The Marduk dragon – restored Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin
Hi Everyone, this is one of my favorite astro-techniques, straight from ancient times!
Get ready to be blown away because this is a rich and magical aspect of astrology. Not many astrologers use it in modern times, but I find it extremely valuable.
The word ‘Draconic’ is from the Latin ‘ draconem’ (nom. draco) “serpent, dragon,” from the Greek drakon (gen. drakontos) meaning “serpent, seafish.” In astrology, the Caput Draconis is the ‘Dragon’s head’ or North Lunar Node and the Cauda Draconis is the ‘Dragon’s tail’ or South Lunar Node. The Draconic chart, or Draco/Draconic Zodiac then, is another reference system for plotting the chart but instead of starting 0 degrees Aries at the vernal equinox as the familiar Tropical Zodiac does (the one we use in Western Astrology and is calculated at astro.com etc), The Draco Chart begins 0 Aries at the Moon’s North Node.
Hang on! It’s not a complex as it sounds!
It just means that instead of the node being at the particular degree you’re accustomed to seeing it, it is ‘dialed back’ to 0 degrees of Aries. The planets all stay in the same houses and have the same angular relationship (aspects) to each other as in the tropical zodiac (T) charts but the signs and degrees are altered. Here is an example.
This will help you fully understand how this ‘other zodiac’ is determined. Or skip on to the next Para if you simply want to trust the ancients philosophy here.
To find YOUR Draconic chart, you can subtract the North Node in degrees of longitude from 360 and and add the difference to all the planets and house cusps. In the case above, the North node is 1 Pi 27 which (rounded) translates into 331 degrees of absolute longitude. Subtract that from the full circle, [360-331=29]. Add  degrees to every planet, point and angle and you have the Draconic coordinates. For example, the Sun in the tropical chart above is 13 degrees Sagittarius. We add  degrees to it [13 Sag + 29 = 42 (-30) or 12 degrees of Capricorn.
For those not wanting to learn the basis for this zodiac yet, you can go Astro.com and choose Extended Chart Selection, then click the Natal Chart drop-down option and click Draconic Chart.
Below is the Draconic Chart for the exact same moment as the tropical zodiac chart above. All the planets are in the same position by house and aspect but the signs have shifted the exact number of degrees the North Nodes was away from 0 Aries.
Like the North Node, the Draconic chart says something about where we are headed, if we chose to reach out, and also like the South Node, it says something about where we have been, what’s comforting, familiar and secure. Some think of the Draco chart as as the “purpose” behind the soul’s intention and link it to a sense of destiny or fate.
I like to think of the natal Draconic chart as a layer of “soul fabric” that lies underneath the outward personality. You can’t see it unless you look deep. Like the silk lining of a jacket, we never think about it being there and it never fully shows, yet it is a substance that makes the wearing of the coat more comfortable—a better fit—and when the breeze flips up an edge and we get a glimpse of that contrasting color and silky texture, we go “ahhh”.
The Draconic chart is something like that.
In this metaphor there is no “blending.” The Draconic chart is not woven into the natal chart like a tweed. It is the satin underneath, distinct and of its own, usually different, nature.
If you were born in 1950, 1969, 1987, 2006, check that your Node is exactly 0 Aries. If so, then your Tropical and Draconic charts will be identical, suggesting that your soul fabric is a perfect match to this lifetime’s expression.
Consider the Draconic chart and it’s relationship to the NODES. In the Draco system, the North Lunar Node is ALWAYS Zero Aries and the South Lunar Node is always 0 Libra. This is a major hint as to the meaning and purpose of the chart.
The Nodes, which have so much to do with unconscious patterns from the past and new conscious directions towards the future, are the points in the chart that say “This is where you have been and what is comfortable (South) and this is what you can experience if you reach out into the new and unexplored (North). Life is a balance between the two and the Draconic chart resonates with this theme—where we’ve been and where we are going. Remember, everyone has the SAME nodes in their Draco Chart. That is a KEY to understanding the principles at work.
To top it off, the Lunar Nodes in the Draconic chart are ALWAYS on the Zero degree Aries point! Talk about destiny meeting intention! (North Node on the AP)
North Node as the first degree of Aries, suggests how our “will to be”, or sense of I AM, moves out from the subjective and into manifest reality. The Node here gives everyone an incredible sense of self-assertion and WILL to move forward, IF they choose to develop it.
