How Important Are the Moon’s Nodes?

This is a transcript from an interview Mark did with Tony Howard from Astrology University. You can listen to the podcast version here.

Tony: This is the Astrology University podcast helping you find inspiration, insight and connection through the study of astrology. And I’m your host, Tony Howard. Hello friends and welcome to this episode of the Astrology University podcast, I am really excited to be joined by astrologer and therapist Mark Jones. Hey, Mark, thanks for joining me.

Mark: Hi, Tony. Nice to see you as always.

Tony: Yeah, it’s great to have you here. I wanted to have you on the show to talk about the lunar nodes today, because not only is it a topic that’s near and dear to your heart, and you’re teaching a course on it right now. But I know from speaking with you that your thoughts on the nodes have evolved over time. So I thought we could just start there, by talking a little bit about that progression as you’ve experienced it in yourself. And maybe you can just start by telling folks a little bit about where you started with your thinking about the nodes, and then kind of where you are now.

Mark: It’s amazing, isn’t it, Tony, how we pick up these almost like litmus tests for how we’re growing as practitioners and the nodes is one of mine in many ways. I mean, right from my 20s when I was involved in astrology, I was attracted to figures like Schulman and when I studied with Greene, the nodes were remarkably powerful, and Greene had a certain take on Rudhyar’s work. But I have, as you well know, absorbed myself in Rudhyar in the last few years, at least in part to understand his thinking on the fact that all planets have nodes as well as the Moon and that the late thinking of Dane Ruhdyar was that these placements were effectively more powerful than the actual planetary positions, which is so radical, it’s kind of mind blowing. So I thought to myself, well, what is it about this, in my view, great figure, once you discriminate between the fact that some of his texts are more useful than others. You can really get to the heart of this man’s thinking and his imagination around modern astrology, psychology, spirituality is so profound. And he spent all his last period of his life focusing on what he called orbital astrology, this kind of view that the charts are static picture, but it’s like a still photograph of a dance, everything’s still moving. And he saw the nodes. So he saw the lunar nodes, as effectively a way into the movement of that dance, because they symbolize an entire orbital momentum, the Earth, the Moon going around the Earth, but also intersecting the ecliptic, the Earth going around the Sun. So in this profound moment of interface, Rudhyar opens up this whole idea the chart’s alive, and even the still point can be used as a kind of lens into that dance. And so he saw the nodes as absolutely fundamental arising together, created by the Moon. So you can’t separate the nodes from the idea of the Moon, and the sort of evolution of the personal self.

But also this idea that you can’t separate the nodes. And, of course, so much early thinking and so much training, and you understand why astrologers are trying to create meaningful cookbooks for people to learn astrology. But they separate the nodes, you know, South Node here, South Node in this house and this sign, and actually what Rudhyar’s saying in his later view, you can’t separate them. They’re created by one orbital motion, creating a North Node as it rises above the ecliptic, creating a South Node as it descends below it, how can you separate them? And it was a revelation to me, really. I can understand that you could separate certain dynamics in a chart for the purpose of study. But actually, it narrows your interpretation. And it gets into this territory where we could betray people by overly fixating on, say, the South Node as a symbol of the past that you have to somehow overcome, you know, don’t do it anymore. And do the North Node was actually seeing them both together, you see that the nodes are representative of an energetic dance, a kind of flow of meaning in a person’s life from the past to the future, mediated by the present. And that’s really how our lives feel, don’t they? They feel like we’re carrying a past into the emergent properties of a manifesting future now. And it removes all judgment, it removes all sense of one node being better than the other. You know, it’s crucial to develop just this one node as an antidote to everything else. No, it’s crucial to allow the flow and the North Node may be very important point to emphasize or expand upon in order to allow the flow but this isn’t as simple as the South Node’s done or bad or what have you. This is the South Node is your meaningful past that you’re going to carry into that emergent future. Rather like a backpack full of goodies on a day hike, you’ve got your energy bar and your cell phone and your blanket if it gets cold, or torch in case it goes dark or whatever. I think that’s all beautiful. Why should we treat our past as if it’s something we just have to get over? That’s effectively a traumatized view of the past. And of course, sadly, that’s true for some people. And it may be important to help facilitate them unburden that past.

