The karma in your horoscope: what is your purpose in this life?

When interpreting someone’s birth chart, astrologers can choose different approaches. The two most important are the exoteric and the esoteric view. The object of exoteric – external – astrology is the personality, which describes the mental and physical disposition of the born. Karmic or esoteric astrology, on the other hand, is more interested in the soul. She assumes that in addition to the physical body, there is also an immaterial ‘etheric’ body that survives physical death. Karmic astrology deals with questions such as “What is my soul’s purpose and karma for the current life?” and “What qualities come from past lives?” or “Which are the most important karmic indicators of my birth chart?” When analyzing the goal that the soul sets for itself in the current incarnation, the astrologer mainly looks at Sun, Ascendant and the North Node in the birth chart.

Difference with traditional astrology

The difference comes down to this: traditional or exoteric astrology is the astrology of the personality. The focus is on the problems and possibilities of the personality. The goal of exoteric astrology is personal integration: bringing body, emotions and mind into a state of harmony. Esoteric astrology is the astrology of the soul. The interpretation of a birth chart from the soul’s perspective focuses on the soul’s purpose, why we are here, where we have come from and where we are going. By the way, you can regard the term ‘esoteric’ astrology as a pleonasm, because all forms of astrology belong to esotericism. That is why many astrologers prefer the name ‘karmic’ astrology, which indicates exactly what the main subject is: the soul.“Astrologers will ultimately be divided into two classes: the exoteric astrologers who will be concerned with the horoscope of the personality, and the esoteric astrologers who will be concerned with the purpose of the soul.” Alice Bailey in ‘Esoteric Astrology’ 

Originating from the 19th century theosophical tradition

Esoteric astrology is a fairly recent branch of astrology. It comes from the theosophical tradition, in particular from the teachings that the Tibetan master Djwhal Khul is said to have telepathically dictated (‘channeled’) to Alice A. Bailey (1880-1949). Channeling is a form of communication between people and non-physical entities, in which energy received by the ‘channeler’ is converted into a message with words. To this day, followers of Bailey rely on Bailey’s posthumously published treatise ‘Esoteric astrology’ from 1951, which is said to have originated in this way. Her esoteric astrology is about the evolution of soul consciousness and the obstacles that stand in the way of this evolution. In addition, there are also contemporary astrologers who practice another form of esoteric astrology.

Karmic indicators in the birth chart

If you don’t have your birth horoscope at hand yet, you can now easily have it calculated online after entering the correct birth data. For the following overview you will need:

  • the position of the Sun (your ‘zodiac sign’)
  • the positions of the North and South lunar nodes
  • the position of the Ascendant in sign

Most will know the Sun and Ascendant, but perhaps the lunar nostrils are not so well known.

The North Node as a guide to this life

Lunar nodes are not physical celestial bodies. They are simply points at which the moon crosses the path of the sun in its path. The North Node is then the place where the moon ‘crosses’ from south to north, the South the other way around.While the South Node relates to past lives and the problems and talents you brought with them, the North Node in your horoscope relates to this life. As a counterpart to the South Node, it indicates things that you naturally do not or insufficiently control and should now tackle. It is ‘the lesson you must learn’.Some examples:

  • North Node in Aries – in your previous incarnations you were too indecisive and relied too much on others to give your life meaning. In today’s life you must learn to trust your own strength and decisiveness.
  • North Node in Aquarius – through your South Node in Leo, you brought with you self-confidence, attractiveness and a strong personality from past lives; in this life you should learn to do things not only because it benefits your prestige and self-respect, but especially to improve the lives of many people.


Indication of Sun or North Node in sign

In karmic astrology, great importance is attached to the sign the Sun was in during your birth. Your zodiac sign symbolizes the energy with which his or her soul incarnated in this life. According to followers of this form of astrology, the position of the Sun provides the strongest indications of how one should live one’s current life.The Sun in a birth chart in karmic astrology is like a signpost that helps one’s soul to focus on the right goals and fulfill the task for which it has incarnated on earth. The traditional sun signs or zodiac signs are therefore interpreted differently. In this form of astrology you do not say: “I am an Aquarius”, but the position of the Sun in the sign is an encouragement to fulfill your karma here on earth by becoming a worthy Aquarius.Karmic astrologers assign talents and karma brought from past lives to the South Node, while the North Node symbolizes the soul’s mission in the current life. The North and South Nodes are directly opposite each other in the horoscope, 180 degrees apart.The birth sun and the North Node therefore have almost the same meaning, while their counterpart – in the opposite sign – relates to past lives.

Sun or North Node in Aries

Your job is to inspire, lead, and set an example for others. This life is about developing your individuality, self-respect and independence.

Sun or North Node in Taurus

In this incarnation you strive to build a secure, peaceful existence. Once you have achieved that security, you can enjoy your possessions without obsessing over them.

Sun or North Node in Gemini

In this incarnation, your soul set out to interact with other people as much as possible and to develop its communication skills. Your job is to use your intellect and thinking to teach others.

Sun or North Node in Cancer

The key for this incarnation is to trust your feelings and your ability to use your unusual powers of empathy to share your warmth and sympathy with others and significantly improve the quality of their lives. Home, family, love and affection, that is what your current life is primarily about.

