Tips and Tricks for Working with Past Lives and Path of Soul Growth

By Marguerite Hafeman © 2010 Dell Horoscope Magazine

Part I: Karma and the Planetary Nodes

The concept of past lives is based on the principle of karma or force generated by a person's actions in the past, which perpetuates a transmigration of the soul and has a determination on an individual's destiny in the next existence. The astrological study of past-life influences, along with a corresponding interest in the premise of soul purpose and path of growth in the current life offers rich territory for self-exploration. Whatever the end game may be, it seems we all move within a tangled web of karma, fate and free will; perhaps a detailed road map would really help.

The possibility of reincarnation aside, our most limiting behaviors and habits likely come from childhood encounters with dysfunctional family patterning, some of which may even be encoded in cellular DNA. These embedded "programs" and our reaction to them is the unconscious driving force behind many of our choices, hence the common state of being that is to function on "autopilot" without awareness that we are in fact, not always choosing from a basis of free and informed will. We can be living out shame, guilt, limitations, expectations or compulsions that actually belong to childhood trauma, cultural strictures, other family members or the clan of origin. Familial and social programming can neatly compromise the personal quest for further self-definition, simply because to breech these programs would be breaking a taboo against tribally sanctioned behavior, adapted originally for survival and/or acceptance.

The lens of astrology can focus on the roots of inner psychic foundation; providing form and detail to what might already known on a subconscious level, also excavating into and what dwells in the murky unconscious. Planetary patterns can be used to develop metaphorical "life stories" for where, who and what of one's existence historically. These tales with their challenging themes often do resonate with an individual on a deep psychological and emotional level. It becomes much easier, somehow, to make sense of the business with which one is met in the present life. Difficult issues can be viewed with more objective clarity, instead of continuing to circle in various blind alleys of ingrained emotion, reaction or closed-circuit reasoning.

Karma is considered here as a principle of balance, as if we come back to material life again and again until we experience the full spectrum of manifested life in all its apparent dualities and contradictions. The term "karma" as used in this essay does not refer only to punishments brought about by alleged "bad behavior" in the past. The potential for good karma originating from past constructive efforts is just as likely. Besides, what was defined as evil at one point in human history can be valued as good in the next, it's all relative. Difficult karma can be one's lot because the soul has been slow at learning a lesson, has run away from necessary experiences, needs to move past ingrained habituation, is a victimized co-creator of misery or needs to balance a deficiency of inner nature. None of which can be remedied simply by reading self-help books.

Like the Hanged Man of the Tarot deck, the goal is to get past conditioned perceptions and old barriers by shifting one's point of view, re-aligning the personal physics that govern experience of one's reality. Objectivity can then be cultivated in the face of meeting with shadow parts of self. From there, the entire internal and external hologram of self, body, relationship, nature and reality can be recombined into new paradigms. Actually, not everyone wants liberation from the prison of their own limitations. The illusion of control customarily disappears, many old desires are found to be empty while many troublesome new ones appear; most of all, nothing and no one is as they seemed. Magically, the stage-set of external life begins to shift dramatically in new directions, accompanied by new and often unwelcome challenges.

This three part essay will not include formal discussion about the Moon's Nodes or the Moon sign at birth, as a vast amount of literature already expounds on these points as karmic indicators. Instead, we will explore some more exotic points of interest that can add to the tale like spice to a hearty soup. Part I is devoted to an exploration of natal geocentric planetary nodes, while Part II will take up a discussion of karmic houses, planetary patterns, stars and asteroids; in Part III the phases of the natal moon relative to the sun will be examined.

The Planetary Nodes: The same past life-future growth concepts associated with the Moon's nodes can be applied with interesting results to the north and south Nodes of the other planets.(1) Unlike the Moon's nodes which are neatly opposite each other, the geocentric (earth centered) location of planetary nodes depends on orbital characteristics of the planet in question, and where it will intersect with the earthly ecliptic. The established way for examining these nodes astrologically has been primarily heliocentric, as suggested by astrologer Grant Lewi in the 1940's when he rediscovered them. The nodes as considered from the sun-centered point of view, are always opposite to each other and for all practical purposes, don't move much as viewed from earth. They can mostly be studied as symbolic connection for the individual, with broader collective and universally cosmic evolutionary currents.(2)

However time and technology have made it possible to track the relatively fast-moving geocentric planetary nodes of Mercury, Venus and Mars, representative of key energies involved in the process of human individuation from lifetime to lifetime. Astrologer Jeffrey Wolf Green may have been the first to suggest that the geocentric set of planetary nodes do just fine for filling in details of a karmic soul picture.(3) South nodes give information about where the soul came from and what has already experienced in terms of each planetary archetype, while the north nodes can indicate the path of soul growth using this archetypal energy, if one is so motivated.

