This Sunday night, September 27th, a full lunar eclipse will occur. For those of us on the East Coast of North America, it will reach its climax around 10:47 pm. It will also be visible from Europe, Africa, western Asia, and the eastern Pacific Ocean. It is the last in a series of four total lunar eclipses, commonly called a tetrad, which began last year. This event also happens to coincide with the lunar perigee, meaning that the moon will be a “supermoon” on Sunday as it reaches the closest part of its orbit to earth. This is the first time an eclipse has coincided with a supermoon in over three decades. The next total eclipse will not take place until 2018. The next supermoon eclipse will not occur until 2033.
Throughout history, eclipses have evoked fear, consternation, excitement, and awe. And even though humans have understood their scientific cause and have been able to accurately predict them for quite some time, the temporary “loss” of our moon still inspires the same emotions. Some prominent evangelical Christian leaders have taken to calling this tetrad of eclipses “blood moons” and are warning that they are the fulfillment of biblical prophecies that herald the end times, never mind the fact that there will be a total of eight eclipse tetrads in the 21st century alone, or that we know that lunar eclipses appear red due to light from the sun being dispersed through the earth’s atmosphere before it strikes the moon’s surface.
As pagans there are plenty of productive ways we can mark this rare occurrence with excitement, awe, and introspection. The most obvious activity would be a simple outdoor observation of the eclipse. Depending on your mood and personal preference, a solitary viewing would offer a completely different experience than watching the moon fade and return with friends or family. You could add a bonfire, food, or music to personalize the event further. Your location will also make a big difference, of course. Do you want to watch from a bustling city center, interacting (even if silently) with other fellow human beings as they move around you beneath our shared satellite? Or would you prefer a clearing in a forest or an isolated farm field? Perhaps your suburban back yard is the best place.
The supermoon eclipse is a good time to perform a rite of passage, as new beginnings are more memorable and seem to take on more importance and finality when done during a time of astronomical significance. Do you have any new resolutions or goals you would like to start working toward? This could be a great opportunity to give them a formal commencement. Or maybe you have a relationship you’d like to bless or heal. Perhaps you are at the culmination of a project or phase in your life. You could dedicate that work or the products of that work during this event, or commemorate the memories of that period of time.
If, like me, you enjoy playing with superstition, the eclipse could be a fortuitous time to perform a seasonal task that is part of your wheel of the year. Bringing your plants indoors for the season, cleaning out your garden, or breaking out the first jar of pickles or jams made during the summer would take on added personal significance if done during this time. If you practice magic, it has been said that spells performed during eclipses are more powerful and more binding. And tarot card readings and other methods of divination could be more meaningful if done during this time.
Whatever you decide to do in conjunction with the supermoon eclipse this weekend, begin planning and preparing now. The only thing we as pagans should fear about this rare astrological event is the regret of not having appreciated it fully.
Pagan Prayer for the Total Eclipse
In you we see ourselves
Reflected back from your calm, bright surface.
Leave us, as you must, at this sacred moment.
Transverse the entire cycle tonight
To illuminate our paths once more.
(Repeat the following as a chant)