Australia, dreamtime, the sun
Earth Mysteries

Dark Omen: Climate Chaos Converges with Solar Eclipse Wisdom


Climate chaos and ecological instability have accelerated across the Earth and Indigenous wisdom has solutions.  Is this a rehearsal for the End Times? Has the predicted fossil fueled climate disruption and superstorm cataclysm finally come? Solar Eclipses — Sun-Moon alignment bulge the Earth’s crust, precipitating earthquakes and other destructive events? What really is happening here? We survey scientific, religious, and traditional Indigenous wisdom for answers.

Scott Sporleder, solar eclipse 2017
Solar Eclipse 2017 from Casper, Wyoming: Diamond ring affect, the last fraction of a second before complete totality. Burst of light channels through moon surface topography. With the naked eye one can see the corona of the sun, and close scrutiny unveils prominences, red bits on the bottom part of the sun, which is hot plasma exploding off the surface of the sun. Photo credit: Scott Sporleder

Apocalypse Here: Solar Eclipse, Hurricanes, Fires, Earthquakes

Many saw the 2017 solar eclipse totality across the US as a pilgrimage marvel of mid-day darkness surveyed with special glasses, but many traditional societies view such an event as a portent of doom, a negative omen, an entrance into a period of danger.

Since that so-called “inauspicious” cosmic spectacle on August 21, 2017, we had four major hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, the worst flooding in a decade in South Asia, an 8.1 earthquake on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, over 200 in the Northern Rocky Mountains of Wyoming and Idaho, and 76 large wildfires burn across nine Western US states.

Let’s be clear, anthropogenic warming from the burning of greenhouse gases precipitated the melting of Greenland and Arctic Sea glaciers, the rising seas, moisture-laden searing temperatures, and howling winds spawned from increased seawater temperatures. Our political, economic, and functional addiction to fossil fuels have made global climate chaos a exponentially worsening harsh reality today.

Metro Houston’s bout with Hurricane Harvey stands as the most expensive unnatural flooding disaster in US history, chemical plants exploded, superfund sites inundated, major spills of oil and toxic substances from destroyed refineries, extreme releases of toxic pollutants through flaring. Irma was one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded, leaving multiple Caribbean Islands crippled with a trail of destruction through the Southeast US. Extreme unregulated development in floodplains, after bulldozing and paving native barrier islands and mangroves, has made Caribbean Islands,  Texas, and Florida obvious targets forever.

Yet, it is instructive that the traditional wisdom carriers were not wrong: we have entered an especially dangerous Earthly period. The obvious targets, in truth, include you, me, and everyone else, particularly the most vulnerable communities, the economically marginalized, living on the resource edge, open to the elements.

Yet, hope and remedies exist, adaptation, clean energy and a just recovery must be implemented. Furthermore, we must advance the movement to change the capitalist system, to stop the climate from spinning out of all of our worst plans imagined.

The Vedic Astronomers and some traditional Indigenous beliefs have thousands of years experience with regarding solar eclipses as omens of ill, so let us hear them. Yet, is there any science behind this? And where do modern technology and investigation and mythological treatise converge?

The Great Tribulation? “12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of Heaven fell to the Earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.” (Revelation 6:12-13) ‘The Bible’

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Hurricane Harvey, Houston flooding, climate chaos
Category 4 Hurricane Harvey, juiced from an overheated Gulf of Mexico, where beyond 50 inches of rain turned sprawling Houston’s roads into rivers. Unregulated paving on floodplains drastically inhibited drainage of already rising sea. And as if Divinity proffered the crowning blow to the Chemical Coast of the PetroMetro, it inundated Fossil Fuel HQ in a toxic soup, a direct hit to climate destabilization central. Photograph by David J. Phillip / AP

NASA: Gravitational Effects of Total Solar Eclipse

From the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): “The gravitational effect of the sun and moon being on the same side of Earth during New Moon is actually far more dramatic when you look at what happens to our entire planet. First, the gravitational ‘tidal’ force of the moon and sun cause a body tide in the solid rock of Earth. If you are on the same line defined by the centers of Earth, the sun and moon, Earth’s crust actually bulges upwards by about 40 millimeters across a thousand-kilometer area on Earth’s surface. So as you watch the total solar eclipse, feel free to imagine that you are standing on the ground 40 millimeters closer to the sun than it would be several hours later!”

