The Moon’s nodes are highly significant and potent, of that there is no doubt.
Delving into the past and the mythology of the nodes brings depth, richness and insight into their complex and mysterious role in our lives individually and collectively – the origins of, and why the ancients believed they were a celestial dragon!
The Traditional, Modern and Vedic Interpretations of the Moon’s Nodes
In traditional astrology, the Moon’s nodes are called Caput Draconis – “Dragon’s Head” and Cauda Draconis – “Dragon’s Tail” – Traditionally the Dragon’s Head, the north node was seen as benefic (good) and associated with Venus and Jupiter, and the Dragon’s Tail, the south node as malefic (bad) and associated with Mars and Saturn.
These days, in modern western astrology the nodes are viewed and interpreted as karmic, in essence, the south node relates to past lives and the north node is the path to the future. However, this perspective is relatively recent.
In 1936 The Astrology of Personality” by Dane Rudyhar was published, within which Rudyhar put forward his ideas on the nodal axis. The north node is “the work to be done, the new accomplishment” the south node is “the well known, the routine performance.” It’s easy to glimpse, how this could be influential to the current western approach. Many distinguished authors, such as Charles Carter, Margaret Hone, even Stephen Arroyo who wrote Astrology, Karma and Transformation, have either not mentioned the nodes or glossed over them.
In Vedic astrology, the nodes are also seen as a celestial Dragon. Rahu is the head of the Dragon – the north node, Ketu is the body and tail of the Dragon – the south node. In vedic astrology both Rahu and Ketu are malefic, and the whole chart is seen as karmic, not just the nodes.
What ancient wisdom do Dragon’s convey?
What exactly are the Moon’s Nodes?
The nodes are not a planet, nor are they even visible, they are the point where the motion of the Moon intersects the ecliptic – the apparent path of the Sun. The Moon journeys the entire zodiac in 27 and a half days, and crosses the ecliptic twice, once to the north, once to the south. These two points, the north node and the south node, are directly opposite each other by sign and house and are known as the Moon’s nodes.
The two luminaries, the Sun and the Moon are the most visible celestial bodies in the sky. Both are vital and essential to life, and our survival on Earth. They are inextricably linked, their rythmic passage around the zodiac and relationship to the Earth is displayed in the lunation cycle – of new Moon, full Moon and round the zodiac to the next new Moon which takes roughly 29 and a half days.
The Moon’s Nodes and Eclipses!
Of supreme importance is the Moon’s nodes presence and involvement in eclipses, they calculate and dictate where eclipses take place. An eclipse occurs on what would already be a new or full Moon, but if both the Sun and Moon are conjunct the nodes a solar eclipse takes place and if the Moon is conjunct the nodes a lunar eclipse takes place.
At a solar eclipse the Moon passes in front of the Sun, cutting off the Sun and all illumination, everything goes dark. At a lunar eclipse the Earth blocks the light of the Sun from reaching the Moon, leaving it dark and veiled. Eclipses obstruct the energies of either the Sun or the Moon. The essence of this, the message, is that the nodes are aligned with or signify a universal, cosmic force more powerful than the Sun or Moon who provide life for all on Earth.
Nowadays although we know what is occuring during eclipses, it doesn’t diminish our awe at experiencing one. Everyday concerns fade on being exposed to the mysterious force and power of nature that an eclipse demonstrates. I think we can only touch on, imagining, the terror and bewilderment the ancients experienced witnessing the Sun disappear in the middle of the day, submerged in darkness, a chill in the air, birds silent, animals behaving peculiarly as day unexpectedly becomes a strange, irregular night.
In ancient times it was believed a huge dragon lived in the sky, who would either eat or hide the Sun and Moon, and this was the cause of eclipses. The origins of this, like western astrology, may lie in Mesopotamia which encompassed Babylon. The Enuma Anu Enhil, a collection of clay tablets, is the earliest astrological document to be discovered and depict Babylonian celestial records and omens including eclipses. Although the tablets themselves are dated from around 650 BCE, some of the omens date back to around 1646 BCE.
Tiamat the Dragon
The Enuma Elish consists of 7 clay tablets that records the Babylonian creation story. This epic stars the Dragon Tiamat, and Marduk, known to us as Jupiter. The tale begins with absolutely nothing existing, apart from Tiamat, a primordial goddess of salt water, and her lover Apsu, god of fresh water. Together Tiamat and Apsu create other gods, their children.
In time, the new generation of gods began causing strife, and eventually murder Apsu. At which point, the previously loving and caring Tiamat becomes violent, seeks revenge, instigating her transformation into a Dragon. Tiamat makes an army of monsters and prepares to go into battle. Tiamat also held The Tablet of Destinies, a tablet of wisdom and power, used to divine the past, present and future – whoever possesed the tablet controlled the universe. Tiamat bestows the Tablet to Kingu, her son, and gives him command of her army. Marduk agrees to defend the gods and battle Tiamat, on the condition that, if he won, he would be crowned supreme god.
