When we do the Life Purpose Chart we identify the areas in your life that your Soul is wanting to focus on. These are called the Nodes. To illustrate exactly how the Nodes work in the chart, this story about Cinderella spells it out. Why do we keep running away from where we want to be and returning to the comfort of the familiar?
The Nodes in the Chart: Cinderella and Why She Runs Away from the Ball
In the Grimms’ story, Cinderella (or “Ashputtle”) actually goes to three Balls, in a week-long celebration for the prince. Each night she dashes away, not because a clock strikes twelve or a fairy godmother tells her to; she just wants to go home. How curious is this?! The girl who’s always been left behind is now escorted to three A-list parties, wearing three priceless designer gowns (gifts from the magic bird above her mother’s grave). She dances all night with an adoring prince, who’s also the handsomest, most eligible guy in the kingdom. She’s the envy of every woman there-and yet at the appointed time, she goes home?! Why is this?
Keep in mind that “home” for Cinderella means a tattered dress, a mountain of chores, a bed in the kitchen ash pit, with a wicked stepmother and two spoiled stepsisters who berate her endlessly. Running home just doesn’t make sense. So why does she do it?
Enter the South Node, (a point in your astrology chart). Directly opposite the North Node, the South Node represents the “familar” in us that keeps pulling us back. It’s a comfort zone, describing attitudes and talents which, for good or ill, are comfortable. Astrologers often say that South Node energies were developed in a prior life. At the least, they’re usually evident in childhood, their expression somehow supported by our early environment. When we’re in the South Node, we kinda know who we are. This is the home for our instinctive behaviors and beliefs that are familiar and safe, though not always positive. The South Node’s influence is like Cinderella’s two sisters and the stepmother combined! Together they represent her seed capsule-the gifts and limitations Cinderella must break through on the way to reaching her full potential. If she stays in her South Node womb, this precious girl could be sweeping ashes for all eternity.
Now enter the North Node! The North Node indicates where the Soul is choosing to move toward. It demands we evolve. Sometimes it whispers, sometime it shouts, but always it points us toward growth.
Dutiful Cinderella braves ridicule by admitting she’d like to go to the ball. “You? Are you kidding? You’ve got nothing to wear and don’t know how to dance. We’d be ashamed if you came.” says her stepmother. The girl goes sobbing to her ash pit, but the next day asks again. “Please, can I go to the ball with my stepsisters?” The North Node fills us with a temporary audacity-daring us to stretch beyond our customary role. Here we listen to an authority that’s higher than family or cultural conditioning, deeper even than personality; lacking a more precise term, I call it “soul.” The Nodes are the trajectory of the soul’s arrow. The South Node is the bow shooting us into this life; the North is the target our soul hopes we will reach. However difficult or unrealistic this target, we are assured that if we get there, we’ll enjoy unprecedented success, more meaningful than any South Node accomplishment.
Let’s say you were Shakespeare in a prior life. Maybe you astonish your parents with a precocious vocabulary or even write dozens of plays at five years old. You get plenty validation for your clever rhymes, but over the years an inner voice whispers, “Wouldn’t you rather try something else?” And “that” will be whatever it was Shakespeare neglected, what he didn’t have the time or the courage to try. Between eighteen and nineteen, at your first Node Return, you may stand at a crossroads. You could keep doing what comes naturally or dare to walk that different path. The soul seeks wholeness. At the North Node you’re meant to expand your range and achieve new understanding and competence. If you entered life as an adventurous narcissist, the greater adventure could be falling in love and starting a family. If you were a monk in a prior life, the noise of the marketplace and the thrill of competition might be calling you now.
At the North Node there’s often a crazy dream that doesn’t disappear. No matter how often it’s buried, it rises again. North Node aspirations aren’t always at the top of our minds, but they keep recurring.
Given the depth of North Node yearnings, we might expect them to be more easily achieved. Yet how does it feel to do something entirely new-something with which you’ve got no experience and even less confidence? No matter how deep your desire, going in this direction will still feel uncomfortable. Like a cartoon character walking out a fourth story window and suddenly realizing he’s walking on air, we often panic in our North Nodes, even when we’re enjoying success. Like Cinderella, we’re itching to get away from the ball.
