Solar Eclipse in Sagittarius
As the Sun turns black during the total Solar Eclipse in Sagittarius on December 14, so may we feel overshadowed by what is ready to be laid to rest in the darkness of our subterranean soil and what is stirring in our chthonic depths with the seeds of new growth to come. The eclipse will appear above as a dark void unveiling stars normally obscured by daylight, while below it will be felt as a fertile matrix unleashing material that has been hidden from perception into awareness. While solar eclipses have long been known to demarcate pivotal endings and beginnings in storylines, the Sagittarius Solar Eclipse is unusually significant due to it arising at the threshold of not only a new year but also a new astrological era.
Indeed, in the week following the Sagittarius Solar Eclipse we will experience Saturn entering Aquarius on December 16, Jupiter entering Aquarius on December 19, and a grand conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn on December 21, the day of the Capricorn Solstice. Not only is the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn initiating a new twenty year cycle of sociopolitical changes in culture that always occur when Jupiter and Saturn unite, their conjunction at the end of 2020 is also marking our entrance into a new astrological era in which Jupiter and Saturn will only be forming conjunctions in the tropical air signs of Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. After Jupiter and Saturn conjoin at 00°29′ Aquarius on December 21, there will only be conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn in air signs until 21 December 2159 when they will unite in Scorpio, followed by two more grand conjunctions in air signs (2179 in Gemini and 2199 in Aquarius) before the elemental era fully shifts into tropical water signs in 2219.
As a result, the Sagittarius Solar Eclipse is occurring in the final week of an astrological era of Jupiter and Saturn conjoining in earth signs that began in 1802. Since eclipses typically intensify our experience of forms entering and leaving our life, there will be an immeasurably larger scale of wider collective change at the same time we will be experiencing our own personal mutations. The dissolution of the eclipse can loosen however we have been bound up in knots by difficulties from the past year, yet we may also sense an unraveling of innumerable threads of historical and cultural conditioning that have been bound together. As eclipses enhance our capacity to purify and release material attachments, we may experience not only a personal reckoning with our own past attachments but feel how there is a wider reckoning occurring across global civilizations concerning collective attachments that have dominated the past two centuries.
The astrological tradition imagines eclipses as a great dragon or serpent consuming the light of our Sun and Moon, with the North Node of the Moon symbolizing its head and the South Node its tail. The Solar Eclipse at 23º08’ Sagittarius will be aligned with the tail of the dragon, as the South Node of the Moon will be at 19º56’ Sagittarius. As a result, we can align with the eclipse by emphasizing processes associated with the South Node of the Moon such as emptying, shedding, cleansing, purifying, releasing, and harvesting. Knowing that the solstice a week after the eclipse holds great potency for visioning and intention setting with Jupiter and Saturn conjoining, the week surrounding the eclipse can help us gain a sharper sense for the projects and goals to focus on and cultivate by letting go of whatever is inessential or no longer resonant with our core purpose. Sit in the stillness of the solstice season and let the gravity of the eclipse settle your soul on the creative desires that will be most enlivening for you to cultivate and develop in the new year. Let your sense of linear time be eclipsed so that nonlinear revelations may bring inspiration as you simultaneously surrender to the dissolution, emptying, and deepening of the eclipse.
More immediately, however, the Sagittarius Solar Eclipse is important due to being the first solar eclipse in a series that will occur in the signs of Sagittarius and Gemini over the course of the next year (there will be another solar eclipse at 19°47′ Gemini on 10 June 2021, followed by another solar eclipse on 3 December 2021 at 12°22′ Sagittarius). Since the eclipse is the first of a series of solar eclipses in the signs of Sagittarius and Gemini, it will introduce new narrative themes into our life while we simultaneously need to begin molting aspects of our old attachments and identity. One way to get a sense for how your story may be changing in accordance is to pay attention to the associated topics and condition of the Sagittarius and Gemini houses of your natal chart.
