In this part . . .
Y our horoscope with its mysterious symbols, concentric circles, and tiny numbers may look like a magician’s amulet. In fact, it’s simply a map of the heavens at the moment of your birth. That celestial pattern, formed by the planets and not to be repeated for roughly 26,000 years, encapsulates the cosmic forces operating at the time of your birth. Every object in your horoscope reflects or symbolizes an aspect of who you are.
In this part, you discover the meaning of the Moon, the Ascendant, and the planets in your chart, both by sign and by house. You can also read about the ways that the planets interact. And finally, in Chapter 14, you put those cosmic ingredients together into an interpretation. Once you do that, you’re cooking.
In This Chapter
Investigating the Moon in your chart
Understanding the Nodes of the Moon
Considering the Nodes in your chart
Strange but true: To an Earthling gazing at the sky, the Sun and Moon appear to be the same size. The irrefutable evidence of science states otherwise. But visually, the two are equal. Ancient mythologies shared that perception, associating the Sun and Moon with quarreling lovers, siblings, or deities.
Astrologers picture the Sun and the Moon as partners. The unvarying Sun represents your basic essence, vitality, and conscious self, while the inconstant Moon with its many phases (and occasional disappearances) signifies your emotional reactions, instincts, habits, and unconscious.
If the Sun and Moon occupied compatible signs at your birth, you’re in luck. Your (solar) will and (lunar) emotions, your conscious awareness and unconscious, moony self, are in sync. That must be nice — I wouldn’t know. If your luminaries inhabit clashing signs, you’ll experience a storm of conflicting needs and desires. Well, that’s life. Astrology just reflects it.
To discover the Moon’s position in your chart, turn to the Appendix. But remember: The Moon swings into a new sign every two or three days. If it moved from one sign to the next on your birthday, you may have to do a bit of calculation to find out exactly where it was at the crucial moment.
The Moon, which shines by the light of the Sun, is symbolized by the crescent of receptivity (see Figure 8-1). To determine its placement in your horoscope, you need an accurate chart. To get one, I recommend going to the Internet (see Chapter 2 for specific advice). You could also do precise mathematical calculations, call an astrologer, or invest in astrological software. For a description of the Moon in the houses, go to Chapter 12.
Figure 8-1: The symbol of the Moon.
The Moon in the Signs
The sign that the Moon occupied at your birth describes your emotional reactions. It defines an area of fluctuation and instability in your chart, and it also represents women in general and your mother in particular. In this list, I describe the effect of the Moon in the signs:
Moon in Aries: Instinctive and spontaneous, you form judgments instantly. Your enthusiasm is easily aroused, as is your anger. You may come across as self-absorbed because you’re more insecure than you let on, and you’re often remarkably competitive. You’re feisty and decisive (sometimes foolishly so). You can also be selfish, irritable, impatient, and blunt. Quick-tempered and impetuous, you make sure your needs are acknowledged at the earliest possible moment. The chances are that, when you were a child, your mother reacted promptly to your insistent, fiery demands. She had no choice. As a result, you got what you wanted — and you learned to be independent, direct, and courageous.
Moon in Taurus: You yearn for security, emotional and material, and you do everything you can to achieve it. Stable and stubborn, you approach change cautiously because nothing makes you more uncomfortable. But once you understand that change is inevitable, you do what you have to do. Trustworthy and congenial, you’re charming, attractive, warm, faithful, and possessive. As a child, you desperately needed the security that comes from having loving, reliable parents. You still crave the pleasures of predictability and security.
Moon in Gemini: You’re flighty, friendly, dashing, and articulate. You express yourself with wit and intelligence, even if you strike people as glib or superficial. Nervous and high-strung, you take an essentially mental approach to matters of the heart. Although you may panic in the heat of a crisis, that reaction is a fleeting one. After the feathers settle, you look around objectively and analyze your own reactions, a process that brings you a measure of calm. As a child, you were restless, curious, and easily distracted. During stressful moments, your mother found it easy to divert you. Diversion still strikes you as a reasonable — or at least an understandable — strategy during hard times. A first-rate rationalizer, you don’t hesitate to move on when the time is right.
