Finding Purpose on the Path of your North Node
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
In astrology, your North Node represents the direction your consciousness wishes to explore and flourish this time around. Here's a guide to help you discover the messages encoded in your Nodal Axis.
Short on time? Jump straight to:
What is your Nodal Axis?
My Personal Journey with the 11th-5th House Axis
A Guide to the 12 Nodal Axes Through the Houses
Treading the path of the nodal axis is a lifelong process, not a destination.
Purpose. We are all, implicitly or explicitly, searching for it. At some point, we may come to realise that ‘purpose’ isn’t a fully formed condition that we can simply stumble upon, rationalise or study our way into. Rather, it is a destination that we are always moving towards - a North Star that we spend our lives constructing a ladder up to, shifting, readjusting and rejigging it, as our place here on Earth slips and slides under the heavens.
I have been reflecting a lot on the concept of purpose lately, largely because I have been feeling devoid of it. There have been more than a few mornings in the past month where I have woken up with a voice in my head telling me that there is no good reason to get out of bed, that I may as well slip back into unconsciousness.
I haven’t always had this voice. In fact, it really has only appeared in the past few months, and I believe that has a lot to do with my stepping closer to understanding what purpose, and what my process towards purpose is. Strange perhaps, but life is full of paradoxes.
The Illusion of Definite Purpose
Before I get into the specifics of what the nodal axis is and what that will mean for you and your sense of purpose, I wanted to highlight another paradox. Here it is.
The purpose of life is to submit to the process of finding your process.
What I really mean here is that ‘purpose’ as a defined and fixed thing doesn’t exist. It is a pie in the sky. I believe that, for many of us, our education system subtly conditioned us to think of purpose as quantifiable, definable, unchanging and stable, as long as we buy into the capitalist white supremacist and patriarchal belief structure that underlies most of the institutions and systems that make up ‘civilised’ (read: Western or Western-influenced) society.
We have all been fed a standardised model of what it means to be alive. It is predicated on the standpoint of the Universe, and all its component parts, as a machine that can be dominated and controlled by rational thought – a philosophy that was first popularised by Rene Descartes in the 17th century. If you simply gather the right parts and follow a specific method, then out will pop the ‘desired outcome’. In the case of our education system, we are conditioned to believe that if we work, work and work, and get the grades and qualifications to prove our worth, then we will attract the admiration of the world, finally feel loved, and make so much money that we will never be faced with discomfort (and, I would argue, death – but that’s a subject for another article!) for the rest of our lives. This, we are told, is the pinnacle of purpose. Everything about our education system is geared towards programming each of us to believe that ‘purpose’ is something you acquire when you have worked hard enough, earned enough money, and come to possess enough of the right things (a car, a house, a husband or wife, two children, a hot tub, the latest gadget, the list goes on).
The issue is that the predominant system of our time is built upon an assumption of perpetual economic growth. In other words, there is no such thing as ‘enough’. For its own survival, the capitalist and fiscal system we live under will always necessarily say that there is more to do, more to earn, more to consume, more to have. There are a select few people who reap the financial benefits from this model. But the vast majority of us do not. For as long as we submit to the ideology of the Universe as a machine that must be exploited for unsustainable economic growth, we will continue to be stuck in a feedback loop of seeking purpose in working or consuming more, in the hopes that one day it will finally feel like ‘enough’.
Eudaimonia and The Key To Happiness
If Aristotle were still alive, I would venture to say that he would characterise much of our societal behaviour as heavily swayed towards seeking happiness and fulfilment through pleasurable stimuli. He called this particular form of happiness ‘hedonia’ - it is the fleeting, short-term kind of happiness that is crucial for our well-being (hearing the sound of the wind in the trees, enjoying the company of friends or being praised by someone we respect), but can tip into over-consumption, dependence and addiction when it becomes our primary mode of seeking fulfilment (sugar, drugs, sex, work, social media, the list goes on).
