So, I suppose this is more or less that obligatory end of the year blog post.
Bear with me, this is going to be a long one- and, by the end of it, you might think differently of me. It’s one of those things I have written and rewritten about twenty times. Believe it or not, it’s not particularly easy being outspoken. There are also about a million different side rants and otherwise here: but I’m going to try to avoid them, as best I can. At heart, this is the story of my second North Node Return. If you understand what the second Nodal Return is, and you understand that Virgo-Pisces axis: the story makes much more sense as does why I am tellin’ it. If not, well, I hope it’s at least something to gnaw on a bit.
The North and South Nodes In Astrology
If you open another tab and google that term, you’re going to immediately be inundated with a whole lot of woo. Karma is flogged like an abused and misunderstood step child in the new age industry- and the sad part is: it’s a much, much more powerful thing if you don’t. Wooing it up may seem like this great way to illustrate it, but, frankly, I have always felt that was quite dismissive. You should also probably understand at this point that I use woo in an affectionate way, not dissimilar to how I would use UPG. (unverified personal gnosis.)
Now, if you try to look those up in an astronomical context and not an astrological: you may find yourself a bit frustrated. Because, well, the woo is everywhere, to the point of drowning out the most basic explanation for what these are.
In astronomy, a node is just the intersection of an orbital plane as the path of the ecliptic, projected on whatever that particular celestial body happens to be. That isn’t word salad, I swear: all the ecliptic really is, is the path of the sun. All the constellations that you see as the basis for the zodiac, then, are arranged along that line. It looks like this:
So, the Moon is just one of those celestial bodies and the ascending node is where the Moon goes from the south to the north end of all of this. The descending node, then, well, it’s the one on the other side. The North and South Nodes then are just points opposite one another on the nodal axis. The Moon is the celestial body, but they are not.
This is usually where super defensive people get really upset with me
Now, in astrology, the nodes of the moon illustrate all manner of things. Loads of them just chock full of woo. Except, not really.
First, let’s strip this concept right on down:
So, cause and effect. This is pretty simple- except, when you get into it from spiritual perspectives: there are different types of karma. In Jainism, in particular, there are eight. These are then grouped into two subgroups: harming and non-harming. Those, then are further grouped into four more types. Those harming karmas, or Ghātiyā directly impact the soul- things like:
- Antarāya- which is preventing the soul from enjoying things, giving, or obtaining things. This is also called an obstructing karma.
- Mohanīya- which would be hindering the soul from right belief or action. This is also what’s known as a “deluding” karma and also, relates to attachments. This one breaks down into two types, and then those are then broken down into 28 more.
- Darśanāvaraṇīya- on that same note, this one is also known as a “perception-obscuring” karma. This would be things that undermine the perception of a soul.
- Jñānāvaraṇīya- this would be anything that blocks the knowledge part of the soul. It’s also called a “knowledge obscuring” karma.
And as I mentioned, those harming karmas are then broken down further. For brevity’s sake and because I haven’t explained the parts of the soul: we’ll just leave it at this.
Then, there are the Aghatiya, or the non-harming karmas, but though it’s said “non-harming, what it means is they don’t harm or hinder the soul, but rather, the body:
- Nāma- which, sounds a lot like how the state of the soul impacts the body but, goes further than that by quite a bit. As in, 93 different subcategories, then broken down into 5 types of physical bodies, 5 classes of beings, and 4 states of existence. Pretty much ANYTHING I do here is going to be a gross oversimplification, obviously.
- Āyu- your lifespan, broken down into 4 different states of existence. I can’t remember them off the top of my head, at the moment but it relates more to the quality, and not the quantity.
- Gotra- your status within society. Broken down into two, it’s high family surroundings or lower ones.
- Vedanīya- feelings, basically. And this gets broken down into that which is pleasurable and that which is painful.