The death toll from Mexico’s 8.1 magnitude earthquake rose to 96 on 11 September as more fatalities were confirmed in the hard-hit southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. About 5,000 homes in Chiapas were destroyed by the quake, and about 11,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Oaxaca. Local officials have counted almost 800 aftershocks, and the U.S. Geological Society numbered over 60 greater than 5.0 magnitude. As the country fought to recover, Tropical Storm Katia stuck Veracruz.  — Chicago Tribune

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Mexico 2017 earthquake, Oaxaca
The earthquake was felt across Mexico, toppling houses, shaking buildings in the country’s capital and leaving a million without power amid reports tremors were detected as a far away as Austin, Texas – more than 1,300 miles from the epicenter. Photo: Splash News in Daily Mail

Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean: Cars were tossed in the air. Roofs were ripped off houses as families sheltered inside. And at least 55 people have died because of the storm: nine in the French Caribbean, five in the British Virgin Islands, four in the United States Virgin Islands, three in Puerto Rico, one on the Dutch side of St. Martin, one in Barbuda, one in Anguilla, ten in Cuba, and multiple more in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Almost all of the island of St. Martin was destroyed, according to Daniel Gibbs, the president of the country’s French territorial council. “There are shipwrecks everywhere, destroyed houses everywhere, torn off roofs everywhere,” Mr. Gibbs told Radio Caraïbes International. “It’s just unbelievable, it’s indescribable.”

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St. Martin, Hurricane Irma
Destruction of St. Martin after Hurricane Irma. Residents spoke of a disintegration in law and order as survivors struggled in the face of severe food and water shortages. Credit: Gerben Van Es

On Hurricanes and Climate Change: The Clausius-Clapeyron equation shows that for every half a degree Celsius in warming, there is about a 3% increase in atmospheric moisture content. The surface temperature in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Harvey that hit Texas is more than half a degree Celsius higher than the recent late summer average, which is in turn more than half a degree higher than 30 years ago, according to Michael Mann of Penn State University. As a result there was more potential for a deluge.

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Cuba, Hurricane Irma, climate chaos
A view of the damage after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the Cojimar neighborhood, in Havana, Cuba, on September 10, 2017. Photo Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty

Solar Eclipse, A Sacred Death and Birth, Indigenous Wisdom from the Diné people

The Diné People of the Navajo Nation of Arizona have a quite distinct take on solar eclipses. Their belief is that the Jóhonaa’éí (Sun) is the male and the Ti‘éhonaa’éí (Moon) is the female. The Sun is the most powerful deity amongst all creation, here on Earth and in the universe. The Sun is the epicenter of all creation. Nothing will live or function without the Sun. The Sun controls and regulates the universe, whereas the moon controls and regulates the Earth.

The Sun is vested with the concept of and in control of death (anoonéél), and the Moon is vested with and in control of birthing (oochííl). When a solar or lunar eclipse occurs, it is believed that a death occurs. That is the reason why an eclipse is termed daaztsa, either Jóhonaa’éí daaztsa (solar eclipse) or Ti’éhonaa’éí daaztsa (lunar eclipse). A death is a very sacred occurrence. There are certain necessary protocols, but most important is the strict and comprehensive reverence in observing the occurrence of death (yéego dílzin dóó hodílzin). During a solar or lunar eclipse, strict and comprehensive acts of reverence must be carried out.

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Navajo Nation, Diné People, Sun Spirits, Indigenous wisdom
David Chethlahe Paladin (1926-1984), Diné [Navajo], Sun Spirits, 1971. National Museum of the American Indian, Albuquerque, New Mexico
In addition to the concept of death during an eclipse, it is also believed that the Sun and Moon are mating. After the passing of the eclipse, when the sun or moon becomes fully bright once again, it is believed that a birthing has just taken place. It is believed that the mating is to give birth to, or renew, the universe and all creation. During this birthing/renewal process, the universe and all creation are reborn, realigned, and there is growth and development amongst all of creation as well.

—  Institute for Diné Culture, Philosophy and Government, in Rock Point, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation

The message is, this newly birthed reality, where climate destabilization is the norm, requires a reverent unity between those who recognize that “America” ain’t gonna be great again, at least not the way some would like to see. The only way for anything to be great again is to unite toward healing the damaged Mother Earth. This is a longer discussion, but recognizing the New World we have been born into is vastly important.

