This is it. This week takes us right through to the Total Solar Eclipse on the North Node, which instigates hot ambition around the point it touches, in this case the third decan of Leo right near the star Regulus. A highly visible and high profile standing up for what is considered most authentic and virtuous, the fight to sustain embodied spirit against odds that threaten it. Venus in Cancer opposite Pluto today sees us leaving our lifelong projects to gather around summer luxuries in the homes of friends and families, although, this might be just a quick pause for refreshment as we head onward toward the fire spume of the approaching dragon. The Sun conjuncts the North Node on Thursday the 17th and we see the Serpent for the first time enter the canyons between a cleft in the mountains; from here on until after the main event he is in our territory. The Moon conjuncts Venus on the 18th and we get an opportunity to drink from healing fountains; again, take this time to gather with friends and family and do everything you can to absorb the grapes of luxury, settle into cloaks of comfort, feed your bodies and souls, sip amrita, quaff ambrosia, try the wine but double your share of medicinal teas and cleansing foods, for we wake on Saturday morning the 19th with battle plans being made in our own forefeilds and backyards and gardens, or at least words of rally coming down from city squares via messengers we sent on errand a week before having reversed trajectory and returned with this turbulent news, although there is something weird about them, something untrustworthy, and we wonder if they are imposters… As Mercury retrogrades out of opposition with Neptune in an attempt to review his rolodex and remember who is who.
Meanwhile, by the 20th and throughout the eclipse Mars sextiles Jupiter and trines Saturn all in third decan degrees: calls to arms in alliances that seek to right all wrongs and bring the ship back to steady, with respect to frontiers and borderlands and divisions of candor, religion and spectrums of exotic mosaic, multiplicity stratifying in synthesis of philosophical resource narrowing into shafts of pointed truth; there is only one even if it is expressed in tongues of variance, and by this lance we swear our oaths as it is topped by a candle flame that pierces even gorgon hearts.
Hot and heavy, healthy for various camaraderies and rigorously relayed acts of furor, but many people are sure to get individually burned and lose themselves deleteriously in some area of their lives, be it your career pursuit, love life, social action, routine responsibilities or civic duties, this eclipse is certainly pulling peoples emotional strings until they snap or warp, even if they don’t realize it now, as the Nodes operate in the subconscious. As we enter perhaps the astrologically most highly polarized time of the year and a bit beyond, take care to not play into ploys. What must be done is done, but in this period of blinding lights and shifting shadows keep your senses searching for snares and traps. There are times of roil and times of simmer, and as this is a season of the former, we should pause and consider how the heavens function:
What we call the ecliptic in astrology is the apparent path of the Sun in the sky from the earth’s perspective. This intersects the celestial equator and sets the band of the zodiac which with we track the motion of the planets through divided fields of meaning, rooting the zodiacal cycle to the solstice points and thus the seasons we experience throughout the year. The path of the Moon’s orbit is oval and turned in relation to the Sun, so normally we find the Moon traveling either above or below the Sun’s path. The points on either ends of these two intersecting bands are the Nodes, and when a Lunation occurs on or very near a Node, or point of intersection, we experience a total or partial eclipse. The North Node is the point where the Moon’s path rises above that of the Sun’s and the South Node is where the Moon’s path descends below that of the Sun’s.
Eclipses occur in sets of two about every six Months, occurring in a pair of signs for about a year and a half at a time. An entire rotation around the Zodiac takes about 18.5 years. In nature, the glyph of the nodes can be found on the hood of a cobra, oriented to the viewer as the North Node if the snake is moving toward you and oriented as the South Node if the snake is moving away from you. Here we glimpse the head and tail of the serpent mentioned in multiple traditions of astrological mythology. Coincidentally, the smallest species of cobra averages 18.5 centimeters in length as the largest, the king cobra averages 18.5 feet.