Imagine that life is a college and when you registered, you decided to get a PhD in mathematics. That’s the North Node. But you don’t enrol in any math classes. Instead you keep taking classes in dance, poetry, music and art. That’s the South Node. It’s the astrologer’s job to remind you where the math class is. This is especially true whenever life loses its lustre and begins to feel pointless. Moving in the direction of the North Node can get you back on track. Nothing restores purpose and enthusiasm quite as magically as the North Node.
If the glass slipper fits, wear it!
Three times Cinderella leaves her South Node home for her North Node dance and then goes home again. “Three” is a magic number which, loosely translated into psychological terms, means “doing something long enough to finally get it.” But it isn’t Cinderella who “gets it.” It’s the prince. If the prince hadn’t gone looking for Cinderella, she might still be cooking, washing dishes, and sleeping in the ashes. But by the third dance, the prince has wised up. Figuring that Cinderella will again run away, he lines the staircase with a sticky substance. That night she flees, but her glass slipper sticks to the staircase. Now all the prince needs to do is find the foot that fits it.
When you’re having trouble achieving your North Node, you need to rouse your inner Prince, and you need to leave behind a shoe. The prince is the son of wealthy king and he’s certain that Cinderella is the one he wants to marry. He’s the part of us that’s focused, determined, has powerful resources, and believes in our creative gifts. His desire to marry is a desire to become whole, in a sacred marriage of active and receptive qualities. He sees us, not through the eyes of our limitations, but the way our fairy godmother would have us look, as the radiant vision of potential fulfilled. But he needs a shoe. (Note how wonderful this prince is, an animal lover too!)
The glass slipper is evidence that we really are the beautiful person we mostly hope to become. It is how we convince ourselves that the North Node dream is a risk worth taking. Before we can slip our foot into the shoe, however, we must first enter our South Node hiding place and identify its dysfunctional dynamics. In many versions of the tale, the prince sends his servants to scour the land. In the Grimms’ tale, the prince hands the shoe directly to Cinderella’s father, who takes it straight to his overjoyed stepdaughters. The first sister cuts off a toe to fit into the shoe; the second cuts off a heel. The prince rides off with each, until the blood and a pair of singing turtledoves reveal them for the frauds they are.
Why does Cinderella’s father betray his daughter, giving the shoe to his stepdaughters first? A good way to understand fairy tale symbolism is to read all characters as reflections of a single psyche. The father represents the subconscious authority of past life and family conditioning. He’s the dominant and largely unquestioned mindset that routinely sabotages us before the sacred marriage makes us whole. A student once asked the Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche what is it that’s reborn when we reincarnate from one life to another. “Well I hate to tell you this,” he replied, “but it’s mostly your bad habits.” The bad habits in our South Node, like the stepsisters, must be “outted,” before we can claim our true happiness.
Astrology can help us identify possible self-limiting beliefs in any South Node placement, but nothing nails them better than an individual’s history, which is where a good astrological consultant comes in.
Knowing your life path moves you from victim to victor!
Fairy tales can come trueAfter the stepdaughters are unmasked, the prince asks the father if he has another daughter. “Only a puny kitchen drudge that my dead wife left me. She couldn’t possibly be the bride,” he replies. Even with awareness, we may be reluctant to let go of our false expectations. How could we be someone important? But there, in front of an audience, we slip our same old ash-covered foot into this fabulous slipper-which means that who we are has been enough all along. We bring our South Node talents to a new venue, where they can shine with new creativity.
Recognizing Cinderella as his beautiful dance partner, the prince cries, “This is my true bride!” We need our moment of recognition. Sometimes this moment is indeed our North Node dream coming true. But just as often, that dream has been a motivator, the carrot on the stick to draw us forward, while the real achievement is something we’d taken for granted or never consciously sought. Our North Node recognition can be the discovery that we’ve done well in something we never expected.
Happily, we never stop growing. This means we’ll get many North Node recognitions in a lifetime. There’s never just one.
The Nodes by Dana Gerhardt
(Found at: http://www.astro.com/astrology/in_dg_node_e.htm)
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