Analysis of the 7th House/1st House Nodal Axis Through the Signs

The 7th house dragon

The lovely rainbow-hued 7th house dragon. Click on the picture to see the artist’s information.

There’s an awful lot to think about when it comes to an interpretation of a 7th house Node, planet, or other point.

First of all, there’s the significant fact that taking on the 7th house means discussing the Descendant, and once you’re talking about the Descendant, you’re also talking about the angles (also called Cardinal points).

You’re also pulling in what I call ‘shadow strength’ energy from the opposite house, in this case the 1st. The 1st house represents, amongst other things, how you express yourself to the world, whereas the 7th tells us, very broadly, how that energy is received. This is all true even if you have no planets, points, or Nodal axis in these houses; then you look at the signs on the cusps of 1/7 axis and go from there.  

The relationship between the 1st and 7th houses are where you see how you behave and how others respond to that behavior. The rulers of the Ascendant/Descendant axis will tell us a lot about how you deal with Significant Others, and who you naturally gravitate towards. This is helpful information if you’re attracting the wrong people. Maybe there’s something you need to tweak. 

Once you’re talking about the angles, you’re also talking about four significant turning points in the chart. The turning point of the Descendant, especially through transits, relates to changes in relationships with others.

And, just to throw a spanner in the works, far too many people live with natal Saturn posited in the 7th, which never fails to unglue them about the entire subject of relationships (keep reading, because I address this entire issue as we go). There’s also the fact that Saturn is exalted in Libra, and there’s the question of how the sign Libra, and its ruler, Venus, affects our expectations of this house.

One of the greatest strengths of the 7th house is its awareness of others. This means that the point to North Node in the 7th is to connect with others, to understand them; not in an emotionally empathic way, unless the rest of the chart supports that ability, but in a state of conscious awareness that others have their own, separate but equal lives, and that we must take their realities seriously if we’re going to be responsible humans coexisting on the planet. 

So we must rather carefully unpack the 7th house, since it’s a sensitive point for most people— if not natally, then during transits. Having the North Node here puts a particular emphasis on learning who you are and developing innate South Node skills specifically through relationships. This is harder than it sounds, since you aren’t allowed to take for granted learning the skill of working with others to accomplish your personal goals. 

What is the Descendant and why does it matter?

On the purely personal one-on-one relationship level, the people we attract are whoever we choose to look at through the mirror of our 1st house persona. This could be literally anyone you attract or are attracted to (and I’m using the word ‘attracted’ to mean ‘energized by’ rather than sexually attracted, although sexual attraction is often part of the projection/attraction). For this information, we look to the Descendant of the chart, the cusp of the 7th house.

The importance of the 7th house stems from its association with the Descendant of the astrological chart, and its position as one of the four Cardinal points or angles. As a Cardinal point, the Descendant therefore represents one of the four major turning points in the chart. When a planet transits over each Cardinal cusp, it is, in essence, representing an initiation into a new “season” or way of being.

It is the initiatory nature of the Cardinal points that gives them such power; though all 12 cusps have a specific role to play, in the 7th house, we start to see how the native relates to others, and how others relate to him or her.

The idea that the 7th house represents the ‘other’ is the natal chart’s opposite-but-equal response to the nature of the Ascendant and the 1st house, with its self-involvement and tendency for self-absorption. 

The 7th house, acting in its dual/opposite role as one end of an axis, represents the ‘other’ who exists, from a 1st house perspective, as an obvious opposition to the self, but is nonetheless seen as part of, or related to, the self. This gets complicated, which is why it’s such a natural house for psychology to delve into, since, as only one example of the problems associated with this house, we can spend a lifetime unpacking the word ‘frenemy,’ a combination of friend and enemy the 7th house was made for.

This opposition can be viewed in a positive or negative manner. The person whose Sun falls in your 7th might very well become your marriage partner or your enemy—or both, in the case of a nasty divorce. The 7th house represents anyone who mirrors back to you certain qualities the 1st house cannot necessarily see on its own (which is why the 7th house is often prominent in the charts of psychologists, since it activates a need to understand that which we cannot see about ourselves).

As an example, both Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud had Sun in the 7th house, which reinforces the idea that one’s life focus with Sun in this house is about understanding the “other.” (Both had 8th house planets as well, and that’s not uncommon when you find planets in the 7th, which augments the possibility that the person in question will be interested in psychology; just don’t underestimate how important people in general are to 7th house planets, particularly the Sun).

The Cardinal Points: It helps if you see the universe in 3D

To understand why astrology gives such weight to the Cardinal points, it helps to visualize the three dimensional appearance of the intersections created in the heavens at the moment of your birth.

All these things are going on in the heavens simultaneously the moment you're born. It's intense.

All this and more is going on in the heavens simultaneously the moment you’re born. It’s intense.

This astrologer explains this phenomenon really well, at the same time he helps us understand why using a more detailed house system (instead of whole signs or conflating house with sign—giving both house and sign the same exact meaning) is worth the effort.

There are 3-dimensional versions of the interplay of the planets, Earth, with the ecliptic and the Zodiacal belt. The reason I think this kind of illustration of what makes astrology possible is important lies in the fact that without a 3-D imagination, it’s rather pointless to worry about what sign is on the cusp of a house, largely because it’s the realities of celestial latitude and longitude that make precision possible, down to degrees, minutes, and seconds of one specific sign.

If you could see this moving, it would help, but just try to see your chart in this space. Your natal chart represents everything you see here, plus the Zodiac, plus the planets, etc., etc.

If you could see this as a moving image, it would help, but just try to see your chart this way. Your natal chart represents everything you see here, plus the Zodiac, plus the planets, etc., etc.

For the person seeking answers, astrology’s gift of information comes wrapped in a package of precision and mathematics; the more detail you’re willing to work with, the greater the outcome, it seems to me.

The Idea of Libra and the great Balance in the sky

The ‘Balance’ was one of the earliest constellations delineated by the Babylonians, and was transcribed in a list, or ‘star catalogue,’ as MUL Zibanu (it was also known as the claws of the Scorpion). At the time these stars were named, the autumnal equinox, in which night and day are of equal length, occurred as the sun transited this area of the ecliptic. The scales were held sacred to the sun god Shamash who was the patron of truth and justice, so we see a very early correlation between this constellation and ideas of justice, balance, and equality.

It was the ancient Egyptians, however, who gave us a really valuable example of how to work with the spiritual concept of balance and judgement.

Although the Egyptians did not recognize the balance or Libra amongst their constellations, their religion relied on humanity’s most fundamental social principle, that there is a difference between right and wrong, and that that difference informs the creation of universal laws which apply to everyone equally. 

egypt44_large

The idea of balance was central for the Egyptians, who used a scale to weigh the supplicant’s soul at death. Ma’at was the goddess of order, judgement, and justice, and oversaw the quality of your soul (thought to exist in the heart). During your judgement in the Hall of Ma’at, prior to being granted (or denied) access to the Field of Reeds (the afterlife), Anubis weighed the soul against Ma’at’s feather. If you didn’t have a good soul, though, you’d be condemned to an afterlife of non-existence, and a grotesque monster would devour you.

Egyptian religious belief, which permeated every level of society, relied on dualistic principles of right and wrong, good and evil. Most importantly, Egyptians, like the Ancient Greeks, based their social structure on a belief in an ordered universe. The thing about ‘believing in an ordered universe’ is that you tend to want it to stay that way, and this is where the concept of balance comes in; disorder leads to chaos, and rather than let things get that bad, you learn how to promote harmony.

The goddess Ma’at in her role as divine judge was the weigher of human souls, and determined whether or not the dead passed into the afterlife. The list of attributes assigned to Ma’at strongly resemble what Libra stands for: truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice. Your soul was judged on the principle of balance; if you’d lived a balanced life in harmony with the gods and the forces of nature, you would pass to the Field of Reeds.

The spirit or idea of Ma’at encompassed three fundamental things: the first was the goddess herself, who was thought to have brought order out of primordial chaos; the next were the laws under which the Egyptians lived; finally there was the physical manifestation of balance itself, the scales used to weigh the heart/soul. 

Hevelius Firmamentum, 1690

Although Western astrology usually pays little attention to actual constellations, Libra is perhaps the only constellation whose shape and form influences how we think of the nature of the sign itself. Some images show the pans roughly equivalent to each other, but in others, one pan is higher than the other. Different artists used different orientations of the stars, which also affects our interpretation of the image. Imbalance seems key to one interpretation of Libra, while attaining a desirable state of equilibrium informs other interpretations.

constellation_libra_600

How you’ve been taught to think about this constellation matters to your interpretation of Libra’s function, since it’s easy to think that Libra is “about” a constant state of imbalance if you’re used to seeing the two sides out of balance. The constellation itself only resembles a balance if you’re really looking.

