HOUSE 1: Personality

Welcome to a lifetime of claiming the deep emotional wisdom of Cancer energy and then stepping out of your safe cozy shell and asserting it in all areas of your life. Welcome to allowing yourself to sense your way intuitively through a world that over-values intellect and logic, and becoming evermore confident about doing that. Welcome, especially, to the first order of business, which is to assert your right to take care of yourself first.

The "Me First" part of this assignment isn't going to be easy. Let's say you've been counting on taking a week off to go with your sister to a spa where you can take a trip down memory lane together as you soak and massage away the stresses and strains of middle-aged bodies and simultaneously strengthen your connection to the security of your mutual roots. But your husband's old back injury kicks up and he can't fill in for you on your biweekly babysitting gig with your grandkids on the nights their parents get home late from the city. It's crunch time for the parents at the office and no one on the list of possible substitutes can fill in. What will you do? Who comes first? See what I mean?

Then there's the challenge beaming at you from your Seventh House South Node in the sign of Capricorn. It speaks of a karmic history where taking responsibility for others, especially partner-type-others, was the #1 priority. Looking South with our negative bias, it's pretty safe to hypothesize that you over-achieved on the responsibility part and came into this lifetime already predisposed to take care of yourself only after you take care of everyone else. If you're not very careful, it's going to be awfully easy for you to yanked right back there the minute anyone expresses any kind of neediness at all.

Look for the signals. The Universe will let you know if you wander off course, usually by sending along people - especially partnership-type people - who are controlling and micro-managing their relationship with you, or suffocating you with all kinds of attention you don't want or need. Are they trying to tell something you about yourself? Listen up!

Now whip yourself up a batch of whatever tastes of comfort. It's for your highest soul growth, this time around.

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HOUSE 2: Values

Welcome to a lifetime of learning to use your innate intuitive guidance system to lead you to what you need in order to feel safe and secure. This is a lifetime for making your own emotional, heart-felt needs a priority, a lifetime for not letting anyone try to deter you from that goal, especially someone with a lots of left-brained logical reasons for why you might be heading in the wrong direction or not operating at maximum efficiency. In other words, welcome to a lifetime of feeling your way to your goals in your way and taking care of yourself first.

I know that the "taking care of yourself first" probably makes you want to pull back into that cozy Cancerian shell of yours, but it's a really, really important concept. Cancer energy loves nothing more than to nurture and care for others. Aligning your life around your own values and directing your resources towards your own goals just plain feels like a totally alien situation, but it's fundamental to this North Node assignment. The goal is to feel safe and grounded, regardless of whether you're inside or outside that shell; to stock your own real and metaphorical pantry with shelves heavy with the ingredients of whatever you call comfort food. Once you accomplish this - once you can count on yourself to know what you need and bring it into your life - you can turn your attention to others without depleting yourself.

Your Eighth House South Node karmic history presents a big challenge. The practicality and determination of the Capricorn energy there can be of great help when it comes to going after what you need. But these qualities were most likely acquired in the context of an intensely bonded relationship in which you sacrificed at least some part of what was important to you in exchange for the security and protection that the relationship could provide, security and protection that came with a price tag of you being controlled by the provider. Without conscious attention, in this lifetime it can be all too easy to slip back into that pattern of relying on someone else to provide you with the definition and fulfillment of what's supposed to make you feel safe and secure. Which, of course, means that you never will.

Head for the market. It's time to re-stock the shelves.

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HOUSE 3: The Mind

Come on in - don't be afraid. I know that the thought of accumulating and sharing information might make the Cancer energy you're learning about want to step back into its cozy comfortable shell until you can show up for another lifetime's housing assignment. But if you think about all the people out there who do their best learning and sharing through the heart and the right side of the brain like you do, maybe you'll start to see what an important job you've signed on for.

