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Rahu & Ketu: the Mystery of the Nodes

Updated: May 13, 2021

The North and South Nodes are two of the most misunderstood, entagled concepts in traditional astrology. And yet their mysteries often hold the key to an otherwise lacking birth chart. It makes sense to trace both back to their mythical roots. The Nodes of the Moon—all astrological objects will be capitalized, for distinction from their astronomical mentions—find their most significant mythological counterparts in the Vedas. They are both functioning parts of one immortal being who was sundered into two: the body (Ketu) and the head (Rahu); South & North Node respectively. How did this happen?

Early in sacred history, the gods churned the milk ocean in order to create an elixir of immortality. The process created unconscionable amounts of poison—kind of like nuclear energy—and just a bit of potion. The gods decided to share this elixir with the benevolent or peacable Devas, who attained great knowledge. But the Asuras—power-seeking clans—wanted in as well. So the gods devised a clever trick: All would get in line to drink, but by the time it was the Asuras' turn, there would be no potion left. Noticing this, a clever Asura by the name of Svarbhānu disguised himself as a Deva, and got ahead in the line. However, after he had only had a droplet of the elixir, Vishnu noticed what had happened, and swiftly beheaded him with his discus: the Sudarshana Chakra.

. . . both functioning parts of one immortal being who was sundered into two: the body (Ketu) and the head (Rahu); South & North Node respectively.

From the two, now immortal beings, we got Rahu (the body) and Ketu (the head); two energies coinciding, once again, with the South and North Nodes respectively. In traditional astrology, the South Node represents our past life and a type of "default mode"—if not necessarily a comfort zone—and the North our "direction" in this lifetime. But if we look carefully at the myth and the Vedas, that is not only far from the whole picture, but actually misleading. One version of the myth states that Svarbhānu was killed right before the elixir went down his throat. What would this mean? That the body, of course, would die. And with this theory, it makes a lot of sense that Ketu would represent our past life—eternally dipping back into the physical realm, with Rahu to lift him out.

But, Ketu [South Node] too is immortal. And in fact, his lessons are the purely spiritual ones.

But, Ketu too is immortal. And in fact, his lessons are the purely spiritual ones. They are the places we act from often without knowing, giving of our heart and often (at least seemingly) demanding nothing back. Ketu, in one respect, represents satiety, since the body wants what it wants, then tells us to stop. Rahu is a more complicated figure. He truly is directional—without our heads, in this world, we are lost Ketus, victims constantly giving our gifts and possibly getting used. Rahu is ruseful, mischievous even. But he is humanity: capable of calculus, and therefore, of desiring infinity—something our bodies know is unachievable. Rahu is also science, including the occult sciences, and there is the lesson: wherever he is placed, we are demanded to exercise caution, mastery, and skill. Rahu also represents, in one sense, a type of Prometheus: the Titan who stole fire from the gods to give to us. He bears gifts, but none of them are truly fruitful until Ketu is cultivated, and we have a noumenal as well as somato-esoteric grasp of what's at stake for us. Then, our power nurtures, and does not only seek.

Rahu [North Node] is ruseful, mischievous even. But he is humanity: capable of calculus, and therefore, of desiring infinity—something our bodies know is unachievable.

It is quite important to look at Rahu and Ketu by House, as well as by Sign—the Nodes change Signs every 18 months approximately. There, their lessons become truly personal, and not only our past lives, but our future ones are unlocked. However, the Sign and House energies must be looked at in tandem. Otherwise, we miss the lesson that truly resonates for us in this lifetime.


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