The Influence of Libra on the 7th House 

The houses of the first two quadrants have been concerned primarily with the self in his or her small, personal world, very much defined by the small world around us as we go from childhood through adolescence into young adulthood. It’s with the Descendant, though, that the world starts to feel a little more impersonal and even outside of our immediate control. For the first time, we are required to make a real effort to access interpersonal relationships; they aren’t automatically provided by the fact of our birth, educational surroundings, or extended family. 

Even though the 7th has to do with affiliations that are legally sanctioned by society, particularly through business and marriage, it’s really with the relatively impersonal nature of legal relationships that you begin to get a better sense of why it’s useful and illuminating to accept Zodiacal signs as ‘rulers’ of the cusps of houses. Unless you let Libra have this house, you won’t comprehend the essence of why societally-sanctioned marriage exists.

The 7th house influence of Cardinal air-sign Libra and its ruler Venus means one of the dearest goals of the 7th house person (no matter if it’s the Nodal axis or some other point or planet) is 1) To persuade you of something and 2) To make you like them, or, at the very least, to appear likeable. The sign, modality, and planet you find in the 7th house will tell you a lot about the style the 7th house person uses to accomplish these goals.

Given the fact that the 7th house North Node frequently shows up in the horoscopes of politicians and lawyers, I think that should tell you a little bit about how the 7th house functions in relationship to others. There is a desire to connect with others; that’s basic to the nature of the 7th house. Beyond that, though, is the desire to transform others through reason and rationality.

It isn’t that the 7th house person wants to turn you into their clone; it’s just that a house overseen by Libra brings Cardinal Air to their interactions, and that’s some pretty transformative energy. Cardinal signs in general want to get things started, and the modality of Air uses their intellectual abilities to do so. The natural outcome of all of this in the 7th house is the use of persuasion.   

You can see how these desires and abilities can easily be misused by some, when persuasion and likeability turn to manipulation, deception, and obsession with other people (murderers and stalkers, it turns out, are far too likely to have 7th house planets, but not necessarily the Nodal axis).

The 7th house focus on pleasing others can become deadly when the individual, who has always projected his need for attention on to others, becomes obsessed with someone, usually someone famous (but it can also be an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend or wife or husband). The relationship with the ‘other’ is not necessarily a healthy one, and this is why the 7th is a complicated house.

One of the complications happens when people who have never been married gloss over the ramifications of 7th house reality, believing somehow that marriage “belongs” to the 5th house, since marriage = romance and flowers for a lot of people. If you go in that direction, though, you’ll be missing the reasons society evolved marriage as a contract conducted with big-G God, or, in a secular society, with the State.

This fact helps us understand how the rather impersonal air-nature of Libra has anything whatsoever to do with marriage. Of course marriage can have its romantic and spiritual sides, and that’s all well and good, but if you want to divorce someone, you’ll find out pretty quickly that your metaphysical or religious ‘contract’ holds no weight in the material world. It’s the piece of paper that holds the most weight in the land of reality.

The fact that Saturn is exalted in Libra holds the key to how the process of going through the ups, downs, upsets, and good times in relationships helps us understand ourselves better, but also makes us more aware of others’ needs. I don’t think that Saturn here is “about” hurting you through relationships. Instead, it’s a reminder that to truly relate to someone else and to understand them and why they behave as though their sole function on the planet is to annoy you, you have to get out of your own skin and try to see their life through their eyes. As they say, walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins.

People with Saturn placed in this house often worry that it “means” they’ll never get married, or that marriage will be delayed. I think the best place to begin when you have Saturn posited in this house is to ask yourself the extent to which your own self-concern occludes your ability to allow others to see your vulnerability. Saturn here often precludes honesty, since your primary fear basically is other people. 

From what I’ve seen, Saturn in the 7th house too often prevents the individual from seeing himself clearly, particularly the effect he has on other people. Stop and take stock of how you might be pushing other people away before you run to your astrologer and ask them if you’re doomed to solitude for the rest of your life. 

Libra as natural house sign on the Descendant/7th house cusp tells us that an air sign lack of sentimentality can be key to understanding why many societies do not equate marriage with romance, since it’s entirely possible to be happy in an arranged marriage. Romantic ideas of what holds a marriage together really don’t matter to the 7th house, per se. Libra can be gooey and sentimental, but the 7th house is not (just to draw one of many distinctions between sign and house).

Therefore, acknowledging that the 7th house is not about romance is a crucial step to explaining why some marriages last longer than others.

The mystery to the art of staying married is not in the script of romantic comedies, which is why romantic comedies are 5th house entertainments that have little to do with the much more serious nature of the 7th house. In the 7th, we’re not here to have fun, we’re here to adapt to someone else’s reality, and to learn that our youthful, romantic expectations are unrealistic. Ah, the joys of connubial bliss.

Growing up is one of the strongest messages of the Cardinal points, by the way; taking on new challenges and redirecting our focus in life comes with the nature of these four angles, which is why knowing precisely what their degrees and signs are is so important.

What We Think Nowadays About the 7th House

Keep in mind that, throughout time, you have the quirks, whims, and beliefs of various astrologers to thank for meanings we give to the signs and houses. Even so, the 7th house has been remarkably resilient, and its meaning has changed little over the centuries.

It’s untrue to think that there was ever one universally acceptable method of approach to astrological interpretations. What worked for a generation or more of astrologers had little relevance later on, particularly once you pass into the modern era, which has changed astrology and how we read charts, mostly through two expectations we place on chart readings today—that they contain spiritual information, and/or that they contain psychological information.

There are, however, some basic rules which stand the test of time, even though we, in our postmodern era might not apply them in precisely the same ways earlier astrologers did. For example, William Lilly’s recommendations (my word, not his) circa 1647 about the nature of the 7th house pretty much still apply (although Lilly was using these rules to read horary charts, which have to do with ‘questions of the hour’, such as “Will Jack ask me to marry him?”, appropriate since we’re strolling through the 7th house).

The SEVENTH House.

It gives judgment of marriage; and describes the person inquired after, whether it be a man or woman; all manner of love questions; or public enemies, the defendant in a lawsuit, in war, the opposing party; all quarrels, duels, lawsuits; it astrology, the artist himself; in physic, the physician; thieves and thefts, the person stealing, whether man or woman; wives, sweethearts, their shape, description, condition, nobly or ignobly born; in an annual ingress, whether war or peace may be expected; of victory, who overcomes and who is worsted fugitives or runaways, banished or outlawed men. It has cosignificators ♎ and ☽; ♄ or ♂ unfortunate herein, shew ill in marriage. Of colour, a dark black. It rules the haunches, and the navel, to the buttocks, is called the angle of the west, and is masculine.

Somewhere along the line, society came to the consensus (an important 7th house word connoting a decision we all basically agree on) that the 7th house “equals” (another 7th house word) marriage, enemies, and opposing parties of all sorts.

The Idea of the Other

The idea of the ‘other’ is tremendously important in this house; with planets and points here, life energy is focused on one other, or many others, but not the impersonal groups we find in the 11th house.

7th house ‘others’ are much more intimate. Ironically, it’s this close-up intimacy that teaches us that we are not like others, and they are not like us; they might be similar, but they are not our clone. This is obviously good and bad, and it’s this fact, that we are truly different from others, even our closest relationships, that lies at the root of all dissension, not to mention warfare.

The sign on the cusp of the 1st house tells us the way(s) in which we are most ourselves, but the nature of the 7th house is to complicate what we mean by “self”, because we are forced by the reality of “the other” (meaning another person’s reality) to deal with what’s called “otherness,” a philosophical and psychological concept that is extremely useful when looking at the 7th house.

Current belief is that the sign on the 7th house cusp represents who you attract into your life, whether you consciously want to or not, but of course I’m going to complicate that overly simplistic way of looking at this house, although I think there is some merit to the idea. I don’t want to throw it away entirely; I just want to modify it somewhat. If it’s our Venusian-Libran 7th house abilities that are somehow innately attracting others to us, that presupposes that Venus-type energy in our chart is always working for the good, and that she always knows what she’s doing and recognizes limits on her behaviors.

I find that those qualifications are not necessarily true; it’s also possible to attract many more potential ‘mates’ than one actually knows what to do with. This gets sticky for the person whose Descendant ruler is involved in intricate dealings with many other planets in the chart, since that would mean that a great deal of energy is going into pulling others into your social orb, leading to potential overlapping relationships that might end up doing you more harm than good, you social butterfly, you. 

Since we project much of what we are with planets and the Nodes in the 1/7 axis, the greatest likelihood is that the person we’re attracting in the 7th isn’t who we necessarily want, or understand, or get along with. It sure feels good to attract someone, and be considered ‘attractive,’ but the question is how to do it with a sense of responsibility and awareness that we’re probably going to be disillusioned at some point, as a necessary part of the process of waking up out of the daydream we’re imposing on someone else.

This is particularly true if the ruler of the 7th is in difficult aspect to something, or you have a difficult set of planets to contend with in the 7th. If the North Node is in the 7th, relationships with others can get very complicated, for reasons I will explain as we go through the signs in this Nodal axis.