The easiest way to approach the significance of the North and South Nodes is through first considering the episode of creation in Vedic traditions where the Gods, or Devas, and the Demons, or Asuras take the chthonic snake Vasuki, the primary deity of the nether-world regions known as Patala and wrap it around Mandara Mountain which was seated on the back of a giant tortoise in the great sea of celestial milk. This sea was a manifestation of the mother, the primordial creator goddess, or Shakti, and can be thought of as the original void of before times or the quantum foam that exists at the smallest level of physical existence at all times, the perpetual yet-manifest from which phenomenal reality unfolds. The Devas and Asuras pulled Vasuki back and forth, spinning the mountain and churning the seas to ensure continual creation. The churning formed solid objects out of the amorphous ocean, motion forming matter out of creation. The spiritual nectar of immortality, or Amrita, also resulted from the churning and was collected in a holy receptacle called the Kumbh. After they were satisfied with their work they released Vasuki, who became thirsty for the Amrita and began drinking it. Vishnu, the preserver noticed the theft and hurled his discus at the serpent, splitting it in two, but not killing it because it had already become immortal from the nectar. The Devas banished the two ends of the serpent to opposite ends of the ocean so they could not come back together and steal the Amrita again. The head became known as Rahu and the tail Ketu. Other tales from the Vedas and Bramanhas tell of forms of Vasuki, as well as Rahu and Ketu attempting to swallow or attack the Sun and Moon and then being thwarted by either Indra or other heroic deities and retinue, describing the temporary blotting out or reddening of the Luminary planets.
In Indian astrology the planets are called Grahas, which shares an indo-European root with the word grab, displaying how the planets have a pull over us and the affairs here on Earth. In this name from the planet we see how they are considered more for their affects rather than their compositions, what they do rather than what they are. Similarly, in the western tradition’s neoplatonic model of the universe they were spheres of influence descending down to earth and us rather than orbital spherical bodies. The Nodes were referred to as Chaya Grahas, or the pull of shadows. As Rahu and Ketu have incomplete bodies and the Nodes themselves have no physical forms, they exist as great potential shadows, visible expressions of the chthonic itself, bastions of the underworld and agents of the void that even hold power over the Sun and Moon, which we can see with our own eyes.
Seeing and not seeing are major themes of both the nodes and the Luminaries themselves. The Sun rules our intellects and our vision of the world, what is authentic and actual under the light. When we understand we say, ahhh, I see.” The Moon rules the other light. That of imagination, stream of consciousness and emotion. In the Moonlight things appear in multiple ways, evoking in us many images of beauty and even fear. We say, “I feel I should do this” when we see with the Moon. As the composition of the Universe corresponds to the composition of our bodies the Sun and Moon are also our actual right and left eyes.
As the head of the dragon, Rahu is hungry and restless, and where the north node hits the zodiac in transit is where we are to be pulled into greater identification with matter and the material reality, where we strive and reach for in life, and are drawn to experience our dharma. Since Rahu has no body, or no receptacle for what he consumes he remains always hungry for more material and is never satisfied. Ketu, having no head, no mouth or eyes or nose, experience no hunger but only disgust. He is the body, the receptacle, and thusly the conduit for creation to occur and creative energy to pass through. He retracts from physical life, feeling already full, has no desires and is drawn into asceticism and abstinence. In ourselves, the Devas are spirit and the Asuras are body pulling us back and forth from polarity to polarity, and the balance of Rahu and Ketu is the axis of this pull that churns the ocean and makes reality manifest. Time in space where reality occurs around us. The mountain is the spinal column, the amrita our consciousness, the sun and moon our eyes, and it is Rahu and Ketu’s cycles that are the continual rebalancing of our karmic trajectory; ketu the life we came into this world knowing from previous incarnations, and rahu the life we reach for into the next incarnation. Ketu the sense of our vehicle and base and Rahu the hunger to experience our dharma. In this process we continually reorient and shed our skin like a serpent as we coil around the pathway of our existence.
