So I decided to not post this on the actual date of the eclipse because I felt like everyone was being a little bombarded with information about the eclipse that it might be a bit much. So on a different note about what this last eclipse actual means or what the stellar properties of the alignment are all about, I wanted to dive into the eerie aspects and talk a little bit about the myths and beliefs that eclipses have created.
We all know, or at least most of us do, how the eclipses are caused. Typically, with us, on Earth, it is one stellar body moving in front of the sun, which is most often the moon. Hopefully, right. I mean if it wasn’t that would mean something else was getting awfully close.
Either way they are odd and often cause quite the spectacle as we have seen just recently. How many people went out and purchased ‘eclipse’ stuff for the eclipse. Many people went beyond the purchase of a pair of eclipse-rated glasses for viewing. Some places were charging thousands of dollars because that particular location was going to have some of the best eclipse views.
But what about the times before glasses, before space travel and telescopes. In those times, eclipses were usually celebrated in a different fashion. Darker and more eerie.
The Eerie Side of Eclipses:
Many have heard some of the tales or at least the ideas behind them. Most ancient cultures believed the eclipses to be some type of an omen or foretelling of one’s bad doings. The Greeks often saw it this way. They believed that the gods were made at them or there was a particular omen to figure out.
He Anglo-Saxon stories follow in the same nature of an eclipse. They thought, or believed, that all eclipses meant something bad was about to happen. I find it weird to think about how many people looked up at the eclipse in these days when they noticed it getting dark.
The Mayans had a few different beliefs depending on what region of Mayan you would be referring to. One cultural belief is that the day of the apocalypse was near and that if the eclipse remained for a whole day then it would be so. The spirits of the dead would roam the Earth and eat the flesh of the living until all were dead. Yet another group of Mayan’s believed that Jaguars, in the vast numbers, would rise up from the ground and feast on the living.
Some of the Plains Native American Tribes had a whole different view. Some of them recognized the sun as “Brother Sun,” and the moon as, “Sister Moon.” So when these two came together they had to wonder what was going on in the sky that day.
I remember a story I saw when I was little on a nature show. There was a lunar eclipse and a modern day military still would shoot into the night sky until the eclipse began to retreat. They believed it was a giant snake from the underworld that would eat the moon thinking it was an egg. If I remember correctly. Also I believe each time they do this there is always reported injuries and maybe even deaths from the bullets that return back to the Earth. It has been a while since I saw that but pretty sure I got it right.
Many cultures believe it is some evil being, god, entity that is in some form consuming the stellar body when eclipses occur. Parts of the Hindu culture are very specific on this.
However, with all the tales revolving around eclipses. It is the Aztec that strike me the most eerie and in many ways horrifying. It was utter chaos for some. Captives were sacrificed and the blood collected for different parts of their rituals. People would be singing and yelling through the streets and in temples to ward off the evil that they thought they were being punished for. When they ran out of captives to sacrifice, they would begin sacrificing the lighter skinned members of their cities. Sometimes resorting to this right away as they thought that a better sacrifice, one of their own, was needed to correct their wrong doings.
Once again, like the Mayans, they looked at it as a sign of the end of the world and that if they could not make the eclipse go away, the apocalypse would be among them. Many of us will remember the scene in Apocalypto when this kind of takes place. Yet the utter chaos and near anarchy that occurred during eclipses was something not seen today. Thankfully. Most of the world today celebrates it.
Yet, with our new found knowledge of gravity and planetary/stellar alignment, there is still a little bit of an eerie feeling that still trickles through us. More of a “What If.”
Thanks for Reading,
Joshua Crane Dowidat