…in a land far, far away, there lived a —
Well, let’s call it an archetype.
In astrology, we are dealing with an organized symbolic system. It is also a study of the interaction between the archetypal energies symbolized. Now, some people would disagree with the fact that there is such a thing as an archetypal energy within an individual consciousness, but Jung wouldn’t, and we’re with him. Archetypes are living forces within us, and astrology maps out these forces with symbols placed in relation to the time and place of our birth.
I’m starting out this way because it’s important not to forget the symbolism of the nodes as we attempt to decipher their complex meaning in individual charts. As we’ve seen in the previous articles (See: The Nodes, An Introduction, The Hungry Moon, and Which Way Forward?) they represent the interaction of the Moon and the Sun, the past and the present, the creative impulse and the ability to manifest. They are about the union of male and female within us, and the moving symbol of how we make the creative intention of the Sun manifest in our material existence.
It is tempting to think of the SN as being symbolized by the Moon (the past), and the NN as the Sun (where we’re at and where we’re headed) but it isn’t quite that simple. The nodes don’t divide up that way–each node is an intersection of the Moon to the ecliptic; the SN represents our formed consciousness, while the NN is our developing consciousness. But each node in and of itself is representative of the interaction of the Moon and the Sun. Basically, the SN is how we, as conscious individuals, relate to the world around us, with all the good and bad that entails–our habits and patterns, our gifts and our limitations. The NN represents the ways our interactions with the world must shift. It’s about the struggle of the past to become the future, the active spirit reforming and remolding matter, and the adjustments that need to be made–emotional, psychological, intellectual, and yes, physical– in order for this to occur. No wonder we resist our North Nodes. Everything is at stake, but no one likes change. The North Node redefines what we need to become at the very core of our consciousness. It isn’t about changing our behaviour, but changing our way of being. Think of ways in which you’ve actually changed in your life–genuine, authentic, change that altered you permanently and forever, changing your reaction to the world and the definition of your place in it. That’s the North Node at work. It’s the process of an entire lifetime. We’re never ‘done’ with the Nodes while we exist in this life.
There are schools of astrology that will give you a made-up life story surrounding the Nodes. Oh, Pisces SN in the 12th house, conjunct Sun, you were either a monk or a drunk. Saturn, you were a prisoner. I don’t think this is productive. The human mind being the creative thing it is, we cling to these kinds of images and possibly, miss the meaning. Does it work as a literal interpretation? No. But does it work as a symbol? Yes, it does. You feel like a nun. You feel like a prisoner. This is what you’ve carried over in your consciousness. This is what you were born with.
Our nodes represent the way we interact with the world–how our conscious awareness meets the external reality of our existence. If I feel like a prisoner, if that Saturn on the SN in Pisces in the 12th feels trapped, then I am going to relate to the world as if it imprisons me, and I have no freedom to be myself or to act on my own behalf. This may be the pattern of lifetimes that I am here, in this life, to break. But if I don’t become aware of where I need to go, I may never get there.
The NN, then, would be in Virgo in the 6th. This tells me that I need to develop Virgo qualities in order to lift myself out and away from my internal imprisonment, and life experiences involving the nodes (during progressions and transits to the nodes and their rulers, and the transiting nodes themselves) will help me shift my awareness. Experience will pull me towards Virgo discrimination and integrity. The sixth house is prone to create crises that sort out negative behaviours. Pisces on the SN wants to be all things to all people. Virgo must learn that it can only be the best of what it already is. When it is confident in what it is, the fear and restriction inherent in this SN will be transformed into a spiritual strength, which is a gift of this placement. We will be able to act from spirit in our daily lives.
But the interaction between the Nodes is not so simple. Like I said, we aren’t always aware of where we need to go. Sometimes it takes a lifetime. As I’ve mentioned, I have Saturn on the NN in the third house. Saturn is always about the long term. It’s involved with planets in my ‘career’ house (10th house Venus, trine) and in my house of vocation (12th house Pluto, square). Guess which planet ‘won’? When I set out in my twenties, I turned my back on a number of creative avenues because I didn’t want to live an unpredictable and unstable life. Saturn’s fear kicked in. I tried to hedge my bets, with professions in creative fields that were not risky in and of themselves. The result is that I’ve never had a stable anything, the longest run I’ve ever had in a job was four years (not for want of trying), and I realized, eventually, that the more I clung to safety the more the universe resisted it–it had other plans for me. Pluto trumps Saturn all the time. But because the nodes were involved, the fear barriers that I had to break were in the service of developing a new consciousness of the way our mind and our environment interact (third house).
The reasons that we avoid our North Node development are many; but the one that is never talked about is that the North Node and its ruler are not only green flags that tell us how to move ahead, but are also red flags that point out exactly what is standing in our way. Like I said, both Nodes are about the interaction of the Sun and Moon, and while the NN can point the way forward, it also points to areas where we are most unaware of our own behaviour (whereas our SN ‘bad’ behaviours are typically very visible to us, and we relate to them easily). If Pisces rules the North Node, inspiration and compassion will carry us forward, but confusion, self-deception, disillusion, addictions, and mis-use of any planet that Neptune touches in the chart may get in our way. (See Tony Perkins’ chart–made more extreme by the fact that the ruler of the North Node was in the sign of the South Node.)
More on the nodal ‘story,’ and the role of the nodal rulers, coming up in Part Four…