What is the north node in astrology?
In the sky, the two nodes, also called the lunar nodes, are the invisible points at which the moon’s orbit intersects the Earth’s orbit around the sun, called the ecliptic—which happens both in the northern hemisphere (at a point called the north node) and the southern hemisphere (at a point called the south node). The north and south nodes fall in opposite signs from each other, and change signs about every 18 months. Lunar and solar eclipses always occur in the same signs as the nodes, often bringing about fated events as a result.
- Rachel Lang, astrologer, psychic medium, and author of Modern Day Magic: 8 Simple Rules to Realize Your Power and Shape Your Life and As Above, So Below
- Vanessa Hardy, astrologer
Wherever the north node was located at the time you were born is called your natal north node, and just like any planet in your birth chart, its location holds significance for your personality and way of being, says intuitive astrologer Rachel Lang, author of Modern Day Magic. Because of the way in which the nodes shift in the sky, they’re always moving retrograde (or in an apparent backspin) from our vantage point—so, yes, the north node will show up as retrograde in your chart, too, similar to retrograde planets.
"When you focus your attention on following the path designated by the north node, you feel more fulfilled and more purposeful." —Rachel Lang, intuitive astrologer
True to its name, your north node is your true north or your North Star, says Lang. "It’s the point of destiny you continue to follow throughout your life. When you focus your attention on following the path designated by the north node, you feel more fulfilled and more purposeful," she says.
That path is categorized by the qualities of the sign in which your north node falls. For example, my north node sits in Gemini, an air sign of communication and intellect ruled by Mercury. And in turn, my “purpose” or destiny in life, or what I’m striving for in order to achieve fulfillment, likely has to do with teaching, learning, writing, or spreading a certain message.
But embracing the qualities of your north node isn’t something you can expect to come easily or naturally. The north node exists just beyond your comfort zone, “pulling you toward a more specific expression of who you are over time,” says astrologer Vanessa Hardy. The fact that it appears to move slowly, transiting retrograde through the sky, reflects the idea that karma and fate also unfold slowly through a lifetime, she adds. “This marks the difference between the impact of the nodes on personality and that of the planets in your birth chart,” she says. “The north node is an energy to be pursued rather than directly used.”
What is the south node in astrology?
The jaunt to destiny has to start somewhere—and Lang says that's where your natal south node comes in. The south node sits exactly opposite the north, occupying the opposite sign. In your chart, it reflects not what you’re striving to reach in the future, but what you already know and embody from past and present experiences. “It’s the familiar, or where we came from,” says Lang. In my case, the opposite of Gemini places my south node in Sagittarius, the sign of the explorer ruled by Jupiter. And in turn, I may come from a restless, seeking kind of place.
Because your south node, like your north node, is determined when you’re born, the past that it encompasses is thought to extend to past-life experiences, too. “It is the energy we are born having already developed and which is sometimes expressed predominantly in early childhood,” says Hardy.
Overall, you likely identify more, off the bat, with the sign of your natal south node than your north because it represents a “place where you do what you know,” says Hardy. “This might cause you to cling to certain south-node traits for comfort or out of fear, which may bring forth maladaptive expressions of its energy.” In general, that’s why the south node is associated with overly familiar or overactive qualities that you’d be wise to release or soften, whereas, the north node is the unfamiliar energy you’re challenged to embrace.
“Often, we play a tug-of-war game between the north and south nodes throughout our lives,” says Lang. “During the years when you have a nodal return—meaning, the nodes return to the signs where they were when you were born—which happens about every 19 years, you could feel a sense of your destiny or experience fated events.” These transits create a powerful tension between past and future, highlighting where you’ve come from in order to show you where you’re going.
How are the north and south nodes used in astrology?
In Vedic astrology, the nodes are thought to be represented by a dragon from Hindu mythology whose head is called Rahu (representing the north node) and tail is called Ketu (representing the south). While the head looks toward the future and seeks to be fed, the tail holds up the rear, providing balance and strength, says Hardy. “In the same way, the lunar nodes are thought to function best when we are integrating and balancing their oppositional energies,” she says.
As a result, embracing the nodes isn’t just about releasing south-node qualities and pushing yourself toward the unnatural and unfamiliar north. “Whether in the personal chart or collective experience, we also want to use our easily accessed strengths and talents reflected by the south node,” says Hardy.
Rather than thinking of the north node as carrying a specific goal or career for you to achieve in your lifetime, consider it more like an energy that can enhance or expand your life when you welcome it—more like a moral or spiritual duty, says Hardy. “Activating your north node is the key to bringing forward the gifts of the south node, while pulling away from its limiting habits.”
Doing all of the above will require stepping outside your comfort zone. “Because the north node is a point that you will not have developed naturally, it’s possible that you’ll bring it toward you by way of partners, friends, or other more passive opportunities that flesh out your personality,” says Hardy. “It’s a place in your chart that you will not naturally pursue in an active way; instead, you may need to be pulled there.”
How to identify your lunar nodes
For a short-cut to identifying your natal north and south nodes, enter your birth date, time, and location into this nodal generator. Or, you can get your full birth chart through an online chart generator like this one, and find the symbol that looks like a pair of headphones to identify your north node. Your south node will be represented by the same shape in reverse, which looks like a horseshoe.
