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winter solstice lunar eclipse: rites of passage

December 20, 2010

…[existential] changes of condition do not occur without disturbing the life of society and the individual, and it is the function of rites of passage to reduce their harmful effects. That such are regarded as real and important is demonstrated by the occurrence of rites, in important ceremonies among widely differing peoples, enacting death in one condition and resurrection in another. — Arnold Van Gennep, The Rites of Passage (from this year’s Theme at Burning Man)

By now, most people know that this winter solstice is unusual: there’s a full moon AND a lunar eclipse all happening at the same time depending on where in the world you happen to be around midnight Monday Dec. 20 and Tuesday Dec. 21.

This combination of celestial events is so rare that the last time there was a full moon and a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice was nearly 400 years ago, in 1638. The next time it will happen will be in less than 100 years. If we can see it here on the Northern Hemisphere will make it even more special; in 2094, it will be seen on the other side of the globe. In the Americas, our next total eclipse will be April 15, 2014.

There’s a lot of power in all this, starting with the change of seasons from nights getting longer to getting shorter (or vice versa depending on where on earth you live). People mark this with rituals like the ones I’ve done and written about in this blog post.

The monthly full moon has energy as well–most of us have felt it at least once. Maybe we don’t turn into werewolves, but certainly our hearts grow fuller, grander, a little more wild and risky.

Eclipses too are forces of change and transformation. During a lunar eclipse, time is conflated–a whole lunar cycle of 29 and a half days occurs in a few hours. Many believe that the time of an eclipse is when Lord Ganesh leaves Mount Kailash to walk among us here on earth.

Just the fact that we are able to have an eclipse at all, that our moon is just the right size and we are just the right distance to observe this phenomena, is almost fantastic.

The Astronomy Chart from Mr Eclipse


An eclipse of the Moon can only take place at a Full Moon, and only if the Moon passes through some portion of the Earth’s shadow. The closer the Moon is to the center of the shadow, the more total the eclipse. A lunar eclipse is visible wherever the Moon is above the horizon.

If the Earth had no atmosphere, then the Moon would be completely black during a total eclipse. Instead, the Moon can take on a range of colors from dark brown and red to bright orange and yellow. The exact appearance depends on how much dust and clouds are present in Earth’s atmosphere. The expectation with this eclipse is that the moon will be quite red.

All three together–the solstice, the full moon, the sun positioned to create a period of eclipse,  should make you think, consider, reflect, to possibly engage in rituals, to set your intent for the time to come.

Believe me, it can be quite powerful.

The last time we saw a full lunar eclipse like this on the Pacific Coast of the Northern Hemisphere was in February 2008; it occurred at sunset.

I remember that date well.  I was having a very, very difficult time with my neighbors. They ignored the legal agreement, the restraining order, and the police. So I decided to invite my friends over for a ritual on the next full moon–which happened to coincide with a lunar eclipse.

Nearly 2500 people read this post I wrote about the February 2008 lunar eclipse–over 2500 people read my plea to the universe for support and aid.

And a lot of people read about the rituals we did with the lunar eclipse, about the purification with sage, pine, frankinscence, and myrhh and read a poem I’d written the previous August at 3:15am about a lunar eclipse.

Positive energy can be created, evoked through prayers and rituals; making positive energy can be as easy as making love, lighting a candle, sharing a hug, expressing positive and hopeful ideas.

Sometimes more powerful rituals are needed, rituals which will protect a home and its inhabitants from the negative energy raging around it.

The two days prior and the three days following a lunar eclipse are particularly powerful days for creating change, for changing energy. It is a time of flux, a time of energy balancing, a time for cleansing, reflection, renewal. Energies run high and powerful.

We can use the energy set in motion to cleanse, to replace undesirable energy with desirable energy, to replace hatred, anger and fear with love, love, love.

It worked: the neighbor listed the apartment building he owned and was living in. And even though the market was beginning to fail, he sold it and moved. It was miraculous.

What miracles will you work this eclipse?

December 2010 Lunar Eclipse Astrology

From Cafe Astrology I learned that “although Lunar eclipses are more relationship-oriented than Solar eclipses, they are not always about relationships between two people. They can trigger awareness of need in other areas of our lives, such as our relationship to work, to our health and bodies, and so forth. This is a time when matters come to light–things that have been brewing under the surface” and that “many astrologers believe that the effects of a Lunar eclipse last approximately three to six months.” This particular lunar eclipse is in Gemini:

“With the Gemini-Sagittarius axis involved, this Lunar Eclipse presses us to look more closely at our needs, lacks, and wants in our lives concerning the balance between Gemini-ruled and Sagittarius ruled areas of life. The Gemini-Sagittarius polarity is a mental axis, where Gemini represents the “lower mind” and Sagittarius represents the “higher mind”. A Gemini Moon encourages us to think logically, while Sagittarius persuades us to think in a broader manner. Sagittarius symbolizes the quest for meaning and ideas that expand upon the here and now. Gemini is quite comfortable in his or her immediate environment or neighborhood, while Sagittarius stimulates us to venture beyond. Neglecting either end of the axis will surely backfire on us. Ideally, a balance should be found between the two energies, and this is what the Lunar Eclipse invites us to do. This eclipse is about communication, attitude, and our sense of adventure. Something has been building inside of us, and now is the time when the energy of the cosmos fairly demands that we let it out. Over the coming weeks, we will discover what this means for us. For now, we can’t sit on our feelings. We need to express them. Neglecting either end of the axis will surely backfire on us. Ideally, a balance should be found between the two energies, and this is what the eclipse invites us to do.”

The Cafe Astrology article continues: “Relationships may be challenged, broken, or strengthened dramatically at this time. Our discovery is emotionally charged and dramatic. Epiphanies are likely at this time as we become acutely aware of our lack. This understanding can propel us into positive action, although there can be some level of chaos initially.”

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