by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Saros Eclipse Cycle
Metonic Eclipse Returns
Sabian and Other Symbolic Degrees
The “lights”, the Sun and the Moon, are the two dominant bodies of our earthly experience, the Sun due to its sheer mass and the Moon due to its proximity to the Earth. From Earth’s perspective, they appear to be close to the same size, and therefore were considered equal in stature. The ancients believed these bodies were Father and Mother.
The Moon has no light of its own and only reflects light from the Sun, as do all the planets. True, Jupiter is a small sun that creates light of its own, but not enough to broadcast that light over the vast distances required. Think about what that means: only the Sun has the power to generate the light and heat needed for existence. Everything else in our system is seen by its reflection of our Sun’s light. Astrology must translate clinical facts to human experience through metaphor.
From our earthly perspective, the Sun travels about one sign or 30˚ in thirty days, or 360˚ of orbit in 365 ¼ days.
- The Moon travels the entire Zodiac (360˚) in 27 1/3rd days, which is one sidereal month.
- Sidereal measures start from a single point and return to that same point. Are both bodies again at that original point? If slightly displaced, then…
- the moment when the Sun and Moon are together in the same area of the sky is called conjunction and determines the beginning of a new cycle – the new moon. This timing is referred to as the synodic month.
Because the Sun is so bright, the Moon’s conjunction is not always visible to us. The Sun’s light is illuminating the side of the Moon away from Earth’s perspective. This is also referred to as the “dark of the Moon”. About two weeks later, when the Moon has traveled around the Earth to its farthest distance from the Sun or in opposition to the Sun from Earth’s perspective, the Moon is as fully illuminated by the Sun as is possible (slightly over half), and is called the Full Moon. New Moon phases occur every 29 ½ days, the synodic month, conjunction to conjunction (both bodies lined up at the same location), with the Full Moon phase occurring two weeks before or two weeks after. Each year has 12 ½ new and full Moon cycles, or 25 pairs every two years. The synodic cycle is the astrological phase wheel itself.
In the space of a month, approximately 59% of the Moon’s surface is directly visible to the Earth* due to:
- the rocking motion of the Moon called libration,
- the 6½˚ tilt of the Moon’s axis, and
- the fact that the Moon revolves faster at perigee (point nearest the Earth) than at apogee (farthest from the Earth).
Astrologers pay attention! I have just told you that slightly over half of the Moon’s energy is visible and therefore conscious to us, ever! That leaves a slightly smaller percentage which is not visible and is therefore unconscious. That was true until we orbited the Moon in our handy-dandy spacecraft and took pictures of its dark side! We made our emotional body’s dark side visible! And you thought this emotional insanity we have been experiencing was accidental or the “Wrath of God”, which I instead call the “Stupidity of Man”.
Lunar Phase Study the technique to understand the overall concept of New and Full Moons. But briefly, as the giver of light, the Sun illuminates all the other dimensions of being within this solar system. All the bodies we use astrologically are reflections of the Sun’s light. This is an astronomical statement which may be interpreted astrologically. The Moon as the closest body to us, orbiting Earth at a common point about 1000 miles beneath Earth’s surface, and is continually bathed in sunlight on the side facing the Sun. As the Moon orbits Earth, that sunlit side is at times turned towards us, and at other times it is facing away from us. This changing visibility of reflected light causes Earth’s Moon to go from totally dark to a fully lit circle. At no time do we see the whole of the Moon because it also revolves on its own axis, but at an axial speed that always keeps only one side of the Moon facing us. We were never able to see the other side – until we sent the cameras into space.
Because this is a specifically measurable cycle, lunar phases are one of the oldest human records.
- First, the Moon and the Sun conjoin, and the Moon goes dark – the New Moon.
- As the Moon continues in its orbit, a crescent of light shows a few days later,
- gradually increasing in light to the Full Moon,
- and then decreasing in light until the next New Moon.
- Eight phases are marked – four as the Moon increases in light, termed waxing,
- and four as the Moon decreases in light, called waning.
- The waxing New Moon (dark) begins the phases,
- then becomes the sliver of light called the Crescent Moon,
- then grows in light (waxing) into the 1st Quarter that looks like half a moon,
- then Gibbous with its full bulging pregnancy look.
- Full Moon shows the whole circle of the Moon.
- Once full, the Moon then enters its waning phase.
- The Disseminating phase reminds you of the Gibbous phase but with the bulge on the other side as the Moon is diminishing in size (it has discharged or is discharging its cargo).
- Last Quarter illuminates the other half of the Moon.
- Balsamic looks like the reverse sliver of the Crescent,
- and then the final phase illuminates the back side of the Moon
- as it begins again at a new conjunction with the Sun, the succeeding New Moon.
This is as far as I will go at this time with the phases, because this lesson focuses only on the New and Full Moon phases and the occasional eclipses they produce. Phase wheel material is covered in my Summer of Aspects workbook which you can find at marilynmuir.net. There are two main considerations in these two phases.
