Thoughts on the glyphs used for the Nodes - A
consideration of some different thinking around the source
of the glyph for the nodes.
The Nodes and The Stars - A case study of the fixed
star parans to a natal node.
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Thoughts on the glyphs used for
Bernadette Brady M.A.
agreed opinion amongst most astrologers is that the glyph used for the North
Node and its inverted version for the South Node are associated with the
shape of a midwife’s blade used for cutting the umbilical of the new born
infant, metaphorically cutting the ties from the past so that one can live
this current life more fully.
If we take the perspective that the Nodes are the edges or gateways of our
own personal cosmological map, then
perhaps the lunar nodes associated with the idea of the beginning
of life are more about the way we open those gateways in our
horoscope. Recently, I encountered a paper written in 1993 by Ann Nancy Roth.
This paper , "Fingers, Stars, and the 'Opening of the Mouth': The Nature and
Function of the ntrwj-Blades”,
considers the Egyptian, but also Mesopotamian
ritual of the Opening of the Mouth, both at birth and in death.
The ritual at birth was performed using the little finger to open the mouth
of the infant. We think of this today as a medical procedure for clearing the
air passage of the newborn but to the Egyptians it was similar to the Christian
idea of baptism. It was the ritual of giving life, of being born from the stars
and now engaging in a mortal life.
Figure 1 - The "Opening of the Mouth"
using the little finger.
In talking about the blades and the ritual Roth states:
Its purpose was to take the newly reborn
deceased person through the transitions of birth and childhood, so that he or
she could be nourished by the (adult) food provided in such profusion for
Egyptian mortuary cults. The ritual therefore emphasized the aspects of the
process that affect the way a child receives nourishment: the initial connection
with the placenta, the severing of the umbilical cord, nursing, weaning, and
The hieroglyph used for this ritual is that of the ntrwj-Blade and is a
stylised little finger presented in pairs to symbolise Upper and Lower
Figure 2 - The ntrwj blades from the papyri
found at the mortuary temple of Neferirkare at Abusir
The other time for the performing of the ritual of 'Opening the Mouth' was at
death, where the mouth of the mummified deceased was opened with an adze, an
instrument associated with the circumpolar constellation of Ursa Major who
resided in the realm of the immortals – the stars that never set.
Figure 3 - The Adaze linked in shape to
the constellation Ursa Major,
known to the Egyptians as the Foreleg of the Calf.
This association with the adze was strengthened
by the fact that a large number of these tools were made of meteoric material –
the material that fell to earth from the stars.
Figure 4 - The 'opening of the
mouth' as depicted at the east end of the north wall
of the burial chamber of Tutankhamun.
Figure 5 - Seti I anointing the uraeus of
Re-Harakhti, in the Sixth Dynasty tomb of Qar. The two fingers are being
used as a symbolic gesture of the Opening of the Mouth.
The deceased could not move into his or her new life until their mouth had
been opened. The Egyptians assigned the responsibility for this ritual to the
son or the heir of the deceased and their participation was a condition
of inheritance. One was thus born into life and also born into death.
Whether there was a flow of this symbolism into the Hellenistic period in Egypt
and thus eventually into the astrological glyphs for the Nodes that we know today is another
question. It is my opinion that these hieroglyphs, constellations and paired little
fingers and their close association with beginnings, endings, and the stars do have something to add to the story of the symbol of the
as they appear to reflect
their shape and their philosophy.
Ann Macy. "Fingers, Stars, and
the 'Opening of the Mouth': The Nature and Function of the ntrwj-Blades.”
in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 79
(1993), pp. 57-79.
The Nodes and The Stars - A Case Study
||Katharine Hepburn, that most
dignified of past Hollywood stars,
had her North Node at 26 degrees Cancer in the 9th house and her South Node
in Capricorn in the 3rd house, so on a humanistic level her journey of
seeking new fields and re-evaluating her past was through education.
Her background, the family into which
she was born, described on a humanistic level by the South Node in
Capricorn, was one of credibility and respect.
Figure 1 - Katharine Hepburn
-born, 17:47, 12 May, 1907,
Hartford, Connecticut. Clifford Data Base.
However, if we go to Hepburn’s sky map and look along the
ecliptic to 26 degrees Capricorn, we see that her South Node is in the
tail of Sagittarius The Archer. So sitting underneath this
structure of credibility and respect (South Node in Capricorn) was the fearful killing machine of the
ancient world (South Node in The Archer). This
placement can manifest either as the perpetrator or the victim. One expression of this
in Hepburn's life may have been
the discovery of her dead brother when she was 14 (South Node in the 3rd house
of siblings in the natal horoscope) and it also
described how the family (South Node) became the victims of this
loss (South Node in The Archer).
Figure 2 - Katharine Hepburn's
natal sky map.
Her South Node was located in the tail of the Archer.
