The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 127, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Adam Sommer
Episode originally released on October 2, 2017
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at email@example.com.
Transcribed by Emma Lambiase
Transcription released October 7, 2019
Copyright © 2019 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
Chris Brennan: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to the Astrology podcast. This episode was recorded on Monday, October 2nd, 2017, starting at 8:01pm in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 127th episode of the show. For more information on how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode I’m going to be talking with Adam Sommer of the Exploring Astrology Podcast, and we’re going to be answering some questions that were sent in by listeners of both of our respective shows.
Adam, welcome to the podcast.
Adam Sommer: Chris, thanks for having me.
CB: Yeah, I’m excited to talk to you. The last time we talked like this was actually on your podcast where we did an interview I think back in June, where you talked to me about my recently released book, and that went extremely well, I’m still actually getting messages every once in a while from listeners who say that they’re listeners of both of our shows and that they were really excited to see us come together for that one, so I’m excited now to have you on my podcast a couple months later.
AS: I love hearing it. And I hear that often, by the way that a lot of my listeners do make sure that they tune in to you every week.
CB: Yeah I mean it seems like we have two of the most active, I try to pay attention to what’s going on in the astrological community, what other podcasts are happening, and it seems like we’ve got two of the most active podcasts around at this point, and certainly two of the most engaged fanbases of people listening to it. You’ve actually been at this though I think a bit longer that I have. I did a podcast called Traditional Astrology Radio that I took over from somebody else in 2010 and I did that until 2012 and then I started The Astrology Podcast in 2012, but you’ve actually been doing yours for quite a bit longer than that haven’t you?
AS: I started in March of 2009.
CB: Wow, okay. So you’re coming up before too long here on like 10 years almost.
AS: It’s been an amazing journey, yeah.
CB: Yeah I mean how has that been for you, did you start it on a lark or was it a deliberate decision at that point to start the Exploring Astrology Podcast?
AS: I kinda always knew I would do a podcast when I finally had something either to say, or that I was deeply interested in. And it was the latter that happened to me around that time in my life. The reason why I called it the Exploring Astrology Podcast and not The Astrology Podcast, that was an idea naturally, was I didn’t feel that it was going to embody what my intention was because in the very beginning the intent was to explore it. I didn’t know a lot. I had read Tarnus’s Cosmos and Psyche, I had a few astrology friends, I was using it with other work I was doing. I was basically using astrology charts as diagnostic tools with clients.
AS: But as you know, when astrology comes, it comes, and I just started taking in all the information that I could get and one thing I noticed right out of the gates because I was already a podcast listener at that time, there wasn’t really any astrology podcast. That I was wanting to listen to, right?
AS: I was like, well, what I could do is I could create one and invite astrologers that I’m interested in onto the show. And so some of my first guests were like Steven Forrest and Maurice Fernandez and I tried to get Jeff Green on the show, I was really into evolutionary astrology in the beginning, but his daughter came on instead. It was just a really solid list, and by the time I had 10 people were asking me if I taught astrology and I was like ‘oh no, what am I in for? Is this a thing? Is this what I’m going to be doing?’ And really kind of the rest is history, it’s just been growing, and my interest has never waned, and I love it. It’s such an amazing thing.
CB: Brilliant, so you come from more of a, we’re actually from the same state cause you lived in Boulder for a while right? And you live not too far from there at this point right?
AS: A Jupiter cycle, Chris! I was realizing that earlier that I moved to Boulder initially in 2005 and so it wasn’t that long after I moved here that Jupiter moved into Scorpio so yeah 12 years on and off and I usually live in the mountains outside of Boulder, like right now I’m in Gold Hill.
CB: Okay. Brilliant. And so your background, I mean that’s one of the things that people were really interested by in terms of seeing us come together for that episode a few months ago is that our styles are very different and so they were curious if that would mesh well, if that would clash, or what, and it ended up actually working out quite well. But you come from more of an evolutionary astrology background, right?
AS: Yes and no. I mean, that was my interest in the beginning, just because I suppose one of the first books I ever read was a Steven Forrest book, and then I was actually roommates back in 2008 with Ari Moshe who’s an astrologer, and evolutionary astrologer. So his influence was strong on me in the beginning but once I started doing my own readings, sort of branching out and studying Vedic astrology and other things I would not consider myself an evolutionary astrologer. Just to be clear I’m not claiming that.
CB: Sure, and one of those questions I think that we’ll talk about later will draw a little bit on your background and your interest in Vedic astrology and your use of the Dasha systems I think, right?
AS: Sure, yeah. Hopefully not too blasphemous of a way.
CB: Sure, hopefully, we’ll see. Alright I’m trying to think of any other preliminary things before we get started here. So what we did is both of us put out a call for questions where every once in a while I’ll do a question and answer episode where an astrologer or two will join me in order to take some questions from the audience and this time we switched things up a little bit and both you and I put out calls to our respective audiences for some questions and kind of got inundated with a huge amount of questions. Which unfortunately we’ll only have time to get to a small portion of those but we’ve tried to take some questions from each of our audiences and narrow it down to ones that seemed like they would be good discussion topics for both of us essentially.
So what we’re gonna do is, we’ve got some of those questions and we’re gonna go through them, from some of our audience members and try to just use those as launching points for discussion and hopefully answer some of them to whatever extent we can from each of our different perspectives.
AS: I’m excited.
CB: Yeah I think this is gonna be fun. I’m excited to do it as well so thanks for joining me in this little experiment. So shall we start with the first one?
AS: Starting gun went off in the distance, I heard it!
CB: Alright let’s do it. The first question this is from one of my patrons named Sheila Roher, I hope I’m pronouncing her last name correctly, I’ll just read the question directly. She says “As you note in your book,” she’s talking about my book, “Hellenistic astrology doesn’t seem to pay a huge amount of attention to the lunar nodes. Babylonian astrology viewed the nodes as dangerous gateways to change with dragons ready to charge into action. Many astrologers from different schools, whether medieval or Theosophical or new age, tend to favor the north node and view the south node as problematic. Some Jungian astrologers view the nodes as a key indicator of themes the person is seeking to balance in their lives, a view,” which she says, “I find usually accurate and helpful with clients.” So then she brings it together and she says “How if at all are you using the nodes in delineation? How much weight do you give transits to the nodes, nodal returns, or transiting nodes to natal planets?”
So that’s Sheila’s question, thanks for sending that in Sheila! So this I thought would be an interesting question because I think we do have somewhat different approaches to the nodes, and the nodes actually play a pretty major role in your approach, and I think that your logo for your astrology business, it has the nodes in it, right?
AS: Yeah, and the south node, which is funny because a fellow astrologer noticed that the other day, and she doesn’t even use the south node. She was like ‘why in the world would you have that as your logo?” I was like, well, would you like me to give a full answer or just a pithy one?
AS: So I kinda like changed her mind about the south node actually but, I think the way we should tackle this is, I know for you, you didn’t use the nodes for quite some time but you’ve begun to implement them a little bit into your practice, is that true?
CB: Yeah and I’m trying to think of how to approach that. So my, I mean do you want me to go first on that?
AS: Yeah go for it!
CB: My thing with the nodes is that I observed very early in my studies, because I started out just doing modern, sort of modern contemporary astrology, psychological astrology, paying attention to all the contemporary like leading authors and in the late 20th century in most of those like recent astrology books when I got into the field in the early 2000s, the nodes are like this huge thing where for many modern astrologers the nodes are like the most important thing in the chart, it’s often the first thing you go to. And there’s pretty much a pervasive belief that goes through many modern astrology books that the nodes have to do, that the north node has to do with where you’re going in the future, and the south node has to do with your past. And it’s often linked to the south node being associated with past lives and the north node being associated with the future or future lives or where you’re headed in this life. And that has become such a pervasive sort of idea that it’s just dominant in just about any astrology book that you’ll read. But one of the things I was really shocked by starting in about 2004 or 2005 when I went to Kepler and I started studying older traditions of astrology from prior to the 20th century is I was actually surprised to find that the nodes weren’t A: always as important as in every other tradition and they didn’t necessarily put as much emphasis on them prior to the 20th century, but B: perhaps more importantly, the meaning attributed to the nodes were often wildly different in other traditions of astrology, and there was not really any associations with the past life being associated with the south node and the future being associated with the north node, prior to the past few decades. And I realized that that’s actually very recent innovation where astrologers started treating the nodes as if they had to do with past and future lives. And that’s true even in the Indian tradition where we know that ideas of karma and reincarnation and stuff are very prominent in Hinduism in the Indian tradition, and so we sort of assume that they, modern Western astrologers sort of assume that Indian astrologers treat the nodes in that was as well. But it turns out that if you go back just a few decades in the Indian tradition they don’t really treat the nodes in that way at all. And while there’s some contemporary Indian astrologers who are starting to be influenced by Western views of the nodes so that they’re starting to integrate past life ideas into the nodes in their contemporary works in Indian astrology, if you take it back a little bit it’s like they treat the nodes as being very different and not particularly pertaining to past lives at all.