New Moon No light is shown. It is an implied beginning, the conjunction with the Sun, that is intuitively but not consciously known, a feeling of a new beginning rather than outward knowledge. When a farmer starts his crop, the seed is planted in the ground, hidden and darkened in the womb of physical life. This is considered the best time to start projects. Visibility of that start occurs as the crescent phase develops.
Full Moon is full illumination. Unusual activity may surface, but you can definitely see what is going on, total reflection between the conscious / unconscious forces. This is the best time to resolve or culminate projects (endings and resolutions). The moment the Moon becomes full, it transitions from the building, waxing phase directly into the waning, distribution cycle.
A secondary consideration would be triggers to these two points produced by the squaring of them called the quarter Moons. These do not usually produce new action, but may time an event or produce a mini-crisis relating to the action already underway at the building 1st quarter point, and the distribution leading to the clearing 3rd quarter point.
Many astrologers use the New Moon as a monthly predictive technique. I have never done much with this because there are so many techniques to work with and you must triage your choices. You pick some techniques to work with and you leave out others, your Astrological Choices (also a book located on my website). I know enough to explain the technique to you and to refer you to the experts.
Sophia Mason is a Midwestern U.S. astrologer who has a booklet called Forecasting with New and Full Moons.Her work is a great place to begin. Here are a couple of general tidbits and one specific from her teachings:
- Each New Moon is in effect until the next New Moon.
- The Full Moon is in effect for two weeks.
- The Quarter Moons are in effect for one week.
- The New Moon sets the stage and the Full Moon brings it to full visibility.
- The quarter moon brings minor irritations of an everyday nature unless it is within 1˚, and then it can act as a trigger for a mini-crisis. It can “cause upsetting change of direction or circumstance requiring altering of personal plans. The house and sign position of the natal planet becomes a focal point and should reveal to whom or what is involved.”
Pat Benis Miller in her Illustrated Manual for Teachers and Students suggests:
- New Moon to 1st quarter: instinctive need for activity.
- 1st quarter to Full: struggle towards fulfillment.
- Full to 3rd Quarter: need to assimilate experience.
- 3rd quarter to New: many changes with difficulty in adjusting.
I have used these teachers’ concepts regularly and concur with their conclusions. In addition, I call the final 3rd to New quarter the “letting go” phase, lots of releasing, clearing the stage and preparation for the New Moon that is to come.
Eclipses and Triggers
Our astrological roots go deep into man’s history, with our symbolic language derived from actual experience. Primitive man believed that serpents, monsters, or anti-heroes were devouring the Sun as the dark shadow of the eclipse slowly marched across the solar disk. At times, the Sun seemed to vanish altogether. In some cultures, entire communities would create as much racket as possible to frighten the monster and drive it away from the god-like Sun. Since an eclipse of the Sun is very short-lived, the community would succeed and the Sun would emerge victorious over the threatening shadow so the community would feel their efforts were successful.
Imagine the shaman or mage who knew the star patterns and could predict when an eclipse could occur, how much of the Sun would be devoured: partial or total, and when the Sun would emerge victorious over the interloping shadow. Imagine a crafty leader using such knowledge to his political advantage! Imagine a people falling under the spell of a leader or philosophy that believed that such knowledge was the tool or the work of the devil and that only he / they knew the truth, and only he / they did God’s work. All others were wicked and evil (sermonizing over). Eclipses have been known to stop a battle or begin a war – or serve as an “omen” to the warring factions.
What is an Eclipse and how does one form? Occasionally, the Sun, Moon, and Earth form a relationship where the Moon interrupts the light from the Sun or the Earth interrupts the flow of sunlight to the Moon, and an eclipse occurs. If the Moon obscures or occults* the Sun, the eclipse is solar. If the Earth obscures the Moon, then the eclipse is lunar. Solar Eclipses occur at New Moon and Lunar Eclipses occur at Full Moon. When the Sun / Moon conjunction or opposition is close to the lunar nodes, eclipses occur. How close?
- A partial Solar Eclipse can occur when the Sun / Moon pair conjuncts either the north or south lunar node within 18˚31’.
- A total Solar Eclipse occurs within 11˚15’.
- A partial Lunar Eclipse can occur within 12˚15’ of conjunction of the Sun / Moon pair at both nodes.
- A total Lunar Eclipse occurs within 6˚ of the opposing nodes.
- The closer the degree of the Sun / Moon to the lunar node(s), the more total the eclipse.
- In a partial eclipse, some part of the Sun or Moon is still visible, as the lineup is not quite perfectly aligned.
- A corona effect, or ring of light on the outer edge of the body, can occur with the outer rim of the occulted object visible and this eclipse is termed “annular”.
(*Occultation occurs when the Moon obscures another body.)
Each Solar Eclipse is visible to only a limited portion of the Earth.