But judging the South Node of the Moon won’t help that process, or actually opening up the sense of flow of meaning from the South Node to the North Node might. So it’s really been this change of thinking in that, even for analytical purposes and I have done that in the past and I’ve even taught how to look at the South Node and its ruler to see past dynamics and it’s not like those teachings aren’t relevant. I’m not denying my past understanding, my past understanding was a partial truth. It’s just I’ve seen it in the light of a greater truth now, which is that even as you do that explication of a potential past through the South Node and the ruler and what have you, you’re seeing as part of this dynamic flow of meaning with the other note that that always together in a dance. And I think that’s the genius of late Rudhyar that he saw that so clearly.

Tony: It’s such a gift from so much of his work that he asks us to think about the elements of the chart in the greater context and in a more holistic view. And we so often don’t do that sometimes out of necessity, especially as we’re learning, because we can’t take in that many pieces at the beginning. And we have to break down the parts, but at some point, to come back to just that realization that it’s like you said, it’s a snapshot of a moment of elements that are literally in motion. They haven’t stopped, you’re just that moment is freeze framed. But how important are the lunar nodes in your consulting work now? Is that as a major focus, or…?

Mark: Yeah, I think because they’re just such a direct way into a person’s most profound personal dynamics. I like technical simplicity that produces deep psychological, spiritual gain for the individual. And I think the nodes are a no brainer on that level. They offer this technically very simple but immediately, psychologically profound orientation to the birth chart. And they help people cut through the complexity problem that, as you rightly said, when we’re starting out, we need these things broken down. I’m not judging books that break down the nodes and separate them. We have to do it in some sort of conceptual part of our mind to be able to grasp things. But as we grow as astrologers, we’re looking to bring it back to the full orchestra, you emphasize just the violins or the cellos or the horns, whilst you’re trying to understand it, but then they’ve got to come back into the whole flow. And I think it’s the great imagination of Rudhyar. I think he is the great modern astrologer at his best. And later in his life, he’s completely focused on the nodes, planetary and lunar. And the lunar nodes, for him, are very direct path into the personal sense of destiny that we have, how to transform our personal circumstance into something meaningful for ourselves. And for the greater good to have such an immediately simple access point in a chart that can take you into that level of meaning.

It’s just super handy both for students, but also when you’re doing a lot of consultations, you want that sense of coming through to the flow point of the chart, it’s kind of a natural resolution or wave of meaning. And I think the nodes provide this natural kind of pathway feeling. In a chart, they give a sense of direction to it. Because many people I’ve worked with, people who’ve studied astrology longer than I have Tony, they don’t always know where to start. It’s as if it’s a scatter gun kind of thing, where to pull, what to pull together, the nodes just create this, what he called the destiny line, or what I’ve extrapolated from a phrase of his in the lunar and planetary nodes, the essential factor of destiny, which I’ve called the destiny line. The nodes represent this just simple plane of activity that you can personally relate to in your path of life. They are symbolic representation of a way of looking at your path of meaning and your personal life. I mean, that’s just lovely, isn’t it? And so direct, and it’s such a great point, it can be easily related to in a reading, and it can take a consultation within the first 10 or 15 minutes into that profound point of the sense of someone having a path, having a sense of meaning. And it’s not always heroic stuff out in the world, it might be just learning to deal with certain themes in personal relationships in a different way. Or to have children and parent them in a way that was different than the way you were raised or simple but profound human essentials, not necessarily some heroic path in the world.

Tony: For any of our listeners who might be new to astrology, maybe we should rewind just a tiny bit and if you could just tell those folks technically, what the lunar nodes are that would be great.

