Astrology: North + South Nodes

One of the things I love about astrology is its compatibility with Yogic philosophy and Ayurvedic medicine. An overlapping concept I have recently been studying is the idea of our past life karma and our present life dharma.

Karma means action in Sanskrit. It refers to both past actions we have taken, as well as the resulting actions that occur. Karma occurs both within a lifetime and is also thought to be carried over between lifetimes.

Dharma refers to cosmic order and law that makes life possible, as well as one’s own individual duty in this lifetime. When we follow our dharma, we are doing our part to uphold this cosmic order.

These two concepts appear in our astrological birth chart as the North and South Nodes. Nodes can be understood in our chart like the poles of the Earth, because they are located directly opposite from each other. They show us where we are coming from and what direction we are headed in.

South Node = Past life karma. Where you find your South Node in your natal chart designates what behaviors, qualities and ideas you are born to work toward releasing. These may be the habits or patterns that are most challenging to break.

North Node = Present life dharma. As one grows and shifts away from the tendencies of their South Node, they can look to where the North Node is located in their natal chart to find where to put their energy and focus. This is one’s main purpose in this lifetime.

Just as the stars and planets move through orbit, so do our Nodes. Their orbit’s cycle is 19 years long. When the Nodes return to their home in our chart, we may feel settled in completion, while simultaneously feeling as if we are beginning again all at once - just think about being 19 years old.

This also means every 9.5 years, our Nodes oppose each other in transit, when our South Node and North Node are located exactly opposite in their orbit as they were when we were born. The effects of this are actually quite cool. As my teacher explained to me, this is the time when we most actively work out old karmas through present day situations. 

We may experience eerily familiar occurrences or relationships during this period. It might feel as though we are in a deep cycle that is difficult to escape. What can help us again here is to come back to our meditation and actively let go of any story we are telling ourselves. Remind yourself that the story’s accuracy may be influenced by impressions from past events in this life or even in past lifetimes.