A total solar eclipse will occur in the U.S. on April 8, 2021. Photo credit: Altech Studios/ Pexels

Look up in the sky: U.S. will simultaneously experience a total solar eclipse, a new moon and the planet mercury will be in retrograde

6 mins read

A powerful celestial event will takeover the U.S. Here’s what a solar eclipse means from a religious, spiritual and indigenous perspective.

On Monday, the U.S. falls in the path of a historical solar eclipse. Beginning in Mexico then passing across the country, 13 states situated in its celestial route will experience the moon’s full blocking of the sun from a few seconds to several minutes. From astronomers to sun cartographers, the momentous occurrence has attracted visitors all over the world. While NASA and research centers have charged their multi-million dollar technologies to study and document what will go on in the heavens, the solar eclipse is also an exceptional time for religions, spiritual systems and indigenous peoples. That means, what happens above, has a lot of meaning below.

“This solar eclipse comes on that energy of revolution,” explained International Church of Health and Wealth’s, A. Todd Jackson, to Ark Republic. “This is about powerful changes happening in the world, and also happening to us.” Jackson is a high priest or a babalawo within the Ifa faith. He is also a Christian minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) church, so he juggles the new world and old world at the same time.

The A.M.E. church was founded by emancipated Blacks who created their own Methodist denomination after they were discriminated against in the traditional Euro-American Methodist religion. On the other hand, Ifa is a West African spiritual system that was transported to the U.S., South America and the Caribbean as Africans were forcibly moved during the slave trade. It also traveled with merchants and master sailors traveling the sea currents before and after the chattel slave system that took place roughly between the 1500s and 1800s. 

A central part of Ifa is to align oneself with their purpose, which also means to be in tune with the natural order of the cosmos. For those who follow traditional African spiritual systems or want to experience the eclipse with a philosophy spanning thousands of years, Jackson says that the eclipse will bring change, but it must be ushered in by the person taking control of their destiny with courage. “It really is time for us to let fear go,” he advises. When the eclipse happens, he says that we should “ask what you want so that that energy will catapult you into the next phase of your life.” But there is a caveat, you must do it “from your heart,” and “straight from the hip.”

Another Ifa priest, Akasanmon Ṣàngódaré Ifágbèmí, posted that this eclipse is “bringing major changes and new beginnings.” He says to “embrace who you’re becoming and let go of the old you.” However, the changes depend on “what sign and house the eclipse is happening in your astrological chart.” A former Egyptology and mathematics instructor at the American International School in Egypt, Ifágbèmí is also the founder of the GAN Philosophy, which is an astro-numerology approach that views the world from an intersection of geometry, astrology and numerology.

Ifágbèmí employs the Fon mythology, to explain that “this is a time that our … ancestors say Mawu and Lisa are having sex and giving birth to the gods.” In the Fon tradition, which comes from the current-day West African country of Benin, Mawu and Lisa are twins born as divine children. Similar to the Chinese Yin and Yang, the twins represent harmony and balance. Just like Greek mythology, African systems of knowledge fold in mythical stories to explain the order of the world. But, if you are familiar with the stories of Greek mythology then you know that it derives from African spiritual systems. Mawu and Lisa are also found in Candomblé, Santeria and Haitian Vodou.

Pow Wow in South Dakota. Photo credit: Jess Lindner/ Unsplash

Peace and Reflection from the Indigenous U.S. Nations

For the indigenous cultures in the U.S., there are a range of interpretations and practices in honoring the time when the sun is swallowed by the moon. In a Native News Online interview with Erin Fehr (Yup’ik), Assistant Director and Archivist at the University of Arkansas Little Rock’s Sequoyah National Research Center, she says, “These beliefs reflect the deep connection between Indigenous peoples and the natural world.” 

While the Navajo Nation remains indoors and fasts from all food and drinking, for the Choctaw Nation, they will be outside reenacting what their foreparents did during the eclipse. The Choctaw playfully warn for those who witness the eclipse in their territory might also see someone yelling to the sky. In towns such as Idabel and Broken Bow, which are Choctaw territories that are in the direct path of the solar eclipse, they expect to see thousands of visitors witness the celestial spectacle. Also, they give insight on their traditional knowledge of the solar eclipse in this explanation.

“When an eclipse occurred, legend has it that our ancestors believed hungry, large black squirrels would emerge and eat the sun to quell their hunger pains. The tribe would yell, throw sticks and rocks, shoot arrows, and throw spears toward the darkened sun to scare away the hungry squirrels. Every tribal member was counted on to do their part to frighten away the squirrels and save the sun from being devoured.”

For the Onondaga nation, which is one of the five original nations to form the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, the solar eclipse marks the “creation of [the] oldest democratic government.” According to Onondaga’s, there was a call for peace. When the creator sent a messenger called, “The Peace Maker” to bring the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca peoples together, there was much mistrust. The Peace Maker said that there would be a sign in the sky, which came in the form of the solar eclipse. In turn, the cosmological event ushered in the “Great Law of Peace on Turtle Island.”

Candomble priest in Brazil looking up at the sky. Photo credit: Canva

New moon and mercury in retrograde

Along with the solar eclipse, the moon is also a new moon or starting another lunar cycle. “This is a powerful time to start ushering into things about yourself you want to implement as a new way of life,” suggests Jackson. “This particular solar eclipse is about starting anew and catapulting yourself into a new beginning, which corresponds with a new moon.”

Jackson continues,“For this cosmic alignment, the moon is dancing between the earth and the sun. Because of her dance in this particular alignment, there is a strong, powerful new beginning. Some astrologers say this new thing will carry you for four years. This energy is strong, so be intentional and persistent in working your plan.”

All the while, there is a third salient occurrence in the cosmos, and that is the planet mercury situating itself in a retrograde state. “When mercury goes in retrograde, it literally means the planet mercury is wobbling out of formation in the sky . . . and it throws off the metaphysical magnetism and meaning of what mercury has to offer,” explains astrologer of WordLife With Sonja Marie on her weekly Youtube podcast.

Because mercury is about communication, technology and organizing, for this moment, Sonja Marie says that we must “be patient in how we hear people … what we see … and how we strategize.” That also means for the Yonkers native who lives in Los Angeles, that we must be mindful of what we say about people, relationships and resources as these “massive changes and emotions are being erupted.” Overall, she suggests that we acknowledge our intuitive selves by keeping “sacred information” of plans and personal transformations close to the heart and chest, as they are still developing.

Priestess Osunmuyiwa who is also known as Mama Magical agrees that during the eclipse, there must take a concerted effort to protect our spiritual selves. For her, science’s “meddling in the earth … has opened up a spiritual portal” that has resulted in coming attacks felt spiritually and in nature. “Mama Earth is angry. We have disrespected Mother Earth. We have taken her beauty,” through pollution, experiments, hatred and “digging up holes” the Chicagoan warns.

Specifically, Osunmuyiwa says that the experiments conducted at the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, also known as CERN, has caused a shift in the balance. A tarot card reader on the Youtube channel, Magical Flowers Tarot, Osunmuyiwa is an Osun priest in the Orisha faith, which conjoins with Ifa. She also warns for parents to watch their children during the solar eclipse, and especially those who are vulnerable. Moreover, that goes for adults too. “We’re going to be restricted because we’re doing too fucking much . . . we’re trying to outsmart God.” Osunmuyiwa insists that meditation and prayer during this time are important.

Spun throughout the oral and written histories, the eclipse is a sacred celestial event in the archives of culture. While the perspective of the eclipse spans throughout global cultures and spiritual systems, there is a call to ground oneself in purpose and healing.

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