Interpreting the Lunar Nodes

Okay, let’s go for it.

No, waitwaitwaitwaitwaitwaitwait.

Before we get going, I have to make a couple of things very clear.

First of all, all astrological interpretations are a combination of experience and opinion, because there’s no one source of truth or wisdom that can’t be challenged by someone who either thinks differently or knows more.

Also consider how the Nodes in your individual chart are aspected, as you would with any other piece of astrological opinion you get.

Remember: Only you have your chart; no one is an expert on you, and of course your life isn’t going to be like anyone else’s. We are all unique little snowflakes.

I think it's revealing that this artist categorized her painting, "Sign Post," into a grouping called "Bliss and Ignorance." Which direction points to bliss, which to ignorance?
I think it’s revealing that this artist categorized her painting, “Sign Post,” into a grouping called “Bliss and Ignorance.” Which direction points to bliss, which to ignorance?

The other thing I’d like to make clear is that we are all capable of every single action, feeling, or belief, inherent in any sign. We contain multitudes, to paraphrase Walt Whitman. However, in each life, in each chart, there will be a focus, a direction, an emphasis.

You might contain multitudes, but your life won’t be spent expressing each possibility equally. Again, look at how everything in your chart is aspected (and this is why knowing your correct time of birth is CRUCIAL because we need to know house structure and angles to know you, at least astrologically-speaking).

Therefore, don’t be surprised if you resonate with a whole bunch of interpretations people ladle out in your direction this lifetime. However, you cannot possibly live out each possible story told to you about who you could and might be, and just because, as humans, we can identify with a lot of styles or modes of being, doesn’t mean we’re going to be that way or live that life.


I’ve spent most of a lifetime reading about the Lunar Nodes and interpreting them in people’s charts, so let’s see how far I can go before I become as judgemental about their effect on the natal chart as, say, one of the sources I’ve long relied on, Martin Schulman (from whom I have learned much, but he does have a tendency to judge the Nodes based on the very black/white/good/bad dichotomy I spoke of last time).

I’ll begin, then, by stating that we all have flaws, but that we’re usually unconscious of those flaws, or we don’t see them as flaws until we begin to trip over them repeatedly, until they start to do material damage in our lives. The cool thing about being alive is that each day brings a renewed chance to stop tripping.

Tripping is a good metaphor when it comes to the Nodes, because the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, and the ecliptic all have to do a complicated ‘dance’ to intersect with each other to form the Nodes in the first place. When they do, when they inhabit each other’s ‘space,’ so to speak, that moment in time shows us a piece of our own puzzle, and we can use it in any way we like. It’s a sign from the heavens we must interpret from our own perspective. We can choose to use the path that was laid down for us by our predecessors, or we can find a new metaphor to describe us to us.

This is my belief, anyway. I like the metaphor of the path or map applied to the Nodes, since it’s my sense that the Nodes function like signposts in our lives, pointing at one and the same time to the past and to the future.

The map of the heavens that is astrology is dynamic, never more so than when the Lunar Nodes are involved. When people speak about their Node experiences, I notice they often say they’re attracted to someone whose something aspects their South Node. I also notice that most people seem to have more questions about aspects (in synastry or by transit) to their North Node than their South.

Confused About Your North Node Purpose? Join the club. 

Frequent responses to North Node experiences, people, and inner urgings.
Frequent responses to North Node experiences, people, and inner urgings.

I know this is hardly responsible data-gathering, but it is my sense that people are more confused by the function or purpose of their North Node than their South. I might be wrong about that, and if I am, I hope someone contradicts me. The last thing you should do, as a reader, is let people get away with being wrong and not say anything.

Why is it so hard for us to develop the personality and life skills represented by the North Node, and why do we cling so desperately to the behaviors represented by the South Node? I think the answer to both has to do with ego structures and defensiveness that are innate human responses to change.

Which way will you go on your path? You can be drawn, almost against your will, into North Node experiences, but the South Node will always pull you back in some way, it seems.
Which way will you go on your path? You can be drawn, almost against your will, into North Node experiences, but the South Node will always pull you back in some way, it seems.

When you look at the purpose of the North Node, in my experience, it indicates the Way.

I don’t mean the Way of Tao, necessarily, but if you see what I see, there’s a figure on the path in front of you. It is you. You are carrying a lantern, lighting the way for yourself. Your North Node, therefore, could be said to represent your inner knowing, the part of your mind with prescient awareness of what you really need if you’re going to get where it is you need to go.

