Rahu and Ketu, the north and south nodes of the moon, are probably the most interesting, profound and mysterious of all planetary influences in Vedic astrology. As the dragon's head and the dragon's tail of western astrological thought the two nodes represent powerful psychic forces beyond our personal control or understanding .. They deal with the secret, hidden, eccentric, spiritual or perverse sides of life-the higher and lower ranges of human activity beyond the normal scope covered by the seven major planets.
The nodes are closely connected to world events and global trends-the broader streams of destiny and the collective influences that can overwhelm our personal karma, including destructive occurrences like wars or plagues. They are also key indicators of future social developments. For example, the mass media relates to Rahu, which represents new, popular and expansive trends, while much of the cutting edge of science and technology, like computers, relates to Ketu, which represents insight, precision and unlocking the secrets of nature. In this regard Rahu and Ketu have a place in Vedic astrology similar to that of the outer planets of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in western astrology which are also used for collective phenomenon.
Rahu comes from the Sanskrit root' rah' meaning to hide and refers to what is secret, mysterious and profound or a cave. Rahu obscures or protects and indicates Maya, which is not only illusion but also any magical power or captivating knowledge. Ketu comes from the root 'ci' meaning to highlight, appear or become consciousness or a flag.
Prash Trivedi offers what is probably the longest, most researched and most original book on Rahu and Ketu published in modern times. He has studied the classics thoroughly and understands the ancient symbolism of the nodes, which he explains with great lucidity. But he is no mere repeater of old information. Like a research scientist who carefully examines all the data before drawing any new conclusions, he adds important new insights based upon his own experience which expands the range of traditional meanings in order to cover modern conditions today. He has examined the role of the nodes in numerous charts, several of which are highlighted as important examples in the book, and is not simply indulging in unfounded speculation when he introduces his opinion into the text.
In the Rahu-Ketu Experience, Trivedi reveals himself as one of the most promising young writers on Vedic astrology coming out of India today. He is also easily one of the best Indian writers on Vedic astrology in an English idiom. Though there are many good new books on Vedic astrology coming out of India recently, unfortunately most are poorly written and hard to understand for westerners. Though born and raised in India, Trivedi's style is not traditionally Indian, but quite clear and contemporary almost as if written by an American. His mind reflects a global perspective not bound to any limited cultural sphere. Most notably, Trivedi combines a deep spiritual view along with practical methods of chart interpretation in a remarkably balanced approach that will be of interest both to nuts and bolts predictive astrologers and those for whom the spiritual and mystical side is most important. The Rahu-Ketu Experience is worthy of serious examination by all students of Vedic astrology and all those interested in the great mysteries of life, death, karma and transformation. We look forward to many more such books from the author in the coming years.
A global vision of astrology is dawning upon us as we stand on the brink of entering a New Age. This new astrology, which has the potential of becoming the universal religion of the future instead of just being an art of peeping into the future, is being birthed out of the synthesis and integration of all the existing systems. There is in truth nothing 'new' about this 'new astrology' as it is just a redis- covering of the knowledge, which has existed since the beginning of time and was known in its pristine purity to the ancients.
The present day astrology can basically be divided into two main systems - Vedic and Western. Both are in a sense complimentary to each other as one takes care of the weaknesses of the other. The Vedic System known as ]yotish or Vedic Astrology however is much more precise and advanced than the Western System, and is thus likely to form the core of the New Astrology. Western astrology on the other hand has some basic anomalies like operating with the astronomically inaccurate Tropical Zodiac, but a detailed discus- sion on that is not relevant to this book. However there is an area in which both seem to be lacking; though 'ignoring' would be a better term to use.
This area relates to the astrology of the lunar Nodes.What comes as a greater surprise is that the neglect is continuing and precious little is being done to restore the balance! The extent of the neglect can be gauged by the fact that not a single definitive book dealing specifically with the lunar nodes has come out as yet in either Vedic or Western astrology. Though some of the Western astrologers have penned down some of their thoughts and observations on the lunar nodes, their works are in no way comprehensive as they totally ne- glect the knowledge from other systems. In India, the home of Vedic astrology, only a few preliminary works have been published till ., date.
One of the reasons given by the critics who completely ignore the nodes is that they are mere mathematical points. The Ascen- dant and Midheaven are also mathematical points but their influ- ence is never under any question. The Ascendant as we know is one of the ways Earth is symbolically represented in a chart. It is basically a representation of the rotational motion of earth around its axis.