From there, teasing out meaning is simple: Your destiny will follow the traits of the sign of your north node, while your familiar gifts, struggles, and comfort zone will reflect the qualities of the sign of your south node.
What each of the lunar-node pairings represents
Aries north node and Libra south node
If you have this node placement, you may need to work on balancing your self care with the care you show others. “When you focus on yourself and become more comfortable being independent, you will be following your north node path. You have already figured out relationships; now, you need to figure out individuation,” says Lang. That doesn't mean you're destined to stay single. Rather, it means that your life's purpose may be rooted in an independent venture that allows you to take the wheel.
Taurus north node and Scorpio south node
You're here to experience the finer things in life. “The Taurus-Scorpio axis line emphasizes financial resources. Earning a living, being self-reliant, and making money is a core soul-growth theme,” says Lang. You may have a desire to experience shared resources, perhaps through marriage, inheritance, or investments, as these are all Taurean items, adds Lang. “But your true sense of fulfillment may come from the experience of building wealth for yourself.”
Gemini north node and Sagittarius south node
"Gemini is the sign of communication, making this a major theme in your life,” says Lang. “Whether through writing, speaking, conversation, marketing, reporting, or teaching, a Gemini north node is here to share ideas and knowledge with others,” says Lang. Some of that know-how likely comes from travel or diverse experiences you've had in a past-life, thanks to your south node in Sagittarius, the sign of exploration and adventure. Your challenge in this life will be to enrich your local community and give back all that you’ve learned without straying far from home, says Lang.
Cancer north node and Capricorn south node
“You may feel an internal tug-of-war between family and career,” says Lang. But with Cancerian themes ruling over your destiny, chances are, the family side will win out. “You are ultimately here to have an experience of nesting and creating a home base for your loved ones.” But that will require resisting the Capricorn temptation to throw yourself into work as a method of self-soothing, says Hardy. “You will not reach toward true Cancerian nurturing without some outside nudging.”
Leo north node and Aquarius south node
“You’re destined to shine in the spotlight,” says Lang, describing Leo-esque qualities of the self, ego, and personal creativity. “Yours is a life for creative expression, and you may have the potential to make a name for yourself.” That idea, though, likely makes you uncomfortable, as your Aquarian south node has instilled a preference in you for aligning with groups and being part of a team, adds Lang. “Don't be afraid to step into center stage, though, sometimes.” You could find that you’re more at ease there than you thought you’d be.
Virgo north node and Pisces south node
You’re learning to be grounded in a body on this Earth, with your north node rooted in Virgo, says Lang. But, the physicality of that may not come easily. “You could confront allergies or health challenges to overcome,” she says. “You want to be a part of others’ healing and transformation, but you’ll need to go through your own first to get there.” Leaning into rituals, dedicated practices, and daily habits will help ground your dreams in Virgo fashion. However, your challenge will be in releasing your Piscean fantasies and illusions that may not have a stake in the real world.
Libra north node and Aries south node
While the big, bold independence of Aries comes naturally to you, your fate is tied up in lessons about commitment, relationships, and partnering, says Lang. Yes, your leadership ability will come in handy, as will your self-starter vibe, but you’re here to refine those tendencies and learn to be diplomatic in your communication style, she adds.
Scorpio north node and Taurus south node
This placement is highly spiritual and metaphysical. “You may inherit money, marry into wealth, or have experiences of being financially supported in some way,” Lang says of the Taurean qualities that make up your familiar comfort zone. While this seems very nice on paper, thing aren’t always easy for you, as the fixed side of Taurus could leave you feeling constantly afraid of being controlled or stuck, Lang says. “You are here to release attachments to things, to not be too practical, and to have more magical, mystical experiences throughout life.”
Sagittarius north node and Gemini south node
Your life is about escaping your comfort zone, moving away from home, and seeking out wisdom in the many corners of the earth—all the best Sagittarian qualities. “Sagittarius is a sign of higher education, and I often see clients with a Sagittarius north node interested in learning,” says Lang. “These are the kinds of people who pursue advanced degrees or are somehow associated with academia.” But, at the same time, you could struggle with releasing certain tough Gemini themes around gossip, indecision, and distraction, she adds.
Capricorn north node and Cancer south node
Pragmatic work and career advancement are the realms in which you’re destined to thrive. You live for the "good job"-esque affirmations—and Lang says you're poised to get plenty of them. “You’re here to achieve and to be recognized for what you do,” she says. “However, with your south node in Cancer, you may feel more inclined to prioritize taking care of others or taking on the role of the motherly nurturer.” Your challenge is to release that tendency in favor of establishing and pursuing personal goals, while also striving for a healthy work-life balance.
Aquarius north node and Leo south node
Your fate lies somewhere within the Aquarian realms of social activism and making the world a better place than you left it. But you may find yourself a bit too self-centered to see that at first, with your south node in individualistic Leo. Deep down, however, you’re a humanitarian, says Lang, “and the more you focus on ways to use your big personal presence to make a contribution or advance a humanitarian cause, the more aligned you’ll be with your destiny.”
Pisces north node and Virgo south node
You could find that you’re fated to be a healer, visionary, or other kind of major change artist, says Lang, as you’re interested in contributing to the Piscean big picture. But at the same time, you’ll have to learn how to relax and calm your nervous system to do so. Dropping some of your Virgo-like practicality and analytical nature could lead to your pursuing a more fluid career in spirituality or the arts, she adds.
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