The purpose of the South Node, from what I’ve seen, is actually more complicated, in that it seems, for some people, to represent pieces of an inner structure they’re unwilling (often, for good reason) to relinquish. I don’t see that it’s entirely necessary to condemn the South Node; much of what it represents is still useful, so why discard it entirely, unless it has worn out its purpose?

In synastry, someone’s planet hitting your South Node can tell you a lot about what you want, what your potential is, both in the relationship, but also in your own life, because it shows what you’re not jettisoning. Instead, it indicates what you’re holding onto about yourself, what you still consider valuable or are, in some way, unwilling to give up.

Sometimes that’s helpful, but sometimes the mirror the other person holds up to you shows you the person you would like to see yourself as, rather than who you could be, your potential self. In my experience, the person you might become is a scary proposition, since the South Node will have to give up a lot to go down the path laid out by one’s higher self or inner knowing.

Now, I personally do not think we all have to “live up to” our potential as it is laid out for us in the map of our natal chart, anymore than we have to go to San Francisco or São Paulo, for that matter. Instead of living up to something, think of it as developing the strategies and abilities that will get you where you could go if only you try.

To explain the difference between the nature of the South and North Nodes, this analogy might work: It’s likely we have good memories of places we’ve lived; we have souvenirs, we have scrapbooks and photo albums. All of these are like the South Node experience, and most of us don’t throw away all of our memories. We hold on to them. They make us feel good and remind us of who we were.

Conversely, the North Node is the trip you’re dreaming of taking someday, that you haven’t made any concrete plans for, but that nonetheless takes up valuable space in your dreams, wishes, and consciousness. Since you can’t visualize that which you haven’t yet experienced, your dreams of what might be inform your future, but they aren’t happening—yet. And you don’t have to be the person this unshaped dream will require you to be until you meet up with this part of your path, in time.

Unless you meet someone or have an experience that forces you to confront your North Node issues, that is.

The Nodal axis represents the journey you're taking through life. The South Node asks you to jettison certain things that are holding you back, preventing you from flying as high as you need to go. You'll need to lighten your own load before you'll make progress.
The Nodal axis represents the journey you’re taking through life. Overall, you’ll be required to jettison certain attitudes or beliefs that are holding you back, preventing you from flying as high as you need to go. You’ll need to lighten your own load before you’ll make progress. 

Please at least skim the above before you take a look at these interpretations. 

The Aries North Node: The North Node here points you toward knowing yourself apart from others, but the Libran South Node tugs at you: others come first. Harmony is valued over divisiveness, leading to a personality that shies from conflict. Fear of what you’ll find on your own, being different, unusual, even ‘strange,’ must be jettisoned if you’re going to find the strength and power implied by the unique, individual, self. Are you being self-ish? Yes, and that’s a good thing if you’ve given away too much of your unique vision to others’ needs. It isn’t selfish to take care of your own needs first. Remember that they always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before you help the person in the seat next to you? This is the fact of an Aries North Node: You must help yourself first if you’re going to be able to help someone else. No one is more important than you, and you’re just as important as everyone else. Give yourself permission to become what you need to be, independent of others’ opinions.

Taurus North Node: Taurus North Node points you toward developing certain life skills you need to feel fulfilled and have what brings you material security, but the South Node in Scorpio reminds you that there are spiritual, non-material, but more intensely emotional values that matter to you—or perhaps to someone in your family, someone whose influence over you was too strong at one time. Before you can find your own life’s work, the work that will allow you to make a living and feel self-sufficient on the material plane, and develop the skills you need to survive in the material world, you will need to jettison any emotionally-laden habits that prevent you from becoming the self-sufficient person you need to be. This may feel like you’re being disloyal to someone or something from your childhood, but if you don’t declare your independence, either financially or emotionally, you’ll slow down your own sense of individual attainment and run the risk of living out someone else’s values. There’s nothing wrong with a strong sense of inherited values, unless those values interfere with your life today, in the now.

