The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 290, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Ronnie Gale Dreyer
Episode originally released on February 5, 2021
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released December 31, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Saturday, January 23, 2021, starting at 1:09 PM in Denver, Colorado. And I think this is going to be something like the 290th episode of the show, but I’m not sure yet.
So I’m going to be talking today with astrologer Ronnie Gale Dreyer, and we’re going to be looking at the early history of the North and South Node of the Moon—both in Western as well as in Indian astrology—over the course of the past 2,000 years. So hey, Ronnie, thank you for joining me today.
RONNIE GALE DREYER: Oh, it’s great to be here. It’s been a long time in coming.
CB: Yeah, I think we’ve been workshoping this episode for like a year now, off and on, and writing different outlines and things like that, and doing different historical research about the origins of the nodes in Indian astrology and in Western astrology. But we’re finally doing it, and I think this is going to be a good discussion, so let’s jump into it. First, I wanted to introduce you to my audience.
So you’re the author of the 1997 book, Vedic Astrology: A Guide to the Fundamentals of Jyotish, which is an intro book on Indian astrology that I know a lot of people got their start with when it comes to Indian astrology. And that’s something that you specialize in, Indian astrology, in addition to having a background in Western astrology at the same time, right?
RGD: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yeah, the very first incarnation of that book was called Indian Astrology. I believe it was called A Western Approach to the Ancient Art—I don’t even remember anymore my exact subtitle—and then the book got revised and reissued.
RGD: And I had already written a book on Venus which is a Western book about the goddess, and I’m trying to revise that one too. But yeah, the Vedic Astrology book was one of the early ones along with James Braha, David Frawley, a whole bunch of us who did beginning texts a while ago.
CB: Right. So you were one of the first waves of practitioners of modern Western astrology that had been studying Western astrology for a few decades, but then you got into studying Indian astrology. And that was like a whole movement that really started in, what? Like the 1980s or ‘90s?
RGD: Well, earlier than that. I mean, there had been a few people who had written some books. Robert DeLuce wrote the first very big book called Constellational Astrology—I don’t know if you can still get it—and he wrote that in I believe the late ‘60s, but in the ‘70s was the big wave when people started going to India.
They went to India to learn music, went to ashrams. Some people just went because you could actually get on a bus, as I did—I mean, this is all in the introduction to my book—but you could get on a bus. I was living in Holland and Greece. I went to Greece, and then I took a bus. It was called the ‘Magic Bus’, and it went all the way to India. It went through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and through India; you could do it in those days.
And many of us—James Braha—had the same experience: David Frawley, myself, Nalini. There were a whole bunch of people and we just learned astrology. We found a teacher and did it, and so, that was the mid-’70s. And then we came back, a lot of us, and then other people went in the early ‘80s. James Braha’s book was published in 1986, and my first book was published in 1990, the Indian Astrology book, as was David Frawley’s.
CB: Okay. And then not long after, I think a few years later, the American Council of Vedic Astrology was formed. So you guys started forming some actual organizations for the practice of Indian astrology in the US.
RGD: Mm-hmm. Yeah, they had Dennis Harness and David Frawley and somebody else named Steven Quong. They had their very first conference in 1992, in San Rafael. And Dennis, myself, and James Braha, we all had studied Western astrology, and we met in DC at UAC in 1992, and a lot of us were invited to go to this conference.
And suddenly we all met people who, like ourselves, were Westerners who had studied in India, and also people who studied here because a lot of the spiritual movements, like the TM movement, Maharishi brought a lot of astrology there and encouraged people to learn astrology.
CB: That’s Transcendental Meditation?
RGD: Right, Transcendental Meditation, TM.
RGD: And also, Yogananda’s group, they also do it and still do it. A lot of people practiced astrology and we learned about all of these other people. I mean, suddenly I met all these people. I had no idea that there was a huge bunch of people who were practicing Indian astrology—because I was in New York—except for Indians who had been doing it for many, many years, so it was great. And then that kind of snowballed and developed over many years.
CB: Yeah, that 1992 lineup I always thought was striking. I always put it in my chronologies when I talk about the significance of the Uranus-Neptune conjunction that was happening around that time, and how that United Astrology Conference in 1992 was also when Project Hindsight started getting going.
And so, the whole revival of traditional astrology really exploded not long after that time traditional Western astrology, and it was interesting that there was this movement to create the organization or some organization and different things surrounding the practice of Indian astrology at the same time. So it was kind of like a parallel development that was happening in tandem.
RGD: Well, the interesting thing was a lot of this happened at the ‘92 UAC in DC.
RGD: Because that was I believe when Robert Schmidt and Zoller and Hand really were talking about ‘let’s do something’. And then, of course, there was no Indian astrology track at UAC. I mean, I was the coordinator of the first one in ‘95, but we were all there meeting each other. And then Hindsight, the conclave that I went to in ‘95, the first conclave was ‘94, and then ‘95 was the second one.
And that was very focused on Indian astrology and classical Western—KN Rao was at that conclave—and there was a whole meeting of the two traditions because they have so much in common. I mean, they’ve transmitted so much knowledge between them. And we all discovered that classical Western astrology or Hellenistic astrology had more in common with Indian astrology than modern Western astrology had in common with classical Western.
So there were so many things—it was wonderful, that conclave actually. I met Demetra there who is one of my close friends, as you know, Demetra George. Susie Cox was there. The Negus’ were there. I mean, everybody was at that conclave—it was great. Yeah, it was wonderful.
CB: Yeah, I mean, all of that sounds like a really amazing time just in terms of having all those threads of ancient astrology really come pouring out in different ways during that time frame, so that’s relevant to what we’re talking about today.
So just to complete part of your story, not to give your entire biography, but you went back to school and you’ve been studying Sanskrit. And some of the things that you’ve been working on over the past decade are translating some texts from Sanskrit into English, some ancient Indian texts. And one of them that you’ve been working on is women’s birth chart astrology in ancient India, right?
RGD: That was my master’s thesis. So I went back to school in 2008. And again, Demetra George was one of my inspirations because she had gone back to school to get a master’s degree as well in classics.
RGD: And she gave me some wonderful hints about how to actually do that: go back to school, what to do, what not to do.
CB: A lot of astrologers did that in the past couple of decades. You guys went back to college and got advanced degrees and studied ancient languages and stuff in order to further your work in astrology.
RGD: Yeah. I mean, mostly I had wanted to go back to school for a long time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And then suddenly I realized that Columbia was here and that was a school that taught Sanskrit; not every school in the country does. And when I went back to school, I had to start at the very beginning and then I applied for a master’s degree.
And my thesis was translating and doing commentary on five chapters in the text that now I’m involved with doing some translating work. For short, I’ll call it ‘VYJ’, but it’s called Vridha Yavana Jataka, and it’s never been translated into English. And the five chapters I did were on women’s astrology.
Since then I’ve been working with a few other scholars. Of course, I’m not even near them, but I think they need me more for the astrology, and they are really much better in the Sanskrit. But the translation sometimes, as you know with classical works, you have to find the right words to kind of give you the idea of what the ancients were trying to convey. And I kind of just wanted to do that. I wanted to go back to school to learn it because some of the Indian translations are awful. So I really wanted to kind of for myself see some of it.
CB: What’s the dating on that text? And what’s the focus of those chapters?
RGD: So the Vridha Yavana Jataka, David Pingree dated the Yavana Jataka, which is the astrology of the Greeks, and he dated it to about 269-70. He thought it was also first done in about 149 CE. And then Sphujidhvaja took it and put it into meter. A few other scholars now are doubting whether there was that original text that came from Alexandria because it disappeared. But the idea that Greek astrology was transmitted and that is when horoscopic astrology started was definitely probably around the 3rd and 4th centuries.
Vridha Yavana Jataka Pingree dated as between 320 and 325 CE, but there are a lot of people who think that the Vridha Yavana Jataka was first. So people are trying to ‘redate’, but right now that’s kind of the approximate dating of it. And it’s much larger than the Yavana Jataka. It’s like 71 chapters, so it’s a big effort to translate.
CB: In the Greek tradition, they will sometimes the delineations are given by default for men, and then occasionally they’ll say, “However, in the charts of women, you have to look at it like this.” Or in some instances where there’s not a difference, they’ll just say you apply the same techniques, just the same way in the charts of women. So what’s different about those chapters that you worked on that make them specifically for women?
RGD: Those chapters specifically and every text that came after that—some of the classical texts that most people who study Indian astrology are familiar with—will have a chapter called Stri Jataka. Jataka is ‘astrology’ and Stri is the word for ‘feminine’ or ‘women’.
There were five chapters, the first one has to do with the Ascendants: if you have the Ascendant in this sign, it’s good or bad. And of course the relationship to women is that the fire and air signs are bad, the earth and water signs are good. And then the next chapter is the Moon in each of the signs. The third chapter in this women’s series is about the nakshatras, and then the fourth one are the planets in the houses, and the fifth one is the raja yogas, which are combinations for royalty or wealth. So most of it is you can be a pauper or you can be very low caste, and if you have this raja yoga, you’ll still marry a man.
And then there’s the chapter in the text for nakshatras for men; you don’t have that in the later texts. So in the later texts, you’ll have one chapter on nakshatras, one chapter on the Moon in the houses. But then you do have, as in the Hellenistic tradition, a chapter on women’s astrology that says the same thing, that if you don’t apply this to the astrology in the book, then you can apply it to the woman; otherwise, default it to what is given in the text. So if it’s the Moon through the houses, you can apply it to your chart as well.
But there’s a lot of very different things as you go on. The women’s astrology is very different from the five chapters that I translated, they’re about many different things. A lot of them are about menstrual cycles—what is the chart of your first menstruation, what does that say about womanhood and how you’re going to marry, and if you’re widowed—so it’s a little bit of a different tradition than what I’ve translated.
And I can’t really find anything preceding that—which I’m trying to actually—that it came from. There are Egyptian texts, Demotic texts, that people are now translating. There’s a huge project in Germany—a lot of papyri are being translated—and they’re finding there that there’s things about women’s astrology, so it might be interesting to see if it came from Demotic texts.
CB: So there were specific technical things that they were doing differently when interpreting women’s charts. And one of the questions I had—maybe you know the answer, maybe you don’t—but in the Western tradition there’s references to women seeing astrologers as clients in the 1st century, and then Hypatia in the 5th century is the first woman that we know of by name that probably had some training in astrology, but we’re not really sure if she was an astrologer necessarily; her father was a famous astronomer.
