Writer Ernest Hemingway once memorably observed that all writers need a built-in, shockproof “crap detector.” Those of us who inhabit the Otherworlds of palmistry, the I Ching, Tarot, astrology, politics (!), etc., need one of these as well, in my opinion. An opening gambit of mine during the years of teaching beginner astrology classes was usually this: “Don’t necessarily believe a word I say, exciting, interesting, and persuasive though it might sound — always test it out in your own experience.”
Now, what on earth is the relevance of the above to this week’s topic? Just read on …
We are between the July 13th solar eclipse at 20° Cancer, and the July 27th lunar eclipse at 5° Aquarius. Then, we have the final eclipse of this season, a solar eclipse at 19° Leo on August 11th. As usual, the Web is awash with excitement, apprehension, and a liberal dose of doom and gloom in relation to those powerful energies. My aim in this post is to cheer you up and to make the point that the powerful symbolic endings which eclipses often bring can also open doors to hitherto unforeseen possibilities.
Hence the importance of trusting your own experience in those matters, rather than being unduly swayed by the generalities swirling around in the media. Personally, I have found eclipses to bring endings which were usually necessary in order for me to move on and grow some more. This was not always comfortable — but then the process of personal growth cannot proceed without a few jolts. I’d be most interested in readers sharing their eclipse experiences. To start you off, here is a memorable one of mine.
Scroll back 31 years with me. It is March 29, 1987, in London, UK, just before lunch on the final day of a weekend workshop on Esoteric Astrology led by master astrologer Alan Oken. I am feeling tired, suffering from information overload, and not very receptive to any more input, much less a new experience. Unbeknownst to me, however, I am poised to have one.
Alan informs us that there is about to be a solar eclipse at 8°18’ Aries. I’ve not paid much attention to eclipses yet (that was certainly to change as the years went on!), but at that time, I am not hugely interested. Nevertheless, it dimly registers that the eclipse opposes my natal Neptune at 8°53’ Libra in the 2nd house, which is closely sextile natal Mercury at 9°03’ Leo in the 12th house.
Having briefly outlined the significance of eclipses, Alan then invites us to focus on something in our lives we wish to leave behind, as he leads us through a meditation at the exact time of the eclipse. I have never been keen on guided meditations and am not at all visually oriented when imagining things. However, it seems churlish not to join in. I dutifully adopt an appropriate posture: closing my eyes and beginning to breathe slowly and deeply, as instructed.
What did I want to leave behind? Smoking, that’s what. I’d been trying and failing on that one for about ten years. As Alan talked us through the visualization, I focused on dropping my last fag packet into a bin — forever. The ethereal sceptic, permanently resident on my left shoulder, was taking the view that I’d tried everything else, so why not?
To my amazement, as I participated with the group, waves of colour began to appear — a wash of sea greens and purples, almost like the Northern Lights — behind my closed eyes. The waves peaked with Alan’s voice, then died away as he gently led us out of the meditation.
I was astounded by this experience, awed, and chastened. Something powerful had clearly occurred, despite my scepticism. As we all filed out for lunch, I had a strong urge to take my cigarettes and drop them in the nearest bin. So, I did. My thought: “Goodbye, smoking; I’m done with you!”
Half past two the following morning saw me — sleepless, twitchy, and angry — slipping out of my in-laws’ flat into rainy North London. Heading for an all-night grocer, I bought 20 cigarettes, smoking the first one on my way back. My only company for that weekend was Tadzio, my brother-in-law’s ferociously unwelcoming old cat. “Well, Tadzio,” I remarked bitterly to him as he hissed at me on my return, “don’t ever bother meditating at an eclipse.”
However, dissatisfaction at my inability to break that smoking habit continued to gnaw at me, especially since my husband, an even more dedicated smoker than I, had managed to stop that February, aided by a severe bout of mumps which (fortunately!) affected only his throat. He could barely eat or speak for several days — and could not bear to smoke. (Chiron just happened to be sitting on his Gemini MC at the time … inconvenient benefic, indeed!)
On my return from London, I could see that he was struggling. Suddenly I had a bright idea and said: “How about this: If you can stay off the fags until the Easter weekend, I’ll stop then, too.”
“Right,” he said through gritted teeth.
Two weeks after that “failed” meditation, three days before Easter weekend, I had a lightbulb moment (lunar eclipse, anyone?) — a Leo moment shot with my usual Leonine melodrama. “I’m going to die as a smoker on Good Friday,” I announced to my rather sceptical Aquarian husband, “and be reborn as a non-smoker by Easter Monday.”
And so, reader, it duly came to pass. I have not smoked since.
Endnote: An earlier version of this post was first published in Not the Astrology Column in the July/August 2017 issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.
Bio: Anne Whitaker is a writer, astrologer, and astrology teacher based in Glasgow, Scotland. Her work appears in various media, including the UK’s Astrological Journal, Dell Horoscope Magazine, Infinity Astrological Magazine (where she has regular bi-monthly columns), The Mountain Astrologer, and Astrodienst. Find Anne at: www.astrologyquestionsandanswers.com