The other being the position of the Sun in a chart, which is noth- ing but a representation of the position of the earth in its annual orbit around the Sun. Another reason given is that they have no mass and therefore cannot give results like the other planets with mass. This is based upon the theory quite popular among alot of astrologers with scientific inclinations, that the planets impart their influence through some sort of waves, the nature of which depends upon the physical constitution of the planets. These yet unknown waves are supposed to be a part of the material universe and thus the hope is that they are sure to be detected some time in the near future.
It is true that the waves from the planets reach us but these waves originate and affect us on the astral & causal planes. Searching for them in the physical plane and relating them to mass or other such properties will obviously yield no results. Planets can thus be said to be physically dead but astrally & causally alive. Astrology, is to a large extent an astral science and our forefathers had recognized this fact. This is the reason why they did not look upon planets as balls of gas and matter but as individuals in the image of human beings operating from the astral realm. The energies they relayed were positively and negatively used by the astral beings known as Gods and Demons respectively. The mythologies of all ancient civi- lizations are full of these astral battles between Gods and the De- mons. Since the nodes were also present on the astral plane they have also found place in these mythologies. This is the reason why we will begin this book with a chapter dealing with how the vari- ous ancient civilizations perceived them.
The ancients also took Astrology into the causal realm, the plane of pure consciousness, which has been touched upon in the chapter relating to the esoteric significance of the nodes. All the ancient seers were of the opinion that great cosmic forces coming from dis- tant regions in the universe, of which the planets were decoders and transmitters for our solar system, govern life on earth. Part of this knowledge of these distant star systems was stored in form of the use of the 27 Nakshatras (lunar mansions or asterisms) widely used in Vedic astrology. The relationship of the nodes with these asterisms, which establishes their place in the real cosmic astrology, is discussed in a chapter dedicated to the asterisms ruled by the nodes. The ancient Vedic seers also envisioned some methods to gain mastery over these forces, which involved the use of gems, herbs, mantra, yantra, and yogic techniques that have been touched upon in the.concluding chapter dealing with the propitiation of the nodes.
If the ancients did invent these imaginary planets there must have been some need for them. They would have encountered some cos- mic forces influencing affairs on Earth that they could not represent or understand through the existing planets. They must have also felt the enormous influence the eclipses have on human affairs on Earth. There is no doubt that the relationship between the Earth, the Moon and the Sun holds the key to the life on our planet. It is no coincidence that Moon is just about the right size and right distance from the Earth to cover the Sun exactly during an Eclipse. Moon symbolizes, as is common knowledge, the Mother principle, which balances the Father principle that Sun is seen to represent. Again it is well known that the interplay between these two principles is the causative force behind all creation.
The nodes are in fact the only planets, which are a direct result of this interplay and thus an important part of the forces representing creation. Thus ignoring them is like denying a part of our very ex- istence. All creation is a result of imbalance as no activity in nature can take place if everything is in a perfectly balanced state. This statement finds support in all the creation mythologies as well as the dictums of modem physics. The lunar nodes are therefore the symbolic representations of this very imbalance between the Yin and Yang principles of nature, as they are sort of energy vortexes formed by the interplay of solar and lunar energies. In a way they sustain life with all its dualities and thus it comes as no surprise that the ancient Vedic seers referred to them as planets representing Maya, the illusionary power sustaining the myth of creation.
Since duality is everywhere nodes are present everywhere, from a smallest atom to the largest galaxies and from the physical plane to the causal plane. Even every planet in our solar system transmits its influence through its nodes, which are represented by its lati- tude. Here we are dealing only with the Lunar Nodes because these planetary nodes don't have a distinct individuality like the lunar nodes, as the planets don't revolve around the Earth like the Moon does.
There have been a lot of theories put forward regarding the true , conception of the lunar nodes. Some say they are invisible black discs that lie within the plane of the ecliptic. Some say the geo- graphical North Pole is the north node and its counterpart the South Pole is the south node. Some say that they are the bright and dark sides of the Moon. In short everything 'north' has been attributed to the north node and everything I south' to the south node. All these definitions make sense to a degree but in this work we would go with a widely recognized conception, which in a way is the origi- nal conception devised by the ancient Vedic seers and has stood the test of time.
According to this conception, in pure astronomical terms the nodes are the points of intersection of the Moon's orbit around the Earth with the ecliptic, which is nothing, but an ellipse formed by the path of Earth's orbit around the Sun. In other words they are the intersection points of the two planes formed by the orbits of the Earth and the Moon. The planes of these two orbits intersect each other at 5 degrees, 8 minutes and 40 seconds. The line of intersec- tion is known as the Nodal Axis.