And then it’s not until the 9th century, Kenneth Johnson wrote that paper 10 years ago in the NCGR journal about Buran of Baghdad being one of the first women that we know of who had training in astrology, and she was associated with a famous prediction where she supposedly saved the king at the time from an assassination attempt using astrological means, which is kind of a legendary story; but she’s the first woman that we know of by name that we can name as an astrologer. Do you know in the Indian tradition if there’s any comparable figures, or at what point we start seeing women who are practitioners of astrology in any general sense or specific sense?
RGD: That’s a fascinating question because I have no idea. I mean, these texts that were written, astrology for women, we presume that they’re written for men: fathers who want to marry off their daughters, men who want to find wives. They’re not necessarily written for women, even though there were of course a lot of brahmin women who were very well-read and educated. But there’s not to my knowledge any texts that were written by women or really addressed to women, even though there is astrology for women.
And it’s interesting as you move into the modern era, I knew so many astrologers from India over the years who told me about the fact that they learned from their mothers, and their mothers were brilliant astrologers but they did not do it for a living. The beauty about India is that it’s an unbroken tradition, so you get families that are giving their knowledge to their children and their grandchildren and all that.
And a lot of the children are taking over—or they used to anyway, you take over your father’s profession. And they have libraries full of books and notes and charts; I mean, amazing things that you’ll never find in an academic library. And a lot of those men who ‘hung their shingles’, the people I learned from in India, it was the same thing. They’re sons are going to take over the practice, but their wives were brilliant astrologers, and some of them were brilliant Sanskritists.
In fact, I went to a lecture a few years ago where a woman, a professor, was doing a survey in India and found that so many—not just men, but now of course a lot of women are highly-educated and are doctors and IT people—are all choosing that profession, but the people who are choosing to study humanities and languages are all women because they’re not thinking necessarily of material and being successful in the corporate world or the material world.
So it’s fascinating that there are a lot of women—I’m assuming even back in the first millennium, second millennium—who did study astrology; but by name, I don’t know, I don’t know. It would be fascinating to find them.
CB: Yeah. I mean, especially in traditions, I always think back to the Mesopotamian period where you have families of astrologers, and family lineages of people handing it down from generation to generation and it staying within families partially as an oral tradition and maybe partially as a written tradition. There must have been women or daughters who learned astrology as part of that from their fathers or what have you as part of that tradition, even if we don’t have names or texts that survive from them.
But certainly in the modern period, like the 20th century, there’s become famous women who are astrologers from India, like Gayatri Devi Vasudev, the daughter of BV Raman, who’s taken over his editorship of Modern Astrology Magazine, right.
RGD: Mm-hmm. Well, now there are two magazines. One son took over that magazine and then Gayatri I think created another, so they inherited BV Raman’s libraries and knowledge of course. And Gayatri really was the one who practiced a lot and was kind of her father’s apprentice. She’s a brilliant astrologer, and she’s the one who they will call up to time events.
Politicians and inaugurations, prime ministers, they all use astrology to time their events, or they try to anyway, and she’s the one they’ll call because she was affiliated with BV Raman. For those who don’t know, I mean, he was the one who modernized and made popular Indian astrology. He had a magazine. He wrote a lot of books. So you say ‘BV Raman’ and everybody knows who he was.
CB: Okay. Yeah, I think I read one of her books on horary or on prasna. It was one of the ones that Dennis recommended that was very good when I was studying Indian astrology at Kepler. All right, so we’re getting way off track. That was a really interesting discussion that I wanted to have, but let’s get to our primary discussion and let me set up the premise.
So the premise of this discussion about the nodes today is that I realized many years ago that some of the modern meanings of the nodes are actually pretty recent. And this is something I discussed in Episode 127 with Adam Sommer where we got on this long digression about the nodes, in particular the idea that the South Node represents your past life in the birth chart, or that the North Node represents your future life in the birth chart. That’s become kind of ingrained in some schools of modern astrology over the past few decades, but if you look back further than the past three or four decades, you don’t see that as much.
And if you go past the earliest reference I can find to that, the guy that seems to have introduced it as far as I can tell was Dane Rudhyar in his 1936 book, The Astrology of Personality, and then there’s another really crucial book by Martin Schulman on the nodes from the 1970s that takes the concept further.
And then some astrologers like Steven Forrest, for example, told me that he was really influenced by Schulman’s book, taking that further with the Evolutionary Astrology schools where they really focus on the nodes having to do with past and future lives. But if you go back further than that in the Western tradition, I realized that that concept just completely disappears, indicating that it’s more recent.
And one of the issues is that most modern astrologers just assume that because the ideas of karma and reincarnation exist in the Indian tradition, they assume that Indian astrologers must have associated past lives with the South Node as well. But in fact, if you look at the Indian tradition prior to the past few decades that concept is also completely absent from my understanding as well, so it’s not something that came from the Indian tradition.
So that being the case, then I wanted to talk about with you today what the nodes did indicate prior to modern times, both in the Western tradition as well as in the Indian astrological tradition, and talk about where some of the ancient or traditional meanings of the nodes came from. So that’s kind of the premise of the discussion.
Do you agree for the most part with how I set it up? For example, is it a true statement, in having studied the Indian tradition, that they didn’t prior to modern times tend to associate the nodes with past lives?
RGD: So the first thing I have to say is that even though we’re talking about the Indian tradition, there are a lot of different lineages. So this is one of the mistakes that people do make. I mean, I’m not saying you made mistakes because I make that mistake all the time, but there are a lot of different lineages, and a lot of people use the lineage that they’re taught. So it’s a very guru-student tradition in India, and that’s really how you learn, you find a teacher.
There are texts of course, and a lot of the texts will talk about the whole chart as being a chart of reincarnation because karma and reincarnation, the whole idea of what’s called samsara is kind of vital to the thought process. And because of that, even in some of the classical texts—like Brihat Jataka and Vridha Yavana Jataka, VYJ—the first chapter says that the chart, the horoscope, is like a mirror. You look at it and it tells you where you came from, and now you are going to work things out.
There are some traditions, however, that do say that the South Node does represent your past, your past life, and Rahu, or the North Node, represents the karma you’re creating in this life, but they’re not negating the fact that the rest of the horoscope also has to do with past lives. So anything that you look at—the 5th house, the 9th house—those are all houses that tell you what you’ve inherited from another life because they are the houses of good fortune. The 9th house is the house of dharma and the 5th house is the house of things that you’ve gotten from another life.
But in the texts themselves, it doesn’t say particularly that Ketu is the past and Rahu is the future. Any planet in a certain position could indicate what your past is because it’s just something that the whole horoscope indicates, whatever it is.
CB: My understanding of Indian astrology is that the entire chart represents your karma and things that are carried over, inherited from past lives. But I just want to go back to something you just said because my understanding in reading actual translations of Indian texts at this point is that I’ve not seen that in Indian texts prior to modern times.
So there are some modern texts, for example, by Komilla Sutton, where it seems like they’re taking the Western notion of associating the nodes with past and future lives and starting to integrate that within the context of Indian astrology, but it’s not something that’s coming from the actual Indian tradition itself from anything that I’ve seen, like Parashara or the Yavana Jataka itself or anything like that. We should clarify that because I think what you’re saying might have blown up the premise of this discussion, so I want to clarify that before we move on.
RGD: No, what I’m saying is that in the texts themselves, the texts that we have that have been translated, there’s nothing in there. And in fact, some of the texts don’t even use Rahu-Ketu. That’s why I was saying to you that later on, they started using Rahu-Ketu in the horoscope. The early texts do not even use Rahu-Ketu in horoscopic astrology. So it took quite a few years, which we’ll get into.
What I was trying to say was that there are some lineages and some traditions that you’re not going to read in the book that teach from their gurus and from their teachers that the South Node does represent the past and the North Node the future. It’s not like a blanket thing that you’re not going to find anywhere, but they’re not in the texts.
I think that’s the thing that you have to kind of understand about the Indian tradition. You’re going to find different lineages that are not in books. And then if you see a teacher at a conference, he will say, let’s say, South Node can give you the past and the North Node the future, but you’re not necessarily going to read it in a book. Now that is going to be his tradition that maybe he learned from his teacher.
So I think that that’s the other thing with an oral tradition. There are a lot of things that are in the texts, but then there’s a lot of things that aren’t in the texts. I was not taught that the South Node is the past and the North Node is the future. That’s not something I was taught in India, and it wasn’t anything I found in the texts. All I’m saying is that there are some teachers—in fact, I’m bringing this up only because Komilla is actually having a conference this weekend, and I heard one of the Indian teachers talk about the nodes: the South Node being past karma and North Node being the future.
CB: Yeah, I think that’s something that’s coming from the Western tradition, though. And I don’t want to get stuck on that too much, but that’s basically the premise of this entire discussion. I’ve never met any Indian astrologer that was drawing on the older tradition that used that ‘past and future life’ premise that wasn’t getting that from the influence that they were taking from the modern Western tradition.
Because we just don’t see that prior to the 20th century, it comes out of nowhere, and it’s coming out of the Theosophists, for the most part, who picked up and then ran with this concept, starting with Rudhyar. But that’s pretty much the entire premise of this discussion, so I just want to make sure—I don’t know where we go with that.
RGD: No, I agree there in the texts, but my point is that when you take India, what you have to take into consideration is that there are a lot of things that you are not going to see in the libraries or the books. If you meet somebody or meet a teacher, he will tell you things and you will not have a clue where they came from; some of them come from Nadi texts that are not even translated. So that’s why Indian astrology is so complex because you get these families and these traditions.
So that’s my point, that if you’re talking about Theosophists, the Theosophists were based in India. I mean, that’s where it started, the whole Theosophy movement. So when things come into it, you don’t always know exactly where they’re coming from in terms of an actual year or an actual text. So our discussion is still completely valid—that’s my point—because most of us are learning from those texts that we’re getting.
But most of us in this day and age are not running to India anymore. I mean, that was way, way, way in the past, and you of course through the internet can meet many, many Indian astrologers now. So my point is that you’re going to hear a lot of things that people tell you, and you’re going to say, “Well, where is it coming from?” And they’re going to say to you, “Well, it’s coming from my mother,” or “It’s coming from my uncle,” or “It’s coming from the parampara,” which is the tradition. So I guess that was my point that I wanted to make.
But what we were discussing before has to do with the books that you will read from and that were the texts that were available to the general public. They will not tell you that one planet in particular has to do with your past life or one planet in particular will have to do with the future; it will be the entire chart. So that is true, that is true. I was just adding that on. I didn’t mean to confuse you or negate, because it doesn’t negate anything we’re saying at all.
