Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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We are reaching a peak of Virgo activity with a New Moon on the 14th that is conjunct Mars. The next day, the Mercury retrograde ends (officially, officially) as Mercury enters new territory for the first time since the retrograde began last month. Please take it easy. This is a fine time to holding off on decisions. If you can direct your energies toward setting intentions and clarifying your desires, that would be a very productive use of these aspects. The time for decision will soon arrive.
The Libra Equinox follows soon after the New Moon -- which is the ingress of the Sun into Libra. This year, the Sun will be followed into Libra by a whole stream of Planets, including Jupiter and eventually Venus. This brings a wave of changes and new psychic territory -- there has not been much going on in Libra for a while.
When you're submitting your questions, please remember to write out your birth data longhand, as US and UK formats differ. Also, it's very difficult to use long questions without extracting the parts that can be addressed in a column. So think about what you really need to find out and try to focus your question on that. The most effective inquiries, I think, are the ones that are both personal and address a specific astrological issue. Thank you for taking the time to write and for all your positive feedback, and thanks dearly to Vanessa and Deirdre at Cainer.com for all the work they do on this page, as well as to Chelsea at PlanetWaves, who compiles your inquiries. And thank you for checking in each week. It's great to be able to write about the nuts and bolts of astrology for an audience that's really interested.
Here are some responses to your comments and questions this week.
Whatever the answer to that question, I can say that in my experience, conception charts and certain prenatal charts are very helpful when it comes to using astrology as a tool. We don't need to know exactly how astrology works in order to get the benefits; we merely need to experiment. Astrology is about the relationship between the quality of a moment or era of time and the quality of an experience. That means whenever you can bring an experience (or idea) into a time frame and cast a chart, you can begin to decode read the quality of the moment through the charts. Meaning is what an astrologer gives a chart.
Typically, conception is very difficult to time accurately. This is usually because people don't time their erotic encounters in their day planner, and even if they do, the actual meeting of the sperm and egg can occur any time I the next three days. That being said, if you have done astrology long enough to trust the charts you are reading, you'll generally get an interesting chart out of someone saying their parents went out on a date on Saturday the so and so, and you were conceived 'that night' in the back of a Chevy.
But in doing astrological work, even knowing the story of how the person came to be born (i.e., conceived) is exceedingly valuable, as is the story of the birth. So when in doubt about a chart, get the client's story.
When looking at these charts, look for themes that are either parallel to those in the natal chart, or which emphasize or exaggerate those in the natal chart. If, for example, the prenatal solar eclipse is exactly conjunct a planet, that planet will have extra emphasis in the natal chart and act with some of the energy of the eclipse.
However, here, the ancient creators of astrology were one step ahead of us. There are points in every chart called the lunar nodes. They are the points that indicate the approximate location of the eclipses nearest to birth. As anyone who has worked with astrology for a while knows, the lunar nodes are very influential in a chart; and they are the stand-ins for the pre-natal eclipses that are in every chart. They will differ in location from the eclipses by a few degrees (even up to 15 degrees), but they have the same basic effect in interpretation, which is approximately this: they deal with the issue of what came before birth, and as well, what theme the lifetime is driving toward.
I've gotten a few requests for a definition of the lunar nodes over the months and since there are eclipses coming up in October, let's pop the lunar node question and get that discussion going.
Dear Everyone Who Has Already Asked,or Those Who May Wonder:
No discussion can ever cover them entirely, but I'll try to get you started. First of all, you can find them because they look like little horse shoes in the chart. They are designated North and South, for reasons I'll get into in a moment; some charts only give the North Node; the South Node has the same degree in the opposite sign. The North Node is the horse shoe with the opening on the bottom; the South Node is the once with the opening pointing up.
The North Node is also called the Dragon's Head or in Vedic (Indian) astrology, Rahu. The South Node is also called the Dragon's Tail or in Vedic astrology, Ketu. They activate a polarity; they are always exactly opposite one another, so they remind us how important it is to remember that opposite signs always work together in some way.
First let's go to the Fred Gettings Arkana Dictionary of Astrology for a technical definition. The nodes "are the points in which the orbit of the planet [or the Moon] intersects the ecliptic." The ecliptic is the apparent path of the Sun around the Earth. Most people know the Earth goes round the Sun (research indicates that many people are still confused about this!) But it looks like it works the other way around. So the apparent path of the Sun is called the ecliptic. At the degree where a planet such as the Moon (or recently, Venus) crosses this path, we have the node. When the Sun is standing right there when the Moon (or a planet, such as Venus) crosses this path, we have an eclipse (or in the case of Venus, a transit).
The Moon is not exactly on the ecliptic. The Moon's orbits - and all the planets - intersect with the ecliptic at an angle.
Where the Moon crosses one of its nodes to the northern latitudes, we have the North Node. Where the Moon crosses the ecliptic to the southern latitudes, we have the South Node.
Are you with me so far? This is a three-dimensional situation. The chart is two-dimensional. The Sun is making an orbital path on one plane; the Moon on another; where they meet are the two points called the Nodes.
