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Solar Eclipse in Sagittarius: Big Stories, Small Moments

As decades are heaped upon our lifespans, we gradually edit down our memories into a solid narrative. Our personal history becomes like a film we’ve seen so many times, we no longer know which parts are real and which are imagined.

That sums up this week’s Sagittarius Solar Eclipse (Dec. 3. 2021, 11:38 pm PST), square Neptune, rather well, I think: The big picture is captured on grainy film stock and projected onto a large screen, and it’s hard to see the details.

How must it be for the people who were there at the time, for instance, to watch Peter Jackson’s new documentary miniseries Get Back, about the month leading up to the Beatles’ final public performance in January 1969? Paul McCartney will turn 80 in June, Ringo Starr will be 82 in July, and John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono is pushing 90; these people are buried under more than a half century of public image and private memories.

This Solar Eclipse at 12.22 Sagittarius falls within 1.5 degrees of Ono’s natal Moon, and on the Sabian symbol, A widow’s past is revealed. She’s always been a controversial figure in Beatles lore, and for some, her quiet presence in the film lays to rest the “Yoko broke up the band” narrative.

But she’s not the only “widow” whose past is revealed. In an interview, McCartney said he was reticent to view the old footage Jackson was working on, because it documented a tremendously difficult time in his life, just before the band dissolved. He was delighted to have that sad narrative dispelled by rediscovered footage of the Beatles having fun and crafting some of their most memorable songs.

Of course, not everything is bright and happy. With transiting Pluto practically sitting on his Ascendant at the time of filming, Paul’s effort to hold the band and the project together exerted so much pressure that his famous baby-faced cheerfulness gave way to bossiness, brittleness, and sarcasm. Lennon and McCartney’s dismissive attitude toward George Harrison prompted him to leave the band for several days. And let’s face it, it was kind of weird having Yoko sitting in a circle with the band while they composed songs.

These are familiar chapters of the the story of the world’s most famous band, a story we’ve heard many times. But what’s refreshing about this documentary, knitted together with love from 60 hours of film and 150 hours of audio, is the sheer pleasure of watching these legends brought down to human scale. It’s weirdly fascinating to watch them consume endless cigarettes, cups of tea, and slices of toast, scat to fill in for lyrics that weren’t yet written (and that we who are familiar with the finished products can’t help shouting at the screen), and crack each other up.  These details breathe vivid new life into a tired legend.

Modern myths and legends – including our own – are decades distilled into a few well-burnished memories. We don’t tend to remember the past factually, with all the rich detail and grace notes of good days and bad. Rather, it’s filtered through our feelings at the time and our knowledge of what came afterward. Sometimes, we remember the people we’ve lost, too, through a haze of half-resolved grief, frozen in the feelings of our very best or very worst interaction with them. In memory, the bad relationship is all bad, the disappointing job a complete failure; that makes for a better story. But if we had 60 hours of video footage to refer to, I’ll bet we’d be surprised by how different it all seemed.

Of the six Gemini and Sagittarius eclipses since the Nodes entered these signs on May 5, 2020, this is the third and last that’s squared Neptune, the planet of illusion (the others were June 5, 2020 and June 10, 2021). These eclipses have illuminated and challenged the flaws of our Sagittarian, big-picture narratives, inviting us to consider new information and details. It’s been a process of opening the blinds, letting in the light, and seeing through the Neptune haze of old hurts and disappointments with new, curious, Gemini eyes.

At this final Sagittarius eclipse until 2029, here’s one more chance to challenge the stories we tell about our lives. As the Moon’s Nodes (and eclipses) begin their graceful slide out of Gemini and Sagittarius and into Taurus and Scorpio (Jan. 18, 2022), here’s a project for that quiet week and a half between Solstice and the New Year: Document what your day-to-day life has been like over the past year and a half. Scroll through the pictures on your phone, scour your receipts, emails, social media, your journal. Recover the lost footage that, like a mathematical equation, shows your work.

It’s never too late to rewrite your biggest stories. It begins with remembering your smallest moments. Be sure to capture them.

Writing and collages © 2021 April Elliott Kent

Jen and I explore all the week’s highlights in our latest podcast episode – new on Monday, Nov. 22!

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