- Because the Moon blocks the light from the Sun, a Solar Eclipse actually traces a path across the Earth, like a pencil,
- the path of maximum darkness or the umbra (called full shadow).
- Adjacent to this path, on both sides, is a wider band of only partial darkness called the penumbra.
- A long Solar Eclipse lasts a maximum of seven minutes, 32 seconds, but during that time:
- Earth’s temperature at the location of the eclipse path can drop by 10˚, a wind picks up, and bats have been known to fly, anticipating darkness.
- How could something as small as the Moon obscure something the size of the Sun?
- Distance equalizes the size differential and the Moon looks as large as the Sun from Earth’s perspective.
To show the complexity of individual eclipses, here are five example diagrams of very old eclipse patterns as each affected the world in varying shapes and patterns (credit Astronomical Phenomena for the Year 1981, Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office). Each Eclipse is unique.
The Eclipse paths from 2021-2040 are on one Wiki diagram, provided here.
Nicholas DeVore’s Encyclopedia of Astrologyhas an extensive section on eclipses, covering far more technical points than is intended for this book. This is a key resource in my personal library, and I suggest you keep a copy on your astrology bookshelf for frequent reference and explanation. I also like Robert Jansky’s Interpreting the Eclipses and Sam Bartolet’s Eclipses and Lunations in Astrology.
Where do eclipses fit in? A Solar or Lunar Eclipse is a regular part of transiting positions. Usually occurring about 5½ months apart, the Solar Eclipses line up with the Moon in front of the Sun within 18˚ of either lunar node at the New Moon and can time major events in your life. Once upon a time, I downplayed the importance of a Lunar Eclipse, but the Virgo / Pisces Lunar Eclipses in 2002 taught me a difficult and very personal lesson. Lunar Eclipses work just as strongly as Solar Eclipses – just differently!
Positioned within two weeks on either side of the Solar Eclipses, Lunar Eclipses occur at the time of the Full Moon when the Sun’s light is blocked by Earth’s shadow on the Moon. Both the Solar and Lunar Eclipses are, in effect, an interruption of the energy or light transmitted by the Sun. The blocking body creates a shadow effect.
- In a Solar Eclipse, that total blocking can take up to 7.5 minutes.
- In a Lunar Eclipse that total blocking can take up to two hours.
- As mentioned, depending on the exact lineup or lack of exactitude, the eclipse can be partial or total.
- Also, the shadow itself can be total / umbral or partial / penumbral.
- In addition, a visible eclipse is stronger in any chart than an eclipse that may not be as visible elsewhere on the Earth.
I have noticed that an eclipse is strongest at its activation, strong at the 90˚ passage of the Sun square that eclipse point, and strong if Mars makes a hard aspect to the eclipse point. Activation is also possible from hard aspects of the outer planets to the eclipse point. Such transiting aspects act as second hands on a clock. Eclipses appear to me to lose strength when the next similar eclipse takes over, but many Astrologers give Solar Eclipses a year of power.
According to Devore, “the temperature on the sunlit Full Moon exceeds the boiling point of water at which time it emits infra-red rays that are several times more intense than the rays it reflects from the Sun. During the first five minutes of a Lunar Eclipse, the surface temperatures fall far below the freezing point, and the emission of the infra-red rays ceases.” That is not an incidental effect! Lunar Eclipses are quite powerful in their own right.
To reiterate, visible eclipses equate to strength of chart impact. An eclipse visible on the other side of the Earth does not have as much impact on a native on the non-visible side of the Earth. It is almost as if the mass of the Earth diminishes the power of the eclipse when it is not visible to the native. The eclipse as a trigger still works, but the impact seems to be lessened if it is not also visible.
For most of my astrological life, I have used that statement for all eclipses. While writing that previous paragraph. I had an epiphany, a realization. That specific statement is true only of Solar Eclipses. When a Solar Eclipse occurs, it can occur only at a location on the globe that is in daylight. The Sun needs to be visible so it can be occulted at the eclipse point, so it must be daylight for a Solar Eclipse to occur. The Lunar Eclipse occurs at the Sun / Moon opposition point. Our rapidly spinning globe allows the world to see the Full Moon / Sun relationship on the horizon line all over the world within a 24-hour period, all very visible. We all know the impact of a Full Moon on humanity regardless of where it occurs on the globe. However, the moment that Full Moon becomes an eclipse occurs only in one specific location on the globe and that is the moment of peak power for that eclipse. Both types of eclipses peak at a specific moment in time, but the experience itself and the effect is different. Why? The types of eclipses are different.
Many years ago, I sat in deep meditation at the time of a Full Moon wondering if anything could be experienced at the moment that Full Moon became perfect. That means that exactitude of opposition occurred at my physical location on a beach in Boca Raton, Florida. It was a Leo Full Moon. An incredible wave of energy passed over me in a tiny moment of time, very observable on an abstract level. Nothing physically difficult (see following side-note) transpired at that exact moment, but a strong but subtle internal experience did happen for me. The effect is tangible – we just ignore it most of the time. The moment and the location of the eclipse will evidence the strongest impact.
