It’s eclipse season once again! This autumn, we have a triple event to look forward to, starting with a lunar eclipse in Aquarius on August the 18th which concludes a six month cycle begun by the Aquarius New Moon in February 2016. This is then followed by a complimentary pair of eclipses in Virgo and Pisces in September. Read on for your cosmic guide to navigating these important soli-lunar events.
LUNAR ECLIPSE in AQUARIUS
On Thursday the 18th of August 2016 at around 10h25 BST (09h25 GMT), we can look forward to a lunar eclipse in Aquarius, which will finish off a six month cycle set in motion by the Aquarius New Moon in February and activated by the Supermoon solar eclipse in March. In astrological terms, it’s once again time to consolidate, reassess your priorities and work out what is and isn’t working for you, both socially and personally.
What makes people stand out, seem special, unique, strange or unusual? These are questions we may ask ourselves mid-August as the Aquarius eclipse brings the themes of balance, normality and conformity come to fore. This particular New Moon is known by many names. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac:
Some Native American tribes called the August Moon the “Sturgeon Moon” because they knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this Full Moon. They also called August’s Moon the “Full Green Corn Moon.”
Different tribes had different Moon name preferences. Other examples for August are: “Wheat Cut Moon” (San Ildefonso, and San Juan), or “Moon When All Things Ripen” (Dakotah Sioux) or “Blueberry Moon” (Ojibway).
Like fish and corn, which tend to move or grow en masse, in groups/fields, this Full Moon is likely to put the spotlight on our social relationships, global aspirations and group associations. Friendships, technology and ideals are all areas where we may feel the need to make some adjustments. Aquarius is also a notoriously idealistic and socially aware sign very much concerned with improving society and reforming political and other rules or systems by which we govern ourselves.
I suspect that the themes of social justice and political representation, which became so prevalent during the Brexit vote and which have driven much of the support behind presidential candidates such as Donald Trump, may now reach a natural culmination point before they begin to wane. With any luck, this eclipse will also end his presidential campaign, as it becomes more and more clear to everyone that his irreverent and disruptive personal style may not be suited to a position of public office. More on this in an upcoming column on my Astro-Insights Blog.
With the Sun and Moon set to make positive contacts to Uranus, ruler of Aquarius, it’s likely that this particular event, though pretty unspectacular on a physical level (see below on why this could be considered a ‘ghost’ eclipse), will nevertheless carry quite a high energtic charge: There’s likely to be a bit of a tense or excitable crackle in the air – a sense of anticipation that something thrilling is about to happen. And as the planet of surprises, Uranus is unlikely to disappoint. Indeed, an internal shift could prompt you and others to make some unexpected decisions based on your experiences over the last half year or so, possibly in relation to a friendship or group/team membership. So expect the unexpected now and go with the flow because almost anything can happen – your life could change in a heartbeat!
On top of this, Venus will be making a trine to Pluto in the early hours of August the 18th (at around 3am BST) which could lead to major shifts in the way you relate to others or indeed, to love, beauty, art, money or death. In fact, it might be time to challenge some of your own, or others’ assumptions about relationships, wealth, the creative process or what exactly makes someone or something beautiful. Pluto has been forcing many pf us to question the structure and values that underpin our society, and now, with it making a higher than usual number of aspects to the personal planets, it may be time for these to be reflected in our own lives. See my analysis of the Sabian symbol for this Moon below for more details.
Whatever occurs, it’s safe to say that with Pluto, Uranus and an eclipse all happening at once, change is most certainly on the cards.
The Sabian symbol for the 25th degree of Aquarius is: A BUTTERFLY WITH THE RIGHT WING MORE PERFECTLY FORMED THAN THE LEFT. This suggests assymetry, imbalance and possibly even deformity. One can easily interpret this to be about a possible over-emphasis in one area of life, or on a physical level, about being overly developed on one side of the body, personality or brain, such as being predominantly right-brained or right-handed, for example. It might also point to a tremendous gift or talent – perhaps one that exists at the expense of other abilities, activities or aptitudes. People who are extremely good at one thing are often a little less adept at other tasks, perhaps because they focus on that one activity or ability to the exclusion of other things. For example, professional dancers and sportsmen often have to give up many everyday activities in order to practise and train, so you can see how this could lead to imbalances in other areas of their lives.
Being remarkable or special can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look things, and on the context in which they exist. Someone who is in the right environment, where their eccentricities are accepted, and their talents recognised and encouraged, is more likely to feel happy and appreciated, despite not being considered ‘normal’ or everybody’s cup of tea. On the other hand, those who feel like square pegs in round holes, who continue to try and ‘fit in’ and be liked by everybody, despite knowing deep down that they are different, will struggle more, both to accept their own unique natures and the way they are treated by others, who may simply not know how to react to them.
