We finish this series on the nodal axis with a question that I think the Cadent (and traditionally weakened) 12th house in particular foregrounds: How powerful are the nodes in the natal chart, once all is said and done? Do they have the power to direct our lives, compel our journey from one way of being to another, and change our life path?
The power of the Ascendent is that it acts as the primary threshold experience for us as we enter this incarnation or plane of existence. Now, if you imagine the Ascendent as a doorway, the 12th house experience is almost like standing behind that door, listening to what’s going on in the next room.
The sign on the cusp of the 12th house gives you an indication of something in your life or about your way of being in the world that subtly undermines, or perhaps, on occasion, supports you (much depends on how the ruling planet associated with the sign on cusp is aspected).
For example, Leo rising people most likely have Cancer on the 12th house cusp, but if the natal Moon is weakened, then that person has habits, beliefs, or emotional states that create difficulties, and work against the native. Over-sensitivity is the frequent undoing of Leo rising, and with Cancer on the cusp of the 12th, that shouldn’t be surprising.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned through the years, it is not to underestimate the subtle power of planets and points in the 12th house. I always think this “should be” a rather passive house (probably thanks to the traditional labeling of this house as cadent, and therefore inherently weak, since it does not receive direct energy from the Ascendent).
Instead, this can be the most powerful house precisely because it isn’t a traditionally “active” house. The style of energy here forces the native to sit back; instead of pushing one’s self forward to do something, this house wants you to sit quietly and truly be in the moment. This is not easy for most people, and requires a long period of learning how to simply be.
That adage about “we’re human beings, not human doings” comes to mind; it’s incredibly difficult for some people not to leap into answers, action, conclusions, and try to fix the problem through concrete action. Far harder is to stay calm and simply assess, be present and helpful if asked, but stay neutral if one’s help is not required.
Severe mental and emotional burnout is actually a serious side-effect for all 12th house North nodes, largely because the native usually needs to learn how to erect better boundaries around his or her psychic-sieve personality. The native is in the process of learning how to be more available—to others, to the messages coming from the universe, to information flowing from the zeitgeist.
It’s a house that inspires and augments sensitivity, so from time to time, if you’re actively seeking (or being forced to seek) new information in all forms, don’t be surprised if you’re exhausted—if not emotionally, then psychically. I don’t know if most people understand how much energy it takes, especially during the learning process, to channel psychic energy. You learn, over time, to have a great deal of respect for this type of energy, which can’t be seen, only felt or experienced at a higher level of functionality than most human experiences call for.
At this point, it’s important to state that the 12th house has a bit of a ‘bad’ reputation in traditional astrology (primarily due to its weakened state, as I’ve mentioned). Nowadays, most people don’t want to hear a preponderance of negative stuff, and while that’s completely understandable, I believe it’s important not to discard traditional astrology altogether, and attempt to force Cinderella’s glass slipper onto situations that are just clearly bad, and are, to a great extent, self-inflicted, when there are planets or points in the 12th.
I have heard two specific assertions about the 12th house that are relevant to discussing what this house is ‘about’. The first is that if the 12th house is ‘about’ the negatives—imprisonment, self-undoing, secret enemies— then why are so many royals born with their Sun or other planets in this house?
The preponderance of royalty, aristocrats, and staggeringly wealthy people with Sun and/or primary planets in this house is beyond coincidental. When you consider that William Lilly (and many before him, possibly, whose work is lost) thought of all Cadent houses as automatically ‘cast down’ in terms of strength or valour, it forces us to take another look at this house when so many royals and famous people reside here.
My response to the former assertion is that the one thing the royals, aristocrats, and the very wealthy in general have in common is that their wealth protects them from the outside world. In essence, 12th house planets, traditionally thought of as ‘hidden,’ can also be thought of as hiding out, isolated behind high walls. Royalty has long had the duty to perform acts of service for the people, and while their lives are often lived in a fish bowl, their privacy is protected, their real selves unknown to the outside world.
Extreme wealth and worldly position may sound great, but there’s an enormous price tag attached, which is that if these people are going to have anything remotely like a normal life, they have to structure their time rigidly, fulfill the heavy duties that come with their role, and maintain a strict division between those who know them intimately, and those who are kept in their place.
Because of these constraints on one’s personal life, I have long seen the 12th house as a kind of castle, where the portcullis descends and divides the 12th house person from everyone on the other side.
The second assertion is that the 12th is, or ‘should be’, if it isn’t already, a spiritual house. When I hear that assertion, I become concerned, for certain reasons. The first reason is that you could easily make the argument that any house is inherently spiritual, given the esoteric meaning of each house, sign, planet, etc., so if you’re going to choose this particular house to assign all expressions of spirituality to, my response is that you’re going to need to be clear about what your definition of the word ‘spiritual’ means, because it’s entirely likely your version of spirituality isn’t the same as someone else’s.
The problem I have with making the 12th ‘about’ spirituality is that, traditionally, this house has been aligned with large, ‘impersonal’ entities created by society where otherwise unseen or hidden activities take place. This includes prisons, asylums, hospitals, monasteries, and some would say nowadays, corporations.
The common denominator of this house has to do with its Cadent ‘weakness’; the type of people this house deals with are the poor, the sick, or anyone deliberately seeking isolation and solitude, but I think we can legitimately stretch the meaning to include any enormous and therefore anonymous group of people you don’t necessarily know the names of individually.
These are organizations or groups identified by a logo or acronym, more often than not, in which many hundreds of nameless, faceless people toil away, separated from the common person due to a perceived need for secrecy or privacy. For example, there’s the CIA, with Sun involved in a stellium in the 10th house of its mundane chart, sextile Neptune in the 12th.
Neptune in the 12th is such an interesting placement for a group of people who keep secrets, particularly in sextile to Sun/Saturn in the 10th, since it indicates that no matter what we might think of what goes on inside the CIA, or the validity of their need to control global events, they themselves are founded on the idea that denial, obfuscation, misdirection, and misinformation (Neptune in the 12th square Mercury in the 9th) is a good thing (since the sextile supports 10th house Sun/Saturn’s need to be seen as a strict, and strictly impenetrable, authority).
It therefore shouldn’t come as a surprise that the 12th is the house of criminals and spies. Another useful illustration of the 12th house’s association with all that should be kept hidden or secret is the mundane chart erected for the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of the beaches at Normandy, France, with its stellium in the 12th. An incredible amount of secrecy, diversion, outright lying, and carefully directed misinformation preceded the invasion, which had to be kept an absolute secret to prevent the German army from concentrating their forces against the Allies.
I know what you’re thinking at this point. You’re like, hey listen, this is MY 12th house, I’m not a spy, I’m not a criminal, what does any of this mean to me? Well, I personally wouldn’t get my knickers in a twist about any traditional associations made to this house (or any house, for that matter). At the same time, I think it’s completely reasonable to want to find the silver lining in the cloud of badness that is associated with certain houses, primarily because few people today accept the fated negatives of traditional astrology.
I do think the 12th house is literally the most complicated house to discuss because the mundane and esoteric meanings are so far apart as to make all the possible meanings associated with this house gibberish. I remember once reading something that said the 12th house was essentially a ‘garbage can’, where any otherwise inexplicable life experience could be swept away out of sight, but I think it’s this attitude that does the most harm to any discussion of the 12th house.
So, let’s resolve to try not to fall back on lazy thinking and assign a garbage can icon to this house. Instead, I believe the keyword here is ‘service,’ but it is service to, or within, a larger (impersonal) group the native will most likely never know personally and may very well feel like a non-entity within. I also think it is reasonable to assign anything to do with health (emotional, mental, physical) to this house, given its axis alignment with the 6th house.
If you want this to be a spiritual house, that’s cool, but I think each house is potentially spiritual in its own way—the entire chart is a spiritual statement, if you ask me. However, it is clear that most people seem to think that spirituality requires a fair amount of isolation, and deeply spiritual people do seem to spend a lot of time by themselves (although deeply spiritual people often work in service to others in ashrams, monasteries, and other large groups).
One can also exist in service to one’s personal vision, and I think this is partially why I have found so many artistic people with North Node in the 12th. I say ‘partially’ because (and here is where things always get tricky when analyzing house-to-sign associations) the 12th has, of course, always been aligned with Pisces, and Pisces’ traditional and modern rulers, Jupiter and Neptune. The modality is mutable, the element water.
Whereas a house is ‘about’ actions, places, and events, the sign and planetary rulers modify those actions a great deal, and so in this case it won’t surprise us to find Pisces’ influence on the 12th house turning such a potentially negative house into a much more interesting, colorful, and even exotic place to be.
This can be a house that allows for a great deal of creative thinking, with iconoclastic ideas that do not merely break the mold of what came before, but create an entirely new paradigm, inspiring social movements that change the direction in which all the other fish swim.
Aries North Node in the 12th House: It came as a surprise to me when I learned that Victoria, Queen of England, had Aries North Node in the 12th, but then I thought about it and it all began to make sense, particularly when you take into account that the price 12th house people pay for wielding power is the loss of privacy and autonomy.
In the years since her death, her image has tarnished quite a bit, but there was a time when she ruled approximately 3/4 of the world’s populations, although gaining the strength and courage to do so seems to have been part of the task of her North Node/Mars conjunction.
At her birth, a traditional astrologer would have taken one look at the stellium in the 12th and seen the first hurdle the princess royal faced, because there is nothing about a stellium in the 12th that obviously predicts ascension to a throne, particularly when you’re born 5th in line.
However, complications of succession meant that she would indeed inherit, since almost everyone closer in line, including her father and grandfather, George III, died. She was crowned when she attained her majority at age 18 (an important astrological moment for her, since this coincided not only with her first Nodal return, but also with transiting Pluto within 3˚ of her North Node, indicating an enormously important, irrevocable alteration of her path).
An only child, she was raised and educated in almost complete isolation. After her father’s death, her every movement was controlled by her overly-protective mother, the Duchess of Kent, and the Duchess’ comptroller, John Conroy.
The Duchess and Conroy enacted a deliberate plan to keep Victoria dependent on them, weakening her will, preventing her from forming ties within the court. This plan backfired, because within weeks of her investiture, Victoria banished Conroy, whom she had grown to hate, and moved her mother to housing away from the court.
North Node in Aries, no matter the house, pushes the native toward individuation (this push will feel particularly uncomfortable, unnatural, and yet terribly necessary and compelling in the 12th house). The sense of self as an independent entity in the 12th house is shaky. It can feel like the self is always in a nascent state of development; holding on to this emerging self becomes a protective act.
Anything that threatens this process is resolutely rejected or avoided. This would be even more obvious with Aries North Node, particularly in conjunction with its ruler, Mars, which would have made Victoria absolutely determined to maintain her individuality, not easy to do in the 12th, which propels the native toward merging and blending with the group mind.
Since Victoria’s autonomy was something she would have fought to preserve, you can see why she hated the ongoing state of weakness and dependency she suffered during each of her nine pregnancies, and why it was so difficult for her to hand over the reins of power to her husband.
The social group represented by Libra on the South Node can have a toxic overtone in the 6th house, although Jupiter in the 10th trines the South Node, so there was something Victoria learned or inherited from her family that helped her take herself seriously as an authority figure.
Keep in mind, she was not raised with any certainty that she would become ruler of England, so the milieu she grew up in, no matter how isolated and restrictive, also gave her important life skills. Libra South Node, at the very least, civilizes, models good etiquette, and teaches the social rules of ‘how we do things here,’ all of which benefits a future queen.
Libra South Node can indicate a childhood spent surrounded by social rules. The rules are not usually as difficult as those Victoria dealt with, but she did have a Saturn/Chiron/Pluto conjunction in Pisces in the 11th, so there were clearly some life lessons involving Saturnian and Plutonic heavy-duty limits and rules that caused ongoing, repetitive pain.
It does seem that much of Victoria’s adulthood was spent compensating in one way or another for the damage done to her during childhood, though. One side effect, according to her children, was that their mother was almost completely self-absorbed.