Fun Side Note: Several of my students had accompanied me to the beach for the meditation. A concerned policeman thought to warn us that we were vulnerable to predators. My students alerted me, and when I opened my eyes, I was looking directly at a policeman in full police regalia bending over me in concern, backlit by the Full Moon. His aura was huge and it was electric blue. I was stunned and very vocal. I am sure the very nice officer thought I was a babbling idiot or on something pretty powerful. His genuine concern was evidenced by his absolutely beautiful aura. That. moment was electrifying to witness!
A global map of the Solar Eclipse paths is useful in determining which location and residents on the globe will feel more impact from any solar eclipse. http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEatlas/SEatlas.html
Even more fun is: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Eclipse+paths&btnG=Google+Search
Or just Google “eclipse paths” for a plethora of information.
A Lunar Eclipse shows the light of the Full Moon being gradually eliminated by a dark circle. The movement of the Earth between the Sun and the Moon that can last up to two hours while applying and separating. The light of the ego (Sun) illuminating the emotions (Moon) is interrupted and the emotions are in full flow, but without the direction of the will. Now can you see what is produced under the Full Moon. Again, not all eclipses are visible simultaneously from various parts of the Earth. Visibility is a strong indication of impact.
Lunar Eclipses may or may not accompany a Solar Eclipse if the lineup does not fall properly. But, if so, they will be about two weeks on either side of the eclipse. Why? Proximity to the nodes is the criteria. We can have more than two Solar Eclipses per year, but two would be average. We can have two to five Lunar Eclipses per year, and again two would be average. The more eclipses, solar or lunar, the more times of impact. Seven would be maximum in a year, including both types.
How do you read an eclipse? As usual, you read by sign, by house, by aspect to the natal and potentially the same way to the progressed chart. Keep the orb tight (5˚), with conjunctions, oppositions, and squares having the most impact. Sextiles and trines show minimal effect. Timing: the tighter the aspect, the more perfect the timing. Wider aspects indicate timing of events that occur separate from the eclipse date. I use 1˚ on either side of the degree / date = one week, therefore 5˚ could equal five weeks. Eclipses are known to act both before and after the actual date of the eclipse. A closer orb equals a stronger effect.
The Solar Eclipse, as a New Moon phase, implies a beginning, a time to initiate, a planting of a seed which is usually buried in the dark. As mentioned, this is called the dark of the Moon and the impact is that which is intuitively, but not consciously, known or outwardly seen. The emphasis on the Sun represents life impact, lessons of importance, objective reality, and the impetus of energy at a point of initiation.
The Lunar Eclipse / Full Moon phase implies something coming to fruition in its fully visible stage, culmination and / or resolution. Emphasis on the Moon represents the unconscious forces, emotional upheaval, and subjective reality.
Eclipses by Sign and House
- The easiest way to define the mannerism of an eclipse is by sign.
- The easiest way to define experiential impact of the eclipse is by house.
While houses and signs are not synonymous, they can be paired for ease of learning. I see a sign as a lens coloring the expression or the “how” of an energy (or body, which is the “what”). I see the house as the arena of experience or the “where”.
An eclipse in either a sign or a house is one part of an axis. If you write with the point of a pencil, the eraser end also gyrates. Since eclipses must occur close to the nodes of the Moon, the north / south nodes are in opposition (an axis) by sign and therefore by house position, simultaneously. If the eclipse is lunar, the Sun and Moon are in opposition (axis) visible by both sign and house. If the eclipse is solar, the Sun and Moon are together (conjunct) at one end of the nodal axis. The axis still exists. Wiggle your pencil, both ends gyrate – it is just an unconscious action. What do the axes represent?
Sign / House Aspect Sign / House Aspect I prefer Jansky’s notes
Aries / 1st opposed Libra / 7th relating also identity, recognition
Taurus / 2nd opposed Scorpio / 8th resource property, value systems, sex
Gemini / 3rd opposed Sagittarius / 9th thought communication, siblings, in-laws
Cancer / 4th opposed Capricorn / 10th security domestic, career, group identification
Leo / 5th opposed Aquarius / 11th creativity love given and received
Virgo / 6th opposed Pisces / 12th service necessities, suffering, confinement
A sign colors the expression of the eclipse by the nature of that sign. Use the usual keywords for the sign and include qualities, elements and gender. One half of each pair relates to the self or “I”. The other half of each pair relates to others as individuals, “you,” and to the collective “we”.
- Cardinal initiates. Fixed establishes. Mutable distributes.
- Fire is electric / dynamic. Earth is practical. Air communicates. Water feels.
- Masculine is the talker and feminine is the listener.
