The Crucible and the Wheel: Part Four, The Second Nodal Return

dragon kells


I suddenly realized that I neglected to complete this series on the transiting nodes. There was a three part series on the transiting nodes and a description of the third nodal return in another article about aspects in our fifties.  And of course, the omission is the greatest one:  a description of that life-changer (or life-crisis), the second nodal return.  To paraphrase a song, if we can make it (over the threshold) here, we can make it anywhere.

Yes, it’s that important.  Think about it.  At age 37, we’re at the height of our powers, a time when we are ripe for experience.  We have cleaned out our psycho-spiritual closets at the progressed lunar return (27-28), reoriented ourselves to reality at the Saturn return (29-30), and questioned our integrity when the progressed Sun makes its first aspect to natal Sun (30-31).  We get a short time to breathe and adjust the two halves of our brain before we get the balsamic year of our second Jupiter return, followed by the great three sequence of the third Jupiter return at age 36.  At the third Jupiter return, we step into our spiritual adulthood.  We take full responsibility for the development of the soul.  We grow into our wisdom.  The balsamic year, at age 35, is very much about changing directions, getting rid of what is not instinctively true to us.  At 36, we are asked to step into that truth.

Unfortunately, we often feel rather naked without all those nice, secure falsities of the spirit to cling to.  With Jupiter’s bidding, we feel inspired, but we also know that we have a new cycle of spiritual development ahead of us.  Or rather, we feel it, more than know it.  Jupiter is very big on instinct.  With much trepidation, we step into our grown-up shoes.  As with all Jupiter returns, there is some letting go, but also some luck that usually steers us in the right direction.  The house in which Jupiter resides is emphasized.

The minute that we start moving forward (if we are lucky) we hit a wall.  This is the wall of the nodal return, which comes to us all at about the age of 37 and three months. I once heard a doctor say that this is a threshold year for mental health–if you can make it past this year, you should survive anything else that gets thrown at you.  Just to emphasize the importance of this return, I believe the list of people who did not survive this nodal return is longer than the infamous list of the 27 Club.

What happens is this:  we know we can no longer avoid change, but we haven’t a clue what to change, or how.  Spiritually, we often become lost, victim to false starts and stops.  We feel vulnerable.  No longer able to hide under a shell, and no compass to show us the way forward.  We can see, off in some vague distance, the place we need to be, but it seems as though we have to walk over miles of thin, cracked ice to get there.  The old doesn’t work anymore–that’s what the last 10 years have taught us.  But if we haven’t moved in a new direction yet (and we have been given opportunities), now is the time.  We feel pressured, we feel broken, we feel failed.  Far from a confident new beginning, we are wracked with doubts.  Can I do this?  Can this really be happening?  Why do I feel this thing on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, spurring me on?  And of course–what of the old me can I legitimately retain?

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is typical of this nodal return.  At least, for a start.  We are prone to chuck it all and begin something entirely new.  Sometimes that works, many times it does not.  The reason is that, at this time in particular, we are being coaxed to use our talents and abilities, our spiritual inheritance, to create something new.  We get pulled back.  If we’re actors or writers, we might dump our cherished novel or stop auditioning, only to be invited to teach, direct, or write something in another genre.  We might give up what we are already doing entirely, only to spend a few years exploring and come back to it anew.  Not that our nodal returns are all about what we do for a living, but they imply an integration of the Sun and Moon, North Node and South Node, that can manifest on the midheaven and the IC, no matter where your nodes are at birth.  This nodal return in particular has a lot to do with ‘who am I in the world?’  And here is the rub–there shouldn’t be a conflict between who I am inside (IC) and who I am outside (MC).  This is only one of the questions this nodal return tries to solve.

