Illustration from Sacrobosco De sphera ca 1260

Traditional Rules

“The first and most potent cause of such events
lies in the conjunctions of the Sun and Moon at eclipse
and the movements of the stars at the time”
- Ptolemy (Tetrabiblos, II.4)


See also:
Jerome Cardan‘s Aphorisms on eclipses & comets

Aphorisms on eclipses and comets by Jerome Cardan

Main Sources:
Ptolemy‘s Tetrabiblos Bk II, (c.150 AD)
Lilly‘s Annus Tenebrosus (1652)
Coley‘s Key to Astrology pp.301-305, (1673)

General Principles

  • In nativities, eclipses are important when within 1° of a conjunction or opposition to the Sun, Moon or angles.
  • In mundane affairs they affect those nations and cities which have a traditional familiarity with the sign of the eclipse - especially those whose founding chart has the eclipse on the Asc, MC, Sun or Moon.
  • Nations can also be affected if the eclipse falls on the natal Asc, MC or luminaries of its ruler.
  • Although many astrologers claim eclipses are still relevant when beneath the Earth (especially in the 4th house), it is generally accepted that they: “extend their effects most forcibly when above the Earth; weakly and not so vigorously when under the Earth.
  • Eclipses in the Asc affect recently initiated projects and young people; in the MC, kingdoms, rulers and middle aged people; in the Desc, wars, contentions and old people.
  • The effects of a solar eclipse are greater when the Sun is rising or in the MC than when it is setting. Lunar eclipses are more destructive in the western hemisphere than the east.
  • Any brilliant fixed star (of 1st or 2nd magnitude) situated on the preceding angle is also considered, followed by any brilliant fixed star on the following angle (the preceding angle is the one that lies ahead by diurnal motion, so if the eclipse falls in the 12th, 11th or 10th house, consider a fixed star on the MC of prime importance, and a fixed star on the Asc as a secondary influence). Generally, it is agreed that such stars need to be low in latitude and near the ecliptic.