The Bible and Celestial Signs: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the Earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the Earth: for the powers of Heaven shall be shaken.” — (Luke 21:25-26) King James Version

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Oregon wildfire, climate chaos, drought
Warm summer temperatures and nearly nonexistent rain have dried out vegetation and turned the Western US forests into tinderboxes. A lengthy stretch of highway Interstate 84 in Oregon closed, as crews battled the growing wildfire that has also caused evacuations and sparked blazes across the Columbia River in Washington state. (Inciweb via AP)

Vedic Astronomy and the Inauspicious Period Before and After Solar Eclipses

The study of celestial events preceded modern science in the Vedic period (2000 BC). Vedic Astronomy however, blends a philosophical understanding of human and cosmic existence. Myths provide a way for Vedic knowledge to translate to people. The story goes that serpent-demon Rahu-Ketu, denied by Goddess Moon and God Sun of drinking the sacred Nectar of Eternal Life called Amrita, gets revenge by consuming them and stealing their luminous rays, which we call eclipses. Hence, the pure, celestial light blockages reduce/transform the creative energy of the Sun and Moon through darkened skies and reduced gets twisted and dark during the eclipse and for a few days after. Food and drink are reputedly poisoned as well, so they prohibited eating and drinking during this period, which is referred to as “inauspicious.”

In scientific terms, eclipse-induced gravity waves cause a reduction in the ozone layer concentration in the stratosphere, which allows more cosmic radiations of different wavelengths (gamma rays), to the surface of the Earth. This causes a scientifically demonstrable maximum reduction in pH value of surface seawater.

Water appears to act as the Earth’s sensory organ for the cosmic cycles, and conveys its information to all living organisms. While this discussion suggests no scientific correlation between hurricane formation and solar eclipses, there are reasons why animals and fish hide during these events, and maybe humans would benefit as well.

One might also surmise at the point where scientific investigation remains incomplete, what happens to the Earth systems after such a massive gravitational event? Particularly when our ecological systems already remain thoroughly compromised from the extreme heating of air and water throughout the globe?

Ocean Acidification: Our fossil-fuel emissions raise the dissolved CO2 levels in the ocean, which reduces carbonate ion concentrations and lowers pH. The ocean’s sunlit surface layer (the top 100 yards or so) could easily lose 50 percent of its carbonate ion by the end of this century unless we reduce emissions dramatically. Marine animals will find it harder to build skeletons, construct reefs, or simply to grow and breathe. Compared with past geologic events, the speed and scale of this conversion is astonishing.  — Scientific American

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Australia, dreamtime, solar, Indigenous wisdom
The Sun in Dreamtime Paintings. From Adventures in Aboriginal Dreamtime

Dreamtime Stories of the Death Omen of the Eclipse

The Aboriginal Euahlayi of New South Wales, Australia, noticed the zigzag motion and path the moon makes across the sky and saw it as the moon-man (Bahloo) constantly avoiding the advances of the sun woman (Yhi). As the sun and moon move across the sky through the lunar cycle, Yhi tells the spirits who hold up the sky that if they let Bahloo escape, she will cast down the spirit who sits in the sky holding the ends of the ropes and the sky world will fall, hurling the world into everlasting darkness. An eclipse happens when Yhi finally overtakes and attacks Bahloo. To combat this omen of evil, some communities employed a brave and well-respected member of the community such as a medicine man or elder to use magical means to fight the evil of an eclipse. This typically included throwing sacred objects at the sun while chanting a particular song or set of words.  — Astronomer Duane Hamacher, Monash Indigenous Center

Combating Climate Chaos by following Ancient Indigenous Wisdom

The need to reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels, to strengthen democratic controls on mega-development, to move our cities and communities toward adaptation to the extreme-weather, climate-uncertain new world we face, is imperative. The solar eclipse of 2017 is just one signifier of a long line of serious mistakes we have been making in exchanging air and water pollution for electric lights and fast cars, valuing economic growth for the very few resource-controllers at the expense of the commons: communities and ecosystems.

The fight, and the destruction, will go on until more and more of us hear the call of the Sun and Moon, and get back into reverence of the forces that sustain us. And we wish power to the respected community members, medicine men and women, and elders using whatever means at their disposal, to combat this evil omen of destruction and ill winds we now face.

Updated 23 February 2021

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