The Astrology Lab

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The 8th house in astrology: The monster hiding under your bed. (It’s you)

The 8th house is home to the heaviest feelings, the darkest desires, and a very irrational, subjective state of mind. It’s where we find some of our most powerful, all-consuming emotions and drives. If I had to describe the 8th house musically, it would be comparable to Meg Myer’s “Desire” or Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# minor (Op 3, No 2). It’s when your blood is simmering beneath your skin, from anger, from betrayal, and you start fantasizing about your plan of revenge. It’s when we’re so deeply depressed, we consider the worst alternative. When we’re passionate. When we obsess over a person, an outcome, an idea. We all have the 8th house in our charts, but those with significant planets or the nodes in the 8th house will feel the intensity more than others.

The 8th house correlates astrologically with the sign of Scorpio or Pluto. So imagine that Plutonic energy wrapped up in a tiny sliver of your natal chart, and anything that lands in that house immediately plunges straight to the depths and lives there. Planets in the 8th house have emotional depth unseen to the eye, unseen to probably 99% of people that the 8th house person interacts with on a daily basis. It is a private house, the most secretive of all 12, and yes: 8th house people can keep a secret better than anyone else. Sometimes, even from themselves. Those with significant planets/luminaries in the 8th house are either very comfortable with their darkness or running from it. Ultimately, the goal is to integrate those darker aspects of self with the rest of you. You can’t be at war with yourself forever. Accepting those urges and emotions is where it all starts, and often this entire process is triggered by some sort of traumatic relationship or event.

If you meet someone with planets in the 8th house, chances are you don’t know them as well as you think. There will always be aspects of their personality that are completely private, known only to themselves or to a handful. But they do have a distinct, mysterious allure. You keep peeling away layers but can’t quite reach the core. Many 8th house individuals struggle with issues trusting and being vulnerable in relationships. When the trust of an 8th house individual is broken, they might struggle to forgive. And they’ll never forget. Fool me once, shame on you; that’s the only chance you get. Scorpionic personalities are not known for their forgiving nature. They’re known for their sting. Often 8th house personalities can get in their own way, over-analyze, obsess (no, really, obsess) far beyond the point of self-destructiveness. They’re curious about the depths of others, and sometimes even project their own nature onto those outside themselves. There could possibly be some interest in psychology and understanding the motivations of others. The individual’s maturity level depends on how conflicted the planets are falling in the 8th house and what life experiences have taught them. If a conflicted moon, squared by multiple planets for example, that 8th house moon may be considerably more self-destructive than one with trines, sextiles, and no hard aspects to it. Generally with age comes wisdom and integration of 8th house energies with those not so dense. 8th house individuals make loyal friends, accepting therapists, intense lovers, and some of the most ruthless opponents you’ll ever meet. If you get on their bad side, anyway. I wouldn’t suggest that.


The Vertex and Anti-Vertex in Astrology

The vertex is a relatively new angle of study in the astrological world. It was only discovered in the mid 1970s by Edward Johndro, and research seems to be lacking ever since, especially on the point opposite the Vertex, deemed the Anti-Vertex. Technically speaking, the Vertex is the point found at the intersection of the Prime Vertical and the Ecliptic. The west point is called the Vertex, while the east point is called the Anti-Vertex. If you plug your chart information into the Astrodienst website (which you can do for free), you can easily calculate your vertex placement that way. From what I’ve learned and experienced over the past ten years studying astrology, the vertex plays a heavier role in charts where it is closely aspecting another angle or a planet. Charts that don’t have their vertex forming those close aspects may not see its effect as much in the three predictive measures commonly used: progression, transits and lunations.

The vertex is about having faith in something larger than us and trusting the timing of those unseen forces. The vertex itself is that unknown factor, the magical connection between everything, our inner knowing and outer manifestation, unexplained synchronicities, dare I say “God”? The alignment of ourselves with something beyond our awareness, and being able to sense the push and pull of those forces in our lives. Many astrologers toss around the word “fate”, but there is always free will that trumps any astrological forces. Even the vertex. However, those unseen forces (astrology and otherwise) are always there whether or not we’re aware of them, comply, resist, ignore, or align with them.

Technically the vertex is an axis, with the anti-vertex at the other end. The anti-vertex is how we make sense of vertex experiences or other’s vertex experiences. I think the best way to describe the vertex is through metaphor: picture a girl letting go of a balloon and watching it disappear into the sky. Trusting, letting the forces beyond her control take over. The anti-vertex on the hand is like watching a spider weave its web, trying to make sense of those complex connections and recognizing the role we all play in our lives, what we catch for ourselves so-to-speak. A vertex experience would be running into a person the day after dreaming about them. The anti-vertex analysis of that, at least on my end, would be to look into the astrology and look for any common patterns. There are other ways to look for patterns. I’ve found that anti-vertex people LOVE Myers-Briggs personality typing. Love it. Whatever is necessary to make sense of reality. Keep in mind that everyone’s ‘reality’ is different though as we each sign up for a unique experience here.

Another way to think of the difference between the vertex and anti-vertex involves loci of control, where the vertex represents an external locus of control and the anti-vertex an internal locus of control. Ultimately, we should all strive for balance. That’s why the vertex has an opposite point and forms an axis in the chart. You need one to have the other. The vertex inspires the questions while the anti-vertex tries to find answers.

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The Astrological South Node

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.