Total solar eclipse

Humans have been fascinated and afraid of eclipses that affect the two principal celestial sources central to our lives, the Sun and the Moon. Most cultures have elaborate stories on the reasons for occurrence of eclipses and methods to help Sun and Moon during eclipses.

Many ancient civilisations regarded and feared solar eclipses as supernatural apparitions. People considered them omens of pending doom the wrath of God, or the doom of a ruling dynasty.  Many begin by assuming that during eclipses Sun and Moon are being devoured by some creature. Only a few cultures take it as a good omen indicate an impending miracle,

Early Chinese Eclipse

Oct. 22, 2134 BC: China

Ancient Chinese astronomers kept a close eye on the skies, believing that everything from comets to shooting stars revealed the people’s fortunes. 

Solar eclipses took particular significance, since they were believed to foretell the health and well-being of the Chinese emperor. 

The myth was that a giant celestial dragon swallowed the sun & moon & to scare it away people would bang drums to restore order to the universe.

But in 2134 BC, a total solar eclipse caught royal astronomers Hsi and Ho by surprise – legend has it they were drunk on the job – and their failure to predict what the Chinese called “the dragon devouring the sun” cost them their lives. Emperor Chung K’ang had them beheaded. 


In Ancient Hindu mythology, a cunning demon named Rahu sought to drink the nectar of the gods and thus attain immortality. Disguised as a woman, Rahu attempted to attend a banquet of the gods and was discovered by Vishnu. As punishment, the demon was beheaded, and it is his decapitated head flying across the sky that darkens the Sun during an eclipse. Some versions say that Rahu was actually able to steal a sip of the nectar but was beheaded before the elixir reached the rest of his body. His immortal head, in perpetual pursuit of the Sun, sometimes catches and swallows it, but the Sun quickly reappears, as Rahu has no body.

Babylon & Sumeria 

In Mesopotamia (modern Iraq Syria Jordan Israel) around 4000 bce. Astronomy flourished as they observed the movements of the sun moon & other planets. Some the Babylonians, (and aztecs) were obsessive enough to make astoundingly accurate observations that ultimately gave their priests the power of prediction.

3 important solar eclipses

1375 bce Ugarit (Syria) another 1036 turned day into night – historians in the port city in Northern Syrian, recount that the sun was “put to shame” during this total eclipse.

3rd In 763 B.C., in Nineva, what is now Iraq, the sun was completely eclipsed for five minutes. Early records from the period mention the eclipse in the same passage as an insurrection in the city of Ashur, suggesting that the ancient people linked the two in their minds.

They noticed that an eclipse with all the same specific traits would exactly repeat after 18 years plus 10 or 11 1/3 days. This observation was amazing, especially since that “1/3 day” business ensured the next eclipse would be best seen (or maybe only seen) in an entirely different region of the world. 

The level of astronomical knowledge achieved in ancient Babylonia (southern Mesopotamia) cannot be separated from the astrological tradition that regarded eclipses as omens: Astronomy and astrology were then two sides of the same coin.

According to Babylonian scholars, eclipses could foretell the death of the king. The conditions for an omen to be considered as such were not simple. For instance, according to a famous astronomical work known by its initial words, “Enūma Anu Enlil” – “When (the gods) Anu and Enlil” – if Jupiter was visible during the eclipse, the king was safe. 

Lunar eclipses seem to have been of particular concern for the well-being and survival of the king.

In this ritual, a person would be chosen to replace the king. He would be dressed like the king and placed on the throne. To avoid confusion with a real coronation, all this would occur alongside the recitation of the negative omen triggered by the observation of the eclipse.

The real king would keep a low profile and avoid being seen. If no additional negative portents were observed, the substitute king was put to death, therefore fulfilling the prophetic reading of the celestial omen while saving the life of the real king. This ritual would take place when an eclipse was observed or even predicted, in Mesopotamia during the first half of the second millennium B.C.

3 wise men following stars from east Mesopotamia China or India 

Ancient Egyptian

Tomb paintings, temple inscription& few papyrus documents

INCLUDINg astrological ceiling of Senmut

And oldest example of a sundial  both from around 1500BCE

1220 Ramses the great oldest almanac book of seasons and cycles of the year important agricultural dates 

Surprisingly, ancient Egyptians did not leave any explicit records detailing solar eclipses, though such an event would undoubtedly have been observed by these astronomy-savvy sun worshippers. Some scholars have suggested that perhaps eclipses were highly distressing and were deliberately left unrecorded so as to not “endow the event with a degree of permanence” or tempt the sun god Re (Ra).

April 6, 647 BC: Greece

In ancient Greece, eclipses were seen as messages from the gods on Mount Olympus, and the poet Archilochus wrote about the 647 BC eclipse, capturing the epic sense of dread caused by day becoming night:

“There is nothing beyond hope, nothing that can be sworn impossible, nothing wonderful, since Zeus, father of the Olympians, made night from mid-day, hiding the light of the shining Sun, and sore fear came upon men.”

585 bce philosopher Thales correctly predicted it and it was a catalyst for the end of war. Between the Medes & the Lydians who stopped fighting and were alike anxious to have terms of peace agreed on.

