Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer

winged scarab.jpg

Scarab (ca 1550 – 1479 BC)

Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer

The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer on July 2 is full of change-inducing force, corresponding with an influx of events which can rapidly shift narratives. The solar eclipse will be visible mostly in Chile and Argentina, and so while its impact will be most potent in South America you do not need to be living in the direct path of the eclipse to experience the vortex of change that arrives with eclipse season. Those with natal placements near 11º of Cancer, Capricorn, Aries, and Libra will especially feel the effect in their lives immediately, but whatever areas of life are connected with Cancer and Capricorn in your natal chart will be undergo accelerated developments between the Cancer Solar Eclipse on July 2 and the Capricorn Lunar Eclipse on July 16. During a total solar eclipse the light of our Sun is extinguished by the eclipsing Moon, temporarily turning day into night. Those who have witnessed a total solar eclipse know the indescribable Mystery of its apparition, and similarly our experiences surrounding the syzygy can feel mysterious in the way they pull us into transitions. While turning inward is advisable during the window of an eclipse, life events tend to become more dramatic and unexpected in the week surrounding an eclipse and demand response and assertion.

Cardinal signs such as Cancer initiate the seasons, and so the Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer will make an immediate, noticeable impact and will coincide with quickly changing circumstances. Since Cancer is a water sign we can expect a flooding of emotions and feelings to come with the changes, with our sensitivities heightened making us feel more vulnerable than normal. Since Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and the Moon is eclipsing the Sun, irrational feelings as well as memories and sentiments from the past may emerge from hidden places in our psyche. Even if some of the feelings that come up feel uncomfortable at first, allow yourself sit with, process, and contemplate whatever emerges. While there will be some impressions arising that need to be released, there will also be nuggets of insight to discover within the sifting that will help open new opportunities for growth in the season ahead. There is a gravity of dark matter that comes with total solar eclipses that pull our soul inexorably towards things whether we consciously intend to or not.

It’s often helpful to focus on emptying as we enter eclipse season and getting in touch with the type of cosmic void that has been described by ancient mystics as well as modern thinkers such as Stanislav Grof as a fertile emptiness which underlies and gives birth to everything. Just as the solar light of the Sun becomes enveloped in darkness during an eclipse, so may old matters and patterns become dissolved in the weeks surrounding an eclipse. The potential to liberate oneself from old patterns is particularly emphasized during the coming eclipse season, as the Sun in Cancer will be conjoining the North Node of the Moon while Mercury in Leo will be stationing retrograde in the week following the solar eclipse, while forming a catalytic square aspect with Uranus in Taurus and a conjunction with Mars in Leo. Take time in the week following the eclipse to contemplate whatever needs clearing in order to create space for an influx of vivifying growth. It will not be a time to attempt to push forward and force change but rather to find a way to flow with the currents.

In fact, the pending Mercury retrograde in Leo and Cancer will be a key catalyst within the process of change underway.  As eclipse season is typically defined as the period in which the Sun transits within 18º of the lunar nodes (since that is the window within which a new moon can be an eclipse), it is notable that the Leo Sun will finally exit the eclipse season threshold around July 28 at 5º Leo in a square aspect with Uranus, the same degree that Mercury stations retrograde on July 7. In addition, just as the Leo Sun leaves eclipse season Mercury retrograde will become visible again as a Morning Star while simultaneously beginning to station direct. As a result, it is likely that the numerous storylines stirred up by the eclipses will be continuing to develop significantly all the way to the end of July. While Mercury going retrograde at the same time can increase feelings of volatility, it can also help dislodge us from stuck places and help us discover inspiration and motivation to embark in a dynamic creative direction we had not previously considered undertaking.

lambspring dragon

From the Book of Lambspring (1599)

The color black that overcomes the golden light of the sun during an eclipse has ancient associations with death and the underworld, an experience for those believing in reincarnation that also holds the promise of rebirth. Black also resonates with the fecundity found underground in our living earth, and indeed the term alchemy finds its root in the dark fertility of soil along the Nile River. In Egyptian cosmology, the sun faces death in the regenerative underworld of Night at midnight, before being reborn at daybreak. Aaron Cheak wrote an essay included in The Celestial Art which described the primordial waters of Nun as hosting the rebirth of our solar light, a sphere that is also associated with the primeval chaos serpent and “constitutes the very matrix in which reality and existence gestates.” Serpents of chaos and dragons also have ancient associations with the lunar nodes, as both the sun and the moon become devoured in shadow whenever a new or full moon aligns with the lunar nodes.

The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer on July 2 is aligned with the North Node of the Moon, also known as Rahu or the Head of the Dragon. As a result we may notice new hungers for growth in the weeks ahead, new desires emerging which call us to pursue new opportunities and ambitions. Just as something about our old solar identity, the way we have been cohering our personality, will become eclipsed, there can also be an activation of previously hidden feelings, sentiments, and intuition that once awakened begin to drive us toward to making new choices and following new directions. However, since Mercury will be stationing retrograde on July 7 while forming catalyzing aspects with Uranus and Mars, while there will likely be impulses to follow breakthrough insights we will need to keep constant awareness for the tricks and sleights of hand that Mercury retrograde will be providing that can serve as important guidance for how we need to adjust and respond.

Just as eclipses are associated with dragons, so are eclipses also grouped in families according to the Saros cycle, which we can also think about as a sort of family of dragons. The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer is part of a Saros cycle which began with a partial solar eclipse in 991 and only has included eclipses aligned with the North Node of the Moon, with the previous one in the series occurring on 21 June 2001. Bernadette Brady described it as an “over-excessive eclipse family” which can bring information that transforms circumstances and can spark anxiety as well as obsession. Brady wrote that while this eclipse family can be positive in correlating with desire to take on a large enterprise, we need to be careful to not get carried away heedlessly.

