Why Are We Fascinated With Eclipses?

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Welcome to the latest episode of Igniting Your Dynamic Self with Wendy Bjork. As an international bestselling author, inspirational speaker and founder of heartsofwellness.com, her mission is to empower women to take charge of their health holistically so they can feel confident, have clarity and be inspired to find joy and simplicity.

 

When the Moon passes in front of the sun during the latest total eclipse, we will experience a natural phenomenon that has inspired wonder and awe throughout history. But for many ancient peoples, solar eclipses were a terrifying event.

The world’s earliest eclipse records date back to 2300 BCE and can be found on cuneiform tablets in the ancient city of Nineveh, located in present-day northern Iraq. The wedge-shaped inscriptions on these tablets describe property listings, names of kings and the Epic of Gilgamesh, among other things. But it wasn’t until the fifth century BCE that a Greek philosopher named Anaxagoras began seeking out scientific explanations for these events instead of believing they were the work of gods or demons.

How Did Ancient Cultures Predict the Eclipses?

Around this time, astronomers in other parts of the world were also learning how to predict solar and lunar eclipses, and that knowledge spread. According to Herodotus, a Greek historian who wrote in 450 BCE, Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus accurately predicted a solar eclipse and is credited with stopping a five-year war between the Lydians and Medes. Later, scribes in China created eclipse records on oxen shoulder blades and tortoise shells, known as oracle bones. These documents are still being used today to help astronomers study the moon’s rotation.

The ancient Maya thought that when the Moon slid in front of the Sun it looked like the Sun was being devoured. They called this cosmic event chi’bal k’iin, which literally means “when the Sun is eaten.” And that wasn’t just a frightening thought—it also signified chaos and disorder in the universe.

For the Maya, eclipses were the moment when the sun was devoured by the Moon and their two deities, Kinich Ahau and Ix Chel, went to war with each other. Hence, they were a very dangerous time. A solar eclipse meant war or death and a lunar eclipse was especially dangerous for children and pregnant women. In order to protect them from the darkness and the Sun’s wrath, the Maya made loud noises with drums and rattles. These rituals were supposed to scare off the evil spirits that threatened the Sun.

During a solar eclipse, the Maya wore amulets that protected them from the harmful effects of sunlight. They also avoided watching the sun directly, since they feared that they would be blinded. The Maya also had a very complicated system of predicting eclipses based on the movement of Venus and Mars, and their position in relation to the Sun and Moon. They kept detailed records of where these two planets appeared in the night sky, and they determined that when Venus was shining on young men or women or healthy old men at certain points in its orbit, it meant good things were ahead, while when Mars was visible, it usually meant trouble.

The Maya’s astronomical knowledge was impressive, especially considering that they didn’t have a telescope. They could accurately predict when an eclipse was going to happen by looking at the positions of Venus and Mars, and noticing that they always converged at the point where the Sun and Moon were closest together. This was possible because the Maya knew that if Venus was visible during an eclipse, it would be accompanied by the Sun, and if the Sun was visible at the same time, it would be followed by the Moon. The overlapping light would create an annulus, and this was the signal of an eclipse. The exact details of how they figured this out have not been preserved, but they are probably quite similar to the methods used by ancient Chinese and Babylonian cultures. These cultures, along with the Maya, were able to discover patterns in the motion of the heavenly bodies that allowed them to predict eclipses very accurately.

We can learn from our ancestors as well as from each other. To support you on this path of expanding your vision for your life, you may download your copy of the 30-Day Journal + Blueprint Bundle Towards Living Your Best Life at heartsofwellness.com/you. It will support you by taking small steps daily towards a better view of yourself with improved self talk, writing your weekly goals and celebrating your weekly wins. Discovering and living by your personalized playbook are important steps we can create together!

 

 

If you feel a self-paced approach with Wendy’s support would be helpful in reaching your goals, you can head over to the Hearts of Wellness Membership Collective and begin your journey back to simplicity, freedom and wholeness!

As a pioneer in advocacy and mentorship, Wendy is leading a global revolution of women walking in purpose and peace as she illumines their path ahead with the light of HOPE:  Harmony, Options, Peace & Empowerment.

 

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