The Lunar Nodes & the Solar Markers
by Adam Gainsburg
In classes and readings with clients who are astrologically aware, I find I am often conveying the simple and altogether fascinating fact that the Lunar Nodes move in the opposite direction as the planets, asteroids and bodies cast on a horoscope. If say you were born after your friend with a North Node at 17 Taurus, your North Node would be 16 or earlier than hers. This article seeks to explore the meaning of the Nodal Axis’ alignment to the cardinal points of our solar year: the solstices and equinoxes.
The Lunar Nodes
The ‘reverse’ horoscopic direction of the Lunar Nodes conveys several important ideas about their character. The first is that the Nodes are fundamentally different than any other body or calculated point in astrology. Their closest cousins are the horoscopic angles in that both Nodes and angles are products of intersections of planes. But this is where the similarity ends for the Nodes are not parented by any geocentric plane like any angle (ie, DC, IC, Vx, AVx, and the North, South, East and West Points, among others). Our Nodes instead originate from the Moon’s orbit and our system’s ecliptic. Thus they are born of celestial pathways carved out by the Moon and Sun, of potentialized locations where the Moon and Sun will arrive in the future, and of agreed upon but usually forgotten contracts concerning where the Moon and Sun already have been (in the past).
Our planet’s Lunar Nodes also distinguish themselves in their amusingly unique motion about us. Their jagged movement through the zodiac causes their consistent flunking of Celestial Dance classes, as they are the quintessence of the “two steps forward, one step back” concept, often reversing those numbers and even their directions! A Geiger counter pattern is a good way to picture their movement; the Nodes click around backward and forward, forward and backward, as if marking the footsteps of a drunkard who try as he might just can’t manage to reverse walk.
The plain fact that the Nodes form an axis is another distinguishing feature about them. To work with them in any way requires we understand the differences between a planetary body – singular – and an axial spectrum – polarity pair. Keep in mind that a planet is only a planet; it exists in one position at any time, notwithstanding its polarity position.1 Polarities, especially those expressed on the material plane, evolutionarily imply a development toward deepening into the polarized reality that composes them in order to bring about a deeper and therefore more efficient result.
As mentioned, the Nodes’ retrograding forwardness signifies a very different function than other points. Similar to a planet’s retrograde movement indicating a ‘time out’ from, a challenge to, or an illuminating of what has been assumed or automatic, the Nodes of the Moon naturally represent the sum of our past (SouthNode) and future (NorthNode), whether or not such information is known by the native. Other polarity pairs work equally well to describe the Lunar Nodal axis, such as familiar/unfamiliar, interior/exterior, reliable/unreliable, and, in the words of iconic cultural bard Bob Dylan, “dying” / being “born.”2
An equally useful way to work with the Nodes, while remaining loyal to the crucial fact that they function as an axis, is to correlate the SouthNode to the memory held in the body (conscious or otherwise) and the NorthNode to the experiences and future memories-in-making specifically meant to replace them. Correlating the Nodes to levels and qualities of body memory and thus also to the degree of somatic intelligence3 can be highly useful not only for individuals but collectives as well.
One such application of this idea is an examination of the interaction between the Nodes and the cardinal days in our year. The “cardinal days” are the two solstices and two equinoxes. Together they divide the year into four, providing biorhythmic benchmarks for calibrating our bodies, hearts and minds to the seasonal flow. Spring cleaning, summer fun, fall colors and winter quiet are examples of the ubiquitous practice of adjusting our inner senses to the outer seasonal reality.
Cardinal points – heretofore defined as the 0° mark of each of the cardinal signs – have been a subject of astrological focus for thousands of years. They have come to demarcate our seasons, refer us to ancient Earth-based spiritual practices and divide the solar year into four. Planetary ingresses into the cardinals are universally recognized as timers of action, change, initiation and visible events at the social level. Cardinal signs argue “Life is a highway; life is meant to start things, get things going, move toward actually accomplishing/manifesting something. They connect the prior quadrant’s development to the one they begin.”4 Outer planets crossing into cardinal signs often demarcate major shifts in cultural attitudes toward the hot issues of the day. Astrologers have connected outers’ ingresses into them to trigger the outset of wars and aggressive actions, the manifestation of changing weather cycles, and overt actions taken in new cultural directions.
