Last week, I wrote a few articles about how astrologers use various techniques to track a person’s possible past life karma into and then back out of that person’s birth chart.
Astrologers are a wildly diverse bunch, and so there’s no consensus as to which indicators should be given the ultimate sway here. Depending on who you ask, you might find that people assess karma by analyzing Saturn, Twelfth House placements, retrograde Planets, intercepted Planets, Eighth House placements, and even the Asteroid Belt member called, fittingly enough, “Karma.”
The most commonly used method, though – and the one I’ve subscribed to as my own primary move in this particular arena – utilizes the Lunar Nodes as the chief indicators of a person’s karmic signature.
It’s possible to use the Nodes to understand both what the past life karma might be, and also how to go about processing it and clearing it for release so as to allow for some forward progress in this life. Without that release, past life karma can generate recurring patterns around us that hold us fast…and like great beasts caught in tar-pits, we then stick there, slowly drowning in our own stagnancy.
All of which makes this Node business sound like a pretty great methodology…but how do you go about actually doing it…?
I decided to post a sort of test run. Here we see a chart that we’ll use as our “How To” case study. It’s the chart of a real person, not something I made up.
Disclaimer 1: Nothing in a chart happens in a vacuum…so ideally, I’d be doing a full reading of this chart, and tying together everything it’s saying. I would never just run down a person’s Nodal set-up, and then try to pretend I’d given them the full scoop on what their entire chart is saying about them, and I don’t recommend that anyone else do that, either.
Disclaimer 2: I also always try to frame my own analytical work in the form of a dialogue with the chart holder, not a monologue. That is, I like to talk to the chart holder, and I often ask as many questions as I’m trying to answer. It’s never, “You are this way…” It’s generally more like, “The symbols here would kind of suggest that you’re probably this way…but does that actually hold true in your life as you experience it…?” Since this is a blog post, though, and not an actual chart analysis session, that kind of two-way conversation isn’t really a possibility here, so I’ll just be cranking through my points. Please keep the above disclaimer language in mind, though!
So okay, when I do this kind of Nodal/karmic analysis, I always start with the South Node (which I’ll be abbreviating from here forward as “SN” to save us all some time and space). Here’s how it plays out:
Q: In this particular chart, what Sign and what House are the SN located in?
Great. Now we need to look at the darker possible expressions of those symbols to see what past life karma might be dogging this chart holder’s steps into this life. The idea here is that the brighter expressions wouldn’t have led to things that would tend to haunt anyone – we got those things right, so other than the vaguest of fond remembrances, we almost surely let go of them when we pierced the existential veil at the end of that previous lifetime.
In other words: it’s the bad stuff that haunts us, not the good.
So what could be bad about bright, outgoing Sagittarius…? Well, like any of the Signs, this one has certain associations that, while not evil in and of themselves, can lead to some definite issues.
For example, Sagittarius is the Sign of the Explorer, the Wanderer…so maybe lack of a true home was a problem for this person in a past life. Or maybe a bad case of wanderlust coupled with some inability to follow through and actually go traveling was the thing that eventually broke this person’s spirit.
The same kind of analysis might hold true for higher education and vast fields of thought, which can also serve as lifeblood for the Sagittarian person: university level study and beyond, the law, philosophy… Maybe this person was made for that kind of study, but never had the opportunity to engage in it.
Also: religion. In times past, religion offered people hope in harsh and demanding eras…but it also served as a handy excuse for a multitude of gross injustices, from small-scale and personal, to far-reaching and global. Maybe the chart holder here suffered in a past life because the prevailing religion in that place and that time allowed for that to happen.
Q: Do any Planets form conjunctions with the SN?
A: The Moon
When any Planet is conjunct the SN, it’s often pretty good policy to see if it works to cast the chart holder’s former self as a sort of living embodiment of the Planet in question. If combative Mars is conjunct the SN, maybe that person was very martial in that past life, a true warrior. If spiritual Neptune is conjunct the SN, maybe the former self was a priest or a mystic.
Here, it’s the Moon that’s conjunct her own South Node. And I say “her” because the Moon is one of the few Planets that’s widely accepted as being strongly aligned with traits we generally think of as “feminine.” So while it can be risky to presume to dole out gender assignments based on Nodal analysis, a SN/Moon conjunction makes at least an arguable case for this past life self to have been a female.
Furthermore, the female in question may have been a mother, whether to her own literal children, or at least to other humans who depended on her for that motherly care. The Moon is often bound up with maternal symbolism…
And this maternal role goes hand in hand with the grimmer potentials of the Fourth House involvement here. H4 has often been referred to as the “House of Home.” It’s about our home life now, and also our early family experiences, including family-derived programming we may have received as youngsters…and “family” can refer to blood relatives, or to a broader group of people. Especially in bygone human eras, clans and tribes were common structures, and a person’s “family” might have numbered in the dozens, or even hundreds.
So the chart holder here may have been someone who greatly desired to visit exotic shores, but was chained up by the restrictions of motherhood and family obligation, and possibly the dictates of some religion or other, and was therefore never able to satisfy that need to grow and expand.