Mark: So, as we all know that the Moon goes around the Earth, and astrology is based on the pattern of the Earth’s apparent motion around the Sun in the ecliptic, which forms the zodiacal circle, effectively. The Earth’s path around the Sun is what forms the zodiac. And as the Moon orbits the Earth, it intersects that ecliptic. And as it does, so it forms the nodes. So the nodes are effectively a shorthand for the Moon’s orbit. That’s what Rudhyar lit up about when he saw that, just like an engineer looking at parabolas of motion, once you’ve got two points on the right kind of plane, you can extrapolate the entire momentum of something. And he saw that, therefore, the Moon’s nodes in that static still frame of the natal chart symbol-like, because we all understand the movement picture continues, transits continue. You have Saturn natally and then a few years later, it hits something else in your chart. But he’s seeing this as inside the actual still image of the natal chart here, is this thing that implies a whole evolutionary flow of personal potential, meaning sense of being on a path. So Rudhyar was absolutely clear, the Moon’s nodes to him are more important than the Moon. And actually, he’s implying that the planetary nodes as a side note to take us off course. But you know, there’s this strong hint that all the things that form nodes, the nodes themselves have got a lot more information to tell us in many ways than the single planetary point, because they’re referring to an orbit, rather than as fixed point. I think this a genius realization. It’s been stymied in the planetary area, because of the complexity. And you know well from helping me deal with that complexity for the book on the planetary nodes, how dealing with that complexity in that domain has changed my thinking of the lunar nodes, has forced me to take on board his profound points, and reapply it to this earlier point of my teaching.

So the Moon’s nodes are an symbol of the entire orbit of the Moon, around the Earth-Sun relationship, and therefore, they’re a symbol of personal progress, or personal path, the sense of personal self evolving. And really, many of us, I think, are drawn to have an astrology reading, that’s what we’re looking, for aren’t we? We have some sense, are we on the right track on our personal path, or where my personal path leads us into a greater area of growth or understanding? And that’s what they’re so direct about. And so helpful with, and it’s my joy in many ways to help people, daily, effectively and through throughout this whole world, changing events, sit there and help them hold that sense of where they are on that path, and how rich life can be even sometimes in relative isolation, or with world events having changed things. The personal path can still deepen, if that attention and that love and that wisdom is applied to it.

Tony: Thanks for that Mark. And for our listeners, I just want to call your attention to something Mark said earlier about the planetary nodes. So each of the planets has their own nodes. That might be a mind-blowing insight for some of you who haven’t heard about that before. And we won’t go into detail about that in today’s podcast, but maybe on another one we can. And for those who want to learn more, Mark has written a book about it called the planetary nodes and the evolution of consciousness. Did I get it right? I think I’ve botched the title.

Mark: Planetary Nodes and Collective Evolution.

Tony: Collective evolution. Yes, thank you. We played around with a few titles. I think they are still in my head.

Mark: Yeah. I like yours.

Tony: Maybe we should have come up with that one sooner. Anyway, you can check out that book on Amazon if you want to learn more. But what I wanted to point out was when you were doing research for that book, and you’ve been doing a lot of intensive research over the last couple of years, because you now have a lovely research assistant, who’s helping you, Patrick has been helping you do research for the book, but also for a lot of the webinars you’ve been teaching over the past couple of years. And as you were doing that research, you noticed something important about the transiting nodes and that the transiting nodes were showing up at a lot of these key turning points in people’s lives that you were studying. Can you say a little bit more about that what you’ve seen and what you think about that together since?

Mark: Thank you, by the way. That’s a great question. And really, our research and having a near full time researcher has been such a powerful boon for me. And he’s done some excellent work. And we partly looked into the planetary nodes because of course to do a new breakthrough territory wanted to make sure it was high quality. But alongside that we did what we call the other turning points or the transformations research, looking at these key moments in people’s lives where the breakthrough occurs, and we were blown away by how often the transiting nodes show up. I mean, many astrologers understand the importance of the lunar nodes, but how many are focusing on the transiting nodes for like moments of key illumination? I mean, an example like Herschel discovers the planet Uranus on his rooftop with his homemade telescope, calling out positions to his sister down a notch on the rooftop who’s huddled in a blanket recording the details down. He discovers that on his Pluto square, but it’s also the transiting node, the transiting South Node on his Pluto in Scorpio. Bang, to the degree. And he discovers the new planet, the last sort of amateur scientist to make that kind of discovery.