Thing is, I could continue but: Jainism is definitely not the only belief that utilizes karma and explores it in detail. It’s just the one I am most familiar with and, my oversimplifications here are with good reason: do you find something relate-able in these? Of course you do. In Jainism, karma states that human moral action, then- impacts the transmigration of the soul. Down here, it’s all saṃsāra but you’re lookin’ for that sweet, sweet moksa. Technically speaking, things like this:
Or even this:
Aren’t really accurate or appropriate. For one thing- anyone with a modicum of sense can look around and understand that neither of those things holds true. The first is just petty as shit. (Which I can totally be down with, but, contextually- no, no, that’s not right.)
But, Victoria, You’re Not Jainist…
No, and I am not a Buddhist nor am I Hindu. I am also not entirely sure I have any idea where my soul’s going to go or where it’s been. (Though I feel maybe you should wash it before you eat it..)
As a matter of fact, for me, the idea of an afterlife is best explained like this:
My parents taught me things that their parents taught them, with a dash of their own in the mix. Their parents did the same, and going on back. Going forward, I do the same with my children. There’s a bit more to it than all of that and if you’re all that interested, a good place to begin is The Road To Hel.
Karma, Sin, and Heathenry
Going into the whole thing, again, would be a book on its own. And, actually, it is: We Are Our Deeds, by Eric Wodening. You can purchase this via Lulu and I highly recommend you do as there are a bunch of people hawking it for much more and none of the proceeds actually go to White Marsh on those sales. (And though I’m friends with many people from White Marsh, I’m not an affiliate or anything: it’s just a good resource.)
Granted, this pulls from a number of different sources, but essentially, the notion that there are no “sins” in heathenry is incorrect. However, how they are defined, is not dissimilar to how karma actually plays out. Essentially, when you pare things down to the very basics: you’re dealing with how you live on. How you find freedom from the mortal plane and, in doing so, achieve a sort of immortality. In the heathen context, this plays out within your community, at heart- so, the inner spoke of the wheel. But, that inner wheel is small, compact and strong whereas, you go further out and the spokes are further apart.
Your impact then, is greatest in the inner, but still yet can be felt in the outer. The impact of those within the inner, again- the greatest impact, and those on the spokes, not so much.
Again, all of this is an oversimplification to illustrate my main point here: you don’t really have to color any of this in any kind of spiritual or religious context. Even taking these things and boiling them down to the most basic: you are what you do and what you do, is often very reflective of what you are. In many, many different ways.
Back to the Nodes
You can then, effectively take this even further: that which is within you tends to have a greater impact on that which is external. This isn’t just a spiritualist’s notion: psychologically speaking, there is sound basis for that to hold true, as well.
Most descriptions of the North and South Node talk about karma. They talk about destiny. Fate. I’d be willing to lay money that in the first ten pages of a google search: you won’t find one that doesn’t mention karma. Many of them will talk about how the South Node points to past lives and how that might be impacting you, now. I’m not going to shit on that- matter of fact, that does have some merit in terms of Jainism and otherwise. Essentially, you’re stuck on the physical plane til you figure this shit out, lifetime after lifetime. This isn’t what I believe, but, I’m not smirking at it, either.
Essentially your North Node and your South Node are meant to give you some inkling of what your purpose is and how this plays out. The North, then, is what you’re here to learn and do- your destiny. The South, is your baggage: both good and bad.
Whenever a transiting node moves over or becomes conjunct to the natal nodes, something happens. However, this isn’t like your Solar Return. It’s not like a Lunar Return and it isn’t even like your Saturn Return. I have often said that people don’t even really realize these things are at play at all- until you see the dates of them, after the fact and you kind of go, “Oh, wait. That’s..” and this holds particularly true of the Nodal Returns. If you’re not really clear on the bullshit you need to be moving away from and the things you should be moving towards: well, you probably won’t. Think I’m kidding? Nodal Returns happen on cycles, just like everything else.
Let’s look at the two types of returns involved and their timing:
- Nodal Return: this is just when the transiting North Node moves over the natal, the transiting South Node’s going over your natal south node. It happens once every 19 years or so. Think about the life events that happen around age 19. Now, think about the ones that happen around age 38. Then, again, at 58- and you can keep going like that, but essentially, I don’t think you really have to know astrology to figure out what’s happening: they’re milestones. Think about the events and the relationships, as well as their impact on how you see and do things that occur, right around those ages.