In addition to considering the eclipse family the Total Solar Eclipse belongs to, it can also be helpful to reflect upon the previous times that the lunar nodes were in Cancer and Capricorn and hosting eclipses. From August 2009 through March 2011 the transiting South Node of the Moon was in Cancer with the North Node of the Moon in Capricorn; from April 2000 through October 2001 the transiting South Node of the Moon was in Capricorn while the North Node of the Moon was in Cancer. If you can notice a pattern of changes that took place during these times of previous eclipses in Cancer and Capricorn, see if there are aspects that relate to the way you can tell your present life story is beginning to shift. In particular, the previous Cancer Solar Eclipse and Capricorn Lunar Eclipse that occurred in June and July of 2001 have an additional connection to the end of the Saturn and Pluto cycle we are experiencing now, as in 2001 it was the midpoint of the cycle with Saturn forming an opposition to Pluto.

Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I 1961-5 by Ibrahim El-Salahi born 1930

Ibrahim El-Salahi, Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I

“What our age thinks of as the ‘shadow’ and inferior part of the psyche contains more than something merely negative. The very fact that through self-knowledge, that is, by exploring our own souls, we come upon the instincts and their world of imagery should throw some light on the powers slumbering in the psyche, of which we are seldom aware so long as all goes well. They are potentialities of the greatest dynamism, and it depends entirely on the preparedness and attitude of the conscious mind whether the irruption of these forces, and the images and ideas associated with them, will tend towards construction or catastrophe.”

— C. G. Jung, from The Undiscovered Self

The component making the upcoming eclipse season especially intense involves the intersection of the planetary nodes with the alignment of Saturn and Pluto with the South Node of the Moon.  Saturn is in range of a conjunction with the South Node of Saturn while Pluto is also conjoining the South Node of Pluto, meaning the orbital arcs of both celestial bodies are descending downward across the ecliptic and the path of our orbit around the Sun. This has been creating an intensification of the difficult gravity that always comes when Saturn and Pluto come to the end of their cycle, bringing a deeply karmic feeling of having to face issues of civilization and systematic oppression with deep roots in the ancient past. The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer begins an eclipse cycle that will peak with a Lunar Eclipse on July 16 in which the Moon will be eclipsed in Capricorn while also occulting Saturn and Pluto.

Dane Rudhyar wrote that when planets conjoin their own south node, we experience the entire history of their orbital arc being released: thus we have been overwhelmed and saturated with all things signified by Saturn and Pluto in recent months. Vitally, Rudhyar theorized that when this happens we can experience a seeding of new values related to positive aspects of the planets conjoining their south node, as well as the toxicity and “negative existential results” of their cycle. Thus during the coming eclipse season we will be simultaneously facing issues in which to utilize the empowerment and tenacious, disciplined determination of Saturn and Pluto while also witnessing the horrific impact from oppressively organized political, military, economic, and social forces.

As Richard Tarnas described in Cosmos and Psyche, “the widespread sense of victimization and suffering under the impact of cataclysmic and oppressive forces of history” that correlate with the Saturn and Pluto cycle can lead to many people feeling anxiously constrained as if their life is out of their control and being determined by historical, political, economic, and other impersonal societal forces. Tarnas made the key insight that within the same individual, group, or nation there can be a deeply felt wounding from violation or defeat that simultaneously can also constellate desire to prove one’s capacity to violently fight back if necessary.  As the eclipses further will be triggering Saturn and Pluto, we will be facing questions of what we need to cultivate within civilization in order to meet the needs of people, while also recognizing that numerous aspects of the old order must now break down and decay in order to clear space for the needed new structures to take shape.

“Even today people are largely unconscious of the fact that every individual is a cell in the structure of various international organisms and is therefore causally implicated in their conflicts. He knows that as an individual being he is more or less meaningless and feels himself the victim of uncontrollable forces, but, on the other hand, he harbors within himself a dangerous shadow and adversary who is involved as an invisible helper in the dark machinations of the political monster. It is in the nature of political bodies always to see the evil in the opposite group, just as the individual has an ineradicable tendency to get rid of everything he does not know and does not want to know by foisting it off on somebody else.

Nothing has a more divisive and alienating effect upon society than this moral complacency and lack of responsibility, and nothing promotes understanding and rapprochement more than the mutual withdrawal of projections.”

— C.G. Jung, from The Undiscovered Self

Neptune in Pisces is in a place of being able to mediate the polarity of the eclipses, as it is forming a trine to the North Node of the Moon and the Cancer Solar Eclipse, while also forming a sextile to the South Node of the Moon, Saturn, and Pluto. Furthermore, during the time of the upcoming Capricorn Lunar Eclipse on July 16, Neptune will also be forming a trine with Venus in Cancer as it conjoins the North Node of the Moon. In reference to the negative potentialities described by Tarnas and Jung above, Neptune can correlate in many with shadowy projections and being consumed by illusive conditioning from societal structures.  However, there is a profound potential for Neptune in Pisces to be an imaginal ally in not only sustaining belief in the potential to find solutions and mediate discord, but to also envision ways to creatively respond to difficulties without denial and escapism. Neptune’s role in the eclipse supports showing compassion to others who are struggling as well as make time to nurture and calm your own anxieties enough so that you can respond to events from a place of creativity rather than fear.

