This Sunday, November 23, we will experience a total solar eclipse at the first degree of Sagittarius, the sign ruling religion, philosophy, law, ethics, morality, the higher mind, universities, long-range vision, distant travel, tall tales, literature, foreign countries and cultures, politics, publishing, journalism, media, and the search for truth and meaning in our lives.


Long winded, yes, but Jupiter, ruler of Sagittarius is BIG.

It literally says: What's the big idea?

As the largest planet in our solar system, it has volumes to teach if we will just listen. It's no surprise that some of our greatest storytellers (Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson), singers (Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Bette Midler), comics and satirists (Richard Pryor, Jon Stewart, Margaret Cho), and filmmakers (Steven Spielberg, Gillian Armstrong, and Woody Allen) are born under Sagittarius.

So what does this eclipse mean?

Eclipses follow a nineteen-year cyclic pattern. They occur twice a year: one solar and one lunar eclipse per season, with occasional exceptions. In ancient times, as well as in modern times, eclipses foretold of the birth or death of a Monarch (Prince William was born on one and his mother, Princess Diana, died on one), and the end or beginning of an era.

Powerful and magical, a solar eclipse literally and symbolically burns a hole in the sky while suggesting an: `Out with the old, in with the new' kind of energy in the sign in which it takes place. Its effects can impact us for several years.

Astrologically, it points to where, in your horoscope, a release and revitalization is due and depending on the exact degree of the eclipse, how powerful it will be in your horoscope.*

At first glance, the coming eclipse on Sunday in the free-wheeling, ride-`em cowboy sign of Sagittarius, seems to be easy and fun, a kind of no-brainer due to the joyful quality of Sagittarius. But a closer examination reveals much more, and the square from Mars to Pluto, opposing Jupiter demands that we define exactly on what philosophy we are basing our existence and why.

Beliefs are deeply personal and they're `charged.' They connect to our sense of safety and in one way or another, support our sense of sanity. One could argue that even atheists feel more secure in embracing their philosophy of nonbelief. As a result, it's not surprising that many of us, without ever realizing it, may become rigid and even defensive when it comes to our philosophy and beliefs. Most of us were raised with the admonition never to discuss religion or politics because those topics ruffle feathers, cause arguments and make people uncomfortable. But times have changed.

Since 1995, Pluto, the planet of death and rebirth, has been in Sagittarius, and we are unable to keep the subject of faith under the rug. Religion is out in the open and like anything caged for too long, its more demonic and fear-based side expressing itself as "my way or the high-way" has bubbled to the surface in the form of jihads, fundamentalism, and terrorism. Meanwhile, the more thoughtful aspect of Pluto's transit has manifested in spiritually oriented web-dialogues, an interest in interfaith communities, and a dramatic increase in books on spirituality.

No one can deny that the issue of religious tolerance is on the front burner because we know that to live in a peaceful world we must understand and tolerate what others believe. Most have accepted this position as well, fundamental, to achieving harmony.

But to reach that goal, we must be willing to examine the connection between belief and a sense of safety. That's where this week's eclipse comes in.

It would be timely to ask if we have become rigid and stuck when it comes to our faith and philosophy and if so, why?

`Tis a paradox, because Jupiter's nature is to expand and explore. Jupiter leaps at the chance to travel where he has never gone before and to try a new dish and to partake in a foreign and exotic ritual. Jupiter knows that emotional and intellectual freedom is a requirement for growth.

How strange then, that in the name of God, Jupitarian types can behave like blowhards, coming from a place of tyranny while preaching an ideology that is often stale and inflexible if not downright destructive to the spirit. When in that mode, Sagittarius loses his way and his ability to inspire and uplift. That's the Sagittarian down side or "shadow" at its worst: pedantic, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant of what another has to say.

This weekend's eclipse says "Time Out" to that.

Get off your `high horse', take stock and get clear on what you believe, be honest about your philosophy and how it impacts others. Take a leap of faith this weekend, and attempt something you've been afraid to do.

And while you're at it, sit down and see if your spiritual and philosophical health can be revitalized by confronting these questions:

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