Monthly Archives: February 2011

This ground is holy: The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 3

2. The Nodes and the numinous

In allowing some images to rise which might help me pull the the threads of the  thesis together, the one which most persistently presented itself was that ghostly picture of a man’s head and shoulders which must be the world’s most famous photographic negative – the one which appeared when the photograph taken of the marks on the shroud of Turin was developed.

For many people throughout the world, this is a sacred image of the crucified body of Christ, and a central symbol representing the Christian era. Regardless of one’s religious stance, it is not hard to see how this single awe-inspiring one-dimensional image conveys the symbolic essence of  what Christianity means.

It functions as a kind of spiritual hologram; in itself it is a one-dimensional holographic plate.(ii) But when the light of faith is shone on it, a three dimensional picture – physical, emotional, and spiritual, of  what Christianity means, arises for the observer.

Turin Shroud

Turin Shroud

In contemplating the outcome of the research into the lives of both Mary Shelley and Marc, the idea of the natal Nodal pattern representing a symbolic  holographic plate has taken shape.

The true turning points  in life seem to leap into three dimensions – emotional, physical, spiritual – from the holographic plate on which the basic pattern of the person’s destiny is etched. That pattern is most appropriately carried in the Nodal structure. It holds images of  the light  of the quest for meaning through the Sun; reflection and containment of that light through the Moon; and grounding in Life’s unfolding process through their orbits’ particular relationship with the Earth’s plane.

In every synastry in Mary Shelley’s case; in every key event  in both Mary’s and Marc’s  lives, running backwards and forwards in time and in the symbolism of all the birth charts, one can see, shimmering through the really critical turning points,  the ghostly, but quite distinct holographic plate of both Mary’s and Marc’s natal Nodal patterns.

The four Nodal Moments, though sketchier because of their being only one section cut through each subjects’ unfolding life pattern, nevertheless also carry within them the basic shape of the natal Nodal blueprint. Robin Heath’s comment is apposite:(iii)

“……….astrology appears more and more to behave like a hologram. You can perform almost any technique with the data, turn the chart inside out or slice it up, and still the symbolic pictures remain.”

Perhaps that  powerful spiritual image of the sacred Shroud arose for me because in reflecting on the meaning of what I had seen at the core of all the different ‘takes’ on the Nodes at work in a range of people’s lives, I felt myself to be in the presence of the numinous, the sacred.

I find it impossible to describe adequately my feelings when I realised that  in Mary Shelley and Marc’s lives, with each synastry and every major event and turning point,  the natal Nodes and their attendant patterns had been painted, not faintly or casually, but in bold primary colours that could not be missed. I had a powerful sense of being in the presence of something ‘Other’ , something which was not circumscribed by the mortality of one individual in one lifetime.

The resonances over long periods of time which were so evident in linking Mary Shelley’s Nodal pattern with the contemporary controversy over how far we humans should overstep our limits in altering the very building blocks of life, focused by the appearance of Dolly the Sheep – and the links I found with my own horoscope, hers, and the time I had chosen to write about her – really struck me.(iv)

I did not expect my research into ‘The Moon’s Nodes in Action’ to present me with such a strong  suggestion that we all have our destiny, that certain potent times in life present events and turning points which are initiations into  the furtherance of that destiny – or that outwith our lives there may be  some intelligent ‘Other’ observing and/or guiding  that  movement. But  that is the feeling which persists in me as a result of this work.

I have always reacted with a degree of impatience to the theorising, usually with little empirical evidence to support it, which takes place about the Nodes – now I’m rather more respectful! But it feels good to have done a fairly substantial piece of practical exploratory work demonstrating the theory in action.

As the Indian astrologers have been telling us for centuries, the Moon’s Nodes really do seem to be connected to the workings of Fate in the shaping of personal destiny.

Nodal Axis

Nodal Axis

References and Notes

(i) The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia, Vol 12, p 55

(ii) a hologram is “an image produced on photographic film in such a way that under suitable illumination a three-dimensional representation of an object is seen”. Oxford Paperback Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 4th Edition, 1994

(iii) The Mountain Astrologer, Issue 78, April/May 1998, Letters p 11


Previous Posts in this series:

The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part One

Major and minor chords: The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 2

and next….

