ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Solar Eclipse Superstitions

Updated on August 16, 2017

The goings on of the heavens have always drawn our interest. A solar eclipse is a rare and incredible event where the moon passes across the face of the sun in its orbit around the earth. Our understanding of the solar system now explains this phenomenon, but in times past, an eclipse could be a terrifying thing. We look at some of the superstitions around such an event in this article.

"Astronomers Studying an Eclipse" by Antoine Caron
"Astronomers Studying an Eclipse" by Antoine Caron
"The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani" by J. D Dollman
"The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani" by J. D Dollman

Omens of a Swallowed Sun

Solar eclipses are seen throughout history as omens or portents of some doom to follow. Even in modern times, many consider that a solar eclipse marks the end of one phase in life and the beginning of another.

Naturally, it would have been a fearful thing for our ancestors to encounter when the sunlight was snuffed out and the world was covered in darkness. They took this quite literally; in the Bible when Christ dies on the cross, the light of the sun disappears for three hours, then reappears [1]. The Crucifixion took place during the festival of Passover, a religious period timed by the lunar calendar to fall around a full moon. As the moon has to be in a "dark moon" phase during a solar eclipse, this event was not possible, and was considered by Christians to be a miracle. It is quite possible that the metaphor of Jesus being the "Light of the World" is combined with a solar eclipse event; the return of the sun's light after the eclipse has ended representing the resurrection.

To the Norse people, the Sun and Moon were constantly being pursued by two wolves. The sun is described as being a "shining bride of the heavens" named Sól who is pulled across the sky in a chariot. The wolf that chases her horses is named Sköll, meaning "Treachery" [2]. The legend of Ragnarok, an apocalyptic event where good and evil forced met in a final battle, Sköll succeeds in his pursuit and consumes the sun. It should be noted that in some accounts, Fenris features as the wolf that consumes the sun, rather than Sköll [3]. Witnessing a solar eclipse would surely fill people with dread, as it would be one of the signs that the time of Ragnarok was close.

Many cultures considered an eclipse to be a sign that the gods were displeased with them. The ancient Babylonians would seat a replacement king during an eclipse to take the ire of the gods, as an eclipse was a bad omen for a ruler. This superstition continued throughout history; on August 2nd, 1133, King Henry I died shortly after a solar eclipse.

Many people will pray or perform a ritual of some sort during a solar eclipse, with a wish to weaken the powers of any negativity that they believe is caused during the darkness of the event.

The 1999 Solar Eclipse as seen from Mount's Bay, Cornwall
The 1999 Solar Eclipse as seen from Mount's Bay, Cornwall | Source

Expectant Mothers

There are dozens of superstitions surrounding pregnancy. Eager to ensure the well-being of their unborn child, mothers are bamboozled with all sorts of old-wives' tales.

"Don't leave the house during an eclipse, or the baby will have abnormalities."

It is not uncommon for a child to be born tongue-tied, or with a cleft lip or birth mark. It was believed that the risk of these features appearing in a newborn were increased if the mother ventured outside during a solar eclipse. At the very worst, venturing out during this event was believed to increase the risk of the child being born blind.

"Wear something red during the eclipse, to prevent baby being born with a cleft lip."

Again, fear of abnormalities led to this custom. A red ribbon pinned to the clothing, red underwear, or other clothing against the body would reduce the risk of baby being born with a cleft lip.

"Wear a safety pin against the belly."

Wearing metal against the skin or belly also was thought to prevent the "mutating powers" of the solar eclipse. A safety pin was the easiest, but house keys are also featured in this superstition.

"A child born during an eclipse will suffer misfortune during his life."

Many mothers used to try to delay giving birth until the eclipse had passed. This dangerous practice should be avoided at all costs, as delaying childbirth once labour has begun is dangerous to both mother and child.

"La Lune" from the Marseilles Tarot deck by Jean Dodal. The image shows the moon eclipsing the sun.
"La Lune" from the Marseilles Tarot deck by Jean Dodal. The image shows the moon eclipsing the sun. | Source

Evil Rays!

Some people believe that during a solar eclipse, "bad radiation" is transmitted down to us earth-dwellers. People stay indoors to avoid getting irradiated. Of course, we know this is utter nonsense. The only rays we really have to worry about, are the UV rays in sunlight that can cause skin cancer.

Another superstition involves food. The darkness of the eclipse is believed by some to contaminate food, causing "germs" to thrive and multiply. Anything cooked or eaten during this time will make you ill, so a fast is observed until the sun re-appears.

A superstition from medieval times is that people should abstain from carnal activities, as the mother might become impregnated by a daemon!

Calm Down, Everybody

A solar eclipse does not herald the end of the world, although it is quite an eerie event. Birds will stop singing, and a certain quietness and stillness surrounds the affected area until the moon has passed across the sun. I have witnessed an eclipse in 1999 from a mountainside, where a cold windswept up from the valley, which gave us all quite a chill. No daemons followed it, nor did hordes of vengeful evil spirits.

The most damaging powers of a solar eclipse is to the eyes of those that observe them. Always make sure that you protect yourself with proper protective eye-wear, or even a glass from a welder's mask. Staring directly at the sun can cause serious damage to your retina.


[1] The Bible, New Testament, Gospel of Mark

[2] The Poetic Edda, Codex Regius, "Grímnismál" (The Sayings of Grímnir) - ISBN - 978-0292764996

[3] The Poetic Edda, Codex Regius, "Vafþrúðnismál" (The Sayings of Vafþrúðnir)

© 2015 Pollyanna Jones


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Pollyanna Jones profile imageAUTHOR

      Pollyanna Jones 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Well I'm sure you'd do a better job than the current lot in charge! ;-) Thanks GrimRascal, glad you liked it.

    • GrimRascal profile image


      5 years ago from Overlord's Castle

      It's during solar eclipses when I gain tremendous power. Next solar eclipse, I will dominate the world. Hahaha...just kidding. This hub is very interesting!

    • Pollyanna Jones profile imageAUTHOR

      Pollyanna Jones 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Certainly. We really do tend to fear that which we don't understand. Some superstitions are useful, and have a meaning behind them; for example, walking under a ladder is silly in case something gets dropped on your head! But a lot of them really are just very bizarre, and sometimes dangerous.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      What an interesting collection of superstitions. Isn't it so easy to jump to conclusions when we don't understand why?

    • Pollyanna Jones profile imageAUTHOR

      Pollyanna Jones 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, AliciaC. It is always enjoyable to explore superstitions.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing these interesting superstitions, Pollyanna. This is an enjoyable and informative hub.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)