The Lunar Nodes changed signs last week, from Cancer/Capricorn to Gemini/Sagittarius. Many astrology students consider the nodes so difficult to interpret they don’t bother. Many interpretations exist in books, some of them quite oppressive and parochial. While I don’t have the bandwidth available today to do a full treatment, you’ve read about them every time I write about eclipses. The nodes and eclipses are directly linked; where the nodes go, eclipses follow — approximately. The nodes therefore have an eclipse effect all year long, even though eclipses are concentrated into intense periods that occur twice a year.
If you’re paying attention you noticed that the nodes changed signs backwards. The overall direction of the lunar nodes is retrograde. They have brief intervals of direct motion, but calculating their position is a matter of mathematical theory. As I understand it, the nodes represent a hypothetical point of intersection where the Moon would contact the ecliptic if it were there at that moment. When an eclipse happens, it’s usually anywhere from two to 15 degrees away from the nearest node. That is why I say it’s a theoretical thing.
The nodes take about 18 months to go through a sign. The full cycle is about 18 years. But every nine years, they are in their reversed position; that is, about nine years ago, the nodes were in Gemini and Sagittarius, but in the opposite direction, with the North Node in Gemini and the South Node in Sagittarius. They always travel in an exact opposition. The direction of the Mean Node is an average; it is always retrograde. The direction of the True Node switches between retrograde and direct, but the overall direction is retrograde.
The nodes have a life of their own; they are interpreted differently than eclipses and nearly every description of their meaning that I’ve read omits any discussion of eclipses — something that has always struck me as weird. It’s not that eclipses are involved in the whole interpretation; but they do have a connection, and the presence of an eclipse emphasizes the node, draws on its influence. In an article I wrote many years ago, I describe them as ‘a different kind of thing’ — made of nothing, but seeming to be emanating a lot of something — information, energy, tendencies, needs, habits.
The nodes are connected to our concepts of the past and the future, which translates more to the distant past and what we do now that creates the future. In a natal chart, the South Node or Ketu (sometimes called the Dragon’s Tail) seems to show tendencies that in some astrological systems are associated with the results of actions we took and things we learned before we arrived in this incarnation. Ketu is often associated with ‘past lives’, though I think that only an approximate reading is possible, most of the time. We need other data to refine that, and if you must know, there are a heck of a lot of past lives to consider. Humans seem to take a while to wake up. So in most readings, Ketu will more tend to represent a general tendency in this lifetime of what we are comfortable with or depend on, perhaps a bit too much. Some call this karma.
The North Node is about pressing into the unfamiliar. It is about the action we are drawn to take and might be hesitant about; it represents a potentially unfamiliar point of consciousness, or somewhere we need to go. It is about the actions we can take now that point us to what we are creating in the future. The North Node represents the future that begins now. The South Node represents the past that began a moment ago, and which goes all the way back. The thing about reading your nodes is that once you figure out what is going on, it seems brutally obvious and you might wonder how you missed it all along.
The nodes bind together two opposing signs, and help us understand the ways in which integrating opposites is a vital part of astrology and of life. Note that in astrology there are six pairs of opposites. There is not merely ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ or ‘dark’ and ‘light’. We get this six ways — and note as well that opposite signs are of the same gender classification (for example, Gemini and Sagittarius are both considered masculine signs). Adjoining signs are of opposite gender (such as Aries and Taurus).
So we have something here about parental reality (Cancer and Capricorn) giving way to something more fraternal and/or cousin-like or ovuncular (involving aunts and uncles). These are mellower relationships. Gemini and Sagg are also more concerned with information than tradition. I plan to say more about this as the eclipses approach.
When the nodes change signs, the eclipses do not always follow suit immediately. For example, later this year, we have a fairly unusual situation where there are partial solar eclipses two months in a row. One is in Gemini and one is in Cancer. The corresponding lunar eclipse is in Sagittarius. Here is a list from Serennu.com, programmed by Tracy Delaney. Note that the list also includes special planetary eclipses called occultations.
One interesting thing about the nodes shifting into Gemini and Sagittarius is that those are the signs associated with the nodes in ancient astrology. If you look on the Table of Essential Dignities that was all the rage during the Greek Empire, you find out that the the North Node ‘rules’ Gemini and the South Node ‘rules’ Sagittarius. Now they are in their opposite positions, but from what I hear that’s not a very big difference — the nodes have an affinity with these signs.
Two things I would point out for those who are working with the nodes in their natal chart is:
1. The house placement is more significant than the sign placement. The sign is definitely important, but the house has a lot to say about where the tendency indicated by the sign shows up. The houses give the location or situation in which the situation manifests.
2. The sign placement tells you what planet is associated with that node. For example, let’s say you have the North Node in Cancer. To find out more about how that node manifests, you would study the Moon carefully. You would also have the South Node in Capricorn; thus you would study Saturn carefully. To find out more about how the nodes relate, you would study the relationship between the Moon and Saturn.
Following this idea, when the transiting nodes change signs as they are doing now, we have a different pair of planetary rulers to consider. For the past 18 months we have been focused on the mommy/daddy world of the Moon and Saturn; now we get to have a long conversation with Mercury and Jupiter.
As I suggested a moment ago, many people work on charts for years and feel like they have no clue what the nodes are about. One reason the nodes are problematic for us here in the West is that we don’t understand cause and effect. We think that things just happen for no reason and that things we do have no effects. The nodes are here to remind us that cause and effect are never separate.