The Nodes of the Moon are points in space where the orbit of the Moon around the Earth crosses the apparent path of the Sun (the ecliptic) in its annual journey around the Earth in the geocentric model of the solar system used by astrologers. Because the lunar nodes mark points in the sky near which solar and lunar eclipses occur, they have been given special significance in astrology. In the Jyotish of India the Moon’s nodes (Rahu and Ketu, the North and South Nodes respectively) are regarded as shadow planets with a malefic nature, and there is an elaborate mythology that correlates with this view of the lunar nodes.
For centuries astrologers have used the “mean” or average position of the lunar nodes, which are calculated average positions of the nodes which travel “backward” or Retrograde around the zodiac circle at a rate of about one 360-degree cycle every 18.6 years. With increasingly precise telescopes computers and observations in modern times, scientists are now able to calculate the exact position of the lunar nodes at a given moment. These are called the “true” lunar nodes and, unlike the “mean” nodes which on average always move Rx in the zodiac, the true nodes periodically become stationary and briefly travel direct before resuming their Retrograde motion.
In 2019 I was invited to do a presentation about Solar Returns at a conference in Donostia, Spain. In preparing for the talk, I examined about 50 solar returns of famous individuals who had major life events occur during that solar return year. I was struck that the vast majority of the solar returns in my sample had the lunar nodes stationary or moving very slowly during years in which life-altering or dramatic changes occurred.
Upon further investigation, I learned that this phenomenon of the very slow or stationary movement of the Moon’s true nodes has been observed by other astrologers, especially those who practice Jyotish. For example, in a newsletter by David Hawthorne who writes about the “systems approach to Vedic astrology” I found the following forecast, which I have paraphrased and converted to the tropical zodiac for Western astrologers:
According to Hawthorne, in the year 2021, Rahu and Ketu [the Moon’s north and south nodes, respectively] are stationary within a 7-degree range from October 19th until January 2nd of 2022. (The Lunar Nodes will be traveling slowly back and forth through the 2nd degree of Gemini/Sagittarius, and their influence will be felt within an orb of about 3 degrees before and after that 2nd degree of Gemini/Sagittarius in the tropical zodiac.) Whenever Rahu and Ketu are slow-moving for a prolonged period of time, they can cause serious issues worldwide. This transit may also be challenging for persons, companies and countries whose natal charts have a rising sign or planet(s) in, or very close to, the same degrees as these slow-moving transiting lunar nodes.
Just how fast do the lunar nodes travel? Their cycle is 360 degrees around the zodiac about every 18.6 years. More precisely, Wikipedia tells us: “Because the orbital plane of the Moon precesses in space, the lunar nodes also precess around the ecliptic, completing one revolution (called a draconic or nodal period) in 18.612958 years (6,798.383 days).”
If we divide 360 degrees by 18.61 years, we find that the nodes travel on average 19.34 degrees per year, which is equivalent to 1.6 degrees per month, or to 0.053 degrees per day. Let’s look at the Swiss ephemeris from astro.com for December of 2021 to see how much the true lunar node is moving:
At the beginning of December 2021, the true lunar node is at 01 Gemini 43 in the tropical zodiac. During the month this becomes stationary and changes direction several times, so that at the end of the month Rahu lies at 01 Gemini 13 and have moved only 30 minutes of arc in the course of one month. The average rate of motion of the lunar nodes is about 1.6 degrees (96 minutes of arc) per month. The nodes have moved only about one-third of their average distance and are considered to be in slow motion, which symbolically is a warning of problems or unexpected changes for those affected by the nodes in their birth charts. If we view the lunar nodes as a dragon that devours the Sun and the Moon, we would of course be concerned if that dragon paused and dawdled on a planet or important point in our nativity.
The implication for December of 2021 is that anyone with a natal position within a few degrees of the 2nd degree of Gemini (tropical zodiac) may experience this month as particularly difficult, challenging, and marked by changes that take you by surprise, sometimes in unpleasant ways, as the Head and Tail of the Dragon toy with planets and points in your birth chart.