Uncommon Sense

August 21, 2017

Yeah But What Does It Mean?

Filed under: Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 8:19 am
Tags: , , ,

Today is the big (view one from the U.S. for the first time since the late 1970’s) solar eclipse day, so I might as well blog on it!


  • The Pomo, an indigenous group of people who live in the northwestern United States, tell a story of a bear who started a fight with the Sun and took a bite out of it. In fact, the Pomo name for a solar eclipse is Sun got bit by a bear. After taking a bite of the Sun and resolving their conflict, the bear, as the story goes, went on to meet the Moon and take a bite out of the Moon as well, causing a lunar eclipse.
  • According to the legends of the Batammaliba, who live in Benin and Togo, an eclipse of the Sun meant that the Sun and the Moon were fighting and that the only way to stop them from hurting each other was for people on Earth to resolve all conflicts with each other.
  • The ancient Greeks believed that a solar eclipse was a sign of angry gods and that it was the beginning of disasters and destruction.
  • The Tewa tribe from New Mexico believed that a solar eclipse signaled an angry Sun who had left the skies to go to his house in the underworld.
  • In Vietnam, people believed that a solar eclipse was caused by a giant frog devouring the Sun, while Norse cultures blamed wolves for eating the Sun.
  • In ancient China, a celestial dragon was thought to lunch on the Sun, causing a solar eclipse. In fact, the Chinese word of an eclipse, chih or shih, means to eat.
  • According to ancient Hindu mythology, the deity Rahu is beheaded by the gods for capturing and drinking Amrita, the gods’ nectar. Rahu’s head flies off into the sky and swallows the Sun causing an eclipse.
  • Korean folklore offers another ancient explanation for solar eclipses. It suggests that solar eclipses happen because mythical dogs are trying to steal the Sun. Traditionally, people in many cultures get together to bang pots and pans and make loud noises during a solar eclipse. It is thought that making a noise scares the demon causing the eclipse away.

Look, Mom, the sky has a zit!

And Now?
Many people around the world still see eclipses as evil omens that bring death, destruction, and disasters.

  • A popular misconception is that solar eclipses can be a danger to pregnant women and their unborn children. In many cultures, young children and pregnant women are asked to stay indoors during a solar eclipse.
  • In many parts of India, people fast during a solar eclipse due to the belief that any food cooked while an eclipse happens will be poisonous and unpure.
  • Not all superstitions surrounding solar eclipses are about doom. In Italy, for example, it is believed that flowers planted during a solar eclipse are brighter and more colorful than flowers planted any other time of the year.

But What Does It Really Mean?
Well, it doesn’t mean anything, but it is a sign, a sign that all is right with the solar system. Scientists have calculated the orbits of all of the planets and plantesimals and have determined the times and places solar and lunar eclipses will occur for centuries. It means that the orbits of these objects are dependable. We should only worry when they no longer become dependable.

And We Can Count On?
Some idiot Republican will point out that solar power is just not dependable, as dependable as oil and coal, for instance.

And Need I Say…
That all of these, uh, traditional “beliefs” about eclipses, which are rather mundane astronomical occurrences, have been incorporated into local religions to make sure that these superstitions are preserved: Religion … working to make people’s lives less understandable since the dawn of time!


  1. I subscribe to the Discoveroids newsletter. It’s often hilarious, and last week some dick wrote an article saying how PERFECT the distances were of the earth/moon/sun that we had a near-perfct eclipse! Astonishing!!


    Comment by john zande — August 21, 2017 @ 9:12 am | Reply

    • Uh, perfect as compared to … ? Does the dickwad know that the moon was much closer to Earth in path and is slowly moving away? He would probably say that was “by design” so they were perfectly lined up while we were on Earth. They have an answer of everything.

      On Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 9:12 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 21, 2017 @ 9:49 am | Reply

      • Shhhhh, the moon has ALWAYS been that far/close to the earth 😉


        Comment by john zande — August 21, 2017 @ 9:59 am | Reply

        • You mean since Creation, 6000 years ago? Well, that is right, it has been at about that distance for 6000 years. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?)

          On Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 9:59 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 21, 2017 @ 10:29 am | Reply

  2. Some time ago I dreamed up the means to situate the human calendar in space and time — using a solar eclipse.

    I figured that as the Holocene was really the start of the opportunity for human civilization, that it should be the basis for the year ZERO. But when exactly? Well, I figured that ~12000 years ago, some total solar eclipse MUST have passed GMT (UTC) Greenwich, UK around noon, give or take a century.

