" At once this disk of sky slid over the sun like a lid…
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution
A Solar Eclipse is the obscuration of the light of the sun by the intervention of the moon between it and a point on the earth.
The word hatha, as an umbrella form of physical yoga practice, actually contains the Sanskrit words for sun (ha) and moon (tha). For centuries, yogis have been observing the relationship between humans and astronomical objects like the sun, moon, and stars including Sun and Moon Salutations as a series of poses in greeting of the Sun and the Moon.
Hannah in Half Moon Pose at Aztec Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacan
In astrology, the moon represents the feminine model of the mother. She is associated with cooling, grounding, releasing, reflecting, and inspiration with the second sacral chakra. The Sun, on the other hand, is classically connected with the masculine realm and the father. Our sun chakra, the solar plexus, governs our ego just as the sun at the center of the solar system controls the planets that revolve around it. The Sun reveals the sources from which we draw our power and energy. (Mind Body Green)
A solar eclipse is an opportunity to develop connectedness, between our control of willpower with the introspection of the new moon that can release the veil of unconsciousness. This is our opportunity to be invigorated with more intentional awareness. During this event, our individual electromagnetic fields alter so that our energy resonates with the new frequency incoming from the universe. These powerful moments give us the energetic push we need so that we bring forth the fresh beginnings that we have been struggling to generate. We can pause and listen to our spirit’s guiding whispers.
According to Elephant Journal, “Eclipses are a reminder that our soul is aware of our destiny and inherently knows which roads will lead to love and the fulfillment of our mission and purpose.”
In her essay, Total Eclipse, Annie Dillard describes her awakening to the great power of the Universe, as she distances herself from the troubles that humans face in daily life. She understands that she previously failed to understand the essence of human life while being focused on daily routines that consumed time and effort. When she observes the natural phenomenon, she re-evaluates her perspective and finds unity of humankind with majestic nature. She emphasizes the concept of spending your time wisely by being in the moment, soaking up the sounds, colors, and textures as she urges, “Spend the afternoon…You can't take it with you.”
Although, here in San Diego, we will only be experiencing a partial eclipse on August 21, 2017, Annie Dillard still finds this experience as a worthwhile way to spend your time, “A partial eclipse is very interesting. It bears almost no relation to a total eclipse. Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane…However, during a partial eclipse the air does indeed get cold, precisely as if someone were standing between you and the fire.”
Will you let go of your routine to take the time to feel the cooling, reflective effects of the moon energy?
Will you allow yourself to feel the thrill of energy as the sun peaks through, like a new kiss or your first time flying in an airplane?
Annie comprehends that her past and present, as well as future, are simply moments related to the eternity of the world and the universe. She expresses that the total eclipse, darkness of the new moon, is a symbol of her own, as well as humankind’s, blindness, while the sun is the symbol of enlightenment.
She describes her observations of color in the moment, “I turned back to the sun. It was going. This color has never been seen on earth. The hues were metallic; their finish was matte. The hillside was a nineteenth-century tinted photograph from which the tints had faded. All the people you see in the photograph, distinct and detailed as their faces look, are now dead. The sky was navy blue. My hands were silver. All the distant hills’ grasses were finespun metal which the wind laid down. I was watching a faded color print of a movie filmed in the Middle Ages; I was standing in it, by some mistake.”
Likewise, Phil Cousineau emphasizes the importance of observing sights, sounds, and feelings during moments of your spiritual journey.
“What matters most on your journey is how deeply you see, how attentively you hear, how richly the encounters are felt in your heart and soul.”
Next summer (2018), I’m leading a Meditative Yoga Pilgrimage along the Road to Santiago in Northern Spain. Pilgrims along this route, the French Way, often start in Saint Jean Pied du Port and usually end in Santiago de Compostella (I’ll share the reason in just a moment). However, the road keeps going until you reach the Atlantic Ocean.
Via Finisterre (from Latin, the Way to Land’s End), is believed to be a magical place and altar dedicated to the Dying Sun (Ara Solis). This journey enlightens one’s soul as the concept of the sun dying is an emotional response similar to the effect of an eclipse. In ancient times, people did not understand the orbits of the moons and planets. However, just as the sun disappears every day, it returns again the next morning illustrating rebirth and a fresh start.
