This week hosts the latest penumbral lunar eclipse in our immediate galactic neighbourhood. A lunar eclipse occurs at full moon when the Moon shimmies into Earth's shadow. In effect, our precious planet aligns between Sun and Moon temporarily preventing direct sunlight from illuminating the full face of Lady Luna. The Moon’s reflected light is therefore dimmed and takes on a reddish hue during proceedings. A penumbral eclipse is not ‘total’, only partially blocking the sun’s light, and is therefore quite easy to miss unless you know what you’re looking for. In the UK this week, the whole dance takes just over an hour starting a few minutes before 5 a.m. Geographic location determines who on the planet will get to see an eclipse and, weather permitting, those living on longitudes from Eastern Australia through the Americas and Europe to West Africa will get a good view of the moon’s surface taking a pinkish tinge.

Most historic wisdom traditions worked to a lunar calendar. It was reliable and relatively easy to access before the development of clock technology and was used as a marker in the agricultural cycle for planting seed and collecting harvest, as well as the timing of religious festivals and rites.

The coming week’s full moon eclipse marks the midpoint of Ramadan, the Islamic festival celebrating the month in which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Determined by their lunar calendar, the month-long festival begins with the sighting of the crescent moon at the end of the Islamic month of Shaban and ends with the crescent moon just before the next new moon in Shawaal. The festival is observed in daily fasting between sunrise and sunset during which adherents are invited to contemplate their spirituality. The simple discipline of fasting encourages an altered state, divorced from daily routine and habit, conducive to deeper prayer. Similarly to Easter, marked as the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring/vernal equinox in the Christian calendar, the exact dates of Ramadan change every year. Further calendar parallels can be drawn between Ramadan and the Christian observance of Lent, the six week period leading up to Easter in which Christians also fast, pray and determine to help those in need.

(...But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.)

(Al-Baqarah 2:184)

It is noteworthy that the dates of two major festivals in the great Abrahamic faiths of Islam and Christianity are still determined specifically by the orbit and cycles of the Moon on or around the midpoint of the Sun cycle at spring equinox each year. These major belief systems of the modern world still rely on archaic astrological reference points to align with the cultural heritage of past generations. The observed movements of planets and stars still provide a tangible way of remembering cultural identity - the who and what we are on Earth.

(Man is a microcosm, or a little world, because he is an extract from all the stars and planets of the whole firmament, from the earth and the elements; and so he is their quintessence.)


Astrologically speaking, this lunar eclipse reaches its peak in the star sign of Libra. Libra is traditionally seen as the sign of ordered sociability symbolised by a set of balanced scales. These are said to represent the higher aspects of our relationships and society: justice, equity and peaceful civility. It’s no accident that a golden statue of a majestically crowned woman carrying a balanced set of scales stands on the roof of the British High Court in London. She is Lady Justice, a goddess image dating back to ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome, consummately balanced upon a globe that could be mistaken as Earth or Sun but arcane reference would suggest is most probably the Moon herself. And it’s no additional accident that a Libra moon regularly falls in and around the vernal equinox - itself a fleeting but highly symbolic moment of planetary balance where the length of Earth’s night perfectly equates with the hours of daylight. Be under no illusion folks, this Libra moon majors on balance, in our personal lives and beyond.

During this week’s lunar eclipse, the Libra Full Moon’s light will be diminished as Earth’s shadow temporarily prevails. Astrologists might predict that the bright brilliance of balanced equity we could have expected to enjoy becomes shaded by the shadowy world of our subconscious. The psychologist Carl Jung described issues rising from the subconscious as ‘shadow material’ and the lunar sensitive amongst us may find the influence of this eclipse bringing all sorts of previously concealed emotional challenges suddenly into sharp focus.

(Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate. I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. You are what you do, not what you say you'll do.)

(Carl Jung)

Rather than running scared from the challenges that present, a lunar eclipse offers a powerful opportunity for insight into the state of play in our own lives and the world in which we operate. What are the uncomfortable questions in our own lives still to be addressed and assimilated? What has been concealed under years of life story that still requires acknowledgement? Under stress, what habitual behaviour traits do we exhibit that are detrimental to self and those around us? How do we relate to our fellow humans, all creatures great and small and the planet we inhabit? What are our emotional default settings when we’re not in fight or flight mode? Which emotions drive our aspirations and which fuel potential inertia - anger, jealousy, competitiveness, loneliness, helplessness, greed, avarice, regret and sadness, or the hope, faith and charity potentially inspired by Ramadan and Lent?

(Lent is a time of going very deeply into ourselves... What is it that stands between us and God? Between us and our brothers and sisters? Between us and life, the life of the Spirit? Whatever it is, let us relentlessly tear it out, without a moment's hesitation.)

(Catherine Doherty)

It is rare that we give time in our busy lives to these deeper considerations yet the underlying trends in our subconscious colour the surface textures of everyday experience. In taking regular opportunities to look at the shadowlands of our inner world we command a more informed perspective of our reactions to circumstance. With developed awareness of what makes us tick - good and bad - we can more consciously employ our thoughts, words and deeds to create the world we want to inhabit. In this way the inner world swiftly manifests its way to the outer. From the shadows of the past we emerge into the light of awakened experience in the present moment.

(Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”)

(Carl Jung)

And outwardly, Lady Justice seems currently to reside almost permanently in the shadows. The information we digest from international media and news corporations remains almost exclusively harrowing. It breeds fear and loathing, division and discontent and should generally be avoided. Humanity presents itself as divorced from the concepts of equity and justice, capable of perpetrating daily acts of brutal violence against itself. As a species, it appears we cultivate a self fulfilling deathwish at every turn.

(Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.)

(Helen Keller)

But this is not a time to turn away from the shadows of human conceived atrocity and hardship that blight us all. In the shadow cast by our own earthly presence we can intimately examine the darkside of personal and collective behaviour to evoke positive change. In the shade of this Libra Lunar Eclipse, it might serve us well to find a little quiet, quality time to get up close and personal with our inner Lady Justice to explore areas in our own lives where thought, word and action do not balance the scales of equitable social justice that most of us claim to hold dear.

(Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.)

(Haille Selassi)