Essentially, the question I want to ask about planets and/or the Nodes in the 7th comes down to this: what is it we think we see in others when we’re looking in the mirror supplied by the 1/7 axis? If all relationships begin with a projection of who we think the other person is, only to find as we actually get to know them that they were never that person, when precisely do we wake up to the reality that we are always responsible for our own projections? Conscious awareness of what we’re doing when we engage in the process of dealing with ‘the other’ is therefore key to this axis.

ArieswoodcutAries North Node in the 7th house: The issue with Aries/Libra, particularly posited in the 1/7 axis, is always going to be about balancing the needs of Self Vs. Other. A primary question will be, can Libra South Node in the 1st ever let go of certain beliefs about how others ‘ought’ to be, so that North Node in Aries in the 7th can engage with absolute truth and honesty?

The key idea in these signs in this axis is personal ethos—in other words, integrity, believability, honesty. The South Node in Libra can be hard to believe or take seriously, particularly in the 1st, when the darkness the South Node is capable of twists into the prevarications, deceptions, and outright lies Libra engages in as a method of self-defense. In the 1st house, of course, that behavior is projected onto others all too easily.

An overused or overdeveloped South Node in Libra relies heavily on what feels like false and sometimes icky ‘charm’ (another word for this unpleasant characteristic is ‘unctuousness’), so look to see where natal Venus is located and how it’s aspected before passing judgement on this position. There are some extremely savvy political South Node in Libra people, one of whom I will discuss.

Keep in mind that the Nodal axis does not represent something as ephemeral and changeable as character, as much as it represents the direction the will takes to fulfill the purpose of the lifetime. With South Node in Libra in the 1st house, you’ve already learned how to “do” relationships, but your skills might appear to be self-serving, in that it feels particularly good to South Node in Libra to be “liked”, to be paid attention to, and of course, to be noticed, usually as a person of some importance. You didn’t hone those Libra relationship skills for nothing, after all. Your butterfly-attracting flower-self did not bloom to be wasted unseen in the desert.

Combining Libra with the 1st house means that if you do something for others, you might very well expect something in return. The Aries/Libra 1st house-7th house energy loops back on itself, with one node feeding the other, essentially trapping the individual in a potential web of complex relationships that might do little except feed the strong fire-related ego needs of the 1st house desire to be seen and heard. Never underestimate how important it is to 1st house people that they be paid attention to. 

Here’s a secret about the nature of the Nodal axis, best illustrated by the transformation that takes place when the soul is ready to move into North Node behaviors: you become utterly exhausted by your old, worn out way of doing things, and you grow intensely weary of who you have become. You long to jettison the past, and move into new ways of being. You long for it like someone walking through the desert longs for water. It is at this point that you are ready to start doing things the North Node way.

I have to wonder if this moment ever arose for Richard M. Nixon, whose North Node in Aries meant he was here to learn how to provide leadership, courage, and initiative in one-on-one interpersonal relationships. In his younger years, his marriage held all the promise a double Venus-ruled Libra influence could provide; he has even been described as a “hopeless romantic,” odd as that sounds, although he had emotionally squooshy Venus in Pisces, albeit in the 6th in square to Saturn.

It is indisputable that he attained political power through his relationships, and was originally an extremely unlikely candidate for President. He had to work hard to convince the public that he was believable in the role. He had many issues to overcome, some of which stemmed from his childhood (indeed, ruler of the North Node is to be found in his 4th house, conjunct Mercury and Jupiter). But key Aries words, the Cardinal strengths of “determination” and “persistence,” essentially never giving up on himself and pursuing his dreams against all odds, are what turned things around for him. 

Politics is made up of relationships that appear personal on the surface; this suits some 1st house Libran South Nodes, especially those who are disconnected emotionally and do not seek, or perhaps are not capable of, any deeper connection to others. These relationships are coldly calculating in the sense that they are always based on the conscious awareness that in doing something for someone, you’re not acting out of altruism, you’re acting from self-interest.

The constant in this axis is going to be determining to what extent the native is in balance, in harmony, with the rest of his or her chart. A key to the fundamental imbalances Nixon expressed come down to two basic influences; the most important to the Nodal axis is that the ruler of the North Node, Mars (conjunct Mercury, ruler of the chart, and Jupiter), is involved in an opposition to Pluto in the 10th. Acquiring power and misusing it for personal ends is a lesson whenever you see Pluto oppositions to personal planets, particularly Pluto in the 10th.   

Although parents are implicated in the 4/10 axis, I think it’s pretty clear to anyone who is a parent that your children do not necessarily reflect your values; they pick up the values inculcated in them by society, for one thing. In the case of Richard Nixon, he seems to have developed values distorted by personal fears (as evidenced by the Venus/Saturn square from the 6th to the 9th house, the house of beliefs, morals, and ethics). That his South Node ruler, Venus, is involved in a square to Saturn cannot have helped him release his anxieties or fears about others.

TauruswoodcutTaurus North Node in the 7th house: To some extent, there’s nothing more illuminating about the nature of the North Node than a chart that shows a preponderance of energy on the South Node. Such a chart belongs to Grace Kelly, whose 7th house North Node indicated, as it does for so many with this nodal structure, that marriage (or a formal commitment to a partner of some kind) is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the lifetime.

This implies that at least part of the purpose of the 7th house is about creating a commitment that you cannot easily break out of, and legal marriage functions in that role, particularly for people who believe that marriage is a lifetime commitment. (This might help explain Hillary Clinton’s attitude about marriage, since her North Node in Taurus is also in the 7th—I’ll be writing more about her chart when I eventually get to the Composite Chart series, which I’m planning after I finish the Nodal axis series).  

Grace Kelly’s South Node conjunct Sun and Mercury gave strength to her 1st house, making it unlikely she’d ever be ignored. That’s far too much energy at the Ascendant the native is putting out into the world to go unnoticed, particularly with Venus in Libra so close to the Ascendant (from the 12th house). Her physical appearance would have dominated the thoughts of most people, whether or not she was “Grace Kelly.” In other words, if someone else had this chart, all that energy at the Ascendant would shape what strangers thought of you, and the physical force of your presence or appearance would, with Scorpio South Node, influence others profoundly, although not always in a positive way.

Scorpio South Node brings with it a subtle energetic power, and in the 1st, can make the individual seem mesmerizing, or manipulative. This is, typically, the style of energy the North Node exists to transform, since it’s rarely helpful to keep doing South Node skills (unless your South Node is so strong you have little choice).

Taurus North Node is much less complicated and therefore more straightforward, but represents a skill-set that Scorpio does not naturally gravitate towards, and often finds too simplistic to entirely trust. In this combination, the native might try very hard to dominate the life partner, but the transition from Scorpio South Node to Taurus North Node occurs when the native is able to relax into a more accepting, easy-going relational stance, instead of feeling the need to control ‘the other’ in her life.  

However, the goal of the North Node is to transform the nature of the South Node and use it for its own purposes; usually this is a painful process, because it’s so easy to “do” the South Node that we become tied to it and have to be forced away from it to grow into the inherent power of the North Node. In Grace Kelly’s situation, with Sun conjunct South Node, all she really ever had to do was show up. The South Node in the 1st brings with it the gift of our essential self and presents it to the world, but of course, that essential self can always be rejected or need to be modified.

What the 1st house lacks that the 7th house gives you is the ability to be your own public relations firm. The greatest irony for anyone born with South Node in the 1st is how difficult it can be to represent yourself, to get out of your own way, or to behave authentically, particularly if by doing so, you’ll damage your own reputation. In this day of ‘tell-all’ journalism, we forget that there was a time when being honest about who you were could destroy your career. The 7th house, because of its inherent interest in getting along with others, really wants to be liked (and for many that means ‘approved of’), but the 1st house South Node, particularly in certain signs, like Scorpio, could often not care less. In this case, Taurus North Node, ruled by Venus, supports the idea that Grace Kelly’s reality was hidden behind closed doors.

Venus in the 12th, combined with the almost excessively strong Scorpio Sun-South Node and Ascendent, tells me that her preferred way of relating to others was quite likely something she kept as private as possible. She could not be herself and act and be married, for example—that’s too much of the real self showing for Scorpio South Node; something had to be sacrificed. Her otherwise promising, stellar acting career came to an abrupt halt upon marriage; in addition to the fact that women were more likely to give up their individual careers to devote themselves to their husband and children in those days, it was also unseemly for a princess to be an actress.

Can you imagine the kind of sacrifice this meant for the 1st house South Node, particularly in Scorpio, a self-reliant sign that does not easily lean on others, especially when found at the Ascendant? Her marriage was the literal turning point in the evolution of herself as a less self-absorbed person, forcing her to focus on something larger than herself, including the social reality of being on the political stage, since her husband’s role as Prince, and later King, of Monaco, gave her more social prominence than she might otherwise have had. Some marriages demand more than others, and this is one of those types, when a commoner, no matter how lovely, marries a royal.

