane and natal astrology, and in my next and last article in this eclipse series (Part IV), I will share some of the guidelines and techniques in relation to previous eclipses and in particular to the mundane effects of the Great American Eclipse.
As we move into this eclipse season, I feel so deeply aware of something that Rumi said, which is that “Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.” Eclipses involve the lights and the shadows coming together in pairs twice a year, so they really are about lifting the veil of duality so that we can realign and harmonize with the central point of unity that holds life together in the field of duality. Beloved Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.” May we walk together in peace, joy, love, and understanding.