I am re-posting here an edited version of a two parts tutorial/article on Eclipses that I published on this site in June 2011.
The language of Eclipses
On the eve of a new Eclipse season, April/May 2023, I have been considering again the language astrologers, including myself, adopt at times to describe Eclipses: a mixture of glamour and mystery, often far too esoteric to provide any real guidance. This language is obviously chosen to evoke special feelings in the reader, a sense of danger, even doom, but also of unlimited possibilities.
Traditional astrological texts more often than not describe the effects of Eclipses in lurid terms, often depicting them as evil omens. Some modern readers of horoscopes are instead waxing lyrical about all the profound realizations and life changes we are all going to experience thanks to Eclipses. Maybe we need to find a middle way between these two extremes.
To use few examples of the traditional approach: Alan Leo (1860-1917), in the footsteps of William Lilly (1602-1681), described thus the possible effect of a Solar Eclipse in the third Decan of Virgo (as the Solar Eclipse of September 13 2015): “(a Solar Eclipse in this position) argues the grievous calamity and death of painters, poets and merchant, and such as live by their ingenuity and wit; slaughter, destruction, banishment, and the like”.
Alan Leo again, talking about a Lunar Eclipse in the First Decan of Aries (as the one coming on September 28, 2015): “When the Moon is eclipsed in the First Decan of Aries she denotes fevers, destruction of wood by fire, and a dryness of the air”. William Lilly in his astrological treatise Annus Tenebrosus, describing the possible effects of the same Decan Lunar Eclipse states: “…that Fevers shall bee frequent, many houses fired, woods destroyed or cut down and burned, as nerall driness of ayr, many Cater-pillars and destructive vermine appear..”).
And what about this brief survey on the general effects of Eclipses from Sepharial‘s (1864-1929) Dictionary of Astrology: “….disasters, tribulations, sickness and even death…..Falling on the Moon they denote hurt to mother, on the Sun to the father, on Jupiter to uncles, on Mars to brothers, on Venus to sisters, and on Mercury to aunts.” No one is safe by the sound of it!
No wonder then that some modern writers sound so esoteric when talking about Eclipses! It is indeed difficult to translate the archaic language of Eclipses into one intelligible to the modern reader. On the other hand, to modernize and rationalize the language of Eclipses, calling them opportunities, as I have often done, is perhaps an attempt at oversimplifying something because we don’t understand it or we don’t know how to describe it.
Apart from all the dire predictions Eclipses in antiquity were also depicted, in writing and art, as Jacob’s ladders to angelic realms, or shadow bridges to cross over to the world of the dead and the unborn, more ‘doors of perceptions’ than just opportunities, I would say!
It is true that Eclipses were considered powerful omens, but not necessarily negative ones; they were in many cases seen as harbingers of success and positive developments, promising a victory in battle or a king’s ascension to the throne.
The unfair distribution of Eclipses
Eclipses are so elusive in personal experience, because their distribution, during a life time, their frequency, intensity and duration of effect vary considerably from person to person and from Eclipse o Eclipse. An Eclipse, Partial, Annular, Lunar, Solar, whatever, can have a revolutionary, traumatic or exciting effect on a particular individual, while having no effect at all on another. Even if he/she is someone sharing the same Sun, Moon and Rising Sign. This marked difference of effect can be explained by the fact that Eclipses come in series and family of series.
During a period of 18 years and 9/11 days there would be 70 to 72 Eclipses (Solar and Lunar), an average of four Eclipses per year (but there could be as many as seven some years). Only a portion of the whole zodiacal circle will be touched by Eclipses, so some Signs will have a greater share of Eclipses than other Signs, during a given period.
So, for instance, if you had the Sun at zero degree Cancer at birth and you were born in 1951, like I was, seven Eclipses (four Solar and three Lunar) would have fallen over your Sun’s position, between 1951 and 2011, and there will be others, in 2020, 2029 and 2039, if you live long enough.
If, instead you were born with the Sun in Cancer, but on the fifth degree of this Signs, born four to five days after I was, you would not experience any Eclipse over your Sun’s position, for the whole of your life. You could, however, experience, at different times, Eclipses on your Moon, Ascendant , Planets or Nodes.
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