Gemini North Node: Experiences open up before you, the path clears, and the air feels cool against your face—as long as you look up from your books once in awhile, that is. Superficial learning goes on and on, but what are you committed to? The South Node in Sagittarius tugs at you: Never grow up, it says, never settle down, keep on truckin’. The favorite mantra of the South Node in Sagittarius is ‘forever young,’ with a twist: Sagittarius wants to live forever, but not to grow old. The North Node here is in no danger of becoming uninteresting, or boring, as long as what you’re learning is relevant, and is based on authentic values, things you’re truly interested in. Reading gossip pages and feeling afraid of sounding stupid go hand-in-hand, as do reading boring textbooks and being afraid of sounding pedantic. The South Node in Sagittarius fears making a real commitment to one subject, but the North Node here won’t learn anything of any purpose or depth that it can convey to the next generation, if it refuses to jettison that fear.

Cancer North Node: The North Node here points you towards the ability to nurture yourself and others. The South Node in Capricorn functions as a warning sign to remember that there’s more to life than material attainment, rule-making and rule-following, social contracts, and honoring the will of one’s ancestors. The Cancer North Node asks that you learn how to take care of yourself and accept that others are now relying on you to take care of them. The South Node in Capricorn—there’s no other way to say it—brings a kind of determined grimness to do one’s duty, but often at the expense of one’s personal life. The South Node pulls you here to follow the law to the letter, but the North Node demands attention to the spirit of the law. One direction is about literal interpretation of society’s laws, no matter how harsh; the other is about compassion in the face of laws handed down to us through the ages that are now judged to be excessively restrictive. Old rules will be reconsidered based on the new direction the Self is learning to encompass on the individual’s path toward true nurturing compassion.

Leo North Node: The North Node in Leo points you toward claiming or taking the power that belongs to you, as an individual separated from the group. The South Node tugs at you not to stand out from the group, not to “show off,” not to draw attention to your accomplishments, yet the North Node is dissatisfied under these restrictions. The North Node here has a real need to live up to its own inner creativity and abilities, without being held back by the idea of the family, or the ‘larger family’ comprised by certain societal groups. The individual will be challenged to accept him- or herself as a leader, and to take individual responsibility for their decisions and power. Power, on its own, must not be seen as necessarily ‘evil,’ for what matters is how it’s used. The South Node in Aquarius tells you not to squander the opportunities you are offered to use one’s power wisely for the sake of the larger whole, and reminds you that power can be misused very easily. North Node in Leo, then, is called to learn how to use their power wisely, never forgetting that the act of standing out from the crowd is not inherently egoistic. What matters here are your intentions, and who you’re working for—the greater good, or your own, narrow purposes.

Virgo North Node: Learning how to be careful, choose wisely, and make good decisions based on assessing all the variables is the skill to be integrated here. Virgo’s discernment, based largely on self-education, observation, and awareness, requires a kind of attention and perspicacity Pisces South Node never needs, due to its ability to decide based on intuition, faith, and emotional response. Pisces South Node pulls this native towards global awareness, sometimes expressing as a kind of blindness towards individual problems, or a blindness about an individual in one’s life who isn’t really all that good for you. There is a kindness and compassion here in the South Node, too often for the wrong people, who will take, rather than give. The North Node will ask something the South Node here deplores, which is a kind of coldness, intellectualism, and precision, that might scare the South Node, but is crucial if this person is to avoid the cloying demands from others who are all too willing to take advantage of the South Node’s lack of discernment, lack of awareness, and overall inability to see situations dispassionately.

Libra North Node: The demands made by this North Node have to do with accepting that the group has something to offer the individual, that collaboration with others has a reputation for producing great works, and that one doesn’t have to do everything alone. The South Node in Aries is, too often, self-absorbed and childish, in ways the North Node in Libra is too dignified, polite, and aware of others’ needs to accept at face value. The North Node in Libra will pull the individual out of Aries’ need to ‘come first,’ but the South Node will always remind the North Node in Libra that even when the group-mind is paramount, there is, too often, a danger in group-think, and that not everyone deserves to be treated with kid gloves. North Node in Libra is inherently polite, and has much to teach the South Node about how to get along in society. The South Node in Aries will fight those who demand that this individual ‘grow up,’ but the North Node in Libra will fight back, gracefully, to remind the Aries South Node not to be so immature.

Scorpio North Node: Energy here will be spent, for many years, in attaining and retaining material goods, until, or if, the realization is made that material goods cannot repair whatever damage might have been created in one’s childhood. Scorpio North Node has a strong potential to ‘rise above’ the crass reality of materialism, but the South Node will pull this person back towards the desire to possess, to own, and to be seen as wealthier and therefore more important than others. Scorpio North Node has the desire to be at peace, to be free of the material, to express that which is important to its soul, rather than to its body. The lifetime might be spent, once enough ‘stuff’ is accrued, or the ‘hole’ is filled, in giving everything away, in becoming philanthropic, religious, or a member of an ashram or spiritual following. However, there’s a real danger here in hoarding of all kinds (including the inability to throw anything away, or let go of people or experiences), since the South Node desire for (emotional and other forms of) comfort and physical gratification here is strong.

