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October 2023 Solar Eclipse

The upcoming annular solar eclipse will begin in the United States on 14th October 2023, traveling from the coast of Oregon to the Texas Gulf Coast. It will be visible in Oregon, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as some parts of California, Idaho, Colorado, and Arizona. It will continue on to Central America, passing over Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Panama. In South America, the eclipse will travel through Colombia before ending off the coast of Natal, Brazil, in the Atlantic Ocean. The partial eclipse will be visible in nearly all the US states and a number of other countries.

An eclipse event never occurs alone; at least one solar eclipse always occurs about two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse, though it might not be visible in the same regions of the world. Usually, there are two eclipses in a row, but sometimes there are three during the same eclipse season. Please read this article and thereafter click the link at the end to take a short quiz about lunar and solar eclipses and learn more about these phenomena.

The exact time period of annularity, with its characteristic ring of fire, will depend upon the latitude and longitude of a particular location. If one is not on the path of the annular eclipse, a partial eclipse may be visible depending on one’s distance from the path of the maximum point.

Wherever lunar eclipses are not visible, their impact is greatly reduced on those parts of Earth. However, major solar eclipses usually have impact throughout the globe. The impact of a solar eclipse is of course highest for the regions and inhabitants of those regions where the solar eclipse is visible.

Coordinates of Upcoming Solar Eclipse

You may determine the nature, extent, and time duration of the eclipse relevant to your location here:

The exact time-period of this eclipse will depend upon the latitude and longitude of your location.

Here is an interactive map detailing where this eclipse is visible:

The periodicity and recurrence of solar (and lunar) eclipses is governed by the Saros cycle, a period of approximately 6,585.3 days (18 years 11 days 8 hours). Those of you studying or following the Saros cycle on periodicity of eclipses, please refer to this link for details:

The link below provides extensive details about the eclipse as well as other upcoming eclipses:

If at all for astronomical interest the eclipse is watched, it is best to use good protection for the eyes. That is because if you are watching, you may catch a glimpse of the brilliant solar surface, and this might induce retinal damage. Solar eclipse-safe telescopes or protective solar eclipse goggles, and not regular sunglasses, can be used for safety. Please study the link above if you are indeed planning to look at the eclipse for academic reasons. It is advisable to use the correct type of protection.

How to Face an Eclipse

In general, eclipses indicate an interruption of the energy of the luminaries and hence are deemed as important events for life on Earth. An eclipse affects all plants and trees especially those on land receiving the sunlight and moonlight directly. Other living creatures such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and even insects have been seen harnessing the power of these transitional events.

While animals seem to be attuned to the forces of nature and better informed, the effect of an eclipse on humans tends to manifest in different ways and to varying degrees. These effects can be analyzed based on the particular position or placement of luminaries at the time of one’s birth. This is calculated accurately by Sanskrit-based Jyotiṣa-vidyā, which astronomically maps the coordinates of the celestial bodies, including distant star clusters and asterisms, at the time of birth using a dynamic soli-lunar calendar.

This indigenous knowledge base (gaṇīta-śāstra or Vedic mathematics) is a Sanskrit heritage that is still practiced in India, and while the tradition retains its authentic depth, it is much less prevalent than before. If and how an eclipse affects an individual is a specific and detailed calculation and is in itself a vast topic. As such effects on an individual level are mostly out of our control, they are best mitigated at a personal level by way of contemplation or meditation.

Based on Jyotiṣa-vidyā, the effects of an eclipse can last for three to six months if of particular significance to an individual, whereas the effects can last for up to a year if relevant to a country. An eclipse of great magnitude influences life across the entire globe to varying degrees. It impacts in such a way that the effects do not necessarily manifest quickly, but rather develop over the subsequent months. Typically, the solar eclipse impacts more than the lunar eclipse with the effect lasting longer.

This upcoming solar eclipse takes place in the Virgo house (sign) of the zodiac, on the Naxatra (star cluster or asterism) of Citrā, which is represented by a single star known as Spica (Alpha-Virginis) and is one of the brightest stars in the sky.

Mindfulness and remedial spiritual practices are the call of such times. There is however the geological momentum and forces of nature that are verily beyond our control, and all we can do is share positive energy, mindful service and be prepared as best as possible.

Meditation during the Eclipse

Whereas eclipses and their effects have been either closely followed or studied by many traditions and cultures, meditators patiently wait for such moments to come forth. This is because the depth and power of meditation increases manifold during a visible eclipse. An event like this brings an excellent opportunity for enhancing one’s spiritual practice.

Regular and persistent practice of meditation can be made to culminate in a new level or the attainment of a special result, a siddhi, from an eclipse. From this perspective, a total eclipse or an “almost” total eclipse is a greater opportunity to excel in meditation, while a partial eclipse is somewhat less of an opportunity but nevertheless still worthwhile. Aspirants in countries where the eclipse is only partially visible can still embrace the meditation practices even though the gainful effects will be milder; however, if the eclipse is not visible at all, the meditation benefits do not multiply.

For a meditator to gain the maximum advantage, Sanskrit literature suggests fasting for 9 hours ahead of the start time for a lunar eclipse (and fasting 12 hours in the case of a solar eclipse). This is of course difficult to practise with the modern lifestyle, especially when working during the day. However, some of the other aspects of preparing for an eclipse could perhaps be done, such as fasting during the entire eclipse period and even abstaining from drinking water during the eclipse. One can drink just enough water ahead of time so that the contemplative practices during the eclipse are not interrupted. Those not able to fast can have a light snack well ahead of the eclipse. Food and drinks are not taken during or at the beginning of the eclipse.

It is traditional among those who follow the eclipse routine to take a wash (a shower) right before the onset of the eclipse and then take another shower just after the end of the eclipse. The two showers or full body ablutions are associated with two changes of fresh clothes and is known as a samputi system of locking the energy of the eclipse through a customary cleansing.

Taking rest after the second shower would be deemed normal. Fasting can be ended right after this shower and change of clothes. A well-structured pre-planned meditation is usually better practised indoors in a familiar surrounding remaining on one’s own seat of repose (āsanam) without the distraction of outside environment.

In the example for Sacramento, California, the first shower or ablution can be completed before the onset of the eclipse (8:05am) and thereafter the second shower or ablution may be taken right after 10:43am. In Sacramento, California, the entire solar eclipse time-period of 8:05am until 10:43am on 14th October can be used for meditation practice. Furthermore, maximum intensity of meditation practice can be applied during the peak solar eclipse at 9:20am.

It would be wise to make sure that at least one complete meditation session is done. The peak eclipse is the most intense. Therefore, for those wishing to meditate during the eclipse or preparing to intensify their existing contemplation, may plan the practice to maximize the overlap with the period of the peak eclipse period.

One might need to extend the meditation time by repeating one’s usual meditation techniques several times. In that case, repeating a sequence an odd number of times (such as thrice) is better than an even number. However, the depth and quality are more important than number of repetitions.

This is a summary of relevant recommendations from the Sanskrit literature. It is best to utilize this rare opportunity to intensify personal contemplation or meditation practice.

We invite you to take this QUIZ to check your understanding about lunar and solar eclipses and learn additional information about these celestial phenomena.

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