A rare “blood moon tetrad” will arrive with the start of a total lunar eclipse, beginning late on Monday evening–or, for most of the East Coast, early Tuesday. The eclipse, in which the full moon will be darkened by the earth’s shadow, will coincide with the Jewish festival of Passover. In a bizarre, rare calendrical coincidence, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot in October will also feature a solar eclipse–as will both Passover and Sukkot next year as well.
The series of four blood-red eclipses has sparked several conspiracy theories and amateur prophecies. A book by the popular evangelical Pastor John Hagee, Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change, suggests that the lunar eclipses may be a sign from God. One website, Red Moon Rapture, predicts the Second Coming of Jesus, noting that “Jesus declared the Sun, Moon and the Stars would give signs before his 2nd coming.”
Blood is symbolically linked to both Easter and Passover. Christians associate blood with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ–which are both celebrated as part of Holy Week, which begins today. Jews recall the blood of the sacrificial lamb, sprinkled on the doorposts of the Hebrew slaves’ houses in Egypt to save their firstborn from the Tenth Plague. The moon typically appears red for the duration of a total lunar eclipse.
However, Space.com reassures the faithful that the “four blood moons” are probably not a sign of an impending Apocalypse. “So while a tetrad of total lunar eclipses is somewhat rare, it is not extraordinarily so, and probably nothing to make a fuss about. After all, the only thing that happens during a lunar eclipse is that the moon spends a couple of hours passing through the Earth’s shadow, hardly something to be concerned about.”
Photo: Heribert Proepper/AP