Astrology with Alice: Lunar Nodes Can be the Key to Unlocking Your Destiny

Let go of that baggage! Alice will show you how your stars may be holding you back

Words by Alice Smith

Astrology with Alice: Welcome to Astrology with Alice, a monthly astrology column aimed at helping readers understand the vibes of the month ahead in plain English. As a Taiwanese immigrant who grew up in Los Angeles, I specialize in combining western astrology with eastern philosophy. I’ve taught modern astrology through the lens of Buddhism and Taoism, and I also draw from the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Knowing the movements of the planets can help us make decisions around our careers, relationships, family. As the planets move around in the sky, they shift the energetic vibes we experience on Earth, and I believe in flowing with energy instead of fighting it—to work smarter, not harder. So join me on our monthly planetary lowdowns and learn how you, too, can ride the cosmic waves!

As the October eclipses loom on our horizon, this month is a good time to talk about the nodes of the moon. In astrology, the lunar nodes and eclipses go hand-in-hand. There are two lunar nodes—a north node and a south node—and they determine what signs the eclipses will fall into. And regardless of whether an eclipse is happening or not, the nodes are always astrologically significant. Their effects may be subtler without an eclipse, but they still matter.

First things first. What the heck are they? As an Aries with zero patience, I enjoy simple explanations that are devoid of nuance, so here’s my “dummy’s version” explanation of what the lunar nodes are: They represent the points in space where eclipses could happen—spots that hold the potential for eclipse action, if you will. (It’s important to note that they’re not actual physical objects.) And when both the sun and moon simultaneously orbit near the nodes, that’s when eclipses occur. (For the Geminis who must know the details, the nodes are the points where the ecliptic—the sun’s apparent orbit—intersects the moon’s orbit, as depicted by the image below.)

Let’s simplify it further. Imagine the nodes as two celestial parking spots, and when the moon and sun both park in either one or both of these spots—kaboom! Eclipse! (Again, for my curious Geminis—solar eclipses happen when they both park in the same spot, and lunar eclipses happen when the sun parks in one and the moon parks in the other.)

On birth charts (see below), solar eclipses (left) are depicted by both the sun and moon coming together at the same lunar node, whereas lunar eclipses (right) occur when the sun and moon hang out near opposite nodes at the same time.

Like eclipses, the nodes are steeped in the language of fate. They’re often called “the lunar nodes of destiny,” and the Vedic astrologers of India call the north node the “head of the dragon” and the south node the “tail of the dragon.” (So epic.) To the ancients, the north node represents the ideal direction of a soul’s evolution, and the south node represents past life patterns, baggage, and issues that still need to be processed and released. They oppose each other, so the north node’s medicine for the soul is always held in the opposite side of a birth chart, far away from the south node’s triggers. The rule is to move away from the comfort of what the south node represents and move into the new (and often uncomfortable) territory of the north node.

As a Buddhist astrologer who focuses on karma and past-life baggage, these nodes are my jam. When I discuss the themes of the south node in readings with my clients, it’s not uncommon for them to realize that it describes an outdated worldview or set of assumptions that they just carried into life. It’s as if the south node describes obsolete settings in the operating system of their personality that’s been quietly influencing them from the background. And implementing the north node fixes will patch the south node bugs.

For me, I have a south node in Aquarius that tells me that I carry around the mentality of an exile who assumes that nobody will get her. A typical Aquarius south node person assumes it’s not even worth trying to attract attention because, deep down, they’re always going to be misunderstood. So why even bother? Therefore, to heal that part of me, my Leo north node tells me that I need to put myself out there and step into the limelight. (That’s super cringe to me, but that’s how the north node should feel—it’s often hella uncomfortable because you’re so used to doing the opposite thing!)

Want to know what your nodes are and what they mean for you?

  1. Find out what your nodes are with a free birth chart.
  2. Look up what sign your north node is in the free chart report.
  3. Scroll down and find your north node in the list below and read what your lunar nodes want you to learn. 

Aries North Node

Whenever the north node lies in a fire sign (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), there’s reason to believe that the soul needs to rediscover passion and reclaim its inner fire. If your north node is in Aries, that means that your south node is in Libra. The vibe of the Libra south node is like the gilded halls of old Versailles—full of superficial etiquette rituals but devoid of authenticity. If your south node is in Libra, stop worrying about offending others. Don’t be afraid of rocking the boat, taking risks, and standing up for yourself. A little selfishness is healthy.

Taurus North Node

If your north node is in Taurus, that means you have a Scorpio south node, which means that you might go through life feeling like the other shoe is going to drop at any moment. There’s a part of you that thinks that catastrophe is right around the corner and the world isn’t safe. Your Taurus north node wants you to learn to feel safe and secure—both in life and even in your own body. Instead of complicating issues, which is the Scorpio propensity, opt for the wisdom of simple solutions. Before running to therapy, try to sleep more, hydrate more, and eat better. Give gratitude for all the reasons you’re safe rather than always seeking proof that you aren’t safe.

Gemini North Node

If your north node is in Gemini, that means that your south node is in Sagittarius. When I think of the Sagittarius south node, I think of the science fiction series Dune and the character of Leto the God Emperor. He’s omniscient, prescient, and is literally a know-it-all. As a result, his life is a dull prison because he can’t be surprised anymore. When you know everything, you’re closed off from wonder and delight, and the world becomes small and boring. Your Gemini north node has tasked you with rediscovering your curiosity. Be open to differing ideas and try to really listen to others. They might surprise you.