The Taurus North Node, however, with its Venus ruler, can at least promise a fair amount of luxury in trade for your independence, which if you’re at all concerned with your economic situation, is one perk. However, you’re always going to have to take into account with any nodal combination the rulers of the nodes and how they’re aspected. In Kelly’s chart, Mars, ruler of the South Node, is very strong, technically stronger than the ruler of the North Node.

Her marriage might have challenged her in a way that she hadn’t counted on, particularly since one of the more worrying aspects is that Mars was square Neptune, which implies that she went into the marriage impulsively, without knowing what she was getting into, not seeing it clearly, and possibly projecting a lot of energy from the 1st house on to the idea of marriage. Perhaps this indicates that the North Node in the 7th helps you learn how to see relationships more clearly, which Taurus ought to help with, since it’s usually a pragmatic sign.

There is some evidence that Princess Grace was deeply unhappy with her choice, which glittered like gold at first and would have been difficult to turn down, I imagine, particularly for someone with Leo on the Midheaven; her social reputation depended on being thought of as the ‘golden girl,’ and this marriage would have been an extension of that perception.

Unfortunately, this is why a loaded South Node is such a tricky problem; you want to be very sure you understand your motivations when you’re making your pivotal evolution-into-North Node choice, since most heavily-aspected South Nodes simply have no experience with North Node skills and may never be completely happy with what they’ve had to give up to attain the North Node experience.  

I’d suggest that South Node in the 1st gives up its independence with great hesitation, and with good reason. Taurus and Scorpio Nodes would be more willing than most to give up that freedom, though, since both signs are deeply connected to physical comforts, and can be rather easily seduced by the promise of greater comfort and/or worldly power.

Since both Nodes represent fixed sign energy, once the person has chosen the life path, for good or bad, he is determined to continue, even if he’s miserable. With Taurus on the North Node, it’s extremely unlikely the individual is going to be heard complaining; one of the values she brings with her from the South Node in the 1/7 axis is refusing to admit to others that she’s been damaged by her choices in life.

GeminiwoodcutGemini North Node in the 7th house: Wherever you find the Gemini North Node, the life path ‘oscillates’ from experience to experience; the person runs the risk of morphing from one way of being into another, never settling into something long enough to bloom out of the chrysalis stage of development.

This is one of the nodal axes that benefits the most from balancing its energies, since Sagittarius on the South Node in the 1st carries with it a tremendous amount of energy. The question is, how will the person manifest these energies, and will she stick to what she starts?

The rest of the chart is the key here. A strongly fixed-sign chart, or one dominated by earth, or water and earth, will help ground the Gemini/Sagittarius nodal structure, but more fire or air will mostly serve to inflame the ego or fantasy-desire nature of Sagittarius in the 1st house.

I’ve mentioned before that Sagittarius is, typical of all three fire signs, a dreamer. Sagittarius dreams big, and will always have a new scheme or plan in mind to keep himself going. There isn’t much point to a life that isn’t in motion for Sagittarius in the 1st house, and that is both a strength and a weakness for the North Node in Gemini to deal with.

In the 7th house, North Node in Gemini could manifest as a multiplicity of marriages, or it could even more easily manifest as a multiplicity of life goals, each of which seems dramatically important in the moment the path is chosen. The biggest problem with this scattershot approach to life is that it misses the point of the North Node itself.

The idea behind the North Node is that you’re going to find your path and progress along it; you’re not encouraged to keep taking forks off your primary path so that you can discover some other part of your personality that fulfills some facet of who you are in the moment—unless your North Node is in a mutable sign, especially Gemini.

For Gemini, the entire point of the path is to take the forks. To other people, these deviations from the path might seem pointless, a waste of time, but for Gemini North Node, they’re learning experiences. Each time the North Node finds something new to do, some new thing to become, she is on her path, mostly. Getting these people to stick with one expression of their energy is rather pointless.

They’re never going to make their stolid earth sign father happy when they declare at 20 that they’re becoming a philosopher; or at 40, pursuing their artistic talent. The South Node here means that one of their skills is a natural ability to sell themselves to others, and so the best use of the Gemini North Node might be to wander on a path that allows him or her to use a multiplicity of talents they pick up along the way.

The native is usually awfully charming, and unless the chart is heavy with earth, will probably be a gregarious speaker, teacher, and consummate politician. I think it’s not terribly surprising that Shirley Temple Black had this combination. It’s not unusual for actors, particularly in Hollywood, to have multiple marriages, which she did; but Shirley Temple Black had more than one persona as well.

Her chart shows a grounded, even conservative, nature, with Taurus Sun, and Saturn in the 1st house conjunct her South Node. This is not the makeup of someone who easily or willingly changed course, yet that’s not necessarily how the North Node functions in a chart that essentially contradicts its expression—in other words, you can have both things happening at once, where the fundamental nature of the rest of the chart is contradicted by the Nodal axis. Even so, the Nodal axis is inescapable, particularly with planets conjunct one or both of the nodes.

The flightiness you’d see in a different chart manifests instead as many enforced life changes for someone like Black, who went from child actress to homemaker to television star to politician during the course of her life. Many actors fade away when they fail to make a successful transition from child star to adult actor, but not Black.

Instead, the chameleon Gemini North Node continued to push her to find new ways of expressing herself, and I suspect the backbone she needed to withstand some of the more horrendous things that happened to her came from Saturn conjunct the South Node in the 1st. Sagittarius has the ability to bounce back, and considering some of the choices she made in youth, she’d need that resilience. 

Gemini North Node in the 7th is uniquely willing to shape her behavior and attitude to suit the expectations of the other, including strangers who rapidly become ‘good’ friends. This is a great quality to have if you become ambassador of a country, since the ability to connect with people you have little in common with is fairly rare, but is a crucial skill for ambassadors. You have to be likeable to be a successful ambassador, and who was more likeable than Shirley Temple?

That’s that Gemini charm, but when applied to the 7th house, the charm becomes a useful political commodity. The PR aspect of having North Node in the 7th cannot be underestimated, particularly with Gemini, since the Sagittarius/Gemini axis is given the gift of convincing others, schmoozing with them, and generally making them feel good.

Sagittarius South Node, when it’s not misused, is capable of selling ice to Eskimos, and is made for politics. The question will be, will this nodal axis learn the importance of laws, or will he skirt the law whenever he can? The mutability of this axis leaves this an open question; the rest of the chart has to support the higher nature of the 7th house, which involves always striving for balance.   

cancerwoodcutCancer North Node in the 7th house: The basic nature of the 7th house is to be concerned with others, with their reality, and their way of being in the world. Some nodal axes add to that concern by focusing the individual on something more in depth than simply being able to connect with others; some people bring emotional awareness to this axis, empathy, compassion.

A water sign on the North Node will facilitate the ability to identify with others, and that’s a useful skill to develop if you really want to fulfill the purpose of North Node in the 7th.

Essentially, what happens with the North Node (in any house or sign) is that you’re being asked to live up to the higher purpose of the house and sign the node falls in. The South Node functions to give you skills you need to move into the North Node way of being, but the South Node also has bits and pieces that might hold you back if there’s some kind of interference, something preventing you from developing a full expression of the North Node.

And it has to be said, some charts are set up to help the person fulfill the North Node purpose, whereas other charts (lives, fates, whatever you want to call it) mostly seem to serve to hold you back. This might be an expression of karma, bad luck, or the perverse humor of the cosmos; it’s a crap shoot, being born. You pays your money and you takes your chances.   

Cancer North Node in the 7th “ought” to become excellent at empathizing with others; that’s what Cancer North Nodes do, they set up your life so that you are compelled to feel for others, and where better to do that than in the 7th? (The answer is “the 11th house”, but that’s for another blog post.) Empathy isn’t going to work for everyone with this axis, largely because that ol’ devil South Node in Capricorn is such a curmudgeon, he might never let go of his fears of losing out to someone else long enough to let the North Node develop his ability to care.

The good news is that you don’t have to project your inner Grinch on everyone you meet, even if you do have South Node in Capricorn. Although this particular nodal structure isn’t the happiest to have been born with, if you encounter sufficient pain in others, you might one day be cracked open, allowing your inner teddy bear to show itself. At that point, you’ll start to let the tears flow, and maybe you’ll begin to realize that everyone has some kind of issue holding him back from full expression of the inner rainbow that is the Self.

Okay, so now you’re empathetic and you’re working for a non-profit, feeding the world. Consider that there’s another kind of “feeding” that needs to happen, and hard as it is for Capricorn South Node to allow, Cancer North Node begins to discern, early in life or late, that some people need to have their souls fed too. 

The downside to developing this particular North Node is that once Cancer starts helping, she might not know when to stop. Not everyone needs her, and though South Node in Capricorn will breathe a sigh of relief, once this node begins to take care of others, she might need to be reminded that it’s okay to take a day off once in awhile.

