A friend recently asked for my thoughts on the exaltation and fall of the Moon’s Nodes. He had come across references where the North Node is exalted in Sagittarius and the South Node in Gemini, contrary to traditional practice.
Many traditional astrologers ignore the nodes exaltation in the tables of dignities. They argue that as the nodes are not bodies but merely markers along the ecliptic it is absurd to give them a sign where they are exalted and conversely in fall. If one used the same logic there would also have to be a sign where they are in domicile and in detriment, as the planets are.
But how did the exaltation point for the North Node in Gemini and the South Node in Sagittarius come to be in the tables in the first place? What is the logic behind them being exalted just there and no where else?
We know that the Nodes play an important role in the eclipses of Sun and Moon. An eclipse can only take place when a Full or New Moon is near the Nodes. So the last New Moon was close enough to the nodes for a solar eclipse to occur, and the coming Full Moon is close enough for a lunar eclipse. You can generally rely on there being an eclipse of the Sun or Moon respectively to occur within two weeks of one another. Now the nodes can be considered as shadowing an eclipse. Imaginatively as the Dragon who shadows the Sun or Moon in order to devour them. The nodes mark where the path of the Moon crosses the ecliptic. North Node for the ascending Moon, South Node for the descending Moon. There are four other very important points on the ecliptic. These are the equinox points at 0 Aries and 0 Libra and the solstice points at 0 Cancer and 0 Capricorn. They remain constant as opposed to the nodal points which have a cycle of roughly 18 and 3/4 years to return to their original position.
The axis of the solstice at Cancer/Capricorn also forms the axis around which another set of ‘shadowy’ points are generated. These are the antisica. Any position in Cancer/Capricorn has its antisicion in Gemini/Sagittarius (just as any position at Aries/Libra has its antiscion at Virgo/Pisces). This corresponds to the traditional North Node/ South Node exaltation position.
If we consider that the Moon has her domicile in Cancer and the Sun his exaltation in Aries then it is not very difficult to see why the North Node, the node of increase, has its exaltation in Gemini, where the antiscia of a Cancer Moon are located. And conversely the descending node, the one of decrease, must have its exaltation at the corresponding antiscia of the Moon’s detriment.
Virgo, the second domicile of Mercury is where the exaltation points of the Sun have their antiscia, and would point, if one were searching for a domicile for the North Node, to Virgo.
This is not at all surprising if you consider how closely Mercury is bound with Dragon or Serpent imagry. In alchemical practice there are two Mercuries, one has wings the other is wingless. The first is found in Gemini, an air sign. The second is found in Virgo, an earth sign. And their tails are in Sagittarius and Pisces. One marks the dry path the other the wet.
Looked at in this way, it might be worthwhile to pay attention whether the nodes are in the mutable signs, for there they might prove stronger than elsewhere in a chart.
Excellent post, Thomas. I had hoped you would turn our e-mail discussion into an article but hadn’t had time to properly reply. See? Telepathy really works! 😉
I would like to add that in almost every instance where an Indian astrological source affirms the exaltation of Rahu in Gemini and Ketu in Sagittarius, it lists Ketu as the regent of Virgo, Rahu as the regent of Pisces; U.C. Mahajan, a Hindu astrologer who affirms the validity of the Tropical Zodiac, maintains that Rahu is exalted in Gemini (and Virgo) but domiciled in Pisces, while Ketu is exalted in Sagittarius (and Pisces) and domiciled in Virgo. There is a certain elegance in this, whether or not one finds it convincing.
Someone recently asked me: why not take the antiscia of a domiciled Leo Sun (Taurus) or an exalted Taurus Moon (Leo)? One could do this (some Vedic texts appear to have done so) but the symbolic parallel between Mercury and the Dragon would be severed. They are inseparable.
‘Course it works! 😉
How does U.C. Mahajan validate the Tropical Zodiac? That interests me very much!
Yes Mercury and the Dragon are indeed inseperable (and for newer readers, this was discussed in the articles on “The Horoscope of the World”, to be found here at Altair Astrology, you can select them under the Categories heading)
“Zodiac is a Greek phrase, which actually means ‘Circle of Animals.’ That is why the ancient Hindus and Egyptians assigned names to the various signs of the Zodiac from the animal kingdom and agriculture … the ancient sages divided the year into spring, summer, autumn and winter and assigned to each season the constellation through which the Sun passed. They gave Aries (Ram) to the constellation after March 21 … On December 21, the Sun starts rising higher in the sky under the sign of the ibex (Goat) … ”
From Mahajan, a (Sanskrit) sloka:
Mars is Lord of Aries and Scorpio,
Venus of Libra and Taurus.
Mercury is Lord of Gemini and Virgo,
Saturn of Capricorn and Aquarius.
Jupiter is Lord of Sagittarius and Pisces,
the Moon of Cancer.
The Lion roars alone in the world,
it is the Sun’s Rashi Leo.
Ketu resides in Virgo,
Rahu dwells in Pisces.
Rahu ascends over the sky,
whose roots are in the nether-world.
