Eclipse season is once again upon us this autumn. New personal beginnings and a chance to end health worries are themes that are likely to loom large now as we come to the end of another six month cycle. As with April 2015, we will once again have two out of sign (and order) eclipses, starting with a solar eclipse in Virgo, followed up a week or so after the autumn equinox with a lunar eclipse in Aries. Let’s look at what kind of energy and events we are dealing with and what to expect between now and next April.
On the 13th of September, which is ironically a Sunday (the day of the Sun), a solar eclipse at 20 degrees of Virgo will usher in a brand new six month cycle for us all – one that is likely to help us develop more emotional discernment and give us the patience to deal with all those small but important details that we so often overlook.
This eclipse forms part of what Bernadette Brady calls the 18 North Saros series, which she says comes with ‘a high stress level.’ As a result, individuals should expect ‘a taxing of their strength,’ both physically and psychologically. According to her, ‘Events will occur that require the expenditure of effort; this can also manifest as illness or accident. The whole flavour of this eclipse is one of physical concern, as well as worry or obsessive thinking.’[i]
This suggests that health, wellness and lifestyle are likely to be big themes over the next six month period. Given the expansive and positive presence of Jupiter in Virgo, it seems as though we are all being given an opportunity to make some lifestyle changes that will help to reduce any stresses or worries, perhaps by simplifying our lives, and improving our health by making some small but significant improvements, especially in terms of our diet and eating habits.
On a mundane level, I think that it will also coincide with more scrutiny at the potential damage that things like the advent of health screening techniques, especially genetic screening, can do; as well as a return to towards a more philosophical view about our own mortality. After all, none of us will live forever and we all have to die of something, so is it always helpful to be constantly worrying about whether or not we are ill ? Worry and anxiety can really affect quality of life, often more so than illnesses, because these states of mind involve constantly thinking about things that may never happen, or over which we may have little control. So, are we not better off actually getting on with our lives and enjoying the here and now, rather than obsessing about the future?
With both the Sun and Moon opposing Chiron in Pisces, it would seem that although any health scares or stressful events that occur around this time may make us feel vulnerable, that hidden within this crisis may be opportunities for healing and growth. The activation of the Virgo-Pisces polarity is something that will already be prominent as a result of this month’s Jupiter-Neptune opposition, and I think it hints at an imbalance between our spiritual beliefs, on one hand, and our relationship with the physical world, on the other. Surely, if we believe that we are essentially spiritual beings inhabiting material vehicles, then we shouldn’t get so obsessed with physical longevity? I think that one of the reasons that we in the West have become fixated with ways to prolong life is because an increasing number of us no longer have any type of spiritual faith. As one prominent UK physician has asserted, technology and scientific progress seem to have seduced us into thinking that somehow we can cheat death – and as a result, death itself has become something that we see as a big full stop, rather than a comma on a spiritual journey of reincarnation – largely because we’re not longer sure if we believe in the existence of an afterlife.
So have we begun to confuse and conflate the spiritual and physical realms? And are we confusing good health with a quest for spiritual immortality? This is an issue that the ancient Egyptians certainly seemed to wrestle with: although they were huge believers in the existence of an afterlife, they also seemed to be convinced that the dead would continue to need their bodies in their next incarnation as a vehicle for their ka’s – hence the importance of mummification. The question of how the changing world of material existence fits into the everlasting world of spiritual immortality is an age old existential question – one that was pondered over by ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and over which many religions continue to struggle with today. Over the next six months, you may want to ask yourself what you believe the purpose of physical existence is, and if you do have a tendency towards being one of the so-called ‘worried well’ perhaps it’s time to grapple with the following question in order to find some peace: If you do believe in the survival of the soul after death, then why does illness and death scare you so much?
