Throughout history, eclipses have been considered to be very powerful phenomena. This was especially so in ancient times when they fell on important places in the horoscopes of kings and countries. In those days, astronomy and astrology were not divided, and because religious and other ceremonies were set to take place in accordance with the stars, priests were the acting astrologers. In fact, it was only the very influential who were privy to the services of an astrologer. Leaders ran their countries according to the information provided; eclipses were thought to be of special significance and to precede famine, prosperity, disease, war, and other broad-scale events affecting the multitudes. If an eclipse occurred within a few degrees of the Sun, Moon, or Midheaven of a leader or a country, they were regarded with much anticipation and as being reflective of coming events well into the future.
Drawing on information provided them by their astrologers, some leaders used this private knowledge to manipulate their subjects, instilling fear in the common people by promising that a dragon would come to devour the Sun on a certain day and at a certain time. Although impressed by his accurate vision of the future, people came to be terrified of eclipses. Noisy ceremonies were performed, complete with beating drums and shooting arrows, to chase away the evil dragon they believed was trying to consume the Sun.
Eclipses occur when the Sun, Moon, and Earth come into a straight line. With a Solar Eclipse, the Moon casts a shadow upon the Sun as the Moon passes directly between the Earth and Sun. The Moon eventually becomes contained within the Sun's disk and, with a Total Solar Eclipse, there's a narrow rim of sunlight that is visible around the Moon during the totality of the eclipse. A Solar Eclipse occurs when the New Moon forms within eighteen and a half degrees of one of the Lunar Nodes; the motion of the nodes is about nineteen degrees per year backward through the zodiac. Conditions are just right for Solar Eclipses to occur during two time periods each year. Most years we have only two Solar Eclipses, as the Sun moves into the zodiac sign occupied by either the North or South Node; some years, however, there are more. A Solar Eclipse lasts on average between three and four hours from the beginning to the end of the shadow phases. These eclipses are considered to foreshadow events affecting nobility, leaders, and countries.
A Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Full Moon forms within roughly twelve degrees of the North or South Lunar Node, and results from the Earth coming directly between the Sun and Moon. The Moon loses its reflected light from the Sun as the Earth interrupts it, and often the Moon appears to turn dark red while in the Earth's shadow. A Lunar Eclipse usually occurs two weeks before or two weeks after a Solar Eclipse, though it is possible to have a Lunar Eclipse both before and after a Solar Eclipse. In those instances we have a series of three eclipses in a row, each two weeks apart. A Lunar Eclipse lasts an average of four to five hours from beginning to end of the shadow phases. These eclipses have long been believed to foreshadow events affecting the common people.
The lunar nodes themselves, though nothing more than a point of intersection and not planetary bodies at all, are a point for potentially dynamic activity. These invisible nodes mark a point of magnetism, drawing upon the vibrations of other nearby bodies to a powerful degree. The nodes in close contact to the Sun or Moon are most relevant to earth's inhabitants and the closer they fall to the degree in which the Sun and Moon form their conjunction (New Moon) or opposition (Full Moon), the more powerful the eclipse potential to presage events of magnitude.
Stemming from the ancient lore surrounding eclipses, the names Dragon's Head and Dragon's Tail were given to differentiate the North and South Nodes. The North Node is ascending, of a positive nature, while the South Node is descending and receptive in nature. The North Node appears to bestow special strength and a blessing, while the South Node reflects an area of potential vulnerability. The North Node is all about getting and the South Node is all about giving.
In a general way you can track the transiting North Node through your chart to find the areas to focus your attention and energy that will result in some good coming to you. This is an area of opportunity, where rewards, good fortune, and happiness can be found. By directing your efforts there, rewards easily come forth. The house occupied by the transiting South Node indicates an area of potential vulnerability, where you may be working through an issue, and where you might experience some loss or make a sacrifice. Sometimes it means you have a gift to share and the Universe expects something from you.
