Eclipses have a dubious reputation. In the old days, astrologers had a very negative view of eclipses, largely because they were answering to royalty. You see, kings liked to associate themselves with the sun, the bright, brilliant source of all life and vitality. During a solar eclipse, the moon slips in front of the sun and dims (or completely blocks) the solar light. Not a very good symbolic event, if you're the king.

Even in modern culture, we seem to have a bizarre fear of eclipses, most notably of the "don't- look-or-you'll-go-blind" variety. Of course, if you look directly at the sun during an eclipse it can harm your vision, but that's true every day, not just on eclipses. Andrew Weil's book "Marriage of the Sun and Moon" has a great section on the spiritual dimension of these celestial events, well worth reading, and he also explores the fears we continue to have of eclipses.

While eclipses aren't quite as bad as astrologers used to think, they do often coincide with significant, sometimes destructive, events in the world. But most of us, even those with planets and sensitive points very close to the eclipse, will be just fine.

Eclipses happen in pairs (sometimes in threes), two weeks apart. For example, there could be one solar eclipse, and two weeks before or after, there is a lunar eclipse. These occur on the regular dates for the new and full moons.

What does happen during the eclipse time is that we all get a bit edgy and excitable. It works like this: in the week or two before the first eclipse, we start to feel a building tension. This reaches its peak, right around the eclipse, and then continues until the second eclipse, two weeks later. After the second eclipse, we start to feel the tension diminishing, and in a week or two we're back to normal.

Looking back on the previous six weeks, we usually find that the same issues are still with us, but without the emotional intensity that they had during the eclipse time. The emotional power of the eclipse can be good, if we use it as a motivation for positive change. But it can also push us into rash action, so try to take some time to meditate, relax, and get some distance from all the excitement.

While the intensity of a lunar eclipse often makes it hard to focus (or to focus on anything except that which you're obsessed with), solar eclipses are powerful new moons and so are great for meditating and setting intentions. They are great opportunities to discover what you really want. Imagining what you want your life to be like in another six months and a year from now are great ways to get started.