Moon in Cancer: The Moon rules the sign of the Crab, so no matter what else is happening in your chart, you’re a lunar person: moody, receptive, sentimental, vulnerable, and supremely aware of the continual flux of emotions. Tears spring from your eyes with little provocation, and you occasionally need to withdraw to soothe your surging feelings. Caring and protective, you’re a truly kind person but, like people born with the Moon in Taurus, you have a rough time letting go. As a child, you were extraordinarily responsive to your mother. Her impact on you surpasses the norm, which is why, when you have children, you’re likely to be an exceptionally loving, occasionally overinvolved parent.
Moon in Leo: A Leo moon adds warmth, dazzle, and exuberance to any Sun sign. Generous, devoted, and lively, you love to laugh and are gifted with presence and joie de vivre. Although your considerable pride is easily injured (especially if you think you’ve been ignored), you’re usually confident and upbeat. One way or another, you love to perform, and the world loves to respond. But when things are going badly or when you feel downhearted or insecure, you cover up your doubts and ambivalence with emotional fireworks. You picked up this dramatic pattern from your mother, who was somewhat of a drama queen herself. She taught you to seek recognition, and she gave you the confidence to set ambitious goals.
Moon in Virgo: Emotionally timid and unobtrusive, you’d rather repress your emotions than articulate them. You find it difficult to confront serious issues. Instead, you distract yourself with minutiae or by working so hard you barely have a chance to breathe. You’re industrious and practical. You’re also fussy and hard to please. Without a doubt, you’re your own harshest critic. Where does this reprehensible quality come from? You guessed it — your mother (or whoever played that role in your life). Although her criticism, implicit or explicit, made an impact on you, she also deserves credit for several of your virtues, including the willingness to shoulder responsibility, the values you place on efficiency and organization, and your altruistic desire to relieve the suffering of others. You may be inhibited, but that doesn’t mean you’re blind.
Moon in Libra: You’re gracious, romantic, and artistic. You shun vulgarity, value courtesy and elegance, and try to convey your feelings in a calm, diplomatic manner. Peace is essential to you, and you will do anything to maintain balance. As a child, you learned to maintain appearances, even if you were abused. Your even temper drew praise, and people came to expect it of you. Now, as an adult, you seem unflappable. Love and relationships are fundamental to your well-being. If you’re single, you feel bereft without a partner; if you’re mated, you can scarcely imagine any other scenario and may be fearful of being alone. Either way, you detest confrontation and therefore may gloss over problems. Not surprisingly, distressing issues may remain unresolved for years on end; your desire for peace and harmony trumps everything.
Moon in Scorpio: Passionate and easily injured, you’re one complicated puppy. Willful, intense, and occasionally self-destructive, your emotions — to quote Herman Melville — rush like “herds of walruses and whales” beneath the surface of your personality. Hesitant to reveal the depth of your emotions, you try to keep them hidden, a task that may require a certain degree of dissembling and manipulation. Not that you mean to be controlling — you just can’t help it. Covering up your feelings is something you learned in childhood. Even if your childhood looked enviable from afar, you were afraid of abandonment or rejection and were well aware of the suppressed needs and subterranean conflicts within your family. You learned to keep quiet about your own concerns. Your silence is a form of protection — and hiding. Although some people with this placement nurse fantasies of retaliation for long-ago wrongs, most simply continue to hide their feelings. Those walruses and whales may still be down there, but the surface looks smooth.
Moon in Sagittarius: You’re philosophical, outspoken, cheerful, uninhibited, well-intentioned, unrealistic on occasion, and idealistic — sometimes pathetically so. Your optimism runs deep, and as a result, you’re a risk-taker, always prepared to gallop off on an adventure or to commit yourself to causes other people deem hopeless. Intellectually and emotionally, you cherish your independence above all else. Lengthy relationship discussions make you squirm. More comfortable with action than with analysis, you can be self-righteous and inadvertently hurtful, and you tend to justify your own misdeeds without blinking. Yet you mean well. And people sense that about you. Even as a child, whenever you radiated good cheer, your mother responded positively. To encourage that sort of reaction, you convey your enthusiasm more readily than your pain and, like her, you shrink from emotional displays.
Moon in Capricorn: You’re steady, reserved, self-reliant, ambitious, and well-disciplined. Even when you were small, you were serious, and the playfulness of childhood may have eluded you. Now, ever the realist, you recognize both your strengths and your limitations. Among your limitations, you suspect, is the inability to have fun. You have a tendency to descend into depression and pessimism from time to time, perhaps because your mother suffered from a case of postpartum blues. Sensing her gloom, you pulled back. You’re emotionally reserved and self-conscious, especially in the face of other people’s melodramatic outbursts. You can’t bear those scenes. Success steadies you. You’re willing to shoulder broad responsibilities because you feel more grounded, as well as more powerful and peaceful, when you have authority. Somebody’s got to take control. It may as well be you.
