The Transits of Rahu and Ketu

by James Kelleher January 08, 2016

The Transits of Rahu and Ketu

Rahu In Leo and Ketu in Aquarius

January 9, 2016 - September 9, 2017
(Yes, I use the True Node)

What better way to celebrate the new year (written in January 2016) than to anticipate a change of signs by the planet that is not really a planet, the significator of radical changes, Rahu. For those of you who are saying Ra "who?", Rahu and Ketu are the north and south nodes of the moon. Technically, they are the points where the Moon's orbit intersects the plane of the ecliptic. These points become important at the time of eclipses and are related to how the Sun or the Moon is blotted out by a shadow. That is why Rahu and Ketu are called the chaya grahas, shadow planets.

Anyway, these two are obviously not really planets. They have no physical presence. For this reason, they signify a lack of clarity. They tend to shadow or obfuscate the things related to the house where they are placed in the natal chart, and the house in which they are transiting.

Rahu and Ketu spend about 18 months (on the average) in a sign. For the next 18 months they will be moving through the signs of Leo and Aquarius, respectively. Rather than making this an opus grande, and trying to cover both of them in one article, I will talk about Ketu next month. In this issue, I will talk about Rahu.

In mythology, Rahu was a demon who wanted to get the nectar of the gods so badly that he ended up getting his head cut off. The gods and the demons had been invited to a gathering where Vishnu, in the form of Mohini, a beautiful goddess, was giving out the nectar to only the gods. Rahu was desperate to get this nectar, which is the source of the god's immortality. So he dressed up like a god, and sat between the Sun and the Moon. When the nectar came around, Rahu took a sip and instantly became immortal. Just then, the Sun and the Moon saw through his disguise and turned him in. Vishnu immediately threw his discus and cut off Rahu's head.

Of course, he was already immortal, so it didn't kill him. As his head was toppling from his body, Rahu cursed the Sun and the Moon for revealing his duplicity. From then on, Rahu has floated through the sky and, whenever he comes close enough to the sun or the Moon, he gobbles them up. Naturally, having no body, they come out his neck immediately, which is how they explained eclipses in ancient times.

Following its mythological qualities, Rahu is considered to be the planet of sudden interruptions and unexpected events. It is also considered to be an outcast. So it represents all things foreign, unconventional and outside the box. It is also the planet of things that are new, advanced, and cutting edge. It represents astrology, and it is also a planet of alternative healing modalities.

Rahu is also a planet of revolutionary change. For example, in the chart of the United States, the Moon is in a nakshatra ruled by Rahu, which is why the US began with a revolutionary war. At the moment, the USA is now beginning it's third Rahu period. The first was characterized by the Revolutionary war and it's aftermath, the second Rahu period took place during the period from 1895 - 1913, which produced a technological revolution, and the third began in September of 2015. I will be talking at length about this period during my annual presentation at East West Books Store, in Mountain View California, on January 13, 2017..

So when Rahu transits through a sign or a house in a person's horoscope, it brings change and revolution to the things represented by that sign or house. In Leo, and the nakshatras within that sign, Rahu will bring about it's revolutionary influence on the areas of self expression, rulers, ancient traditions, spirituality, and wealth. Leo is Ruled by the Sun, and since Rahu made no bones about his dislike for the Sun, this transit is also likely to increase tension and difficulties world wide. 

During the first 8 months of this transit, Rahu was conjoining Jupiter, putting a good deal of pressure on Jupiter as well as creating Guru Chandala yoga. This is a combination associated with outcasts, heretics and religious fanaticism. This created an increase in the pressure placed on ISIS by western countries, resulting in increased conflict. It also produced financial fluctuations.

On the personal level, Rahu's influence over the next 18 months will depend on what house it is transiting. Normally there is an increased desire to make changes to the things represented by that house. This can be a positive thing, if you are paying attention to your life and not simply sleepwalking. Rahu can motivate you to blow up the stuck and stodgy aspects of the area of life that it is touching, and create a new and fresh condition. It is the best planet for blasting us out of inertia.

On the other hand, Rahu is also a planet of urgency. In the story, Rahu was a guy who wanted the nectar of the gods so badly that he ended up getting his head cut off. He got what he wanted, but it came at a price. That price was the loss of his head. In the real world, when Rahu transits a house, sometimes the person becomes so urgent about achieving the things represented by that house, that he sometimes acts rashly, resulting in unwanted side effects. Like the guy who goes to buy a car, and becomes obsessed with the first shiny, red, convertible that he sees. Without shopping around, he buys it on the spot. A week later, he sees the same car advertised at half the price. He got what he wanted, but his sense of urgency became the cause of mental distress.