That intuitive, feeling-infused world you're learning to swim in is a wonderful source of information and experience that we can use in the Third House world of the everyday, so don't make things harder for yourself by thinking you have to dust off the library card or get a $1000 desk chair because you're going to be spending so much time surfing the Web. Cancer energy learns - and shares - through its gifts of intuitive absorption and emotional connection. Cancer feels what a sunrise coming up out of the ocean can do for one's internal holistic energy balance instead of studying the biochemical effects of the relaxation response on the body's autonomic nervous system, and shares that sense of well-being by touching another person at a level that evokes a similar response in them.

Once you give yourself permission to approach this assignment in a Cancerian way, the biggest remaining challenge takes us to the Capricorn energy of your Ninth House South Node. Lifetimes where what you believed and how you viewed the world had to pass through the focused filter of whether or not it contributed to achievement and success put severe limits on your perspective, on what passed muster as being worth believing and knowing. A conservative, no-nonsense, pragmatic "play by the rules" orientation only further curtailed and concentrated that definition. Add to that the Capricorn need for control and you have a major challenge in the "spread the word" part of the assignment as well. Will you be able to free yourself from those limitations?

My money's on you.

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HOUSE 4: Home

A double "Welcome Home" to you, dear voyager. Sensitive, caring Cancer is the sign naturally associated with this part of the chart, so the message and call of your North Node is particularly loud and clear: Your heart is where your home is. This is a lifetime to link into family relationships in healthy ways, ways that allow you to receive the nurturing love and support of family and clan, even as they rely on you for the same in return. If you get this assignment right, you'll discover how the connections and security and foundations you build here are with you wherever you go, and wait for you whenever you can return. So come right on in, you're going to feel right at home.

Now, with doubled-up opportunity, the challenge side of the coin is double-thick as well. For starters, once you get going, it can become simply too easy to get stuck taking care of everyone else's needs, real though they may be, never getting around to what you need in return: the invalid mother; the chronically love-wrecked sister; family finances that depend on your rental contribution. Situations like these can make it compelling to stay home where you're comfortable, instead of venturing forth in any real way over the family threshold to claim your own life. It's never the karmic assignment to relinquish the realization of your own potential, and with this nodal placement there's a real danger that you could do just that. One sign that you might be stalled is if you find yourself bulking up from an over-abundance of mashed-potatoes-made-with-butter- and -sour-cream-type comfort food.

Your Tenth House South Node in Capricorn legacy of responsibility and self-reliance can be of real help. Your soul-full memories of these innate strengths can motivate you to take action if you start to feel that you have to always be the giver and producer, and don't ever get to be the receiver of nurturing and support. But be careful: It can also be twice as easy to slide back and lose yourself in the South Node worldly success scene, especially when the family cauldron starts to bubble and boil, as it inevitably will at times. If you do that, you'll never find the security and strength of connection that are your spirit's true goals.

Get your ticket. You're heading home - not only for the holidays, but for every day. No matter where you are.

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HOUSE 5: Creativity

Just think of being able to bring forth all the emotional, soul-full wisdom and caring of the Cancer energy you're learning about in ways that can touch not only your own heart, but others' as well. What a great assignment! But you must be careful: the focus of this assignment is no t on the audience. Part One of the goal is to express those beautiful, feeling qualities that are within you in your own unique way. Perhaps it will be through an emotionally true poem or a story....or a painting that stirs feelings even as it bathes the eye in beauty....or a meal whose menu and caring preparation stirs memory and warmth for all who eat it. Part Two is to learn to be okay with the attention it might attract. It won't feel comfortable at first, and you might have ideas of retreating back into that nice cozy shell of yours, but the assignment is clear, and you've signed on for it, so explore and select the medium, then bring forth what you can make with it.

The Capricorn energy of your South Node in the Eleventh House brings us to your biggest challenge. It reminds us that you have a history of being a big player in groups that probably formed to get important work done, work that perhaps tried to make the world a better place. Although you were one of many, and belonging was a big motivator, the ambitious, driven, and managerially competent qualities of Capricorn energy undoubtedly led you to rise to a position of significant authority, responsibility, and visibility. Attending to everything that needed to be accomplished left little room or time for joy or spontaneity or fun or personal connection. Cancer's urge to care for others resonates strongly with that Capricorn sense of responsibility, and if you don't pay attention, you could easily be drawn back into over-involvement with others and lose your momentum North.