So my whole thing over the past, starting around the mid 2000s was seeing all this diversity and how the nodes were being treated and wanting to sort of remove myself from that so that I could rebuild my understanding of the nodes from scratch without any presumptions about what they are or what they’re supposed to do, because I realized that a lot of the presumptions that people were making were assumptions that it had always been that way when in fact that may not necessarily be the case. So I stopped using the nodes altogether in charts for a number of years, and it’s only recently over the past few years that I’ve started to integrate them in order to rebuild my understanding from scratch and try to work them in, in what feels like a natural and sort of organic way to me, while not trying to overdo them and make that the first thing that I immediately jump to, which it used to be. So that’s pretty much it, that’s basically where I’m at at this point when it comes to the nodes.
AS: And what brought you back into them, Chris?
CB: Well, I mean not a lot actually, it’s just the fact that the nodes, while it’s true, Sheila’s point was partially true that the nodes are not hugely present in the Hellenistic tradition, they did use the nodes, and they do show up in charts, and there are a few different statements about how they should be interpreted in the Hellenistic tradition, so it’s no like they weren’t used at all. And so I’ve started to integrate them again because I understand now what the nodes represent, and that’s given me more of an angle on understanding how they’re been interpreted sort of traditionally in different traditions, and why sometimes one tradition will treat them like this, and another tradition will treat them like this, and how that’s being derived from the astronomical reality of what the nodes represent. And so that’s why I’m starting to work the back in again, although I do think it has been useful for me to remove them from my practice because then I feel like it’s less of a crutch where that’s not the first thing that I go to anymore. And in some ways I feel like that’s been useful because then I’ve been able to reorient and focus on other things that maybe used to be more of a weak point for me.
AS: There’s more overlap than we think my friend.
CB: Alright, so let’s hear, so where are you at with the nodes? I mean you’re–
AS: –in complete agreement, first of all, with everything you just said. The difference in–
CB: Have you noticed that about the Indian tradition though? Where it’s like, if you study the Indian tradition it’s weird that they don’t really, at least not in older texts, it’s starting to I think in Komilla Sutton’s book on the nodes she does treat it as having to do with past lives and things like that, but I’m pretty sure that’s coming from Western Astrology, Contemporary Western Astrology rather then from the Indian tradition itself, per se.
AS: Yeah, yeah. I’ll comment on that. Where I wanna start is, not really a ‘handicap’, we’ll just keep it in quotes. Really my first moment with astrology, like I was not into astrology, I was into the I Ching, I was into the tarot, I was into yoga, I was into psychedelics, I was into all these things but not astrology. And there was this one night back in 2006. It was a gathering, like a symposium of artists at a friends house. And I got in this conversation with this guy who had been talking to a bunch of people about their chart, he was like looking at their charts. And I didn’t know my birth time, I just told him my birthday and like real quick in his head he calculated where my nodes would have been, just by sign. And he said something to me that haunted me, and I think like any good astrology reading will do this, there will be something like one or two takeaways that haunt in a good way.
AS: Just kind of nag at you. And he said something like “you need to stop seeking the grail, and turn your face to the city and start talking about the grail.” And I was like, wait, what? He was like “just leave the mountain and enter the town or city.” And I was like wait no. No! Like that’s not what’s gonna happen here at that phase of my life, the trajectory was so far away from town and city, like where I wanted to be, where I wanted to go and stuff like that. And so not too long after that I learned of astro.com, I casted my own chart, you know how they have the interpretation reports, I was going through them, not getting too much out of it, doing my own research, got a book at the Boulder Public Library on the nodes, North node astrology or something like that, Celeste Teal I think her name came up in our last podcast. Celestial?
CB: Oh yeah Celeste Teal, she was one of my early favorite books as well, and most people don’t know that’s a, not a euphemism, what’s the term, it’s like a pen name.
AS: Right. Moniker.
CB: Right. I didn’t know that until very recently, so I always get a kick out of telling other people.
AS: Celeste Teal. So that was the seed I think was through the nodes, and then it just kind of went by the wayside. And Tarnus then released Cosmos and Psyche.
CB: Really quickly, what were your node placements, was it like Sagittarius/Gemini?
AS: Oh sorry I should have said, exactly! You got it.
CB: Oh it is, okay brilliant, I’m glad I got it. So the mountain, you must have the south node in Sagittarius and the north node in Gemini?
CB: And that’s what he was delineating.
AS: He just used that, but if he would have actually looked at my chart he would’ve went deeper into it because I have Neptune conjunct my south node, it’s in the 4th house, that north node is in Gemini pointing into the 10th, it makes even more sense when you look at my actual chart. So, anyway, a year or two goes by and Cosmos & Psyche comes out. Well, I had already been familiar with Rick’s work because of his affiliation with Stan Grof, and also a philosophy course in college, we had to read Passion of the Western Minds so I was already into his work. And this book came out, and when I bought it, I really honestly had no idea it was about astrology.
AS: I just knew it was his second book.
CB: That’s wild.
AS: So I’m like I’m gonna read it! Intimations on a new world view. And when I got into it I was like ‘Oh, sneaky bugger, it’s about astrology!’ Cause it’s kind of sneaky in the beginning it’s like, y’know is this about astrology, is it not? And I read the whole thing.
CB: Yeah he doesn’t mention it astrology for the first 50 pages I think.
AS: Exactly. So it kinda snuck up on me, and then once it started I was like ‘oh my god, this is the realm that I need to go deeper into,’ because I knew it was mainly tracking it through time, looking at it in a mundane sense these cycles between planets. But of course, immediately light bulbs in my head I’m like there’s implication of all of this in my chart with transits and the like, right? So it wasn’t even two months after that when I met Ari Moshe, and then it began.
CB: Okay. So you’re one of those people who, like Tarnus’s book actually had a really profound impact on, I mean there’s obviously other things and other intimations going on in your life in terms of astrology in that direction, but that book did influence you in a significant way.
AS: It really did because I think a lot of my issues with astrology before that and really still to this very day is just the lack of academic rigor, which you don’t lack any of, as you know, and I just wasn’t familiar with all of the great wizards that are alive, right? Because that is not what you are presented in the mainstream, or in the papers, or in that birthday book that someone’s gonna give you and say read your birthday, like it’s just not present in those ways. And then once it opened, what Tarnus did was like open my mind to like holy cow, there is something to this, and then the studies began.
CB: That’s brilliant I mean cause I’ve met people like that especially younger people who just picked up the book in a bookstore and had no idea and thought it was a book on philosophy cause it’s in the philosophy section in like Barnes & Noble and stuff like that, and then suddenly they’ve been introduced to astrology. And I think, there’s still some, I don’t know if we’ll ever fully know how many people were first exposed to astrology like that in the mid-2000s but the number is probably a lot higher than we realize sometimes.
AS: Yes because his reach is in different communities as well. Y’know it’s not just the astrological, which is amazing. And then his daughter, as well her work, the school, I mean the tendrils go in different directions which is kind of amazing.
CB: Yeah definitely. Alright so then you met Ari and sort of, and that was it you were into astrology at that point.
AS: Yeah, like we traded, I used to do medical Chi-gong work and other such things and did that for him, he gave me a reading in a treehouse on a very cloudy day in Olympia, Washington. And it was just one of those readings that was so affirming, right? Didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know, just really strong affirmations that were coming through of course Pluto and the nodes, which is like the backbone of EA.
CB: Right because he’s, for those who don’t know, Ari is like the protege on some level of Jeffrey Wolf Greene who is the founder of Evolutionary Astrology. Is that a good characterization?
AS: I’ve never called him that, but yeah I would say so. Absolutely.
CB: Okay so you immediately, so you were exposed to Tarnus’s work but then you came into contact with somebody who was very high up in the EA community and would’ve placed therefore a lot of emphasis on the nodes and their sort of past life, future life values.
AS: Yeah. And he was just giving me his books, we were having conversations, he lived literally right across the hall from me. And we became fast friends. Again it wasn’t my intention to become an astrologer I was just using it in a very basic way for diagnostic reasons. Like pulses, not so good at doing it. Tongue, I’m alright at doing it. Certain other methods that I’ve learned along the way, alright. But the chart? Right when I learned how to look at charts it was second nature to me. I was like ‘oh this can be so helpful for people.’ Right, and it was! And so people started inquiring about ‘can we actually do a reading? Can we go deeper into this?’ I was like I guess, I don’t really do this but sure. And then once I started doing readings I was like I love this! We just sit here for an hour and explore this stuff, oh my goodness. I could do it, maybe.