CB: So we have to do a digression about interactions between Eastern and Western astrology and the continual sending back-and-forth of different doctrines rubbing off on each other that astrologers do periodically in the history of astrology. Anytime you put two astrologers in a room together, they’ll begin to talk and compare notes and compare and contrast techniques. And sometimes they’ll have overlaps and sometimes they’ll have areas of major disagreement, but through that interaction there’s often some sort of exchange that takes place.
And one of the crucial factors about the history and transmission of astrology is that astrologers are constantly trading techniques from each other and sending them back and forth from language to language and culture to culture over time. So one of the only ways that we can tell what was happening during specific eras and try to do chronologies of what techniques were used when is by looking at the textual evidence of what the astrologers are saying at different points about the techniques that they use and how they’re conceptualizing different things.
CB: So part of our discussion today is just going to be about going back and talking about the earliest ways that the astrologers are discussing the nodes and how that grew and developed and changed over time in both the Eastern and Western traditions, until we get to modern times where things become a little bit different.
RGD: Mm-hmm. I didn’t mean to throw you off. The reason I brought it up was only because this podcast goes out to so many people; and right now, there’s so much information that people are getting from the internet and from different teachers, some valid and some not valid. But many Indian teachers who are sitting in India or don’t have huge websites or YouTube channels or anything like that are practicing their astrology, and they will have their own tradition, as I said, from families and things like that. But when we are talking now about the whole idea of the texts and the textual tradition, that is still completely valid about the nodes and how we conceptualize them.
CB: Yeah. And for me, what’s important and one of the main things I wanted to do with this episode is clarify what the traditional Indian views were on the nodes, and I think applying ideas of past and future lives to those is not a traditional concept that was done prior to the past century. So honoring the Indian tradition for me was going to be part of looking back and seeing how they actually did talk about it in the textual tradition versus just taking some of those Western concepts that are being put on top of it for granted.
RGD: Mm-hmm. Well, if you want to go back to the nodes—as I was saying to you when we were talking about this over the last year—you really have two, what I call, interwoven threads. You have the nine planets, which are called navagrahas—of course Sun through Saturn—and then Rahu-Ketu; Rahu is the North Node, Ketu is the South Node. And these were honored or propitiated in order to wipe away any evil that the planets would bring, because they were these forces that—before they were used in horoscopic astrology—were looked at as the forces that had to be appeased.
And people were talking about Rahu as the ‘maker of eclipses’ because that the nodes are very, very, very close to the Sun and Moon when you have an eclipse. So the whole idea of Rahu as a demon, let’s say, was there from the Vedic times, from the time of the Vedas, but this was before horoscopic astrology. And so, Rahu became this demon, and once horoscopic astrology started to materialize in the early 3rd century/4th century what happened was they decided to appease them and then also have what’s called pujas to honor them, or rituals, and they became part of what’s called the navagraha mandala.
So there were nine planets and they were all in similar positions: the Sun was in the middle and the other eight were all around, each ruling a different direction, which you can find in temples now. Any Hindu temple you go to will have a room that has all these planets, and they’re going to be in the same exact positioning that they were then.
And before they became anthropomorphic deities in temples, they were represented with different shapes, different colors, different things that they put on these mandalas in order to appease the planets. This was way before they became affiliated with horoscopic astrology. In the earliest texts, in Yavana Jataka, which is a text you are very familiar with, from the 3rd century, there’s no mention of Rahu-Ketu at all. The nodes are not even in there.
CB: Right. So that’s a really important point. In the early history of Indian astrology, the nodes aren’t used as much as you would expect that they should be because they become so prominent later on, but they do eventually get integrated into the tradition in Indian astrology. And also, one of the things you were saying is that the mythology behind Rahu and Ketu was originally a separate mythology that wasn’t necessarily connected with nodes, but then it later came to be connected with the nodes.
RGD: Well, Rahu was the demon that formed eclipses, and the whole idea of how Rahu became Rahu is a very well-known myth called ‘The Churning of the Ocean’. The demons and the gods had to find the amrita, which is like ambrosia; it’s what you drank in order to become immortal. They had to get it out of the ocean, and they churned the ocean in order to get it.
And once it came out, the demon Rahu wanted to celebrate with the gods, but they didn’t want him to. So he kind of disguised himself and drank some of this amrita, which is what the gods drank to become immortal. And then what happened was Vishnu threw his discus and decapitated Rahu, so that’s how Rahu became known as the demon, the head. But the whole idea of the myth is that Rahu was able to come out during eclipses, that was the only time he could be seen; other than that, he was banned from the world.
But the idea of the nine grahas, which is what they call ‘planets’, was something that they used for propitiation purposes. Ketu, which is the South Node eventually, was a comet. The word ‘Ketu’ means ‘smoke’, ‘comet’, ‘formless’. So in fact, they had what’s called the navagraha, but they were not even—Rahu and Ketu—used in the horoscopes, so there’s nothing in Yavana Jataka. In Vriddha Yavana Jataka, the text from the 4th century, they’re mentioned once for directional purposes. And then in Brihat Jataka—which was a major, major text in the 6th century—from Varahamihira, who was a very well-known astrologer that everything kind of came from, he did not use them either in the horoscope.
So what’s fascinating and what people don’t realize is that even though they were used as part of this navagraha, and they were used as part of the mandala altars, they were not used in astrology, in horoscopic astrology. I believe in the Hellenistic period, there were some astrologers who used them, but I don’t think they were used that widely either. Were they?
CB: No. So that’s an interesting parallel where the nodes are not mentioned very frequently in the early Hellenistic texts. So there are some references that go back pretty early. One of the early birth charts from the 1st century BCE—although it may have not been cast until the 1st century CE—does contain one or both of the nodes. And then there are sporadic mentions of the nodes from Dorotheus in the 1st century CE onwards, but they don’t start to get used and they’re not fully integrated in this system in a major way until the time of Rhetorius, at the very end of the Hellenistic tradition, in the 6th or 7th century.
And with Rhetorius, it’s not really clear if he’s just articulating something that was already there earlier and he’s just making it more explicit, or if the tradition had changed by that point in the late Hellenistic tradition so that the nodes became more important and more prominent than they were earlier, which is often an issue that we have with Rhetorius.
But the two main trends that I’ve identified in terms of interpretations in the Hellenistic traditions when they are mentioned is one notion of the nodes being ominous and unsettling or disruptive due to being associated with eclipses, and I suspect with this notion of they’re being like this interruption in nature. Suddenly, when the Moon eclipses the Sun, it becomes dark out in the middle of the day, which seems like something that’s almost outside of the natural order.
So there’s that part of the negative tradition of the nodes, and then there’s a secondary tradition that shows up by the time of Rhetorius at least of the North Node having to do with increasing things and the South Node having to do with decreasing things because the nodes represent the point where the Moon’s latitude begins increasing and going upwards or decreasing and going downwards.
And then this leads to the later Medieval tradition of saying that the North Node is good with the benefics because it increases them and it’s bad with the malefics because it increases their natural tendency towards maleficence. And the South Node is good with the malefics because it decreases their natural tendency towards maleficence and it’s bad with the benefics because it decreases their natural tendency towards beneficence. And that then becomes some of the primary keywords for the nodes throughout the rest of the Medieval astrological tradition in the West.
RGD: And the same thing happened—go ahead, sorry.
CB: So it’s just interesting that the nodes aren’t mentioned very frequently in the early Hellenistic tradition. And so, it sort of makes sense that in parallel, in the early Indian tradition, the nodes similarly, as you were saying, are not mentioned very frequently in those three early texts from the 2nd century CE through the 6th century CE.
RGD: But they’re mentioned a lot in texts that have to do with what’s called Graha Shanti, which are planetary rites or appeasement ceremonies. And then once the temples started being built in, let’s say, the 4th century-5th century, all of the visual images of the nodes started to be produced on the lintels in the temples.
CB: Is it the nodes for sure that are being associated with Rahu and Ketu at that point? Or is it Rahu and Ketu as separate deities that are propitiated that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the nodes yet?
RGD: They’re separate—Rahu does. So Rahu is considered to be the ‘eclipse-former’, but Ketu is just considered to be a comet or smoke. Ketu has nothing to do with it, it’s really Rahu. So you get this whole idea of Rahu forming the eclipse later on. Later on, people will then add Ketu to that tradition, and they’ll say, “Oh, it’s Rahu and Ketu swallowing up the Sun and the Moon.” But initially, it’s only Rahu and he’s the demon whose head gets decapitated, and he then has two bodies.
But when you’re dealing with Ketu in the early tradition of Indian astrology, Ketu is not in horoscopic astrology, neither is Rahu, but they do get written about. First, Rahu becomes anthropomorphic and he is seated with the seven other planets in lintels in temples, in sculptures, and then towards the end of the 6th century, Ketu starts to get added to it.
But Varahamihira, who wrote Brihat Jataka, which is considered to be one of the classics in Indian astrology and natal astrology also wrote what’s called Brihat Samita, which is the compendium; Samita is ‘a compendium’. And in that, in nine chapters, he talks about the transits of these planets and what they’re doing. And in the chapter on Rahu, he talks a lot about eclipses and what eclipses do when they’re in each nakshatra, when they’re in the signs, how it works for the different areas of India.
And at the same time because he was also a mathematician and astronomer and a religious person—and this was always the conflict—he talks in this chapter about the fact that, “People say that Rahu caused eclipses, but we all know that’s not really true,” and he sets forth the mathematics of eclipses. But then he also says, “But we have to propitiate Rahu; we have to still honor him and propitiate him so he doesn’t damage us,” so that is very much part of the tradition.
And then in the chapter on Ketu, it’s all about comets because Ketu is a comet. So it’s all about the fact that there are hundreds of comets, some people say thousands of comets. And comets can refer really to meteors, to anything in the sky that is not a planet. So that’s kind of like the whole idea of formlessness.
So Ketu and Rahu were very much part of the tradition and were drawn and images were set forth. And Rahu, if you look at images, you have in Yavana Jataka, for instance, in the very beginning, Pingree put a picture on the first page of a lintel in a temple, and it’s the eight grahas. And if you look at that, in fact, that is in Worchester, Massachusetts in the art museum, and it has the seven planets plus Rahu, and what you’ll notice there is that Rahu has this huge head.
So all the planets are kind of looking the same, and then at the very end, Rahu is pictured with this humongous head. And that’s kind of how he always became portrayed; he had this huge head. And then later on when they added Ketu, the bottom of Ketu was serpentine. That was the imagery of the eclipse, it was serpentine; that’s how it looked.
