Mama. That’s the Moon. The eternal mother who waxes and wanes and watches over the Earth. She has been called by many names: from Chang’e to Diana to Luna to Chandra.
To human eyes, it appears that she changes every two and a half days. It is she, our beloved Mother Moon, who holds the secrets to our soul’s incarnation on planet earth. But what secrets does she reveal only in glimpses?
For that, we will have to ask Ketu–the South Node of the Moon. But who is Ketu, exactly?
Rahu and Ketu
In astronomical terms, Rahu and Ketu denote the points of intersection of the journey of the Sun and the Moon as they travel on the celestial sphere of our worldly perception. While these points do not technically correspond to a physical planet, what they do correspond to is a mathematical point in the ecliptic which reveals an interplay of light and shadow.
In gemmology, the gemstone associated with Ketu is cat’s eye. The stone is said to help in the return of lost wealth, has the capacity to restart a closed chapter as well as aid us in completing any unfinished business from previous incarnations.
In the context of the soul’s journey on earth, the Ketu placement in a natal chart can shed light on what we lost over a continuum of lifetimes. If positively placed and aspected, Ketu can even enable us to redeem the successive losses we incurred in a more favourable incarnation.
In Hinduism, the planets fall under the governance of Lord Shiva, who rules over the intangible and immaterial aspects of the universe. From ghosts to ghouls to our adventures and misadventures in the afterlife, Lord Shiva reigns supreme over our greater cosmic universe–where we are but a small tiny fragment of a collective whole. Shiva is viewed as the Ultimate Cosmic Intelligence. He is the Creator, not of life, but of consciousness.
Whenever we seek to understand the higher purpose of our lives, we turn to Shiva. Whenever we have a problem that requires a solution beyond the tangible aspects of life, we turn to Shiva. Whenever we seek to be released from difficult karma, we turn to Shiva. He is the Compassionate One, the Forgiving One, but also the Stormy One.
Shiva is usually depicted with a snake and a bull. I always thought this depiction rather peculiar given that he is associated with all that is immaterial. I believe this has to do with the fact that there is an overarching immaterial purpose to our human existence. We are only as capable as the consciousness with which we can perceive the world. If the brain is the hardware and the mind is the software, the more our minds are able to expand, the more software we can have and hold.
You can tell me a table is a table and that is a fact. Shiva consciousness will allow you to understand the creation of the tree, the cutting of the tree, the manufacturer of the table as well as the person who distributed the table before it was bought. By learning to view life in this manner, we perceive more than just the table. Shiva can also give you an image of a table in your mind and allow you to create it. Think about it. Who saw the first table in his or her mind’s eye? Who invented the first table? It was Shiva consciousness.
If all we see is the table, we are not perceiving reality, but a very limited aspect of it. If you want to open your mind’s eye, you must turn to Shiva.
In most calendar years, there are two lunar eclipses; in some years one or three or none at all. For a lunar eclipse to happen, the Sun, Earth and Moon must be aligned in a line. Otherwise, the Earth cannot cast a shadow on the Moon’s surface and an eclipse cannot take place. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth blocks the Sun’s light from the Moon.
The practise of psychology is very much a lunar profession. It takes place in private. It is where, when we feel comfortable, we can really have a breakthrough. If you’ve ever worked with someone who can actually give you that breakthrough, it creates a bond with that person.
They end up being an initiator into a modality and a way of being. In many ways, they are like the Google search engine where we type and key in all the things we are looking for. They know all our intimate pains, secrets and longings. In ages past, instead of a psychologist, we most likely visited a Shaman. Whether it is past life karma, a childhood wound or a relationship pattern—it is the Healer who brings these issues to the forefront to heal and make whole again.
The field of psychology, which I recently grew to have a deep interest in, has been truly helpful in helping me to understand the psychological impetus of Ketu beyond mythology and storytelling. It is what led me to dig deep and find out how it all applied to me based on my lives–past, present and future. When it was drawn to my attention that I behave, react or respond in certain ways to certain stimuli–it was a breakthrough in helping me to understand just what in the world had been going on in my life for so many decades.
This is a different type of healing, for it takes place in the mind and in the psyche. This is not a physical location as such, but a very real aspect of the illusions and delusions which plague our planet–and the very real survival mechanisms which we all draw upon to preserve the very fragile terrain of human existence.
So what does this all have to do with the Moon, Mother, Ketu and Shiva?
The Unlived aspect
Imagine you were in love with a woman. But you are an Austrian mountaineer who left behind his pregnant wife to climb the Nanga Parbat. In your absence, your wife gives birth to a child and sends you divorce papers. All the while, you have been a captive in a prisoner-of-war camp. By the time you get out and get back, your son refuses to acknowledge you and your ex-wife and her new husband are giving you the cold shoulder.
