As July opens, the Moon’s north node lies at just under 20 degrees of Taurus. By the end of the month, it has retrograded (the Mean nodes are always retrograde) to just over 18 degrees of Taurus. That’s a swing of about 1 degree 35 minutes.
Do you have any particular astrological sensitivity to those degree areas – say, the Sun in 19 degrees of Scorpio (an opposition) or the Moon in 19 degrees of Aquarius (the square)? If so, is the karmic wave about to break for you? Is something huge and fated about to happen?
Maybe. Maybe not. Read on.
Every 18.5997 years – that is just a little over every eighteen years, seven months – the transiting nodal axis completes one cycle through the Zodiac. The south node returns to zero degrees of Aries, in other words. Another way to express this is that the lunar nodes spend about a year and half passing through each sign.
In my experience, don’t count on these nodal transits to correlate reliably with anything big. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I’ve seen them pass pretty much unnoticed and I’ve seen them rock people’s’ worlds. For an example of the latter, Will Smith’s natal Moon lies in 21 degrees 8 minutes of Scorpio. When he lost his temper and hit Chris Rock at the Oscars last March, the transiting south node was in 22 degrees 2 minutes Scorpio – bull’s eye, in other words, smack on his Moon. The south node was conjunct it and north node opposed it – in that very emotional moment. What kind of unresolved Scorpionic karma was welling up from his psychic depths? Was he hitting Chris Rock or some ghostly figure from the past?
Whatever the answer, that edgy, Scorpionic moment will mark his public image for the rest of his life.
On the other hand, the transiting south node made a conjunction with my own Sun on August 12, 2019. That was one of the most peaceful periods of my life. Looking at my chart, I was waiting “for something to happen,” but basically nothing did. I was cruising along, happily writing The Book of Fire with a generous grant in my bank account. On the other hand, when the nodal axis made a square to my Sun back in Fall 1977, it changed my life: within weeks of that event. I resolved to become an astrologer, started my full-time practice, and cut all my ties to conventional career tracks.
Bottom line, it feels forced and phony for me to make a big fuss about anyone’s upcoming nodal transits, but foolish to ignore them too. If I overdo it, there’s a good chance that I will have “cried wolf” for no reason, perhaps upsetting a client and making a monkey out of myself in the bargain. I am wide-open to the idea that all such nodal transits probably have some evolutionary meaning at a deep level – one that’s too subtle for me to figure out. The thing is that there is enough going on in astrology for everyone at any given moment that we don’t have to go scraping up “subtleties.” There are better uses of our time and our clients’ time.
- What I have learned is that sometimes the transiting nodes will be spectacularly relevant and illuminating, and other times they are duds.
How can we make any sense of this? Here are my thoughts. We know, as evolutionary astrologers, that the nodes are always connected to our unresolved karma. We’ve all got plenty of that, or we would not have taken physical birth – that’s what brings us here in the first place. To that notion, I would add the Buddhist concept of karma “ripening” like fruit that’s about to fall from the tree. The apple falls when it is ready – and karma unfolds when it is ready to happen too.
Let me go a little deeper into that idea of that readiness, then tie it all up as best I can. When we speak of “karma ripening,” it can sound ominous, as if you were once “bad” and now the long arm of universal justice is about to catch up with you. You’ll have to pay the price for your past sins. That’s really a backwards way of thinking about it. Karma ripening is more a good thing than a bad one. It basically means that you are ready to deal with it. You can succeed. You can resolve it and break free of the pattern.
Since that unresolved karma hasn’t been doing you any good at all, resolving it is liberating. You can get on with your life in a more empowered way.
Think of it like this. Say you were physically abused as a little child. When you are thirteen years old and still living under the same roof with your abusers, it’s not really the best time for all of those feelings to surface – you still need your parents. But later in life, maybe you are finally ready. Everything's in place for you to work through the damage. You have independence, distance from your abuser, maybe some emotional support – and maybe some wisdom you didn’t have when you were thirteen.
That’s what “karma ripening” means. Again, that means it’s a good thing, not a bad one.
