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Solar Eclipse


 Sooner or later, the movement will overstep and bring the tipping point.

I kind of doubt that this was deliberate, but I was amazed at how beautifully aligned the Sunday editorial at The New York Times was with the symbolism of the partial solar eclipse that evening. “What symbolism?” you may ask, so let’s take a look.

First of all, the partial solar eclipse–the first in 18 years–occurred at  new moon. As I have written before, the new moon is classically associated with rebirth, resurrection, and the second chance. Interesting that the new moon and all it signifies created the eclipse and coincided with the newspaper article.

The genders imaginatively associated with sun and moon have switched back and forth over time and have differed among cultures. Since we live in modern times and in the West, however, I am working with the dominant paradigm that the sun is masculine, the moon feminine. A thirteenth century text describes how God created two lights, the foremost being the sun, of course. He ordered the moon to diminish “herself” in order to lead the “lower ranks.” It goes on to say that “From that time she has had no light of her own, but derives her light from the sun. . .” (I’m getting this from The Moon by Jules Cashford.)

So here we have the idea of the lesser being, the feminine being, which became firmly established through the various patriarchal religions including Christianity.

Now let’s go back to The New York Times editorial. It summarized all the ways in which women’s rights are currently under political assault. These include a wide array of attacks on the abortion rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, on public funding for birth control, breast and cervical cancer screening; on protections against domestic violence and sexual abuse; and on the ability of women to bring lawsuits against pay discrimination. We get the picture. The push is to go back to “the good old days” before women had gotten so uppity.

I have always been fascinated by history in general, and I always notice the details that illuminate the subordinate role of women over the last few thousand years. Of course, if you feel innnately inferior, it makes sense. I refer to being exploited for breeding purposes and sexual gratification; treated as chattel; assigned the most menial of duties; collected in harems; prohibited from being seen, heard, educated, or holding property; and as recently as 92 years ago from participating in Federal elections in this most enlightened of countries. I could go on and on.

The worst history for me is the 500 years of the Great Inquisition’s targeted execution of women for being witches. The idea of the “feminine evil” was afoot and so were accusations of heresy. In addition, large numbers of homosexual men were burned at the stake, which is where the slang “faggot” came from. Estimates of the numbers killed range from one to nine million, and some 80% of those accused, tortured, and burnt were women. As would be the case later in America, it was a way of confiscating whatever property they may have owned. In addition, the executioners were fearful of healing abilities and ways of knowing that are not accessible, as Jean Shinoda Bolen puts it, to the more “rational-minded, linear-time oriented, and goal-focused” individual. She wasn’t specifically referring to the masculine mind, but it kind of sounded like it.

Of course, horrible things are still happening to women in an organized way in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. “Well, they’re not civilized,” we think; but as long as it happens to any of us, it diminishes us all.

In his book, Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas explains that the current astrological lineup is similar to that in other eras when the feminine made great advances. This situation will continue until 2021, and he writes that “it seems to me altogether likely that another feminist propulsion will infuse itself into the culture and that women will emerge from the next decade and a half with considerably more political and economic power than now.” I hope history will validate that astrological prediction. In that light, I look at these political developments with a degree of equanimity and a measure of welcome. Sooner or later, the movement will overstep and bring the tipping point.

I watched a bit of the eclipse Sunday through special lenses with several other people. A cloud covered the critical moment when the moon passed across the sun, covering it enough to create a golden ring. It reminded me of a wedding band and of the potential blessing to civilization of an equal partnership. I wasn’t in that high-minded state, however, when I got into my car and headed home. At the first stop sign, there was a healthy young man sitting on the curb, holding a sign up: “Anything will help.” I just looked at him. “The world has been your oyster,” I thought, “and you’re begging me for help?” And I drove on.


Urgent Message from Mother by Jean Shinoda Bolen

The Moon, Myth and Image by Jules Cashford

The Great Cosmic Mother by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor

Cosmos and Psyche, by Richard Tarnas




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