The origin of the word eclipse comes from the Greek ékleipsis, meaning to abandon, forsake, or fail to appear. Our modern understanding of the word is that light is being dimmed or obscured by something else. We apply it to astronomical phenomena as well as our inner light, fame, or stardom. There are many ways that one can be eclipsed.
Every culture has its own myths about why the sun and moon seem to disappear temporarily at certain times. Eclipses were mysterious and a bit frightening for our ancestors, so they created their own fanciful explanations. Though we have scientific data now, there is still value in studying the ancient tales. They reach into the psyche and help us work with what we’re feeling and experiencing, not just what we’re seeing in the heavens.
One that has grabbed my attention during this extremely potent eclipse season is the Norse myth of Sól, goddess of the sun, and her brother Máni, god of the moon.
According to one version of the story, Sól didn’t start out as a goddess. Her father, Mundilfari, thought she was so lovely that he named her after the sun, and he named her brother after the moon. That didn’t sit well with the gods, so they forced Sól to drive the chariot of the sun as punishment for her father’s arrogance. Sól had to race quickly across the skies to avoid being devoured by the wolf Sköll, who chased her continuously. On rare occasions, Sköll (repulsion) would get close enough to nip at Sól’s chariot, causing a solar eclipse. Máni suffered a similar fate, as he had to drive the chariot of the moon while being chased by the wolf Hati (hatred). When Hati got close enough to take a bite, a lunar eclipse resulted.
What are we to make of this tale, and how can it help us now?
It would be easy to demonize Sköll and Hati, those “evil” wolves that never give Sól and Máni a break. That would be a mistake, however. What the wolves represent, at least in my own interpretation, is everything we haven’t integrated, or the lingering, unfinished business of our lives. The past continues to chase us until it finally catches up. Sköll and Hati are the unacknowledged parts of ourselves, and the eclipse is the moment when we must deal with whatever we’ve been trying to outrun.
We’re in a time of radical shifts, abrupt endings and beginnings, and profound awakenings. Do you know the wolves that are chasing you? Can you call them by name? Is it possible to turn around and befriend them this time, so that they don’t have to bite to get your attention? We can look at eclipse season with dread, or we can embrace it as an opportunity for growth and change. The choice is ever ours.
There are plenty of articles out there on how to get through an eclipse. Most advise slowing down, practicing radical self-care, and becoming aware of what needs to be released. I would also look at where the lunar and solar eclipses are showing up in your natal chart. See which areas of your life may be impacted. It happens to be the 5th and 11th houses for me, and much of that energy is already being stirred in the areas of creativity and community in a positive way. Grab your Tarot deck, and try this helpful spread by BiddyTarot if you’re so inclined. Above all, walk through this gateway consciously and mindfully with infinite love for yourself and others. Take a lesson from Söl and Máni, as you drive your chariot onward. Learn from your wolves. Reach down to pet them this time.