Moon in Aquarius: In your mind’s eye, you’re out to improve the world. With your progressive instincts and sympathy for others, you have the ability to alter lives for the better. You also have a gift for friendship. But at a certain point, you disappear behind the curtains because deep in your heart, you have an antipathy for intimacy. You shy away from closeness and are drawn instead to offbeat people, unconventional activities, and the world of the intellect. Thank your mom. Even if your early years were marked by turmoil, she encouraged you to express your individuality and to use your intelligence. She was less comfortable with your emotional needs. You’re the same way. You find it taxing to delve into your emotions — or even to recognize them. So you pretend they aren’t there — and this technique works . . . at least for a while.
Moon in Pisces: You’re gentle, sentimental, sympathetic, and ultrasensitive. Easily wounded and often shy, you feel like a hostage to your own emotions, which are difficult to control or conceal. Other people suppress their vulnerabilities — you’re all too conscious of yours. You’re equally sensitive to your instincts, hunches, and fantasies. At your impressionable best, you’re virtually psychic. You’re also artistically (or musically) talented. But you can be gullible, hopelessly unrealistic, and self-indulgent. And you have trouble standing up for yourself. Being kind to others is often easier than helping yourself. This goes back to childhood. Ever alert to your mother’s shifting moods, you learned to do what you could to improve the emotional atmosphere — even if that meant disregarding your own needs. Your continuing challenge is to be as compassionate to yourself as you are to others.
Mary Beth Whitehead
Mary Beth Whitehead, one of the first surrogate mothers, was born April 7, 1957, with all the pioneering spirit you might expect of an Aries. Thanks to her bold Aries Sun and the detached, unconventional attitudes of her Aquarian Ascendant, she agreed to become the surrogate mother for William and Elizabeth Stern, a couple who were unable to have a child. Mary Beth, who has the Moon in Cancer in the fifth house of children, was glad to help. But after she had the baby, her maternal, Cancerian Moon kicked in — and suddenly the plan didn’t seem like such a smart idea. Sensing a deep connection to the child she had agreed to give up, she stubbornly refused to relinquish her. Only when a judge ordered her to do so did she finally give the baby girl (also an Aries) to the Sterns. Had she spoken to an astrologer first, she might never have agreed to the deal in the first place.
The Nodes of the Moon
Among astrologers in India, the Nodes of the Moon are considered a vital part of every horoscope, as necessary as the Sun and just as influential. But when I began to study astrology, my teachers barely mentioned the Nodes of the Moon. Even now, introductory astrology books often omit them. One reason is that even though the Nodes of the Moon occupy two sensitive degrees in your birth chart, there’s no celestial body at either spot. In a strictly physical sense, the Nodes of the Moon don’t exist. As Gertrude Stein said in a different context, “There’s no there there.” Nevertheless, the Nodes of the Moon have a long and splendid astrological history.
The Nodes of the Moon are the points where the Moon, in its orbit around the Earth, crosses the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun across the sky. The spot where the Moon climbs over the ecliptic is the North Node; the point where it sinks below the ecliptic is the South Node. The Nodes, which are exactly 180° apart, gradually shift backwards, spending about a year and a half in each sign and progressing through the zodiac in about 19 years.
To ancient astrologers, the North Node (or Dragon’s Head) was beneficial, allied with prosperity and luck, while the South Node (or Dragon’s Tail) was Saturnian in flavor, a point of loss or adversity. Well into the 20th century, astrologers still occasionally described the South Node as evil — a distressing comment to anyone with the South Node in a prominent position.
Practitioners of Western astrology generally agree that the North Node illuminates your spiritual path and the constructive yet demanding choices that promote growth. For those who believe in reincarnation, the North Node signifies your path in this life — an evolutionary journey for which you may feel unprepared because it’s a trip into the unknown. In contrast, the South Node supports habit over effort, stagnation over growth, and experience over exploration. It’s your default method. It feels right because you’ve traveled that road before, perhaps in earlier lives.
I admit that the South Node’s reputation isn’t good. Neither is it completely negative. It represents a set of talents and skills you’ve already mastered. The danger lies not in using those qualities but in placing undue emphasis on them and thus distorting them. The South Node is your launching pad; the North Node is your destination.
