*Vedic Astrology, or Jyotish, is one of the oldest sciences on the planet and considered a relative of astronomy. It is an important and valuable part of the ancient Vedic texts. This complex, logic-based and also intuitive science, has survived thousands of years in India’s Vedic tradition and is still considered a highly valuable tool of guidance and life insight. It is not a religion, but rather a philosophical understanding of human and cosmic existence. In Sanskrit, Jyoti means light. Essentially, the study of jyotish is the study of light and how we interact with the cosmic light—within us and within the cosmos. Vedic astrology, or the sidereal approach to astrology, casts charts differently than Western, or Tropical astrology. The meanings, implications and purpose of jyotish is therefor different, as are the details used for prediction and the indications given below.
The confusion around Rahu and Ketu‘s transit have started well in advance of their change to Leo and Aquarius.
In typical lunar node fashion, there seems to be many discrepancies about the actual date Rahu and Ketu change signs. Many astrologers appear to be sharing different transit dates. Using very precise ayanamsa calculations from my mentor and the Jaimini jyotish tradition, my transit date is January 29th at 19:09 PST. (I use Mean Node calculations, i.e. no wobble.)
The effects of this transit have already been felt for weeks now, due to Rahu and Ketu being at the very edge of Virgo and Pisces, preparing to leap. This 1.5 year transit will be official on the 29th. Vulnerability has been arriving and a certain intensification of our personal mythology from the past year and a half has been arriving.
Have you noticed where the challenges and themes you’ve encountered during 2015, are re-surfacing and provoking you right now? Notice where these challenges and overwhelm are affecting you on mental and emotional body levels. These pieces of your story are being enlivened and charged, brought to the surface of your awareness, so you can more fully release and heal.
Often with major transits like these, we will feel the effects weeks, even months, in advance. Be gentle and kind to yourself right now and remember that others are likely feeling this too! The agitation, frustrations and overwhelm are likely being increased due to the holidays and new year. This season seems to amplify people’s emotions- whether they are conscious of it or not.
Rahu will transit Leo until August 17th 2017 and Ketu will transit Aquarius during the same period. Always moving in opposition, seven signs away from each other, the lunar nodes bring us our karma in very tangible ways. In fact, if it weren’t for Rahu and Ketu, there would not be a karmic reason for you to be alive in human form. The placement of Rahu and Ketu in one’s natal chart very directly expresses the purpose and path of an individual in this incarnation. Study the lunar nodes in your natal chart for a very clear expression of your life purpose—as clear as the nodes can be.
The reality is that Rahu and Ketu are not straight-forward. Nothing they do or say is clear cut or easy to interpret. They are notorious for being confusing, vague, illusive and misinterpreted. If it weren’t for Rahu and Ketu, life would run fairly smoothly!
Working With The Shadow Intentionally
Our darkness, our shadow parts, are mostly an undesirable topic, one that most choose to avoid.
Most people are good at speaking about their faults, personal issues and life problems, but this is not the same thing as willingly probing into your dark, murky, inner waters, your haunts, grief, fears and illusions. You may appear to be comfortable with your own darkness, and yet simultaneously, refuse to go deeper into it. In fact many people keep walking around and around the same darkness for years, lifetimes perhaps, with out making much change.
This refusal to go deep into your shadow parts and willingly face your deepest, darkest haunts and wounds, leaves you burdened with heavy loads that you never seem to be able to let go of or release. It’s like blindly carrying an extra appendage with you. Oh how humans try to disguise this, cover it, deny its presence! And yet, this heavy, awkward limb is still attached, no matter how hard you try to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Going into your shadows, requires a strong willingness, and a desire to go beyond your problems. It requires that you start asking “why is this happening to me?” over and over again. And then be courageous enough to seek the answers, the answers that are likely going to be painful, that will force you to change your life, that will expose your darkest secrets.
Just past the depth of your darkness, though, is the light. The gift. The gifts you so desperately seek. The gifts you long for are in fact hidden deep inside your shadow parts.
Most of humanity chooses to refuse their own darkness though, and deny that these parts of themselves are in fact alive within them. But just because one is unwilling to look at their own darkness, does not make it unreal, or keep it from controlling them. These shadow parts are still ruling your life whether you choose to face them or not.
Spiritual by-passing is a real concern and causing increasingly disastrous effects. The denial, negation or avoidance of one’s shadow can be truly dire. The use of spiritual resources, tools and practices to negate the shadow, challenging emotions, old stories and one’s personal mythology, is increasing in popularity. Affirmations, meditation, yoga, religious beliefs, even an addiction to connecting to the spirit world, rather then staying in one’s body, are all common place spiritual-bypassing techniques that most people are completely oblivious of.
Whenever the darkness is not integrated and unified with the light, the effects will not be balanced or harmonious. The shadow always seeks the light and the light will always return to darkness. This is a Law of Nature- as they are one and the same. Ultimately, Rahu can not be denied, nor Ketu- his counterpart in karmic liberation. One’s jyotish chart shows where the shadow is seeking light and how it will bring your awakening.