Self-absorption is always a problem with an Aries Node, but it’s also a potential problem for only children born with a stellium in the 12th, since the 12th, as a mutable water house, tends the native toward a fair amount of introspection and/or self-absorption. Only children have little reason, and few opportunities, to learn how to reach out to others for help.
Further, the Aries/Libra Nodal axis augments this problem under all circumstances. Self-reliance is taken to an extreme, and learning how to share duties, concerns, and rewards becomes a primary karmic lesson. Victoria had a lot of trouble handing any of her power over to her consort, Albert, for example. It wasn’t until she was forced by her pregnancies to stop working so hard that Albert was ‘allowed’ to take up the reins and do any of the heavy lifting in their marriage.
It’s also of interest that Victoria was pregnant (unhappily so—she complained consistently about her almost constant gravid state) nine times. Whether or not pregnancy is seen as entirely natural, and therefore ‘good,’ it is still a time when a woman’s body is no longer in her control, and in fact it becomes harder and harder to get around and maintain autonomy, which feels very much like one has lost one’s power.
In spite of the supposed ‘weakness’ of the Cadent 12th, Victoria’s North Node is strengthened by conjunction with its ruler (Mars) as well as Venus (ruler of the South Node). Mars conjunct her North Node draws her toward situations where she would be forced to develop her assertiveness, a much-needed trait when taking on the daunting task of becoming monarch of a powerful nation at age 18.
Taurus North Node in the 12th house: The work of the lifetime with Taurus on the North Node is to create or build something tangible, and leave a lasting, recognizable legacy to future generations. Combined with the 12th house, the subject matter will be more esoteric rather than traditional, less purely ‘grounded’ and more of the senses or inspired by dreams or imagination.
This is an excellent combination to have when your path requires perseverance and creativity, because Taurus’ Fixed energy with the mutability and imagination of the 12th house gives you room to experiment, but at the same time, keep practical outcomes in mind. Too many ideas or even businesses are destroyed before they grow into something important because people are too inflexible or lack imagination.
Businesses don’t go under because of lack of funding; they go under because of a lack of imagination and creativity. But the positive with Taurus and the 12th house is that this native will be pulled toward situations that allow her or him to expand their skills, while never sacrificing what really matters, which is usually their creative vision.
Another way of looking at Taurus North Node here is by asking ‘how can I manifest my 12th house creativity’ or dreams? Manifestation is always key for Taurus North Node, while the material of the 12th is not the easiest to make manifest, since it is often the stuff dreams are made on.
Most 12th house North Node charts I’ve found are of people or situations that involve some form of creativity (usually music or art, but sometimes dramatic arts; see Ernst Fuchs’ chart for a better indication of how multitalented Taurus North Node can be), but I’ve found North Node in Taurus in general of particular interest, because it puts Scorpio on the South Node, and that node so often comes out of a difficult or, at the very least, emotionally-complex, early home life.
The 6th house South Node also carries with it a bit of a burden in life, and how Scorpio would carry that burden (of poor health, or a difficult home life due to poverty, or perhaps parents in healthcare, for example) will shape the character of the developing personality. The 6th is never an easy house. It usually goes ignored in most people’s charts, unless they themselves have planets in it.
Yet when one of the nodes falls in the 6th, the life purpose is actually much more profound than most people seem to allow themselves to experience, although I believe this would be less true with Scorpio here than other signs, since Scorpio South Node is an indicator that the native is sensitized to experience the material world represented by the Earthy 6th house more profoundly. This sensitivity then is ‘translated’ into the 12th house, which calls to this native to manifest (as Taurus North Node always seems to) whatever vision or inner world experiences he or she perceives.
Scorpio on the South Node therefore doesn’t always indicate some kind of early distress. It can also be a strong indicator, particularly if there are also planets in other Water signs or Water-related houses, that the native comes from an unusual background where the early environment gave access to the mystical, the occult, or exploration of the psyche or soul.
The challenge for these people is how to explain their perceptions. It can be extraordinarily difficult to put into words or convey in real terms that others can understand what it is one experiences in the 12th house: visions that are not fantasies, ideas that seem so impractical to others, and yet are incredibly real to the native.
Neither Taurus nor Scorpio prefer to use spoken or written language to communicate; both signs share a visceral understanding as their primary way of knowing, although the 6th house might contribute a more formal or regulated approach to communication, making it possible for the South Node to bring certain skills to the lifetime, such as the obvious attraction for Scorpio, anything to do with the psychological.
The small collection of charts I will show you here belong to people the paranormal world is quite familiar with, and I suspect North Node in the 12th has something to do with that, because the life direction pointed the native toward the esoteric.
The first chart belongs to Peter Hurkos, a mostly-debunked but nonetheless popular and entertaining psychic who claimed much greater accuracy in his predictions than he actually achieved. Of interest is that his Jupiter closely conjuncts the South Node in Scorpio, and the North Node conjuncts Saturn and Mercury.
Obviously, the Jupiter/Mercury opposition on its own needs to be looked at for overestimating or exaggeration. Saturn conjunct Mercury should have stopped Hurkos from making these unsupportable exaggerations.
The determination of all the Fixed energy in his chart, combined with Pluto (ruler of the South Node) on the Ascendant, and ruler of the North Node, Venus, close by in the 1st house, would have overwhelmed others, who would have been ‘seduced’ by the force of his personality—but not necessarily convinced of the veracity of his often-outrageous claims.
He said he saw ‘pictures in his mind like a television screen,’ which is a good way to explain the way the 12th house communicates with the native. Touch, a very Taurean trait, was for him a kind of translation of information from one mode to another. Through touch he would “psychometrize” or gain access into the person he was trying to form a psychic link with.
The next example is the chart of Françoise Gauquelin, trained statistician and psychologist who became the collaborator and wife of Michel Gauquelin. The two met at the Sorbonne while studying Applied Psychology, and later worked together on a study Michel initiated, which ultimately grew into the largest scientific study ever conducted using astrological data.
Their work became famous, and they are remembered for creating what became known as “The Mars Effect,” which was initially mentioned in the first book Michel wrote and Françoise paid to have published, “L’Influence des Astres.”
Françoise never really received adequate credit for the work she did with her husband. After 30 years of marriage, they divorced, and she later produced her own monograph on astrology, “Psychology of the Planets” (1982), and became the publisher of a twice-yearly psychological astrology journal.
I thought it was so interesting that her chart clearly reflects both vocations she chose, since with Scorpio on the South Node, psychology makes sense, but as it falls in the 6th, her training as a statistician fits as well.
I also thought it was interesting that both Hurkos and the Gauquelins had to ‘translate’ their inner visions and have them tested against the tenets and principles of science, which is the ultimate ‘real world’ test of the validity of one’s claims.
Hurkos was mostly unable to validate his claims, while the Gauquelins’ thorough and longitudinal research is still being tested and verified. For Taurus North Node, it cannot be enough to dream a 12th house dream; it has to be tested in the 6th house laboratory of pragmatism and then taken to the world, which will be even more demanding and critical of one’s findings.
This is why Françoise’s pragmatic background and education prepared her for the rigors of proving the Gauquelins’ theories, whereas Hurkos’ capacity for self-aggrandizement, reflected by Jupiter conjunct the South Node, seems to have detracted from his credibility, whereas Françoise’s Moon conjunct South Node and Venus conjunct North Node seems to have made it somewhat easier for her to communicate her ideas to her critics (who have usually been scientists). I do believe it’s the Fixed signs involved that made her indefatigable in the face of criticism (of which there has been an abundance through the years, since astrology is a hard sell to most scientists).
Gemini North Node in the 12th house: Two mutable energies blend together in this combination, and that’s not a bad thing, as long as the rest of the chart gives the native pragmatism and balance. Gemini North Node can easily visualize the dream-world she sees in the 12th house, and will most likely be drawn to experiences that in some way express the romance of this house (I’m using the word ‘romance’ in the sense of a Medieval chivalric tale, with a hero’s quest and dragons to be slain and princesses to be saved).
The 12th is a place where dream material dwells; this makes it a romantic house, a place of high adventure, if the native is inclined to pursue these visions in the mist. Gemini and Sagittarius nodes are drawn toward adventure in general, and the 12th house in particular. Sagittarius South Node in particular won’t be content reading adventure stories; he wants to live the adventure story, make it come to life.
But, it’s the 12th house; this is not, technically, a house of activity, it’s a house of introspection, silence, and time spent dreaming of what is to come. The inner world is in development, a coming-into-being, when the butterfly is just opening its wings for the first time, prior to spreading them to dry in the sun of the Midheaven noon sky.
The 6th house can be very helpful to balance out any flights of fancy that Gemini creates for herself in the 12th house. There are always positives and negatives with any nodal axis; you’re not going to find a combination of node and house that’s all good or all bad.
However, there are indications at times, and this combination is one of them, that the rest of the chart has to provide grounding and balance, because it’s far too easy for Gemini North Node to evaporate with North Node in the 12th. The energy needed to manifest imagination dissipates with this combination; there could be a lot of thinking and no practical action taken.
Sagittarius South Node is so much ‘stronger’ in this combination, usually, because, as in the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, the element of Fire combined with Earth has more weight to it than Water and Air; Fire/Earth ‘wins’.
So let’s look at the chart of someone who has managed to manifest the romantic, heroic stories he sees in his mind, the extremely famous and popular producer and film director Steven Spielberg. He has more than lived up to the varieties of expression Gemini North Node is capable of in this house—the fantasies that are more real than reality—and has even created what is possibly the highest expression of the 12th house, an artistic style that is uniquely his, which at the same time, belongs to the world. This outcome befits the highest aspirations of the 12th house, which is to provide inspiration for everyone, (hopefully) incorporating universal values.
Sagittarius is an idealist, and loves action/adventure stories where the underdog comes out on top. Sagittarius is an innately “American” energy, in that the core values of Sagittarius are democratic, liberal, and tolerant of differences. These are values Spielberg has promoted through his movies, even when the ideas that shaped any individual storyline were not specifically about America or Americans.
Instead, Spielberg has a deep understanding of story, but it is the hero’s journey that he instinctively understands, and does it better than anyone else, turning the smallest concept into high art, but always with a bit of romantic idealism pushing at the edges to remind you that there’s a huge heart behind the movies he makes.
South Node conjunct Mercury (ruler of the North Node) reinforces the message of intellectual flexibility (particularly since Uranus widely conjuncts the North Node, an indication that Spielberg is willing to try new directions and take risks). Mercury conjunct the South Node also speaks to the appeal children and children’s stories have for him; the young protagonist and the entire plot of ET, one of his most popular movies, came to mind, when I initially saw Mercury conjunct the South Node.
Although there are other places in his chart that support his emotional connection with the audience, a trait or quality that is often overlooked in Sagittarius (through his South Node) is that it’s a Fire sign, and as such, has an expansive and warm personality at its core; either node in Sagittarius means that the person either has or must develop their Fire-sign ability to provide generously for others, and that usually also means that the person either is, or is learning how to be emotionally giving. Sagittarius is not a stingy sign, and that includes their emotions.
He could have chosen any métier, but Uranus within 9˚ of his North Node drew him towards the use of technology as a tool to express his vision. Although we take movies almost entirely for granted these days, I think it’s important to pull back and reassess these pieces of magic from time to time. Movies are able to manifest our dreamworld, and that is not insignificant. Digital technology has to make the inner world of the 12th house so much easier to translate, since whatever the artist can draw, the digital camera and editing software can recreate and transform into a complex, dimensional visual landscape.
This process, of interpreting the messages the 12th house pulls you towards, reminds me of the plot device in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Spielberg seems to have understood the feeling of 12th house psychic pressure, because when faced with an unrelenting “message” about this random mountain, which haunted the characters’ every waking hour and filtered into their dreams, they used whatever medium they could find to paint, shape, or draw the image. It’s this kind of internal pressure the 12th house haunts the mind with, the subconscious images or feelings that must somehow find expression.
