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The Startling Success of the Insurgent Bernie Sanders

I have to admit that I’m taking a wicked amount of pleasure watching the news media flail about trying to explain how a Socialist upstart from a state known for maple syrup and a ban on billboards could have interrupted the “inevitable” election of the long-presumed next president of the United States.

When Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced last April that he was running for president, he gave fair warning: “People should not underestimate me.” The media did just that, politely calling him a “long shot” who couldn’t even get the support of the most liberal wing of the Democratic Party. That the longest-serving Independent in Congress chose to run within the two-party system was somewhat newsworthy. However, the pundits expected him to have little impact other than perhaps moving the political discussion to the left. There was zero chance, they said, that voters would elect a Socialist. Besides that, he had no money and no campaign infrastructure, and he was running against a candidate with near universal name recognition and a political machine to match. (1)

Nine months later, with millions of dollars in small campaign contributions and a virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses, Bernie Sanders is finally being taken seriously. Most major media outlets continue to predict that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, but Sanders has changed the race, and likely the political landscape, for years to come.

The pundits may be falling all over themselves trying to explain why they didn’t see this coming, but for astrologers, the charts tell the story. Before we take a look, though, let’s review his bio.

Bernard Sanders, known to his constituents simply as “Bernie,” was born on September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn, NY, to lower-class Jewish parents. His father immigrated to the United States from Poland when he was 17, barely escaping the Holocaust, during which most of his family was killed. In high school, Sanders was a long-distance runner and captain of his track team. He also made his first venture into politics, running for student body president. In a three-way race, he came in third. (2)

After graduating from high school, Sanders spent a year at Brooklyn College and then transferred to the University of Chicago. It was 1960, when the Civil Rights movement was in full swing and the campus radicalism that helped define the sixties was just beginning. Sanders joined several activist groups, at one point getting arrested for protesting segregation in off-campus housing. In 1963, he made his first trip to Washington, D.C., where he and other members of his activist groups joined Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March for Jobs and Freedom. He also joined the student affiliate of the Socialist Party of America, and he applied for conscientious objector status as a protest to the war in Vietnam.

As the counterculture movement of the sixties gathered steam, Sanders and his older brother Larry went to live on a kibbutz in Israel. The egalitarian, collectivist way of life on the kibbutz made a lasting impression on both brothers, but it was Bernie who saw it as proof that socialism could work. (Larry Sanders now lives in England and ran last year as a Green Party candidate for Parliament. He lost.) Virgo Bernie Sanders had another epiphany while living on the kibbutz: he loved growing vegetables. When he returned from Israel, he moved to rural Vermont and bought 85 acres of undeveloped land for $2,500. For the next decade, he became more involved in grassroots politics, while managing to scrape together a living by working odd jobs. He also fathered a son, Levi, with a live-in partner. (3)

Throughout the 1970s, Sanders ran in several statewide elections as a candidate of the anti-war Liberty Union Party. He started out with 2% of the vote, gaining a little more each time but never winning a race. He finally gave up, but was then persuaded to run against the long-time conservative mayor of Burlington in 1981. In a stunning upset, he won by 22 votes, which was reduced to ten votes on a recount. The victory gained him national recognition as the “Socialist Mayor of Vermont.” The city council, however, was not amused and tried to block him at every turn. His first year in office was essentially a war, but then things started to change, and by the time he’d finished his fourth and final term in 1989, Burlington was being hailed as one of the most livable cities, and Sanders as one of the nation’s 20 best mayors. (4)

Sanders lost his first run for the House of Representatives in 1988, but he ran again two years later and won. He was re-elected by wide margins and, in 2007, made a successful bid for the Senate. He is the longest-serving Independent in Congress and, despite campaign rhetoric as an extremist who refuses to compromise, his colleagues have called him a pragmatist, realist, and result-oriented — just what we would expect of a Virgo. (5)