It was only after studying hundreds of draconic charts that the crisis mode of nodal returns made sense to me.  The struggle of past to become future was not enough to cause the strife I saw on a daily basis.  After all, the past becomes the present becomes the future every second of our lives. In draconic charts, which is the natal chart looked at from the point of view of the nodes, all nodes are moved to NN 0 Aries and SN 0 Libra.  The measurement between the natal nodes and these nodes is added to every planet and point in the chart.  We end up with a chart that looks exactly like the natal chart (except for the nodes, of course) but the planets, angles and points are in different signs.  And this puzzled me for a while.  Not because it is a directed chart–this is an old astrology technique, moving everything by a certain measurement (such as Solar Arc charts).  But because of the emphasis on zero cardinal.

Cardinal signs are about initiation.  This is where we begin.  This is where we are born from the cosmic soup.  This is why the angles matter–they initiate us into space and time.  They become the reference point for the soul.  Space and time are all about Saturn.  We move from the endless sea of potential to the specific.  The first ‘set’ of zero cardinal is Aries/Libra.  There is a  power to zero Aries that is often ignored.  A special power of individuation.  Of being unique.  Of beginnings.

In a draconic chart, the South node is at 0 Libra.  This is where we come from, according to the Nodes.  This is what we come into this world with.  What does that mean?  Whatever sign is on the SN in the natal chart, from a draconic point of view it is 0 Libra.  Now, zero Libra also has a power of its own.  It’s the power of integration, of the union of self and other, of the known and the shadow.  But if we are put into this world to individuate, and to balance the nodes, it seems like an odd place to start.

Not if we take into consideration that we come into this world as a unique being, but we experience it in terms of duality.  I versus other.  Me in here versus you out there.  What is me and what is not me?  This has to do with Libra being represented by Venus, and  relating to the 7 (also to the 2, via Taurus).  First there is one (Aries) but the one cannot see itself unless it can be reflected (Libra).  And this is how we construct ourselves from birth; the idea of “I” is actually based on “not I.”  (There will be more of this in a short course on Sacred Number and aspect which I will be teaching next month.)  We are hollow at core.

The North Node is so difficult to achieve precisely because we must get out of this way of defining Self.  The Libran South Node is how we relate, how we fit in, how we compromise our identity.  The North Node is asking us to get rid of all that and redefine ourselves and live our lives by what is genuinely within.  (No accident that the draconic NN ruler is always Mars and the draconic SN ruler always Venus.  No accident that the first two polarities of the zodiac are Mars/Venus, Venus/Mars). Who are we without our trappings–home, money, family, friends.  Who are we, really?  And how to we get to this place of authenticity?  The natal North Node is the path.

I have heard astrologers say that 90 per cent of people never get near their North Nodes.  I don’t know if it’s quite that much, but it’s a high number. Authenticity is a bitch.  It often means going against the grain.  Being an outsider.  Taking our own road.  It’s a lonely place.  We stumble.  We fall.  No one helps us up.  To make matters worse, often the North Node ruler turns out to be a trickster, and can’t be relied upon to take us in the right direction.  Sometimes he takes us to the wrong place, deliberately.  He wants to test us, our worth, our integrity.  He will cause us to make mistakes so that we can cross that path off of our list.  If we have a problematic North Node ruler, full of conflict, getting to the North Node may take a long, long time.  So much easier to stay in the land of Venus.

This authenticity is what the second nodal return is all about.  If we have complicated Nodes, planets on both the North and South Nodes, for example, we may be especially conflicted, and see saw back and forth between what is and what should be.  Not that we should delve into our North Nodes at the expense of the South Node–in that way lies solipsism, if not psychopathology.  No, the relational Libran South Node needs to be in balance with the authentic North Node.  If this happens, it automatically helps the essential problem of the MC/IC with the ‘me in here’ vs ‘you out there’ issue.  We move on to be authentic, productive individuals.  And this is what the third nodal return, which happens in our mid-fifties, is all about.

The recently announced second article on Jupiter will be appearing in next month’s edition of The Widening Gyre.  If you’d like to read it and the other original content, please subscribe.




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