Rahu and Ketu: The Purpose of Our Shadows

Rahu and Ketu are not planets at all. They are mathematical points on either side of the Moon with rather significant implications on our Self experience.
The Moon is arguably the most influential part of the chart- indicating our experiences within the womb and our relationship with mother, as well as our inner nature. The Moon is our guide for emotional well being and our connection to our intuitive self. In fact, the Moon is so important to our life experience, the relationship the nodes have with the Moon indicates their impact on our emotional well being- among other things. Rahu and Ketu, the Moon and the rest of the chart, all create our own unique stories, mythologies and individual karmic dramas. Read more about the importance of the Moon.

 

The nodes, as Rahu and Ketu are referred to, are mischievous in nature. They present our karmas to us in this incarnation. Without them, and their very valuable life lessons, we would not have incarnated into a human body. They are essential to this lila, this play of life, that we are involved with in this dimension. Both Rahu and Ketu have their own unique array of offerings, but because they are shadow “planets” they often evade prediction. Their nature is to deceive, mystify, to be illusive, and to blind us from our true nature. They represent forces that can’t be seen and are the parts of ourselves that go unnoticed and unrecognized. When, and if, the shadow or veil of illusion is removed, and we do see what has been hidden from us, it is often extremely painful. Rahu and Ketu request that we ask ourselves: What am I not seeing or what am I not willing to see? What am I clinging to and unable to let go of?

In order to understand the nature of Rahu and Ketu, it helps to have a little background on how they came to be. In Vedic lore, Rahu (north node) and Ketu (south node) came into being during the famous story of the churning of the ocean of milk (the Milky Way). As the devas (gods) were creating this great churning, amrita, the nectar of immortality arose (think churning milk into butter). The devas, however, needed the asuras (demons) to help them with this task and they had to work together to get the job done. As the immortal nectar was created and obtained from this “great churning”, Vishnu made certain that it was only given to the devas. However, one asura named Svarbhanu, outsmarted Vishnu and the other devas. He disguised himself as a deva and got in line to have a drop of the sacred nectar given to him. The story goes that he hid between the Sun and the Moon so no one would notice him.

Just as Vishnu poured a drop of nectar into Svarbhanu’s mouth, the Sun and Moon recognized that he was actually an asura! Vishnu chopped him in half, but it was too late. A drop of the immortal nectar was already in his mouth! Thus the two halves, Rahu and Ketu were born. The head of the asura who ingested the immortal nectar became Rahu and the lower half, the body of the asura, became Ketu. Rahu and Ketu are the head and tail of the demon, often referred to as the serpent. A lunar eclipse is connected to Rahu- this happens when he tries to eat the Moon, but it falls right out of him. Ketu is connected to the Solar eclipse.This epic story is truly metaphoric on so many levels of life. It expresses the interplay of light and dark and how interdependent they both are on each other. These two facets of life are of course alive and well within our own natures and thus the play of shadow and light becomes our dance in life as well.Rahu is the head of the serpent and has an insatiable appetite for the material world (his cravings for obtaining the nectar) and intoxicants of all kinds. He brings shock and the dark side of life and he can bring sudden changes, upheavals, even quick boons. Where Saturn brings sorrow, sadness and grief- the natural darkness that is life- Rahu brings an intensified demented version of this darkness; he manipulates and obscures everything he touches. Addictions and confusion are Rahu’s domain as well as disturbances and trauma. He does not allow us to think clearly and brings deceit and dishonesty with him. That said, there are worldly benefits that come with him as well. He can give money, profits and excesses from the material world. He loves the foreign and unusual, which can offer great learning and awareness as a result. Enjoyable and exotic travels can also come with Rahu. Professions that require lying, cheating and stealing (politicians for example) will get benefits from Rahu.

