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Eclipsed 27/08/2017

Posted by zoidion in Event, Hellenistic, History, Mundane, Photography, Weather.
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lotus-cloud

Twin Cities ephemera: As I stand in the sunroom of my house, feet at shoulder-width, facing Sol during qigong practice, I now do so with a different meaning and feeling: I have stood in Luna’s shadow under Sol.

In a small group of people, beside a small pond near a Japanese-style garden in the Missouri Botanic Garden in St. Louis, I marveled at the strange yellow light before totality: as if looking through an old-timey photographic filter. Waterfowl had already flown across the scene as a hush fell upon the people with the funny eclipse-viewing spectacles.

Suddenly, Sol’s light vanished, leaving the scene in deep dusk. And soon, amid a puff of breeze, the temperature noticeably dropped: a welcome relief on a hot, humid day. I’ll admit: I was befuddled, nearly unable to operate the camera-tripod setup I’d brought. I had not planned to obtain photos of Sol: There would be gazillions of those. I was interested in earthbound scenes. But after many occasions recently of sighting Venus in the predawn sky, I neglected to look in the total eclipse moment about thirty degrees west of Sol-Luna. Sigh . . .

Then, just as suddenly, Sol’s light returned: a different type of relief, and a return of the intensity of heat. There were oddly shaped clouds on the horizon: two “regular” clouds connected at their tops by a misty cord. A patch of lotus plants in the shallows of the pond faced them and away from Sol and Luna. Crescent-shaped shadows continued to appear on light-colored surfaces as the eclipse waned.

Just as Sol re-appeared as usual, a heavy cloud rolled in and let loose a pelting rain as brief as the total eclipse. Then the town was one huge steam bath. 

Back home after five days’ absence, the garden called for attention. The cucumber plants, sucking up the excess moisture through this cool August, had continued producing a plethora of green (and overripe yellow) zeppelins. This has been relish-making time.

The occasion of the most portentous solar eclipse of the past century, for this country at least, is a fitting one for departing from the usual fare here of, well, portents of doom.

Such occasion seems appropriately to be one for investigating and describing the man who called the first one — in the sense, that is, of foretelling where on Earth Luna’s shadow would fall. (It is after all, Luna’s shadow, with only the halo of Sol visible and radiating through to Earth.) That would be Edmond Halley.

That’s right: Halley’s Comet’s Halley.

Back in Merrie Olde England in 1715 — on 3 May, to be more exact — the first map depicting the territory to be enshadowed was borne out.

Halley-eclipse-map

Tumultuous would probably be a more accurate word for England at the time. The previous year brought the House of Hanover (renamed Windsor in 1917) to power (while Sol was in Leo), beginning three centuries of rule, still ongoing. There was a challenger, however (when is there not?), and a rebellion that lasted into 1716.

EHalley_SEcl1715

The effort and recognition surrounding the eclipse map crowned Halley’s second Saturn cycle: Halley was fifty-eight years old. He had already had an illustrious career, going back to age twenty-two, when he published a catalog of 341 southern stars: the first systematic southern sky survey. Only eight years later (at his first Saturn return), he established the relationship between barometric pressure and height above sea level, presented a systematic study of the trade winds and monsoons, and identified solar heating as the cause of atmospheric motions.

That only brings his chronology to 1686, with eclipse day still twenty-nine years away: a full Saturn cycle.

In between, he did a few other things, such as preparing the first mortality tables (way to go, Mr. Solar Scorpio) that statistically related death rate to age, and computing the expected path of return of his namesake comet.

But this was actually the big one, the truly pioneering work: the eclipse map. How fortunate — or not, but nevertheless portentous — that the path of the 1715 total eclipse passed across southern England. Halley himself could easily observe it, and public interest was considerable; he put out a call for reporters across the land to send him the details of their observations.

There was an unusual configuration within the zodiac at the time: a triple conjunction of Saturn, Uranus and Pluto — a combination that would not recur until the 1850s. They were in the zoidion of Virgo, where Uranus and Pluto would be again in the 1960s, with Saturn opposite. Clearly the Uranus-Pluto pair is related to technological achievement and deployment.

Perhaps more fascinating is the other configuration: the eclipse with Jupiter and Neptune in Taurus. What could be more appropriate for cosmic consciousness — in the form of comprehension of celestial mechanics — brought down to Earth?

