Where & When
Where & When
The Total Solar Eclipse coming this Monday, August 21st, 2017, will cast a shadow over the Sun, obscuring it from view from coast to coast across the United States. The map below (from timeanddate.com where you can see a video visual of the eclipse path) shows the path of the eclipse, where the red line in the middle are the areas where the Sun will appear 100% obscured. The full eclipse will occur from 9:48am PDT to 1:02pm PDT, with the maximum eclipse at 11:25 am (partial eclipse visibility is from 8:46 am to 2:04 pm).
solar eclipse visibility
This will be the first time since 1918 that a total solar eclipse has fully crossed the geography of the United States, and it’s been since 1979 that a total solar eclipse was visible here. You may remember the eclipses of 1994 or 2012 — these were annular solar eclipses, during which a thin ring of the Sun remained visible behind the Moon’s shadow. In the direct path of a total eclipse of the Sun, the Moon will obscure the Sun entirely, leaving only the glowing corona (like the atmosphere) of the Sun visible. Jupiter, Mars and Venus will become visible in the sky, to the east (Jupiter) and west of the eclipse. The next annular solar eclipse across the US comes in 2023, the next total solar eclipse visible from parts of the US will be in 2024, and the next total solar eclipse to cross from coast to coast next comes in 2045.
The Vedic Mythology of Eclipses
If you’re paying attention to Vedic astrologers (or many other traditions), you’ve probably heard by now that eclipses are inauspicious. Imagine living in ancient times and experiencing this phenomenon of the Sun quickly disappearing, midday, when you didn’t know it was coming. Even though astronomical understanding has advanced, the energetics of this abnormal and ominous occurrence are still present, and even modern Hindu tradition (and others) advise against being outside during the eclipse. It is thought that the atmosphere is tainted by the negative energy of the nodes, and so it is best not to eat, drink, or even breathe the air outside during the hours surrounding this celestial event.
Eclipses occur when the north and south nodes of the Moon (astronomical points on the ecliptic, known as Rahu and Ketu in Vedic thought), align with the Sun, Moon, and Earth. The shadow that we see is related to demonic energy in Vedic mythology, portrayed by the origin story of Rahu and Ketu. This ancient tale depicts the gods and demons working together to churn the ocean of milk (similar to our pursuits under the milky way), to obtain the nectar of immortality. When it finally arose, Vishnu, a god, began passing it out to all the other gods, but cleverly skipped over the demons, lest they attain immortality as well.
One shrewd demon disguised himself and slipped into the line, and imbibed one drop of the immortal nectar, before the Sun and the Moon ratted him out and Vishnu cut the demon’s head off with his discus. That one drop allowed the demon to obtain immortality, however, and he took his place in the heavens alongside the other gods (the other planets are also deified). The head became Rahu, and the tail became Ketu, and now they are forever pursuing the Sun and the Moon to take their revenge. They conquer the bright, sattvic orbs occasionally, and this is when we see eclipses.
Astrological Energy of this Eclipse
The solar eclipse coincides with the New Moon, where the Sun and the Moon are exactly aligned from the perspective of earth (which actually occurs at 11:30 am to be exact). They come together in sidereal Leo, in the Vedic nakshatra known as Magha, “the mighty.” Magha is symbolized by a throne and relates to positions of power, government and authority. In this case they are closely accompanied by Rahu, who will be right on the cusp of Leo and Cancer during the eclipse.
The nodes don’t just embody “demonic” energy in terms of terrible, external, magical ghouls that are out to get us. The idea of demons in Vedic thought is really a metaphor for our inner demons—the shadows, challenges, and vasanas that we carry as living human beings. They represent the parts of us that are most subconscious, and the least understood. They show the things that we are most trying to learn from and integrate in our lives. We all have Rahu and Ketu placed somewhere in our natal charts (the map of the planets and constellations at the time of your birth), and this tells us about some of our biggest challenges, where we will seek growth throughout life.
We also all have had Rahu and Ketu transiting Leo and Aquarius since January 2016, compelling us to grow and look at our shadows in those particular areas of our lives. This axis in the zodiac teaches us to integrate personal power, and how we use it for greed or leadership (Leo), with universal service, and how we can act for the long-term benefit of many, without extinguishing our own light (Aquarius). It has been a quest for us to better reflect on how we wield power, and when we think of others, and to learn to harmonize and balance our self-love with universal love. Neither can be of service without the other. (We’ve also been working on balancing these two within the specific areas of our lives governed by Rahu and Ketu in our personal charts — Free Forecast Here).
This eclipse is bringing us towards a huge culmination of the lessons that have arisen in the last year-and-a-half. When the shadows of Rahu and Ketu become visible during eclipses, our inner shadows become visible and we are better able to do the personal work on ourselves with the tools we have acquired to do so. Although it is a great growth opportunity, the malefic and demonic nature of the nodes can still be quite tumultuous, and eclipse periods (the month surrounding a pair of eclipses, such as this month), can feel quite stressful and intense, especially if we are not ready to see or experience the areas that need shifting in our inner and outer worlds. Whether we are ready or not, there will often be major shifts.
This Eclipse and the USA
With this total solar eclipse hitting the entirety of the US harder than anywhere else, it’s possible that there will be some major shifts here compared to anywhere else in the world. We have already seen the intense, tumultuous energy stirring up the atmosphere and causing widespread uprising and violence in the country this month. Leo in general is the sign of government, and Magha nakshatra has to do with the seat of the one in power, and we can see that the POTUS’s power is being shaken and is facing intense aggravation right now. The last year-and-half has had the country in an uproar over its government, more so than usual, due to Rahu’s transit of Leo, which was also accompanied by Jupiter throughout most of 2016, further amplifying the extremism. With this major eclipse over the US right now, we are being called to see the darkest elements of power and the way it can be wielded. Rahu’s position in the difficult gandanta zone at the end of Cancer adds even more potency to his influence and more potential for serious impact.