The point where Moon crosses the ecliptic while traveling from south to north is known as Rahu, the 'N orth' or the 'Ascending' node. The point where Moon crosses the ecliptic while traveling from north to south is known as Ketu, the 'South' or the 'Descending' node. All the mathematical calculations to ascertain the latitude of the nodes are done using this conception. The nodes are thus two points 180° apart, which is why the Nodes are always placed opposite to each other in an astrological chart.
Being placed opposite to each other does not mean that they coun- teract each other. They in fact act in a complimentary fashion. SinCE the opposition aspect, which is a seventh house aspect as per Vedic astrology, is very similar in its nature and functioning to the sev- enth sign Libra, balance is the key idea underlying the functioning of the nodal axis. What this balance means and how it manifests in astrological charts has been dealt with in detail in the sections deal- ing with the placement of the nodal axis in different signs and houses.
After the problem of definition is solved the next one to come up is that of interpretation. As expected different astrologers and sys• terns interpret the influence of the nodes differently. The present day perspective of the nodes in the two main systems, Western and Vedic, is dealt with in a separate chapter.
. Among the various systems, Vedic astrology gives the maximum importance to the influence of nodes in governing human affairs or Earth. Thus in tribute to the Vedic seers of the past who recognizee their true importance, the North Node would be referred to by its Sanskrit equivalent Rahu and the South Node would be referred to as Ketu throughout this book. Another simple reason for using this nomenclature is that it is more convenient.
The question, which is very much tangled with that of interpre tation, is of weightage. Some astrologers use the nodes sparingly, as they don't think that they cover any new areas other than those already covered by the other planets. This is why emphasis ha: been laid on those areas in human affairs that cannot be dealt with by the use of other planets. For example no other planet can be used to unravel the genetic heritage or the past lives of an individual, even though Vedic astrology provides for some degree of interpre- tation through various harmonic charts. A chapter dea1ing with the involvement of the nodes in areas like genetics and reincarnation, which has always been a part of Vedic Astrology has been included.
Others are of the view that they don't act independently and just reflect the energies of the planets they are associated with by placement or aspects. A lot of example horoscopes of well-known personalities have been included to show that the nodes do not only act independently but also give results with a suddenness and intensity, which other planets cannot emulate. Though in Western astrology the outer planets are known to give sudden and transforming results, they can't do so with the regularity of the nodes and have their limitations because of their slow moving nature. For instance, Pluto and Neptune do not get to transit even half of a chart in one lifetime. Moreover they are generational planets, which only work powerfully in certain individual charts.
Astrology in my view is incomplete without involving the sci- ence of numbers or Numerology. The universe is in a sense a game of numbers where numbers can be seen as symbols with certain qualities attached with and manifesting through each one of them- every sign has a number attached with it; every planet has a num- ber associated with it. It follows that the nodes are also associated with certain numbers. How these associations are derived and what they signify is discussed in a separate chapter devoted to the nu- merological significance of the nodes. These derivations are just my personal opinions and thus mayor may not agree with existing astro-numerological standards. If numbers can allow space for cer- tain planetary energies known as the nodes than there seems to be no reason why astrology cannot.
At present the humanity is living in times where everything in- cluding time is in an accelerated state. This may be due to the fact that we are living at the cusp of two astrological World Ages as the equinox shifts from Pisces to Aquarius. There is no clear consensus as yet as to the cycle of time the change of the Ages is taking place. There is also a possibility that this change is taking place simulta- neously on various lesser and greater cycles, but a detailed discus- sion on this is beyond the scope of this work. Whatever the case may be the inclusion of the nodes in mundane astrology dealing with the present times become very important as they represent the cycles of time. The role of the lunar nodes in shaping the twentieth century and the role they might play in the future is discussed in a separate chapter.
The main aim of this work is to spark an interest in the astrology of the lunar nodes among astrologers belonging to every school of thought. Since the astronomically correct Sidereal Zodiac, which takes the precession of the earth's axis into account, has been pre- ferred throughout this work, the Western astrologers familiar with the Tropical Zodiac might face some inconvenience. I sincerely re- gret this but in my view the astrology of the future will be based solely upon the Sidereal Zodiac.
As always nothing in this work can be said to be the final word and everything is open to interpretation. If more astrologers start using the nodes in their analysis than many more secrets relating to their nature, significations and functioning are sure to be revealed. We may yet choose to ignore them or completely deny their exist- ence, but we must remember that this is the case with astrology as a whole too when its influence and validity is constantly put to ques- tion by its critics.
It is my earnest hope that the principles and observations included in this work would be at least scrutinized and tested by the students of astrology before being rejected as invalid. It would be a step in the right direction in the development of the 'new astrology' if the lunar nodes were restored to their rightful place.
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