Back in October I was reflecting on Capricorn/Cancer eclipse cycle. It was a heavy one with so much extra emphasis from Saturn, Pluto, and Mars that had tangible and life-changing effects on mine and many other’s lives. Additionally during this time I noticed that people were talking A LOT about boundaries and reparenting, two very Capricorn and Cancer topics respectively. I started thinking ahead to what the nodes in Gemini and Sagittarius would bring and I predicted that polyvagal theory and in particular breathwork as a means of regulating the nervous system would become prominent modalities. This was not just a prediction, however, but a wish as well because understanding and practicing these modalities has been greatly beneficial to me personally. I obviously had no idea at the time that a global pandemic would be in full effect when the nodes shifted signs, but considering the increasing level of stress we are all potentially experiencing, I wanted to elaborate on this a bit more and provide some resources here.
As someone deeply interested in the body and somatics, my approach to astrology is often grounded in medical astrology. The body is the defining feature of the human experience and it is the vehicle through which we experience all facets of life, including the numinous. I am also concerned with healing and remediation, and so medical astrology often provides incredible insight into therapeutic applications. I could go on and on here and will continue to bang the embodiment drum until my personal body gives out but my point here is that in my opinion the body ESPECIALLY matters when it comes to the nodes.
In medical astrology, the sun represents the vital force, and the moon distributes the life force (reflects the light of the sun). The nodes of the moon are primarily concerned with (and describe) the relationship between the luminaries. In this modality we also deal specifically with polarities, meaning the sign and it’s opposite, and this polarity is emphasized over knowledge of the sign in isolation. The Gemini-Sagittarius polarity governs the nervous system as well as the respiratory system. Note: the respiratory influence is primarily on the Gemini end, however because the north node is sometimes characterized as a head or mouth, I think it’s relevant here.
Keep in mind that nothing in this post constitutes medical advice. I’m sharing my personal experience and resources I’ve gathered. You are encouraged to do your own research and experimentation. You are your best guide.
Polyvagal theory is a theory that was introduced originally by Dr Steven Porges and describes the relationship between the sympathetic (flight or flight) nervous system and the parasymathetic (rest and digest) nervous system and how they are regulated by the vagus nerve. The belief is that by improving our “vagal tone” we are better able to regulate our nervous system response and therefore increase our sense of safety, belonging, decrease stress, heal trauma, and inhabit or bodies. This is a overly simplified description but this article by Deb Dana is a helpful beginner resource.
Some of the ways it is believed we can stimulate the vagus nerve include:
I first discovered breathwork when I was studying to become a yoga teacher in 2010, and then further through my training with Street Yoga, an organization focused on trauma-aware yoga instruction. Having experienced extreme anxiety throughout much of my adult life I was blown away by the capacity of the breath (something free that I already do anyway) to help soothe my nerves and calm me down. Breathwork also supports the lungs. My two favorite forms of breathwork are box breathing, and Nadi Shodhana (alternate-nostril breathing). Both are easy and safe and I’ve linked to instructional videos above. I also recommend the free OAK app for ios for guided breathing.
If you are interested in learning more polyvagal theory, breathwork, and somatics (body based therapy) here are some books and resources that are helpful:
- The Pocket Guide to Polyvagal Theory
- Widen the Window: Training Your Brain and Body to Thrive During Stress and Recover from Trauma
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
- Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma
- The Power of Breathwork: Simple Practices to Promote Wellbeing
- How Trauma Affects The Body: Polyvagal Theory – video by The Holistic Psychologist
I think that breathwork and body-based therapies can provide a lot of support in general but also during this nodal cycle and times of added stress (like a pandemic). May we all become more resilient and anti-fragile.
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