Solipsism and the Stars

Partial solar eclipse after the eclipse was ge...

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When concepts linger around in my noggin, that usually tells me I need to write about them.

There was something about the knowledge that there was a solar eclipse on the very day of my accident on November 23, 1965 that stuck with me, almost frightened me if you will as I waited, quasi-bated breath and all, for last week’s November 25th partial solar eclipse.  What did it mean, if it meant anything at all?

And that’s where solipsism came in.  While I think my friend Todd was trying to dissuade me from my own thoughts, our random philosophical discussion of the long-forgotten (to me, at least) concept of solipsism only served to encourage my need to write about the stars once again.  The stars and solipsism — a thick pot of stew that I couldn’t get my mind to move away from.

As  Todd explained, solipsism says that my own subjective reality is a fine guide point.  That is, if I wanted to worry about a solar eclipse — was it coming back to haunt me? —  it certainly wouldn’t bother him.   I had forgotten this ole theory from Philosophy 101 and he kindly reminded me that it meant there is no objective reality.  There is a longer and more philosophically complex explanation but trust me, I’m saving you from it.

To his way of thinking, knowing that everyone has a different point of view, makes it easier to understand and accept the universe.  So if I wanted to wax on about the stars (again), he could easily accept it and most likely ignore it, letting me or anyone else wallow in our own subjective reality.

Armed with that odd confidence, I still wanted to see what I could discover about solar eclipses.

If you can believe it, NASA actually maintains a list of solar eclipses of historical interest ( so I wasn’t completely batty to wonder about these things.

The Babylonians were the first to discover that eclipses belong to a larger pattern with a beginning, middle and end. Each eclipse belongs to a series of eclipses and each series has its own unique characteristics.  A solar eclipse signifies a fresh start which can also bring about radical change, like a new chapter beginning in your life — which was certainly true of my “accident eclipse”.  The effects of a solar eclipse appear in the outward expression of our circumstances and can present us with very exciting and joyous developments. What develops due to a solar eclipse will be visible to you and others in your life. On the other hand, if a solar eclipse afflicts planets in your birth chart, the message of the eclipse could present a challenge that to overcome before something new develops. To be best of my understanding, my “accident eclipse” occurred in a key part of my birth chart.

The eclipse that happened the day of my accident is actually part of a series of eclipses called the Saros Cycle, repeating every 18 years and 11 days. The series started with partial solar eclipse on August 13, 1208. It contains annular eclipses from March 17, 1569 through March 12, 2146, hybrid on March 23, 2164 and April 3, 2183 and total eclipses from April 14, 2200 through June 19, 2308. The series ends at member 71 as a partial eclipse on September 25, 2470.

And what does itbeing in a Saros Cycle mean?

  • Those same Babylonian astrologers found it was very important to study an eclipse in the context of the Saros Family that contains it. The entire cycle has a “personality” all its own that colors each individual chart. This Saros personality is based on the first eclipse in the Saros Family (a birth chart for the entire cycle, so to speak) and each eclipse in the Family is helping to advance this initial chart to the next level. This may help explain why all eclipses are not created equal — there are about 80 different Families in action, each with a different pedigree.
  • When looking at an upcoming eclipse, check out its Saros buddy from 18+ years ago. Family members in a Saros are connected and carry some of the same energy threads. Checking your “Saros return” every 18 years can provide illuminating information about long-term cycles in your life.

On, I learned that solar eclipses have some “rules”:

  • Astrology defines the lasting effects of an eclipse by its duration. The general rules for the duration of a solar eclipse is that the energy affects your circumstances one year for every hour of the eclipses duration, up to 3 ½ years.  The eclipse in my case lasted only minutes so its effect would have been less than a year.
  • Another rule is that eclipses last from one solar eclipse until the next.
  • While eclipse energy is often felt within a month on either side of the eclipse day, there are hot spots they may trigger events related to the eclipse. Those hot spots are when the sun squares the eclipse degree about 90 days later, although you may hear something a within a few days on either side of that date.
  • You should expect the message of an eclipse to show itself within one month of the eclipse, or taking up to six months to complete if an eclipse touches your chart in a personal way. You should also be aware that the eclipse may affect that area of your life indefinitely — which in my case it did, but in a way I now view as positively.
  • Not everyone is influenced by every eclipse, but we all experience eclipses at different times in our lives. The universe gives each of us fresh starts and challenges even when we don’t recognize the need for change.