Nodes & Cardinal Points
The interaction of the nodes with the cardinal points is a worthwhile inquiry. The points themselves are: March equinox at 0° Aries; June solstice at 0° Cancer; September equinox at 0° Libra; and December solstice at 0° Capricorn; month names are given to avoid hemispheric discrimination. When the Lunar Nodal axis reaches any pair of these cardinal points, they will already have traveled through the entire cardinal sign. They will, in very real terms, defy the astrological basis that the 0° position is the beginning. They instead treat the beginning degree as their fruition point. For the nodes, these points mark their ending and summation experience of their ±1⅔-year traverse of the sign. How do we wrap our heads around these contrary motions?
Deeper Into the Nodes
Because the nodes are cellular bookends for our lunar reality between past and future – in contrast to other planetary functions bookended by their own nodes – the interaction of the lunar nodes with the cardinal points produces events of identity-related issues (Moon). As with any nodal transit, what is being altered is the default orientation to life: be it first-person, second-person, or third-person.5 While I enthusiastically agree that nodal transits relate to emotional security needs, parental issues and relationship requirements/dependencies (Moon), I have come to see nodal effects first need to be correlated to the entire meta-orientation from which one creates a personal reality. Out of this basis can come any psychological, mental and emotional delineations. Abstract as this suggestion may seem, the very nature of what a node and especially a nodal axis is demands a description broad enough to encapsulate their enigmatic nature. We cannot go to old definitions to describe the new; we require a re-positioning of our perspective further up the consciousness spiral in order to include all that has come before.
With this in mind, we might restate the description of the nodes given previously – “signifying the default orientation to life” – now as “the relative-mind nature” or ”our relative-consciousness nature” illuminating the distinction between an individual’s relative consciousness and their absolute consciousness or Soul essentiality. Nodes represent the way we ourselves are developing into greater capacity for greater consciousness. Or:
It is less that we own a perspective or position – that “we have” our opinions – and more that that perspective or position is exploring itself through us. The nodal axis signifies how Mind is developing from South to North as us.
Consonant with many spiritual understandings from the East, I have also found multiple places in Vedic astrology as well which supports this idea.6
Nodes at 0 Degrees
When the Nodal axis hits 0° of a cardinal sign, the preparation for its activation has been completed and the core idea, new orientation, or event is seeded. An interior, subtle shift occurs in response to the awakening of a nascent potential. The nodes’ reverse movement through the sign led to completion at its 0° point. Nodal events generally do not indicate pragmatic events. I have postulated in prior writing that the reason for this is the simple fact that a node is absent of a physical body energetically interacting with the physical plane. This suggests and supports the idea that a Node entering the cardinal’s 0° effects a different kind of ‘event.’
Let’s now link the statement above – that nodal events trigger the onset of a change in meta-orientation to life and the relative-mind nature – with the idea that nodal contacts to the cardinal points trigger a different type of event from the nodes’ journey backwards through the sign. I am proposing that when the lunar nodes come into contact with cardinal points, the result is an evolutionary seeding which may very well not produce immediate, tangible outcomes. Rather, the result can be imaged as presenting one’s findings after an exhaustive research effort and setting a course of action on what to do in response to the report’s conclusions. Transposing this idea out of the workplace and into human development, the “delivered report” becomes the cellular instructions housed in one’s DNA library and activated in timed accord with one’s stage in life. And the “course of action” becomes the creative solution or result to this cellular injunction to take action in alignment with one’s genetic instructions.
This new course will challenge what has come before if it misaligns or impedes what is needed to happen next. The individual’s responsiveness or resistant reactions to “what they must do” is the evidence of their relative attachment to the present conditions.
Difficult to find evidence for with typical astrological research techniques, these notions for me have surpassed the test of time and accuracy in my active astrological practice since 2005.7 Together they are an especially adept tool at framing the entirety of a native’s transits, progressions, directions, etc. in the essential evolutionary or personal cellular instructions for the period in question. They do not replace planetary transits; rather, they contextualize them in the lucid clarity of the native’s cellular growth schedule. That the transiting nodal axis correlates to the invisible seeding or activating of new regions of our cellular imperative – our evolution – will be nothing new to those already fluent in evolution applied to the astrological art. To hopefully contribute something useful to this population of astrologers is the connection of nodal transits to the native’s Somatic Intelligence – their natural capacity to consciously respond to their life from multiple levels within them in fullness. (See note 3). With this basic idea in hand, any astrologer can transcend the limits of intellect-only astrology practices and successfully prescribe specific somatic exercises to augment, catalyze, enhance or unblock their physiological and thus psychological functioning. Examples are numerously found in any relevant physical, yogic, breathing, meditative or healing exercise modality to the client’s needs.