“In my end is my beginning….” The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 4


800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page




Major and minor chords: The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 2

In this series of posts, I am confining myself to presenting conclusions based on my original research study as described in  The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part One.

I am thus assuming at least a beginner’s familiarity with the astronomical and symbolic significance of the Moon’s Nodal axis, and its 18.6 year retrograde cycle through the Zodiac with the accompanying twice-yearly eclipse seasons.

For readers who need to be brought up to speed regarding the basics, check out Wikipedia on The Lunar Nodes for the astronomy, and Cafe Astrology for a typical explanation of the Nodes’ symbolic meanings.

Before setting out my conclusions, it might be useful in context-setting to offer a  brief description of the content of the 50,000 word research study upon which these findings are based:

1) Preface, in which I outlined my personal reasons for becoming fascinated by the Nodal axis and bringing it increasingly into my teaching. 2) Introduction, in which I set out my reasons for embarking on the research. 3) Chapter One: Astronomy and Symbolism of the Nodes. 4) Chapter Two: Case Study One: Mary Shelley, ‘Frankenstein’ and a sheep called Dolly. 5) Chapter Three: Case Study Two: ‘Marc’ (age 51) : a life through the Nodal Lens. 6) Chapter Four: Case Study Three: Four “Nodal Moments” – key turning points analysed in the lives of two men and two women, two famous (Princess Diana and astronaut John Glenn) and two unknown, Anna (age 44) and Andrew (age 34). 7) Conclusions. Finally…. Bibliography, References and Notes, Charts used and their provenance.

Nodal Axis

Nodal Axis

My main research questions were these: How significant is the Nodal axis? Are astrologers missing something really important by not delineating it in their readings, both natally and in terms of its transiting cycle? Does it say something specific? Or does it act as a reinforcer for information about a person’s life pattern which can be derived from other chart factors?


The Conclusions


1. ‘ Major’ and ‘ minor ‘ Nodal activity

Transits and progressions weave in and out of life – there may be years for example which are dominated by Pluto, others by Neptune, or very heavily  Saturnian years. There are the few occasions eg where a planet changes sign by progression, or the MC  progresses over Uranus, or the Moon.

But there is Nodal activity of  some kind going on all the time, as the Nodal axis regresses through the horoscope, transits come to the Natal or progressed Nodes, and progressions touch off the natal Nodal pattern. The Nodes appear to me to function both as witnesses (the Sun) and midwives (the Moon), symbolic translators of the archetypal energies of the  planets into the medium of Life as it is lived in the Sun/Moon/Earth system.

Where, then, does this leave the contention that Nodal times have a particularily powerful, fateful “charge” to them? That can’t be true of every year in life, surely? If it were, the intensity of it would pretty quickly reduce people to  cinders! What,  therefore, distinguishes those special moments or turning points in life where either at the time, or later, we realise we have crossed an important threshold?

From the research done on Marc’s life in particular, I have concluded that there are two kinds of Nodal activity : major and minor, as it were. As  already discussed, there is always some “minor” Nodal activity going on.

The really powerful “major” times on the other hand, which are few in any lifetime, are characterised by not just one or two, but a cluster of transits and/or progressions involving the natal, and/or progressed, and/or transitting Nodes. The outer planets, especially Pluto with its strong “fated” feel,  stand out. This was an impression I had  already formed after 15 years of chart reading – but I’d never tested it out in formal research before.

Pre-natal  eclipses are very much  part of the weave, as can be seen from the case study material. The most striking  example is seen in Mary Shelley’s horoscope where the pre-natal solar and lunar eclipse degrees appear as the actual Ascendant and South Node degrees in her horoscope, and the charts of  all the key people and events in her life with reference to her authorship of ‘Frankenstein’. (Mary will be getting a post all to herself, complete with horoscope, as part of this series! Maybe my obsession isn’t quite burnt out, after all these years….)

I’m quite clear now, as the Nodal axis regresses through the chart, identifying via the highlighted houses the overall territory up for change, that the transiting eclipses function as “battery chargers”, gradually building up the energies of the person’s life in preparation to receive major change.

