The Transiting Nodes: Ghost of a Dog

With South Node conjunct my natal Cancer Sun, the moon’s nodes have always held intrigue so as a professional astrologer I use them often in my work.  Steven Forrest’s epic work Yesterday’s Sky, helped me bring core karmic complexes to life in full cinematic glory, and those elusive mysteries, unraveled. Eclipses are inextricably linked to the nodes, too, as any full or new moon falling within 18 degrees of the nodal axis creates what we call an ‘eclipse’. Eclipses are wicked good at opening and closing mystery doors. Eclipse cycles are retrospectively useful, too, predictively. They’re also reliable in relationship compatibility. I’ve even watched transiting planets trigger the nodes, in a sort of date with destiny way. Yet the transiting nodes have been a mystery to most modern western astrologers. We see a node transiting our natal axis, angles or a planet and stare at each other, mystified. We go to our cookbooks and teachers to try on their theoretical conclusions about karmic reckonings and fated ‘karmic’ meetings, but that’s elusive, too. Frankly, for every time I’ve linked an observable event in my life to the transiting nodes, far more times nothing concrete has happened.

Then, the other night, I was talking with friend Jonathan Pearl, traditional astrologer extraordinaire, who asked how my Pluto transit was going. I gave him a laundry list of general complaints that went like this: unable to get energy going for projects (difficult, I’m all cardinal, baby!), dissipated energy, feeling ‘in the dark’, directionless, losing momentum for projects I start. As a new author, I explained, I should be building my empire. Instead, I find myself undergoing a major loss of direction and purpose.

He said, From everything you just said, Jessica, this doesn’t sound like Pluto- it sounds like the South Node. Further explaining, The South Node is the shadow point of dissipation; when transiting a planet, it drains the archetype of its energy. The Sun being my Will, life force, ego, clarity, purposefulness, no wonder mustering the ambition to act has been an epic battle. Jonathan tells me that the ancients use an 11 degree orb, so the South Node has been transiting my Sun since April. My husband confirmed this, pointing out this time period as very different from my three year ‘Pluto transit’: which I incidentally thought was robbing me of any sense of satisfaction in accomplishment. All this prompted this question: Who is the real culprit, Pluto, or the South Node?

Astronomically, the moon’s nodes are the points of intersection between the Sun and Moon. The South Node, in Hindu Astrology, is called Ketu and like Rahu (the North Node) is considered a ‘shadow planet’. Ketu is to Rahu what the Dalai Lama is to Donald Trump: Rahu thrives on material gain and worldly power while Ketu’s coin is the spiritual realm. Rahu acquires real estate, gets promotions and makes tangible worldly progress, while Ketu practices renunciation, eats bean sprouts and does yoga. Each has light/dark associations and it’s easy to see that each has value, but for obvious reasons, the East places more positive value on the immaterial spiritual Ketu while the West is inclined to focus on the material and ambitious Rahu. Insomuchas the Hindus say Ketu grants good health and spiritual prosperity, traditional western astrology attributes poor health and lack of advancement/material success to the South Node. Modern western astrologers like myself, often interpret the South Node (Ketu) as a point indicating habitual patterns which no longer yield satisfactory fruits (Stephanie Austin taught me that the Node symbolically resembled a set of  ‘upside down headphones’ in one’s birth chart-or an empty vessel). Which is how I’ve felt since the Cancer Node has neared my Sun. Dissipated energy. Empty life force. No new incoming information.

Sure, Pluto has visibly appeared: my interpersonal client work has been wonderfully rich, and with natal Twelfth House Pluto in Libra opposing a Sixth House Mars, as it should be. Pluto affects my relationships, my dream life (Twelfth House) which has been rich. But the other night when a transparent Christ ghost drifted through a dream in which I am also a drifter, and my spiritual companion said, “You’re it. You’re the Node!”, I began to process again how deeply ‘I Am’ solar-identified with the South Node.