In terms of vernal contact with the ecliptic, all the nodes are moving slowly counterclockwise around the zodiac. Otherwise, annual movement can vary greatly between the north and south nodal positions, especially for the inner planets; nodal data for any contemporary birthdate can be obtained from Solar Fire Deluxe astrology software. The most potent aspects natal planets and points make to the nodes would be the conjunction and the square; this author is suggesting a three to five degree orb. To demonstrate how one might interpret a set of planetary nodes, we will examine their placement in a natal chart drawn for a male adult this author has known for many years (See Figure I).

The Planetary Nodes of Mercury: The nodes of Mercury spend about one month in each zodiac sign, completing a circuit in exactly a year; both are always in forward motion anywhere from nearly partile with each other to about 34 degrees apart. They would delineate thinking, speaking and attitude characteristics coming from the past and evolving on into the future. Our example has the south node of Mercury at about 14° Taurus and north node of Mercury at 16° Taurus, both conjunct the natal Sun at 15° Taurus; natal Mercury is placed at 19° Aries. All are located in the eleventh house of community, friends, groups and networking. In the past this individual considered the ability to communicate assertively in eleventh house activities as very important for his relations with others and as a means of self-expression.

Previously, this person perhaps centered on practical thinking and common sense as applied to survival concerns (Taurus), whereas in this life he is experimenting with a more immediate and direct expression of ideas. Mercury in Aries is also much more competitive in orientation and loves a good debate. The path of soul growth again in Taurus might include further work on powers of concentration and prudent judgment. In this life the native has a slight speech habit of repeating certain phrases in conversation, as if the entrenched Taurean mode needs to catch up with the impatience and speed of Arian-style mentation.

Planetary Nodes of Venus: The nodes of Venus also cover a circuit of the zodiac within a year, spending more time in some signs than others due to the nature of the planet's orbital path. Venusian nodes would delineate qualities such as personal values, self-esteem, magnetism, physical beauty, romantic inclinations, and skill in financial affairs; also proficiency in the arts, love of luxury, fondness for food and other pleasures. The chart example has the south node of Venus at about 2°Aries in the tenth house of career and public life, natal Venus at 2° Taurus in the eleventh house and north node of Venus at 28° Taurus in the twelfth house of seclusion, karma and connection to the collective. Note that this person's south node of the Moon is in Leo and the third house of travel, in conjunction with power-loving Pluto. In the past, this individual likely valued the Arian qualities of boldness, aggressive initiative and military might, as in holding the profession of warlord or Viking. As a man he may have preferred bold, racy women; as a woman he may have been one.

Natally, this man's Venus rests right next to his Sun, bespeaking an attractive physical appearance and adding the power of charm, attraction and skill in business dealings to his powerful natal stellium located in Taurus. His Venusian north node is immediately conjunct his wife's Venus, who happens to be employed serving those at a disadvantage in society. This degree is associated with the Pleiades, a constellation sacred to the ancients which has become associated with misfortune in modern western culture. In the more progressive sense, perhaps this soul will be supporting a return to more nature-based values and balance with the feminine principle in future lives. In this life he makes a point of helping those who have been unfairly treated by authority and has demonstrated powerful faculties of intuition.

Planetary Nodes of Mars: For many generations past and future, the north node of Mars is be found anywhere from about 7° Aries to nearly 3° Cancer in the course of a year. Correspondingly the south node ranges from about 3° Scorpio to about 29° Sagittarius, which says something about the nature of Martian drive in human culture both past and future. The south node is located in two premiere signs having to do with the conquest, domination and socialization of human beings. Scorpio is the consummate survival sign, immediately concerned with reproduction and the maintenance of power through the bloodline. Sagittarius is concerned with the law, natural or man-made; it infers the employment of standardized education, dogma and belief systems for integrating the human being with society. Both signs also have a maverick side which can express as adventurism and risk-taking, or manipulation of social structures to their own advantage.

