IN THIS CHAPTER, we’ll delve into some of the finer points of birth-chart interpretation. These include such things as hemisphere emphasis, the Moon’s nodes, the Part of Fortune, retrograde planets, intercepted signs, and transits. Of these, the first two are the most important in natal-chart analysis. Transits are a predictive technique and one we are only able to touch on in the scope of this book.
The astrological chart is divided into four separate hemispheres by the horizon, or horizontal axis, and the meridian, or vertical axis. In this section, we’ll look at all four of the hemispheres and what an emphasis of planets and other essential bodies in each hemisphere means.
The southern hemisphere is the upper half of the chart-this is generally more extroverted and objective and is day or inhale energy.
Those with a larger number of planetary bodies in this hemisphere are likely to lead a conscious, event-oriented life and are likely to be energized by interaction with the outside world.
The house emphasis must be combined with the hemisphere emphasis because the extroverted qualities of the chart will be most apparent if most of the planets are in the seventh, ninth, 10th, and 11th houses, and less marked with a concentration of planets in the eighth and 12th houses, as these two houses are very private areas of life that are night or exhale energy and ruled by water signs, meaning that they are more introverted than the other houses.
The lower half of the astrological chart is the northern hemisphere. A concentration of planets here means night, exhale energy and a more introverted nature. This is a more subjective and inward-focused person who leads a more intuitive and receptive life.
This person is likely to enjoy solitude and need alone time in order to feel energized. Likewise, too much time around others will be draining.
A concentration in the first and fifth houses will lessen these qualities slightly, as these two houses are more outgoing in outlook.
In the astrological chart, the eastern hemisphere is the left side of the chart-an emphasis here is more day, inhale energy. A person with a concentration of planets here is self-determined, goal-oriented, and intentional. These individuals are more likely to use their will to consciously choose and create their own reality. They are often seen as willful and less likely to work well in collaboration with others.
The western hemisphere is the right side of the astrological chart. This is night, exhale energy, where we are more likely to surrender to the will of others and to forces beyond the conscious realm. These individuals are more collaborative and cooperative in nature but are also more likely to be receptive to peer pressure.
As they are the type of person to go with the flow, they find it easier to change course even if they have consciously chosen a certain path.
The Moon’s Nodes: North and South
The nodes of the Moon are the two points where the Moon’s orbit intersects with the ecliptic. The north node is where the Moon crosses the ecliptic in a northerly direction from our perspective and the south node is where the Moon crosses in a southerly direction. The two lunar nodes are always opposing each other.
In most astrological interpretations, the Moon’s nodes represent a path of development for the soul in each lifetime, with the south node representing the past and the north, the future. Also known as the dragon’s tail (south node) and dragon’s head (north node), they also represent our default emotional reactions, or soul habit, and the soul’s potential, or habits to consciously move toward. They are a continuum of development, with neither the south node being all bad nor the north node being all good. A brief summary of the meaning of the nodes is as follows:
- North Node in First House or Aries: Develop independence, courageousness, spontaneity, and self-awareness
- North Node in Second House or Taurus: Develop strong values, self-worth, connection with the Earth and the senses, patience, and loyalty
- North Node in Third House or Gemini: Develop curiosity, listening skills, openness to new ideas and other perspectives, and tact
- North Node in Fourth House or Cancer: Develop empathy, the ability to notice and validate feelings, humility, and awareness and acceptance of others’ feelings and moods
- North Node in Fifth House or Leo: Develop self-confidence, creative self-expression, willingness to stand out, and a sense of playfulness and fun
- North Node in Sixth House or Virgo: Develop a sense of service, more focus on routines and detail, moderation, and compassionate action
- North Node in Seventh House or Libra: Develop the ability to collaborate, diplomacy, awareness of the needs of others and how to live and work with others, and sharing
- North Node in Eighth House or Scorpio: Develop less attachment to material worth, awareness of others’ psychological desires and motives, and sharing power dynamics
- North Node in Ninth House or Sagittarius: Develop awareness of and trust in your intuition or guidance from source, sense of adventure and self-trust, and awareness of higher consciousness
- North Node in 10th House or Capricorn: Develop self-control and respect, taking the mature role in situations, responsibility, and dependence on self
- North Node in 11th House or Aquarius: Develop self-approval and a willingness to share inventive and unconventional ideas, the ability to work in groups and to connect with humanity in an egalitarian and humanitarian way, and the ability to connect with like-minded people