Stir the pot. Stir the heart. It's for your highest soul growth, this time around.

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HOUSE 6: Service

Swim right on in, dear voyager - I think you're going to like it here. Your growing ability to connect with people at sensitive, emotional levels is going to be terrific when it comes to getting a handle on what they need. Yes, the caring, nurturing energy you're learning about is a hand-in-glove fit for the Sixth House's call to service. You're going to feel so good when your efforts to help others live better lives for themselves start to bear fruit. And if you end up operating more in the Sixth House workplace than at the hearth of the home where you yearn to be, you can be sure that that workplace will be a more empathetic and positive environment for all concerned, yourself included, simply because you're there.

Challenge is intrinsic to the North Node assignment, and this one is no exception. To begin with, health and the body/mind connection are represented by this piece of astrological real estate. This dramatically amps up the importance of the Cancer lesson you're mastering about taking care of yourself first, about not giving so much of your own self away, or working so hard that you deplete yourself.

Then there's the matter of the Capricorn energy calling to you from the doubly-unconscious South Node in the Twelfth House. That node can exert an unbelievably strong pull, causing you to stubbornly persist against all odds and all signals to slow down, trying to achieve your goals and to control every last part of the process. Climbing another mountain will just deplete your energy instead of restoring it, and could get you in a whole lot of trouble this-lifetime-around.

Now get going. That class you're giving for expectant mothers on making your own natural baby foods starts in 15 minutes.

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HOUSE 7: Partnership

Welcome to a lifetime of learning how to connect emotionally with partners and soul mates; to risking vulnerability for the sake of such a connection by perhaps being the first one to let down your guard and reach out to another; to caring for yourself and caring for someone else. Welcome to learning that you can rely on others to nurture and support you, even as they rely on you to do the same for them.

Now once you get started, you'll probably find that a big part of the challenge becomes not to go overboard. There's nothing that can suck the life out of a relationship faster than over-achievement in "smothering-mothering" behavior, regardless of the genders involved. Fretting over Harry's dry cough as he takes off for a ten-day/ten-city sales trip and calling each night for a medical status can be enough to tempt Harry to volunteer to teach the two-week training program being held on the other side of the country starting the day after he gets home.

A look over to your First House South Node in the sign of Capricorn tells us that in the karmic past you integrated the determination, responsibility, and self-reliance of that sign very strongly into the definition of who you are. Those qualities can certainly help you with this lifetime's assignment, especially when it comes to being sure that you take good care of yourself and that you muster the self-control not to go overboard in the smothering-mother department. But you need to be careful: those overly-developed abilities to set limits and control situations could easily wall you off from the very connections you came here to make in this lifetime. If you find yourself in relationship - especially a partnership-type-relationship - with someone who's controlling, or emotionally distant, or overly-absorbed in their careers, pay careful attention. Are they trying to tell you something about yourself?

Reach out and touch someone, and make sure it's mutual. Ahhh - feels great, doesn't it?

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HOUSE 8: Transformation

Welcome to learning to use Cancer's innate, intuitive guidance system to probe into the very depths of who you are and claim the power you find there. Cancer energy is very private and self-protective, and the Eighth House is a deep, mysterious place, so it wouldn't be all that surprising if your first reaction as you step over this threshold is to want to pull back into that cozy, safe shell of yours and hope no one will notice that you've arrived, but that strategy isn't going to get the job done. The good news is that you get to share at least part of the voyage with another person in a relationship that holds the potential for profound mutual support. To do this, at some point you're going to have to risk vulnerability and let yourself be seen and known, so that you can build a relationship that has deep bonds forged out of the knowledge of who and what each person really is. There's no getting around it: the detached anonymity of an internet dating situation simply isn't likely to fill the bill. Baby steps are okay at the beginning, because you can build confidence with small successes, but eventually you'll have to take the plunge.