Gemini on the North Node in the 12th is one of the signs that might be able to find her way out of the garden—in the ‘good’ dream—or haunted mansion, in the nightmare; much depends on the rest of the chart, and whether or not the individual is encouraged or discouraged from expressing the pictures in her mind.
Spielberg is, in many ways, lucky he was provided an outlet for his visions from a very early age, because he picked up one of his father’s Super8 cameras and taught himself how to direct films. I think it’s possible that taking control over the visions, without them controlling you, has to be the key to an overabundance of ideas in the 12th, when Gemini is on the North Node.
For people with lives that are less about interpreting psychic messages and more involved in just living day-to-day, this North Node tends to pull the native toward self-expression and creativity that mirrors and picks up on tiny little fragments of information available from the world-filter (nowadays usually the internet, but in the old days, these people spent a lot of time on the street, cruising to find new places and people of interest). Gemini and Sagittarius nodes are already pulled into the psychic stream of the zeitgeist; the messages this person picks up, with North Node in the 12th, will possibly sound prophetic from time to time.
At the very least, this person is the first to pick up on new ideas, new fashions, and anything that soon becomes a trend. This quality is largely a ‘present’ from the South Node, because Sagittarius never stops turning the channel or flicking through websites, all the while learning and pushing that need for more and more information out to the Gemini North Node, which scours new stores, meets and greets, and cannot stop partying long enough to let the subconscious rest.
This combination is capable of severe mental burnout if they’re not careful. You have no idea what serious psychic burnout looks like until you’ve poured your last ounce of energy out to friends who honestly think you’re an extrovert, only to find out that you were just curious to find out more about them—you didn’t mean to stay the weekend and listen to all their problems.
Cancer North Node in the 12th house: The 12th house forces the native to do something that might not come naturally, which is absorb everyone else’s energy, at the same time s/he is asked to continue broadcasting the subtle psychic signal that says that she is available if you need a shoulder to cry on.
This problem is especially true when Cancer is active in the chart, although with Capricorn on the South Node, it might take many years for the urge to help others to develop (if it ever does, since not all natives actually fulfill the purpose of their North Node).
Cancer North Node, no matter the house, is learning how to take care of self and others, certainly better than she or he was taken care of. In the 12th house, that care is about something harder to see but nonetheless as important as one’s bodily needs, which is the part of the psyche that requires a deeper connection to the world.
Now, I’ve asserted that the 12th isn’t necessarily a spiritual house, but that doesn’t mean it contains no desire for a spiritual connection at all; it’s just that we use the word ‘spiritual’ to mean a great many things, and the 12th house is so much more than about ‘the soul’, which not everyone believes in anyway. It is a house in which we’re drawn to search for the larger meanings that connect all beings in the natural world, in an attempt to merge and become one with the wholeness we detect exists both inside and outside ourselves.
There is a kind of psychic ‘web’ that links us (and here I do not mean the internet!) and those sensitive to it detect it and are pulled toward an expression of this interconnectedness. Water sign North Nodes in particular pull the native toward that which has deep, unspoken meaning (although I believe any of the 12th house North Nodes pick up this message from the universe, Water signs are constantly on the alert, if only subconsciously, for this information).
Therefore, we expect a great deal of sensitivity in this combination (as well as with Scorpio and Pisces North Nodes). This sensitivity can manifest in many ways, of course, but the greatest likelihood with Cancer is an almost over-sensitivity to the inner workings of the self.
The 6th house South Node isn’t the easiest house to cope with because it constantly draws us back to the body, when the 12th house wants to pull us toward out-of-body psychic merging with something we cannot touch, and Water signs are highly aware of this dichotomy. Indeed, it’s very painful to be aware of what is possible, which is a kind of transcendence of the body, when your Capricorn South Node in the 6th is pulling you back into your body.
When working in the native’s favor, the 6th house South Node provides useful material and pragmatic resources for the native to use later in life. It’s actually a great house to have a South Node in when the early experiences are positive, because no house is more prepared for real life than the 6th. When the going gets tough, this house can pick you up and dust you off and give you anything you need on the journey of life. It almost functions like a backpack full of whatever tools you need for your life, if you’ve prepared well and have had a supportive, pragmatic upbringing.
Unfortunately, most of the time Capricorn is a sign, not of abundance, but of lack. It’s a great sign to have on the South Node when you need to learn the lessons of hard work and perseverance, though, but on its own, it usually tells a story of a childhood filled with material wants and even destitution, if the rest of the chart supports it.
So most Cancer North Nodes end up feeling like some huge hole needs to be filled by the time they reach adulthood, since there’s something the childhood didn’t give them, which is usually emotional, of course, with Cancer on the North Node.
This means that Cancer North Nodes are too often pulled towards situations that teach them, ironically, that they must give a great deal of themselves before anyone will respond in kind. The difficulty is that the 12th house is a universal house, a house where what you have to give feels total, endless.
Ultimately, the native can feel extremely dispirited with just how hard this lifetime is, on an emotional level. I’ve seen more than one Cancer North Node collapse back into Capricornian bitterness under the weight of trying so hard to attain Cancer North Node goals.
It wasn’t until I fully understood the Cancer/Capricorn nodal axis, and how very demanding it is emotionally, that I began to comprehend what the 12th house North Node would be up against. And it’s that comprehension that made Marilyn Monroe’s (born Norma Jeane Mortenson) chart make sense to me, because though we all know the story of Marilyn’s life, I don’t think very many people in her day ever really understood how difficult she found this lifetime. Perhaps, in her time, there wasn’t enough sympathy for her, certainly not the amount of sympathy she really needed, but she’d covered over or given away the parts of her that would have elicited that sympathy long before her untimely death.
I’ve noticed that Neptune in the 1st natives utterly befuddle the people who come into contact with them. As only one example, Jane Austen had Neptune at the Ascendent, and she remains a cypher, because there isn’t enough factual information about her to explain why she never married, for one thing; there’s a great deal of speculation, though. So Neptune in the 1st house, within 9˚ of the Ascendent, added to Marilyn’s mystique, obviously, and served as a smoke screen preventing anyone from really ever knowing her.
Norma Jeane’s childhood was incredibly painful (and much has been written about it). Saturn in the 4th on its own is one strong indicator of difficulty in childhood, but interestingly, Saturn (ruler of the South Node) in Marilyn’s chart is involved in a Grand Trine, which pulls in all Water energy: Saturn in Scorpio in the 4th, Mars in Pisces in the 8th, and the Pluto in the 11th/North Node conjunction (falling on either side of the Cancer 12th house cusp).
Although the Grand Trine might very well represent an automatic “blessing,” it’s possible for any ‘blessing’ to be too much of a good thing. This is particularly true because the fundamental nature of the Grand Trine, which is stability, is based on, and reinforces, doing the same things the same way, using the same ‘gifts,’ over and over.
The Grand Trine’s message within the chart is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but the problem is that the Grand Trine is so “comfortable” doing what it has always done, nothing ever seems “broke” enough to fix, so that by the time things have become desperate, the native has not had the chance to develop alternate skills. So the price one pays for stability, and for the ‘gifts’ of the Grand Trine, is sameness and lack of change or growth. Some have called this laziness inherent in the Grand Trine, but I prefer to think of it as playing to your strengths, to the point of taking them for granted.
Although many think the Grand Trine is always a good thing, I think it’s quite clear that most Grand Trines tend to get stuck in their own muck far too easily. A Water Grand Trine gives you an abundance of Water-related energy—not always a good thing. Depending on how the specific planets of the trine are aspected (and what planets and signs are involved) you’re more or less likely to see someone who is capable of expressing—and channelling the expression from others—of a tremendous amount of feeling. Speaking as a double Water sign (Sun/Moon trine), I can tell you how exhausting this can be.
We’ve seen in previous posts how crucial it is for the Cancer/Capricorn nodal axis to have stability in childhood if they’re going to develop as fully-functional adults. Unfortunately for Norma Jeane, her mother Gladys felt unable to care for her when she was born, in spite of having already had two children (who lived with their birth father after the mother’s divorce). It’s unknown who Norma Jeane’s father was.
Norma Jeane ended up living with foster parents until her mother was able to provide a more stable life, but within a short time after Gladys reunited with her young child, she had a complete mental breakdown, and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The years of Norma Jeane’s childhood and adolescence were disrupted, with two known instances of molestation. In her chart, Moon is conjunct Jupiter in the 7th, and if we stopped there, and added the Grand Trine, we’d wonder how Norma’s life could have gone so wrong, when the chart ‘promised’ so much more happiness.
However, Moon (ruler of the North Node) conjunct Jupiter is also in opposition to Neptune in the 1st; Saturn (ruler of the South Node) is square both Neptune and Moon/Jupiter (from the 4th to the 1/7 axis, indicating a primary wound (Saturn 4th) around mothering (Moon) that affects the way one projects one’s personality structure into the world, and has it reflected back (1/7 axis). This basic schism would have influenced everything that happened to Norma Jeane and the person who became “Marilyn” later in life.
Interestingly, given the issue of boundaries that comes up in the 12th house, Marilyn herself spoke to this concept late in her career:
“When I was five I think, that’s when I started wanting to be an actress. I loved to play. I didn’t like the world around me because it was kind of grim, but I loved to play house. It was like you could make your own boundaries… When I heard that this was acting, I said that’s what I want to be… Some of my foster families used to send me to the movies to get me out of the house and there I’d sit all day and way into the night. Up in front, there with the screen so big, a little kid all alone, and I loved it.”—Monroe in an interview for Life in 1962
Ultimately, after all the tinkering to the outside self, that version never did reflect her inner reality, and at some point of course, that discrepancy becomes exhausting to sustain. Neptune opposite Jupiter, as we’ve seen in other charts, augments the need to lie to one’s self, particularly in the 1/7 axis, where the presentation of a stable persona is key to the fact of identity.
With Neptune in Leo in the 1st, and Leo on the Ascendent, combined with the depth of a need for attention possible only after surviving the deprived childhood Norma Jeane endured, one can easily see a strong desire, with the Water Grand Trine, to be “loved” universally, to feel all that love coming from the larger group represented by Cancer in the 12th. This need for connection with a universal “whole” feeds into the 12th house North Node desire for connection with ‘the divine,’ let’s say, or just a psychic knowing that one feels part of a larger whole.
It would have been best for Marilyn, if she hadn’t been so fixed on augmenting her sexuality (which the studios are mostly responsible for, but she colluded with them) if she could have found the love of a strong mother-substitute, since that’s what Cancer North Node is really looking for in these circumstances. The rulers of the nodes would have had to have been in much better shape for her to become strong enough in terms of self-esteem; she kept looking to others to reinforce her self-esteem, not uncommon with a planets in the 1st in opposition to planets in the 7th.
One needs to take off the outer persona eventually, if it does not reflect the inner person, but I don’t know if Marilyn was ever allowed to rest, or if she allowed herself to rest. Who was she when she wasn’t “Marilyn”? Does anyone with Neptune in the 1st have a clear understanding of their inner self, or are they all image? The square between Neptune and Saturn would have made this question an ongoing challenge for Marilyn, whose very name was added on for effect, and in service of the Hollywood image-making machine.
On its own, a square from Saturn to Moon is bad enough, but when you add the fact that these are the rulers of the nodal axis, you can see that emotional damage and particularly deprivation is part of the life path, informs the life path, and forces many of the choices made on the life path.
It’s so sad, and ironic, that her Part of Suicide conjuncts her Moon/Jupiter conjunction (and is exactly conjunct Jupiter), because it tells me that all the attempts at over-compensation didn’t work, and ultimately proved to be her undoing, since Moon/Jupiter conjunctions don’t know when to stop. Enough is never enough, and that’s the core of an overdose—taking too much of whatever it is you’re relying on to make the momentary pain go away.