Furthermore, this eclipse is also directly affecting the lagna (the first house, or the rising sign), of the current POTUS. Whenever an eclipse affects your lagna, you will experience its effects most directly and intensely. The transit of Rahu here over the last year-and-a-half intensely amplified his already aggrandized sense of self. Having Leo lagna in general will give someone a strong sense of their own power. His ruling planet, the Sun, is joined with Rahu in the 10th house, giving him a strong presence in the public eye, but also a confused or distorted sense of self, because Rahu brings confusion wherever he joins. It is a placement for achieving a degree of power or leadership, through business or government, but also shows that the way other people see him is characterized by the darkness of Rahu.
With this eclipse coming within one degree of his Mars, the planet of strength and courage, he may be doubting this power a bit at the moment. Saturn is still in Scorpio, transiting his natal Moon, putting a lot of pressure on the mind and emotions. It’s also aspecting his Rahu and Sun in the 10th, and his Mars and lagna, putting intense pressure on his personal and public personas as well. It is quite possible with this eclipse that we could see some major identity breakdown or shift as he tries to handle all the negativity and shadows revealed by the nodes. The authority that was amplified by Rahu’s transit since last year may be coming to an end. The shadow planet is now transiting into Cancer, which is his 12th house, the place of loss. Rahu’s transit of someone’s 12th can be incredibly difficult, bringing the energy of solitude and isolation, which can result in such things as institutionalization or being outcast.
If you have planets in the 12th house in your natal chart, or are also experiencing a transit there, the best thing to do is to try to activate the higher manifestations of the 12th; these include meditation, going inward, taking retreats, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, investigating the dream state, and practicing devotion and surrender to a higher power.
A Wave of Compassion on the Horizon
Just as the Rahu transit of Leo has amplified the quest for personal power over the last two years, the Rahu transit of Cancer that is beginning now will increase the sensitivity of our emotions and bring more focus to the heart center. This gives the potential for motherly compassion to take a more central role in our lives on the broad scale as well as the individual. Rahu intensifies the energy wherever he transits and also drives our focus there. As he goes through Cancer for the next year-and-a-half, emotions will be magnified, especially around the time of the eclipses.
Though this could help to open the floodgate of the heart, the shadow planet also represents confusion, so there will be a lot for us to work out here, and some possible missteps along the way. As Ketu transits the opposite sign of Capricorn, we will learn to harmonize the part of ourselves that is emotional and intuitive, with the part that is practical and responsible. This will be the collective lesson we approach as a society on the whole. Individually, we will be integrating this type of balance into our personal lives, in the specific areas of your life indicated by Cancer and Capricorn in your individual Vedic natal chart. Free forecast on what this means for your sign are coming soon to the free mailing list, so be sure to sign up if you aren’t on it already!
Retrograde Mercury and Planets Surrounding the Eclipse
Mercury is currently in retrograde motion and is closely joining this eclipse, at 14° of sidereal Leo and leaning towards the eclipse point. Whenever Mercury is retrograde, we tend to backtrack a lot around details and communication, as well as look more closely at these things for what we may have missed before. Joining this power- and government-oriented eclipse, we are seeing a lot of backtracking and close scrutinization of the words and language of the “leader.” There is a lot of revisionist history going on as well.
Magha, the nakshatra where this eclipse falls, is associated with the deities called the “Pitras,” referring to our ancestors and forefathers. There is a close look at these figures accompanying the tumult of the moment. With retrograde Mercury so close at hand, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some close examination and perhaps revision or modification to some laws and documents of old stimulated by this eclipse. Now is also a time to speak up about what power and leadership mean to you, especially if you missed any chance to do so before.
Saturn’s serious and discerning gaze is also falling on the Sun and Moon during this eclipse, from his still-retrograde position near the end of Scorpio. Saturn in Scorpio makes us look at our willingness to transform internally, and when directed towards the Sun and Moon in Leo, this can also add the pressure to transform our power structures. We have already seen a lot of changes in the governmental administration this month, and that could be stimulated further by this eclipse.
Finally, the look of this eclipse’s chart may remind you of the many one-sided charts we saw last year while the planets were in kala sarpa alignment. The current chart is not technically kala sarpa since Venus and Mars remain west of the Rahu-Ketu axis, but it comes pretty close. This time of alignment brings forth even more nodal energies, adding a third (fourth, fifth, sixth…?) level of intensity to this eclipse’s lineup.
What may come out of this eclipse is more inspiration. With Jupiter in Virgo, the second sign from the eclipse in Leo, our philosophies and higher beliefs will be what help us to process the outcome of current events. Turning towards something higher, that really offers some purpose in our lives, will be the medicine for any wounds incurred during and around the eclipse. We are gearing up for a few years of widespread activism, stimulated by Saturn’s return into Sagittarius in October (he began this journey earlier this year, from January through April). His presence here will compel us to work hard for what we see as our highest beliefs. It will turn our gaze towards a more universal vision, where our commitments are for our world and society at large, rather than our personal gain only or those of our close relations.
During the eclipse, the best things to do are meditate and go inward, and contemplate your own path towards opening the heart, speaking your truth, and discovering what a truly inspiring display of power and leadership looks like. The year-and-a-half to come will take us in a new direction of inner and outer growth and change. May all beings be happy and at peace.