very year we experience between four and six eclipses, solar and lunar. As I deepened my studies and practice of astrology I became more and more interested in how to understand and work with the particular energy that accompanies these celestial events and so, after years of really doing nothing more than noting how they seem to effect my own life and speaking with my clients about their eclipse experiences I am ready to say definitely that eclipses are for breaking patterns, pure and simple.
I thought this might be the case even as a young child watching the moon undergo a total eclipse when I was seven years old. As I teach my astrology students, the best way to begin getting to know the stars is through what I call “naked eye astrology” just look up at the night sky and see what your eye naturally gravitates to.
On the night of a lunar eclipse (or the day of a solar eclipse) the answer is easy – the eclipse itself is what catches our attention. It is the most visible event occurring at the given time but it is also the most dramatic because it is something apparently out of sync. We have a full moon every month, but usually the moon is not partially or completely taken over by shadow. We have the sun every day, only rarely do we see the sun darkened.
Both events naturally cause one to pause. It is a break in what are otherwise two of our most normal and rhythmic markers of both time and season – solar and lunar cycles. These are cycles that we have lived by and with for millennia, we have created watches and calendars based on their predictable patterns of movement, growth, diminishment, and re-emergence.
Then there is the eclipse. Whether it is lunar (in which case it can be seen by the population that is on the night-side of the earth) or solar (in which case it can only be seen by a small percentage of earth’s population); it is so clearly an interruption.
So what do we do with that?
First let me make a couple of further observations. My background in folk practices coming out of two different traditions tells me that an eclipse would only effect the people who actually see it because they would be the only ones who know that it is occurring. I agree with this but I will also say that in my experience the internet has made more people than ever before aware of all eclipses – whether they are visible to an individual or not. Moreover, there are now live feeds for every eclipse – so even if you are not in the part of the world where the eclipse is visible as it happens you can watch it happen live from anywhere. These two technologies have made it possible for everyone to be aware of an eclipse, watch it occur, and in turn align themselves with its particular gift if they so choose.
Secondly, it is useful for those who study and practice astrology to have a sense of where the eclipse is occurring with respect to your own chart. Many annual astrology guides will give you the exact position and time of the eclipse so you can then look at your own chart and see what kind of aspects it makes with your natal planets and positions as well as the positions the planets are in right now. I highly recommend you take this step and do this work because some eclipses absolutely will effect you more than others.
Thirdly there are two major categories of eclipse – solar and lunar – and three subcategories for each. A solar eclipse may be total, partial, or annular. A total eclipse occurs when the moon completely covers the sun. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the moon only partially covers the sun – it looks like a dark shadow has taken a bit out of the sun from our perspective. And an annular solar eclipse is when the moon fully passes over the sun but is not at the right angle to be perceived as completely covering the sun so the eclipse appears as a dark shadow covering the sun but with a ring of fire all around it like a halo.
Lunar eclipses follow a similar pattern. There are total, partial, and penumbral. Total and partial are what you would expect and penumbral is a subtle lunar eclipse that occurs when the moon is shadowed by earth but not completely in any one place.
For our purposes we will just deal with the major categories of eclipse – solar and lunar.
Each kind of eclipse no doubt has its own energetic signature and while I can hazard a guess about how they would work out, I have not made as close of a study of the different kinds of eclipse up to this point. Here is what I have observed:
Lunar eclipses – they occur more frequently than solar eclipses and they are visible to greater numbers of people. The phenomena is planet earth moving in between the full moon and the sun, therefore casting a shadow over the moon that results in the complete blacking out or subtle darkening of la luna.
Traditionally the Full Moon helps us “see in the dark” its light allows us to notice the aspects of our life that are normally hidden or at the very least de-emphasized. However, the shadow side of the moon is becoming trapped in an emotional stickiness that you cannot seem to get out of no matter how hard you try. Consider the Moon card from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot to get a sense of what I am talking about. Professional astrologers often talk about the position of your natal moon as your “comfort zone” and where one feels most at home and relaxed, but as we know only staying in the comfort zone and never challenging yourself leads to some pretty dull situations and atrophy.
Therefore, the lunar eclipse is the perfect time to look at any one place where you feel particularly stuck emotionally or any place where you are just “in a rut”. The eclipse breaks the regular lunar cycle so now is your opportunity to break that pattern.
So how do you do it?
First of all, if you want to work with the eclipse and no one place of stuckness is coming to mind then consider your chart, look it over. Also consider your diet and all the things you “feed” yourself with. Chances are between those two considerations you will find something that needs a shift.
Useless patterns that run deep can feel like actual chains around you. They can hold you down, keep you back, and sometimes it is even hard to see them much less understand how to break them.
My favorite instruction on breaking a destructive pattern comes out of one of the Child Ballads. In the story a cruel mother in law has cursed her beautiful, young, daughter in law to never bear a child. The young wife and her husband try and try to get pregnant all to no avail. Finally the young wife realizes what has happened and is instructed to create a fake baby out of wax and to take it to the church to be christened. Because the curse was that the woman would never have a child in her arms, simply by showing up at the church with the child in her arms the curse was broken.
This is exactly how breaking a pattern works – you simply do the opposite. When it comes to breaking deeply entrenched patterns or attitudes playing it safe and conservatively just won’t do. You have to be all in. What is must turn into what is not just as the radiant body of sun or moon becomes shadowed and dark.
So if your pattern is that you go shopping and spend money whenever you feel sad then on the day of the eclipse if you are feeling sad you do not go spend money at all and in fact the best thing would be to do something to make money – even if it is just a buck or two.
If the pattern is an abusive relationship then on the day of the eclipse you leave that relationship. You put actual, physical distance between yourself and the abusive person. Most likely you will talk to them and see them again – but the pattern has been broken and that is what matters.
Solar Eclipses – occur less frequently than lunar eclipses and are only visible to a tiny portion of the world, but as I said above, they can now be viewed from anywhere thanks to live stream video. The Sun is in many ways our first timekeeper and season marker. Our days are literally marked by the passage of the sun across the sky from horizon to horizon. And of course the sun makes life possible so the importance of this “planet” (as we think of it in classical astrology) cannot be overstated.
Whereas the moon lends itself to looking at places of stuckness on an emotional and internal level, the sun is more interested is the very obvious patterns at play in our lives. What are you always saying you want to do, or will do, but just haven’t gotten around to yet? That is what the sun is interested in and that is what the solar eclipse can transform.
You can pick something to focus on but in my experience the pattern you can break during the solar eclipse shows up very powerfully. If you are at all paying attention you are already probably feeling the desire to break the cycle of habit that has become oppressive. Solar eclipses are all about less talking and more rocking. And again, you break the cycle in the same way as you do above – by either doing the thing that you are constantly saying you are going to do OR by finally admitting that you never wanted to do it in the first place and putting it down once and for all.
Not all patterns are bad. A pattern can be a very helpful thing, we all have routines that help us call ourselves back to ourselves and we all have natural rhythms to follow. When a pattern becomes oppressive it starts out as a subtle energetic drain – it is something you are always aware of in the back of your mind or corner of your eye but are not taking clear actions to address. So it just sits there, wasting your time and devouring your vitality. After it has eaten up enough of your energy, the pattern becomes much bigger and harder to contend with. It moves from being an apparently (but not really) passive force in the back of the mind to THE THING that occupies all of your attention front and center and before long it starts to feel like you are fated to do/think/feel this way forever.
Remember the song I referenced above. This is how you break a pattern that has become a curse. You name it, get to know it just enough to break it, and then do the exact opposite of what the pattern commands and implies. The eclipses will help you, so work with them.