Evolutionary astrology is a kind of astrological practice that assumes reincarnation and that the we can see the themes of a person's past and present lives in their birth chart.
North and south nodes.
I sometimes revisit my materials to review certain placements in a client's chart, and I recently did that with a client who shared similar characteristics to my north and south node. We have our south nodes in Aquarius and our north nodes in Leo. Aquarius is the sign of the rebel, genius, and exile, while Leo is the sign of the king. Aquarius does not care to follow the crowd while Leo is the center of the crowd.
My south node in Aquarius means that I can often conceive out-of-the-box Aquarian ideas, but I have a tendency to disassociate. One of my favorite books on the nodes is Yesterday's Sky by Steven Forrest (one of the grand-daddies of evolutionary astrology). In the book, Aquarian south nodes are the people who were revolutionaries reborn, and their soul has brought into the present the damage that was inflicted by society's past-life rejection and hostility towards their innovative perspectives. As such, they have a tendency to automatically assume that other people won't get them and they just disassociate. I was certainly guilty of this, as my south node in Aquarius in the 7th house presented in my life as my tendency to disassociate in my last marriage, which led it to go on much longer than it should have (for either of us).
I was struck, however, by Steven Forrest's thoughts on the Leo north node. Leo north nodes have returned to resolve unfinished business. "Part of the reason he or she has reincarnated in this present life is to finish the business from long ago. The message was not completely delivered. The exiled heretic must make his or her presence felt in the world." The last line gutted me and I felt struck with visceral grief. I'm not prone to displays of emotions and I'm a pretty composed person (I have a thinking air moon conjunct Saturn). I went from studying in one moment and then being on the verge of tears the next. Exiled heretic were the words that got me. In that moment, through space and time and printed words on the static pages of a book, something in me that I wasn't aware of felt heard and understood, and that unexpected validation nearly drove me to tears. (Yes, nearly, because Saturn is conjunct my moon, after all.)
I've read the same passages before, but it was different this time. (I have theories about why it struck a deeper chord this time that involve a Neptune transit and a progressed moon in Pisces, but I've talked about myself enough and I'm keen to move on.) This experience helped me remember why I love astrology so much, because it can truly help a person clarify their sense of purpose and direction in life. Fortune telling is the low road of astrology, describing a person's personality is just a parlor trick (a helpful one to inspire some confidence during a reading, to be sure, but it shouldn't be the entire reading), but where it really shines is helping your fellow human beings.
And how can knowing about your past lives, your karmic tendencies, and your cosmic medicine help a person make sense of their life? No, it isn't about validating delusions of grandeur. (I'm not going to tell anybody that they were Joan of Arc.) Bringing in the story of the nodes often helps to set the stage for a chart interpretation. It informs the direction of my advice, because it tells me what their soul should move away from and what it should move towards. Two fantastic books on this topic are Yesterday's Sky by Steven Forrest and Astrology for the Soul by Jan Spiller.
If we look at the birth chart as a syllabus or lesson plan for your soul, then it's important to know what the goal of the plan entails. Where do you excel? Where do you need some help? The birth chart really is so much more than an infograph of your quirks and tendencies. It tells a story of where you came from and where you might head towards (for both good and ill). And this is why readings benefit so much from taking the nodes into account. It's your karmic legacy, along with all of its riches as well as baggage, and it's also your karmic destiny and how to get there.