Eclipses and conversions: This week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Jan 22, 2018

Paul's Conversion on the way to Damascus by Caravaggio, 1601

This week Thursday marks the Feast of St. Paul in the Christian calendar, and his conversion at the Gates of Damascus. And also this week, the Moon will move past its first quarter, and on toward next week’s total lunar eclipse.


Before his experience at Damascus, Paul was known as Saul of Tarsus, and the story of his conversion is that he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the early Christians, because, according to his best knowledge of spiritual mysteries, the story they were telling about the incarnation of the Christ was simply not true. But then, Saul had an experience: the Christ Being spoke to him from the spiritual world, and he was struck blind, deaf, and dumb, for a period of three days, before then becoming a great teacher of Christianity, known throughout history as the “Apostle of the Gentiles.”


Paul’s writings in the New Testament are some of the most poetic in the entire Bible, and include some really terrific references to the mysteries of the human being in relation to the stars, particularly from his first letters to the Corinthians where he describes that “There are celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the Sun, and another glory of the Moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.”


As you watch the waxing Moon this week, you will see it sweep first through the region of Pisces, then Aries stars, and on through the zodiac, until it comes to the region of Cancer and Leo where it will reach its Full Phase, only to be blocked from the light of the Sun by the deep shadow of the Earth. The Moon will be at its perigee, meaning it is closest to Earth, and we can imagine it much like Saul of Tarsus, drawing close to his would-be enemies, and then, for a time, going “dark”, to emerge on the other side of the experience, converted to an entirely new perspective.


The first quarter Moon happens Wednesday, January 24th, followed on Thursday by the Feast of St. Paul, and next week, by the total lunar eclipse.