- The Reverse Nodal Return: when the transit North Node moves over your natal South Node and the transit South Node’s going over your natal North. This one happens around every 18 years or so. Again, it’s not really that difficult to figure out what’s going on- and, again: if you think about events, relationships and otherwise that occurred as well as how you took the impact of those things on with you, or didn’t: you get some idea.
So, you have one that hits about every 18, with the next hitting about every 19: again, this pattern of cause and effect. With the Reverse Return, these are usually the key turning points where elements of our past more or less plant the seeds for our future in a present tense situation. The Nodal Return itself, then, is what you make of it. At heart, understanding the North/South Node axis: is about understanding yourself.
ALL of yourself.
And of course, the signs, houses, and aspects to those things all flesh it out a bit.
North Node Virgo- South Node Pisces
With each New Year, I also get a new birthday. My birthday isn’t on New Year’s Day, but it is shortly after: January 14. This year, as it happens, I turn 39.
Now, a lot of people describe these pivotal points in our lives in a kind of Point A to Point B sort of way. You know that turning 18 is this major crossroads of your life, and of course, when you’re 19, you’re still more or less trying to figure that shit out and get your bearings as a new adult.
In a perfect world, in an ideal world, by the time you hit that 35-38 age range: well, you have quite a bit figured out. Of course, those in that 55+ age range are rightfully laughing their asses at you for you thinking you do, not really ever considering that they, too are entering into yet another crossroads in life. This isn’t astrological, this is just how it rolls and even if you don’t know a thing about astrology: you know this.
For those who are familiar with astrology, this next part will likely come as no major surprise but: right around the time I turned 36-37, I was struggling. I was actually having these insane nightmares of crucifixion scenarios.
My brain wasn’t trying to tell me that I had in fact, been a martyr in a prior life: my brain was telling me I was doing it NOW. It had actually come to a point where I was seeing physical manifestations of it: shit got pretty weird.
I was bitter. Really fucking bitter and that’s a large part of what inspired this, actually. For a very long time, I had done everything I could to be perfect. Perfect partner. Perfect mother. I paid perfect attention to all of the details. So perfectly Virgo.
Here’s the thing, though, under all of that is a desire for control that you will never attain. Have you ever noticed how often those who are into such things measure their love?
How much you give up. How much you suffer. So, less a unicorn and something more along these lines:
Except, I knew this, and instead of “You’re stabbin’ me right in the heart!” or constantly speaking of the things I had given up or the way that I suffered: I let it eat me and I became a hateful, bitter piece of shit.
Neither of those options is good or healthy, by the way. Instead of making those around me feel guilty- which, frankly, would have probably been entirely more healthy: I hated the hell out of anyone who had what I had given up, what I did not have. I would see women I deemed less than- who were getting flowers. Women I deemed less than who were flashing bling and everything else.
And oh, I hated them.
After all, didn’t I hear constantly about how awesome I was?
How much people wished their partner was like me?
This is not entirely dissimilar to another thing that happens: ever notice when someone cheats, who gets reviled?
Of course, we’ll call him a cheater, we’ll sort of hate him: but we keep him around and we hate the hell out of the woman he did it with.
Nobody ever cheated on me, but, I was perfect and completely miserable. At first, I tried to be even MORE perfect. Give more. Be more. Do more. Hate on other women more, be more bitter, anything, ANYTHING to face the truth under it all about what was really eating at me. And believe it or not: that’s the easier path. Accountability, particularly, self accountability, is hard.
Then, I turned 38.
Now, up until this point, I had been fairly isolated. Those I was closest to, measuring love as sacrifice. As martyrdom. At this point, I am just a miserable little person and frankly, I can’t stand any sign of joy: which became particularly painful when I couldn’t conceive. I was never the sort to give in to the snobbery of it all: but, I was in fact, THAT mother. The homeschooler, the breastfeeder, the baby wearer- you get the idea. My plans for happily ever after at this juncture had utterly shit themselves: yet, I saw people who, from the outside looking in weren’t even giving .5 of what I was enjoying or worse, taking for granted all the things my heart truly yearned for. I was an absolute asshole, mired in pure bitterness.