As the shadow of the Moon completely covers the face of the Sun, so will the meaning of Sagittarius also undergo a blackening as it becomes veiled by the void of the eclipse. Sagittarius is the fire sign that comes at the end of the calendar year, the time of greatest darkness in the northern hemisphere when cold winds blow. Sagittarius kindles the inner fire that incites grand quests for meaning and adventure, and in its symbol of the wayfaring centaur reveals how it synthesizes reasoning with instinctual intuition as it searches widely for meaning across diverse cultures and philosophical traditions. The other primary symbol of Sagittarius is the archer, showing its tendency to look ahead and center its gaze on targets to strike, fueled by the fiery visions hovering over the horizon. In keeping with the eclipse arising at a threshold between collective eras, Sagittarius is a sign open to mystery and capable of sustaining faith in the face of the unknown.
Since the Sun is being eclipsed in Sagittarius, however, we need to be ready to release fixation on already knowing where we need to go and what we need to do. There are illusive influences swirling around the eclipse difficult to decipher, as Neptune in Pisces is forming a bewildering square aspect with the lunar nodes and the eclipse is separating from a square with Neptune. The shadow of Sagittarius involves dogmatism and self righteousness, insisting that one’s inner sense of the truth is in fact the truth despite other perspectives indicating you do not really know the full story and have not appreciated other viewpoints. It will also be important to not rush ahead with sole focus on future directions, instead taking time to contemplate the past and integrate any essential lessons from whatever old material is being emptied into the void of the eclipse. The deep wisdom of Sagittarius needs to be applied like a nonlinear spiral, reaching back in reflection on lessons learned from the past while cohering a clearer vision of the new direction opening in the year ahead.
Jupiter in Capricorn is the ruler of the Sagittarius Solar Eclipse as it traverses the final degree of Capricorn. Jupiter will be less than one degree away from Saturn in Capricorn during the eclipse, with Saturn at 29°44′ Capricorn spending its final two days in the sign of the Sea Goat. Saturn has been in Capricorn since 19 December 2017, and ever since Jupiter entered Capricorn a year ago on 2 December 2019 we have been experiencing the closing of not only their past twenty year synodic cycle but also their past two hundred year elemental era of uniting in earth signs. As we exit 2020 to enter 2021 we will be able to witness manifestations of the old earth era fading away as the new air era takes shape through the kind of rapid change and dispersed movement associated with air. Before crossing the threshold we will be well served by pausing within the stillness of the solstice season to recenter and deepen into envisioning the life we wish to create free from the obstacles and hangups from the past. As the new desires take root within, we can hold space for them while facing challenges and prioritize the steps that need to be taken to begin making the vision a reality.
In the larger context of being in between collective eras, it’s significant that Venus in Scorpio is applying toward an almost exact sextile aspect with Jupiter in Capricorn that it will complete a few hours after the eclipse, as well as a harmonizing sextile aspect with Saturn in Capricorn that Venus will complete the next day on December 15. Venus in the third decan of Scorpio possesses potency in digging into the roots of desires, a skill that will help us more gracefully cross the collective threshold. By laying old desires to rest we will create space for whatever new passions, interests, and dreams will emerge in accordance with the grand conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn. Venus in Scorpio will resurrect essential desires through decomposing old wounds and losses, helping us to sort what must be let go with finality and what needs to be regenerated within the new visions we enact.
Saturn has been strong in its earthy, nocturnal home of Capricorn during the past three years and so has brought immense adversity on collective and personal levels for us to endure. Yet as we sit with the lessons of Saturn and persevere through the tests brought by the star of Cronus, we slowly strengthen the bones and foundational structures of our lives. As Saturn lingers in the final degree of its Capricorn domicile that accentuates it’s cold and dry nature, it’s an ideal time to contemplate what you have created from its contraction and honing force in the past three years. Let yourself witness how you have grown in your ability to take responsibility and act from your own sense of authority, as we will each need to become even more accountable for doing our individual part in helping to create the world we wish to live in during the next three years of Saturn bringing the next level of its tests from its airy, diurnal home of Aquarius.
Eclipses come in families known as the Saros cycle. The origin of their ancestry begins at either the south or north pole and then traces a serpentine path around our world every eighteen or so years, moving ahead eleven degrees of celestial longitude each time. The Sagittarius Solar Eclipse on December 14, 2020 is part of the Saros 142 eclipse family that has its origin in a 1624 eclipse at the south pole. The 1624 date is intriguing for numerous reasons, including that some mainstream media reports about the upcoming conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn have stated that it will be their closest visible alignment since 1623. While other media reports have instead declared the upcoming conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn to be their closest visible alignment since 1226, it’s nonetheless notable that the period of the early 1620s has connection with the upcoming sequence of the Solar Eclipse on December 14 and the grand conjunction on December 21.