But you didn’t get the astrology of the eclipses—I mean, of the nodes. In fact, what you’re saying in terms of how Rhetorius described them, that’s very much how they were described in texts that started to appear, I would think, 7th-8th century, when you had Parashara. Parashara’s text was the first one that really had the nodes mentioned in it as planets in houses and planets with signs, and also with the dashas.
The early dashas didn’t have Rahu in it or Ketu. That wasn’t Vimshottari. Vimshottari is only one dasha system. Until you could bring the nodes into your astrology, you couldn’t have Vimshottari dasha because Vimshottari dasha is based on nine planetary periods. Before that, you had dasha periods like you had the planetary lords in Hellenistic astrology, but you didn’t have Rahu and Ketu in it. You had the five planets and then you had an Ascendant dasha also; you had eight dashas.
CB: So Parashara is the point where the nodes get firmly integrated into the Indian tradition, and they at that point sort of get elevated almost to the level of planets or as grahas, where you have the seven traditional visible planetary bodies and then you have Rahu, the North Node, and Ketu, the South Node.
RGD: Right. The thing is with Parashara, I know Parashara is always such a controversial topic.
CB: Yeah, what’s the dating on Parashara?
RGD: Yeah, that’s the controversy.
CB: A can of worms? Okay.
RGD: Well, the controversy really is that…
CB: When did Pingree date Parashara?
RGD: Well, in his book, Jyotihsastra, they were in two parts. One he said was probably between 600 and 750, and then he thought the other section was by about 800. The reason it’s controversial is if you look at Pingree’s text, you will see that he describes the chapters; he tells you all the chapters of the manuscript that he has of Parashara. But if you look at the modern-day texts of Parashara, there are like twenty more chapters in it. So over the years, the chapters have been added to, so we don’t always know which ones came in what era.
And a lot of people talk about Parashara as one of their teachers, so he would have been prior to the 6th century. So it might not even be the same person. Again, it could be the lineage, so you see the name repeated. So it’s not necessarily that the person who produced these texts in the 7th century was the same Parashara that Varahamihira and other astrologers mentioned as having produced material, so a lot of it is orally-transmitted. So the point is that there is this text, about 7th-8th century, 600-750, and the nodes are mentioned in there and the Vimshottari dasha, also.
CB: One of the issues with Parashara is that it’s presented like some of the Hellenistic texts, where they’re presented as revealed wisdom to like a king or a sage or something like that from the gods. And Parashara is kind of presented in that way as well, isn’t it?
RGD: He’s presented as a teacher, but they don’t know exactly. They’re talking about Parashara as a teacher, but the text doesn’t appear till much later. So does it mean that all this knowledge that’s in the text was actually revealed but never written down? We don’t really know. It doesn’t seem likely.
It doesn’t seem likely because all of the astrologers prior to the 7th century were not using Rahu-Ketu in their horoscopic texts.
RGD: So it doesn’t seem likely that you had Rahu-Ketu mentioned prior to that. That’s why I think that the dating of at least the text that has Rahu-Ketu in it was probably, as Pingree said, somewhere between 600 and 750 CE.
CB: I guess I was just mentioning that because sometimes people take the figure of Parashara literally and say that this was a sage that lived like 10,000 BCE or something like that. Instead, somebody like Pingree is looking at this as if a real person wrote this text sometime around the 8th century.
Okay, so Parashara is when the nodes get fully-integrated into Indian astrology. There’s delineations. It’s also in the Vimshottari dasha system. I think the nodes are actually given time-lord or dasha periods that last for—how long is a general period of Rahu or Ketu?
RGD: Well, the Rahu period lasts 18 years. And of course that’s interesting because you get the saros cycle of eclipses that are 18 years, and you get the nodes going through the zodiac at about 18.6 years, so that’s kind of an interesting number. And then the Ketu dasha is 7 years. That one’s more quick because that’s how Ketu started to become defined in that way.
The other interesting thing for those who really are following all this Indian astrology dating, another important text is called Saravali, and that was supposedly about 800 CE. Some people think it’s a little earlier, 8th century. There’s no mention of Rahu-Ketu in there either, so that becomes funny. But then later one, as I was saying to you, the text that I learned from, Phaladeepika, was probably around 13th-14th century, and then you get the Persian-Arabic influence there.
CB: Okay, let’s pause on that one just because I want to do a whole separate digression about the Persian influence and the ‘dragon’ thing.
CB: In Parashara, are you comfortable talking about things that we know from Parashara—at least as far as we know with the text that we have—about how it talks about the nodes, or what significations it gives or anything along those lines, in terms of how it’s conceptualizing them or what meanings it’s applying to them?
RGD: Yeah. Well, I mean, the nodes are always last. So before Parashara, the planets have different meanings. There are seven planets. They rule the seven senses—not seven senses, sorry. The five planets rule the five senses. And then you get different people in the cabinet, like the king, the queen, the prince; you get the seven planets. And then when you add the Rahu-Ketu, they usually come at the end, and they’re always talked about in terms of darkness, and the idea of Ketu as the comet, the formlessness, is sort of in a similar way.
They’re very malefic, Rahu and Ketu. Most of the time, they are not considered to do any good except if they are affiliated with good planets or good house rulerships—then they can form actually very positive yogas—but the idea that they are for the first time looked at in terms of the dashas is a very important thing. Now when you’re talking about time-lords, for instance, do you have the nodes in that whole system, or it’s not included?
CB: Do the nodes play a role in the time-lord systems? They might be mentioned offhand possibly in terms of what happens if a node gets hit in primary directions or something like that. But for the most part, no, I don’t think the nodes are used in a core role in any of the time-lord systems that I know of until you get to the Medieval period, after the nodes get integrated through the Persian tradition.
CB: I keep thinking that the Persian tradition is the source of where the nodes become really important. And we’ll get into that maybe in a second, once we finish talking a little bit more about Parashara.
RGD: Yeah, Parashara is a text. It’s funny, I kind of keep away from it a lot because of all the confusion that comes with it. But the important thing with Parashara is the fact that it does formulate the dashas. The nodes are considered to be dark; they’re not necessarily considered to be, like I said, benefic forces.
RGD: They rule things like underground and all the nasty things that you have in life.
CB: That seems common in Indian astrology that the nodes are treated as difficult and somewhat chaotic or unstable-type factors to some extent. Would you say that’s true in a general sense?
RGD: Yes, for sure. And they’re always considered to be at the very, very end when you’re talking about them. So in Parashara, for instance, you talk about the planets, you do it according to the days of the week: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, then you get Rahu-Ketu at the end because they were added on. And then when you talk about the malefics, Parashara says that Sun-Saturn-Mars, the waning Moon, they’re all malefics, and then Rahu-Ketu also become malefics.
CB: Okay, so Rahu and Ketu are grouped together with the malefics in Parashara.
RGD: Always, yeah.
CB: So that’s important. I mean, that’s important to know in terms of how they’re conceptualizing the nodes and their function in a chart.
RGD: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and they rule outcasts. When you’re looking at a chart in modern-day horoscopy, they take a lot from the whole idea of Rahu-Ketu ruling outcasts. So they say that Rahu and Ketu can rule foreigners. They can rule ‘bohemians’, people that rebel, anybody who is different. So that’s kind of what Rahu-Ketu was conceptualized as, and again, that has to do with that myth because Rahu-Ketu are not planets. They’re not things. They don’t have mass. They don’t have shape. They’re points. They’re where the path of the Moon meets the ecliptic.
So you can’t hold on to them. They’re considered to be shadows because they are appearing in a way that you can’t put your finger on. So that’s a lot of the way that they do get interpreted in these texts because they’re not real. You know what I mean? They don’t have the kind of material qualifications or qualities that the planets do or stars do.
CB: Yeah. Maybe we should backtrack…
RGD: They’re different.
CB: …a little bit to what you touched on, just describing the nodes and the astronomy a little bit. So the nodes are the point on the ecliptic where the path of the Moon crosses the path of the Sun and that’s basically it. And the North Node is when the Moon passes the path of the Sun and begins moving upwards or north, I guess you could say; whereas the South Node is when the Moon passes the path of the Sun, which is the ecliptic or the zodiac, and begins moving downwards or south basically. Is that correct?
RGD: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
CB: So as a result of that, the nodes, because they represent the intersection or the crossing-over point between the path of the Sun and the path of the Moon, when you get a New Moon in the zodiac or a Full Moon—which occurs close to the nodes—you always know that an eclipse is going to take place close to that point. Because when the lunations occur close to the nodes that’s when the Moon will obscure the Sun and basically move across the face of it, or at least it has the potential to.
RGD: Right. So when you look at a chart, when you see that those nodes are very close to the Sun and the Moon, you know there’s an eclipse rather than just a normal lunation. They occur every six months. And that’s also why the whole idea of Rahu became this feared demon they considered Rahu to be—to be a demon—because they knew that when eclipses came things went dark.
And of course the myths surrounding eclipses—that eclipses meant the death of a king or announced the birth of a king—they always used to have some major event happen along with it. And in a way that’s how we use it in modern times, if we’re using it astrologically.
CB: Right. So let’s see, eclipses. Sometimes in the Greek texts, the Hellenistic astrologers actually referred to the nodes as the ‘eclipsing places’ as a result of that. I mean, some of the interesting parallels between the Hellenistic tradition—or at least some pieces of the Hellenistic tradition and the Indian tradition where the nodes are treated more negatively, there’s this one famous chapter in Valens where he talks about inceptional astrology, and he talks about not putting the Moon close to the nodes, or the Moon making a hard aspect to the nodes, especially a close one by degree, like a conjunction, square, or opposition.
And he goes on this very long and uncharacteristically pessimistic rant about the nodes, evidently based on his personal experience. And this is in the 2nd century, he says: “Beware of starting anything. Do not sail. Do not marry. Do not have meetings. Do not begin anything. Do not plant. Do not introduce. In short, do not do anything. What has been started will be judged insecure or prone to come to a bad end, and it will be something regrettable, incomplete, subject to penalties, grievous and not lasting. ”
“If someone seems to have begun the development of some business in these days, the business will go bankrupt, will be troublesome, subject to penalties, easily ruined, and a stumbling block. Not even benefics which happen to be in these places do anything entirely good. Therefore, even without consulting a natal chart, if anyone guards against the current transits of the Moon through the ascending node, he will not make a mistake.”
Like I said, there’s two traditions in the Hellenistic tradition and one of them is a very pessimistic take on the nodes, especially when associated with the luminaries, I think because those are the eclipsing places where the lights get sort of extinguished, so to speak, and they treat them as very unstable. And that tradition almost reminds me more of what you end up seeing eventually in the Vedic tradition which also seems to treat them as more negative or problematic in some way.
