The Nodes of the Moon

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Among astrologers in India, the Nodes of the Moon are considered a vital part of every horoscope, as necessary as the Sun and just as influential. But when I began to study astrology, my teachers barely mentioned the Nodes of the Moon. Even now, introductory astrology books often omit them. One reason is that even though the Nodes of the Moon occupy two sensitive degrees in your birth chart, there's no celestial body at either spot. In a strictly physical sense, the Nodes of the Moon don't exist. As Gertrude Stein said in a different context, "There's no there there." Nevertheless, the Nodes of the Moon have a long and splendid astrological history.

The Nodes of the Moon are the points where the Moon, in its orbit around the Earth, crosses the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun across the sky. The spot where the Moon climbs over the ecliptic is the North Node; the point where it sinks below the ecliptic is the South Node. The Nodes, which are exactly 180° apart, gradually shift backwards, spending about a year and a half in each sign and progressing through the zodiac in about 19 years.

To ancient astrologers, the North Node (or Dragon's Head) was beneficial, allied with prosperity and luck, while the South Node (or Dragon's Tail) was Saturnian in flavor, a point of loss or adversity. Well into the 20th century, astrologers still occasionally described the South Node as evil — a distressing comment to anyone with the South Node in a prominent position.

Practitioners of Western astrology generally agree that the North Node illuminates your spiritual path and the constructive yet demanding choices that promote growth. For those who believe in reincarnation, the North Node signifies your path in this life — an evolutionary journey for which you may feel unprepared because it's a trip into the unknown. In contrast, the South Node supports habit over effort, stagnation over growth, and experience over exploration. It's your default method. It feels right because you've traveled that road before, perhaps in earlier lives.

I admit that the South Node's reputation isn't good. Neither is it completely negative. It represents a set of talents and skills you've already mastered. The danger lies not in using those qualities but in placing undue emphasis on them and thus distorting them. The South Node is your launching pad; the North Node is your destination.

The North Node (see the left-hand image in Figure 8-2) is a point of expansion, potential, and growth. Among Vedic astrologers, it is called Rahu. The South Node (see the right-hand image in Figure 8-2), known to Vedic astrologers as Ketu, symbolizes deeply entrenched patterns and habits that no longer profit you.

tBpl To figure out the position of the Lunar Nodes, turn to the Appendix and look up the year of your birth. The essential fact to remember about this table is that it tells you only the position of the North Node. You have to figure out the position of the South Node, which should take about one second.

Figure 8-2:

The North and South the Dragon's Head and Dragon's

Nodes, also known as

Nodes, also known as


As an example, say you were born in 1978. That year, according to the table, the North Node, spinning in a retrograde direction (that's what the R means) slipped into Virgo on July 5 at 5:41 a.m., eastern standard time. If you were born after that, your North Node is in Virgo. To figure out what sign the North Node was in prior to that, you need to check out the previous entry. In this case, it was January 7, 1977, when the North Node entered Libra. It remained there until July 5, 1978. So if you were born in 1977 between January 1 and July 5 (at 5:41 a.m.), your North Node is in Libra.

Notice, too, that the North Node is usually retrograde. As a result, it travels through the signs in the reverse direction, going from Libra in 1977 to Virgo in 1978, and eventually to Aries in 1986.

Once you know where your North Node is, you can quickly locate your South Node because it's always in the opposite sign, exactly 180° away. To wit:

If Your North Node Is In . . . Your South Node Is In . . .

Aries Libra

Taurus Scorpio

Gemini Sagittarius

Cancer Capricorn

Leo Aquarius

Virgo Pisces

The Sun, the Moon, and the planets are substantial, massive objects. Whether they're solid and rocky like the Moon and Mars, or gas giants like Jupiter and Neptune, they're distinct, visible worlds with their own geography and

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