Monday, August 21, 2017

To-tal Eclipse of the Sun! (♪ ♫ Da-Doo ♪ ♫)

We had to pop back to the newsroom to comment on the inciting/climactic event of many fanciful stories, which is happening TODAY (August 21st, 2017), that is, the once in 100-ish year event (in North America) in which there is a ♪ ♫ To-tal Eclipse of the Sun! ♪ ♫
Solar eclipses... remind us, in a striking, purely visual way we can't ignore, that even something as basic as the sun shining in the middle of the day can get ... tweaked. 
It's unsettling. 
Films are a visual medium, and several Hollywood movies have employed solar eclipses as a kind of shorthand to signal to audiences that the normal rules have temporarily lifted, and things are about to get weird. (NPR
A notable fairy tale appearance would be the total solar eclipse in the underrated fairy tale 'Ladyhawke'. (Just put up with the 80's soundtrack. The story is totally worth it and we're not the only ones who think so. Want a fairy tale rundown on why this movie should rank high in your fairy tale movies list and could even be considered revisionist? Take a look at this awesome article, Is Ladyhawke the Best Fairy Tale of Them All? by Leah Schnelbach over on
The other two main fantasy stories are:

'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' (in which the 'Yankee', having a knowledge of the future, thanks to his fortuitously-handy, modern almanac, threatens to blot out the sun in Camelot, unless they release him, which they hurriedly do when the eclipse makes itself apparent...)

... and, of course, the odd appearance of the legendary Audrey II during a ♪ ♫ To-tal Eclipse of the Sun! ♪ ♫ ('Little Shop of Horrors'), which changed Seymour's (and Audrey's) life, and, in the director's alternate version, the lives of a whole city's worth of people, and more.

Also of note, since eclipses are all the rage today, is the possibility of a Lunar one being referred to in the Grimm's 'The Hare and the Hedgehog'. (See the paper proposing the idea HERE.) It is, perhaps, a little bit of a stretch (at least from our perspective) but an entertaining theory, nonetheless (and a good reason to take another look at a lesser known fairy tale).

Interestingly, while we find tales including an eclipse preclude the breakings of curses, and turns of fortunes to the better, as well as rare (and often supernatural) opportunities, folklore generally sees them as foreboding, with common mentions of dragons and giant beings (wolves, jaguars etc) swallowing the sun or being released to do their worst on the earth. (See the Smithsonian folklore roundup on eclipses HERE.)
And there's more interesting eclipse folklore HERE via

Those of fae circles and magik disciplines however, encourage the approach that an eclipse is more about a portal - an opportunity to bring about change and new beginnings (see NPR's roundup on those HERE).

And then there's the animal reaction, which is wonderful fodder for tales old and new. Check out this really cool simulation courtesy of CNN:
Whichever approach you take, it's a dramatic opportunity for 'something', especially when it comes to tales.

However you mark this event, take care of your precious eyesight and practice safe viewing! Happy Total Solar Eclipse 2017 folks!

NOTE: It is suggested that you keep your cats and dogs (all pets actually, chickens included) indoors so they won't damage their eyes or go blind during the eclipse as well. Stay safe and bright eyed everyone!


  1. I am a huge fan of Ladyhawke, which I played while doing the editing on my YA medieval fantasy novel Wolfborn, which had werewolves in it(but no hawks!). I even like the music.

  2. Great post! I love Ladyhawke too. When I first saw it I was pretty offended by the anachronistic music and, to some extent, costuming. But now I just accept it and enjoy! It does have a fairy tale feel to it, I guess because of the evil guy who puts a curse on people to change them into animals. But I can't think of a specific fairy tale it might relate to. Anyone?