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Understanding the Nature of Rahu and Ketu: The Lunar Nodes

Updated: Apr 24

When it comes to astrological analysis, Rahu and Ketu, also known as the Nodes of the Moon, are unique celestial entities that defy conventional categorization. Unlike other planets, they do not possess the typical avashtas or dignities, such as Jagadadi, Baladi, Dipati, or Lajjitaadi avashtas. These nodes do not adhere to the rules of friendship or enmity either. They exist in a league of their own, governed solely by the Sayanadi avashtas.

Attempting to assess Rahu and Ketu using the same criteria applied to other planets often leads to confusion and contradiction. Some astrologers have tried assigning exaltations and rulerships to these nodes, but such endeavors have proven futile. Classical texts, although mediocre, have presented conflicting information regarding the exaltation signs of Rahu and Ketu. One source may claim Taurus, while another asserts Gemini or Virgo. It becomes a hodgepodge of mixed opinions.

The reason for this ambiguity lies in the fact that Rahu and Ketu are not planets. To understand their essence, let's consider the Earth as a point of reference. The Sun orbits the Earth along a specific path known as the ecliptic. Similarly, the Moon revolves around the Earth, tracing a path inclined at approximately five degrees to the ecliptic.

As we visualize this, the Moon's trajectory around the Earth appears somewhat oblique. Occasionally, the Moon's path intersects with that of the Sun, forming two points: Rahu and Ketu. These points represent the intersection of the Earth's plane, encompassing the Moon's orbit, with the Sun's plane. It's important to note that our perspective is geocentric, based on how we observe the Sun's movements, rather than from a solar viewpoint.

In essence, Rahu and Ketu are more akin to Bhava cusps than traditional planets. They only manifest twice a month when the Moon crosses the equator and moves northward (known as the Rahu point) or when the Moon crosses the ecliptic and heads southward (known as the South node or Ketu). To better visualize this concept, let's illustrate it visually.

Imagine the Earth, with the Moon orbiting it in one plane and the Sun orbiting in another. These planes are circles around the Earth. As the Moon progresses along its path, there comes a point where it crosses the plane of the Zodiac or the ecliptic. This intersection marks the presence of Rahu. As the Moon continues its journey, it ascends, only to descend again and cross the Zodiac plane, indicating the presence of Ketu.

While visualizing this may require a bit of imagination, it helps to understand that the nature of Rahu and Ketu is intricately tied to the dynamics of the Earth, Moon, and Sun. They are celestial phenomena that occur in specific instances, rather than permanent planetary entities.

In conclusion, the enigmatic nature of Rahu and Ketu challenges astrologers to approach their interpretation differently. These nodes represent unique intersections between the Earth's plane, encompassing the Moon's orbit, and the Sun's plane. Understanding their essence as Bhava cusps rather than planets allows for a fresh perspective on their influence in astrological analysis.

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