“Janet’s Planet”: Solar eclipse inspires myths and superstitions


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKNR) – For ancient cultures, a solar eclipse could be a strange and frightening event.

News 2 eclipse expert, Janet Ivey of “Janet’s Planet” says solar eclipses have caused fear, inspired curiosity, and have been associated with myths, legends, and superstitions throughout history.

Ancient cultures tried to understand why the sun temporarily vanished from the sky, so they came up with various reasons for what caused a solar eclipse.

Here are some of the myths Janet has uncovered.

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 for an eclipse, she… 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 suggests that solar eclipses happen because mythical dogs are trying to steal the sun.

The ancient Greeks believed that a solar eclipse was a sign of angry gods and that it was the beginning of disasters and destruction.

In 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.

But not all superstitions surrounding solar eclipses are about doom.

In Italy it is believed that flowers planted during a solar eclipse are brighter and more colorful than flowers planted any other time of the year.

Scientists and astronomers around the world have debunked any such claims. There is no scientific evidence that solar eclipses can affect human behavior, health, or the environment.

Folks in Indonesia used a solar eclipse as a teaching moment. According to the Batammaliba legend, 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.

Janet calls that the best use of a myth ever.

Be sure to join us next Thursday for our News 2 Complete Viewer’s Guide to the Epic Eclipse beginning at 4 a.m. Each newscast will have special reports on this rare and exciting occurrence.

Visit wkrn.com/eclipse for all the resources and information you need.

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6 August 2017 5:55 am
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