By Vijaya Subramanian
A pause allows us to choose how we respond. The great pause in 2020 is giving the world a space to think consciously about its daily life and activities. This pause is also helping us to reintroduce ourselves to the rhythm of the nature. The most observable movement in nature is the movement of the Sun and the seasons created by it.
All bounties in the form of energy and food are blessed by the Sun. When living beings both animals and plants move away from the rhythm of the Sun they are living in anṛtam (अनृतम्), not true to nature. They will consequently suffer from low energy (prāṇa) in the form of lower immunity, fertility and nutrition. Embracing modern life and its endless baggage of needs and wants has made mankind ignore it’s synchronicity to nature.
The Sun is the soul of all and it shows the macro consciousness at any point in earth. The Sun has been fervently worshipped by all ancient civilisations. Solstices are considered a special time of the year when the sun appears to have stopped or paused. The word solstice comes from the Latin word solstitum, a combination of the words – sol meaning Sun and stitium meaning to stop. When planets are in a pause they are considered most powerful.
On the day of solstice, the Sun is seen in the southern-most position (Tropic of Capricorn) or the northern-most position (Tropic of Cancer) from Earth. On this day, the maximum declination (Earth’s axial tilt toward the Sun) of 23.44° South or North is reached. Declination is termed as krānti in Sanskrit and it confers a special strength of focus to planets called ayana balā that is calculated using a tropical zodiac.
The solstices were celebrated as turning points in life. The two periods of the Sun’s movement were marked in the Vedic calendar as uttarāyaṇa and dakṣināyaṇa. It was said that Gods awakened in uttarāyaṇa, when the declination was at the southern tip and the journey to the northern goal started. The festival of Makara Sankranti in India marks the beginning of the new month after the winter solstice. On the summer solstice when the northern goal was reached and the apparent direction of the Sun changes to south, it was said that the Gods went into a slumber and it was a time for earthly beings to enjoy material pursuits.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice marks the official beginning of deep winter. It is the shortest day of the year with the longest shadows and fewest daylight hours. This is point in life for contemplation and reflection. It has been popularly claimed that the celebration of Christ’s birthday on the 25th December around the solstice was essentially replacing the tradition of the Roman’s feast, of the birth of the unconquered sun (natalis solis invicti)- the Roman name for the winter solstice.
The summer solstice is the day with the longest period of daylight as the Arctic Circle experiences the midnight Sun. In many parts of world it is celebrated as the Midsummer festival which includes merry making and rituals for increasing fertility.
In ancient times, an eclipse was often considered as a dramatic violation of the natural order and extremely inauspicious around key events such as the solstice. Eclipses are all about shadows and hidden desires. The nodes are always involved in an eclipse and they create conditions where the mind is churned between the opposite needs of materialism and liberation. There is a choice to be made which is highlighted in the story of creation of Rahu. Rahu was born to Simhikā one of the wives of Sage Kashyapa. He was granted the status of planet and the power to devour the luminaries Sun and Moon by Bṛahma. Vishnu, the sustainer cut Rahu’s head off by hurling his discus and pronounced “Let the Bṛahma’s words not go to waste. In your time, you may devour the two luminaries and thereby indicate the good and bad things for the world. ”
Varahamihīrā, the Indian astronomer in his treatise Bṛhat Samhitā said “an eclipse occurring in the winter solstice is harmful to the advisers, ministers, intellectuals and the rulers. Whereas the eclipse on the summer solstice is more harmful to traders and workers. ”
The solar eclipse on December 26th was significant not only because it occurred close to the winter solstice, but it was also an annular one, called a “ring of fire eclipse.” This phenomena happens when the moon is far from Earth on its monthly elliptical orbit, so appears to be smaller in the sky than the Sun. Starting as a partial solar eclipse, it peaks as a circle around the moon creating a ring of fire around the Sun. The upcoming one on June 21st 2020 is also an annular eclipse occurring within a few hours of the summer solstice.
Varahamihīrā called these “ring of fire” eclipses as Madhyatamas meaning central darkness, and that “it is an evil omen and will destroy people and afflict humanity with fear, stomach troubles and disease. ”
I write about solar eclipses regularly and had expected the December eclipse to uproot existing stale energies and bring forth a new future in 2020, however not before some pain is experienced  . With hindsight one can see the finer details now. The pandemic of the Coronavirus has gripped the world in terror. The world leaders, scientists and doctors are scrambling to save their people and economies. We had Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of UK hospitalised with the Coronavirus. As the next eclipse is on the summer eclipse, we should expect financial trouble and stress to continue.