Or you see someone like Helen Keller, a child robbed by childhood illness, left deaf and blind from a small child, left with these parents that don’t know how to deal with her, you know running wild effectively with no contact, and Annie Sullivan, the partially sighted teacher that arrives from a special school to help her. She arrives on the day that transiting nodes exactly square her Pluto to almost the minute and in this is the figure that will reach through the darkness literally and touch her life and bring her development forward, bring her out of herself. It’s like her discovery of Uranus moment. And it’s happening on this fourth harmonic with the transiting nodes where you see someone like Robert Redford, there’s a complex example where Redford loses his mother relatively early in life with a Pluto-Sun transit. And she’s relatively young, a short illness claims her. But it’s also the transiting nodes to his midheaven. And she was the one anchor that tied him to California and his upbringing. And without her, he didn’t care anymore. He went to Europe, he went to Paris to try and be an artist, he went to Florence to deal with the grief of her loss, the one figure he was close to. And that journey of choosing to be an artist is what led him eventually back to New York and the States and acting school and being discovered. And it’s this symbol is Pluto to Sun, losing the most essential figure, but also transiting nodes to Midheaven just past his nodal return because he’s got a node in the 10th just helping him find his way.  Because human love and loyalty is also a potential obstacle, because you’re grounded to it, you belong to that loving person, and it freed him for that journey.

So you just see the transiting nodes. In fact, we were shocked to discover, I would say in about 60% of what we call these turning point moments in people’s lives, 50 or 60% of transiting nodes are a significant factor. And that’s a very high call for something. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of charts, examples of artists, spiritual figures, political figures, Gorbachev and the fall of the Soviet Union. And you just see this, certain types of transits occur time and time again, outer planets transiting inner planets or angles. And then the power of the transiting nodes. And I’m not aware of that much literature on the power of the transiting nodes. To be fair, Greene, in his classes in the 90s mentioned that they were important, but there’s no writing from him on it. And I haven’t seen much written material on this. And yet, after four years of consistent research now, we see it time and time again. I mean, I could literally present an entire weekend workshop just showing examples of the transiting nodes. Kind of seeming to indicate a timing factor in someone’s life where something aligns about their deeper purpose, or their vocation or their sense of mission in life. Which tells me is a great feedback for this strong intuition of mine that they are this direct point in a natal chart for that personal sense of meaning or path. That so many people would have them at the key moments when they found that path. It was Redford that said, by the way, this example an interview I watched with him, he must have been in his early 70s, late 60s, early 70s, even he said his mother’s death was the great turning point of his life. Because he was no longer anchored to the suburban California well that he grew up in. It gave him the sense because he was at the University of Colorado at the time. That he could leave it all behind that he could go and take that dream, the expat artist in Paris, that dream like so many other poets and writers or Hemingway or something. And he didn’t stay with that dream in the end, but if you notice in his career, as soon as he became a massive star, he became a director and won an Oscar for his first film and then as soon as he became a director, he started dreaming of an environment where other films and new talent could be fostered. So he stayed true to the artist path rather than just the star and all of that was formed early on with this kind of loss precipitating creative freedom to go and discover.

So I hope to write and present moment material on the transiting nodes over time for the community as much as anything. If these points are so significant, and like I say, we’re testing these theories with incredible amounts of data. In fact, our challenge becomes finding the right examples historically, that we can actually get a date for, or at least within the day or week or month, with the transiting nodes are not moving that fast, if you can just get the day you’re on to something. It’s finding those examples to keep researching because we covered so much ground. But I have been genuinely taken aback, shocked even at times by how consistently the transiting nodes are involved. And it makes me think that everything from nodal returns and nodal oppositions and that movement of the nodes around the chart is an internal clock is a transit and progressional solar arc clock that we should be exploring more.