So when Rahu transits through a house in your horoscope, you are being challenged to bring constructive and intelligent revolution and change to the area of life represented by that house. You are being asked to step outside the box, outside of the status quo, and reinvent that area. But you are also being challenged to practice awareness and to not act only on a sense of urgency. When you feel urgent or obsessed, the best idea is to step back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if the idea you are intending to act upon, is actually as urgent as you think. In this respect, I recommend a rule that I call "Rahu's Rule of Three". If a strong desire to take some action, related to one of the significations of the house in which Rahu is transiting, comes up, then take a breath, back off, and ask yourself if this is actually something that will lead you in a positive direction. Then wait and see if it comes back a few days later. If so, and if it seems like a good idea, then back off again and continue to patiently think about the idea for a while. If it comes back a third time and you still think the action will serve you, then go for it.

To learn everything you ever wanted to know about Rahu and Ketu, download Unbelievably Wonderful Rahu and Ketu in the classes section of the website. This is a two hour presentation that can be very helpful for understanding these two shadow planets, and for facilitating the process of getting the most out of the upcoming Rahu and Ketu transits.

The following is a description of how Rahu in Leo and Ketu in Aquarius might affect you from January 9, 2016 - September 9, 2017. You can read the predictions given for your sun sign, but be sure to check the birth dates assigned to each Sun sign carefully, since we use a different Zodiac in Vedic astrology. If you happen to know your Moon Sign, Lagna, or Arudha Lagna, you can also read the results given for those signs as well.

For all of the predictions given below, I am giving a description of the various areas of life that may be affected by Rahu's transit. In whatever area of life Rahu is affecting, it is important to watch your sense of urgency or the level of your attraction to that area. Rahu's transit could make you intensely interested and passionate about something, but it can also bring imbalance and obsessive involvement.

Sometimes Rahu brings a sense of urgency in the form of worry, but normally the worries are not totally based in reality. So whether you experience the area of life that Rahu is affecting in a positive way or a negative way, the key is to take a step back and try to see how your own attachment and strong desire is causing a lack of balance. Also ask yourself, how can I step outside of the box and constructively change and revolutionize this area of my life. And if that sounds like a recipe for a new year's resolution, then go for it!


Rahu in Leo
Vedic Sun Signs

Apr 14 - May 14 (Aries) This period can promote romantic interests, involvement with children, creativity, and education. You might find yourself quite interested or even a little obsessed with any or all of these areas.

May 15 - Jun 14 (Taurus). During this period you might feel a strong desire to change or simply remodel your residence. Avoid making big changes on impulse out of a sense of urgency.

Jun 15 - Jul 15 (Gemini) You might feel a strong desire to communicate, study, do research, or simply gather information on the internet. This period can also stimulate a good deal of short journeys and errands.

Jul 16 - Aug 16 (Cancer) Rahu may give you the impulse to spend money or make money. In either case, take it easy. Don't buy or spend on impulse. This is also a period to monitor any addictive tendencies and to make some positive changes in your diet.

Aug 17 - Sep 16 (Leo) During this period you could have a strong desire to express yourself. You might also feel the desire to reinvent yourself. This is a good time for putting an extra dose of ambitious energy into your career.

Sep 17 - Oct 16 (Virgo) Rahu is transiting through your 12th house, so it might stimulate an interest in foreign travel, or travel to exotic places. This transit also suggests restless sleep and strange dreams. Doing things that calm the mind, like meditation, can be quite helpful.

Oct 17 - Nov 15 (Libra) During its transit of Leo, Rahu is pointing to the house of friendship. This might suggest a greater interest in connecting with friends, groups, teams or organizations. This is a good period for accomplishing goals, but it is important to also find time to relax and smell the flowers.

Nov 16 - Dec 15 (Scorpio) Rahu is transiting your career house, so this period favors accomplishments at work and may get you to work at a hundred and ten percent. This is also a good time for making constructive changes in your career, by either redefining it from within, or by completely changing it.

Dec 16 - Jan 13 (Sagittarius) During this period you might become attracted to esoteric or alternative spiritual concepts. You might also feel the urge to travel to a foreign country or an exotic place.