Dorothea Tanning Dream of Luxury

Dorothea Tanning (1944) Dream of Luxury

Venus is at the very end of Gemini at the time of the Total Solar Eclipse and enters Cancer the next day. In between eclipses, Venus will be approaching a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon and an opposition with Saturn which it will complete at the same time as the Capricorn Lunar Eclipse on July 16. Simultaneously, Mercury will station retrograde on July 7 as a visible Evening Star and then will begin descending under the beams of the Sun into its invisible phase a few days later. This means that in between eclipses, both Venus and Mercury will be undergoing the regenerative purification and stripping away of their underworld phases.  Thus the irrational feelings, potent dream images, and reawakened passions that arise during the coming eclipse season can be utilized as part of a process of revisioning our values and the ways in which we make meaning in our life.

A particularly challenging period in between eclipses will be July 8 and 9, as Mars will conjoin Mercury retrograde in Leo in range of a square with Uranus in Taurus at the same time that the First Quarter Moon in Libra forms a square aspect with the Sun, lunar nodes, Saturn, and Pluto. However, the coming eclipse season in general has numerous transits intersecting which have the potential of corresponding with frustrating experiences which will make us question why we are doing things. It will be best to make an effort to set aside time as often as possible for reflection and anything that helps you calm down, ground, and process. For example, we may be able to realize ways we have been acting due to trying to fit in with our conception of how to be successful within the system we are working that are actually at odds with our authentic approach and expression. There has been so much emphasis in recent months on Saturn and Pluto impacting the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn that the solar eclipse setting off the Cancer side of the North Node of the Moon can help open awareness to new ways of doing things that will be in greater alignment with what we feel inspired by rather than being preoccupied by the opinions and judgment of others.

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3 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Cancer 2 Decan

The second face of Cancer where the Total Solar Eclipse occurs is associated with the Three of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The merry image of dancing women evokes the three graces and signifies harmonious collaborations of inspired thought and creativity.  Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “a walled garden in which something precious is kept” to this face, adding an element not obvious from the above image:  the need of protection and nurturance in order to create an incubating space that can bring forth joy, beauty, and abundance.  With a Total Solar Eclipse impacting this decan, we will want to consider whatever we have been letting in as well as keeping out from our life with the barriers we have erected to protect whatever is most important to us. It’s likely we will need to restructure and renegotiate boundaries in order to cultivate the inner process of creativity and intimacy we desire. It will also be helpful to find ways of finding joy with others similar to the image of the Three of Cups as a way of navigating through the difficult astrological terrain on the horizon.

As the second decan of Cancer is ruled by Mercury, it further highlights the fact that Mercury will be stationing retrograde less than a week after the eclipse and then shifting into its underworld, psychopomp role of guiding us through a regenerative and liminal process of death and rebirth. Interestingly, the Liber Hermetis described the image of the second face of Cancer as having the body of a vulture with the face of the great goddess Isis wearing a crown. In part we can imagine how this image connects with the brilliantly bright fixed star Sirius which was associated with Isis and heralded the flooding of the Nile, as well as the significance of vulture goddesses within Egyptian cosmology. Vultures connect the upper wold with the underworld through the eating of the dead, and in the story of Isis searching for her dismembered lover and twin Osiris she also transformed into a Kite, a raptor which is also known to feed on the dead. Similarly, with Mercury shifting retrograde in between eclipses it will be necessary to undergo a cathartic, underworld experience in July that may feel difficult at times but also holds the potential to break us free from ways in which we have become stagnant.

In addition, the Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the figure of Heracles to the second face of Cancer, a legendary solar hero who connects with the constellation myth of Cancer. The great goddess Hera sent the crab to attack Heracles as he was engaged in battle with the Hydra, and after Heracles destroyed the crab Hera placed it into the sky as a constellation for its service to her. During a Total Solar Eclipse just as the solar light of our Sun is consumed by darkness from the fertile void, so may the way we have been identifying as a solar hero in our life become pulled down into nonlinear depths to be stripped away and regenerated. Allow the death of however you have been cohering a persona to navigate the world of external ambitions so that a more authentic one may be reformed in the coming month.

Within the polarity of Cancer and Capricorn becoming so intensely activated, it will be necessary to focus on finding ways to contain and process the emotional flooding and intense feelings that may arise during the coming eclipse season. Rather than seeking stability within external sources and giving our power away to others in order to grasp at security, it will be essential to act from a place of one’s own sense of inner security and authority. As C.G. Jung famously wrote in The Undiscovered Self, “A million zeros joined together do not, unfortunately, add up to one. Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual, but our fatally short-sighted age thinks only in terms of large numbers and mass organizations, though one would thing that the world had seen more than enough of what a well-disciplined mob can do in the hands of a single madman.”

References

Brady, Bernadette. (1999). Predictive Astrology: the Eagle and the Lark. Weiser Books.

The Celestial Art. (2018). Edited by Austin Coppock and Daniel Schulke. Three Hands Press.

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

Jung, C.G. (1990). The Undiscovered Self. Princeton University Press.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1971). The Planetary and Lunar Nodes. CSA Press.

Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. Plume.

Total Leo Solar Eclipse

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Total Solar Eclipse of 11 August 1999, member 21 of Saros series 145, by Luc Viatour

NOTE: This post has the unique distinction of being co-written in collaboration with astrologer June Rose Trimbach.  We will be co-teaching classes together in the coming season, and as we were already communicating a lot about our shared ideas regarding this Total Solar Eclipse, it seemed like a fitting opportunity to introduce our coming work together.  On October 29 we will be co-teaching a class at the Portland School of Astrology entitled The Daimon: The Guiding Spirit of Astrology.  We are also currently developing a series of introductory astrology webinar classes we will be teaching in the coming months.  There is not yet a planned start date for the webinar series as we are still putting material together, but I will let you know as soon as we have clear dates set up.  Feel free to send me an email if you are interested in learning astrology from us through the webinar medium, and I can answer any questions you may have about them.