RGD: Yeah. I think what you’re also reading from has to do with the timing of the fact that the nodes were in fact used in terms of omens and in terms of looking at eclipses as negative forces, because that’s really when they saw the nodes come to fruition when you had the eclipses. And way before in the 2nd century, there were texts that had the nodes mentioned. So the whole idea of electional astrology or just general astrology that is not horoscopic, those are the two threads that are very distinct also in the Indian tradition, that they were used in the same way you’re reading Valens.
And there are a lot of texts that are being translated now. Garga Samhita is being translated. This is a text from the 2nd century that Bill Mak and a few people are putting together. But these are texts that are dealing with omens and are dealing with taking trips and planning events. And that was also one of the reasons why they had to honor the deities and appease the deities as well, so that they could do things and have the blessings of the planets.
So it seems like it’s the same tradition in Hellenistic, that it took a while for it to get into the horoscope as well because you always knew that the nodes were there. In terms of Ketu being the comet or meteors or something formless, I’m not sure how that works in terms of the Hellenistic tradition, but that was the definite tradition in India because that’s what it was all about.
CB: All right, so is there anything else we need to mention about the nodes, or getting into the meaning of the nodes in texts like Parashara? Where does the tradition of associating them with being Saturn-like or Mars-like come from?
RGD: You know, I don’t know if it’s in Parashara, per se, but I do know in the texts that I learned from, as I showed you, it’s very clearly written that Rahu acts like Saturn and Ketu acts like Mars, and I’m assuming it’s somewhere in Parashara. Parashara’s so big that I don’t know every little thing that’s in there. I haven’t read every little thing in Parashara, I apologize.
But in the texts of Phaladeepika, it specifically says that he learned from Brihat Parashara Hora Sastra, so you know it’s that tradition. They say specifically that Rahu acts like Saturn because it’s slow and it’s dark, and Saturn was given to delays and obstruction. So Rahu is very much like Saturn, and in the Vimshottari dasha system, Saturn is 19 years and Rahu is 18 years.
And then Ketu is like Mars, and they are both in the Vimshottari dasha system, 7 years, so they do have that similarity. And also, because originally it was like a comet, it was like Mars—things just exploding, if you think of the whole imagery of Mars as this explosion-oriented planet, so it is very clear that that’s one of the affiliations that you get. And later on when you are doing interpretation, I find it helps a lot to look at Ketu like Mars and Rahu like Saturn; that’s a whole other story.
But yeah, I mean, it’s quite clear that that’s one of the things that they affiliated it with and other things. Of course, as I said, Rahu and Ketu had to do with being an outcast; they were like the outcasts of the planetary pantheon. They were on the very end of the scale, so to speak.
CB: And you sent me some delineations from Phaladeepika, which is dated somewhere from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Is it okay if I share some of these on the screen?
RGD: Oh, yeah, sure.
CB: So this is a little bit later, but this gives you an idea. And you said this may be an outgrowth or a later development of where the Parashara tradition started going.
RGD: Yeah, he says specifically that was one of the texts that he learned from.
CB: Okay. So this is from Chapter 8, it says: “Sloka 25: If at [a] birth Rahu occup[ies] the Lagna (which is the rising sign), the person concerned will have a short life, possess wealth and strength, and will suffer frog diseases in the higher limbs of his body.” So that’s a little mixed.
CB: A short life. So it’s something that’s depriving life, but then it says possesses wealth and strength, but then he’ll be diseased in his body, which is like a 1st house-type signification. Then it goes on, it says: “The person who has at his birth Rahu in the 2nd house will be dubious or insincere in his speech (since speech is one of the significations associated with the 2nd house in Indian astrology), will suffer from disease in the mouth or face, will be tenderhearted, will get wealth through his sovereign, and will be wrathful and happy.” So Rahu—go ahead.
RGD: No, I’m saying that they all get very mixed up when you read all these texts. They’ll throw in some…
CB: Positive and negative?
RGD: Yeah, in some of the houses and things like that. But here, they start the tradition of Rahu in the 3rd house being strong, and Rahu in the 6th house is supposed to be strong. 3rd, 6th, 10th, and 11th, by tradition, are supposed to be the places where Rahu is strong. And they don’t delineate them in terms of signs, they delineate them in terms of the houses, which is another interesting thing.
CB: So you said this was tied in with the tradition of which houses the benefics and malefics do well in?
RGD: Yeah, yeah.
CB: What is that again?
RGD: 3rd, 6th, 10th, and 11th are considered to be the houses of what’s called Upachaya houses, or ‘growth’ houses. And some people take the 3rd and 6th as being very bad. The 6th house is also what’s called a Dushtana house, so it has a dual meaning. The 10th house is also what’s called a Kendra house, an angular house, so it also has another meaning.
But the 3rd, 6th, 10th, and 11th are usually where you want malefic planets to be. And what it does also is if you see it in the 3rd house, it will give you something strong. If you see it in the 6th house, it’s going to give you something strong, but it’s also going to give you something that you have to fight for, because the 6th is the house of illness.
So because it’s the house of illness, in order to overcome something, you have to have something bad to overcome. So if you have the nodes or a malefic—Mars, Saturn, or the Sun even is considered a malefic—in a house like the 6th house, you are going to be able to overcome things, but you have to have something to overcome to begin with. So it gets mixed, but there’s a logic to it; there’s a strange logic to it.
But even in this tradition, Rahu-Ketu can’t always fill the same shoes, so to speak, as the planets because the planets have relationships, like friendships and enemies. Rahu-Ketu doesn’t fit into that category. And a lot of the dasha systems are not all based on having the nodes in them. I mean, Vimshottari’s only one system—it’s not the be-all-and-end-all. A lot of people use other systems too, so you won’t get Rahu-Ketu in a lot of those systems; in some, you get Rahu and not Ketu because it’s like smoke.
But later on, when you talk about Rahu-Ketu being the ‘head’ and the ‘tail’—or in India, just the ‘top’ and the ‘bottom’—Rahu is this head or the top of the body, but Ketu is the bottom. So because Ketu has no eyes and doesn’t see and doesn’t think logically, they take it out of the running when it comes to aspects and transits.
Ketu is not mentioned in transits, but Rahu is. So even though they’re using Ketu, they’re still looking at it as kind of not having equality with the rest of the planets. So it’s an interesting kind of concept that Ketu is really something that you can’t define or that sort of scares you much more than Rahu in a lot of ways. And I think that’s also where it all came from about your past life there. And so, you have to work out whatever Ketu didn’t allow you to work out, you know, that kind of thing that happened with the South Node in modern-day delineations.
So it is interesting because the transits are used. I mean, people make the mistake also to think that only dashas are used in predictive work, but the transits are very important in Indian work, very important.
CB: But the general thing was that there’s certain houses that the malefics were said to do better in, in general and there’s certain houses the benefics were thought to do better in, and generally speaking, the nodes started being assigned—because they were malefics—to also doing better in certain houses.
RGD: Mm-hmm. Yeah, exactly.
CB: Okay. So let’s go back to the delineation here. “Rahu in the 3rd house makes the person born proud, hostile to his brothers, strong-willed, long-lived and wealthy.” So that’s interesting ‘hostile to his brothers’ is a 3rd house signification. “If Rahu should occupy the 4th house, the person born will be a fool, will cause sorrow, will be short-lived and will be rarely happy.” So again, we’re seeing kind of a continuation where it is treating it more malefically more consistently than not.
CB: So let’s see, “Sloka 26: If at a person’s birth Rahu should be posited in the 5th house, he will have nasal touch in his speech, will be childless, [he] will be hard-hearted and suffer from stomach-ache.” So the 5th house is one of the houses of children and being childless if you have Rahu there, so that’s obviously more of a negative delineation.
“If Rahu [is in] the 6th house, the person born will be troubled by his enemies or oppressed by evil planets. He will suffer from an ulcer in [his] anus. He will be wealthy and long-lived.” So it’s giving negative delineations for both of the traditional topics of enemies in the 6th house, as well as some sort of negative delineation for health matters as well, but then something positive coming from wealth and longevity.
RGD: Right. So you start out with these horrible things, but you have the willpower to kind of conquer them. I mean, like any classically-written text, they’re all kind of short, they really encompass a lot of different things. And there’s also different translations as well. I mean, I took this one translation. It’s very possible that if I read through it, I would translate it a lot differently.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I’m just trying to get a sense of it though really quickly.
RGD: You find that Rahu-Ketu, even if you go into India and you mention Rahu-Ketu, people years ago would just get very nervous if you talked about them. And even the temples dedicated to Rahu-Ketu—it’s not like just freely you go in there and you worship. So they are really still considered to be these demonic forces, and especially because Rahu was the demon in the early tradition of the eclipses. It doesn’t go away, that whole idea of, “Oh, don’t talk about Rahu-Ketu.”
CB: Yeah. I mean, from what I understand the Rahu and Ketu periods are not traditionally considered to be great dasha periods to go into necessarily or very fun ones.
RGD: Well, again, everything then starts to get translated differently as the years go by and you go into modern times. So Rahu is 18 years, so you’re not going to say the whole 18 years is bad. And if you have, let’s say, Rahu in your 3rd, 6th, 10th, or 11th, or let’s say Rahu is with a benefic, the dasha period could be good because you’re taking on the qualities of the benefics, or you’re taking on the quality of the lordship of a good house.
And because Rahu is like Saturn, sometimes it’s just slow and drawn out, but Rahu is extraordinarily extreme. I mean, that’s the thing with the nodes is that they became noted for the extremities. So you can go from high to low. You can be very compulsive. Rahu can be very compulsive; again, the symbolism of the head that doesn’t digest.
It keeps eating and taking in things, but it doesn’t have a digestive system, so with Rahu, you have to know where your boundaries are. So in modern astrology or counseling, you try to tell people to set those boundaries because otherwise you can get swept away in terms of the addictive quality.
Ketu is 7 years. Like Mars, it’s quick, it’s quick—you can go from high to low or low to high. I mean, I’ve seen people in Ketu dasha have things that just get completely wiped out, and I’ve seen people go from low to high; I mean, I lecture on that all the time with amazing examples. And I think that’s something that as you go on through life in our modern times and you have more choices, it’s not like living in a little village with your astrologer who sets your life path for you. You use Hellenistic astrology, so you know yourself that when you’re dealing with modern times, you have to take these translations and sort of extend it or modernize them.
