What Are Planetary Nodes?

We are familiar with the Nodes of the Moon, where the Moon’s orbit intersects with the ecliptic (the celestial ‘line’ that marks the Sun’s yearly apparent motion in the sky). The lunar North Node is at the point in the Moon’s orbit where it crosses the ecliptic in a northerly direction. The point opposite to this, the lunar South Node, marks where the Moon crosses in a southerly direction.

While the nodes of the Moon are always opposite each other, this is not always the case with other planets. For example, the North and South Nodes of Mercury are both currently in Gemini. Slower moving planets have more fixed nodes: for example, Saturn’s N. Node is in Cancer for all of us, as is Pluto’s (with S. Node in Capricorn). Uranus’s N. Node is in Gemini, with S. Node in Sagittarius. Neptune’s N. Node in Leo opposes its S. Node in Aquarius.

If you have astro software, you should be able to choose to include planetary node placements on drawn charts. Otherwise, I have included a link to an ephemeris that will calculate these, plus directions, at the close of this article.

Much has been written about the Nodes, from their significance of past lives, earthly destiny, entrance and exit points of celestial energy, etc., but little consensus is available. I do not seek to resolve these differences here; instead, I want to note the similarities between these conceptions and from there move on to looking at the nodes of other planets. Ultimately, we have a lot of freedom in interpreting the nodes, but it does seem clear that they mark points in a cycle of the overall significance and influence of a planet, and thus should not be interpreted as energetic bodies themselves. This is why orbs must be kept very close in interpreting their conjunctions. Further, because the nodes are merely points, they do not cast rays or make aspects.

The nodes (North and South) represent, essentially, ascending and descending stages. We can conceptualize the North Node as an equinox of sorts as, e.g., the Moon departs the southern part of its orbit and begins ascending. This fits with different conceptions of expansion (sometimes the lunar North Node is said to expand the effect of a planet it is conjunct) or connection to something higher (ideas of soul development, destiny) as the Moon literally is moving north. Similarly but conversely, the lunar South Node is associated with a descending stage. Thus we see associations with things that we are tied to, with old modes of functioning, the past, reflection, etc. Additionally, we encounter the rationale by which the lunar South Node is said to decrease the effects of a planet it is conjunct – because the South Node represents the body leaving its northern orbit and descending.

Following this connection between the North Node with the initiation of an ascending phase, and the South Node point with the initiation of a descending phase, the Nodes of a planet can show where its influence is increasing or subsiding. A planet conjunct its own North Node may contribute to a stronger experience of this planet, perhaps in the acquisition or development of some unexpected or new aspect of this planet’s effects. A planet conjunct its South Node may indicate a receding of this planet’s energy in a native’s life, perhaps a lack of something we expect from its northern cycle, perhaps a reprieve from something challenging.

Any celestial body placed conjunct its own North or South Node is automatically on the ecliptic. As the ecliptic defines the plane of the Sun, it is possible that a planet in this position expresses itself more strongly, as it is on an axis that directly receives the Sun’s rays. Pay close attention to any planet you have in your chart that is conjunct its own North or South Node – the energy of being on the Sun’s plane may make it more sensitive to transits or more active in your life. This oft-overlooked factor may also contribute to identical planetary placements expressing in varied ways among different charts – someone born with Mercury in Gemini at a time that Mercury’s North Node is also placed here will experience it differently than an identical Gemini Mercury placement when its North Node is in, say, Aquarius.

Now that we’ve distinguished the ascending from descending phase, we can apply this in the context of the other planets. With Mercury, for example, conjunction with its N. Node or placement along its northern trajectory may indicate an upswing in mental pursuits, travel, connections, writing – someone who is expanding in, developing, or drawn to the areas and activities represented by Mercury. Conversely, S. Node may represent a decrease or recession of the importance of these in the native’s life. Going planet-by-planet from here is pretty straightforward as long as we bear in mind this ascending/ descending pattern.

As promised, here is the link to the ephemeris to calculate the placement of the planetary nodes for your chart. You may enter the date and time at the top of the form, along with the bodies you’re looking for data on (results display better with not more than four or five bodies at a time). For simplicity’s sake, I recommend changing the ‘# of days’ field to 1. At the top of the left hand column of field options, select the boxes next to ‘nNode’ and ‘sNode’ and submit.

If you take the time to calculate it, I’m curious: do you have any planets conjunct their own Nodes? Comment with which planet, its sign and degree, and which node it is conjunct, and please share your experience with that planet! It is hard to come by information on the planetary nodes, so let’s open this space for brainstorming.

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What Are Planetary Nodes? — 13 Comments

  1. North Node conjunct my Pluto in 1st house. South Node conjunct Chiron in 7th. I have an 8th house Pisces Moon and Mercury in Cancer trine Neptune, so lots of Pisces-Neptune energy. I have always had a strong pull to ‘lose’ myself in relationships but with Mars-Leo rising-Uranus in 1st there’s been an equal pull to be independent and develop my physical body through athletics and strength training. It’s been long road. I’m 56 now. I have been fairly successful in this.

  2. Saturn conjunct SN — brutal! Work, depression, father, self-criticism… All have been a monkey on my back. This said, at middle age, I’m really workin’ these tendencies. This is why astrology is helpful, to isolate the issues… 🙂

    Any thoughts on planets at the bends? Could make for a good article. I have Neptune.

  3. I’ve got Saturn conjunct South Node also. It’s in the 6th house. It’s interesting to hear “facts” talk abut her Saturn conjunct SN. I’ve always worked very hard and had a hard time at work, not necessarily due to the work, but the people. I’ve rarely been given credit for my hard work and good job done. Once I retired I never stepped foot back in the door. Many of the difficult people I worked with are dead now. I wonder how hot it is where they are now. At least I hope they got what they deserved.