Sagittarius North Node: The North Node here points you toward committing yourself to an education based on your values. The likelihood is that you will feel strongly pulled toward attaining a formal education, a higher degree of some sort—not to prove your intelligence, but to live out a dream based on your beliefs. The tug from the South Node in Gemini comes as a result of doubting your intelligence, doubting your commitment to the path you’ve chosen, and doubting that your values amount to a hill of beans, since your aspirations are so high, you might never see a material outcome confirming the validity or importance of your beliefs. Yet you must climb that mountain and aspire to becoming truly, deeply knowledgeable about something of great importance to you. What will hold you back? South Node in Gemini either tells itself it isn’t smart enough, or it has bad study habits, or there might be some kind of intellectual ‘handicap’. If this is in your control, you must jettison any bad habits you have of not disciplining your mind, not doing homework, not taking your future seriously, but instead, easily distracted by minutiae, living only day-to-day, without seeing the larger picture the North Node in Sagittarius is trying to show you.

Capricorn North Node: The North Node here points the way toward what the material world often considers ‘success,’ although ‘success’ can be defined in many different ways. This Node, however, is likely to define it according to what is currently valued by prevailing society, and is therefore shaped by societal values. The problem comes when the South Node in Cancer won’t leave the house to get to the job that would make the North Node material aspirations a reality. The South Node knows how to take care of others, and might use others as an excuse to avoid the stress that comes with success. There is the fear that if one succeeds in the outside world, the home life will be compromised to the extent that the South Node will ‘lose’ everyone who cares for them, and they’ll be alone. The North Node in Capricorn might not be ready to be lonely at the top. The South Node in Cancer is capable of leaning heavily on those it feels dependent on, but the North Node won’t be free to leave as long as the South Node habits of fearful dependency, or, conversely, careful, sensitive, care-taking of others needs, aren’t jettisoned. To give up the habit of taking care of others, when not supported by society, might prevent this Node from fully developing its skills and abilities.

Aquarius North Node: Here the North Node is concerned with universal issues, those that affect the world or the larger group. The goal here is not to necessarily take over the running of a group, although the South Node in Leo will make that a strong desire, but instead to transform others’ ways of thinking about issues. The South Node pulls one back towards the desire to dominate others, to be larger than life, and to take charge, but the North Node wants more than that. The North Node wants to change the world, and won’t be content until it sees some progress, transformation, and movement in people’s attitudes. The South Node in Leo is less concerned with the group, and more interested in making sure their voice is heard. Although the South Node here is powerful, the North Node quest will demand less ego, and more social and possibly even political activism. At the very least, there will be a fascination with, if not direct intervention in, global issues.

Pisces North Node: The North Node here points the individual toward experiences that are often beyond the normal, and include mystical, spiritual, or paranormal, quests for deeper knowledge about realms we can’t see, but can only rely on a sixth sense to ‘feel.’ The South Node pulls the individual back toward scientific verifiability, facts, and data, but the North Node in Pisces is on the path of discovery of that which lies beyond simple consciousness. Another possibility with the North Node in Pisces is that the individual is accustomed to look for answers and facts, to ignore one’s gut instinct, but this urge will invariably feel wrong, particularly at the point in one’s life when you start to trust your instincts. Belief is up against science much of the time in this combination, and simple acceptance that we cannot know everything without proof is difficult to achieve at first. If the North Node is well-supported, it’s possible for this person to become a mystic, but it’s equally possible for the South Node to be strong, in which case, the division lies between mysticism and cynicism. “I won’t believe it until I see it” or “Show me your evidence” comes out of the South Node, but a willing suspension of disbelief lies with the North Node.

Next time, we’ll begin the discussion of house positions of the Nodes, because where the Nodes are located in the chart is a large part of the puzzle of why we do the things we do. 

11 thoughts on “Interpreting the Lunar Nodes”

  1. I’ve read a couple of your blogs recently but I find them especially hard to read on my phone because of your use of extremely light coloured text.
    Please could I suggest that you choose a darker colour in future to help your readers.
    I shall have to wait until I’m at my desk to read this article.