For those living in the USA during a period of intense polarized conflict that has its roots in the nation’s history, it is significant that the 1620s is the same period during which the Mayflower landed ashore, the Plymouth colony was established, and the legend of the first Thanksgiving was conceived. During this past era the collective traumas of the Atlantic slave trade displacing Africans, European immigrants fleeing oppression becoming displaced from their own ancestral culture, and indigenous people losing their land and lives all intensified in development. The ancestral wounds, grief, and trauma from this time period are still all around us, unresolved and in need of healing and reparation. While the promise and potential of being on the precipice of a new astrological era may make us want to focus on future visions, it will be necessary to return to the roots of the discord gripping current events for there to be any hope of mediating the polarized conflicts and creating a more just society.
In Bernadette Brady’s stellar book Predictive Astrology: The Eagle and the Lark she named the eclipse family of the Sagittarius Solar Eclipse “4 South” and wrote about it having its origin in a solar eclipse on March 19, 1624. However, checking the NASA site of saros series for eclipses, the origin of the Saros 142 eclipse family was actually on April 17, 1624. Brady described the 4 South eclipses as involving “very strong emotional feelings concerning relationships and/or money,” with sudden desires to end relationships running up against blocks that create great frustration, leading Brady to advise “avoid[ing] rash action until the issues settle down.” Brady’s description may have been based on some research into events associated with the saros series, but also clearly was connected to the fact that the March 19, 1624 eclipse was at the midpoint of Venus and Pluto with Pluto also in a conjunction with Mars and Venus also in an opposition with Saturn and Uranus.
In contrast, the April 17, 1624 eclipse is at the midpoint of Mars in Gemini and Chiron in Pisces, with Venus in Pisces applying to a close conjunction with Chiron. In fact, the Chiron and Venus conjunction in the origin eclipse from 1624 is at the same degree as transiting Neptune in Pisces today. As Chiron can function in connection with ancestral relationship and healing, one message from the 1624 origin eclipse relevant to the present is the capacity each of us possesses for forming relationships with our ancestors and doing our own individual part to deepen our relationship with the intersection between our ancestors and the present experienced in our individual bodies and within the world around us. As we deepen into relationship with our ancestors we deepen into recognizing the impact of culture and ancestral trauma on our individual lives as well as how they shape societal events.
Catafalque by Peter Kingsley has been my favorite book that I have read that was published during the recent transit of Saturn through Capricorn, in large measure due to the attention Kingsley gave to having relationships with our ancestors as well as stressing the importance of the living ancestors in the work of C.G. Jung. Kingsley wrote:
“We too are broken. All of us, not just some or a few, are addicts. We have lost any contact with our ancestral homes not because someone chased us out, but because we chase ourselves out. And there is not a single atrocity westerners can inflict on indigenous people that they have not also inflicted on themselves.”
If you want to reflect back upon your experience with previous solar eclipses in the Saros 142 series, the previous solar eclipse took place on December 4, 2002 at 11°58′ Sagittarius, on November 22, 1984 at 00°50′ Sagittarius, and on November 12, 1966 at 19°45′ Scorpio. All three of these eclipses were total just like the one on December 14, 2020.
Another key aspect of the Sagittarius Solar Eclipse involves Mercury in Sagittarius. Mercury in Sagittarius will be three degrees away from the eclipse, moving swiftly toward a conjunction with the Sun it will complete on December 19 at 28°42′ Sagittarius. Mercury will form a conjunction with the dark Moon shortly before the eclipse, and is also separating from a disorienting square aspect with Neptune. Mercury’s close presence with the eclipse will seed the significations of the star of Hermes into the impact that the eclipse will make in world events. Judith Hill in Eclipses and You listed significations of Mercury in connection with eclipses including news services, journalists, communication systems, phone and computer companies, writers, books, young people, childhood education, literacy, the postal system and language.