Jan 14 - Feb 12 (Capricorn). This period will bring about a number of changes. It is a time of transformation and metamorphosis. Change is good, but it is also good to not make changes purely out of a sense of urgency or restlessness. So take your time and pay attention to your intuition.

Feb 13 - Mar 13 (Aquarius). This period focuses on relationships and partnerships. You might feel a strong desire to get into a relationship at this time, but in this respect, it is always good to take your time, especially if you feel very strongly attracted to someone. Sometimes this transit produces an infatuation that doesn't always pan out. Other times, it produces a relationships with someone foreign or unconventional. If you are already in a relationship, this is a period to revolutionize it.

Mar 14 - Apr 13 (Pisces) During this period you might find yourself attracted to alternative healing modalities. So the best idea is to do it pro-actively, in advance, as preventative medicine.


Ketu and Rahu are counterparts. They are the South and North nodes of the Moon, respectively. Mythologically, you might remember that Rahu was a demon who tried to get the amrita, the nectar that makes the gods immortal. He dressed up like a god and sat down between the Sun and the Moon while the nectar was being doled out by Vishnu. When the nectar came around, he took a sip. Unfortunately for him, the Sun and the Moon saw through his disguise and turned him in. Vishnu threw his discus and cut off Rahu's head. The head without the body became Rahu, and the body without the head became Ketu.

Astronomically, Rahu and Ketu are points of intersection where the orbit of the Moon around the earth intersects with the plane of the ecliptic. They are involved in creating the shadows that produce eclipses.

All of this symbolism, based both on mythology and astronomy, can help to understand these two shadow planets. For example, in the case of Ketu, his story is about not having a head. So Ketu can't see where he is going. That is why in a Ketu period, or when Ketu is transiting through a particular house, we sometimes feel like we don't know where we are headed with that domain of life.

Having no head is also symbolic of dropping the mind and experiencing life intuitively, moment to moment. So Ketu is the planet of moksha or spiritual freedom. Whatever area of life Ketu is affecting will be an area where we are being challenged to drop our planning and controlling and just take things as they come.

In this respect, Ketu is like a hitchhiker. Hitchhikers are good at taking the ride that comes their way, and going with the flow. A good hitchhiker, one that understands the rules of hitchhiking, doesn't try to control his experience. He sticks out his thumb, and then takes whatever ride is offered. If it doesn't take him to his exact destination, he doesn't worry. He just takes the ride as far as it goes and then sticks out his thumb again and gets another ride. He's free, and that freedom comes along with infinite possibilities for new experiences.

There are two types of hitchhikers. First, there is the hitchhiker who comes to the road with a strict agenda. He thinks, "I need to be picked up no later than 10 a.m., and delivered to my desired destination by 11:45 am. I should be picked up in a luxury car, by an intelligent, articulate, good looking person, who doesn't smell funny." I call this type of hitchhiker "The Unhappy Hitchhiker". Needless to say, he doesn't understand the rules of hitchhiking, and he is setting himself up for disappointment.

On the other hand, there is "The Happy Hitchhiker". He begins his journey with no expectation. He only knows his general destination, and is willing to take any ride that goes in that general direction. He is flexible and grateful for any ride that is offered. He doesn't mind discomfort. He doesn't worry about not getting to ride in a BMW or a Lexus. He's happy to ride in the back of a pickup if necessary. And if many cars pass him by, he is happy to wait. After all, it's a nice day, the birds are chirping. The Sun is out. He enjoys every moment. He is the embodiment of Ketu.

In 1981 I met a famous Spiritual Teacher in Bombay. His name was Nisarga Datta. He was a teacher of what is called Non Dualism. Anyway, Nisarga Datta once put it this way. "In the West (and I would argue all other directions as well!) they have it backwards. Everyone wants what they don't have. Nobody wants what they do have. That's backwards. Instead, you should want what you have and not want what you don't have. You will be happy!"

In other words, be in the moment and love what is. This is Ketu's message and Ketu's challenge. As it passes the sign of Aquarius, you will be challenged to let go of attachments and expectations in the area of the life ruled by the house signified by Aquarius in your chart. This can be either a liberating experience that gives you the sense of freedom and infinite new possibilities, or it can be a disappointing experience. It all depends on whether you are a happy or an unhappy hitchhiker.