- North Node in 12th House or Pisces: Develop compassion, trust in and surrender to source or the collective creation principle, unconditional love, and a spiritual path and self-reflective practices
- South Node in First House or Aries: Work to lessen the grip of the habits of impulsiveness, unhealthy selfishness, anger issues, and overassertiveness
- South Node in Second House or Taurus: Work to lessen stubborn tendencies, resistance to change, overattachment to ownership and accumulation of material possessions, overeating, and other overindulgences
- South Node in Third House or Gemini: Work to lessen the impact of indecisiveness, the belief that you always need more information or more study before acting, ignoring intuition, and trusting others’ opinions and ideas over your own
- South Node in Fourth House or Cancer: Work to lessen dependence on others, insecurity, manipulative use of emotions, risk avoidance, and overattachment to fears and safety
- South Node in Fifth House or Leo: Work to lessen the need for other’s adulation and approval, sense of entitlement, risk-taking, and melodramatic tendencies
- South Node in Sixth House or Virgo: Work to lessen the tendencies to be giving to the point of self-sacrifice, difficulties receiving from others, analysis paralysis, anxiety and worry, and being overly critical
- South Node in Seventh House or Libra: Work to lessen the habits of selflessness, playing nice to the detriment of yourself and others, codependence, and only being able to see the self through the eyes of others
- South Node in Eighth House or Scorpio: Work to lessen obsessive or compulsive habits, preoccupation with the motivations and actions of others, hyperreactivity and irritation with others, and attraction to crisis situations
- South Node in Ninth House or Sagittarius: Work to lessen the habits of being dogmatic and self-righteous, not listening to what others are really saying, and talking over others and speaking before thinking things through
- South Node in 10th House or Capricorn: Work to lessen the need to be in control of and responsible for everything and everyone, needing to appear strong at all times, and being too goal-focused
- South Node in 11th House or Aquarius: Work to lessen the habit of detaching from emotional situations and appearing cold, avoiding confrontation, and tending to shapeshift to fit in with the crowd so you feel accepted rather than embracing your individuality
- South Node in 12th House or Pisces: Work to lessen oversensitivity and playing victim, tendencies to withdraw and give up easily, extreme escapism and avoidance of the “real” world, and self-doubt
The Part of Fortune
The Part, or Lot, of Fortune is a point that is calculated from the longitudes of the Sun, Moon, and ascendant, a technique that was commonly used in ancient astrology. It is being revived with the resurgence of Hellenistic astrology. It’s one of many Arabic or Greek techniques but is the most commonly known and used. The Part of Fortune can be calculated in most astrological software.
The Part of Fortune is calculated by the following method: In a day chart, which is a chart where the Sun is found in the southern hemisphere or above the horizon, the Part of Fortune is found where the Moon would be if the Sun were on the ascendant. In a night chart, where the Sun is found in the northern hemisphere or below the horizon, the Part of Fortune is found where the Sun would be if the Moon were on the ascendant. In both cases, you count the number of degrees between the Sun and Moon and calculate that same distance either clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the natal-chart placements from the ascendant, to find the placement of the Part of Fortune.
The Part of Fortune generally indicates what the name suggests and shows where you may find your luck and how easily you find abundance or wealth. The sign and house that the Part of Fortune is in suggests the area where you will find fortune. For example, a Part of Fortune in Gemini in the sixth house might indicate fortune through speaking or writing, especially if done with a focus on serving others.
A planet is said to be retrograde when it appears to go backward from our earthly perspective. No planet actually does go backward; the retrograde motion is because of a relative difference in speed when planets are at their closest point to the Earth. When a planet is farther away from the Earth, it appears to be moving direct or forward. In fact, all planets in our solar system are revolving around the Sun, so this anomaly is from our perspective because of our relative orbits.
The days where a planet appears to stop and go retrograde, or direct at the end of the retrograde period, are called the stations. The Sun and Moon never appear to be retrograde. All the other planets do go retrograde and Mercury goes retrograde three or four times a year. In an astrology chart, a retrograde planet either will have red text or will have an “R” next to it. A stationary planet will have an “S” next to it. Retrograde periods are at their strongest in the lead up to and for a few days after the station date.
The impact of the apparent retrograde is because of the proximity to the Earth and the fact that the planet appears to retrace an area of the zodiac from our perspective, making its energy more keenly felt. The retracing of the path through an area of the zodiac takes us on a more inward or night journey, or invites us to exhale and release some lessons from the period when the planet was direct.
