Monday, June 22, 2009

New Moon in Cancer: Ritual

ground your body, clear your mind...


Become aware of your body. Notice how gravity holds and connects you to earth. It’s as though your body is an ancient stone temple—solid, strong, secure. Sanctify this temple. Imagine a priestess is pouring sacred water and scattering rose petals, all the way down, from your head to your toes. Any anxiety or negativity washes away. Notice the thoughts and feelings leaving the temple—your judgments, your distracted mind, your worried heart. Be sure to honor them. Give each a smile and a piece of cake as it departs.

draw a circle of protection, call in blessings


Visualize a ring of fragrant flowers surrounding you, protecting you. Know that you are safe and relaxed. Breathe deeply. Feel the power of the Sun and Moon pouring into your circle. The energy ofCancer is gathering in your circle. It is comforting, compassionate, and nurturing. It knows how to create safe spaces—the womb, the sanctuary, home. It communicates through emotions. It is intuitive, creative, and sensitive to the child within. Cancer is the archetypal Mother. Continue absorbing her energy as you read Cancer’s affirmations.

I honor my gut feelings.

I nourish myself in healthy ways.

I can feel another’s pain without losing my boundaries.

I know how to protect myself and others.

My intuition tells me all I need to know.

Like water, I flow easily with my changing moods.

My vulnerability softens my heart.

I create beautiful and sustaining spaces.

allow seed intentions to form...


Your intentions for this cycle are gathering. You may already know what you wish to accomplish. Or you may not. Trust that all will unfold perfectly in time. Know that this brief ritual has aligned you with spirit. Now ask your heart if it has a closing message for you. This may come in words or as a picture, perhaps as a body sensation or sound. Give yourself time to receive this message. Digest it. Write it down. Then, in gratitude to yourself and spirit, return to normal awareness. Place a symbol of your Cancer New Moon message on your altar.

by D.G.

Cancer The Crab

Personality Traits

As the sign of the Crab, the psychological traits of Cancer are characterised by the image of a creature with a tough, hardened shell protecting a soft and vulnerable centre. Cancer is ruled by the Moon and belongs to the element of water. Unlike most signs, which share their planetary rulers, Cancer claims exclusive rights to the Moon, both sign and planetary ruler termed 'cold and moist' in nature. Understanding the essence of that phrase reveals a lot about the complex sensitivity that lies beneath the Cancerian's thick, crustaceous shell. 

In ancient astrology the condition of 'moistness' was viewed as the capacity to release emotions and connect with other beings. Moisture blurs the boundaries that define us as distinct individuals, allowing empathy, sympathy and a shared experience of personal or collective events. The act of sharing emotions represents an important aspect of forming bonds and unions, so moisture is also a creative condition, which forms the basis of love, fertility and reproduction. When we become too emotional the natural reaction is to release the 'excess of water' through the shedding of tears. 

Hence, water as an element relates to the emotions and the world of feelings. It is a passive, absorbing element; receptive and keenly perceptive. The energy of water is fluid, unshaped, lacking consistency in definition and structure, but remarkable in its ability to seep into inaccessible places and change its form - sometimes appearing as vaporous as steam, sometimes as cold and solid as ice. The use of the word cold when applied to this element could never imply that there is insensitivity to feelings or detachment from emotions, but that the energy is passive, not active. Water 'types' are not quickly stirred to heated debate or dynamic, self-assertive action. Their tendency is to wait, reflect and absorb, responding to circumstances and remaining responsive to the needs of others and the changing demands of life's events. 

In the water signs of Scorpio and Pisces we see a different expression of this energy. Scorpio symbolises the stillness of the murky depths, areas so deep and dark that no movement occurs without the disturbance of long-accumulated sediment. Pisces, associated with the linear flow of the river, suggests a more immediate response to collective movement, trends and ideals. Lacking the hardened shell of the other water types, Pisces signifies a sensitive energy, easily impressed upon by its immediate environment. But Cancer, taking its habitation on the shore of the ocean, and governed by the Moon, responds to the cyclic and rhythmic rise and fall of life's ebb and flow. This sign is known for its moodiness, so Cancerians can be up one day and down the next, responding to the joys and pains of the world in a pattern that can (superficially) seem to bear little relation to the immediate events around them. 