Solar Eclipse in Leo

Black as the night from which the light of stars emerge, black as the earth full of death that produces life. Black as the feathers of crows that soar through space, black as the darkness that nurtures recovery. The blackness of a total solar eclipse in which the light of our Sun is blocked takes us into the mysterious void from which all of our known universes are created. In the blackness we may rediscover our own source of primordial creativity from within, as well as realize the illusory nature of a reality we previously believed in.

In the time leading up to this eclipse, the Sun is shining through its home sign of the Lion, the sign of strength of heart and leadership. The light of the Sun brings exposure and purification; the true hearts of humans are exposed. As the Moon moves in front of the Sun, a shadow is cast, and a shadow is revealed. While the shadow of leadership and courage is exposed, it is also a portal for deeper understanding of our own hearts, our own courage to lead and to shine. We learn the deeper motivations for these goals, and the potential wounding therein.

Astrologer Joe Landwehr teaches that in a Solar Eclipse the creative dynamic potential is eclipsed by the emotional needs of the Soul. The needs of the Soul can be largely irrational, in that we can be pulled to act in ways that one wouldn’t always choose.  Joe has taught that the Soul sometimes drags our unwilling selves into tough places, but places that we need to be. These irrational Soul-needs are like a deep well of insight into the meaning of our lives that when we ignore, come back to haunt us. This means that if our Soul is drawn to leadership, acts of courage or greater emanation of the heart, we may have to face these parts of ourselves now.  How can we show up to these potentially hidden parts? The eclipse can reveal these parts, but they may not look rational or even safe: how can we honor the parts of ourselves that have remained in the dark?

ClavisArtis.3headeddragonsun

from the Clavis Artis

An eclipse is also known as a great dragon showing itself, devouring the Sun:  terrible and mystical and wise. This eclipse takes place on the north node or the head of the dragon. This head is desirous, consuming and wishes to devour, but devour what?  There is potential available amid the surrounding astrological transits to cast off old inner restrictions in order to access greater currents of vitality to not only express in the world, but also take the responsibility to manage with greater integrity.  Yet when we speak of stepping into greater empowerment and claiming greater levels of Leonine power, we must also question and reflect upon the shadow cast by ambition.  As the Leo Sun turns black, the disappearance and reappearance of light can be a portal through which we may gain greater awareness for how to live a more empowered life; one that works in collaboration with the power of others, rather than claims power over others.  The lion is strongest when it realizes it is connected to the natural energetic heart of its community, rather than being the heart itself; love is found in the space in between people.

New forms enter our lives during eclipses as old forms exit, and the quality of what comes in and out can feel both exciting and scary.  Though eclipses have a long association in the astrological tradition with difficult, even disastrous events, they have also proven to mark significant thresholds of more fulfilling fortune.  Professor Qiguang Zhao wrote a beautiful book on dragons entitled A Study of Dragons, East and West in which he explored how the dragons of ancient cultures in the East (East Asia) that were more apocalyptic and associated with heaven came to be associated in the West (Middle East and Europe) as a demonic death symbol linked to “the world of nightmare and the scapegoat, of bondage, pain, and confusion” (p. 61).  Zhao shared the following text from Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West that shows the transcendent symbolism of dragons, the creatures most associated with eclipses:

Soaring and transforming,
Encircling clouds and mists,
Like suspending white hooks their claws let fall,
Like bright mirrors the silver scales shine.
Whiskers flap like white silk, each stand’s visible,
Horns rise imposingly, each prong is clear
Those rugged foreheads;
Those bright round eyes.
The Dragons, hidden or seen, can’t be fathomed;
The Dragons, flying or flitting, can’t be described.
If you pray for rain, rain comes instantly;
If you ask for clear sky, you have it at once.
These, only these, are the true dragon forms.
Most dignified and holy,
As a good omen, their aura surrounds the palace profusely.

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7 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Leo 3 Decan

In the days leading up to the eclipse, many of us find ourselves consuming images of banners, bravado and martial violence. These are themes that are presented by the third decan of Leo where the eclipse takes place, a decan associated with the Seven of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The image of the third decan is seen by Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces as an image of “The Banner.” It is ruled by Mars, the planet of courage, heroic acts and martial combat. These are clues to what the dragon head of the eclipse might be seeking: glory, a cause to fight for. This is perhaps what we are all seeking right now. And now is a time to get in touch with our personal banners. What do we stand for and why?

Mars not only rules the third face of Leo where the eclipse occurs, Mars is also present within the third decan of Leo giving it amplified power.  In addition, the eclipse occurs within the Egyptian bounds of Mars, and Mars is applying to a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon, the head of the dragon.  Mars is on the threshold of leaving combustion with the Sun at the time of the eclipse, but is still invisible under the beams of the Sun emerging from its long journey through the underworld (though perhaps the total darkness of the eclipse may allow for Mars to become temporarily visible).  Although we have a Mars recently reborn from its union with the Sun, it still carries within it the impact of past wounds from previous cycles.  We can feel the determination of Mars in the image of the Seven of Wands card, in which a warrior is fighting against an onslaught from an angry mob.  Mars asks us what ideals, principles, and other forms of personal terrain are worth fighting to protect at all cost.