Much depends on how much value is placed on so-called ‘normality’ or conformity – notions that Pluto has spent the last decade or so quietly pushing us into testing and probing more deeply. Given the Venus-Pluto trine active around this eclipse, it’s possible you may find yourself asking questions such as: “What is normal/beautiful/happiness?” Do I really need to belong to this group or that society or look a certain way in order to participate fully in life, actualise as a person or make a contribution? Or is it just not who I am or what I believe in? Could I benefit from introducing more balance into my life, or should I just learn to accept myself: imbalances, eccentricities and all? Indeed, is there such a thing as ‘normal’, or is it some hypothetical ‘mean/middle ground’ that we are all striving to achieve?
Whilst it is nice to blend in, this often requires accepting/adopting a certain degree of mediocrity – and some people, by their very nature, will never be mediocre – and this is what singles them out or makes them special – brilliant even – qualities that often make them great artists or social reformers.
Outsiders and non-conformists have their place too – not everyone is designed to accept the status quo. Those brave individuals who are unwilling to compromise their values or beliefs in order to conform actuallly do us all a favour. Although sometimes irritating or annoying, they force us to question the assumptions that underlie everyday social norms or customs. Often, these have simply arisen out of habit – and as we know, not all habits are actually good for us – or society!
Likewise, notions and standards of beauty may also be brought into question, especially if they are having detrimental effects on people’s self-esteeem, attitudes or ability to function properly. Many people, for example, see the fashion industry as quite draconian in terms of its expectations and standards about beauty, body weight etc, and this is something that is becoming more and more extreme over time, with young people often having plastic surgery before their bodies have even finished developing. People with physical disabilities, deformities or psychological disorders may have spent more time than most struggling with these issues, and it is possible that, at this juncture, they may have some wisdom to share with us about their journey or experiences.
Parts and Lots
This eclipse will fall very close to the Part of the Honourable Aquaintance, a part that has been quite prominent during eclipses these last few years. Given how often it seems to have appeared in relation to British politics of late, it is possible that we may see further developments or consequences of David Cameron’s resignation and Theresa May’s rise to power. Friendships and the issue of trust and integrity may also become important now. If you discover that you can no longer trust a so-called friend, as David Cameron found out about Michael Gove – to his political cost, then it might be time to let them go.
This eclipse will be not be visible in Europe or Africa because it occurs during our daylight hours. However, you may be able to catch a glimpse of it if you live in the Americas, where the Moon will be visible just before sunrise on the western horizon, just before it sets, at around 5:27 a.m. EDT, 4:27 a.m. CDT, 3:27 a.m. MDT and 2:27 a.m. PDT.
However, as you would expect with anything Uranus-ruled, this eclipse is a little unusual. It is being referred to in some quarters as a ‘penumbral’ or ‘almost eclipse‘ because the earth’s shadow will only just skim the bottom of the Moon, which means that it is unlikely to turn it the usual reddish colour. Nonetheless, from an astrological point of view, it very much still counts!
In terms of astronomical Saros groupings, this lunar eclipse forms part of the van den Berg Saros series 109, which was last in action in August 1998. Before that, there were a further two lunar eclipses in Aquarius in this series – these took place in July 1962 and 1980. According to NASA,
Lunar eclipses of Saros 109 all occur at the Moon’s descending node and the Moon moves northward with each eclipse. The series began with a penumbral eclipse near the southern edge of the penumbra on 0736 Jun 27.
The series officially ended in August 1998 because of the Moon and Earth’s shadow drifting apart, so in a way, this penumbral lunar eclipse could be described as a ‘virtual’ or ‘ghost’ eclipse… For more information, visit the NASA Eclipse Catalogue.
SOLAR ECLIPSE in VIRGO
New month, new half-year long soli-lunar cycle…
As September opens, a brand new six month cycle gets underway with a solar eclipse in Virgo on September the 1st at 10h03 BST (09h03 UTC). This event signals a time of fresh personal beginnings – its the perfect opportunity to develop healthier habits and refine the way we approach tasks – being methodical and meticulous with detail may be required from you in work scenarios between now and the end of the year. Virgo is all about discernment, efficiency and perfection, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to/having to address these themes in your own life. However, with Saturn and Neptune also set to make a T-square to the Sun soon after this event, don’t be surprised if you find yourself once again confronted with unfinished business from around the time of the last Saturn-Neptune square i.e.18 June 2016 (hello, Brexit, anyone!).