Since Cancer finds its strength in instinctive, emotional responses, Cancerians are known for their remarkable psychic sensitivity, absorption of memories and receptiveness to emotional impressions. This is widely accepted as one of the most psychic signs of the zodiac and there is usually a marked interest in the occult, a vivid recollection of powerful dreams, and strong symbolic appreciation. But such an acute sensitivity to their physical and unconscious environment is a double-edged sword, and awareness of complex psychological factors that underlie apparently simple acts make it difficult for Cancerians to apply their will and foster their own self-interests unfettered by feelings of guilt and torn sympathies. This hesitancy and vulnerability to emotional impacts on themselves and others has given the sign a reputation for weakness, and a lack of ability to apply direct action to direct problems. 

In addition, this sign is one that dislikes glares of publicity and is rarely comfortable at the centre of attention. Traditional descriptions of the sign depict it as 'dark' and nocturnal, lacking in vibrancy. The astronomical foundation for this is that the constellation Cancer is a particularly dark and dimly lit region of the sky. It has few distinguishable stars and is mainly notable for a nebulous, cloud-like cluster which ancient astronomers regarded as an area where energies were dissipated. The connection with the element of water and the rulership by the Moon reinforces the ancient foundation of this reputation. The water element relates to the phlegmatic humour, which seeks to retain its energies and inclines towards lethargy, while association with the Moon adds to the sense of inconstancy and irrational or unreasonable behaviour - or behaviour that seems strange when evaluated solely by reason or the rational faculties. 

The more negative traits associated with this sign then, are physical weakness, lethargy bordering on laziness, a chaotic and unorganised application of methods (often the cause of associated sloppiness and untidiness in the home and dress), and a moodiness that is hard for others to relate to or fully understand. Cancer generally has a dislike of discipline, aptly symbolised by a creature that lacks an internal skeletal structure, but the Cancerian way of dealing with that is simply to avoid issues; there is little inclination towards rebellious acts or direct and open confrontations. 

The symbolism of the celestial crab also gives an insight into the way that Cancerians move through life, react to situations and respond to problems. Cancer is one of the few constellations that rises backwards in the zodiac. The Sun's entry into Cancer occurs at the summer solstice - a term derived from the appearance of the Sun 'standing still' as it approaches this point. The creature itself, of course, is known for its sidewards gait. So the movement associated with Cancer is a strange one, revealing a sense of hesitancy, a sidewards approach to things, and an element of moving forwards whilst not looking squarely at what lies ahead. Despite the intuitive gift that this sign possesses, Cancer is not known as a sign of quick action or immediate response. Cancerians tend to vacillate before deciding on a course of action, and once that course is chosen, the logic that lies beneath it is often convoluted. Decisions are based upon reasoning that is neither obvious nor apparent to other people, but presenting a great skill for lateral thinking, for originating solutions to problems from angles that others have not discovered. When combined with Cancer's natural artistic flair and strongly developed imagination, this can offer advantages in careers such as marketing, where the creative exploration of unconventional approaches can be seen as a real talent. 

The backwards gaze of the constellation is also symbolic of the Cancerian interest in the past, a trait that is emphasised by the Moon's rulership of the sign. This manifests on a personal and social level and Cancerians often have a keen interest in history, past cultures and traditions, as well as a high respect for personal history, genealogy, ancestral origins, nationalism, and a desire to preserve and protect family customs. Ruled by the Moon, Cancer relates to tribal instincts and ethnic origins, and there is often a clan-like attitude to one's own community and family structure. Cancerians make very caring parents, but they sometimes suffer from over-protection and 'clinginess' in domestic relationships, becoming too dependent on the need to preserve a tight-knit family unit and failing to recognise when it is appropriate to loosen the bonds. Of course, the function of the Moon is to nurture and protect the young, so maternal and paternal instincts run very strongly through this sign. 

Cardinal signs are noted for being changeable, and Cancerians are certainly changeable in their day-to-day views, emotions and opinions. But they find change in their environment and basic life-structure difficult to handle and have a deep need for security in personal relationships. They like to hold on tightly to what they value as near and dear to them. They make great partners for people who appreciate a caring and committed mate, and they enjoy the role of being domestic provider - catering to homely comforts, offering tasty and nourishing food and providing a secure and pleasant family environment. Theirs is a gentle, relaxing and delicate energy; they need warmth, intimacy and emotional closeness and would not be suited to partners that value emotional independence or are inclined towards sexual, spiritual or even intellectual freedom. 