What if you had the soul of the Traveler, but you were confined to a kitchen, or a nursery, or a laundry room for your entire life? What would that do to you? Would you begin to resent the people and the systems that kept you penned up? Would you maybe start to desire some power and authority of your own, so that you could be the one getting to make all the decisions…?
Q: What Sign and House are the SN’s Planetary ruler located in?
A: Jupiter rules Sagittarius, and this chart shows Jupiter placed in Libra in H2.
The SN ruler adds some dimension to who this past life person was, and what they might have experienced. Again, you want to try to figure out how darker experiences with the symbols involved might have created lingering karma that would have been strong enough and negative enough to survive the passage across death’s bleak threshold.
This can be challenging when the symbols in question are as apparently happy and likable as Jupiter and Libra.
But circle back to the concepts we’ve begun storing up already: this might have been a woman shackled to a traditional, conservative life of service to a rigid family-based and maybe religious framework, her great urges toward seeing the world totally crushed by the existing paradigm.
Next, think about how Jupiter can enhance things, making them larger…and remember that Venus-ruled Libra can have associations with beauty. So what if this woman we’re envisioning was considered very desirable in her time, such that there would have been an endless parade of suitors eager to possess her (H2 has often been called the “House of Possessions!”).
Maybe she was also a part of the wealthier segment of her society – the Jupiter layer – so these various suitors would have had the power and connections to ensure that however their chase ended, at least one of them would eventually have this woman as their wife. She may have had no realistic escape route toward that life of nomadic adventure that she craved.
Now pull at that thread a bit… What would it do to you to be seen as a thing to be owned rather than as a person, simply because you were physically attractive? What would you think of beautiful people – and especially of beautiful women – in your next life if this had been you? Would they be objects of pity? Or would you maybe instead resent them for their beauty because they reminded you on some level of what you’d once been forced to endure?
What if you came back as a man? Would you then want to be extra-kind to beautiful women…or alternatively, would you maybe decide that in this lifetime, you would be the one doing the possessing of that beauty, and maybe even degrading it a bit if you were so inclined…?
Q: Are any Planets square or opposite the SN?
A: No squares here, but both the Sun and Uranus – both in Gemini/H10 – are opposite the SN.
This part of the analysis can tell us a lot about the challenges that the chart holder faced in the prior life we’re examining, and maybe what ended up ultimately doing her/him in. Squares often represent something over which the person arguably had some measure of control (even if the “choice” in question was as horrible as “Jump from this here cliff, or I’ll shoot you with my musket…”), while oppositions signify forces that couldn’t have been overcome no matter what the person might have tried.
Here, we have two placements of the latter variety. First, there’s the Sun – in these kinds of cases, the Sun can symbolize either a specific authority figure (probably a male one, although that’s not always necessarily true) or a governmental or other authoritative entity: the crown, the church, the army, that sort of thing.
And if a Sun-figure or -entity did you in, how would you feel about authority in the next life? Maybe you’d have an irrational fear of it, beyond anything that your present life experience could justify…or maybe you’d hunger for your own access to that kind of authority, valuing it above anything else you could imagine. Maybe you’d stop at nothing to be in charge, with no regard for the wellbeing of anyone your actions might impact. Maybe you’d respect and fear anyone who had more might than you, and you’d despise everyone else who had less…
Then what about Uranus? This is a Planet that represents the unexpected, the sudden unpredictable bolt of change-energy. The fact that it’s operating through a filter of Gemini only adds to the sense of quickness here. It could be that the former-life person in question came to a very sudden, shocking, and unforeseen end.
Given the H10 placements of these oppositional forces, there may even have been a public component to that end. An accident in the town square? A cataclysmic public punishment or humiliation, or even an execution that came without warning?
Any of these cases might lead to the chart holder having a loaded relationship in this life with being in the public eye. Maybe there’s a need to stay out of that kind of scrutiny, to lead a very private and unnoticed life this time around so as to avoid even the possibility of scandal or spectacle…or maybe the opposite scenario takes hold, and there’s a desperate craving for public approval…
This is all just speculation of course, although it’s speculation based on some pretty commonly accepted interpretations of the various astrological symbols that are involved here. Any combination of the bits of analysis listed above might work, as could many others not contemplated here. But for the sake of argument, let’s say we close as follows:
The SN make-up in this chart speaks of a past life in which the chart holder was a woman widely regarded as beautiful. She harbored dreams of seeing the world, but due to the restrictions placed on her by her society and possibly her religion, she was forced into a marriage and family life that she saw as a form of imprisonment. She felt powerless before the traditions and male authority figures in her life, and her demise may have come quickly, unexpectedly, and fully in view of the public eye.
If the resulting karma were navigated poorly in this life, the chart holder may now be someone who treats women poorly (especially beautiful women…?), who lusts after power at all costs, who fails to see the dignity in other humans unless they’re more powerful than this person is, and who has an insatiable need to be the center of the world’s attention. That could arguably be the karmic plight of this chart holder, based on the symbols most connected to the SN in this chart.
Oh, and I said that this is the chart of a real person. You may even have heard of him – his name is Donald Trump…
NOTE: Much of the above methodology hails from Steven Forrest’s excellent book, Yesterday’s Sky…