Many of you might have heard that there is a rare occurrence happening this week. Everyone from NASA to CNN to our local astronomy geeks at the Clark Planetarium are excited about this event, and for good reason.
According to NASA, a total lunar eclipse hasn't fallen on the date of the Winter Solstice since 1638! Also, the next total lunar eclipse that will be visible from most of North America won't happen again until April of 2014. So there's really a good excuse to bundle up and get outside and watch this great event pass by. Of course, if our skies are cloudy or you are not inclined to go out in the cold, you can always watch it on the special page that NASA has set up to cover it at nasa.gov/watchtheskies.
(Eclipse in Maui pic via Fred Espenak. I doubt ours will look like this one :D )
The best viewing time according to the scientists is going to be around 1:15 am local time. As an extra extra bonus, the lunar eclipse will darken the skies enough to be able to see some of the Ursid meteor shower, which will make it extra special if you take the effort to be outside between 10:30 pm - 3 am on Monday night / Tuesday morning. Pray for clear skies :D
Now, given that we are Pagans and Witches and such, people have been wanting to know "What does it all mean???" and hopefully I can answer that question a little bit with this blog post.
At this time of chaos and transformation, let's take a moment to familiarize ourselves with the prominent players.
First, we have The Communicator, Mercury, who has been retrograde since Dec. 10th and will not turn direct until Dec. 30th. Unusually, this Mercury retrograde starts in the introspective, responsible sign of Capricorn and then retrogrades all the way back into gregarious, outgoing Sagittarius (where it is right now) before reentering moody, introverted Capricorn later in January! So this is an even more unusual retrograde than normal, so if everything feels just a bit more off-kilter, that's okay, you are not imagining things! People with Capricorn or Sagittarius placed prominently in their charts will be feeling this more than others. The energy of Mercury retrograde in Capricorn which has lent itself to somewhat of a slower, plodding feeling, like being stuck in quicksand, has now changed to that Sagittarian fire, where nothing can get done quickly enough! This can lend itself to decisions made too hastily, plans not thought through properly, and all manner of rushed and hurried feeling. Take care that you don't take things too personally, from words said without thinking to actions taken, it's better to step back, take a deep breath and remember that this too shall pass.
As always with any Mercury Retrograde, backup your computers, double check travel plans, and avoid signing contracts if possible.
The Moon in the last degrees of Gemini will host the shadow of the earth during the eclipse, a deep red that Dr. Tony Phillips of NASA poetically describes as "every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth's shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb."
Eclipses are always about great transformation, and lunar eclipses tend to transform the way we feel and think about things more than they bring about physical or externally-focused transformations. This eclipse in the sign of Gemini will allow us to have a dialogue with ourselves about our future, and to reach deep into our intellectual life to see what's good, what's bad, and what's missing.
This will be a powerful opportunity to cast aside ways of thinking and feeling that no longer serve our highest good. We can literally reprogram ourselves to replace negative ways of thinking and feeling with more positive and useful ways of being. We can analyze and reconstruct our mental programming in order to create a wholistic state of mind, spirit and body. Take some time on Tuesday the 21st to do some of this introspection. Perhaps make a list of some of the ways that you would like to "reprogram your software". Now is the time!
The Sun in Sagittarius enters the first degrees of Capricorn on the evening of the 21st, just less than 24 hours after the eclipse of the moon is completed. Again the energy shifts from that outgoing, gregarious Sagittarian fire to the internalizing, complex and earthy Capricornian cave.
As the Sun enters Capricorn, it is accompanied by Pluto, Mars, and the North Node of the Moon, giving weight to the feeling of fate and destiny that will accompany the days surrounding this eclipse. Make sure to take note of the people, feelings, situations and emotions surrounding you at this time, for you may be surprised just how much they contribute to the coming transformation that you will experience.
The Winter Solstice has resonated with human beings since ancient times, and there are countless myths, legends, stories and customs associated with this time of the year. Given it's role as the keeper of the dark side of the human psyche, the longest, darkest night plays an archetypal lead in our transformative event.
We may enter this longest darkest night, so dark that even the moon's light is quieted, with a deep sense of pessimism, of longing for the light to break and the heaviness to lift. The cold of winter surrounds us with such certainty that we forget that Spring exists, and yet even on this night, the shadow on the moon will fade, and the days begin to grow long again very soon. This night is an important reminder that even the darkest times of our lives are temporary, and we need to lift our heads and look past the shadows to the light.