Apparently, Marilyn suffered from the very problems you’d expect with a Moon-Saturn square: anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, an increasing inability to sleep, with recurring lack of energy. She was not the only actor to take a variety of drugs to deal with her problems, but she was uniquely insecure, even in Hollywood, an environment of deeply insecure people.
Saturn in the 4th can indicate the strongest emotional and practical beginnings, or it can tell you that the child received very little, and has very little in the way of inner resources to draw on later in life. With Saturn as the ruler of the South Node, the strength she brings with her has to do with overcoming adversity, and I think there is a lot of evidence that she was able to pick herself up and start again each time she made a mistake or was held back by the studio system. The “gift”, if you will, of South Node Capricorn in the 6th is that the person is usually very capable of taking care of herself. Life experiences are harsh, but they prepare you for the times when you have no one to count on but yourself.
The Grand Trine, with Saturn at its base, becomes part of the problem, instead of providing the simple solution to stop and do something self-affirming. Rather than stopping the wound from becoming worse, the need to change the fundamental self to be seen as more acceptable to the outside world reinforces the lack of self-esteem; but the lack of a solid, centered self is a side-effect of the Neptune-Saturn square (which perpetuates the Trine). Self-doubt and denial about the source of the problem becomes the very forces holding one back from change.
Leo North Node in the 12th house: I always assume a Leo North Node will pursue a dramatic, challenging, and exotic path, particularly when the North Node falls in the 12th. In my imagination, the 12th house is a castle, but not your typical Medieval fortress. Instead, the castle I see is painted in opaline hues, with gorgeous “Aladdin” interiors and flying carpets, if you must know. Oh, and white peacocks wander hither and yon, and the air is perfumed with myrrh and frankincense. I told you it was exotic.
So for me, I wouldn’t expect a boring North Node in the 12th in Leo to show up. I see the charts of many dramatic North Node in Leo people, but it can be harder to find one whose North Node falls in the 12th. This is a rare bird. So it did not come as any real surprise when I discovered that a woman Ernest Hemingway once described as “the most sensational woman anybody ever saw or ever will,” Josephine Baker, turned out to have Leo North Node.
To get that much power behind her, it didn’t hurt that Sun, ruler of the North Node, was conjunct Mercury, Jupiter, and Pluto, and widely (a little too wide, but it’s part of her 10th house stellium) Mars. The world was never going to ignore this woman, although she clawed her way to world recognition; nothing was handed to her.
The South Node ruler, Uranus, falls in opposition to Venus/Neptune conjunct in the 11th. This is a complex opposition, in that it incorporates both higher (Neptune) and lower (Venus) octaves, of personal and spiritual love. This conjunction in opposition to Uranus, indicates awareness (or the need to learn awareness) of giving unconditional love to the masses. The opposition falls in the 5/11 axis—houses that support performing for a large audience as well as a unique family life.
Another facet of Leo, though, is inherent bravery and a willingness (and ability) to fight for others. The ability is key, though. Not everyone with bravery actually takes responsibility for changing circumstances for others. I think Baker was impressive not because she was a such a great or unique entertainer; she was never as popular in her home country, the U.S., as she was in France, for example, where she introduced the Charleston around the same time Art Deco came to the fore.
She was a sensation, but it was her work during WWII as a French military “correspondent” (essentially a spy, in that her job was to listen to party gossip and report on it), her absolute unwillingness to perform for segregated audiences, and her astounding generosity to the “rainbow” of children she adopted from all over the world (one of her divorces came just as she adopted child #11) that impresses today, I think.
Ideally, the North Node in the 12th enacts the kind of valor that makes it possible to give to others in what the world usually thinks of as extraordinary ways. It’s not exactly “self-sacrifice” that’s required, not the type we have come to associate with Pisces. I always think that ‘self-sacrifice’ has a negative connotation associated with it, as though you’re somehow trying to emulate Jesus dispensing the loaves and fishes.
Instead, these qualities, of doing more than is strictly necessary, and giving from your own sense of abundance to people most would think of as complete strangers, is the key. I think for those who seem to come into the world already understanding that we’re all connected, like Josephine Baker, the 12th house North Node experience is a piece of cake. Others, of course, have a long way to go.
Édouard Manet also had North Node in Leo in the 12th; he is one of many 12th house artists (most of whose names you wouldn’t recognize; I know I don’t). As one might expect, the drama of Leo North Node is manifest in his life. He was called a genius in his own time, and the “first modern painter” by art historians.
His Le Déjeuner Sur l’herbe was a profound thrust forward into art of the future. At the time of its initial showing, it was a “challenge,” but it changed everything for art; prior to Manet, the subject matter (particularly on such a large canvas) was religious, mythological, and historical. After Manet, the quotidian became the focus of art.
Sun, ruler of the North Node, is in a wide conjunction with Uranus (all in the 6th), giving extra energy to the idea of working hard to create and inspire real change. But Manet’s South Node is the key here. Uranus, South Node ruler, is as close to an exact conjunction with the South Node as conjunctions get, reifying all the messages of rebellion and revolution you’d expect to see in the life of a person who simply refuses to play by the traditional rules of those who have come before him.
Nor did he do as his father hoped, which was to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer. Instead, before Manet dedicated himself to art, he went into the merchant marine (I consider all water-related professions as under the purview of the 12th house North Node). And then he took up the study of art formally, after years of messing about with paint and sketching informally. You cannot expect Uranus to do what it’s told!
Virgo North Node in the 12th house: While the rest of the world is sleeping, North Node in Virgo people are up late, working. So many artists, composers, singers, and writers are born with this North Node in the 12th, yet most are people you’ve never heard of (except for Vincent Van Gogh, whose tragically short, but fruitful life, will be the subject of one of the composite charts I’ll be writing about later on).
The fact that we haven’t heard of most of these people, though, might have something to do with Virgo’s reputation for shyness or ‘shrinking Violet’ behavior, although being Mercury-ruled, cleverness and quickness is possibly its own reward. More than one Virgo North Node (with planets in the 12th) has had a “horror of publicity.”
The primary difference, from house to house, for the Virgo North Node seems to be subject matter the person writes about or takes an interest in to apply his or her prodigious intellect towards. Almost inevitably, this one Node (in Virgo) takes on invariably Virgo-type work.
The double-mutability of Virgo/Pisces nodes in the mutable axis of the 6/12 houses makes it extremely likely that these natives will want to surround themselves with creative work and people. It’s unlikely they will be interested in work in architecture or social criticism, which does seem to be of interest for other, more pragmatic and less romantic Virgo North nodes.
The Virgo North Node in the 12th picks up (as one can expect, with a Mercury-ruled sign, since they are usually highly imitative and take on their environment like a chameleon) the prevailing social ‘mood,’ and will adapt their interests, to the extent that’s humanly possible, making it likely they will, at the very least, find work throughout the course of their lifetime.
This is not an insignificant thing, since many, many people are out of step with their time, and never really adapt, only to find themselves indigent late in life. But I’ve noticed that if a mutable North Node is passionate about something, they are nonetheless able to put it to one side in order to pursue a pragmatic role in life, the one that makes money, if it doesn’t make them entirely happy.
The South Node in Pisces in the 6th is perhaps “weak,” in the sense that if there are no planets to strengthen it, the individual might be content to tread water most of his life, never achieving any major ambition because he doesn’t necessarily have any major ambition. But the nice thing about having the Pisces South Node here is that this is the person who is probably most in tune with the movement of the cosmos, and the mind/brain connection.
The physical (the condition of the body and physical health) is always of great interest for those sensitive enough to feel the inner condition of their bodies, so that’s the biggest ‘gift’ of this combination, that Pisces South Node will bring with it an innate feeling sense-based understanding of the body and how it works.
This is not an intellectual understanding, fortunately, but a visceral comprehension of the body’s interrelatedness. There is also an attraction with artistic work that uses the hands, as in sculptors, weavers, or even orchestra conductors.
Another thing this nodal axis seems to represent is a solid upbringing, in the sense that the family, while certainly not socially prominent in any glamorous or exciting way, is well-known, pragmatic, and connected to others in their community. Pisces tries to swim with its school, and identifies with a group and feels a sense of belonging.
This feeling strengthens social connections and adds to the willingness to help others in need. The influence of Pisces, though, although nowhere near as rebellious in spirit as Aquarius can be, is capable of equally iconoclastic energy that won’t necessarily resemble other Zebra fish in the aquarium. Pisces is just as likely to take on social concerns as Aquarius; perhaps more likely, since there’s an emotionally-based sympathy for the downtrodden that Aquarius lacks.
Here’s a woman, Kathe Kollwitz, who represents many of the goals of this Nodal axis. She was sensitized early in life to social causes through her grandfather, a pastor who was expelled from the state church and formed his own congregation. Also influencing her, father was a radical social democrat. She showed early talent, but she was born in Prussia, which did not offer opportunities for women, so her father sent her to art school in Germany.
Jupiter in Pisces within 10 degrees of the South Node in the 6th indicates the generosity and sense of abundance she came into this life with. On its own, Jupiter lies in close opposition to Mars (indicating a person who can’t help overdoing her responses; in this case the effect of 6/12 axis, particularly in Pisces/Virgo, means that her response to others’ needs will be, at the very least, strong, if not verging on the compulsive).
Mars’ wide conjunction with the North Node shows up in many women’s charts (see Queen Victoria’s, above, as one example) as an indicator that the woman in question is in the process of learning how to use her Mars energy (aggression, even anger) effectively (or at all, if Venus is connected with the South Node).
She married a doctor who offered medical assistance to the poor. She found her artistic subject matter in the patients who came to see him. I find it very interesting that the subject matter of the 6th house—the common person and his or her work life—she found beautiful,8 and so had to draw, sketch, and paint the suffering she witnessed—not out of compassion, she once commented, but from her response to the beauty they represented for her.
Käthe was offered awards, and ultimately became the first woman to become a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts, which brought a full professorship, an income, and her own studio. She died a mere 16 days before the end of World War II, after having been threatened by the Gestapo with removal to a concentration camp because she supported anti-Nazi political forces.
After being evacuated from Berlin in 1943, her life was peripatetic until she died, her only real protection coming from the powerful people who knew her speaking for her and offering her protection—arguably a 12th house ‘skill,’ to attain others’ help when you have put so much into helping others.
Libra North Node in the 12th house: I have to be honest and tell you that finding the ‘ideal’ Libra North Node person to illustrate the complexities of this combination was not easy. I knew this person existed somewhere, I just had to find him or her.
One style or type of Libran expression is that of the politician or military person; this is the Venus-ruled sign in its ‘angry’ face. The other is the softer (but nonetheless determined) face, which takes on a more pleasant (if sometimes confused) expression.
One expression is more obviously masculine, the other more obviously feminine. It’s the swinging back and forth from one ‘extreme’ to the other that identifies Libra—that and Venus’ reputation as both morning and evening star (the bright red evening star thought to be angry, militaristic; the other calm, cool, shining blue in the early morning sky).
I was drawn to Hope Cooke’s story for a number of reasons. From my perspective, she is almost the perfect exemplar of the North Node in the 12th in Libra. I saw that combination and immediately thought: foreign marriage, a spiritual quest to exotic climes, and other romantic and fanciful 12th house fantasy-fairytale-romance type stuff, complete with castles and peacocks. Unicorns and rainbows, all pink and blue tinged, this being Libra and all.
It turns out that Hope’s 9th house is very important as well, and this reminds me to tell you once again that we can’t look at the nodal axis in complete isolation, although the rulers of the nodal axis are absolutely crucial to our interpretation of the rest of the chart.
If I were to weigh the importance of any one thing in the chart, I wouldn’t start with the nodal axis (well, I might, but you shouldn’t, it’s not really the right way ’round). I’d say start with the Ascendent and then the Sun, and see whether there are any themes that emerge.
