By Amanda Painter
On Saturday, Aug. 11, we’ll experience a partial solar eclipse with the Leo New Moon. This is the third and final eclipse of the current series. In modern Western astrology, eclipses are associated with the path forward into purpose — though a sense of purpose can be hard to come by with so much distraction and difficulty in the world, and at our fingertips.
I say that eclipses are associated with purpose because when the Sun and Moon make their conjunction at 5:58 am EDT (9:58 UTC) on Saturday, they’ll be roughly conjunct the lunar North Node.
The Nodes are continually moving invisible points that represent the intersection between the path the Sun appears to make around the Earth from our perspective, and the Moon’s actual orbit.
When a Full or New Moon occurs near these points, we get an eclipse. In astrology, the South Node is associated with ‘karma’ — which you can also think of as overdeveloped character traits or comfortable habits that impede your growth, if you’re not into the idea of past lives. We associate the North Node with underdeveloped qualities or the life lessons necessary for growth — things that can also be thought of as your ‘soul’s path forward’ or ‘dharma’.
Dharma can also be translated as “acting as if to hold the world together” — or, as Eric wrote recently, “acting as if to hold the world.” No single person can actually, literally accomplish the feat of holding the world together. Yet what each of us can do is to be as conscientious as we can about always living our values and ethics; to behave with empathy, generosity and responsibility; to make choices that cause ourselves and others the least possible harm and greatest good; and being willing to move continually closer to what feels like a life lived with clear purpose.
You could probably distill that quite easily to some version of the Golden Rule. Even so, embracing a life of dharma is not easy or simple for most people. It’s just not the ‘norm’ of Western culture (especially in the U.S.) as much as one might like — though the idea does seem to be gaining traction in ever-widening circles.
No matter where you are with your relationship to the concept of dharma (or your relationship to its lived reality), a perennial question seems to emerge right around eclipse time for many people: How do I build up the momentum necessary to break out of the familiar, habitual factors of my environment and behavior, and emerge into a new phase of growth?
I confess: I’m struggling with this very question myself right now. Even though I just returned from my annual spirit-enriching week at dance camp — complete with plenty of adaption to a new camp location to help loosen up decade-old habits — I’m not sure how to use the shift in environment and perspective now that I’m home. It’s all too easy to set a new experience aside as something that was ‘temporary’ or ‘not part of regular life’, and then just slide back into previously existing patterns.
Having both the Full Moon eclipse two weeks ago and the New Moon eclipse on Saturday in fixed signs, along with several planets in fixed signs, may be exacerbating this sensation for some people. In case you were wondering, here’s a list of the major bodies in fixed signs right now: in Taurus, we have Uranus and Juno; in Leo, we have retrograde Mercury, Pallas, the Sun (the Moon joins them on Friday) and the North Node; Jupiter is in Scorpio; and retrograde Mars, Black Moon Lilith, and the South Node inhabit Aquarius.
That’s a lot of planetary energy in signs that tend to have an affinity for patterns, attachments and stability. Yet, that does not mean there can be no movement with this eclipse. It might, however, mean surfing its energy in a slightly more practical way — at least, compared to the movement encouraged by some of the other eclipses you’ve experienced in recent years.
Note, for example, that the asteroid Pallas is just over a degree-and-a-half away from the Sun and Moon on Aug. 11, and Mercury is only four degrees away. This points to the importance of having a strategy for moving toward your vision — one that engages heart and head, intuition and conscious awareness. The fascinating paradox inherent in dharma (at least as I see it right now), is the need to put oneself front and center — like the Sun — to come alive in one’s passions and purpose; and then, from that place, one can most effectively be of service to the world in the ways that best utilize one’s many gifts.
It’s like that famous Howard Thurman quote: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Being able to recognize what makes us come alive — and actually doing it — seems to be getting dampened by life on the internet. True, there have always been obstacles to this, such as poverty, geography, class, race, and so on. Yet digital life has a curious way of fooling us into thinking that we’re “coming alive” every time we engage in an online debate, share words of wisdom and photos on social media, and click a petition. It’s not really the same thing; it just uses up the same energy.
However, there are some helper-planets in the eclipse chart. For example, Juno in Taurus is making a square to the eclipse cluster in Leo. If you are not listening carefully these days to your body’s physical and sensual needs and meeting them, what do you need to do differently? How do those factors, and your relationship values and needs, inform your vision for your life?
Jupiter in Scorpio is also square the Leo eclipse cluster. This looks like it’s adding some real mojo to whatever long-range plans you set at this time — particularly pertaining to emotional, financial or sexual transformation. Think big — just know you’ll have to take care of the details at some point along the way.
Meanwhile, Pluto in Capricorn and Neptune in Pisces are both quincunx the Leo eclipse cluster. Quincunxes are just one sign off from an opposition, and indicate a need for continual adjustment.
With Pluto (ruling change) in a very practical sign, and Neptune (associated with dreams) in a very fluid and creative sign, I can’t think of two better planets to have in quincunxes to the eclipse. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but it really does suggest to me the ability to keep moving incrementally toward your vision, putting that process into actual motion. Think of it this way: every time Pluto clears some space, Neptune can fill it with a new version of the vision; every time you adjust your dream, Pluto comes through to disrupt what might hold you back from it.
Either way, whether you’re seeking freedom from actual social rigidity (as suggested by the Sabian symbol for this eclipse at 19 Leo) or freedom from some internalized version of that rigidity, Saturday’s eclipse offers some potential for movement. To get a fuller image of what you’re moving from, and how it informs what you’re moving toward, you might think about what you were doing in August 1999.
That may seem like forever ago, but the solar eclipse that happened then is linked to the one this weekend. You certainly know how you got from there to here. Where do you want to go next?