The following is a description of what you might expect in the period from 1/9/2016 - 9/9/2017, during Ketu's transit of Aquarius. It is based on the house in which Ketu is transiting, relative to your Sun Sign. Please be sure to check the birth dates carefully, because, as you know, in Vedic astrology we use a different zodiac. If you happen to know your Lagna (rising sign) or your Moon sign, you can read the predictions given for those signs as well.


Ketu in Aquarius

April 13- May 13 (Aries) During this period you might be attracted to friends or groups that are more spiritually inclined. You might feel disappointed with friends who behave in less than ideal ways, and feel that you want to connect to your community or circle of friends on a more idealistic level. This could also be a period of "hitchhiking" with respect to your future goals. Stay open. Try something new or something out of your comfort zone.

May 14 - June 13 (Taurus) This period may produce a desire to let go of mundane work in order to do something that you feel more connected to on an intuitive or inspirational level. On the negative side, you might feel some dissatisfaction with your job or your boss. On the other hand, this is the perfect opportunity to "hitchhike" with regards to your work. This period favors freelancing, trying new projects, and using your creative ability. This is also a good time for taking some time off from work.

June 14 - July 15 (Gemini) This is a great period for spiritual progress. It favors involvement with spiritual traditions that emphasize detachment, like Buddhism. This is also a great period to travel, especially to exotic places.

July 16 - August 15 (Cancer) During this period you might feel some uncertainty regarding joint finances, the partners finances, or finances that come from sources other than a paycheck. On the other hand, this period is good for getting involved in alternative therapeutic modalities like yoga, Thai Chi or body work.

August 16 - September 15 (Leo) Ketu's transit in Aquarius could produce a sense of detachment in relationship. You might feel like you need time to yourself. This can be positive or negative depending on how well you can embrace "the Happy Hitchhiker. On the positive level, it can give you a day at a time approach to relationships, marriage or partnerships. If you seek certainty or have a strong set of expectations in the area of relationship, on the other hand, this period could produce disappointment or make you feel dissatisfied with one or more people in your life. The key here is to love what is. Accept your partners or friends as they are, and let go of the need to make them adhere to fussy expectations and rules.
On the positive side, this can be a great period for spiritualizing relationships and feeling an unbelievable sense of happiness as you extend compassion and unconditional love towards the people in your life.

September 16 - October 15 (Virgo) This is a good time to be attentive to your health by utilizing alternative healing modalities like herbs, oriental medicine, energy work, yoga and intuitive healing. If you are employed, you might feel something is lacking in your job or feel the desire to take some time off.

October 16 -November 14 (Libra) - During this period you might feel a sense of uncertainty regarding children or education. On the other hand this is a good time for creative projects and it is also a good time for studying anything related to healing.

November 15 - December 14 (Scorpio) This period is a good time for doing something to improve the ambience of your home. For example, you might consider doing Feng Sui or Vastu, in order to create a better flow of energy. On the other hand, it could also be a time when you are feeling dissatisfied with where you live, and this could lead to a desire to move.

December 15 - January 12 (Sagittarius) During this period you might find your intuition improving. Ketu, the planet of intuition, is moving through the house of communication, making it more likely that you could unconsciously say or write things that just seem to work out for the best. On the other hand, this could also be a time when you are feeling a bit dissatisfied in the area of communications. Sometimes this transit can bring the tendency to occasionally avoid difficult conversations . But this is a great time to read or study any subjects related to spirituality or healing.

January 13 - February 11 (Capricorn) Ketu is transiting your house of money, speech, and food. Regarding money, this is a time when you might feel some sense of uncertainty about where you are headed. Try to take things a day at a time financially. Uncertainty is not necessarily a negative thing. It is good when you are freelancing, for example. Regarding food, this is a time when you might have a desire to refine your diet, and let go of foods that aren't good for you.  For speech, try speaking less. As an experiment, try taking a weekend in silence. It's is amazing how much energy we spend distracting ourselves with talking. Go on a talking fast for a few days!

February 12 - March 13 (Aquarius) This is a good time for spiritual development. You might feel like you need more time to yourself. Take some time off. Learn to meditate. Take a trip. Go on a retreat. Don't let yourself feel unappreciated or invisible. Let go of the need for recognition by embracing blissful anonymity.

March 14 - April 12 (Pisces) This is a great period for travel, especially to exotic places or foreign countries. This is also a good time for learning to meditate if you don't already know how, or for increasing your meditation or yoga practice if you're are already involved in that sort of thing.

James Kelleher
James Kelleher


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