Although Cancer is not inherently a materialistic sign, the image of a vice-like grip in their great pinching claws refusing to let go of what they see as rightly theirs, does apply to their material interests as well as their emotional investments. The wordcrabby, which generally means moody but is also taken to mean 'tight with money', originates from the reputation of this sign, in a trait that was recognised in the earliest texts. Manilius, writing in the 1st century AD, remarks of those born under this sign "Of a grasping spirit … and skill in making profits; … His is a shrewd nature, and he is ready to fight for his profits" (Astron. 4.165). 

It is within the area of business relationships that the Cancerian is best able to apply the protection of the tough upper casing and let the head rule the heart. Cancerians make good investors and good business managers - what they lack in 'pizzazz' they more than make up for in persistence and tenacity. Often underrated because of the softness of their emotional natures, it has to be remembered that, as the sign of the solstice, Cancer is a cardinal sign that does not give its ground away easily. Their hesitancy to act on first impulse makes them resistant to glib, superficial deals; instead they will circle around all options, vacillating to and fro, before finally settling on the deal that feels right for them. When they do invest financially, it is with caution and shrewdness. When they feel that their real interests - emotional or material - are at stake, they will fight to the bitter end. The irony is the motivation that powers them. They are driven by the need to safe-guard their family and loved ones, they have no real interests in acquiring wealth purely for their own use, but as a legacy of security that they can pass on to others that they care about. 

Cancer is a complex sign, capable of offering very different personas depending on the angle that you view them from. They are slow to form intimate relationships, yet unless a close emotional contact exists they are unlikely to expose the soft-underbelly that borders their vulnerable centre. Instead they will maintain a sense of detachment and what you will see from the outside is a hardened, impenetrable shell that gives no hint of where their true values lie. 


Dignified Planets

Planets Dignifed in Cancer: 
Moon by sign
Jupiter by exaltation
Mars daytime and night-time triplicity ruler. However, Mars is not well placed in Cancer, its sign of fall.

Planets Debilitated in Cancer: 
Saturn by detriment
Mars by fall

 More on planetary dignities and debilities 


Typical Features

Small stature, round face, pale complexion, small eyes, heavy breasts (or top half of body generally larger than the lower). All general descriptions are moderated by the location of the Moon and other dominant chart factors. 


Traditional Rulerships

Direction: North
Anatomy: Breast and chest
Illnesses: Cancer is susceptible to illnesses concerning the breast, stomach and chest. In decumbiture charts this sign can indicate bad coughs, weak stomachs and digestion problems. Overall, Cancer is considered a sign of poor constitution
Places: The sea, rivers and places near ponds or waters - brooks, springs, wells, wash-houses, sea shores, marshy land, etc. In houses it represents cellars, cisterns, bathrooms and places near water.
Countries & cities: Include Scotland, Holland, Tunisia, Algeria, Istanbul, Venice, Milan, Amsterdam, York, Wittenburg in Germany, Cadiz in Spain.
Colours Pale, discreet and subtle colours; greys, beiges, silver, white
Stones & Metals: Stones and metals fall under the rulership of planets, not signs, but through its association with the Moon, Cancer has affinity with pearls, silver and crystals
 Tradtional Rulerships of the Moon 


Traditional Definitions:

Fruitful: Unless afflicted, Cancer shows a propensity for children or easy pregnancy.
Mute or slow of voice: Cancer is not known for verbal dexterity


Famous Cancerians:

Princess Diana 
Born: 01/07/1961
  View data, chart & notes
Prince William 
Born: 21/06/1982
  View data, chart & notes
Duke of Windsor 
Born: 23/06/1894
  View data, chart & notes
Nelson Mandela 
Born: 18/07/1918
  View data, chart & notes
George Bush 
Born: 06/07/1946
  View data, chart & notes
John Dee 
Born: 13/07/1527
  View biography & chart

 Constellation mythology and star lore of Cancer 

© Deborah Houlding

Cancer New Moon Meditation (Pythia Peay)

Lunar Sabbaths: The Practice of Moon Mindfulness

The Moon Temples and rites of initiation that once flourished across the ancient world have long since vanished. Still, it is possible to cultivate a unique spiritual practice based around the ancient Moon mysteries. In Greece, the earliest divisions of time, for instance, corresponded to the three phases of the Moon's cycle. In Babylon, and later the Semitic system, the weekly division of the "moon month" grew out of the observance of the quarterly Sabbaths - the New and Full Moons, and the Quarter Moons in between (Woman's Mysteries, Ancient and Modern by Esther Harding).

