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Dragon's Head and Dragon's Tail


The Nodes of the Moon are in focus during the coming weeks, especially throughout August

The Nodal Axis is sometimes called the 'Axis of Destiny'. Visualize this if you will...the two points in space where the Moon's orbit around the Earth intersects with the Earth's pathway around the Sun. These points are called the Nodes. On a horoscope, they form an axis joining two opposite but complementary zodiac signs. For the soul's journey, the symbolism is poignant: the Sun and Moon represent our primary opposites of day and night, yang and yin, light and dark, as seen from the Earth where we live.

The cosmic Father Sun and Mother Moon unite in the Divine Child incarnate, and thus the Nodes also represent where the opposites within us will demand balance, integration and fruition. Significantly, eclipses occur only along this axis, happening twice each year when the Sun, Moon and Earth are in precise alignment. Endings and beginnings are evoked as energies balance and rebalance.

The metaphor of alignment also describes the personal process of the Nodal Axis. When it is emphasised, as now, we are pulled into our own centre and to the extent that we have been out of balance, we may feel 'unbalanced' as a re-orientation occurs. Also, there is reciprocity between the two ends: the North Node symbolizes the application of will and effort to our intentions for the future, and the South Node represents our relationship with the past, where we must release or transform what is no longer useful, as it will otherwise become toxic. Here the image of the dragon is eloquent, biting and devouring with its mouth, and eliminating at the tail. Equally, the North Node symbolizes the density of Doing, enterprise and endeavour in our involvement with the form aspect of life, while the South encourages renunciation and immersion in Being as our attachment to form and structure is released.

There be dragons ...

Dragons feature in the myths and fables of many diverse cultures, often personifying a great concentration of elemental forces. They may be seen guarding treasure, warding off the innocent with fiery breath, or bringing good fortune on the wind. Indeed, the North Node is currently in the airy sign of Gemini, and the South in fiery Sagittarius. This is a sobering reminder of the soul work we are being asked to do ..... namely to apply careful thought (Gemini) to the wider implications of our beliefs (Sagittarius). The fires of fundamentalism and literalism (Sagittarius) need addressing within all of us, through dialogue, thoughtful self-enquiry and personal communication, and the formulation of new concepts (Gemini) in order to regenerate our ethical and metaphysical basis (Sagittarius).

There may be uncomfortable choices to be made during this realignment. In Vedic astrology, the Nodes are called Rahu and Ketu, symbolized by the serpent Vasuki. He churned the cosmic ocean while the gods searched for Amrita, the nectar of immortality which was needed to help them defeat the demons in the great war for control of the universe. Searching for wisdom also means dealing with the poisons released by the churning ocean of our inner emotions.1 The Nodal Axis is also said to represent the spinal pathway along which the serpent power of the Kundalini energy rises, having been awakened in the root chakra below. These months really favour healing methods which assist the subtle energies to find and consolidate a new balance. To make the most of this opportunity, learn to 'read the signals' from your own energy system, and/or arrange some sessions with a healing practitioner.2 Purification and refinement are worthy aspirations at this time as the serpent churns and coils.

A new perspective may dawn which alters our life radically from within

Pluto, Lord of Transformation, has been in Sagittarius since early 1995, and this period has seen the destruction or desecration of many objects of devotion and religious symbols. As I write, the chapel in Bethlehem is still under siege, and the hymn 'Away in a manger' runs maddeningly through my mind, as if sung by a huddle of shocked and confused children. Whatever happened to the 'Promised Land', and where is Baby Jesus? A cartoonist quipped 'Even one wise man would do'. Massive riots in India erupt over a plot of sacred ground, claimed by both Hindus and Moslems. In Afghanistan, the immense stone Buddhas at Bamian stand pockmarked by bullet holes like tears splattering sadly into the parched desert below...while now earthquakes rip the land apart. In New York the Twin Towers, altars to economic ambition and scientific materialism, were razed to Ground Zero. Echoes of this event occur in Milan. In Ireland the sexual abuse of young people by priests is under scrutiny, while Belfast blazes again. There be dragons indeed, perhaps insisting that we find the sacred within our own hearts rather than worshipping its symbols in word or stone.