Where Rahu may give, Ketu takes away, and is responsible for “cutting the ties that bind us to the material world”. If we are attached to it, Ketu can and will cut those attachments loose- eventually. That is his job- to help us realize intimately the impermanence of this life. He is highly spiritual and not interested in the material realms at all. He will either grant access to spiritual advancement or deny it; Ketu is connected to Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Since Ketu is just a body (no head) he literally has no mind. He can either show madness and complete craziness like schizophrenia, or certain zen states of no-mind which are more spiritual in experience. Ketu is a moksha planet, connected to liberation, letting go and deep surrender. Rahu and Ketu are always seven houses away from each other. They are always looking directly at each other, thus, whatever Rahu gives, Ketu will be sure to take it away.

The nodes are always moving against the direction of the other planets, in retrograde fashion. All the planets retrograde periodically (except for Sun and Moon) and when they do, they are said to be acting like Rahu and Ketu as a result. Our cravings, desires and fears are all connected to Rahu and Ketu. They instigate our pains, sorrows and drive us to take actions or no actions. They are our shadowed sides and will indicate what we are moving towards and away from in this life time. Thanks to Rahu and Ketu, we are guaranteed to grow in this life, but it may not be the pleasant kind of growth.

Wondering how this transit of the shadow planets will specifically effect you? Ask me about my jyotish sessions.

Rahu and Ketu Transits

Rahu and Ketu move from Libra and Aries into Virgo and Pisces on July 12th 2014 at 19:11 CDT. It is an extraordinary time on multiple levels- which truly speaks to the level of intensity the nodes offer. As soon as Guru Purnima takes place on the 11th and 12th (USA), the nodes shift signs with a bang. Rahu then collides with a transitioning Mars who is moving into Libra on the 13th, followed by Venus moving into Gemini just after that. Lots of sudden movement in a very short amount of time!

The illusory nature of the nodes brings into question the impact this transit will have on us, but when Rahu and Mars combine (as they will exactly on the 13th) there is sure to be some powerful sparks taking place. Caution should be taken at this time and fires of all kinds are possible, so be prudent. This includes a variety of sparks from the emotional and verbal levels, as well as with relationships. Driving should be done with extra care- if at all. Intoxication and inflammation are indicated with this conjunction, so avoid excesses of all kinds and stay away from others who are likely to be partaking.

Rahu in Virgo and 6th House Matters

As Rahu makes its way into Virgo, we begin to feel the difference from the past 18 months immediately. Likely, most of us will be feeling the shifts weeks in advance on some level. This transit will be very different for many reasons, but essentially it will be enlivening Virgo and the nature of Virgo, as well as all things related to the 6th house. Let’s unpack this a bit more.

Whereas Libra is ruled by Saturn and Venus and correlates to 7th house matters like relationships, business and balance; Virgo is about purity, idealism and creativity and ruled by Mercury (the indicator for mental body, communication and creativity). Venus is considered debilitated in Virgo because the restrictions Virgo puts on love, restricts the flowing nature of Venus’s love. Libra is an air sign, Virgo is an earth sign and so their expressions and results are truly different. Luckily, Virgo is also the mulitrikona sign of Rahu, which bodes well for material gains and stabilizing finances if all other chart indications support this. We also won’t be having the stormy conjunction of Rahu and Saturn together as we have for the last 18 months. Rudra and his storm energy certainly brought intensity! Those days are behind us now thankfully, but this new chapter will bring with it a new wave of challenges and opportunities.

As Rahu transits Virgo, sixth house matters will also be enlivened. The sixth house has to do with disease and debts (the kinds that can be corrected and cured, unlike the 8th house indications) as well as enemies. This house is known to be a trouble maker because of these tendencies, but there are also some fortunate connections as well. Since disease is attributed to 6th house matters, it is also connected to the healer, the one who heals disease as well as being in service to others. And depending on the other indications of the chart, enemies can become friends in certain circumstances. In regard to debts, learning how to handle money and the affairs of money can create much more financial stability; where we put our attention, we learn and grow. So this can be a fabulous time to increase our knowledge and understanding with all the things that are 6th house related.