As without so within. Rahu and Ketu not only do this within us but also to reality itself in the eclipse cycles, times of imbalance when all that must go and be finished is excreted through Ketu and All that must become and manifest enters through Rahu. Some of what is extracted refreshes us and some drains us, as in a sauna or fever sweat. Some of what we intake nourishes us and some toxifies us, as in a feast. Learning to balance Rahu and Ketu’s influence within us as well as navigating their storms when the gateways open and they come to visit reduces the risk of getting in over our heads as Rahu offers exponential more and Ketu threatens to pull resources away. If mastered, the two nodes offer instead a continual cleaning system to both your body, spirit, psychological health and experience of life and success. They offer more without happiness or less without happiness, but being between them in the eye of their storms of fortune, poison, pleasure, abstinence, indulgence and introspection is intrinsic to ascending the mountain in the center of the ocean, raising the kundalini, or climbing the alchemical ladder.
So the nodes offer the opportunity for karmic remediation and spiritual ascension, attainment of the light of consciousness. And by being the powers that wield this light, they can also blind by it, so that you can no longer see the world. They cover the Sun with their shadow so that you can see behind the mind, and cover the Moon so that you can see beyond the body and emotions, temporarily imbuing in us the sibylline abilities of a blind Oracle at Delphi or Dodona. In our daily life this blindness can be problematic, and leads to much of the confusion and chaos that reign during eclipse periods. In astrology, both the literal and metaphorical can as easily manifest, so blindness of cognition and emotion in the various areas of life as the eclipse point appears in your nativities coincides with the potential for actual eye injury and general imbalances in the body, mind and experience. If the north node be in your second house you may receive more gifts than you want or a promotion you cannot handle. In the 11th house, more social opportunities than you can schedule, in the 12th house more alone time than is healthy, and so on.
Between and around eclipses make sure to not make quick decisions, think before you seize or accept sudden opportunities and do not rashly banish things from your life but securely and consciously let things go that have expired. If some of these decisions can wait for later, utilize this time to consider them, and act on them in the time following the eclipse season when you have perspective. (That is until the next regular lunation occurs) Aside from the general perspective of meditating on the nodes nature with intent to keep yourself in balance, there are a few techniques from tradition that can help stabilize your system during an eclipse season:
While meditating on Rahu wear black and blue as it is in accordance with Rahu’s colors and the nature of Mount Mardana, the center point of creation.
Face north, as Rahu and Ketu face south so that you can be directed toward them when you address them as well as be antipathetic to their negative influences. North is also the direction of the “holy mountain” in most ancient traditions, again stressing the orientation to the center. This can be considered the circumpolar center or the axis of the earths rotation.
Rahu is pleased by the calamus root. You may offer some to Rahu, may ingest a tea of it or use an essential oil to anoint yourself and ritual objects dedicated to Rahu. Calamus has been used widely to calm the stomach and reduce anxiety; this can easily associated with Rahu’s effects of insatiable hunger and restlessness. Take care to not ingest too much as it can lead to vomiting.
Rahu delights in the hessonite stone which is a certain red garnet. Having some present may stabalize your connection to his virtue.
During a period of ritual propitiation to Rahu feed birds in your area, as the overabundance of hunger brought on by Rahu may be somewhat assuaged by this act.
Repeat Rahu beej mantra or other Rahu mantras 18,000 times in 40 days leading up to an eclipse (just over four repetitions of rosary each day), or, since it is now close at hand, 108 times on Wednesday and Saturday nights. These days correspond to Mercury (Wednesday is Mercury’s-day and Saturday-night is Mercury’s-night). Mercury may be helpful to sort out the influx of influence that floods in from the eclipses. In this particular eclipse he will be in retrograde, and less likely to organize the influences of the nodes, so the meditations directed to Rahu are of extra importance.
OM BHRAM BHREEM BHROUM SAH RAHAVE NAMAH
I offer my obeisance to Rahu who was born from the womb of Simhika and who has only half a body yet possesses great power, being able to subdue the Sun and Moon.
OM SOOKDANTAYA VIDMAHE, UGRAROOPAYA DHIMAHI TANNO RAHU PRACHODAYAT
I meditate on Rahu who has a ferocious form. Let Rahu kindle my intellect and illuminate it.
Do not forget when the going gets hot that there are magical allies, spirit guardians, and deific power sources available to you, and most importantly, forget them not when the action cools and life returns to normal.