Whenever you're looking at a chart of any kind and you see the Sun near one of the Moon's nodes, that tells you that an eclipse is in the vicinity - really, two eclipses, one of the Sun and one of the Moon. So eclipses and the Nodes are intimately linked. What the nodes give you is a permanent stand in for eclipses even when the Sun and Moon are somewhere entirely different. They kind of tell you, "This is the approximate location of the next eclipse." Approximate, not exact. As I write, this, the North Node is at 3 Taurus and 20 minutes and the South is in the same degree of Scorpio. The next eclipse is a solar eclipse on Oct. 14 at 21 degrees of Libra and 5 minutes. On that day, the nodes will be at 2 degrees and 6 minutes of Taurus/Scorpio. The nodes and the position of the eclipse are about 10 degrees apart, which is fairly typical.
I don't know enough about astronomy to account for this difference, but I live with the mystery.
Now, none of this tells you what to do with the nodes.
If you look them up in an astrology textbook or two, you're going to find out that the South Node is about your past karma, the past, where you're coming from, where you get stuck in life, or where you draw your power based on past experience. That's a reasonable explanation. The North Node is usually said to be a place where we struggle to become something, to learn something, or to express ourselves. True enough.
The Sound Node feels like Karma - the total effect of our past actions. The North Node feels like Dharma - right action, or 'acting as if to hold the world together'. They are very important in terms of their house position; their sign position tells you a lot because the sign where the node is placed gives you a ruling planet or two to search for, and that placement tells you a lot about the influence of the particular node in question.
If a planet is conjunct one of the nodes, then that planet (and the house it rules) are associated with the whole story of the node. If a planet is square the nodes, then one will not be able to deal with the nodes until they first address the concerns, issues or themes of that planet. If a planet is trine or sextile the nodes, then it will tend to be greatly amplified and broadcast widely into our reality and even the world around us. The nodes say a LOT about where our private world intersects with the greater world, the culture, society, and so on. Often famous people have prominent lunar nodes, or have learned to work effectively with the planets that aspect the nodes.
Typically Western astrologers say the North Node is 'good' and the South Node is 'bad'. This is entirely oversimplified.
The Nodes are important tools in Vedic astrology and are only beginning to be vaguely understood by modern Western astrologers. Last year I had the chance to speak for a while with Presanan, the official astrologer to Ammachi, when Amma's road show was in Seattle. I asked him about the nodes. He said that from the standpoint of the Vedics, both nodes are considered troublesome because they bind us to the Earthly plane of existence. One says what we must work out from the past; the other says what we must work out for the future. Thus, they attach us to our lives. I considered that and, never being one who is afraid to edit, I would put it this way.
The nodes tell us about what we get to do here on the Earth, and they help us do it. Since we are on the Earth, we would do well to consider the value of doing what we came here to do. As a result, they keep us grounded, which is where we belong. If we ever get too far from the true path of life (as we define it) the nodes will somehow keep us on track, or eventually bring us back on track. I consider the Nodes to be something of a first priority in order of what really matters in the chart.
Now, one past point. In terms of what they are, the nodes are directions in space. They are nothing physical; they are points that hint at where an event in the future (an eclipse or two) will occur. But they act with power that should make most planets envious. They are among the very most compelling points in the chart, on par with Pluto, Saturn or Chiron, but really much more immediate, even urgent. They feel like a strong current moving us through the water. They are alive. They are completely cosmic and yet totally mundane.
The fact that no-thing can have this kind of effect tells you that astrology is not about things, it is about energies and ideas. People who have difficulty interpreting the nodes may be responding to this intangibility, this no-thingness. Tune in; check for aspects, pull a few tarot cards, take a deep breath, or wait for the next eclipse.
The nodes speak.
As you have said, the Sun-Venus transit occurred exactly on your natal Sun. Your natal Sun is about YOU, not somebody else, or your relationship to somebody else. This extremely rare, beautiful event spoke personally to you; it touched your life directly. Therefore, it represented a coming of age; a deep inner transformation and even change in the substance of who you are; it would not be going too far to say that you left someone within yourself behind and began the process of becoming someone else.
Often when we are becoming someone else, or just plain growing, we need to let go of relationships that don't harmonize with who we are becoming. That is what I think happened. I would add that a similar effect is possible with many transits to the Sun, particularly Pluto, Saturn or Chiron, or any kind of eclipse. The Sun represents something deeply essential and at the core of who we are. Like the Sun is always changing we are changing, and under a major transit that effect it.
Yet becoming is a job, a process, a long project. It requires us to stretch into the new reality of our lives with clarity and determination. That is not always easy. But it's always worth it. And with your relationships, I would give you two images to work with. One is that as you begin to stabilize in your new sense of self, you will have relationships appropriate to that state. Or, while you are growing, you will encounter people who help you go in your new direction, and who provide you with models and influences that will help in your process.
Thanks for reading this column! If you like my writing, I suggest you check out Planet Waves, my Internet site and newsletter. There's a big, free web page, and the very newest material I write is sent to subscribers twice each week on Mondays and Fridays. These mailings each include a horoscope column, plus a weekly birthday report, and two essays that cover many astrological themes in depth. I'll be putting much energy this fall into tracking the astrology of the U.S. presidential election and its impact on the world. If you're interested, you can visit http://PlanetWaves.net or write to email@example.com
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