The Total Leo Solar Eclipse has been named “The Great American Eclipse” as the path of the dragon enters the continental United States in Oregon and exits in South Carolina.  In the time leading up to the eclipse, heated conflict has erupted in the United States over the banner fought under by the Confederate army in the Civil War.  Notably Charleston, South Carolina is on the path of the eclipse dragon as it exits the continent, as Charleston is the location of the first shots fired in the Civil War as well as the location of the horrific murder of African American church goers in June 2015 by white supremacist Dylan Rooff, a tragedy that reignited debate over the presence of Confederate flags and monuments across the United States.

Even as we see images of the shadow of the banner, the question we may ask is if we can devour the banner itself. Can we devour the face of evil so that it is banned from the earth, or will that only perpetuate more violence? The head of a dragon in a realm of such proud martial power is also evocative as the ultimate protector, the courageous warrior willing to give their own life in order to protect life.  Martial strength may be utilized to resist forces of hate and as stated in the Four-Fold Way by Angeles Arriens, “by staying in our power, by showing up and choosing to be present, by extending honor and respect, and by being responsible and accountable.”

To know the absolute is to be tolerant.
What is tolerant becomes impartial;
What is impartial becomes powerful;
What is powerful becomes natural;
What is natural becomes Tao.

— Lao Tzu, quoted from R.L. Wing’s translation, The Tao of Power

total solar eclipse astronomy

by Etienne Leopold Trouvelot (1882)

As the path of the Total Solar Eclipses travels from coast to coast across the United States, its relevant to delve deeper into the country’s astrological context.  The astrology chart most often used by astrologers relates to the date of the Declaration of Independence, and though different versions exist they all involve the Moon in Aquarius, the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius, and the North Node of the Moon in Leo.  Thus the United States is experiencing the karma of a nodal return and eclipses in the same signs as occurred during the time of its Declaration of Independence.  Part of the country’s karma involves the fact the same people who crafted its language of liberation also owned slaves, and the development of its culture coincided with attempts to forcibly remove the culture of the land’s indigenous population.

The shadow of hatred and fear showed itself in Charlottesville, Virginia on a weekend in between two eclipses under a fiery celestial triangle. It was met with courage. There is an opportunity now to join this fight that was started as far back as our mind will take us. This fight has had many iterations throughout time, while simultaneously it is a fight felt deeply and personally all around our planet. But to join it lightly without knowledge of the shadowy realm this fight takes place in, would be unwise.  The opening of a true heart of courage is possible here, a courage based on love and camaraderie. Is it possible even in evil actions, this is what is sought? The ghosts of the past are imminent in the story of America and its present begs for action and healing.

The shadows of Leo and Mars have been problematic in these wounds; the elite white class wrote the constitution for themselves and pitted the poor whites and slaves against each other; a reality we are still seeing. The infrastructure and laws of our country (Saturn) have kept people in chains through Jim Crow laws, the prison industrial complex, and other forms of institutional oppression. Curses economic, societal and emotional hold us back from sharing love with each other, yet we find anecdotes of that very love being shared liberally. The story of fear is not the only story, and we must connect with each other in good ways to get through this. How have the structures of the past and present limited your expression of love, and is there an opportunity of liberation now?

The eclipse activates a grand fire trine with Saturn and Uranus. The disruption of past structures and creative ways of making new ones are prominent themes right now. Uranus is in an exact trine with the Solar Eclipse, making creativity and the unleashing of potential a huge catalyst for change. Uranus is also the story of Prometheus, the one who stole the Fire of the Gods and gave it to humanity.  Western astrologers tend to glorify the myth of Prometheus, yet other interpretations reveal it to be a cautionary tale of hubris and desire to wield the power of gods.  Fascinatingly, the current transit of Uranus in Aries forms a square to the natal placement of Pluto in Capricorn in the chart of the Declaration of Independence. The Pluto of the U.S. is a storehouse of subterranean power and wealth, ruled by Saturn who now finds itself in Pluto’s twelfth house of secrets and hidden potential. The light and shadow of this eclipse is revealing deep secrets, yet there is an even deeper sense of upheaval. In the next five years the U.S. will have its first Pluto return, a transit that can transform, empower or dismantle altogether.

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Ouroborus by Liv Rainey-Smith

Love is also a force of light and nurture that liberates you to inhabit to the full your own difference.  There should be no imitation of each other.  No need to be defensive or protective in each other’s presence.  Love should encourage and free you fully into your full potential.

— John O’Donahue from Anam Cara:  A Book of Celtic Wisdom

So what is there to do in this time of upheaval? Make a choice to know the shadows of your own heart; true courage comes from love. The shadows of the past are cropping up, in our nations, in ourselves. One power of Leo is to lead by example; to bring an open heart to everything you do. Remain open to changing the structure of your life based on the needs of the Soul. Consider your personal banner: what would you be sure enough to proclaim to the world upon an inspection of the shadow and a heart centered reflection?

What will burn in the light of day as it is revealed, what will take form in our world and what will leave? The shadow is only something to be feared when it is not addressed. We can learn and heal from the scared parts of ourselves, and generally this is what eclipses are about. There is also a question of how we can move in the world. Can we put something into the world that is authentic? Can our radiant heart find liberation and the structure to express itself more truly and freely? Even as actions from wounding inflict more wounding during this eclipse period, can we stand from a place of empowerment and love for the world?

Written by Gray Crawford and June Rose Trimbach

References

Arriens, Angeles. (1993). The Four-Fold Way:  Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary. Harper Collins.

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

O’Donahue, John. (1997). Anam Cara:  A Book of Celtic Wisdom.  Harper Perennial.

Zhao, Qiguang. (1992). A Study of Dragons, East and West.  Peter Lang Publishing.

