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?