There is a further dimension we
can add to the meaning of the South Node in this placement in the sky.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a herbal remedy reportedly first
recommended by the Roman physician Galen. The name Equisetum is derived
from the Latin roots equus, meaning ‘horse’ and seta, meaning
‘bristle’  and it was used traditionally to stop the bleeding of wounds and
promote rapid healing. It also contains silicon, which plays a role in
strengthening bone and thus is sometimes suggested as a treatment for
osteoporosis. We could therefore say that initially in its raw and primal state,
the South Node in constellation The Archer expressed itself as having being
wounded by the gaze of The Archer via a traumatic event that haunted
Hepburn for years. However,
built into the metaphoric meaning of the horse's tail was the ability to 'strengthen
bones' - take charge, take focus but without obsession.
As for the North Node, the astrology suggests that she
reached for a world with emotional content (North Node in Cancer), perhaps
leading to her early marriage to a fellow college student (North Node in the 9th
house) at the age of 21.
If we go to Hepburn’s sky map and look along the ecliptic to
26 degrees Cancer, we see that her North Node sits in the liminal space
between Gemini and Cancer. This is the place in her life where she
encountered new people, new ideas, new thoughts which allowed her life to attain
order. As it sits in a liminal space it also suggests that she was making a
transition between one way of doing things (meeting people from whom she learnt
to see opposing view points – The Twins) and another (meeting people from whom
she learnt to recreate herself and be creative – The Crab).
Figure 3 - Katharine Hepburn's
natal sky map.
Her north node was located between the stars of Cancer and Gemini
In 1933 Hepburn returned to New York to star in the Broadway
production of The Lake, which turned out to be a critical and commercial
failure. In Hollywood, Hepburn starred in a string of films of varying quality
and success, and by 1938 she was labeled ‘box office poison’ by exhibitors. In
1939 Hepburn returned to New York to star on Broadway, this time in The
Philadelphia Story in a role written for her by playwright Philip Barry. The
play was a huge success, and Hepburn, who owned the film rights, sold them to
MGM on the condition that she would star. The movie, like the play, was
successful, earning Academy Award nominations for Hepburn, Cary Grant and James
Stewart (Stewart gaining the Oscar). Hepburn's next film Woman of the Year,
was her first pairing with Spencer Tracy. Hepburn and Tracy would go on to star
together in nine films, and would carry on a love affair for 27 years. With her
North Node in this transitional place in the sky, Hepburn learnt
how to step across a threshold. She became skilled at establishing
the conditions where she was able to
rise from the dead of ‘box office poison’ (the Egyptian interpretation of The
Crab as the Scarab Beetle) and give
best performances (North Node moving towards The Crab).
In so doing she allowed herself be nourished by
Parans to her North Node
Katharine Hepburn had her
North Node rising when Schedar was
culminating. According to Brady, the meaning of
this combination is "A woman is honoured"
constellation Cassiopeia, describes the natural ability to command respect,
to take a leadership role based on the feminine model using intuition and
Hepburn was a mould-breaker. She shunned
the girdles, petticoats, stockings, garter belts, and high heels considered
‘normal’ for women of her time, brazenly defying fashion and social
convention. Instead she wore pants. She even wore sneakers. In 1930s
Hollywood, such behavior was deemed scandalous to say the least. Yet with
feminine muscle she focused on her own acting strengths and took charge of
her life with dignity where others without
the addition of Schedar
may have become crushed by the Hollywood acting system.
Figure 4 - Cassiopeia, the star Schedar is the alpha
star located in the breast.
Image from Starlight.
Her roles were those of women who maintained
dignity in the face of adversity – Rose in The African Queen, and
Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond to name a few.
She continues holds the record for the most
'Best Actress' Oscar wins with 4
from 12 nominations.
Other examples of Schedar in paran with the North Node are
Emma Willard and George Elliot. Emma Willard (23 Feb 1870 NS, Berlin,
Connecticut) was an American women's rights advocate and the pioneer who founded
the first women's school of higher education. Her North Node was at 26 degrees
of Cancer in the same space of the sky as Katharine Hepburn. Here is another
woman with feminine muscle and queenly dignity, stepping forward to create a
better world for women. George Elliot (real name Mary Ann Evans) (22 Nov 1819
NS, Warwick, Warwickshire, United Kingdom), was an English novelist and one of
the leading writers of the Victorian era. Her novels included The Mill on the
Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and
Daniel Deronda (1876), most of them set in provincial England and well
known for their realism and psychological insight. She used a male pen name,
to ensure that her works were taken seriously. Her North Node was at 8
degrees of Aries in The Fishes and making a paran to Schedar, giving her a
woman’s dignity, and female strength.
The Nodes are
areas of your chart that allow change into your life, some desired, others
resisted. They are as discussed in the November 2009 Visual Astrology
Newsletter as the place where we 'cosmogize', where we encounter the new whether this
is planned or unplanned.
Take note of the degree of your Nodes,
both North and South, and then if you have Starlight, open up your sky map and
follow the ecliptic along until you come to that degree and see where it is
placed. Then see what your sky story adds to your understanding of these two
gateways. Finally have a look to see what – if any – parans are being made to
your North Node. You may be surprised at what you
Bernadette (2008). Star and Planet Combinations (Bournemouth: The Wessex
can learn more about the Nodes with
The Node Study Kit - new from
- but only if you are serious about Nodes.