 

 

Pisces Solar Eclipse 2016

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courtesy of The New York Public Library

O you tender ones, step now and then
into the breath that takes no heed of you:
it will part as it brushes your cheeks
and then tremble behind you, united again.

O you who are blissful, you who are whole,
you who seem the beginnings of hearts.
Bows for arrows and arrows’ aim, through tears
your smile will glow more eternal.

Don’t be afraid to suffer- take your heaviness
and give it back to the earth’s own weight;
the mountains are heavy, the oceans are heavy.

Even the trees you planted as children
have long grown too heavy; you couldn’t bear them.
But the breezes . . . and the spaces . . .

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

In the darkness of change and loss, the shadow of what we consciously envision in the light of day, lies the void that sources our suffering and liberation.  When forces beyond our control overturn every aspect of our life, when what formerly held grounded security becomes flooded and dissolved in unconscious waves, we arrive in the moment.  In the morning waking up with a heart broken in the pang of death, grieving what has been sacrificed in the arising change, there remains the crisp scent of morning air tingling the skin with the sound of multitudinous birdsong heralding the dawn.  Some fall free fall into literal death, some resist and deny in delusion and addiction, while some fully aware of the suffering suffocating this world step bravely forward into the chaos with a heart open though overwhelmed by pain.  In the cavernous shifting that comes in March 2016 there is a necessary letting go.  In the release, in the ceaseless change of river currents, looms Saraswati riding her swan of the essential, communing with her peacock who devours venomous serpents and transmutes the poison into wisdom and art.

The Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces on March 8 has been deeply felt this past couple weeks, and as it arrives we will begin to sense its meaning that will reverberate far into the future.  Eclipses vary in intensity, normally happening four times a year, every six months, and though they are always more powerful than the regular New Moon or Full Moon, some are more potent than others.  This Pisces Solar Eclipse is of epic proportion, and the change that arises in its shadow can not be resisted.  The Solar Eclipse is total, less than three degrees away from the South Node of the Moon in Pisces, less than two degrees away from Chiron in Pisces.  Jupiter, the ruler of the eclipse, is conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo and is opposite the Solar Eclipse by less than one degree.   There is tremendous loss and letting go associated with these aspects, going into the gone beyond of the Heart Sutra, and yet if we enter fully into this darkness there is a realignment of personal truth and vision to be uncovered.

This Total Solar Eclipse is part of the saros series 130, with the last eclipses in the series being 26 February 1998,  16 February 1980, 5 February 1962, and 25 January 1944 (the series originated in the year 1096).  If you were alive for these previous Eclipses, it is worth the time to ponder the related events and if there are any links to the current moment.  Most importantly, investigate the location of 19 degrees of Pisces in your birth chart to discern the house location as well as the aspects made.  Whatever house the Eclipse is located in will be a place of release that creates an opening for a new beginning, and whatever aspects are made (focus on conjunctions, squares, oppositions, but also take in sextile and trines) will bring sweeping change to the associated meaning of the planet or chart calculation impacted.

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Michael Maier’s Emblem #14 from the Atalanta Fugiens

Solar Eclipses have been feared for millennia because of our great solar light becoming consumed by darkness.  Ancient sky watchers who interpreted celestial phenomenon as omens noted time and time again the tumultuous chaos and change that would erupt in accordance with the blackening of the Sun.  As astrologer Bernadette Brady has taught, astrologers across ancient cultures connected dragons with eclipses, viewing the solar or lunar light as becoming consumed by a monstrous serpent.  In ancient Babylon, it was Tiamat the sea dragon of chaos who inundated the world with disorder as she turned the Sun black.  Marduk, associated with the planet Jupiter in Babylon, helped restore order by severing the great sea serpent, an archetypal theme reiterated innumerably in myths cross-culturally.

Ancient astrologers also attempted to bring greater order by learning how to predict eclipses in order to communicate forewarning, and this is how the lunar nodes were originally discovered.  However, just because one can predict an eclipse, and further know how it will impact one’s birth chart, does not bring control and order to the energies that emerge at eclipses.  Some may fight against, resist, or attempt to control the confusing drama that dawns with a Total Solar Eclipse, yet even when extremely painful it is necessary to flow with the changes in order to realign with the actual developing reality. The modern hero adventure Harry Potter contained an apt metaphor as Harry, Hermione, and Ron did not slay the dragon, but instead freed the dragon and rode the dragon into their destiny.

The word eclipse is connected to the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun from our perspective on Earth.  Eclipses occur when a New Moon or Full Moon falls within range of the South Node or North Node of the Moon, as the nodes are the points of intersection in which the Moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic.  The South Node of the Moon marks the descending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic, and as a result is associated with past karma, the unconscious, and release, whereas the North Node of the Moon marks the ascending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic and symbolizes an arising point of conscious intake and evolution.  In a Total Solar Eclipse, the Moon crosses between our Earth and the Sun by zodiac degree and aligned with one of it’s own nodes, magically from our perspective appears as the same size as the Sun and blackens all light.  In keeping with the dragon symbolism of eclipses, the ascending North Node of the Moon became associated with the Head of the Dragon in astrology, while the descending South Node of the Moon became associated with the Tail of the Dragon.

Total Solar Eclipses are essentially the most powerful possible New Moons, yet there is clearly a significant difference between whether the Eclipse is aligned with the South Node of the Moon or the North Node of the Moon.  This Pisces Solar Eclipse is aligned with the South Node of the Moon, making its impact even more confusing in terms of making important decisions and holding previous plans together.  Solar Eclipses still carry the intention setting of the traditional New Moon, but a potent one like this Pisces Solar Eclipse has a strong pull toward clearing out the past in order to make space for the new. With Chiron and Ceres also conjoining the Solar Eclipse, it is likely something we had been securely holding that now needs to be released.