CB: Right. So it’s like astrology as part of like a metaphysical, healing modality?
AS: Kind of, an informing tool within it, but yeah I would say it’s within that category and I feel, I just had a little itch that we’re getting a little far off topic on the nodes.
CB: Sure, so bringing it back, so at that point you’re fully into astrology, you’re doing consultations, and you’re using the nodes at that point.
AS: Using the nodes for sure. And it was also around the time that Steven released Yesterday’s Sky. Which is my favorite book on the nodes, I love it, I recommend it to all my students. And it was also around that time that I started realizing the problem of past lives in astrology readings. Which is kind of paradoxical that was kind of the momentum at my back. And then I was realizing this isn’t really helpful, and that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in past lives, I’ve had some very strange encounters with the idea. But I’ll get into some of my philosophy around it now.
So I think that when we’re talking about the nodes of the Moon we cannot forget that we’re talking about the Moon. All planets have nodes, right? So the nodes of the Moon is this idea, like well, what is the function of the Moon but to keep us safe and secure and successfully processing emotion and feeling and experience throughout our lives. And so through this we develop behaviors and habituations and identities and all these different things to keep us safe and secure within some sort of identity that allows us to be a functional and hopeful successful human being in this life.
Stories. All stories come from this lunar idea. The actual Moon and the nodes of the Moon. And it’s kind of this trifecta that relates to time in the sense of past present and future, which also I started noticing to be very problematic, because the greatest present to unwrap is right here in the present moment. And so exploring too much of the past, especially a past that doesn’t even exist in this life is another thing to hold onto. And to go too deep into this idea of destiny or the future is also another thing to hold onto, or at least stretch our energy away from the present moment. And so there’s this quote that I think really is at the centerpiece of my relationship to the nodes of the Moon. It’s by Tek Na Han, he says to understand past lives with no further than the present moment. And so it’s all here now, and so then the magic of the nodes, and they are chock full of magic in my opinion, relates kind of to the idea that it is a dragon. 25:12
And that’s where, when I started studying Vedic astrology, yeah it’s problematic because Ketu and Rahu are very different than the way Evolutionary Astrologers or Jungian psychologist, astrologers talk about this. Right? Their shadowy planets, they’re Asuras, they’re demon like, they’re even treated as planets, but they are not the same. Right? So this dragon idea I’ve always been into mythology and storytelling as well and I started noticing in some of Campbell’s work and some of this guy Morton Shaw’s work, who I’m really into, that this dragon idea, this serpent idea was so central to the mono-myth to the story, we’ll just say in a meta sense that we’re all living, that it started to kind of make sense while I was doing readings as well, like this whole dragon thing is so fundamental in understanding a person’s relationship to their story, and so the south node then becomes not just past lives, but something that is in the Ketu sense, the part of the dragon without a head. So it has no eyes, it has no nose to smell, it has no tongue to feel the environment around it. Right? So it has no direction in this world. But it is in mystical domain, and if we were to entertain the past life idea, just to assume, it’s 10,000 past lives, an amalgamation of experience that is the south node, its sign, it’s aspects and the ruler of it. Well you gotta be good at something around that. And there’s some text, I think it’s David Frawley that talks about it, don’t quote me on that, that cities or magical powers kind of seep out of the south node. I couldn’t agree more at this point. I think that the south node and it’s story has so much to do with the most integrated part of a person’s psychology. It even might even bleed into genetics. Though I have absolutely no science to back up. Where the north node, which is the dragon’s head, which has no body, it’s kind of like the Buddhist idea of the hungry ghost. Whereas Rahu in the east is this materialistic, conniving, very intelligent entity that knows how to get power, knows how to succeed in the material world. Well here we have cultural values and place that shows us the difference. Where, if the north node is destiny in the West, and it’s this hungry ghost demon in the East, we see a very big difference in what destiny means to these two different ways of thinking about reality, right?
AS: And so the north node I do think is a story that we’re meant to write. It’s kind of like a beautiful book with a great pen in the middle of it. It’s kind of like if you have the guts to write this story, to face the dragon, there’s a lot of synchronicity and there’s a lot of experience that comes from it. But if you stay there for too long, it’s very hard in my experience personally to turn off Rahu. To turn off the north node, because it’s this more, more, more, more, more, type energy, it’s very Mars-like. And that’s the great test then, it’s like, well, how can I actually lead Rahu to Ketu. How can I bring the head to the tail. How can I in a way make a circle out of time. Instead of thinking about it as this linear past, present, future idea. But instead, this ever present way of dealing with comfort, dealing with the call to action, right? So within the nodes I think there are these incredible stories that are just pregnant with potential within them. And I’ll just give a quick example because I did it earlier today, I offered this thing called a complete reading. It’s five different sessions, and one of the sessions is completely on the nodes of the Moon. So we spend the entire reading going into all the implications of the nodes, their rulers in the natal chart and then I illuminate all of the biggest transits to them up to this point in time. And it is my favorite reading to do with people because by the end of it, the way that they understand themselves is remarkable. Like I think it is something that lends into, say, the healing potential of astrology. Right? That some sort of reconfiguration happens and they’re thinking about their story, about themselves in it. And it hopefully, in most of the cases inspires them, right? So, my take on it.
CB: Yeah, so y’know one of the interesting points that you brought up, case this gets us into some interesting territory where I’m not sure I’ve actually fully gone there, never had an episode about it.
AS: Let’s do it.
CB: About reincarnation and astrology, and astrology and karma and things like that. Because that was one of the things, it’s funny cause I got into astrology with the explicit purpose partially of wanting to know about past lives and with the presumption that if you looked at a person’s natal chart that it could tell you something about a person’s past life. And one of the things that threw me off in some of my initial studies was that I was surprised it wasn’t like y’know an astrologer could look at a chart and say “you were a dairy farmer in 16th century England” or something like that. It’s like you could make really road statements about archetypally certain areas or certain themes that might have been prominent, but it’s not like, as is the case with most astrology, it’s not like you’re looking into a crystal ball at like a movie screen of exactly what took place at some specific point in the future, but instead you’re drawing on the symbolism in order to describe like themes that depending on the astrologer you may or may not be comfortable going more or less far in trying to narrow that down and state with greater or lesser specificity what that symbol means or applies. So I was kind of surprised by that, and then I was surprised and that made me a little more skeptical then of some of the statements about this specific past life or future life implications of certain nodal placements relatively early on in my studies.
But when I got to studying Indian astrology I was really interested and surprised at how they treated it because I had this presumption, I think people often have a presumption that because karma and reincarnation are so prominent there that they would have similar views as like the modern, western sort of new-age astrologers who are sort of into karma and reincarnation theories. But so much of Indian astrology really is just focused on, this is the chart, the entire chart itself is the result of past karmas so there’s not some particular part of the chart which deals with past lives. Saturn is not the only planet that deals with karma, it’s like the entire chart itself is the result of all of your past karmas. But the focus really for their astrology often times is not about your past life or your future life, it’s often very practical like this is your life right now, right here, and what do you want to know about it? And I always found that so interesting from a philosophical and sort of conceptual standpoint because so much of contemporary astrology that I was into in the early and mid-2000s was so much about elsewhere and y’know what happened in a past life to cause things to be the way they are now, or where are you heading in the future, and how can you get there? And not necessarily so much just about describing the present. And Indian astrology seemed to be much more focused on the present than I anticipated. And that in and of itself sort of caused me to go down in some ways a similar line of thought as what you were describing when you were talking about that as well, in terms of what are we looking at, what’s the value that we’re placing on it or what is it actually doing for the person that’s like practically useful in order to engage in going that route? Y’know is this serving a purpose or what’s the point of what we’re doing with that?
AS: More overlap, I agree with you, completely and I love that perspective that Vedic astrology has on the entire chart being that karmic imprint, right? So I just want to say that. And also, for all of your listeners, I think it’s true with all planets but especially the nodes that you can begin to grok their meaning just by looking at their symbols. When you look at the south node it looks like a U, it looks like a cauldron or a cup. It’s holding something. And within that content, like I like to think about it as those colors that are even described with Ketu there’s kind of like this violet, blue, teal, grey kind of smoke coming out of it but when you’re in it, when you put your face in it like a scrying mirror, like maybe you can see the past life. But I’m really not that interested in it. I’m not, like there’s enough that’s happened in this life, or memories that I can’t remember because before three years old like everything is kind of a blank, and para-natal trauma, what it was like inside of my mom for 9 months, like all of that is more interesting to me as far as understanding the psychology, understanding trauma, understanding how it shows up in the chart, than past lives. And again I’ve had weird past life experiences, for sure. But I don’t think it’s that helpful to spiral back into another life especially when you’re creating extravagant fictions. Has anyone ever told you you’re the reincarnation of Valens, Chris?
