Eclipses and their Seasons
Eclipses occur in groups of two or three within an eclipse season which lasts for 36 days. During this time any full or new moons occur as Lunar and Solar Eclipses respectively, although there can be a grey area at the very edge of an eclipse season when a ‘not quite an eclipse’ new or full moon occurs. An eclipse season occurs while the Sun is within eighteen degrees of one of the Moon’s Nodes, that is the points on the Moon’s orbital path where it crosses the path of the Sun. Eclipse seasons arise every six months.
Eclipses are us!
Generally speaking, eclipses get a bad rap, no doubt due to the fear they provoked in days gone by when total eclipses plunged people into blackness and the life-sustaining light was eradicated by a seemingly all powerful force. These days we are better informed of the cosmic mechanics of an eclipse. We know the light, be it solar or lunar, will return, and we can marvel at the event if we are lucky enough to experience it, without fearing for our very lives in the process. But still within the collective psyche lies the fear of eclipses and all that they may bring to our door.
Whilst I would never suggest fear as a useful response to an approaching eclipse, I would certainly advise caution in terms of one’s level of consciousness. Eclipses are indeed times of great power when forces from within and without can be unleashed upon us and we need to stay alert to their action in our lives. Unlike our ancestors, however, we can recognise these are not forces apart from us, intent on our demise, but forces from within intent on expression and acknowledgement. Yes, eclipses sometimes bring forth events which can throw our lives into complete turmoil at the time, but nothing ever happens in a life which is not characteristic of the individual whose life it is. Astrology teaches us this above all else. We each live out the energy of our birth-chart whilst weaving our own pattern and thread within it. Our birth gives us the raw material but we place our stamp upon it with every word, action, thought and breath.
And so it is during an eclipse season, for whatever it brings to us, however surprising, unlikely, shocking, or welcome the events may be, they are born out of the essential energy field which is us – you and me. They are characteristic of who we are, of the path we have to walk and the growth necessary to become all that we can be. To perceive them as anything other than this is to deny the essential nature of our existence which is woven throughout time and space, connected up, here and there, with the unfolding of this ever-expanding universe that requires we expand with it. An eclipse may change one person’s life forever and leave another’s untouched, not because one was unlucky or fortunate, cursed or blessed, but because each individual, by their very nature, experiences the energies of the eclipse as only they can. As only they must.
Eclipse seasons are notoriously unpredictable in their effects. Even aside from the actual eclipses, once we’re in the season all bets are off and anything could happen. Life often takes on a feeling of speeding–up in some way. Pressure mounts and tensions bubble over when we least expect it. Alternatively breakthroughs can occur and unexpected progress can be made. Sometimes both things are happening at the same time, and more! Eclipses teach us that there are many other dimensions at work in our lives and we cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, control them all. We are subject to all manner of forces, influences and energies to which we must bow at times like this, recognising that, as the Dalai Lama once said, ‘Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful piece of luck’.
Studying the effects of eclipses over the years has revealed to me that they often condense a process that would otherwise take far longer. The relationship we were thinking we should end in the coming months suddenly finishes over night. Done and dusted and no going back. That work project we’ve been cooking up for the past year and were hoping to launch in the coming one suddenly finds its moment and must be born quickly to catch the tide. That niggling pain we’ve had for the past few months about which we know we should have gotten advice, becomes unavoidable over night and we find ourselves in the hospital emergency department. Eclipses circumvent the process and shift us along to another stage. Sometimes this can be exhilarating, other times extremely scary, but either way they show us that whatever we thought we had planned probably wasn’t actually how it was all going to work out! Once this fact is revealed we have a choice. And it is this choice which lies at the heart of the challenge presented by an eclipse season:
Do we resist and struggle against the new timetable in our lives, or do we rip up the old one and get on with the new arrangement?
Of course, we probably all know the ‘right’ answer: don’t resist the universe, just get on with it. But it’s not that easy is it? We are so heavily wired to believe that our life should be a certain way and unfold in our timing not someone else’s, that when we’re side-swiped by unexpected occurrences our default setting is to try to return to how things were, or bemoan the ‘unfair fate’ that has befallen us. We may identify so strongly with this view that we refuse to even look for a positive way to manage this new set of circumstances because to do so seems tantamount to accepting it without a struggle, and we’re simply not prepared to do that! So we fight against the events in our lives, telling ourselves that we can’t manage with the new order of things. We need to wrest back some control and get back on top. Even when things seem to be going our way, an eclipse can leave us feeling out of control and destabilised: ‘I didn’t realise I’d get this much success and attention’, can be just as unnerving as ‘How am I going to cope without the person I’ve just spent the last decade with?’. Underlying both of these questions is the essence of the human challenge:
‘How do I live when life doesn’t meet my expectations?’
I don’t know about you, but I’m just loaded with expectations from the minute I awake to the minute I flop into bed at the end of the day. Some seem fairly insignificant, like I expect there to be bread in the bread-bin for breakfast (and sometimes I discover we’ve eaten it all without realising), and I expect water to come out of the tap when I go to fill the kettle (and almost without fail it does). Others carry far more gravity: I expect to be able to walk when I get out of bed, and I expect my husband and I to end the day together, not separated through some unexpected life-altering tragedy. But the truth is none of us know what the next moment holds and when an eclipse season is upon us we are collectively reminded of this fact, not to highlight the cruel twists of fate that play upon our lives, but to encourage us to awaken to the weight of our expectations and begin to free ourselves from their constricting grip.
Once we can do this (and I’m still practicing, believe me!), life takes on a very different hue. The water that comes out of the tap becomes an everyday miracle that keeps us alive. The empty bread bin is a reminder that even breakfast cannot be predicted! The tragedy that we all pray will not befall us reveals one of the deepest mysteries of life: that even in our darkest hour we can find moments, seconds, of peace if we seek them, and that the thing we fear will break us, may eventually make us stronger and wiser.
Within the constellation of expectations that we all carry lie the roots of discontent, distress and dissatisfaction. The more energy we invest in them the less energy we have available to us when life doesn’t go to plan. The key is not to ensure that never happens (which we can’t do, no matter how hard we try!), but to embrace the fact that it does, thereby recognising that life is living us not the other way around. This is a central message of an eclipse season, and one which we need to accept and, when we can, celebrate. Because if life only does what we want when we want, we are forever limited by our imaginations and the expectations dreamt up in our tiny and inconsequential minds. Once life is allowed to take over not even the sky’s the limit, and who knows where it could take us? What we deem an inconvenience can become the gateway to a whole new experience. What we label as a tragedy becomes the moment we recognise what really matters in life. What we see as a failure becomes the path to discovering a hidden talent we never even knew we had.
So eclipse seasons should be welcomed along with all they have in store for us, both personally and collectively. Because whatever it is, we can rest assured that the biggest stumbling block will always be within us, in the form of our expectations and assumptions about life. Ultimately, it is how we manage them that is honed at this unpredictable time of change.