The way we all learn astrology is by watching it in action, and by studying it in retrospect in people’s lives. You’ll read a lot about the North and South Nodes in relation to a person’s mission statement in this life – and a great example of this in action is the transfiguration moment in Bob Dylan’s life.
The moment supposedly occurred as a result of a motorcycle accident he was in, though it’s been speculated that the accident was faked to allow Dylan to retreat from the spotlight and give him a break after years of being put on a pedestal and knocked off it.
Anyway, looking at the event chart for the day of the accident –
we see that transit Saturn was conjunct his 3rd house South Node and opposing his 9th house North Node. The 3rd house is the house of short distance travels and thus you’ll see this house involved in automobile accidents more often than not. Saturn conjunct his SN in the 3rd house would certainly not cause me to doubt an accident occured. However, regardless of whether it did or didn’t actually happen, the results wold have been the same.
You take a major hit to your South Node, and you wake up resenting who you are, what you’re doing with your life, how you got to this point. You regret passing up opportunities and wasting time on people and activities that didn’t bear fruit. You can feel you’re living someone else’s life instead of your own. Often, something external happens that mirrors your internal dialogue, as a way of slapping you in the face with a realization about your authenticity.
This was that moment for Dylan (as explained in excerpts from the Rock And Roll Philosopher blog):
As far as Bobby Zimmerman goes, I’m going to give this to you right straight and you can check it out. One of the early presidents of the San Bernardino Angels was Bobby Zimmerman, and he was killed in 1964 on the Bass Lake run. The muffler fell off his bike, he made a U-turn to retrieve it in front of the pack and was instantly killed. That person is gone. That was the end of him. [ii]
What Dylan seems to be implying is that the fact that there was another man named Bobby Zimmerman who died in a motorcycle wreck in 1964 (actually 1961, though this discrepancy does not seem negatively to affect Dylan’s point) is a meaningful coincidence (the definition of Jungian synchronicity) that symbolically mirrored and enacted the death of Dylan’s old identity. This is an idea the validity of which it would be impossible for a purely materialist mode of thought to accept, at least outside of a novel or a film, but Dylan believes that the world does indeed work in mysterious ways. The name coincidence combined with the manner of the other Zimmerman’s death, which pre-iterates one of the primary images in Dylan’s mythology, the motorcycle crash of 1966, seems to suggest to Dylan a kind of cosmic orchestration in which events are somehow pulled into his wake of significance.
Seeing someone else with your name die on a bike and then having that same brush with death yourself is the type of thing that’ll make you reconsider your entire life’s meaning. Astrologically, most would be inclined to label this as a Scorpio/Pluto/8th house “death and rebirth”. Except that transfiguration isn’t exactly the same thing:
I’m not like you, am I? I’m not like him, either. I’m not like too many others. I’m only like another person who’s been transfigured. How many people like that or like me do you know? . . . Transfiguration: You can go and learn about it from the, you can learn about it in some old mystical books, but it’s a real concept. It’s happened throughout the ages. . . . It’s not like something you can dream up and think. It’s not like conjuring up a reality or like reincarnation – or like when you might think you’re somebody from the past but have no proof. It’s not anything to do with the past or the future. So when you ask some of your questions, you’re asking them to a person who’s long dead. You’re asking them to a person that doesn’t exist. But people make that mistake about me all the time. I’ve lived through a lot. . . . Transfiguration is what allows you to crawl out from under the chaos and fly above it. That’s how I can still do what I do and write the songs I sing and just keep on moving. . . . I couldn’t go back and find Bobby in a million years. Neither could you or anybody else on the face of the Earth. He’s gone. If I could, I would go back. I’d like to go back. At this point in time, I would love to go back and find him, put out my hand. And tell him he’s got a friend. But I can’t. He’s gone. He doesn’t exist. . . . I’d always been different than other people, but this book [about the other Bobby Zimmerman, written by Ralph Barger along with Keith and Kent Zimmerman (who bear no immediately apparent relation to either of the Bobby Zimmermans)] told me why. Like certain people are set apart. . . . I didn’t know who I was before I read the Barger book.”
Dylan didn’t experience a death and rebirth; he experienced something more uncomfortable – something closer to a shapeshifting. That’s quite a profound experience to try to nail to a transit that everyone experiences, but it’s testimony to the power of the North and South Nodes in realizing our higher identity. Saturn hit Dylan’s South Node and what was, was no more – there was only the thereafter.