An image  comes to mind here from the female menstrual cycle, of the egg gradually being primed and prepared until it is at its maximum point of readiness to receive the male sperm, conceive and begin new life. I think the eclipses begin their work of charging-up as soon as the relevant eclipse season begins, which may be as long as eighteen months before the turning point in the person’s life appears. (i)

References and Notes

(i) A very clear example comes to mind from my own life, linked to the Virgo/Pisces eclipse season of Spring 1997-Autumn 1998. In the Spring of 1997 I decided to hire an office out of my home to create space, mainly to write this thesis. My Asc/Desc axis is 9 degrees Virgo/Pisces.

The Virgo/Pisces eclipse season started on 9 March 1997 with a total solar eclipse at 18.5 Pisces, opposite the asteroid Urania at 19 Pisces in my First House, clsely linking in Mary Shelley’s and Marc’s North Nodes at 19 and 21 Gemini respectively. It was at this time that I chose Marc as a main case study subject along with Mary Shelley.

On Friday 7 March I saw the office I decided on 10 March to rent, paying for it for a year from an insurance policy I had taken out 18 years previously. At that time, I had a feeling I might need money for a future adventure of some kind – long before I knew anything about  either astrology or the 18- year Nodal cycle. My bank manager, of course, thought I was mad….

The middle period of that eclipse season saw me well settled into the writing as the 9 Virgo eclipse fell exactly on my Ascendant in the Autumn of 1997. The following year, the day before the total solar eclipse (7 deg 55 min Pisces) of February 26 1998 fell on the Sixth House side of my Descendant, I had a call from my landlords saying they needed to know by the next day whether I was going to renew my lease, which ran out on 9 May 1998, since the building was being sold. I decided to renew for 6 months and sent my rent cheque off just before the lunar eclipse on 13 March 1998 at 22 Virgo.

The lease ran out on 7 November 1998: the day I graduated with my Diploma from the Centre for Psychological Astrology!

Follow the series by reading

This ground is holy: The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 3

Nodal Axis
Nodal Axis



1100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part One

For many years I had a Moon’s Nodes obsession: perhaps not unconnected with the North Node exactly conjunct my Midheaven at 29 degrees Taurus, square a Twelfth House Sun/Moon conjunction……I read somewhere in my very early years of studying astrology that the South Node conjunct a Scorpio IC indicated having been burned as a witch in a previous life. This piece of conjecture gave my MC/IC axis a kind of dark, scary glamour.

However, I burned out that obsession during 1997-8 whilst completing the third and final year of  my Diploma in Psychological Astrology at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, where I had the good fortune to study with Dr Liz Greene and the late, great mundane astrologer, Charles Harvey.  How did I do this? By writing a 50,000 word research study called “The Moon’s Nodes in Action”. After that, I’d had enough of the Moon’s Nodes.

A big part of my obsession that year concerned the links I found between the horoscopes of Mary Shelley, author of ‘Frankenstein’, and that of Dolly the Sheep, the first cloned mammal, created in their research laboratory  by Dr Ian Wilmut and his team in the Roslyn Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland and announced to the world in February 1997.

I take strange pride in being probably the first person to have written a detailed synastry between a dead human and a live sheep! Never a class went by for that whole year without Dolly and Mary Shelley being mentioned. By the end of the year, and the completion of the research study, my students had taken either to giving me presents of pens, etc, with pictures of sheep on them, or to crossing the street when they saw me approaching! ( I exaggerate, but only slightly….)

Spring 2011 - Natural Zodiac

Spring 2011 - Natural Zodiac

That was twelve years ago and I moved on to other things. However, in the last week, like everyone else with any interest in world affairs, I have been watching with fascination, horror and a certain excited anticipation of possible positive change as a wave of  protest – mainly from the young – has swept the Middle East. The iron grip of dictatorial rulers has been snapping in a domino chain of nations rising in revolt.

As the Nodal axis crosses Pluto, approaching the final stage of the August 2009 – July 2011 season of eclipses in Capricorn(North Node point) and Cancer (South Node point) and Colonel Gaddafi loses his grip on Libya amidst scenes of bloodshed and mayhem, I have been prompted to dig that almost-forgotten research study out of its dusty drawer.


Because I remembered my overall research finding:

 times of most profound and radical change come in collective and individual life when the combination of the Nodal Axis and Pluto is triggered.

Having re-read that 1997/8 study, I have decided to publish the final chapter here as a series of posts over the next week or so. I know that many astrologers share my fascination with the Moon’s Nodes: I hope what I have to say will be both interesting and illuminating in its own right. It  may also be supportive of  what many other astrologers have concluded from their own practice.

