The use of the Moon's nodes in the horoscope is very ancient and goes back many centuries, notably in India, where they were and still are regarded as of great importance. Even in the western world, they have been used for a long while, certainly since mediaeval times, but here as time went by they fell into disuse.
Alan Leo wrote in his book THE HOROSCOPE IN DETAIL (in 1910) that they were then almost entirely neglected. In recent years most astrologers have returned to using the nodes and they are mentioned in all the standard textbooks.
In the older textbooks they are referred to as the dragon's head (caput draconis), which is the north node, and the dragon's tail (cauda draconis), which is the south node. In India, whose astrological tradition knows more than any other about the nodes, they are called Rahu [north] and Ketu [south].
Astronomically the Moon's nodes are the two points where the lunar orbit passes through the plane of the ecliptic (the plane of the earth's orbit round the Sun). The north and the south nodes always fall opposite each other, and in interpretation it is often this nodal axis or line which is important.
The position (that is the mean zodiacal longitude) of the north node is given in the ephemeris for noon or midnight each day. The mean movement of the nodes is constant, retrograding by 0° 3' 10.77" per day, making a circle of the zodiac in approximately eighteen and a half years (96793.4 days). The real motion is a little more complicated, several weeks' retrograde motion at a faster than the mean speed being balanced by a few days' forward motion.
Different astrologers favour either the true or mean node but in practice the difference in position between the two is never more than about two degrees.
In the astrological chart the deepest meaning of the nodes is one of direction, that is, direction of the soul's growth. Their position is determined, as we have seen, by the relative positions of the Sun, Moon and earth. Because of this their meaning is related to the spirit (Sun), soul (Moon) and body (earth).
In other words they are concerned with the way that the soul is using the physical life to gather the experience necessary for spiritual growth. Because this direction carries karma (results from past causes) from previous lives, as well as building up causes or karma for the future, there is an underlying meaning of past and future, cause and effect, assimilating and giving out connected with the Moon's nodes.
This meaning has a very long time scale and sometimes a significant clue to an important past life or lives can be seen from the south node, while a future direction can be seen from the north node.
On a smaller time scale the nodes also work within one life, the south node being the experiences of early childhood which, by being unconscious, can be particularly powerful. The north node represents the struggle towards individuality, away from the home and parents of childhood.
The north node points the way the soul is travelling; the south node shows whence it has come. Because of this connection with past and future you will quite often find that the south node signifies a place to which the native retreats when under stress. The effort needed to assimilate the lessons of the north node could be likened to the lessons of well-aspected Saturn. Whereas the south node is a little like an afflicted Jupiter.
When the positions of the nodes by sign and house suggest a past life or connection, you will find it better not to make too many rules in your mind, but try to see the nodes and the rest of the horoscope as a whole. However, the south node frequently does show something of the nature of a particular past life which has a bearing on the present incarnation.
Much of the nature of the Moon's nodes can be learned by watching transits to your own chart. Remember that, for instance, when the Sun transits your north node, it will also be opposite your south node so that the whole past - future axis will be stimulated, although in this case the emphasis will be on learning, on looking forward.
When there is a major direction to the nodes, there is likely to be an event or crisis that is particularly related to the direction of the life. This will be manifest through the sign and house positions of the nodal axis. It is essentially a time of finding a way or purpose, and depending on which node has the greater emphasis, there will be a pull from the past or towards the future.
When interpreting the meaning of the Moon's nodes in a chart note carefully if there is a planet aspecting them, as such aspects are highly significant, especially conjunctions. For a conjunction, especially when the Sun or Moon are involved, you will find you are able to go up to orbs of around eight degrees, although you must bear in mind that the effect is lessened as the orb widens.
Planets conjunct the south node may represent qualities earned from previous lives or not properly assimilated. For example, Saturn conjunct the south node suggests a lesson in patience or some limitation which may have to be repeated in this life. One example is of a woman with Venus conjunct the south node who, in spite of many difficulties in this life, has a beautiful singing voice.
When interpreting the meaning of the nodes, always look at their dispositors, just as you would when you interpret the meaning of a planet. You will need to take care that you look at the meaning of the Moon's nodes in relation to the rest of the chart.
You will find that, in some cases, they emphasize the soul lesson that the Sun shows is important for this life, but this is not always the case, and sometimes it is some other lesson which is being shown by the nodal position. When the nodes show a completely different lesson from that suggested by the rest of the horoscope, there is likely to be some inner psychological conflict.
This Study Note contains information provided as part of the White Eagle Lodge School of Astrology’s Advanced (Diploma) Course.
Would you like us to notify you when 'The Sky' page is updated, or new 'Principles' or 'Study Notes' pages are added?
Click the link below to be added to our mailing list.