The Martian drive of the past has generally been in service to a certain type of socialization, namely one that supports an elite rule by social hierarchy and caste system, strictly controlling the content and quantity of information made available to the common man. Until recently, severe limitation was placed on most people's ability to attain education, true self-sufficiency and independence; in some parts of the world such limitation persists to this day. In accordance with the first four signs of the zodiac, the path of future growth for the Martian spirit might have something to do with reclaiming the healthy instinctual and intuitive drives, re-merging the individual with nature. The coming Age of Aquarius might otherwise tend to become mired in group-think and an androgynous sort of conformity.

In our example chart, the Mars south node is located at about 25° Scorpio in the fifth house of lovers, creativity, pleasure, speculation and children, in sextile and trine with the nodes of the Moon. In the past, this individual was likely quite driven in affairs of love, also quite capable of risk taking and forcing issues with his status quo. Natal Mars is also in Scorpio and the fifth house, retrograde and in opposition to Venus and the Sun. In this life the native had numerous love affairs as a young man and went on to marry three times. He has learned over time to discriminate in his romantic choices, as many of the earlier liaisons involved "hopped up" women with a penchant towards manipulation, cheating or emotional drama. The Martian north node is located at 17° Taurus, right next to his Sun; he is learning to anchor his drive in the cultivation of lasting relationships with those who will support his goals for economic stability and prosperity.

From Jupiter on outwards the geocentric and heliocentric nodes share some similar territory but the geocentric set wanders quite a bit during the year. The north node of Jupiter roams nearly 60 degrees between Cancer and Gemini, while the nodes of Pluto meander about two degrees during any given year. Where the outer planets are concerned, we are considering soul themes that are perhaps more reflective of an Age in the past within which many lifetimes were experienced; along with a path of balance as reflected through the sign of polarity, that will continue for many lifetimes to follow. The individual's life is considered more from within the context of one's tribe, clan or other social affiliations. (4)

The length of an Age is determined by the retrogression of the vernal point (where and when the Sun reaches 0° Aries every year) along the fixed (sidereal) ecliptic, which occurs at the rate of about 1° every 72 years. This point is moving slowly backwards relative to the fixed stars, due to the phenomenon of precession, wherein the earth moves in a slow wobble around its central axis. About 2,160 years must pass for the vernal point to move 30 degrees of celestial longitude or the distance of one zodiac sign; one such period is referred to as an Age, as in "Age of Aquarius". Confusion arises because western astrology uses the tropical zodiac, which moves along with precession, whereas the sidereal zodiac is determined by the actual position of the fixed stars. About 26,000 years must pass for the vernal point to move 360° of celestial longitude, wherein the constellation of Aries in the sidereal zodiac and the sign of Aries in the tropical zodiac will once again coincide. Today there is a difference of about 25° between the tropical and sidereal zodiacs. The degree and sign position a planetary node is a tropical designation; however it still refers to an Age that is technically determined from a sidereal perspective.

We know something about what was happening in man's development during the Ages running from Virgo (starting about 12,600 years BC) through that of Pisces (0 BCE to present), due to archeological record and (biased) anthropological deductions that can be made from artifacts, writings and ruins. (2) We are currently in a zone of transition between the Ages of Pisces and Aquarius, and are already seeing signs of what the coming Age of Aquarius will be like.

The Planetary Nodes of Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto: These planets have south nodes mostly in the sign Capricorn, north nodes in Cancer. We have yet to experience an age of Capricorn, but a Capricorn south node would signify someone with a concentration of past life activity and core foundations of belief rooted in the Age of Cancer ran from about 8,640 BC - 6,480 BC. Cancerian energy emphasizes the importance of women and home life; making containers was an art form in itself. Towns and villages were built concordant with the development of agriculture; primitive democracies and the concept of routine (Capricorn) also came into being. The cultural orientation was in transition from egalitarian, nature-based and Goddess-oriented (Cancer) to patriarchal, hierarchal and male sky-god dominant (Capricorn). As many people alive now and for some time to come will have this nodal placement, globally we are learning lessons related to the inner child, parenting and nurturing in balance with assumption of adult responsibility. Currently, the world is facing a crisis over finding balance between nature and human habitation on earth.

The example chart has the south node of Jupiter at about 20° Capricorn in the eighth house of sex, power, death and other people's money, along with the south nodes of Pluto at 21° Capricorn and Saturn at 28° Capricorn. Capricorn ruling on the cusp would indicate someone who has much prior experience inherited or otherwise, in upholding a more paternal type of authority and maintaining order in society. The Jupiter-Pluto combination could indicate someone who functioned in service to a priest-king or was one himself; or one who was simply accustomed to using spiritual and authoritative force to gain power, wealth and women. In later ages he may have been a Knight Templar or a jihidi. As a woman he likely married for dynastic political reasons, not for love.

