Dorothy: In the last several issues the written symbol of the South Node of the Moon has had what seems to be a “T” added, and the minutes and degree are no longer the same. Did I miss something in the way of explanation?
Zip: The “T” stands for “True” node, in contrast to the mean or average node which is normally given in ephemerides. The regular motion of the mean nodes occurs because they are actually the average positions of the points where the Moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic plane. The so-called “true” node, in contrast, varies from day to day, can be direct some of the time, and is calculated from an orbit defined by the Moon’s actual position. Of course both positions—mean and true—are still abstractions. The Moon is not actually crossing the ecliptic plane most of the time. But the intersections of great circles (of which this is one) all seem to be meaningful in the horoscope.
We have had access to the true nodes for too short a time to pass judgment on them. I have used the mean nodes for many years, and found them very helpful. We are now including both mean and true positions so that readers can test them for value. Only a great deal more work will confirm whether one is more effective or valid than the other. I suspect that, like everything else in astrology, both will be helpful, and that the most important one will be whichever one is more closely aspected. Remember, the two true nodes are opposite each other, and the two mean nodes are also opposite each other. We put in one of each, and I arbitrarily put in the true south node because it is open on top so I can put the “T” there easily. If any readers have found one or the other position to be clearly superior, we would like to hear about it. When checking for the most closely aspected one, remember to check midpoints.
As most readers know by now, I treat the nodes as another form of the basic astrological alphabet, so the Moon’s nodes are like the Moon: they indicate our need for emotional security, and are often in aspect to factors in the charts of people we are close to, as well as aspected in current patterns when we go in or out of close relationships. A recent letter on the nodes presents a very contrasting view from traditional Hindu astrology; a very negative and fatalistic belief that regards both nodes as Karmic and says that “Karma is always bad.” Since I think that everything in a chart and in life is Karmic, and I think that Karma is just consequences of our own character which includes good, bad, and indifferent, and that by changing our character (habitual actions and attitudes) we change our Karma, I am shocked when I find such negative astrology still practiced. The Hindu view described in this letter theorizes that the north node is like Saturn and that it “is eating all the planets in conjunction with him,” while the south node is like Mars, “can’t think, only beats and strikes.” The western tradition, in contrast, suggests that the north node is like Jupiter where things come easily to us while the south node is like Saturn, indicating an area of lessons and, once we have learned them, an obligation to give something to the world. If we learn and give voluntarily, there is no need for suffering. If we resist and are forced to learn and give, it may be uncomfortable. But I know many great and successful people who have manifested both their nodes in highly positive ways. I think few people would consider that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who has Sun and Pluto conjunct the north node, has had her Sun and Pluto “eaten”, in view of her fame and her work with depth psychology and with death and the psychic area. Nor would the followers of Muktananda agree that his spirituality has been destroyed, or his ability to win people, because his north node is conjunct Venus and Neptune.
I disagree also with the recent shift in astrology which reverses the nodes and suggests that the south node is the “easy” one, and that it should be avoided. It is highly important that we not ignore either node, but rather work to integrate the polarity so that there is a comfortable teamwork. In all the polarities of astrology, they need each other. In general, the people who assume that anything has to be negative are those who have not owned that part of themselves. They may be repressing or projecting, and it is especially easy to do this with all water factors; Moon, Neptune, Pluto and their nodes, signs, and houses. It is also common with Saturn, and sometimes for a different reason, since both Saturn and water factors may represent results of past actions that are now coming to us—the usual definition of Karma. But even if past unwise actions have brought discomfort, we can change what we do now and thereby change what happens to us in the future. To assume that anything has to be negative is a tragic kind of astrology; a denial of spiritual growth which is the soul of life.