South Node as the first degree of Libra says, “I relate”, showing how our drive to interact with others in socially significant ways moves from our inner world and out towards other individuals. Because it is “from the past” it can indicate a feeling of too much reliance on “what others think” or letting others do things for us, or even run our lives. In this Libra – Aries polarity we have to make our own decisions and find how growth comes form our own experiences and adds to our capacity to relate.
In the Draco chart, there is no “sitting on the fence” or hesitating about “what to do” if we want to seek our destiny, and any aspects to the natal chart can be quite instructional. Remember, the ONLY thing different in the Draco chart is the signs of the house cusps and the signs of the planets. This tells us about an underlying orientation that we have, but may not always see.
There are two main ways to work with the Draconic Natal Chart. It can be read as a stand alone, checking the difference between the orientation of the signs (element, polarity and modality) in the natal chart, and it can also be read in aspect to the natal chart. The fist technique is works best if you compare the two Zodiacs planet by planet, cusp by cusp. For example if the Natal chart has the sun at 2 degrees of Gemini in the 10th house, we might say there is a need to communicate widely and knowledgeably in ones chosen profession–to feel distinct, this person needs to shine before the public in a sharp, dynamic, witty way. If the Draconic sun is there (it will always have the same house position and aspects) in the sign of Capricorn, there may be an underlying need for that public recognition to reap tangible results–something Gemini alone is not too concerned with. It also amps ambition. Going through all the planets and angles in this way brings insights.
The second technique is a way of comparing aspects between planets and points otherwise not revealed. The measurement, remember, is the distance of any planet from the North Lunar Node. If, for example, the original natal chart has the Moon 32 degrees ahead of the North Node and the Draconic Chart has Saturn at 2 degrees of Taurus (32 degrees ahead of the Draconic North Lunar Node or 0 Aries) there is a conjunction between the Moon and Saturn that otherwise would not have been obviousd. This can explain much in charts were there is no original aspect between planets but a powerful conjunction in the Draco to Tropical charts.
Below is an example of a natal chart (inner wheel) with the Draconic chart placed around the outside as you might place transits or progressions. Here many contacts are seen that are not apparent by the natal alone. (D) Saturn is conjunct (T) Mercury and Venus, (D) Pluto is conjunct (T) South Node, (D) Uranus is conjunct (T) Chiron, and (D) Jupiter is conjunct (T) Part of Fortune.
With this kind of comparison it is best to keep orbs tight. Look particularly at conjunctions and/or oppositions within 0 – 2 degrees of orb. Remember, all the planetary aspects in each chart are identical. What is going to be interesting is how the Draco chart relates back to the natal. More examples are in the tutorial below.
The main thing to keep in mind is that there are TWO zodiacs in play here.
Synastry describes the technique of comparing the natal or progressed charts of two or more people. It literally means ‘stars in the same place’ such as when one person’s Sun is conjunct another person’s Moon. All aspects between the two charts are important, the angle, or type of aspect, being less relevant than the actual link. Each planet contact brings its own symbolism to life in a relationship and evaluating them in synastry charts can supply information as to the needs, purpose and desires that are awakened when two people meet, connect and interact.
People are like permanent transits. When you meet someone who has their natal Jupiter conjunct your natal Sun, it’s like having Jupiter on the Sun whenever they are around! This is an easy contact to spot when comparing the tropical zodiac natal charts but they many also have their Draconic Pluto on your Mars, and that might feel a little different. It might also go a long way in explaining some intense dynamics in the relationship that might not otherwise be obvious.
There are several ways of using the Draconic zodiac in relationship comparisons. You can look at Draconic to Draconic or Draconic to Tropical natal or progressed charts. In this way, there may be connections under the surface that aren’t obvious in the Tropical Zodiac charts but make a lot of sense when they show up in the Draco. Here is one example:
In this chart the (T) Mars of one person is conjunct the (D) Mars of the other. There is no Mars aspect in the tropical synastry and the feisty, sexy, battle & banter nature of the union is well explained by looking at the Draconic links. There is also a Jupiter/Mercury/Venus contact not see in the Tropical charts alone, and boy can these two talk!