As I have written in my September Astro-Insights column, this particular degree of Virgo is associated with the Sabian Symbol – A CARAVAN OF CARS HEADED FOR PROMISED LANDS – which is all about adventure and aspiration. It is also, however, associated with what we might term ‘divine discontent’ – the restless energy of ‘ is this all there is?’ which can lead to questioning whether the grass might be greener elsewhere. If we are feeling quite stressed or ill, then this energy offers us the impetus to seek out alternatives and find ways to improve our lot through practical measures that are easy to implement and routines that we feel we can stick to. Conversely, though, the urge to run away from our problems may also be great. Far better is to run towards, rather than away from something, so use the discerning qualities of Virgo to work out exactly where your motivation emanates from before packing up your things and heading off into the sunset.
The last time we experienced this Saros series was in 1997, and before that, this group of eclipses occurred in 1907, 1925, 1943, 1961, and 1979. The next 18 North eclipse will take place in 2033.
At the time of this eclipse, both the Sun and Moon will be orbiting near to the Part of the Honourable Aquaintance and opposite the Part of Treachery, which is a repeat of what we saw with the April 2015 eclipses, so it is possible that themes around integrity, honour, trustworthiness and reputation may re-surface again at this time. These parts certainly suggest that the best way to combat subversive behaviour and secret attempts to sabotage our efforts or besmirch our reputation is to keep your promises and make sure that your behaviour is beyond reproach.
On Monday the 28th of September 2015 at around 03h50 BST (02h50 GMT), a total lunar eclipse in will take place. In keeping with the topsy turvy mixed up state of affairs we saw associated with the March-April 2015 eclipses, this eclipse will take place not in Pisces, but in Aries. Following on the heels of the Libra lunar eclipse on the 4th of April 2015, this event will ask us to revisit and re-balance the opposing energies that were highlighted in Spring; namely that of relationships vs self-fulfilment.
This event will also be a Supermoon, which essentially means that the Moon will be in close proximity to the earth, making it appear very large in the sky – good news in terms of visibility! The term ‘Supermoon’ was first coined in 1979 to describe a full moon that coincides with perigee— an event that usually occurs about once per year, on average. It is quite interesting to me that it was also in 1979, this particular Saros family of eclipses was also active.
Although no one is sure of its metaphysical significance, it seems fair to say that being closer to the earth and seemingly larger than usual in terms of size, that it could be interpreted as having an amplifying effect on the emotions, bringing them closer to the surface and making them more likely to be expressed in a dramatic or big way.
The Sun will be in Libra, the sign of peace, harmony, compromise and equality, while the Moon will be in Aries, the sign known for its independence, self-sufficiency and drive, suggesting that once again, we are being asked to find ways to balance our desire for intimacy, communion and commitment with the equally valid need to fulfil our own personal needs, pursue our dreams and individuate more fully.
Human Design theory has recently become an area of fascination for me, not only because it seems to take astrology to the next level, but also because of its rather thought-provoking premise that sometimes relationships can prevent us from functioning as we are meant to, or from pursuing our soul’s purpose or fulfilling our true potential as individuals. Indeed, as one Buddhist monk expressed recently on a BBC documentary, family life and relationships can prove to be distractions for people seeking to lead a spiritual life, hence the need for monasteries and nunneries. And yet, paradoxically, human beings are largely social animals. So some might argue, that as inherently flawed individuals, it is only through our collective efforts that we are able to redeem ourselves and overcome the limitations of our personalities.
Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle? Perhaps it is not all, but wrong or unhealthy relationships that can hold us back, but when we ‘click’ with the right people, we can achieve more together than we can on our own? These are questions to which events around the end of September may provide answers as we come to the end of one cycle begin another.
The Sabian symbol for the degree of the Moon – 5 degrees Aries, is A WHITE TRIANGLE WITH GOLDEN WINGS. For centuries, the triangle has been associated with spiritual aspiration and divine longing. The wings further emphasize the desire to raise oneself upwards, towards the sky, which in many cultures, is associated with the divine. No wonder, then, that the word ‘desire’ originates from the Latin word, desidere, which means ‘from the stars’! Given this Sabian symbol, it is possible that we may once again begin to realign ourselves with the realms of the spiritual and the important role that imagination plays in our internal lives, both spiritually and creatively.
