If, in some bizarre existence, in some alternate reality, I would be limited to looking at only one thing in the chart and still hope to give some profound advice on the soul’s growth, I would look at the Nodes. The Nodes provide us not only with the guide for where we are going, but are the key to understanding where we have been and why we act the way we do. As they describe the interaction of the Sun and the Moon, they are the core and the crossroads of our being. And as they rip through time and space via transit, they cut a swathe between who we have been and who we are becoming.
They do this, in particular, at very specific times when the growth energy of the Nodes reaches its maximum potency. This happens at the crossroads of the Nodal cycle, when the transiting Nodes square, oppose and conjunct the natal Nodes. There is no more opportunity for change in the chart than at these times.
The Nodal Return
The return of the North Node to its own place in the chart: Roughly a 19+ year cycle. Of the three major returns at age 19, 37 and 56, the second return at age 37 is usually the most fraught.
All returns are wobbly, charged, insecure and uneven. We have just ended a cycle and are beginning another without knowing anything about it. Returns are shaky and dynamic at the same time, and though we can chart them to see something of what the next cycle will bring, the energy of the return itself will never feel stable. We may know what we need to do and where we need to go, but we are lost and we don’t know how to get there. Even if we are given the tools of understanding (positive transits and progressions, etc.) we may not know how to use them. The Nodal returns are periods of confusion and possibly retreat, when the old world doesn’t work but the new one remains a mystery. If we sense that there is something missing in our lives, we will often go overboard and overcompensate when we hit our returns (our neediness and emotional impulses often prevail). We often feel that we are inadequate to the task, and give up the fight before we begin. Or we may take our first faltering steps, face defeat, and swear we will not go this way again. We are often torn with insecurity and blinded by the way we have been conditioned to think of ourselves. At best, Nodal returns are used to break from the past and make new beginnings that remove us from our conditioned responses to life. They can also bring us well deserved rewards for work well done.
The Nodal Crosses
The Nodal Squares—or, as I usually call them, the Crosses– are always crisis points, where we are given the choice to forge ahead bravely or retreat into our comfort zones. We will be impelled to answer the call but the impetus to the new may not be strong enough, or the call of the past is too demanding. We may fight and win or the new Self may die in the struggle, but cyclical squares always feel as though a battle is going on; with the waxing square (the North Node making the first square to itself since the return) we may feel fresh and feisty, but a waning square may make us feel as though we are fighting in an ancient war that has gone on far too long. Waning squares impel us to put something concrete into place and show real development in our Nodal progress. The Nodal squares are always ‘do or die’ crossroads where some new aspect of our being and understanding must be initiated. We may be forced to relinquish something cherished that is no longer serving our spiritual purpose.
The Nodal ‘Flops’
Or, as they are usually referred to, Nodal oppositions, can be an opportunity for new understanding and integration. We are reminded that we are not being asked to desert the South Node (which also houses our gifts and abilities) in favour of the North, but to overcome the drawbacks of the South Node (all those inborn difficulties and liabilities we inherit from it) and use the South Node gifts in aiding the North Node to the best of our ability. At the time of these Nodal ‘flops’ we may discover new opportunities for integration and growth. The challenge is to remain in the strength of the South Node without letting it drown the newly emerging sensibility. (Aspects between the Nodal rulers will be of tremendous help at these times, even the more difficult aspects.) At these times of integration of the Nodes, it is not uncommon to find partners and others who can help us along the way—this is true of the returns and the squares as well, but partnering is often more prominent at the opposition. Given that we are attempting to integrate the Sun and the Moon within the Nodal pattern, this is not a surprise. Any transiting opposition is likely to draw someone into our lives who will illustrate that opposition for us, and the Nodes are, in a sense, the opposition to beat all oppositions.
Next time I will focus on the three major nodal returns.