by Boots Hart, CAP

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Metonic Musings: The Shape of Eclipses to Come

 Solar Eclipse over Cook Islands 2009 via NASA

Sometimes what isn’t there is as important as what is there. The absence of communication can say volumes. The lack of any real challenges can become boring – or dull our ‘edge.’

Yet when you’re talking astrology, that lack, that absence tends to say that things aren’t getting stirred up. They aren’t being highlighted and rewarded…but then again, they aren’t getting challenged and manifesting as a bunch of prickly problems and funky situations.

Eclipses cycle backwards through the zodiac. Why that is has to do with a bunch of planetary and orbital mechanics I’m pretty sure you don’t want to go into here – at least not in detail. This cycle – called the Metonic cycle (not important) is 19 years, or 235 months long (rather important).

That means that every 19 years we encounter the same sort of ‘challenge’ with regards to our life. This 19-year Metonic cycle can begin when we’re born, yes. But then again, it can begin at any time during our life. Why that’s true is because of a different set of cycles – the Saros (or ‘Sarconic’) cycle.

For practical astrological purposes, the Saros factor has everything to do with the idea that astronomically, eclipses are members of a given (Saros) ‘family.’ Each Saros group gets a number which, remembering that eclipses are really just a perspective on the Sun and Moon as seen from Earth, means the sequence plays out in a series of ‘eclipse paths’ which meander from pole to equator (or vice versa), then finally just…end.

Metonic cycles? They're a whole other thing. The 235-month Metonic cycle is a set ‘order’ of lunar phases. The Moon goes through all the New-Full combinations on the list, then starts back at the top, repeating it all, lunation by lunation.

Why we don’t have eclipses every month is simply another piece of planetary/astronomical mechanics: an eclipse requires that a New or Full Moon be within 15 degrees of where Earth’s path around the Sun (the ecliptic) intersects the Moon’s path around Earth.

Suffice it to say it’s most common for there to be two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses every year.
But it can be more. According to the NASA Eclipse Web Site ( in the 5,000 years between 1,999 BCE and 3,000 CE there will be twenty-five years where there will be FIVE (count ‘em, five) solar eclipses.

(As an astrologer, I’m not sure I want to think about what those years would be (or were) like. I’m guessing something between ‘unsettled’ and ‘upheavals galore’ probably about covers it.)

Metonic cycles are the easiest of all these cycles to remember. Why? Because they’ll begin with something big. Nineteen years later, something else will happen which ‘rings’ the same celestial ‘bell.’ I have a personal eclipse cycle which began at age 7; every 19 years or so I have some sort of cataclysmic health crisis.

It’s a test – and obviously one I’ve passed, because I’m still alive. And that’s part of the point here: good or troublesome, eclipses are part of our educational progress. I’ve learned things through being injured that I never would have learned had I been hale and hearty throughout my life. I’ve learned a lot about medicine. And what pain is…and isn’t. I’ve learned what it means to be poor and emotionally unsupported. And how, at the most unexpected moments, someone you don’t know may just step up and help out.

Bottom line, what have I learned? I’ve learned not to pin my expectations on goodness or badness. I’ve learned to accept each person and thing as it comes along. That doesn’t mean I have to like it…it just means I have to accept that my ‘expectations’ (hopes, dreams, etc.) mean nothing in the greater scheme of things.

And that makes sense, since I'm a Pisces and these eclipses all hit my Sun. Pisces is all about learning to confront our own emotions. Being the third and most global of the emotional 'water' signs, Pisces asks that we recognize how much in common we have with others...and what it means that we have all that in common with them - whether or not they want to acknowledge it.

Sometimes it’s very very discouraging. Sometimes it’s comforting. After all, if I know squat, then I’m not responsible to know squat. And to answer the question which inevitably arises next (seeing as I am an astrologer), astrology is NOT fate. Astrology tells us when the clockwork of time, space and existence – vis-à-vis our individual charts and the world – will bring us a particular challenge. Whether we reach out or grab hold or give something a try or reject it utterly…that’s up to us. That’s free will. Yes, an astrologer can tell you what you will tend to do – our ‘habits’ are written in our natal chart.

But so are the possibilities.

Those possibilities are written best and most clearly in a couple of particular symbols, one of which is the North Lunar Node.

Everybody loves doing their ‘South Node stuff’ – that’s easy. We get it. We’re good at it. We enjoy it. It feels native.

