Rahu and Ketu – The Karmic Axis
Vedic astrology (Jyotish) makes use of seven planets : Moon, Sun, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus, as solid real planets and also Rahu and Ketu in analysing a chart. The arrangement or combination of planets at the moment of birth over the place of our birth becomes our birth chart and will show our soul’s journey in this earthly realm. The chart will show our personality and the kind of relationships we are going to have, as well as our career, finances and health matters just to name a few areas. In addition the Vedic system will also use planetary periods and transits to determine when karmic events will unfold into our life.
Rahu and Ketu are not actually planets of physical substance like the other seven planets, rather they are areas of churned up energy, pregnant with mysticism and significance. They are the points where the Moon and Earth’s orbits intersect. This creates two areas of electromagnetic disturbances, which are directly opposite each other, and have come to be known as the Moon’s Nodes or in Vedic terms Rahu and Ketu.
RahuKetu is the Sanskrit name given collectively for the Nodes of the Moon. Rahu is the North, and Ketu is the south node of the Moon. They are always directly opposite each other, that is 180 degrees apart.
They form the karmic axis in a Vedic astrology chart that indicate the types of karmas coming into this life to be experienced for each person. They also indicate which areas of life that you will focus on, or strive for perfection in.
According to Indian Mythology, Lord Visnu had decided to make the Deities (the seven planets) immortal. Visnu had churned up the sea in order to extract a sacred nectar called amrita, with the intention of making the planetary Gods immortal. Visnu had all of the planetary deities lined up in order to receive the nectar potion. However, a demon called Rakshasha, who was dragon-like in appearance had sneaked in and disguised itself as a deity, in order to become immortal. Once Visnu had realised that he had been fooled into giving the nectar to the demon he took out his sword and chopped the demon in half. The head of the dragon became Rahu and the tail became Ketu, but now they could not be killed, as they had received the nectar. When the nodes, Rahu and Ketu saw how angry they had made Visnu, they did penance to him and were eventually given planetary status. So Rahu and Ketu are a very powerful force that operates in our lives to control the karmic influences and situations through the Rahu Ketu axis. The symbol of Rahu represents the dragon’s head and Ketu represents its tail.
The position of Rahu in the Vedic astrology chart will show the main area of focus for the person. For example someone with Rahu in the ascendant sign (the first house) will be very self-focused and may even appear to be quite selfish to those around them. However, it is necessary for that person to have this focus and it is their challenge to somehow balance their own needs with those of a partner, if they wish to have a relationship. Here lies the challenge for a person with Rahu in the first house. Those people with Rahu in the 10th house of career will have a strong focus on career and status and will very much need recognition in terms of power and status. Those with Rahu in the 6th house will be intent on giving service to others in terms of healing and helping the public. Rahu in the 4th house will give a strong focus on the home environment. In this way the Rahu Ketu axis can be used to give a different layer of meaning to the chart and will help to illuminate life purpose and direction for each individual, regardless of their rising sign, Moon or Sun sign.
Rahu represents focus and where you are most likely to put your efforts and in this it can also represent insatiable desires too. One of our challenges will be to curb or control desires in order to find some balance in our lives. Rahu in the 10th house can indicate tendencies that if unchecked may lead to workaholism. Too much time at work is likely to lead to a dissatisfied partner and hence relationship problems. So we can see that our passion can also become our challenge. Rahu can also represent power and wealth, which is why the Chinese in particular often worship the dragon in order to bring prosperity into their lives.
While Rahu is very much involved in material and earthly matters, its counterpart Ketu is much more concerned with bringing in the past life knowledge that is pertinent to this life and encouraging us to let go of emotional baggage and guilt. It will also encourage us to let go of intellectual reasoning to some extent, as Ketu goes beyond intellectual reasoning and more towards faith. Ketu can cause blockages and pain in our lives in order to push us to change our psychological patterns and move on. It may present itself as irrational fears and thereby encourage exploration of the subconscious mind which again can lead to major changes and evolution. Ketu is actually highly idealistic and is concerned with transformation and surrendering the ego to a higher power, which can eventually lead to enlightenment.
So here we have the axis, on the one side Rahu very involved in desires and the material world and Ketu very much involved in the spiritual world. Both are doing their work in your life by stirring up your ambitions and at the same time pulling you towards renunciation. Here lies the human dilemma and the nature of our internal struggle.
In further symbolism, Rahu represents the ego and the body and will encourage us to look for gratification, success and power in a particular area of life. In its quest to fulfil its ambitions it may even be manipulative and deceptive too and fool us into thinking that we are looking after others rather our own best interests. It is said that politicians generally have a powerful Rahu! Because Rahu is buried in our subconscious mind, it is hard for us to see the games it is playing in our lives. This is the reason why in the Vedic and Yoga tradition it is considered necessary to find a Guru to guide you on your quest to let go of the ego, as it can be very slippery and illusive. Ketu on the other hand represents renunciation, liberation and ultimate freedom from worldly affairs. Ketu also represents the soul. When Rahu can turn its purpose away from material gratification and unify its purpose with Ketu, then we have the raising of the Kundalini. Rahu from the root chakra can rise to join with Ketu in the crown chakra and unification and enlightenment is possible.
In the meantime most of us will need to allow our Rahu to continue to lead us into experiencing many different situations and sensations in each of our incarnations in the knowledge that true and lasting fulfilment in these areas is really an illusion. Once that realisation has reached a deep level in our psyche we may then be ready to start to use our Rahu energy with our Ketu energy towards more fulfilling realms and reach Nirvana.