(note: I have illustrated this post with a chart for the time of the Aries Ingress of 2011, set on the Natural Zodiac which refers to our whole world community. The high focus of Pluto, and the Moon’s Nodes, by then having just slipped into Sagittarius/Gemini but with one more solar eclipse in Cancer due to occur in July 2011, shows clearly in this chart.)


To read Part Two, click HERE

To read Part Three, click HERE

To read Part Four, click HERE

To read Part Five, click HERE


Mary Shelley, Modern Myth-Maker

(a study of her Nodes in relation to her authorship of ‘Frankenstein’)


600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


Guest Slot: ” The woods are lovely, dark and deep….” Sophie Agrell, poet.

Lines of poetry are permanently lodged in my head. They take shape magically from the inner mist, just when I need them. A recurring line in my later years is from that beautiful, wistful Robert Frost poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” (1923): ‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep……’

I have been thinking about woods more than usual in the last couple of weeks. Here in Scotland there have been some recent nights of squally storms: vulnerable trees in my beloved local park have been torn down. There are broken twigs and branches littered over nearby streets. UK – wide protests are gathering momentum as we discover that swathes of our precious woodlands are being sold off to private developers. Locked gates are already appearing round some local woods in England, generating fury amongst nearby residents.

My recent encounter with my friend and poet Sophie Agrell was therefore most timeous! She too is a tree and woods lover. She gave me a poem, newly written, about woods.

The Park at Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent

The Park at Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent

Sophie writes: Knole is a huge seventeenth-century mansion, now owned by the National Trust, set in a 1000-acre medieval deer park in Sevenoaks in Kent. It was the childhood home of Vita Sackville-West and forms the setting for Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.

I grew up in Sevenoaks. Knole, with its gentle, bracken-covered slopes and woods, unchanged in many ways for 400 years, is my favourite place.

I took my first steps in a sheltered valley under an oak tree and wept when the woods, especially the ancient stands of beech, were ravaged by the 1987 hurricane. I know every path and tree, in every season, as it was and as it is. Sometimes when I think of Knole past and present, spring and autumn merge in beauty. Here is the poem I recently gave to Anne:


At night I walk in sunlight

Through wind-felled beechwoods yet upright.

My booted feet kick and scamper

In drifts of russet leaves, ever crisp.

I inhale autumn,

Tinged with smoke, wet deer and damp,

And look up at pale, translucent green,

A spring cathedral, roofed with living glass.

25 i 2011


Sophie Agrell 

Sophie Agrell


Sophie describes herself as “…. an escaped medievalist who watches the world, delights in its beauty, and grows roses…..”


400 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Sophie Agrell 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


Guest Slot: The art of writing – and getting published! Interview with Harry Bingham

Of  the many scary delights of being on the Web, my favourite is never knowing who’s going to turn up! A few weeks ago writer Harry Bingham lightened my January gloom considerably by emailing me with kind words about “Writing from the Twelfth House”. Thus began another positive Web friendship with an accomplished fellow writer. Harry kindly agreed to do a post – this interesting, at times challenging, entertaining and revealing interview is the result.


Harry Bingham has written historical fiction for HarperCollins and a couple of books on history and economics. He’s also just sold a new series of crime novels to Orion, and is the author of a bestselling guide to Getting Published. He also runs the Writers’ Workshop, which offers help and advice to first time writers.

Anne W: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?  Did you tell anyone?  If so, whom, and when?

Oh gosh, I always knew I wanted to be a writer … at least, ever since I gave up my astronaut / shopkeeper / footballer ambitions. Back when I was ten, a camera crew came to my school to film a short piece about what kids were thinking of as possible careers. Most people said things like ‘policeman’ or ‘nurse’. I said ‘author’.

Anne W: How did you go about becoming a writer? What/who were your major influences?

Um, well, I became an investment banker first. Not really a conventional path that, but forgive me – I was young. Then my wife got ill, I gave up work to look after her, and wrote my first novel while sitting at her bedside. That book was The Money Makers, and is still one of the best things I’ve ever written.

Anne W: Which writers did you love best as a child? Which writers have most deeply influenced you?