CB: That I was the reincarnation of Valens? No. We did once look at our asteroids when I was at project hindsight and you know see who had prominent ancient astrologer named asteroids conjunct y’know certain places in their chart but I think that’s as far as I’ve gone.
AS: Nice. I’ve been told a few things, like I had a listener. I’ve been told a few things. Cause I give my chart out sometimes in the show and I had a listener tell me that I was Galileo.
CB: Oh okay.
AS: Yeah (chuckles).
CB: I mean that’s reasonable I mean if they had said like higher, like Kepler or y’know Ptolemy or something then that would have been a bit too far, but Galileo is a decent mid-tier, I could see that.
AS: Cool, yeah.
CB: In terms of just, y’know, not making too extravagant of a claim, that seems more reasonable.
AS: And, question, did he also die with the water hemlock like Socrates?
CB: Who, Galileo?
AS: Galileo, how was he, was he–
CB: I think he was, he was under house arrest for like the last decade of his life. And he wrote some of his most important works during that time.
AS: That’s what it was.
CB: But I don’t remember what the very end was.
AS: Right. Okay, I might just be thinking of Socrates. I was gonna bring something up about that plant. Anyway. Yeah so I’m with you on that, I just don’t really find in counseling work, because really my main intention in working with people, and this is actually a few of the questions that bleed into this as we segway into something else, like what does a reading look like? What is my own intention and purpose of even doing this work? Well I wanna help. I know how astrology helped me and inspired me, and gave greater context to my life, and continues to do so, but also what it does, like even knowing the littlest bit of astrology gives you a consistent relationship to magic. Like there’s something stunning about an astrology chart every single time you engage with it, you would agree, right?
CB: Yeah, somebody actually asked me about that earlier today and he asked if you ever lose that and I said no, I’ve never lost that, y’know, feeling, and I feel like if I did there would seriously be something wrong because there is, and this actually brings up a question that somebody else asked that hopefully we’ll get to later which is, y’know that disconnect between the realization of how weird astrology is and how different that is from the contemporary, modern worldview about the nature of the cosmos and everything else. And if you’re not constantly still, even as a seasoned astrologer, surprised and shocked and kind of awed by that then you’re, you’ve kind of lost touch of where astrology is relative to the sort of current understanding of the world.
AS: Yeah. You’ve hit a plateau, you’ve stopped inquiring and asking big questions, and you’ve just gotten lazy, my friend. If that happens.
CB: Yeah, well sure.
AS: If that happens. Because it’s always there!
CB: Or just taking for granted your world view to much. Like of course astrology works, or saying of course our lives are somehow mapped out to a greater or lesser extent ahead of time, of course that’s a thing. And it’s like no, you have to stop every once in a while and think: that’s still, I don’t want to say crazy, but that’s still a pretty wild proposition by any stretch of the imagination. And so I’m still constantly surprised and fascinated that that’s a thing, that astrology is a thing.
AS: Me too! I mean I think that both of us are probably, by default, skeptically minded. Are you? Have you always been?
CB: Yeah, I mean I think, y’know I think it waxed and waned at different points. I mean I used to be more into conspiracy theories and things like that, but I definitely, y’know probing and trying to understand and gauging the evidence for something against the arguments against it, so yeah I definitely have more of a skeptical bent in many ways.
AS: Mmhmm. And it’s things like astrology that’s almost like a reward for that depth of inquiry. Cause I know for a lot of my friends that are astrologers or are just really into it, it just kind of surprises them way along the road of whatever it is that they’ve been trying to find, right, they’ve been seeking something and I definitely was. And astrology was not a road marker on the map or the sign that I was moving toward. And when it came I was like ‘what is this?’ All of a sudden I just fell into this vortex and it just keeps spinning, and every single time I engage with it, whether it’s a conversation like this or looking at charts or teaching, it doesn’t really matter. I am in constant awe of the holographic nature of reality first of all. Because there’s just no way to logically explain some of this stuff like sub divisional charts, solar return charts, composite charts, like I know you’re gonna have a podcast about that soon. All of those things when you really think about the, it’s impossible, right? Like it’s impossible to have transits to your own chart, transits to a solar return chart, a lunar return chart, Dashas running, zodiacal releasing, profections, all these things running at once. And they all are true? How?
CB: Right. What do you mean by that phrase the holographic nature of the universe?
AS: I just feel that, this is a segway into Dashas, I think. Because, just the idea of the hologram or Indra’s net for example, that whatever jewel you look into, because they’re all connected, you see a mirror of all the other jewels in the sense that anywhere you look in some sense you’re the center of the universe, or that point is. And it kind of just holographically appears. Quantum mechanics is stumbling into this quickly, right? To me, one of the most mind-boggling things about astrology that I’ve discovered is how the Vimshottari Dasha cycle works with Western transits. Makes no sense, but with the way I use it, it’s 100% accurate, as far as what I’m looking for. And that doesn’t make any sense to me because y’know, its based on nakshatras, it’s quite old, it’s a no-no to do that. Every book I’ve ever read on it is like you can’t do that. I’m like you can’t? Lemme see, lemme try. And I’m like well, there’s something. And there’s something again, and I’ve been using it like that for 7 years.
CB: I mean that might be kind of interesting in terms of, I did a show not long ago interviewing, there’s a growing contingent, still a very small minority but some Vedic astrologers who are using the Tropical zodiac but sing Sidereal nakshatras. Maybe we can get to that I don’t know, later.
So we spent the first 40 minutes just talking about our first question, I’m increasingly realizing that we were much more ambitious in the, there’s a dozen other questions that we have lined up. There’s no way that we’re actually getting to all to this tonight. So we have an option here.
AS: Mmmmm no.
CB: We can keep expanding on, because I think we could actually keep talking about, and I always meant to do it, an episode on the nodes.
CB: I’m not sure if this is right to turn it all the way into a complete one but I think there’s a few points we could go back to on that and keep expanding on that and see where it takes us, or we could–
AS: Yeah we could even podcast too, and take these questions over to my show at some point, and then back and forth if people like it.
CB: Yeah I think that’s actually a great idea, so we could hit some more questions and do a separate one and release on your podcast and then we don’t have to, cause I want to get to the questions but I don’t want us to feel pressured to move on from like an interesting discussion point in order to just get through them.
AS: The Moon’s in Pisces, Chris, let’s just kick our feet up. What are we talking about again?
CB: Good point. The Moon is with Neptune in Pisces, applying, I guess we picked that as our electional chart for tonight. Alright so one point I wanted to come back to with the nodes cause I mean, I don’t want to hark on it, but it’s like because I haven’t talked about the nodes that much on my show, because I haven’t focused on them a lot for years maybe this would be a good time to present my research on that–
AS: I would love it.
CB: –and one of the things. Okay so it’s like one of the things I try to do is I wrote up a whole paper, is was probably 10 years ago now, I tried to trace the history of the nodes and how they were used in different traditions, and I also tried to trace the modern history of when did everyone start talking about the nodes in a past life and future life context? If this is something that doesn’t show up if you go a few centuries back. And it turned out that you can actually trace most of the modern approach to the nodes back to Dane Rudhyar’s first book which was, the name is escaping me at the moment, what was it? It was like the psychology…
AS: Psychology of Self? What is it called…
CB: Yeah, oh man I can’t believe I’m forgetting it but it’s the, his first book which was published in like 1936… let me search for it…
AS: Yeah let’s look it up.
CB: Oh The Astrology of Personality.
AS: There you go.
CB Okay. So, the astrology of personality, it was published in like 1938 I believe, and what you see is like later in the book he has this really pretty small section, and it’s kind of this almost throw-away section where he starts talking about the nodes, and Rudhyar’s thing was he was trying to go back to first principles and he was trying to understand and reconstruct or create an astrology anew in modern times by going back to first principles and looking at the symbolism and then trying to extrapolate from basic things like the basic astronomy of something or other things like that, what it’s astrological significance was. He was trying to create sort of grand paradigms or constructs like the lunation cycle as a construct or looking at everything like the tropical zodiac in the context of cycles, and how that might extend to the aspect doctrine and how different cycles that might inform the nature of the aspects with waxing aspects versus waning aspects and everything else. So in The Astrology of Personality which is his first book, which is extremely early in his career like in the mid-1930s and he lived all the way until the mid 1980s, so we’re talking about pretty early on in his career. He has this like throw away section where he starts talking about the nodes and he starts talking about their astronomy and how the North Node is when the Moon begins ascending upwards and the South Node begins descending downwards in terms of latitude and declination and everything else. And then he extrapolates for that and he says so then this must explain why, or this is part of the reason why the North Node has been associated with growth ad increase, the South Node has been traditionally associated with decrease. Which is true that in the medieval tradition that’s one of the primary ways the nodes are treated was the north node increases whatever it touches and the south node decreases whatever it touches. And then by extension they would say so it’s good to have the benefics with the north node because it will increase their beneficence and it’s bad to have the malefics because it will increase their maleficence and vice versa with the south node.
