The heavens are telling: Finding spiritual illumination in the shadows of a solar eclipse

As the world prepares for a solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, how can the movements of the heavens inform our faith on Earth?

solar eclipse, 2024 solar eclipse, faith and spirituality, astrology, cardology, Christianity, Issachar, Bible, Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones,
The moon covers the sun in a solar eclipse. Photo: AdobeStock

“Notes on faith” is theGrio’s inspirational, interdenominational series featuring Black thought leaders across faiths.

Are you ready for what’s happening tomorrow, Family? For months, there has been global buzz about what will happen during the solar eclipse due to take place in North America on April 8, 2024: closures and early release from schools; anticipated railway strikes and traffic delays; stockpiling water and sanitizer; forecasted blizzards; agitation among the unhoused; warnings to grab necessities like food and disaster response agencies on standby. 

Across traditions, many spiritual and clairvoyant figures are unified in their cautionary messaging, taking to the internet to forecast the significance of the times and the headlines. In an interview with “conscious” YouTube hip-hop commentator and promoter Blackmagic363 entitled “How to Prepare for a Solar Eclipse,” Aquarius Maximus, a “cardologist,” attests that the total solar eclipse marks a “gentle” new beginning. 

“You will be able to feel that something greater is going to happen; that something electrifying is going to happen,” she said, advising: “Don’t be impulsive. Stay inside.” 

Her advice is consistent with cautions given even in the news. “You are sort of in the eye of the needle of eclipse season,” said astrologist Rebecca Gordon in a recent CBS interview. “That is when there might be a bit of chaos and confusion. So in your life there might be: ‘Why did that job let me go?’; that relationship just began, that relationship ended. There can be a whole lot of change…You want to not plan too much; leave space open, because you will need that space to react thoughtfully.”

Now, we know the saints will likely be dubious of insights derived from an astrologer and a lesser-known type of astrological advisor called a “cardiologist.” We get it. However, as Christian faith leaders, these are beliefs and traditions we must take seriously as we guide our communities in addressing real spiritual questions about current events. Consider the prowess of Issachar in the Bible, for example, a mathematician who studied the stars as an astute forecaster of the times, taking seriously what the elements might be showing us.

Whether you believe it or not, throughout history, there have been significant events surrounding the solar eclipse. “You look at patterns and cycles … Big things happening on eclipses that you simply cannot argue with,” said Gordon, pointing out that “on December 1, 1955, civil rights icon Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, just two days after a lunar eclipse.” That strategic action would spark a pivotal movement.

As we observe the signs of these times, how might we tap into the significance of this undeniable global event of celestial alignment?

“A solar eclipse happens,” NASA writes, “when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth that either fully or partially blocks the Sun’s light in some areas. This only happens occasionally, because the Moon doesn’t orbit in the exact same plane as the Sun and Earth do. The time when they are aligned is known as eclipse season, which happens twice a year.”

However, this time it will pass directly in front of the sun, creating the first total solar eclipse since August 2017.

Experts at the intersection of faith and science agree this is a powerful event that should inspire us to stay put, be intentional, contemplate, and plan to shift into the next chapter of our lives with great momentum.

This is not modern philosophy; sages of old across belief systems have long taught us that celestial beings hold various levels of meaning in all cultures. Whether through folklore, mythology, or sacred texts of a variety of religious traditions, holy scriptures indicate that occurrences in the sky provide a cosmic lens through which we behold the Divine Creator’s handiwork in the natural order of things. Remember, the three Magi were instructed to follow the Star of Bethlehem to find the Savior — and during Jesus’ crucifixion, the Gospel of Luke seems to suggest a solar eclipse occurs:

“By this time, it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:44-46 NLT)

Centuries later, enslaved African Americans were told to “follow the North Star” to freedom. In Afro-Protestant thought, we still see traces of these teachings in contemporary gospel music ( as in “The Heavens are Telling” by Karen Clark-Sheard) and in the Bible, which says: “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship” (Psalms 19:1 NLT).

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For those who consider themselves deeply spiritual and rooted in faith, this moment may provide an opportunity for reflection, prompting us to contemplate the cosmic mysteries and universal connections— the profound meanings discovered in our lives.

Even among individuals who may not ascribe to a particular tradition, celestial events may symbolize transformation and renewal. Specifically, the interconnection of the moon and sun in this way leads us to reflect on the contrast between day and night, light and darkness, and chaos and order in one single moment. 

This symphony of events displays the coordinated chaos that is always unfolding around us, inspiring us to reflect upon our connection to the universe. The momentary obstruction of the sun by the moon poetically illustrates the depths and mysteries of the luminous darkness that abounds, as well as the light that always awaits us, peering from the shadow cast by the eclipse. We may gain needed data from scientists — so, too, do we gain evidence of divine orchestration from our ancestors as they lived connected to nature and the stars, connected to the Creator. 

As faith leaders who engage in a diverse global society, we aim to consider and connect to all of the wonders of God’s hand. Let us discover meaning in these wonders and let ourselves be conduits of that which is earth-shifting and miraculous. From Haiti to the Congo to Sudan and to Gaza, may we anticipate the alignment of peace and power. May we come to expect what we think can only happen every now and then to become an everyday occurrence. May we remain open to awe-inspiring moments. 

Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones is a faith leader helping people to find their groove in a fast-paced world, as a consultant for various arts and faith organizations and professor of music in contemporary societies at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. She is an award-winning author of Flaming? The Peculiar Theopolitics of Fire and Desire in Black Male Gospel Performance (Oxford University Press). For more information, please visit

Rev. Calvin Taylor Skinner is dedicated to empowering frontline communities in Knoxville, Tenn. and the United Kingdom. He uses faith and policy to address energy justice, criminal justice reform, voter education/mobilization, electoral politics, and global affairs. Along with his wife, Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones, they lead InSight Initiative, a consulting firm focusing on capacity building and live events production.