To date, we have no birth time for Sanders. A chart began circulating last fall with a time of 12:27 p.m., attributed to an unnamed former Sanders campaign worker. Until last week, AstroDatabank was using it, with an inexplicable “A” rating that gave the chart credibility among astrologers. Fortunately, high standards prevailed, and the entry was reverted to “time unknown” with a note: “There exists no reliable source, it is all hearsay and speculation. The time has to be considered unknown, until substantial evidence comes forward.” The chart is out there, though, and I suspect there will be those who continue to work with it, in the absence of a verified birth time; in other words, it’s “better than nothing.” Really, it’s not. Better to go with a noon or sunrise chart (I prefer noon). (6)

Bernie Sanders, natal noon

Although we don’t have the advantage of a birth time, we can detect planetary patterns in Bernie’s chart that reflect his temperament, political ideology, and drive. Aside from his Sun in pragmatic, hardworking Virgo, the first thing that jumps out at me is the Moon-Mars conjunction in Aries. This aspect alone can account for his enormous energy. His age is often mentioned as a liability, but this aspect indicates he’ll stay quick on his feet (he has more energy than I had at 25). Of course, it also accounts for his temper and the loud, angry tirades. Many see him as an “angry old man,” but age has little to do with it. In 1985, novelist Russell Banks followed Sanders around Burlington as research for a profile in The Atlantic. He describes a scene in a restaurant bar, where Sanders comes to have a beer with voters to explain how they can get a rebate on their property taxes.

“It’s more a private than a public occasion, but Sanders’ intensity, heating up as he speaks, is unmodulated and is almost inappropriate. He’s on a roll now and moves to a rapid-fire discussion of the Burlington Airport and how he wants the city to get a part of the money the airport is making and that now goes instead to the state.”

The article was never published, but editors of The Atlantic dug it out of the archives last October. It is filled with the kind of personal observations astrologers can use to put flesh on the bones of chart interpretations. It’s also a good read, whether or not you’re a Sanders fan. (7)

Indeed, the Moon-Mars conjunction could provide some clues for a rectified birth time. Marcia Starck, in the December 2015 issue of ISAR journal, used some life events to come up with a late afternoon birth time with Aquarius on the Ascendant and a very tight Moon-Mars conjunction. (8)

In the noon chart, Venus is in Libra, in tight opposition to Mars. Mercury is also in Libra. The Venus-Mars opposition speaks to events in his love life, which was very active before he met his second wife, Jane O’Meara, with whom he has been married for 27 years. Sanders doesn’t like to talk about his personal life, but Jane Sanders, in media interviews, has described their marriage as a close, equal partnership. Venus and Mercury in Libra also provide some balance to the Moon-Mars conjunction and convey the ability to compromise mentioned by his colleagues in Congress. Conservative Republican John McCain, with whom Sanders hammered out a bipartisan bill to overhaul the Veterans Administration healthcare system, told a reporter for The Huffington Post that Sanders has “the gumption to drop F-bombs one minute and counteroffers the next.”

“Negotiating with Bernie was not a usual experience, because he is very passionate and he and I are both very strong-willed people and we spend a lot of time banging our fists on the table and having the occasional four-letter word,” McCain said. “But at the end of the day, Bernie was result-oriented.” (9)

The outer planets — particularly the conjunctions of Saturn in late Taurus and Uranus in early Gemini, and Pluto and Chiron in Leo — hint at an ability to transform social structures. I have many thoughts on this, but will have to save them for another day.

