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The Lunar Nodes & Moon’s Orbit

By Mark Lerner


The lunar nodes are two places in the zodiac where the Moon’s orbit around the Earth intersects with the Earth’s ecliptic or orbit around the Sun. They have been utilized by astrologers for centuries and show up in the birth chart as horseshoe-looking figures.

In medieval times, the Moon’s nodes were called the Dragon’s Head and Dragon’s Tail. This goes back thousands of years to the awe, wonder and fear engendered by eclipses. It turns out that we can only have Solar and Lunar Eclipses (where either the Sun or Moon is blocked out) when the lunar nodes are within a certain number of zodiacal degrees of the solar-lunar placements in the sky. There are specific rules for this, and a vast science and art has evolved concerning types of eclipses, their origin, history and meaning.


A long time ago, people imagined great celestial dragons devouring the Sun or Moon – in particular during a Total Solar or Lunar Eclipse – and this created much fear that life as we know it on Planet Earth might be destroyed. Of course, the “devouring” of Sun or Moon was only temporary – for a few moments during the precise time of the eclipse. Nevertheless, many modern astrologers believe that the lunar nodes connect strongly with fate and destiny, karma and dharma, past and future.

One of the more unusual properties of the lunar nodes is that they move in reverse – retrograde – through our zodiac. This is fascinating as one of the meanings for the Moon itself is the past, memories, what’s happened historically. It takes approximately 18+ years for the lunar nodes and therefore the Moon’s orbit to slide backward throughout our entire zodiac.

The zodiacal placements and house positions of the lunar nodal axis in each individual’s birth chart are important. And professional astrologers spend much time interpreting them for their clients. In addition, the aspects or mathematical relationships of celestial bodies to the Moon’s nodes in a birth chart are considered crucial to decipher and explore. To some astrologers, the north node (usually appearing as an upright horseshoe) carries a positive, optimistic, Jupiterian note – suggesting a sign and house quality a person should emphasize throughout life. The south node (usually appearing as a down-turned horseshoe) carries a negative, uncertain, Saturnian note – suggesting a sign and house quality a person should not emphasize, probably because of overuse and expression in past lives. This is just one of many theories regarding the lunar nodes, and this entire field – like everything else in astrology – should be studied in depth. I do not believe the north node should be considered “good” while the south node should be deemed “bad.” I think this is a superficial understanding of what the lunar nodes represent.

From March 2020 to January 1, 2021, the transiting lunar nodes in the sky are focused between 4 degrees of Cancer and 20 degrees of Gemini (north) and 4 degrees of Capricorn and 20 degrees of Sagittarius (south). On May 4, 2020 the True Nodes* shift from Cancer-Capricorn to Gemini-Sagittarius while on June 4, 2020 the Mean Nodes* make that same shift.

From March 2020 to January 1, 2021, the Lunar nodal axis is returning for everyone born during the following time-periods:

March 1927 – October 1927
October 1945  - July 1946
April 1964 – March 1965
January 1983 – October 1983
August 2001 – May 2002

This March 2020 to January 1, 2021 time-cycle provides a golden opportunity for all these individuals – born during the dates above – to turn over a new leaf, make a new start in life that can last for the next 18+ years.

*Closing Note about True and Mean Nodes: There is actually a “True” node placement and a “Mean” node placement, and they are always extremely close together. The Mean nodes are the average position of the nodes and they move backward in the zodiac at a pace of almost exactly 3 minutes of arc per day. The True nodes are on one level more precise, but sometimes they will actually move forward a little, not move at all, and then start moving backward. For centuries only the Mean nodes were used and calculated in astrological ephemerides (books that have the day-to-day zodiacal positions of the Sun, Moon and planets). However, in the second half of the 1970s, astrological researcher Robert Hand introduced the concept of the True nodes and most ephemeride creators jumped to add those placements to their books. In the meantime, after a long period of experimentation, Robert Hand concluded that perhaps the Mean node placements were more accurate and responsive for interpretation usage. This paragraph is shared because the ephemerides now in circulation will usually have both the True and Mean placements of the lunar nodes, and I am hoping to spare you some confusion.

© 2020 by Mark Lerner and Great Bear Enterprises, Ltd. All rights reserved.

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