 Page 42, Chapter V- Rahu’s course by M. Ramakrishna Bhat Varahamihīrā’s Bṛhat Samhitā
 Varahamihīrā’s Bṛhat Samhitā Verse 5.32, M. Ramakrishna Bhat
 Varahamihīrā’s Bṛhat Samhitā Verse 5.51, M. Ramakrishna Bhat
Annular Solar eclipse December 26th 2019
An annular eclipse was seen in the early hours after Christmas Day, a few days after the winter solstice. This eclipse was visible mostly in Asia and Australia and specifically in Saudi Arabia, India, the Island of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia and Malaysia. The eclipse in Sagittarius was in Mūla nakṣatra. Mūla means a root and shows a fixed position, trapped or bound like roots of a tree. The presiding deity is the Goddess of Disorder, Nirṛti. She represents the typical energy of chaos and one must have some of it before we can get new order.
True to Varahamihīrā’s saying, the “ring of fire” eclipse brought the world fear and disease. The foundations of our existence and the comfort are now being threatened by this pandemic. Confined within our homes, we have time to reflect on our actions and emotions and what brings us true happiness. This period will expose the actions we need to discard, to which we were tied out of sheer habit, that are actually harmful to living beings or the planet. Newer habits need to be cultivated to lead a more sustainable life.
The greater the number of planets in an eclipsed house, the more the eclipse effect is magnified, as there is a higher potential for havoc and terror by Rahu. It is said that devas or divine beings are fed by the oblations and offerings of mankind in their regular activities, whereas Rahu only gets fed at eclipses. This point is illustrated by the quote from Bṛhat Samhitā “A boon was conferred to Rahu by the Creator – Bṛahma – Thou shall sustain thyself by means of the oblations offered to the sacred fire at an eclipse ”. The significations of planets and houses ruled by them get damaged when present in the eclipsed house. Too many planets in the eclipsed house creates a scenario for a global event.
 M. Ramakrishna Bhat Varahamihīrā’s Bṛhat Samhitā – illustrates this point in Page 45, Verse 14 quoting Bṛhma Samhitā.
When we cast the horoscope for the eclipse at its peak, five planets Sun, Saturn, Moon, Mercury and Jupiter are crammed into Sagittarius with Ketu, creating a situation for explosive energies to unleash themselves. The biggest hit was taken by Jupiter representing life itself, and it is combust and hemmed in between Sun and Saturn. Mercury is also combust indicating the suffering of businessmen and artists. Mars represents the army and agriculturists, who are less affected. Similarly Venus representing women, healers and service is outside the eclipsed house.
The eclipse showed the potential for war or strife as all the all the visible planets were in 3 houses forming Shula (weapon) yoga. Sagittarius is also a sign of war. Mars becomes the controlling planet and was not involved in the eclipsed house. The skills of Mars include logic, strategy and organisation of resources all of which are being put to use in this war like situation in tackling the Coronavirus. The effect of the eclipse is expected to last at least 6 months which means that it will be summer before we can hope to return to some normalcy.
In London, this eclipse was mostly a phenomenon of the night as it ended before the sunrise. If we divide the night into 7 equal parts then, Mercury representing business, trade, artists and foreign visitors and dignitaries took the biggest hit with the eclipse peaking in the period ruled by it. The period of Sun caught the tail end of eclipse. Sun represents the State and the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson was incapacitated by the Coronavirus and is now recovering.
Annular Solar Eclipse June 21, 2020
The next solar eclipse starts in the early hours of June 21st, right after the summer solstice on June 20th at 22.43 hrs. The eclipse is also an annular one visible in large parts of Africa, Southern and Eastern Europe India, Nepal and China. The path of the peak eclipse will be at the border of Nepal and India. This will be the last eclipse in Gemini-Sagittarius axis where the nodes are exalted. Exalted nodes bring about a heavy karma and combined with a solstice, the impact should be memorable. The last time we have an eclipse on the same day as the summer solstice with the nodes exalted in Mṛgaśiraṣa was in the year 2001. The forthcoming eclipse is in the 4th pada of Mṛgaśiraṣa nakṣatra in the sign of Gemini. The deity ruling Mṛgaśiraṣa is Soma and is known for sensitivity and a sensual nature. There is a lot of desire in this nakṣatra but it is also credited with healing powers.
