The last time I thought seriously about the lunar nodes – apart from my study of traditional astrology – was in 1985, when astrologer Robert Hand made a statement at a lecture in Belmont, MA that “the nodes mean connections, period.” By this he meant connections (North Node) or, alternately, separations (South Node) between people. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, the nodal axis represents the two opposing points at which the path of the Moon intersects that of the Sun – the ecliptic – along the celestial sphere as the two transit the sky. Because the plane of the Moon’s apparent travel in relation to the Earth is tilted at an angle to that of the Sun, the Moon’s relative position above or below the ecliptic varies from one night to the next, first passing north of it (at the North Node) and then back again to the south (at the South Node), crossing the plane of the Sun at antipodal locations that always slip backward in retrograde fashion through the signs. The nodes are mathematical points in space, not physical entities except when the Moon sits on one them, as occurs during eclipses; each of these points takes 18 months to shift from the end of a sign – its point of “ingress” – to the beginning of that sign, after which it exits moving clockwise and enters the preceding sign. Conventionally, the North Node was considered fortunate and the South Node unfortunate.
However, modern interpretation has taken a more nuanced view. In his excellent traditional astrology book, Understanding the Birth Chart: A Comprehensive Guide to Classical Interpretation, Kevin Burk makes a stab at updating the old “North Node good, South Node bad” dichotomy. First he mentions karma: the sign holding the South Node in our birth chart shows the kind of “baggage” we bring with us from past lives, while the zodiacal location of the North Node reveals how we can work with that and progress beyond it in the present. Then he makes a more profound metaphysical argument:
“The nodes . . . have to do with the spiritual or soul lessons that we can encounter in this lifetime. The nodes are where the path of our soul development intersects with the path of our physical experiences. In order to really work with and experience the nodes, we have to become consciously aware of our spirituality, of our soul connection and our connection to the universe.”
I was thinking about this as I listened to a lecture by astrologer Linda Champagne this morning, where it became clear that the connections involved are between the native’s consciousness and the subconscious “inner self.” At its simplest, she described the sign position of the South Node as showing what we have to let go of spiritually or psychologically and that of the North Node as where we have a chance to grow. The transiting nodal axis presently straddles Cancer and Capricorn, with the North Node in Cancer and the South Node in Capricorn. These are especially sensitive areas in my own natal chart because I have an 8th House/2nd House Cancer-Capricorn intercept, with the Sun in Cancer and the Moon closely opposed it in Capricorn. I’m in the middle of having uprooted my divination practice from my old location in southwestern New Hampshire and trying to coax it to take root in the southeastern part of the State where I now live.
Linda’s presentation made me realize that what I have to let go of is the rigid value system (2nd-House Moon intercepted in Capricorn) that I’ve lived by for a long time and open up to opportunities for externalizing my deeper side through engagement with “the Other” (in this case, the clientele I’m attempting to build here). Intensifying Pluto is also transiting my Capricorn intercept, as is cautious Saturn, making me think of Dr. Doolittle’s two-headed “pushmi-pullyu” (or maybe the whaler’s cry “Thar she blows!”). I’ve already made strides in the direction of self-revelation through my work with cartomancy, much of it posted on this blog. But internet conversation is no way to dispense complex and often subtle 8th-House insights; to be truly compelling and fruitful, that takes face-to-face encounters with the intended recipients. Maybe they will even give me some of their money.