CB: Yeah. I mean, the ancient texts usually framed things in terms of extreme worst- or best-case scenarios. And you’re supposed to understand that there’s many different mitigating conditions that you can take into account to modify or produce the actual delineation, but it’s trying to convey some sort of underlying principle to you.
CB: So here—for those unfamiliar with it in Solar Fire—is just a chart of today for approximately when we started, and this is one of the traditional South Indian square charts. And over on the right it has the Vimshottari dashas and bhuktis, and it just shows you some of the periods that we’re talking about. There’s a Mars general period that lasts for 7 years, and then there’s a Rahu period that lasts for 8 years, and a Ketu period that lasts for 7 years, as you were saying.
RGD: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
CB: Okay. So back to the delineations.
RGD: If you go to Parashara—or Phaladeepika, the text I use, especially, Phaladeepika—tells you about the dashas: what to expect to expect in Rahu dasha, what to expect in Ketu dasha, what to expect in Moon dasha, and then what to expect in all the subperiods of the dashas.
RGD: So they’re pretty clear. But then you have to take that as a general rule, and you always have to look at what everything is doing in the natal chart in order to really come to a conclusion about what the general dasha is or general transits.
So that’s kind of the thing, Rahu and Ketu, I think they’re intensifiers. Everything they come in contact with gets just intensified. Rahu with Jupiter can give somebody who has enormous wealth and enormous greed at the same time, so it kind of works like that in a lot of respects.
CB: So back to Phaladeepika. I just want to briefly mention some of the other delineations to just give people an idea of where the Indian tradition started going with this. So it says: “When Rahu [is in] the 7th house, the person will lose his wealth through intrigues with women.” So basically, problems with relationships.
“If Rahu occupies the 8th house, the person will be short-lived, will do impure acts [and other issues].” “If Rahu happens to be in the 9th house, the person will be unfavorable in speech. He will be head of his clan, the head[master] of a village or mayor of a city and will commit unrighteous deeds.” Is that notion of unrighteousness a result of religious associations with the 9th house?
RGD: Yeah, the house of righteousness and dharma.
CB: House of righteousness and dharma, okay. “Rahu in the 10th makes the native famous; the man will have a limited number of issues, will engage himself in other’s business, will not do any good act and will be fearless.”
RGD: Donald Trump has Rahu in the 10th.
CB: Okay, that’s funny.
RGD: So you see how that works.
CB: Okay. “If Rahu be in the 11th house the person born will be prosperous, will not have many children, will be long-lived and will suffer from ear disease.”
RGD: The 11th house rules ears.
CB: This is one of those positive delineations. And you said the 11th was one of those houses you were talking about that’s in an ‘improving’ or upachaya house.
RGD: Upachaya, mm-hmm. Yeah, the thing is that even with the good things that Rahu gives, there’s always a catch to it. I mean, it’s not going to give you like Jupiter. You know what I mean? It’s not going to be all good, there’s always going to be a little catch to it.
So of course you’re going to find, okay, you live a long life, you do this, but you’re going to have ear trouble; it’s not going to be perfect. So that’s very much how they look at these malefics. You’re not getting off scot-free. There’s always a price to pay for everything.
CB: So it says you’ll be prosperous but will not have many children. And is the 11th one of the places of children in Indian astrology?
RGD: The 5th is. The 5th is the house of children.
RGD: So if you have Rahu in the 11th, you have Ketu in the 5th. Also, in Indian astrology the planets aspect the opposite house or the opposite sign. And of course in that tradition, if you don’t have any children, it’s not considered a good thing because the progeny in your family is very, very important.
CB: So Rahu and Ketu don’t have special aspects like three of the other planets do—Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn—but they do not just affect the house that they’re in, but also, the house they’re opposite to.
RGD: Yeah. But again, there’s different traditions. Some people look at Rahu as aspecting 5 and 9 places from it, so it’s like the same special aspect as Jupiter has.
RGD: And then I have known some people to take Ketu, but I was taught that Ketu cannot aspect because Ketu cannot see. And the word for aspect in Sanskrit is drishti which means ‘to see’ or ‘to know’. That’s the whole idea of an aspect, that you’re seeing another planet; you’re bringing that other energy into your life. I think in any ancient tradition that’s how they saw aspects. So if you have Ketu or the South Node, they can’t see because they don’t have a head, they don’t have eyes.
RGD: So that’s kind of how it works.
CB: So let’s see, going back, Rahu in the 12th house: “The person concerned will be intent on committing sinful acts secretly, will spend much and will suffer from dropsy and the like.” So is the 12th treated like a house of secrecy in Indian astrology?
RGD: Yeah. Secret enemies, secrecy, yeah, all that stuff. Same thing.
CB: So then it goes on and it starts doing delineations of Ketu, the South Node. It says those born with Ketu in the rising sign “will be ungrateful, unhappy and bearing tales against others. He will be an outcast, fallen from his position, [and] will have a deformed body and will be associat[ed] with the wicked.” “Ketu in the 2nd makes the native devoid of learning and riches,” so a negative delineation for the 2nd house. “His speech will be very vile in quality, and he will have a sinister look. He will ever be eating at other’s tables.” So that’s a very much more negative delineation of South Node in the 2nd house than it was for North Node in the 2nd house, right?
RGD: Right. But like I said, the 2nd house is also not supposed to be necessarily a great house for the nodes…
CB: For the node, okay.
RGD: …as in the 3rd. And if you go down now to the 3rd house, it says good things, but at the end it says, “Oh, but he will lose a brother.”
RGD: They’re all good, but there’s something bad as well.
CB: So it says: “Ketu in the 3rd house confers on the native long life, strength, wealth and fame. The person will live happily [and] his wife [will] eat good food. He will lose a brother.”
CB: Okay, got it.
RGD: And Ketu is like a loss. Rahu is sort of like this voracious, greedy head or top of the body, so Rahu is acquiring things, whereas Ketu is losing things. Again, the bottom-half of the body is where the waste material goes: so it wastes, it loses. And like Mars, it obliterates.
So a lot of times these definitions will have loss. 4th house, he will leave his native country, things like that. So if you take that Ketu as having to do with something getting cut off or loss or separation, a lot of those definitions will hold true.
And the thing is that it’s the same with the dashas. Again, if it’s associated with a good planet or it’s in a good house, even the difficult dasha periods will not be so bad. So you always have to judge the placement of the planets in terms of the other planets that they are associated with. So that becomes very important in terms of how you acquire meaning or how you acquire your definition from the others that you’re friendly with or affiliated with in that sense.
CB: Right. All right, so the text says Ketu in the 4th house: “The person concerned will lose lands, vehicles, mother and happiness. He will leave his native country and dwell in a foreign place and live at the [border] of another.” “Ketu in the 5th house at a person’s birth will cause loss of children, disease in the stomach, and trouble from goblins. The native will become evil-minded and wicked.”
Ketu in the 6th house: “The person concerned will be very magnanimous and possess the best qualities. He will attain everlasting fame, firmness and high authority, destroy his enemies and realize his wishes.” That’s a very positive delineation.
RGD: Yeah. Again, that’s 3rd, 6th, 10th. Is it like that also in Hellenistic, that the malefics in the 6th house—for instance, it’s the house of enemies—work well? Do they work well as they do in the Indian tradition?
CB: It’s kind of mixed. It depends on the malefics. In Paulus, in the 4th century, if they’re in a good sign, and if they’re of the sect in favor—if it’s like Saturn in a day chart in the 12th house or Mars in a night chart in the 6th house—and it’s otherwise well-positioned, then they can be said to give good indications in those placements, I guess. Yeah, just because those are the planetary joys of the malefics.
RGD: Mm-hmm. So it works kind of similar.
CB: Okay. Let’s see, 7th house. The person at birth who has Ketu “posited in the 7th will suffer disrespect, seek the company of bad women, will be afflicted by disease relating to the bowels and will suffer loss of wife and vital power.” So definitely more a sense of loss with Ketu, like you were saying, or letting go of something.
CB: “If Ketu [is] in the 8th house, the person born will be short-lived, will suffer the separation of his dear friends and engage in quarrels, will meet with injury from a weapon and disappointment in all his undertakings.” So the 8th, the very first delineation was ‘short-lived’ because the 8th in Indian astrology has to do with…
CB: Longevity? Okay. If Ketu occupies the 9th house, “he will follow a sinful course, will do unrighteous things and [will] be deprived of his father, will be unlucky, indignant and will slander the good.”
RGD: Yeah, in the Indian tradition the 9th house is the father, so that’s why it says that.
CB: Okay, that makes sense. In some traditions of Hellenistic astrology, the 9th is the father as well because the Sun has its joy there.
CB: All right, 10th house Ketu: “The person born will experience obstacles to the performance of good acts, will be impure, and will be engaged in doing vile acts. He will be energetic, bold and widely renowned.” In Hellenistic astrology, the 10th is the house of praxis, which means ‘action’. And something that Schmidt always pointed out that he liked was that action or praxis in Greek is actually a pretty close analogy to the word that gets associated with the 10th house, which is karma; which is also action or the result of past action, right?
RGD: Right. Well, the word ‘karma’, I mean, if you just take the word, per se, and look it up in a dictionary, it means ‘action’. It’s movement. It’s what you’re making of things. So that’s exactly what happens when you’re dealing with karma; it’s what you’re making.
It’s the actions that you took in a previous life that will define the actions that you need to take in this life. So yeah, the 10th house has come to mean status, profession, all of that. But yeah, it’s definitely what you’re doing in the world, the actions that you’re taking, for sure.
CB: Okay. So that’s why the delineation that it produces here with Ketu in the 10th is the person here will experience obstacles to the performance of good acts and will be engaged in doing vile acts basically or bad acts, so that’s interesting.
Ketu in the 11th, the person “will hoard money, will have many good qualities, will enjoy himself well, will command all the facilities for getting good materials and will be successful in obtaining all his requirements.”
RGD: Yeah. Then again, that’s also a matter of translation. Here it says ‘hoard money’, but actually it can mean that you’re very good with money; that you’re investing it wisely and you’re not being a spendthrift, let’s say.
CB: Okay. And then finally, Ketu in the 12th, “the person born will secretly commit sinful acts, spend money on vile things, will destroy wealth, will be of forbidden conduct, and will suffer from eye-disease.”
RGD: Yeah, because it rules the eyes.
CB: Got it. Okay, I think that’s good.
CB: So that gives us some idea of where the Indian tradition started to take things in terms of the interpretation of the nodes. We should talk about—because this ended up affecting both the Indian tradition as well as the Western Medieval tradition—at some point running parallel to the later Hellenistic tradition or just after the Hellenistic tradition, there was a tradition of astrology in Persia from the 3rd century through the 6th or 7th century. And it seems like it was from that tradition that they started associating the nodes with a dragon. They associated the North Node with the head of the dragon and the South Node with the tail of this dragon.
