The Power of the South Node: Transcendence of Duality
The Nodes of the Moon are points of intersection between the cycles of the Moon and those of the Sun; the North Node is where the Moon crosses the north point of the ecliptic (the path of the Sun), likewise the South Node where the Moon crosses the south point of the ecliptic. Despite the fact that they represent points of intersection and not actual bodies, the influence of the Nodes is extremely potent and essential to chart analysis.
This axis is strongly associated with Moon influences since it derives from the Moon orbit; however, it provides a deeper dimension to these themes. In the natal chart, the Moon describes our emotional processes and attachments—whatever we attach to defines us and becomes our field of existence. Through the Moon we create a personal environment in an impersonal universe. The Nodal Axis of the Moon not only describes our identity and attachments, but also our growth processes and evolution occurring on an identity level. The South Node captures the identity we bring with us into this world from past life experiences: how we personally perceive existence and go about it. In other words, the South Node tells of our general approach to life based on where we are coming from and what we have experienced. This can include great achievements or conversely traumatic experiences. The North Node describes themes that we need to learn about and incorporate into our existing identity so that we can resolve issues we are coming with, or else expand on existing foundations. Although there are many exceptions to the rule, generally speaking, the South Node shows what has been established and the foundation of our identity on a soul level, whereas the North Node shows our growth orientation.
The exceptions to the above rule occur when planets form aspects, and particularly angular aspects (the conjunction, square, or opposition) to the Nodal Axis. For example, if a person is born with a planet squaring the Nodes or a planet conjunct the North Node, this means that the North Node themes have already been experienced; therefore, they are not new to one’s identity and growth orientation. A person with planets forming these aspects does not necessarily move from the South Node to the North Node, but instead feels both extremes with the equal intensity.
The growth process does not stop at the North Node; once integrating North Node themes, one must “go back” to the South Node and establish a balance between the themes represented by each of the polarities. In other words in order to master the Nodal Axis one must harmoniously express both South and North Nodes, forming one unit from both extremes.
Numerous important books on the Nodal Axis have been written in past decades by Western astrologers, addressing increasing interest in understanding spiritual development and karma in astrology. The Nodes of the Moon are an axis that is relatively simple to analyze, and yet this axis provides tremendously deep and fundamental information about a person’s development on both mundane and spiritual levels.
It seems, however, that when the Nodes are studied a common misconception about them keeps reappearing. This misconception is specific to the understanding and use of the South Node, which is often perceived as something one must evolve away from, or even worse, a debilitating influence. Personal research shows that what happens in reality may be different: the South Node is a highly important factor that stimulates new development and growth just as much as the North Node does.
The North and South Nodes are exactly opposed to one another and thus create an axis that unites two opposite signs. For example, if the current transiting South Node is at 20 degrees Cancer, the North Node will be at 20 degrees Capricorn. From an Evolutionary Astrology perspective, signs that are polarized are understood to naturally complement one another. In the above case, Cancer and Capricorn are not merely two forces that contradict each other but instead two forces that can work as a unit—if used consciously. The premise of Evolutionary Astrology is that a person’s conscious effort can transform the potentially negative expression of a configuration into a positive one. Astrological configurations and influences are in and of themselves neutral. We are the ones to decide whether to use the energy positively or destructively. With any chart pattern, we have the freewill to make the best or the worst of existing influences—nothing is inherently “good” or “bad,” “benefic” or “malefic.”
Returning to the current example, we know the sign of Cancer generally represents emotional processes, protectiveness, and nurturing, as well as family and childhood development. Capricorn represents maturity, strength, ambition, and the capacity to lead or serve as a role model. Cancer is intimate and personal, whereas Capricorn is collective and impersonal. Initially these polarities can be experienced as conflicting; however, when consciously integrated, a person can embrace both of these extremes and thus live in a more balanced way. For example, one can both address personal needs (Cancer) without shying away from responsibility (Capricorn) and have a rich personal life (Cancer) while being willing to compromise personal wants when greater needs are calling (Capricorn). Lacking internal integration between the Nodal extremes in Cancer and Capricorn, the person may constantly live in conflict between the inner child (Cancer) and the adult (Capricorn), possibly resulting in inconsistent behavior and emotional repression. When this is the case, the person is caught in duality, swinging from one polarity to the other, and is bound to experience inner fragmentation.
While the Nodes represent duality, they also offer the potential to transcend duality and live the path of the “Middle Way” where extremes converge into oneness. In the above example, one must realize that both Cancer and Capricorn influences are necessary and equally important.
In existing literature, one often reads that a person moves away from the themes represented by the South Node and progresses toward the themes of the North Node. The South Node is perceived as something one must leave behind in order to evolve; it is often considered obsolete or an energy that holds one back. For example, if a person has a South Node in Cancer, he or she would be expected to leave an emotional approach (Cancer) and move toward a more rigorous and self-contained orientation (Capricorn). The South Node themes are indeed more familiar because they do capture the energy of the person’s past. From an evolutionary perspective the past includes early childhood circumstances as well as past life themes brought into this life—as mentioned earlier in this article, the South Node does capture (along with other factors in the chart) where one is coming from. Conversely, the North Node represents new themes that one learns to incorporate in the course of the current life, and thus embodies an evolutionary imperative representing one’s growth orientation. However, it does not stop there! Once the person incorporates North Node themes, a need to recapture South Node themes is in order…one must not simply let go of or dismiss South Node themes but instead balance them with North Node ones. Duality is transcended only then; staying only in the North Node can result in fragmentation just as staying only in the South Node can. These two forces are incomplete without one another and therefore must be equally embraced. As one moves into the growth potential of the North Node, North Node themes must also be integrated into the established content of the South Node. Only then can a truly healthy expression and mastery of the Nodes manifest and fragmentation be avoided.