PRACTICE: Thus it is possible, by following the phases of the Moon, to cultivate a practice of "Moon Mindfulness." To do this, you may want to start a Moon journal in which you can note down your responses to each of the quarterly lunar phases. (Here is a link to an online Moon Phase Calendar to help you track the monthly lunar phases.)  Beginning at the New Moon note the time and date of the month's quarterly phases. The foundation of Moon practice is to simply become aware of the lunar phases.

Before writing in your journal, you may want to attune to the lineage of Moon Priestesses and Priests who, in centuries past, kept sacred the Mysteries around time, growth, and fertility. Then, using "beginner's mind," note down your personal observations without judgment. Because the Moon embodies time and cycles, pay attention to the rhythms of your daily life: the Moon waxes and wanes - but does your life run at only one speed? The Moon reveals herself fully, then veils her face from sight - but are your moments of sunny extroversion balanced by periods of cool introversion? Each month the Moon starts over, initiating a process of renewal - but do you give yourself permission to let go of despair and begin again? More than anything, it seems, working with the Moon in this way cultivates a feeling for the rhythmic harmonies playing its music throughout the Universe.


Whether sitting in contemplation or going about the regular business of the day, one way to mark the moment of the Moon's Phases is by heightening your awareness of the natural world. Take note of the season, and of the weather - is it warm or cold; sunny or overcast; or windy or calm. What stage of growth are the plants and trees - are they barren, or rich with leaves, blossoms, and fruit? Orient yourself to the Moon Phase you are honoring by noting the hour of the day or night during which it occurs - is it the still of midnight, the bright dawn of a new day, or a busy mid-afternoon?

If you can, you may wish to celebrate your ritual or meditation outside in nature. Sit amidst the companionable, intimate presence of the forest, or retreat to a quiet spot alone in your own backyard. As you sit surrounded by Nature, feel as if you are an integral member of this family, like a flower, a rock, or a mountain. Then experience the natural world responding to the Moon. At the New Moon, experience all of nature rejoicing; at the First Quarter, feel the energy rising; at the Full Moon, feel the sacred stillness that settles over the world; at the Last Quarter, feel as if Nature is exhaling, letting down before beginning over again.


With this ritual I attune my outer life and inner soul 
to the waxing rhythm of the Moon, who each day grows more full. 
Oh Great Goddess, who tills the garden of the Earth 
Oh Wise Weaver of Time 
Oh Star of Life 
Oh Mother of the World 
Bestow upon us the generosity of your life and light 
at this hour of the New Moon

© Pythia Peay 
All rights reserved

Pythia Peay is the author of Soul Sisters: The Five Sacred Qualities of a Woman's Soul, and Mercury Retrograde: Its Myth and Meaning (Tarcher).  She is at work on a memoir, American Icarus. 

Cancer New Moon: A Labor of Love (Simone Butler)

For years, I dreamt of living in southern New Mexico. I envisioned building an earthen home near the lush hot springs of the Rio Grande, where land is cheap and building codes are lenient (compared to California). So, I recently set off with a couple of like-minded friends to check out the area around Truth or Consequences.

Named for the once-popular game show, “T or C” is now a budding artist and retirement community. One of the Dalai Lama’s acolytes is also building a spiritual center there. I loved the town’s bright pink and purple buildings and funky shops. But after wandering the empty streets in the oppressive June heat and soaking in the infernally hot water of a local spring, the “consequences” of moving there began to feel Plutonic. In my relocated chart for southern New Mexico, Pluto, ruler of the Underworld, sits on my angle of home and family.

Luckily, I found a glimpse of heaven in the tiny town of Kingston, which is at a higher and cooler elevation. We stayed at the Black Range Lodge, run by natural builder friends, where I’d spent time in the past. It was great being back at the cozy, 1880s-vintage B&B, and seeing the beautiful new straw bale home going up next door. But most of all I loved revisiting the pristine creek at the edge of the forest.

As I hiked up to this sacred creek, with no one else in sight, tears began to flow. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" I spontaneously cried to the crystalline water, as it cascaded over rocks and meandered through trees. Drinking in the splendor, I soaked my feet and bathed my new amethyst crystal in the cool water, to take the magic of the place back with me.

