The North and South Nodes, also known as the Lunar nodes, are points in the astrological chart that reveal your patterning, path and purpose. You might’ve seen these cosmic points described as karmic because no matter what your spiritual beliefs or non-beliefs are, they reveal where you come from and where you’re going. While the South Node reveals both your innate talents and where you tend to get stuck, the North Node reveals what you’re always craving, seeking and obsessing over. Ready to learn more? Let’s get into everything you need to know about the North and South Nodes.
What Are the North and South Nodes in Astrology?
What Are the North and South Nodes in Astrology?
The North and South Node, or the Lunar nodes, reveal where you’re coming from and where you’re going. But what actually are the lunar nodes? Astronomically, the nodes are not planets or asteroids, but points in space (similar to Black Moon Lilith) where the moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic—the apparent yearly path of the sun. The point where the moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic going in the north or ascending direction is the North Node, and the point where it crosses going in the south or descending direction is the South Node.
Unlike the planets, the Nodes move clockwise (or retrograde) through the zodiac, and it takes them approximately 19 years (or 18 years, 7 months and 9 days to be exact) to make a complete revolution, and within that, the nodes stay in the same zodiac sign for 1.5 years before moving on to the next. Always exactly opposite from each other in the zodiac, eclipses occur when the new moon or full moon occurs on that nodal axis.
Eclipses bring sudden beginnings and endings, and this is because the nodes stir up fate and karmic patterns. The nodes represent a symbolic meeting of the sun and moon which astrologically relate to spirit (sun) and fortune (moon) or body and soul. When the nodes come back around to where they were when we were born (or just where they were the last time a big event occurred in our life), we face that patterning head on. A wild example of this is the fated relationship of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Their pandemic era reconciliation and marriage occurred at the exact nodal return (19 years later!) of their first failed engagement in the early ‘00s!
What Does the North Node Represent?
The North Node represents where you’re headed in this lifetime. Some might say it’s your destiny or purpose to develop in the direction of the North Node.
Ancient astrologers described eclipses using the image of a dragon swallowing the sun or moon in the moment when that luminary loses light. The North Node is the head of the dragon (or Rahu in Vedic astrology) and the South Node is the tail (or Ketu). The North Node being the voracious fire-breather adds a layer of craving and desire to its meaning. Vedic astrologers in particular associate the North Nodewith endless hunger where nothing is ever enough. The North Node is where we ultimately want to arrive in our life, but to get there, we must push ourselves out of our comfort zone. This process sometimes leads us to get obsessed with what we don’t yet have. The North Node is where we open up to possibilities and sometimes open a literal can of worms.
What Does the South Node Represent?
The South Node represents where we’re coming from in this lifetime. In Evolutionary Astrology, the South Node represents our literal past life. But to work with the South Node, you don’t have to believe in reincarnation. Childhood can be a past life, so can college or a previous career or relationship. Thought of by ancient astrologers as the tail of the dragon (or Ketu in Vedic astrology), the South Node is sharp like a knife, where things get cut off or released. It represents our natural talents as well as the baggage we carry into this life and where we tend to get tunnel vision. We’re naturally good at the South Node so we lack an imagination around how it should go. But facing our nodal patterning involves opening up our mind around South Node topics and not being so rigid about our beliefs in that area.
How to Find Your North and South Nodes
The North and South Node are always found 180º from each other on the zodiac wheel so your nodal axis represents the balancing act between two opposite signs and houses. For example, if your North Node is in Aries and your South Node is in Libra, your life is about learning to embrace independence (Aries) as you release rigid ideas around relationships (Libra).
To find where the North and South Nodes are located in your birth chart, you’ll need your date, exact time and location of birth. Then you can plug your info into a calculator like this one to see your full birth chart. The nodes are the two points in the sky that look like horseshoes- one facing upward and the other facing down.
What Your North and South Nodes Mean for You
The North and South Node illustrate the push and pull between the past and the future. What comes to us easily (South Node) vs. what we’re meant to grow into (North Node). The point is not to overcome our South Node and “become” our North Node but to find a balance between the two.
It takes the nodes 18.5 years to return to the same position they were in when we were born, and when they do, we experience events that force us to confront this patterning and grow toward our purpose. We have nodal returns at ages 18, 37, 55 and 74 and each time we get better at this balancing act.
We also experience what’s called a nodal reversal between each nodal return when the North Node enters the sign of our South Node and the South Node enters the sign of our North Node. Occurring at ages 9, 27, 46, 64 and 83, these reversals bring up events that flip fate on its head. During nodal reversals, we’re able to gain clarity and make decisions around the topics of the usually overwhelming North Node and open our minds around the usually on auto-pilot South Node.
The nodal reversal at 27 (which many people confuse with the Saturn Return) bring seismic flips of fate that propel us into true maturity and adulthood. By the nodal return at 37 we have a much better understanding of these patterns and how to work with them.
The South Node is what we’re meant to release our tight grip on while the North Node is what we’re meant to courageously embrace. The two opposing signs of our nodal axis reveal our innate skills and talents as well as our destinies. Here are some key words for each nodal axis combo:
- North Node in Aries and South Node in Libra: embrace freedom, independence and bold decisions to release rigid ideas around relationships
- North Node in Taurus and South Node in Scorpio: embrace comfort, reliability and material stability to release scarcity fears
- North Node in Gemini and South Node in Sagittarius: embrace curiosity, technical skills and differing opinions to release the need to be an expert in everything
- North Node in Cancer and South Node in Capricorn: embrace care, attention to detail and nurturing habits to release limiting ideas around legacy
- North Node in Leo and South Node in Aquarius: embrace your need to take up space, perform and lead the pack to release your fears around being different
- North Node in Virgo and South Node in Pisces: embrace order, technical skills and grounded habits to release overwhelming emotions
- North Node in Libra and South Node in Aries: embrace relationships, connections and artistic collaborations to release the need to do it all yourself
- North Node in Scorpio and South Node in Taurus: embrace vulnerability, trust in the universe and deep connection to others to release limiting ideas around material success
- North Node in Sagittarius and South Node in Gemini: embrace adventure, higher education and mastery to release your need to know it all
- North Node in Capricorn and South Node in Cancer: embrace structure, patience and your own goals to release the need to constantly care for everyone else
- North Node in Aquarius and South Node in Leo: embrace your eccentricities, community and humanitarian side to release the need to always be center of attention
- North Node in Pisces and South Node in Virgo: embrace a flow state, compassion for yourself and emotional vulnerability to release your need to control everything
Jaime Wright is an astrologer based in New York. You can subscribe to her newsletter for more musings on the stars.