A Look at the Mechanics and Symbolism of the October 14, 2023 Solar Eclipse
In light of the recent total solar eclipse, I thought it might be worth looking at some of the mechanics of eclipse interpretation along with the specific planetary influences as an exploration for those with an interest in a cross-disciplinary study in astrology. At the end of the article, I briefly examine some of the same planetary influences through the lens of the Human Design System.
On October 14th, 2023 many had an opportunity to experience a solar eclipse at the 21st degree of Tropical Libra. An eclipse of the Sun happens on new Moons when the degree of that conjunction is close to the degree of the Lunar Nodes which brings a literal darkening of the light for those in the path of totality. These are often times when we temporarily lose the light of awareness and the ability to see what’s in front of us. The Zodiac sign(s) that the eclipse falls in, the planets aspecting those positions, and the theme of the original eclipse in the cycle can all contribute to our experience of this astrological event.
If you have a basic understanding of astrology or have read up on the different takes on this eclipse, one of the main things you probably heard is how this eclipse in the sign of Libra was an opportunity to move forward “re-balancing” our relationships towards a greater harmony. Additionally, the Nodal opposition in Aries will bring in themes of independence and authenticity in partnership. While all of this could hold true on some level, there is often more to the story than what we see in Sun-sign astrology alone.
As one of our favorite astrologers Ernst Wilhelm explains in his recent video, this eclipse is part of a cycle (Saros 134) that started back in the year 1248. The last time that this eclipse cycle occurred was in October of 2005 which may provide some additional insight as to the thread of how these themes appear in your life. These are 18-year cycles that run for about 1600 years and they all share similar themes as shown in the original eclipse event.
Wilhelm points out that the defining characteristics of the original eclipse chart which carry through all later eclipses in the cycle are the prominence of Mars and Pluto in the same 8 degrees as the Sun and Moon. Saturn is conjoined with Pluto at 5 degrees of Scorpio squaring Mars. The force of Mars can be described as the “gas” while Saturn can be described as the “brakes”. When these two come together there can be an experience of things being stuck in a pressurized way. Pluto’s involvement here is important as a force that comes in and busts it all up.
It is sometimes said in astrological circles that Pluto gets the last word. No individual and no planet appear to be able to override the ultimate truth when it arrives. Here, Pluto is positioned with Saturn and can “unstick” Saturn’s limiting fear of moving forward. These can be areas of life where survival is a concern and there is difficulty in accepting reality as it is. Wilhelm suggests that these fears and security concerns are often associated with emotional attachments. We just don’t want to let go of certain feelings and attachments because we think we might die if we do.
And yet because Pluto and Saturn are in a 120-degree “trine” aspect to the Eclipse Sun and Moon in the original eclipse chart, it suggests that we can get past the stalemate with less resistance and difficulty than feared. That is, we actually won’t die and things will probably not be as dramatic as they may seem.
The current eclipse in the cycle will color and bring some nuance and uniqueness into the pattern based on the energies of the present moment. Looking at the current eclipse chart of October 14th, 2023 we see the Sun and Moon at 21 degrees of Libra. Pluto now squares (90-degree aspect) the eclipse degree and Mars is close by but out of sign. Mercury is positioned with them at 17 Libra opposite Chiron at 17 Aries.
The Pluto square suggests that change may not be as easy this time, or less readiness to accept the truth and get on with it. Mercury’s involvement in eclipses is fairly common due to its close orbit around the Sun and brings up issues around communication and trying new or different things. Because Mercury is also being eclipsed, it suggests that communication and trying to make things work won’t be as effective as usual. Chiron’s opposition could bring up old wounds and stress the importance of individual authenticity in compromising and synthesizing truly new approaches to reconciling any differences.
While the mentioned themes will generally apply, not everyone will experience these astrological events and transits in the same way. Astrological events and eclipses affect each of us differently based on where the transiting planets appear in the individual’s birth chart, the houses those planets rule, and other planets they are in aspect or resonance with.
If you’re interested in exploring these themes symbolically in the context of your life, first look to see what house the Sun, Moon, Mercury, and South Node are in your astrological natal chart when you overlay the eclipse chart. Then look at the opposite house to see where Chiron appears with the North Node. Also, see if you have any natal planets at 21 degrees that would form an aspect with the eclipse degree. You could consider where Cancer and Leo appear in your chart along with the Mercury-ruled signs Gemini and Virgo. These are areas of life where the forces of the planets will tend to manifest or be expressed.
While Human Design doesn’t incorporate eclipses into the system in the same way as astrology, it can still be interesting to get a different view of the planetary influences of an important astrological event like this. For those interested in exploring some of these eclipse themes using Human Design as a framework, we can run a transit chart for the time of the eclipse and see the gate and line activations of the Sun, Moon, Nodes, and Mercury.
As you can see in the eclipse chart for October 14, 2023, the Sun and Moon are in Gate 32.1 and the Earth is in Gate 42.1. The Lunar Nodes are in the same Gates 32 and 42 in the 5th Line. Mercury is in 57.3 in Exaltation and Chiron is in Gate 51.3 (not shown on the chart).
