Tag Archives: solar eclipses

Cheer up: solar eclipses aren’t all doom and gloom…

The 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, I Ching, tarot, astrology, politics (!) etc need one of these too, in my opinion. An opening gambit of mine during the years of teaching beginners 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…”

This has always been, and remains my attitude, probably explaining why I have done so much astrological research. I’ve never taken the word of authority of any kind on trust.

Now – what on earth is the relevance of the above to this week’s topic?

Your days are numbered, pal…

Scroll back thirty years with me. It is the 29th March 1987, London, UK, just before lunch; the final day of a weekend workshop on Esoteric Astrology led by astrologer Alan Oken. I am feeling tired, suffering from information overload, not very receptive to any more new 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 degrees 18 of Aries. I’ve not paid much attention to eclipses yet (that was certainly to change as the years went on!) and am not hugely interested. Nevertheless, it dimly registers that the eclipse opposes my 8 degrees 53 Libra natal Second House Neptune which is closely sextile natal Mercury at 9 degrees 03 Leo in the Twelfth.

He then invites us, having briefly outlined the significance of eclipses, 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 where imagining things is concerned. However, it seems churlish not to join in. I duly adopt an appropriate posture: closing my eyes, 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, I focused on dropping my last fag packet into a bin – forever. The ethereal sceptic permanently resident on my left shoulder – my pet crap detector – 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. “Goodbye, smoking” was my thought. “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 grocers, I bought twenty 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 on 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!) only affected 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 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. “How about this,” I said. “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 the Easter weekend, I had a lightbulb moment. (Lunar eclipse, anyone?) A Leo one, 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.

Endnotes:

If you’d like to read some of my recent writings on eclipses, click HERE

This post was first published as my 13th Not the Astrology Column in the July/August 2017  Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.

Zodiac

Zodiac

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800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

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Quitting smoking – the solar eclipse way…

I concluded my previous post by stating that I had another intriguing eclipse story to tell. Here it is, with a shout-out to master astrologer Alan Oken, a central figure in my tale as you will shortly see!

 Alexander Ruperti’s  wise observation in his wonderful Cycles of Becoming could not be more relevant as an introduction to the tale:

“Eclipses simply measure intense confrontations with all those things in human nature which hinder spiritual progress by keeping one in a rut, albeit a comfortable and happy rut. They are opportunities to use the past and the present – all that one has previously acquired, as well as where he stands at a given moment – in order to build a more creative future. Since they always challenge an individual to discard all limiting influences and to start something new, they may be stressful times.”(i)

it was the last weekend of March, 1987. I was in London, staying in Belsize Grove with my brother-in-law’s fierce old cat Tadzio, my in-laws being away at the time. The purpose of the trip was to attend Alan Oken’s Esoteric Astrology weekend – I no longer remember its location. The last day of the event fell on Sunday 29th March 1987; the day of a solar eclipse at 8 degrees Aries – exactly opposite my natal Neptune, I had noted with some interest. At that point, I didn’t know much about eclipses.

Alan Oken, however, was very exercised by this solar eclipse, which was due to  be exact at 12.48 pm, just before we broke up for lunch at one o’clock.  “You should take advantage of the energy of this eclipse if you can”, he said to our large group. Having got us all settled down, he began leading us through a short guided meditation. “Think of something you want to let go of, something impeding your Path through life,” he suggested.

“Well’, I thought,” I am thoroughly sick of being a smoker, quickly surveying the last decade of my life which had been punctuated by failed attempts to quit. “Maybe a meditation on an eclipse opposite Neptune might help me break this addiction!”

I clearly recall my lack of advance conviction that anything would happen of any significance either during or following the meditation. At that time in my life, I was not much in touch with visual imagery arising unbidden in my mind/imagination.  However, I was stunned, as we moved through the core of the eclipse, to experience wave upon wave of vivid colour behind my closed eyes: wonderful translucent greens, purples, golds…like being IN the aurora borealis.

After the short meditation I tottered out into the street, still shocked by the total unexpectedness of the experience. “Right! The time has come!” I said to myself. With that, I took out a half full pack of Marlboro Lights, dropping it into the nearest rubbish bin. It was around one fifteen pm on a cold, grey, drizzly London afternoon.

Twelve hours later, at around one thirty am, I found myself wrapping up to brave the semi-deserted, wet streets of North London until I found a corner shop where I bought a 20 pack of Marlboro Lights. Tadzio hissed menacingly at me on my return. He obviously didn’t approve either. “Well, so much for that”, I remarked to him, blowing smoke into his grumpy face. “I’ll have to find something stronger than guided meditation to stop ME smoking.”

Two weeks later, there was an eclipsed  Full Moon: three days after that, on Good Friday 1987, I smoked my last cigarette. I have never smoked since.

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ENDNOTES

(i) Cycles of Becoming by Alexander Ruperti, CRCS 2005, quoted in The Moon’s Nodes in Action by Anne Whitaker (Writing from the 12th House e-publication 2015), p 7

(ii) I found the wonderful set of eclipse images on Ronnie Grishman’s Facebook Page this morning. Thanks, Ronnie!

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650 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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