On Tuesday 13th at 22:09 GMT there is a total eclipse of the Sun at 21˚57 Scorpio. For thousands of years human beings have attached great symbolic importance to an eclipse of the Sun and beliefs all have in common that it portends significant events, turnings in the tide of history, the downfall of kings and the resurrection of heroes.
In ancient Egypt there were many different theories about why solar eclipses happened from the Sun being swallowed by a cosmic serpent to the Sun passing through an invisible gate in the sky to the place of its origin before returning again. In ancient Egyptian texts there are numerous references to the phenomenon of night appearing at a time that was unusual and some theories propose that certain spells in the Book of the Dead were specifically intended to counter the potentially dangerous effect of a solar eclipse upon the dead[i].
In China records of eclipses reach back more the 4000 years. Eclipses were thought to be intimately tied to the fortunes of the Emperor and there as evidence that Imperial astronomers were killed for failing to predict eclipses[ii].
In South and Central American pre-Columbian civilisations eclipses were fearful events, augurs from the gods to whom human beings were sacrificed in order to appease those gods.
In Babylon and Ancient Greece too eclipses were carefully watched. In ancient Greece a long standing conflict between the Medes and the Lydians came to an end following the successful prediction of an eclipse some years beforehand which was then interpreted as divine displeasure with the war.
In the Bible some suggest that an eclipse coincided with the crucifixion of Christ:
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. — Luke 23:44-45
There was also a total solar eclipse that was visible from Medina during the life of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) after which he explicitly stated that solar eclipses are not signs of misfortune but are, rather, evidence of the power and intelligence of Allah.
These days eclipses are viewed as fascinating spectacles but their symbolic significance is still felt – it is unusual and disconcerting to see the Sun become darkened during the middle of the day, it reminds us of our place in the cosmos and provides opportunities for that which we haven’t paid attention to. It’s like the elephant in the room gets the opportunity to make itself seen and heard and talked about!
So, on Tuesday there is a total solar eclipse – mostly visible only from the far reaches of the Southern and South Pacific Ocean and the antipodes:
I have already written a little about this eclipse and its relation to the current Mercury Rx phase and also that there is a very interesting cross pattern in the chart:
I am particularly interested in the position of Lilith in this chart – the mean or average position of the Lilith point occupies the degree at which Jupiter entered his shadow and will turn direct at the end of January after his Rx phase. It is the degree at which Jupiter will square Chiron and is also the degree of the lunar eclipse on the 29th of this month. Meanwhile true Lilith is opposite Mercury and is the degree of the solar eclipse back on 21st of May of this year. This has a rather beautiful symbolism – the name Lilith has its roots in middle eastern words for night (Leila, Lili, Leela) and in the texts of ancient Egypt eclipses were written about in terms of night appearing in the middle of the day.
In Sufism Lilith or Leila is sometimes referred to as the ultimate divine reality:
In some Sufi orders the goal of the mystical quest is “personified as a woman, usually named Laila which means ‘night’… this is the holiest and most secret inwardness of Allah… in this symbolism Laila and haqiqa (Divine Reality) are one.”[iii]
There is a deeply spiritual message and opportunity that comes with this eclipse – it is an opportunity to see beyond the veils that usually prevent us from knowing what is ultimately true, divine and spiritual. Lilith has a bad reputation with the establishment but that is because she challenges the power base of inequality, refuses to accept injustice, dishonesty. With her square to Chiron and occupation of the sensitive Jupiter station degree she is intent on ensuring that the message is clear – where our spirituality is not supported by social structures things must change. Where society is upholding inequality and injustice things must change. Where there are lies and deceit and unfair judgements things must change. This is so for our own, personal lives and also for the wider society we live in – and through it runs a deep vein of aligning us to a more balanced and spiritual way of living.
I have recently been reminded of this song by Sting which mentions Laila/Lili/Leela (Lilith) and the lyrics tell of the mystical and spiritual power of love to connect to the divine and our soul’s yearning for that connection:
This reminds me of words by Rumi, the great Sufi poet:
I am your lover, come to my side, I will open the gate to your love.
Come settle with me, let us be neighbors to the stars.
You have been hiding so long, endlessly drifting in the sea of my love.
Even so, you have always been connected to me.
Concealed, revealed, in the unknown, in the un-manifest.
I am life itself. You have been a prisoner of a little pond,
I am the ocean and its turbulent flood. Come merge with me,
leave this world of ignorance. Be with me, I will open the gate to your love.