Natal Jupiter is located at 2° Taurus as part of a stellium including Sun, Venus and Ceres in the eleventh house; all of which reflect an individual in this life who is extremely successful in running large-scale building projects which represent a community unto itself. The north node of Jupiter is located at 2° Cancer in the first house of persona, in square to the Moon; this individual has had many lessons in this life centered on becoming more nurturing and supportive in family affairs, both in his own and for the "business family" with which he works.

The north node of Saturn is located at about 17° Cancer, right next to the north node of Pluto at 18° Cancer, across the cusp of the natal second house. Both of these nodes are within nodding distance of natal Uranus (futuristic orientation) at about 11° Cancer and the first house. This individual is likely to continue holding positions of power as applied through second house financial acumen in future lifetimes; perhaps in service to a Uranian paradigm of eco-conscious industry as related to the sea, habitats for humanity or the food supply.

The Planetary Nodes of Uranus: The Uranian north node is in Gemini, the south node in Sagittarius. We have yet to experience an Age of Sagittarius, but can refer to the past Age of Gemini for clues. This Age, from 6,480 – 4, 320 BC marked the beginning of metallurgy, which led to a revolution in technology. Man experienced a dawning awareness of objectivity, the separation of self from the experience, which eventually led to the development of a dualistic cosmos. Social function became specialized, hunter versus farmer versus priest, which supported the development of social castes and writing (Sagittarius) as a power tool that was restricted to an elite.

The example chart has Uranus south node at about 15° Sagittarius in the sixth house of work, heath and service, in quincunx to the natal Sun. In the past and present this person has had issues with his social standing, and may also have been torn in loyalties between the demands of the establishment for which he worked, and his own inner belief system. Natal Uranus is located at about 11° Cancer in the first house of persona; in this life he has brought these rebellious qualities to the surface. He left home early and still strives to overcome behavioral legacy from the family. He judges hypocrites and abusers strongly, feeling compelled to defend the underdog, while distaining the professional victim. The north node of Uranus is located at about 12° Gemini in the twelfth house of karma and self-mastery; in future lives this soul will perhaps accelerate synthesis of spirit, soul and body; also indulge a thirst for advanced knowledge in service to an expanded consciousness.

The Planetary Nodes of Neptune: The Neptunian planetary nodes in Leo-Aquarius would hold significance for the age of transition that is upon us now. The Age of Leo ran from 10,800 BC - 8,640 BC; this period was marked by the development of names for things, an evolution in the concept of individual self-identity, while primary social organization rested within the clan or tribe (Aquarius). There was some predictability in life; however activity was still oriented around hunting-gathering. Shamanistic practices marked religious observance; in the beginning these beliefs were apparently nature-based and referred to a triune, hermaphrodite concept of the supreme deity.

In the example chart, the Neptunian south node is located at about 13° Aquarius, in the natal ninth house of the law, organized religion and travel abroad; in square to the natal Sun and in loose opposition to natal Pluto. Aquarius is the consummate sign of the group, so this combination points to being a spiritual leader or shaman in service to a nomadic tribe. This person has spoken of having betrayed his tribe into massacre at the hands of others with superior weapons; he had believed the two groups would unite peacefully. Natal Neptune is placed at 19° Libra retrograde in the fifth house, in opposition to natal Mercury; he has quietly nurtured a nature-based spiritual orientation in this life. He has had great difficulty with speaking up for himself in personal matters with clarity, and in extending trust to anyone. The north node of Neptune is at 9° Leo and the natal third house of communications and lifestyle. Perhaps this soul is working to incorporate refined inner mystical inclinations and values, into a more active statement as reflected in personal lifestyle, work and choice of companionship.


(1) Karmic Astrology, the Moon's Nodes and Reincarnation, by Martin Schulman, Samuel Weiser, Inc. York, Maine. 1975.

(2) "Planetary Nodes," by Jim D'Amato, .

(3) "The Planetary Nodes," Chapter Seven of the Arizona Workshops, Measuring the Night, by Jeffry Wolf Green, p.213-233.

(4) Chronology from a lecture on "The Mayan Calendar Long Count", presented by Tim Lyons to ROMA astrology group, Boulder, Colorado, 9/18/08. Zodiac designations for the Great Ages in time, approximate dates for the beginning and end of each period and the nature of human development during the course of each Age as deduced from archeological remains were discussed by the speaker.


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