Planets as eclipse rulers

  • The nature of the eclipse is found by examining its planetary ruler and the prominent fixed stars of the time. The lord of the eclipse is that planet which has most dignities and relationships by aspect to the degree of the eclipse and the predominant angle (if one planet dominates the eclipse degree and another the angle, preference is given to the planet which dominates the eclipse, with the ruler of the angle brought into consideration as a co-significator).
    • Saturn ruling the eclipse indicates damage by coldness, long illnesses, poverty, imprisonment, fear, mortality (particularly amongst the aged), malice, envy, and tedious law-suits. It causes cold, misty, freezing and gloomy weather; storm and damage at sea; flooding and pollution of rivers; loss and scarcity of crops, and a general decay of nature.
    • Jupiter ruling the eclipse indicates peace, prosperity, fertility, happiness and abundance. Bodily and spiritual health is improved, the population is increased, laws are executed with justice, and there is generosity from governments to people. The weather is beneficial for farming with a predominance of temperate, moist winds and gentle showers. In nativities, this eclipse promises fame, prosperity, health and peace of mind.
    • Mars ruling the eclipse brings damage by dryness, fire, arson, violence, murder, lawlessness, fever, war, and the sudden deaths of those in the prime of life. The climate suffers from lightning, hurricanes, drought and destructive winds. Impetuous storms and violent shipwrecks occur at sea. Crops suffer from excess of heat, damaging winds and fire.
    • Venus ruling the eclipse has a beneficial influence, similar to Jupiter. In nativities there is the promise of fame, contentment, love, marriage, children, prosperity and health. The climate is clear, settled, temperate and moist -favourable for agriculture. It is a time of elegance and abundance, with friendly relations between governments.
    • Mercury adapts its influence to the nature of any planet it is strongly associated with. Alone, it produces quick, subtle and industrious actions, and when ruling the eclipse with malefics it brings trickery, theft and unsuccessful travel or trade. It also influences priests, the worship of gods, divinatory practices, and brings changes in customs and laws. The weather is changeable and irregular with a risk of hurricanes, earthquakes, thunder and lightning. Mercury occidental brings a fear of drought; oriental, flood.
  • Eclipses in the signs
  • The signs of the zodiac which contain the eclipse and its planetary rulers, together with the constellations of its governing stars, reveal the nature of its influence – those pertaining to the sea/rivers influence creatures of the sea and shipping, those of human form influence men and political affairs, animal signs influence cattle and beasts, terrestrial signs influence crops and earthquakes, etc.
  • Generally, eclipses in Fire signs signify the death of eminent people, discords, wars and fires; Earth signs portend agricultural problems; Air signs foreshadow tempestuous winds, famine and disease; Water signs show floods, maritime troubles, expectation of war, and a high mortality among ordinary people.
    • Eclipses in Aries bring war and controversies in religion. They threaten the lives and liberty of eminent people, and bring plague to ‘lesser’ cattle such as sheep and goats. (England, France, Germany and Denmark are traditionally linked to this sign.)
    • Eclipses in Taurus affect business, trade, grand buildings, agriculture, and men such as solicitors and agents who negotiate in other people’s affairs. They threaten high mortality for oxen, cows and horses. (Russia, Ireland, Switzerland, Cyprus and Persia)
    • Eclipses in Gemini bring diseases (such as salmonella) which originate from fowl eaten by men. They bring conflict in religion and trade, contempt for law - much prattling with no action - and loss through the death of great persons. (Southern Egypt, London and the Southwest of England. Some say the USA.)
    • Eclipses in Cancer bring political changes, incite men to violate treaties and take up arms, and cause deceit and cunning among men in high office. Navigation and sea travel is dangerous; rivers may flood or dry up, and there is an increase of sicknesses affecting the stomach. (Scotland, Holland, Africa, Venice, Amsterdam and York.)
    • Eclipses in Leo portend death or misfortune for royalty, nobility and 'persons of quality’; the ruination and destruction of ancient buildings, palaces and churches; division amongst the clergy, the besieging of towns, and a scarcity of horses and grain. (Italy, Sicily, Rome and Turkey.)
    • Eclipses in Virgo bring the pitiful death of great men and general ruin through plague, drought or crop failure. All things are scarce. Writers, poets and mercurial men suffer. (Southern Greece, Crete, Iraq, Paris and South-west France.)
    • Eclipses in Libra corrupt the air and increase contagious diseases, plagues, etc. They bring bad weather, high winds, ‘incline youth to wantonness’, cause religious controversies, and bring division and loss to nobility. (Austria, Portugal and Vienna.)
    • Eclipses in Scorpio foreshadow underhand, treasonous and murderous acts; indicate military deposition of governors by tyrants, generally increase disease and public disorder, and give an abundance of thunder, lightning and earthquakes. (Norway, Mauritius, Liverpool.)
    • Eclipses in Sagittarius cause affliction to horses, spread religious intolerance and mistrust amongst men, bring disaster to famous people, threaten destruction of flying fowls, and increase theft, rape and piracy at sea. (Spain and Hungary.)
    • Eclipses in Capricorn declare the untimely death of worthy people, bring an increase in false accusations, slanders and conspiracies; cause political change and the alteration of governments, military invasions into neighbouring states and the loss of many ships. (India, the West Indies and Oxford.)
    • Eclipses in Aquarius bring floods, affliction to cattle, public sorrow, mourning and discontent. Ancient buildings are destroyed or damaged, thefts and earthquakes increase, and obstinate controversies arise in the Church. (Arabia and Ethiopia)
    • Eclipses in Pisces bring misfortune to the sea and the fishing industry, corruption of the coastline, loss of fish and the draining of rivers. The death of some illustrious man is foreshadowed, the immoral actions of men connected to the Church or the Law will be revealed, and all lawyers or men of religion will suffer. (Northern Egypt)
Accurate records of eclipses have been kept by ancient astronomers since at least 747 BCE.

eclipse at Stonehenge

Many authorities believe Stonehenge was constructed for the purpose of recording and monitoring eclipses.