So then he sort of has this throw away line were he almost starts to speculate and sort of riff on this idea form a philosophical standpoint as a theosophist, or at least earlier in his career he was much more influenced by theosophy I think than he was later on. And he says “so then perhaps we could say that the north node might have to do with the development of one’s life in the future and the south node may have to do with things that happened in terms of a person’s past lives.” And then that’s the end and he basically moves on to the next section, essentially.
CB: So this is a paraphrase. I’m butchering it in terms of details, but generally speaking that’s what happens and that’s it, and as far as I can tell all modern treatments of the nodes really go back to that, what was essentially Rudhyar just sort of speculating or riffing on this based on the astronomical significance in this book in 1938. And then what happens is like eventually we have this influx of astrologers in the 60s and 70s as part of the new-age and counterculture movement and that book by Martin Schulman who wrote on the nodes, he wrote a whole series one of them was on the nodes, one of them was on the part of fortune and other stuff like that but he connected the nodes I think being influenced by Rudhyar with past and future lives and then from that point forward, cause I asked Steven Forrest at one point like how, where did he get the idea that the north node has to do with the future and the south node has to do with the past and he said he just assumed it had always been in the tradition because by the time he got into the astrological community and he read Schulman’s book it became a pretty common idea. And then from that point forward, from the 60s and 70s forward it just explodes into this common presumption that everybody’s making that’s sort of like a shared approach to the nodes. And that brings us to the point we are at today. So I was always just fascinated by that and I wanted to mention that as part of my background context for why I got kind of startled and wanted to take a step back from the nodes for about a decade, just because of realizing how, when looking at it from a purely historical standpoint, something that could be so pervasive and taken as an assumption in modern times could be such a recent development. I was kind of surprised by that and that was one of my early forays into this intersection between looking at astrology from a historical and cultural standpoint versus a technical standpoint and how sometimes that can be important or useful just in terms of giving greater context about how the techniques developed and where they came from.
AS: Absolutely. So the nodes have become a meme, in other words? They’re kind of like a meme. Like it came from like as sentence or maybe some of his lectures in the 30s, 40s, or something like this and then it just kind of nestled itself within the collective and then everyone started talking about it, and using it and relating it in that way. I observe this too. It’s not a complete overlap because I don’t think I’ve completed that book. I’ve read a few others of Rudyar’s, but when I first did get into Rudyar’s work early on I noticed that about his relationship, probably later on like in the 60s, that content that he was producing. But my question immediately was how come I don’t remember Jeff Greene talking about this? Y’know like referencing Rudyar and stuff cause it’s like identical with how they’re talking about these nodes. I just thought for some reason, just with my little knowledge of EA that was kind of like channeled and brought forth by dreams and experience and stuff like that by Jeff Greene. Like at least that was like the cliff notes of the original story. And then i discovered that and then i started having my own experiences with it where I was like ‘yeah it’s roughly related to this,’ but this will stitch in the question from earlier where, what was her name, yeah Sheila, she asked it. About transits of the nodes to and from, I wanna say. Just watch it. Especially once in a lifetime transits and or progressions, solar arcs, and what is your experience of that? And it will help you understand the very simple understanding of north node, more, south node, less. And if you think about then as stories, like wherever the north node is transiting for example, wherever the eclipse happened on August 21st for example, the north node in Leo was transiting. Wherever that’s at in your chart it’s hitting anything sensitive. Think about it and start to see like oh, there are more additions to the story in that area, there could even be really exciting like quantum leaps in that part of the story in your life. Whereas the south node that’s in Aquarius at the moment, things are falling away. Stories are falling out, right, like they’re spilling over. They’re no longer needed anymore. And I find that to be incredibly helpful in client work, because if there are stories running, for example here’s an extreme case. Someone that is really suffering from PTSD, right? And they can’t help but cycle that story, that memory, right? From that time, I mean the brain has basically rewired itself to viscerally experience that, and I think that’s a south node experience. Well with the help of some treatments, maybe a little bit of MDMA or something like that, there can be a, to be catapulted almost into the north node to see beyond the confines and the walls of this story and this identity that is an illusion that you’ve constructed around whatever the trauma is, and we’re all traumatized. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just PTSD we all have been born and so there’s some sort of trauma around us, but life is tough, right? And so I think that with the south node patterning and with the Moon, we do construct stories that keep us safe, and that can be very problematic when it comes down to just keeping things moving, to feel like we’re progressing or evolving, not that we have to go anywhere but at least moving energy to where we feel radiant and content most of the time. Do you follow?
CB: Yeah, yeah definitely. And I like something you said where you were talking about y’know look at what happens when the nodes transit certain point, or when certain point transit to the nodes cause that brings up an important point here, and that was really the main thing that I wanted to do where I wanted to distance myself initially from the so I could rebuild my understanding of them based on more of an empirical understanding of looking and actually seeing what they seem to be doing and then drawing my own conclusions rather than taking it for granted what they meant based on this sort of inherited tradition that made certain assumptions about what they already meant and signified. Cause that’s always, that’s like a constant tension in astrology and in the astrological community and I feel like it’s always been that way because there’s this pull between on the one hand like empiricism and trying to figure things out, what astrology means and what different things in astrology what different planets signify or what the houses signify based on repeated observations over long periods of time. And there’s like that whole empirical side of astrology. But there’s also this other side which is like purely symbolic extrapolation, or like extrapolation of what things mean based on symbolic reasoning and symbolic sort of inferences. For example in traditional astrology they said that if a planet was under the beams, if it was hidden, if it was too close to the sun then you couldn’t see it and it was hidden “underneath the beams” and therefore whatever that planet signified would sometimes be interpreted as being hidden or obscured in some way. Like if the planet signified relationships and it was under the beams, then they would interpret that as meaning that the person would have secret relationships, or would be married in secret, is one of the delineations from Rhetorius in the 7th century. And so that’s not empirical that’s purely a sort of symbolic extrapolation that somebody’s coming to just by thinking about sort of abstractly what that symbolism means, and then creating or generating a delineation based on that of what then it should signify in the world in general based on that, whether or not they’ve actually ever seen that occur before. And so that’s one of the areas where we run into the nodes that worried me just because if you use them primarily or too much in a past life context then it’s hard to really have much of an empirical basis for those statements at all because you’re making statements about things that there’s no way to verify, and instead you’re relying almost entirely on y’know the symbolic extrapolation to some extent, or another version of that or branch of that which is just what does the inherited tradition say about that’ whether or not it has any empirical basis, and then applying inherited, traditional assumptions to generate a delineation.
AS: Can I interject, real quick about that?
AS: Because I agree with you, but there is context for being able to have that content to work with. For example, I do know of a few astrologers who do past life regression in conjunction with their readings.
CB: Right. Patricia Walsh is somebody I’ve talked to before who does past life regression and she uses that in an attempt to empirically validate information she’s getting on past lives in the chart.
AS: Right. A student of mine learned with her and does the same thing also, holotropic breathwork which is work that Grof and Tarnus did together and I’ve actually done that myself, led holotropic sessions with a friend who does that and then given readings to everybody afterwards, that’s interesting, wow. And I think there’s other contexts too that maybe you could do it, like y’know ayahuasca has spread its vines around the planet pretty successfully and I think the combination between those experiences and astrology readings is probably pretty helpful. Because you can see it, you can see, oh my goodness, if it is an old story that a person is releasing and maybe they do slide through some rabbit hole into a past life experience and they have these imprints, they have these cathartic moments, that’s real for them, right? It doesn’t matter if it’s a figment of the imagination or if it’s real or not that’s their experience and so I’m totally in favor and okay with a person bringing a story to me that they had, not telling me that they were y’know some high Cleopatran-type priestess in a different life or anything like that, but like something real, tangible that can help with their healing process, right? And then you can always see it in the chart in relation to the nodes or their rulers. And then, we have content to work with. But I’ll never paint a fiction for someone, because I already gave my reason of one of them why, but also I just don’t think it’s fair for me to attempt to do that.