    So, I figured, we would have the exact date for Day 1, Month 1, Year 0, roughly 12,000 years ago and we could then use that to replace this unfortunate fixation on some hoaky, fabricated Christian calendar which has been adjusted who knows how many times and is pretty much an arbitrary date pulled from the annals of time.

    The eclipse based year + the Holocene, to me, would much more useful and accurate (whatever that means regarding human history…).



    Comment by Anony Mole — August 21, 2017 @ 10:40 am | Reply

    • Useful? No more than others. Accurate? Hardly. All calendars are arbitrary. How about one starting with the creation of Adam? That way, the clerics would be arguing for the next century or two over what that date was and while they are arguing us seculars can take over while they are distracted.


      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 21, 2017 @ 10:54 am | Reply

      • > Accurate? Hardly.

        But the Holocene + eclipse based calendar would be, not necessarily accurate — accuracy doesn’t really enter into the concept of the establishment of a calendar, as long as it’s maintained *accurately* at least– but such a calendar would be meaningful, I guess is the better word. Meaningful for all humans, not just a bunch of religious types. What year is it 12017. Ah, 12 thousand and 17 years since humanity first started on this road to civilization (which we may or may not some day reach).


        Comment by Anony Mole — August 21, 2017 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

        • Calendars don’t really mean anything, unless we want them to. Consider the stupid one we have now. According to the creators of said calendar, year 1 began when Jesus was born. Currently birthdates for the aforesaid probably fictious anyway savior of all mankind vary from 4BCE to 6CE. This makes the calendar useless as a vehicle to honor anyone. I think the CE/BCE designations are better in that they rob the supposed meaning from the calendar.

          On Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 1:06 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 21, 2017 @ 1:13 pm | Reply

  3. I really like your final comment—–“Religion……working to make people’s lives less understandable since the dawn of time.” I will continue to believe that organized religion is THE worst thing we humans have ever invented. I also remain totally convinced that all these gods were invented by frustrated dads who had pesky kids like I was, always asking why things were the way they are. Example, why is the sky blue, why is water wet, etc.. Way back in the distant past poor old dad didn’t know the whys, even the smartest among the particular tribe had no actual explanation, so, they invented some god and told the kid who questioned everything, things are as they are because “god made them this way.” Of course it was, and often still is, forbidden to question any of the gods still in existence. What a total crock this has been.
    Oh, one extra ‘goodie’ to share. I found this at some long forgotten blog. “The whole idea mankind was in need of redemption in the first place is based on the belief that a couple of nudists, in the very distant past, took dietary advice from a talking snake. And we wonder why the world is the screwed up mess it is.”


    Comment by davidambrose66 — August 21, 2017 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, I have a problem with “original sin” too. How does that get transmitted from generation to generation? Also, many Christian faiths believe in predestination, that is their god knows who is going to Heaven and who is not. Who would have children if the net result is that they go to Hell (there are some theists who claim that God only knows which are going to heaven, but there are only two places, no?)?

      And, these religious impulses were developed long before two year olds’ “whys” were tolerated. In a hunter-gatherer community I imagine a child that pestered his parents didn’t last long. We need to note that “organized religion” folded into itself the religions of people they were subsuming. The Romans were widely know to be accepting of a conquered people’s religion and worked out correspondences. Oh, your god Grok is the same as our Hermes, welcome to the club. Oh, and who took over the management of the Christian religion in the mid 300s CE? The Romans? The guys who supposedly killed Jesus? Does no one else not see that as ironic. The Jesus killers save Christianity from obscurity by adopting it as a state-required religion?

      On Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 1:33 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 21, 2017 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  4. I watched the eclipse on the computer. We will not see the totality first hand here in central Louisiana. It was awesome even second hand.


    Comment by davidambrose66 — August 21, 2017 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

    • I am used to being kept in the dark by our various governments, so I didn’t really notice any difference.


      On Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 1:34 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 21, 2017 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  5. Very interesting but I like your republican and religious conclusions best. I thought tthe Italians belief was a bit of a cop out in comparison to the doom and gloom nonsense ones though! Brighter flowers? They should try harder!


    Comment by theeditorsjournal — August 23, 2017 @ 6:39 pm | Reply

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