In Vedic astrology, Rahu and Ketu are the two planets, or better to say “grahas” – that grab and grasp, and are the most difficult to understand. Unlike the other seven visible planets, they are not real, physical planets in space and have no physical substance. They are called shadowy or “chayya” planets and their effects on our lives are seen mostly on an inner, psychological level and in our psyche. Their position is calculated as an intersection point of Sun and Moon orbits; Rahu being the North Node and Ketu being the South Node. We all have them in our natal chart, half of the zodiac or 180 degrees apart from each other.
Rahu and Ketu stay in one sign for about year and a half. Right now, they are finishing their stay of Rahu in Gemini and Ketu in Sagittarius, and are moving backwards to their exaltation signs where they will arrive in September 2020. Rahu is moving into Taurus and Ketu into Scorpio and they will stay there until March 2022.
These important upcoming planetary movements are the reason why I’d like to share the Vedic story about Rahu and Ketu with you next, as I hope that you’ll be able to understand these two complex, karmic planets better.
According to Vedic legend, there was a big war between the gods and demons for the control of the universe. In the middle of it was an ocean which needed to be churned in order to find Amrita – the secret nectar of immortality. There was a demon called Vasuki, a big serpent who offered to help the gods with churning the ocean. In Vedic mythology, Nagas are not just ordinary snakes, they are beings of great wisdom and their knowledge can be used both as a cure or as a poison, for better or for worse. Vasuki, being a huge snake, wrapped himself around the spiritual mountain Mandara and was used as a rod for this task.
After the churning, Amrita was found. The gods immediately wanted to keep it for themselves, as they assumed that demons would use it for the wrong purposes, like the fulfillment of material desires and personal glorification. Vasuki was an intelligent demon and he secretly drank some of the Amrita. When the Luminary gods, Sun and Moon, found out about it, they complained to Lord Vishnu, who became very angry.
Vishnu threw his weapon, the sharp Sudarshan Chakra onto Vasuki and split the demon in half. He couldn’t kill Vasuki, as he had already drunk the nectar of immortality and was immortal. The head of the snake became Rahu and the tail became Ketu. They were given statuses of planets as a reminder to the gods that the secret to immortality cannot be reached without accepting the darker side represented by the demon Vasuki.
This legend can be understood as our life. If we think deeper about it, we can see that the gods couldn’t locate Amrita without the help of the demons. Demons can be understood as our lower, materialistic, self-centered selves; and gods as higher, spiritual, selfless ones. We can’t find our way to immortality, bliss, happiness that is beyond pain and pleasure, or moksha, without churning our inner oceans of emotions first and without changing our state of consciousness that was first given to us at our birth. What has been given to us from our past lives can be seen through the placement of Ketu, and where we are headed in this life is represented by Rahu. Simply, Ketu is past and Rahu is future.
Rahu and Ketu can bring a lot of emotional turmoil into our lives, subconscious fears, obsessions, sometimes even addictions or psychological and mental illnesses. We need to work with them and learn how to overcome them and then move to the next level of consciousness. That’s why Rahu and Ketu are wise demons and that’s why Vedic astrology offers such profound wisdom that helps us to understand our inner demons.
You can see from the story that the Sun and Moon gods were terrified by Vasuki having drunk the Amrita. With good reason, as Rahu and Ketu can darken and obscure them during Sun and Moon eclipses. They can obscure our Soul and Mind represented by Sun and Moon and the results of their presence are always unpredictable. Even great luminaries like the Sun and the Moon can’t avoid their effects and that’s why they are considered as great enemies to each other.
I hope that the eternal wisdom of Vedic astrology and this legend of Rahu and Ketu will help you to understand them better and eventually, understand your own internal world on a much deeper level. We all have our inner „oceans to be churned“ before we are able to find our „amrita“, nectar of immortality and bliss.