The lunar nodes and their symbolism as being the head and tail of a dragon are karmic significators in astrology, as what is consumed at the head is released at the tail, and what is carried in the tail fuels the desire of the head.  The Pisces Solar Eclipse being at the Tail of the Dragon magnetizes a release of built up energy, yet there is also a karmic element of doing so with compassion, giving rather than taking.  If the changes arising now feel hurtful and wounding, it is vital to compassionately nurture yourself and transmute the pain through selfless purification rather than egoic greed or anger.  With Ceres and Chiron connected to this Pisces Solar Eclipse, there is likely a huge, ancient wound of the psyche being triggered that could lead to unhealthy self destruction if not handled with care and love.

Though the South Node of the Moon in Pisces is linked to this Solar Eclipse, the North Node of the Moon is also activated because this Total Solar Eclipse is in the home of Jupiter, and Jupiter is tightly opposite the eclipse and conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  This brings Jupiter’s focus on stabilizing vision to the Dragon’s Head of the Solar Eclipse, a point of inrushing gain and desire in the material realm that can feel amplified and stormy.  In Evolutionary Astrology, Jupiter conjoining the North Node of the Moon at this eclipse also signifies new choices to make on our path leading into the future unknown.  With Ceres, Chiron, and the Solar Eclipse in opposition to Jupiter, however, there is a wound that needs nurturing and it may be difficult to have faith and believe we can receive the help and healing we need.  This Solar Eclipse is almost exactly opposite the Virgo Solar Eclipse on September 13, 2015 that was aligned with the North Node of the Moon at the beginning of Libra.  Although not a total Solar Eclipse, since this September 2015 Eclipse was aligned with the North Node of the Moon you may find that elements of the desires you were pursuing forward at that time now need to be let go, as well as that the issues arising in September 2015 now shift directions or deepen in meaning.

Fludd black square

from Robert Fludd’s Ultriusque Cosmi (1617)

Since Jupiter is conjoining the North Node of the Moon and is also the traditional ruler of the Solar Eclipse, it is significant that Jupiter is in the home of Mercury and that transiting Mercury is conjoining Neptune in Pisces, the modern ruler of Pisces and this Solar Eclipse.  Mercury also being in Pisces while conjoining Neptune means that there is a throbbing oceanic wave of unconscious forces and extrasensory perception contained in this Total Solar Eclipse.  This can go along with a blissful plunge into the deep of the void, where there is blurry fogginess more so than clarity.  While the square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces has been ongoing these past several months, the Solar Eclipse tips the scales in favor of Neptune as the Sun in Pisces is in square to Saturn and Mercury is applying to a conjunction with Neptune.  It may seem as if everything is dissolving, but it is also worth realizing if you can that this is only one point of a process that will be bringing far greater change than what is happening now.  Mercury in Pisces is attuned to inner Soul and the symbolic poetry of life, and so flowing into the shifting occurring now is favored more so than resisting the currents.

The Pisces Solar Eclipse also marks the entry of Mars into Sagittarius, where it will station retrograde a month from now.  Mercury in Pisces is separating from a square to Mars in Sagittarius at this Solar Eclipse, and though wide in orb the tension of its aspect is still in effect.  While Mars in Sagittarius may want to lustfully rush forward in self-centered vision, there are far deeper realizations signified by Mercury and Neptune in Pisces that will be needed to take into account.  As a result there is likely to be a lot of confusion centered around this Total Solar Eclipse, as the changes that seem to be overwhelming now most likely are not even the changes that are actually on the way and only one shift amongst a series of unexpected shifts.  If there is a goal or target you desire to focus on going forward, it will be necessary to remain open to the need to make adjustments to additional changes that will be on the way as Mars shifts into retrograde.  As Pisces is the home of Jupiter and the exaltation of Venus, the best we can do at this Solar Eclipse is to attune to our inner feelings and be open to the unknown.

Malevich black square

Kazimir Malevich (1915) Black Square

Saturn, the giant ringed planet of structure and boundaries, death and transcendence, is occupying a pivotal place as it is in square to the Pisces Solar Eclipse, in square to Jupiter in Virgo, in square to the lunar nodes, and in trine to Uranus in Aries.  This placement of Saturn significantly ramps up the karmic significance of this Solar Eclipse and the symbolism that whatever we need to let go of and pass away as the Sun turns black will become fecund fuel for our future.  The last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter will be building in intensity in the liminal space between this Pisces Solar Eclipse and the Libra Lunar Eclipse coming on March 23, as Saturn and Jupiter will reach their exact square on the same day as the Lunar Eclipse.  This is the second of three initiations into the last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter, the first having occurred at the beginning of August 2015 in alignment with the Venus retrograde.  The last quarter square brings about a crisis, and as it is occurring between Jupiter and Saturn it is about the very meaning we bring to our lives and discover about ourselves.  Dane Rudhyar called the last quarter square a “crisis in consciousness” because it forces a clearing out of beliefs that no longer serve us in order to bring about reorientation of meaning.  The third and final exact square between Saturn and Jupiter will be in May of 2016, and so there are more changes to come and it will be at least until then that we will be able to gain clarity for the coinciding shifts.

