Lunar Eclipse 2013: What 6 Cultures Think It Means

While the Sun can easily lay claim to having the more exciting of the two eclipses — if for no other reason than because it literally makes it look like Montgomery Burns is blocking the sun —the Lunar Eclipse has still found its way across literature.

After all, as a rare occurrence only possible when the moon is perfectly aligned with the Earth and thus completely in its shadow, the resulting sight of a blood-red constellation is the stuff legends are made of. And, expectedly, there are quite a few legends associated with the Lunar Eclipse.

1. The Romans

For the Romans, the lunar eclipse was regarded as a bad omen and after the death of Augustus in 14 ACE, it is believed that many of the soldiers, bordering on rebellion, were united in trying to restore order after seeing the moon obscured and taking it as a sign.

2. The Chinese

In some ancient Chinese circles, the eclipse was believed to be the result of a dragon consuming the moon, with the only way to stop it being to smash together pots and mirrors to ward off the creature, an approach similar to the ones taken by the Incas and the Vikings.

3. The Gê

An Amazonian Tribe, the Gê of Brazil believed the eclipse was the result of a fight between the sun and the moon, with the redness and dimmed lights being a result of the moon bleeding from the damage.

4. The Hindus

Some Hindus believe that submerging oneself in the Ganges River following an eclipse will help the bather achieve salvation. Several rituals are performed during this period of worship, which also includes paying respects to the sun.

5. The Europeans

While this is perhaps going more into the solar eclipse, the Europeans of the past also used to believe that the seeming obstruction of a celestial body was a bad omen, a fear Milton metaphorically employs in Paradise Lost when he states, “As when the Sun, new risen, Looks through the horizontal misty air, Shorn of his beams, or from behind the Moon, In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds, On half the nations, and with fear of change, Perplexes monarchs.”

6. South East Asians

Trending across borders, from India to Pakistan, some folks believe that pregnant women should not do anything during a lunar eclipse and should avoid going outside because whatever they’re doing reflects on the child. If they cook, the child will have burnt-looking skin and if they get an injection, the child will have scars. And yes, my mother had to delay an injection because an elderly lady forced the doctor’s office to stop administering them for the day.

So the eclipse is a beautiful thing and it has a lot of history behind it. So, whether they are your own experiences or someone else’s that you are just fond of, be sure to share them in the comments below.

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Abdul R. Siddiqui

Abdul is a graduate of CUNY Baruch, as part of the Macaulay Honors program. He has interned with the New York City Housing Authority, Macaulay, and PolicyMic. He currently contributes to PolicyMic, DramaFever, and NewLogical.

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