Anatomy of an Eclipse: A Catalyst for Change
Carl Jung once wrote that ‘When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.’
Nothing could be truer of eclipses. These soli-lunar events form part of the inter-play of light and darkness that makes up the lunar cycle, which is created by dance between the two luminaries or archetypal ‘lights’ in astrology, the Sun and Moon. These are the King and Queen of the sects of Day and Night, under whose dominion all the other visible planets fall – something we moderns have largely forgotten, particularly once the ‘modern’ planets were discovered. This upset the original ‘order of things, including the ancient system of sect, which allocated the signs of Cancer and Leo to the luminaries, and then allotted the remaining five original planets one day, and one night sign each, thus evenly bi-secting the 12 signs of the zodiac into two groups.
Astrologically, eclipses often mark a period of dramatic change that can last as short as a month but often extend to encompass a six month period. They act rather like catalysts, often forcing your hand, either through a process of forced elimination – taking away choices or options; or by means of acceleration – intensifying current circumstances or suddenly inducing change which calls for a different approach.
Eclipses have been associated with endings and beginnings in relationships, a change in career direction, a redundancy, a new job, moving house, or surviving an accident or dramatic incident. Like the Tower card in the Tarot, these type sof events are associated with sudden, unexpected events or surprises. Often these may seem nasty at the time but, in hindsight, turn out to be blessings in disguise.
If you have been putting off changes, moves or decisions, eclipses will usually force matters to crisis point and you will no longer be able to drag your feet. However, if you are aware and take action, you can usually pre-empt the situation, or ride with the wave of change, thereby doing a bit of ‘damage control’!
In very general terms, lunar eclipses, which occur at the Full Moon, tend to bring matters to a dramatic head or swift conclusion but are predominantly internal, rather than external events. Usually, though, they tend to manifest in the form of psychological crises or sub-conscious triggers that prompt you to come to a decision or take action in relation to any relationship, psychological dynamic or situation that has reached its sell-by date. However, they can also tap into momentum that may be gathering as a result of shifts in the collective ‘herd mentality’ – the instinctive ‘hive mind’ which we often witness in action on social media or in stock market crashes.e.
By contrast, solar eclipses, which occur at the New Moon, tend to manifest change largely through external events or shifts in circumstances, often introducing new dynamics, variables or initiatives that send you off on a different path. The important thing to remember is that a solar eclipse usually sets or activates an overrriding theme for the six months that follow.
In order to get a preview of what that theme might be in your own life, it is worth noting circumstances immediately preceding or following an eclipse, as well as its Saros cycle, sign and condition with respect to planetary aspects and so forth. Occasionally their most obvious effects can be delayed by up a month, so you may want to take note of what occurs around the same date the following month (give or take 3 days). By this, I mean a lunar month, so from one lunar phase to another, such as from New Moon to New Moon, for example.
Solar vs. Lunar Eclipses
As I said before, eclipses are a kind of exclamation mark or wild card, often marking the ending of one cycle (lunar) and the beginning of a new period of personal growth or direction (solar).
Astrologically, the way I like to work with and interpret eclipses, is to see that solar and lunar eclipses have slightly different emphases.
- A solar eclipse, being closely associated with the sign of Leo, will generally emphasize matters ruled by the masculine energy of the Sun, such as personal identity, vitality and power, individuality, authority and leaders, personal quests or goals, children, creativity and father figures. Bernadette Brady, the well-known eclipse expert, suggests that solar eclipses are usually involved with external events i.e. Situations that happen to you or around you. Health-wise, the sun rules the chest area and the heart, as well as the spine, so these areas may be highlighted or flare up during an eclipse. It is always a good idea to see how the sun interacts with your own sun and rising sign since this will give you a clearer picture of what effects the eclipse could have for you.
- A lunar eclipse has to do with the Moon, the archetypal mother and mistress of growth, fertility and generation – and in Western astrology is a traditionally feminine symbol. With her natural domicile in watery Cancer, the Moon rules motherhood, the home, family, our instinctive needs and reactions, day-to-day living and habits. The moon has a more subtle but no less powerful effect, as the tides of the sea will attest to. Just as with the Sun, how strongly the moon figures in your chart, what angles it makes to other personal planets and which house it falls in, will often determine how the moon, and therefore lunar eclipses, will generally affect you. Many people take Jung’s ideas about introversion and extroversion and apply them to their astrological interpretation of eclipses. Thus, according to Bernadette Brady, lunar eclipses tend to be associated with internal events such as thoughts and feelings.
Another thing to bear in mind is the phase of the moon. A full moon usually brings things to culmination, boiling point or to an end, whilst a new moon traditionally heralds the start of new things. The issues they stress are therefore slightly different but often work hand in hand with each other – after all when one door closes, another has to open!