And then, of course, there’s his Virgo Sun. Virgo is the quintessential political and social critic who can zero in on problems that others overlook. It’s also the sign of service. In his first appearance on C-SPAN, in January 1988, Sanders was asked why he got into politics. He responded that even as a child, he looked around him and could see so many things that were wrong, and he wanted to do something about it. (10)

Rather than looking at the transit chart for Election Day, which several astrologers and astrology students have already been studying intently, and will continue to explore for the next several weeks, I’d like to focus on Bernie’s transits last week, when a new nationwide poll was released showing him within two percentage points of a tie with Hillary Clinton. Until now, Clinton has maintained a comfortable double-digit lead. This poll, conducted by Quinnipiac, is just one of many and could be an anomaly, but it was picked up by most major news outlets and was seen as significant in light of a last-minute debate last Thursday (February 4) and the upcoming New Hampshire primary on Tuesday (February 9). (11)

Bernie biwheel

The most striking transit supporting positive polling for Sanders has been the conjunction of Jupiter and the North Node, which has been close for the past several weeks and in tight conjunction with Bernie’s natal North Node at 22° Virgo. Jupiter moved into conjunction with his Sun toward the middle of October, then turned retrograde in January. It will pass back over his Sun in late March and early April, then again in mid-June. Meanwhile, the transiting North Node moved into partile conjunction with his natal North Node on January 22, with Jupiter also in partile conjunction.

At the same time, transiting Pluto in Capricorn has been in a trine with Bernie’s Virgo Sun. Last Friday (February 5), when the Quinnipiac poll was released, the Moon, Venus, and Pluto were in triple conjunction. Pluto will remain in a tight trine with his Sun through Election Day.

There are also very difficult transits on the way for Sanders, a couple in particular that are of concern not just in terms of winning or losing an election. But for now, he’s got a fair wind.


(1) Bernie Sanders is running for president

(2) Wikipedia

(3) Straight Outta Brooklyn, by Way of Vermont: The Bernie Sanders Story
Leaving Brooklyn, Bernie Sanders Found Home in Vermont

(4) As Mayor, Bernie Sanders Was More Pragmatist Than Socialist
NY Times

(5) Bernie Sanders, the Wide-Eyed Pragmatist
Huffington Post

(6) September 8, 1941, Brooklyn, NY. Source: AstroDatabank. Rating X, date without birth time. Placidus houses.

(7) Bernie Sanders, the Socialist Mayor, by Russell Banks The Atlantic

(8) Marcia Starck rectification, ISAR journal, December 2015, p. 42

(9) Bernie Sanders, the Wide-Eyed Pragmatist
Huffington Post

(10) First appearance on C-SPAN, January 1988

(11) Sanders nearly tied with Clinton nationwide
The Hill
RealClearPolitics, aggregate polls
RealClear Politics

Bio: Pat Paquette is a writer, editor, and astrologer living on Vashon Island, WA. She has been blogging on astrology since December 2005. Her weekly astrological forecasts appear on the blog of her website,, where you also can find a collection of her past articles.


  1. An anomaly…??? When we hear such simple basic humanitarian truths?!?!
    Seems are culture has forgotten to hear/recognize goodness. Except for the young and the elder wise ones.

    I ordered my Bernie t shirt back in sept. I wore it for weeks and weeks…no one even noticed.
    But I felt I KNEW this guy. My friend in Vermont has written about him for years. And in Portland, Oregon we listened to him on Air America every Friday…on the progressive radio station hosted by Thom Hartman.
    Seeing charts here, I have to chuckle….Bernie’s Moon and Mars conjunct my Mars, upiter, south node and Saturn. My 9th house! Yeah, he is an old friend

    • Anyone who cares about societal evolution “feels that they know” Bernie.

  2. Jacquelyn, polls produce different results based on how the random sample of voters is determined and how the questions are asked. Most recent nationwide polls show Hillary Clinton with a double-digit lead over Bernie Sanders, so when a new comes along that shows a lead of only 2 percent — which, when you consider the margin of error, is a virtual tie — it most probably is an anomaly. Two other polls conducted in the same period showed Clinton ahead by 18 and 21 percent. Now that the primaries have started, though, we’ll find out whether any of the polls have accurately reflected voter preferences.

  3. The infamous Uranus/Pluto conjunction of the ’60s aspected his natal Sun, also by conjunction. This is a man who was profoundly affected by the world events of that decade.

    • Charles, totally agree with the Uranus-Pluto influence. I had planned to discuss it in this post, but as I was writing, I realized that this topic merits an entire discussion of its own.