The 7th house is not particularly good at staying silent; she will need to broadcast her ability to help others, because this is the PR house which thrives on the real reason parties were invented, to meet and greet and get yourself known. This is not a shy house.

The purpose of the 7th might be to connect with others, but the South Node in the 1st simply loves an opportunity to talk about itself, a gift if you need to sell a service or yourself to others. So keeping this person from selling is never going to be easy, and though Cancer/Capricorn is usually considered shy or retiring, when it’s a question of developing the North Node, this Cancer is going to be out there, shaking hands and kissing babies. 

An interesting example of North Node in Cancer is Robert Bly, who has managed to create a career around explaining men, both to other men and to women. He’s developed a rather amazing skill (not that I agree with everything he’s ever said) because that’s actually one of the more subtle skills of the 7th house, the ability to bring two warring factions together to find consensus.

His South Node in Capricorn is involved in this balancing act. He’s got Sun and Venus on the South Node in the 1st; both are in opposition to Pluto conjunct the North Node in the 7th, which might give him a powerful impetus to resolve an internal conflict between opposing Venus and Pluto as part of his life path.

(As somewhat of a side note, an opposition of two such irreconcilable energies as Venus and Pluto involved in one’s nodal axis tends to dominate the life path, largely because it is so incredibly hard to live with oppositional energies, particularly when they are, to all intents and purposes, at war with one another in the psyche. Once again, the 1st house South Node might just be projecting this inner battle onto the rest of the world, but that’s something I can only speculate on, since I do not know Mr. Bly’s inner reality.)

Negotiation skills are crucial in the 7th house, as is persuasion; they are the essence of politics. There’s possibly no greater divide than the one that exists between the sexes, so we have to give this man props for caring enough to try bridging that chasm. All of this is based on his desire to ‘fix’ what ails men, particularly regarding their role as fathers, which seems appropriate to the Cancer/Capricorn axis, but especially so because of the generational impetus to transform society from Pluto in Cancer conjunct his North Node. 

LeowoodcutLeo North Node in the 7th house: Leo North Node people seem to have absolutely no problem with self-promotion, and this North Node pushes them toward every opportunity to go to parties and talk about their latest accomplishments. Those who don’t succeed in entertaining their audience are possibly hung up in the South Node in Aquarius in the 1st preference to appear nonchalant, cool, calm, and collected.

Although in other houses, North Node in Leo’s goal is either to be entertaining or creative for its own sake, the 7th house Leo North Node is his own PR firm and personal agent rolled into one. All North Node Leos want the same thing; they want to be acknowledged by the world as the grand and glorious people they are, it’s just that where they’re coming from, South Node in Aquarius, while not exactly shy, also doesn’t have the same need for self-glorification. Also, as I’ve discussed prior to this, South Node in Aquarius too often comes from a damaged childhood, perhaps leading to the individual’s almost desperate need for the personal attention of the Leo North Node. 

I do think that this is a pretty good nodal axis to have if you want to succeed at something big, largely because Aquarius South Node should bring with it a lot of highly developed skills which Leo can trumpet to the world he possesses. The thing about success is that you are rewarded for having succeeded only if people hear about it, something that Leo as a sign seems to be born knowing. 

The key to the 7th house, though, is that its strength is the ability to get to know people and truly connect with them; in this way, others seem to matter more than you do, a real challenge for the South Node in the 1st ego to overcome. People skills might come naturally to Leo North Node, if supported by the rest of the chart, but there are South Node people who prefer to stay inside their “laboratory”, thinking up new inventions. These people will be forced to interact with others only by the exigencies of the North Node, which will create reasons for this nodal axis to be on display. It isn’t until the native gets comfortable with being seen and heard that the North Node skills will develop; ironically, North Node Leo’s self-esteem can take years to repair or build, if the childhood was damaging.

Even if North Node in Leo has to learn the finer details of how to relate to others (South Node Aquarius can be a little distant from real people, even when he’s curious about them) his curiosity will help him shift into his Leo ability to give to others (relatively) unselfishly. The highest expression of Leo North Node in this house is compassion and generosity of spirit, stemming from Aquarius South Node’s ability to let others be who they are without judgement.

Truman Capote is interesting, because he personified the public relations’ abilities of this 7th house North Node. Yet at the same time, he was a sensitive writer about whom was once said “The theme in all of his books is that there are special, strange gifted people in the world and they have to be treated with understanding.” Although he is famous for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, his semi-autobiographical novel Other Voices, Other Rooms comes closest to revealing truths about his childhood and the stigma and fears he had about being gay and somewhat effeminate; he was physically small with a voice described as “odd” or “distinctive.” 

South Node in Aquarius has trouble feeling like it fits into the world; I can well imagine that his identity was a struggle for him with South Node in the 1st house, and that as he became increasingly sure of himself, he was better able to express himself and connect with others, no matter how strange or odd (or awful, like the characters of In Cold Blood). 

Although he was considered a very charming ‘party animal,’ he could also grate on people, and this dichotomy I think is at least partially explained by his Mars opposition to Venus-Neptune. Mars Aquarius is conjunct South Node, while Neptune and Venus Leo conjunct his North Node. His social skills allowed him to gain access to secrets of the people around him, although he was criticized for using his friends’ lives as fodder for his books.

Venus-Neptune conjunctions can be, by nature, awfully sybaritic, engaged in Neptunian mind “expanding” activities (taking drugs, addictions) which Venus has no power to control since the energy is pleasure-oriented. With the Nodes, Venus-Neptune can indicate addiction to drugs that the person has to deal with as a form of crisis. The Nodal axis does seem to be implicated in crises that lead to major life decisions and an ensuing change of direction (particularly during Nodal returns, which occur once every 18-19 years). Sadly, Capote died just prior to his second Saturn return from a combination of alcoholism and drug-taking. 

Neptune/Venus in the 7th indicates someone who was capable of being a terrible flirt, but there’s a certain kind of social flirting that makes it extremely likely others will tell you their secrets. Interestingly, Mars on the South Node almost invariably indicates some kind of violence—of temperament, behavior, or perhaps surrounding you in your childhood. It can also mean the kind of seething anger you live with that has to find expression somehow. When Mars is in opposition to Neptune, though, that anger can come out in a very twisted way, through rumors, lies, and innuendo—essentially slander against the ‘others’ represented by the 7th house (friends become foes when you treat them like this).

It seems that he was kindest to people who resembled him or whom he felt sorry for, and was known to have ‘skewered’ people he was contemptuous or jealous of—generally society women, the very people who confided in him about their private peccadillos. South Node in Aquarius is implicated, because when Aquarius energy is dark, as energy will be in the South Node, it is biased, prejudiced, and elitist—all antithetical qualities that contradict the best of Aquarius, which is inclusive and unbiased, not to mention non-judgemental. That which holds us back is represented by the negative qualities of the sign on the South Node, though, which holds true no matter which house or axis we’re discussing. 

VirgowoodcutVirgo North Node in the 7th house: As we saw in Truman Capote’s chart (and others I’ve mentioned prior to this), people born with a nodal conjunction to an outer planet are extremely interesting for so many reasons—for one thing, their life path is so much more complicated than it would have been otherwise. The planet colors the Nodal experience, fundamentally changing the nature of how the life energy is expressed.

This is one way to explain what happened to Bob Marks, a popular astrologer born with North Node in Virgo conjunct Neptune, who started out as a chemistry major (a very Virgo profession, it seems to me). He explains his conversion from chemistry to astrology Virgo-pragmatically by saying that he “tried it” and “it worked”; presumably he had a mutable-sign conversion of life direction, and became an astrologer. It’s best if mutable sign Nodal axis people (all right, Pisces South Node people in particular) have these kinds of conversions early in life, obviously, since the later you leave these things, the more people there are dragging behind you in misery. 

Although marriage rates are declining, at some point in their lives, nearly 90% of people in America still do get married. The primary difference for Virgo North Node (on its own, not conjunct anything) in the 7th is that they are inclined to marry someone who shares their intellectual or business interests, or is, at the least, a sensible choice. There’s something about having a primary relationship (or marriage) that is crucial for this person to feel like they’ve fulfilled a contract with life.

North Node in the 7th can make the person famous for whom they marry—this is true no matter which sign the node falls in. Antonio Banderas is one of those people; his marriage to Melanie Griffith was heavily publicized, as was their (rather inevitable) divorce. Interestingly, he is in partnership with a wine company and now co-owns a vineyard named after him, Anta Banderas.

Although I wonder if I’m the only astrologer who automatically see Pisces and thinks of wine, if I could change Pisces’ name, I’d give him a planet called “Dionysos” as ruler instead of Neptune. In fact, asteroid Dionysus (3671) is conjunct Banderas’ Mercury, which rules Virgo, and therefore influences his North Node, so perhaps his true passion is his vineyard?