Applied to the collective level, nodal contacts to the cardinal points signify a society or culture’s relative-mind nature having been sufficiently prepared (through the axis’ transit backward through each degree of the sign) so that new desires, ideas and directions are seeded. Where are such seeds planted? In the collective mind. Philosopher and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) coined the term “noosphere” to refer to, simplistically put, “a group mind created from multiple individuals.”
Integrating any planetary transit to the cardinal points synchronized with a nodal axis’ transit to same gives the astrologer a multi-level accuracy not found by only employing the former.8 In both individual and collective research, I have found the nodes to kick off a five-month clock to begin. That is, I have observed in general when a nodal transit occurs, the tangible results of the nodal hit often takes five months to appear in the native’s life.9 The specific means through which and the functions within which the transit’s effects show up will be signified by the most active and relevant personal transits, progressions, etc. occurring within that window. And certainly, the nature of the planets involved as the “means” through which the earlier nodal transit materializes very much shapes the kinds of experience and insights to be had.
For those interested in adding this observation to their transit work, I invite you to identify your (or your clients’) next nodal transit-to-natal contact. Next is to note what such a contact might be referring to in terms of influence or growth and then begin to keep an eye out for when related events actually occur in that domain of your self. You can also note other interim planetary transits (transits, progressions, etc.) occurring and you may find a deeply meaningful ‘story’ or narrative playing out between the originating nodal transit, through the relevant planetary activators and culminating in the visible results of the process.
1. A growing number of astrologers seem to be including select polarity positions into their chart work. Evolutionary Astrology is the most well-known to include polarity work in its set of techniques. The polarity position of a planet is simply that: that zodiacal position in exact 180° opposition to that of the planet itself. In line with much astrological literature, I have added my voice on point polarities as well, ranging from the general – how to glean the qualities of a body’s astrological polarity – to the specific – techniques to delineate the polarity position of Pluto and Chiron. These are explained in my second and third book respectively. www.Soulsign.com/shop
2. Actual lyrics are “He not busy born is busy dying” from the song, It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) by Bob Dylan, 1965, 1993. Interestingly, the stanza just prior to this one contains the lyric: “Darkness at the break of noon / Shadows even the silver spoon / The handmade blade, the child’s balloon / Eclipses both the sun and moon / To understand you know too soon / There is no sense in trying.” (Italics added)
3. “Somatic Intelligence” is a term used in the Soulsign work (Breathwork, meditation, sound healing)) referring to the degree of conscious functioning in one’s anatomy, physiology and subtle energetics. A portion of this clinical theory suggests that the more clear of unacknowledged (sub- or unconscious) memory the body is, the greater its somatic intelligence. The term implies not just awareness of an aspect or level of self, but the capacity to respond to life at multiple levels and each appropriately.
4. From The Soul’s Desire for Wholeness, p. 145, Soulsign Publishing, 2005.
5. Perspectives such as these have been proven by integral theory to represent the linking structure in consciousness between all spiritual, religious, and cultural divides. A first-person orientation is a pure subjective sensing of the world, second-person is a purely relational sensing, and third-person is purely objectifying. We each have each of these perspectives multiple times within our makeup. Again, it is perspective distinctions which results in the myriad expressiveness of consciousness (Zen’s “Ten-thousand Things”) and determines the relative stages of consciousness evolution.
6. Having little functional knowledge of Vedic practices, my original introduction to this facet of Vedic astrological understanding of the Moon was through the work of astrologer Sam Geppi (http://www.vedicastrologycenter.net) and then further through that of astrologer Dennis Harness Ph.D. (http://www.dennisharness.com)
7. “Difficult” because astrological research almost exclusively relies on material events of all kinds to correlate to the astrological signatures under research.
8. Note that ‘multi-level accuracy’ does not refer to multiple planet hits to cardinal points; while they would each signify an important influence on our collective consciousness, they are of the same class or level of influence: planetary bodies with physical characteristics. In contrast, the nodal axis brings another level of influence into the equation entirely, again the result of what the axis essentially is and therefore isn’t (see “The Lunar Nodes,” above).
9. I have also observed many of my clients manifesting the seeds of their evolutionary next steps in less time, as early as two months. The five month is an estimated average on my part.