Aristotle also identified another form of happiness. It is the form I am going to focus on for the rest of this article, as it is where purpose truly resides and where, along with your nodal axis, you can begin to explore your personal relationship to purpose. Aristotle called this form ‘eudaimonia’. It is based on the belief that every living being has an intrinsic reason for being here – a perspective that characterises most indigenous cultures around the world. For human beings, fulfilment comes from striving to achieve one’s highest expression and full potentiality in a way that is unique to one’s own relationship with the Universe. In other words, much like the flora and fauna of this planet, we are here to flourish fully and authentically. This is a dance that each of us gets to negotiate with the Universe. Our very purpose is in the process of unlearning what needs to be unlearnt and learning what needs to be learnt, without resisting how this process will transform us, or overly attaching ourselves to some desired outcome.
Okay, so I know what you might be thinking. It’s all very well to say purpose is a process and fulfilment is in the journey, Heenali, but what does that actually mean for me? Where am I supposed to start making sense of something which, no matter how well you explain it, is fundamentally and very annoyingly vague? To that, I would say that the heavens are actually encoded with a few clues to help you on your way. There are many modalities and practices through which you can begin to explore your relationship to purpose and eudaimonia. Today, let’s dip into astrology – more specifically, your ‘nodal axis’ and the houses it intersects.
What is your Nodal Axis?
The nodal axis is made up of two points – your North Node and South Node on your natal chart – and they represent the points at which the moon’s orbit intersects with the northern and southern elliptic hemispheres at the time of your birth.
Astrologically, the South Node represents your comfort zone, what is familiar and ‘safe’ to you, engrained skills and behaviours, and if you believe in past lives, the themes that were dominant in your spirit’s previous iteration as a conscious being.
Your North Node, much like a North Star, represents the direction your consciousness wishes to explore and flourish this time around. The nodal axis in a sense always speaks of contrasting but complimentary energies that want to be woven together in your lifetime. In other words, while living within the energy of your South Node will feel ‘safe’ and comfortable, your purpose embodies new ways of being as described by your North Node – and that will likely feel uncomfortable, unknown, often exhilarating, and frankly quite terrifying too.
There is so much to uncover about the nodal axis that it could fill a book. This article’s scope is limited to looking at the houses within which your North and South Nodes are located. If you’re unsure what your nodal axis houses are, go ahead and pull up your chart information for free on any number of websites like www.cafeastrology.com.
My Personal Journey with the 11th-5th House Axis
I want to start by describing my connection to my nodal axis, and how the process of finding purpose has played out for me. If you, like me, have your South to North nodes running from the 11th- 5th houses, you may well be able to identify strongly with the themes of my journey. If your nodal axis falls elsewhere, I’d encourage you to keep reading anyway. You’ll also find a brief guide and some journal prompts at the end of this article in relation to your specific nodal axis.
Me as a child, age six.
My nodal axis strongly intersects with my identity as a British Asian woman, who was taught from a very young age by my first generation immigrant parents that ‘success is assimilation into wider society’. The 11th house, where my South Node (and incidentally, my Sun) is located, refers to ‘community’ and serving a wider collective agenda. In a South Node placement, it speaks of ‘group think’ or a hive mind mentality, and intersects with past lives where I may have strongly identified with the belief systems of a group. The residual effects of that certainly correlate with my upbringing in an Indian household in the United Kingdom. At home, our way of talking, eating, bathing and being were so different to anything my white counterparts at school could relate to. Every morning, I would pray to Lord Shiva at our little shrine in the stockroom-cum-dining room (I lived in a newsagent). I bathed using a bucket and stool, Indian style, and the food I was given was a far cry from the chicken nuggets and chips I got at friends’ houses. The differences I could see between my community and culture, and the outside world felt restrictive. I was extremely shy and withdrawn at school, hesitant to invite anyone to my house and sensitive to being ‘picked out’ or made the centre of attention in any way. At the same time, I longed to be more like the white kids – to be less self-conscious, more ‘normal’ and playful like most of the children around me.