With Rahu’s fanaticism and obsessive nature, it’s quite likely that we will be forced to attend to these themes very directly- either by will or by force. Depending on your rising sign and other chart details, the placement of Rahu in your chart during this transit will also enliven other attributes and indications and either heighten or lessen these expressions. This is a general guideline of course.

Other indications of the 6th house include: Enemies/opponents, legal issues/litigation, health, short term disease/sickness, servants and employees, pets, lower abdomen, large intestine, bad habits, maternal uncle and cousins, wounds, boils, scars, sores, cancer, step mother, weapons, struggles, theft, sexual diseases, poisons, healers, digestion, being in service.

From his placement in Virgo, Rahu will give drishti (gaze) to five, seven and nine houses away from him. He will be looking at Pisces directly seven houses away, where Ketu will be as well. His gaze five houses away will be on Capricorn, and nine houses away will give drishti to Taurus- both earth signs like Virgo. Will this transit bring greater stability and grounding into our lives, or an increase in uprooting, change and calamities? Hopefully, the latter, as the desire for earthy stability will be strengthened at this time.

Themes of Virgo will increase during this transit for certain. These include idealism and perfectionism. We may question what this means for us and what our relationship is with idealism as a result. Along with perfectionism comes the critic and our relationship with this inner beast. Do we have a healthy or toxic relationship with this inner entity? We will certainly be getting multiple opportunities to explore this dynamic during this transit.

Purification and cleanliness are other themes that get our attention. Are we being overly fastidious? Using too many diet fads, cleansing rituals and extreme purification practices? Rahu could make us go into over-drive, or under drive depending on your relationship with him and your sixth house nature. Balance is ultimately the goal, but watch out for being extreme- in either direction! Virgo is also very detail oriented, methodical, precise and good with numbers, communications and creative endeavors. Work with goals, timelines and clear time lines in order to get the job done. Virgo’s love a good list. Use them and revel in checking off your action steps!

The Virgo nature is to have very high standards which can’t often (or ever) be met, so dissatisfaction is likely. Be aware that this theme may develop or be heightened in your own personal mythology. Ask your self these questions periodically: Are your expectations too high? Are you self sabotaging as a result? Are you finding fault with others constantly and being excessively judgmental? What is your relationship with your inner critic? Remember when you lash out at others, there’s usually an inner voice saying the same thing to you! This is an ideal transit to create a more harmonious relationship with the inner critic and the  expectations you have with yourself.

Ketu in Pisces and 12th House Matters

As Rahu moves to Virgo, Ketu moves to Pisces. As Rahu moves us towards our own ideals and purification, Ketu moves to the sign of liberation and letting go in order to help us resolve and clean up the pieces in our lives. Ketu’s last transit through Aries was all about restructuring the Self, the ego, and how we show up in this world. His transit through Pisces will move us out of an intense individual focus, and push us towards a collective awareness that works for the greater good.

Ketu’s nature is the opposite of Rahu’s. He is concerned with our moksha, our enlightenment, and is not concerned with the material parts of life. This is why Ketu does well in Pisces as both are moving us towards the same purpose. Ketu is considered mulitrikona in Pisces which means he is quite happy here and can express himself in more harmonious ways ideally.

Just as Ketu is connected to all things liberation and letting go, Pisces is connected to these same themes and all 12th house matters- which are entirely focused on liberation, letting go and self sacrifices. The 12th house is not a house of the material realms, in fact it’s quite the opposite. 12th house matters uplift spiritual matters and bring our focus to our enlightenment as a result. This is a house of loss just as the 6th and 8th are, but 12th house matters relate to a unique set of losses that relate particularly to our experiences of liberation and letting go in order for enlightenment. This can include meditation, sex, marriage, selfless service and sleep, as well as being in confinement like at an ashram, or in prison. Ketu will be bringing us flashes of insight, awareness, serendipity, removing of obstacles and releases that help us come closer to our simplest state of being. That does not mean it will be comfortable for us though! Ketu may have our best interest in mind, but we may not like how he goes about it.