The theme that emerges from Hope’s chart is about relationship: with Libra on the Ascendent, ruler Venus in a conjunction with the Sun, and North Node in Libra conjunct the Ascendent (which gives extra ‘relational’ energy to the way Hope reaches out and relates to others), Hope’s quest is to find out what love really is, how to give it and how to receive it.
With the 9th and 12th houses as our focus, I can tell you there’s a real conversation that goes on between these two houses, and that conversation is often about a spiritual quest, often to foreign lands. These two houses go hand in hand, they have so much in common (they’re both influenced by mutable signs, for one thing, Sagittarius for the 9th, Pisces for the 12th, and both signs have an interest in foreign travel or the imaginary foreign travel of being an armchair tourist). In many people’s charts, these houses form some kind of aspect to each another, as with Hope’s chart.
The Sun/Venus conjunction in the 9th house is so interesting, considering the fact that her parents had flying in common; the father, who left the mother shortly after Hope was born, was a flight instructor. The mother, an amateur pilot, died in a flying accident; Hope was never told what happened to her mother’s body, so she felt no sense of closure).
However, Hope was also destined (if by following one’s inner knowing we enact the destiny we create out of our own needs) to marry an older man, a king of the tiny Asian-Himalayan country Sikkim, and become one of the very few American women to live out a ‘fairy princess’ life (for awhile, anyway).
In my opinion, her chart tells you everything you need to know, and the messages from the chart are not subtle. Capricorn on the IC (the 4th house cusp) frequently portends some kind of childhood loss, trauma, isolation, or sense of isolation (but look to Saturn’s condition to see how this works out).
After her mother died, Hope and her stepsister lived in the apartment across the hall from her wealthy maternal grandparents. A succession of governesses came and went (look to the Capricorn influence to provide well for children materially, but not meet their emotional needs—and this was a child with 4 planets plus Chiron in Cancer! She needed more emotional succor than she received, that’s for sure.
Hope wrote an autobiography in which she describes herself as having been somewhat ‘mystical’ in nature even as early as 10 years of age (I attribute this both to the 12th house North Node and the 9th house Sun/Venus Cancer in tight trine to 5th house Moon Pisces—the Fire influence adds to the desire for an ‘amazing’ life that carries one’s senses away).
As a result of her sense of isolation, her desire to find a spiritual life emerged over time. Eventually, her quest lead her to look for an immersion in a ‘mystical’ Asian experience, particularly Indian life, so she specialized in Asian studies (9th house again, but also the 12th house influenced her, because the 12th longs for immersion in an alternate reality, as well as having an overall spiritual interest).
On a summer trip to India, she met the Crown Prince of Sikkim while having a drink at the hotel bar. She was 19, he was 36; they fell in love and were engaged within 2 years. The marriage was as much practical as emotional, although for both, their emotional needs were mirrored by the other. He was a recent widower, who felt the need to find a mother for his children; the ‘instant family’ gave her the sense of rootedness she had long searched for.
Her Saturn/Jupiter conjunction in the 7th forms a sextile to Venus, so she’s fulfilling the ‘destiny’ of a beneficial marriage to an older man, through which she will expand her experience of the 12th house North Node (also note that she met him in the year after her nodal return, indicating a new direction in life). Once their own children were born, she finally had the large family that satisfied all that Cancer energy.
Of particular interest to me is that the wedding was postponed for a year because astrologers insisted that 1962 was an inauspicious year for marriages! Gotta love a life story that includes astrology.
Sadly, the fairy tale came to an end when her husband, the Crown Prince, was deposed, and Sikkim’s fragile independence was taken away in 1975 by Indira Gandhi’s decision to annex the tiny state. The Crown Prince was also unfaithful, as was Hope; the strains on the marriage grew to be too fractious, and Hope moved back to New York City with four of the children. The Prince died within two years of the end of their marriage.
Hope is still alive, by the way. She used to run historical tours of New York, and she wrote a few books, one a history of the city, as well as her autobiography. She has said that her marriage to the Crown Prince was based on unmet childhood needs and fantasy.
It is true that Mars, South Node ruler, is involved in a rather heavy set of squares (Mars conjunct Pluto and Mercury) from the 10th to the Saturn/Jupiter conjunction in the 7th, so it’s possible that the 7th house ‘promise’ of a beneficial marriage was taken away both by the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter as well as the squares formed by that conjunction to the small stellium of Mars/Pluto/Mercury in the 10th.
We can also look at Neptune, of course, for self-delusion, but in Hope’s case I honestly think that all that Cancer combined with a strong need for a love she had never experienced before has to be taken into account. Neptune’s “worst” aspect is a semi-square to Jupiter/Saturn, and that just isn’t a strong enough influence to make me believe she was entirely deluded by the Crown Prince in any real way.
I think that when all that Cancer in her chart faced getting her dream handed to her, she closed her eyes as Cancer will, and took the plunge. At the age of 19, those are the sorts of impetuous (Mars on the South Node) silly things one does. It takes a lot of growing up to understand the meaning of real love (Venus on the North Node). Who knows—there’s probably no one ‘perfect’ definition of love, and that, on its own, could very well be Libra North Node’s real message. Learning how to open up to the love you find (and then find it perfect) might very well be the entire point of Libra North Node in the 12th.
Scorpio North Node in the 12th house: Now this should be an interesting combination. The combination of Water with Water indicates the potential for a profound sense of spirituality, or, at the very least, an aspiration to the feeling of being spiritual, however one defines that. Scorpio/Taurus nodal axis is frequently found in extreme people, people whose lives are lived with serious, or seriously rigid, beliefs.
Their approach to life tends to be rigid, based on beliefs that do not permit a lot of questions. Questions shake the faith of Taurus South Node, and so transcending Taurus South Node’s fears of change or revolution becomes the goal for North Node Scorpio, which has no trouble asking profound questions, including questioning the status quo Taurus South Node takes for granted and clings to for safety.
Water/Water of the Scorpio North Node in the 12th is ‘up against’ Earth/Earth with Taurus South Node in the 6th. The 6th house is almost always representative of a life founded in or based on the concept of hard work. Some nodal placements (Capricorn in particular in the 6th) indicate a grim early life, or at the least, a family with a serious purpose, the ethos of which is imparted to the child.
With Taurus on the 6th house South Node, the combination speaks to the importance of the relationship to one’s body, but there might be poor health or health as an overall issue to be dealt with before one can take on the rigors of the Scorpio North Node. This combination makes sense for those who become doctors, since the fascination Taurus South Node has about the body aligns with health issues in the 6th, and helps the Scorpio North Node attain his or her highest aspirations to help the masses represented by the 12th house.
Scorpio might want to work behind the scenes, or might have trouble pushing himself to be in front of other people (entertainers, people who feel a need to be in front of others, rarely show up with this combination; it’s just too deep or, at times, dark and possibly depressed, to be in front of others for long without feeling like a fake).
There’s an urge towards psychological depth with the Scorpio North Node, and in the 12th, the individual takes on serious subjects or subjects having to do with the downtrodden or “the Other,” people outside the self that Scorpio feels drawn to help, or simply understand.
The North Node in general seems to be the answer to the question, “What motivates this person?” so that if the person seems otherwise hard to understand, look to the North Node as a guide to the behavior; this is always an issue with any Scorpio planets or points, since these people seem like cyphers to so many.
When it is functioning at its highest level, 12th house Scorpio North Node is looking for answers to life’s mysteries, but this is not the same kind of search that you’ll see with Scorpio in the 8th house. Instead, the life energy is drawn to the answers through life experiences that allow for the native to subtly absorb others’ deepest knowledge.
This way, the 12th house Scorpio North Node might feel as though she has lived a thousand lifetimes simply through picking up the various messages and bits of information the person at the table next to them exudes through the ether.
The Scorpio North Node absorbs information psychically the way others find things out through more cerebral methods, like ‘simple’ conversation. The 12th house Scorpio North Node is ‘getting to know you’ before you ever open your mouth, and has made a definite judge of your character, and will discard you or embrace you after not much conscious information has passed between you.
Don’t be surprised if this nodal axis pulls strengths from the Taurus South Node in the 6th (the strong work ethic comes to mind) and combines that with an innate, psychic knowing of how to be in the right place at the right time, and so gets your job, your lover, your promotion.
She can steal something out from underneath you, which is one of the hidden ‘gifts’ of the 12th house, when looked at from the underbelly of the world—not everyone is on your side, or is an inherently good person, and the dark world going on around you and outside your door thrives on that which others complain about with the 12th house, which is anonymity and an innate desire to maintain Scorpio-style privacy. This is one of the things Scorpio and the 12th house have in common: the desire for privacy and quiet, amongst other sometimes dark traits.
This combination isn’t the friendliest; it’s a competitive nodal axis, although in the 12th, if the native misuses the personal information he picks up, it will be in the interest of Scorpio-related concerns (like revenge or retaliation). This person makes a potentially evil blackmailer or spy, with the ability to ghost or fade away, blend into the crowd, and disappear. The 12th house gets a bad rep for being a house where Solar types go unnoticed, but there are certain jobs where the Scorpion desire for anonymity is helped by the low-profile nature of the 6/12 axis.
It’s worth noting that astrologers, psychologists, doctors, astronauts, and even terrorists (Usama bin Laden, but there is no birth time) have this nodal axis. There are so many skills possible, based on the work done in the 6th, that the 12th house ‘direction’ points either toward a strong expression of Scorpio, or a strong expression of the 12th house (or a blend of both in this chart of someone you’ve never heard of, I would imagine).
Just remember that the 12th house’s mutable influence means that it’s entirely possible to see someone live out a ‘blend’ of the sign on the North Node and the nature of the house itself, like the astrologer/psychiatrist or this chart of a medical doctor who combines those skills with her work as an astronaut.
Peter Capaldi, the current Doctor Who, has this combination; apparently, he had to think long and hard about the increased exposure he knew he’d deal with if he took the TARDIS for a long drive through the universes. He had always been a Doctor Who fan, but before ‘Who’ he was a mostly-unknown actor on the global stage, and now he’s a household name. Even famous 12/6 nodal axis people do not give up their privacy easily or for just anything.
Gordon Lightfoot’s heart-rending song “If You Could Read My Mind,” was an ominous ‘warning’ of what peering into the Scorpio/12th house reality could look like for those too insensitive to their lover’s misery. It’s a song about what it feels like to keep brutal truths about one’s deepest feelings to one’s self, and the price you pay to do so. This one song encapsulates all the myths and realities of this axis; the ‘old time movie screen’ plays the fantasy, while the reality of the couple’s unhappiness goes on behind the scenes.
Lightfoot has North Node conjunct Sun at the Ascendent, so his path was bound up with his need for self-expression, but the self-expression was always really intense, and he warned that ‘the ending was just too hard to take.’ This one song encapsulates all the myths and realities of the 6/12 axis; the ‘movie screen’ that plays the fantasy, while the reality of the couple’s unhappiness goes on.
The lyric ‘the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back,’ is always the curse for Scorpio—once the feeling dies, it dies forever, even if the relationship continues on, with unspoken material haunting the relationship like ‘the ghost that you can’t see’. This ‘ghost’ perfectly captures the essence of the 12th house with Scorpio, because the guide is the subconscious, an unseen but deeply felt force Scorpio North Node is ruled by, over everything else.
Sagittarius North Node in the 12th house: There can be an interweaving of spiritual purpose with this combination. Rare for the Sagittarius North Node is the sense that on any particular path will he find what he’s looking for, so it might be the unknown, mystical quality of the 12th house that pushes him to do something he would never do when this nodal axis falls in any other house, which is commit himself.
I personally think the appeal of this path for Sagittarius North Node is that it is unclear, misty, and that the doorway lies “somewhere down the road” in the future; nothing is more like catnip for Sagittarius than thinking that his choices will lead somewhere, someday, but not now.
Putting off tomorrow is a Sagittarian speciality, so when a Sagittarian node combines with a mutable house, particularly the mostly undemanding 12th, Sagittarius can rely on Gemini South Node’s laughing charm most of his life until something pushes, or pulls, him into a more evolved self-expression, one where he takes greater responsibility for that which some might call the ‘soul,’ but others will call the inner spirit or perhaps the psyche.
