In astrology, we have these very cool mathematical points that represent our soul’s destiny (North Node) and what we’ve already had a lot of practice with (South Node), whether through past lives or just a bunch o’ soul experience.

Astrologer Sam Reynolds says the South Node is like using your dominant hand; the North Node is like using your non-dominant hand. (As a left-handed goddess myself, I really appreciate this analogy. I live my life CONSTANTLY having to use my non-dominant hand because the world is set up to support right-handed people in ways that make it unsafe to be fully left-handed, out there in life sometimes.)

Nodes - Chart Harmony by Bonnie Gillespie

In our lives, we take a journey from the South Node (what comes easy, our comfort zone, that stuff we don’t even notice is hanging around and possibly blocking us) to our North Node (our soul’s purpose, our destiny, that brave and scary stuff that upper-limit problems were created to keep us from fully living out without scaring the bejeezus out of our amygdala [wired for danger]).

Without getting into the whole convo about the various pairings of signs and how incredible the journey to our North Node’s fullest expression can be — I’ll save that for another post (you can read a wee bit about MY Pisces North Node journey here in the meantime) — I wanted to do a quick vocab share on the difference between the TRUE NODE and the MEAN NODE (options we often see when rendering a chart).

Which should you pick? Use what resonates with you. Here’s my understanding of the difference, and I use what I use because it makes more sense to me, in an era of computers vs. doing astrological charts by hand, like my momma Charlsie did for a couple o’ decades back in the 1900s.

astrologers Charlsie and Bonnie Gillespie, like mother like daughter

The nodes are wiggly little suckers. The mathematical calculation of this not-physical spot out in space is kind of vibratey.

So, a TRUE NODE is the actual exact spot, measurement, location of the North Node at an exact moment in time. Something computers absolutely can calculate, instantly, with no stress whatsoever.

The MEAN NODE is the average of the wiggly variations that are actually happening, taken over a period of time. Something that would be pretty dang helpful in an era without household computers and handheld supercomputers and smarty-pants tablets and apps and twigs and such.

Like, if we had an ephemeris that detailed every freakin’ DMS (degree, minute, second) of the NORTH NODE as it shifted, it’d be a bajilliondy entries for even a short period of time. Those would be TRUE NODE measurements. Whereas a MEAN NODE is gonna go, “Look. There’s a range of like 2 degrees or so we’re dealing with, potentially, and that’s within the orb for getting it right… so we’re gonna go with the average for the time the calculation would get us in this general area and call it done. Cool?”

It’s like the Standard Deviation in statistics. Remember that? It’s the tolerance for being close enough to call it accurate without blowing the measuring we’re doing. It is, in fact, the MEAN (like, the average), just like in stats class back in school.

I legit cannot believe I just pulled all the way back to my undergrad stats class for this. My brain is pretty proud of that one. 😉

Which do you use, when rendering your chart at a site like Astro.com? TRUE NODE or MEAN NODE? (I use TRUE.)

Much love,


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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