Rahu and Ketu

The original impulse to start this weblog was to present material on the Moon’s nodes. I haven’t yet approached them from the jyotish point of view. Now is the time. Of course I cannot be exhaustive. The whole point being, dear reader, is to whet your appetite so that you will explore further on your own. 🙂

One noticeable difference between western astrology and jyotish is that each of the nodes is more personified, they have a name and a face. In western astrology the name of each node is purely descriptive; north, south, dragon’s head, dragon’s tail. The dragon itself isn’t named, generally. The descriptive language has one level of meaning. If you want more you have to add the mythology. The Sanskrit names, Rahu and Ketu have in themselves many levels of meaning and in a sense contain the mythology in concentrated form. Almost like a seed.

Let’s look at the names first:
The name of Rahu is derived from the root, rah or ranh meaning ‘to rush on.’ It is also related to the roots rabh or grah meaning ‘to seize’ (Incidentally the Sanskrit name for ‘planet’, graha, is also derived from the same root).

The word Ketu on the other hand is derived from the root cit and means ‘brightness, clearness, bright appearance.’ (see Monier Sanskrit/English Dictionary)

Now the names provide us with a riddle. Why does one seize and grasp and why is the other bright and clear? Aren’t both of these shadowy points, malefic? Shouldn’t the second one also be something nasty and mean? Bright?If however you remember that the Rahu and Ketu are nodes, two points form by the cutting of two paths, dismembered so to speak and that they are complementary to each other, never alone, then you could speak of them as ‘Rahu-Ketu’. If you then put the two roots together you have a rushing, grasping for brightness clearness, which in a sense describes what happens during an eclipse. Darkness grasps, seizes brightness; is successful for a short while; brightness is then released on the tail end. The head grasps brightness, the tail releases brightness.

This might give us a clue to the jyotish significations of Rahu and Ketu.

We’ll look at their faces in a future post.

6 thoughts on “Rahu and Ketu

  1. What a coincidence! I haven’t visited your blog in a long, long time but when I finally do this very day, I see you’ve posted an article about my favorite subject, the Moon’s nodes!

    The Belgian scholar David Juste, whose thesis was on medieval astrology, has noted that many astrologers of the period specified that “the original sign of the Head of the Dragon is Leo.” Since nocturnal planets are exalted according to their sextiles, and since planets cast their exaltations with the clock or against it (as their genders dictate), I conclude that both the North and the South Node are nocturnal and masculine, which seems to be the tradition represented by Rahu and Ketu. I look forward to more posts from you about them!

  2. Hello Andrew!

    Welcome back aboard the Altair 🙂 It has been in port for 10 months. It was indeed time to be underway again.

    Yes, it is logical to consider Rahu-Ketu as one entity, though decapitated as the Indian mythology goes. Which would then make both nocturnal and masculine. The connection with Leo is also there, which will be the subject of a later post.

    I wanted to add a PS to the post. Which I will do here:

    PS since Rahu is the head of the decapitated Rahu-Ketu entity, then it is quickly explained why the Sun during an eclipse doesn’t disappear forever after swallowed. It reemerges at the stump of the neck.


      • Hello Caroline!

        There are some who say that because he has no head he is blind and so unable to make any aspects other than that of the same house, by touch so to speak. You have a point there, and might not be that far fetched!

  3. That fits! Ketu being able to affect by ‘touch’ I mean.
    But by lack of ‘brain’ I was thinking of how any planet conjoined to Ketu appears to behave in an unconscious, uncontrolled or unreasoned way.

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