Editor's Note: The Nodes of the Moon are indicated in your birth chart by symbols resembling a horseshoe -- the North Node being the horseshoe with the open end pointing down (like the letter "n") and the South Node being the horseshoe looking like a "u".
The Nodes of the Moon seem to tell our story from before this life, through the present and into what we make of our potential. It is not that we leave our past behind; we never do that. We are our past; that is what we are made of, and so we bring it with us. The Nodes show how our ability to accept all that we are is the necessary first step toward the direction that attracts us. When going in that direction, there is a satisfaction that makes life feel worth living. We feel, "That's what I want to be doing!" Even if we have difficulty with it, we still feel it is right for us. When we follow our own Nodal path, there is a feeling of determination, strength, and rightness that goes beyond the everyday ups and downs of life.
Our chosen character manifests at our birth as a conglomerate of bits of personality, all described by the arrangement of the planets at the time. That group of personality tools is all to be combined and used in this life. In the chart, we look at the way the planets are linked together. Those planets that have a comfortable relationship with each other show the skills; and uncomfortable relationships, shown by the presence of difficult angles, indicate conflicting parts of ourselves. When astrologers are reading a birth chart, they tend to see many different bits of character, all in the one person; we are all split personalities! During this life we endeavor to integrate the bits so that life is more pleasant.
As we come into this lifetime, behind us is our past, a sense of what we understand and expect. In front of us is the quality and area of life that calls us to achieve, not something specific, but rather an understanding or an expansion of our qualities. The past is represented by the South Node of the Moon, but our direction is toward the opposite point in the Zodiac, the North Node. If we are to speak of the Nodes without referring to past lives, we would say that the South Node shows what feels most natural to us, what we expect.
Astronomically speaking, we are looking from the Earth's point of view at the two great circles of the Sun and Moon. If you were to watch the Sun from the center of the Earth, you would see it move through all the signs of the Zodiac during the year, making a circle around the Earth called the ecliptic. The Moon's path takes only four weeks to complete and is at a different angle. Those two circles intersect at opposite points in the Zodiac called the Moon's Nodes with the Sun. Where the Moon was about to go south of the Sun's path is the South Node, and the North Node is where the Moon was moving to the north of the Sun's path. Because the Moon represents the automatic personality, when contrasted with the Sun as the spirit, the Moon's Nodes speak to us of the role of the personality for the spirit.
We gathered our personality to do something in this life, and the Nodes give us a clue as to what that might be. They are sometimes called the Head and Tail of the Dragon; the person whose chart it is being the Dragon with their own Head facing the North Node and their Tail caught up in the South Node. It is as though we have a map of the land we have already explored, perhaps our last earthly experience before this life, shown by the sign and house that contains our South Node. That kind of behavior feels familiar and therefore gives a sense of security, but, being out of date, it can create painful experiences.
In contrast, where we are going is unknown. We want to be there, but we tend to feel apprehensive or tentative about that area of our life (the house containing the North Node) and about behaving in that way (its sign). This is because it is the direction our spirit has chosen, and the personality senses that it will need to reach beyond itself to go that way. In the new land, we have no map. Even though other people may find that kind of thing easy, we feel insecure there, no matter how much advice we get.
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However, people often charge into life determined to go toward the North Node immediately, trying to do that sign and house where the North Node falls in their chart, whenever they are feeling adventurous, or reckless. They manage it for a while, but their lack of experience and skill in that area makes it is difficult to maintain. Things go wrong, mistakes are made, and they tend to fall back into the South Node habits and assumptions because at least that is simple, even though not what they really want. Hopefully, we learn a little more with each attempt, understanding what is required of us as we improve contact with our spirit.
Off the Path and Getting Back On
Sometimes, at an early age, people decide that the North Node area is too painful. They stop trying to achieve it and either carry on in the old ways, which become less and less acceptable to them, or they lose their direction altogether.
Not being on our Nodal path feels like being lost: "What am I here for?" "What am I supposed to be doing?" Nothing else that we attempt gives us that feeling of satisfaction. Inside we feel a sense of yearning that we may not even be able to define. When the North Node type of experience is spoken of, we feel, "If only I could . . ." That longing can poison life.
The reason for this failure to achieve the North Node is that the tools we brought with us to do that job are on the step we came in on, shown by the South Node. To get back on the path, it is necessary to look again at the South Node area of life to see what was important. We need to become aware of the habits that hold us back from development.
