Let’s talk about the South Node. In synastry or chart comparison, anything the south node touches turns to that feeling of instant comfort with someone, attraction, familiarity. That South Node “it just flows! It’s like I’ve known you my whole life” kind of magic. That’s how it feels at first, anyway. It’s not until you’ve been in south node relationships for some time when you realize the toll it’s taken on you. In the natal chart, the south node represents where you’ve been, what you’ve mastered, what you’ve overdone even to the point where past patterns formed are now more detrimental than helpful to your life and mental health. Often with the South Node, we will see one’s self-destructive psychological mechanisms they rely on stemming from fear, though the cause of that fear varies based on house, sign and aspects. Where we get in our own way of happiness or success. The South Node will always be an important part of ourselves, regardless of how much progress we make.
The nodal axis itself, to me at least, represents our unique “settings” controlling our experience of life. Diving more into metaphysics here, but say we sign up for this life. We choose to come here to learn certain things, to grow in certain ways. To have certain experiences. The North/South Node axis SHAPES our personal growth experience here, it tells us where we may have karma (South Node), and where we can look for growth, balance, healing, and wellness (North Node). The North/South Node axis tells us what actions we can take that will bring us fulfillment, wellness, and success (North Node), and also what actions that will hold us back, keep us in the past (South Node). I hope that helps clarify the difference. It is ALWAYS important to consider the North and South Node rulers and any aspects (namely conjunction/opposition and squares) they make to other planets, midpoints and angles as well. To provide a quick example of rulership, if your South Node is in Cancer, it’s ruler would be the Moon. Say the moon in this chart is in Aries, heavily conflicted with multiple square aspects. It’s probably safe to say that that person is working out some Moon (emotion)-related South node karma manifesting as impulsive over-reactions, insensitivity, things like that. Side note: If you don’t identify with your North and South node from personal study, I might suggest looking into Sidereal astrology as a comparison to see if those rulers/signs make more sense to you than tropical. I’m currently on the fence about which system to use, so I’ve been using both for research and comparing. But we won’t get into that right now! 🙂
So what about synastry? The South Node DRAINS anything it touches in time. It’s all sunshine and flowers at first, but you’ll more likely than not develop some unhealthy dynamics depending on each person’s communication and maturity. The effect may be more immediate or take longer to manifest, it could be subtle or distinct. I’ve had instances where the first date with someone’s South Node tightly conjunct my Mars (energy, life force) instantly drained the energy out of me where I was exhausted afterwards! I’ve also experienced the instant ease of a moon-south node contact or sun-south node that overtime develops into criticism and self-projection of personal preferences and dislikes. Usually the South Node individual projects their life lessons and node-tailored personality expression preferences onto the Sun or Moon person and unconsciously restricts that person’s zazzle/core essence (sun) or emotional expression (moon). The sun or moon may not even realize this is happening at the time. They may unconsciously adapt their expression to meet the South Node person’s desires, but it’s never enough. Only after walking away from a south node relationship does the planet person realize how much it dimmed their light. It’s the south node person’s influence. Because in South Node’s world, certain characteristics are subjectively good and bad based on their karmic path. But the South Node person’s path is not the same as the planet person’s path, and having that close relationship blurs those lines.
If that was confusing, here’s an example. We have Jack, a Sagittarius North Node and Jill, a Capricorn North Node. Say Jill’s Sun and Jupiter are conjunct Jack’s South Node in Gemini and Jack’s Ascendant is conjunct Jill’s South Node in Cancer. Jack unconsciously projects his strong preference for Sagittarian qualities (because his North Node is in Sagittarius) and dislike for Gemini-characteristics (because his South Node is in Gemini) onto Jill. Jill being heavy in Gemini senses how Jack reacts to her Gemini expression and holds back. On the other hand, Jill unconsciously projects her strong preference for Capricorn qualities and her dislike of Cancer-characteristics onto Jack. But since Jack’s Ascendant is in Cancer, he finds that she is critical when he expresses those Cancer traits and unconsciously restricts himself to keep Jill around.
Venus-South Node isn’t so bad, perhaps because the nature of Venus is to please and it’s more amiable to South Node’s desires. It’s those tight Sun, Moon, or Ascendant conjunct South Node contacts you’ve got to watch out for in synastry because they often manifest with unhealthy dynamics. The South Node finds fault with the planet and feels held back, and the planet person feels their expression is hindered and the South Node is unjustly critical towards them. If you’re not able to objectively appreciate the other person and what makes them unique outside the context of your own nodal axis, sometimes the best option is to move on.