  4. Bernie is just 5 days younger than myself, and so we share similar birth charts. From my own experience I know that the Saturn-Uranus conjunction is a powerful driving force and that the trine between this and the one between Mercury and Neptune makes for a very ‘creative’ configuration. (For my own part I’ve written fantasy stories and am now publishing a book on unexplained phenomena.)

    Also watch the conjunction between the transiting planets Uranus and Eris which will become exact in June (at 23deg 31min of Aries) – scoring a direct hit on Bernie’s Mars (and Moon).

    We can look forward to great things from this man.

  5. Anthony, I’m not sure that the conjunction of transiting Uranus on Bernie’s Moon-Mars conjunction is a good thing. It’s likely got him energized and more fired up than in any time in his life, but Uranus is an erratic energy, and when combined with Mars can indicate accidents or injuries. This is something to watch very closely, because Uranus is in Aries, and Mars is retrograde from mid-April to late June. It’s also worth mentioning that Hillary Clinton made her concession speech to Obama when Uranus was conjunct her Moon by exact degree (using the 8:02 a.m. birth chart). Of course, that wasn’t the only major transit she had, but I mention it only to point out that Uranus-Moon transits can be upsetting.

    The Uranus-Eris conjunction is interesting. I’ll have to give it a little more thought. I haven’t jumped on the Eris bandwagon. I’m more interested in observing Ceres, who often gets forgotten even though she gained dwarf planet status at the same time Pluto and Eris did, and she’s the only one inside the orbit of Jupiter. As it turns out, Ceres will be conjunct Uranus in early June and again toward Election Day and through to the inauguration in January.

  6. Will Saturn transit square his Sun this year doom his Presidential ambitions?

    • Franko, I don’t believe any one aspect spells “doom” for anyone. With difficult aspects, we may face multiple challenges and have to struggle harder, but reaching our goals is not impossible.

      That said, with hard transits from Saturn to the Sun, it’s more likely that past actions will come back to bite you in the behind. For a politician, this can be critical, particularly if those past actions were ethically or legally questionable. So far, no one has managed to find anything that would sink Bernie’s campaign, and it’s not for lack of trying. But there are still several months to go. If that should happen, it’s important to remember that it’s not the transit that causes the difficulty, but one’s own indiscretions and bad judgment.

  7. Pat,
    Bernie really surged into the media coverage in January right after the New Moon in Capricorn that made a wonderful trine to his Virgo planets; in addition to the Jupiter and North Node sitting right on those Virgo planets.

    These natal Virgo planets fall pretty close the the MC in the USA natal chart (Sibly chart.)

    • Barbara, the media started paying more attention because new polls were released the first week in January showing him ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa for the first time. He polled ahead of her in New Hampshire in late August, but he didn’t solidify his lead until December. Right as that Iowa poll came out, new polls showed him with a commanding lead in New Hampshire. I definitely noticed an increase in media mention of Sanders at that point, but a lot of it was dismissive. Not coincidentally, that’s also when surrogates for the Clinton campaign began mudslinging, notably David Brock.

      Even after his historic win in New Hampshire, many of the pundits continued to dismiss his success as a natural advantage in predominantly white states. The Huffington Post didn’t even give him the headline the next day, but made it all about Trump! But that has changed. There is no question, though, that he is getting much more coverage now. Some of it even has real substance rather than reporting who hurled the last insult, how the other side reacted, the reaction to the reaction, ad nauseam.

      So did the Cap New Moon have anything to do with his gain in the early January polls? It certainly didn’t hurt, and it packed an extra punch as it was conjunct Pluto, which has been in a close trine with Bernie’s Sun since early 2015 (it will remain there through early 2017). In my mind, that’s his power base. Hillary has one, too, which is the grand trine from transiting Saturn and Uranus to her natal Mars-Pluto-Saturn conjunction.

