Who is Rahu in mythology? Is it a demon as he is often called? Is he just a head without a body? Is he an eclipse or the one that causes them? Is he the very reason for our existence? Is he, as theories of the North Node of the Moon might suggest, a sort of marker saying, “Go here if you want to find happiness and fulfilment.”

I’ve heard so many conflicting things about Rahu over the years that I can’t help but wonder–what is this thing all about anyway?

There are a lot of questions that come up in my mind when it comes to Rahu. I haven’t really found a real concrete answer from anyone. Other cosmic entities like–the Sun, the Moon and the seven classical planets–across the cultures, there is a different take on what they represent–Guru in Vedic Astrology vs Jupiter in Greek Mythology, but they all still exist as planets and as entities.

But this Rahu character, this North Node of the Moon–there doesn’t really seem to be a lot of knowledge to begin with on what or who Rahu is. And the knowledge that is out there is so contradictory and convoluted… That I ask myself–what is this? What is it exactly?

Is it a concept? I mean, it’s called a shadow planet. But what is it, exactly? Is it a snake? Is it a dragon? Is it a shadow? Is it a figment of the human imagination?

I asked myself these questions because I was very drawn to the idea of Rahu as a destiny point in the natal chart. Even among astrologers, this is not a very well-known topic or one that is given too much thought. It is a niche–even within astrology.

Over the years, however, I started to observe the behaviours and tendencies of people who have their North Nodes in certain placements and what that meant as a cosmic pattern. There were a few things that really hit home for me.

One aspect that I noticed over the course of the time was that the people I was attracting into my life almost always had a particular Rahu-Ketu placement. Time and time again, I would attract people with the same old Rahu-Ketu placement. Why was I attracting this particular placement into my life time and time again? Or maybe they were attracted to me–that’s the other answer.

It was all these unanswerable questions which led to me writing this article. If nothing else, to not quote a book or a famous astrologer, but only to condense the patterns I had noted through my own work regarding what it all means for everyone presently residing on this planet.

The Sun and The Moon

In a dualistic view of the Sun and the Moon in astrology, the Sun is the light and the Moon is the shadow. This is, in my view, an oversimplified duality that plagues storytelling traditions around the world. There are, in fact, two lesser known ‘shadow planets. In mythology, these shadow planets are Rahu and Ketu—also known as the North and South Nodes of the Moon. It is these two shadow planets which give purpose to the source energy that we receive from Sunlight and Moonlight. 

Sunlight and Moonlight emanate from the same source energy. The Sun is that ball of fire that keeps the cosmic framework in order. The Moon reflects the Sun’s light so that the Sun’s rays don’t scorch the earth by giving us sunshine all day. If you’ve ever spent time in a parched desert, you know that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing

The Sun’s light is something we feel and know consciously because we can both see it as well as feel its overarching presence. From our skin to our eyes—we have a physical and physiological response to the light of the Sun. Even the seasons, which set the harvest and yield into motion, are largely based on the seasonal patterns of Sunlight.

The Moon’s light—which is reflective of the Sun’s light—is something we feel and know subconsciously. Our bodies consist mainly of water, as does the Earth’s body. But this is not something we can always sense, see, feel or touch. It is, however, very much there and it holds a palpable and significant pull over our lives. These are the little daily ebbs and flows which take place within us and that we need to be very sensitive to if we want to understand how Moonlight actually affects us. 

There is no Light or Shadow binary when it comes to the Sun and the Moon. They are there to balance each other’s influence. That is the thing with duality—they exist to balance each other out. They are not the opposite of each other. It is not even so much that Moonlight exists to balance Sunlight—but that they must exist simultaneously for creative purposes.

Like I said, spend a few days in a desert where there is way too much sunlight, and you will know that that is not a state of affairs with any long-term potential for life. 

The earth will dry up and burn. 

The Eclipse

Most calendar years have two solar eclipses. The maximum number of solar eclipses that can take place in the same year is five, but this is rare. According to NASA calculations, only about 25 years in the past 5,000 years have had five solar eclipses.

Now, what does Rahu–the mythical North Node of the Moon—represent in all of this? Rahu represents a personal–as well as a collective–eclipse of the Sun that needs to be removed and revealed over time. Rahu is a Celestial Being which casts a shadow that obscures the light of the soul, till a particular point in time.

It’s not an easy concept to grasp. Even after dabbling and studying astrology for over a decade, the answers were still eluding me. Every time I reached some sort of breakthrough, it would slip away from my grasp. Over time, however—and it did take time—I started to notice both a personal pattern and a greater cosmic pattern at play with the North Node and its relationship to the Sun. 

The Growth of the soul

Our sun sign represents the part of ourselves which we project out into the world. In an individual’s birth chart, the sun sign represents your soul’s identity and how it shines its light in the conscious, seen world.

If you are a Pisces, for instance, your natural Jupiterian traits and qualities will shine through. Then let’s say, for instance, that you have a Rahu in Aries. Within the light that is shining through for the whole world to see, the force of that Aries energy is following you around, waiting and longing to come into existence.

When we reach for Rahu, we discover the area where the light of our soul has been eclipsed. What is an eclipse but a blot of darkness that is created from light which has been blocked and obscured temporarily?

Who in the world can see their shadow, anyway? It’s what is behind you. Others can see it, but you can’t. When it is pointed out to you, you may even deny that it is a part of you.