Cancer North Node

If your north node is in Cancer, that means that your south node is in Capricorn. You are all about duty, duty, duty. When I consider the Capricorn south node, I think of the titan Atlas from Greek mythology who holds the world up on his shoulders and struggles under its weight. With a Cancer north node, the cosmos wants you to start putting on your oxygen mask first. It’s okay to lay down your burdens and focus on self-care, and it’s important to understand that self-care isn’t selfish. The major lesson, however, is realizing that you have inherent worth that’s not dependent on your achievements and what you can provide for others.

Leo North Node

If your north node is in Leo, that means that you have an Aquarius south node. The default worldview of an Aquarius south node is that they will be misunderstood, so they disassociate. There’s a tendency to keep knowledge and wisdom to yourself because you’re convinced that others won’t get you, so why bother? But it’s different now, and it’s time for the oddball to return and finally share your message. The Leo north node is a call to re-engage and, like the lion that symbolizes Leo, to roar and to be heard. Instead of skirting around the fringes, you need to put yourself at the center of the proverbial stage and be recognized.

Virgo North Node

If your north node is in Virgo, then your south node is in Pisces. The Pisces south node is concerned with spirituality and the desire to transcend earthly concerns, but the Virgo north node is a call to ground and reconnect. This nodal pairing is a reminder that all the wisdom and insight in the world are meaningless unless they can be applied practically and be useful to others. They also warn us that ego traps also exist in spiritual practices, and that the best way to guard against these is to adopt the Virgo virtues of humility and service.

Libra North Node

If your north node is in Libra, then you have an Aries south node. Aries is ruled by Mars, the planet named after the Roman god of war, so with an Aries south node, your default worldview assumes that you need to struggle and fight to survive in the world. You feel that you’re the only one you can rely on. The north node in Libra—which is ruled by Venus, goddess of love and beauty—is asking you to decompress, calm down, and recalibrate your equilibrium so that you can feel inner peace. Also, learn to ask for help and try to rely on your friends and loved ones. Fight against the false assumption that you’re alone in this life.

Scorpio North Node

If your north node is in Scorpio, that means that your south node is in Taurus. The Taurus south node has an indolent quality that’s averse to change. Imagine when Meg Murray arrives in a suburb of Camazotz in A Wrinkle in Time and sees all the children bouncing the same ball at the same time. The people go through the motions of living, but they don’t think, question, or probe. There’s a real see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil quality to the false safety of the Taurus south node. The call to action from the Scorpio north node is to dare to probe and think critically, even if the truths you might discover are unpleasant and scary. Face the complexity of life, leave the safe eddy of predictability, and rejoin the ocean of existence in all its fright and wonder.

Sagittarius North Node

If your north node is in Sagittarius, then your south node is in Gemini. With a Gemini south node, you are constantly dealing with the details. Everything, Everywhere, All At Once could very well describe how life feels to you. In this constant state of busy-ness, you can’t step back and get some perspective on life, much less even think about the meaning of life. But that’s exactly what your Sagittarius north node wants you to do—to back away, lift up, and get a bird’s eye view on your situation. Your life is like a Monet painting that just looks like smudges and dots up close. Without pulling back, you can’t even begin to guess at the Impressionist masterpiece your life might resemble.

Capricorn North Node

If your north node is in Capricorn, then your south node is in Cancer. With a Cancer south node, you’re all about taking care of your people—your family. (Remember, family can be biological or chosen.) You react strongly to people’s needs and you just want to roll your loved ones up in bubble wrap to protect them from the big, bad world. But your job is now to nurture in the Capricorn way, which means holding people accountable and holding them to standards. You must teach them to stand up on their own. Remember that standards and discipline are also forms of love. It is also a call to move more meaningfully into your own personal dignity without fear that your standards may come across cold to others.

Aquarius North Node

If your north node is in Aquarius, then you have a south node in Leo, which means you are good at handling attention. You often find yourself in positions of leadership as a result. You’re aware of the part you must play, and you play it well. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for you to express your own individuality. You hide your quirks and eccentricity because…what would they think of me if they knew?! The Aquarius north node invites you to shed the burden of public opinion and to seek only the approval of your own moral compass. Remember that your image isn’t you.

Pisces North Node

If your north node is in Pisces, that means that your south node is in Virgo. The Virgo south node speaks of a tendency to take on the worst qualities of Virgo—shame, guilt, and a tendency to be super self-critical. As such, you believe that you must struggle and work hard to earn your redemption. Your north node in Pisces desperately wishes for you to accept the truth that everyone is worthy of love, compassion, and kindness—even you. You needn’t struggle to prove your worthiness. When it comes to universal love, the cosmos has already written you a blank check. All you need to do is cash it.

Published on August 31, 2023

Words by Alice Smith

Alice Smith has loved astrology ever since she read her first horoscope as a kid. She’s a certified, professional astrologer who reads birth charts for clients all over the world and has spoken at events throughout the Pacific Northwest. Alice learned to write horoscopes from her mentor Rebecca Gordon who was herself mentored by the grande dame of horoscope writing, Susan Miller. Alice has a degree in sociology from the University of Washington and is (too) obsessed with her “Furgo” (furry Virgo) cat, whose birth chart she often interprets on social media.