We were lucky to watch the Annular Solar Eclipse (ASE) on October 14, 2023, just a few minutes before noon Central Daylight Time. According to NASA, “During an ASE, the moon appears slightly smaller than the sun, so it can’t block the entire surface. The result is a beautiful ‘ring of fire.’” Although we were not in the direct path of the phenomenon (a few hundred miles east of the “ring of fire” maximum coverage), we enjoyed it and were amazed by the light play through the leaves of trees. The last time we could was in 2012, when an ASE took an almost identical path, stretching from Oregon through northern California, northeast Nevada, central Utah, northeast Arizona, southwest Colorado, central New Mexico, and southern Texas. It is not an uncommon event, but it is rare to witness multiple times (due to the narrow path of annularity: 118 to 137 miles (190 to 220 kilometers) wide).
Armed with NASA-approved solar eclipse glasses, we did not stare at the eclipse for its entire duration but stole more glances as it peaked. When we were not looking up, we were looking around. What a sight it was! One that did and does not require protective glasses. Objects like trees and bushes help create natural “pinhole” lenses, projecting numerous mini crescents on the ground and walls, an effect known as “crescent shadows.” During an eclipse, not every ray of light can pass through to the ground, leaving only the rays at a certain angle to make it. As the surroundings change when a solar eclipse reaches its peak, colors lose contrast, and shadows are much sharper. The photo leading this post reflects that occurrence – at first glance, it looks like a pile of feathers on the ground.
Different cultural, mythological, and spiritual meanings are given to events such as a solar eclipse. In ancient times, an eclipse often created fear and the belief that the world would end. Myths and folklore are laden with the Sun and the Moon fighting one another or being attacked by some creature and Earth invariably being at the peril of destruction. Many parts of the world believe that a solar eclipse could or can cause sickness, plagues, and prompt utterly unfavorable, if not harmful, events. Even in the 21st century, human behavior is affected by a solar eclipse. Just 13 years ago, some people refused to go outdoors or eat or would burst out in tears for no reason other than the uncomfortable “air” and “darkness.”
I have a different take on such celestial or cosmic events. I see them as opportunities to pause and reflect. Lunar eclipses, solar eclipses, supermoons, and new moons are transformative events – I find myself attuned to the concept of renewal, using those moments to reflect and let go of burdens and painful memories.
I set intentions, visualize, and focus on what I must change and want to create. It is augmenting the natural energy transformation around me and converting it into soul food. If it is true that whenever we set out for clarity and a new path ahead, we must leave the old one, then there is no better time than attuning to nature. The cyclical nature of life, the interconnectedness of all things, and the power of nature remind me I am matter and energy.
On the heels of the annular solar eclipse a week ago, the determination and resolve to walk on a fiercely veracious path took shape. There is no time like the present, as the saying goes. Societal constructs and ensuing alarming humanity regressions, a burden of emotions that has run its course – all that is left behind. It is no longer fitting in but belonging. A total solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024 (170 days from now); at that time, we will be in the path of totality for 3 minutes and 52 seconds. I look forward to the moment of meaningful reflection on what this parenthesis between now and then will look like.