Greek astronomers would make significant strides predicting both lunar and solar eclipses, which began the change the public’s perception of them from mythic fury to scientific phenomenon. 

Ptolemy 10l ce noted 2 eclipses could happen in a year 

The Crucifixion of Jesus

The Christian gospels say that the sky was darkened for hours after the crucifixion of Jesus, which historians viewed either as a miracle or a portent of dark times to come. Using astronomy, later historians have used this mention to pinpoint the death of Christ. Some historians tie the crucifixion to a one minute 59 second total solar eclipse that occurred in the year 29 C.E., while others say a second total eclipse, blocking the sun for four minutes and six second, in 33 C.E. marked Jesus’ death.

Islam 9th & 10th centuries

Birth of Mohammed

The Koran mentions an eclipse that preceded the birth of Mohammed. Historians later tied this to a total eclipse that lasted three minutes and 17 seconds in 569 C.E. The sun also disappeared for one minute and 40 seconds after the death of Mohammed’s son Ibrahim. But the Prophet is record as saying “The Sun and Moon are signs of God and do not eclipse for the death or birth of any man” believing that eclipse was not a bad omen but a cosmic spectacle that demonstrate the might & know,edge of Allah / god

West African

The Batammaliba are an ancient people of northern Togo and Benin. According to their legend, human anger and fighting spread to the Sun and the Moon, who began to fight with each other and caused an eclipse. The legendary first mothers, Puka Puka and Kuiyecoke, urged the villagers to demonstrate peace to the Sun and Moon to convince them to stop their brawl. During an eclipse, Batammaliba people make amends for old feuds and peacefully come together to encourage peace between the celestial bodies.   

The Mayans, known for their advanced astronomy, had an eclipse table in the Dresden Codex that has accurately predicted eclipses into the modern era. Unfortunately, that was one of few texts from the ancient Mayans that wasn’t destroyed by Spanish conquistadores, so it is hard to tell exactly what the Mayans believed about eclipses. It is thought that they might have perceived the Sun and Moon to be a disputing couple, but probably also understood the phenomena as we do now.

  •                               Incan
    The Inca of South America worshiped Inti, the all-powerful sun god. Inti was generally believed to be benevolent, but solar eclipses were understood to be a sign of his wrath and displeasure. Following an eclipse, spiritual leaders would attempt to divine the source of his anger and determine which sacrifices should be offered. Although the Inca rarely practiced human sacrifice, it is thought that an eclipse was occasionally deemed serious enough to do so. Fasting was also common, and the emperor would often withdraw from public duties during and following an eclipse.
  •                               Native American
    According to Choctaw legend, a mischievous black squirrel gnawing on the Sun is the cause of eclipses. Like the Chinese dragon, the squirrel must be frightened away by the clamor and yells of the event’s human witnesses. Ojibwa and Cree peoples have a story that a boy (or sometimes dwarf) named Tcikabis sought revenge on the Sun for burning him. Despite the protestations of his sister, he caught the Sun in a snare, causing an eclipse. Various animals tried to release the Sun from the trap, but only the lowly mouse could chew through the ropes and set the Sun back on its path. 
  • , other Native Americans talked of bear taking a stroll along the Milky Way.
    On his stroll, Bear encounters the Sun and the two begin to argue about moving out of each other’s way. The argument results in a fight that has Bear blocking the Sun as they wrestle!
  •  Fear led Chippewa people to shoot flaming arrows into the sky to try to rekindle the Sun. Tribes in Peru did the same for a different reason; they hoped to scare off a puma attacking the Sun.
  • Native people in Colombia shouted to the heavens, promising to work hard and mend their ways. Some worked their gardens and other projects especially hard during the eclipse to prove it.
  • In Norse culture, the gods put an evil enchanter, Loki, into chains. Loki got revenge by creating wolflike giant Sköll, which swallowed the Sun Sunna/Sól,—thereby causing an eclipse. (Another of the giant wolves chased the Moon, trying to eat it.)
    • While in the German myths, the female Sun and male Moon are married. Occasionally, the moon wants a snuggle and so he temporarily eclipses her light in his ardor!

In medieval Europe, the occurrence of solar eclipses was met with a complex blend of superstition and fear. A prevailing lack of scientific knowledge meant that these celestial events were often regarded as ominous omens, believed to herald disasters and conflicts. Solar eclipses were, in many cases, linked to divine displeasure or perceived as the workings of malevolent supernatural forces.

Medieval Europe and Fear of Eclipses: 500 – 1500

King Henry’s Eclipse

Aug. 2, 1133: England

Despite growing scientific evidence that solar eclipses aren’t a maniacal force, superstitions reigned supreme in the Middle Ages, and the eclipse of 1133 fueled the paranoia of people in England. The eclipse occurred right after King Henry I p, the son of William the Conqueror, left England on a military campaign in France, and the English believed it was a sign that the King was destined to fail. When King Henry I later died, the English people convinced themselves that the solar eclipse had sealed the monarch’s fate. A history by William of Malmesbury recounts that the “hideous darkness” agitated the hearts of men. After the death, a struggle for the throne threw the kingdom into chaos and civil war. [See Total Solar Eclipse Photos]

The Church, a dominant authority at the time, occasionally exploited this fear for political and religious gain, using eclipses as a means of control over the population. These events would trigger religious processions, fasting, and acts of penance in attempts to pacify the perceived celestial wrath. Amidst the fear, there were individuals who recognized the potential for eclipse study, marking the initial sparks of curiosity.