This solar eclipse forms part of Brady’s 19 North Saros series, which she describes as being about ‘realism, a coming down to earth’. She also describes it as a ‘constructive time for tackling the truth.’[i] Both these statements have a very Saturnian/Plutonian feel to them.
It is therefore interesting that the ‘birth chart’ for this particular series has some negative aspects involving Neptune, Jupiter and Saturn. And in fact, these planets have all been very active this year. During the Spring 2016 eclipses, this energy was especially strong at the time of the March solar eclipse when Jupiter squared Saturn and trined Pluto. More recently, we have had the second pass of the Saturn-Neptune square, which peaked at around the time of the Brexit vote on June 18 and again August 6 & 7 so you may want to think back to these dates to see if any similar themes or patterns arise.
In Van den Berg numbers, this eclipse series forms part of Saros Series 135, which began in April 1615 and is due to end with a penumbral eclipse in May 2877. For more information, visit the NASA Eclipse Catalogue.
When Virgo is active, you can always expect an emphasis on health and wellness to be a big theme.
Given the influence of the Saturn-Neptune square, it is also possible that in the next six months, we may have to deal with anxieties about the harmful side effects of certain medicine or drugs, as well as outbreaks of disease – plagues and sickness epidemics often seem to come to the fore under this polarity, perhaps because epidemics are often unseen and insidious – they spread quickly across borders and different environments (Neptune) especially if they are not contained (Saturn) or the correct hygiene procedures are not followed. Let’s hope this doesn’t lead to wider outbreaks of the Zika virus, or indeed, yellow fever, which has just become a problem in north Africa – a distinct possibility, given that this eclipse will make a T-square to Saturn & Mars (traditionally, a combination of the malefic planets was associated with pestilence and disease by ancient astrologers).
What’s more, the malefics are both in Sagittarius, the sign associated with competitive sports, so the Olympic Games and other world sporting events acting as a catalyst for disease proliferation definitely springs to mind here as a possibility, so let’s hope that the organisers of Rio 2016 took extra care to ensure that no athletes or spectators would be unecessairly exposed and that good screening programmes are in place for when these athletes return. If anything, the Sun and Moon in Virgo does point to the need for good hygiene and attention to health-related matters, so if you are at all worried about contracting an unusual virus, take extra care and see a specialist healthcare practitioner if you spot any signs of ill health. Of course, no need to become a hypochondriac – a distinct possibility where Saturn and Neptune, or planets in Virgo, are afflicted.
On a more personal level, the rest of the year we are likely to find our frustration levels building, perhaps to almost unbearable levels, possibly as a result of unnecessarily harsh rules or restrictions. This is likely to be the result of the influence of Mars, which currently travellign very close to Saturn in Sagittarius. If you find yourself squeezed into impossibility difficult situations as a result of pettiness or beaurocracy, the best way to address the situation is to adopt a modest and practical attiude and pay attention to detail – the small print may hold the key to your ‘get out of jail free’ card. Adopting a gradual, piecemeal – as opposed to a blanket – and factual approach to rules, laws or obstacles is definitely the way forward.
In general, though, thanks to the Saturn-Neptune T-square, the next six month is likely to make us question and reassess long-held beliefs, hopes and fears. We may also find ourselves see-sawing back an forth between optimism and pessimism, dreams/visions of the future versus realism/the here and now as we attempt to negotiate a new path for ourselves durign a time of social upheaval and massive geopolitical (and geological) shifts. Anxiety levels are also likely to be high as many nebulous fears come to the surface and threaten to stop us in our tracks. The key will be to discern which are simply figments of our imagination and which are firmly rooted in reality and need addressing. On the other hand, life can be terribly dull and hopeless if we cannot imagine a better life for ourselves, or indeed, have no access to what inspires us, so it will be equally important to find some respite from drab, mundane reality every now and again in order to sustain our souls – putting food on the table and doing tasks that sustain the body is all very well, but we cannot neglect our creative and spiritual sides altogether – without hope, faith and inspiration, none of the other stuff seems worth it otherwise.
Given the themes surrounding the Sabian symbol for August’s lunar eclipse, it is quite spooky to find a number of thematic overlaps with the Sabian symbol for 9 degrees Virgo – the place in the zodiac where this eclipse is due to take place.
