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Eclipses in Capricorn: The Winter of Our Discontent

These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us.  Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourg’d by the sequent effects…we have seen the best of our time. (The Duke of Gloucester in King Lear, Act 1, Scene 2)

winter of our discontentThe Duke of Gloucester is despondent.  He’s just watched in horror as King Lear capriciously drop-kicked a trusted advisor and favorite daughter, and now believes he (Gloucester) is the target of a murderous plot devised by his own son. So much tragic weirdness in so short a time has affected the Duke deeply, and like any good pre-Christian fatalist he blames it all on eclipses.

Oddly enough, while I espouse a free-will oriented astrological party line I nevertheless find myself increasingly sympathetic to Gloucester’s position.  In fact, I fancy I’m already feeling the impending Christmas day solar eclipse.  This morning when I stepped out for my walk I noticed the atmosphere felt…weird: static, tense, surreal. When I lived in LA there was a similar feeling in the air before and after any good-sized earthquake, and for a moment this morning my senses responded with familiar, queasy apprehension; then I realized it was only a Santa Ana, a weird, hot, dry wind peculiar to southern California.  A weird, hot, dry wind, I might add, that feels particularly incongruous at winter’s epicenter.

Later in the day I received a Christmas card from my recently widowed uncle, and the sight of his shaky, unfamiliar handwriting (I doubt I’d ever seen it; my aunt always wrote out the Christmas cards) struck me as almost unbearably poignant; all at once, weeks of holiday tension and election bullshit converged and I wanted to throw a few heavy objects, then plunk down and weep helplessly.  A world from which both my mother and my aunt have gone, leaving my gruff old uncle to sit and write out Christmas cards; in which a friend from my youth has resurfaced to announce he is dying of AIDS; in which my country will be led for the next four years by someone who makes Dan Quayle look positively statesmanlike — all this has left me both cranky and heartsick.  A hot, dry wind has blown through my life, and I’m pretty much of a mind with Gloucester that “we have seen the best of our time.”

But.. blame it on eclipses? Well, no, not really.  After all, plenty of people are having a grand old time at the moment; we’re all on the same planet, under the shadow of the same eclipse, yet while I’m gnashing my teeth and wringing my hands many folks seem festive. Besides, I truly believe anything astrological should be read as a poetic reflection of a past/present/future amalgam, rather than a portent of things to come.  And the poetry of eclipses, dark and dramatic and edgy, is a haiku of change.  Some of us like change better than others.  Some changes are more welcome than others.  But there’s always something changing in our lives, and eclipses tell us where the changes are taking place at any given time.

As an earthquake or a Santa Ana wind disturb our physical atmosphere, eclipses reflect a disturbance in our emotional atmosphere. In my experience it’s not so important whether it’s a solar eclipse or a lunar one, or a total eclipse or a partial one, or whether or not it’s visible where you live.  What’s more important is the placement of the eclipse point in your natal chart, which acts as a marker to identify the toxic corners of the psyche which want to be dredged; the shaky places where you need to shore up your foundation; the dark places where you are ready to go a little deeper and untangle yourself from old habits and destructive patterns.

For a couple of years now, eclipses have fallen in the signs of Cancer and Capricorn. The houses in your chart where Cancer and Capricorn live have been like superfund sites, toxic dumping grounds where you may be feeling the scratchy anxiety of winter’s discontent all year long.  Likewise, any planets in your birthchart in cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) have presented their messages and lessons for your meditation. These houses and planets describe the parts of your life that probably look much different now than they did a few years ago.  Whether they look better or worse depends on you.

As for Gloucester’s superstitious musings about eclipses and fate, I think the response of his treacherous bastard son Edmund is actually quite sensible:

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune — often the surfeits of our own behavior — we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance […] and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star! (Lear, I.2).

While I think Edmund was laying it on a bit thick with that whoremaster business, I suspect both he and his father were right, in the end.  Things change, and not always in the way we would like.  In fact some changes, as Gloucester noted, feel so dreadful as to seem apocryphal, and eclipses provide an eloquent dramatization of such feelings. But what we resist on the outside, I suspect, speaks volumes about what needs changed on the inside; and those are the changes that ultimately determine our destiny.

© 2000 Apri Elliott Kent. All rights reserved.

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