Ancient Incas beating off a moon eclipse - illustration published by Jules Ferrario, 1819-1820

Ancient civilisations explained eclipses as evil spirits attacking the Sun or Moon. It was customary to run into the street, shout, scream and make as much noise as possible to frighten the spirits away.

Some feared a dragon swallowed the Sun or Moon. Places in the zodiac where eclipses occur are known as the ‘Dragon’s Head’ (north node: north node) or the ‘Dragon's Tail’ (south node: south node).

Click for details of how this dragon volvelle was used
Lunar nodes volvelle depicting a dragon for the nodes. Click for info.

History records numerous reports of ancient rulers trying to deflect the effects of an eclipse by appointing a substitute king for the day, who was then executed to fulfil the symbolism of the 'eclipse ofpower'.

The prospect of the eclipse on 'Black Monday', 29 March 1652, had the citizens of London so terrified that it was reported: "hardly any would work, none would stir out of their houses.... The rich fled London, the poor prayed for deliverance and a thriving trade was conducted in cordials claiming to allay the effects of the eclipse".



(Click the eclipse images to enlarge the charts):

Timing the effect of eclipses
A number of attempts have been made to determine how long the ‘effects’ of eclipses endure. It is suggested that these inquiries are erroneously conceived. To reason by analogy: how long do the effects of a blow last? Clearly two factors are involved - the violence of the impact and the susceptibility of the object struck. A blow by a hand on a stone has no effect on the stone; a blow by a knife on soft flesh may inflict a lifelong injury. Thus, we must consider how ‘violently’ an eclipse affects the figure under consideration, and that must depend upon how closely it falls to sensitive points therein; and we must further consider how susceptible, or sensitive, that spot is. If the eclipse does not fall nearer than, say, 5° of any important body or point the ‘effect’ will be negligible, even at the time, and certainly will have no duration. But if it falls on the very degree held by a body and if, in addition, that body is highly sensitive owing to its radical condition, the so-called effects may be serious and long lasting.

Charles CarterNevertheless it is true that an eclipse may produce little or nothing at the time but may apparently correspond to something important but occurring some considerable time later. The most usual times seem to be when the Sun comes to the next square of the place of the eclipse, i.e., three months later, or when a planet, particularly Mars, transits the place of the eclipse.
Extracted from An Introduction to Political Astrology
(a.k.a. 'Mundane Astrology'), by Charles Carter, 1951, p.54.
(Republished, 2005 by Astrology Classics | preview).

article by David Plant

Interpreting the Eclipses Mundane Astrology
Books on eclipses (for astrologers)
Interpreting the Eclipses - Robert Carl Jansky
Mundane Astrology - C. C. Zain
The Predictive Power of Eclipse Paths - Bill Meridian
The Eagle and the Lark - Bernadette Brady

Recommended websites
Time & Date: Eclipses - invaluable resource for detailed information on eclipse paths
Sky & Telescope: Eclipses - eclipse facts & information on upcoming eclipses
NASA: Eclipses - eclipse facts & eclipse info & news
Skyscript Pinterest - eclipse imagery & information on upcoming eclipses

See also:
Asteroids & Comets - David McCann
A Basic Guide to Astro-Meteorology - Kim Farnell
An Introduction to Astro*Carto*Graphy - Martin Davis
Mundane Matters: The National Chart - Claire Chandler
Ingresses: An Introduction to Mundane Astrology - compiled by D. Houlding
Attention all Shipping! (feature on shipping charts) - compiled by D. Houlding
A Guide to Interpreting the Great American Eclipse - by Wade Caves

The Predictive Power of Eclipse Paths The Eagle and the Lark

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Title illustration: detail from Johannes de Sacrobosco, Sphaera Mundi
Content development: Deborah Houlding