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Central Texas has some of the best seats in the country for the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse April 8.

Can the eclipse change your life? Austinites look for answers with tarot cards and birth charts.

Carly Fischer sits in a chair, smiling, while holding up a swath of tarot cards.
Renee Dominguez
KUT News
Carly Fischer is using tarot cards to help people set goals and find meaning during the eclipse.

For a few minutes during Monday’s total solar eclipse, when the moon perfectly aligns with the Earth and sun, you’ll briefly find yourself in another version of reality.

The sky will plunge into an eerie dusk. Stars and planets that are normally invisible might wink at you from above. The temperature will drop several degrees. Crickets may chirp and owls may hoot as animals confuse day for night.

Does that sound intense, awe-inspiring or maybe even unsettling? NASA says many people have a “deep emotional response” to experiencing totality.

For some, the experience is even more profound. The total solar eclipse is ancient, magical — even spiritual.

“If you can imagine having an eclipse thousands of years ago, it would have scared you to death,” said Mehtab Benton, an Austin yogi who has practiced Vedic astrology for 25 years. “There's an old part of ourselves that says the world's coming to an end because the sun's going away.”

Benton believes people have this primal connection to the eclipse — which is why clients have been reaching out to see how it could affect their careers, relationships and travel plans. He's even had a person ask if she should reschedule her daughter’s elective surgery that happened to fall on the day of the eclipse.

A man with a long white beard sitting in a chair and smiling while positioning his hands so his fingertips touch.
Erin Jones
Prana by Jonesie Photography
“People are looking for guidance … around making major life decisions like changing their job, or maybe ending or starting a relationship or marriage,” astrologer Mehtab Benton said about the eclipse.

I don’t have any surgeries coming up, but I had the same type of question. What could the eclipse mean beyond the science?

I reached out to Austinites practicing in the spiritual realm — yogis, astrologers, tarot card readers. They all agreed the eclipse is a rare opportunity for personal growth if you know how to take advantage of it. Some said the impact is even greater if you’re in the path of totality.

What does the eclipse mean spiritually?

Benton thinks of the sun as a representation of the human soul. When the sun disappears and reappears during the total eclipse, parts of ourselves that we normally can’t see may also be revealed.

“One can understand better what in their own lives may have been hidden from them, they weren't seeing, they weren't acknowledging, they didn't understand, because for some reason they're in the dark,” he said. “Now they're in the light.”

The opportunity for transformation is even bigger for Texans in the path of totality. We have an “extra load to carry” when it comes to spiritual change, Benton said.

“If you happen to be by birth, by job, by family or just by choice in the path of totality, you are a change maker,” he said. “This is why you're here in this path of totality, so embrace it.”

An up-close image of a total solar eclipse, showing the sun completely blocked out by the moon surrounded by a glowing corona.
Aubrey Gemignani
A solar eclipse during totality. Seeing this thousands of years ago "would have scared you to death," Benton said. That's why he thinks humans are so curious — and maybe even a little unsettled — by eclipses.

For Shannon Gill, an evolutionary astrologer in Wimberley, Monday’s eclipse will be in the sign of Aries, which represents “action” and “warrior energy,” she said. She thinks that whatever energy is already out there in the universe — good and bad — will be amplified.

“If people are on the verge of a breakup, that might go ahead and break," she said. "If people have been watering seeds of their dreams for their business, they might have that breakthrough opportunity come in.”

Do’s and don'ts for the eclipse

There’s a lot of practical advice out there about prepping for eclipse day. But what about advice for the spirit?

Among astrologers, the verdict on manifestation — using your mind to will your desires into existence — during an eclipse is mixed. Gill is all in: She believes the Aries eclipse is a great opportunity to make things happen.

“If you have some dreams, be really intentional about activating those,” she said. If you’re working on healing or letting go of something painful from the past, “you also can have that [process] manifest in a complete way quicker.”

“If you happen to be by birth, by job, by family or just by choice in the path of totality, you are a change maker. ... This is why you're here in this path of totality, so embrace it.”
Mehtab Benton, Vedic astrologer

Benton is a little more cautious. He said you should be open to any realizations that come through during the eclipse — but don’t force them to happen immediately. That’s because the eclipse can trigger changes in your life for six months afterward.

“[On eclipse day] I'm not going to decide what car to buy, what person to marry, what house to buy, what job to quit,” he said. “During the eclipse, you don't have access to all the knowledge you need to have before making decisions.”

He recommends taking a few days to process before committing to a big change.

To get the most out of the eclipse experience, Benton said it’s also important to be emotionally available — and fully sober. Many people will spend the day at a party or festival, surrounded by crowds of people. Benton thinks that’s because, at some level, humans are afraid of being alone during an eclipse. But if you’re high, drunk or just distracted, “it's very possible you're going to get a download, a revelation, an insight that's going to get wiped out.”

“I sound like an old man — I am an old man — that's like, ‘Yeah, don't party! Don't be drinking! Don't be doing drugs! Just meditate!’ But really, you should,” he said.

If you can, try to step away from whatever you’re doing during totality to “be within yourself,” he said.

An eclipse-themed tarot card reading

So far, we’ve been speaking in generalities. Everyone I talked to told me that if you really want to know how the eclipse will affect you, you need your own reading.