This happens to so many people: we measure our love in how much we give up. We are taught to do this, in many ways you probably don’t even think about. While many don’t go down the road that I did: what happens to them is almost worse. You probably don’t think about this one much, but I want you to think about the Famous Mothers.
You might think about June Cleaver. You might think about even Carol Brady.
You could probably find examples of this phenomenon if you looked at those situations- but, consider just a minute the Queen of Famous Mothers in the struggle. Many of you might not be old enough for this to pop into your head but:
There is no question in my mind that black women experience this far, far worse than I do. Let me say this first. However, holding up Florida Evans and mothers like her is a big part of the problem and it’s a problem we often fail to recognize. Consider for just a moment what Florida’s biggest strength as a mother was: she would give up literally anything for her family.
Now, there’s some honor in that. However, given the prevailing message we are often plagued with, as a friend put it: At least I got a man!
When our fear of being alone meets with the stigma of it, meets with this mentality: shit gets pretty messy.
Here is where we find the big problem. Here is where we are taught that your standard must be one of sacrifice rather than strength, leading to stronger mutual strength. Black women, in particular, are met with derision and scorn if they dare to do better or expect better. We, as women, are often met with this mentality that doing things for ourselves or having standards that require better is somehow bitchy. Gold-digging. The list goes on and on. An environment of incredibly petty, judgmental shit ensues wherein, we hate one another but we do not ever hold accountable those who have failed us. In doing so, we fail ourselves.
(And I absolutely adore Good Times, and Florida is definitely one of my all time favorites: but, Mother as Martyr is incredibly unhealthy, whether it’s in a “positive” or a “negative” sense. You can say that I have made it about race- but the truth is, it was a conversation with several black women that actually helped me better understand this, and frankly: yeah. I’m going to honor that. Deal with it.)
Strong women, strong support, strong society
At this point, I had been making quite a few friends and seeing others fall away, often in some pretty dramatic ways. I was starting to pull my head out of my ass because, well, frankly: it really isn’t my way to hate happy stuff. I was incredibly unhappy yet, I had begun to engage with an entirely different circle of women. No, not all of them “have a man”. Not all of them have children. Most of them, however, share my tendency towards perfectionism and yet: I noticed, that while no, their lives are not perfect, they were also not miserable. Not bitter.
The standards, however, are high. Not just for ourselves but for each-other and how we engage with one another. Shared joys. Shared sorrows. Frustrations. The joys seemed bigger for it, the burdens lighter- which tends to happen when they’re spread out over several sets of shoulders rather than just one. Those friendships I’d had that had fallen away were a constant source of stress. I was always worried about getting stabbed in the back and had been, quite a few times. The jealousy and pettiness was nuts.
However, these two groups of people had one thing in common: competitiveness.
One, a twisted, sick version of it based largely not on worth but rather, how you can screw somebody over or how shitty you can be and the other, an inherent urge to strive for better that was further honed by those doing the same. I had spent the better part of my life in the petty, ego driven, low level competitiveness- which meant, never relying on anyone else. Never opening up. Never being vulnerable.
We tend to see emotional martyrdom as this ultimate self-sacrifice. As this giving until it hurts sort of thing when that’s not what service is. We confuse responsibility with control: but service to others also allows service from others. Whether we are the savior or searching for one- we neglect the strength that comes of righting chaos through cooporation. The strength that comes of not having to be in control all the time. When we choose to hold ourselves to insanely high standards that we don’t hold for others: we make them easier to control. After all, if you’re the one doing it all- regardless of how miserable you are, there’s a measure of control in your complacency. The devil you know. It is in letting go of that one last measure of underlying control that we move from victim to survivor. When we can trust in those around us, we can trust in ourselves in much greater ways that lend a confidence we may not have otherwise had.
