Humans have watched the Sun and Moon for millennia. Our ancestors knew that these bodies of light allowed life on Earth to thrive, so they saw eclipses as mysterious and terrifying events. Yet modern astrology also assigns meanings to these celestial phenomena. Understanding how eclipses work in astrology requires a brief trip through science and history.
Eclipses 101: Back to Astronomy Class
Eclipses are spectacular yet simple events: one celestial body moving into the shadow of another. During solar ones, the Moon passes between us and the Sun, blocking its light. Lunar ones occur when the Moon travels behind Earth and passes through its shadow.
A total solar eclipse darkens the sky, and the combined sun and moon look like a dark disc with a brilliant outer corona. Space.com explains that a total lunar eclipse produces a crimson or coppery “blood moon.” Some sunlight still passes through our atmosphere, but only red light’s long wavelengths can reach and reflect on the Moon’s surface.
The Moon and the Sun also experience partial eclipses, when one body partly blocks our view of another. Annular solar ones happen when the Moon at apogee passes in front of the Sun, appearing as dark circles with outer rims of gold light. Penumbral lunar ones result from the Moon passing through our planet’s faint outer shadow.
Eclipses in Ancient Civilizations
Historian Gonzalo Rubio reveals that eclipses were often seen as omens in ancient times. Babylonians could track and eventually predict them, but the culture seemed to worry the most about lunar eclipses. They looked for other signs to determine whether an eclipse spelled trouble, particularly to their king. Sometimes, a substitute king would be coronated while an incantation was chanted to combat evil effects. If no other ill omens appeared, the substitute was put to death and the real king returned to his throne.
Eclipses could also signal a deity in trouble or the gods’ displeasure. One even prompted two opposing armies to call a truce. Atlas Obscura’s Natasha Frost discusses the Battle of the Eclipse on May 28, 585 BCE, during which the Medes and Lydians lay down their weapons after seeing a solar eclipse and believing it to be a sign from the gods to stop fighting. Eclipses also made their way into ancient mythologies. According to physics professor Roger Culver, many describe evil entities trying to harm or swallow the Sun: wolves, dragons, frogs, and even a decapitated demon.
Eclipses in Modern Astrology
AstroStyle explains that solar and lunar eclipses occur four to six times each year. It describes them as dramatic astrological turning points, each an agent of change that brings a bit of turbulence or a “cosmic kick in the pants” that signals the need to act.
Solar ones take place during new moons, while lunar ones happen at full moons. This important distinction explains the astrological energies they bring. The Moon sits between the Sun and Earth during solar eclipses, forming a straight line and creating a conjunction. These new moon eclipses signal beginnings, possibly dramatic ones that force us outside our comfort zones. Conjunctions also blend their celestial bodies’ energies, and in this case, it’s the Sun’s ego-focused influences with the emotional ones from the Moon.
On the other hand, lunar ones create an opposition between the Sun and Moon with our planet directly between them. Full moons signal completion, but the Sun-Moon opposition creates tension between logic and emotions. Hidden or “shadow” personality aspects can arise, or we may be called to bring closure to nonbeneficial situations or patterns.
Symbolism in the Heavens
Solar and lunar eclipses fascinate us even in the 21st century. We now know the science behind them, but they still hold special meaning in astrology. As portents, eclipses are seen as calls for growth, change, and closure.