Marduk defeats and kills Tiamat, and claims the Tablet of Destinies. Marduk splits Tiamat’s remains in half, from one he makes the sky, from the other the earth. In the sky, Marduk makes the planets -to be resemblances of the gods, stars creating the constellations, and from them establishes the calender – the days of the year.
Tiamat is the mother of all that exists, she is pure, creative power, she is also chaos.
Constellation Draco, the Dragon
Tiamat has been referred to as relating to this constellation, what is also noteable is the connection to the Moon’s Nodes.
“The early astrologers called Draco “The Poisonous Dragon” The constellation is especially hurtful to mineral resources and presages the pollution of rivers and the air. The Moon’s Nodes are named after this constellation. The Dragon’s Head (North Node) and the Dragon’s Tail (South Node) refer to the Moon’s undulating course symbolised by the twisting of the Dragon about the North Pole”
Fixed Stars and Judicial Astrology ~ George Noonan ~ page 9
Lying in the constellation Draco, is the star Thuban, also known as the Dragon’s Tail, Thuban is Arabic for Dragon. Thuban was of great significance to the ancients as it was the pole star between 4000-2000BCE.
The Saros Cycle
Over time, the Babylonians learned how to accurately predict the timing of eclipses and recognised that they occured in series, which today is known as the Saros Cycle. It is incredible, absolutely astonishing, how the Babylonians discovered and verified so much knowledge, without calculators, telescopes – anything!
Although it is hard to be sure, it is very possible they also knew of the Moon’s Nodes, and the affinity between Dragon’s and the Moon’s nodes, stemmed from the Babylonian creation myth. Tiamat is the source, the origin of everything – the entire cosmos. Tiamat is a goddess of creation and chaos, a force that could, be thought of, as corresponding with eclipses and their consequences.
The Library of Alexandria
Around 331 BCE the City of Alexandria, in Egypt, was founded by Alexander the Great. Of huge significance to the development of astrology, was the Library of Alexandria, home to important documents and texts from throughout the known world. It is here that Greek, Babylonian and Egyptian astral lore merged and united. The astrology we currently use, the meanings of the planets, signs and aspects were established during this time.
The astrology of Persia and India were also part of this amalgamation and transference of knowledge.
Vedic Astrology ~ Rahu and Ketu
In Vedic astrology the nodes are viewed as a vast celestial Dragon, explained in a mythological tale. Rahu is the north node, the Dragon’s head and Ketu is the south node, the tail of the Dragon.
The story of the creation of Rahu and Ketu begins with amirita, the magical nectar that granted immortality to the gods and their enemies, the demons, becoming scarce. Amrita could be found deep within the Cosmic Ocean, but to obtain it the gods and demons had to work together. They used the world mountain to churn the Cosmic Ocean, eventually the amirita appeared.
Vishnu, the preserver and protector of the cosmos, took the form of a beautiful woman called Mohini, who called on the gods and demons to each form a line to recieve the amrita. A dragon like demon, called Svarbhanu, disguised himself and slipped into the line of the gods, between the Sun god, Surya, and the Moon god, Chandra. The Sun and Moon cried out, but Svarbhanu had already sipped some amrita. Mohini vanished as soon as she reached the end of the line of the gods, denying all the demons immortality, except Svarbhanu.
Vishnu sliced the demon in half, but as Svarbhanu had already tasted the amirita he could not die, instead becoming two beings Rahu, a Dragon’s head and Ketu, a Dragon’s tail. Of course Rahu and Ketu were both angry with the Sun and Moon, and seeking revenge, eternally chases them through the heavens, occasionally swallowing them.
In Vedic astrology Rahu and Ketu are called “shadowy planets” and given the status of planets, as they have the power to subdue the Sun and Moon. Both Rahu and Ketu are considered malefic.
Rahu is concerned with the material world, and represents cravings and desires for worldly success. These compulsions can overwhelm our essential self. Rahu can bring material wealth and power, but very little happiness or contentment with these gains, due to Rahu being greedy and insatiable in his hungererings. Rahu is only a head, he never becomes full.
Ketu is concerned with the spiritual world. Ketu is the body and tail, he doesn’t have a head – no direction of his own. Ketu is about the unconscious, the otherworldly. Ketu, being the body is able to contain mental disturbances, compulsions, bring illness through mysterious ailments.
But, Ketu can also increase our desire for introspection and spiritual growth, in this way our fears and hang-ups can be transformed, released through the tail, leading to greater wisdom and enlightenment.