Habits of behavior and attitude are areas of unconsciousness that need to be unlocked. They are just functions relevant to the past, and left to run on their own. Every now and then it is a good idea to examine our habits and bring them up to date, so that they are useful and do not hold us back. We need to correct our responses to situations so that they are appropriate in the moment.
We also need to respect ourselves for the abilities that we do have, rather than regard them as universal, thinking that "surely everybody can do that," or even seeing them as weaknesses, as in the case of emotional sensitivity. Sometimes we have to relearn the skills or knowledge of the past, but we will always find that they come naturally, which suggests that we knew them before and are now remembering them again. All these are necessary tools to help us at every step.
It is also important to recognize that other people may not have our South Node abilities. When we use them only unconsciously, or for our own benefit, we lock ourselves into that personality, and the evolving force of life becomes uncomfortable. But if we use our South Node abilities to benefit others in whatever way feels natural to us, our spirit is expressed and our North Node expression attracts success.
The direction we are facing will be shown by the house and sign that contain our North Node, the Head of our Dragon. It will be the best of that sign that attracts us, and those ideals need to be held in mind like guiding stars, rather than as expectations of immediate achievement. As the South Node is sorted out, the untangling of the Dragon's Tail, we find that the North Node activities and behavior naturally unfold as long as we hold to those ideals. Our efforts to grow in this way attract the help we need to teach us how it is to be done. In a nutshell, when we have sorted out the step we are on, the next step appears of itself.
The Twelve Directions
The Nodes of the Moon travel slowly backward through the Zodiac, taking nineteen years to complete a cycle. In an ephemeris, only the North Node position is given, the South Node always being directly opposite.
We will be looking at the signs opposite each other. The North Node is in the sign and house that you came into Earth "facing," so you have behind you the sign and house directly opposite.
To describe the South Node or where a person has "come from," we will look for:
1. Skills and abilities of sign and house, and;
2. Undermining habits of sign and house.
To describe the North Node where and how a person wishes to be active, we will look for:
1. The ideals of sign and house, and;
2. Mistakes a beginner might make in that sign and house.
South Node in Aries (ruler: Mars)
Skills: Independence, ability to take care of themselves, can operate on own initiative, good at knowing their own way.
Habits: They never ask for help or company because they think no one will help them, they assume they must "go it alone."
North Node in Libra (ruler: Venus)
Ideal: To be in a relationship; expanding self to include the other.
Mistake: Putting the other person first and forgetting their own needs, which leads to frustration, and finally pulling out of, or losing, the relationship; losing the self.
What these people (South Node Aries, North Node Libra) need to remember is that they can manage on their own if necessary, and also that they need a little space to be themselves, so that there is not the need to cling so hard to the relationship. They need to stop pushing people away as soon as the relationship gets difficult. With a little more of the Aries courage, they will dare to risk putting forward their point of view as well as the partner's, so that the Libran scales can set about balancing. The conclusions reached will then be less likely to frustrate them, and they will be nearer their Libran ideal of a harmonious relationship.
South Node in Taurus (ruler: Venus)
Skills: Sensed understanding of nature, steady and reliable, natural physical healing ability.
Habits: Stubborn fixity, thinking that time and silence heal all problems.
North Node in Scorpio (rulers: Pluto, Mars)
Ideal: Deep emotional understanding and connectedness.
Mistake: Stirring up emotions unnecessarily, and blaming others for their own huge emotional reactions.
These people (South Node Taurus, North Node Scorpio) need to look toward their Taurus connection with nature, rather than toward their relationships, to gain stability in their life. They will benefit from the silent acceptance of Nature, which will produce the steady, healed state that feels safe to them. From that basis they feel strong enough to speak of their hurt feelings gently, without needing to blame others, so they can attain more readily the Scorpio ideal of deep emotional sharing.
South Node in Gemini (ruler: Mercury)
Skills: Communication, ability to please by recognizing and using other people's styles and language.
Habits: Tendency to talk rather than listen, so nothing is learned, being superficially pleasant and therefore not being trusted by others.
North Node in Sagittarius (ruler: Jupiter)
Ideal: To understand the whole picture, to have an overview of life.
Mistake: Trying to talk about things not yet understood, settling for a superficial overview without the facts to base it on.