The North Node (see the left-hand image in Figure 8-2) is a point of expansion, potential, and growth. Among Vedic astrologers, it is called Rahu. The South Node (see the right-hand image in Figure 8-2), known to Vedic astrologers as Ketu, symbolizes deeply entrenched patterns and habits that no longer profit you.
To figure out the position of the Lunar Nodes, turn to the Appendix and look up the year of your birth. The essential fact to remember about this table is that it tells you only the position of the North Node. You have to figure out the position of the South Node, which should take about one second.
Figure 8-2: The North and South Nodes, also known as the Dragon’s Head and Dragon’s Tail.
As an example, say you were born in 1978. That year, according to the table, the North Node, spinning in a retrograde direction (that’s what the R means) slipped into Virgo on July 5 at 5:41 a.m., eastern standard time. If you were born after that, your North Node is in Virgo. To figure out what sign the North Node was in prior to that, you need to check out the previous entry. In this case, it was January 7, 1977, when the North Node entered Libra. It remained there until July 5, 1978. So if you were born in 1977 between January 1 and July 5 (at 5:41 a.m.), your North Node is in Libra.
Notice, too, that the North Node is usually retrograde. As a result, it travels through the signs in the reverse direction, going from Libra in 1977 to Virgo in 1978, and eventually to Aries in 1986.
Once you know where your North Node is, you can quickly locate your South Node because it’s always in the opposite sign, exactly 180° away. To wit:
The Nodes in the Signs
The Sun, the Moon, and the planets are substantial, massive objects. Whether they’re solid and rocky like the Moon and Mars, or gas giants like Jupiter and Neptune, they’re distinct, visible worlds with their own geography and their own chemistry. This isn’t so of the Nodes. The Nodes are mathematical points — not places. They lack features of any kind. Nonetheless, they carry meaning.
The North Node and the South Node are a matched pair, equal but opposite. They inhabit opposite signs and opposite houses. (For information on the Nodes in the houses, turn to Chapter 12.)
The following list identifies the areas of growth and stagnation marked by the North and South Nodes of the Moon:
North Node in Aries/South Node in Libra: You yearn to move in the Aries direction, toward assertiveness, self-sufficiency, and bold action. When you obey your impulses and act independently, you flourish. But all too often, instead of mustering up the courage you need, you give your power away to others. You may fear that if you assert yourself fully, you’ll never find the relationship you want (or you’ll destroy the relationship you have). On the contrary: Submerging your identity in another person is a mistake. Ultimately, the more independent you are, the more contented you will be, whether you’re in a relationship or not.
North Node in Taurus/South Node in Scorpio: Sex, lies, manipulation, and other people’s money fascinate you, as do the churning melodramas and intense relationships you often attract. Trouble is, after a while, those soap operas start to go stale. Rather than continuing to immerse yourself in the sturm und drang of your obsessions, you gain from building a secure base for yourself. Your best moves are to gather the material resources you need (however slowly), to cultivate patience, and to let your most cherished values be your guide. What you need above all is self-worth. And it wouldn’t hurt you to learn to manage money.
North Node in Gemini/South Node in Sagittarius: How delightful to sit around theorizing about life, death, and the meaning of existence. How nice to know it all. And what a pleasure to convey your brilliant thoughts to your grateful audience (or, in any case, to your beleaguered friends and family). Sadly, it’s also a waste of energy. With your unstoppable curiosity and ability to communicate, you benefit from accumulating information and employing it for useful purposes. You’re a journalist, an artist, a teacher — a clear thinker, yes, but get the facts. Leave those philosophical musings on the conundrums of life to others. You have too much to do in the here and now.
North Node in Cancer/South Node in Capricorn: Ambitious and controlling, you readily accept responsibility because you’re intent on achieving respect and gaining a position in society. Yet that’s not where your greatest joy lies. Despite your thirst for authority and status, you have a more compelling need for home, family, and emotional security. Although revealing your hopes and fears may cause you to feel distressingly weak, the key to your evolution rests in your ability to trust and to act in a caring fashion.
