The meaning of the dream symbol: Eclipse

1. Do you feel that you are in eclipse, in decline? Look within for the never-ending source of life.

2. The sun may symbolize self/light/consciousness. Its eclipse may therefore represent an obscuring of your true self; a fear that unconscious forces may overpower the conscious ego; or a needed compensation of reason by intuition or instinct.

3. The moon is a symbol of mother or the feminine. Its eclipse may therefore mean getting rid of the sort of attachment to mother that is detrimental to your development as an individual in your own right; or the obscuring of your femininity (your anima, if you are a man).


The Unconscious may be warning us that we have shut out some person or situation in favor of another, without thinking about the repercussion of our selective behavior. For instance, in the symbolism of the moon covering the sun, we may have blocked reason in the name of passion and exposed ourselves for emotional regret and anguish. We must remember that the sun has not disappeared, it merely lies behind the moon. We must find an agreement and balance of our separate states of awareness and expression. Moreover, we must remember the eclipse is neither the sun, nor the moon. It is instead the union of both, which creates a reality far grander than either one standing alone. Every reality has its opposite nature, and this opposition gives each reality its truest life. In other words, things are understood best in the measure of what they are not.


An eclipse, in so far as it indicates the disappearance or accidental concealment of light, is universally regarded as something dramatic, a sign of ill omen, heralding disaster. This was the case in Ancient Egypt, in China and, although apparently hardly compatible with the teachings of the Prophet, in Arab lands as well. Only, it would seem, in Cambodia did the circumstances surrounding the eclipse determine whether it should be interpreted favourably or unfavourably. Muslims have prescribed prayers and Buddhists ceremonies to be employed at eclipses. These are often compared with death, since it is the planet or star which seems to die, believed to have been swallowed by some monster. In India this is Rahii, who is also kala, the devourer, while in China ‘eclipse’ and ‘eat’ are expressed by the same ideogram (ch’u), since the Moon was believed to have been eaten by a toad.

However, the Ancient Chinese further believed that this cosmic disorder was caused by disorder in the microcosm, that is to say in that of their emperors or the letters’ wives. It was the dominance of the yang (male; light) by the yin (female; darkness). It was therefore necessary - and this was a widely-shared view - for assistance to be given to the planet or star which was in danger or which had gone astray. Cosmic order was restored by restoring order on Earth - by drawing up the imperial vassals in a square, for example - or by shooting arrows into the air. This may have been done to attack the monster devouring the Sun or Moon, or perhaps, as Granet suggests, as an offering; or perhaps, as a rather unsatisfactory recent theory suggests, to attack the Moon (yin) eclipsing the Sun (yang).

Generally speaking, eclipses were regarded as heralding the cataclysmic events which bring a cycle to an end and which demand intervention and reparation aimed at preparing the way for a fresh cycle - the freeing of the star or planet swallowed by the monster.

From Ancient Peru come four explanations of eclipses, which were in any event considered of ill omen, an eclipse of the Sun foretelling the arrival of the Spaniards and the fall of the Inca Empire. (l)In the oldest belief, it was a jaguar or serpent which swallowed the Sun or Moon; (2) the latter were sick and died; (3) the Sun hid his face out of anger with mankind; (4) a sacred marriage of Sun and Moon had taken place, the Moon having seduced and dominated the Sun, rather as in China the yin might impose itself upon the yang.

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