The Spiritual Meaning Of Solar & Lunar Eclipses In Astrology, Explained
These cosmic shadows foretell shakeups.
Of all the regularly occurring cosmic events in the calendar, eclipses put on the most dramatic show. Seeing a “ring of fire” in the sky during a solar eclipse or an eerie red-faced moon during a lunar eclipse is an unforgettable experience — but these phenomena are more than just astronomical spectacles. Astrologically, eclipses are powerful shaker-uppers that relate to themes like fate and destiny. Understanding what eclipses mean can help you relate to and work with these special celestial moments in a more significant way.
In astrology, eclipses are known for being major harbingers of change. They bring fast-paced shifts, shocking revelations, sudden endings, and swift new beginnings to people’s lives. The events that seem to coincide with these unpredictable lunations can be dizzying, which is why they have a reputation for being chaotic and intense.
Eclipses also serve as important cosmic interventions that help to align us with our true paths and connect us with our spiritual destinies. The shifts that occur during an eclipse are believed by many astrologers to be of a fated nature — meaning everything that happens would have happened anyway, but the power of the eclipses allows things to unfold more quickly.
Solar eclipses always take place on new moons while lunar eclipses always take place on full moons, so you can think of them as being super-powered versions of these lunations. But the astrological meaning of an eclipse goes far beyond your standard new and full moon meanings. Here’s what to know.
What Is An Eclipse?
By definition, an eclipse occurs when one celestial body obscures the light from or to another celestial body. When we talk about eclipses, we’re referring specifically to the placements of the sun, Earth, and moon, which align several times a year to form both solar eclipses or lunar eclipses. Eclipses take place when either a new or full moon aligns perfectly with the ecliptic, which is the sun’s apparent path through the sky.
In terms of their cosmic meaning, when the sun and moon line up with the Earth to form an eclipse, they’re also aligning with two astrologically significant points on the ecliptic called the North and South nodes, which are also referred to as the “lunar nodes” or the “Nodes of Fate.” These points correspond to matters of destiny, karma, and spiritual purpose, so that’s why in astrology eclipses relate to these themes, too.
What Is A Solar Eclipse?
Solar eclipses happen when the moon aligns exactly between the Earth and sun, blocking the light going from the sun to Earth (and these always coincide with a full moon). When this happens, the sun, moon, and Earth form a straight line. “Even if you cannot see a solar eclipse where you live, you can still feel its energetic effect,” says Tenae Stewart, a certified astrologer and author.
What Does A Solar Eclipse Mean Astrologically?
“Solar eclipses are notable events in astrology,” says KristaLyn Vetovich, a professional astrologer and astrological researcher. Solar eclipses represent dramatic events and discoveries, Vetovich says, and are said to affect society and people by extension.
Solar eclipses are also powerful portals of transformation, Stewart says. “They are related to shadow work — the process of acknowledging, understanding, and choosing to release or embrace one's limiting beliefs or negative’ traits — and often unexpected change,” she says. “Depending on the zodiac sign they occur in, they invite us to transform our lives and to practice shadow work to embrace our own power and release what's not serving us.”
What Is a Lunar Eclipse?
Lunar eclipses happen when the Earth aligns exactly between the sun and moon, blocking the light going from the sun to the moon (and these always coincide with a full moon). “It can only occur on a full moon, when the sun and moon are exactly opposite one another in opposite zodiac signs,” Stewart says.
What Does A Lunar Eclipse Mean Astrologically?
“Like solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are portals of transformation,” Stewart says. “In fact, they always occur in pairs — one solar eclipse and one lunar eclipse, about two weeks apart. Together, they form ‘eclipse season’, a twice-yearly journey into the underworld that invites us to transform and embrace our true selves.”
How Often Do Eclipses Happen?
Eclipses happen anywhere between four to six times per year, and they arrive in back-to-back pairs. One always occurs on a full moon, and the other happens on a new moon. Occasionally, we’ll even have three eclipses in a row. When we enter a period that’s marked by a pair (or trio) of eclipses, we call that an “eclipse season” and we usually have two of these periods per year.
While eclipse seasons happen about every six months, these eclipses are actually part of a longer cycle known as an eclipse series. During an eclipse series, eclipses continuously take place on a single "axis" of the zodiac wheel, which consists of two opposing signs (like Cancer and Capricorn, for example).
Eclipses will keep occurring in this same set of zodiac signs for about two years at a time, and sometimes eclipse series will temporarily overlap. The signs in which any given eclipse series take place within always correspond to the current zodiacal location of the North and South nodes. This means that every time the lunar nodes move into a new set of zodiac signs — which occurs approximately every year and a half — we’ll be in the midst of wrapping up one eclipse cycle and transitioning into a new one.
What Does The April 20th Eclipse Mean?
The solar eclipse on April 20th is going to be extra powerful. “It is the second new moon in a row in Aries and the first Aries eclipse we've had in almost 10 years,” Stewart says. “This is going to be a potent time for releasing and ending generational cycles around anger, aggression, personal power and sovereignty, and willingness to go after what you want.”
In 2023, we will shift from Taurus and Scorpio into Aries and Libra. Because of these shifts, Vetovich says there might be unexpected changes and possible shifts in areas around power and leadership.
“This can happen on larger societal scales or even on smaller community scales [but] there is nothing to be afraid of,” she says. “We have been through eclipses before and they happen regularly. You can even look back to the last time we had a period of eclipses in Aries — which occurred nine years ago in 2014 — and see what themes from then may be arising again for you now.”
Eclipses’ Spiritual Meanings In Astrology
When we enter an eclipse season, we should be prepared for things to get raw and real, as these periods can usher in loads of big life changes and emotional realizations. Some astrologers believe that eclipses hold the power of multiple new or full moons wrapped up in one, which is why things tend to shift so rapidly during these periods.
Solar eclipses often align with exciting new beginnings, twists of fate, and the arrival of unexpected updates. Lunar eclipses, on the other hand, are more likely to bring about sudden endings, conclusions, or powerful changes of heart. Either way, the fast-paced events of an eclipse — however rocky and disorienting — help us to let go of what’s no longer serving us and embrace the truth, which allows us to move forward in a more spiritually aligned way.
Because eclipses are known for being chaotic and change-filled periods in astrology, they’re also not a good time for the moon rituals, manifestations, or moonlight crystal charging sessions that we might do during a regular new or full moon. Eclipse energy can be volatile and unstable, as it tends to shake things up quickly. Instead of trying to set our own intentions during these periods, it’s best to simply listen to the universe and stay open to the realizations and events that are unfolding in your life. Everything happens for a reason during eclipse season, so pay attention to what comes up.
While eclipses can certainly be periods of turmoil, they’re not to be feared or dreaded. Rapid growth always comes with growing pains — and after we complete any given eclipse cycle, we’ll find that we’ve come out the other side much stronger and more aware.
Tenae Stewart, certified astrologer and author
KristaLyn Vetovich, professional astrologer, astrological researcher
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