The Sabian image that was channeled by Elsie Wheeler for this particular zodiacal degree was AN EXPRESSIONIST PAINTER MAKING A FUTURISTIC DRAWING. This is really evocative, conjuring up the work of artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Kirchner and Edvard Munch. This particular art movement developed in Germany in the first part of the 20th century as a reaction against what has been described as ‘humanity’s increasingly discordant relationship with the world’, the rise of industrialisation and the ‘accompanying lost feelings of authenticity and spirituality’ this provoked, particularly in Europe. ¹
This was the period leading up to the Great Depression and both World Wars – a period that many modern historians are comparing with recent history. There seem to be many parallels, especially in terms of economic uncertainty, war and political instability – conditions that serve to make people feel alienated, disillusioned and disenchanted with the world and with the status quo.
It is therefore easy to see why people today might be drawn to a movement like expressionism. Indeed, the idea behind expressionism was for art to be a rendition of an artist’s unique impressions and individual perceptions about an object or person, rather than an attempt to depict that object as realistically as possible.In other words,
“A painter paints the appearance of things, not their objective correctness, in fact he creates new appearances of things.” Erst Kirchner
But back to the current Sabian symbol – the futuristic drawing made by the expressionist painter. In teasing out the meaning of this imagery, James Burgess writes:
Each one of us is unique, yet we ape the behaviour, mannerisms and opinions of our set, in order to fit in. It is very important that, notwithstanding social pressure, our individual originality must show in any true assertion of ourselves. Otherwise, we succumb to the complete, continuous confusion of inherited or borrowed ideas that describe them – our set – not us.
The risk we run is that our authentic expression of personality may just be too out of kilter with the common crowd. Then our uniqueness of expression would repel rather than attract.
Yet, by its very nature uniqueness and creativity will always be a digression from established norms and expectations, so are wont to disturb and confront.
The trick is to find a way to engage others so that their own creative capacities are released in response to ours – as though a friendly challenge is begun to see who can outstrip the other in originality.
This is often more easily and successfully attempted when we unlock the more aesthetic or spiritual aspect of our inner selves. This in turn will trigger the softer side, and the distinctive inspiration of our friends. [ii]
I can’t help but think of the attributions and meanings surrounding Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune when I read this. One cannot help but marvel at what the alchemists call ‘the miracle of the one thing’!
Parts and lots
This eclipse will fall very close to the Part of the Honourable Aquaintance, a part that is also emphasised by the August lunar eclipse, showing another overlap in terms of themes. In this case, authenticity of expression, and how this relates to honour, bonds of trust and personal integrity, is likely to be foremost in the collective consciousness. If you’re an artist, you may want to ponder this one as it could lead to a creative breakthrough.
Saturn will also be making a conjunction with the fixed star, Antares, which some astrologers associate with an obsessive relationship towards success – in the sense of pursuing it at all costs. Given the T-square connecting Saturn, Neptune and the Sun and Moon in Virgo at the time of this eclipse, it is probably fair to say that you may want to manage stress and beware the toll it can take on your body. In the end, health is more precious than wealth or success, and something that should be treasured. Bernadette Brady also links this combination to extreme or polarised views, as well as patriotism that divides – something that has come up in discussions about the pros and cons of nationalism and how this may be driven by increasing globalisation. Let’s see if this topic bubbles to the surface again in relation to Brexit, especially if one considers the speculation that Theresa May might call for a general election in the autumn. Keep your eye on my AstroInsights Blog for further developments…
The September solar eclipse will be visible across parts of central Africa, beginning in Gabon at 07:20 am local time, and then moving across central Congo, Tanzania and northern Mozambique, and ending up in the islands of the Indian Ocean, including Mauritius, Madagascar and Reunion just after midday. This is an annular eclipse, which means that the Moon’s shadow should cover the central part of the Sun’s face, blocking out the light briefly and leaving just an outer ring of light (or annulus) surrounding the Moon. It should be quite a spectacular sight, provided there is no cloud cover.
The last time we experienced this Saros series was in 1998, and before that, this group of eclipses occurred in 1908, 1926, 1944, 1962, and 1980. The next 19 North solar eclipse will take place in 2034.
LUNAR ECLIPSE in PISCES
The autumn eclipse season draws to a close with a lunar eclipse in Pisces. This is due to take place on Friday the 16th of September 2016 at just after 20h00 BST (19h00 GMT).
This eclipse brings to a close events or themes begun at the solar eclipse on March the 9th 2016. For recap, visit my astrological breakdown of the Spring 2016 eclipses.
The Sun will be in Virgo, while the Moon will be in Pisces, suggesting that, we are being asked to make our peace with, and find a resolution to polarities such as:
- fact versus fantasy
- airy fairy concepts versus precise figures/data
- healthy living versus escapism/pill popping
- careful consideration/discernment versus carelessness/confusion/wishful thinking.