A glance back to your South Node in the Second House takes us to a big challenge. In the karmic past, you had experiences where you used responsible, ambitious, and determined Capricorn energy to achieve the success and material rewards that defined your self-worth and made you feel safe and secure. Self-reliance and control was the name of the game, and emotional connection undoubtedly took a back seat to doing what was necessary to guarantee a year-end bonus that required a cartage company to haul it to the bank. All this was a hand-in-glove fit with the material, earthy energy of the Second House, a situation that made serious flirtation with the "Midas Touch" syndrome virtually inevitable, and created a strong, solid pull back to the South Node. Trading material tokens of success for emotional, intuitive, intense shared ones isn't going to be easy, but you don't want to miss the opportunity to be reborn into your own power with a dive master at your side.

Remember the phoenix.

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HOUSE 9: Expanding Horizons

I'll bet that the thought of heading out toward the wild blue yonder on an adventurous exploration of the Meaning of Life is probably not the first item on your list of "1000 Things I Want to Experience in This Lifetime." After all, you're learning how comfortable it is to swim safely in the cozy protection of that beautiful shell of yours as you open yourself to Cancer's caring, emotional nature and intuitive wisdom. Still, you've signed on for the Ninth House experience, and that means you're ready to venture forth. Don't worry, you can always go home again. After all, you carry it right there with you.

Now, this is an important assignment. There's a lot that you can contribute to our understanding of the Universe and our individual places in it. When we think of coming up with answers to Big Questions, it's usually the intellectual side of the brain we focus on. But that's only part of the picture. Being moved by a full moon rising up out of a dark ocean, or the sound of a great concerto, or a look into the eyes of a newborn baby can bring about a stunning and immediate grasp of the Universe's framework of meaning, something that simply can't be achieved by the exclusive use of the logical, left side of the brain. And Cancer's ability to connect at the feeling level can be of great help in the "spread the word" part of this assignment. Yes, indeed, someone with a Cancer North Node is just the person for this job.

A look over to your South Node in the Third House alerts us to an important challenge. The Capricorn energy there is grounded in the idea of learning everything tangible and measurable that it can about how the everyday world operates: rules and regulations; cause and effect; requirements and standards - things like that. And Capricorn's tight control of the environment plays right into Cancer's need to feel safe and secure. This can make those newly-emerging claws of yours latch on and cling to the rigid energy of the practical past, instead of reaching out toward for this lifetime's goal of emotional, intuitive connection.

Swim on out. The shell is right there with you if you need it.

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HOUSE 10: Authority

Welcome to the challenge of using sensitive, intuitive, caring - and vulnerable - Cancer energy to step out in the public arena and make a connection to people who don't really know you personally. In this lifetime, you're learning to feel at home out in the big world in positions of authority and responsibility so that you can fulfill your mission and give something important to your "tribe." Welcome, in other words, to the paradoxical, exciting, and phenomenally rewarding terrain of the karmic "switcheroo," the situation where the themes of this lifetime's assignment bear a striking resemblance to the experiences of the karmic past. It all almost makes you want to back right in to that cozy crab's shell that's your first line of defense, doesn't it? But wait a minute - that shell will always be there if you need it. You've signed on for an important stretch of the karmic highway, and you're ready to take it on, or you wouldn't have knocked at this door.

Your North Node is in Cancer, the sign that is naturally associated with themes of home and family and emotional connection. But that Cancer North Node is placed in the Tenth House, which is all about Capricorn-type themes of public success and responsibility. And vice-versa. That is, your authoritative, ambitious Capricorn South Node is in the Fourth House of home and family. In this lifetime, it's going to be hard to know if you're moving forward to the North Node or back toward the South. In fact, there could be days when you literally won't know whether to stay home and bake cookies, or go to work and move mountains.