The latter configuration was opposite the natal Sun, in the tenth place of public recognition and achievement, in Halley’s birth chart. That fourth place, where Sol and Luna and Jupiter and Neptune were at various rates passing through — Jupiter for one year, Neptune for fourteen — represents the most-earthed realm. As in a deep, narrow vertical shaft above which planets and stars are visible, except at midday.

That it would be a super-charged year for Halley is evident in the symbolism of Mars added to the cluster of planets in Virgo at the time of his previous solar return.

Yet another touch: the ascendant at London for the time of the eclipse is the last degree of Cancer: the very degree of the solar eclipse prior to Halley’s birth.

Luna was less than five degrees away from that point when Halley was born: into Leo, in a disseminating-phase relationship with Sol. This is apt: While he attained remarkable achievements, he stood on the shoulders of giants of inquiry: figures including Isaac Newton (who allegedly and famously challenged him on his attitude toward astrology).

That Halley was likely a bit rigid in his worldview is in tune with his birth chart: Lord of his Ascendant is Saturn, located in the ninth place (trine to the Ascendant), direct in motion, exalted by zoidion, and in-sect in the diurnal chart. This is essentially a happy and productive Saturn — if one might anthropomorphize — especially within the realm of scientific investigation (physical laws and mechanics). Even so, a bit needlessly limiting.

A bit more problematic is Mars: also in the ninth place and Libra, but in exile (opposite Aries, where Mars is lord) and out-of-sect. Traits represented: contentious in unguarded moments, yet capable of sustained effort toward expanding one’s own and humanity’s horizons.

His mental brilliance, his capacity for recognizing the harmony of the spheres, is indicated by Mercury on the upper meridian, in company with Venus, both opposite Jupiter and Pluto. This is quite the combination, seldom replicated through the ages, showing the potential for thought with considerable breadth and depth. What is most significant here from a Hellenistic viewpoint is the Mercury-Jupiter portion: placed in each other’s home zoidion, a condition sometimes called “mutual reception.” As with Mars, they are also each in detriment (technically weakened) by zoidion.

Mercury in Sagittarius indicates one who naturally thinks conceptually and is apt to have difficulty in keeping the facts straight — may even consider hard information untrustworthy. Jupiter in Gemini typically refers to someone with a plethora of interests and/or projects, each with a shallow level of comprehension and attention. Yet Halley evidently accomplished a great deal of mental work that passed muster. Perhaps, as some astrologers contend, the gods in each other’s domains find ways to compensate for weaknesses within each other’s realms: a canceling effect.

Other pairs of planets reveal that Halley was born into an era and generation that was transitional: a mild-sounding word that really means profoundly disruptive and transformational. Invisible and unknown to humanity at the time, Neptune and Pluto were opposite by zoidia and less than eleven degrees from exactly opposite. Saturn had within the previous month or so moved into Libra and away from an exact closing square with Neptune, correlating with the atmosphere of political slippage that echoes a similar configuration that persisted through 2016.

By moving into Libra, Saturn moved closer toward another closing square: the last-quarter phase with Uranus, in that era occasionally seen in the sky but not yet recognized as a planet. Saturn-Uranus: an often catastrophic combination that was in effect through the global financial meltdown of 2008—from which the economic system has not recovered.

In Halley’s time, the significance — what is established vs. what is disruptive — was less dire: James III, the “Old Pretender,” gave up his challenge to the English throne; Russia’s Peter the Great made his second visit to Europe in quest of importable ideas and technologies; and Scottish economist John Law established the Banque Generale in France.

One might say that Edmond Halley and his eclipse map inaugurated the era of eclipse tourism, which has perhaps now reached its apex. His other contributions helped with the great project of that era: the expansion of trade to farther reaches of Earth.

Arguably, the global trade network has reached its own apex.

-<zoidion>-

Sources

Astrodatabank
The People’s Chronology
, James Trager, 1992.
The Timetables of History, Bernhard Grun, 1975.
The Eagle and the Lark: A Textbook of Predictive Astrology, Bernadette Brady, 1992.
The Astrological History of the World: The Influence of the Planets on Human History, Marjorie Orr, 2002.
Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, Richard Tarnas, 2006.
History Mole online.

Recent listening

Charles Eisenstein on being “guided by beauty”.
The Astrology Podcast, Bernadette Brady: The Astrology of Eclipses.

Recent reading

The Crazy Ladies of Pearl Street, Trevanian

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