Richard Saunders wrote that “Caput Draconis is of the nature of Jupiter and Venus … Both Masculine and Feminine” while “Cauda Draconis is of the nature of Saturn and Mars … Masculine.”
“Rahu refers to the goddess Saraswati and is the guide and friend of the downtrodden … Ketu is a far-sighted dog that leads people to the shrine of a sage. It is always at the beck and call of its master, Rahu. Rahu is the master and Ketu is its slave.”
Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge and the arts, like Hermes, the Dog-Headed.
Thank you for the quotations!
Well we do know that with Alexander Hellenistic astrology arrived in India and so there are certain to be cross-cultural connections.
It is a really interesting article dealing with a rather “neglected” discussion. At least I haven’t heard much discussion on this issue so I’m always happy to learn something new
This topic is not discussed very much, but I think worthwhile looking into closer. Thank you for visiting and for your comment. The latest article on the Nodes elaborates on another aspect. 🙂
Hello! In my natal chart, I have the South Node and Jupiter in Sagittarius… I’ve read through this blog entry and I have a few concerns. Please do not mind any apparent sharpness, my Saturn in Scorpio. I don’t understand why you wrote, “looked at in this way, it might be worthwhile to pay attention whether the nodes are in the mutable signs.” I don’t see that you provided any sort of foundation to that statement; and again, I don’t know why this would matter in delineation. Why, exactly, Mutable? Nor do I agree that “it is not difficult to see” that Nodes’ have their exaltation because of the antiscia of the exaltation of the luminaries. I know about these 4 points and like-engirdling already. I’m just looking for some authentic points. Actually, you never stated that these are your own observations…. are they? Also, going back to Ptolemy (Hellenistic) we see the Nodes have an exaltation, so I assume that you must be referring to the Babylonians in saying (that) traditionally the Nodes don’t have an exaltation..? I don’t necessarily agree that the Nodes have to have a domicile in order to have an exaltation, but this is an extremely interesting point which seems to be strong enough to throw away the idea of exalted Nodes! Now, the only signs that do not have an exaltation after the planets (so to speak) are Gemini, Sagittarius, Leo and Aquarius. Perhaps “the choice” came down to these signs? Also, and this is my best point — it is not even possible to have the Nodes in Fall, because when the SN is in Gemini and NN in Sagittarius, they are in mutual reception. Thank you for all you do, long live the wisdom of astrology.
And if the Nodes can be exalted, shouldn’t they have a joy, as well? It is meaningless speculation, perhaps, but I think the South Node in the 12th house is very effective. And certainly, it is powerful along the IC/MC axis !
No offence taken! A questioning approach is in fact much appreciated. I regularly reexamine ideas that I consider explained, to see if perhaps there is more than is on the surface. The who point of my argument is to examine how in the tradition the Nodes, which are not planets and are imaginary bodies, came to be listed in the tables of dignities. There must have been a reason, which seems to have been lost, or an explanation which I have as yet not come across. As for considering whether mutable signs might enhance the effectiveness of the nodes, I made a jump in reasoning. It seemed to me quite plain. Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces are mutable signs. These signs are the mirroring signs (antiscia) for the cardinal signs, Cancer, Aries, Capricorn and Libra where the Sun is in exaltation and fall and the Moon in domicile and detriment. Antiscia are shadow points of the planets. They also have the same unsubstantial qualities as the Nodes do. Please note, I use the word, ‘might’ and not ‘does’. A ‘might’ has first to be substantiated. My reasoning for a ‘might’ is given.
I don’t think the older authorities said, “Oh look, here is a gap in the table of dignities, let’s fill it”
What is interesting is that only an exaltation point is noted in the tables. The Nodes do not have a domicile nor is detriment or fall noted. The question that we have to ask is why is this so? And with it the question should exaltation for the nodes really be considered? If we answer no to the last question then we have to at least provide a reason for the first.
Thank you for clarifying the (well) proposed concept of mutable signs and the nodes. I actually never noticed before that the mutable signs were in fact the antiscia of the cardinal signs, although I certainly noticed the fixed signs only send antiscia to the fixed signs. This makes me think now about the Draconic chart, where the Nodal Axis is moved to 0* Aries. Nevertheless, I am sure that most of the material on the Nodes is found in Jyotish!
You may be wrong there! 🙂 The vedic and the western approach to the Nodes diverged at one point. So you are sure to find plenty of material but you may not be able to put it into a symbologically consistent context.
I know there are many who like to take an eclectic approach but I think this tends to confuse rather than clarify. You will note that there are a number of articles on the Nodes here at Altair Astrology. And most of them are based on a re-examination of the traditional sources, so there are I think, a number of new issues covered that you won’t find anywhere else.
But if you wish to pursue a vedic approach you might want to begin with Komilla Sutton’s book on the Nodes.
In Ancient Keltik stories it is said that Merlin – Myrddin – was born when the Nodes were in exaltation, that is: Nord Node in Gemini and South Node in Sagittarius, respectively: “Caput Dracònis” and “Cauda Dracònis” —
Is this just hear-say or can you quote a source?