Today’s solar eclipse has many afraid of what it may bring. Will an evil force attack the world? Will a birth on this day cause defects for the infant? Will food become contaminated? We now have science to ease our fears…at least for those who choose to believe in it. Science or no science, people from all over the world still give power to the superstitions passed from one generation to another from so long ago. What did those before us believe solar eclipses were or how they effected their world?
The Chinese have ancient eclipse records dating over 4,000 years old. They believed dragons devoured the sun. Ancient Chinese astronomers recorded solar eclipses in chronicles and on “oracle” bones made from animal bones and tortoise shells. These bones were most likely used divination but the records were incomplete and the dating of the bone was unreliable.
A tradition in ancient China was to bang drums and pots to make loud noise to frighten the dragon away. The Incas also tried to frighten these monsters away by immersing themselves in water. Some countries still practice these traditions today.
In the Odyssey, Homer states that, “the Sun vanished out of heaven and an evil gloom covered all things about the hour of the midday meal.” Ancient Egyptians believed the Sun God Atum the eclipsed Sun passing the second contact of a total eclipse. Ra/Re is the eclipse at second contact appearing as the Diamond Effect. The Great Sphinx was considered “Lord of Sun Eclipses”. Hathor was the goddess of Sun Eclipses. The shadow bands was the God Aten of the Amarna Revolution.
Solar eclipses represent letting go of the old and embracing the new.