Soul Points in Synastry: The Vertex versus the Nodes (Part One)

One of the questions that has already come up a number of times in the Soul Points class I’m teaching is, “Both the Vertex and the Nodes are sensitive relationship points that often feel destined, what’s the difference?”

It’s assumed that contacts to both the Nodes (particularly the South Node) and the Vertex feel like ‘fate’ is playing a hand. It’s assumed that both the Nodes and the Vertex axis give us those ‘aha’ moments, those rare, often once-in-a-lifetime meetings that stir us with feelings of forever (at first). They cause us to believe that the ‘one and only’ really exists–it must, because we’ve never felt this way before. We’re swept away, we’re dizzy with destiny, we feel as though the universe has a plan for us and that this rarefied, just-met being is along for the ride. God has fashioned someone just for us, to fit perfectly into our lives, to fill our unique need.

There is no question that contacts to either end of the Nodal axis or the Vertex axis are powerful. (So are squares.) But Vertex connections and Nodal connections via synastry play out very differently in the scheme of our developing consciousness.The difference begins with the definition of the points themselves.

As you’ll remember from the articles on the Nodes, they are defined by the place where the orbit of the Moon crosses the path of the Sun from the point of view of the Earth. The Vertex, on the other hand, is defined by the place where the path of the Sun, called the ecliptic, crosses the Prime Verticle, –okay, too complicated. Let’s just say that the Prime Vertical cuts the ball of the Earth into right angles. It gives you the absolute East and West points from the perspective of the highest point in the sky, the Zenith (absolute North), and the absolute bottom of the space/chart, the Nadir. (This measurement is different from the Midheaven or MC, which is derived from the place where the Sun is at the Noon point, and which is the measurement by which we calculate our usual Ascendant/Descendant axis. More of that later.)

Now, think about that for a minute. The Vertex axis is the place where the Sun’s path crosses an absolute measurement derived from the position of the Earth. It’s all about the creative force and impetus (the Sun) meeting our absolute reference point. (Um, for those of you who may be sleeping, the astrological chart is a picture of the sky from the point of view of the Earth, which we call Geocentric. For a chart with the Sun at the center and which places a position for the Earth, you have to draw up a heliocentric chart.)

The Vertex, in essence, represents the place where our life force meets the cross of matter as represented by the Earth. It takes no prisoners. Anyone who has worked with the Vertex axis for any length of time can feel the insistence in it. It is, in fact, a souped-up Ascendant/Descendant axis. Our Asc/Desc is derived from the Sun’s noon point on our day of birth (the MC) in relation to the point on the Earth’s horizon for the hour and place of birth. (The MC is not necessarily the Zenith, but that’s for another day.) Our Asc/Desc axis divides the light and the darkness, the seen from the unseen. What is above and what is below. What we grasp of our identity as we live it and what we may project. The Vertex doesn’t care about any of that.

The reason is that particular perspective from the point of view of Earth. It is the Moon that represents not only our past, but our anchored physicality–our selves as represented in matter. The Moon represents the matter of our physical body and all the planes that influence and effect that body: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. The Moon carries the egoic egg that retains our energetic aura. The Moon is our collected history, our definition of ourselves by whatever our encounters with life (and past lives) have brought to our identity. It is the result of our gathered experience.

The Vertex represents something very different. It is the ultimate individuality, the unique creative Self without the reference points of the past. Imagine a pure you, a unique spark of the cosmos, that is not defined by interacting with material existence. The Earth represents our perspective, our pure point of view, our idea of ourselves as an individual element in the greater divinity. An identity without the need for ego defenses. An identity whose only purpose is to take part in that greater divinity in whatever way it can.

Vertex contacts, no matter what end of the axis they hit, assist the process of that divinity directly. This is why Vertex contacts often seem to come ‘out of the blue,’ with no hint, no trace, no preparation. It’s because Vertex contacts aren’t part of a process. We can’t figure out the ‘why’ of a Vertex contact, it just is–and usually the sense of ‘fate’ comes from the fact that something or someone is provided just at the point it is most needed; whether or not we ever knew that we needed it before. In an odd way, the Vertex acts as a secret and sacred ‘helping hand.’ It’s almost Uranian in the way it operates: we might suspect something on the way if a big transit to the Vertex is due, but we have a hard time guessing how it might manifest. And honestly, if we can guess, it usually means that what we guessed is precisely what won’t happen. We might be anticipating a lover, but Vertex contacts are just as likely to manifest as an offer, a friendship, or a turn of mind that takes us down a road we would never have anticipated. We might not even notice the impact until the transit or progression is long past. One of my most profound Vertex transits happened on the day I was offered a new job–the loss of which, a short time later, enabled me to establish myself as a full time astrologer. Without that job (and the loss of it), I wouldn’t be here.

Conjunctions to either end of the axis are the most profoundly felt. Vertex contacts help to reveal our divine fate, but conjunctions to the anti-Vertex are no less profound. The anti-Vertex allows us to process our divinity through the vehicle of ‘other’–when other’s planets fall on our anti-Vertex, we reveal ourselves through the ‘not I.’ Often, anti-Vertex contacts involve commitment and sacrifice beyond the call of duty, and we usually don’t mind fulfilling those commitments because we feel the divine pulse of our own spirit gradually unveiling in our actions. The point of all Vertex contacts is to reveal ourselves from a perspective that is higher and deeper than ordinary conscious awareness. In a way, the Vertex is beyond the Nodes, which are all about the development of consciousness. The Vertex unveils the “Watcher,” in us. The one who knows. The one who is beyond the conscious Self.

Squares from one chart to another’s Vertex axis will stimulate this ‘Self beyond self.’ The Vertex is not an energy that we wrestle with or try to develop, or struggle to integrate. It just is. Squares to the Vertex axis will urge us towards effortless being. Under Venus or Jupiter, we may feel loved or understood for the first time. With the outer planets squaring our Vertex, there may be a shock of removal that clears our path in a painful way. Mars may teach us about sexuality in a way that we never expected.

Sadly, relationships that are lesson-based are usually short term, and the Vertex is no exception. The trick is to step into them unafraid and unprotected, trusting in the divine wisdom of your own soul’s intelligence. It’s like that exercise we’ve all done in the theatre, where we’re blindfolded, led around by the hand and forced to trust our fellow actors. Ultimately, we stop feeling the need to cling, and allow ourselves to feel what it’s like to be free of fear, because there is a guiding force at work that knows where it’s going. As they say, we must remember that we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience, and the Vertex leads the way.

In part 2, we’ll discuss fate and the Nodes.


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