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Oh My Stars

matthew currie astrology nodesI only realized recently that I’ve written very little about the role of the Moon’s Nodes in astrology. That’s a shame, really: they’re incredibly useful and instructive things, and can be just as valuable as any of the planets in your birth chart. In fact, Vedic Astrology calls them “shadow planets”: like planets, but not really planets. They have a real effect, but aren’t (strictly speaking) “real.” This is perhaps why I haven’t written anything about them before: I know how to use them, but have a hard time putting into words the answer to the very first question about the Nodes:

“What the heck ARE The Moon’s Nodes?”

After over 20 years of being an astrologer, here’s the best and simplest answer I can come up with:

The Earth travels around the Sun on a plane. Not the kind of plane you have to go through security to get on… a plane, in the geometric sense. Like the Earth is rolling around on a tabletop. We call that “the plane of the ecliptic.” Meanwhile, The Moon orbits the Earth on its own plane. Where those two planes intersect are called the Nodes. The North Node is where the Moon is ascending, relative to the Plane Of The Ecliptic, and the opposite point is called the South Node.

Whew. That was kind of painful and awkward, like that day the substitute French teacher had to fill in teaching chemistry, and couldn’t explain a covalent bond properly to save his life… so you decided to stare out the window for the rest of the class, and today you have no interest in chemistry whatsoever. What’s really awkward is watching me explain this in person, with additional hand-waving and plenty of “ums” and the occasional “duh.”

Yes. I realize this is probably a terrible explanation. Most other people who have written on the subject have described it more eloquently. Heck, I probably could even cut-and-paste plagiarise anyone else’s explanation without screwing it up somehow. Please understand: this isn’t because I don’t “get it.” I can see the diagram of how it works clearly in my head. But… it’s like a curse. An Achilles Heel. It’s almost as if I was a writer (which I am) who uses his Sixth House (work habits) Mercury (writing ability) but has a karmic flaw when it comes to describing the Nodes. Perhaps that’s because my South Node (which is related to past karma) is exactly conjunct that Mercury.

Actually, that’s the EXACT reason. It’s a karma thing. Now go ahead and ask me about covalent bonds. I can describe THOSE pretty well…

Most people probably don’t spend long periods of time worrying about how foolish they look describing how something works that they understand. But of course — this is my job. And frankly, I have a bit of a tendency to over-think things. That would be great if my thinking was always sharp… but it isn’t. I admit it. The whole thing is like the concept of karma and reincarnation itself. It’s like a karmic loop of birth and struggle and screwing up and death and rebirth and struggle and screwing up and —

Hey, where the heck is everyone going? Oh, I get it… you wanted more practical, better organized information. So: what do the Nodes mean, exactly?”

I’ll spare you another tortured explanation, but the simplest and easiest is this: you come into this life with a certain set of gifts and handicaps. That may be because of genetics, family background, karma, or any combination of those. That’s the South Node in your birth chart — it’s the luggage (good and bad) you brought with you. In Vedic Astrology (which really knows its Nodes, by the way) the South Node is called Ketu, and you’ll find more and more Western Astrologers starting to use that term.

The exact opposite point (literally and figuratively) is The North Node. That’s the point in your chart that indicates where you should be going with your life, given what you came in with, and what you’ve picked up along the way. In Vedic-speak, the North Node is called Rahu.

Got all that? Good. Now, please re-join me next time for “The Moon’s Nodes And Your Karmic Loop (Part Two),” in which we take all this hand-wavy karmic stuff and try to make some practical use of it.

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