Spring - if you're in the Northern Hemisphere - will officially begin this year on Friday 20th March. On the same day, there will be a Solar Eclipse. Eclipses occur regularly around three or four times a year, but this one is exciting for anyone living in the UK, as I do, because we will actually be able to see it without having to take a trip halfway around the world. The last time a Solar Eclipse was visible from Britain was on 11th August 1999. I had the enormous pleasure of viewing it and so, almost 16 years later, I'm looking forward to this one with great anticipation.
Well, that's the astronomer in me satisfied, but what does it mean astrologically? Do eclipses influence the birth chart? Yes, they do. Any planet or point in your natal chart which is being conjuncted or opposed by the eclipse will be influenced for the next six months. If the eclipse actually connects with a planet or point in your chart on, or within five days of, your birthday, then you'll be affected by it for a whole year, and you should expect major changes depending upon which sector of your chart the eclipse falls in. If an eclipse falls within 5º of a planet or important point in your chart, and aspects it by conjunction or opposition, it will be of special significance. For example, if the eclipse connects to the Sun in your natal chart, your physical vitality, creativity, or anything to do with children could become an important issue. An eclipse brings a turning point.
In ancient times, and throughout history, eclipses were symbols of fear and dread. They were thought to be portents of doom, in much the same way as comets were. A Solar Eclipse actually looks like a giant eye glaring down on everyone, so it's understandable that ancient civilisations believed it to be the 'Evil Eye' - particularly as many people became blind after seeing an eclipse of the Sun. Of course we now understand that the Sun's radiation can destroy the retina, causing a loss of sight, and that's why, in modern times, we are warned to use protection when looking at a Solar Eclipse. As for Lunar Eclipses, they take on a red hue which can look like a face covered in blood - hence the nickname 'Blood Moon'.
People also believed that certain misfortunes would occur in the months after an eclipse: war, drought, famine, etc. Interestingly, it has been discovered that eclipses do make earthquakes more likely in the geographical locations within the eclipse shadow. There is actually a scientific reason for this. The Earth's crust is actually not as solid as it's name suggests. Relatively speaking, it is quite thin and 'floats' on the surface of a layer called the Mantle which is mainly composed of magma - molten rock. When the combined gravitational force of the Sun and Moon takes place during an eclipse, it actually pulls the crust upwards and makes it bulge by more than 50cm. It doesn't sound much but this pulling and stretching can weaken the structure of the crust allowing molten magma to seep through at certain points making those areas more susceptible to seismic eruptions.
In the 'old days' eclipses were believed to have a detrimental effect upon people of high status and in positions of power and authority - especially kings and queens. In modern times, this came to include not just royalty, but prime ministers, presidents and religious leaders too - anyone at the top of the social pyramid. Particularly in the case of members of the British Royal Family, many important events happen on, or around, an eclipse. For example, The Prince Of Wales was born two days before a Lunar Eclipse, he married Lady Diana Spencer on 29th July 1981 - two days before a Solar Eclipse, his elder son, Prince William was born on a Solar Eclipse. On 31st August 1997, Diana, Princess Of Wales died two days before a Solar Eclipse. This year we have an extremely interesting royal event taking place two days after the eclipse. On Sunday 22nd March, we will witness the funeral procession of Richard III, a former King of England who died more than 500 years ago whose remains were discovered in 2012 under a car park in Leicester. Nothing like this has ever been seen before and is expected to be a momentous occasion.
A Solar Eclipse, the Spring Equinox and a unique historical event - next weekend promises to be something quite out of the ordinary!