CB: Well, and I mean that’s the question is y’know I don’t have a problem if you’re just straight out saying… I mean I don’t have a problem either way I mean people can do whatever they want in terms of the astrology…
CB: Yeah and that should be said for the outset, but I’m just saying in terms of my personal, because it’s so funny that literally was, I got into astrology because I was reading books on Nostradamus where this person was a past life, she was a hypnotherapist who supposedly regressed patients and then writes this whole story about going into a past life and like finding a student of Nostradamus’s and then they go about trying to interpret his prophecies based on that. And that was literally my entrance into both the new age field, sort of community, as well as astrology, and so my background is very much tied up in all of that. So it’s not that, y’know I don’t know anything about it or that I’m completely antithetical or hostile to it in terms of my background, I’ve just become more and more skeptical because when I did start talking to, for example, a person who was trained by that author who did past life regression, and she was a psychologist herself, she said that she did sometimes have questions about how much the person under hypnosis was actually reliving or talking about something that was a genuine thing that occurred historically in a past life versus how much they were developing or talking about some sort of narrative that was coming from some deep thing in their background or their childhood background in this life, but that the narrative itself was almost like a convenient way to describe that in a way that was, y’know easier to cope with rather than actually talking about what happened in this life. And that’s one of the questions sometimes when it comes to some of this stuff which is, whenever you’re looking at things that are supposed to indicate past traumas or things that happened in the person’s past, it’s often times just seems so ambiguous if this is something that happened earlier in the person’s life or is in the person’s family background or ancestral background or sort of cultural background, versus going back for that and saying that this is something that a person is bringing in from elsewhere, from some other lifetime. That ambiguity always made me uncomfortable the more and more I learned about astrology, because it never seemed fully possible to say for sure which it was.
AS: The Moon is a sticky substance, Chris, Right? Like I think for example with what you’re saying, every experience that we have, all the movies we watch, all the books we read, all the stories we hear people tell us, well some of that’s probably going to stick to the Moon. Also I think it’s a dream catcher, I think that we dream through the Moon, that the landscape we go to every night is more Neptunian, it’s universal, but like I’m never gonna dream of your parents, you’re never gonna dream of mine, likely unless you’ve got this psychic staff (laughs) in your hands or like you’re holding some sort of a, I don’t know, feather that has powers in the dream world, but i think that too can carry over. A lot of people can be delusional around what’s real, what’s not real, right? Reality tunnels are varied within all of us. And so you’re right, like, is it tangible past life material? Where does it come from? Does it matter? I think it all matters, but what is most useful is the question that seems you’ve always been asking, like is it useful, is it legitimate for me to actually utilize this in my practice, and I do. I’m always asking it but the nodes for me, like when we were talking about consistently getting the feedback form astrology of awe and validity through that magic, I get so much of it form the nodes, consistently. And so there’s o way I would ever abandon them. Nor would I ever abandon the south node. And help me understand where that comes from, Chris? Why does astro.com I think and Solar Fire by default not include it? Is it a Uranian astrology thing? Where does it come from?
CB: Where does what come from? The true node thing?
AS: No not true or mean, that astro.com by default does not include the south node.
CB: Oh, they just include the north node. I mean I guess, I don’t know, that’s a good question cause that always does annoy me as well, cause when I put them in charts it’s like I’ll do both the north node and the south node so that’s a good question.
AS: It’s just annoying. Like oh my god it’s like a conversation I had the other day with a colleague, cause she doesn’t use it either.
CB: She doesn’t use the south node?
AS: Nuh uh.
CB: Oh right, cause, yeah that’s one of the funny things is that because it’s this intersection in modern astrology between sort of progress oriented, not progressive, I’m not thinking of the right word, but it’s like encouraging progress oriented, positive astrology as one major trend in modern astrology, the desire and the attempt to use astrology as a tool for self-development and growth and things like that automatically then classifies the north node as positive, and ironically ends up sort of almost indirectly or accidentally classifying the south node as negative or malefic because it represents your past and where you’ve been but that you should be moving toward your north node. So that’s actually, I don’t know if I’ve heard of it going that extreme but that sounds like an extreme manifestation of that sort of things with the person you’re talking about if they’re only using the north node and not the south node.
AS: It’s important for all your listeners to know about this, especially if you’re just getting into astrology because I think Solar Fire does it too. I don’t know that for sure, it’s been a long time since I’ve configured my displayed points, but I remember something like that, astro.com definitely does it. So if you’re just getting into astrology and you just don’t know much about what we’re talking about, make sure you put the south node in there. Because I think it’s a really dangerous idea to just focus on that idea of the future. There’s so much that exists within the south node that is I think vital material for really understanding who you are.
CB: I’ll have to ask them about that but honestly I think that’s probably just a programmer thing, where they’re just like it’s not necessary because they south node is always exactly 180 degrees opposite the north node so we don’t need to display it. Honestly knowing some of the astrodienst guys that’s probably their rationale for that. So that’s funny if that accidentally generated a tradition of astrology in modern times where some astrologers just aren’t using the south node cause it’s not displayed in the chart.
AS: Yeah… is it like that with part of fortune and spirit, too? Is that why they don’t include it? Because they are opposite, right?
CB: They’re always equidistant from the Ascendant, because you take the distance between the sun and the Moon, and then you recreate that distance with the Ascendant, and then the Lot of Spirit and Lot of Fortune always are the same distance either above or below the Ascendant from each other. It’s like the Lot of Fortune, the issue there is actually Ptolemy, the only lot that he used was the lot of fortune, and he dismissed all other lots as being fanciful or something like that, he didn’t like them. But he thought the Lot of Fortune was okay so he kept that, and that was the only Hellenistic text form the 2nd century that was consistently transmitted and translated into different languages over the past 2,000 years. And so that’s the reason why the Lot of Fortune is in all charts but other lots like the Lot of Spirit aren’t.
AS: Mmm. By the way, I can’t help but thinking about Neil Degrasse Tyson and putting his face on Ptolemy when I think about him now because of your example on my podcast.
CB: Right, yeah cause Ptolemy is like if somebody like Neil Degrasse Tyson or his predecessor Carl Sagan wrote a book on astrology where he tried to draw together a bunch of different scientific fields and create a grand unified theory that brought them all together, that’s basically what Ptolemy would be. And that doesn’t necessarily make him a practicing astrologer, but maybe more of like a theoretician or something like that.
AS: It’s a tough comparison for me because I think if Sagan wrote an astrology book it would be poetic, but shit. Same with Neil Degrasse Tyson, y’know? So is that how a lot of historians and Hellenistic astrologers view Ptolemy? Or is that just kind of you tongue-in-cheek talking about it in that way?
CB: I mean it’s really, it goes back and forth because Ptolemy, prior to the 1980s, Ptolemy was the only book that as I said, that survived form that early form of astrology so for centuries, English astrologers assumed that Ptolemy was the most representative of the Roman astrologers around the 2nd century. But all of a sudden in the past few decades a bunch of texts were recovered of other people who lived around the same time frame, sometimes people like Valens who lived in the same city in Alexandria in Egypt in the 2nd century as Ptolemy, but their approach is just radically different. But you can see that Valens is a practicing astrologer who’s writing books to his students, and who uses a bunch of chart examples, over 120 chart examples where Ptolemy never uses a single one, and so there was this, when that was discovered and that comparison started happening in the 1980s forward, there was this reactionary movement against Ptolemy where some astrologers like James Holden and to a lesser extent Jeffrey Cornelius were like, Ptolemy wasn’t even a practicing astrologer necessarily, and instead these other guys were clearly practicing astrologers and we should pay more attention to them. And it was almost too extreme of a movement against Ptolemy and I feel like that’s starting to be balanced out yet, so I don’t want to go too far in saying that he wasn’t an astrologer or that he didn’t know anything about the subject since we don’t know in all honesty and the truth is probably somewhere in between, but certainly his approach was much more theoretical and the approach of somebody like Valens was much more, this is his empirical work on astrology.
AS: Got it.
CB: So again it’s that recurring theme of empiricism versus developing things based on sort of abstract, symbolic extrapolation.
AS: I’ve got a question that might be the question of questions around some of this stuff. If the library of Alexandria did not burn to the ground, do you think that we could have been privy to some information about the nodes that could have been helpful in the 21st century? Or eclipses? Or all of this?
CB: Yeah I mean maybe, we’re missing … cause what sucks is that the texts that we have are from the 1st and 2nd century CE and those are like the earlier texts we have of like Greco-Roman horoscopic astrology or the system of astrology that we use in the West essentially, or at least the basics of it. The four fold system that has planets, signs, houses, and aspects, like the earliest text we have that has all of that system shows up in the 1st century. But what sucks it’s already like a second generation of astrologer sat that point and they’re drawing on an earlier collection of texts that were written in the 1st century BCE or slightly earlier that were the foundational texts of that tradition, but none of those survive. And so we’ve lost all of those, and we just have like this 2nd and 3rd generation of Greco-Roman astrologers who were reporting on what the founder said, but we don’t actually know what the founders works actually looked like. Which is incredibly frustrating. I’m still holding out hope for a dead sea scrolls type discovery someday of some sheep-herder in Egypt discovers a hidden cave that has jars in it that contain all the foundational texts of western astrology.