Whether or not I relocate to Kingston (there are other potential sites to visit) it will always feel like home to me. With four planets in watery, sentimental Cancer, a flowing creek and a cozy bed with a quilt make me feel comfortable and secure. Likewise, home to a fire sign is apt to be a toasty hearth, to an earth sign a blooming garden, to an air sign a state-of-the-art electronics system.

Nowadays, with rampant foreclosures, downsizing and insecurity, we need to create "home" wherever we are. On the deepest level, home is a feeling that comes from within, a reflection of how secure we feelwith ourselves and our relationship to life itself.

Aiding us in finding our inner strength this month is the union of Mars and Venus in solid Taurus on June 21. Cosmic lovers Mars and Venus have been chasing each other for the last two months; they first united on April 21. Now, they take their vows in commitment-oriented, earthy Taurus. This is an enormously fertile, sensual and creative time (check where 16 Taurus falls in your chart to see which area of your life is being triggered). It’s a great opportunity to formalize a "sacred marriage" with yourself or someone special.

The New Moon in Cancer on the next day (12:35 p.m. Pacific Time on June 22) also spotlights the need to find security within. This extra potent New Moon, falling on the heels of the summer solstice, features an opposition to power-broker Pluto. The Cancer New Moon signals a time of nurturing and creative activity, and Pluto rules birth, death, transformation and the fear of annihilation. We’re called to face our demons and vanquish whatever stands in the way of birthing a more empowered self.

Seeds you plant at this New Moon could show signs of sprouting at thelunar eclipse of July 7. Yet this is only the first of three eclipses, including a total solar eclipse at the last degree of Cancer on July 21 (more on this life-changing event next time). So, the birthing process that begins at the June 20 solstice through the June 22 New Moon may include a "labor" that unfolds over time. This is a labor of love, however, that brings us to our true essence?the place of comfort and serenity that lies beeneath life’s external dramas.

At this New Moon, find a place where you feel at home. A water sign may soak in a tub, a fire sign might light a candle and stare into the flame, an earth sign may sit in a garden and inhale the fragrant flowers, or an air sign might go for a brisk walk. Breathe into your belly, and find the feeling of "at-homeness." Honor any feelings that may come up. Give thanks for this secret part of yourself. This is your touchstone, to visit whenever you feel scattered or fearful. Return to this place time and again as the next month unfolds. It will help you graciously move through any labor pains to birth a deeper aspect of yourself.

© 2009 Simone Butler 
All rights reserved

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Prem Rawat Receives Key to the City from Mayor of Tainan

Prem Rawat Receives Key to the City from Mayor of Tainan

Los Angeles, June 2009 — On May 23, at the invitation of Mayor Tain-Tsair Hsu of Tainan, Taiwan, Prem Rawat, known as Maharaji, attended a ceremony where he was awarded the Golden Key to the city as well as an emblem of the Sword Lion, a symbol of the cultural capital of Taiwan. The ceremony was held at the National Tainan Living Arts Center. Over 800 people attended including guests of the mayor, dignitaries from other towns in Taiwan, as well as international and local students of Prem Rawat.

After a brief introduction from one of the Mayor’s staff and a video, Mayor Hsu said how honored he felt to receive an “Ambassador of Peace” in Tainan. Prem Rawat was awarded the title of Ambassador of Peace at the International University of Peace in Brazil because of his worldwide efforts over four decades to bring a message of peace to millions of people.

“Today the Peace Ambassador has finally arrived in Tainan City,” said Mayor Hsu, “and we have to collaborate with him to contribute to peace and harmony in this world. We have to encourage each other. We have to trust in peace. We cannot wait for peace to descend. We have to have the confidence in ourselves that there is a source of peace within us that is not only for ourselves but for everyone in this world.”

The Mayor welcomed Prem Rawat to the stage where, after receiving the key to the city, he spoke about the early human being’s fundamental questions that are still being asked today. “Maybe he could not imagine cell phones or cars. He could not imagine nations or flags,” he said. “But he asked the questions: ‘Who am I? Why am I here?’  

“Do these questions intrigue you?” he continued. “And yet, where do you find the answers? In a book? In some philosophy? On top of a mountain? No. The answers exist in one place only, and it is in the book of your heart. What you are truly looking for—whether you call it peace,contentmenthappiness, or joy, these are all names for one thing—that thing is your truth. You begin to live the day you embrace the peace that dwells in your heart. You begin to live the day you acknowledge the fundamental question of who you are. When that question is answered, clarity prevails, because you have witnessed the source of peace in you. That is the day your thirst will be quenched.”