Another method is to make a composite (midpoint) chart of the Draconic natal’s. This may be very different than the tropical composite and progressed composite charts, shedding new light on the purpose and energy of the relationship. Some useful exercises for reading these charts will follow in the tutorial below. Draconic Transits
Transits to the natal Tropical chart from Draconic positions can be insightful as can the reverse–Tropical transits to the Draconic Natal. Again it may be most instructional to keep orbs tight, within a few degrees, and focus primarily on the conjunction and opposition, at least to begin with.
Transits of any kind are often associated with outer events. Although this may be an accurate association, the initial effect is usually an inner one. Some part of the psyche, some interior figure or archetype, awakens. Concurrent with the nature of the transit, house and sign position, once awake it generally starts looking around for recognition. That means it looks for a crown, a throne and lots of patronage. If the recognition is readily forthcoming and conscious awareness is placed on the needs, desires and offerings of the figure, what it represents can transform into what we consciously express without a hint of an outer event. We simple add the new aspect of being into the multiplicity of ourselves.
If, on the other hand, the needs and wants of the figure are denied by consciousness, we will meet them outside ourselves. Jung said “We people our lives with bits or ourselves,” and what we deny inwardly we bump into in the daily life as a person, place or thing. In this case, the event can be disruptive. This disruption, (or exhilaration), insures acknowledgement of the waking archetype, one way or another.
To sum it up, remember, the entire chart needs to be considered when evaluating Draconic Zodiac transits. Those, and the other major and minor Tropical transits and progressions. for example, if there is a Saturn transit to the Sun with a Draco Jupiter transit to the Nodes, the Draconic transit may be less prominent. If there is a transit to the Draconic Moon and a Tropical New moon conjunct the Ascendant, the impact can be far greater regardless of the outer planet transits. Draconic lunar events can also be considered as a “timing” device like Mercury, suggesting when major transits may manifest in an inner or outer event.
Step One: Construct your natal Draconic Chart by using a computer program or by subtracting the North Lunar Node in degrees of longitude from 360 and then adding that figure to all the planets and house cusps.
Step Two: Start a page with columns. On the left, list all your planets out from the Moon, Sun etc to Pluto (include Chiron and any asteroids you like) It would start for example, like this:
1. 2 23′
Step Three: Add a few key words to describe the ORIENTATION of each planet in that sign. Focus mainly on what it “Wants, Needs and has to offer.” You can be as brief or elaborate as you like.
1. 223′ – Loves communication, offers curiosity.
Step Four: In the right hand column, place the Draco sign and degree and its orientation. Focus also on “Wants, Needs and has to offer.” It might look like this:
1a. Tropical 223′ – Loves communication, offers curiosity.
1b. Draconic 1525′ – Loves deep feelings, offers sensitivity.
Continue on with this until all your planets are listed. You can actually SEE the difference in orientation by polarity, element and modality. The Draco positions say something about that silk lining, what is underneath your tropical needs and orientation. Remember: This doesn’t negate your tropical chart or BLEND meaning. It ADDS a new dimension.
You can expand on this by comparing transits, progressions and synastry placements to other people as well.
Step Five: Do the same exercise above using your Tropical house cusps in the left hand column and your Draconic house cusps in the right. It might look like this:
1a. Tropical ASC. 10 34′ – Initiates in unique ways, zany energy.
1b. Draconic ASC 29 12′ – Initiates after much analysis, quick mind.
Continue this through all 12 houses, focusing on the needs of the signs as they apply to the qualities of each house. You can take this further by considering the rulers of each sign on each cusp and were they fall in both the Tropical and Draconic chart. In the example above, the (t) Asc is ruled by Saturn and Uranus where as the (d) Asc is ruled by Mercury.
These above exercises are a great way to become familiar, step by step with your Draconic Chart.
Step Six: Find any aspects (look for the conjunctions and oppositions first) between the natal Tropical placements and the Draconic. As in the chart example above, consider the conjunction between (d) Saturn and (t) Mercury/Venus. How does that make the natal chart different? What is underneath the Mercury/Venus conjunction that was not obvious before?