Aries: cardinal fire, masculine Libra: cardinal air, masculine 2 cardinal, 2 masculine
Taurus: fixed earth, feminine Scorpio: fixed water, feminine 2 fixed, 2 feminine
Gemini: mutable air, masculine Sagittarius: mutable fire, masculine 2 mutable, 2 masculine
Cancer: cardinal water, feminine Capricorn: cardinal earth, feminine 2 cardinal, 2 feminine
Leo: fixed fire, masculine Aquarius: fixed air, masculine 2 fixed, 2 masculine
Virgo: mutable earth, feminine Pisces: mutable water, feminine 2 mutable, 2 feminine
Notice how easy it is to see many of the house matters reflected in the descriptions of the signs. I find it particularly useful to remember that the 4th / 10th axis (and, by extrapolation, Cancer / Capricorn) represents the need for security on the internal (family) and external (worldly) levels. Houses represent the arena of your life being activated.
Jansky also gives these positive sign hints that are very good:
- Cardinal: meet crisis head on, accept as personal challenge.
- Fixed: try to live with and maintain the status quo.
- Mutable: try to work around the crisis or pretend it does not exist.
- Fire: crisis of the spirit, personal challenge.
- Earth: crisis of tangible personal terms.
- Air: crisis of intellect or thought process.
- Water: crisis of emotions or intangible matters.
Eclipse Node In tropical (western) astrology,
- the South Node represents our past, which has led to the present, those qualities and habitual behaviors we had developed sufficiently and which we tend to fall back into when triggered. This is not necessarily the best behavior, just the most familiar and easiest.
- The North Node represents the present leading to the future, those qualities we must develop in ourselves.
- Is the Solar Eclipse on the north or south node of the Moon?
- If north nodal, it is considered the more positive, leading towards the development of new skills.
- If south nodal, we react out of old but perhaps not always the best programs.
- If a Solar Eclipse, the opposition point is ghostly but still exists, implied by the opposing node.
In a Lunar Eclipse, the Sun is on one node, and the Moon is on the other.
- Look at the Moon position to determine if it is a north or south nodal eclipse.
- Moon on the South Node can be emotionally reactive without a lot of conscious choice, an emotional knee-jerk reaction.
- Moon on the North Node is still emotionally reactive but should have a more positive, forward-seeking expression.
- Add this nodal influence to your interpretations. Are you on overload yet?
Political I still have notes from the 1984 AFA v46 #11 by Frances McEvoy, “Lunar Nodes, Eclipses and Elections”. She stated that the eclipses and Saturn transits are the most important predictive tools, especially in politics / history. She further states they are difficult to interpret because the eclipses of an election year would fall on all candidate’s charts, winners or losers. I have never tried that method, preferring my own election method, but I did want to mention it here because it sounds like an interesting concept to explore.
- Total eclipses are stronger than partials.
- Visible eclipses are stronger than those not visible.
- The closer the aspect between the eclipse point and the chart point, the more powerful the effect.
After many years of seriously under-estimating the Lunar Eclipses, I learned my lesson. Now I read both Solar and Lunar Eclipses as life-shaping and important. Another feature relative to strength that I have not investigated is the actual distance between Earth and the Moon, with closer suggesting stronger.
Duration There is much disagreement among references. The ancients believed:
- “that the effects of a Solar Eclipse last as long in years as the eclipse lasts in hours;
- of a Lunar Eclipse, a month for every hour” (Devore, Encyclopedia of Astrology).
If you use the material I supplied in an earlier paragraph, the totality of a Solar Eclipse lasts up to eight minutes, not hours. A Lunar Eclipse lasts up to two hours.
- I personally use six months for both eclipse primary influences, with residual influence until the next eclipse. Other astrologers I know give longer periods of effect.
- I do find the eclipses give way to each other as a new eclipse takes over. See the notes on matching eclipses.
- Devore also states that “an eclipse degree becomes a sensitive point for several years after the eclipse has passed; in fact, until its consummation is attained with a subsequent transit of Saturn over the eclipse degree.” Now that could be a very long time, but might be something to watch for timing of events.
- are transiting planets by conjunction, opposition or square, particularly Mars and the Sun.
- The outer planets should also be watched for heavy transits to an eclipse point.
- Note: The Sun will square the eclipse position ninety days after the eclipse.
- We do not usually give Mars much power on a transiting basis, but it can act as a second hand when triggering an eclipse point. I have personally seen this trigger many times in my practice. In the example of my Father’s death, transiting Mars was the trigger to the day, eight days after the eclipse itself.
Matching eclipses These are two successive eclipses that trigger the same aspects because they occur at similar degrees on the same axis, such as 19 and 16˚ of cardinal, fixed or mutable.
- Instead of a six-month effect, it tends to double the effect in duration.
- If the first eclipse is positive and the second eclipse is negative, the whole of the activation will end on the negative note.
- If the first eclipse is negative and the second eclipse is positive, what starts out poorly can end more positively.
