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The transformational power of an eclipse

Updated: Apr 13

This week I got to see the total solar eclipse. It’s a wonder; there’s little to do than stand, face to the sky, mouth hanging open, and be wowed.

 

Maine often seems like a forgotten state, practically Canada, a place of lobster, summer vacations and rocky shorelines. Maine is 90% forest and boosts 3,000 miles of shoreline. It’s rural, its animals and people free-range. Not a ton happens here, and I love it that way.

 

But this week, Maine was in the path of totality.

 

My daughter and I were with friends an hour north of our house, on a hilltop golf course not yet open for the season. Maine’s highest peak - Mt. Katahdin - was a snow-covered dream on the horizon. The robin egg blue sky, rare for April, featured the star (pun intended) of the hour, blazing above us.



Mt. Katahdin covered in snow

 

There was cornhole and sun/moon-themed snacks. (Moon pies, Capri Sun, Sunny D, sun-maid raisins and Sun Chips.) I brought circular food and a local beer called Epiphany. It was my first tailgate.

 

My friend said, “Of course your first tailgate would be for a natural phenomenon.” (She gets me.)

 

I had been preparing for the eclipse. Not with snacks or games or even a solid viewing plan. As excited as I was for what was to unfold in the sky, I was readying for the eclipse energy.

 

Eclipses are associated with introspection, transformation and new beginnings, the energy that can support us on our path to authenticity.

 

And I wanted to catch a ride on that kind of energy.

 

Solar eclipse fun facts:


Did you know?

 

-       A solar eclipse can only happen on a new moon. (Whereas a lunar eclipse can only happen on a full moon.)


-       The alignment of sun, moon and earth necessary for a solar eclipse is called syzygy.

 

-       Even though the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, the moon can obscure it because the sun is also 400 times farther away. But because the moon is slowly moving away from earth, at some point many millions of years from now, it will be too small to cover the sun. And solar eclipses will be gone.

 

-       There are at least 2 solar eclipses a year somewhere on earth and a maximum of 5.

 

-       When nearing totality, the sun casts crescent shaped shadows.

 

-       Solar eclipses of the same kind reoccur 18 years, 11 days and 5 hours apart. This is called a Saros cycle. (How amazingly specific is this?)

 

 

 

Science vs. spirituality?


Heads up: I’m gonna get a little “spiritual.”

 

I know this makes the sciencey people squirm but hang with me.

 

What is science but the pursuit of understanding? Be it gravity, life cycles or planetary orbits, the goal is the same – to obtain unbiased truth through standardized methodology.

 

Science is cool. It’s astounding all we have learned in our cognitive and technological evolution. But there’s a downside, too. The fallacy that once we understand something scientifically, once we can explain, measure and predict something, that we know the truth of it.

 

Knowing how something works isn’t the same as knowing why or how it exists. Science can quantify a phenomenon, but it cannot fully know the intricacy of its purpose or the true nature of its origin.

 

These are matters of spirit.

 

To many, it’s science OR spirituality. To me, they are completely entwined. The aim of science is to understand that which is spiritual.

 

Science can describe, and even quantify, the benefits of having a dog: dogs help humans feel less alone, get us physically moving and improve our mood. But science can’t measure the deep bond between dog and human the same way it can’t fully capture the bond between a parent and child. But anyone who loves their dog or their child can vouch for the realness of these bonds.

 

To me, “spiritual” refers to things that are larger than our knowing, things perhaps our brain isn’t evolved enough to comprehend. Things like consciousness, multiple dimensions and the vast interconnectedness of human beings.

 

Science sometimes discounts things that can’t be measured or known as invalid. But it’s dangerous to relegate the great mysteries into the quack realm of “spiritual.” Not all things can be studied or contained in a controlled experiment.

 

Consider all that is not known about love, about how a soul begins and ends (or if it does) or about how life first began. Science can’t explain or quantify these things, but we would never say they aren’t real.

 

In truth, we know so very, very little about ourselves, our purpose and the planet and Universe we live within. That is what spirituality is.

 

It’s not science versus spirituality. Science is hard at work attempting to understand things that are, at the root, are spiritual.

 

We are so conditioned to live apart from spirit. We hid behind facts and certainty. We cast off ideas of planetary impacts as “woo woo.” We accept as “scientific” how the moon’s gravitational pull creates the tides but dismiss its impact on our bodies and moods. We scoff at the idea that our bodies, which are made of 75% water, might be greatly influenced by this same force. Or that female fertility could be influenced by the lunar cycle which is of identical duration as the menstrual cycle.

 

Science prides itself on discovery. But, in truth, we aren’t discovering something new. The truth of how things are – on this planet or in deep space – already IS. It’s established. It’s merely our understanding of it that changes.