And there’s actually a really interesting story, a mythological story, about the creation of the cosmos that involves this dragon. It’s kind of like a Thema Mundi-type story. And Demetra George actually translated a version of this story years ago about the dragon having its head in Gemini and its tail in Sagittarius at the birth of the cosmos, and then it goes about explaining how the rest of the planets got assigned to different signs in the zodiac.
Anyway, this seems to have come out of the Persian tradition, and then traces of it show up within the next few centuries in the Western tradition, where the Medieval astrologers writing in Arabic start associating the North Node and calling it ‘the head of the dragon’ and the South Node ‘the tail of the dragon’ and deriving some significations from that. And then that tradition also kind of influences the Indian tradition a little bit, right?
RGD: Yeah. I think it’s interesting what you’re talking about. So for instance, one of the things in Parashara is that they did add Rahu-Ketu to the signs in which they are exalted.
CB: Which signs?
RGD: Parashara, it’s in Taurus. The North Node is exalted in Taurus. And the South Node is exalted in Sagittarius; I’m sorry—Scorpio. But actually there are other traditions which happened later on—and maybe that’s what’s being mixed in with the Persian—where Rahu is exalted in Gemini and Ketu is exalted Sagittarius.
That was what I learned, and I always think as well that Rahu—because it’s like Saturn—maybe then just becomes friends with the same planets that Saturn is friends with. So here we have in the Indian tradition Venus-Mercury-Saturn are friends, and Sun-Moon-Mars-Jupiter are friends. So then you get the Rahu exalted in either Taurus or Gemini, which are both Venus- and Mercury-ruled, whereas Ketu is going to be in Scorpio or Sagittarius, which is Mars- or Jupiter-ruled. But that’s interesting what you just said about the Gemini and Sagittarius because that makes sense in terms of saying that the nodes are exalted there in the Indian tradition.
CB: Yeah. I forgot that the Parashara tradition has the nodes exalted in Taurus and Scorpio, and then this Medieval tradition coming from the Persians has them in Gemini and Sagittarius. And that seems to have been the one that influenced the Western tradition, where some astrologers start mentioning the nodes being exalted in those signs.
RGD: I didn’t learn any exaltations myself, and I don’t believe they’re in Phaladeepika from what I learned in India. I had two teachers—one was academic—but the one I learned from in the bazaar, he just used Phaladeepika, and I never learned anything about exaltations for the nodes; it was just later on when I started reading more and comparing what I learned to other texts. But yes, I think the Gemini and Sagittarius is quite interesting. Yeah, it makes perfect sense.
CB: Ben and I actually came up with a rationale for that. Abu Ma’shar explains an astronomical rationale for that and in putting it into a specific degree in Gemini that they must have used. But I wonder in the Indian tradition, for example, if the nodes got associated with Taurus and Scorpio because of the exaltations of the Moon, which has its exaltation in Taurus and then the opposite to that would be Scorpio. So I wonder if that’s connected at all with why they would have placed it there rather than anywhere else.
RGD: That makes sense. Yeah, I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about why it would be, but that does make sense because the Moon’s exaltation is Taurus.
CB: Sure. So I want to read this little myth that Demetra translated years ago from a text in the CCAG. This is something that was probably originally written in Persian and then was translated into Arabic, and then the Arabic version was translated into Greek several centuries later. So you can find it in the CCAG, and it’s titled, The Foundation of the Astrological Art: The Opinion According to the Chaldeans.
So it says: “The statements of a wise man concerning the diverse and manifold sphere according to the opinion of the experienced and most wise Chaleans. He said that the all wise god fashioned a huge dragon in regards to its length and width and depth and it had a dark colored head, called the Ascending One, [and] on the eastern horizon and its tail, called [the] Descending One, on the western horizon.”
“Next he began to make the twelve signs of the zodiac, each differing from the other in nature and position, I mean the Ram, the Bull, the Twins, the Crab, the Lion, Virgin, Scales, Scorpion, Archer, Goat, the Water-Pourer, and the Fish. And he commanded this same dragon to support six zoidia[cal] signs upon its back, these so called upright and slow-moving signs [the signs of long ascension], I mean the ones from the thirtieth degree of the Twins to the thirtieth degree of the Archer in the invisible hemisphere from the first degree of the horizon, that is to say from the East to the West, and the remaining six zodiacal signs, from the thirtieth degree of the Archer to the thirtieth degree of the Twins, called the oblique and fast-rising [signs] rising in the visible hemisphere.”
“Next he made [the] seven other visible stars [Saturn], [Jupiter], [Mars], [the Sun], [Venus], [Mercury], and [the Moon]. Then in the following manner, he placed [the Moon] in [Cancer], [the Sun] in [Leo], [Mercury] in [Virgo], [Venus] in [Libra], [Mars] in [Scorpio], [Jupiter] in [Sagittarius], and [Saturn] in [Capricorn].” So that’s basically the creation of the Thema Mundi.
And then what’s funny is it actually has this rationale that goes on to explain how the planets got assigned to the second sign of the zodiac, and it says: “Thus he moved the brilliant Sun against the background of all the stars toward [Virgo], and then toward each of the zodiacal signs in order from the west to the east. And Hermes [Mercury], seeing the Sun approaching him [in Virgo], unable to bear the burning intensity of his rays, fled running full speed and came to the Twins.” So Mercury basically packs up his bags and moves from Virgo to the furthest sign away from the Sun, which is Gemini. And then it says Mercury “dwelt there for a time near the Moon.”
“Similarly Aphrodite [Venus] seeing [the Sun] coming towards [Libra] and not being able to withstand its rays also went toward [Taurus] next to [Mercury], she being turned away from him.” And then it says, “[Mars] being against the Ram next to [Venus] is turned away from her,” and it just explains the rest of the planets.
Venus, Jupiter, and then Saturn eventually all move to their next sign, which explains the second sign of the zodiac that each of them rules. It says Saturn moving to Aquarius “not having another place was overtaken under the beams of the Sun and was burned [up] and dried out and through this became black [or dark]. And for this reason he distributed two houses to each of the appointed five stars, and to [the Sun] and [Moon] one house each.”
Anyway, so it goes on and it has this whole other thing about the planets and about the creation of the exaltations as imposed on the Thema Mundi and the birth chart of the cosmos. In particular, though, what was important is just that it said the dragon, which it’s using in this creation myth, had its head in the sign of Gemini, which would be the 12th house in the Thema Mundi, that has Cancer rising, and it had its tail in Sagittarius, which would be the 6th house in the Thema Mundi.
RGD: And what year is that from, what she translated?
CB: The Greek text itself was from the 14th century, but it’s probably copying over a text that was written around the 9th century or probably earlier from the Persian tradition, like probably 6th century.
CB: So there’s a great academic article on this which is actually available on Academia.edu for free. It’s also published in a book. It is titled—let me share it here on the screen really quickly—From Lunar Nodes to Eclipse Dragons: The Fundaments of the Chaldean Art and the Reception of Arabo-Persian Astrology in Byzantium by Adrian Pirtea.
RGD: Pirtea, mm-hmm.
CB: So you can find that on Academia.edu. It gives a great overview of the early history of the nodes in the Western Greek tradition and how they weren’t associated with the head or tail of the dragon. But then later through this Persian tradition—and probably this Persian mythology—this notion of the dragon being associated with the nodes came to be integrated into it, and they created a new Thema Mundi to rationalize it or explain it.
RGD: Well, I think that what happened also if you look at Abu Ma’shar and you look at Parashara, and you look at that turning point around the 7th-8th century, there does seem to have been a turning point in how the nodes were done.
RGD: What I sent you along with the Phaladeepika was something from Bonatti, which you’ve probably already seen, that by that time, Bonatti is quoting Abu Ma’shar. I sent it to you along with the Phaladeepika.
CB: Yeah, let me open the Bonatti thing right now, if you want.
RGD: Yeah. Because he’s also talking from Abu Ma’shar; he’s sort of quoting him. But that whole period, the nodes started to get used a lot. That’s why I always thought that when Muslim rule came into India in the second millennium there was a lot of Persian influence there. And of course then Tajika came about, which we know, and that also is a Persian influence; even though a lot of the Tajika texts don’t really talk about the nodes that much. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t in a lot of the Persian literature, and it doesn’t mean that the Indians weren’t familiarized with it.
Especially if you read Al-Biruni, I mean, Al-Biruni came to India and his whole book is Al-Biruni’s India. So he talks a lot about Varahamihira and talks a lot about the astrology. I mean, the book is not only about astrology of course, there’s a section on it. But he talks about everything that he learned by being in India and then going back to the Persian tradition.
Phaladeepika is a very important text and it’s one that a lot of people use, even though it was written probably 13th-14th century, so it’s not classical. It is taking the classical work of Parashara because the author Mantreswara says so, but it’s also taking into account a lot of other things that came from this Persian-Arabic tradition because of the years that it was written. You couldn’t not have that tradition influence Indian astrology.
And I think that what happens a lot is that sometimes people forget that the astrology that is done in India today and passed down is not just classically-taken from one text of Parashara or one text of the 6th century, it’s something that developed over many years. The beauty of India is that it’s an unbroken tradition. It never stopped, so it was never pillaged, and it was never that things had to be retranslated.
So a lot of astrologers, by the time of the 18th century, 19th-20th century, they’re using techniques that were written from the Hellenistic tradition, from the Indian tradition, from the Persian tradition; it all gets mixed in, even though their basis is going to be what came about in the early part of the first millennium. What you have now is an amalgam of many different techniques, that if you go to an astrologer in India, he’ll talk about and use in his delineations.
RGD: For me, that’s always been the interesting thing—as the millennium came to a close and you had the Muslim occupation of India—how the astrology changed along with it.
CB: It seems like a lot of this stuff came out of the Persian tradition around the 6th century. And then that became a common transition point or transfer point between the Eastern and the Western traditions, that Persian tradition.
You have what is essentially modern-day Iran right now, and to the left of that or to the west of that you have Baghdad, and that’s where all of the major astrologers that were writing in Arabic in the early Medieval Western tradition, in the 8th and 9th centuries. Masha’allah and Sahl and Abu Ma’shar were all in that area around Baghdad.
CB: Then you have Iran, or Persia acting as an intermediary, and then over to the right of that you have of course India and the westernmost portions of India where the Islamic rule went up to the border of that—and prior to that the Persian Empire also bordered some of that as well—so there’s this exchange that goes on between East and West in the Medieval period. And some of this doctrine or some of the emphasis on the nodes may have come out of Iran, especially in terms of this mythology about a dragon.
