For months now, I’ve been promising to invite a guest blogger to answer your questions about the North and South Nodes of the Moon. I can’t think of anyone whose experience qualifies her better to do just that than my long-time colleague, Donna Van Toen of Toronto, Canada.
She’s the internationally-known author of The Astrologer’s Node Book and instructor of a 10-session online course on the Nodes at the International Academy of Astrology starting January 12th. (See the course description here Understanding the Moon’s Nodes.)
Prior to The Question and Answer Session, I asked Donna for some basic information that would show us her perspective on the Nodes. Here’s what she sent us:
An Orientation to the Moon’s Nodes
©2011 by Donna Van Toen
What are the Moon’s Nodes, exactly?
The Moon’s Nodes are imaginary points that mark off a sort of celestial equator. They are used by astronomers in the calculation of astronomical data, notably eclipses. It is possibly this involvement with eclipses that has led to their attention and interest from astrologers.
Since they are not planets, some astrologers tend to ignore them — and if you want to ignore them, that’s ok. There is so much information to be had in astrology that if a particular point doesn’t talk to you, you’re well advised to put your energies into working with those points that do.
What do they Mean?
The Nodes can be read on a number of levels. First of all, the Nodes very often indicate how you relate to your environment, and in particular your social network. They can therefore have an influence on both your popularity level and your ability to take advantage of opportunities — particularly financial opportunities or opportunities to acquire various resources, whether those are material, psychological, or social.
The theory here is that the North Node giveth — whether you want it or not — and the South Node taketh away.
Secondly, the Nodes are indicative of environmental conditioning. From the time we are babies, we are continually being conditioned by our family (and the Nodes very often symbolize family ties of one sort or another), our teachers, our peers, and the environment we grow up in generally. As a result of this conditioning, we tend to become very good at some things and inclined to shy away from others.
Normally, the South Node indicates what we have been conditioned to be good at, while the North Node is what we shy away from. However, at any given time, progressions or transits may cause us to move away from the South Node and embrace the North. These are, in general, growth phases.
How Do the Nodes Relate to Karma and Past Lives?
Finally, the Nodes are often seen as indicators of karma and dharma. Sometimes this is stated as the South Node being qualities and experiences you’ve brought in from many lifetimes while the North Node indicates what you’re here to develop.
I wouldn’t totally reject this statement, but I’m also inclined to embrace it carefully. Why? Because regrettably the whole concept of karma can become something of a cop-out; in fact, this, I am told, is why the Catholic Church rejected the theory of reincarnation way back when.
I have heard students and clients blame all sorts of things on past lives — and once you get into blaming, you’re on very boggy ground. I don’t believe our purpose for being here is to suffer, to pay debts to other people by doing their bidding, or to hide behind some veil of esotericism that obscures self-understanding rather than opening the doors to growth and perception.
That said, I have indeed seen some very good work done in the realm of past-life work, notably by Patricia Walsh, one of a handful of very fine evolutionary astrologers who uses both psychological techniques and metaphysical insight in her astrological work.
But here’s the deal — we’re here now. The opportunities we’re experiencing are now and the temptations we’re experiencing are also now. And how we respond to these has been conditioned, not only by past lives but by our prior experiences in this one. And if we can’t remember what happened to us when we were two, how do we know it isn’t an integral part of what we’re feeling and experiencing now?
And yes, you can argue that if there is such a thing as non-negotiable karma, much of it would be likely to manifest in our childhoods where we have little or no control over our environments and the events therein. So what am I saying? Whether it’s karma or conditioning, it’s really a chip off the same block of past history.
What Do the Node’s Signs Tell Us?
As you know, the Nodes are always in opposite signs. The opposing signs symbolize conflicting styles of behavior or conflicting drives. One of the drives — generally the South Node — is your conditioned style of behavior. It’s what you’re comfortable with — and you’re also probably pretty good at it.
The North Node, on the other hand, might be considered what you need to do in order to grow or in order to keep your life in balance. And as I mentioned before, what normally happens is that you shy away from the North Node and overdo the South. What often happens is what I called in The Astrologer’s Node Book, a Yeah- But dialogue.
The signs define the behavior; the houses give some further information as to where and how it plays out. Space prevents me into going into detail, and there are plenty of options for each sign placement, each house placement, and each aspect.
Update: Here’s the Q&A about the Nodes: Readers Ask: Q&A about the Moon’s Nodes by Donna Van Toen. It’s a great exchange—Donna VT’s answers to 30 excellent questions about the Moon’s node.
Again, Donna Van Toen’s 10-session online course on the Nodes at the International Academy of Astrology begins January 12th. (See the course description here Understanding the Moon’s Nodes.) About Our Guest Blogger: Donna Van Toen is a teaching/consulting astrologer, book reviewer for NCGR memberletter, and the convener of SOTA, an annual astrology conference held in late October of each year. (This year it’s in Niagara Falls, NY from October 27-29). She has lectured extensively throughout North America as well as in Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey. She is currently working on revisions to The Astrologer’s Node Book. She may be reached at email@example.com or www.donnavantoen.com (currently under construction).