After reading this, I felt encouraged — hopeful even.  In my solipsistic view, I guess I would say the long and short of it is that “S(&*(  happens” and it happens to everyone.  There may be a cycle of eclipses that lasts over centuries but it seems the good comes with the um, challenging.  Sounds a lot like life to me however anyone may slice it.

But it wasn’t until I stumbled on a website called “Janet’s Planets (” that I finally felt relieved, that I hadn’t stumbled on to an evil or fated astrological cycle.

All of you Sadge’s (Note:  I am a Sagittarius) out there will have the Solar Eclipse of Nov 25 right on top of your Sun.  This can be a good thing.  This is the time to get rewarded for your achievements.  This eclipse will give you the confidence to go after your hearts desire.   Sadge is one of the most optimistic of signs.  The ruler of Sadge is Jupiter, the big, fat, happy planet.  When I get stuck in my dark, little, Saturn tunnel, Sadge comes along and opens up vistas and possibilities I never thought of before. Their view of the world is boundless. 

If I don’t have a Sadge around to do this for me, then I read my favorite Sadge of all time and let her describe what it’s like to be high on life. 

I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove’s door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to windows run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun

Emily Dickinson


I’m glad I did a little astrological rambling.  It left me only a little confused.

Perspective From the Newspapers

The first roll of microfilm threaded through the library’s reader as if it were on a mission to be viewed.  I smiled, hopeful that with a new set of film covering five months of the 1965 Green Bay Press-Gazette from there would be some clue about my childhood accident — was there even a fire call?

I’d already viewed a year of Green Bay Press-Gazettes from 1964 and found absolutely nothing.  This didn’t completely discourage me since my mother had made entries in my baby book about the accident’s dates as both November 1964 and 1965.  Other than those baby book entries, the stories I’d heard and the whispers behind cupped hands, the only empirical verification I had of my burned leg accident was the leg itself.

“Annie, why are you looking for this stuff?” my friend Mr. Baum asked me in his endearing but quizzical manner.  “Are you not quite right in the head?” he chided.   As a reporter, Mr. Baum asked questions for a living for more than 40 years.  They were questions worth posing.

Even though I felt confident that the stories I’d heard about burning my leg on a stove at age two were probably right-on-the-money accurate, I couldn’t help but look for some verification outside of the pool of relatives who served as my sources.

“There are some things a person just wants to know.”  It wasn’t the most scientific of answers but it seemed to quiet Mr. Baum, at least for the time being.

The microfilm reader hummed as I paged through images of the newspaper from 40 some years ago.  My mother’s entries in my baby book said that in August I put my hand to the stove and burned it, a spooky foreshadowing of the larger injury to come.  But the August newspapers didn’t carry a fire call and it was more likely than not that this burn was treated at home or the doctor’s office.

As the November dates approached, I felt tension.  Would it matter one way or the other if there was a news item or fire call on Tuesday, November 23rd?  I knew it wouldn’t but kept paging through the microfilm just to check.  “Clearing and cold tonight.  Low near 23 degrees,” was the weather report for that day.

An annual solar eclipse occurred November 23, 1965. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partially obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth.   Depending on which literature you read, “eclipses are dramatic tools the universe uses to create change (  A solar eclipse is always a new moon and in astrology tends to mark new beginnings,” explains the astrologer Susan Miller.

Solar eclipse of November 23, 1965

Any news of my accident was eclipsed as well.  There was no mention.  Not on the November 23rd, not on the 24th and not on the 25th, which was Thanksgiving Day.

For a moment I felt sad and stared ahead at the microfilm reader, only half-reading the Thanksgiving Day editorial.  “On Thanksgiving Day, Americans need to give thanks for weathering national perils, and for the victories we have achieved over disease, hunger and the inhumanity of war.  America has come a long way since that landing day in 1629…..Be not therefore anxious for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient onto the day is the evil thereof.”  If you took the 1965 date off the editorial, it would have been just as relevant today.

In my case, the morrow indeed took care of itself.  I’ve been blessed with good health, good work and good friends.  My accident shaped me but never defined me.  I couldn’t say the same for my parents, gone since the 1990s.  From everything I learned, the accident changed them and their relationship for the rest of their days.  I was oblivious to it until I started searching around for clues in the last couple years.

I thought of what their Thanksgiving Day 1965 would have been like, with a child in the hospital and no assurance she would live.    I couldn’t imagine it.  I didn’t want to imagine it.  When I started searching microfilm, I was looking for my own perspective.  But the newspapers found a way to give me theirs.

It didn’t seem to matter much that I hadn’t found a news item or fire call in the newspapers.  In fact, now I was kind of glad none appeared.  My heart ached for my parents.