When the Moon is at perigee, it is also traveling much faster than normal. To imagine how this works, picture an ice skater doing a spin. As they bring their arms in closer to their body, the spin becomes faster. Astrologers tend to use an average speed for the moon of around 13 degrees per day. But when the moon is at perigee, it increases its average speed by about 12% (it is about 6% slower when the moon is at apogee or farthest away). Anyone who is interested in horary astrology knows that the speed of the moon is important because a faster moon brings faster results. During this eclipse, the moon’s speed was 15 degrees 14 minutes.
A moon at perigee also has tidal effects because there is a stronger gravitational pull. The tides are always slightly stronger when the Sun, Earth and Moon line up at a full Moon and a new Moon. But when this coincides with a perigee moon (about three or four times a year), you get an additional increase in the average range of tides.
[Side note: We use the word “perigee” for the moon, but when a planet is at the closest portion of its orbit to the Sun, we call it perihelion (from the Greek peri (around) and helios (the Sun)).]
It was also a Harvest Moon in the Northern hemisphere. After the fall equinox, the angle of the ecliptic to the horizon is narrower, so you don’t have a long period of darkness between the setting sun and the rising moon.
Astronomically, the eclipse was against the backdrop of the constellation Pisces. Astrologically, the eclipse was at 4 degrees 40 minutes in Aries, just 2 degrees away from the lunar nodes (to have a total eclipse, the lunar nodes must be close to the Sun and Moon).
What does this have to do with the Black Moon Lilith?
Lilith is confusing. This is because the name has been associated with four different points:
(1) Asteroid Lilith, (#1181) orbiting in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter;
(2) Dark Moon Lilith, a hypothetical tiny moon orbiting the earth;
(3) Stellar Lilith, a name used by the Hebrews in the Talmud for the star Algol (often referred to as the most evil star in the heavens, although see Dawn Glinski’s article “Making Amends with Medusa” for a more moderate perspective); and finally,
(4) Black Moon Lilith which is not a physical body at all. Instead it is an astronomical, mathematical point in space that represents the other focus of the Moon’s elliptical orbit around the earth.
The Moon is so big the center of mass for its orbit (the barycenter) is not the center of the Earth. This means the lunar nodes - the points where the Moon’s orbit crosses the orbit of the Earth around the Sun (the ecliptic) - wobbles. Most astrologers use the Moon’s mean node, where the distance of the node’s motion is averaged. On average it moves retrograde in the chart by 3 minutes of arc each day. But for short periods, the true node can actually have a direct motion. The difference between the mean and true node can be as much as 1 degree 45 minutes. At the time of the eclipse, the mean North node was at 0 Libra 38 and the True North node was at 1 Libra 01.
The wobble in the Moon’s orbit also gives Black Moon Lilith a mean (averaged) position and a true position. Because this was a Super Moon lunar eclipse, both the mean and true position were close: The mean position was 3 Libra 45 and the true position was at 3 Libra 54, one degree away from the Sun.
What does the Black Moon Lilith mean?
Until this eclipse, I had never paid much attention to the Black Moon Lilith.
Lilith’s mythology stretches back around 5,000 years. The first myths of Lilith are from Sumeria, where she was a handmaid to the goddess Inanna. A later myth was that she was Adam’s (of Adam and Eve) first wife who refused to be subservient to Adam. In all of the myths, Lilith has an untamed quality to her and possesses knowledge that the recipient is not ready to accept. Her use in modern astrology, however, is relatively recent. She first appears in the 1930’s in the work of Don Neroman, who did a lot of research on the lunar apogee
The untamed and unaccepted qualities shown in the myths are reflected in the astrological Lilith. There is a strong independent and uncontrollable side to the Black Moon, particularly if we are not willing to face the hidden side of our nature, our unseen focal point. She represents the depths we know exist but don’t want to acknowledge, the dark secrets, the negative traits like guilt and shame, hatred and envy, rage and vengence. The Black Moon Lilith is also connected to areas of desire, particularly sexual desire and all the confusion that surrounds our sexuality. And she relates to the strong protective side of parenting, where one will kill to protect one’s offspring as well as to the negative side which can destroy the child in a reaction against the responsibilities of parenthood.
All of these attributes are connected to extremes, which is what the perigee and apogee of the lunar orbit represent, and to a distrust of the feminine side (the Moon). The earth is the visible focal point that mediates the extremes. It represents what we can see and what we consciously want to show to others. Astrologically, the Black Moon Lilith is an invisible, but no less powerful, focal point. It represents the debris we have swept under the rug; it is still present no matter what we want to believe; still tugging and pulling at our thoughts and actions. We can certainly see examples of these types of extremes today, particularly in the news from the Middle East and the United States (a violent extreme is shown in the treatment of women by ISIS; another type of extreme is seen in the latest fight by Republicans to do away with all of the women’s health services provided by Planned Parenthood).
There is another story about a magic mirror that can show your true self. Most people cannot stand in front of this mirror for more than a few moments because they see all the parts of themselves that they don’t acknowledge, don’t want and don’t like. Those who are brave enough to let these images pass by are rewarded with a vision that mirrors the beauty of their true self. This is the potential of the Black Moon Lilith. If we don't bury away what we dislike about ourselves, we can soar as we walk our own distinct path.
So what do we make of the Black Moon Lilith conjunct the Sun and opposite the Moon in the Super, Blood Moon eclipse of September 27-28, 2015? Leah Whitehorse has an interesting observation about the Black Moon that gives a clue:
“Lilith is only truly defined when she is either exactly conjunct the Moon or exactly opposite the Moon. At all other times she is simply a potential who may or may not be really there. But when she is conjunct and opposite the Moon, that’s when we see her. The Moon brings her to life – or perhaps like a ghost, the Moon provides the psychic lens by which we can see her. I think there is far more study to do on this.” https://www.leahwhitehorse.com/2012/01/29/black-moon-lilith-mean-bitch-or-true-witch/
The Sun is a masculine archetype and in this total eclipse it has turned the Moon (a feminine archetype) red. Black Moon Lilith is combust, so close to the Sun that her ability to fully act out is being burnt away. I expect we will be seeing a lot more extremes in the months to come related to reflections of what we consider the realm of the feminine, caring for others in need whether they are the poor or refuges, care of children, women’s issues around contraception, rape, abortion and childbirth, as well as issues around sexuality. The battles will not be pretty but there is at least a potential to bring all the fears and anger into the light where the balancing qualities of Libra can prevail.
After publishing this article, I received an email from Halloran software about their research into the Black Moon Lilith:
"One of the first things that I discovered about the mysterious Black Moon Lilith is that it is nothing to be afraid of. 98 people in the database of 5200 Famous Charts have the Black Moon Lilith as their most dominant planet. To give you an idea of the quality of person it produces, just one person out of the 80 famous people born before 1650 had the Black Moon Lilith dominant, and that person was Michelangelo. Together in the list, we find Albert Einstein, Werner Erhard, Federico Fellini, Pope Francis, and Sigmund Freud. The married couple Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe are both in the group. None of the 98 are criminals. Each of their lives made the world a better place. They tend to be irrepressible wild-cards with distinctive individualities. Here is the complete list of the 98 well-known people who were born with the Black Moon Lilith as the most dominant planet in their charts."
Each of the 98 people referenced do seem to express the untamed "wide-card" energy we see in the Lilith myth - particularly the earliest myths. What is often difficult to determine from online biographies is much about a person's inner life, which seems to be the realm of the Black Moon Lilith. However, this is a good list for astrologers begin to research in order to better understand how Black Moon Lilith can express, both in her skillful and less skillful modes.