These people (South Node Gemini; North Node Sagittarius) need to listen with all their Gemini charm in order to find the pieces that go together to make the Sagittarian picture of the whole. Speaking to people in their own language, the style they understand, will draw these people out to speak of what interests them, and the philosophical breadth of conversation will come naturally. In this way these people build their own philosophy of life.
South Node in Cancer (ruler: the Moon)
Skills: Emotional sensitivity, a sense of what will nurture, of how to care for someone.
Habits: Identifying with the child's view of having no control in life, wanting to be cared for.
North Node in Capricorn (ruler: Saturn)
Ideal: To be able to handle any practical situation effectively, to achieve practical aims.
Mistake: Taking responsibility for other people instead of simply for themselves and their own experience.
These people (South Node Cancer; North Node Capricorn) are likely to feel that responsibility is too heavy for them, and the result would be a sense of failure. They need to learn how to care for themselves, giving respect to their own emotional reactions. The caring they then give to others will be more understanding, coming from this position of growing strength. They become able to take on responsible positions without feeling small or emotionally overburdened.
South Node in Leo (ruler: the Sun)
Skills: Positive self-expression from the heart, ability to cheer up others in times of hardship and stress.
Habits: Feeling defined by how others react to them, needing praise to feel good.
North Node in Aquarius (rulers: Uranus, Saturn)
Ideal: Detached and accurate vision.
Mistake: Cutting off from other people, which results in a lack of awareness of some important issues in situations, hence inaccuracy.
These are people who aim at freedom and are likely to cut themselves off from others in the process. The result can be a kind of lifelessness. Their assumption is that what they want must be what other people want, when they are in a group. It is their natural good humor and cheerfulness that create their friendships, and where they give their true warm affection, people are happy to accept their unusualness and sudden changes, and then they have the freedom they seek. Their heartfelt sincerity wins them listeners no matter how "off the wall" their ideas, and also gives them the courage to be different.
South Node in Virgo (ruler: Mercury)
Skills: Ability to see where change would improve experience, ability to recognize what is most useful and what would be most helpful. Habits: Criticizing automatically, too much self-criticism, perfectionism.
North Node in Pisces (rulers: Neptune, Jupiter)
Ideal: Selfless service to humanity, strong intuitive/psychic ability.
Mistake: Fulfilling people's wishes rather than their needs, picking up everybody else's feelings and suffering from them.
These people long to merge with the things of the house that contains the Pisces North Node, but they lose themselves in the emotional or psychic process. They need to focus on what they are doing, being precise and discriminating in their work for others. As they learn to stop beating themselves and everyone else into an idea of perfection that is not in the moment, and do their best to be helpful to everyone they meet, they find that they are one with humanity as a whole. As they work at being unemotionally conscious of the unseen world, their psychic gifts unfold naturally.
South Node in Libra (ruler: Venus)
Skills: Diplomacy, the ability to see the many sides of an issue, knowing when action is called for and which action is right.
Habits: Refusing to consider, or even recognize, an issue that requires action, being "nice" rather than honest.
North Node in Aries (ruler: Mars)
Ideal: Knowing one's mind, fearless action in the right moment; recognizing one's self in the reflection.
Mistake: Acting impulsively, managing alone.
These people desire to do things their own way, thereby finding themselves. It can seem to them that this is impossible in a relationship. Rather than try to keep the peace, they need to use their diplomatic skills to express their truth and deal honestly with the consequent response. They will find the courage to be themselves only through their work in relationships, because they need the response and support of another to discover themselves.
South Node in Scorpio (rulers: Pluto, Mars)
Skills: Deep sensitivity to their own and other people's emotions, determination and power to transform themselves.
Habits: Harboring emotional reactions without sharing them, leading to vengeful behavior.
North Node in Taurus (ruler: Venus)
Ideal: To be steady, healthy, and secure.
Mistake: Trying to support others before steadying themselves.
These people are coming down to earth, and Nature will always be important to them. They aim to support others, being as steady as a rock, but other people's emotions trigger their instability and they can let people down. When they have plumbed the memories in their own emotional depths, they find their bedrock at the bottom. This is then their stable base, and no story, however desperate, will be able to shake that foundation.
South Node in Sagittarius (ruler: Jupiter)
Skills: Ability to see the overview of any situation, natural philosophical understanding, ability to enthuse others.
Habits: Withholding from explaining their thoughts, having fun at another's expense.