After speaking, Prem Rawat returned to his seat while the Mayor led the audience in a standing ovation. 

Prem Rawat’s visit to Taiwan was part of a speaking tour that began in February in Italy, and continued to India, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and Taiwan. His efforts have been recognized by public officials and private organizations. He founded The Prem Rawat Foundation in 2001, which has a dual purpose of bringing his message of peace to people worldwide and providing essential humanitarian aid to those in need.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Nodes of the Moon (Astro & Clare Martin)

I want to spend time this week exploring the Moon's nodal axis, which is the third axis of particular significance (in addition to the angles - the Ascendant/Descendant and MC/IC axes) in our charts. We need to begin, as always, by understanding what the Moon's Nodes actually are from an astronomical viewpoint, since this provides the basis and foundation of our astrological understanding and interpretation. Have a look at your birth charts, and you will no doubt see the north Node symbol.

But the symbol for the south Node is not always shown on horoscope print outs, which explains why this important axis may not be immediately obvious. As with all axes, the south Node is exactly 180o from, or opposite, the north Node. 
You can see from this diagram that the plane of the Moon's orbit is at an oblique angle of approximately 5o to the plane of the Sun's orbit (the ecliptic). The nodal points mark the position where these two planes cross, and every month the Moon crosses the ecliptic twice, once travelling north (at the north Node) and once travelling south (at the south Node).

The Nodal Axis

When the Moon crosses the ecliptic, then, from the point of view of the earth, the Sun and Moon are in alignment. This means that, when a new or full Moon coincides, or nearly coincides, with one of the Nodes, then there will be an eclipse, and, of course, eclipses are powerful celestial events which have always had immense significance throughout the history of astronomy and astrology.
The Nodes have been known from ancient times as the head and tail of the celestial dragon - a monstrous creature that devours the Sun or the Moon at eclipses. The Nodes have played a particularly important role in Indian, Vedic astrology, where the north Node ('Rahu') is the dragon's head and the south Node ('Ketu') is the dragon's tail. I am sure you can understand why both Nodes were considered to be dangerous, or malefic. We will look at eclipses in much more detail next term, but perhaps the main point I want to make now is that, when they do occur, we look upwards, away from the earth and all our day-to-day concerns, and stand in awe as we watch these great events take place.

Serpent in the Sky

Audience:  They sound like rather scarey points.

Clare:  That's right, particularly since they have always been associated with fate and with fated events, in both Vedic and Western astrology. Traditionally, eclipses are associated with tragedies, catastrophes and deaths, particularly the death of kings. As psychological astrologers, I think we still have to find another way to understand them.
Now that we have identified where everyone's nodal axis actually is, the next question is how we interpret it - and this is actually rather more complicated to answer.

Audience:  Do you interpret the Node like the Moon?

Clare:  Well, the Nodes are in fact empty places in space, except during eclipses, so we have to resist the temptation to interpret them as if they were 'simply' planets. They seem to have a profoundly metaphysical meaning, since it is on these points that the Sun, Moon and Earth are in alignment, so they are the meeting place, symbolically, of spirit, soul and matter, both collectively and individually. Another important point about the nodal axis is that it is moving in the opposite direction to the Sun and all the other planets. As the angles and all the planets move forward or anti-clockwise around our charts, they describe how we engage with and relate to the world around us. The Ascendant/Descendant axis and the MC/IC axis are doors into the world, describing our struggle to extract ourselves from the parental matrix, to put down our own roots and find our own place in the world, and to define ourselves through partnerships. In contrast, the nodal axis moves backward or clockwise around our charts. It is not so tied up with the dramas of life. Rather, it seems to function as a doorway into other dimensions, where we can sometimes glimpse or sense our soul's purpose and pattern, our entelechy, the deeper purpose and function of our existence. And this can be very different from the more conscious or worldly goals we set for ourselves. 
There is no doubt that the nodal axis is of immense significance in our lives. It is an axis of tension and compulsion, around which ideas of 'fate' and 'destiny' always seem to hover. As Richard Idemon writes:  'It's as if life constantly returns you to this axis to work something out'.
[4] What do those of you who are already familiar with the Nodes think of when you see them in a birth chart?

Audience:  Lessons to be learned.

Audience:  Past and present. They are about time, with the south Node having to do with the past, and the north Node having to do with the future.

