Friday, July 23, 1999 Published at 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Dark side of the eclipse
For some, the end is nigh
By BBC News' Mike Thomson
The eclipse has given rise to all kinds of predictions - most related to the chaos the hundreds of thousands of sightseers are expected to cause as they flock to get the best view of the event in Cornwall and Devon.
Time is running out for retired civil servant Matthew Dumbrell and the rest of us, if you share his view that St Matthew had 11 August, 1999, in mind when he penned Verse 24:
"On that day, the Sun will be darkened, the moon will not give off its light, stars will fall from the sky, and God will call his chosen from the four corners of the present Heaven and the present Earth"
Mr Dumbrell's interpretation? "When people look to the heavens on the 11th of next month, they will be seeing the most significant event since the creation of the Universe: Darkness over the face of the Earth, previewing the ultimate earthquake."
Brett Kellett and his colleague Marcus Mason from Totnes in Devon have been airing their views about what the coming eclipse will mean in town and village halls across the country under the slogan "Eclipse 99 - Doorway to the Divine".
Mr Kellett insists that because the total eclipse line falls across most of the places where the world's major religions and philosophies were born, "it heralds spiritual rebirth rather than global destruction". A theory which is supported, he says, by the discovery of an "amazing astrological configuration", in the form of a grand cross.
All we have to do now, he believes, is tune in and soak up the planetary energy.
"When you have an eclipse going across the surface of the Earth, what happens is that the energy grids go down to near zero, and because the Sun's energy is blocked off from the surface of the Earth, the influence of the planets can be imprinted into the sacred sites and the energy grids of our planet."
The UK's druids also claim to have proof that the eclipse is capable of changing the way we act and think.
"There are changes in the earth's magnetic field that will produce direct effects in the pineal gland and will trigger the production of melatonin - that is a precursor to another brain hormone that can promote psychic effects," says Andy Norfolk, the author of the book Eclipse Curiosities.
Spiritual healer Geoff Boltwood, who has a surgery in Glastonbury, believes that because we are made of the same raw materials as planetary objects, the forces generated by the coming eclipse can be harnessed and used to improve physical and mental health.
But he recommends that those planning to dabble in ecliptical powers should first make sure they are in the right frame of mind.
"My biggest fear is that because these events are powerful, they do move energies of the planet, then maybe enough negative thoughts could actually cause negative things to happen," he warns. "So I would think it is really important that as many people as possible do think positive things at that time."
A fashionable end
Matthew Dumbrell, however, is convinced that come the eclipse no amount of positive thought can save the world. He is busy packing his bags and preparing to return to his home town of Lewes in East Sussex to await the final hours of the world as we know it.
But before we run away with the idea that all the eclipse eccentrics are English, it should be noted that the French designer Paco Rabanne is getting out of Paris for the eclipse.
According to reports, he has put up the shutters and given his staff time off to get out of the French capital, having decided that the Russian space station Mir will fall there on 11 August.
If he is proved wrong, he promises not to expect to be taken seriously again. At least he has admitted the possibility.
The 1999 total eclipse can be viewed on 11 August.