The North Node in my 5th house is associated with creativity, pleasure, fun, individuality, children, recreation and expression. I can see now, from a very young age, I had an innate love for being artistic, silly and eccentric – but that I would always at some point retreat back to my South Node placement of assimilation, sacrificing my authentic expression for the approval of the family that cared for and protected me. And what did that approval entail? It meant being a straight grade A student in an education system designed to condition me to work and seek fulfilment through consumption rather than creation. It involved never going out to nightclubs and house parties, getting involved in romantic relationships, or doing anything that might be seen as ‘deviant’. It meant living at my parents’ house where I was ‘safe’. It involved ignoring my desire to be artistic and creative – particularly my love for storytelling – and pursuing more reputable and financially secure career options.
I can also see that the spark of intrinsic purpose in me, that drive towards eudaimonia, was always trying to pull me out of my South Node and towards a more authentic expression of my North Node. In an attempt to separate myself from the collective group think of my family, I spent several years working abroad – however, I was always still existing within the broader financial and economic set-up that I had always relied upon. I continued to try to mould myself into the white capitalist 9-5 work culture that my family had endeavoured so much to fit into when they came to the UK. For as long as I did that, I dampened my true North Node calling to go my own way, and I felt miserable.
I did not realise this for many years, but my nodal axis has always been inviting me to let go of that which has kept my family fearful, financially restricted, comfortable and disconnected from their creative expression for so long – for the promise of a stable, fixed income. After experiencing a series of panic attacks at 30, I finally quit my job. I was unfamiliar with my nodal axis at the time, but intuitively knew that I needed to do what felt enjoyable and right for me, regardless of what ‘the group’ might think. I went to volunteer at a meditation centre, where I got to connect with others who shared my spiritual values, recognised my individuality and celebrated my innate wisdom. I scrubbed toilets and washed dishes for free for three months. I was about as far away from the pressure to conform to a system of economic ‘not-enoughness’ as I could be. It was one of the most joyful and deeply purposeful few months of my life.
That meditation centre was where I also met my soulmate and life partner. While I moved back to my parents’ house after, I moved out for good within a year to live with my partner, in a part of England I had always dreamed of living in.
While my external circumstances have changed a lot, my journey through my nodal axis continues to deepen. In fact, the more steps I take towards the North Node of my 5th house, the more intense and uncomfortable finding authentic expression can feel. I find myself now at a point where I am reclaiming my creativity through writing and weaving, processing a deep well of financial trauma, and considering the terrifying but exhilarating prospect of becoming an embodied mentor, small business owner and entrepreneur. Beyond that, I know there is a lot more to discover and expand into, especially the limiting beliefs and fears I carry about giving birth and having children.
It is clear that treading the path of the nodal axis is a lifelong process, not a destination. While it is represented as a line on your natal chart, it is more like a spiral, inviting you to expand your skills, wisdom and capacity to be uncomfortable in your movement towards your North Node. And that, in a sense, is all purpose is. It is your willingness to deviate from set patterns, beliefs, behaviours and structures that were handed to you. It is your bravery to step, over and over, into the unknown.
A Guide to the 12 Nodal Axes Through the Houses
Understanding the houses of your Nodal Axis is just one part of the bigger picture of your purpose, as described through your natal chart. But it is an important, highly illuminating aspect to explore as a starting point. Here I’ve described each Nodal Axis, and included some journal prompts that will help you begin uncovering how the word ‘purpose’ may specifically resonate for you. As a reminder, if you’re unsure what houses are intersected by your Nodal Axis, take a look at your natal chart on an astrology website like Cafe Astrology here.
