How many of you felt subtle (or perhaps not so subtle!) energies within and around yourselves during the total solar eclipse last August? Perhaps something odd? How many of you still feel these energies or have been changed by them in certain ways? Only now, several weeks after the eclipse, am I sure that definite changes occurred.
These questions apply mostly to people who experienced totality—where the Moon completely covered the Sun. 95% coverage or so doesn’t count—although you may have some of the same feelings to a lesser extent.
No, I’m talking mainly to people who saw the Sun’s corona in the direct path of the eclipse. In person. Seeing it on TV or the Internet doesn’t count.
It might be useful to describe my own experiences—which were profound, and are still on-going.
I was at Camp Taloali near Salem, Oregon with about 100 other people. We were less than 1000 yards from the centerline of the eclipse’s path. I took the photo at the top of this post during totality. (The green ring is an unfortunate lens flare inside my camera’s lens; it has nothing to do with the eclipse.) Look closely, though, and you can see Mercury down and to the left. It’s that small white dot.
And here’s where the oddness began. (Well, “began” is too strong a word. Things are always “odd” round me. Which I’m grateful for, BTW.) The eclipse lasted—so the prediction went—about 2 minutes. But I swear subjectively, it only lasted 15-20 seconds tops.
I remember looking around at the darkened field where we were. I remember the chorus of “Aahs” and “Wows” from everyone. I remember snapping 2 or 3 pictures. I remember looking directly at the Sun’s corona for a few seconds.
Then, Bam! it was over. Two minutes? Subjectively, not even close. Where did all the time go?
There were 6 of us in our party. Everyone felt out of sorts in one way or another. One fumbled with his equipment that he had rehearsed with for weeks. He became disoriented and tripped on one leg of his tripod. The others slowed down and after the initial “wows” became quiet in the experience. I think everyone in the field became quiet as the experience engulfed them.
We all experienced some kind of inner shift, which was probably unique for each of us. Then as the atmosphere began to lighten, we eased out of it.
I—for one—am still gripped by some kind of profound inner shift.
What happened? And what is continuing to happen?
Inner changes and purpose
I can only speak for myself. If I have to boil it down, I’d have to say I feel the truth of—and the press of—my purpose for being on the planet at this time. The “totality” of it, and I am going to play on the experienced “totality” of the eclipse, and the “totality” of one’s life purpose throughout this article.
Specifically, what I was doing in the weeks and months before the eclipse don’t seem so important any more. Or at least right now. In fact, I haven’t been able to fully resume any of those things.
Instead, I have had to look back on my life to things I once thought were important—but that for one reason or another—I dropped. Certain of those things have moved front and center, demanding my attention. And my juice, if I may be so direct.
Have any of you experienced something like this?
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. This is going to be hard, since so many of my life events and experiences are tied together—this holds for all of us, of course. To pick up just one thread of a life-web is to oversimplify, but we each have to start somewhere.
I have a physicist friend who doesn’t understand how eclipses are predicted. We’ve had discussions about this and he’s hung up on Newton’s laws, Kepler’s Laws, and a hard problem in astrophysics called the three-body problem.
In a practical sense, none of these are used to predict eclipses. In one of my senior astronomy classes at Kansas University we had to predict a solar eclipse that was to occur near the end of that semester.
The techniques used are based on spherical trigonometry—which is rarely taught these days. Our textbook was written in 1863. It was A Manual of Spherical and Practical Astronomy by William Chauvenet in two fat volumes. I still have these books, but haven’t cracked them open for decades. Astronomy is one of the threads in my life-web that has started vibrating with energy again since the eclipse.
On the day of the eclipse another friend, David Shelly, and I rigged up my (brand new) Celestron spotting scope to project an image of the Moon coming across in front of the sun. I’ve included one photo of our setup that is quite similar to the one we used at KU all those years ago, except then we used the University’s large refracting telescope to project the image. (We came within a few seconds predicting the start of that eclipse by the way. Spherical trig is powerful!)
