The deeper message of a Solar Eclipse

The western United States recently experienced a rare astronomical event where the moon passed in front of the sun, diminishing its light.

Many observers of a solar eclipse often describe the diminished light from this cosmological event as being eerie. I too, have experienced the eerie sensation of this phenomenon while working in my midwestern garden years ago. Why should this physical event produce such a psychological response?

News of the recent eclipse caused my associative mind to draw up some past memories, and make new mental connections. I remember back in grade school, one of my teachers commenting on the superstitions and mythology of more “primitive” peoples concerning the solar eclipse. He said that one culture (I think from Africa) described such an event as “a dragon swallowing the sun.” Upon saying this he had a small smirk on his face because modern astronomy dispelled such silly superstitions. Astronomy proved that a solar eclipse was merely a cosmic event where the trajectory of the moon sometimes crossed the plane of the sun.

As a youngster, I fully absorbed my teacher’s more “enlightened” explanation. But I remember that something still bothered me about the primitive explanation of the solar eclipse. Such “backwards” people had eyes just like I had. How could anyone with similar eyes and human brain mistake the moon for a dragon? Apparently, this question, which gave me some minor discomfort, was put in some remote corner of my noggin.

Years later, when I was in my mid-twenties, I came across the unique ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg. He claimed that in more ancient and remote ages, humans perceived that all phenomena in nature symbolized psycho-spiritual realities, and therefore, contained more elevated information for the human mind to distil. (This mechanism of “sameness” is how God is intimately connected with physical creation and process.)

For instance, the “sun” symbolizes God’s love (heat) and truth (light). In other words, in the same way that the astronomical sun provides the energy and thermodynamics for sustaining physical and terrestrial life, God’s spiritual energy gives life to human souls.

The moon, since it receives or reflects the light of the sun, symbolizes the ability of the human mind to reflect on the deepest questions of reality. Therefore, when the moon crosses over the sun, shutting out most of its light, it symbolizes the human intellect, through false reasoning, shutting out God’s spiritual influence (and importance). Our inner world goes into darkness.

Swedenborg also made the claim that this kind of symbolism (correspondences) is also hidden in the deeper structure and spiritual architecture of the narratives of Holy Scripture. In Revelation, a dragon is used to convey the idea of false reasoning against God. That this “Great Red Dragon” threatened to devour a pregnant woman (clothed in light and standing atop the moon) and later her newborn child symbolized a terrifying false belief-system attempting to devour the birth of any new appreciation and perception within the human intellect of God’s true spiritual importance.

My mind had a sudden mental flash and unique synaptic experience! The ancient superstition of a solar eclipse representing a dragon devouring the sun was indeed true—but on a deeper symbolic level that addresses the human spirit (and transcends the operation of the human corporeal/sensual mind).

The eerie feeling I experienced from the diminished light of such a solar event reminded me of a similar effect when my inner reality is suffering from the mistakes and flawed thinking I’ve made from relying on my self-intelligence, rather than God’s wisdom. We all devour (try to destroy) God’s heavenly influence from time to time during our lives from our egoism and self-importance. In such cases our souls start experiencing an even more dangerous kind of eclipse and darkness.

Ancient cultures knew all this!

Modern astronomy has put all its focus on the literal meaning of physical events “up there” in the sky. But ancient cultures looked beyond the phenomena occurring in time and space or from mere visual observation. The human mind was created to probe realities beyond physical matter to discover spiritual truth.

Checkmate, Mr. Modern Science!

About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at
This entry was posted in god, Inner growth, love, psychology, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, symbolism, unity and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The deeper message of a Solar Eclipse

  1. Dale Hudgins says:

    The Dragon swallowing the Sun comes from the Chinese that is why it holds a orb in its claws.
    The orb or ball is the Sun and not a pearl as it is said now.

    • Dale Hudgins says:

      The Dragon happens to be red in color and is very symbolic. Our Moon is not red.

      • thegodguy says:

        Dear Dale,

        That is exactly my point – all ancient stories, myths or legends have deeper, symbolic meaning. Holy Scripture will someday be recognized as containing the same symbolic messages!

        Spiritually yours,

  2. Yasmine Lawrence says:

    Hello GodGuy,

    I know I am writing this nearly four years after the fact, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts on your thoughts. I hope you’ll have the chance to read what I have said. 🙂

    As you have mentioned, modern astronomy – and most modern science, and modern people – are so caught up in everything being ‘just as it is’, that they can’t really understand themselves anymore.

    Everything is filled with meaning, even the most subtle things on Earth.

    I’ve been fascinated by eclipses, because the one which occurred on May 20th, 2012 was the day after my birthday – May 19th. The prior eclipse my grandmother witnessed was one year before my birth, on May 18th. It’s apart of a unique Saros Cycle which repeats itself every 16 – 18 years. Witnessing even a partial solar eclipse was enchanting. One of my goals is to see a total solar eclipse because, as you mentioned, the light is eerie. It’s mystifying. It’s not the complete darkness of the night, but a luminous midnight that seems to vibrate. I remember watching a video of a total solar eclipse and feeling as if I was witnessing something sacred, deep and profound.

    While some cultures have interpreted eclipses as symbols of disaster, I see them as symbols of reflection. The moon is a feminine symbol, the soul, the unconscious aspect of ourselves. The sun is the masculine, the physical, what is visible and alive. When these two bodies meet, it is the meeting of two different aspects. The fact that the Moon’s distance to the Earth and the Sun allows it to completely occult the Sun is testament to the fact that God’s hand is at work in every single part of the Universe. Other planets experience ‘eclipses’ or ‘transits’, but I’m not sure if they’re quite as haunting as our own (Mars’ moons are too tiny, for example).

    As I mentioned earlier, the whole world is full of meaning, but people are not really willing, or do not have the capacity, to understand. I know there are still individuals who are reflective, intuitive, but they’re rare and usually don’t express themselves much because people don’t understand them. As one of them, I can attest to this fact. I have been studying the world in a more intimate, spiritual manner. I feel God speaks to everyone differently, and we should all respond to Him in the way He approaches us – I try to listen to Him as best as I can. I study the stars not only for their brilliance, but for their meaning. Maybe our world would not be so confused if we took more time to listen to ourselves, the stars, the wind…? Maybe if we sat down and spoke to God quietly, we would learn things about ourselves we never knew? I have learned a lot about myself, listening, understanding, not trying to mold God into what I think God should be, but what He is. Nature is a reflection of God Himself – everything we see came from Him, the moon, the stars, the sea, the air, the earth, the fire. When you witness an act of Nature, you’re also witnessing an act of God.

    I hope I don’t sound too weird. 🙂

  3. julimyanna says:

    Hi Godguy,
    I really enjoyed reading your above reflections and how they described a sacramental worldview. I wanted to offer an extension of the understanding of solar eclipse with regards to the spiritual life. Your explanation described it as an intellectual pride, “shutting out God’s spiritual influence,” but as I considered what this meant, I realized that there are other forms of pride that may lead us to even more profound, “inner darkness.” For example, the pride of ego itself, refusing to receive the love of its Creator. There is also fear, stemming from a lack of trust in God (which, in turn, may relate to pride as it suggests trust only in the self). Both these forms of pride block out the radiant light of God’s love and position the self, which should be reflecting that love, as the very thing that dampens its radiance. Any form of this experience (intellectual, prideful, fearful…) could be deeply painful to the soul as well as difficult to reverse.
    Thanks again for opening my mind to this interesting course of thought! May those experiencing this darkness be given the grace and strength to receive the full light of grace God extends to them.
    Blessings on your ministry,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s