Since Saturn is in square to the lunar nodes and in trine to Uranus in Aries, there can be a sense of standing at a crossroads while receiving intimations of a liberated future path.  The Pisces Total Solar Eclipse is fully capable of overwhelming the dogmatic vision that can be linked to Saturn in Sagittarius, creating space for an entirely new way of approaching our life and trajectory going forward.  The shadow side of these aspects is on the side of Sagittarius crusaders and ideologues who will react defensively and narcissistically in the face of contention and change, provoking conflict over contesting beliefs.  The mix of hard aspects between Saturn with Jupiter, Neptune, and the Solar Eclipse in combination with the trine to Uranus in Aries can feel incredibly disruptive, yet can also force us to make the necessary change now that helps us to reorient most effectively to the shifting tides of our reality.

Profoundly, while Saturn is in trine to Uranus, Jupiter in Virgo is moving retrograde toward a trine with Pluto in Capricorn.  This means that the Pisces Solar Eclipse also connects to the massive Uranus and Pluto square that has been dominating astrology for the past several years and changing the underlying structures of our lives.  Furthermore, the Pisces Solar Eclipse, as well as Chiron and Ceres in Pisces, are all in sextile to Pluto in Capricorn.  For those who are suffering with the changes arising now, the harmonious aspects to both Pluto and Uranus present at this Eclipse signifies that things are beginning to change in ways that we cannot control and do not fully understand, but in the end will connect us to a more authentic, individuated, and liberated path.

Fludd light from black

from Robert Fludd’s Ultriusque Cosmi (1617)

Chiron and Ceres are not taken into account by many in astrology, but both are intimately linked to this Total Solar Eclipse.  The myths of both Chiron and Ceres time and time again reveal themselves to be resonant with the impact made by the astrological Chiron and Ceres, and this again seems to be the case at this Total Solar Eclipse.  Both Chiron and Ceres had to make sacrifices neither felt prepared for, and yet by opening to the release they each birthed monumental change.  In the story of Chiron, it is his willing sacrifice that leads to the liberation of Prometheus.  In the story of Ceres, it is her loss of Persephone as her constant companion that leads to Persephone assuming her vital role as Queen of the Underworld.

While outrage may overcome us with the changes occurring at this eclipse, and though we may feel we deserve to be angry, it will be most important to regenerate ourselves as Ceres did in river currents so we can regain our capacity to be productive and effect change in our surroundings. Ceres is an activator between the personal planets of Mars, Venus, and Mercury with the large gaseous planets of expansion and contraction, Jupiter and Saturn.  Ceres conjoining the Pisces Solar Eclipse thus brings up the importance of nurturing all of the wild passions and perceptions being stirred up by Mercury, Venus, and Mars.  Ceres can signify both abandonment and attachment issues, wounds at our core that can make it difficult to ground and make the choices that will bring opportunities for greater happiness, as well as have the capacity to receive the love and care being offered. As the realm of Jupiter and Saturn is entering into the crisis of their last quarter square, Ceres signifies the visceral importance of nurturing our body, mind, and desires.

Chiron is an activator from the realm of Jupiter and Saturn to the far beyond of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, and so the Pisces Solar Eclipse will include experiences that propel us into the transpersonal realm, creating the need to return to the mundane world while integrating our far out realizations. Chiron’s story in myth begins with abandonment and rejection, as the half human, half horse Chiron was seen as an abomination by his divine parents and left to raise himself in mountainous caves.  For many in the collective at this Total Solar Eclipse, issues of being rejected, of not being wanted, of not feeling seen or respected for our inherent value and intelligence could come up.  Chiron teaches the lesson of resiliently following our path no matter how unorthodox it may seem to others in the materialistic mainstream of society.  Chiron not only learned from the wisdom of the stars shining above and the green growth of nature below, but gave his teachings to others and nurtured the unique, undervalued gifts of his students.  This lesson of the Solar Eclipse can be found in the dialogue of the film Brother Sun Sister Moon about Saint Francis, when Clare calls out to Francis: “I am not seeking to be understood, I want to understand! I am not asking to be loved, I want to love!”

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9 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Pisces II Decan

The second face of Pisces holds this Total Solar Eclipse, a decan associated with the 9 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image we see a rather smug and opulent man seemingly gloating in front of his carefully exhibited nine golden cups.  The 9 of Cups is often associated with wish fulfillment, enjoying pleasure, luxury, and satisfaction, and getting what we think we want.  Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Net” to the Pisces second decan, a face in which “the central conflict is how to reconcile one’s understanding of the true nature of reality with the world-as-it-is,” a “phase in which we are challenged to reconcile beliefs, ideals and the way things are” (p. 251).  Since Mercury is conjoining Neptune at the Solar Eclipse, the perception into underlying reality signified by their union is fitting for the meaning Coppock gave to the second decan of Pisces, as the Solar Eclipse will call us to integrate this depth of awareness into our daily life.

Jupiter rules the second face of Pisces, notable at this eclipse as Jupiter is receiving the eclipse through an opposition, is conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo, and is square to Saturn in Sagittarius.  Coppock illuminated in 36 Faces that the crux of this decan is that fulfillment can come from harmonizing one’s inner perceptions with one’s outer life, yet torment and grief will overcome those unable to harmonize their outer and inner worlds.  In the last quarter square between Jupiter and Saturn, Jupiter is in the superior position and receiving the karmic lessons of Saturn. Jupiter’s potent placement at the Solar Eclipse reveals that to access the fortune contained in the blackening of the Sun, we must flow like water in line with the cosmos above and the soul of the material world in the moment.  Attuning to where we are inwardly directed in the now, we can act with integrity and bridge our inner feelings and realizations with our external actions.

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References

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

Rilke, Rainer Maria. (2004). Sonnets to Orpheus. Translated by Edward Snow. North Point Press.