Fixed stars If you work with fixed stars in your charting, use the very tight orb of 1˚ for conjunctions, oppositions and squares. I have not seen much effect with soft aspects, sextile and trine. The eclipse will trigger the nature of the fixed star and add its influence to the chart.
The Sun / Moon aspect does not occur in isolation. Make note of any planet close to the eclipse degree because it can have a strong influence on the nature of the eclipse. Venus and Mercury are frequently close enough to the Sun to be conjunct (5˚ or less). If Mercury is involved, communication or decision-making will be an element influencing the eclipse and its effects. If Venus is involved, relational or value system elements will be present. An eclipse is not isolation from whatever exists
in the sky pattern at the moment of the eclipse. There may be other strong transit aspect influences, just do not make yourself crazy. Example: the August 11, 1999 solar eclipse was total (strong) in a grand fixed cross with Sun / Moon opposite Uranus, with all three of them square Saturn opposite Mars, quite a nasty looking eclipse! The trajectory of that eclipse was over Turkey and the Middle East (visible = stronger). Many earth changes and trouble in that area of the world were set in motion by that eclipse.
What is the eclipse doing in your chart? Does it conjunct, oppose or square a planet or a significant point? In my experience, I see little happening with trines and sextiles, but if so, more positive results.
- Conjunctions are quite powerful but can act positively or negatively, depending on what planet the eclipse conjuncts.
- Oppositions imply separation.
- Squares imply challenge / problem / obstacle, not always separation.
- Cardinal tends towards crisis.
- Fixed tends towards chronic.
- Mutable tends towards adaptation.
- According to Jansky, the conjunction shows that whatever happens is self-induced. Now that is an interesting concept! Check it out.
- Again according to Jansky, the opposition shows whatever happened is initially induced by actions taken by others, yet we are still responsible.
I see both Solar and Lunar Eclipses as life changing. I learned about the lunar life changing qualities fairly recently, but dramatically. Lunar Eclipses tend to act like extremely powerful Full Moons. It is wise not to underestimate them.
- I lost my father and my sister with the energy of separate Solar Eclipses.
- My child fought and won over breast cancer and I was physically attacked, under separate Lunar Eclipses. We both lived, and I learned NOT to underestimate Lunar Eclipses.
- Triggers to the eclipse point occur as transiting planets make hard aspects to that point.
- Transiting Mars conjunct the 12th house eclipse, square my natal Neptune, which was in the natal 4th and the natal 10th ruler, signaled the day of surgery and subsequent death of my father within 24 hours.
- Transiting Sun at the 90˚ square point could also act as a trigger.
Awesome reference tool, paraphrasing Jansky, Eclipse to planet emphasizes:
- Sun: major life event, goes to heart of things, assign priorities, fork in road, opportunity to make life change, face your future.
- Moon: face your past, public image, emotions.
- Mercury: intellectual crisis (deep) sharpens perception, rediscover how to play, mixed messages.
- Venus: your guardian angel disappears, pleasure is emphasized, love relationships, love yourself and others, money or valuables.
- Mars: physical needs and desires emphasized, exercise, sexual expression, angry, argumentative, accident prone, challenge not compromise.
- Jupiter: over-optimism dangerous, be your own guru, seek professional advice, watch reliance on faith, tests of faith and Trojan horses.
- Saturn: responsibilities descend, you do owe, the law of compensation is exact (by opposition: limitations).
- Uranus: opportunity for greater freedom and independence.
- Neptune: opportunity for greater spiritualism and understanding and joy or self-deceit and decay.
- Pluto: transforms to higher plane and understanding (or power / powerlessness issues).
I developed a learning tool for my students. Use an equal-house, natural (Aries rising) chart form and practice reading the solar eclipses naturally through each sign and each house. The sign / house of the Sun is pro-active, visible, externalizing. This will give you a general but basic grasp of each Solar Eclipse.
Next, practice the same exercise on a solar chart. Put the Sun on the ascendant and equal house the balance of the signs. This will particularize the eclipse energy for anyone born at that sign degree for as many years as people are still alive. It’s better than generic, but not as specific as a natal chart. The nature of the eclipse by sign remains, but the arena (house) changed.
Using your natal chart, do the same exercise. By sign, nothing much changed. By house, the arena changed. In 1980, I had a chart reading by astrologer Jayj Jacobs in which he read a combination solar / natal house format and absolutely blew my mind with insights. This learning method is extra work, but it generates tons of useful material.
Now do the same exercise with Lunar Eclipses, all three chart methods: Aries rising / solar / natal. Again, the sign / house of the Sun is pro-active, visible, and externalizes. The sign / house of the Moon is reactive and emotional. But if it is the Lunar Eclipse, the Moon dominates.