I meet Carly Fischer, founder of Sound Sight Tarot, at her office in Hyde Park. I’d describe the room as “mystically understated.” White walls covered by leafy plants. A big, velvety couch — the kind you’d want to stretch out on. A candle. A box of Kleenex. Purple everywhere.

There’s also a shelf of toys, which she tells me aren’t hers — they belong to a child psychologist. Fischer shares her office with three therapists.

We sink into the couch. In front of us are two card decks. Fischer shuffles the decks one at a time before letting me cut each deck.

Carly Fischer shuffles a deck of large tarot cards on a coffee table.
Renee Dominguez
KUT News
Fischer shuffles her cards using the long side to "remind us that we're reading tarot, not playing cards."

“Every deck has its own voice,” she says. “So we're going to get some slightly different messages from both.”

Usually, Fischer creates tarot spreads around the specific goals of her clients. For this eclipse reading, she’s designed the spread around the idea of syzygy — the alignment of the sun, moon and Earth. Three rows of three cards, inspired by three celestial bodies.

There are a few big-picture questions: “What are you leaving behind and what are you embracing after the event? How do you want to transform, and where do you want to better align with a value or a goal in your life?” Fischer says.

Fischer lays out nine cards from both decks face down on the table. Each card position has a different meaning — for example, the top left card will tell me what to leave behind in my career.

Before we start, Fischer has me take a deep breath.

“Are you ready to turn over your first card?” she asks.

It takes a while to get into the rhythm of things. I’ve never done tarot before. At first, I’m distracted. I keep thinking about my laundry, how I don’t get enough sleep and how I still need to do a work thing. When I see the cards, I admire the art, but I don’t feel anything visceral.

I ask her how people usually react to turning over cards. Some people are stone-faced, she says; others laugh out loud. Some people burst into tears — cue the Kleenex.

“It's usually once I explain the card that people have an emotional reaction,” she says.

 Nine cards laid out in three by three rows on a coffee table. Two card decks and a candle are beside the cards.
Renee Dominguez
KUT News
Fischer designed the eclipse card spread around the idea of syzygy — the alignment of the sun, moon and Earth. Three rows of three cards, inspired by three celestial bodies.

Fischer describes her practice as “fully secular.” She doesn’t believe in predicting the future or telling people exactly how they should interpret cards. She’s done readings for people you wouldn’t think would be drawn to tarot: When she worked at Facebook as an ads analyst, coworkers would ask her for readings about product launches.

For Fischer, drawing cards is less about divining otherworldly insight and more about starting a conversation.

“I think tarot is best applied in a psychological sense, when you understand that these cards were made by people, for people,” she says.

When it comes to the solar eclipse, the meaning is the one you create.

“We tend to add meaning to things like birthdays. It's a time to reflect on how you're growing, how you're changing, who's around you,” she says. “So it's your choice to add meaning to a scientific experience like this.”

In the middle of our reading, we get to two cards about relationships — first, what to leave behind, and second, what to embrace after the eclipse. Fischer asks me if there’s a specific type of relationship I want to focus on.

I say family and flip the first card over.

I see a dog and a wolf howling at a face in the sky. Underneath are the letters, “THE MOON.”

“This is a card about self-doubt,” Fischer says. “It's an encouragement for you to not question yourself. If there's any issues happening in the family, maybe that's someone else's issue, and you don't need to take accountability for it.”

“How is your relationship with your family right now?” she asks.

I know family is a contentious topic for basically anyone. I know I asked for the card to be about family, and that probably makes it obvious I’m having some issues.

But even knowing that, I tear up.

“I recently had this really bad fight with my older sister,” I find myself saying. “There was a small misunderstanding, which really snowballed. And it did seriously make me question, like, was I the bad person?”

I was a bad person. We’ve made up, but I’m still thinking about it. I reach for the Kleenex.

Fischer tells me it’s okay to forgive myself.

“The fact that you're crying right now because of how upset you are at this disruption in the relationship proves how much you love your sister, and how much you value her in your life,” she says.

Have you ever had someone say something you already know, but it only seems real once you hear it?

Carly Fisher hovers a hand over the nine cards on the coffee table as she explains their meaning.
Renee Dominguez
KUT News
If you're looking for a question to have in mind during the eclipse, Fischer suggests: "What are you leaving behind and what are you embracing after the event? How do you want to transform, and where do you want to better align with a value or a goal in your life?"

The second relationship card is the King of Wands — a sign to embrace positivity.

“So when you and her reconnect, bring in this motivating, encouraging and inspiring energy,” Fischer says. “Tell her what you admire about her, what you appreciate, what impresses you, and ask her how she's doing.”

At this point, I’ve forgotten the reading is about the solar eclipse. It feels like a therapy session. But that’s kind of the point — at least in Fischer’s practice. Any time can be the right time to focus on yourself, connect with your emotions and set the intention to be better. If the eclipse lets you do that, it’s a meaningful experience.

“There are a lot of times in our life, in our year, when we feel like we ended one chapter and are starting another,” she tells me after the reading. “The eclipse is one of those moments that is so enormous in Central Texas that people can't help but notice it, and so it is a great time for this reflection.”

Do I think the eclipse could change my life? Could I manifest a dream, or experience a divine revelation?

I don’t know. I do know I’ll be thinking about what Fischer said.

And I think I’ll call my sister.

Chelsey Zhu is the digital producer at KUT. Got a tip? You can email her at
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