If a natal chart has retrograde planets, then you are likely to feel somewhat out of step with what’s considered the norm in society in that area of life-you march to the beat of your own drum. It’s also an area where you are more inwardly focused. This is heightened when the retrograde planet is a personal planet, like Mercury, Venus, or Mars. If Jupiter or Saturn is retrograde, the person may feel alien to the dominant culture in some way. If an outer planet-Neptune, Uranus, or Pluto-is retrograde, then the person may feel out of step with their generation in some way. It’s uncommon to have more than three retrogrades in a natal chart but if a person does they will feel very out of step with the world they were born into and are likely to be one who really is unique.
Intercepted signs occur when using unequal house systems such as those of Placidus, Porphyry, or Koch (see here), which are time-based house systems-the first house begins with the actual degree of the ascendant and houses are of different sizes, as they are calculated by dividing the space around the ecliptic by different methods. In these house systems, the difference in size is greater the further away from the equator the person was born. Most modern western astrologers use time-based house systems. Opposing houses are always the same size, so you will always have at least two intercepted signs if you have any. This will also mean that the same sign will rule the cusp of two houses.
Astrologers practicing more traditional techniques often use space-based systems, such as Whole Sign or Equal House systems, where the houses are equally divided by 30º.
When a sign is intercepted in the natal chart, the energy of that sign is harder to access by the person, and it will represent blocks where they have found that part of themselves hard to develop in early life-they will have to consciously learn to develop it. Looking at the placement and aspects of the ruling planet of the intercepted sign can help you learn to access that part of the chart.
Lunar Node Facts: Eclipses and Soul Groups
When a new or full moon occurs near the lunar nodes, from our perspective, eclipses occur.
A lunar (full-moon) eclipse occurs when the Earth comes between the Sun and Moon and within 11º 38′ of either lunar node. A solar (new-moon) eclipse occurs when the Moon comes between the Earth and the Sun within 17º 25′ of either lunar node. The closer the degree aspect to the nodes, the higher the totality of the eclipse.
The lunar nodes stay in two signs of the zodiac-the south node in one sign and the north node in the opposite or polarity sign-for approximately a year and a half. All eclipses during that period will be in one of the two signs.
Anyone born during that period will share the same nodes, and since the nodes represent a path of soul development, those people are said to belong to the same soul group.
The cycle of the lunar nodes is approximately 18.5 years, so those born around 18.5 years after us will be born into that same group. Those born approximately nine years before or after us are our nodal opposites and we often feel a strong attraction to those people, as they help us develop those north-node traits.
All planets have retrograde periods. However, the Sun and Moon never appear to go retrograde. All planets appear retrograde for different periods and with different regularity, known as the synodic period.
MERCURY appears to be retrograde three and sometimes even four times a year and is retrograde for 21 days every 3.8 months.
VENUS appears to be retrograde for around 21 days every 19.2 months.
MARS appears to be retrograde for around 72 days every 25.6 months.
JUPITER appears to be retrograde for around 121 days every 13.1 months.
SATURN appears to be retrograde for around 138 days every 12.4 months.
URANUS appears to be retrograde for around 151 days every 12.15 months.
NEPTUNE appears to be retrograde for around 158 days every 12.07 months.
PLUTO appears to be retrograde for around 150 days every 12.3 months.
Transits are a means of interpreting the ongoing movement of the planetary bodies as they relate to the natal chart. A planet can transit a natal planet by any aspect and are a way to forecast trends and personal development. Interpreting a transit involves blending the keywords for the transiting planet by sign and house with the transited planet or point in the chart by sign and house.
One of the most important ways of looking at transits is to look at planetary returns. This means the planet returns to the same point it was at in the natal chart, and this usually only happens for the planets up to Uranus, since Neptune has a 164-year cycle and Pluto has a 248-year cycle.
Lunar returns occur around every 28 days and solar returns occur every 365 days. A return chart can be cast for any planetary return and signifies the person’s development and focus for the next cycle of that planet.
The most commonly used return chart is the Solar Return chart. This is cast for the moment the Sun returns to the degree and minute it was at in the natal chart. Astrologers differ as to whether to use the natal place of birth or the current location; I prefer to use the natal. The Solar Return chart is read like the natal chart but is focused only on the coming year. The chart, therefore, is an indicator of what your next solar year will bring and where your focus will be.
One of the best-known returns is the Saturn return, which occurs around the ages of 29, 58, and 87 and indicates major periods of maturation or stages of life.
Now that we have taken a closer look and have added depth to chart analysis, we’ll move on to look at your calling, to give you an idea of what careers are a good fit for each sign of the zodiac.