I consider myself remarkably fortunate to know and be friends with such people. Some may find this elitist and I used to: but, in any given group, you’re only as strong as your weakest. When that can shift back and forth and the whole understands this: real magic happens.
If you see me talking about #TAM, if you see me talking about my friends: you have to understand there are SO many points in the last few years that they quite literally kept me alive. You have no idea how much even a simple card or a message can mean when it comes from someone who truly cares for you- and truly sees the potential you hold. Or maybe you do. I hope you do.
Not a Perfect Mother
At that same time, my then 9 year old son said something to me and it was just one of those thoughtless kid things.
I had worried, as I struggled with my fertility, that I would have a daughter. This was something that plagued me, something that I had a serious conflict over.
The idea that I might have a daughter who would live as I did really bothered me. It’s a perspective we often consider: you know, would you want your daughter to go by the example you set?
I have three sons and it entirely escaped me that the same thing holds true for them because, frankly, as a society, we do not hold men to the same rigorous standards that we do women. A different set of standards, to be sure: but, has it ever occurred that, even as we think “Would I want my daughter to think that love is like this?”
We also tell our sons how to behave, what standards to set: and we set the bar incredibly low.
As we teach our daughters that martyrdom is the measure of love, we also teach our sons that they are incapable. We tend to accept that men just don’t cook, they don’t clean, they don’t do this, that or the other and if they do, well, they probably won’t do it correctly. If you’ve got one, well, you accept this, as price of admission- because “At least I got a man!”
As if all those things you do mean nothing without that.
Before you get mad and object to that: consider just a minute what a fucked up, hurtful thing it is we’re doing to our sons in this, too. Even on a very basic level, men are painted to be bumbling oafs, incapable of so many of those areas we are groomed to martyr ourselves. Most of us know this is a fat load of shit- but, look around you and on a societal level, the measure of worth in respect to this is seriously imbalanced. This is not only incredibly hurtful to women on so many levels- the martyrdom, the emotional labor, the way it pits us against one another so we cannot develop functional, healthy friendships with one another- but, it also relegates men to being nothing more than walking life support systems for their penis.
I can’t remember what it was my son said to me, but, I remember the thought that hit me: how on earth can I raise my boys, if I am raising someone else’s grown son? I wanted better for him and I had no way of knowing at that point if I could actually provide it.
I was dealing with substance abuse problems both my own and in my partner.
I knew that if I was going to get clean, it had to be an all or nothing thing and so, I sent my middle son to live with his grandparents. They were and are an example of everything I wanted for him and knowing what would likely happen next, they were a much more stable one. I was fully ready and willing to get my youngest son and myself out of that situation at that point, ready to stop martyring myself and had a very strong cabal of equally strong women actively supporting me in doing so.
By the time my North Node return was over, however: things had changed so startlingly against all odds that you wouldn’t even know my life was ever as it had been. That isn’t to say it’s been easy at all- in fact, I mean, tail end of my return, they found my partner in a truck, incoherent. He had to be put into a medical coma: heat stroke. At a time when I would have previously felt completely alone, overwhelmed and lost: I absolutely was not. That, to me, is a wealth you’ll never put a price tag on and is an incredibly powerful thing.
An important caveat:
While it is true that I was aware of astrology and I knew the things at play during all of this- would it have happened this way, had I not known?
It happens that way all the time.
Though it isn’t a particularly marketable thing for me to say: it is of course entirely possible to go through these kinds of life changes and have these realizations without ever knowing a damn thing about astrology.
It was, however, an incredibly helpful way for me to sort of compartmentalize it all, to almost have a sort of “to do list” for a lot of reasons- even just beyond that North Node return.
Do I know where my soul will go, after this is all said and done?
No. But I do know that the memories, traditions, stories and strengths drawn from these experiences will certainly continue to echo- from the families of those who’ve been there for me- to my own family- and everyone they then impact from there.
Call it what you like, but I tend to find that a much more promising thing than simply believing the guy who flipped me the bird will turn around and slip in dog shit or that I might one day, party hard with total strangers in the afterlife.