ISSUE NO. 21
The VAN is a
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In this issue:
Eclipses - Babylonian sky religion captured in our culture.
A look at the origin of the meanings of eclipses based on the power of the Moon god, Sin, and how this has influenced the astrological thinking around the nature of eclipses.
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Eclipses - Babylonian sky religion captured in our
We are currently in an eclipse season, that is to say that
within this period, late August to early October as the transiting sun
moves to within 190 of the transiting node, there will be
eclipses on some of the full and new moons within this period.
The Babylonian astronomers/astrologers were the first to calculate the regular intervals at which eclipses occurred when they discovered what we now know as the Saros Cycle of eclipses. These great cycles produce eclipses in sets. A set will consist of all solar or all lunar eclipses with each successive eclipse occurring every 18 years and 9-to-11 days. One whole cycle will consist of a collection of 70 – 72 eclipses which then unfold over a period of about 1260 to 1300 years. By the 8th century B.C.E. the Babylonians had understood these cycles and were therefore able to predict eclipses.
A Lunar eclipse is visibly more frequently than a solar eclipses and within a lunar calendar culture where the new and full moons needed to be observed every month, the sight of the full moon turning to blood was a closely watched and described phenomena. From their writings we can see, however, that the Babylonians did not always consider an eclipse to be portents of evil or disorder.
the Babylonians functioned using a lunar calendar, the 28th -
30th day of the month was always the new moon, and the 14th
- 15th day of the month was the full moon. Therefore all solar
eclipses must logically occur around the 28th to 30th
days of the month (on the new moons) and all lunar eclipse must occur on
the 14th or 15th days of the month (full moon). If
an eclipse was seen to happen at any other time, this became a sign of
great evil, for it meant that the annual rhythm of the sun and the moon
was lost or, more importantly, that the calendar was incorrect.
For example, around 650 B.C.E. the priest Akkullanu (Hunger:63) warned of what could happen if an eclipse, solar or lunar, occurred on the 21st Tishri (in the modern calendar this would be 21 days after the new moon in September).
Such an eclipse indicated serious problems with the order of the universe and so the correct action to take was to remove the king from the palace in fetters, as it was his responsibility to maintain the order of the known world. However, if an eclipse occurred on the correct day of the month, then order was maintained. Nevertheless such an eclipse could be considered as either difficult or fortuitous. An eclipse in May/June or September/October was generally viewed as difficult (Hunger:63):
An eclipse which occurred at the beginning of the year - March/April - was thought to be auspicious. Consider this letter from Nabu-iqisa (ca 650 B.C.E.) on reporting a lunar eclipse to the king (Hunger:163):
any interference with the face of the full moon, such as its darkening by
an eclipse or even clouds crossing its face, was taken as threatening, for
the Moon god, Sin, was meant to see the Sun (the king) every month in
order for the king to be blessed and for the order of the kingdom to
Just as the gospels refer to the sky when they talk of the birth of Christ with the Star of Bethlehem, there are also three gospels which discuss the sky at the time of the crucifixion:
However, it may be unwise to assume that the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke were faithful to the actual sky events of the day, for given the link with eclipses and the death of kings, the authors of the gospels may have been more concerned with enhancing Christ’s position as king by suggesting that an eclipse took place when he died. For there was, at that time, a tradition of announcing the birth time of Roman Emperors as either dawn or midday which placed their natal suns either rising or culminating, thereby implying a solar king’s title. So it is logical to suggest that the claim to kingship would carry more weight in the early days of Christianity if Christ’s mortal death occurred on an eclipse.
Eclipses in 20th and 21st century
In present time we once again regard eclipses as varying in their expression and although we no longer judge them via the Babylonian method of visual astrology, we can gauge eclipses based on the Saros series to which they belong (Jansky, 1979; Brady, 1992).
this eclipse suggests that people and/or countries that have a sensitive
natal point at 290
(Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius or Pisces) will have to end
something, complete a hard process or let go of something.
It is therefore a difficult eclipse season and a Babylonian approach was to use a substitute king, an individual who was killed in order that the prophecy of the difficult eclipse was fulfilled. If your chart is being influenced by this season of eclipses, then you may be able to use a more gentler version of this ancient method by deciding to let go of something of your choice, something that needs to leave your life naturally, so at least you are more in control of selecting the nature of the parting indicated.
Another Visual Astrology Newsletter that looks at Lunar eclipses is October,2005 - The Moon Sets with Unwashed Feet.
regards to the Star of Bethlehem see the
edition of the Visual Astrology Newsletter -
The Star of Bethlehem, shepherds, a manger and those kings…
Brady, Bernadette.(1992). Predictive Astrology, the
Eagle and the Lark. Samuel Weisers: York Beach, Maine.
Jansky, Robert, Carl. (1977). Interpreting the Eclipses. San Diego, California: Astro Computing Services.
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