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.
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, it is also 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 swift conclusion but are mostly internal in terms of their action – so, for example, prompting you to come to a decision about a project, relationship or situation that has perhaps reached its sell-by date. Solar eclipses, which occur at the New Moon, tend to manifest through more external changes in circumstances, and introduce new variables or initiatives that send you off on a different path.
The important thing to remember is that an eclipse usually sets a 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. 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 and the beginning of a new period of personal growth or direction.
Astrologically 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, a traditionally feminine symbol. 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 determine how the moon, and therefore lunar eclipses, will affect you. 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!