Kepler’s Observations (Scientific Revolution): 1600

Johannes Kepler, a prominent figure in the Scientific Revolution, was the first to scientifically comment on the solar corona during an eclipse. His work helped lay the groundwork for further study of this mysterious solar feature.

Einstein’s Eclipse

While the ancients viewed eclipses as signs of great acts of God, physicists viewed the 1919 solar eclipse as a triumph of science. During 1919’s epic eclipse, in which the sun vanished for six minutes and 51 seconds, scientists measured the bending of light from the stars as they passed near the sun. During totality, Eddington’s team took pictures of the stars, and the images proved that gravity could bend light.

Modern Scientific explanations describe how the sun disappears during an eclipse as a result of the moon completely blacking out the sun, as the moon’s shadow moves across Earth, 

because it aligns at the perfect angle and distance with the moon, which will block its light and reveal the fiery corona around the star’s edge.

In a solar eclipse, the moon passes in between the sun and Earth, which results in blocking our view of the sun. 

In a lunar eclipse, it is the moon that crosses through the shadow of the Earth. A solar eclipse can completely block our view of the sun, but it is usually a brief event and can be observed only in certain areas of the Earth’s surface; 

what can be viewed as a total eclipse in one place may just be a partial eclipse a few hundred miles away. a total solar eclipse is visible from a given location on Earth only once every 375 years

By contrast, a lunar eclipse can be viewed throughout an entire hemisphere (north or south) of the Earth: the half of the surface of the planet that happens to be on the night side at the time.

Total solar eclipses are a cosmic coincidence indeed. How else do you explain the Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun but also 400 times nearer to us? This makes the only two disks in our sky appear the same size! It would not be the case if either were larger, smaller, nearer, or farther away. In fact, over time, our Moon will travel further from Earth, and we won’t experience the same phenomenon

Despite scientific explanations of the nature of an eclipse, they are still considered by many as a special and significant events, with spiritual and symbolic meanings, or at least something to be revered for its cosmic beauty. 

To adherents of nontraditional spiritual movements like pagans—celebrates moon cycles and the rotation of the seasons throughout the year. on Earth and its cycles, including solstices, equinoxes and cross days that fall in between. Each of which is an opportunity to tap into energies that flow throughout the natural and spiritual world. As a solar eclipse occurs only during a new moon, which represents a new beginning and is a source of powerful energy that can bring about personal transformation and healing.

A time of dynamic change, an eclipse can usher in endings for certain relationships and bring beginnings for others. Throw in the fact that this eclipse is taking place in Aries, which marks the astrological new year and onset of spring, and it is a time supercharged for transformation. A powerful and highly energetic time, and this one will be especially good for healing our pasts and awakening the fire within.

8 Spiritual Benefits of the Solar Eclipse

Author: ChatGPT

1. Renewal and Transformation: Solar eclipses are often seen as times of transformation and renewal. Just as the Sun temporarily disappears during an eclipse, people may use this symbolism to let go of old patterns, release negative energy, and embrace personal growth and change in their lives.

2. Meditation and Reflection: Some individuals view solar eclipses as opportunities for deep meditation and introspection. They may use the eclipse as a time to reflect on their lives, set new intentions, and connect with their inner selves.

3. Connection to the Divine: Eclipses are sometimes considered powerful moments for connecting with the divine, the universe, or a higher power. It’s a time when the ordinary rules of the world are temporarily suspended, allowing for a sense of unity with a greater spiritual reality.

4. Rituals and Ceremonies: In some spiritual and indigenous traditions, rituals and ceremonies are performed during solar eclipses. These can include prayers, chants, and other practices intended to harness the unique energy of the eclipse for healing, protection, or other spiritual purposes.

5. Symbolism of Balance: The alignment of the Sun and the Moon during an eclipse can be seen as a symbol of the balance between opposing forces or dualities, such as light and dark, masculine and feminine, and the conscious and the unconscious. Eclipses are seen as times when these dualities come together and harmonize.

6. Astrological and Zodiac Beliefs: In astrology, solar eclipses are considered significant events, often associated with turning points, beginnings, and endings. Astrologers interpret the positions of celestial bodies during an eclipse to gain insights into the potential spiritual and personal growth opportunities it may bring.

7. Awareness of Cosmic Order: Solar eclipses can remind individuals of the vastness of the universe and their place within it. This awareness can lead to a sense of humility and a greater appreciation for the cosmic order.

8. Community and Unity: Solar eclipses often bring people together to witness the event. This communal experience can foster a sense of unity, reminding individuals of their interconnectedness and shared experience on Earth.

It’s important to note that the spiritual significance of solar eclipses is highly subjective and varies from one belief system and culture to another. While some people may find deep spiritual meaning in eclipses, others may not attribute any spiritual significance to them.

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