What is an eclipse?

The apparent path of the Sun and planets around the Earth (called the Ecliptic) and the Moon’s orbit around the earth are not parallel to one another. If you were to represent them using two hula hoops, you would cross them over in the middle, like this. (the angle is exaggerated here for effect.) The two paths intersect in two places. These points are called the Moon’s Nodes.

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An eclipse is a New or Full Moon that occurs near the Moon’s Nodes. Because the Moon and Sun are so close to the Nodes, they are aligned perfectly enough with the Earth to cast a shadow.

During a Solar eclipse, the Moon casts a shadow on the Earth. During a Lunar eclipse, the Earth casts a shadow on the Moon.

What is the astrological significance of an eclipse?

First, consider the Full and New Moons. We get one each of these every month.

The New Moon is the beginning of the waxing phase of the Lunar cycle, or the two weeks when the Moon increases in light. We can use the energy of the increasing light of the Moon to plant seeds, both literally and figuratively. We start new projects, buy new things, make new contacts. Things we start in the world outside during this time tend to grow. Farmers use this time to plant above-ground crops.

A Solar eclipse is a very special New Moon. Things that are begun between the eclipse and the next Full Moon (about 2 weeks), seeds we plant, projects we undertake, contacts we make, and intentions we set, take on added significance 6 months down the road.

The Full Moon is the culmination of the Moon’s cycle, and the beginning of the waning phase. During the two weeks following the Full Moon, the Moon decreases in light. This is a good period for working on ourselves, finalizing things, processing information, wrapping up, and letting go of the things we don’t need anymore. This is a time for progress in the inner, rather than outer, realm. Farmers often use this time to plant root crops, which grow under the surface of the earth.

A Lunar eclipse is a very special Full Moon. Decisions we make, things we let go of, and things we finish during this waning cycle have significance in the future. It is an excellent time to give up an old habit, for example, smoking.

Full Moons in general, and Lunar eclipses in particular, are times of high emotion, and they bring awareness. The Sun and the Moon, our animus and our emotions, are on opposite sides of the sky, as if the other were a mirror. This is a time of mirroring, we can see ourselves in others if we are willing to look. Many are not.

Your homework assignment, should you choose to accept it:

The Solar Eclipse list

You can do this anytime between the Solar Eclipse and the next Full Moon. Take out a sheet of paper and a pen. Find yourself a nice quiet spot. On the paper, make a list of 100 things you want. Don’t hold back! Don’t let your inner voice tell you that you can’t have it. It will be hard to think of things after the first 50, but keep at it. Be positive: “I will get a raise,” not “I want a raise.”

Example:

  1. I will make some new friends.
  2. I will have a beach named after me.
  3. I will be my own boss.
  4. I will save the whales.
  5. I will have a new car.
  6. I will have a Xena Warrior Princess doll.
  7. My houseplants will live long and be green.

…and so on.

When you are finished, place your list in an envelope, seal it, write the date on it, and put it in a sacred place in your home. Or you could just bless it and stick it in a drawer. You have just asked for what you want. This is how you plant seeds. After 1 year has passed, take out your list, and see which of these seeds have taken root in your life.

The Lunar Eclipse meditation:

You can do this anytime between the Lunar Eclipse and the next New Moon. Same as the Solar Eclipse list, except this is a little harder. This time, think of the things in your life you would like to bring to a close, finish, or end. That contract you want to get signed, that job you want to finish. That guilty feeling. That unhealthy relationship. That nasty smoking habit.

Take some time to sit in a quiet space and breathe. Visualize the inner workings of that habit, the issue, the situation, as people. Give them names and faces! My addicted smoker and my inner doctor. My gentle self and my angry self. Visualize them each holding one end of a rope, like a tug of war. They can see each other now, how can they better understand one another? How can they work together to achieve balance? Picture each one gently dropping their end of the rope.

You have just asked for assistance from the universe to clear out old energies and make room for the things you want to bring in. There is great power in this request.
For more information about eclipses:

NASA: Fred Espenak’s Eclipse page
Contains lots of good astronomical information, including where the eclipses are visible, and exact times.