Nobody likes their ‘North Node stuff.’ It’s difficult precisely because it takes us out of our comfort zone.
In other words, it’s all about growth. It’s about putting on our big-boy (or big-girl) pants and going out and doing what we can do in this world, not just what we want to do in this world.

And about those Nodes…when is it that you think they’re most globally active?

Answer: during eclipses.

The following illustration is purposefully small. All I’m hoping you’ll do is look at the patterns and the colors.

What is this an illustration of? It’s an illustration of the months of the eclipses between the year 2000 and 2017. The months of the year go down from January on the top. The years go across, starting with the year 2000.
Solar eclipses are highlighted in yellow, lunar eclipses in blue. This chart is really about the solar eclipses, and if you’ll pay attention to the blocks of color around them, you’ll see that all the solar eclipses taking place in water are highlighted by two months (before and after) in turquoise. Those in air are sort of a teal-ish blue. Those in earth are highlighted in green, and those in fire are highlighted in a tawny, orange-yellow.

Much of the time, solar eclipses repeat for two years in a given sign before moving on, backwards, through the signs.

Now I’ll invite you to look at just a section of that table. It illustrates eclipses for the years 2011-2017…

We’re in 2012. Please note: this is the last time we are going to have an eclipse in air until after the year 2017. That means a lot of (airy) ideas are going to go by the wayside this year. It also tells us that we will be rebuilding those over the next five years or so.

Considering how the solar eclipses during this time will concentrate in the elements of earth and water, we can expect that things are going to get muddy. And yet, since earth and water are also the most nature’s most fertile and stable of combinations, we obviously have the opportunity to build anew and create something reliable.

Still, there are a couple of catches. The years 2013 and 2014 are focused on Taurus and Scorpio. Individually – which is to say psychologically – this is likely to be a very trying time, especially for those who have self worth issues. If you’re someone who thinks ‘things’ and the admiration of others (or even just the ‘group’ you run with) proves your value, watch out!

More than that, on a global basis this Taurus/Scorpio time is likely to be raucous and contentious, particularly where finance (economics), debt, taxes, inheritances, war, ‘life-and-death’ issues, and the food chain are involved.

Between 2014 and 2015 you may have noticed a red vertical line. What is that about? That’s about the fact that the eclipse sequence goes directly from Taurus/Scorpio to Pisces/Virgo – skipping over Aries/Libra. And that...I can't help but think that's a blessing. There are a lot of people who think the world - particularly our human world - is coming to an end. As an astrologer, I know of no clearer celestial sign which would say ‘no it isn’t.’

Still, that doesn't say things are going to be easy. Instead of testing our sense of existential existence or ability to be who we need to be to have a life we can respect ourselves for having, life is going to go from testing our self worth and satisfaction (through every and any means) directly into two-and-a-half years of raw emotional provocation.

Part of that is the Pisces concept I outlined above. The other side of the coin will be Virgoan: the means and methodologies - the ability to get the thing done and the standards and morality we bring to the process.

Considering we're talking eclipses here, there are going to be a lot of really painful moments. And this 2013-2017 period is going to be particularly tough on the so-called 'Yuppie' generation. Their Plutonic obsessions, predilections, standards (or lack thereof)'s all going to come out - the magnificent good and the unbelievable self indulgence.

Every generation experiences good and bad. Eventually, things happen to test us all. Astrologically, how these passages work seem to depend on where you started out and what you haven’t experienced yet. Life is not kind…it’s not unkind. It just is. We are all meant to experience a little bit of everything. Why? Because that’s how we learn to have perspective on our Self (and what that Self chooses to do or not do)...and why it’s important to learn to appreciate one another.

It’s easy to like those "South Node people." You know, the people who are 'like us' and who think as we do? It's harder to understand others. And yet, that's part of our North Node work too.

The more we resist, the more life teaches. Life is about staying ‘sharp’ and eclipse cycles ensure life is never, never dull.

No wonder we refer to those in the forefront as being on the ‘cutting edge’!


  1. Glad you're back!

  2. Dear Boots me also,seen 4hrs ago T/Moon mid Leo, trine Mercury

  3. I'm glad to be back - and it's nice to know I was missed!

    Considering all, I guess I'm proving that eclipses do change circumstances...and that it all depends on what the 'status quo' was to begin with. I wasn't able to work posts into my schedule...and now I am. So that's another thing to consider about eclipses: the 'change of the status quo' (the dark to light represented by the Moon covering the face of the Sun) isn't just about "taking away."