North Node in Leo/South Node in Aquarius: Many problems need to be addressed these days, and you’d like to do your part. You’d be delighted to devote yourself to an organization with a noble purpose — at least you think you would be. In fact, though, your fulfillment lies elsewhere. To be the person you were meant to be, you must risk expressing your desires, no matter how selfish that may seem. As admirable as it seems, quietly striving for peace on Earth won’t bring you happiness. The issue is simple: You don’t want to be an anonymous part of a crowd. You need an outlet for self-expression and you need to be acclaimed for what you are, quirks and all.
North Node in Virgo/South Node in Pisces: The realm of the spirit has an irresistible pull for you. But immersing yourself in that world can feed your escapist tendencies. You’re better off putting away your Ouija board and attending to the routine details that vex us all, as boring as they may seem. Your need to be a victim or a martyr (the two can be indistinguishable) is chilling, and your sense of inferiority limits your possibilities. Your path to fulfillment runs straight through the workaday world of getting organized, returning phone calls, taking care of business, and being conscious of the needs of others. You don’t need to sacrifice yourself. You just need to focus. Pay attention to the small stuff, and you’ll be amazed at how contented you will feel.
North Node in Libra/South Node in Aries: You’re courageous, daring, and self-reliant. You’re comfortable asserting yourself (even if you do have a temper), and you’re an effective leader and decision-maker. But you’re also self-centered, and the advantages of a loving partnership may elude you. Your challenge is to cooperate, be supportive, and mind the needs of others (listening is key). By balancing their needs with your own, you move in the direction of inner peace and contentment.
North Node in Scorpio/South Node in Taurus: You think of yourself as a practical person who allocates your resources, financial and otherwise, with care. You believe that material security provides the foundation for psychological strength. You can keep that fantasy if you wish, but you should know that your deepest fulfillment has little to do with material possessions or sensual pleasures, much as you appreciate them. Instead, you benefit from digging into your psyche, sharing your secrets, and dredging up the courage to overcome your resistance to change. In truth, you crave nothing short of total metamorphosis. By getting involved with others and learning to accept their input, you can, at minimum, begin that process.
North Node in Sagittarius/South Node in Gemini: It’s easy for you to stumble into a life of trivial pursuits or to get lost in a labyrinth of personal gossip, rumor-mongering Web sites, and a never-ending supply of celebrity scandals. But just as Brad Pitt is not your boyfriend (e-mail me if I’m wrong), the path of supermarket tabloids (and other time wasters) is not right for you. With your North Node in the sign of religion, law, travel, and education, you need to get your mind around the big picture. Seek knowledge. Learn a language. Look for a philosophy that aids your understanding. On antique maps, areas of unexplored territory were decorated with images of dragons, which were meant to warn travelers away. You need to sail into those unknown waters, dragons and all. Exercise helps. Spending time in nature is also valuable. Above all, you need to trust your intuition and step into the world. That’s where you can find the balm you need the most: adventure.
North Node in Capricorn/South Node in Cancer: You have a streak of domesticity, an interest in the past, and a lively appreciation for the simple pleasures of home and family. Alas, as lovely as that sounds, it’s not your path. Instead, you require real-world achievements, the kind that are born in ambition, shaped through self-discipline, and rewarded with money and prestige. Much as you adore your home and family, you won’t gain much satisfaction sitting in the parlor. And although your shifting moods may distract and disturb you, you still need to exercise your talents — despite your fears and insecurities. You have the ability to achieve your goals and to influence the wider community. Knowing that the fates are with you may boost your confidence and help you recognize opportunities.
North Node in Aquarius/South Node in Leo: Creative self-expression comes easily to you, and you attract the kind of notice that most people never get. You know what you want and you have the drive to get it. But you’re inclined to take over, and you overwhelm people with the force of your personality. For true growth, you need to team up with others and broaden your vision. Getting involved in a societal cause is a wonderful step for you. By attaching your urge for self-expression to a cause that’s larger than yourself, you transcend your ego and move in the direction of fulfillment.
North Node in Pisces/South Node in Virgo: Work we must: That’s your motto. You have a legion of responsibilities, and you get so caught up in those dreary tasks that there’s room for nothing else. To combat anxiety, you do your best to maintain order and to repel the encroaching forces of chaos. But there’s only so much you can do. You certainly can’t allow yourself to drift. And yet, drift you must. By letting your mind wander, by putting aside your dreaded to-do list, and by being alert to your dreams and fantasies, you allow yourself to glimpse another aspect of experience and to explore the province of the spirit. Yoga, meditation, and anything that can help you relax are indispensable tools. Your ultimate goal is enlightenment.