In the Dark of the Sun

Any student of human mythologies sooner or later comes to the conclusion most of human myth and ritual is driven by a fear of the night.

Winter solstice, the longest night of the year, was marked in various primitive religions with rituals to bring back the light.  From the frozen North to the sweltering South there were myths about the sun being swallowed or betrayed by darkness, and what must happen to make it better.

This is a little weird since we are assured by biologists that we are descended from a sort of little nocturnal shrew.

And yet most of us hate darkness.  We turn on lights everywhere we can, and much of human industry has been applied towards pushing back the night, towards making the hours of darkness as few as possible.  Having the ability to bring light with a touch of the fingertips must be one of the better achievements of mankind, and it’s hated and reviled by those who hate and revile mankind, too.

Which is why I find myself vaguely amused by the people driving and flying to the path of the total eclipse, to get a glimpse of it.  Nothing says “human progress is unstoppable” more than our ability to enjoy and look with wonder on what used to terrify our ancestors.

And it did terrify our ancestors (at least those not of a philosophical bend) because this darkness out of turn could only portend ill.

So, in the spirit of hardening you to the possible dangers of the eclipse, whether you’re making your way to (or already live in) totality, let me offer some advice.

We recommend against pregnant mothers traveling to the area where the eclipse will be total because we don’t want their children to turn into mice as they’re born.  While a running wheel is cheaper than a college education, mice aren’t known to drive, get jobs or move away.

If you’re in the path of totality, make sure you cover your well, all your dishes, or, frankly, use a gas mask, as several cultures believe that during eclipses strange poisonous mists or dews arise.

We also suggest you don’t shoot flaming arrows into the air trying to restart the sun.  Instead, please, go out and run your car.  After all Al Gore has guaranteed this will cause the Earth to burn up. We assume releasing carbon will cause the sun to really wake up.  If you can’t get to your car, breathe REALLY hard.  Burn something on your grill.  Do your part to start the sun again.

In fact shooting guns into the air is also a bad idea.  Those bullets will come down somewhere.

If you are from Tahiti or some other parts with the same beliefs, you might not want to look too closely at the sun, even with safe glasses, because the sun and moon goddess/god will be having an intimate moment, and would you really want to have a bunch of people stare up at you at that kind of moment?

On the more serious side, an esoteric a hundred year old Jewish prophecy is believed by some to foretell the end of North Korea.

“The prophecy states that when a solar eclipse occurs exactly as it will next week, in the beginning of the month of Elul, kings of the East will suffer great loss,” Rabbi Yosef Berger , the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, revealed of the century-old text Yalkut Moshe (“Collection of Moses”)..

……… Written by Rabbi Moshe ben Yisrael Benyamin in Safed in 1894, the Yalkut Moshe notes that when a solar eclipse occurs at the beginning of the month of Elul, “it is an especially bad sign,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News.

The eclipse will also be accompanied by other phenomena, Rabbi Berger noted. “There will be storms and animals will die.” But the prophecy’s most significant prediction carries a literal prophetic implication.

According to the rabbi, the suffering of the “kings of the East” clearly refers to “the despotic leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, and the loss he will suffer if he continues to taunt President [Donald] Trump.”

I know that one can’t say anything without being controversial, just now, but you know what?  If this should turn out to be true and Kim Jong-Un (also known as Whoa Fat! In my circles) can be removed and his people allowed to go free, I’d say the eclipse was a good thing.

Some Christian sects also believe that the eclipse heralds the beginning of end times, not just for North Korea, but for all of us:

Many fundamentalist Christians see this as a significant warning of the impending apocalypse, the second coming of Christ and the rapture.

The “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” as it is called is said to be a warning sign from God, as it allegedly fulfils a Bible prophecy.

Pastor Paul Begley, host of the Coming Apocalypse radio show, said the eclipse could possibly fulfil a prophecy recorded in the book of Joel.

This states: “The sun shall be turned to darkness before the Day of the Lord come.”

Mr Begley said “somebody sound the trumpet” because the eclipse may mean “we are living in the last days.”

Writing for Unsealed.org, Gary Ray says the eclipse may mean that 2017 will mark the beginning of the Tribulation, a time the Bible describes as a period of conflict and suffering on a scale never experienced in mankind’s history.

 On the other hand, if you just want to view the eclipse, you might want to ignore this wholly secular piece of misinformation:

That year, Charles Schultz produced an eclipse-themed edition of his famous "Peanuts" comic strip. In it, the character Linus states, "There is no safe method for looking directly at an eclipse. And it is especially dangerous when it is a total eclipse."

Linus' statement is entirely untrue. One can look directly at an eclipse with the help of solar viewing glasses, and when the moon fully covers the solar disk (a total eclipse), skywatchers should absolutely remove their eye protection and view the event with their naked eyes. Space.com columnist and night sky expert Joe Rao said he deeply laments that this eclipse myth was spread by Schultz — so much so that Rao wrote a children's bookto help dispel it.