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!