Sagittarius here feels a vague unease until some outer event draws his attention inexorably to the piece he’s been missing about life, the ‘deeper’ place he has not yet investigated (namely, himself). Gemini South Node is not inclined to do more than work hard to attain material pleasures in the 6th; his rationale is that this shouldn’t include taking an inner inventory. But the good thing about Sagittarius is that he is, by nature, drawn to know himself better than his South Node would under regular circumstances.
Most Sagittarian North Nodes are not necessarily terribly deep earlier in life, before something serious happens that breaks them out of their self-absorbed reverie. Their direction is usually to follow (it is a mutable sign) behind whatever glittering parade is passing by, preferably towards the nearest cold drink, or the cutie mixing the drinks.
But in the 12th, this otherwise cheerful party-goer turns serious; perhaps his early life, with South Node in the 6th, was terribly difficult (Earth signs on the South Node have the tendency to give the child a difficult childhood, usually with material instability). The purpose of the 6th house is to show you or teach you how to work, after all, and usually for not very much money. Not for nothing is it the house of slaves and bad health.
The North Node in Sagittarius person might also have to deal with someone in the family who has poor health. It’s not an uncommon story to learn that a highly motivated savior has a sick mother at home, and then Sagittarius North Node is tugged into a path of responsibility, because, as a Fire sign, Sagittarius cannot let down those who count on him.
The responsibilities of the nodal axis are often what pulls people onto the ‘straight and narrow’ path; in the 6th, what starts out as a job turns into a calling in the 12th house, but you might be volunteered for it.
Health care is frequently a lifelong issue for anyone with this nodal axis, but it is so often someone else’s health that’s in question, and this gives Sagittarius North Node the opportunity to rise to the occasion and be the hero he’s capable of being. When the Sagittarius North Node’s health is in question, however, he or she will make a point of finding out who else has the same condition, and might very well start a fund or a program dealing with just this same health condition; his or her concern will be for the masses, and she won’t rest until she’s raised funds to support the nameless, faceless people in trouble.
This is the hero side to Sagittarius (and other Fire signs) that points this native’s way into her higher calling, which is seeing that others are taken care of first. This is the ‘story arc’, if you will, of the nodal axis; we start out with our undeveloped South Nodes, and eventually grow to become the people we’re meant to be (if we get pushed and pulled enough to grow).
Two comedian-entertainers that many people will have heard of have this nodal axis: Arsenio Hall and Rita Wilson. Rita Wilson, it has to be said, lives in a bit in her more-famous husband, Tom Hanks’, shadow, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t carved out a fabulous career of her own. Not only is she a professional actor, she’s also a singer (put out a new album a few days ago, in fact); she’s also an executive producer, responsible for pushing comedienne-actresss Nia Vardalos to writing and starring in (and, coming out in less than two weeks, its sequel).
Arsenio Hall is very well known, of course, for his own talk show and for comedic roles on TV. The Gemini/Sagittarius nodal axis is well-represented by television entertainers, since these signs are the natural comedians of the Zodiac. If you check out his chart and his life story, though, you’ll see that his childhood was not fun, and that much of his ambition comes from wanting to move his family out of poverty.
That which motivates us seems to come from the skills of our nodal axis; we use the talents we are given, which tend to show themselves early. With Gemini South Node in the 6th, the double-mutability of this combination, particularly with the double-Mercury influence, makes the individual highly facile with language, and so you’d expect this person to do well in any work having to do with communication skills (and although it’s a broadly-defined category, comedians require fast thinking and a highly developed ability with language).
For example, Arsenio went to college originally intending to major in Speech. But with Sagittarius on the Ascendent, Jupiter rules his chart as well as his North Node, and all that Fire would need to be out in public, being seen. He pursued other interests, theatre and magic, and eventually morphed (as Mutable signs will) into a standup comic.
The question you with this nodal axis will have to ask yourself is, how serious are you about your path? Will you stick with it when it gets difficult, or will the outside world have to pull and tug you into your path, because you find some way ‘out’, some way not to commit yourself? The Gemini/Sagittarius nodal axis is not “about” things getting harder, and yet things often get harder with age. If you’re going to stick to your chosen path, my suggestion would be to build up protections as you go, so that you’re not surprised, and give up too easily, when things change in ways you hadn’t expected.
Since one of the most important strengths of the Mutable signs is adaptability, think in terms of that skill when you reach the end of your rope and feel like you can’t go on. The 12th house in particular is much harder psychologically than you might feel prepared for at first, because the 12th is a Water house, but your skills are about Air and Fire.
You want to go forward, but you’re held back by your own fears, for example; or you get so far, but then you’re blocked by an illness. These are hard lessons, and Gemini/Sagittarius want to run away when what’s being asked of you is not to run, but to go deeper and expand your psychic and emotional coping skills.
Another way to think of it is that the 12th is a ‘feminine’ orientation house, but your nodal axis is definitely ‘masculine,’ and so you’re bringing ‘masculine’ coping skills to the 12th, and eventually you’ll get it, but the rhythm of a ‘feminine’ house is about holding back, assessing, and re-imagining possibilities, when all you want to do is go forward.
Capricorn North Node in the 12th house: My expectation with every house placement of Cancer on the South Node is that the family will have a huge influence on the psyche. It can be very hard to prove this with most life stories, though, if the story focuses on the individual’s life after childhood.
Although most of the stories I’ve found about North Node in the 12th speak of strong creativity and the desire or ability to pursue one’s dreams (mostly musicians and artists), on occasion one finds a different story that actually sums up the signs on the nodal axis more clearly than the the house (keeping in mind that there’s always a blending of energies, albeit subtly expressed much of the time).
Here’s an unusual 12th house story (unusual because the theme of the 12th house nodal axis lives so far has been fairly gentle and fairyland-like, except, of course, Virgo North Node Vincent Van Gogh, who I’ll be discussing further in a Composite article). Perhaps, though, this makes complete sense when you see the planetary conjunctions with the North and South nodes, and take into account the nature of the oppositions these form.
Although in wide conjunction (and therefore in wide opposition), Eben Gossage’s 7˚ Mars Capricorn conjunct North Node in opposition to 19˚ Cancer Uranus conjunct South Node illustrates the erratic relationship with his family he would have had. On its own, with a Mars/Uranus opposition, one can usually expect a sudden occurrence or outbreak of violence or an accident, as we’re going to see in Eben’s lif). With an out-of-sign Saturn/Neptune conjunction in the 9th, Eben has been called a “killer, junkie, liar, thief.”
Most importantly for my purposes, ruler of the North Node, Saturn, forms the unusual quintile aspect to the North Node, as well as a square to South Node ruler, Moon. When the nodal axis rulers form an aspect to one another, the nature of the aspect informs the structure of the life-path choices, I have found.
[If you have a Saturn/Moon aspect with this nodal axis, I would expect you to have a ‘relationship’ (which is another way of looking at aspects) between your urge for, or ability with, emotional control and taking responsibility, and your emotional states. The ‘easier’ the aspect, the greater the likelihood that self-control comes naturally, but you’d always have to look at the other factors in the chart, which is what I try to illustrate through these astrological life stories, since this is complicated stuff; Saturn not only represents your ability for self-control, it also represents the authoritarian ‘father’ principle in the chart, just like the Moon represents the Feminine ‘mother’ principle.]
I’ve discussed my opinion of the quintile aspect before; I personally see any quintile in the chart as an indication of the kind of unique ‘brilliance’ you hope to see in the lives of creatives. In the life of someone whose creativity tends toward a creative retelling of ‘the truth’, however, the skill is obviously misused (although apparently Eben was known, when young, as being highly creative and imaginative as an artist, a skill that somehow died out over time, probably eaten away by his heroin addiction).
We see the potential for abuse of the truth in the dubious relationship between Neptune and Mars (Mars widely conjunct the North Node; Mars is also quintile Neptune). Neptune also forms a square to South Node ruler Moon, telling me that the relationship to women in childhood is fraught with difficulty, the kind of difficulty that leads the individual to take the ‘easy’ way out when communicating and forming emotional bonds.
The relationship to his mother was not uncomplicated, and the parents divorced when Eben was five. Although Uranus on the South Node tells us that the early life was, most likely, in upheaval, what that combination really tells you is how the child interpreted events around him, and how he was affected emotionally.
The children lived with their wealthy mother, who had a drinking problem (and died of cirrhosis of the liver). Eben emulated his mother’s problem with addiction. Later in life, he claimed that, prior to the age of 29 (first Saturn return) he had not learned how to deal with his emotions.
Uranus is very widely conjunct Moon (out-of-sign), but with the added impact of each planet conjunct the Descendent, meaning Eben’s relationship with “the Other” (usually women, with Cancer on the Descendent) was volatile and unpredictable, with a great likelihood of Uranus/Moon psychological material overwhelming any possibility his developing child’s mind had to separate from his mother’s erratic emotional behaviors (alcoholics are not reliable in any way; even their moments of sobriety and responsibility are hard to predict, so children are forced to be hyper-observant, or what’s known as hypervigilant).
The bonds alcoholics form with their children are based on out-of-control emotional states the alcoholic has a difficult time modifying. The child who models the parent’s psychological states becomes an addict too. The primary addictive coping mechanism is denial, which I personally see as a Neptune/Saturn issue, with their discrepancy between fantasy and reality. Eben’s Saturn/Neptune conjunction, I believe, is implicated in the fact that he forged his mother’s signature on checks. She turned him in, and he went into rehabilitation therapy (which did not take).
Both parents died before Eben turned 20, by which time he had formed a significant heroin addiction. He and his sister inherited some money from their father (a renowned and even famous San Francisco advertising executive), but Eben’s addiction made an ongoing infusion of money necessary, and he burned through most of the money and was known to steal from his sister Amelia (she was two years younger, had her own apartment, and was, by all reports, “lissome” and attractive). Both children were thought to ‘have it all,’ money, looks, and even their father’s creative ability.
However, the two fought incessantly; their arguments seemed to never end, and were, most likely, provoked by Eben’s addiction, which apparently made his sister very upset; she threatened him with violence, possibly more than once (I’m going to be investigating their sibling relationship in my Composite series).
Eben’s opposition from Mars to Uranus, wide as it is, becomes interwoven with his fate at this point, because after one particularly bad argument, he battered his sister to death with a claw hammer, and stabbed her with scissors. There were 62 stab wounds to her body.
The violence of this behavior is stunning, and makes it worth looking at the transits of the day the murder occurred, February 3rd, 1975, when Mars was precisely conjunct Eben’s natal Mars and Saturn was within 6˚ of natal Uranus/South Node, activating the energy of the nodal axis.
Transiting Uranus was also within a few degrees of natal Saturn. Transiting Neptune was exactly opposite natal Venus. Eben initially denied killing her, and he and his lawyer came up with a story that some random drug dealer had killed her because supposedly, she owed the guy $5,000. This story was ultimately disproved, and Eben finally admitted he’d killed his sister.
In the years that followed, he did time in jail (although only a few years), and has gotten clean and sober. However, he was recently denied his request to be admitted to the California State Bar Association; apparently, the highest court in California decided he has not redeemed himself sufficiently over time.
My personal belief is that the Capricorn/Cancer nodal axis can be (but is not always, obviously) the most difficult if the childhood is toxic. Either the Capricorn South Node denies the child love altogether, or the Cancer South Node creates an emotionally-fraught environment that is difficult—if not impossible—to pull one’s self out of (think of it as an emotional swamp). Either position, particularly in the 12/6 axis, implies mental or physical illness in the family, especially when other factors contribute, like stress on the nodal axis from conjunct planets.
Aquarius North Node in the 12th house: I found a number of humanitarians with this combination, as well as people with certain life problems that stem from issues with the South Node. As you’d expect with a Uranus-ruled North Node, Aquarius North Node leads the native toward his or her unique expression, unlike anyone else, and entirely unforgettable.