One thousand years before Christ, Celtic people from all over Europe traveled along this route, in modern day Spain, in search of Land’s End and the Sun’s resting place, celebrating all sorts of ceremonies, as did people before them. They believed the sun died and the worlds of the dead and the living became closer. Prayers would be said and offerings would be made to please the gods along this rocky and treacherous Coast of Death that was believed to be the end of the world.
Legends from Celtic and Iberian tribal origins believed the souls of the dead gathered here to follow the sun across the sea. For these people, and many modern pilgrims ending their treks here, watching the sun set over the endless waters was a spiritual experience. As a symbolic gesture of death and rebirth, it is tradition to burn one’s old clothes, discard worn boots, and build rock sculptures of gratitude.
“Ancient wisdom suggests if you aren't trembling as you approach the sacred, it isn't the real thing. The sacred, in its various guises as holy ground, art, or knowledge, evokes emotion and commotion.”
Along the present day Camino Frances, Road to Santiago, from southern France, the Pyrenees are dotted with dozens of stone circles or cromlechs, dating back to prehistoric times. Studies have shown that these stone circles represent stars reflected on earth from the sky above, and if viewed in groupings, reveal the precise configuration of constellations in the same way the three major pyramids of Giza mirror the stars of Orion’s belt.
According to the Christian tradition, when the apostles spread out across the known world to preach the Christian gospel, James from Galicia (Northwestern Spain), was beheaded by Herod, becoming the first apostolic martyr in 44AD. His followers took his body back home, where it was buried inland.
In 814 AD, Pelayo was following a guiding star when he was said to have discovered the tomb of St. James. Upon finding the bones of St. James, King Alfonso II ordered that a church be established over St. James’ corpse, the famous Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. In the Middle Ages this route became very popular for spiritual seeking, forgiveness, and healing and within the past 20 years, it has once again risen to that popularity. Many of the pagan ancient temples and holy places were then buried under Christian cathedrals and shrines.
An ancient definition of the word pilgrimage translates to one who goes “through the fields.” ‘Compostela’ element of the city’s name comes from the Latin ‘Campus Stellae’ meaning field of stars. Combined, this declares the town’s name to be ‘Saint James of the Field of Stars’. The Way of Saint James is the stellar route, accessible to the courageous and persevering who associate with these qualities of the sun, our solar system’s star.
Field of Stars- The Way of Saint James as a Stellar Route
According to a common medieval legend, the Milky Way was formed from the dust raised by traveling pilgrims. At night, the Milky Way over head seems to point the way, so the route acquired the nickname "Voie lactée," the Milky Way in French.
From Webster’s dictionary: Milky Way: the spiral galaxy, containing our sun, seen from the earth as a broad, faintly luminous band of stars and interstellar gas arching across the night sky.
All the stars which are visible from Earth are in the Milky Way galaxy, this luminous band that stretches across the heavens. This galaxy contains our Solar System and is composed of approximately a trillion stars, and probably at least 100 billion planets, most of which are too distant to be seen individually.
While witnessing the total eclipse, Annie Dillard also reflects on the miracle of our galaxy in the Universe. “The small ring of light was like these things – like a ridiculous lichen up in the sky, like a perfectly still explosion 4,200 light-years away: it was interesting, and lovely, and in witless motion.”
On this eclipse, I challenge you to stop your routine and take the time to “spend the afternoon” or morning in observance of stellar power. Let go of distractions and invite change in the form of more light and clarity towards your purpose.
Join us on this Special Event Solar Eclipse: Yoga, Meditation, and Discussion to view a 60% partial eclipse on this lovely morning in San Diego. Find peace as we connect with nature and each other on Monday, August 21st from 9:45am-11:15am.
We will begin with some breathing exercises, then flow through Sun and Moon Salutations. As the moon overcomes the sun, we will slow down and reflect with cooling yin poses and longer holds, meditation, deep relaxation and aromatherapy while ending in group discussion about what we felt and observed within our own bodies, minds, and the natural world around us.
This event is available for a suggested donation of $20 including eclipse certified glasses (limit 24 attendees).
Hannah seeks to find relationships between nature, cultures, yoga, and art through her writing.
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Fun Yoga in the Park
Travel the world with me through yoga!
These themed lessons are fun for all ages and levels at Mission Bay Park.
See the page, Park Yoga, for more information!
Lessons from Abroad