This all has me yet again reconsidering the value of ancient traditional astrology and wondering how to get my hands on some more ancient goodies. But as I sometimes ask of the more ‘fated’ traditional astrology, Would knowing this information in advance have been useful to me? Would it have helped me to relax into a way of inward, non-being, at a time when worldly representation is required? How could I frame this in a useful (non-depressive) way? The song Ghost of a Dog by Edie Brickell has been repeating in my head: a ghost dog presence barks in the backyard, a dog that is essentially ‘dead’. Comic-mystic Stuart Wilde says God incarnated as the companionable DOG so the Source could unobtrusively witness how far humanity has grown, a metaphor for the earthly dog and spiritual god. I wonder, if God/Dog are one in the same, why is spiritual growth so hard to value?  Does the transiting South Node indicate a ghostly fallow period for that planet transited? All questions I’m leaning into. Ambition creates large shadows, as we’re all learning with Pluto in Capricorn. Sometimes there’s nothing to do and no one to be. Or so says the South Node.

Have you observed the transiting nodes in action?

Mercury Retrograde Rides Again

574756285_3f2537a1c7If us Astrologers were to write up a cosmological code of conduct, a ten commandment doctrine of sorts, Thou Shalt Not Buy Machinery During Mercury Retrograde, would make that top ten list. Well, I’ve violated that. Twice.

Yes, but, because…when two of our cars overheated in the same day, and one died completely, Mercury retrograde be damned- it was simply the right time to get a new car. Or two. [Read more…]

New Moon Solar Eclipse In Capricorn: The Short List

two goatsThe Angels of Capricorn clearly want our full attention; they’re putting an exclamation mark (it’s an eclipse!) on today’s Capricorn New Moon Solar Eclipse. Cap has an eye for putting in due diligence work on outstanding projects, especially those called ‘my life’s ambition’ and being a solitary, self-reliant sign, we often do this Great Work alone. However, since Venus in Capricorn figures strongly in this eclipse we’d be wise to open our lesson book to the page entitled: “Capricorn-ing” (here’s to using Capricorn as a verb, see below), and grab a dance partner to Capricorn with.

Saturn is retrograde (1/13-5/30/10). Saturn retrogrades in Libra through 4/6/10, suggesting a period of re-working, re-negotiating and re-strengthening our supporting cast – our partnerships. Great relationships are the foundations of our life. Capricorn’s/Saturn’s secret to successfully relating is not being dependent on others’ approval while knowing we cannot accomplish anything of importance in life, alone. [Read more…]

December End Of Year Wrap Up : Stoking The Fires

It’s a wild ride this December as we enter both the holiday and ‘eclipse season’, so instead of my regular New Moon essay, I’m publishing a few cliff notes for these last two weeks of 2009.

The Sagittarius New Moon on Wednesday 12/16 encourages the power of  our enthusiasm, our joy for life, our innate optimism, and seeing our life problems through the higher perspective of meaningful journeys. It’s time to re-affirm our faith that the Universe is conspiring for our blessings, and no matter our situation we can make lemonade out of lemons. If you’re feeling more angst than enthusiasm, remember that Sagittarius is a Fire sign. In the process of Alchemy, a psychological metaphor for the cycles of growth, fire is the element associated with the Calcinatio stage. In this stage, fire is typically felt as frustrated desire. The animals connected with Calcinatio are the Lion and the Wolf, two symbols of hunger, pride, arrogance and desire. Whether we have a frustrated love life, career or bank account, frustrated desires are fuel for the burning process of becoming. Liz Greene says, “The frustration of desire is not based on conventional or moral grounds. Frustration is a painful but compassionate contribution to the process which is trying to unfold.” Essentially, this process occurs so that  something else can emerge. Lately, it’s amazing how many stories I’ve heard about houses burning down to ash and the resilient nature of human beings to find meaning and mission in the most difficult of experiences. Alchemy & the Sagittarius New Moon remind us that there’s an opportunity to find gold at every stage of life. 