Tony: Since you’ve had this awareness, have you been incorporating it into your consult work? And if so, how are you doing that?

Mark:  Yeah, I have. I’ve noticed it on a number of levels. I noticed it recently. The transiting nodes just picking out a point of someone’s chart, and it happened to be a point in my chart too, and I realized this is what the message is, the deeper message was about that vision, that point in my chart. So I’m beginning to notice even the consultation chart, the day we’re doing the reading, the transiting nodes are in a certain point in the whole process, and they’re singling out potentials actively in the dialogue right there in there and with the individual. And I love that, I love that part of it. But yes, I have started to incorporate it. I now see them as significant as some people would see Saturn transits, or outer planet transits to personal planets, when I see the transiting nodes coming to the angles, the ascendant or the midheaven. When I see it coming to a certain planetary signature, I’m really keyed in on it. I mean, I’ve always thought, Tony, because it was a realization I had in the preparation for my Saturn return, I lost my father in my 20s. I lost my father at that nodal opposition. So my Saturn is in the fourth, Saturn was on the IC. And it was the nodal opposition. And it’s very similar to Redford, it was a very serious personal grief loss. But it also freed something in my family system. It freed me to somehow take my own life path more seriously. And I shifted from playing music in a band to the focus around my psychology and astrology studies at 27. So I’ve always known that, say something like the nodal opposition, the nodes occurring in an 18-19 year cycle, and then having a little mini opposition. The transiting North Node on the South Node at 27. Prior to the Saturn return, that the Saturn return even can’t be looked at on its own. You have to look at it as a nodal opposition leading to the Saturn return. A kind of transiting North Node going back to your South Node and what you need to bring forward prior to this crucible of growing up and maturing that is the Saturn return.

So I’ve always looked at those kind of key turning points in the nodal psychic cycle as important, but I’m increasingly just using the transiting nodes as a very active read of highlighting potential, particularly around one’s path, one’s sense of vocation, one’s sense of calling, or on a more simple level, he next personal meaningful step, for me. I think that’s what’s so beautiful about the lunar nodes, is just how often when you can language them right and connect with someone in an appropriate way around, how often they feel personally validated by that, that something meaningful and deeply personal is being held in their experience. And so it’s an important aspect of building rapport in the reading, to talking on that level, rather than as an abstraction, you know? The chart is an abstract series of intellectual principles. The Moon’s nodes seem to cut through that. To this rather beautiful sense of unfolding personal meaning, which is my favorite feeling in the world is to share that sense with people.

Tony: Definitely. And that made me think of a conversation we were having earlier, because right now you’re in the middle of teaching a course on the lunar nodes. It’s called Lunar Nodes 101, and you can find it at Astrology University. If you’re listening to this talk after the fact, i’s still available to get in download and tune into on your own time. But my point here was just that we were having a conversation about how a lot of astrologers kind of divorce the lunar nodes from the Moon in terms of how they’re thinking about them, so maybe you could say a little bit about that, because that was a great conversation we were having earlier.

Mark: I mean, the technical point is so simple, isn’t it? How can you divorce two abstract points in space that describe an orbital motion from the thing that creates the orbital motion? I mean, it’s a technical impossibility. It’s a technical misnomer. So what the nodes are, are gateway points for the planet or the luminary that’s creating them, in this case, the Moon. So the nodes of the Moon are symbols of the Moon’s entire journey. So the lunar nodes are like having a multi-dimensional Moon, or cosmic Moon. It’s like your Moon in its entire history of possibility and unfolding potential Moon. Moon as moving in the holographic universe, what you can become Moon. And so in that sense, it adds this whole dimension beyond so the Moon about your emotional patterning, your personal patterns of security, the way your childhood and specific personal world, parents, etc. shaped you. This is like the butterflying of that into its more cosmic potential, but retaining that personal keynote, that sense of personal quality, that sense of personal I connection. And we raised that point, because it’s a great question someone asked. I mean, this idea of the ego or self, that was a translation. People don’t realize, but an early translator of Freud, his big sort of advocate in London, Ernest Jones, translated Das Ich, from German, which means the I, into ego. And yet when we think of ego now, do we just think the I? Not necessarily, it was ego, id, and superego and Freud’s terms were I, not I, id and super I. We’ve changed them into these other historically culturally loaded things. Freud was talking about the I sense, the personal sense. And I think the Moon is the most direct way into the early I, the early subjective sense. And, yes, we can contemplate evolution, collectively, we can study history, and I’ve tried to do so with some of my astrological research. But nothing’s more fulfilling and immediately resonant with people than to ground it all, in that personal sense of what am I doing? What’s my contribution? It grounds us, doesn’t it? To the part we can play in this cosmic whole. The little Tony shaped part of the universe, the Mark shaped part of the universe, you know, can we stand up and sing from that place in a way.