Let’s illustrate these dynamics using the famous entertainer Madonna’s chart as an example (August 16, 1958 at 7:05 am, Bay City, MI).
We observe that she has a South Node in Aries and a North Node in Libra. In a simplified way, we can conclude that Madonna is coming from early life and past life themes (South Node in Aries) where she had to assert herself and compete with her environment in order to survive and progress in life. In her current existence, the early death of her mother pressured her to become considerably more self-reliant and self-motivated. Moreover, as illustrated in this South Node, she defied her father’s authority and his religious imprint, striving instead to reinvent herself and challenge what her family wanted her to be. A South Node in Aries is obviously describing a self-driven, assertive, defensive, and independent approach and personality
The North Node in Libra describes an evolutionary objective to consider others and form productive partnerships so that Madonna’s development expands beyond the scope of her personal vision. Libra encourages stepping out of one’s instinctive expression to develop a more reflective and open-minded approach so that new elements can be included into one’s life. It teaches one to include others and go beyond competition to form meaningful bonds.
Madonna learned to move toward her North Node by adopting new ideas and orientations that were outside her original identity. Through her marriage with Guy Ritchie, she moved to England and opened up to his cultural background. Moreover she became involved with Kabala studies where once again she moved beyond her initial Catholic upbringing to include something new. After a phenomenal self-made career, she increased her focus on stabilizing her relationship with her then husband Guy Ritchie.
We undeniably recognize that the North Node in Libra is an important lesson for her. The question remains, as she grows more into the Libra themes, must she surrender the vigorous, defying, self-motivated, and overall expressive qualities of the South Node? Must Madonna become a tamed, “good wife” as her Libra North Node may describe? Not quite…Madonna without her Aries South Node is only half of herself. A complete cycle of evolution would need the synthesis of both her South and North Nodes for a wholesome and complete expression.
Using another example, let us explore a transit of the Nodal Axis with a particular focus on the transit of the South Node: consider that Barack Obama (August 4, 1961 at 7:24 pm, Honolulu, HI) was elected as the US president on November 4, 2008 as the transiting South Node was on his Sun in Leo. The South Node empowered his Sun and projected him into a position of leadership and prominence. Clearly, there is nothing debilitated in winning one of the most challenging races in the world.
The chart can describe where one is at in terms of integrating the Nodal polarities. As long as a planet isn’t squaring the axis or conjunct the North Node, the classic pattern applies whereby one begins the evolutionary journey from the South Node and eventually acknowledges and learns about the North Node. Once the North Node is mastered, one then learns to reincorporate the South Node, balancing both extremes.
When a square to the axis is in place, it means the individual has already experienced the North Node and is familiar with both polarities. The tendency, however, is to flip flop from one to the other until a balance between the North and South Nodes is achieved. Confusion and inconsistent behavior may result as one goes back and forth, as if having to choose between the South and the North Node. The planet that forms the square is a force that stimulates the flip flopping, and thus what it represents, by house and sign, becomes a crisis factor. Notwithstanding, the squaring planet is also the factor that can bring back the balance. Analyzing this planet by house and sign provides clues as to how the South and North Nodes can work together harmoniously.
For example, if a person is born with the South Node in Cancer and the North Node in Capricorn squaring Venus in Libra, it first means that both Cancer and Capricorn themes are already part of one’s identity. However, relationship issues (Venus in Libra) may become a source of crisis whereby one will begin to flip flop between the South and the North Node. For example, the person may attract partners who are infantile (Cancer) and assume the caretaker or mature role in them (Capricorn), thus creating imbalanced relationships. As a result, an unhealthy dependence may result from excessive neediness and lack of boundaries (Cancer), imposing a significant burden (Capricorn). If the person is conscious enough and recognizes the problem, he or she may use relationships (Venus in Libra) to resolve this dynamic and balance the energy of the Nodes. In actual reality, this can manifest in learning to establish healthier boundaries (Capricorn) when needs are addressed (Cancer), yet, without denying the needs. Moreover, one may learn to also recognize personal unresolved childhood issues (Cancer) and use the relationship to receive support in addressing these emotional issues (Cancer). Thus one learns to receive as much as give in relationships—expressing strength (Capricorn) and vulnerability (Cancer) in them (Venus in Libra) depending on the circumstances. In this example, we can see how the squaring planet is at first part of the problem but with time becomes part of the solution.
In other cases, a planet may conjunct the North Node describing the fact that one is already conscious of North Node themes. In this case, the individual may actually be more focused on the North Node instead of the South Node. Unless one learns to mitigate such an approach, an imbalance can again be created whereby too much emphasis on the North Node causes a crisis. In this case, the South Node is where the resolution lies; the person needs to recapture the essence of the South Node and establish a balance.
When planets are conjunct the South Node in one’s chart, more consciousness is invested on South Node themes, often delaying one’s integration of North Node themes. The person may experience the North Node, but not feel comfortable dwelling in whatever it represents. The stronger focus on the South Node is necessary, evolutionarily speaking: one may need to spend more time there in order to resolve something or in order to offer service to the world in the South Node area. Integration of the North Node may occur at different stages—each case to its own: A nodal return or reversed return can serve as a trigger to feel ready for “conquering” North Node themes
The main principle to understand and incorporate is that regardless of where one is at when beginning the current incarnation, one must eventually balance the Nodal extremes. Until this is completed, internal polarization is bound to cause crisis and mismanagement in one’s life. It may be worth using the Nodal Axis as an axis and adopting a more holistic approach that sees both Nodes as equally relevant. Our past described in the South Node cannot be dismissed—it is an integral part of our future as well.