Book Reviews

The Astrologer’s Node Book

Donna Van Toen


All. It’s great for beginners and students, but also a good reference for professionals, especially when assisting clients to work with and remediate their Nodes, tricky beasts they can be


All, if you are Node curious, you need to read this little gem

When I first started studying astrology the Nodes were really A node – the North Node. A mysterious imaginary point in the sky that showed what we were supposed to achieve before we died or we’d have to live this life again because we didn’t try hard enough. The South Node was mentioned, of course, but merely as an understudy that wanted the star of the show to come down with an illness so they could step into the limelight, because they knew better than the North Node and made watching the show much more comfortable for us. Well, the South Node has a point, just saying’…

This was the first book I read on the Nodes. Actually read, not skipping through to the relevant bits and popping it back on the shelf read. I pull it out for reference more often than any other book on the Nodes in my astro-library. Donna Van Toen (DVT) has a really nice way of telling us we have issues. Big ones too, probably. Then she shows us how to maybe solve them if we work with the Nodes. There is a strong no bullcrap attitude to her writing style, but it is in no way harsh or uncaring. This book was written after researching the effect of the Nodes in her client’s and student’s charts over many years and she states many times throughout that she hopes other astrologers will take her work and build on it. Great pains are taken to reiterate this throughout the book.

Why buy?

So, what truly grabbed me by the short and curlies in ‘The Astrologer’s Node Book’ ? Well, she had me at “Yeah-buts”. Truly. This is how the late, great DVT described the South Node, as opposed to the North Node. As in, ‘I really want to be a parent….yeah but I can’t actually be expected to take time off from my career’. From there we go through problem areas, possible reasons, possible solutions and observations. Some are brutal, some are bleeding obvious to every but ourselves. Basically we all need to balance our Nodes and there is a tendency to overcompensate one way or another. I did a quick mind trawl of charts I know by heart of family and friends and yes, I am inclined to agree. I could only think of one beloved who I felt had balanced their Nodes. I also know how tragic and complicated their life had been previous to achieving that balance. I guess aspiration is a good trait in humans after all.

DVT holds short shrift for the “you chose this life you have here to balance your karma” mindset, quite contentious for a book written in the midst of the modern psychological astrological focus in the second half of the 20th century. The claim that a crappy life or a life full of blessings is the result of karmic actions or negative outlook has always triggered an alarm in my brain and gut. DVT was way ahead of her time here. We now have a name for this way of thinking – privilege. But back in 1981, in first world, white majority countries where astrology was enjoying a heyday, claims like this were accepted as a just appraisal of a human life and accomplishments, or lack of. Thank heavens times are changing.

What we get most from this work is the concept that both Nodes are important. We see potential problems and raise them with potential solutions, which is really what your clients, friends, family and random strangers on the bus are asking you for when they get you to look at their charts. The way DVT covers the signs, houses and aspects of the Nodes, but not presenting it like your regular astro cookbook, is quite a feat. The house positions, counselling approaches and dream interpretations alone are well worth the price of the book. Then we get a lovely surprise at the end which will keep traditional astrologers content – the antidotes and suggested colours to assist with balance. AKA these days as planetary remediation. Taadaa! DVT, ahead of her time yet again.

Small issue

A quibble, and if you’ve read my previous astrology book reviews, you know how difficult this is for me. The sections are set out quite umm, uniquely. I want to take a red pencil and edit the hell out of it. It’s too easy to read into the next interpretation as there isn’t really a separateness to each sign/house/blurb. Some bits run into each other. There are underlines, italics and bold, often within 3 or 4 lines. Yes, it is still a brilliant read, albeit difficult to follow sometimes, or to know when a section has moved to the next interpretation. Small issue, you should definitely read this book, minor quibbles aside.

If you, like me, are engaged in an immense inner battle over which house system you prefer (I’m Placidus vs Whole Sign for the last 3 years, except for Horary, where I like to hang with Regiomontanus. The struggle is real folks), the transiting Nodes are one of the ways I track what’s happening in what house. Picking a house system is messy work, the only way through is to study your chart and compare. Transits are often felt in the next house before the planet actually knocks on the door, especially if you are an early or late degree rising, and born in the upper or lower latitudes. Tracking the transits of the Nodes is a rather pronounced vibe, thus a great place to start your quest to be befuddled investigate house systems further. When the Nodes shift signs, you are gonna notice a change in that house, especially if the eclipses are hitting your chart.

This really is a long read review for such a concise book, coming in at 95 pages. Donna Van Toen sure packs a lot of information between the covers. It is a nifty little book that will grab your attention and have you flicking pages every time you pick it up.

Sad news

Donna Van Toen passed away in 2018, a huge loss for our community that can never be filled.

The Astrologer’s Node Book is getting hard to find. Your best bet is Abe Books. Amazon has a copy for $AUD98. Better grab it while you can!


The why, the what, the how if it’s where.


Why This Book Was Written

What Are the Moon’s Nodes

Some Theories on Nodal Meanings

Nodal Signs and the Yeah-But Dialogues

House Positions: Conflict of Interest

The Nodes as Symbols of Dream & Self-perceived Reality

Aspects to the Nodes: Choosing How to Grow

Antidotes for Nodal Imbalance

Additional Sources of Information


Chiron, understandable given the year of publication but hang in there little Ocean Queen, you will be seen!

An index. Luckily it’s not a lengthy work but please, authors and publishers, index the crap out of your works! These are textbooks people!