Some scholars believe that imagination is actually the vehicle through which can experience spiritual gnosis because it acts a mediator between the spiritual and human realms. That is probably why Joseph Joubert once wrote that ‘Imagination is the Eye of the Soul.’ And in fact, many people believe that the Jungian notion of active imagination is actually a form of conscious dreaming or meditation. This connection may be why many people find healing from their existential suffering through creativity.
With Mercury in Libra travelling close to the Sun at the time of the eclipse, it does look as though communication and thoughts or ideas may play an important role in however the energy of this eclipse is expressed. As the primary agent of the alchemical process involved in spiritual and psychological transformation, Mercury is the ultimate hermetic symbol. He is the nimble go-between that unites people and connects ideas and viewpoints – a quality that is further emphasised by his position in Libra. It therefore seems likely that a union or reconciliation of some kind will characterise events around this eclipse – whether this be a union of hearts, minds or simply of viewpoints.
This eclipse will fall very close to the Part of Bondage, which has a bit of an ominous ring to it. However, ivwen what we have been saying about the nature of materiality and the potentially inhibiting role that unhealthy relationship dynamics can have, this is actually rather apt. It is therefore likely that over the last six months or so, you may have been considering the nature of your ties to others, and how these reconcile with any desires for, or ability to experience, freedom and independence.
Have you indebted yourself to a bank or lending organisation? Or, have you constantly borrowed money from a friend or lover, or asked relatives for favours? If so, then perhaps it is time to realise that this sort of dependency leads to obligations and a sort of moral bondage which can make it hard to get out of relationships that may not be healthy. And then there is the bondage that comes from being too attached to the world of ego and materialism, which because by its very nature, is ephemeral and so ultimately leads to suffering. As a Full Moon eclipse, which is about ending negative patterns and phasing out bad habits, you have a chance to break free of this pattern, but only if you are able to let go of limiting perspectives (a preoccupation with the body, for example) and the behaviour that keeps you in chains. For example, in order to free yourself from debt or obligation, you may need to return the favour or repay what you owe – y otherwise, you will always owe that person or institution something on some level. Alternatively, you could choose to let go of any feelings of guilt or inadequacy that you may be carrying and simply say a big thank you to that person in a warm and heartfelt manner. Much depends on your individual context, but with this Arabic Part active, it would seem that the energy of give and take needs to be rebalanced one way or another.
This eclipse will be visible from Europe and the east coast of North and South America, as well as Africa. According to Wolfgang Held, ‘while the distinctive quadrilateral constellation of Pegasus shines above the Moon, the stars in Pisces cannot compete with the light of the Full Moon. Only when the Moon enters the Earth’s shadow and increasingly loses its luminosity, do the weakly shining stars of Pisces, forming two attractive bands of light around Pegasus, appear.’[iii] That sort of halo effect would have been seen as an astral omen by the Babylonians and is definitely something to look out for. The eclipse will start at just after midnight GMT and will last until around 05h25 GMT. if you live in a different country or time zone, you can work out exactly where and what the lunar eclipse will be visible in relation to you via websites such as Time and Date.com.
In terms of astronomical Saros groupings, this lunar eclipse forms part of Saros series 137, which began near the south node in the year 1564 and will terminate at the north lunar node in 2053.
The last time we experienced an eclipse in this signs was on September the 16th 1997, so it may be worth casting your mind back to see if there is any kind of thematic link to events that occur around this time. Looking back on the last century, previous eclipses in this Saros grouping occurred in 1979, 1961, 1943 and 1925. For more information, visit the NASA Eclipse Catalogue.
[i] Brady, B. Predictive Astrology, Weiser, p. 333-4
[iii] Held, W. Eclipses: 2005-2017, Floris Books, p. 168.
[iv] Brady, B. Star and Planet Combinations, Wessex Astrologer, p. 116