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ECLIPSE: Journey Through the Nadir

For those seeking a Visionary Experience of the eclipse, the following is a brief exploration of its natural poetry, mythic dimensions and ritual space.

POETRY: The poetry of an eclipse holds space for renewal. In the last sliver of light, we see death and a waning past. In the dark circle of a hidden sun, we see the womb of creation. New light then appears as new life, new wisdom and new time.

NIRVANA TO ENLIGHTENMENT: This turning point from Nirvana (extinguishing) to enlightenment can be seen in any nadir. As the eclipse is to an eighteen-year Saros cycle, the winter solstice is to the year, the new moon is to the month, and midnight is to the day.

MYTHS OF THE NADIR: Clocks turn round these darkest of moments, which appear in our myths as bottommost points, innermost chambers, and bellies of beasts. This is the throne room of the underworld, where Inanna, rotting on the peg, is given life from a thumbnail. This is the lowest point in the journey through death, Aker, where life first sparks in Osiris. In Eclipse mythology, this is when the Eastern dragon eats the sun, or when its light is devoured by Norse wolves. This devouring is followed by pregnancy and the birth of something new, which is the promise of any nadir.

VISIONARY EXPERIENCE: To enter the path of totality is to enter what Aldous Huxley calls a visionary experience. These journeys can be psychedelic, shamanic, mystical or spontaneous. What they share in common is a vision or experience of self emptying, the blissful feeling of interconnectivity, and new life. In the Christian tradition, the rolling away of the stone and emptying of the cave represents this spiritual challenge of Kenosis — self emptying. This is the test of Odysseus, who must become “nobody” to escape the cave, or Buddha, who is liberated by his realization of anatman, no-self.

EGO DEATH: The decapitation of the lunar bull in the story of the Labyrinth and the decapitation of the Green Knight or Green Man in European folklore represents what many of us have variously experienced as an ego-death, which reconnects us to a larger orientation and makes way for profound renewal. Anglo-Saxon Christmas and New Year was on the Winter Solstice. In this way, an eclipse is like Christmas and New Year at Midnight. These are the moments of renewal in our clocks—day, month, year and the eighteen-year eclipse cycle. These are the moments in which the poetry of nature holds space for our own self-emptying and renewal. These are the opportunities to align inner renewal with renewal in our world. The horrific confrontation with the monster remembered by myths of the eclipse mark this moment. The ego rarely sees its death as a good thing. Typically, it expects to be the hero. The hero complex, however, must die for true heroism. When heroic pride is extinguished, heroes and heroines are finally lit by something greater.

CHANCE & CHOICE: In Southern California, for the Chumash, the solstice nadir is a moment of chance. Free of all light, in this moment of darkness, anything is possible. And so, the great eagle and the great coyote play dice with the universe. If Coyote wins, times will be good. If Eagle wins, times will be dangerous. Nadirs are not just moments of chance, they are moments of choice. In the Hero Journeys of Hollywood, this is when, as the character clears their darkest of moments, they claim agency. This is the time in the story to make a choice. Between the end of a cycle and the the creation of a new wheel, anything is possible.

ETERNAL RETURN: Will we choose to repeat the last cycle? As we so often do, or will we choose to wobble our world in a new direction? Can we spiral the circle? Can we avoid the serpent eating its tail?


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