Coming back to our example of Sun in Pisces with a Rahu in Aries. Rahu’s martian Aries energy is then a small part of your soul that is trying to manifest itself into the projected world.

The Temptation

Mṛtyu-māra is a personification of death in Buddhist cosmology. This does not speak to a natural death at the conclusion of our natural lifespan, but a different type of death. Mara is not responsible for the cause or necessity of death. That has always been Lord Yama’s job. Lord Yama is the one who ushers departed souls on the Day of Judgement. He is the one who weighs your life according to your deeds and decides what comes next.

Mara’s role, therefore, speaks to our temporary desires on planet earth. The greater the desire, the greater the victory–on earth, anyway. Mara, after all, is the Lord of the sensory world, of artistry and of pleasure. In mythology, Mara’s role as a God is personified by his daughters–Rati, Raga and Tanha–delight, emotion and craving. In subsequent eras, they even came to be personified as nymphs who reside within nature.

Mara, is thus, the desire of Nature, a desire of the Earth. Following on from that, Rahu, therefore, represents the desires of the earth. Mara, as the personification of desire and death, is not exactly here to tempt us, but here to manifest its temporal desires.

Imagine if grapes and strawberries did not grow at all. Imagine if there were no plants. How would we–and all of Nature’s other children–survive on this planet? These plants, which grow either naturally or through the fruits of culture and civilisation, represent the Earth’s desire to provide for its inhabitants. The earth, though, can only do this through a cycle of life, death and regeneration.

The ‘temptation’ here is that our creative potential is intimately linked to death–first through the reality that reproduction leads to birth, which later leads to a natural death and demise. Strawberries and grapes don’t grow naturally all year round and need a certain environment in which to develop and flourish.

Rahu’s placement in a birth chart, therefore, symbolises what we are here to create, to achieve and the quest that we are called to embark upon.

But will we do it? Maybe if we are tempted…

The Purpose of Temptation

In certain religious theologies, temptation is perceived as a seductive lure towards sinful or risky behaviour. In some traditions, temptation is even attributed to the devil.

The English word temptation comes from the Latin from temptare which means to ‘handle, test, try’. Temptation has, for thousands of years, been held up as the prevailing paradigm for the evil inclination that is inherent in all humans. It is an inclination that we must sometimes discipline, ignore and even chastise. We shouldn’t do everything we feel tempted to, especially if we know it will lead to dire consequences.

There are two factors here that must be adequately considered–the knowledge of the consequence of the action as well as accepting the consequence of that temptation. Knowledge, however, can only come with experience. It’s a bit of a Catch-22.

The purpose of temptation, therefore, is to try. Temptation is a strong desire or drive to do something–ordinarily something you haven’t done before or have been told not to do.

The truth remains, however, that when we try something for the first time–even something as mundane as learning a new language, a new food, or learning to play a musical instrument–the temptation, or should I say the desire, must be there. If you’ve ever had a friend ask you to come along and join them, then you could even say that they are tempting you to do something you haven’t done before.

But will you do it? You might. Or you might not.

There are probably very low risks associated with studying a new language in a controlled classroom setting. On the other hand, the risks associated with moving to a country where you do not speak the language is much higher. Despite the variability of the risks associated with both decisions, it requires a willingness to embark upon the unknown.

Rahu is here to remind us to test and to try–especially things we have not done before. It could well end in disaster, but it could also allow you to grow. The alternative would be to stay where we are, do nothing and accept the status quo. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there will be no growth.

On the flip side, you could even try something that could end up leading you down the wrong path. A vice, a terrible habit, a gambling addiction or even a relationship with an individual who turns out not to be who you thought they were.

Once again, the truth is, if you never tried, you would never have known. And sometimes it is better not to know. At other times, however, it is worth taking a risk. Temptation is thus neutral. All it asks us to do is make a choice. It does not make a choice on our behalf. Only we can choose to do that. If we’ve consistently make the wrong choice, especially when faced with similar opportunities, we can and should stop to ask ourselves why.

Temptation can be a serious issue when its long-term consequences lead to a loss of job, home, health, livelihood, or even an important relationship. If you experience a strong desire to act in a way you know isn’t good for you in the long-run, you have succumbed to the unhealthy and destructive temptations of Rahu.

In either case, the truth is that once you do know the outcome–whether for better or for worse–you would have tried. You would have taken the risk. You might have incurred a loss, but even if you did, you probably did gain something in the process–even if it was short-lived.

You would have grown and gained valuable experience.

the trick with rahu

Is Rahu some sort of trickster, then? Is he there to tempt us? Is he there to liberate us? These are all ideological discussions that are highly contingent on one’s belief system and worldview.

Rahu is a rebel. As a cosmic force, he implores us to achieve something tangible in the world. This will require you to do something you have never done before. Rahu is not interested in the status quo for it inhibits the soul from achieving its aims in its earthly incarnation. Rahu can create chaos in your life. But what’s life without a little bit of chaos?

Rahu, as the Eclipse of the Sun, represents the latent life force that exists in every human being to project its desires, to create them and to live them out. If we choose not to fall into the arms of temptation, the Shadow will only grow stronger–for it will, in some form or another, seek to manifest in the world.

Perhaps the trick with Rahu is not to discipline it, to chastise it or to demonise it. Perhaps the trick with this marvellous interplay of light and shadow is to allow it to come into existence, as it reveals itself and its majesty into the world.

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