Make no mistake: The basics of astrology can help us anticipate any wins (the monthly full moon) or losses (Mercury retrogrades) in the immediate future. But, we can only prepare so far in advance using our regular old horoscope. To get a better idea of what our future holds (and how to prepare for it), we must consult two very specific points on our birth chart: our north and south nodes.
First things first, you'll have to get your birth chart drawn up. Located directly across from each other in your chart, your north and south nodes indicate where you're headed in life and what you're bringing with you from previous experiences, respectively. No, these points aren't bright, flashing lights that illuminate exactly what has happened and will happen to you, but they can bring a little more clarity to your life.
For example, if your north node is in Cancer, your south node will be in Capricorn (astrologer Annie Heese has an excellent guide to the nodes' corresponding points). With this placement, you probably crave control and may tend to take things a little too seriously. As time goes on, you'll likely learn to share the burden with others — and even allow yourself to be a little vulnerable around those closest to you.
In other words, the signs in which your nodes appear don't reflect your personality in the same way that, say, your moon or rising signs do. In fact, the south node is sometimes referred to as the "unacknowledged self," since it plays such a subtle role in your life. But, the general qualities that the nodes are associated with (in this case, Cancer's sensitivity and Capricorn's need for control) definitely exert influence over your life. Even if you barely feel the nodes' affects, knowing their placement may illuminate something about your abilities or goals you've never been able to put into words.
Much like your other planetary signs, you share your node placements with a whole group of people. It's unlikely you have much in common with your node mates on a surface level, but you may very well share core values with each other, from how you define success to what you deeply fear.
Of course, if you look up your nodes only to find that they don't resonate with you at all, don't freak out. Your everyday life (let alone your future) doesn't hinge upon what's in the stars. Rather, learning about your node placements can provide inspiration for self-improvement — or even nudge you in a direction you never thought possible.
Plus, if you ask around, you're bound to meet someone who's stuck with the same node as you, and nothing brings astrology nuts together like complaining about a frustrating reading.