Now you would think it was my idea to use this setup again last August, but it never occurred to me. The spotting scope arrived the day before we left for Oregon, but I left the necessary adapter to connect the scope and my camera at home on our dining room table. I figured I was just out of luck.
It was actually David who had the brilliant idea for the setup in the photo. He even had the clipboard. His idea worked extremely well, since many people stopped by to see the Moon’s progress—lots of kids especially. (Look closely at the second photo, and you’ll see a line of 3 sunspot pairs.)
Have you reconnected with anything or anyone since the eclipse? I sure have.
I am usually disinclined to tell personal stories about myself; they are often boring and pointless to other people. But in the hope that the changes that have been brewing within me since the eclipse may help you strengthen and act on your own inner changes, I’ll describe a bit more of the threads of my own life-web (I like that term) that are resonating (= singing, if you will) right now.
I have had a life-long interest in astronomy and physics. I took a job with IBM after graduating, so I was spared the indoctrination of graduate school. Which means I’m not overinvested in any of the standard models being taught today—all of which have major problems. I will write more about this another time, but my point here is the eclipse has wrought fundamental changes in my attention.
Has your attention also shifted, or at least been tickled, since you experienced totality?
The experience of “totality”
What a phrase that is! The experience of—the witnessing of—something we describe as “totality” is (watch out, John D.) far out.
Is the totality of a solar eclipse in any way a metaphor—an experiential metaphor—for the totality of some greater spiritual experience? Terms like Nirvana, Samadhi and Moksha connote a Union with the spiritual flow of the Cosmos. Was this other experience of totality last August some faint echo of this kind of greater union?
I don’t know if I’d characterize what happened on that field in Oregon—or wherever you were that morning—as ecstasy, but for a few moments it might have been close.
And what happens when you get close to Spirit? Spirit gets close to you. And takes those few moments to give you a little reminder poke.
Has something like this happened to you since the eclipse? Have you gotten your own reminder pokes?
What are you doing about them?
If you thought this was going to be primarily about physics, you’re wrong. That was just my own circumstance, which has now branched out in several different directions. I’m trying to follow these, but they’re morphing and growing so fast I’m nearly bowled over in the ensuing flow.
How are you coping with your own reminder pokes that the totality of the eclipse experience lit up? I hope you’re allowing them to change you in positive ways. I hope you’re brave enough to not just dig your heels in and resist the insights that are trying to pull you forward.
This sequence won’t be entirely clear to you—you will have your own sequence to figure out—and this wasn’t entirely clear to me until a few days ago.
I studied for and obtained a ham (amateur) radio license in 1992. However we moved to another state shortly thereafter, and I let it lapse, and the license expired in 2002. Now my interest is peaking again. I have retaken, and passed, the license exam last Saturday. Actually, I took two exams on the same day, one for the beginner’s Technician’s license, and a second one for the more advanced General Class license. I’m especially interested this time in emergency communications—which is using ham radios to help in whatever emergencies might befall us locally. We live in earthquake country. We are also surrounded by trees, so wildfire is also a concern. But there is also much I don’t foresee.
But my “aha” from my experience of “totality” led me (back) to a way I can be of service to others in need—if and when that need arises.
There are other branches of my own reminder pokes triggered during the eclipse that I haven’t mentioned. But my purpose here is to encourage each of you to embrace whatever insights Spirit gave you during those few moments of “totality.”
And do you see that experiencing the “totality” of the eclipse was just an echo of a far greater “totality” we were briefly exposed to? If that experience is still a bit muddled in your mind, then sit down, get quiet, and go back to those few moments. What did you really experience? How did you feel? Is anything about your experience still resonating within you? Or maybe rattling around in there?
One final thought. I have a sense of urgency about the part of Spirit’s business that was given to me to do. This isn’t about any specific disaster—it’s far broader and less specific than that.
These experiences are about helping ourselves, so we can help others. That’s an integral part of every “totality.” That’s the real urgency. Each of us is asked to help in a different way.