  8. Hillary just won the Nevada caucuses by 4 to 5%, and although her transits also benefit from the North Node, which is sextile her Ascendant, that North Node conjunction is still close for Bernie over the next week or so, including the South Carolina primary and the 11 Super Tuesday primaries. So, I wonder if this is a transit that overwhelms all others? I think the Scorpio Moon for South Carolina gives Hillary the win, and many of the transits that help Bernie also help her–Pluto at 16 Cap is sextile her Venus, for example–but on Super Tuesday Jupiter is square Bernie’s natal Jupiter, Mercury is trine his Venus (and square Hillary’s Venus). But the Moon that day is square his Sun, but trine Hillary’s Mars/Pluto conjunction in Leo. How are these transits weighted?

    • CM, I would not say that the Jupiter-NN conjunction on Bernie’s Virgo NN and Sun is a transit that “overwhelms all others.” I don’t think any single transit can do that. And I certainly don’t believe it means he’s going to win the nomination.

      The lunar North Node represents, among other things, our life’s calling, our highest purpose in this incarnation. The way I see it, the long Jupiter-NN conjunction in this election year and its transits to Bernie’s chart represents just that. It’s not clear yet what that might be. Already, he has accomplished a lot. He has engaged younger voters. He has raised awareness of how far the United States is behind other Western countries in ensuring that all of its citizens have the basic necessities. As he would say, this is “yooge.” Many Americans have no idea what social democracy is or how it differs from socialism or communism. People are now discussing it in threads on news stories. Political analysts also have noticed how much Hillary’s speeches are starting to sound like Bernie’s. Then there is the issue about the influence of big money in politics.

      As for upcoming primaries, thanks for those observations. I’m still analyzing the charts, and anyway, the answer is an entire article in itself.

      • Re: TrUranus conjunct Moon-Mars. Pat, I agree, and thank you for the article! Also, it seems to me the Uranus transit describes very well the Promethean undertaking of being in a national campaign to win the Democratic nomination for president of the United States, the accelerated pace of Sanders’ life when things must be coming at him a mile a minute, and the thousands of people he is coming into contact with on a daily basis.

        The stamp of Uranus is also manifesting in his call for political revolution and for millions of people to rise up and demand a government that works for all of us, which obviously resonates with the Uranus-Pluto cycle we are in.

        Bernie’s nodal return represents a major turning point and crossroads in life and the beginning of a new chapter. The past is being left behind and a new era is dawning. As the nodes represent karmic and multidimensional forces acting in our lives, this would suggest that higher forces are working in his life at this time and guiding him. I believe the story of how he and his wife came to a decision to run suggests that this is so. That’s my sense anyway.

        During the Democratic convention of July 26-28, the Jupiter conjunction to Bernie’s Sun will have ended (July 19), but Tr NN will be conjunct his Sun from June 24 to August 8, which is about recognition, elevation, and success. He also has a couple of difficult transits also, tr Mars opposing nSaturn-Uranus, and tr Saturn square Sun. I wonder if he’s going to be confronted with problems presented by the Democratic establishment.

        Clinton has some favorable Jupiter transits also: Jupiter sextile nMercury/ASC, trine nNN, opposing nMoon, and tr Mars conjunct nJupiter. She also has tr Saturn opposing nUranus. I wonder if this transit may manifest as a negative development in any of the three investigations regarding her emails.

  9. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I will look into North node returns and how they manifest in people’s lives. I think Bernie’s surge in popularity is reflected to some extent with the North Node return. I noticed also that Hillary’s Moon at 22 degrees Pisces is transited by the South Node, which many people liken to a Saturn type of transit. And Bernie has the Saturn square Sun. So both have a mix of difficult and helpful transits and weighting them is the mystery. I look forward to any updates on this article as the primaries continue.

    • CM, you’re welcome!