Now, approach this at the level you feel comfortable. You might want to run your Draco chart and compare the sun sign, Moon and Ascendant. That’s plenty to start with. Others of you will go through the whole tutorial. It’s all good. My goal here is to inform you of this other zodiac, and give you the tools to get started.
So, any questions? Insights? Let’s all discuss them in the comments.
Kim Falconer here with the astrology of the Vertex.
The vertex is a theoretical point in the heavens where the ecliptic (the apparent orbit of the Sun around the earth) crosses the prime vertical. That's the plane that runs at right angles to the meridian and divides the celestial sphere from front to back. Already, it sounds fishy, right. A theoretical point?
The vertex/anti-vertex is only theoretical to the degree that the Ascendant and Midheaven are. We know the Ascendant is the point were the ecliptic intersects the horizon (instead of the prime vertical). Then there is the North and South Nodes of the Moon. They are also points of theoretical intersection. In this case, we find them were the path of the Moon rises and falls across the ecliptic. All these examples are 'imaginary' because there is nothing really out there at that point in space. No fixed star, no asteroid, no planet. Not not to forget that the ecliptic itself is the imaginary path of the Sun around the earth.
Still, I put stock in the Vertex and use it on a regular basis in chart readings. Here's why ...
The vertex falls on the western side of the chart, with the anti-vertex found exactly 180 degrees away, on the eastern side (the Ascendant side). As with the Ascendant and Midheaven, an exact birth time is necessary to calculate the vertex. There is no point working with it unless you have one. That is the first rule.
What does the word Vertex ‘do’. First, think about what the word means. It comes from the Latin root word vertere, meaning to change, to turn, turn frequently or spin. It also can mean a crowning point, summit, top or crest. Words having this Latin root include vertebrae, (joint, having something to turn on) vertigo (dizzy, disoriented, spun out) vertical (from top to bottom) versatile (doing many things at once, to turn from one thing to another) and verticil (a circular arrangement around a fixed point, a whorl). The common theme here highlights change or movement, from one point to another, where the center remains fixed or the same.
Sparking anything yet?
The Roman god Vertumnus has roots in the Latin word vertere, to change, turn or spin. Vertumnus was a lesser god of gardens, fruit trees and seasons. Youthful and alluring (hot-hot-hot), he had the power to change himself into various forms, just as the seed changes from root, to branch to leaf to fruit. Vertumnus used this ability in his (hot) pursuit of the goddess Pomona.
As the myth goes, Vertumnus fell in love with the strikingly beautiful goddess Pomona. Although she rejected all suitors, he fed his passion with the sight of her by changing his form and passing her gardens daily as a soldier, a harvester, a fisherman, etc. Ignoring him, Pomona remained devoted only to the cultivation of fruit trees. Vertumnus persisted and one day he altered his form into an old woman, greeted her with a passionate kiss, and proceeded to enter her gardens.
Vertumnus, (as the matron), talked to the goddess, attempting to convince her of the rewards of relationship and the dangers of rejecting love. The qualities and integrity of the youthful god Vertumnus were discussed. Finally, “she” told Pomona the story of a young man who cruelly took his own life after being spurned by his love. She told of how the gods turned the rejecting woman into stone, but still Pomona was not persuaded.
Exasperated, Vertumnus dropped his disguise and stood naked before Pomona in his true form. She thought she was seeing the sun emerge from behind the clouds and in the glorious light of Vertumnus, she opened her heart and reciprocated his love. Together still, they attend the gardens and fruit tress of the countryside.
The theme of this myth centers on a seemingly chance moment where an outstanding event occurs. To Pomona, it was like an epiphany, a sudden turn of fate, a radical awakening of perception. To Vertumnus, it was at first a well planned strategy, then finally an act of spontaneous desperation. Imagine his surprise when Pomona finally received him!
Love, relationship and union are highlighted here, not just in the desire of Vertumnus, but also in the story he told of the young man’s rejection and the consequences that followed. The imagery of the gardens, fruit and vine add to the feeling of ripeness, an event finally ready to happen, a fruitful experience.
These are all themes you can bring to the reading of your Vertex.
How significant is it? That’s the debate, and not all astrologers agree. I like to think of the vertex as a sensitive point linked to fateful encounters with others, sudden epiphanies, turning points in life and a ‘destiny’. Activated, it can feel profound. Extraordinary.
