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Solar eclipse: a moment in a longer cycle of time

We are in the aftermath and continued rolling waves of the March eclipse, which had Sun, Moon, Mercury, Neptune, Chiron, Ceres, and the South Node in Pisces, the sign that can easily dip into sorrowful endings.

The solar eclipse on March 8 (18°55′ Pisces) was a total eclipse — that is, the Sun was within 5° of the node. Total eclipses are thought to have a stronger or longer lasting impact.

The eclipse was not only total, but also exactly opposite its (traditional) dispositor Jupiter at 18° Virgo, both squaring Saturn at 16° Sagittarius, bringing the impact of those slower-moving planets into the eclipse picture.

(I set this chart for where I live; you can set it for where you were for the eclipse, or for Washington D.C. or any capital city for a mundane analysis. The angles are sensitive to location and, in this case, these angles happen to connect to my natal chart, one of the indications that this eclipse would be meaningful for me.)

Total solar eclipse
March 8, 2016
5:54 p.m.
Ashland OR

Solar eclipse March 2016

Here are a few times when this eclipse might be particularly activated (no matter what the location):

Mid-May when the Moon progressed from the eclipse gets to 21° Pisces, the south node (and nodal axis) of the eclipse, always a sensitive point.

July 8 – 12: Jupiter (turning direct on May 9) arrives back at 19° Virgo, opposite the eclipse degree.

September 9: Mars in Sag will conjoin the eclipse Saturn (16° Sag) right before squaring eclipse Jupiter (18° Virgo) and the Sun/Moon (19° Pisces). Mars went retrograde at 9° Sag in mid-April, so it will not square the eclipse degree for many months. (The transiting Sun will also oppose the eclipse degree on September 10.)

December 10: Saturn in Sag squares 19° Pisces. (As with Mars, the retrograde motion delays Saturn’s exact square to the eclipse degree.)

Although events close to the day of the eclipse assume great significance, and transits to the eclipse also can mark how events are developing, eclipses are also part of longer cycles, which connect to larger cycles of time.

There are two primary ways of tracking these cycles:

The Metonic cycle is the repetition of the same eclipse degree every 19 years. (This explains why on birthdays that are 19 years apart, the Sun and Moon repeat the birth degrees — birthdays 19, 38, 57, 76, etc.) (1)

The previous eclipse in the Metonic cycle of the March eclipse — 19 years ago — was on March 9, 1997 at 18°31′ Pisces. You can check 18° – 19° Pisces in your birth chart to see what houses and planets may have been suddenly awakened, then and now.

The Saros cycle, on the other hand, connects eclipses at 18.3-year intervals and were understood by the earliest known astrologers, the Chaldeans. (2) Events in the same series are tied together; both Metonic and Saros cycles are used in mundane forecasting.

I have looked at both cycles over the years, in both personal and mundane work. Recently, though, in my personal life — and following up with a few friends and clients — I have a new respect for the Saros cycle. (3)

Bernadette Brady described a profound new way of interpreting eclipses in her 1992 book, The Eagle and the Lark. (4) Essentially, she looks at the original eclipse of the Saros series and delineates its most essential features (i.e., closest aspects — and midpoints — to eclipse degree or node, etc.). Those features will carry through all eclipses in the series.

The March 9 solar eclipse is part of the 18S Saros series. The first eclipse in the series was on August 20, 1096, and its key theme is:
“Node=New Moon/Neptune=Venus/Saturn.”

Brady delineates this pattern: “This family of eclipses is concerned with endings and separations. Thus when it affects a chart, individuals will find themselves dealing with a parting. This parting can be anything from a friend traveling overseas and the saying of goodbyes at the ending of a relationship with a loved one, which could bring much anguish and grief. However, the pain of separation is lessened by encountering new situations which lead to very positive outcomes.” (5)

This description is particularly meaningful to me as I did lose a very close family member at the time of the previous eclipse in this series on February 26, 1998 — 18 years ago.

I suggest that you look at both cycles in your life and see what you find that may feel similar to what you are experiencing in this eclipse cycle. The eclipses that conjoin or oppose sensitive places in your natal chart — the Ascendant, Midheaven, Sun or Moon, chart ruler — will no doubt have more significance for you. (As we know, it’s not a one-size-fits-all system.)

(To look ahead: The next solar eclipse is an annular eclipse on September 1, 2016, at 9°21′ Virgo. That is part of Saros 19N about which Brady writes: “This Saros Series is about realism, a coming down to earth. The individual will become aware of an old situation and see it for what it is rather than what he or she thought it was. This can be a constructive time for tackling the truth.” (6)

Onwards! Have a good week, everyone.


(1) Although they were recognized earlier by the Chinese and Babylonians, Metonic cycles were written about by the astronomer Meton of Athens in 500 BC.

(2) There are cuneiform tablets from 670 BC marking this cycle. The cycle lasts about 1300 years and is comprised of approximately 75 eclipses.

(3) Resonating with my experience, I recently heard eclipse master Bill Meridian mention that he finds the Saros cycle to have a deeper or more lasting impact; the Metonic cycle triggers the degree and its connections to other planets, either in the horoscope you are looking at, or the aspects that the eclipse itself makes. The repeating degree sets it off, maybe dramatically, but the Saros series seems to have an impact of greater depth. (I’m paraphrasing Bill from his webinar in Nina Gryphon’s wonderful RubiCon series.)

(4) Republished in 1999 as Predictive Astrology: The Eagle and the Lark.

(5) Bernadette Brady, Predictive Astrology: The Eagle and the Lark, Samuel Weiser, 1999, pg. 334.

(6) Ibid., p. 335.


  1. Thanks so much for this, Mary – beautifully said! The Brady reading for that 18 Pis eclipse that you cite hits home big time. I’ve been experimenting with how progressions and eclipses worth together, too — would love to see more about that topic, too!

  2. Thank you Mary.

    I have this eclipse printed and hanging on my wall. It occurred just before my 59th birthday, per your description of the Metonic Cycle. It hits within just a few seconds of my natal Moon.

    I looked back at previous charts, having intuited the cycle for myself. Last time it happened for me I was going through a bittersweet divorce which I now realize affected my emotional life right through the 19 year cycle.

    The current eclipse chart looks a lot happier for me personally- it has already helped me ‘turn the page’. Thanks also for showing the upcoming activation periods.

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