Saros Eclipse Cycle
Again, I will refer you to the DeVore Encyclopedia or Wikipedia online encyclopedia for a more detailed technical explanation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saros_cycle
The Saros Cycle is tied to the lunar node retrograde orbit of approximately nineteen years as a complete circle of the zodiac, slightly displaced by degree. The DeVore book actually gives the charts of the nineteen Saros Cycles, showing all the eclipses that are part of each series. This is a specialty research area and will not be covered in this lesson. It is an important part of eclipse study, so I do want you to be aware of its existence. Go to the bottom of the Wikipedia page and look at “See also” for more material on the keywords of this concept.
Research: The first Saros cycle eclipse occurs as a tiny partial solar eclipse at the Earth’s north or south pole. Each successive eclipse (every eighteen years, nine-eleven days, or specifically 6585 days) in the series progressively moves away from that pole towards the equator, usually 120˚ west of the previous eclipse. The eclipses become more total as the series progresses. After a period of total and annular eclipses at or near the equator, the series moves towards the opposing pole, slowly becoming more partial until the series is completed. This 70 to 71-eclipse cycle takes 1,260 years to complete, with fourteen partial, seventeen annular and ten total Solar Eclipses, and with 29 Lunar Eclipses. There is also a Saros lunar cycle consisting of “48 or 49 eclipses over a period of about 865 years” (DeVore). Further, there is material on Penumbral Eclipses and an Appulse of the Moon table from 1870 to 1960 related to the eclipse cycle (also DeVore).
Robert Jansky in his book Interpreting the Eclipses implies that this series, keyed by the nature of the initial eclipse, can have an impact on your current chart. My own metaphor for his concept would be the impact of a past life on your current life. The initiating degree of current eclipses are found in his book.
Metonic Eclipse Returns
The Metonic returns follow the nodal cycle of nineteen years, but are not related to the Saros series. It is a nineteen-year interval between eclipses near the same date and the same degree. These may be of a “different phase and nature; and belong to a different Saros series” (DeVore).
While I have not done much work with this concept, there is a wonderful book by Karen McCoy and Jan Spiller called Spiritual Astrology, which I had the great good fortune to proof-read for my friend, Karen, before it was published. It is full of good information with a thorough treatment of pre-natal eclipses. If you are interested, this is the place to start. Karen McCoy happens to be a very good Astrologer. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Spiller. Also, my good friend, Astrologer Michael Munkasey, has done major research on the pre-natal eclipses.
For the purposes of this lesson, look up the eclipses (solar and lunar) immediately prior to your birth. If an eclipse occurs the day after birth, it does not count. You can choose only those eclipses prior to birth. If there are multiples of eclipses (and some years have that), choose the Solar and Lunar Eclipse closest to, but prior to, your actual birth. Each eclipse presents a sign / degree / minute of sensitivity that can be read and / or activated similarly to a natal planet. Remember that solar energy takes the long view and has ambitions and goals to accomplish. Lunar energy takes the short view, favoring immediate emotional gratification. Since these occurred prior to birth, the implication is that of arriving at the birth moment colored or influenced by those eclipse degrees. This is not experience you encounter at some future date. This emphasizes a quality you already possess and must accommodate as a part of your internal makeup.
Sabian or Other Symbolic Degrees
Sabian Symbols are the original work of Mark Edmund Jones, with a very complete book by that title. Many other authors have addressed those symbols including Dane Rudhyar. There are many other varieties of symbolic degrees. I personally own about fifteen of the books, many out of print (gifted from old library). I prefer Charubel’s The Degrees of the Zodiac Symbolized. The concept is that each degree has a story of its own to tell, complete with symbolism. Much of this symbolism was found through meditation and collaboration – psychically rather than purely astrological. Much of it is quite old and sometimes difficult to apply to our current lifestyle, so some judicious reinterpretation may be necessary. What do I mean by reinterpretation?
For example. the fixed star degree 25 Taurus was symbolized by the ancients as “death by decapitation”. This is pretty gruesome, but unfortunately normal when ancient charts were read mostly for heads of state or rulers of countries. Once charts became common to the general public, aside from the French Revolution with its mass guillotining and the occasional literal application due to war, accident, etc., reinterpretation for a more general application became a necessity. “Losing one’s head” or “catastrophe” makes better sense in today’s world. If you must reinterpret, be sure to stay true to the original intention. Within the symbolic degrees, which are quite old, perhaps references to modes of transportation, for example, should be reworded. A horse and carriage then can become an automobile or other vehicle, etc.
There are times when the symbolic degree descriptions are so on the money it is actually spooky! I can remember my shock when I first applied Charubel’s 1898 symbolism to the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and read “monster rocket exploding in mid-air above a crowd”. Or even more shock when the Libyan jet crash symbolism gave two men fighting, one not fulfilling responsibilities, later known to be true of the co-pilot. This book was published in 1898, long before the advent of cars, planes or rockets.