There will be a huge impetus to find a cure for the virus with a strong Venus in Taurus. Most planets are retrograde indicating that there will be many trials and attempts at solving the issues created by the pandemic. The only planet that is not retrograde is Mars and it aspects the eclipsed house. Jupiter and Saturn are in a conjunction in the sign of Capricorn, the union is called Bṛahma yoga, which is a harbinger of a huge creative effort. Often the blessing is in the opposite sign, which is the sign of Cancer which represents healing and the ability to find a vaccine. Capricorn is an earth sign and is considered not very fruitful. One reaps the reward of only 25 percent of the efforts made.
Jupiter is very weak as it in the sandhi (below 1°) retrograding slowly back into Sagittarius. Jupiter will re-enter Capricorn twice to meet Saturn, once in November 2020 from Sagittarius and then in September 2021 from Aquarius. The repeated conjunctions show the trials in finding a solution to the pandemic and a breakthrough is possible only when Jupiter gets an upper hand in the conjunction which is not till the very end of the year in December 2020. Mass production of the vaccine will take further time and a permanent solution in the form of relief to all should be available around the final conjunction of the two planets in September 2021.
Mercury is the key planet in the horoscope as all the planets are in four signs in Kedāra yoga and it is also the ruler of the eclipsed house. Mercury is in Gemini and is not combust but retrograde and indicating that recovery of business will take some effort and time.
The eclipse chart cast for the peak eclipse time of 7.41hrs in London, has a Cancer Ascendant and the eclipse in 12th house of Gemini. Sun is in 12th in the position of marana (death) and he rules the 2nd house of finances. The 11th house of gains is strong with Venus in its own house aspecting the ascendant, but it is also a badhaka so it can show unexpected troubles from foreign sources or women. Venus could also represent the health services or a multi-lateral organisation like the WHO.
The progressed chart of UK-1945 (this is using a progression of 144 years from 1801) has its Ascendant in the sign of Leo and Gemini, the eclipsed house will be the 11th house of gains and punishment indicating a cash flow problem with businesses. Sun is also the lord of the Ascendant and this can prove to be troublesome for the health of the country and it will struggle to get its finances in order.
Sun also represents the people in power in UK. Boris Johnson, the prime Minister has his natal Sun in 5°6 minutes of Gemini and suffers a direct hit. This can mean that he can suffer some ill-health, loss of power or reputation in the six months after eclipse till December 2020. Using the method taught by Pandit Rath, the day is divided into 7 equal parts, the eclipse starts in the hour ruled by Jupiter and peaks in the hour of Mars. Minsters, advisers, intellectuals, scientists and educational institutions indicated by Jupiter will suffer. Areas ruled by Mars will struggle most – viz. Army, land and property, sports and agriculture. As Sun rules the hour that comes after the eclipse, there is a glimmer of hope that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson should be able to hold the fort through these troubled times.
In conclusion, the solar eclipses around the solstices have created a huge opportunity for us to pause, reflect and rethink our directions. From every crisis there is a possibility of a positive change.
This is the moment that truly captures the saying of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche “You must carry a chaos inside you to give birth to a dancing star.”
Teachings of Pandit Sanjay Rath at the workshop on Eclipses 2010, London.
Pandit Sanjay Rath’s article -The eclipse factor, Jyotish Digest, Sagittarius Publications – July-Sep 2003.
Bṛhat Samhitā – Varahamihīrā, M. Ramakṛishna Bhat, Part 1, Motilal Banarasidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd, Delhi, India.
Eclipse Data from https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/solar.html
Vijaya has been a member of BAVA since 2004 and a regular speaker in their annual conference since 2012. She is a practising Vedic astrologer in London and has obtained the certificate of Jyotisha Pandita, after studying the Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra with her Guru Pandit Sanjay Rath She is currently co-teaching the same programme in Europe. As part of continuing studies she is studying the Jaimini Sutras and Mantra Sastra with her Guru. She has been an ardent student of Vedanta since 1998 and is under the guidance of Swami Parmarthananda, a disciple of Swami Dayananda of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam. She teaches the philosophy of Vedanta to yoga teachers in their training programmes in the UK www.vijayajyoti.com
This article appears in the Spring edition of Gochara, which is free to members.