Here we are between two eclipses, January 31st’s total Lunar eclipse on the North Node in Leo which was visible for most of the Pacific ocean, and February 15th’s partial Solar eclipse on the South Node in Aquarius witnessed in half the world, everywhere except the Americas. Aspects between other planets are separating and applying over the course of the week but nothing perfects and no planets shift signs beside the Moon until Venus’ ingress into Pisces at 8pm (EST) on the 10th. This puts her into exaltation and is certainly a topic of discussion, but more for next week. Mercury speeds up into combustion on Sunday the 4th, sending logic and language focus into the interior of our minds and deeper selves, switching into the second decan of Aquarius on the 6th, a face which he rules by both descending and triplicity orders, where he is adept at connecting the fringe and frontiers of thought and ideas to the central intellect: communicating between the most experimental, innovative thinking and the most common, excepted or utilitarian. The Sun is there with him making this area a focus until he switches to the third decan on the 9th, joining Venus, where our vision and sense of beauty attempt to untangle the mess of tripwires that have been run from new and emerging identities and aesthetics to those molded firmly from before; conceptions of bodies and personality roles have surely shifted, now we must integrate the newly realized sense of beauty and identity in a karmically sound way, rather than a politically pre-prescribed. Jupiter is still digging up opportunities to grow in the mire of depravity while Mars scans the activity from nearby and pounces upon whatever Jupiter pulls up, seizing it and running away with it where he can fashion it for his own purposes; this can be for the sake of good or bad, and if either it makes little difference, both are overeager to a fault, but hopefully how it sorts out in the end reflects a positive outcome, as long as we keep our heads together as we go, and contextualize reality firmly first before we use every new piece of unsavory information as a green light to push our personal campaign. Meanwhile Saturn is just getting started testing our foundations and strategies, and perhaps his reality check is what we need in our state of frenzy, as information is being pulled from out of dark corners in Aquarius, the slimiest things we find seen as worth making good of past pain by Jupiter, and Mars amped on racing toward targets whatever they may be, Saturn demands we check our work before we submit our statements. This applies both personally and on world scales, the crossfire coming from every camp and all sides, but the earth as old fortress is impervious to our bullets; to her the scratches we make upon the rocks are nothing compared to tectonic shifts and glacial gouge. Back to the drawing board we all must go, and take what we now know and make a new plan.
Otherwise, its worth looking more closely at the eclipses in general:
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., as it also takes 18.5 months for the nodes to transit through a pair of signs. 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, non-eclipse, 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. If meditating on Ketu wear brown and grey. Burn either a blue candle for Rahu and a brown candle for Ketu. Offer flowers and incense, etc.
Face north for Rahu and south for Ketu, 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. Facing South allows one to witness the celestial sky moving westward, the land of the dead and transgressing out of manifestation.
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. For Ketu call on Ashwagandha or Skullcap.
Rahu delights in the hessonite stone which is a certain red garnet. Having some present may stabilize your connection to his virtue. Ketu enjoys Chrysoberyl (cats-eye stone)
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. For Ketu feed or do kind things for dogs (like volunteering or donating to a shelter), as dogs congregate around holy temples and cremation grounds.
Repeat Rahu or Ketu beej mantra or other Rahu/Ketu 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.
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.
OM SRAAM SREEM SRAUM SAH KETAVE NAMAH
raudram raudratmakam ghoram tam ketum pranamamy aham
I offer my obeisances to the violent and fearsome Ketu, who is endowed with the potency of Lord Shiva. Resembling in his complexion the flower of a palasa plant, he serves as the head of the stars and planets.
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.