Establishing (and/or Ending) Patterns with the Solar Eclipse


Habits come in handy—and they also hold us back.

Guess it depends whether we're trying to start including some new behavior into our regular routine… or hoping to stop a repetitive activity that's blocked us from achieving some other goal.

Tuesday's (Sep 11) solar eclipse in Virgo is all about examining our habitual practices… to make constructive, functional decisions about what we're going to do—and not do—on a daily or weekly basis, if we want to become healthier and more productive.

If any of this sounds familiar, it's probably because you've already read about Saturn's recent move into Virgo, where he will be reiterating this theme of self-improvement through sincere, persistent work over the next two-plus years.

This solar eclipse, then, can be seen as the inaugural event… a kickoff to a period during which we must be exceptionally mindful of how we handle our day-to-day details, with the understanding that small incremental steps eventually add up to integral components of our lives. Whether these steps are (1) careful and conscious efforts or (2) willfully blind recurrences of automatic compulsions, obviously, has a huge impact on how (1) capable and competent or (2) self-sabotaging we become—but each and every pattern we crystallize will bear some consequence upon us.

This eclipse provides us an excellent astrological setting for making those 'serious business' commitments to ourselves, to finally halt the patterns that are dragging us down and/or initiate new systems for incorporating desired behaviors into our everyday regimens. As I wrote a couple weeks back, 'doing the work' in this context is definitely not a one-time thing. Rather, we're talking about shifting the comfortably predictable sequences of how we get our shit done… and that requires daily attention.

To grab the bull by the horns, we have to identify which habit(s) we need to stop right now, and which we need to establish right now—and then get to it. Please watch out, though, because Virgo is a very clever sign… and you may be up against a very clever arrangement of facts in your mind, which weaves a version of the story that supports not altering already-set-in-stone patterns. Virgo (and, consequently, your own analytic process) can use logic in some pretty crafty ways, in order to convince itself that one way of doing things is right, while another is wrong. Don't fall victim to arguing these fine points with yourself. Focus instead on the results you want to receive—and tune out all the perfectly rational reasons why you should hold onto your cherished status quo.

During past solar eclipses (like this one and this one), I invited readers to email me things they wanted in their lives… and I posted them here on the site, as a powerful exercise in setting intention. Of course, those aforementioned eclipses were in Aries, a sign more comfortable with external assertion than our current eclipse-sign Virgo. Virgo is much more modest, generally preferring toiling behind the scenes over drawing too much attention to itself. And besides, I think most of us would be more comfortable sharing our desires with the world, as opposed to discussing our most undesired bad habits or that which we struggle to integrate into day-to-day existence. Thus, this eclipse exercise—identifying a habit to begin and/or a habit to break—is more of a private one, barring any assistance you might need from support groups to help cut something unhealthy out of your life.

[For me, this involves regaining some control over what I'm putting into my stomach… how much of it, and at what time of day. Am I even hungry? Or just bored, compulsive and too lazy to check in with myself? No more eating 'well' all day, then stuffing my face on whatever I can get my hands on after dinner. No more 'working so hard' I have no time (or 'energy', as the self-made story goes) to make it to the gym (even though I actually enjoy it!) or to the grocery store (even though I'm so sick of all the 'convenient' take-out options near my house). And as my load of responsibilities continues to expand and complicate, I must reorganize my scheduling flow so it's less freeform, and more able to contain all I need to do to feel good in my body.]

But as we set ourselves guidelines for the habitual behaviors to start, stop, or otherwise exert our categorical control over, we must respect the law of polarities… and allow ourselves to let up on control in a complementary area of life. Astrologically speaking, this flip-side perspective shows up in the Virgo eclipse's close opposition to Uranus in Pisces, a planet/sign mix that couldn't bespeak more loudly of radical departures from tradition or containment.

For everywhere we tighten our reins, we must also find a corresponding place to slacken and lax—otherwise, the inner pressures only intensify, without paying due respect to the unpredictable, uncontrollable quality of actual existence. This Virgo/Pisces duality can also be thought of as a dialogue between purity (Virgo) and compassion (Pisces). We purify through exclusion, or the disciplining of our actions so they adhere to certain qualifications and boundaries… but go too far, and we lose our compassionate ability to connect across these divisions, to see the best in ourselves and others, though we may fall far short of our purest possibilities.

We can find the key to this balancing act by examining where the eclipse-opposing-Uranus axis hits our own natal charts. For instance, if the eclipse falls in our 5th house, asking us to shore up the patterns we practice in expressively 'putting ourselves out there' to experience joy, fun and love… well, we might simultaneously open up to something new and unknown in terms of who exactly we associate with, as Uranus would be in the 11th. Or if facing 10th-house eclipse pressure to get serious with our career or public-reputation actions, we'd want to ease up on ourselves with 4th-house matters at home or with family, to give us greater emotional freedom in how we recharge during private time.

Perhaps most importantly of all, as we seek to better ourselves by turning a close eye to our habits, we must be kind to ourselves as we stumble clumsily through our imperfections. Virgo has a consistently excellent quality of work, but becomes rather unforgivingly critical when we don't live up to it. Yet, 'ideal' is merely a concept to strive for—nobody ever actually makes it there, certainly not for more than a fleeting moment.

Be satisfied, then, with the small victories… the tiny improvements that you can confidently make, and then repeat enough times to make 'em stick. They may be small, but they add up.