A total solar eclipse only lasts a few minutes, but this rare event fills humans with all sorts of odd reactions. From the Vikings to ancient Babylonians, eclipses have fascinated humanity in similar ways around the world. So what can we expect from this summer’s triad of eclipses?
Steve Ruskin, a historian and author of books on astronomy, discovered that people all over the world seemed to react to eclipses in very similar ways. His study of eclipses throughout history has shown that no matter when eclipses happen, whether in olden or modern times, humans express awe and wonder, and even fear and terror.
In the past, the Vikings made loud noises to scare off Skill and Hait, the two wolves from Viking mythology who chased the sun and moon, and occasionally caught them, causing an eclipse. Viking wolves weren’t the only creatures, according to ancient myth and legend, causing eclipses by eating up the sun. The Maya, who learned to predict eclipses, sometimes depicted them as a giant snake. The Inca seemed to believe a jaguar swallowed the moon to cause a lunar eclipse.
Eclipses were not usually seen as good omens. The death of England’s King Henry the First in 1133 coincided with a solar eclipse, and the years after the king’s death were years of chaos and civil war.
Ancient Babylonians could mathematically predict eclipses, but they still saw them as bad omens for their kings. When the eclipse day arrived, they often put a commoner on the throne instead of the king for the duration of the eclipse to channel any bad luck to the fake king. After the eclipse was over, the fake king was rewarded for his service by being killed, just to make sure any bad ‘eclipse’ luck died along with him.
When astronomers in the courts of emperors in ancient China failed to report an eclipse. This angered the emperor and unfortunately for them, they did not live to see the light of the next day’s sun.
An eclipse in Turkey in 585 BC, however, had the opposite effect. The armies fighting each other took it as a sign from the gods that perhaps they should try to get along. It is uncanny that, thanks to an eclipse, fifteen years of fighting came to a sudden end.
It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that scientific explanations of the motion of the Earth, sun and moon became known, that the fear began to go away. Still, eclipses continue to fascinate us to this day. The solar eclipse of 1919, in which scientists were able to measure the bending of light from the stars, fascinated people in a similar way. It helped confirm Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which describes gravity as the warping of space-time. Last year, on the 21st of August, 2017, the Moon passed in front of the Sun, completely blotting it out for thousands people who were travelled to specific places waiting to see it across some parts of the United States of America.
This summer, the heavens are gracing us with no less than three eclipses. The first one was a solar partial eclipse, and very ominously, occurred on Friday the 13th July. This week, on Friday 27th July, a full moon eclipse will take place which is rather different in that it is the longest one this century, with both astronomers and astrologers raving about it. The third and final eclipse will take place on the 11th August 2018.
How do we interpret these eclipses on a personal level? The first eclipse of July 13th occurred at 20 degrees of Cancer. If you have your chart on hand, you could check whether you have the Sun, Moon or Ascendant at that degree, or opposite it, at 20 degrees of Capricorn. If nothing appears close by there, see which house the eclipse falls in: the chart is divided into 12 ‘houses’, which each house representing an area of activity, so to speak.
Looking at the astrological chart for that day, you would also find that Pluto lies opposite the Sun/Moon conjunction (this eclipse occurs at the New Moon). An interpretation of this could be that collectively, we are being asked to transform and transmute anything in our lives that needs to be let go of.
To give an example, the natal Moon of the United Kingdom is at approximately 20 degrees of Cancer, exactly where this eclipse is taking place. The Moon in the chart of a country represents the people, and the people are dealing with the implications of Brexit, the challenge being how to carry the will of the people through. The idea being pushed through is that when we finish something, we can always expect something new to take its place. So a look at the next eclipse might throw light on this.
Following this, the Full Moon eclipse of the 27th, which is when the Sun and Moon are opposite from each other (in the astrological chart), occurs on the 4 degrees 45 minutes axis of Leo/Aquarius. Again, look at your astrological chart and see if anything occupies that degree, or is within 4 degrees of it.
This eclipse is a particularly powerful one as it is the longest lasting lunar eclipse of this century, which suggests that it is one to reckon with. In the astrological chart for this event, one notices that the Moon carries with it the energy of Mars the warrior and Uranus the rebel, suggesting that what we are in no position to resist letting go of ‘stuff’. Odd things might occur. Eclipse stuff comes right at you out of the blue. In other words, if you haven’t let go of what is of no use, others will do the job for you. Stand and behold!
The last eclipse for this summer carries a message of hope. This eclipse and new moon occurs at 18 degrees of Leo, promising us that should we wish to be guided by our internal wisdom, things should go well for us. However, we have to be careful to resist that which glitters and attracts us but may not be ideal in the long run. New patterns are laid down at new moons, so wherever this is happening in your chart, looking for the overall meaning of the house this eclipse falls in – but more about this new moon in next month’s horoscopes!