The Sabian symbol for the 24th degree of Pisces is THE TINY ISLAND SEEMS LOST IN THE BROAD OCEAN, BUT ITS HAPPY INHABITANTS HAVE CREATED A WORLD ALL THEIR OWN.
This sounds a bit like the land of Lilliput in ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ – or indeed, the vision of the British Isles propounded by many Brexiteers. And yet, as Lynda Hill points out, it is a tiny island, so all the inhabitants need to make sure they get on. I wonder whether this has any relevance to the way that the Brexit issue develops. After all, even though Britain is not on the Continent, it is still part of Europe and as such, needs to get on with its neighbours. Here I’ll quote John Donne, who says it more eloquently than I:
No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
Going back to our island metaphor, it may also be said that there is probably very little room for escape/alone time. Think of Richard Branson’s Necker Island – although it might be a paradise for rich holiday makers who visit there for a couple of weeks on holiday, imagine what it must be like for those people who live and work there 24/7. I have it on good authority that many of the resident staff there drink a lot to cope with the stress of living in constant proximity to their fellow colleagues, clients and bosses. Although Eden was probably a paradise too, even Eve got cabin fever – enough to start hanging out with a serpent! The Virgo-Pisces polarity of escapism/fantasy/romantic idealism versus the nitty gritty of life/reality of actually putting something into practice springs to mind here. Social experiments like Big Brother and Eden are all very well, but their salvation lies in knowing they are only temporary and will come to an end – much like this particular soli-lunar cycle, which concludes what was started back in March 2016.
James Burgess has reinterpreted this symbol to be about self-cultivation. Indeed he writes:
Humanity is capable of discovering a desert island and making it fit for purpose through our skills at cultivation. Equally, as individuals, we can make any situation work if we use what we know to produce what we need….However barren we may find our current life circumstances, they can always be improved. … Always around us are people and things that we can usefully employ to better our position…It is taught – if we can imagine it, then we can have it. The very least of our inner promises to ourselves is potentially available if only we would learn to nurse the seedling dream to become ripe fruit. [ii]
The Sun and Moon will both square Mars, which does suggest arguments, tensions and bust-ups. Perhaps you have spent far too much time around a particular individual over the last six months and now need a break? Do so before you start to bicker.
Mars can also add a certain sense of urgency to any situation. If you have been given a deadline to finish a rather complicated creative project, try not to leave everything to the last minute or put yourself under pressure – use Virgoan techniques such as lists, schedules, prioritising and delegation to get the work done in good time so that you don’t need to rush. If a work task has been never-ending and is really stressful, be sure to make time for exercise – it’ll help you let off steam and keep you healthy.
Yes, Mars can be an agitating influence, but it can also keep you motivated and focused, so use its energy wisely and avoid rushing, careless mistakes, arguments or accidents.
Parts and Lots
Mars will be hovering close to the fixed star, Ras Alhague, at the time of this eclipse, which some astrologers associate with the desire to heal wound.
It is therefore interesting that the Moon will be separating from a conjunction to Chiron, symbol of the wounded healer, at the time of this eclipse.Clearly, there is an opportunity here to let go of an illness, psychological complex or source of anxiety.
Certainly, where Virgo and Pisces are concerned, there is always the propensity to tap into the mind-body connection, both positively and negatively. The suggest here is that you let go of stress and hypochondria and embrace health and wellbeing by changing both your lifestyle and your attitude. Exercise and lyrical movement are both excellent ways to kick start this process -many people consider it to be an excellent pathway into mindfulness and meditative states. So if you’re frazzled, overweight or anxious, why not give it a try and see what happens?
This eclipse will be visible from most of Europe, as well as parts of Asia, Australia, and eastern Africa. Beginning at 16h54 UTC, it will last for approximately four hours. For more information, and live video coverage of the event, visit TimeandDate.com.
In terms of astronomical Saros groupings, this lunar eclipse forms part of Saros series 147, which began near the south node in June 1890 and will terminate at the north lunar node in July 3134.
In terms of Brady’s Saros families, the last time we experienced a lunar eclipse in this sign was on the 6th of September 1998, so it may be worth casting your mind back to see if there is any kind of thematic link to events that occur around this time. Looking back on the last century, previous eclipses in this Saros grouping occurred in 1980, 1962, 1944 and 1926. For more information, visit the NASA Eclipse Catalogue.
[i] Brady, B. Predictive Astrology, Weiser, p. 335
[iii] Held, W. Eclipses: 2005-2017, Floris Books, p. 168.
[iv] Brady, B. Star and Planet Combinations, Wessex Astrologer, p. 116