In the Human Design System, the Sun represents the Yang force in us and how we shine in our expression of role and purpose. The Earth is always 180 degrees opposite the Sun and represents the Yin force in us and how we ground the expression of the Sun. The Moon is the driving force that moves us in life and Mercury shows us what must be communicated in support of our correct expression. Chiron carries a similar interpretation as in astrology symbolizing a kind of wounding and process of healing over the course of life.
Considering this symbolism, one might interpret an eclipse as a time in which our innate drives in life block out or overwhelm our true expression through the conditioning coming in from our environment. The light of consciousness is temporarily blocked and we’re faced with decisions about what is correct and vital for us given the external circumstances.
Reading the Rave I Ching descriptions of these activations can tell us more about the frequency and nuances of the planetary influences. The Sun in Gate 32 of Continuity/Duration in the Splenic Center represents the overall theme of the eclipse in bringing greater focus to what can be continued and what must be let go of in terms of our well-being. The Sun in the 1st line of Gate 32 with the keynote of “Conservation” fixes the expression of the Gate into Exaltation: “A life-sustaining respect and attention to all aspects of a process. The potential to develop the instinct through detailed attention to a process.”
The Earth is in Gate 42 of Growth/Increase. Line 1 of Gate 42 has the keynote of “Diversification” and the following Exaltation “The ability when surplus resources are available to extend one’s activities beyond their normal scope. Growth through expansion particularly when defined to the root.” The Detriment reads “A tendency when surplus resources are available to centrifugal application. Decadence. Too much expansion can lead to decadence.”
As mentioned above, the Nodes are also on the 32/42 axis and carry a general environmental theme as follows: Gate 32 shows that we’re coming from a background where “All that endures is change”, while Gate 42 shows the future direction in “The expansion of the resources which maximizes the development of full potential.” So this eclipse brings the beginning of a process of developing trust in one’s instincts in continuing with what needs to be conserved and limiting excess growth and expansion.
Mercury is in Gate 57 of Intuitive Insight/The Gentle and the “extraordinary power of clarity”. Line 3 of Gate 57 is in Exaltation with the following from the Rave I Ching: “The perfected intelligence, where clarity eliminates doubt and ensures manifestation. The possibility of perfected intuition. No polarity.”
Every gate of the Spleen carries an innate awareness and intelligence as well as an underlying fear. With this gate, it is about the fear of tomorrow and the insecurity of not knowing if we can intelligently survive what tomorrow might bring. The recent eclipse involves an obscuration of Mercury which likely brings to the surface this underlying fear and could influence us to react to it without intelligence. This often means relying on old awareness and losing alertness to the present. To weather this, it may be best to stay alert enough to deal with the present as it is and to beware of reacting compulsively out of fear.
When analyzing the planetary conditioning influences of any moment in time and space in Human Design, we should of course also look to see what connections these and other Gate and Line activations make in one’s BodyGraph. If these activations form a channel, you will likely feel a kind of pull toward the themes in a personal way. Human Design shows us what we are and what is required of us by our nature in our definition, as seen in our natal chart. From that, we have our Strategy and Authority as a point of reference for experimenting with meeting these outside influences in a correct way.
While Pluto might not directly play into the mechanics of the eclipse configuration in the BodyGraph, it is always a factor for the collective and the truth of the individual. As mentioned earlier, it often has the last word. We can see that Pluto is currently transiting Gate 60 Acceptance/Limitation: “The acceptance of limitation is the first step in transcendence.” Pluto is in the 2nd line of Gate 60 “Decisiveness” which suggests a kind of pressure and calling to do something now.
Reading further in the Rave I Ching we see that the exaltation of Gate 60.2 is “The understanding of the nature of limitation, to accept its restraints when necessary and thus be able to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Energy which can adapt to restraint.” On the other end, we have the Detriment “An adaptation to restraint that becomes habitual and maintains the nature of the limitation even when it no longer exists. The energy for adaptation that can get stuck without eventual mutation.“
The eclipse may be an opportunity for many to move forward from the limiting fears and emotional attachments by first accepting things as they are rather than how we think they should be, even if what comes next is unknown. With awareness and acceptance, we can embrace the change that is happening when it arrives, and perhaps avoid a larger crisis forced upon us. With ignorance and resistance, change may happen in a way that brings greater suffering and chaos than is necessary.
This may be a time of deep excavation and emotional intensity for many. Some may experience the themes of these planetary influences and tend to feel helpless, blame, or resist what is happening. Others may internalize these outer forces and assume fault or feel personally responsible. Human Design suggests that if there is overwhelming pressure, fear, or intensity of emotion, it is probably best to wait until we feel grounded or clear to act.
Intensity is not the same as truth. If the truth is revealing itself to us, it may also be best to embrace it and let go of what can no longer endure. When change does finally come, it is likely to be in keeping with the nature of the pulse of the Individual circuitry of the BodyGraph. Understanding the major transit themes can help us see the ocean we are swimming in and stay connected to our awareness of our place in the midst of these forces.
The title of this newsletter comes from Robert Smith’s song from the 1992 The Cure album “Wish” which seems to be in keeping with the theme of the recent Solar Eclipse.