      I’m not talking so much about the nodal return; that happens to everyone roughly every 19 years. It’s the combination of Jupiter and the NNode, in close conjunction, and over an extended period of time due to Jupiter’s retrograde cycle. Planets slow down (from our perspective on Earth) as they approach station, whether retrograde or direct. Jupiter turned retrograde on January 7 at 23 degrees Virgo, with the North Node (true) at 24 degrees, so they are tracking within 3 degrees of each other from late December until the first week in March. Then after he returns direct, he’ll be conjunct the NNode again (+- 3 degrees) from early June until the first week in July.

      I don’t know the formula for how often Jupiter turns retrograde conjunct the North Node; someone in the TMA community surely knows. But I’m thinking it has to be very rare.

      In the course of his retrograde cycle, Jupiter also passes over Bernie’s Sun three times. The first was in late October. When Jupiter returns direct in May, he’ll be within 3 degrees of conjunction with Bernie’s Sun. And by the time he makes the third and final pass in June, he’ll be conjunct the NNode again. So Bernie not only will have a Jupiter-NNode conjunction on his natal NNode, but also on his Sun several months later. That’s way above and beyond a typical nodal return.

  10. I would like to read an analysis of the comparative transits for Bernie & Hillary on election day & inauguration day. I’m a Bernie fan, but of course would vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination. But my gut says she would lose in Nov. due to her “high negatives.” I’ve just heard too many people say they “hate” her.

    • Thanks, Jilly.

      Candidates’ transits on Election Day and Inauguration Day are one of the first things we tend to look at, but I don’t think those are enough to draw any conclusions. Also, when we’re looking at opponents in the primaries, we need to look at important dates such as the first primary (in this case, the Iowa caucus), and Super Tuesday. Also the dates of the conventions.

      One thing we tend to forget is that in contests like this, a lot of trines in the transit chart don’t necessary mean a win, nor do a lot of squares mean a loss. No matter which candidate wins the Democratic nomination, they’ll get hammered by the Republicans, both in the general election and once they’re in the White House. Same for Republicans. Party leaders are in a panic trying to figure out how to keep Trump from winning.

  11. I’ve looked at the composites for Bernie and Hillary with the US Sibley chart. Hillary’s composite has a strong stellium around the midheaven; Bernie’s doesn’t.

    • Anthony, thanks for providing a piece of the puzzle.

      One can approach a presidential election in many different ways, and you’ll find major disagreements among astrologers about what the “right” one is. Even after the election, we don’t necessarily know what the “right” one is, because when there are only two candidates, the odds of being right are 50-50. The one thing we can say is what didn’t work.

      The Democratic nomination is all the more difficult to analyze this year, because we don’t know if we’re even using the right charts. We have no birth time for Bernie. Hillary’s birth time is so disputed that I use the 8:02 a.m. chart with the caveat that it could be way off. In fact, just the other day, I found a profile written when Bill first ran for president, and it suggested she was born in the early afternoon. (According to the story, her mother was taken to the hospital shortly after midnight and gave birth 12 hours later. No source is given, but that’s too specific to have been a total fabrication.)

      And then there’s the matter of what chart to use for the United States. Sibly is the most popular choice, but the time is problematic from a historical perspective. Ray Merriman switched after an exchange with the highly respected Zipporah Dobyns, who used 10:36 a.m. This is consistent with the opinion of Library of Congress historians, who concluded it was around 11 a.m. The Dobyns chart has 24 Virgo on the Ascendant.

      I think it’s great that astrologers and astrology students are looking at these various charts and comparing notes. The more, the better!

  12. I noticed recently that the mean North Node is 22 Virgo right now, and the true North Node is 21 degrees. The latter benefits Hillary more–it’s sextile her Mercury at 21 Scorpio, and the ruler of her Virgo Midheaven. But the 22 Virgo benefits Bernie more, because it prolongs the North Node return, which I think in a mundane perspective is adding to his surge in popularity–many connections. In Hillary’s progressed chart, Chiron is now at 21 degrees, the same degree as her natal Mercury, so this could manifest as being able to talk with more feeling about the “left out and left behind,” which she seems to be doing. She definitely seems to resonate with Latinos and African Americans in great proportions than with Whites. I wonder if you have an opinion about whether mean North Node or true North Node is better or more accurate in regard to transits, and also if you think transits affect progressed planets.

