April 14th Lunar Eclipse in Virgo, the Blood Moon with Mars Retrograde
The Sun is Atma. It is the nourisher. The giver of all life. It is Purusha. It is the most obvious thing in the sky. It is what give all light and illumination to our universe. It is the lord of the day. It is a ball of burning-exploding gas, burning the karma of all the universe. The Moon is the Jivatma or the individual self. The mind and the emotions, the illusory self. It has no light of its own but reflects the light of the Sun, the Soul. It is the lord of the night. Eclipses indicate an interruption of the energy of these luminaries and hence are deemed as important events for life on Earth. The effect of an eclipse on each individual is different and depends on their particular position or placement of luminaries at the time of birth. It does not have the same results for everyone as many generalized and superficial systems give out. This is calculated accurately by Sanskrit-based Jyotisha which correctly astronomically maps the coordinates of the heavenly bodies of the solar system at the time of birth using the Vedic soli-lunar calendar. Typically the effects last for six months if the eclipse is of particular significance to an individual, whereas it can last for a year if relevant to a country. If and how an eclipse affects an individual is a specific and detailed calculation and is in itself a vast, vast subject.
Whereas eclipses and their effects have been feared by most traditions and cultures, meditators patiently wait for such moments to come forth. This is because the depth and power of meditation increases manifold during an eclipse. While it is not recommended, by all Sanskrit literature, to be out and about undertaking worldly chores or exercise (yoga class) during an eclipse or running around outside trying to see it, such an event brings an excellent opportunity for enhancing one’s spiritual practice. Regular and persistent practice of meditation can be made to culminate in a new level or the attainment of a special result, a siddhi, from an eclipse. From this perspective, a total eclipse is a greater opportunity to excel in meditation, while a partial eclipse is somewhat less of an opportunity but nevertheless still not worth missing.
In North America, this total lunar eclipse on Monday night has a penumbral period of just over five and a half hours and an umbral period of about three and a half hours. In all, there are four phases depicted by five time junctures (see first weblink). The central time period of the total eclipse lasts an hour and a half (about 90 minutes) and is the most auspicious! For example, in the Pacific Time zone in the USA, the penumbral portion starts roughly at about 10pm on 14th April and ends at about 3:30am on the morning of the 15th. The more important umbral eclipse lasts from about 11pm on the night of the 14th until about 2:30am Pacific Time. The most important total eclipse phase starts at just past midnight until 1:24am with the peak eclipse in the middle of these times. Such details can be deciphered from NASA website. Remarkably, on the same night Mars (which is currently retrograde with respect to Earth) will be closer to Earth than it has been in several years. This full moon of 14th/15th April is also known as the blood moon because it will turn sunset red like the red planet itself.
For a meditator to gain the maximum benefit, Sanskrit literature and tradition states to fast for 12 hours before of the penumbral start time for a solar eclipse and fasting 9 hours in the case of a lunar eclipse. This is, of course, difficult if not impossible to practise with the modern lifestyle besides the denial of any importance given to it, especially on a work-night. However, some of the other aspects of preparing for an eclipse could perhaps be done, such as fasting during the entire penumbral period (which includes the umbral portion) and even abstaining from drinking water during the eclipse. One can drink just enough water ahead of time so that the spiritual practices during the eclipse are not interrupted.
It is traditional among those who follow the eclipse routine to take a wash (a shower) right at the onset of the penumbral entry and then take another shower at the end of the umbral period before the end of the penumbral period. The two showers are associated with two changes of fresh clothes. Sleeping after the second shower would be a normal routine. Similarly, breaking the fast after the shower is also okay.
The meditation (with eyes closed!) is better practised without directly watching the eclipse. Pregnant moms are strongly advised to stay indoors and avoid catching a glimpse of the eclipse or going outside during the hours of the eclipse. This upcoming lunar eclipse allows for an indoor meditation lasting about three and a half hours coinciding with the umbral period. Out of this period, the 90 minutes in the middle are the most important and intensive. Therefore for those planning to meditate during the eclipse or preparing to intensify their existing meditative introspection, please plan your practise to maximize the overlap with the period of the total eclipse (the central hour and a half of the umbral portion). One might need to extend the meditation time by repeating one’s usual meditation practice a number of times. In that case, repeating a sequence an odd number of times (such as thrice) is better than an even number. However, the depth and quality is more important than mere repetitions.
In Pacific Standard Time:
Shower at 10pm
Put on fresh clothing, preferably white
Start total fast at 1 PM, no water as well.
Mandatory meditation from 11:30pm to 1:30am, best to be in deep meditation already by 11:30pm
Shower again after 2:30am, before 3:30am
Put on fresh clothing
Break fast if needed