Learn Astrology: The South Node in Your Horoscope
October 10, 2007 by Nina Gryphon
The South Node is a respectable supporting player in all forms of astrology (horary, natal, or mundane), though its use and meaning is sometimes fuzzy. First, let’s talk about what the South node actually is, astronomically speaking. As the Moon circles the earth, it doesn’t do so in a straight line, it sort of bobs up and down as it travels, above and below the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun). The point at which the Moon moves upward through the ecliptic is the North node. The point in the ecliptic at which the Moon will dip down is the South node.
The Moon thus passes through the ecliptic twice in its monthly orbit. Since the Moon’s trajectory changes each month, it intersects the ecliptic at different points each time (this is the nodal cycle which takes 18.6 years), which is why the nodes appear to travel – or precess – in the horoscope.
This should give you an idea of why the South node is considered malefic; it is the point at which the Moon moves down through the ecliptic. Downward motion is considered bad, from a symbolic point of view. We moved down from Spirit into body, thereby losing some of our intrinsic spiritual qualities, cloaked as they are by gross matter. Similarly, planets that can join the South node are considered minimized in some way. If we have Venus in Libra conjunct the South node, some of that benefic Venusian influence will be lost. If Venus is in Aries, the sign of its detriment, and it is conjunct the South node, Venus now has less power to do harm.
Sometimes people wonder why the South node doesn’t make malefic planets even more harmful. This is because the South node is not a “thing,” like a harmful planet or star. The South node is an abstract point, so it’s best to think of it as a hole into which planets fall when they conjunct the South node. Their influence, for better or for worse, is now diminished.
It is impossible for the South node to cast aspects to anything. For an object to cast aspects, it has to be a thing. So abstract points like the nodes do not qualify. The only exception to this general rule seem to be the fixed stars, perhaps because they are so small and plentiful, and they don’t seem to work by much more than a conjunction. The nodes are similar, in that only a close conjunction seems to have an effect.
Some people claim that in the natal horoscope, the South node indicates our past lives. An interesting theory, though of course unverifiable. A more concrete application would be looking at any close conjunctions to the South node, and viewing the affected planet as made somewhat weaker in influence.