  4. That took some pencil and paper time. I have two close hits.
    Mercury in Sagittarius, natal position 23,4 natal Mercury south node 24,57.
    Venus in Aquarius, natal position 25,47 natal Venus north node 23,39.

    Mercury influence: I either talk too much, too freely or don’t talk at all. I sometimes say things entirely funny or insulting without being aware of it. Pretty much the Mercury in Sagittarius fighting my natal Cap Sun.

    Venus influence: Venus is my chart ruler. I am attracted to unusual things. But that doesn’t mean it comes home with me. Or maybe it does. Husbands come to mind.

  5. I searched whether some other website can simply tell me my planetary node positions quickly. Instead of succeeding in this, I learned that Pluto was discovered when Pluto was conjunct the Pluto north node. This was followed by an opposition between Saturn and Pluto in 1931/2, when Saturn was conjunct the Saturn south node. Both of their south nodes will take part in the conjunction of Pluto and Saturn (and the Sun and Mercury and Ceres) in 2020, so we can expect a similar situation. People born in 1993 should be especially affected because they already have a natal conjunction of Uranus and Neptune on the same degree.

  6. My Mercury is conjunct its own North Node at 12 degrees Leo (they are actually 1 minute apart!) which is what you give an example of and it very accurate for me. Mercury is in mutual reception with my Virgo Sun as well. My Mercury is also tied as the highest point in my chart but would probably take first in that it’s also conjunct my MC. I do feel drawn to public speaking (even though I have a fear of it as Virgo is on my 12th house cusp) and have taken public speaking courses. I continue to try and overcome the challenge and the feedback I get to my speaking is that it is quite moving and empowering for the listener. I often have visions of giving TED Talks. I also feel compelled to have my writings published (some time in my life) although I can’t seem to hone a focus for my writing. I have Jupiter in my 3rd house in Sag but my 3rd/9th houses are intercepted and have Virgo as a duplicate sign which indicates some trouble with my honing.

  7. My husband’s Mercury is conjunct his SN of Mercury by 4 minutes. Yet he’s a Librarian/Information Mgmt guy, LOVES finding out new information and searching for things online, is happy to go on holidays and travel, reads tonnes of books, has a fantastic mind, can seemingly grasp any concept and is a very good conversationalist. Mind you, he’s also a Gemini 😉 But he’s more the behind-the-scenes technical guy. I was just about to write that you won’t find him on centre stage…BUT…he has given quite a few seminars as well! So anyway, I don’t think he’s quite living in his Mercurial SN, even though his natal Mercury is conjunct it. Or maybe someone would disagree with me and say that yes, he most definitely IS living in his Mercurial SN?! I can actually see both sides to it, but either way, both his Mercury NN & SN fall in his 3rd house (NN in late Taurus, SN in mid Gemini).

    I’m just not sure that the SN of any planet is what we ‘come from’, with the NN of any planet being where we ‘aim to go’. I think there’s a lot more to it. I think we need to find a balance between the NN & SN of a planet.

    Perhaps the planetary nodes show karmic lessons for us for each planet eg I have the NN of the Moon in Virgo in my 12th house (widely conjunct my Libra ASC), so maybe instead of feeling EVERYTHING with my natal Moon-Neptune 3rd house conj in Sag (which is also sextile my 1st house Pluto) I’d be better suited to calming down the emotions, being practical and getting on with things. ‘Don’t be so emotional’ my mother always said growing up…maybe she had a point! But conversely my Moon’s SN in 6th house Pisces can be all emotional and in a tizzy, with negative bodily health effects when I can’t get my emotions under control! So two sides of a coin, perhaps? Maybe halfway in between is a better, more balanced option?! Maybe we shouldn’t aim for either our NN OR our SN of a planet. Maybe all they do is tell us our extremes – and I would think living there all the time is dangerous, on either the NN OR the SN.

    I just don’t think that the nodes of the moon deserve as much karmic credence as so many Astrologers like to give them. So maybe the NN & SN of any planet just show us the extremes of that particular planet, and the lessons to be learned there for that particular planet? Look at the generational Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto nodes in Cancer-Capricorn that so many people have. Talk about tug-o-war issues between Family and Business enterprises (war, work, work/life balance; they all fit in here).

    If anyone wants to discuss this further, I’m all ears 🙂

  8. I have natal Mercury at 17 Gem 11, and Mercury’s North Node at 17 Gem 21. But I find it difficult to draw out the meaning because: Mercury is in the 3rd house, so it is strong by house; it is in a critical degree, which adds emphasis; it is the final dispositor of my chart; Sun in Gemini so it is my ruling planet. Then there is the conjunction with Mars in Gemini giving it extra energy…. suffice it to say that I would rather be thinking, reading, writing, or talking than doing just about anything.

  9. I have Jupiter in the 7th house at 17 degrees of Cancer. I have had literally thousands of students in both of my careers. Now I have discovered that both Saturn and Pluto North Nodes are conjunct my Jupiter. It’s interesting that I have always been attracted to very forward thinking teachers. In fact, I would say that I’ve been incredibly lucky about who I’ve managed to study with. Then in my 8th house, Neptune’s north node is conjunct my Pluto at 6 degrees of Leo. Most of the spiritual work I’ve done has emphasized transformation of the ego and detachment. It seems the North Node of these three planets have been influential. I don’t have any conjunctions with the South Nodes of outer planets.

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