North Node in Gemini (ruler: Mercury)
Ideal: To be able to communicate with anyone.
Mistake: Talking about trivialities when no one is really interested.
These people can fall into the habit of chatting with people in a way that does not satisfy them. They need to be in touch with their natural philosophy so that their communications are interesting to them. The natural knowledge they are born with can be recognized by its obviousness when they first hear it. These people need to put their wisdom at people's service so that they communicate just that bit of the wider view that is relevant in the moment, and the satisfaction will be of discovering and encouraging everyone else's communication.
South Node in Capricorn (ruler: Saturn)
Skills: Able to handle responsibility well, competent and effective.
Habits: Expecting others to work as hard as they do, allowing seriousness to become depression by not recognizing their feelings.
North Node in Cancer (ruler: the Moon)
Ideal: To nurture the world through their caring.
Mistake: Holding on to those cared for, beyond usefulness.
These people need to take responsibility for their own experiences in life rather than become overburdened by responsibility for others. Once they realize that everyone needs to take responsibility for themselves, they can use their obvious abilities by teaching others with caring gentleness rather than doing things for them. They give the greatest gift by supporting people emotionally through the learning process, allowing them to make their own mistakes and go their own way. They find then that there is time to be playful, and can even share a child's lighthearted joy in life.
South Node in Aquarius (rulers: Uranus, Saturn)
Skills: Ability to see clearly because of being detached.
Habits: Thinking that what is right for themselves must be right for everyone, not looking at their emotions.
North Node in Leo (ruler: the Sun)
Ideal: To be one's self, to see the positive in every situation and person.
Mistake: Self expression when not appropriate, resulting in experiences of rejection.
These people need to be in touch with who they are when on their own, so that they do not lose their center by trying to appeal to "the audience." Being alone without connecting to their truth will result in a hollow display when with others. Because this feels bad, they may cut off from others again, but if they will go through the pain of opening their heart and allowing others to see who they truly are, their genuine inner light will inspire all they meet.
South Node in Pisces (rulers: Neptune, Jupiter)
Skills: Intuitive/psychic ability, empathizing with all others.
Habits: Not limiting their psychic space, which results in everyone being as affected by them as they are affected by others.
North Node in Virgo (ruler: Mercury)
Ideal: Consciously working toward a better world for all.
Mistake: Thinking that there is one perfect way and that they know what it is.
These people need their natural awareness of how others feel so that their ways of helping are appropriate to each person and situation. In their efforts to improve a situation, they can easily criticize people, which can have the reverse effect. When they focus on the impressions they have of the whole situation, they will find that they intuitively know the best thing to say or do.
Ways in Which We Are Different
The North and South Nodes of the Moon, or intersection points that the Moon's path makes with the Sun's path, give us an axis across the chart drawn up for any moment in time. In a birth chart this axis can be interpreted as a direction that the person's spirit (Sun) gives to their personality (Moon) for this lifetime. There is, then, a sense of purpose or meaning to life when this direction is activated.
It is as though we unconsciously attract situations that call for the South Node activities by the house and style of the sign, while consciously trying to express the North Node activity and style. It isn't until we accept what is happening, and what skills we have, in the South Node area, that we find we are able to succeed in the North Node area. The way to reach the satisfaction promised by facing this direction is to use our South Node abilities to give to others, guided by our North Node ideals: to use our South Node skills to support our North Node aims.
©2002. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd. www.llewellyn.com.
Soul Purpose Astrology: How to Read Your Birth Chart for Growth & Transformation
by Margaret Koolman.
Our astrological birth chart represents a map of our soul's journey in this lifetime. Soul Purpose Astrology will show you how to read charts for yourself, your friends, and your family. This easy-to-read book uses friendly illustrations and helpful exercises so you can quickly become familiar with birth chart elements and their meanings. You can begin to view character traits and learning experiences in a positive and transformative way, and gain a better understanding of your life's highest purpose with this delightful and practical beginner's guide to spiritual astrology.
About the Author
Margaret Koolman (Hawaii) has studied astrology since 1975. This book grew from her teaching notes at the request of her students, who found that her style and content were not available in other books. Ms. Koolman presents workshops and readings in England, Australia, and the United States. She is available for personal readings and can be contacted through her website, http://www.soulastrology.com. Margaret's next book, The Sacred Heart of Astrology, written in collaboration with author Kay SnowDavis, is almost complete.