Audience:  The north Node is what we are striving to become.

Audience:  Is it something to do with reincarnation?

Audience:  It's about special people coming into your life.

Clare:  Just for a moment, take the nodal axis out of your chart. What does it feel like?

Audience:  Directionless.

Audience:  We lose our soul.

Clare:  That's very interesting. So without the nodal axis, we lose our direction and we lose our soul. Let's have a look at some of the other ideas you have mentioned. Although both the Nodes were originally considered to be malefic, at some point in the development of Western astrology their interpretation began to polarise. In traditional horary astrology, for example, a planet conjunct the north Node is said to be helped, strengthened or increased. Conversely, a planet conjunct the south Node is said to be harmed, weakened or decreased. In addition, the north Node began to be interpreted as the 'evolutionary path', the direction in which we are 'meant' to be going in our lives, and the south Node started to be interpreted as the 'regressive path', the direction from which we have come, or our past.
In Western astrology, it seems that Alan Leo is responsible for making the specific connection between the nodal axis and karma. The Theosophical movement, out of which astrology was reborn at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, was strongly influenced by Indian culture and religions. As an astrologer, Alan Leo did much to breathe new life into Western astrology, and as a Theosophist he was convinced that the natal chart could only be properly understood in the context of karma, past lives and reincarnation. It is important to recognise straightaway that the horoscope itself has nothing to say on this subject. A horoscope is just a horoscope. The meaning we impose on it depends upon our specific cultural and historical background, as well as upon the individual philosophies and world-views of astrologers themselves. 
And so we have inherited an interesting conundrum, because Western astrology has developed enormously since Alan Leo's day, and we no longer see astrology in terms of cause and effect, so it seems that our interpretation of the Nodes has become rather stuck. For example, we don't tend to look at the whole chart in terms of karma, do we? We wouldn't look at someone's Saturn-Mars conjunction and start wondering if they might have been a murderer in their past lives - we simply don't work like that any more.

Audience:  I hope not, because I have a Saturn-Mars conjunction in my own chart.

Clare:  Let's go back and look at the diagram again. You can see that the north Node is the point where the Moon moves 'upward' into the northern hemisphere, and the south Node is the point where the Moon moves 'downward' into the southern hemisphere. Perhaps this explains why the north Node came to be associated with the spiritual path, because our astrological symbolism tells us that spirit is fundamentally solar - associated with height, light and transcendence. Spirit is abstract, linear and vertical, calling us upward, forward and outward.

As such, the north Node has become associated with our individual heroic quest, requiring the development of our personal will, so that we may fulfil our spiritual destiny. And because of this, there is often an assumption that our south Node is regressive and tends to pull us backward and downward, away from our spiritual path. And so a good/bad split and a future/past split has crept into our interpretations, along with a kind of moral imperative. For example, it is not uncommon for astrologers, who are otherwise working very psychologically, to start using words like 'should' and 'ought' when they are interpreting the nodal axis.
Going back to the actual astronomy of the Nodes, however, we can see that they are in fact the meeting point of the Sun, Moon and earth, and that they are therefore the symbolic meeting point of the spirit, soul and body - liminal places where opposites come together and merge. From an alchemical perspective, the Nodes represent the sacred marriage of the Sun and Moon, of the masculine and feminine principles, the mysterium coniunctionis which is the goal of the alchemical opus. Throughout our lives there is an equal emphasis on both Nodes - they are equally active, since eclipses, whether solar or lunar, occur on both Nodes. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate this is to show you an illustration of the DNA double helix represented in complete symmetry as a pair of serpents.


Naturally, because of the way our minds are wired, we are likely to find ourselves falling into our habitual either/or kind of thinking, but all the same, although we know that the Sun and Moon are opposites, it is important to try not to polarise, since we also know that opposites cause and depend upon and complete each other. Have a look at this table, which lists some of the words associated with the Sun and the Moon.

The One
The Many

Let's consider the lunar side of this table. The Moon is symbolically associated with the soul, being diffuse, immanent and collective. It is circular, dark, and has to do with the body and with matter. It calls us downward into our birth charts, into nature and into our incarnation. Because the Nodes are the points where the Sun and Moon come together - places where the opposites merge - both sides of the table need to be taken into equal account in our interpretations.

Audience:  Yes, I can see what you are saying now. We seem to be using mainly solar words or coming from a solar perspective when we look at the Nodes.