Sun or North Node in Leo

Your self-confidence, enthusiasm and leadership will be important to many people in this life, if you manage to keep your ego in check. In this life you want to be recognized as a creative and unique individual.

Sun or North Node in Virgo

You have a down-to-earth attitude, are good at analyzing and have a quick mind; you are suitable for many positions because you never assign yourself a large role and are satisfied to deliver fast and high-quality work. Satisfaction comes to you when you receive recognition for your specialist work and for what you do for other people.

Sun or North Node in Libra

This incarnation is all about relationships and well-considered actions and decisions. You strive for beauty, balance and justice in this life.

Sun or North Node in Scorpio

Scorpio is the sign of a major and radical transformation: in this incarnation your soul should try to overcome all selfishness and focus more on others by sacrificing itself if necessary.

Sun or North Node in Sagittarius

As a Sagittarius, you are expected to be ambitious and always make new plans to meet new people and seek out challenging experiences to learn from. In short: keep moving, physically and mentally.

Sun or North Node in Capricorn

In this life you should become a pillar of society, someone who can be counted on for his or her integrity, down-to-earth intelligence and tenacious work force.

Sun or North Node in Aquarius

The task your soul has set for this life is to serve humanity by selflessly dedicating yourself to causes that transcend your own self-interest.

Sun or North Node in Pisces

Your soul has set itself a difficult goal in this life: learning to let go of things, dealing with loss, being able to sacrifice when circumstances require this of you. Your empathy encompasses all of humanity and that feeling is sometimes overwhelming, but it purifies your soul.

Combining Sun and Moon Nodes with the Ascendant

In traditional astrology, the Ascendant in a person’s birth chart has to do with what he or she looks like and what impression the environment has of that person. A karmic astrologer will usually interpret the Ascendant as an indication of how the soul intends to fulfill its purpose. The Ascendant is also regarded as the gate through which your inner being makes contact with the outside world in the manner indicated by the sign of the Ascendant. By developing the qualities of the rising sign, the soul can fulfill the purpose(s) of the current incarnation.Some examples to clarify this:

Ascendant in Virgo

Your karmic goals are indicated by the position of the Sun and the North Node. The way to achieve these goals is the Virgo way. This means: a life of service, and work where you should not strive for honor or fame yourself, but should be satisfied with what you do and what it means for others. For example, if your Sun is in Aquarius, your mission is to serve humanity by using your talents for seemingly smaller tasks that are nevertheless important when they serve a greater purpose. For example, if your South Node (talents and karma) is in Libra, you can use your Libra talents from past lives to pursue your life goals.

Ascendant in Scorpio

Here too, first look at the tasks that are reserved for you, symbolized by the sign of the Sun and the North Node. You achieve those goals the Scorpio way. If your Sun is in Leo, you must express leadership and creativity in activities and interests related to psychology, surgery and occultism, for example. If your South Node is in Capricorn, you can use those karmically inherited talents to achieve your goals.

Further explanation

You can make the combinations of karmic goals + expression yourself now that you have an idea of the meaning of the discussed karmic indicators in the different signs.

Combining: some examples

  • You have Sun in Aquarius: your goal is to fulfill the potential of a worthy Aquarius. The opposite sign, Leo, symbolizes your talents and karma from past lives.
  • Your North Node is in Cancer: your mission is to develop positive Cancer traits in this life. Directly opposite Cancer is the sign Capricorn, with qualities that can be traced back to previous incarnations.

 The North Node or ‘dragon’s head’ is here in Taurus (right of the horoscope drawing). The South Node is directly opposite in the sign of Scorpio. / Source: Dr. Gottfried Briemle, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Role of aspects on Sun and lunar nodes

The karmic purpose indicated by the sign in which the natal Sun or North Node is located may be hindered or stimulated by squares and oppositions to these points. Trines, conjunctions and sextiles of other planets are helping, supporting factors. For example, in the horoscope depicted, the Moon is opposite the North Node (the red line that connects both elements) which is located in Scorpio. Because both the Moon and the South Node are inhibiting factors for what the born person wants to pursue, it will be very difficult to escape the influence of his unconscious past lives.

Role of the houses in which the Sun and Moon nodes are located

Houses symbolize areas of life; they form the stage on which events take place. However, houses are only reliable when the time of birth is very precise, and the interpretation is also highly dependent on the chosen house system. Karmic astrologers sometimes disregard them for this reason.


When determining the karmic goal during this incarnation, not only the Sun is considered. The Ascendant is at least as important, and the Moon and lunar nodes also provide relevant information. In addition, the karmic astrologer also assigns significance to retrograde planets of the birth chart; celestial bodies that, seen from Earth, sometimes appear to move backwards along the path of the sun.The analysis of the birth chart from a karmic view is therefore quite complex because so many factors are involved in the interpretation. Moreover, karmic astrologers do not all use the same method. By combining the positions of the natal Sun with those of the Lunar Nodes and the Ascendant, karmic goals and the way in which they can be achieved become clear. There is a lot of literature on this subject for those who want to delve deeper into it.