North Node in 1st house
Questions around identity and independence are at the forefront for you. With your North Node in the 1st house, you are being invited to consider what beginnings mean to you. It is likely that your experience of birth and early life were highly formative, and it would benefit you to consider deeply who you are as an individual in the world. Start prioritising your authenticity over the need for approval, and let the feelings of guilt that may accompany this be a sign that you’re on the right path. You are here to develop as full a trust in your own capabilities and countenance as possible. How do you wish to feel in your own body, your own presence? What is the most unapologetic impression of authenticity that you can gift to those who are fortunate enough to know you?
North Node in 2nd house
You are being invited to develop your relationship to the material world, and your body to gain a greater sense of self-worth. Your nodal axis speaks of a struggle with insecurity – financially, physically and emotionally – which may have left you with conditioned ideas about what should be considered ‘valuable’. It is time for you to dig deep to unlearn these conditionings and create your own values system. Where have you been placing your own worth on the opinions and values of other people, and society at large? Is your relationship to possessions, money and your own body founded on a deeply felt connection to yourself, or a disconnection? Your sense of purpose is tied to your ability to fulfill your promises to yourself, and to know you are capable of weathering crisis with a regulated attitude to life.
North Node in 3rd house
This nodal axis is an indication that you would benefit from a ‘hands-on’ approach to learning, and developing your connection to your immediate surroundings. It would benefit you to reflect upon how your early schooling experiences up to early adolescence shaped your attitude to knowledge and learning. Relationships with any siblings may also help to illuminate aspects of yourself, and the ways in which you communicate, that need to be processed or resolved. Your purpose may be directly tied to learning or professions centred around communication, like writing, teaching, or journalism. However, whatever your chosen path, remember that you are here to exchange ideas with others, to practice and not just philosophise, and to learn new ‘languages’ that will deepen your connection to your locality. How might you be able to tap into and bring the best of yourself to the land and communities around you?
North Node in 4th house
The 4th house represents our innermost spaces, and who we are deep down inside. This axis is inviting you to dig into your family’s psychological inheritance, your racial and ethnic origins, and your relationship to the parent in your life who was ‘hidden’, ‘absent’ or more of a mystery to you. This house asks you to explore your relationship to the word ‘home’, and to explore the responses and choices you turn to in order to form personal experiences from events. Essentially, this axis presents an opportunity to get deeply familiar with your connection to your origins, and how you fashioned ideas around safety and survival from your roots. This likely will uncover traumas that need to be healed in this lifetime, as well as feelings and needs unearthed through somatic practices, meditation and therapy. Do you allow yourself the space to build a relationship with your intuition? Where could you lean into the discomfort of being more vulnerable, of allowing your imperfections to be explored without judgement?
North Node in 5th house
This axis lines up with the energy of Leo, which correlates with the Sun, with brightness, joy and creative expression. It is likely that your life purpose is connected to navigating the process of finding a more authentic way of being, and to accept yourself even when that way of being goes against accepted norms. Your sense of self-fulfilment comes from constant expansion, from moving closer and closer to living a warm-hearted life, and reclaiming your individuality. It will be important for you to connect to your inner child, to learn to feel compassion for them and to recognise that your creativity needs to focus on bringing them joy. When you make it your intention to express yourself authentically and joyfully, you naturally will attract others to you. Are you playing enough in life? What is your attitude to play? How can you meet a fear of criticism and judgement with more fun, humour and lightness?
North Node in 6th house
With your North Node in the 6th house, you are being invited to consider your body as a finely tuned mechanism, as well as your relationship to ‘service’. You have an innate talent for connecting to the spiritual, but in this life, your body and soul are asking for structure, routine and the slow process of refinement towards better health and a better understanding of how you can authentically serve others. Remember that you must serve yourself first before you can offer your unique flavour of service to others. This often will involve building strategies, every day habits and plans that attune you to the natural rhythms and energies of your being. With structure, you can begin to connect to the crafts, tools and techniques that will help you build your vision of a more healthy world with others. It may also benefit you to consider your relationships with co-workers, early peers and service providers, which can reveal hidden aspects of yourself that wish to be explored. What habits and routines bring a feeling of flow and alignment to you? What do the words ‘humility’ and ‘service’ mean to you?
