The Nodal Problems


Technically the nodes of the Moon are the positions on the ecliptic – the sun’s path through the heavens – where the path of the Moon crosses. There are two: the North Node of the Moon where the Moon crosses going north, and the South Node where the Moon crosses going south. These nodes travel backwards through the zodiac at about 3′ per day.

But I want to discuss the symbolic meaning of the North and South nodes of the Moon. The North Node, also called caput draconis or the head of the dragon, is where we get nutrition, sustenance, energy. The South Node, also called cauda draconis or tail of the dragon, is where waste products are expelled. These can be seen as input and output. Or, to use terms from physics, source and sink. And they must be in balance. Too much input without corresponding output can lead to bloating and expansion – excess. Too much output can lead to emaciation, wasting away – limitation. And we can have a Jupiter problem or a Saturn problem at both ends. It is like the alimentary canal, where input takes place at the top and output at the bottom. In the Unix/Linux world the term /dev/null (pronounced dev null) is considered a source and sink for any process.

In terms of the world system, the meanings of the nodes should be obvious. The North Node is where we take in food, water, energy, minerals, whatever we need to keep running the world. The South Node is where we get rid of the wastes, which can be the exhaust of your car, the plastic bag you throw away, or the spent fuel of a nuclear reactor.

For a long time we’ve had a Jupiter problem at both ends of the nodal axis. We were using our resources, water, oil, et cetera, et cetera, like there is no tomorrow. We’ve also thrown away trash assuming that it would somehow disappear, that there was no consequences for producing all that garbage. We have assumed that both the source and sink were infinite – we’ve thought we have a real /dev/null on the physical earth.

We are now moving to a Saturn problem with both ends of the nodal axis. The Saturn problems with the North Node are often prefixed with the term “Peak”. People often assume that peak means that you have run out of some resource, as in the term Peak Oil. But of course it doesn’t. If you are climbing a mountain and reach the peak your journey is not over, but rather half finished. If we have reached the peak (of oil or whatever) it does not mean we have exhausted that resource, but rather that we have used half of the supply, the low hanging fruit as it were, and after that we have to work harder to get the second half, as can be seen with the non-conventional oil we are hearing so much about now, as in tar sands and shale oil. So we have a peak of fossil fuels, water, edible fish, minerals, land, and so forth.

The Saturn problem with the South Node is a little different. We’ve produced so much waste – the Jupiter problem – that now there is a limit to how much more waste can be disposed of easily. We have an excess of waste with no place to put it. The most obvious example is t-he CO2 that has been produced by the burning of fossil fuels for the last several hundred years. This has left much waste in the atmosphere which has lead to the greenhouse effect. But there have been many other problems. Think of all the plastic waste which has now created islands of plastic scrap in the seas. Or radiation in the ocean, which are often the repository of our junk. Or all the toxic chemicals that are now found in every human being. Or all the fertilizers that have run off the land and caused dead zones at the months of major rivers. The list can be extended.

This was all predicted before. Think of the book Limits of Growth – the title sums up our situation – which appeared in the early Seventies. At first it was praised but later the backlash came on, and now it is widely assumed to have been nonsense. But the trends predicted by the book mirror closely what is happening in the world now. But still very few want to hear the message.

Parties do basically two things: consume stuff and produce waste, just like a human being but on a larger scale. After a party one needs to clean up and replenish supplies. This is relatively simple when you have a vacuum cleaner and a corner store. The longest party I have been involved in was four days long over a Thanksgiving Weekend. At the end our large propane tank was empty – we ended up cooking the turkey in the fireplace – and the septic system had to be replaced because it had been so overloaded. But a 500 year party is different, so much larger and longer. It started out slow, with not many at the party. The first thing was to expand the room for the party, and then allow more for the party-goers to consume. Then more and more people came to the party. As time went on the party got bigger and bigger. There are three big themes of the party which we will later explore in detail: Capitalism, Industrialism, Rationalism.

These nodal problems have been the result of the 500 Year Party. In the next 500 years we will be dealing with these nodal problems so we can find a way to to continue to live on this Earth, since it should be obvious to most intelligent observers that the methods of the last 500 years are not sustainable. We are now in a position like Wile E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons who has just been chased of a cliff. As long as he doesn’t look down he believes that nothing has changed. But eventually….


One thought on “The Nodal Problems

  1. Pingback: Zeitgeist Changes – Intermezzo – a Polemic | 500 Year Party

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