If you’ve ever experienced a total solar eclipse, it is a powerful phenomenon that makes time stand still. In those precious moments, you realize the unmatched beauty and creative power of the Divine. Though all creation is exquisite and remarkable, the energy of an eclipse seems to unite us with the mystery of the cosmos. This is the only time when Rahu and Ketu can be “seen.”
In Astrology, Rahu and Ketu show how our I-consciousness blocks out the light of the Divine within ourselves. This is clearly seen when the Moon (Jiva) crosses over the Sun (Atman) and swallows its light.
You’ll find a lot of mixed information on the nodes. Many Astrologers try to assign concrete attributes to Rahu and Ketu, the same way they define an embodied planet. Trying to define the nodes in this way leads to confusion and controversy. Just like the Lagna doesn’t have a sign of exaltation or rules any sign, neither do the nodes.
This information is based on classic texts from Jaimini and Brihat Para Hora Shastra. Also the creation story of Rahu and Ketu and deeper study of the meaning of their Sanskrit names. The best lessons on the nodes I have found is by Vedic Astrologer, Ernst Wilhelm and his Mastering Rahu and Ketu course.
What are Rahu and Ketu?
Astronomically, Rahu and Ketu are the intersections of the moon’s rotation with the earth, and the ecliptic. Like the Lagna, they are critical points in the birth chart. While the ascendant and 7th house axis shows us the path of the body, the points of Rahu and Ketu show the path of our consciousness. The bhava and rasi indicate what kind of path we’re following in order to evolve. The nodes show the intersection of the Sun (soul) and Moon (mind) with our bodies (earth) thus are the most important influencers in a horoscope.
Though they are not physical bodies, they are still considered grahas, the Sanskrit word that means to seize. Like planets, they seize our consciousness, influence us, and activate the fruits of our Karmas.
This is the most important area for an Astrologer to understand because this is why people come to an Astrologer. Life isn’t working, they don’t feel good, in some way their consciousness is being disturbed. By studying the nodes correctly, Astrologers explain why a person is going through what they’re going through. With the nodes, we learn about our individual path to self-realization.
The Nature of Rahu and Ketu
The path that Rahu and Ketu indicate is never an easy one, and thus are considered malefic. They are the transition between letting go of our strengths in order to develop our weaknesses.
In the classical texts, they’re described as the “armies” in a chart. The use of the word “armies” demonstrates that Rahu and Ketu are forces. The forces of karma that dictate many unexpected, fated events in our life.
These armies show territory already conquered (Ketu) and territory yet to be explored (Rahu). One of the translations for Ketu is “flag” or “banner.” A flag is used to mark territory we have established, and banners to proudly show our accomplishments and what we stand for. Rahu is the “jungle” or the foreign and unknown, which creates fear and paranoia of what is unfamiliar.
Ketu is said to be a mist, and Rahu is total Darkness. Wherever they are, Rahu and Ketu create confusion. Rahu creates the confusion of ignorance, whereas Ketu is the confusion of certainty. What we’re unable to see is that if we develop Rahu’s position, it will actually lead to fulfillment of Ketu. Rahu is hiding part of our higher self that needs to be discovered, and dealing with that fear brings us closer to the truth.
Ketu represents what we perfected in previous lives, which serve as our coping mechanisms or security blanket in this life. The South Node is what our consciousness is comfortable with. The “cruel” part of Ketu is that we never truly get satisfaction from where Ketu is placed in our charts. While it is part of our innate strength, staying in Ketu’s comfort zone never brings the fulfillment we want. All the enthusiasm we feel fore Ketu eventually fizzles out.
Ketu is like Mars
The classics state that Ketu is like Mars, and gives the results of Mars in the chart. A general of the army (Mars) is most useful in territory that he knows (Ketu). The strength of Mars shows whether we direct the force of Ketu in a productive, or unproductive way. When trying to judge Ketu’s Dasha, look to the bhava’s that Mars rules and the strength of Mars. This gives information on what areas of life will be most affected.
Ketu does not have lordship over any sign of zodiac it has rulership over the fiery Nakshatras: Ashwani, Magha & Moola.
Rahu, on the other hand, shows what our consciousness hasn’t developed. It indicates the challenges we need to overcome in order to discover our true selves. The misunderstanding of our true nature allows us to exist under the illusion that we are separate from the Divine. The sign and house placement of Rahu provide specific information on our separation of consciousness.
Rahu Sanivat (Rahu like Saturn)
Brihat Para Hora Shara says “Rahu is like Saturn.” Like Saturn, Rahu causes delays and is a separating factor in a chart, but why else is Rahu associated with Saturn? Saturn rules our fears, struggles, and is the farthest from the Sun’s light.
It also requires the qualities of Saturn to develop Rahu: Perseverance, hard work, and surrender. Saturn has to be developed first in order to “heal” Rahu. How well Rahu does in your chart largely depends on the condition of Saturn, and Rahu’s lord.
How to Work with Ketu and Rahu
Ultimately Rahu and Ketu separate our Jiva, the mind, from Atman, the soul, throwing us into confusion and make us lose perspective of what’s actually beneficial to us. Letting go of the ego is an important lesson of developing Rahu and Ketu.
In one of the creation stories, Rahu helped bring Earth into physical manifestation. For this reason, Rahu cannot be worked out internally. You cannot look at your chart and conceptually heal Rahu, it only comes from the first-hand experience through action. Before Rahu’s maturation age of 42, it’s difficult to comprehend what we need to do with Rahu.
A good Saturn helps Rahu by giving the ability to persevere, along with the ability to detach and surrender. When trying to judge Rahu’s Dasha, check the strength of Saturn and the house it rules.
I hope this expanded your understanding of Rahu and Ketu a bit more. Soon I will be writing the meaning of Rahu and Ketu in each house.