There’s something strange about eclipses.
Everything feels just a little bit weird during an eclipse. If you were one of those who witnessed the recent eclipse over Indonesia and the Pacific on March 9-10 (or the penumbral lunar eclipse on March 23), then you may even have thought this to yourself at that time.
People have been echoing this same report for thousands of years: there’s just something a bit surreal about an eclipse. If you’ve ever seen one yourself, then you probably know firsthand what that strange feeling is like.
But, did you ever wonder why eclipses seem a bit odd? Is it just because it’s abnormal for the Sun or Moon to be darkened so suddenly?
This article aims to answer that question (hint: the answer is “no”).
On a physical level, it is true that eclipses are simply a function of shadows. Eclipses occur whenever the luminaries (the Sun and the Moon) jointly occupy points in the zodiac that are sufficiently close to the nodes (in Vedic astrology, “Rahu” is the name for the north node, and “Ketu” is the name for the south node). So, for instance, when the Sun and Moon are conjunct within a few degrees of either Rahu or Ketu, then there is a solar eclipse (the Moon temporarily blocks our view of the Sun). Conversely, when the Sun and Moon are opposite each other, and each is closely conjunct with either Rahu or Ketu, then there is a lunar eclipse (the Earth temporarily blocks the Sun’s light from illuminating the Moon).
But the point of this article is that, on a subtler level, eclipses amount to something much more significant than the mere play of shadows: eclipses represent the regular intervals during which the world “sleeps.” Just as closing your eyelids is merely the outward physical sign of your falling asleep, the occurrence of an eclipse is merely the outward physical sign that the Earth is slipping into its own kind of slumber.
If it seems strange to think of the world as something that “sleeps,” don’t worry. The word we use here is not very important. You may prefer to think of this kind of “sleep” as something more like a global “transition period,” or “rebooting” instead. I will use the word “sleep” because of how familiar we are with that term and all its useful connotations, although we needn’t get hung up on terminology here.
The key to understanding eclipses is first to understand a little bit about the nodes.
The nodes themselves are a bit strange. They exist, and yet, they don’t exist. They have no physical reality of their own, but they can be pinpointed in space, and they definitely have an effect on the physical world (demonstrated partly by the phenomenon of eclipses). They are what we might call “eclipse points,” because they simply mark the points on the zodiac where an eclipse would occur if the luminaries were there.
So, there is nothing tangible about the nodes; you can’t see them or land on them with a spaceship. In the ordinary sense of “exist,” the nodes don’t really exist at all.
Why, then, would we make such a fuss about these empty nonexistent points in space? Well, it turns out that these particular portions of space correspond to very significant elements of our daily lives, elements as basic as our daily sleep routine.
The nodes serve as gateways between different levels of consciousness.
The nodes connect deeper and subtler levels of consciousness with shallower and more superficial levels. As gateways between different levels of consciousness, the two nodes are (among other things) the points, or “portals,” through which we fall asleep and wake up (it’s not that our minds actually pass through those portions of outer space; it’s that those portions of outer space have corresponding correlates in our minds, and our conscious awareness passes through these parts of us when we fall asleep and awaken).
When you transition from waking consciousness to sleeping consciousness, you can think of your awareness as slipping through one of the nodes (Ketu, to be precise, which is why this node is associated with introversion, reclusiveness, and the denial of worldly goods). Similarly, when you transition from sleeping consciousness back to waking consciousness, you can think of your awareness as slipping through the other node (Rahu, this time, which is why this node is associated with extraversion, exploration, and wild worldly experiences).
The nodes are like elevators between the subtler levels of consciousness and the more superficial level of consciousness that constitutes our ordinary state of wakefulness.
The nodes are otherworldly because they literally provide us with access to other worlds.
The subtler levels of consciousness underlying our wakeful state truly are a type of “other world.” Think of how different your dream world is from your wakeful world. And notice how distinct these two worlds are, such that what happens in the dream world does not necessarily happen in the physical world, nor vice versa. In the dream world, you can defy gravity, grow 90 feet, or even be your Aunt Harriet, even though such dreams will never increase your chances of accomplishing such feats in the physical world. Consciousness is truly partitioned into different levels, or different “worlds,” and the point of access between them is the nodes.
Ketu is the deep or inwardly oriented node, while Rahu is the superficial or outwardly oriented node. Accordingly, Ketu drives us into retreat, mystical contemplation, or psychological introspection, whereas Rahu by contrast propels us into exploration, adventure, and wild extraversion. Ketu takes the ordinary mind into the surreal depths and alternate worlds (like cyberspace), while Rahu brings the surreal from the subtler realms into the ordinary physical world (as with our various forms of pioneering, and even our experimentation with drugs).
In short, the nodes connect our ordinary minds with the stuff of dreams.
So, why is it important if the world sleeps or not, and what difference does it make in our daily lives?
The answer is pretty simple: eclipses mark the beginning and ending of lifecycles, just as falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning marks the end of one day and the beginning of another. And, by allowing a kind of “commerce” between worlds, eclipses revitalize the physical realm with infusions from the unlimited deeper reservoir of conscious potential. Just as sleep brings a revitalization that, upon waking, propels your mind through the circumstances of the next day, eclipses infuse the world as a whole with the lucidity that life requires in order to play out the next phase of its conscious unfoldment.