A strongly placed natal vertex (conjunct the horizon, MC/IC, in close aspect to a personal planet, in a critical degree or in the degree of the nodes) will work with more obvious results.
Three things can trigger or activate the vertex:
2) other people (synastry)
3) places (astro*carto*graphy).
Transits to the vertex can bring inner and outer events corresponding to a pivotal point, significant encounter with another or a sudden change of perception. The transiting planet activates the symbolism of the vertex, coinciding with a major or minor event. Keeping orbs tight and sticking mainly to the conjunction will be more signigicant. A transiting conjunction from Mars would likely be more noticeable than a transiting trine from Uranus, although sometimes that is not the case. Be flexible. Explore! The magnitude of the effect depends on the prominence of the vertex itself, its relationship to other factors in the chart (aspects) and the occurrence of other transits happening at the same time. Along with transits, explore progressions, converse progressions and directions.
Meetings with significant people, as seen through synastry and composite charts, may also link strongly to the vertex. (Think of people as permanent transits.) When one person’s inner planets or asteroids (Sun through to Jupiter), angles, nodes, vertex or certain Arabic parts conjunct the vertex, there can be a feeling of fate, destiny, rightness or wrongness about the encounter. Something in the contact with that person may have the ability to create profound change over a long or short period of time. The change may be perceived as wonderful, or not so wonderful, but always ‘meant to be.’
Place, our location on the planet can awaken the vertex as seen through relocation charts and astro-carto-graphy. When we relocate, the vertex may become more prominent by changing house or aspect to an angle. The relocation vertex can signify places where meaningful encounters of a particular nature seem to happen more consistently.
What about the sign and house position of the vertex? The house positions of the vertex/anti-vertex can offer clues as to where we may experience turning points, meetings with destiny or fateful encounters in life. As noted earlier, the vertex falls usually between the fifth and the eight house, on the western side of the chart, with the anti-vertex 180 degrees opposition.
In the fifth/eleventh house axis, there could be a propensity to experience fateful romantic or creative encounters (fifth house) through contacts with friends or groups (eleventh house). In the sixth/twelfth house axis, the turning point, or spin out, could effect our day by day living, or our link between psyche and soma (sixth house) through contact with those in the helping professions, those less fortunate or through dreams and creative fantasies (twelfth house). In the seventh/first house axis, sudden epiphanies could radically effect socially significant partnerships (seventh house) through an experience of projecting ourselves out into the world (first house). In the eighth/second house axis, destiny may arrive in the form of an erotic encounter or intense research (eighth house) perpetrated by a desire for pleasure, security or peace (second house).
The vertex/anti-vertex by sign can signify the way we may experience activation to this axis. Aries/Libra could indicate issues between personal will and sharing, where Taurus/Scorpio may be about security versus risk. Gemini/Sagittarius could contrast knowledge and vision, where Cancer/Capricorn could emphasize protection versus enterprise. The Leo/Aquarius axis might highlight self-expression as opposed to group participation where the Virgo/Pisces might compare structured boundaries and limitless communion.
Ready to check yours? Here’s the glyph and how to include it at astro.com.
The vertex is a point in the horoscope that can indicate a sense of destiny working through another person or outstanding event. It may be stimulated by transits, progressions or directions, other people (synastry/composite) or a change of location. The house and sign position can offer clues as to where the change or turning point may take place and in what way. I encouraged you all to watch the vertex in your own chart, and in others, and work out for yourself how significant it is.
After all, we never know when Vertumnus might enter our garden in the guise of someone else, offering an unexpected turn of fate!
Calculating the Vertex: To find the Vertex by hand, you calculate the Ascendant at your co-latitude. That’s the Ascendant at 90 degrees, minus your latitude. The IC becomes the mid-heaven and, using the table of houses, you look up the “Ascendant” (Vertex) associated with the new MC and latitude. OR, you can go to Astro.com and include it in the many chart options, calculating it on line for free.
Do check out the awesome Dr Z’s: Destiny’s Gate: the Electric Axis for more resources.
Now, on to the fun stuff. Let’s have a look at where your Vertex is and see if you can link any transits, synastry aspect or relocation to a major turning point in life.
See you in the comments!
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