Understanding Your North Node

Your North Node: The most important part of your birth chart!

Many of us turn to astrology to inform our personal and spiritual development. We seek insight into our internal world, the solutions to our problems, how we can fulfil our potential and our place in the larger scheme of things. And we’re right to do so! Astrology has much to say on all these – and many other – concerns.

When we first begin to explore our own chart we often focus on the Sun sign, Moon sign and perhaps the Ascendant too. Certainly, these three factors can provide significant insight into our inner and outer life and play an important role in how we function in the world. But the most crucial part of our birth chart is none of these. It’s actually the North Node! Because to use our chart as a map for our deeper growth and development we must first establish our developmental orientation. We need to find our own personal ‘north’ to meaningfully apply other information in the chart.

This is where the moon’s nodes come in and why I love them so much! They cut through all the confusion and double-speak in the human psyche, all the defensive posturing, justifications and excuses. They show us precisely where we need to go – the behaviours we need to adopt, the habits we need to let go and the priorities we need to nurture – whether we like it or not! And if we don’t like it to begin with, once we follow their guidance for a while we discover its inherent wisdom and the freedom that comes from stepping beyond our comfort zone.

Once you understand your North Node, you’ll never be lost for how to respond to a challenge or crisis. You’ll have at your fingertips knowledge that enables you to make constructive and effective decisions, even when faced with some of life’s biggest obstacles. Intimate knowledge of your North Node (and its partner the South Node) empowers you to develop a more informed perspective on your life and how to keep its energy moving smoothly and productively, even when your back’s up against the wall! For as long as you’re acting in accordance with your nodal path, you’ll always be heading in the right direction no matter how difficult your journey may be. Understanding your North Node is like having a wise friend who knows you intimately, knows exactly what you need and always wants the best for you no matter what. And who doesn’t want a friend like that?!

What exactly are the Moon’s nodes?

The moon has two nodes – north and south. The nodes of the moon occur at the points where the path of the moon crosses the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the sun as viewed subjectively from planet earth. Please refer to the illustration at the top of this article to see the symbols used to designate the two nodes in a birth chart.

In many birth charts only the position of the North Node is recorded. The South Node lies exactly opposite, so its presence is implied rather than explicitly represented. When we consider the North Node, however, we must always remember the South Node at the opposite point of the zodiac.

What’s the astrological significance of the Moon’s nodes?

The Moon’s nodes reveal the path to fulfilment of our potential, whatever that potential may be. They show the things we need to do and the qualities we need to develop to build the foundation for our personal and spiritual blossoming. As such, they indicate where we’ve come from (South Node) and where we need to go (North Node) in life, the qualities we need to develop (north) and the habits we need to let go (south). The South Node also reveals the qualities, talents and behaviours we were born with and which come easily to us, while the North Node shows the new ways we can put them to use in our life.

The North Node generally receives more attention than the South Node, but they’re actually of equal importance. They work as a team and the significance of one can’t be truly appreciated without consideration of the other. So let’s begin by looking at the South Node, where our nodal journey begins…..

The South Node

This is where we feel at home with certain behaviours, habits and environments. It represents the talents and abilities we can call upon without having to work at them. We can express the South Node easily, often unconsciously. Here we find our default setting: those behaviours and attitudes that we adopt automatically. We lack objectivity at the South Node and rarely question its orientation. We can make a lot of assumptions about the issues indicated at the South Node and frequently have to adjust our views as we mature and encounter other ways of living life!

This node reveals both our most ingrained habits that need to change for us to progress, and our most natural talents and skills. In past-life astrology, the South Node reflects the influence of past incarnations and foundational karmic energies under-pinning this one.

The North Node

Here is our goal! This is the point to aim for as we progress through life. We need to develop the qualities indicated by this node to fulfil our purpose and potential. This is the ‘new me’ that emerges as we grow and mature. In karmic terms, the North Node is where we create the most powerful karma which will shape our experience in both this life and others. A fulfilled North Node establishes positive karmic outcomes in due course. A neglected or unfulfilled one necessitates that we deal with the deficit in our experience at some point – in this life or elsewhere – whether we like it or not!