Actors in particular rely on their business relationships with others; they need publicists, agents, lawyers—all the kinds of people you find represented by the 7th house. Aside from actors, though, most people with North Node in Virgo in the 7th (with Mercury ruling the North Node and Neptune ruling the South) have to contend with South Node identity crisis issues. Pisces South Node in the 1st is a rather heavy burden for anyone who isn’t going to become an actor, since the projected sense of self with mutable sign Pisces is often so wobbly; plus it means Pisces is most likely on the Ascendant, which adds to the concept that at any point, the Pisces South Node person could change his or her values and chuck it all and move to Nepal to join an ashram.

And even though approximately 90% of people still get married, I’d suggest keeping an eye on the North Node Virgo person and hope for a lot of fixed energy to make up for any sudden urge Pisces South Node develops. On the other hand, Pisces South Node in the 1st means there’s a potential poet, painter, or other creative type lurking behind this person’s eyes. I just hope he doesn’t marry someone who keeps his nose to the grindstone of life, because then this South Node will project his creative Pisces abilities onto others, and might never notice the sacrifice he’s made.

LibrawoodcutLibra North Node in the 7th house: I find it rather ironic that with her North Node in Libra in the 7th, popular American actress Alison Janney will probably always be known for playing a press secretary in the television show West Wing. The press secretary’s role is essentially the public relations department of any presidency. In real life, James Brady press secretary to Ronald Reagan, who was hit by one of the bullets intended to kill Reagan, also has natal Libra North Node in the 7th house. 

This is an extremely important position for the nodal axis, since it puts the North Node in Libra’s natural house, strengthening the purpose of Libran energy in the chart. However, even the power of the ruler of the North Node in the same house on its own does not trump the affect life can have on one’s emotions.

In Alison Janney’s chart, ruler of the North Node, Venus, is also in the 7th, as is Pluto. However, Janney has never married and has no children; she stopped dating after her brother suddenly died in 2011 (as Pluto and North Node transited over her natal Saturn, and Saturn transited over her natal Venus; this is a combination which would sap the life out of you). It’s possible that since natal Saturn squares her nodes and Venus, that’s enough negative energy to deny what one might assume is the logical outcome of having North Node and the ruler of the North Node in the 7th house. 

There’s really no way to know if you can fulfill the “contract” of the 7th house North Node if you don’t get married, since that’s what the traditional meaning of the house involves. I also have to wonder to what extent the ruler of her South Node, Mars, actually dominates the chart, since it’s conjunct her Sun, and her nodal axis is compromised by the square to Saturn. There’s no way anyone who isn’t close to her can possibly assess if she’s living out her North Node, but there are indications that her North Node is affected.

If she has strong partnerships elsewhere, that would be one way of living out the North Node, but if her South Node in Aries is strong enough, it will pull her back towards relying only on herself, to the point of loneliness. South Node in Aries is adept at taking care of itself, but it’s also good at setting up life situations so that s/he never needs anyone, or ever has to rely on anyone. It’s this excessively self-reliant quality of South Node in Aries that I think keeps a lot of people lonelier than they have to be; it’s a real skill to show your vulnerability (not Aries’ strong suit) and admit you need others.

ScorpioScorpio North Node in the 7th house: North Node in Scorpio in the 7th directs its energy to understand the self in relationship to others more intensely than with any other sign. Relationships are the focus of the lifetime, with the goal of understanding the self. However, there’s South Node in Taurus to take into account, and South Node in Taurus wants a lot for itself. This is, not to put to fine a point on it, a rather greedy South Node because it is so concerned with the needs of the flesh and/or the senses. 

Conversely, Scorpio North Node, in its black or white way of being, can go either way; either the focus of the lifetime is all about the lower self, and fulfilling its immediate needs and wants (thereby losing the primary relationship it craves), or the native is capable of giving up almost anything to cleanse its spirit (or make its partner happy). Scorpio North Node in the 7th is capable of great self-sacrifice for her significant other, which is a necessary step to learning how to be fully present in one’s primary relationship.

Nonetheless, Taurus/Scorpio is always a rough nodal axis because the soul’s journey can’t bear the weight of lots of stuff. Any South Node in the 1st is going to have to do a lot of work on the self to learn how to let go of whatever it is this person feels the need to hold on to. Usually, the stuff it holds on to will damage the likelihood of having a viable relationship with someone he or she would like to be closer to. Scorpio North Node has the potential to give up everything, though, if it can pry Taurus South Node’s eager fingers off the bottle of booze or extra plate of potatoes or extramarital affairs he thinks he needs to survive.

Since Pluto and Mars are both considered rulers of Scorpio, how these two planets are aspected will matter tremendously to how the native conducts his relationships. Whereas Scorpio Sun (or other planets) is usually defined as “passionate” about his relationships, Scorpio North Node is in the process of learning how to relate deeply to one special person (or more than one, most likely—life is long, after all). The fact of any North Node experience is that we are in the process of learning how to “do” both the sign and the house; the rest of the chart will either support or challenge this process. 

Taurus South Node holds you back from being fully conscious in your primary relationship when it is convinced it needs something that interferes with the needs of the other person. Taurus’ ruler, Venus, is the sybarite of the horoscope; the combination of Venus ruling the South Node in the 1st means that the native has very little interest in not feeling good (which can lead to irresponsible, self-indulgent, and even crude behavior). How badly do you want to keep your relationship intact? Some people will be forced to give up on you when it becomes clear your needs matter more than theirs; stubbornness can only get you so far.

Scorpio North Node is not an easy path to tread, though, because it requires something that not all charts support: an intense desire to connect with others that isn’t terribly polite. This is not Libra, after all. This individual’s need for his partner can be very raw and open, and can put others off if he’s unwilling (thanks to the South Node) to change. Keeping up with North Node in Scorpio can be difficult too, because the soul is driven to fully understand itself, and so will engage in psychoanalysis, or any other program (usually not aligned with organized religion) designed to figure himself out.

This can take years and a great deal of emotional angst, but South Node Taurus won’t let the native give up. Their process of deeply searching for self-knowledge could make the significant other wonder what happened to the good old simple days when they just had fun, though. This nodal axis should be very careful not to overdo stressing their significant other with their process of self-understanding. Not everyone has your stamina.

SagwoodcutSagittarius North Node in the 7th house: With the 7th house, you might be the greatest public relations person in the world, or you might become a serial murderer; a lot depends on how you integrate the idea of others into your psyche, whether your chart shows a lot of damage, and whether you have a strong sense of morality.

If others are essentially a thorn in your side, if anything about them irritates or vexes you, the relationship with The Other is going to be fraught with difficulty as you go through life, largely because a malfunctioning 1st house projects so much onto others, which the world either agrees with or sends you back to the drawing board to fix, if you’re really obnoxious.

The worst case scenario for South Node in the 1st is that the energy is used as a tool of narcissists; if the goal of North Node in the 7th is to learn how to relate to others, then a failed North Node never achieves that because the 1st house never develops a responsible, core sense of self.

The psychological reality for some people with South Node in the 1st house is that they cannot help but project their inner world onto the person they encounter who represents some piece of themselves, some fragment of who they imagine themselves to be. I personally think this problem is particularly pernicious with mutable nodes, which is why you want to keep your eye on Gemini/Sagittarius and Virgo/Pisces, but we’re really talking about damage here, which is something only the whole chart can show you. You’re not going to find damage in one place in the chart, but in every chart you will find a theme that supports or challenges the Nodal axis. 

Identification with others is far too easy with mutable nodes and planets; losing yourself in the idea of someone else is the danger here, but never knowing yourself in the first place is the real problem (that and the possibility of having an amorphous sense of self—this is something you’d have to look to the rest of the chart to support or contradict). 

South Node in Gemini in the 1st can so easily indicate an individual who over-identifies with youth and young people. They can fantasize about their own youth, imagining it to have been the best time of their life, or they can fantasize about children themselves.  

Fantasies about childhood are one thing; it’s wonderful to use this nodal axis to recreate some of the magic that adults project onto childhood. The Gemini/Sagittarius nodal axis is very good at believing in Santa Claus, or, at the very least, wanting to believe in magic and fairy tales, well into adulthood. J. K. Rowling has this nodal axis, with Gemini North Node, for example (although there is no accurate birth time for her, unfortunately). Children are read fairy tales, and some part of the adult would like to think that that means that childhood itself is magical.  

But not everyone had a happy childhood, and for too many adults, that means that their fantasies about children are pretty dark. This can manifest as an addiction to child pornography, or, in the case of someone like Ian Brady, an obsession with children. An obvious caveat must be that this his is a unique chart, thank god, and he represents a social problem that fortunately occurs relatively rarely, but is one nonetheless who is interesting to try to analyze to some extent.