It certainly is a challenging assignment, but it doesn't have to be daunting. The self-reliant Capricorn South Node part of you knows about responsibility and how to be successful in achieving your goals, and that's what the Tenth House challenge is all about. And you can call on your Fourth House experiences to help you connect to the outside word and discover that it, too, can also be a source of support and security. But missteps and detours and dead ends are part of the "switcheroo" deal, so go easy on yourself: you're learning a complicated lesson. When you have the reversed sign and house situation, it's often an indication that you're working on an issue that takes more than a single lifetime to master. Just keep the most positive qualities of your North Node sign and house in the forefront of your consciousness as much as you can.

That warm glowing light in the Fourth House window that calls you home to your South Node can become an awfully strong magnet when the waters get choppy in the big world out there, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with stopping off for some comfort food and replenishment. Just don't lose track of the return part of your round trip ticket back to the Tenth House, which is this lifetime's target destination.

Whip up that meatloaf that tastes like the comforts of home and make a sandwich from it. Then suit up, put your lunch in your briefcase, and head out.

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HOUSE 11: Goals & Groups

Welcome! We've been waiting for you to knock at this door. There's nothing our group could use more than a good housemother to look after us, and we'll be happy to do the same for you in return. Here in the Eleventh House clubhouse, we can sure use some of the sensitive, intuitive Cancer energy you're learning about to soften what can sometimes become a rather impersonal environment. And making the world a better place fits right in with your nurturing, caring nature, so come right on in.

But this is the North Node journey after all, and that means that challenge is simply part of the deal. For starters, Cancer energy is hugely sensitive and could get uncomfortable - even hurt - by the coolness and detachment that is part of the Eleventh House vibe. On the other hand, too much Cancerean sensitivity and any hint of the "smothering mother" coming from your end is going to feel like a hot August night in the tropics to us. This is where the give and take part of the assignment comes in: we can work it all out.

Then there's the matter of your Fifth House South Node. Sure, the responsible, competent, goal-oriented qualities of the Capricorn energy there can be valuable assets for this lifetime's assignment. But Capricorn likes to be in control, and the Fifth House sense of one's own specialness only adds to its self-importance and sense of entitlement to that control, making the unconscious magnetism of the South Node only stronger. Falling back to low-end South Node behaviors could make it awfully hard for you to stay on the team. Forewarned is forearmed.

There's a big planning meeting tomorrow. You'll bring the refreshments, right?

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HOUSE 12: Spirit

Welcome! The Cancer energy you're learning about is going to feel very much at home in the watery world of the Twelfth House, where sensitivity and intuition power life's guidance systems; where emotion and compassion infuse the atmosphere, and connecting to Spirit is what it's all about. Let's say you do something like volunteer at a day care program for homeless kids. Will it matter whether you're expressing Cancer's caring, nurturing qualities or the Twelfth House's compassionate, sensitive ones? Of course not. Your world-class intuition will know what's what if you need to sort it out at all. Yes, you've knocked at the door to a hand-in-glove fit, so let's get going.

Now you know that challenge is part of the North Node deal, so it shouldn't come as a big surprise that, regardless of how comfortable a match this may be, it's no recreational dip at the swim club. For starters, let's explore the "too much of a good thing" scenario. The more acclimated you become to this environment, the harder it may be to recognize when you've crossed the line from compassionate caring for others to not being compassionate or caring enough to yourself; or from swimming in the nebulous currents of Spirit and feeling to becoming lost in a rip tide of emotional turmoil and sensitivity.

A look back to your South Node adds even more complexity and challenge. The Capricorn energy in the hard-working Sixth House is equally very comfortable, and won't be in any quick hurry to let go of its grip on the "been there, done that" node. It's true that Sixth House Capricorn practicality, competence, and focus can really help you not get lost in the Twelfth House waters, but if you don't pay attention, you might become so consumed by the "have-tos" of life - so driven by your responsibilities to serve the needs of others - so lost in the work and the never-ending quest for self-perfection and readiness - that you lose any chance to find out about the emotional and spiritual connections you came here to make in this lifetime.

Keep your head above water and swim North.

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