I always think the combination of Aquarius and Pisces, or 11th with 12th house influences, adds up to a ‘wildcard’ lifetime, where the possibility of almost anything occurring can, and does, happen. I know that might sound vague; I have an image in my mind of what I mean, and maybe I’ll be able to convey it adequately.
Gelsey Kirkland, one-time prima ballerina of both the New York City Ballet company and the American Ballet Theatre, has remained relevant, after early success dancing for choreographer George Balanchine. However, her own issues with perfectionism and insecurity, combined with Balanchine’s unrelenting methods and attitude toward his dancers, caused her to leave his company after feeling mistreated.
Balanchine put her on stage at the age of 15, and she became a soloist dancer the following year. This is incredibly early to show such strong dancing ability; her rise was described as ‘meteoric’. However, her ability came from the kind of intense hard work she herself described as ‘compulsive.’ Apparently, she would practice in her sleep, she was so driven. This compulsivity was fed by deep insecurities that lead to heroin addiction, bulimia, and anorexia.
She was forced to stop dancing for a time. She married and got off of heroin, but later divorced and remarried. During her first marriage, she produced an ‘explosive’ tell-all book about her experiences with Balanchine, and her addiction and various illnesses. After this, she was persona non grata in the New York ballet world. However, her second marriage led to her developing a school for ballet dancers, and after 20 years of not dancing, she appeared in a production of Sleeping Beauty, this time not in the lead role, but as a ‘wicked fairy.’
North Node in Aquarius falls precisely on Kirkland’s Ascendent; further, ruler Uranus in the 6th house is in wide opposition to Sun in the 11th. These already make the lifetime intense; there’s no escaping that much energy focused around one’s life path decisions. The emphasis in this lifetime is on your appearance, your ability to perform (the 1st house forces that issue, since its purpose, as an Aries-influenced Fire house is to get you out of yourself, and perfect the fine art of Existing—easier said than done for many people).
Then on top of it, Kirkland has Venus/Mars conjunct in the 1st, with an exact Venus opposition to Pluto in the 7th; Mars is also in close opposition to Pluto, although it’s not exact. That is a tremendous amount of pressure on one’s physical behaviors and appearance, in ballet, one of the most emotionally and physically grueling jobs humankind has managed to create for itself and call it art.
Talent bursts out of this chart (this chart has more than one quintile and biquintile, for one thing), but her Taurus Jupiter squaring the North Node, from the 3rd to the 12th, is an indication that she learned her addictive personality, possibly picked it up in her family of origin or through her siblings, or at school, mirroring the behavior of schoolmates. Her biggest challenge this lifetime would be learning self-control over her Jupiterian desires for more, more, more.
Kirkland has said that her insecurities about her looks began when she was compared to her older sister, who was also a ballerina, but retired early due to an injury. Kirkland’s self-defeating behaviors would involve certain bad habits around the body (this is usually about food with Taurus; or anything sensual; or about over-doing physical sensation, common in drug addiction, where the addict keeps taking more because he cannot feel anything at lower doses).
Seeking physical sensation becomes a coping mechanism, a distraction, for emotions she didn’t know how to control any other way (Moon in the 4th opposite Mercury in the 10th, indicating fluctuations between emotions and rationality, possibly witnessed in the home as two opposing ways the parents used to control or express emotions).
The fundamental insecurity in this chart comes from all the oppositions. One opposition in a chart is usually manageable; when you start piling them on, though, you’re seeing a pattern of ups and downs that become harder and harder to manage.
Further, these oppositions in Kirkland’s chart are in angular houses, which gives them extra importance. Angular houses represent the backbone of the chart, so if these houses are tenanted and yet compromised, it weakens the entire life structure (which means that even though Kirkland’s physical strength is formidable, her soul or self or psyche, however you want to call it, is weakened.
Squares from the ruler of the North Node, Uranus, to the Saturn/Neptune conjunction in the 8th tells me that Kirkland had a lot of work to do on understanding the emotions she apparently suppressed or sublimated (the 8th, as Scorpio’s natural house, tends to repress, suppress, ignore, and/or deny emotions, which is unhelpful when you’ve got a conjunction of Saturn and Neptune, one which represents brutal reality, the other, fantasies, dreams, and wishes).
The Grand Air Trine involves Venus/Mars Aquarius in the 1st, Moon Gemini in the 4th, and Saturn/Neptune in the 8th reinforces the basic motif of this chart, which is a struggle between Air and Water influences (similar to Marilyn Monroe’s chart).
An Air Grand Trine implies that Kirkland’s ability to remain rational (and write her books, presumably cathartic experiences) has helped her (and probably hindered her, since a Grand Trine in Air doesn’t necessarily have the skills it needs to handle the strong emotions implied by Venus opposite Pluto, particularly in relationships. The mirroring effect of the 1/7 axis would be particularly painful for Kirkland, who struggled for years to see herself clearly).
Ultimately, my ‘warning’ to the Leo/Aquarius nodal axis always comes back to hubris. While it might appear on the surface that Kirkland suffered from low self-esteem, one of the ‘nuggets’ of truth about her reactions and behaviors comes from a need to balance out the oppositions in her chart that are symbolic of those in her psyche; one of those imbalances stems from the need to be seen as more in control than she actually was. There’s an inherent hubris in this kind of denial, and it’s one that this particular nodal axis, with Uranus and Sun tugging at the soul for domination, struggles with.
In the 12/6 axis, that struggle can manifest as illness or dependency on drugs or others to help ‘fix’ you, but my suggestion would be to look first at the ways in which the individual is in denial or ignoring their desire to come first and be thought of as the most important person in the room.
There’s a lesson about humility for the Uranus/Sun person in this nodal axis, and it’s been my observation that it’s a hard one to learn, yet the chart often supports humiliating experiences that bring one to one’s knees, until the message about leveling out expectations of grandeur are heard at the soul-level.
A philosopher who bridges the gap between intellectually understanding this house and explaining the dynamics and spiritual ethics of this house’s subject matter is André Comte-Sponville, an advocate of ‘atheist spirituality,’ part of the post-materialist movement, who wants us to embrace tolerance of those with faith, whether we believe in God or not. His basic argument is that God isn’t logically necessary, but we can still have love, ethical behavior and even the experience of eternity.
I’m not really surprised by his position, since his North Node is conjunct Venus (and he’s also a Pisces Sun in the 12th, so I think he’s living this particular take on reality). He’s got a wide Pluto conjunction to his South Node in the 6th (in opposition to Venus, which does tend to pull the native into intense experiences—in the 6/12 axis, these intense experiences are likely to veer more toward the metaphysical or spiritual than the physical, though).
Comte-Sponville also has a Sun/Moon opposition from Pisces to Virgo, so there’s a lot of energy in his chart about giving freely to others on a spiritual level, through basic human generosity and acceptance of others frailties (I have found that the 6/12 axis, and/or Virgo/Pisces planets, help with the humility side of this equation, since it requires true humility and egolessness to give openly to others, accepting them and tolerating their differences).
The key is, though, with the force of the Anaretic 29˚ Aquarius North Node, he’s drawn toward explaining his philosophy, and spreading the Venus-love by being kind to people of faith, rather than get all scientistic and denigrating (as you see with philosophers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens).
So for me, Comte-Sponville provides a kind of ‘bridge’ between this nodal axis and the next, because he has helped explain how spirituality ‘works’ for people who don’t necessarily feel religious about the idea or the feeling of faith. He emphasizes the need for community and stresses that this is neither a religious nor atheist need; it’s a human need.
Pisces North Node in the 12th House: Finally we come to the house and Nodal axis combination that most clearly reflects what this house is all about. There is a subtle self-sacrifice expected in this nodal axis that is not about giving up one’s hopes and dreams for another with no thought of any reward. The idea that one must absolutely sublimate the Self misses the point about this kind of generosity of spirit.
Instead, the ideal purpose here is to draw the individual, who always struggles with the limits of self-interest, into giving to another (or the world) as part of being alive. Giving then is like breathing; without conscious thought, it comes naturally. This type of soul holds nothing back because he or she knows that life is not a zero-sum game.
If you approach life from the perspective that what you give does not detract from what you have, then you don’t need me; you get it, and you should now go forth into the sunset and enjoy the time you’ve got left on the planet. If, however, you’re stuck in the mentality that you need more to be happy, and that means that the pie slice Susie got is bigger than the one mom cut for you… you’re gonna spend more time in this house, figuring this out.
Some people with Pisces North Node in the 12th are mostly experiencing this house from a metaphysical perspective. Their connection with the universe extends to the paranormal, and the occult is a completely understood realm they feel drawn to; you could say it’s the cosmic ‘waters’ in which they swim.
This mostly symbolic language comes easily, and there isn’t any need to explain themselves through the kind of language that Comte-Sponville uses (the rationalistic, theoretical language of academia does not apply for Pisces North Node, particularly here in the house where meaningful silence conveys a world of information).
It’s almost a cliché to say that you find astrologers, shaman, light-workers, etc., floating in this aquarium, but it is true that Pisces North Node here is drawn to express herself as meaningfully as possible. Even so, the 12th is a non-material house and demands an ethical commitment, because what you’re asking of others is for them to accept your vision, pretty much without question. To do this, whether you know it or not, many, if not most, people have to strip off the extra protective layers materialism gives us.
The ‘demand’ you might be unaware you make is that people who cling to the material should be able or willing to let go of it to come fire walk with you—that they should ‘naturally’ want to or aspire to. Letting go of the casual assumption that belief in that which you cannot see, taste, or experience with any of the five senses is easy for others, has to be your spiritual commitment, before you take someone with you on your personal tour of the galaxy.
This is all South Node in the 6th about perfection and judgementalism stuff you have to be willing to let go of if you’re going to be believable in the 12th house. You can’t want transcendence too much; it freaks people out, and then you’re not trustworthy. People have to become vulnerable to let go of their materialist protection, and they need for your references—and your compassion—to be impeccable.
This is one of the primary reasons that it’s so hard for most people to accept that their personal definition of spirituality can be shared by a ‘guru’ or a ‘practitioner’ and a ‘client.’ Isn’t spirituality supposed to transcend labels, definitions, reassurances, PayPal accounts? How do we make the transition from the purely materialistic, Earthy, 6th house/Virgo experience to the non-material realities of the 12th/Pisces North Node?
One of the ways you know you’re making the transition from 6th house concerns to 12th house attitudes is when you reduce your focus on an Absolute Need for boundaries (the kind where you insist people sign contracts ahead of time to ensure their good behavior, for example).
Let me be clear: boundaries are crucial. Knowing your boundaries is vital for mental health. However, there are people whose perceived need for boundaries is actually based on fear and hurt. The fences you erect in response to pain don’t actually do much good, particularly if you’ve got a Pisces North Node but no awakened consciousness or awareness of your feeling nature, of what you must have, and what you must protect yourself from. Then you’re just stumbling in the dark, the walking wounded looking for a ‘spiritual’ cause to heal you.
Now, an example of someone who understands pragmatic, clear, and realistic boundaries is Cesar Millan, the ‘Dog Whisperer,’ (born August 27th, 1969) who is a Virgo Sun with North Node in Pisces, with Pluto in Virgo on his South Node (I do not have a time of birth for him, but he’s got similar chart energies to those we’re talking about).
He seems to intuitively get that boundaries are necessary for survival and sanity—you should see him quickly and easily declare his space with a difficult dog—but he knows that all of this should be tempered with affection and appreciation for the dog’s individual qualities. He pretty clearly practices “unconditional love,” and it shows.
So when you get past your fear of having your boundaries overwhelmed, welcome to Pisces. Now that you’re here, you can start developing compassion and sympathy; coming from the 6th house, you probably already care deeply about animals and the downtrodden, and if you don’t, perhaps you should start working on that, because in my opinion, if you can’t take care of an animal, how do you expect to be able to take care of a human being, or yourself, for that matter? Cesar has absolutely mastered his South Node in Virgo; this is clear in the way he treats the animals (and the people) he works with.
