The aptly titled “Great American Eclipse” is coming very soon, and whether or not you are lucky enough to be graced by its dark rays, you can appreciate the symbolic nature of what is happening.
The eclipse, as a phenomenon, is deeply embedded into our genetic memories. As long as there have been humans, they have witnessed the awe inspiring blocking out of the sun that occurs at regular intervals, often inspiring fear, admiration, or abject terror.
This realm of the eclipse interests me far more than the more popular “scientific” aspects of it, and that’s what we’ll be discussing here briefly, to get you in the mood for your very own civilization shifting celestial shadow-play.
Eclipses play a major role in what I refer to as the general conspiracy theory “mythology” – a set of ideas and theories that essentially amount to a worldview wherein things are often not what they seem, and where man is often deceived into obedience. Supposedly, the eclipse was one of the first natural phenomenon that fit into this framework.
Let me paint you a picture: you and a select group of people have somehow come into knowledge that allows you to successfully predict when the next solar eclipse will be (man had successfully predicted eclipses long before our current heliocentric model of the universe). Maybe you figured it out, maybe someone told you – doesn’t really matter. You and this group of people are the only ones with this knowledge.
You can now claim to have the power to cause eclipses: you can claim the power to block out the sun. You can threaten the people that, without your guidance or intervention, the sun will never return. The idea of being able to predict eclipses would have been far out of the realm of possibility for the average person: I’m talking far, far back into human history, the first time this type of knowledge would have been available. At the very least, the fact that you knew when an eclipse was going to happen would have made you semi-divine.
This is one mythological (I can’t prove this happened, but something like this probably happened, as I’ll shortly discuss) origin of several “rules” for man’s condition as a member of a society. Firstly, those at the top of a society possess knowledge that is kept hidden. This knowledge might be kept hidden for a number of reasons: distributing it could upset the current balance of power, or (as in the case of predicting celestial phenomena) the knowledge could be kept secret because that is what makes the knowledge powerful.
In our example, if an early wise man could predict when the rains would come, or when an eclipse would happen, or any sort of natural phenomena when no one else could, he would be an extremely valuable person. The value of his knowledge would allow him to exert his will over others. If he freely distributed his informational wares, he would be disadvantaging himself immensely.
This also illustrates another occult principle: some knowledge, by virtue of the situation it finds itself in, tends to remain hidden. It often has nothing to do with the knowledge itself.
Do we find my little “myth” playing out into reality? Well, I would say it’s no coincidence that almost every civilization begins with a set of rulers symbiotically ruling alongside a priestly class with “secret knowledge”: Egypt, Sumer, Mesopotamian civilizations in general, Vedic civilization, Meso-American civilizations, even Tibet fit this model up until the 1940s.
Bonus: what’s the most universal art that all of these ancient and modern “priests” not only knew, but almost always placed the most importance on? Astronomy – knowledge of the stars.
There’s an eclipse in this painting from 1504 by Hans Burgkmair the Elder
Everyone knows the explanation modern society gives for the eclipse: I won’t bother re-explaining what you learned in third grade to you. There is a second aspect to the eclipse that most people today are ignorant of that I would like to present: lunar nodes.
The sun and moon don’t (visually, apparently) follow the same path through the sky. They’re off by about 5 degrees. That means there are two points where these paths cross: these are called lunar nodes. Observe:
There are two lunar nodes: ascending and descending. The ascending lunar node is when the moon goes “up” over the path of the sun (crosses from south of the sun’s path to north of the sun’s path). The descending lunar node is the opposite.
Eclipses only happen near the lunar nodes. In European astrology, these nodes were the head and tail of a dragon. The ascending node is called the dragon’s head (caput draconis), and it is given this symbol:
Supposedly, this symbol originated as a dragon’s head, you can see is as two eyes with a big snout as viewed from the top down (that’s how I see it, at least). There is an even an emoji for this on some phones.
The descending node is called the dragon’s tail, or cauda draconis. It’s the glyph for the dragon’s head flipped upside down.
Here’s an awesome illustration of the dragon on an astrological wheel (his head and tail being the two nodes) from Astronomicum Caesareum, 1540.
Our solar eclipse is happening at the ascending node: the head of the dragon (that’s good).
In Vedic astrology, these nodes are two of the nine “planets,” different celestial bodies and forces embodied as deities. Rahu is the ascending node and Ketu is the descending node. Here’s a contemporary image of Rahu from Cambodia: you can see he’s eating a planet.
There are always a ton of different stories to explain things in Vedic (Hindu) mythology, but one of my favorite stories is about Rahu and Ketu. In this story, the Gods and demons decide to work together to obtain the nectar of immortality, which can only be obtained by churning the ocean as a massive team. This scene is commonly depicted in artwork:
They successfully get the nectar, and while it’s being served, a demon sneaks in and sits between the Sun and Moon (who are gods). The Sun and Moon tell Vishnu, the head god, what is going on, and he runs over and cuts off the demon’s head: but it’s too late. The demon already had enough of the nectar to become immortal. His head became Rahu, and his headless body became Ketu. When the sun and moon come near Rahu or Ketu, they eat them as revenge: this is, in a sense, the Vedic explanation for the eclipses.
Rahu becomes Rahula in Tibet and is easily one of the coolest looking deities ever. I’ll just leave this here (click to enlarge):
There is a second aspect to the solar eclipse’s symbolism that I wanted to make sure I touched on before wrapping up: the black sun in alchemy, and what it means for America at this moment. The solar eclipse is, in a sense, a literal black sun. Most people only know the black sun, if they are aware of it, from its brief use by the German National Socialists during World War 2. Of course, it predates this by quite a bit: in fact, I would say pretty confidently that the black sun in alchemy is probably unrelated to the black sun used in northern European “paganism”.
In classical Western alchemy, the black sun often refers to the first stage of the alchemical process. It oversees a state known as “the blackening” (sometimes this is within a system of three suns: black, white, and red. The three or four stages a substance goes through in alchemy are often described using colors like this, but that is a subject for another time).
What I’d like to drive home here is that the black sun is a force of putrefaction. It decays and breaks things down so the other processes can occur later. It oversees dissolution. You may be familiar with this very famous image from Philosophia Reformata. Notice the text:
How fitting that, at this time of immense social chaos and upheaval, a symbol of the beginning of an alchemical process would pass directly over America? Just a coincidence, obviously.
The black sun of alchemy brings apparent chaos and decay, but only so that the bonds of the old may be dissolved. It only brings this death so that new life can occur. You can’t do anything transformative with a substance, whether it’s a liquid, a metal, or a compound, without breaking it down into its component parts – without dissolving the bonds that formerly held it together cohesively. This is the force that the black sun embodies.
Sounds like it’s right on time.