Links, liaisons and associations

Just as the Nodal Axis bears the symbolism of Sun and Moon, male and female, so it also sheds light on the key relationships in our life, with both people and groups. Awareness flows into these areas, causing changes as we see more clearly the energy balance between ourselves and 'the other'. Struggling to 'make things work' can be released into a deeper acceptance and understanding of simply 'what is'. The impossible can happen, or the possible may lack the staying power to go further. The Unknown beckons as we follow the imperative of soul. The momentum towards our own future may require adjustments and separations as we are realigned and repositioned within ourselves.

Heads or Tails?

The display of visible planets in early May3 heralded Saturn's exact contact with the North Node, which occurred June 5th-6th. Soon Pluto will conjunct the South Node, on August 2nd and 21st.4 With Saturn at the Dragon's Head, where the application of effort and consciousness is invited, we find the following symbol:

A large archaic volume reveals a traditional wisdom

Dane Rudhyar describes this as 'Contacting the all-human planetary Mind underlying any cultural and personal mentality'.5 He speaks of a tradition which holds that all cyclic manifestations of the human mind have a primordial revelatory Source. The Seed-ideas‚ inherent within these deeper strata in turn produce various cultural forms which wax and wane over time. During the breakdown of cultural and social structures, we can all contribute to renewal by making the effort to plumb our inner depths to nourish the seed-ideas within, and to resist getting swallowed en route by the dragons of the past with their inertia, negativity and stasis.

The edifice has collapsed, and the work to consolidate emerging forms begins in earnest

With Pluto at the Dragon's Tail, the opportunity offered is to go deep enough within to reach the well of Pure Mind to re-source ourselves, allowing new meaning and inspiration to emerge. The work required is to release ourselves from attachment to the decaying forms of our own past, our investment in destructive patterns of behaviour, the lure of collective negativity and media addiction. Premature action creates more conflict at this time, as the constricting quality of the Saturn-Pluto opposition is still resonating, with the message 'Don't just do something, sit there!' In other words, hesitant action without awareness creates more problems than it solves, while focused awareness may dissolve by itself what appears like an intractable problem. A new perspective may dawn which alters our life radically from within, which in turn may open the way for inspired, timely and appropriate action. We cannot 'walk our talk' until our internal chatter gives way to hearing the silent words of inner guidance.

Turning points

Pluto turns direction on August 26th, then Saturn does similar on October 11th. The pressure, density and confrontational quality of the last period will begin slowly to release as the energy turns from the destruction of the old to the creation of the new. The edifice has collapsed, and the work to consolidate emerging forms begins in earnest. Now there is momentum. In Spring 2003, Saturn and Pluto will for the final time be nearly in exact opposition, and only after that time will this pattern fully disperse, having dominated the planetary 'weather' since Spring 2001. Whatever happens globally, there are choices to be made in terms of individual allegiances...we know that reinforcing past negativity will create more of the same for the future. The narrow suspension bridge over the chasm that divides the conflicting opposites within and without demands that we walk slowly, surely, and mindfully, for in that space is the very freedom of consciousness that will lead us through. ++


  1. See The Essentials of Vedic Astrology by Komilla Sutton, Wessex Astrologer, 1999, pp 52-73.

  2. See Why People Don't Heal and How They Can by Carolyn Myss. Bantam, 1998.

  3. See my article White Dove Flies Over Troubled Waters in Caduceus Issue 55.

  4. The movement of the Nodes is usually averaged out and its positions referred to as the 'Mean Nodes'. Pluto contacts the Mean Node on August 2nd, then the True Node on August 21st, which is the more astronomically accurate statement. However, the entire period from June to October is coloured by the dual energies of Saturn and Pluto as described, although the week prior to each date mentioned is a most auspicious time for contemplation of the themes discussed above, as their energy is very concentrated.

  5. An Astrological Mandala by Dane Rudhyar, Vintage Books, Random House Inc, New York, 1974, p102.

(Caduceus Issue 56 - Summer 2002)

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