Okay, so this is not a very original story but a small hypothesis taken from the movie Seven Years in Tibet. If that was you, you would have realised the mistake you made, but it would have been too late to do anything about it. You would maybe be dreaming that you could, or should, have made a different decision–for if you had, you would be living a very different life.
When speaking of Ketu, we are speaking of the Unlived Aspect of our psyche. This is the stuff we think about, daydream about and go over and over in our heads–wondering what we did, where it all went wrong, and why it didn’t work out. Over time, this pattern of thinking about things that are not tangible and not in front of you, grows entrenched. When we die, these unlived aspects live on as pure consciousness that carries on and carries itself forward.
It’s painful when your wife leaves you for another man. And that too, one who actually makes her happy. His wife wasn’t pining for him when he was gone. She just thought he was a jerk for leaving her, and eventually, she moved on. Maybe in her head, she thought he was the one who had moved on by deciding to go on that dumb mountain trip. And maybe in his head, he thought that despite her protests for him not to go, she would still be there.
That, in a nutshell, is the problem and the potential of the mind. Half the time, we fill in the blanks and use our imagination to guess or extrapolate what happened or what could have happened otherwise. And most of the time, it’s not so much that our minds are playing a trick on us, it is more that our minds haven’t grasped what in the world is actually even going on.
You can count on Hollywood to narrate a happy ending, but life doesn’t always give us that. Life forces us to contend with the unlived aspects of our being–the wishes that did not get fulfilled and the life we did not have a chance to lead.
Humans can and often do make poor choices and poor decisions. We can end up with disastrous consequences, but never irredeemable ones. There’s nothing and no decision in life which is irredeemable and from which it is all over–till it is, that is.
Our mountaineer eventually meets the Dalai Lama and becomes his friend. He also eventually makes peace with his son.
Now, coming back to my hypothesis that in life, things don’t always end well, let’s turn our attention to Ketu.
Ketu The South Node
Where is the mind? Can you see it? Maybe exists in the brain. Maybe it exists beyond it. So where does consciousness exist in all of this?
Firstly, there must be the awareness of one’s own pain. Then there must be the awareness of another’s pain. Then there must be the sense that something ended abruptly or was in some way, unfinished. And lastly, there must be the sense that if I did get a second chance, I would do things differently.
Ketu represents the parallel lives of our psyche, which is, in many ways, much bigger and greater than our tangible reality–especially for older souls. This unlived life–the one that we might yet have or feel that we should or could have–is a storehouse of unrequited desires, unmet needs, or sacrificed goals.
These fantasies and longings may be for the people we miss, experiences we wish we had taken a chance on, or things that we feel we have missed out on. Or it could be a wish–something we want to do but for some reason did not do.
The road we did not travel holds the key to our untapped potential. We can then regret and resent or grieve and let go. We can fantasise and remain hopeful or plan and realise.
Ketu in the form of pure consciousness, reveals to us that both our lived and our unlived lives make us who we are.
Understanding Your Ketu Placement
I told that story of the mountaineer because it resonated with me. Some guy went off and about trying to prove to the world that he was some sort of hero when really, he was just a lonely guy. I have my Ketu in Aries. I suppose you could say the unlived aspect of myself is the need I must have for companionship.
Wait, I can hear you say, but Aries is a sign associated with courage, leadership and initiative. One of the reasons why these nodes work on an axis is because as much as it takes courage to climb some crazy mountain–it also takes courage to stay in a committed relationship when there are so many other things you could be doing.
Our mountaineer friend may have gone out and made a name for himself in the world and been celebrated as a success, but his wife and kid sure didn’t think so. We hear stories like these all the time. How someone could be President of the US and say that the hardest thing he ever did was have to go for marriage counselling.
But a placement won’t just end up as your south node because you fantasised about something. For it to manifest as an unlived aspect in your natal chart, these thoughts and their feelings must have been very deeply entrenched in your consciousness. There must have been something you really badly wanted to do and never did. And that’s why your soul chose to incarnate with this particular energy.
The Mother Moon
So what has Mama got to do with all of this? If you want to get any meaningful insight into Ketu, you have to see the aspects, angles and conjunctions that it has with the Moon. If there is one–and a particularly strong one, at that–it shows that this mental impression and patterning is sufficiently strong. It could also indicate psychic abilities and mental patterning which you have carried over from your previous incarnations.
In the context of consciousness, it shows a certain unlived aspect that was so strong that it felt the need to materialise in someway.
Since every single one of us has this placement in our chart, you’d really have to gaze at the Moon if you want to get a feel for how strongly this is affecting you on a personal level. I feel that looking at your chart can give you a strong indication regarding the unlived aspect of your consciousness.
Whether you want to live it out, let it go, or just move onto something else… Well, to answer that question, we’ll need to have a chat with Rahu. And that will be another conversation for another day.