Tony: Beautiful, beautiful. Well, folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s conversation, we could go on and on, I think talking about the nodes. But if you’d like to learn more, obviously, head over to Astrology University where you can find not only that course on the nodes, it’s Lunar Nodes 101, but also several recordings Mark has done on the lunar nodes, including aspects to the lunar nodes and rulers of the nodes and, and squares to the nodes.

Mark:  Conjunctions squares. We did a whole series, didn’t we? That really has developed it.

Tony: Yeah. And all this isn’t, you know, maybe we can close today, Mark, I know that you’re working on a book on the nodes. Can you maybe just tell folks a little bit about what your plans and thoughts are?

Mark: So the book, the working title is The Destiny Line, extrapolated from Rudyhar’s teaching of the lunar nodes as the essential factor of destiny in the natal chart. And it’s an attempt to look at both psychologically and spiritually what is identity and our growth as humans, but also placed this along all this research of moments of transformation in people’s lives and tracing the destiny line through all these different example charts. And this will be one of the few times when I literally go to great lengths to explain all the possible nodal positions without fingers crossed, this is the great editorial and writing challenge. without it becoming a cookbook, to keep it in some kind of flow of the evolving themes of the nodes but we will, my researcher and I, prepare a chapter on the transiting nodes within this. We will show how this movement picture adds this complex extra to the regular concept of transits and progressions and solar arcs. And one that’s so easy to follow, a simple transit that it’s being calculated all the time, but perhaps just not being focused on and yet the historical examples once they’re lined up, they’re pretty undeniable. Herschel did many great things in his life, but the discovery of Uranus was pretty big, you know? And it points you to that moment. So yeah, it’s super exciting.

You know, the problem, Tony is that you and I have reached this point where what we’re offering people has become interesting, has become useful. We’re both very busy doing it most of the time, and I have to figure a point of taking some kind of sabbatical from client work and teaching to really give a book project like this the time and space it deserves. And yet I will do at some point, because it’s so rich, it is very rewarding. It’s almost like the difference between discovering in the study on your own and then just seeing these things happen. You’re like, wow. And then the best of working with people is that you make those discoveries together. You’re in the shared space, and it has an impact on their life. But every now and then the power of uncovering a Herschel’s life or Helen Keller, it’s like that’s the magic of astrology at its best, isn’t it? That feeling of participating in some unfoldment of the meaning in life or the meaning in the cosmos.

Tony: Beautiful. Well, thanks, Mark. And I just want to take a moment to thank you for your contribution to the field and all of your work on a daily basis. You’re in the trenches with folks helping people every day and, and I just want to acknowledge and honor that contribution. So thank you so much.

Mark: Thank you. Yeah, it’s been, particularly you know in this global thing we’ve been through. It’s been a ride.

Tony: That’s for sure. Well, thanks, Mark. And thank you for listening everyone out there. And until next time, take good care.

To learn more about the nodes be sure to check out Mark’s work on the subject here

Learn more about Mark’s approach in his course Lunar Nodes 101:

Get Mark’s book Healing the Soul:

Learn about Dane Rudhyar here: