The Nodes: Cause and Effect are Never Separate

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.

The old time Vedic loremasters associated the lunar nodes with a dragon -- and our past lives. Dragons usually look a little grumpier than they actually are. They have seen so much and the world seems a bit old and worn out to them. But they're always looking for an adventure and love making new friends. Digital art by Kaek.

The old time Vedic loremasters associated the lunar nodes with a dragon -- and our past lives. Dragons usually look a little grumpier than they actually are. They have seen so much and the world seems a bit old and worn out to them. But they're always looking for an adventure and love making new friends. Digital art by Kaek.

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.

This is the chart for the true node changing signs on Thursday. The direction of the mean node pair is always reverse, as it represents an average. The direction of the true node pair is overall retrograde, with brief intervals of direct motion. Note the Moon-Neptune conjunction at the moment the nodes changed signs.

This is the chart for the true node changing signs on Thursday. The direction of the mean node pair is always reverse, as it represents an average. The direction of the true node pair is overall retrograde, with brief intervals of direct motion. Note the Moon-Neptune conjunction at the moment the nodes changed signs.

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.

Eric Francis

About Eric Francis

Planet Waves began in 1998 as the home of the Eric Francis horoscope, a prominent feature in our premium service. Going far beyond what most Sun-sign astrologers even dream is possible, Eric brings in-depth interpretations to his work. He is a pioneer in the newly-discovered planets, including Chiron and the centaurs, and is able to translate their movements into accessible human terms, offering ideas for life, love and work. Discover a whole new world of literary journalism in Planet Waves. We offer free trial subscriptions, discounts for students and seniors, and gift subscriptions for veterans and those on active military duty.
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14 Responses to The Nodes: Cause and Effect are Never Separate

  1. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    Jere,

    Speak for YourSelf always –

    And

    More often than not,

    More than you know,

    You speak for all of us.

    xo

  2. Jere says:

    Yeah, side note. My dad’s a straight edge, (screwed up more than you’d care to know.)

    Addiction holds ALL kinds of fronts. ‘Substance’ is a metaphor. Some cats are addicted to power.. we’ve seen our politics..

    ..I speak for myself. If it assists you with the “jumping-for-joy-ness” it gives me… it’s all yours.

  3. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    Jere, your comments on the “drug” subject are interesting too – for me drugs of any kind held/hold no appeal. Some find that sad-to-say! lol. But for all the fishy neptune in my blood, I seem to take it to the other extreme aka avoidance of all chemicals when/if at all possible. But what you say about addiction is true – new revelations re: family show a disfunctional level of diss-association often reserved for alcoholics – although I grew up in a home that did not drink (or party or have any fun) (as an adult I have had to work at having fun, something about Saturn in the 5th? haha – that for a different conversation!)

    Your comment got me thinking again about how fascinating it is that my family of origin are obstainers but with the disfunctions of alcoholcs – suggesting addiction/s of another kind, as you suggest. Some other deeper emotional disfunctions to be sure.

    Or perhaps there is a history there that is hidden from me? (that neptune in the 4th thing)

    And it turns out my former spouse had/s a huge alcohol problem – and I never saw it. Never.

    So – True, what you say. Interesting.

    (Ha! Kelly look-y there, another Truth will out!)

    I love this stuff – and all of you :) Makes Life have some, well – Life to it.

  4. Kelly says:

    I hear you Aword..
    You can find Truth wherever it is laid out before you. For me, reading a chapter in Borders re:the natal 6th house placement of the Gemini north node, oblivious to my own tears running from my eyes (unconscious reaction) was a moment when I found IT.

  5. Jere says:

    ..I have to re-comment really quick, word. As far as “drugs” go, my fathers comments throughout my life gave me a vision of how addiction went beyond common basis, and into the ‘normal’ sphere.

    (Your direction is Perfect.)

    Jere

  6. Jere says:

    ..if you can pull energy off me go for it, I got a bit to spare. Just, take care.

    Jere

  7. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    Ah Jere, you’re amazing intuition caught something significant; a bad habit I “forget”…..that is, I try to take everything in with my eyes, or “looking” or “seeing” – why, I even had to learn to close my eyes in school in order to LISTEN, because otherwise I was constantly trying to HEAR with my EYES. lol! So, as always, you are the Man – you Rock and Thank You!

    (‘The home away from home’…that is good, that is very very helpful both in learning the astro of it and the self of it. yes indeed…….)

    …ok absorbing absorbing….can I say right here how incredibly KARMIC of you to use the word Absorb? Ten yrs ago I had a training center business called “Absorb…”.

    Kelly and c – ya, until Eric’s teaching/s the Node issues seems to be a bundle of confusion or wildly different uptakes from different astro-folk.

    It was these words of e. that put it in sync for me today: “The North Node represents the future that begins now. The South Node represents the past that began a moment ago…”

    –especially as I am in total emersion with getting deeper Emotional Health through breaking old disfunctional Family Patterning right now. Big Time. Enough Nails on the Head to Build a New Home, so to speak.

    xo

  8. J Sheridan says:

    @ awordedgewise:

    Re: cusp. See my previous note. Like Jere says, you have to absorb it and feel it. Do research, read lots of interps and see how they sit with you.

    Your Taurus/Scorpio nodal axis tells me that at some time in the past, perhaps, you focused too much on your career/social reputation/public life and material goods. Your north node in the 4th conjunct Neptune and Jupiter asks you in this life to turn within and invest your time and attention on your home and family, especially concerning spiritual/religious matters. To balance out your karma, I could see you studying/analyzing spiritual practices in your extended family history, teaching mysticism to others from your home and the like. Because of Neptune’s placement so close to your north node, I can see how this suggested “direction” might confuse you; Neptune’s haze can fog up your glasses here — that’s why it’s extra important for you to *feel* it.

    Looking to Mars and Pluto (north node’s rulers) in your chart can give you more clues about what that node “asks” of you as well as any other strong challenging nodal aspects (squares, oppositions).

    Hope any of this helps. : )

  9. J Sheridan says:

    Thank you, Eric! : )

    Re: “The nodes] 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.”

    In the literature I’ve come across, the lunar nodes are often studied in tandem with prenatal solar and lunar eclipses (the pair of eclipses that preceded one’s birth). The moon at the time of the lunar eclipse will always be near the south lunar node in the natal chart being studied, and the sun will always be near the north lunar node. The eclipses are similar to the nodes in terms of meaning, the lunar eclipse (the subconscious) representing that which you must learn/learn to overcome in this incarnation in order for the soul to evolve and the solar eclipse (the conscious) representing your ultimate “gift” to the world in this incarnation, that which you are to teach for your own soul’s evolution and the evolution of other souls. Most often the nodes and the eclipses will be in the same sign.

    I’m sure there are other interpretations, but this is the one with which I’m most familiar.

    As you said, there is a slight difference between the two calculations, the true node and mean node, with the former reflecting the actual course of the nodes along with the wobble of the Earth and the plane of the moon’s orbit, and the latter reflecting the average placement on that course. I believe there can be up to a degree-and-a-half difference between the true node and the mean node at any given time — which is not a lot, of course, unless you were born near a turning point of the nodes (ingress into a new pair of signs), as is the case now. So, the nodes in your natal chart might be in a different sign, depending on if you use the true node or the mean node. Similarly, your prenatal eclipse signs might differ from your nodal signs.

    Sometimes you have to just study and meditate on the different signs in order to ascertain what’s true for you. Even evolutionary astrologers, whose work primarily deals with the lunar nodes, debate over whether to use the true node or the mean node. As with any scientific art, interpretations will vary!

    Jillian
    [{(*)}]

  10. Kelly says:

    Astrologer Jan Spiller is good with the nodes, “Astrology for the Soul, is her book. I read my North Node years ago, happens to be in Gemini, and, told all my friends who are born of the same year. It blew them away. Wasn’t till I read the house placement (6th) that I was beside myself!

  11. Jere says:

    Don’t ‘look’ for it, Word. Just absorb it. Jupiter, Neptune, Scorp., you got some drug play in there, but that’s easy to get around..

    Look toward ‘the home that is not home’. ??

  12. cmassy says:

    From what little I’ve read, Indian Astrology (is that Ayurvedic) seems to put a pretty – how shall I say – ominous spin on the Nodes. It seems as though Rahu and Ketu are rarely seen as good however I’ve never quite caught on to Indian Astrology.

    All I can say is that My Sun is in AQ and my Asc is in LEO. A few years ago teh Nodes were on the AQ/LEO axis and my life just went upside down an sideways. Not to mention, I have 5 planets in AQ in my 6th house so…not a good time in terms of job or health.

  13. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    oh and if a node is on a cusp? Take it to the next house?

  14. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    Ok…so…if anyone out there wants to help turn my Node Lightbulb on so I can absorb Eric’s fine article here……my TrueNode at 2 scorpio 4th house suggests I look for information re: my future moments “inside my home” and through “emotional processes” and that Mars and or Pluto placement can augment this understanding?

    What of my NN conjunction with Jupiter at 1 Scorpio and Neptune at 4? And that yod thingy with Pluto at 1Virgo and moon – which is also ruled by Mars in Aries.

    And then there’s that gosh-durn ongoing Taurus-in-my-life puzzle (10th house wagging that long crusty dragon’s tail) that I have yet to figure out but Karmic it is, for sure.

    Not ironic I suppose that asteroid “Karma” is conjunct that Dragon’s tail. lol.

    sigh. my astro lighbulb is still so goshdurn dim. it all makes sense logically, but hasn’t dropped down out of my head into my heart or belly yet.

    Thanks for the lesson, Eric. Here’s to hoping that one of these days I can FEEL it.
    xo

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