    1. Yeah, I’m sorry, because I have the same problem, and it’s my blog. The background template color is a very dark grey, almost black, and it wants to be read online (and not on a phone). Eventually I might go to a new format, but nothing is as effective for showcasing astrology-related pictures as a dark color.

  2. Hi Alison,

    An interesting couple of articles.NN is at 12 Aries 7th.Neptune at 17 Libra.Yes,Uranus has been dancing around the signpost,where he’ll come to rest i do not know.NN Aries fits my experiences & the 7th even more so from how i think it’s working.I’ll be waiting for your take on the houses.


    1. Thank you for reading, Michael! I agree with you about the lack of certainty with Uranus (over any point on the chart, but I have had Uranus over my South Node recently, and I know there are various big changes I just have to find a way to integrate into my life). I do think that the outer planets equal long-term changes you can’t resist, but mostly just have to accept. It seems that the inner planets are those we can “negotiate” with, and that on its own might be a statement I need to write a blog article about.

      North Node in the 7th is all about integrating “the other.” I don’t know if you’ve read the 7th House entry, but here’s the general house interpretation:

  3. Alison,
    Yes,those big changes have been most evident,and there is no resistance if one wants to gain the benefits of such transits & does not want to incur potential worsening of consequences.A cardinal angular G.cross can attest to that.I’m leaving Pluto con Sun/IC & Uranus con Moon/DC in the dust & have survived & thrived.There in the ‘mishmash’ of diverging/converging exoteric & esoteric paths that seek a new understanding,consciousness and unity.But Uranus moves on,and now demands a shift pf proportions i have not grasped fully…yet!Even after the conjunction to N-Moon/DC & square to N-Uranus/MC etc.The nodes have my attention.

    Your 7th house entry was a very apt description of my very early driven desire to find my people…’the others’.Not long before my immersion into the ‘shadowland’.Along with an early awareness of the “SoulMate” phenomena (Seth & JZKnight etc) and subsequent search/research and eventual acceptance of the search to first balance/find the other side of myself….I think i’m a neo-platonist….add that to list.

    Lilith is in late Aries just into the 8th.The 7th is a crowded house of what has proven to be most pertinent asteroids,along with Moon/NN/VX/Eris/Sedna.

    After many hard lessons (resistance),I am now and have been for some time,more than willing and apt to relinquish those pieces of inner structure that the SN brings with it,sifting which parts are in need through my relationships and interaction with the ‘others’ and facing what is the souls true desire/need(NN),now obvious,to pioneer (Aries),new awareness and inception/conception of relationship issues and gender essence consciousness (7th) .So,NN/SN,another balancing aspect of astro principles of oppositions.Hopefully to contribute to a higher octave of evolution,not just personally,but to the morphogenetic grid of consciousness we call the ‘collective’.

    Earlier this year,there was a great discussion on Juan Revilla’s site ‘OCCAM’S RAZOR’,on Nodal returns.Most significant shifts for many,in the crossroads and directions of people’s lives and consciousness.The three that i have experienced aligned with the dates of strident shifts.Another aspect of the nodes that can surprise.

    The great “Nodal” search continues….thanks for your informative and pertinent articles Alison.


  4. I have Libra NN in 10th house and it’s extremely natural for me to go back and forth within the 4th-10th axis (Sun/Mercury trine Saturn –square– Moon trine Venus/Mars/Jupiter). But to possess Libra’s peace-loving quality is hard for me since in my natal chart, I excess fire element and lacks air element. I also have Aries sun in draconic chart. But whenever I get slapped by reality (by getting discriminated, bullied, betrayed; which are painful and humilating) for exhibiting too much of negative Arian qualities, I acquire few Libran qualities. My mom has Libra sun so it helps a bit.
    Enlightening article. Thank you for sharing your well-thought writing. I’ll look forward for NN in houses.

    1. Thank you for reading. You know, Martin Schulman says in his Karmic Nodes book that Libra/Aries nodes are the most difficult to incarnate with, because Libra North Node in particular has to think of others before herself. I have NN Libra too. It’s a challenge not to sink back into Aries SN, which I don’t always manage.

    1. This is the kind of question that really does require the entire chart to interpret, I’m afraid. If you read through the series eventually you’ll find that I discuss what happens when there’s a lineup of planets conjunct one node or the other, though. House placements are important, as are rulers of the chart, when it comes to interpreting the nodal axis.

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