Saturday Extra!All About Eclipses

We’re between eclipses, so this seems like a good time to provide more information for those who are interested.

I often refer to a “series” of eclipses. Joe recently left a comment asking me to explain what this means. When astrologers refer to a series of eclipses, usually we are talking about those falling in a particular sign pair over a period of 18 months to two years. A new series often starts before the previous one ends, as is happening now. This occurs as the lunar nodes approach the cusp of a new sign. As Joe noted in his comment, the lunar nodes move backwards, in the same direction as retrograde planets.

Using the current eclipses as an example, the lunar eclipse on July 7 was the first eclipse in a new series in Capricorn and Cancer. There are two more eclipses in this series in 2009: a solar eclipse at 29 degrees Cancer on July 21 and a lunar eclipse at 10 degrees Cancer on December 31. Next year, there are three more eclipses in this series, which will end with a solar eclipse in Cancer on July 1, 2011. Meanwhile, there is one eclipse left in the outgoing series, a lunar eclipse at 13 degrees Aquarius on August 5. The Aquarius/Leo series began on February 6, 2008.

In a normal year, there are four eclipses. Typically, a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse occur two weeks apart, and then about six months later, there is another pair. However, there are six eclipses in 2009, making this a very unusual year. There also will be six eclipses in 2011. I’ve read that extraordinary events happen in six-eclipse years, but I haven’t done enough research to verify this yet. If anyone wants to spend a few hours Googling, I’d love to have your input on this.

As I mentioned in my brief response to Joe’s comment, the sign pair in which the eclipses take place is determined by the lunar nodes. Eclipses always take place at the New Moon or Full Moon. At the New Moon, the Sun and Moon are conjunct, and the Moon is between the Earth and Sun, which causes a solar eclipse. At the Full Moon, the Sun and Moon are in opposition. The Earth is between the Sun and Moon, and this produces a lunar eclipse.

Usually (but not always) the Full Moon brings culmination, resolution, or endings, while the New Moon brings new beginnings. This is also true for eclipses, but the effect is much more powerful. Endings tend to be final, with no going back. New beginnings can be equally as dramatic. Change can happen so quickly that we are thrown off balance. For people with a lot of fixed signs in their charts, this can be particular uncomfortable, as we tend to resist change more than others.

As I explained in yesterday’s Q&A column, where you feel this effect depends on the houses in your natal chart in which the eclipse pair falls. If the cusps of these houses are in the mid-degrees of a sign, which is often the case, you may have four life areas that could be affected instead of two. For example, if your Rising Sign is 15 degrees Capricorn, the new series of eclipses will fall in your first and seventh houses, along with the twelfth and sixth houses. That’s a lot of ground to cover, with nearly unlimited possibilities.

When I do consultations, I look at what else is going on in the chart to try to determine how the eclipses enter into the picture. Still, eclipses can bring changes that are so sudden and unexpected that outcomes can be hard to predict.

I’ve also noticed over the years that the two-week period between eclipses can be quite turbulent and unsettling. Since we have three eclipses in a row this year, that period is extended to a month. We’re all going to have to do our best to maintain our health and sanity!

Much love and courage to all,
Aquarius, the sign of astrologyPat

Image: Total eclipse of the Sun on August 11, 1999, as seen in France. Image by Luc Viatour.