Degree Use the degree and minute of the eclipse itself, solar or lunar, with any fraction of a degree causing it to be rounded up to the next whole degree according to all the authors’ instructions. For example, the degree for 25 Taurus 00 is just that: 25 Taurus. For 25 Taurus 01 through 59, round up to 26 Taurus. Because of my personal experience using symbolic degrees, I read both degree interpretations. They are usually brief. I would rather have too much information than too little and skip something significant. I can always edit! Experience does not happen out of context with the time leading up to or after the event. Life is a process, so I choose to look at both degrees. I have never even attempted to do aspecting nor have I read anything in books or on the internet (great resource) about aspecting symbolic degrees. Feel like doing some research? Just be thorough and competent and let me know your results! I like to learn new material!
Degree Examples The Solar Eclipse of Dec 25, 2000 was in effect as I originally re-wrote this material, 4 Capricorn 14 would be rounded up to the next degree, 5 Capricorn. The symbolism:
“A very small, unpretentious window in the wall of a massive tower.” The copy reads: “Denotes one whose native powers and mental resources are so great and abundant that the native will be independent of external aids and will feel very happy amid the offspring of his own genius. Further, such persons will never seek display; these are creators, not imitators.”
The description is vague until you specifically apply those concepts to a specific chart. If the eclipse were to take place in the 4th or 10th houses, you can be speaking about a parent. Also in the 10th you could be speaking about your boss or your career / reputation, if in the 7th your business or marital partner, if the 5th your child. Since there are so many types of charts, not just natal, adapting the interpretation will be necessary. Capricorn is a business sign, so think about its effect on the business community, duty, responsibility, obligation, conservative, traditional, down to earth. Sound familiar?
Also, the USA Declaration of Independence chart has several placements in cardinal signs:
Venus 2 Can 43, Jup 5 Can 51, Sun 13 Can 01, Sat 14 Lib 47, Mer 22 Can 36, Plu 27 Cap 34R.
As the symbolic degrees are presented, think of them as they apply to the USA chart.
Just for the heck of it, 4 Capricorn reads “The planet Venus”, and I find it amazing (coincidental, and I do not believe in coincidence) that Venus had been the evening star at its furthest elongation in years for the past couple of months (at the time of the re-writing of this material), appearing high in the sky, remaining visible far longer than usual. Venus was conjunct
Uranus during the eclipse. Do you think Venus-governed economic cycles had been off the wall Uranus-like through 2000 and into the new year? As close as I could tell re-writing this in 2011, this bizarre economic behavior never truly went away.
Remember the other end of the pencil concept in eclipses, implied but unconscious, and check out 5 Cancer:
“A person holding up a scale in his hand, with even beam. A just person, one whose mind will spontaneously detect a falsehood, or an injustice, or any wrong.“ Sound like the election issues of a narrow margin (even beam), with issues of fraud and miscounting? Does that sound like the election nonsense that seems to have permeated our political system since 2000? Sometimes events cast a very long shadow.
The following were the additional examples I developed for the workshop in 2001. Because they are examples of a “judicious re-interpretation”, I have chosen to include them here. We could choose any eclipses at any time and do the same exercise. Remember that the Eclipse will cast its influence forward to upcoming events.
- On January 9, 2001 the Lunar Eclipse was at 19 Cancer 39, so round up to 20 Cancer. “A large building with walls of granite, having a dull or somber appearance.” This is describing a person, an attitude, an experience. It implies durability, solidity, and practicality at the Moon position.
- The Sun position was 20 Capricorn. “A person ascending a spiral staircase with sunshine at the top, within a dark enclosure.” It may be difficult to see what is happening during the ascent, but there is light at the end of the journey. Think about the confusion / misinformation regarding the Iraq war.
- The Solar Eclipse of June 21, 2001 was 00 Cancer 10, rounded up to 01 Cancer for the Sun. “A large clock with weights in sight, suspended from a high place, on which I see a large dial plate, with hours and hands complete.” Time, balance, coming from authority or position.
- The Lunar Eclipse of July 5, 2001 was 13 Capricorn 29, rounded up to 14 Capricorn for the Moon. “A vista extending to a great distance, on either hand are majestic trees covered with a profusion of foliage.” Emotional fruition on a wide scale.
- The Sun was at 14 Cancer. “A man standing before an audience with all the paraphernalia of a juggler.” It is not easy to juggle the demands of fulfilling our goals (Sun).
- The Solar Eclipse of December 14, 2001 was at 22 Sagittarius 56, rounded up to 23 Sagittarius for the Sun / Moon. “A person at the bottom of a deep ravine, with lamp in hand, looking for something.” Searching, needing to climb up and out.
- The Lunar Eclipse of December 30, 2001 was at 8 Cancer 48, rounded up to 9 Cancer. “A spider in the corner of a room intently watching the giddy dance of silly flies as they heedlessly approach the confines of his dominions.” There is an ominous reading!
These were the eclipses surrounding the events of 9/11 leading up to the Iraq War. The last two were after the fact and before the declared war. Now that you have a context, read those few meanings again. ‘Nuff said!
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