AS: Yeah, well maybe if the digging continues at Gobekli Tepe, there will be some discoveries, case there is astrological etchings on what has been excavated up until this point, have you seen them?
CB: Oh right, so you’re talking about way back, not paleolithic but ancient, ancient sort of stuff in Egypt, right?
AS: So Gobekli Tepe I do believe is in Lebanon, it’s close, it’s in there, but because of everything that’s been going on in that area of the world the digging has ceased and also the main guy who was leading the excavation died.
CB: Oh wow.
AS: So Graham Hancock in his latest book Magicians of the Gods, it starts there, talking to this guy at the site. And s far as I know there might have been something even more recent that’s been discovered that’s older than this, but it blows our whole understanding of history out of the water and it’s very strong evidence. One of this things I actually enjoy about knowing about this and you can actually look at the image of it online is that there’s this pillar that has kind of, it’s hard to describe it without looking at it as well. But you can see successions of constellations that are really well carved in it. And yeah as far as the dating of it, I’d have to google it and I don’t wanna type, because we made that rule beforehand. But maybe your jar is at Gobekli Tepe, our jar. The jar that will tell us about the true history of the nodes and why there’s temples in India for both Rahu and Ketu, right? They have a relationship to these things. I want a deeper relationship too, Chris.
CB: Right that’s like pre-StoneHenge I think even right?
CB: Yeah there’s some interesting stuff there in terms of some of the prehistoric almost astronomical and potentially astrological monuments and things like that and their significance. I mean the fact that StoneHenge is at all connected or aligned with the equinoxes and the solstices, and then Western astrology thousands of years later, or hundreds of years after the creation of Stonehenge became so centered on the equinoxes and the solstices as the foundational pillars of the tropical zodiac has always just been fascinating to me and there’s always been some link there that I’ve meant to explore further that I’m not sure that I could articulate right now.
AS: It’s good to have interests like that, that go far back They really do stretch the imagination just like staring at the night sky, right?
CB: Yeah. So bringing this back around to what has become our main topic for this episode which is the nodes.
AS: The nodes, yep.
CB: I was thinking, one of the issues that I have just theoretically or conceptually that I’ve had for quite a while, for 10 years, since I got into traditional astrology about the association of the nodes with past lives is that we’re talking about the nodes of the Moon, and one of the issues that I had is that traditionally speaking the Moon was always associated with the body and with the physical incarnation of the native, and all things sort of associated or related to that. Whereas the Sun, traditionally was what was associated with the spirit and the soul and the intellect, at least in ancient astrology like 2,000 years ago. And so there was always something that was a little bit weird, that’s why then in modern astrology you could even treat the nodes as having to do with reincarnation of the soul and like past and future lives when were talking about mathematical points that are being derived primarily from the Moon. But as I was sitting here thinking that earlier, like 30 minutes ago as you were talking about something else, for the first time I actually thought about it and came up with an actual argument that I could make, at least conceptually as a counterpoint that’s kind of interesting, which is that the nodes themselves are actually the intersection point between the path of the Moon and the path of the sun.
CB: So that’s actually kind of interesting where you could almost take it form a more traditional standpoint from 2,000 years ago and say the Moon’s nodes represent the intersection point between the Moon which represents the body, and the Sun which represents the spirit or the soul, and at one intersection point, the Moon is moving upwards and at one intersection point the Moon is moving downwards, and so perhaps from there you could say this is why they have to do with past lives or future lives because of the intertwining and the moving in and out between those two spaces of like spirit versus body, and soul versus physical incarnation. So I literally just came up with that so I’m not actually trying to promote that.
AS: I like it!
CB: I feel like…
AS: I think you should! I think we should continue on it too.
CB: Alright well I wanted to put that out there because I thought it was interesting, because I’m always interested in often times like making, sometimes I can see the holes when you go back and do like a historical reconstruction, you can point at the holes in something and make an argument against something, but then every once in a while I can think on a counter-argument that I could make in the opposite direction. And I just came up with that as a counter argument that I think somebody could make, if they wanted to argue for the nodes symbolically at least as indicative symbolically of past and future lives. I think that would be the best access point that I’ve ever seen anybody promote, and I think I just came up with it.
AS: Bravo, bravo!
CB: Thank you I’m sure somebody else has said that at some point in the past but I don’t know, I just thought of that.
AS: Well when thinking about the thing that we have not mentioned, up until this point, it kind of brings us at least into the territory of what you were just talking. And that’s eclipses. So eclipses cannot happen without the nodes of the Moon, or without that intersection point, right?
AS: And as you heard me talk about at the eclipse talk at your meetup, this is something that has fascinated me in the sense that Rahu Ketu, this dragon-like Asura is the one that in a way swallow sun and Moon every 6 month or so. But when you look to many other cultures it’s always some sort of monstrous, very scary being. Like out West, the Indians here, it was a bear, right? To the Vikings it was two wolves. To the Tibetans it was kind of like a flying dog creature as far as I understand it. Chinese, dragons. So there’s this creature that represents something, and this is where I’m just tacking onto it, but I think it’s really important. Maybe the imprint or maybe hmm, here’s my point that I’ve stumbled int many times contemplating the nodes and also working with people, is just how reality is made of stories, right? So if the Moon’s glow is stolen sunlight reduced by 500,000 times or something like that, then it’s taking consciousness, the Sun is our start, it’s our reminder of the perfection of the cosmos, of consciousness right, it’s our star that gives life to us. And so the Moon reflects that back and in a sense it is soma, it is somatic, that is of body. But also, the capacity, I think the Moon is the closest thing to ego. I’ve never understood why some astrologers call the ego the Sun, doesn’t make any sense to me. But the Moon does. That it’s this delusion of self that is found within our stories, and we are starved of stories, my friend. All the stories are fading out, they’ve all been projected onto the Hollywood silver screen, and we’re kind of rudder-less I think in time. And so it’s reclaiming thee stories, the good ones, that in a way help us to lead better lives and more magical lives and more spiritual existences. Those are the stories we need to remember because they’re there, they turned up right on time about 5,000 years ago, right? And that has been my biggest interests of how to weave this in. To imagine Joseph Campbell as an astrologer is where I think my work is headed. Cause that is what always pulls me, it pulls me and it pulls me, and it’s the same thing as the nodes pulling at me, right? Like that is just my addition to what you’re saying, that there is some sort of Sun and Moon, masculine and feminine type alchemy happening. In this neighborhood.
CB: Yeah. And that connection with eclipses which was so prominent just a month and a half ago when everybody in North America, when millions of people went and witnessed this eclipse take place, I mean that really raises some interesting things about the past history of the nodes as well, and why in earlier tradition they were often interpreted negatively or as disruptive factors, because that is the point where the nodes are, the intersection point between the path of the Sun and the path of the Moon, and when there’s a New Moon that happens really close to the nodes that means the Moon will sometimes actually move in front of the face of the Sun and block it for a period of time and you’ll have an eclipse, and that was often in ancient times viewed as a very ominous phenomenon because, y’know you’re just going about your day, and it’s the middle of the day it’s like noon, and then suddenly it’s just dark out and all the insects and animals start freaking out because they think it’s nighttime and it just throws things into chaos, or into disorder, because there’s something out of the ordinary that’s just taken place, that’s interrupting the normal cycle of things. And I think that’s a large part of the reason that sometimes you have these more disruptive and occasionally negative takes on the nodes, like Vadeus Valens in the 2nd century. He really had a thing where he felt like the Moon, if it was conjunct or making a hard aspect with the nodes, was a really negative thing in electional charts and he gets the most animated at this point and it’s really weird, cause you’re reading this text from this 2nd century author, and then he just gets stuck on this one topic and he goes on for like a couple of paragraphs about those things always go terribly whenever he has electional charts where the nodes are conjunct the Moon or squaring the Moon or something like that. And he says never take any trips, don’t get married, don’t start a business, don’t do anything when the nodes are like that because it will never turn out the way that you want it, and there will always be some sort of disruption. Then later in the Indian tradition the nodes are often interpreted as these sort of disruptive points in the chart as well in a very similar way and I think that connection with eclipses and that idea of disruption, I sort of understand it a little bit more now after witnessing that eclipse a couple of months ago.