The blessing of your courageous efforts and your willingness, is finding that within the darkest and most disturbing parts of yourself, you will actually find the missing pieces you are desperately longing for; your whole and empowered life. If you are truly willing to courageously look into your own shadows you will undoubtedly find the very gifts you so desperately long to receive. Your shadows in fact hold the gifts you seek for wholeness, for your dharmic giving, your offerings to the world, and for a meaningful life.
As I continue to peel back the layers of my own shadow, my suffering, my darkness and my illusions, I find more and more pieces that affirm my dharmic gifts, and my offerings to the world. As I continue to face my grief, my struggles, pains and disappointments, I am finding more and more answers for my pain and illusions.
I’ve learned (and continue to learn), that when I quit resisting myself, there is immense awakening available to me. This comes through ideas, creativity, clarity, awareness, silence, peace and even joy. The moments when I release my grip, let go, and surrender, I find how much energy I’ve been using to resist my self, my own nature. This is my own resistance to my shadow parts and it takes immense energy to maintain this resistance.
We all have resistance. Finding the resistance within yourself and within your life, will point the way towards your own shadow parts. Remember that the energy you use to resist your own darkness takes incredible energy to maintain, and is a drain to the vital life force energy that could be put to good use elsewhere. Energy you could put into living your one precious life- actualizing your dreams, taking bold, fulfilling action steps!
We each have an attraction and repulsion dynamic within us; a push and a pull. This is expressed through the eleventh house of the Jyotish chart, the house of pluses and minuses. Aquarius is an expression of the 11th house and offers many of the same challenges and resources. This attraction repulsion dynamic is also the energy of Rahu, the north shadow node, as well as the role of Rahu and Ketu in our charts. Everyone has this drive, a pull towards what you want, which is also very intimately intertwined with what you are resisting or refusing in your life and in yourself simultaneously.
What you desperately long for and desire is the core of your shadow work and points the way to all the pieces of your darkness. What you deeply long for is seeking you in other words. And it’s hidden beneath your shadows. This shadow, and working with one’s darkness in order to awaken, is the juxtaposition of Rahu (shadow) and Ketu (light) in ones Jyotish chart, and why Rahu is both darkness and compulsions, as well as desires and insatiable needs. Let Rahu drive you towards your own wholeness. Let him show you what you long for, what you need the most in this life, and let him also show you what you are resisting simultaneously.
Wherever Rahu sits in your jyotish chart (the house, the sign, the planets he interacts with, the nakshatra he resides in etc.) points directly to the main theme of your personal life story. Rahu and Ketu are quite literally karma points and they show you why you have incarnated into this body, into this life, and what you are here to learn. The dance of shadow and light, Rahu and Ketu, fully express your ability and your willingness to grow and awaken in this life time. Will you continue to resist your shadows, your darkness (Rahu)? Or will the compulsion to emerge from the illusions be strong enough to force your awakening and crack you open (Ketu)?
The power within the shadow is two fold. When you resist your darkness, you refuse and resist the healing and the medicine that your life has to offer. You are essentially refusing and resisting awakening to your most essential gifts. These gifts always reveal your dharma, your life purpose, your reason for being alive, and thus there is an immense reward for your efforts- if you choose to take on the task fully. However, it is not the path of ease, numbness, ignorance and denial. In order to awaken, you must invite in your shadow parts, continue to go deeper into your darkness in unending cycles, to dive for pearls of truth tirelessly- as though your life depends on it. It does.
This is why aligning with one’s dharma, one’s true reason for being alive, is not for everyone, and is in fact evasive for most people. For those who thrive on transformation though, the gifts are unending and continue to unfold. Artists, healers, and those here to share wisdom with the world, thrive on these cycles of transformation, change and growth. For us, our most vital task is embarking on consistent cycles of confronting and identifying our shadows and yet not get addicted to these cycles of pain, struggle, and torture.
For those consistently working with their own shadows rigorously, remember to work with and to heal the vow that says “I am broken and will remain so.”
The shadows after all, hold your most potent power, and the wisdom you need for your life and your cycles of death and rebirth. The skill then becomes not just the willingness to go into your shadow, your darkness, but to also know when to let go of it, to release and shift into something new. Some will never walk into their shadows and bravely peel back the layers of their suffering and pain. For those willing to do this courageous work, you must also remember how to come up for air, to take a breath, to dance with both the darkness and the light, to heal and overcome the vow of brokenness, while continuing to bravely dance with your shadows cyclically.
Clients who come to me are walking this fine edge of wanting to awaken; there is a desire to know what their life means and how to overcome their biggest obstacles- and yet simultaneously there is a strong fear to look. This is the attraction/repulsion dynamic at play, a true expression of Rahu driving us towards answers, yet fearful of what we will find once we get there.
As I continue to work with the shadow more and more in my own self development process, and also in my work with clients, I am becoming acutely aware of the reality that fear is really all part of the grande illusion of the shadow. Perhaps Carl Jung put it best, “If there is a fear of falling, the only safety consists in deliberately jumping.”
Rahu and Ketu: The Gifts of The 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 nature 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.
To learn more about the effects of Rahu and Ketu’s upcoming transit as well as their effects on your sign, read more here.
Author: Saraswati J.
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: via the author