What are the nodes of the Moon?

Eclipses occur when a New Moon or a Full Moon is within 18° of the nodes on either side. This is the time when the Sun is traveling through the sign that contains either the South Node or the North Node. Since November of 2021, those signs have been Taurus and Scorpio.

On Tuesday, the New Moon occurs at 2° Scorpio and the South Node is at 13°22′, within the 18° cut-off. The closer the lunation occurs to the node, the stronger it is.  Tuesday’s lunation is considered a partial eclipse. But the Full Moon in Taurus on November 8th will be much closer and stronger.
What are the nodes of the Moon?

Nodes of the moonThe Lunar Nodes are abstract points in space that mark where the Moon’s orbit and the Sun’s path intersect. Like the chart angles, the North and South Nodes are not actual bodies; they are points on the ecliptic (the Sun’s path). When the Moon moves from south to north, we get the North Node. Likewise, when the Moon moves from north to south, we get the South Node.

The Lunar Nodes also precess around the ecliptic, completing one revolution every 18.6 years. This means every 18.6 years, the nodes return to the same place (nodal return) repeating the same eclipse cycle from 18.6 years ago.

Modern Astrology

In Evolutionary Astrology, the Nodes tell a story.

  • The South Node is associated with past lives, the karma you brought into this life and your ancestral inheritance. We can think about the South Node as those classes in college that were your easy A. You took them because they came naturally to you. For me, this was Psychology.
  • The North Node refers to what you are working towards. It’s your cutting edge towards growth and soulful evolution. These are the classes that were challenging, but you had to take them in order to graduate. My North Node was statistics.

The Story of Rahu & Ketu 

Vedic astrology conceptualizes the Nodes in a different way, illustrated by a myth:

At the beginning of the universe, the Gods began to churn the universe. Out of this churning formed a nectar of immortality. Gods and demons alike struggled to get at the nectar to achieve immortality. In order to distract the demons, Vishnu disguised himself as the most beautiful woman and began to dance. Meanwhile, whilst the demons gaped at the woman, the Gods lined up to drink of the nectar. However, Rahu—a clever demon—did not fall for the trick. Instead, he disguised himself as a God and stood in the nectar line. As he took a sip of the nectar, he was called out by the Sun and the Moon. Vishnu quickly severed Rahu’s head, but he had already drank the nectar and was thus immortal. Now he existed in two parts: a head (Rahu) and a tail (Ketu). He vowed revenge on the Sun and the Moon and in fact, to this day, he jumps to swallow the Sun. But because he has no body, the Sun passes through him.

In traditional astrology, we look at the South and North Nodes differently. There’s not the same emphasis on reincarnation as in Evolutionary Astrology. Rather, there’s a more Buddhist approach of that which causes suffering and how to spiritualize it.  For instance: 

  • Ketu, the tail (South Node) is a place in our life that becomes a container for spirit. We experience life lessons here that ultimately diminish our attachments and desires.  This process often occurs through loss and letting go.  Surrendering makes room for wisdom and spirituality to grow. Katu points to the loss that awakens us to the truth of the spiritual nature we’re in.
  • Rahu, the head (North Node) is where we can experience blindspots. Rahu points to our attachments and desires that perpetuate the cycle of suffering. Rahu was always hungry. Not equipped with a gut to digest his food (i.e. digest wisdom from life experiences), he was always greedily chasing his desires and indulging worldly obsessions. When we work with Rahu, we realize that achieving worldly success is not often what we thought it would be. This begins to open in us a spiritual dimension that understands the true nature of reality. 

Which Approach is Best?

For the most part, the ancients did not work with the Nodes in the way modern astrologers do. They considered the eclipses to be bad omens as the light was obscured. This idea falls in line with Rahu swallowing the Sun.  Enlisting the Nodes to talk about reincarnation and past lives is relatively a new thing.

Since there is a great deal to cover during a consultation, I usually avoid the Nodes all together unless the client specifically asks about them.  At that point, I will synthesize both points of views to the natal placements and see which better fits the client’s understanding of their personal experience. From doing so, I’ve repeatedly found that the client usually relates to both perspectives.