The nodes of the Moon are of course a big subject in astrology right now. Despite the fact that ancient medieval and Hellenistic astrologers, even Vedic astrologers, all looked at the nodes of the Moon slightly differently, they have come to unanimously indicate the direction of spiritual progress (north node) and regress (south node), or the future (north node) and the past (south node), or even the gifts and lessons from past lives (south node) and the evolutionary trajectory of the current incarnation (north node). Since some of these ideas are taken from Vedic astrology we can’t say that they have zero basis in the history of astrology, and yet most students of the history of astrology will quickly point out that the modern take on the nodes isn’t necessarily rooted in astro history.
The idea of the nodes being related to Karma and past lives, comes primarily from a few key concepts. Let’s simplify them for the sake of today’s exploration. The nodes of the Moon are thought of in this context as primarily “lunar” in nature, meaning they refer to fate, fortune, the body, circumstances on earth, and the laws of cause and effect or what many modern astrologers loosely call “karma.” In this lunar context, even within Vedic astrology, they are part of what bind us to enslavement in material form rather than returning to absorption in the godhead. Even to ancient Vedic astrologers the nodes were considered to be the two severed parts of an eternal serpent demon whose symbolism had to do with the severing of the past and the future from the unified experience of eternity in the present moment. In this respect, though its true that the nodes were related to the evolution of the soul and its liberation, they were both potentially treacherous in their symbolism, as both could be part of the distraction of the soul from its primary goal of god realization. The severed head from the body or the severed body from the head (the nodes of the Moon) were considered possible images of the future or the past tempting us away from the supreme realization.
Aside from the fact that very few modern/western astrologers are devoted students of Hindu mythology or traditional vedic astrology, and therefore might miss the complexities of nodal symbolism and its involvement with an entire karmic cosmology, there are several other reasons we may want to rethink our ideas about the nodes of the Moon.
For starters, do we really like the idea of progressive states of unfolding perfection, disillusionment, or renunciation? Is it possible that this vision of the soul and its life is but one of many possible myths we can participate in? Must it be a universal picture of “how things work?” Is it possible that by participating in this symbolism so unquestioningly that we support a kind of metaphysical fascism? Is it possible that by answering yes to these questions we are participating in only a more exotically disguised hierarchical or patriarchal vision of upward/downward verticality, rank, and progress? Is there really any difference between associating the symbolism of the Moon with a feminine serpent demon that distracts us from God realization and the Christian/biblical story of blaming Eve for the serpent in the garden?
Sometimes I wonder if we haven’t simply displaced one form of patriarchal religion for another with our lust of the nodes in modern astrology. Could this lust be an unconscious craving for a freer expression of the feminine in our theory? If so what would that look like?
I don’t pretend to have any of the answers to these questions, though my questions are leading. These are the simply the things I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about in my own studies.
Meanwhile, in other traditional forms of astrology, though the nodes of the Moon were similarly related to fortune, circumstance, the body or environment, they were not overtly discussed in relationship to a karmic schema of soul development. The north node was said to “increase” both the good and the bad, while the south node was said to “decrease” both the good and the bad. Hence the north node in a good house with a good planet would make those areas even better, while the south node in a good house with a good planet would potentially decrease the subjective “goodness” of those areas.
The more I’ve studied the more I’ve come to embrace this view of the nodes, primarily because I have no inner commitment or loyalty to the Vedic cosmology, nor to the idea of the evolution of the soul through successive lifetimes of spiritual perfecting. While I love the mythic power of these images and stories, I simply don’t seem to care if they are real or not. At some level I keep sensing that all stories the soul loves are real, and may in fact create entire realities for mythic enactment or exploration. For whatever reason, the Hellenistic and Medieval view of the nodes as related to fortune, circumstance, and life on earth, resonates more for me. Indeed I feel the feminine archetype of the Moon has much to do with these general themes. Additionally I enjoy the complexity of the traditional astrological idea that increase and decrease within the world of earthly circumstances can be deceptively beneficial or harmful and must therefore always be read in context.
Anymore I’m almost exclusively interested in astrological ideas or techniques that require a highly contextual reading and interpretation. This has its roots for me in the idea that we’re not doing science as astrologers, really, not even “karmic or evolutionary science,” but something more like divination. The symbols in a chart (for me) refer to a life that is in some ways bound by the laws and limits of the place and time we appear in..while in other ways the symbols reflect a kind of participatory magic we might enact in order to steer the ship of our life in a direction of our own choosing. Successfully or not, it may depend greatly on the nature of our limitations. Regardless, what this “success” is or may be…really….whose to say? Ancient stoic astrologers, like many sages, seemed to preach a kind of renunciation of our attachment to results…and yet even our ability to embrace a stoic attitude may be bound or determined by circumstances beyond our control.
So last but not least, what does it mean that the nodes are moving into two new signs?
It depends on what your assumptions about the nodes are, and apparently that has a lot to do with a lot of other assumptions we each have to discern for ourselves. Regardless, here are some themes for all of us to think about:
* The north node moving into Virgo will tempt us with the idea that true progress lies in a more detail oriented, pure, and wholesome future…this will be the Eve and Serpent of the next 1.5 years
* The south node moving into Pisces will tempt us to rely on a whimsical, faithful, and romantic attitude for the next 1.5 years…let the details fall into place, things will simply “work out.” This is the wisdom of the past, which we can rely on, but which might keep us stuck in something whose expiration date has passed.
* The actual path forward will have to do with learning new skills, becoming highly proficient at something meticulous and well researched, or becoming a devoted worker…singing clean songs as we chop wood and carry water.
* The path backward will involve drugs, addiction, escapism, blind trust or optimism, emotional feel sorry for myselfism, or the insatiable urge for divine bliss…these will distract us from a more earthly, simple, and refined responsibility sitting right in front of us
* It’s possible that Virgoan activities will have the tendency to “increase” whatever areas of our lives they touch…increase ego, increase fortune, increase productivity, increase denial…just watch for increase
* It’s possible that Piscean activities will have the tendency to “decrease” whatever areas of our lives they touch..decrease ego, decrease fortune, decrease productivity, decrease denial, decrease our ability to do what’s right or to benefit from the circumstances arising
Prayer: Nodes of fortune, head and tail of dragon, lunar stories from long ago…may the mysteries of our soul and lunar light increase while our denial of all divine qualities decrease