    • CM, there is disagreement among astrologers about whether to use the True Node or the Mean Node. I use the True Node exclusively, because I think it more accurately reflects the moment. Just my opinion.

      Regardless of which you use, there’s usually not more than half a degree difference, and that’s not going to tip the scales one way or the other. The bigger consideration is that a conjunction outweighs a sextile. I note sextiles to the nodes, but I generally don’t consider them that important. The South Node conjunct her Moon — if in fact we have the right birth time for her — now that is something we need to look at.

      For the rest of your question, see my response to Anthony.

      Thanks again for your adding your observations!

  13. Hi Pat,

    Just want to thank you for the blog and your thoughtful and thorough responses to the great comments that your post has inspired..

    All best,


    • You’re very welcome, Mary! Thank you once again for the opportunity to share with the TMA blog’s engaged and knowledgeable community. As I wrote above in response to Anthony, the more input we have on political events, the better!

  14. Re: True Node vs. Mean Node

    Celeste Teal, in her book “Lunar Nodes,” states that true node is only true twice a month, which is when the Moon crosses the ecliptic, and that the positions between these times are hypothetical based on “an approximation of the celestial orbs, even though the Moon’s orbit varies due to the pull of the Sun.”

    This doesn’t sound very precise to me. I am more inclined to use the Mean Node given her research on the nodes for many years.

    “Due to their consistent retrograde motion, the mean lunar nodes are most relevant for a study of karmic and spiritual implications in a natal chart. When used as a timing device in progressions, it is also the mean nodes that appear to be most accurate.”

    • Helena, thanks for raising an important point.

      “True” is somewhat of a misnomer when speaking about the lunar nodes. The more precise term would be “oscillating.” It’s a bit complicated to explain, but the difference in how the “true” node and mean node are calculated has to do with the center point around which the Moon orbits. The mean node assumes that the Moon orbits a fixed point at the center of the Earth, when in reality, the center point is in perpetual motion and never at the Earth’s actual center. The “true” node takes into account the constant change in this center point, called the Earth-Moon barycenter. For a very cool animation (a picture that will save me a thousand words), check out this YouTube video:

      Because the mean node is calculated with an assumed fixed center point, it moves through the signs at a constant rate, and always retrograde. Conversely, the Earth-Moon barycenter doesn’t move in an even pattern but wobbles, so that the true node has a variable rate, and periodically throughout the month is direct, sometimes for several days in a row. For a more-detailed explanation, see the notes to Astrodienst’s Swiss Ephemeris.

      The true node is more “in the moment,” as it reflects the constantly shifting balance point between the Earth and Moon, but it is not “true” in the sense of being precisely accurate, which is an absurd idea in any case, given that the node is a theoretical point in space. The exception, as you point out, is the two times a month when the Moon crosses the ecliptic. At that point, the true node actually is more accurate than the mean node, because it is conjunct the Moon by exact degree, minute, and second at the precise moment the Moon crosses the ecliptic. Not so with the mean node.

      Bottom line, though, is that the mean node and true node are mathematical calculations – in other words, an abstraction – and never that far apart. In my mind, that makes them both equally valid, and it’s just a matter of preference, which by definition is subjective and therefore not “right” or “wrong.”

  15. Pat,

    I’m sorry I could not gather anything useful from the youtube, and the very technical explanation makes my eyes glaze over. But, I appreciate your trying to help.

    In response to your statement that “One thing we tend to forget is that in contests like this, a lot of trines in the transit chart don’t necessary mean a win, nor do a lot of squares mean a loss” – that’s a good point. Senator Sanders did fairly well on Super Tuesday in spite of his being under a Saturn square to his Sun and Mars opposing his Saturn-Uranus. He even won Oklahoma of all places!

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