Because it’s so easy for this North Node to become misdirected, due to Neptune’s rulership of Pisces, mystic and nun Antoinette Bourignon is of great interest to me. Born in 1616 to a wealthy Catholic family, she had a birth condition which made it necessary to do almost immediate surgery on a cleft palate. Although at first it was asked whether her life was worth saving, the problem was fixed with surgery.
Life-threatening illness at birth is often seen with Saturn on the Ascendent and/or the nodal axis in the houses of poor health, the 6/12 axis. From a very early age, she was attracted to religion. I say this tongue-in-cheek with a soupçon of irony, but typical of Virgo, she lectured her parents about religion at the age of five.
Ruler of the North Node, Neptune, falls fairly close to her South Node in the 6th; it’s about 11 degrees off, but the overall influence indicates that this child possibly incarnated with a real interest in spirituality, which was transformed by problems in her personality into a religious mania of sorts. Virgo on the South Node, though, also tells me that she had an investment in being ‘right,’ as well as ‘righteous.’
One of the few legitimate ways a woman of Antoinette’s era could demand her freedom without saying a word out of place was through time spent in prayer. Religious pursuits have, for a very long time, been one of the few acceptable ways women in restrictive circumstances can express their power, albeit often indirectly, through supporting the church financially in many ways.
Very few women throughout history have tried to be as independent in their religious pursuits as Antoinette; not very many women tried to found their own religious communities, for example, yet that’s precisely what she attempted, leading an “end of days” restoration of what she touted as “true Christianity” for a sect formed out of a “third power” spiritualist movement. The force of an Aries Ascendent (with Saturn and Pluto in the 1st) explains some of it, but there are many other bits and pieces, and the nodal axis is not insignificant in pulling her towards this particular expression of her will.
Because Antoinette was the daughter of a wealthy family, her father wanted to marry her off, but she would have none of it. Instead, she fled an arranged marriage, but was found and returned to her family. After 18 months at home, she left to form an ascetic community, the first of many attempts in her life to create a new community around revelations she believed to have been revealed directly to her.
Now, if you’re experiencing revelations, it’s my experience that your Neptune is involved, and where there’s Neptune, there’s often self-deception, a particularly pernicious problem in the 12th house or with Pisces. In 1653 she founded a girls’ orphanage with inheritance money. In 1662, however she fled (once again) after an investigation revealed that, due to the harsh regime, one of the girls died. Bourignon claimed to be in direct connection with God and accused the girls of having a pact with the devil.
There could be some projection here, since Antoinette had a Pluto/Moon opposition (Pluto in the 1st, a classic powerbroker, Moon in Scorpio in the 7th, with its inherent unwillingness to bend from its extreme emotional states).
At this point, I began to suspect a negative Mercury, and lo, there is a square from Neptune in the 6th to Mercury in the 9th, meaning the rulers of the nodes are in conflict (never a good sign when you’re dealing with Neptune and Mercury, because each represents such very different energy to begin with; one purely rational, one supernatural). Because of the signs and houses involved in this square, it would prove to be almost impossible for Antoinette to see her beliefs rationally
I’d say that her overblown rhetoric was understandable given it was the 1600s, but we could hear the same thing today; not much has changed in the land of religious self-righteousness. Apparently, Antoinette’s Neptune and South Node in Virgo just couldn’t get ascetic enough; she decried the Catholics for their excesses, and formed a following of people who considered themselves “true Catholics,” whom only she could save, apparently because God had obliged her to do so.
She eventually published her teachings, but was ultimately accused of witchcraft, and while fleeing from place to place (there’s a lot of fleeing in her life) became stuck in one town, got sick, and died. South Node ruler, Mercury, in wide opposition to defiant Uranus conjunct the IC, shows how her 9th house beliefs opposed and conflicted with family expectations, but it also shows you that from time to time, she was going to have to beat a hasty retreat out of town to evade the consequences of her words and beliefs (Sagittarius Mercury).
This unwillingness to face the restrictions of reality presented to her by others with whom she did not agree is understandable, if not acceptable behavior, given the didactic nature of her chart. She had no intention of letting others dictate to her, since she was the one here to teach others the error of their ways.
However, her extreme personality seems to have led to dangerous consequences. She would never back down, but when she didn’t like the limitations placed on her by authority figures, she’d run away. I’d say it was a Feminist issue, except for the fact that it was under her jurisdiction that at least one of her orphaned girls died.
So Antoinette, her extremes and self-deceptions, present a bit of a warning, because this type of person could easily exist today; she might not run the risk of being burned at the stake, but people who won’t compromise even when they’re clearly misguided and deceived by their own visions still exist. Nonetheless, Antoinette was an utterly fascinating woman, determined, and even a bit ‘mad,’ most likely, but undeniably sure of her vision and her version of spirituality.
Yet we cannot leave this last, potentially most important spiritually-inclined sign and house in the hands of a semi-crazed didactic ‘mystic’, one whose methods and even her beliefs were a bit suspect. To get into Heaven, one should not have to follow behind someone who tells you that only she can save you, particularly when her primary proof comes from the voice of God (that only she can hear).
Instead, I’d like to leave you with someone more rational, someone whose Neptune did not lead him astray, but instead led him, along with the ruler of his South Node, toward clarification and organization of language usage.
When you look at Ferdinand de Saussure’s chart, I don’t know if ‘creative reorganization of language use’ leaps out at you. Other than Sun conjunct Mercury, and the ruler of Gemini’s 3rd house, Mercury, also ruling the South Node, this isn’t a chart I’d automatically associate with someone who became one of the world’s most prominent linguists.
There are glimmerings, of course. You can always make the argument that Sagittarius (Sun conjunct Mercury) is interested in innovation, and Sun with Mercury strengthens an interest in language skills of all kinds. Saussure was also a prominent theorist, and that’s a field Sagittarius revels in. Nothing thrills the intellectual Sagittarius more than being at play in the garden of theory.
This time it’s in the 7th (ruled by Air, but in his chart, with Scorpio on the cusp, so influenced by Pluto and/or Mars, depending on whose rules you’re following). He’s seeking a deeper relationship with Sagittarius issues, philosophy, belief(s), scholarship, etc.
His work on signs and signifiers is crucial to the development of linguistics and semiotics.
Saussure is credited with having developed (‘discovered’, to be accurate) the signifier (a sign’s physical form, its sound, image, or symbol) and the signified (the meaning or idea expressed by a sign). The signifier is, to all intents and purposes, value-neutral. It is the letter ‘Q’, let’s say. ‘Q’ has no meaning. On its own, it is a squiggle, a shape, and ultimately, a sound humans are capable of making or drawing—it is highly symbolic.
However, the signified has been given value by our individual or collective use of it, by the way we think of it and talk about it. So ‘Q’ has been imbued with meaning (which we may not all agree on). The signified is highly contentious, because its meaning is always under negotiation, is never fixed, and is therefore always in flux.
I have claimed (and I stand by it now) that astrology signifies, and that it is a highly theoretical symbolic system.
Saussure postulated that the relationship between the signifier and the signified is ‘arbitrary,’ and, speaking as a rhetorician and an astrologer, this is where I think his Pisces North Node conjunct Neptune and Moon makes its purpose felt.
With this fundamental understanding of the arbitrariness of the value-system that underlies language use (and how political and contentious language is, particularly evidenced by fights over changing grammatical rules and conventions, symbolized for our purposes by Virgo on Saussure’s South Node) we begin to get a really good understanding of where 12th house Pisces actually stands on the idea of defining its thinking about a thing, concept, or object.
Which is to say, I think you’ll find that Pisces values the value-neutral stance of arbitrariness, under which a sign (such as ‘Leo’, let’s say) has absolutely no inherent meaning. Just because you call it L-E-O, it doesn’t automatically mean “now insert a picture of a real Lion here because symbolically, a Lion is what we always think of when we see the word “L-E-O”.
Instead, we [who? ah, now that’s the real question, isn’t it? hence the inherent politics of language use] decide what the meaning of L-E-O is, and that meaning changes over time. And, as I’m sure you’ll agree, it has become increasingly difficult to hold on to the determinants of yesteryear, the era in which we “all” agreed on the same meaning to assign to ‘Leo.’
I think you begin to see the power of Saussure’s theoretical stance once you refuse to agree that we ‘should’ all see the same exact symbol every time we come up with a word that has long been traditionally associated with that symbol. Yet you also begin to see the postmodern problems associated with this concept of value-neutrality (and the ultimate problem, in my opinion, with Pisces in general).
Virgo has its place, and it’s an incredibly useful place, in the astrological and real-world schema. Virgo’s place is, admittedly, didactic and schoolmarmish (hence the irresponsible religious rhetoric of Antoinette, above) but the effect it has is precisely the opposite of Pisces, at the same time that it supports its opposing sign (as do all oppositions, when they’re not actively undermining their opposing sign).
For one thing, Virgo offers structure where Pisces would have a mist machine operating in the background, covering everything in a foggy glamor. Virgo asks for definition, whereas Pisces says ‘call it whatever you want.’ Virgo says, ‘hit your cue,’ when Pisces says ‘stand wherever.’
Perhaps most importantly, Virgo represents the part of the human experience that divides, sorts, and organizes according to reasons that make sense. Pisces puts blue and orange and puce together and sees art; Virgo says ‘which doesn’t fit?’ and creates order.
As a concept, Virgo leads us to the kind of definition that Pisces (and postmodernism, which is content with deconstruction) willfully ignores and actively messes with. This has lead to a great deal of so-called ‘choice’, at the same time that now everyone gets to define for him- or herself what, in our case, astrology means.
When you get to the point where everyone is conducting their very own arbitrary, vaguely-defined version of astrology, you are no longer following Virgo’s strict rules, and you’ve entered into a world where values are individually determined, even while you do battle—consciously or subconsciously—with traditional group expectations about what you believe.
This is the downfall of Pisces, if you ask me; the price paid for Pisces’ willing lack of definition is muddle and confusion, and a lot of arguments which devolve into Virgo hair-splittings that go on seemingly endlessly, because humans need definition, limits, and border lines, whether Pisces likes it or not.
Mercury in Pisces opposition Jupiter in Virgo Robert Frost reflects the Pisces/Virgo ambivalence with this very idea when he writes, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” in his poem “The Mending Wall,” only to have his pragmatic, but limited (and limiting) neighbor respond, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
In any axis, including the one in which the Nodes are placed, you find that the energies of the signs work in tandem, one picking up where the other leaves off. It can be virtually impossible to get one energy ‘purely’ on its own; they are, and will always be, connected, two sides of the same coin.
Saussure created terminology for this situation. He separated speech acts (la parole) from the system of a language (la langue). Parole symbolized the free will of the individual, whereas la langue was regulated by the group, albeit unknowingly.
So you can see the absolute brilliance of Saussure’s theoretical ‘discovery,’ as well as its application to astrology (in my opinion, the perfect example, since it uses both ‘signs’ as signs, and language, to explain itself). Astrology, like any symbolic system, is not free of language, and therefore relies on what Saussure would call a value-based system to define itself.
I leave you with this thought, at the end of this long series regarding the purpose and strength of the Nodal axis, which is that we are the ones who determine what astrology means, and yet that ability, that power of definition, does not allow us to arbitrarily walk away from and ignore the learning of the past. There does not have to be an ‘either/or’ decision made between the detail of Virgo or the broad definitions of Pisces.
Finally, thank you so much for reading.
This website represents a huge emotional commitment for me, as well as an even larger learning process, and it means a lot to know there are readers who’ve followed along. I’ve made mistakes, and I’ll probably go back and do a lot of revising. I’m going to leave this part alone for the time being, though, and move on. Give these ideas time to ‘breathe,’ so to speak.
See you for the next series. 🙂