- My feeling is that when the transiting nodes hit a sensitive point and nothing happens, that there was nothing there to be triggered. Maybe all your karma in that area is cleaned up. More likely, it’s just not the right time. That karma has still not ripened. So the nodes tip-toe on by.
All that I’ve written about so far has revolved around the transiting nodes, although some of the philosophy is more generalizable. There are potentially three ways that the lunar nodes move through your chart and transits are only one of them. They also move by progression and by solar arc.
Of the three “moving node” techniques, solar arcs are the ones that I have consistently found to be most reliable. Unlike the fast-moving transits, the solar arc nodes ghost along at about one degree per year. That means that they have plenty of time to generate depth and complexity of meaning. Furthermore, solar arcs in general tend to be very event-oriented. They have the Sun’s active signature deep in their nature, after all, and the Sun is very biographical. It is less oriented to subtle inner developments. All of that means that for purposes of timing the physical manifestation of karmic potentials, solar arcs are well-suited to the task. When the solar arc nodes form an aspect to a natal planet, especially one connected to the nodal story, stand back. We can generally assume that some kind of serious karma has ripened.
Rock legend, Tina Turner, was born poor, southern, and female in 1939. Given her age, she straddled the old patriarchal world and the new emerging one. Her husband Ike was horribly abusive to her. One day, she simply knew that she had had enough. She left him. She took nothing. If there were ever a “B.C./A.D.” line in anyone’s life, in that moment Tina Turner illustrates it.
Turner was born with the Sun in her 4th house in 4 degrees 1 minute of Sagittarius. The day she left her marriage, the solar arc north node was at 4 degrees 37 minutes of Sagittarius. Once again: bull’s eye. She opted for Saggitarian freedom in a spirit of radical Saggittarian faith and she did so in the context of her “home life” – there’s the fourth house symbolism.
If you’ll forgive me another quick personal example, with the solar arc nodal axis moving through a square to my own Midheaven/Saturn conjunction, I was writing my first book, The Inner Sky, under contract with Bantam Books. One does not have to look too deeply to see in that event another illustration of one of those “B.C./A.D.” lines that abound with the solar arcs of the lunar nodes.
What about the progressed nodal axis? That method of moving the nodes has a tragic flaw – it simply doesn’t do very much in the course of a lifetime. It is just too slow. Remember, with progressions, days become years. That means that for the nodes to progress all the way around your chart, they would need a little over 6,793 years. That works out to about 18 years per degree. You very likely see the problem – in the course of a long life, the nodes might progress through only five degrees. If you are born with a nodal aspect in your natal chart, you may very well die with it still in effect by progression.
It might be worth paying attention to times when one of the progressed nodal aspects becomes perfectly exact, or when it changes from one sign to another – although only about one in every six or eight people will ever experience such a sign change. Ditto for the nodes progressing into a new house – but there you have yet another problem: unless a birth has been timed to an extremely high degree of precision, you never really know precisely where your house cusps are. For example, a tiny error of a single minute in a birth time might move the house cusps about a quarter of a degree – that’s not much, but it’s enough to throw the date on which the nodes enter a new house off by over four years.
In my own practice, the progressed nodes basically fall prey to my instinct to weed everything down to manageable essentials. I do not use them except when I am contemplating my own life or the lives of people I love very much and know very well. Even there, I’ve not actually gotten much mileage out of them.
One final note – what I’ve been exploring here is the three ways that the nodal axis itself moves through the chart. In terms of figuring out when your karma might actually show up, those moving nodes are just one tool in your toolbox. For the bigger picture, always pay attention to transits, progressions, or solar arcs that trigger the natal nodes. And don’t forget about transits, progressions, or solar arcs to the nodal rulers. And if you have, say, the south node in Gemini, remember that Mercury (ruler of the south node) carries a lot of karmic energy for you too. Pay attention to its current positions by transit, progression, and solar arc.
Just like life, with karmic analysis, we have a lot of balls to juggle! Life is complex, and the vitality of astrology stems from its ability to hold a mirror before that complexity. Paraphrasing the famous words of Albert Einstein, the wisest use of astrology makes everything as simple as possible – but no simpler.
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