Solar Eclipse, December 26 2019
On December 26, a solar eclipse will blot out the light of day across a wide stretch of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Though many of us will not witness the eclipse, its waves will still be felt across the world.
This eclipse occurs in the sign of Sagittarius, meaning that its effects can be felt on a world-wide scale, nearby Jupiter and Saturn.
During a solar eclipse, the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. In a total solar eclipse, the Moon will entirely obscure the Sun, such that a shadow is cast upon a vast expanse of our world. The ancient peoples, this was a particularly ominous event. Though in the modern day, we may feel that are beyond such superstitions, anyone who is witness to a full eclipse can attest to the awe that it can inspire, and sometimes dread.
The Sun, ever-present and constant, is the significator for the Soul itself. While the Moon, swiftly moving and ever-changing, signifies the mind. In the best of circumstances, at a Full Moon, the mind fully reflects the light of the Soul.
During a solar eclipse, the mind has fully obscured the Soul. Our inner light may be lost to us. If this is something that is important to us, we may feel deeply disturbed.
In Jyotish, eclipses are said to be caused by Rahu and Ketu. These are chaya graha, shadow planets, that do not have a visible body. Nevertheless, they wield the same influence as the visible planets we are all familiar with.
So the story goes... one fine day, the Devata, the beings of light of ancient Indian lore, were gathered to drink of amrita, the nectar of immortality. In their midst sat a cunning serpentine demon by the name of Svarbhanu. He was served his cup of nectar, and upturned it to quaff. In that moment, the discerning eye of one of the Devata caught his true identity, and called out to Vishnu, the All-Pervader. In a split second, Vishnu hurled his Sudarshan Chakra, a razor-sharp disc, at the demon and beheaded him. But, he had already partaken of the nectar of immortality. Svarbhanu's head became Rahu, and his tail became Ketu - both went on to live into perpetuity.
Astronomically speaking, these are slowly moving points in the sky, that when intersected in certain manner by the Sun and Moon cause eclipses of one or the other.
Through the lens of Jyotish, these are powerful forces that fact upon us. Rahu and Ketu represent opposite ends of an extreme spectrum.
Rahu, being a head with no body, compels us toward absolute obsession. Never satisfied by what he consumes, he consumes endlessly. This is a force of utter darkness, a total lack of humanity. He can cause addiction, lies, manipulation, self-centeredness to an extreme, impulsive, sometimes violent thoughts and actions.
On the other hand, Rahu gives exceptional intelligence, and an endless hunger for knowledge. Rahu compels us to take birth again and again, going through endlessly varied experiences. When Rahu takes the form of the Guru, the Divine Teacher within us all, he is Pashupati, the Lord of the Animals. Rahu lives on the fringe of civilization, out in the wilds - his entry into our life can be deeply disturbing to our everyday comfortability.
Ketu, being a tail with no head, is all about dissolution. This is the force of moksha, liberation from the illusion that we are separate from one another, that we are anything besides the golden seed of divinity, and the here-and-now manifestation of the Godhead. This all sounds lovely, but requires the shattering of every concept of who we believe ourselves to be. Traditionally, following the path of Ketu meant becoming a saddhu, someone who has renounced the ways of the world, all comforts, and their own personal identity. Today, Ketu comes into our lives to dissolve all that we think to be real, so that the Real shines through.