The Role of the Nodes
Of The Moon.
It is interesting that only in recent years
have astrological publications begun to pay
any attention to the Lunar Nodes.
The older books such as those written
by Alan Leo, Charles Carter, Margaret Hone
and Jeff Mayo dismiss them in a few paragraphs,
and even more recent authors such as Stephen
Arroyo happily ignore them. This is a great pity as a
knowledge of the Nodes can give so much insight and
information regarding the deeper and more esoteric aspects of birth-chart interpretation. Perhaps because the Nodes of the Moon are mathematical points rather than visible planets their role has been overlooked, but the M.C. is also an invisible or mathematical point, and no western astrologer worth their salt would ignore that one. In India the situation is very different, with great importance having been attached to the Nodes right from the time of the earliest recorded astrological texts (about 2000 BC).
Briefly, the North Node marks the path of the Moon as it crosses the ecliptic moving from South to North. The symbol used is R. The South Node is created by the path of the Moon as it crosses from North to South. The symbol used for the South Node is S. Notice that the Nodes are always exactly opposite each other (Usually an ephemeris will show only the North Node position). Also be aware that the Nodes move in the opposite direction to the visible planets i.e., they always move backwards through the zodiac. This occurs because when, every 27.21 days, the Moon crosses the ecliptic at the same Node this point has move backward along the ecliptic a little bit. The complete nodal cycle of 360 degrees taking just over 18 years (18 years and 10 days).
In Vedic astrology the North Node (R) is refered to as Rahu and the South Node (S) as Ketu. In the eighth book of the ancient Indian text Bhagavat Purana we find the original mythology of the Nodes. Here we read that Rahu was a serpent-demon who, having become immortal, was severed in two - Rahu became the head of the demon and Ketu became the tail. Hence even today we find the Nodes refered to as the head and tail of the serpent or dragon. In its details the whole story is rich in astrological symbolism and esoteric insights into the true significance of the Nodes.
So, how are they to be interpreted? Well, the Nodes are generated by the Moon, and just as the Moon represents the past so do the Nodes. The Moon and her Nodes are our link to our karmic past.
Rahu represents that karma which causes our worldly desires - externalising energies which push us forward or even cause us to overextend ourselves. It is only natural that if Rahu indicates worldly desires, it is capable of giving power, fame, political success, money, and beauty (when beneficially placed). This is the real reason that you will sometimes read, especially in books by western astrologers that the North Node indicates our future direction in this life. However it should not be forgotten that the desires of Rahu, like most desires, are insatiable, and therefor happiness or satisfaction may not necessarily result from the attainment of these benefits.
Ketu indicates difficult personal karma such as long term addictions and compulsions. It represents karma that is much more deep-seated, introverted and internalised - karmas that are less open and outgoing than the ambition and desire represented by Rahu.
In its positive side Ketu shows karmic accomplishment -those skills and abilities which we have perfected in previous lives which we bring into this life fully developed. For this reason those souls who are born with great abilities - natural psychics, healers, those with musical or mathematical skills etc. - will have a prominent South Node (Ketu). Many old souls have a very strong Ketu.
Because the Nodes represent an eclipse of light (eclipses occur
when there is a conjunction between one of the Nodes and the Sun
or Moon) it is not considered particularly fortunate to have the
Sun or Moon in conjunction with either of the Nodes in a birth-chart.
The North Node (Rahu) conjunct the Moon can cause considerable
mental disturbance, while the conjunction of the Sun with the
South Node (Ketu) can cause compulsive or obsessive behaviour
patterns to emerge. It is always worth exploring the house positions
of the Nodes, particularly when they fall on the cusps of houses.
They are most powerful when falling on the Ascendant-Descendant
axis, indicating the strong influence of past life karma on ones
present life situation, often creating what appears to be a very
'predestined' life. You will find that a birth-chart with a close
conjunction of a planet to one of the Nodes is particularly worthy
of investigation, although any set 'cook-book' type interpretations
of their influence should be avoided. Remember that the Nodes
are very subtle in their nature - hence termed dragons or serpents
by the ancients - and need careful and intuitive study in order
to reach a meaningful interpretation.
Adapted from a Study Paper used in a course in Vedic Astrology issued by the Centre for Vedic Astrology Studies, Poplar Farm, Burtle, Somerset TA7 8NB
[The above is adapted from an article which first appeared in the Winter Solstice issue of Surya's Garden, a free quarterly magazine sent out as an e-mail attachment. It deals with all aspects of astrology from a Vedic perspective. To request Surya's Garden or for further information concerning the Nodes please ]