What drives paranoia?
We may think that it’s a fear of the new, an inability to quantify the changes on the horizon, to see where they may lead. Over the last few years, many have invoked visions of dystopia as a dark parallel of our rapidly changing society. Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Terry Gilliam, and Margaret Atwood gave us some of the most enduring visions of a fear-based future, but these dystopian nightmares have something more than their fear in common, and it links them with this very moment in time: Saros Cycle 121.
The name sounds like yet another science-fiction reality, but Saros Cycles are part of an ancient tradition that maps the trajectory of eclipses and calculates exactly what type of eclipse will occur. By looking at these events, the Chaldeans were able to organize them into cycles known as Saros, “repetitions,” stretching over vast lengths of time. Each eclipse in a cycle occurred roughly 18 years apart, a variation on the eclipse preceding it. These cycles could be examined in context to impart valuable information about world events and societal themes.
And each date has provided its own startling vision of the future: the second eclipse in 1931 saw Aldous Huxley put pen to paper for his horrifying artificial reality, and the third in 1949 saw the publication of 1984. These eclipses continued in 1967, 1985, and 2003, and on Wednesday, May 26, we see the next eclipse in the cycle. Dystopia isn’t the only common theme throughout this cycle: each eclipse has featured tense aspects to Jupiter with five of the seven pitting the planet of expansion against the lunar eclipse itself, including this year’s total lunar eclipse in Sagittarius. This is where we find our fear of extremity, our distrust in moderation.
Lunar eclipses necessarily involve tension between luminaries: the Sun and the Moon oppose, and the Moon slips into the Earth’s shadow causing it to reflect not the warm, vital light of the Sun but the darkness of the collective. Lunar eclipses are a moment of collective crisis, bringing us into alignment with the undercurrent of the time and forcing us to look…