One thing in particular stands out in the charts of people whose lives are, to all intents and purposes, social failures (in that they did not get along with others and did not contribute to humanity in any perceivable way). There is an obvious disconnect between the life path and the rest of the chart. It’s as though the rest of the chart bears a strong message that the nodal axis cannot help with, or actively undermines or is too weak to fight. The issue of being in or out of balance is critical in the 1/7 axis, so if you see a chart that is already imbalanced, the North Node in the 7th can tell you that these imbalances are vital to work on as consciously as possible.

There are a few imbalances that stand out in Brady’s chart for me. The first is the preponderance of Earth in the chart, primarily Cardinal Earth; four planets and his Midheaven are in Capricorn, Taurus is rising, and Neptune is in Virgo. The Capricorn planets are clustered around the Midheaven, with Sun and Moon on either side of the MC line, giving a tremendous amount of emphasis on the 9th-10th message which combines 9th house morality and 10th house reputation/social standing.

Moon is in opposition to Pluto from the 10th to the 4th. He was adopted by a couple who raised him, but the reality is that he was born to an unwed mother who gave him up. She was allowed to visit her child on occasion, until he was finally told, at age 16, her real identity. Imagine how he coped with the question of his (1st house Gemini South Node) identity and sense of self when he discovered the truth. 

The next thing I notice is that the 12th house contains Saturn, in opposition to Neptune in the 6th, a combination that means that the person would have some trouble with the two poles Saturn and Neptune represent—reality and fantasy are only one interpretation of the differences between these two energies. Saturn and Neptune represent entirely different forces; to have this kind of opposition in the 6/12 axis indicates that the person’s mental health is in question if they can’t discern between good and evil, right and wrong (issues that are so important to the North Node in the 7th).

This does not mean that every opposition involving 6/12 planets automatically equals having mental health issues, but as we saw in the 6th house North Node, the 6/12 axis shows up almost too reliably when dealing with people who have been diagnosed as mentally ill (Brady was eventually confined to a mental hospital).

Further, in Brady’s chart, there are two Anaretic planets at 29˚: Pluto Cancer and Saturn Pisces, virtually the only water in the chart (except for Mars, which squares the Nodal axis). The Anaretic degree almost invariably indicates some kind of crisis in this particular lifetime; it’s as though the soul is here to finish some task that seems incredibly urgent, fated, or karmic. There’s a lot of nervous energy in Anaretic degree people, not all of it used wisely.

The Anaretic degree person is, especially in an otherwise fragile chart like Brady’s, looking for a precipice to leap from, into a chasm of their own making. ‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread’ is a line made for the Anaretic degree. (I say this from personal experience, having paid a lot of attention to this degree during the course of my lifetime, since I have 29˚41′ Sagittarius rising.)  

Since Brady would have to have some way of coping with all of the imbalances in his chart, we ask, how is that energy expressed? How would you expect this kind of chart to resolve these tensions? One thing we do is look to Mars, its modality and element. Brady’s Mars in Pisces lies in the 12th, the house of self-undoing, but also what I consider a hidden, or buried house, where it’s hard to understand yourself or see your motives clearly.

In my opinion, Saturn or Mars in the 12th is not often well placed. Cadent houses are considered the weakest in a quadrant, and ‘heavy’ planets like Saturn, Uranus, Pluto and Neptune have enough trouble expressing directly; they don’t do well unless they are in the 12th house of someone dedicated to a spiritual path, and that does not describe Ian Brady. In fact, descriptors of the 12th have long included it being the house of incarceration and prisons, hospitals and the mentally ill. With three planets in the 12th, Brady has certainly lived out those grim realities.  

Unfortunately, Mars squares his nodal axis, telling me that direct expression of his anger, never easy for Mars in Pisces (or the 12th house, for that matter), blocks or impedes his nodal axis. Also, Mars squares tend to violence, although Mars in Pisces’ version of violence, as happens when masculine planets fall in watery signs, relies on manipulation and trickery; for outright lying, one also looks to his Saturn-Neptune opposition.

The only fire in Brady’s chart is represented by the North Node in Sagittarius. Air is also under-represented, though the ruler of the chart, Venus, is exactly conjunct natal Mercury (both in Capricorn); Mercury is retrograde, as are Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

The water in his chart shows up in Saturn and Pluto, each of which are posited in water-related houses (4 and 12), each of which are Anaretic. Saturn and Pluto represent masculine energy, but Brady’s ability to express himself directly, as we expect with fully functioning masculine energy, is stymied. Instead, Saturn and Pluto are implicated in crisis, Pluto is retrograde, and neither planet is well supported in general. Also, Saturn and Pluto represent energy that is difficult for the average person to integrate consciously, particularly Pluto, so when I see Saturn in the 12th house and Pluto in the 4th, I see someone who is potentially very unconscious of his own motives and feelings. Anger would be extreme for someone with Mars square a fire sign node, but anger would also be difficult to express effectively. 

His capacity for aggressive and direct violence is weakened, but that doesn’t mean he was therefore entirely incapable of violence, since Mars squares the nodes. As snakes and spiders developed the wisdom to hide so as to better use the element of surprise against their prey, Brady hid his true nature inside his weakened persona, but was not less lethal for it. He wouldn’t be able to pick on someone his own size, in other words; he was 6 ft. tall, but his victims were children, almost all of whom were around the same age he was when he discovered the truth of his birth, potentially a moment of extreme crisis for him as an adolescent. Another proof of his weakness is that he used a woman, Myra Hindley, to help him trap his victims. Myra’s chart also contains two Anaretic planets, by the way—like attracts like?

There’s a lot of passive-aggressive energy at work in Brady’s chart, and it’s hard to see the North Node in Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter (which is involved in an out-of-sign opposition to Pluto) as anything but a co-conspirator in his crimes. The Gemini-Sagittarius axis has a reputation for having a difficult time accepting responsibility for its actions, and I think you could reasonably argue that Brady represents a case of arrested emotional development, which South Node in Gemini in the 1st points to (but cannot answer for, not on its own). The 7th house North Node seems to have assisted in making Brady more persuasive, at least for awhile, until he and Hindley were turned in by her brother to the police.

CapCapricorn North Node in the 7th house: One of my favorite people on the planet has this Nodal axis in the 7th house. The 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has a huge burden to shoulder, which is expressed by the nature of the North Node in Capricorn and its relationship to institutional power. In the Dalai Lama’s case, he has to worry about many things; has he fulfilled the karma of this lifetime, for example, and will there be a successor (a 15th incarnation)?

China’s irreligious governmental leaders have indicated they will decide who becomes the next Dalai Lama, which of course is antithetical to the process in which the Dalai Lama is discovered. At the same time, China’s callous assertion completely ignores the nature of reincarnation. It’s this lack of awareness that the Dalai Lama contends with, but it is painfully ironic karma to have, when one’s spiritual authority comes up against the authority of the State. Which will win?  

Unfortunately, that’s only one of the struggles with hierarchy and power this Dalai Lama has had to face in his lifetime. In addition, his role as spiritual leader of Tibet affects him as an individual, because of the personal sacrifices he has made, giving up his family and his country. Fortunately, he has a larger vision of his role, and embodies the skills of both the South and North Nodes. His message of compassion comes from the best of Cancer South Node; that his node is posited in the 1st house, with Cancer Sun conjunct the Ascendant and Pluto in the 1st house conjunct South Node indicates that his innate compassion is the source of his power.

This power comes at a price, however, since Mars squares his nodal axis; this suggests he struggles to contain and control his own anger, and probably the anger, fear and resentment of those who oppose him. As we’ve discussed, open enemies are to be found in the 7th house, and, sadly, the Dalai Lama has many enemies, as perverse and horrible as that idea is to contemplate.

With Pluto conjunct the South Node in an emotionally mature and empathic chart (he has a Grand Trine in Water involving Sun, Jupiter in the 4th in Scorpio, and Saturn in Pisces in the 9th, a combination of houses and planets that suggests maturity of emotional expression and spiritual awareness) he is the living embodiment of Buddha’s enlightenment. Pure inner knowing and wisdom about others’ truth and reality are both his gift and his responsibility.

The interesting thing about this particular nodal axis is that he must strive, with Capricorn North Node, to be his own source of authority and to express that authority to others—in other words, his battles against the Chinese government are part of his karma in this lifetime, since dealing with the (often restrictive and punitive) nature of social power given to authority figures is part of the task of any North Node in Capricorn.

The emphasis in his 1st house of Cancer energy indicates that this struggle is his karma, and that he feels the struggle intensely. To become spiritual leader, he was taken away from his family to be raised by monks (part of the learning and growth process of Saturn in the 9th, it seems to me). In subsequent years, he lost his home, since he was forced by the powers against him to leave Tibet. He now lives in India.

In this interview, the Dalai Lama discusses issues at the core of the Cancer/Capricorn nodal axis: the tension between living in a capitalist society and unhappiness; emotional values trumping the material; industrialism versus living close to the land, and so many other issues that this axis lives out in one way or another. The key for the Dalai Lama is that his responsibility (expressed through Capricorn North Node in the 7th) is first and foremost for others, not for himself, and yet the very ability that feeds that North Node comes from his South Node in Cancer, supported as it is by the amount of Cancer energy at the Ascendant and in the 1st house.