We get the chance to locate our inner heat with the upcoming Mars retrograde cycle, in the bright shiny sign of notice-me Leo (12/20/09-3/10/10). We need to be patient with our self and others, as there’s clear difficulty in externalizing our Cat-like Warrior prowess in the outer world. This phase make also have us think we’re not accomplishing our goals, but that’s just part of the process. We may want to be noticed but we are noticing our fire, both where it’s going and where it is clearly not. 

Take a moment to breathe deeply and light a candle on Winter Solstice, 12/21 the longest night of the year. The world needs your light right now.

Shortly after Mars, Mercury moves retrograde in Capricorn (12/26-1/15/10). Retrograde Mercury brings communication and information slowdowns and reminders of all sorts, including the missive to not fall asleep regarding the details of our lives, as well as reflections on where we’ve been and where headed. Make peace with a slow pace. We slow down for a reason.

On New Year’s Eve, December 31, we experience a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Cancer (10′ 15′). With the two busiest planets in a resting phase, New Year’s Eve may be best spent cozied up by the fireplace. Yet we do begin to feel the effects of eclipses at least two weeks before (or more) so I can’t help but think of a holiday season full of drama and not a bit of comedy, as funky family dynamics are further exaggerated by retrograde energy and emotional hiccups in that world of family and feelings we affectionately call Cancer. Feel your feelings. Perhaps the best remedy for a peaceful holiday season this year is to be compassionate with your self, and your self-compassion will naturally extend outward to others, calming them down, too. 

Happy Holidays.

Saturn in Libra Square Pluto: Taking Up The Long Conversation With Astrology

Munch EyeInEye 1894While Saturn was transiting Virgo, one of my clients asked whether she should put down a loving and loyal pet, a dog, who had been hit by a car. Saturn in Virgo was beyond difficult on humanity’s little helpers as many of my clients and friends found their pets with terribly costly health problems. We weighed the merits of each side of the decision. The dog was a loyal friend but the cost of rehabilitation would be costly – she was struggling to pay her bills. She is also a caring and compassionate woman who loved her dog and couldn’t imagine putting down one of God’s creatures. In a quiet moment of contemplation, as though she were asking God for an answer, she asked me a memorable question: “I’ve always thought something astrology can do is help us make better choices. So…how can astrology help me with this?” My astrological knees quivered. This wasn’t just an astrological exploration – it was a personal and spiritual one.

Ultimately, we unpacked the astrology that day, examining her life with dogs, in retrospect. I’ll never forget this conversation because she honestly asked me a question which I continually ask myself: How does astrology help? With the realities of bad situations getting worse, our own individual suffering becoming harder to deny, and the darkening of the collective mood, quick and dirty astrology can certainly confirm our deepest fears (oh no, it’s Pluto and Saturn, the malefics and bringers of doom!). We want astrology to be helpful not harmful. So what kind of answers does astrology give us? And is it designed to answer anything at all? [Read more…]

Earthbound No More: Why People Are Dying

Death leaves us with so many questions. With the smattering of public figure deaths happening on the world stage, the latest one isn’t about the mysterious circumstances of Michael’s but, why are so many people dying?  An astrological look may help. First, New Moons represent birth and death symbolically. The last New Moon in Cancer (a sign associated with public: figures, mood and sentiment) was opposed by, or in cahoots with, Pluto, Lord of the Underworld & Death (also the planetoid formerly known as planet). Pluto in Capricorn is a harbinger for breakdown in the system, and the types of structural changes and reality checks that can only be experienced from the bottom up. I can relate this New Moon with Pluto to a dream I had about a pregnant mother – who was my own. I was unclear whether she was pregnant or just carrying a bowling ball of dead weight around her belly. Pluto asks: is it dead or alive?  [Read more…]