I had no big plans for Monday’s solar eclipse. When I first heard about it several years ago I thought about traveling somewhere to watch it in totality. But I was afraid of spending vacation time and travel budget only to have weather obscure the view, so I decided to stay home in North Texas, where we got about 75% coverage.
I blocked time on my calendar at work and went up to the roof level of the parking garage to watch the eclipse and take pictures. That didn’t go well either. I didn’t have the right filters for my camera, and my tripod wouldn’t rotate far enough back to shoot with the sun nearly at its peak in the sky. I took a few handheld photos – most of them didn’t turn out at all. This is the best of the bunch, and if I didn’t tell you it was taken during the eclipse you’d never know it.
Clearly, I wasn’t prepared for this eclipse.
Solar eclipses aren’t all that rare – there are two to five every year. But unlike lunar eclipses, solar eclipses are only visible in very limited areas – they seem more rare than they are. Traditionally, eclipses have been ill omens, but mainly for nations and rulers of nations, not for individuals. Given our current political situation, omens aren’t exactly needed – we know things are bad and getting worse.
The general (though far from unanimous) consensus among my magical friends is that an eclipse magnifies and intensifies any magic worked during the eclipse – especially banishing and baneful magic. There are probably workings I should have done, but again, I didn’t.
I really expected a bigger deal from 75% coverage, but those with more experience than me say anything less than 100% – even 99% – isn’t visually impressive. The lighting was noticeably less than usual, but more like wearing sunglasses than darkness during the day. My skin felt more difference than my eyes. The weather geeks said the air temperature dropped 3 degrees, but with 75% less radiation, it felt like more.
But this eclipse wasn’t a total loss for me.
A few co-workers gathered near the stairs to watch the eclipse. I had parked at the far end of the roof, where I wouldn’t be in the way and in danger of getting run over while I was taking pictures. So I was undisturbed the whole time I was there.
While I had no magic to work, I hadn’t been outside for long when I felt a strong need to acknowledge the sun, the moon, and this mysterious process. My Paganism is more religious than magical anyway. I started with a prayer to the sun, which turned into a prayer to Ra. After 13 straight Summer Solstice rituals dedicated to the Gods of Egypt, when you say “Sun God” I think of Ra.
I haven’t hidden the fact that things are challenging for me right now. I’m incredibly busy – mostly (though not entirely) with good stuff, but busy just the same. Much of this involves writing, and here lately the Awen has not been flowing particularly well. And I re-injured my back last week. This time it’s a dull pain, but it’s been near-constant, which makes it a further distraction.
I felt no sudden shifts during or after the eclipse. I gave up on photography, put my cameras back in my car, and went back to work. I had a few projects to clean up before I left for this weekend’s Beyond the Gates retreat – I got them done. I went home and knocked out next Sunday’s blog post (“One Pagan’s Thoughts on What Comes After Death”) about as quickly as I’ve written anything in months. At some point I got up from the computer and realized getting up wasn’t an ordeal – my back wasn’t well, but it was significantly better.
Things were much better after the eclipse had passed.
I went on Facebook and saw several other Pagan and magical folks talking about how things seemed lighter now that the eclipse was over. Nobody’s story was the same, but the theme was similar – things felt better.
I know of no lore that says this is supposed to happen. I have no memories of anything like this happening during previous solar eclipses. But it did happen.
A coincidence? I suppose that’s possible, but the older I get and the more I practice the more I’m convinced there is no such thing as coincidences. There are only events connected in ways we don’t understand. Yet.
Now, I also heard from plenty of Pagan and magical folks who got nothing from the eclipse. It was overcast where they were or it was so partial they couldn’t tell any difference. Or they got no metaphysical bump of any kind. If that’s you, you’re in good company. But those who are experienced in such things tell me the effects of a solar eclipse sometimes don’t manifest themselves until days or even weeks afterward.
So a regularly-occurring astronomical event I wasn’t prepared for wasn’t as impressive as I expected but when it was over I felt much better. What could that possibly mean?
Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe it’s nothing significant. Maybe the significance will become obvious over time. Or maybe it won’t.
But I’m adding this to my list of strange occurrences, and sharing it for comparison. We don’t share enough of our unusual and extraordinary experiences, so we don’t know what to look for, so many times we don’t recognize them when we have them. And that makes it harder to put together a picture of what’s really going on.
I’m thankful for less pain, a clearer head, and freely flowing Awen, no matter what the source.
And on Monday, April 8, 2024, I’ll try to be better prepared. That’s the next solar eclipse in the United States… and the path of totality runs straight through North Texas.