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.


50% full and we are still six months out from this amazing conference.. StarLogos >>> 2010

StarLogos >>> 2010 is being held under Santa Fe skies in New Mexico. It is a feast of Visual Astrology with Bernadette Brady, Darrelyn Gunzburg and guest lecturer Darby Costello.  Sky Maps, Charts, Stars - and glorious night skies!


 Thoughts on the glyphs used for the Nodes

Bernadette Brady M.A.

The 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”,[1] 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 teething.

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 Egypt.  

Figure 2 -  The ntrwj blades from the papyri found at the mortuary temple of Neferirkare at Abusir
2474–2464 BC.

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 Nodes, as they appear to reflect their shape and their philosophy.


1. Roth, 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

Darrelyn Gunzburg


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’ [1] 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 her best performances (North Node moving towards The Crab). In so doing she allowed herself be nourished by another (Tracy).

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" [2]

Schedar in the constellation Cassiopeia, describes the natural ability to command respect, to take a leadership role based on the feminine model using intuition and mysticism.

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, the reason she said was 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.  

In conclusion

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 find.



1.   Brady, Bernadette (2008). Star and Planet Combinations (Bournemouth: The Wessex Astrologer.


 You can learn more about the Nodes with
The Node Study Kit
- new from Astro Logos
- but only if you are serious about Nodes.

Issue No. 62
February, 2010

On related topics

November 2009-

The Nodes and Cosmology

December 2006 -

Sulpa'e Jupiter in natal charts and mundane astrology.

In brief...

The Nodes - Firstly a consideration on the source of the glyph used for the lunar nodes; and then a consideration of fixed star parans to the node in the chart of Katharine Hepburn.


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visual astrology  sky happenings

MArch 2010

Saturn is still in the wing of Virgo, and will be seen to rise in the late evening and the small hours of the night. On the night of 2nd March the full moon will pass below Saturn.  (above for the southern hemisphere). This would have been a time of empowerment for the king.

Jupiter as the Crown Prince is in the underworld but by the Ides of March he begins to emerge. By mid-March we have a Sulpa'e Jupiter - this is a blessing to any child born from mid-March to early-April. 

Mars is in the stars of Cancer. On the night of 25 March the 1st Quarter Moon will pass underneath Mars. (Above for the Southern Hemisphere). This could be a time of increased military activity.

Venus will emerge from the underworld around the 5th and 6th March. As she does so she will begin to radiate the stars of Pisces and become the Evening Star. See if you can see her by mid-March, just as Jupiter is becoming a bright 'morning star'. 



Calendar of
forthcoming lectures

5-7 March, 2010, San Diego, USA
The Celestial Spheres: Astrology and Cosmology in the Medieval World.

An MA Intensive-
with Dr Nick Campion, Bernadette Brady and Darrelyn Gunzburg. Three days of thinking and learning which you can use to begin studying for your MA. Location is San Diego, USA. Registration now open.

San Francisco Intensive
13th March 2010

With Bernadette Brady and Darrelyn Gunzburg.
We will be delineating charts using visual astrology from those attending this workshop.
More information.


10-11 April, 2010, The Netherlands:
Dutch Astrology Congress
with Bernadette Brady and Darrelyn Gunzburg.   Astroinspiratie.

24 - 25 April, 2010    Bristol, UK
Imagining Astrology: Painted Schemes and Threads of the Soul Conference,
The University of Bristol, UK

Organized by
Darrelyn Gunzburg and Liz Greene.

Click here for further information, provisional programme and to register.


13-19 June, 2010   Shropshire, UK Conversations with Astrologers
with Robert Hand, Liz Greene, Bernadette Brady and Nick Campion.


24-25 July,2010
Bath, UK
This conference will, for the first time, bring together academics to investigate the theory and practice of astrology in the modern world, from c.1800 to the present day.

Speakers include: Rob Hand, Nick Campion, Liz Greene, Darrelyn Gunzburg, Bernadette Brady, and Garry Phillipson.


9-13 September, 2010   
Santa Fe, New Mexico

StarLogos >>> 2010
Bernadette Brady, Darrelyn Gunzburg, and guest lecturer Darby Costello.

The 2nd Visual Astrology Conference under Santa Fe's big skies.

24- 26 September, 2010   
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Workshops with Darrelyn Gunzburg

Delineation, and Children's' charts.


April 2011 Bolton, UK
Bolton Conference

Medieval Astrology with Bernadette Brady and AstroGraphology with Darrelyn Gunzburg.












































If you enjoy Visual Astrology and would like to look at sky maps and also create full fixed star reports for yourself as well as clients, then have a look at Starlight the software that has provided the foundation stone for the development of visual astrology over the last 6 years.
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