Eclipses recharge the batteries of consciousness and provide content for its next steps.
If you look at the way your life has unfolded in the past, and compare the transitional moments, or the cusps between one phase and the next, you will likely notice a pattern of correspondence. You’ll notice that the eclipses loosely mark the end of one phase and the beginning of another. As such, eclipses are like milestones in the unfoldment of life.
So, how long does the Earth sleep and how long is it awake?
I don’t think the answer to this question is particularly important, but, I think it makes the most sense to think of the earth as “sleeping” only during what I will call the “eclipse cycle,” which amounts to the 15 days between eclipses. Eclipses always come in pairs—one for each luminary—such as a total solar eclipse and a partial lunar eclipse, or a total lunar eclipse and a partial solar eclipse (occasionally eclipses come in trios instead—a solar in between two lunars, or a lunar in between two solars) . The time between eclipses is simply the time between the full moon and the new moon. These 15-day eclipse cycles themselves, in turn, happen about every 5 & 1/2 months, somewhere in the world.
In short, I’m saying that out of every six months or so, it makes sense to think of the world as “sleeping” for about two weeks—after which, the world is primed and ready for whatever is to unfold over the next six months.
If so, then eclipses probably feel weird because they are like moments when the world is “falling asleep” or “waking up.”
This sequence of eclipses makes a “day” in the life of the world just a little under six months long.
Why does this matter? What difference does it make if the world’s “day” is six months long?
Again, it matters in that it gives us a predictable timeframe for the unfoldment of the key phases of ongoing events, or lifecycles. Having a predictable timeframe in hand gives us a tool with which to gauge the timescale upon which some future event is likely to unfold. Having a proper sense of timing can be highly valuable when making big plans or anticipating coming events, as I’m sure we all have seen.
In closing, I will suggest a way to test my claims, for any who may doubt the impact of eclipses upon our lives:
Look over the past eclipse cycles listed below (taken from the NASA site: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html), and compare their dates to the ongoing events of your life—particularly to those events that began or majorly transitioned during any of those eclipse cycles. See for yourself if the eclipse cycles listed there can rightfully count as milestones to mark the transition point between the broader phases, or the key steps in how those events unfolded (I’m not talking about singular events like meeting someone or buying a house or boat; I’m talking about the ongoing event of maintaining a lasting relationship with the person you met, or of owning, maintaining, and engaging with the house or boat you bought). Check it out for yourself, and leave a comment below about whatever you discover!
And as always…
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PAST ECLIPSE CYCLES (LAST 15 YRS):
2000 Dec 25 – 2001 Jan 09
2001 Jun 21 – 2001 Jul 05
2001 Dec 14 – 2001 Dec 30
2002 May 26 – 2002 Jun 10 – 2002 Jun 24 (a 3-eclipse cycle)
2002 Nov 20 – 2002 Dec 04
2003 May 16 – 2003 May 31
2003 Nov 09 – 2003 Nov 23
2004 Apr 19 – 2004 May 04
2004 Oct 14 – 2004 Oct 28
2005 Apr 08 – 2005 Apr 24
2005 Oct 03 – 2005 Oct 17
2006 Mar 14 – 2006 Mar 29
2006 Sep 07 – 2006 Sep 22
2007 Mar 03 – 2007 Mar 19
2007 Aug 28 – 2007 Sep 11
2008 Feb 07 – 2008 Feb 21
2008 Aug 01 – 2008 Aug 16
2009 Jan 26 – 2009 Feb 09
2009 Jul 07 – 2009 Jul 22 – 2009 Aug 06 (a 3-eclipse cycle)
2009 Dec 31 – 2010 Jan 15
2010 Jun 26 – 2010 Jul 11
2010 Dec 21 – 2011 Jan 04
2011 Jun 01 – 2011 Jun 15 – 2011 Jul 01 (a 3-eclipse cycle)
2011 Nov 25 – 2011 Dec 10
2012 May 20 – 2012 Jun 04
2012 Nov 13 – 2012 Nov 28
2013 Apr 25 – 2013 May 10 – 2013 May 25 (a 3-eclipse cycle)
2013 Oct 18 – 2013 Nov 03
2014 Apr 15 – 2014 Apr 29
2014 Oct 08 – 2014 Oct 23
2015 Mar 20 – 2015 Apr 04
2015 Sep 13 – 2015 Sep 28
2016 Mar 09 – 2016 Mar 23
FUTURE ECLIPSE CYCLES (THROUGH 2020):
2016 Sep 01 – 2016 Sep 16
2017 Feb 11 – 2017 Feb 26
2017 Aug 07 – 2017 Aug 21
2018 Jan 31 – 2018 Feb 15
2018 Jul 13 – 2018 Jul 27 – 2018 Aug 11 (a 3-eclipse cycle)
2019 Jan 06 – 2019 Jan 21
2019 Jul 02 – 2019 Jul 16
2019 Dec 26 – 2020 Jan 10
2020 Jun 05 – 2020 Jun 21 – 2020 Jul 05 (a 3-eclipse cycle)
2020 Nov 30 – 2020 Dec 14