I loved Sherlock Holmes and  CS Forester and anything to do with Greek myth. And then all the classics: I got stuck into Victorian literature pretty early and chomped my way through it avidly. As for influences: I never really know. I think everything influences you to some extent. Even bad novels, you have to understand why they’re bad, why you don’t like them, what you want to do differently.

Anne W: What do you think of Ernest Hemingways’s dictum that all writers should have a “built-in, shockproof, crap detector”?

It’s essential. Writing’s a funny business. You need a kind of insane optimism to create a novel in the first place. You really do have to love your work and believe it’s great, otherwise you’d never get out of bed. When it comes to the editing, though, you need the opposite mindset: the crap detection one. You just have to go over your material relentlessly looking for the stuff that’s not OK. There’ll be a lot of it about!

Anne W: Where do you get most of your ideas from? Do you carry a notebook around to record them?

No, and I know writers are meant to do this. I’ve never carried a notebook or anything else. I don’t scribble ideas on napkins. I don’t carry pencils on buses. I just take the dogs for a walk and daydream. Sometimes those daydreams turn into books. I’m lucky that way.

Anne W: When should writers seek advice/help from other writers – and when should they just shut up and get on with it?

I think most writers need to do both. In the end, you write a book by just sitting at the damn keyboard and writing. On the other hand, it’s terribly rare that a writer can’t learn masses from detailed, tough, constructive feedback on his or her work. I’m a fairly practised writer after all (8 books published, 4 more commissioned) and I get a huge amount from my editor / agent. So I think you need both things: lonely hours, intensive feedback. It’s how nearly all writers operate.

Anne W: What has your developmental pattern been toward the stage you are at now? Has it been moderately straighforward or have you done lots of bizarre jobs along the way?

I’ve not had any bizarre jobs. I’ve always sold my books for decent money so, unlike many, I’ve more or less been able to support myself from writing. That is rare, however, and I’d urge anyone thinking seriously about writing as a career to give themselves a proper financial fallback plan. Like marrying someone really rich, that sort of thing.

Anne W: Have you gained formal qualifications in the art and craft of writing? Is this latter route any great advantage, do you think, in a writer’s development? Why/why not?

I’ve got an English O-Level, if that counts. But no: I don’t have any real qualification and I’m not truly a fan of university-level creative writing courses. I don’t think they’re nearly market-driven enough. I don’t think their success record is as strong as it ought to be. I don’t think they’re much good at teaching people how to write genre fiction. But I do think that people will have fun on a creative writing MA course. There are other, better alternatives, however. Our range of online creative writing courses, for example, is deliberately designed so that authors with strong market knowledge and excellent publication records teach the business of writing for publication. That’s, in my view, what nearly all students actually want.

Anne W: What inspired you to set up The Writers’ Workshop? Tell us something about it. How long has it been running, and how do you see it developing?

I set up the Writers’ Workshop as a way to earn a little extra money when I was between projects. So I built a website, offered editorial advice … and the manuscripts just started to pour in. We’ve now got a team of about 80 novel and other book editors offering tough, professional advice on novels, children’s fiction and most varieties of non-fiction. We also have a policy that whenever we come across material which is strong enough to be marketed, we’ll do all we can to place it with a literary agent. We obviously can’t help everyone through to publication, but we do have multiple success stories, including a number of people who have won literary prizes or become top 10 bestsellers. We also, as mentioned above, run courses. Oh, and we run the annual Festival of Writing. And various other things. You can get the full background by clicking on: The Writers’ Workshop: Your Path to Literary Agents.

Anne W: Biggest hope?

That my crime novels take off – I’m more excited by these than anything else I’ve ever done.

Anne W: Biggest worry?

That e-readers are going to kill the books trade.

Anne W: Thing you love the most?

Bringing a really beautiful book (or six) home from a bookshop.

Anne W: Thing you hate the most?

When good writers are turned down by cowardly publishers. I HATE that!

Anne W: Single best tip?

Cut your work by 10%. Then  do the same again.

Anne W: Thanks, Harry. Great stuff! Come back and talk to us again soon!


Harry Bingham

Harry Bingham

run by writers for writers

Reach us by email, or call us on:
0845 459 9560
7 Market Street, Charlbury, Oxon, UK OX7 3PH


1200 words copyright Harry Bingham/ Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page