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Omens in the Heavens

Dec 17, 1993 09:29 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

The Fires of Jubilee by Stephen Oates has the following
paras of interest to Theosophical history buffs. He's
explaining that Nat Turner's slave rebellion had originally
been planned for July 4, 1831, but he decided to wait for an
omen before launching what would be the most violent slave
uprising in American history:

   On Saturday, August 13, 1831, there was another sign.
Because of some atmospheric disturbance, the sun grew so dim it
could be looked at directly. Then with the air "a dead calm"
the sun seemed to change colors--now pale green, now blue, now
white--and there was much excitement and consternation in the
eastern U.S. from S.C. to N.Y. In Philadelphia, fearful whites
proclaimed it a "sad augury of coming evil."  In Richmond,
newspapers contended that the sun's sinister appearance could
be explained scientifically. But others there, adhering to
predictions of the ancient astrologers, thought a bloody war
was at hand and prophesied the end of the world.
   By Saturday afternoon, the sun was like an immense ball of
polished silver, and the air was moist and hazy. Then a black
spot could be seen, apparently on the sun's surface--a
phenomenon that greatly aroused the slaves in southeastern
Virginia. For Nat Turner, watching transfixed on the Travis
farm, the spot was like a black hand across the sun. Yes it
was Jehovah again, commanding him by "signed omens" to rise
against his white enemies. Yes, God wanted him to move.

     This was the day after HPB's birth, but given the 8-hour
time difference between Va. and Russia it was still her
birthday when these phenomena began. While Nat's violent
interpretation of the omen, and his action based on that, are
regrettable, it does not seem entirely alien to HPB's lifework
that phenomena associated with her birth inspired the largest
slave uprising in history.

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