An eclipse is a moment out of time.
The sky blackens when it should be light outside. The Sun may disappear. The Moon may turn red. The cycles of life are disrupted.
For millennia, eclipses were scary events. They have been correlated with tumultuous events: famines, floods, the toppling of kings. Much of the development of ancient astrology was about astronomer-astrologers figuring out how to predict eclipse cycles. Now we know that eclipses happen usually in pairs, at a New Moon and a Full Moon, usually twice a year, sometimes more frequently. An eclipse occurs when the Sun and Moon are near the nodes of the Moon, the nodes being the invisible points in the sky where the Moon’s path intersects with the Sun’s path, called the ecliptic.
On November 19, 2021, we will have a nearly full lunar eclipse, visible in North America and much of the world. It will last over three hours, the longest partial lunar eclipse in 580 years.
While the Sun will be at 27 degrees of Scorpio, this means that the Moon will be in the opposite sign at 27 degrees of Taurus. The lunar nodes will be just four degrees away, at 1 degree of the Sagittarius/Gemini axis. The people likely to feel the eclipse most powerfully are those with personal planets and angles in the late degrees of fixed signs and early degrees of mutable signs. That is, lots of us!
What is most significant about this Full Moon eclipse in Taurus, on the Taurus-Scorpio axis, is that it is the kick-off to a series of eclipses in this pair of signs, for the next two years. In December, there will be a New Moon eclipse in Sagittarius. But then in April and May 2022, October and November 2022, May 2023 and October 2023, the eclipses will all be in Scorpio/Taurus.
In traditional astrology, the Moon is said to be “exalted,” like an honored guest, when it lies in the sign of Taurus, which it does for a couple of days each month. Why is that? The Moon has to do with our emotional needs for security. Taurus, fixed earth, is steady, predictable, fertile like the spring season. It offers abundance, security. Water, a characteristic of the Moon, is well received by the Earth. But when the Moon is in Scorpio, it is said to be in its “fall,” a challenging place.
In traditional astrology, Scorpio is ruled by Mars, which brings assertion, not the softness of the Moon, to the table; and thus Scorpio is an uncomfortable sign for the Moon. The Moon represents growth, light and comfort. The deep murky waters of Scorpio are home to things that are hidden, maybe even stagnant or dying. Autumn is turning toward winter, and we are heading toward retreat.
Herein lie some clues for how to contemplate the coming series of Scorpio/Taurus eclipses over the next two years.
Taurus invites us to dwell in comfort and abundance. Scorpio asks: what is lurking down there, that you no longer need? Letting go of what is past – and thereby making way for the new — is good advice at the time of any Full Moon. More so when the Moon’s light will be, for hours, obscured by the Earth’s shadow. What we actually need may be less than what we thought.
The Taurus-Scorpio axis is a mysterious one to contemplate. Taurus is down-to-earth, solid. Scorpio is mysterious and transformative. All of this reminds me of a famous religious teaching.
Buddhist lore tells us that Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born on the Full Moon in May. If true, he likely would have been a native Taurean with a Scorpio Moon. At about age 35, also on the Full Moon in May, he attained enlightenment. Then after a 40-year teaching career, again on a Full Moon in May, he passed into paranirvana, final enlightenment. Vesak, the Full Moon in May, marks the life cycle of the Buddha and is a sacred holiday in Buddhist cultures.
Sitting under a bodhi tree on the night before his enlightenment, Siddhartha, now an ascetic yogi, was besieged by demons who sought to attack him psychically with doubts. Mara, the lead demon, demanded that Siddhartha answer as to why the prince/yogi thought he had any right to achieve ultimate wisdom.
The Buddha-to-be responded with a simple gesture. He reached his right hand down and touched the earth. And he said to Mara: “The Earth is my witness.” By virtue of being a creature of this earth, all beings have as their birthright the attainment of nirvana, the cessation of suffering. With this declaration of the Earth as his witness, the demons vanished. The next morning, in the pre-dawn hour, the Buddha opened his eyes, saw the rising of the morning star and cried out: “I am awakened, together with the whole of the great Earth and all its beings.”
Letting go, and ultimately, the blessing of reaching nirvana, is emphatically not an escape from material reality. It is solid, even as it is also impermanent. As is the Earth itself. Taurus and Scorpio. Nothing left out.
We see in the chart for the Full Moon eclipse of November 19, that Scorpio and Taurus are also entwined with the planets that rule, or guide, this pair of signs. Mars, the planetary force of assertive action, is in its home water sign, Scorpio, co-present with the Sun and also with Mercury, now in Scorpio. Mars and Mercury in Scorpio: the excavation of hidden knowledge, the release of excess baggage.
Venus, the planet that is the dispositor of our Taurus Full Moon, is the force of receptivity to all that is beautiful and sublime. At this lunar eclipse, Mars and Venus, the two personal relational planets, will be in a facilitating sextile aspect. They like and encourage each other.
Venus will be spending an extra-long time in the sign of Capricorn, four months, from November 5, 2021 until March 6, 2022. That’s because Venus will be in retrograde motion, as it is every 18 months, from December 19 until January 29, 2022, extending the time spent in a single sign.
Venus in Capricorn is about getting serious and studious about relationships, work, finances, all our resources. What is it that we really, truly value? That’s the place to look for beauty, above and below, within and without, by the shadowy, reddish glow of the Taurus Full Moon.
Blessings for the Full Moon eclipse!