Even so, it’s important to realize that he is “just” a man, and that he struggles as we all do with his own emotional issues. The South Node’s ruler, the Moon, is conjunct Neptune; both are in opposition to Saturn. He did not attain his North Node ability to lead without undergoing intense inner work, and on getting his emotions under control. He had to own the power that was given to him by virtue of being considered the representative of Buddha on Earth, but he also had to own his own power, the power of his emotional strength. Some of what he’s worked with has been, with Pluto on the South Node, a psychological process—you can’t tell me that leaving his family as a child was easy for someone with this much Cancer in his chart. He would have had to work through all of that fear and doubt to arrive at the place he is now. 

Even though he was incarnated as a spiritual leader, he nonetheless had to earn the respect of the rest of the world. If only he could earn the respect of his closest enemy, China’s leadership party. That is something we should all pray for in our individual ways, in my opinion.

AquariuswoodcutAquarius North Node in the 7th house: Although South Node in Leo in the 1st has the potential to be a major detractor here, with ego issues overwhelming the good Aquarius North Node can do others, let’s hope this individual wants to accomplish higher goals for himself this lifetime and can think of more than him- or herself.

Leo South Node doesn’t have to be egoistical; this node can also give the person tremendous energy and belief in the good in others. Leo, as a fixed fire sign, has tremendous belief in the power of an individual to make a difference in the world, and believes he is the person to do what needs to be done. The benefit to South Node in Leo is that he has faith in himself. This is useful when you’ve got to fix the world’s problems. 

The goal for Aquarius North Node in the 7th house is to assist the masses, one person at a time. You cannot, after all, interview everyone all at once, or administer a drug you’ve developed, or provide counseling, or whatever it is you are giving to the world. Any Aquarius North Node is aware of what’s wrong with the world, and spends his youth deciding if he’s going to do something to help change the current paradigm.

In this way, Aquarius North Node is capable of being an innovator or inventor. In the 7th house, his subject matter will be people—not the faceless masses of the 11th house, but people you meet one-on-one. If he changes the world, his subject matter will be something to do with people, how we live our lives, our psychology, anything to do with the personal life of the individual.

An excellent example of the uniquely innovative efforts intended to benefit others personified by Aquarius North Node in the 7th is Dr. William Masters, who, working in collaboration (a key 7th house term) with his wife, Dr. Virginia Johnson, developed the Masters and Johnson Institute, devoted to studying and understanding human sexuality.

With Aquarius on the cusp of the 8th house, the ruler of the North Node, Uranus, conjunct the North Node, and Venus within 3 degrees of conjunction of his Aquarian Descendant, Masters most likely had a bit of a compulsion to understand human relationships in the way you’d pretty much expect Aquarius who also has Sun/Mercury conjunct in Capricorn in the 6th house: wearing a white coat, carrying a clipboard, and asking a lot of intimately personal questions.

Now, he and his wife, Virginia Johnson, had opposite nodal structures; her South Node in Aquarius conjuncted his North, and vice versa. Generally, this usually means that the two people mostly function as revolving doors for one another; one person is going to a place the other person has just left behind. They serve as warning signs and/or a learning experience for each other. It’s not unusual for two people who have opposite nodes coming together to work on a life task, only to separate again later in life, when the task is complete.

This is what happened between these two; they did not remain married, but their book, Human Sexual Response is still in print. It is considered a pioneering effort; certainly nothing like it existed before they conducted their experiments. Prior to their work, you know, it was disputed that women even had a sexual response, let alone that they enjoyed sex. Consider that Masters began publishing the year I was born, 1959; that means that in my lifetime, this research changed not just what people thought about sex, but what people thought about women. Research into female sexual response was extraordinary at the time, absolutely groundbreaking. 

As somewhat of a side note, I think it’s interesting that Masters has Neptune in the 12th but conjunct the Ascendant, and also conjunct his South Node. It makes me wonder if his fantasies or imagination (or even misinformation) motivated him to find out more, but it’s also a strong indication that there might very well have been a blind spot for him about sexuality, if perhaps he perceived others through a veil of fantasy or imagination that didn’t allow him to see individual people completely accurately.

Masters and Johnson have certainly had their detractors, but it’s the intellectual freedom they brought to the public at the time, the freedom that comes from knowing how something actually functions, rather than living in darkness and guesswork, that impresses me the most about their accomplishment.

PisceswoodcutPisces North Node in the 7th house: One of my favorite musicals is “I Do, I Do,” with its original Broadway cast of Robert Preston and Mary Martin. The play consists of only these two people; the set is their bedroom, with the only set piece their fourposter bed. The subject is a lifelong marriage, one that doesn’t end in divorce, but in ’till death us do part’.

I’ve always known that this “simple” musical about two people and all the things that happen to them over the course of their life together, is unique, and poignantly, and humorously, non-sentimental about what marriage is really like—its ups and downs, its daily accommodations; the pain and heartache, even when you’re married to the “right” person. Listening to this musical over and over from an early age helped me learn the social rules of what it takes to accommodate that intimate stranger who shares your bed.

The musical was based on a play called “The Fourposter” written by Jan de Hartog, whose North Node in Pisces falls in the 7th house. Looking at his chart, there’s not much other than the North Node in the 7th that leads me to think this man would write about marriage—perhaps his Moon/Mercury conjunction in the 8th (Mercury rules the Virgo-rising chart and the 8th house is interested in the mystery of relationships, usually those involving only two people).

Indeed, with Sun in the 9th and Mars/Neptune conjunct in Cancer, he was renowned as a writer of adventure stories, primarily adventure stories about the sea, his favorite subject. In fact, his North Node in Pisces leans more towards stories of the sea than of marriage, yet one of his most enduring plays is not on the subject of the sea at all, but that of two people stuck in one room together for the whole of their lives, talking. Potentially a terribly boring subject, yet the emotional truths in his play became an enduring “universal” tale, at the same time that its success on Broadway (first as a play and later as a musical) transformed his life. Its subject matter is unique amongst his oeuvre.

That it had to be written seems to be attested to by the fact that its opening on Broadway coincided with a Nodal return for de Hartog; transiting North Node in Pisces was within 5 degrees of conjunction the night “The Fourposter” debuted. 

From his New York Times obituary, this line stands out: “Pursued by the Nazis, he was forced to go in hiding in 1943 and took sanctuary in a home for elderly women in Amsterdam, where he wrote ”The Fourposter.” Now, this was a man who had run away from home by the time he was 12 to sail to sea with rugged sailors he later described as “evil pirates”. The idea of him hiding out with a bunch of elderly women, after living his swashbuckling existence, is quite funny; in fact, his life sounds like a story that deserves to be turned into a screenplay.

de Hartog’s explanation of how he came to write the play is interesting:

I was cooped up in that room, and there was nothing I could do. I looked at that fourposter, thought of taking it apart and putting it back together again. Then I thought, “I wonder what that fourposter has seen?” and decided to write a play about it.

It was a very innocent play, the story of a marriage with only two characters. I knew that I couldn’t really write a play with only two characters, it simply wouldn’t work. But I thought, well, it’s never going to be performed anyhow. So I wrote about the kind of life I would have loved to have, and which I did not think I was going to have, because the mortality rate on the route that I was about to take was eighty percent.

I wrote the play with great fervor. When it was finished, the director put it in the linen cupboard. Two days later the call came and I left on the underground trail to England. The play was performed, finally, in England ten years later and was a disaster. The Daily Express wrote, “The frail little bark goes down with both hands.” After three weeks a gentleman, who invested in failures as a tax deduction, bought the play for three thousand pounds. I thought he was crazy. When he made the offer I said, ‘Well, of course,” and I sold him the world rights to the play in perpetuity for three thousand glorious English pounds.

A few years later it was performed in New York and ran for three years. Three movies were made of it, one by the Americans, one by the Germans, and one by the Austrians. I was sorry then that I had sold all rights to the play, but with those things, you never know.

 The good thing about North Node in Pisces is how adaptable to circumstances it is; it is, after all, a mutable node. The “bad” thing, as you might be able to tell from the above quote, is how sure de Hartog was that this play would “never” be seen. The primary negative to South Node in Virgo in the 1st house is how likely it would be, in someone else’s chart, to prevent the person from believing in himself or living his life to the fullest.

Now, de Hartog did not have that problem, largely because his response, so typical of a stubborn Taurus Sun in the 9th determined not to be kept under the thumb of his apparently oppressive (minister) father, was to run away or fight back when presented with an intolerable worldview. Later, the Nazis invaded his country, and de Hartog, working in the underground resistance movement, spent years running from them. As befits a 9th house Sun, he spent years travelling; he also married three times, never quite accomplishing the fantasy he wrote of in “The Fourposter,” which fortunately did not prevent him from using the creative imagination of a Pisces North Node.