The North Node has traditionally been linked with destiny. It sometimes reflects a particular outcome, defining moment or quality in someone’s life, such as a moment of fame, a particular achievement or even a certain level of notoriety! In this sense the nodal path raises questions as to the nature of ‘positive development’. For example, if our North Node conjunction with Mercury and Neptune expresses itself as notoriety gained for deceptive activities, is that necessarily a ‘bad thing’? Or are we simply fulfilling our potential at that time and in doing so encountering the lessons that will eventually help us know ourselves better and make different choices? In any event, embodying the qualities of our North Node is a key task in life, so the more fully we understand its message the better!

How can we best work with the nodes in our own birth chart?

Whilst the South Node indicates habits and tendencies that we need to let go, it also points to abilities and strengths that come naturally to us. They could be specific talents, behaviours or personality traits. The key to fulfilling the potential of our nodal axis is found in utilising our South Node abilities to further our North Node goals. When we can do this we’re living with a sense of purpose, in a balanced way. In effect, the North Node reveals the journey we must undertake while the South Node provides supplies for that journey. But it takes practice to do this! It’s far easier to lapse into a negative or lazy expression of our South Node – remaining stuck in old patterns of thought and behaviour – than it is to manifest its positive side which enables us to embrace and express the features of our North Node.

Because the South Node feels so familiar we can wrongly assume that it holds the key to our satisfaction and success. In this respect the old adage that we should ‘do what comes naturally’ to live a satisfying life is not necessarily born out astrologically! We may feel that we don’t need to develop new habits, talents and ways of being (North Node qualities) because we’ve already got this thing that we’re good at and which comes easily to us (South Node qualities). We’re a natural, we may find people like it and we get positive attention for it too. In actuality, however, investing too much energy in our South Node abilities could well be holding us back if we don’t balance them with development of our North Node qualities. The key is to use our natural South Node strengths to propel us toward the North Node and leave our bad South Node habits behind! In any event, manifesting the fruits of our North Node can be a lifetime’s journey, and a deeply rewarding one. As we gradually embrace and embody our North Node qualities, priorities and gifts, life becomes increasingly fulfilling and significantly more rewarding!

Pursuing our nodal path can often feel counter-intuitive. This can be especially so if we have no planets in the sign of our North Node, making its qualities feel very alien to us. We may wonder how we can possibly develop them and why would we want to?! But the North Node challenges us to do the opposite of what comes naturally, and to have faith that in doing so we’ll discover how to live our life in a new way that actually reveals a world of fresh possibility. In effect, our North Node asks us to become someone other than who we believe ourselves to be. So we must suspend disbelief when working with our nodes and act on faith, trusting that if our North Node tells us to develop these qualities in this area of our life, it does so for a reason. This takes courage and fortitude, plus a willingness to be new-born again: discovering life from scratch, adopting a new perspective and acting on fresh information. Once we’ve heeded its wisdom and committed to meeting the challenges of our nodal path with a positive ‘can do’ attitude, the fulfilment and satisfaction that comes with the expression of our North Node energies is always well worth the effort!

If you find yourself struggling to connect with your North Node, consider ways you can bring its energy into your everyday life. For example, if it’s in an earth sign, can you spend more time in nature? If it’s in an air sign, can you study something that will stimulate your mind and get you thinking differently about life? If it’s in Pisces can you join a meditation class? If it’s in Leo, how about some amateur dramatics?! Research the sign of your North Node and identify things you can do to help you more deeply connect with its core energy. Remember, it may not feel natural at first, but once you start to embody the energy of your North Node your life will take on a very different and more fulfilling hue.

This article (together with more information about your North Node!) features in my e book ‘Living Astrology – Sedna and Other Astrological Avatars’. Find out more about it here

Sarah Varcas

Would you like to understand how your North Node relates to the rest of your birth chart? My self-study astrology course will help you do that and much more. Now available for only £25. Click here for more information.