Since the transiting nodes indicate where eclipses will be forming, you can see ahead of time what areas in your life and which relationships are due for change or transformation. An eclipse always means that some amount of change is due, or sometimes overdue. If one has neglected the matters, issues, or relationship delegated to a house, then an eclipse of the South Node influence falling in that house may bring a sort of crisis in order to turn things around and bring things back into a healthier balance. On the other hand, an eclipse falling in a house of the North Node influence may open new doors and present major life-changing opportunities.
When an eclipse aligns closely with one of your planets, the significance of the eclipse for you is intensified. The closer the eclipse aligns with your natal planet, the more important it is. One of the most dynamic places for an eclipse to occur is when it falls on your Sun. This happens if an eclipse falls on or near your birthday. This ushers in an important year because the Sun rules your very identity, your individuality, and your sense of being a unique person. The Sun also rules your vitality and your health to a large degree. Since an eclipse automatically ushers in change and transformation, it brings in a year of making important contacts and critical decisions, as one is often gaining greater notice. While there are several variables involved in interpreting this eclipse to see if it will increase or decrease the recognition and admiration coming to you, it will sometimes cause you to become a little accident-prone. With either this eclipse or an eclipse falling exactly six months from your birthday (180 days or close to it), it is important to guard your health and maintain your regular check ups.
When an eclipse falls on your Moon, your Venus, your Mars, or any other planet, it is very meaningful; the nature of the planet as well as its house position is significant in determining the likely changes that you are entering into. It is similar with an eclipse falling on your Ascendant or Midheaven. Also, each eclipse can be one of four types. We have the North Node Solar Eclipse, the South Node Solar Eclipse, the North Node Lunar Eclipse, and the South Node Lunar Eclipse. They are each unique and they each imbue your planet with a drastically different energy, resulting in different experiences being associated with each. My book, Eclipses: Predicting World Events & Personal Transformation, explains all of this in detail and offers summaries of the kinds of experiences stemming from an eclipse falling on any one of your planets or important points.
If one wants to be thorough in tracing personal eclipses in a horoscope, the progressed places of the planets should also be considered. Eclipses to these are also important.
In the outside world and in our personal lives, an eclipse is a dynamic transit that often coincides with important developments. It contains a stimulating and excitable energy that is sometimes a bit destabilizing. Activity often increases shortly following an eclipse (or even prior to the eclipse, in some cases). This is why it's recommended to hold off on making major, life-altering changes or decisions around the time of an eclipse. The atmospheric energy needs a little time to settle out. That way your new plan, project, or strategy has a better chance of stabilizing and working out in your favor. Everyone feels the stimulation of an eclipse to some degree. For some it is subtle, while for others it can be quite intense. It can be enlightening to simply observe the things going on around you at eclipse time. Sometimes a relatively small incident gives clues to issues that will take on more importance in the months to come.
The degree of an eclipse remains hot for some time due to the influence of the nodal factor that more or less turned a regular New Moon into a Super New Moon, or an ordinary Full Moon into a Super Full Moon. That degree is prone to stimulation from other transiting planets following the eclipse. The period of time that the degree remains sensitive often lasts three years or more. So, an eclipse falling on a natal planet supercharges that planet and it becomes quite sensitive to transits for a good while. In other words, more major events may come about when this eclipsed natal planet is transited by any other planetary body than if it had not been eclipsed. Ideally, each transit should be monitored.
Transits of Mars and Saturn were traditionally considered to be most notable as they crossed an eclipsed degree. Mars stimulates and starts events connected with an eclipse. Mars is quick on the draw, often premature. Saturn consummates the eclipse conditions. Mars frequently activates an eclipse shortly following the eclipse, although Saturn's transit may come much later. Of course, ancient astrologers had no opportunity to observe the transits of the outer planets as they crossed an eclipsed degree. Research shows that each of the planetary transits can be traced to coincide with spectacular events as they stimulate an active eclipse, just as Mars and Saturn do.
All of this information can be found in my book, Eclipses: Predicting World Events & Personal Transformation. It is possible to make some amazingly accurate forecasts based only on the eclipse factors influencing a horoscope when you know what to look for. I would encourage astrologers of all levels to brush up on their skills for interpreting eclipses. You'll find things you wouldn't otherwise find. Wishing you the best in your studies, and many happy eclipses!