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A special Christmas present awaits us this year, although it’s in the sky over our tree, rather than under it. At 12:35 pm EST, a partial solar eclipse will occur at 4 degrees Capricorn. The idea of an impending eclipse provokes an uncomfortable response in the public imagination, a response perhaps rooted in our ancestors’ fear of this cyclical darkening of the light. After all, watching the Sun or the Moon burn out like an old bulb, even if it’s only temporary, just doesn’t seem to bode very well. Perhaps a better understanding of what is really taking place in eclipses can help us to see the promise and potential in them.

The Copernican Revolution

Much has changed in astrology and astronomy over the millennia, but perhaps nothing was more earthshaking among sky watchers than the Copernican revolution. In advancing the same notions that got Gallileo arrested, Copernicus knocked us Earthlings and our presumption off our throne at the center of the solar system and put the Sun back in its rightful place. Still, modern astrology continues to operate within the old geocentric, or Earth-centered, framework. For example, we still measure planetary positions from a geocentric, rather than a heliocentric (Sun-centered), perspective, hence the retrograde, or backward, planetary motion that some planets appear to indulge in from time to time. Planets do not move backward around the Sun, but they certainly appear to do so from our perspective.

Modern astrologers are well aware that the Sun is the center of the solar system, but as most of our work, to date, takes place on planet Earth, we are more concerned with how the movements of the solar system affect us here, rather than on the Sun. So the geocentric system remains quite useful, although many astrologers also use heliocentric positions in their work. This is precisely what makes eclipses so special—they are a strictly geocentric event. Eclipses are all about us, here on spaceship Earth, and our relationship with the Sun and Moon.

The Eclipse Cycle

The cycle of eclipses follows a regular pattern, one that even “stone-age” astronomers were capable of tracking. A simple stone circle is all you really need, but the tri-lithons of Stonehenge, rising from the Salisbury plain, look so much more impressive. The basic problem is the same one that causes the seasons: the tilt of the Earth on its axis. The Moon, because she orbits the Earth, appears to wander back and forth across the path of the Sun, or the ecliptic. If she just stayed on the ecliptic, it would be so simple. We would have two total eclipses every month.

While the Sun is steady, moving one degree a day on his old straight track, the Moon weaves her way north and south, crossing the Sun’s path twice a month; once on her way north, and once again on her way south. We call these junctures of the two paths the Moon’s North Node and South Node, and regularly include them in astrological charts. They mark the points of the Moon’s current orientation to the path of the Sun.

When the New Moon or the Full Moon occur close to the Moon’s Nodes, we experience an eclipse, for that is the only time the Sun and Moon are in any position to block each other’s light. At the New Moon (Moon conjunct Sun), the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun. If she is close to the ecliptic, she blocks the Sun’s light and we experience a solar eclipse. At the Full Moon (Moon opposite Sun), the Earth is between the Sun and Moon, and it is our shadow that blocks the light between them, causing a lunar eclipse. The closer the Moon and Sun are to the Moon’s Nodes, the more total the eclipse.

It is ironic that our planet’s lone satellite is at just the right distance from the Earth’s surface to appear exactly the same size as the Sun. Think about it—with a slight change in size or position, we might not have eclipses at all, certainly not total ones. Frankly, there are a number of concerns about the size and orbit of our Moon that seem to defy the notion of a natural origin, but this is hardly the place to go into that.

But What Does It Mean?

I hope it is clear from the above that an eclipse is not so much about losing light as gaining focus. It marks a very tight alignment between the Sun, Moon and our planet, and as such, highlights or bookmarks that specific area of the zodiac where it occurs. In fact, business astrologers, like Jeanne Long and Bill Meridian, regularly rely on eclipses when examining charts for companies and their stocks. An eclipse that aspects a company’s chart in a positive way is an indication of both public approval and the fulfillment of goals.

Our upcoming Christmas eclipse unites not only the Sun and Moon, but Mercury too, at 4 degrees Capricorn. This emphasis will particularly affect those with planets in that degree area, although it will affect others in the area associated with the house in which the eclipse falls in their charts. The presence of Mercury encourages us all to think through and communicate about the practical issues facing us. Our sense of Capricorn authority and leadership has been shaken, and while there is great relief that the election is over, there are many painful issues that must be addressed in its aftermath. In the meantime, the economy has been lagging and Capricorn has a way of making us all responsible. We need to marshal our resources and prepare for winter, ensuring our family’s security.

By highlighting what is practical and necessary, this Capricorn eclipse promises success and achievement to those who are willing to take responsibility. Sometimes you have to turn out the light in order to see!


For more information on eclipses see Nancy McMoneagle's "Eclipse Alert—December 2000" or Kevin Burk's article on the astrological effects of solar and lunar eclipses. From NASA, see "Christmas Eclipse" and a U.S. map showing what time you can see the event in your area.



Courtney Roberts, M.A.,is a writer, teacher, and consultant, originally from Miami, FL. Her work reflects a unique perspective: a real passion for the 'big picture' that combines cosmology, religious studies and history with a lifetime of observing the dynamic interaction of spirit and cosmos.

Visit the author's website.

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For more information about Courtney Roberts Conrad, click here.

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