North Node in 7th house
With the 7th house, we enter the realm of ‘relationships’ and a consideration of how we connect to others. If your North Node sits in this house, you are being invited to pay close attention to your committed relationships – namely your romantic and business connections. Your potential for growth is most keenly felt in navigating close relationships – how you compromise and cooperate in order to build harmony while also honouring your own values and needs. You may recognise a tendency in yourself to expect other people to be like you, and a pattern of abandoning relationships where this is not the case. It is time for you to embrace difference, to approach others with an attitude of ‘I can learn something valuable from you’. Where can you better harness the power of partnership in your life?
North Node in 8th house
This nodal axis is inviting you to deeply consider what it means to fuse with another – namely, what does it feel like when two people attempt to merge their temperaments, resources, value systems, needs and biological clocks? This is also the house of sex, exposing the most intimate parts of ourselves to another, and allowing someone to witness the breaking down of our own ego. With a nodal axis in this house, your purpose in life is intensely connected to meeting the more primordial aspects of yourself – your greed, envy, desires, the traumatised parts of yourself, as well as your destructive tendencies. By allowing these parts of you to be seen by another and brought to the surface, you give yourself the opportunity to transform and transmute them, to turn them into powerful creative gifts. This will often involve excavating the ruins and rubble of childhood experiences, and your relationship to psychological death, the birth of new identities in you and the phase transitions of your life. Understand that your life’s purpose is challenging and that there is a need for you to start inviting the support of others as part of your transformative journey. How much do you step into the discomfort of asking for help, of showing others your most vulnerable sides?
North Node in 9th house
In this life, you are being invited to develop a deeper relationship with the Universe, and to build a stronger concept of what it means to live wisely and truthfully. You have the potential to become an inspiring mentor or teacher to others, but first it is important for you to tap into witnessing the collective, and building a birds-eye view of energies, currents and trends happening on a larger scale. This house invites you to find wisdom in yourself, and to trust in the abundance of the Universe. You are able to bring something new to the collective by exploring the ‘why’ of existence. Travel abroad, broadening your horizons and finding new perspectives through other cultures will likely be highly formative for you and your sense of meaning. What does the word ‘faith’ mean to you, and do you live life in a spirit of faith and believing in a brighter future?
North Node in 10th house
A key word for you with your North Node in the 10th house is ‘success’. What does that word mean to you, and do you take the time to find strength and self-belief in your achievements to date? The 10th house represents the parts of us that are most visible to the world, our path of ambition and how we invite others to be part of our vocational journey. This nodal axis invites you to consider your relationship to authority figures and symbols of power, as well as the parent who was most assertive and influential to your life. You may notice a feeling of anger arise when you reflect upon the ways in which they were unable to express themselves authentically in the world, or frustration at the pressures they may have put upon you to live out their aspirations. Healthy emotional boundaries with family are vital for your expansion, along with diligence and persistence towards building your own sense of success and an authentic relationship with the collective.
North Node in 11th house
This nodal axis is inviting you to recognise the value of ‘syntropy’ – the tendency of life and systems to move towards greater association, communication, co-operation and awareness. A key question for you to revisit over your life will be centred on how you can serve the evolution of humanity’s progress. What does progress look like to you? How can you tap into systems and wider webs of connection in order to bring benefit to the many, to those who are currently undervalued, under-resourced or under-served? Many people with the North Node in the 11th house experienced loneliness and isolation as a young person. You may have a tendency to push people away while also holding a deep need for love and recognition. Identifying with something larger than the self – a group, belief system, cause or ideology – will allow you to find belonging, meaning and a sense of lasting contribution towards social change. What forms of inequity do you naturally wish to address? How can your individual perspective, particularly as a young person, help to unify others?
North Node in 12th house