 

We humans tend to think things become real only when we discover them. It’s so cute and weird and arrogant that we do that.

 

Nowhere is the connection between science and spirituality clearer than in the field of

quantum physics. And specifically, quantum entanglement, or the idea that particles can instantly impact each other when separated by great distance. Decades ago, that would have been dismissed as utter nonsense. Now it warrants a Nobel Prize.

 

Close your eyes and feel what makes you you. There is an undeniableness that we are bigger than our bodies. We are souls. And souls are energy.

 

This is what we’re reaching for on our path of personal liberation. The truth of our essence, the heart of our beings. Freedom from the distraction of the mind, its rules, its “shoulds,” its judgments.

 

Need more?

 

Did you know we are made of stardust? Like actually.



quote: nearly all the elements in the human body were made in a star and many have come through several supernovas."


That’s science AND spirituality.

 

 

Solar Eclipse and Letting Go

 

Okay, let’s take it a step further.

 

I think we can all agree something rare and wonderous is taking place during a total solar eclipse.  There is a profoundness about these aligning celestial bodies. There is magnitude in the sky.

 

Here’s one theory about what a solar eclipse offers us:

 

“The sun tends to symbolize clarity and how we project ourselves. Eclipsed by the moon, a symbol of the deep inner world, these events can pull us into meaningful connection with ourselves as we brave the waters of our inward realm.


A solar eclipse can also catalyze momentous changes in our lives. This blocking of the light is disruptive and rattling—often able to shake loose the deeper truths that we have buried within ourselves. Yet, this break from the status quo allows us to look over the details of our lives with a new perspective. As we contend with the issues or desires that surface during an eclipse, we have an opportunity to find fresh ideas and insights about who we want to be in the world and how we want to move forward on our paths.” (from seawitchbotanicals.com)


The morning of the eclipse, I made a list of four things I wanted to release. Things that no longer serve me, but I struggle to let go of.

 

I wanted in on the big, transformative power of this eclipse. I imagined it like a cosmic wave, washing all we no longer need into deep space.  

 

And I was getting my emotional baggage ready to send on out there.  

 

Tying into celestial events like an eclipse isn't anti-scientific or anti-religious. It’s about lifting our heads from bills and schedules and deadlines and remembering the scope of our existence. It’s about opening to the wonder of the unknown, to the unfathomable power of this infinite universe.

 

We are part of the great cosmos.

 

This, to me, is how we own our true selves. We drill down to our core - to the us we are beyond the superficial, without the overlay of mundanity, pressures and judgements. We open to the deep space within, eager to know our own hidden galaxies.

 

We move through our own personal eclipse, letting obscuration loosen our bond to beliefs and narratives that harm us.

 

We slip behind the light, allowing the dark unknown to set us free. Then we emerge, renewed, into a new illumination.

 

Totality:


Okay, back to that hilltop golf course.

 

It wasn’t until the sun was 90% covered, that I noticed a reduction of light.

 

Even with just a crescent of sun remaining, the sun still “looked” like itself to the bare eye. If I hadn’t known there was an eclipse, I would’t have been able to tell. That is how powerful the sun is.

 

It was almost time.

 

The sky went dusky.

 

The sun finally weakened.

 

The snow on the mountains disappeared.

 


Mt. Katahdin snow disappeared as eclipse neared totality


My friend said it felt like we were standing under a streetlight.

 

A thin silver ring was suddenly visible around the moon and off to the side, a dazzling circle of light. You could look at it without glasses. It’s called the “diamond ring” and happens just before totality. (www.exploratorium.edu)

 


the "diamond ring" as eclipse nears totality
Photo cred: https://theplanets.org/solar-eclipses/

 

Next the “diamond” disappeared. All that was left was the faint silver glow of the sun’s corona, the outer part of the sun’s atmosphere.




The wind died.


The temperature dropped.


The entire 360-degree horizon looked like sunrise.

 


Mt. Katahdin with sunset-like sky during eclipse totality.


People shouted. It was surreal. Dreamlike. Astonishing.

 

I saw Venus in the afternoon, just to the right of the obscured sun.

 

Totality was 1 min, 16 seconds. It was forever and not nearly long enough.

 

Totality means the whole of something.

 

Wholeness is, perhaps, my most essential pursuit.

 

We can only be whole if who we are is enough. Right now. Not when we grow more. Not when we heal more. Not when we’re more conscious, more accomplished, more centered. But right now.

 

This is what I love about seeking our true selves. We're not trying to become. We are just allowing ourselves to BE.

 

In totality. Exactly as we are.

 

(See? You can’t escape the spiritual significance of an eclipse.)



Bonus:

Check out my daughter's eclipse timelapse!




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