By Mary Plumb | July 20, 2009
The century’s longest total solar eclipse is almost upon us. It is exact on Tuesday, July 21 at 7:36 p.m. PDT (July 22, 2:36 a.m. GMT).
Since at least the 2nd century (as written by Ptolemy), the length of an eclipse has been associated with the duration of time the eclipse will have an impact. For example, the effects of a lunar eclipse that lasts for two minutes will be felt for two months; for a solar eclipse, the impact will be in years. The duration of the average solar eclipse is three and a half minutes. The July 21 eclipse lasts for more than six minutes; if we follow Ptolemy’s equation we will be experiencing its impact for longer than six years. This gives extra oomph to the modern astrologer’s thinking that the solar eclipse is an auspicious time to set intentions for the future. We are planting seeds in our minds, or being impressed by events or experiences that will take a long time to unfold. In the personal horoscope, this, of course, will be specifically related to the house position of 29° Cancer and any planets connected to that degree.
Another thing that makes this eclipse stand out is the 29th degree. The first reference I’ve seen to the 29th degree (of any sign) as “the degree of expiation” is in Isabel Hickey’s Astrology: A Cosmic Science (1970). The degree of expiation suggests that all conditions and situations related to the sign have this one last degree, this one last moment to resolve themselves. It has the suggestion of atonement, propitiating a god, or the means through which atonement is made. I’ll leave it to you readers to see how that idea might fit with your own circumstances, or what you feel in these next few days surrounding the eclipse.
Eclipses are known to bring things to a head or indicate a release point. This eclipse suggests that things are moving quickly: The Moon is traveling at maximum speed (nearly 15° in 24 hours) and changes sign several hours after the eclipse; the Sun moves into Leo the next morning.
This extra-long eclipse, occurring at a degree that implies a pressure for resolution, is in the sign of Cancer the Crab, who clings with tenacity. It seems, with all water signs, that we do best by recognizing some emotional experience. Cancer, the first water sign, hints at the most primitive emotions or stages of development — the earliest in time or the most deeply buried in the unconscious. Thus, both our personal histories and our collective or ancestral memories may be the ground through which this potent eclipse moves us forward along our life path.
This is a total solar eclipse — the Sun is darkened. In ancient times, this was considered a bad omen for the king and, therefore, for the land or nation; the health and strength of the king were thought to determine the conditions of the people.
In modern thinking, of course, the Sun has a pronounced personal symbolism. The Sun is our personal star, where we connect to the greater logos. In the individual horoscope, the Sun relates to our own inner nobility — where we shine, where we both receive and give the life essence. It relates to the personal will and ego force that is hereby darkened; quickly, mysteriously, and awesomely, the light of the personal ego is overtaken by something else — perhaps a powerful impression of past or future, a compelling and temporary awareness of a life force far greater than what we have imagined for ourselves thus far.
Remember the key symbolism of a New Moon as a seed-planting time. The masculine and feminine have lined up in direct union and communion and perfect equipoise until, suddenly and inexplicably, the solar light is gone. Where are we without our usual frame of reference? We can see why eclipses are so evocative in the human imagination, as well as being associated with significant world events.
The total solar eclipse at 29° Cancer suggests that matters of home, family, and past impressions are triggered to be resolved. I suspect that we’ve all got hidden cracks in our emotional armor; this eclipse is a profound invitation to let tenderness and vulnerability lead the way. There may be tears, releasing memories of a long-lost (or absent) mother or sentiments about connecting with an ultimate nourishment that tethers and binds us, feeds us, and gives us everything we will ever need to be secure and safe in this world.
The morning after the eclipse, the Sun moves into Leo — its own sign — and the sometimes grasping, needy claws of Cancer (where the Moon has dominion) will have to let go.
A friend on our Facebook page suggested this YouTube video for a presentation of the mundane implications of this eclipse. The video is really well done and demonstrates clearly the essential ways that eclipses are used for predicting world events. (You’ll see the eclipse path of visibility on the Earth, as well as a few countries that have 29° Cancer prominent in the national horoscope.)
I’ve posted Stephanie Austin’s fine column on the eclipse here. For a look at the bigger picture, I’ve posted the maps of the eclipse visibility here.
And, also from the June/July 2009 issue, you can see the solar eclipse world maps and midpoints here.
I also did a search on AstroDatabank for people with the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, or Midheaven from 28° to 30° Cancer or Capricorn. I filtered for AA data, so these degrees should be accurate. (I have an older version of the software, and this selection is mostly older people. I couldn’t find a search function at the free online database at Astro.com, which has more current data. Does anyone know if it’s there?)
Naomi Campbell and Susan Sarandon have Ascendants in these degrees of Capricorn. (Ms. Sarandon’s natal Moon is at 26° Capricorn as well.) Emmylou Harris, Wynonna Judd, Stephen King and John Travolta have natal Ascendants in these degrees of Cancer. Melanie Griffith has the Midheaven in Capricorn, Jimmy Carter has the Midheaven in Cancer, David Lynch has the Sun in Capricorn, and Robin Williams and Alex Trebek (the host of Jeopardy!) have the Sun in Cancer; Geraldo Rivera and Tai Situ Rinpoche have the Moon in Cancer, all in these very late degrees.
These individuals are some of those under the direct influence of this potent solar eclipse. May all of us meet the situations that arise for us with an open mind and heart!