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Traveling the Long Arc, Living in This Eclipse Moment


  • Photo by Amanda Painter

I know a lot of people who are really excited about the total solar eclipse of the Sun on Monday. I also know a lot of people who are tied up in knots of outrage, fear, and despair regarding last weekend's white-supremacist attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the President's response. You may even count yourself in both categories (I suspect many people do) and be wondering how to deal with it all.

What does it all mean—the eclipse; all the hatred and violence; your role in relation to either? Is there any meaning to it? Are you afraid of what the answer might be?

I think perhaps, in that fear is a reminder that sometimes it is helpful to focus on one's present moment and immediate environment, and sometimes it is helpful to take a longer view of time or a broader perspective of your surroundings. When you're not seeing a solution, an idea or a possible path forward, it's time to shift to the other view and then maybe back again.

There are times when focusing on a problem is a necessary step. There are times when shifting your attention to what's creative or even simply joyful—whether related to a problem or not—is crucial to your wellbeing and ability to cope.

This line of thought was spurred today by a couple of things. One was a friend calling out her white Facebook friends who have not posted anything condemning the racist attacks and my response reading her words. The other was the famous Martin Luther King quote, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," posted by another friend.

I looked up that quote just now to be sure I had the wording right, and discovered that King had been paraphrasing an abolitionist Unitarian minister from the 1800s by the name of Theodore Parker. Parker had once written this in reference to the abolitionist movement:

"I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice."

Despite the “official” success of the abolitionist movement, we're still obviously working to untie the complicated knots of racism and the legacy of slavery in the US. The political situation, here and elsewhere, is making the collective shadow material of the Western world apparent to all who will see it. We each have work to do, even if we “don't think we're racist.”

And yet: here we are on the cusp of this gorgeous eclipse—an event the ancients were terrified of, but which many modern astrologers see as holding incredible and positive transformative power. I don't know whether, on the political/collective scale, it will spell Trump's downfall or a spike in his popularity. I do know that either way, we cannot "calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight" from this vantage point.

I do think, however, that we can "divine it by conscience"—as long as we're willing to keep working—individually and societally—toward compassion, empathy, humane behavior and balanced justice. And one of the things that can enable us to do that is to continue, simultaneously, to come alive on a personal level: to do what brings us joy; to be of heart-centered service in small ways even though we can't fix the world; to be committed to our own healing process on all levels; to say yes to the opportunities that make our souls light up even when those same opportunities scare us a little.

This is where the August 21 total solar eclipse and Leo New Moon comes into play on a personal level, along with the astrology leading up to it. (The New Moon is exact at 2:30pm EDT; the eclipse peak varies depending on timezone.)

Like the "arc of the moral universe," the arc of an eclipse is a long one. We can't calculate the curve of its effects beforehand; we can't see where it bends even at the moment when it's exact. But what we can do—what you can do—is try to set something positive in motion by choosing specific actions, activities, and goals with intention.

Even though Mercury is currently retrograde in Virgo, that's not a reason to get paralyzed. As one Planet Waves reader pointed out to me, Mercury will station direct on September 5 in the same degree of Leo where Monday's eclipse will be. So there's a direct relationship between whatever you might be reviewing, re-doing, or reflecting on now and what the eclipse signals. As that reader mentioned, Mercury stationing direct looks like the first real wave of moving something related to the eclipse toward manifestation.

As mentioned, astrology leading up to the eclipse looks instrumental (certainly helpful) for getting something positive in motion—at least, on the individual level. Squares are not known as “pleasant” aspects, but a square between Venus in Cancer and Jupiter in Libra, exact today, could actually be quite good for doing what you love and for bringing positive feelings into your personal relationships.

On Saturday the Moon enters Leo, the eclipse sign. The Sun will be making a trine that day to the Galactic Center. If anything says, "Let the sunshine in"—and let it (love) shine out through you—this may be it.

On Sunday, with Venus making a square to Eris in Aries, there is a bit of a caution about provoking the status-quo of relationships through subterfuge, deliberate chaos-causing, or letting feelings of being “cast off” run the show emotionally if you feel provoked. Note that all of the astrology I'm mentioning is in effect now, so notice if something from the last day or two rings a bell.

Yet, also on Sunday, Mars in Leo makes a sextile to Jupiter in Libra. This is another aspect that tends to open up opportunities for desired activities and personal growth. You may find your objectives and goals are clearer to you, and that you have the energy to pursue them. Remember, that is the key (both with sextiles and eclipses): actively using the energy.

Finally, remember that eclipses can also be times of self-discovery. Monday's Great American Eclipse has a chart that particularly seems to emphasize this. How you feel about what you discover could go many ways—just like the complexity of what US is discovering about itself right now. Yet any discovery can be put to constructive use.

Keep that long arc of the universe in mind. It likely has quite a ways yet to bend, from history through to the future—just as the arc of your own life (which might be more like a spiral) is not visible all at once. As you travel it, you might shift your focus at times to keep from getting vertigo or feeling claustrophobic. For now, look where you want to be.

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