Before Mercury forms its solar conjunction, it will first move through a flowing trine aspect with Mars in Aries. With Mercury separating from a square with Neptune and applying to a trine with Mars, we have a correlation in the USA with the use of the Internet and social media by those in power to manipulate public opinion that voter fraud in the presidential election took place despite having a total lack of evidence showing the proof. Whether or not your are being swayed by conspiracy theories, however, all of us are having to contend with our personal information being used by Internet companies to manipulate our choices and behavior. Mercury is also the ruler of the North Node in Gemini, and therefore its approaching union with the Sun is ideal for burning off distractions and shifting away from our attention being dispersed into too many directions into become focused upon the heart of the matter aligned with our greater purpose. All of us need to increase our capacity for critical thinking and seeing through attempts to manipulate our perception as we cross the threshold into a new astrological era of air.
As Mars in Aries is finally picking up substantial forward momentum we will likewise have increased support for getting things done and taking action. As Mercury moves through the trine with Mars and forms its conjunction with the Sun on December 19, we can ideally gain clarity regarding our creative desires and begin envisioning more fully the work we wish to create in the year ahead. At the same time, Mars is applying toward its final square aspect with Pluto in Capricorn that it will complete on December 23 a couple of days after the grand conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn. Mars previously formed a square aspect with Pluto when it was retrograde in Aries on October 9, and so we have had a few months to let whatever desires were stirred up by their previous tension to simmer within our inner depths. While we previously may have felt blocked or inhibited in some way from fully expressing whatever ambitions were ignited by Mars and Pluto in October, we can use the week following the Capricorn solstice and the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn to make significant progress on whatever goals were forged during the past few months of Mars moving backwards and forwards in Aries.
Sagittarius 3 Decan
The Sun in Sagittarius will be eclipsed within the third decan of Sagittarius associated with the 10 of Wands card illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith. Human toil, endurance and perseverance are some of the immediate associations evoked by the image of determination, as this card has been associated with oppressive dynamics and limitations we must face and do our best to work through. The third face of Sagittarius is ruled by Saturn and the Sun, bringing together within its space of relentless determination the polarized tension between the limiting contraction of Saturn and the animating spirit of the Sun. While we will need to take care of necessary responsibilities in the days surrounding the eclipse, we will manage things better by refraining from overworking ourselves and instead making contemplative space to ponder the meaning gathered from our experiences.
Austin Coppock ascribed the image of “A Horse’s Skull” to the third face of Sagittarius in his book 36 Faces, describing how it reveals the unification of mind, body, and spirit through committed work and effort yoked to a goal. Coppock also wrote that the final face of Sagittarius brings a reckoning regarding whatever needs to be sacrificed in pursuit of desires, noting that “those who walk this face must choose which burdens they will bear to the bitter end, and which are not worthy of such feats of will and endurance.” Both the Picatrix and Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy warn of the “evil inclinations” that can be harbored within this decan for those overly desperate to achieve objectives. Coppock described the intoxicating pursuit of victory that is found in this face, noting a need to realize when the “desperate fervor” of this decan’s power is appropriate and when it is inappropriate and will exact “a heavy toll.” These essential points by Coppock are in deep accord with what needs to be released and emptied into the eclipse in the third face of Sagittarius. It’s not a time for being forceful with whatever ambitions you have been consumed by, but rather a time for surrender and release so that the freed up space may generate new desires and visions that will be in greater alignment with the quality of time we will enter at the end of 2020.
In keeping with themes of necessity, the Hellenistic text The 36 Airs of the Zodiac proclaimed the presence of the primordial goddess Ananke in the third face of Sagittarius. Ananke is the mother of the Fates, the overseer of souls incarnating in Plato’s Myth of Er, and is the primordial mother of creation in some strands of Orphic cosmology who governs the cyclic nature of the cosmos. Ananke is the goddess of Necessity, and her presence in the third face of Sagittarius further amplifies the fateful feelings that will be incited by the eclipse initiating us into the grand conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn. May the watchful eye of Ananke alert us to whatever actions needs to be taken and whatever responsibilities need to fulfilled as we contend with the burdens of Necessity. As the Sun emerges from the shadow of the eclipse and enters its sacred space of the solstice, may its returning light illuminate an inspired path of Eros for us to follow into the new era of air.
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Brady, Bernadette. (1998). Predictive Astrology: The Eagle and the Lark. Weiser Books.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Hill, Judith. (2013). Eclipses and You: How to Align with Life’s Hidden Tides. Stellium Press.
Kingsley, Peter. (2018). Catafalque: Carl Jung and the End of Humanity. Catafalque Press.