Book Reviews

The American Ephemeris

Neil F. Michelsen (Programming) & Rique Pottenger (Revisions)


Essential for Students to Professionals


Data! Numbers! Glyphs!

Let’s begin by taking a moment to contemplate and appreciate the magnitude of effort and tech wizardry Neil Michelsen must have put into compiling the very first edition of this book of planetary phenomena in the late 70’s. Readers, this man is a genuine godsend to the astrological community, founding Astro Computing Services (ACS) in 1972 to provide astrologers access to accurate and affordable astrology charts. Imagine not being able to type your birth info into a computer or device and immediately have a detailed chart in your hands in less than a blink? Well this was once a thing, and not so long ago. Neil Michelsen was not a practicing astrologer, but was an astro enthusiast who had a brilliant way with computers and astronomical data. He also put all profits made from ACS back into the astrological community. Who even does that these days? What a guy, what an amazing human. 

So what on Earth is an ephemeris I hear you ask, besides a phenomenal book full of phenomena? Hey Google!

Ephemerisnoun – a table or data file giving the calculated positions of a celestial object at regular intervals throughout a period

Oxford Dictionary Online

Coolios, sounds bland, no? Dictionaries tend to do that. But it’s what lies inside The American Ephemeris that will blow your mind. Phenomena! Data! Data about phenomena! As in- accurate daily calculations of the movement of the planets through the signs – Sun, Moon at midnight and midday, True Nodes, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. Accurate information on planetary ingresses, void of course and stations, declination (for you Out of Bounds enthusiasts), Lunar Phases & Eclipses, Julian days, Delta T, SVP, Obliquity, the position of planetoid Chiron, the Mean Lunar Node. So many mysterious things. Want to know what they all mean? Get yourself an American Ephemeris. It is truly phenomenal. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Now for a little astro tea…

…in April 2019 an article was published online about the rise in popularity of astrology amongst Gen Z. Many highly esteemed, well-regarded astrologers with extensive years of study and practice under their belt were interviewed and it was pretty terrific. No dissing astrology, no skeptic weigh-ins, just a fun, well-researched and well-written article. The first astrologer mentioned was so successful she had recently resigned as an editorial assistant at a high end magazine to do astrology readings full-time, pulling in over $4k a month through a large and loyal fanbase on social media. Kudos and bravos all round!

But wait. There’s more. As with all hot topic articles, the Uranian kick in the ass moment lay in wait at the end. Our super successful astrologer, the one making the big bucks…was getting all of her astro information online. Information available to anyone with a smart device and an internet connection. She did not actually own an ephemeris, let alone know how to use one. Oof. And WTF? There goes every astrologer’s hard won credibility. WTAF.

An understandable chorus of disbelief and dismay erupted in the international astro community. There were heated debates on social media over whether an astrologer even needed to know how to use an ephemeris in this digital world (Yes. Yes you do). Astrologers who have studied extensively, and often at great cost, were feeling all the Mars feels. Rightfully so imo.

Here’s why. Learning to use an ephemeris is first year astro class stuff. You take the class. A little while in, you buy the book. You open it up. There are soooo many number and columns and the paper is so thin and the book is so thick. You freak out. This, this! is the moment where your interest and curiousity in astrology diverges into “Uh, lol, no thanks” or “This is my chosen path and I will conquer it and become an Astrologer”, with a capital ‘A’, and some superhero music to accompany the revelation. It’s a great moment if you choose to accept it. You will get to know every single part of this book, eventually. Neil Michelsen would be proud.

Allow me a moment on my soapbox.

If you do not own and use an ephemeris for your astrological work, you are not an Astrologer with a capital ‘A’, and you should not be charging people for information you’ve gleaned off the web. You’ve gotta start at the beginning and learn the basics first (and sucking at high school maths is no excuse) if astrology is your chosen career. The astrological community struggles hard enough to gain credibility for our years of study and work as it is, without being undermined from within. This is a hill I will die on and happily. NFG. Check out the article here if you are keen –

Rant over. This is just my opinion ofc. But do you really want to be held in the same regard as people who don’t really understand much more than how to market their Google searches? Think of Neil Michelsen working away on bulky computers accumulating all this data for us. Now imagine telling him people raking in the big money from astrology don’t actually use this information. Sigh. And wearily stepping off my soapbox now.

Ah yes, book reviews. The reason we are here. The 21st Century edition has been revised and updated. There’s an adjustment from Universal Time to using Ephemeris Time, the Delta T values have been removed, but the position of the Galactic Centre has been added. It makes sense to incorporate data for the many different streams of astrology now in use, and the reasoning behind these changes is explained clearly in the first few pages. Seriously, there is a wealth of astro information between the covers of these books. Best of all, and I guarantee this, you will feel ten times smarter after reading just the inside cover. Phenomenal, huh!?!

There are a range of versions currently available at the usuals – Book Depository and Amazon, though I notice the 20th Century 1900 – 2000 versions are getting exxy. Due to the sheer amount of data in these books, none of them are available on Kindle. If you are ever in desperate need of an online ephemeris check out Swiss Ephemeris –

Happy astro reading!


Phenomena, data, real juicy know your stuff astrologer data


ACS Publications

San Diego, California

1980 – still in print with multiple versions

Reviewed copies 

  • 20th Century (Red Cover) – 1995
  • 21st Century (Blue Cover) – 2002

Biographical info from-,_Neil