AS: A lover of the nodes, Valens was. Now let me say this, how tragic and interesting. Cause I agree. When the Moon is in relationship to the nodes of the Moon, it is strange. deja vu is frequent, when it crosses, I’ve never seen it with squares as much but when it crosses the south node or the north node that has been a common theme. It’s that feeling, right? Have I been here before? Or has is yet not happened, but it’s going to. There’s that feeling within deja vu that I’ve noticed. Because it’s so easy, I have a phone in my pocket with an astrology app, if I have deja vu I pull it out, and if the Moon’s there, well. Now last night, according to Valens, don’t do certain things when the Moon is in relationship to the nodes. Well, when that Aquarius Moon crossed over the south node, on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, that crazy fuck opened fire on the crowd. You know this news story already, right?
CB: Right, the shooting in Las Vegas last night.
AS: Yeah, it was within 5 degrees of the south node when that happened.
CB: Sure. Yeah I mean I haven’t, I don’t know, I haven’t experimented with that too much. I’ve tried to pay attention to that and I’m still trying to get a sense for that. But that idea of y’know there just being chaos sometimes when the luminaries get in that area is kind of an interesting, potent metaphor. It’s a very different way of approaching it I feel like than this contemporary take on the nodes, which is almost in some ways the exact opposite cause it’s much more linear of like this is the future, this is an arrow that’s pointed towards your future and this is an arrow that’s pointed toward your past. Whereas this other take is much more like this is an area of nebulousness and chaos and sort of a wild card factor.
AS: They are chaos! The eclipses are too, I think that the unexpected events where you do brush up on things like dragons during them. And it can of course happen outside of eclipses or maybe it’s eclipses season that accentuates it a little bit more, but it is interesting as far as you think you’re going this way and then you enter that territory, and then once you pop out of the other side of it you’re actually heading a completely different direction. It can happen like that.
CB: Right that makes sense as far as just the symbolism and the Moon moving from the north to the south and suddenly changing hemispheres and declination and stuff.
AS: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: Alright, well we are an hour and a half into our first question.
AS: Yep, that’s right.
CB: So I think we’re gonna have to change the title of this episode cause it’s clearly become the nodes episode with Adam and Chris. Where should we go from here? I don’t know that we can, we could try to work in one more question and just make it a 2 hour episode, we could just call this a self-contained episode on the nodes, what are you feeling like?
AS: Yeah let’s entitle it the accidental nodes episode.
CB: Right. The disruptive nature of the nodes on our previous plans to answer several questions.
AS: I’m fine with it. Yeah and if we do this in the future maybe we can focus on one question again, just be like, Adam and Chris riff on a subject, whatever that subject might be.
CB: Yeah that sounds good cause there was gonna be another, there was a couple more and we actually kind of almost incidentally got to or answered or did sort of short answers of some of the in terms of the Dashas one, and there was another one about the sort of cognitive dissonance that arises in terms of practicing astrology in the modern world where the modern understanding of the cosmos is so different. But maybe we could get into some specific answer on some of these in a follow up episode on your podcast.
AS: Yeah let’s do part two on my show. And remember, everyone listening, don’t believe anything that you read, or we say about the nodes. experience them for yourself. Then you will know, what we’re talking about. Or at least what I’m talking about cause I’m a full believer in their nature. You’re still getting acquainted I suppose.
CB: Yeah, I agree. I mean go back and both try them and test them out and do that empirical work and see how they work in your chart and your life and your transits, and then also go back and do that conceptual work and symbolic work, and in that thread is also historic work of seeing what other people have said in different traditions about the nodes. And then from the merging of those two maybe draw some conclusions.
AS: Mmhmm. Yeah and the simplest way, I mean just keep the psychology that I think is kind of traditional as well when looking at them. Be like, north node represents bringing in more content for the story that you’re supposed to write, so it’s more. South node is releasing and burning the pages of the stories that no longer serve you. So you can see that with transits to the nodes, and also the nodes transiting houses and planets in your chart.
CB: Right. And I do wanna say that the thing that got me to realize that I needed to start paying attention to the nodes again was an empirical observation. I think it was during the 2012 election, where I was doing a blog website called The Political Astrology Blog at the time with my friend Patrick Watson, and one of the things we did was live coverage of the Democratic national convention and the Republican national convention. It was kind of fun cause we sat with a group of people online and we watched through the major speeches each night of both conventions and we had a Solar Fire chart up that showed the transits in that location at that moment, both in the chart of the moment, and the animated clock feature, but also the transits to the chart of the person who was giving a speech at that point. And we actually watched, Paul Ryan actually got up and gave a speech where, y’know in 2012 he was Mitt Romney’s running mate for vice president, and he had the north node, I think it was the north node transiting perfectly over his, what I think was a 0 degrees Sagittarius Ascendant with Neptune very closely conjunct to it at 0 degrees or something like that, and the north node passed over, and I believe this was the true node, and it was like right during or right after it clicked over and it changed signs and it moved off of his Ascendant. It was like this really powerful observation that there was this political figure and that he just had this major transit and gave a major speech in terms of being important for his career and presumably his overall destiny and life direction and things like that, and that the nodes were clearly playing some sort of prominent role in his chart at the time, and that was the thing, that was the point after my 10-year almost sojourn of trying to get the nodes out of my chart and then trying to figure out what everything else mans, and then build my understanding back up. That was the point at which i was like okay, I need to start paying attention to these point case they clearly mean something important, and even if I don’t precisely know what, I want to explore that and figure it out. So that’s still where I’m at, but that’s what I would recommend other people do as well.
AS: That’s a great recommendation. And I’m happy you’re back with us, and you’ll be riding dragons soon enough, my friend.
CB: Yes I’ve rejoined the club. And hopefully this will not end up being an embarrassing episode 20 years from now if I decide to write a book about the nodes and the nodes become my main thing, hopefully this episode has fallen into quiet secrecy by that point.
AS: No way. And also they’ll have found the jar with that manuscript that we need.
CB: Right and it’s the founder of, it’s like Nechepso and Petosirus, two of the mythical founders of astrology and they’re basically just talking about how the south node indicates one’s past life and the north indicates one’s future life. And…
AS: They start talking about dragons in the way that I do as well, it’s like ‘oh my god they were onto something.’
AS: We’re just remembering.
CB: And then literally overnight everybody in the EA community would become a traditional astrologer, and would be on board with recovering the text of the ancient traditions.
AS: We would all be friends.
AS: One tree, under one tree. Oh, goodness.
CB: Someday, someday we can hope. Alright, well I think that brings us then to a good stopping point for this episode. So this turned out to be, as our last conversation did, an amazing conversation. I don’t know what it is, we’re gonna have to look at our synastry or something or maybe it’s just both of our…
AS: I know something! Wanna know it?
CB: What is it? Go ahead, shoot.
AS: Cause you’re chart’s on astro.com I’ve looked at it before. I know two things: 1. your Sun is on my Moon, you’re sun is at 9 [degrees] Scorpio, right?
AS: My Moon’s 8 [degrees] Scorpio.
CB: Oh! Beautiful.
AS: And then our angles are flipped. So your MC is 5 Sagittarius? Right?
AS: My MC is 6 Gemini. So we’re just, we’re a degree of separation.
CB: Interesting, okay, what’s your rising again?
AS: 6 Virgo.
CB: Virgo, okay got it. Interesting, yeah those are some pretty close synastry contacts so I think we’ve got something good going on here, and I’m excited about it. We do have an issue with sticking to outlines or, not punctuality, but something along those lines, but I think it ends up being fruitful and productive so I’m really glad that we got a chance to do this tonight, and I’m looking forward to doing some follow-ups and getting to some of these other questions next time on your podcast as our next foray into these long-winded discussions.
AS: Let’s try it with a Virgo Moon instead of a Pisces Moon and see what happens.
CB: Good idea!
AS: We’ll be more organized.
CB: Yeah, applied electional astrology in practice, yeah that’s a good idea.
AS: Beautiful, Chris, thanks for having me on!
CB: Cool! Alright, well thanks for joining me, everyone should check out your website, what’s the URL for that again?
AS: Yes, yes yes. Holestoheavens.com, that’s plural, and then you can find my podcast just like you probably find Chris’s on Itunes, Stitcher, Google Play, whatever. And it’s the Exploring Astrology Podcast.
CB: Brilliant. Well everybody should go check that out, and you’re pretty, I mean you’re on the ball about, how many episodes do you do a month? Do you have a specific set amount, or does it just vary?
AS: I do four, and one of them is only available for patrons.
CB: Brilliant. Alright, everyone should definitely check out your website through that URL and I think, if you liked our conversation here today, you’ll really enjoy the rest of the content you’ve been producing for nearly 10 years now.
AS: Thanks Chris! I really appreciate it.
CB: Alright, well thanks everyone for joining us, and we’ll see you next time.