Other indications of the 12th house: Hospitals, ashrams, prisons, long meditations and retreats, working in places of confinement, losses, poverty, generosity, sleep and quality of sleep, beds and the comfort of sleeping quarters, spiritual journey’s and pilgrimages, wandering, foreign lands and long travels, life after death and the nature of one’s previous incarnation, martyrdom, self sacrifice, betrayal, tapas, bill collectors, those who cause us loss, marriage, feet.

Pisces, being connected to the 12th house offers us many of the same themes mentioned above. Pisces is ruled by Jupiter, and Venus is considered exalted here. These planets help us expand and flow and since Ketu is oriented towards formlessness, we may be surprised how we choose to expand and flow, or how we learn to do this in our relationships and with regard to our needs. Pisces is symbolized by two fish swimming in spirals, looping and flowing in endless circles. Sometimes this translates as indecisiveness or as being a “pleaser” personality that tries to make everyone happy all the time. Ketu may help us cut out any confusion typically offered by the Pisces mythology by giving us clarity and focus. I would expect this clarity to come in surprising ways as Ketu is all about sudden events and occurrences!

Pisces is however quite mystical and is connected to the endless stream of consciousness flowing back and forth between heaven and earth. Pisces is known for intuitive awareness, sympathy, contemplation, modesty, philosophy, generosity and in general, being polite. If any of these attributes are excessive within us (for example lack of healthy boundaries and codependency issues) this will be a cycle where we will learn the harsh lessons about giving too much. Ketu will certainly help “enlighten” us on where we need more appropriate and harmonious boundaries with giving and receiving.

Based on these themes of the 12th house and Pisces, we will be creating many new parameters for ourselves with regard to relationships and how to find more balance with them. Wherever we have been excessive- giving too much of ourselves or not creating healthy and mutually beneficial boundaries for ourselves- we will likely get the flashlight memo and get a wake up call! Some may learn this lesson from loss and letting go, others will find a new set point more easily. With Jupiter exalted in the heart center (Cancer) at the same time, emotions and matters of the heart will be playing their role in our new sense of balance and harmony. Many of us will make a re-commitment to the Self during this time- putting our needs and desires first and foremost. Ultimately what is good for ourselves and our development is good for others, so putting our needs first is always a win/win for all involved.

As Ketu moves from Aries into Pisces, it’s considered a very challenging gandanta position- the junction between two sign. Aries is the beginning of the zodiac (the head) and Pisces is the end (the feet). And because Rahu and Ketu always move in retrograde motion, Ketu is essentially jumping from the beginning to the end, thus starting a new cycle for each of us. It’s been 18 years since Ketu was in Pisces and Rahu in Virgo. This is a new beginning in many ways. Likely we are each feeling its poignancy. However, Ketu will be fresh in Pisces once he moves, without much awareness of this “new cycle” yet. Reflect on your past 18 years for guidance. What are you cutting out and restructuring in your life? What are you letting go of and finding freedom from? Go there with zeal and make plenty of room for the changes.

Use this time of the Rahu and Ketu transits to recommit to your enlightenment and spiritual pursuits. Make healing and health a priority and focus. Seek balance with relationships- the relationship with your Self and with others. Look for fanaticism, rigidity and where your idealism is forcing you off track from goals and the long term agenda. Creating more harmony is ultimately the goal, but we may have to work with some extremes before we find our sense of center. In this cycle, don’t fall off the wagon and loose your commitment to health and well being with excess toxicity, but at the same time, excessive puritanical and self righteous behaviors will not lead to sustainability and healing in the long run. This is a unique cycle that can truly awaken us to parts of ourselves that we have been missing- overlooking perhaps out of fear, denial and past suffering. We have the opportunity to introspect in new and unique ways as a result of this cycle. No doubt the outcome of the next 18 months will be a time period of great change, clarity and momentum. Here we go!

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.