RGD: Mm-hmm. Yeah, go ahead.
CB: In India, at some point, they started associating it with maybe not the head of a dragon, but the head and tale of a serpent or something, right?
RGD: Yeah, it was serpentine. A lot of times when you’re writing, I mean, I would write my book a lot differently, but I would talk about Rahu-Ketu being the dragon’s head and tail because things got mixed in, and even in India people talk about that. But really there are no dragons in Indian mythology; it’s not something they talked about.
They didn’t exist, the dragons. They were serpentine—that was the symbology; it was more like the whole idea of the serpentine. He explains that very well in Pirtea’s article, the shape when you’re talking about the eclipse and how they kind of viewed the shape of it and the shadow. And that’s how they kind of got the idea of the dragon and of course the fire-breathing, but then they also got the idea of the serpent symbol as well.
CB: Yeah. Like a cobra or something, doesn’t it actually have the symbol that we use for the nodes? I just did a search for ‘snake node symbol’ and you can kind of see it there.
CB: It looks like a South Node that’s on the head of the snake.
RGD: Right, right, and in some of the photos that you get, they have in the temples these sculptures, and you have the gathering of the nine grahas that they really started sculpting more towards the 8th-9th-10th century. You start seeing those nine grahas together, whereas early on you saw eight. You saw the seven with Rahu, but you didn’t see Ketu, but then later on, you saw it.
You could see that the bottom of Ketu didn’t look like the others. It was kind of serpentine or like a fish tail sort of thing. So you could see the difference in how Ketu was portrayed in art and how Rahu was portrayed as this big head. If you see the gathering of the—I don’t know if I sent it to you. But if you see that there’s a lot of sculptures available. I mean, they’re in museums, they’re all over the internet. You just have to kind of look for the navagrahas and it’ll show you that.
CB: Here’s another one that looks like the back of a snake. For those just listening to the audio version, it’s like there’s two circles and then there’s like a ‘U’ that’s underneath that connects them in a sense. And that’s kind of very similar to the symbols that we end up using: the North and South Nodes look like a version of that, or like an inverted version of that.
CB: So let’s check out the excerpts from Bonatti that you wanted to mention because this sort of shows you where things headed in the Western tradition, especially after Abu Ma’shar and after the integration of this tradition from Persia with the nodes, as well as some of the earlier tradition from Rhetorius on the nodes. So this is I’m guessing from Ben’s translation, right? Ben Dykes?
RGD: I don’t know, somebody posted this. If it’s Ben’s, I’m sorry that I didn’t acknowledge it.
RGD: Somebody happened to post it on a Jyotish group that I’m with, and I thought, “Oh, God, I’m talking to Chris in a couple of days. I should just send this to you.” I thought, “Let me send this to you along with Phaladeepika because they’re around the same time.” This is from the 13th century.
CB: Got it, okay.
RGD: So I thought it was interesting to compare.
CB: This is from 13th century Bonatti, sometime around 1277 or 1300 CE in the West, and it says: “And Abu Ma’shar said if the North Node ([the] head of the dragon) were in the 1st house in any [solar] revolution or [any natal chart] or [any horary chart], it signifies increase and strength and loftiness in that revolution [in that chart], and this according to its conjunction with the planets. For if the North Node ([the] Head) were joined with benefics, it signifies the increase of good. If however it was joined with a malefic, it signifies the increase of evil (since its nature is to increase).”
CB: “And if the North Node were in the 2nd house, it signifies good fortune in substance, and its increase; [and] it signifies the same in a nativity or [in a horary] question if it were in the second.” And the North Node in 3rd, “it signifies that the native will be an interpreter of dreams, and will be of good faith. And there will be useful, short journeys in that revolution, and acquisitions and profits.”
“And if the North Node [is] in the 4th, and the 4th house were Aries or Leo or Sagittarius or Gemini or Libra or Aquarius, it signifies the increase of good and profit from lands and vineyards, and from other movable things. If however the 4th house were Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn, Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces, it signifies harm and the decrease of profit.”
“If the North Node were in the 5th house, it signifies the fortune of children and from children, and their increase and good and joy, and freedom from contrary and displeasing things.” “And if the North Node were in the 6th, it signifies the increase of small animals which are not ridden; and of slaves. And there will be strong and harmful infirmities.” “And if the North Node were in the 7th, it signifies the increase of partners, and good from women, and an increase of sexual intercourse, and strength of enemies,” and he just keeps going.
RGD: So Rahu is, for them, much more positive in general.
RGD: The whole idea of going towards something.
CB: Yeah, just increasing things is the primary underlying thing, which can be an increase of good things or an increase of bad things.
RGD: And if it’s with positive, like I said, it’s the same thing in Phaladeepika. I mean, these were just the houses, but it also states in there obviously if it’s with a benefic, it has those benefic qualities; and if it’s with a malefic, it has the malefic qualities. It’s the same thing.
RGD: But this is much more positive in terms of the North Node, as opposed to the South Node, it seems to be a little bit different. The South Node is definitely taking away in this tradition also. So the North in 12 is not great.
CB: If the North Node’s in the 11th house: “Abu Ma’shar said that there is no virtue of the Head or [the] Tail in it for good or evil.” “And if the North Node were in the 12th house, it signifies the increase of evil and scarcity of good.”
And then he goes on, and he says: “If the South Node ([the] tail of the dragon) were in 1st house, it signifies the detriment of men and the native, and the separating away of the good, and eradication and dangers and tribulations. And if a son were to remain rich after his father’s passing away, he will be reduced to poverty. And if he were to remain a pauper, he will persevere in it.”
South Node in the 2nd house: “It signifies the destruction of all substances, and the poverty of a native, and his being in need, and his being occupied with evils and his fall from his own station; and this will happen to him from a direction from which he will not have fear, nor will it be suspected.” “And if the South Node were in the 3rd, it signifies the detriment of brothers, and from brothers and sisters, and because of them and their burden.”
South Node in the 4th house: “It signifies the poverty and need, enmity and labor which they will sustain in the investigation of matters, without usefulness.” 5th house: “Destruction of fortune and its expulsion, and a case of horrible things upon children; and that those who have children will be saddened because of it, and they will be in need; and that men will carry their own clothes.”
RGD: It doesn’t look like the South Node is doing any good even in the houses that in the Indian tradition it actually does some good. It seems like it’s all pretty horrible.
CB: Well, in any of the good houses, the South Node is decreasing good things, so it’s impacting negatively. But it looks like when we get to the 6th, it says in the 6th house: “It signifies the laziness and weakness of male and female slaves, and small animals, and their decrease, and a decrease of infirmities. And if there were infirmities they will be decreasing and diminishing and decimating or exterminating the bodies of the sick.”
RGD: Same kind of thing with the 6th.
CB: It’s almost taking away some bad things with the 6th but not entirely. “And if [the] South Node were in the 7th house, it signifies that men will not rejoice with their wives like they are used to rejoicing with them in other revolutions; and there will be quarrels and contentions between them, and this will happen more in the rustics and the common people than [with] others.” Let me skip to what it says about the 11th and the 12th. “And if [the] South Node were in the 11th house, Abu Ma’shar [says] there is no operation for it.”
“And if it were in the 12th, it signifies the detriment of large animals and the destruction of them and of enemies; and few will be incarcerated in that revolution. And if they were incarcerated, the prisons will be emptied of them. The same will happen in nativities or in their revolutions, if the Tail is in the twelfth. Indeed, Abu Ma’shar said if the Tail were in the 12th house, it signifies a scarcity of good fortune, and a scarcity of evils.”
“[So] he said, concerning the significations of the planets and of the Head and [the] Tail in the twelve houses, if they were in better condition, say better; indeed if they were in bad condition, change the content and say the contrary of the good (namely, the bad).”
CB: All right, so that gives you an idea of where the Western tradition went, especially by the late Medieval period, in terms of interpreting the nodes as being about the North Node increasing and the South Node decreasing. And that stays, as far as I know, relatively consistent in the West, that tradition, as well as some additional traditions that still carry on, which continue to treat the nodes as being associated with eclipses and having a sort of negative or ominous or unstable quality occasionally in some texts, like the Picatrix.
CB: Over in the Indian tradition, I guess it’s more of like a continuation primarily of the Parashara tradition and where we saw the Phaladeepika going, right? Is that pretty standard?
RGD: Yeah, it is standard, except that in modern times, we shouldn’t think that everything is as bad as they say because there are always ways to remediate. I mean, that’s the other thing. There are remedial measures and there are also things within the chart itself that you can take.
So you can look at the depositor of a node and see where that goes. You can look at the aspects. You can look at transits, dashas. Not everything is going to be terrible. You can have wonderful things happen in Rahu dasha or Ketu dasha; they’re extreme.
We’re not talking about the modern—we were really tracing a lot of that—but the malefic quality stays. Meaning that like in any tradition, malefics are not necessarily going to kill you, but they really allow you to kind of move forward with certain challenges in your life, and they’re the things that really give you I think a kick and that strength. I mean, sometimes we’d rather not have all of that. Of course we’d wish that everything was easy, but the malefics can teach us really good lessons.
I mean, the thing is when you’re doing—you know, because you do traditional astrology and you explain it to a modern audience. I mean, for me, the beautiful challenge is the fact that I would take old delineations and see how they would translate.
So you take things like ‘snake bites’, Rahu and Ketu actually are talked about in some of these texts as causing illness caused by venom. So what does that mean? Well, you take that and you can say, well, that can mean toxicity in terms of substance abuse; things that you’re taking into your body that are going to be toxic. Even allergies or medications, things like that.
What I love about traditional astrology is so much of it really is there, but you just have to kind of translate it into something for your audience because we do live in modern times. What killed you a thousand years ago isn’t going to kill you today necessarily. Of course we now have a virus that’s killing us, so it’s kind of interesting when you think about that and the whole idea of venom and stuff like that.
But going back to our starting point with Rudhyar or Schulman, one of the things that they did do, I think—when I read Schulman’s book especially—is I always tell people if you believe in reincarnation, that’s wonderful. But if you don’t, you can still take that book and really look at some nice imagery for what the nodes represent. And it does represent that idea of increase and not necessarily taking away or decrease with the South Node, but more as if it’s a point of comfort.
So you can look at it as saying, okay, that’s my past life, but you don’t have to. You can look at the South Node as being the place that you’re comfortable with but doesn’t challenge you. And the North Node is sort of like the place that challenges you, that you want to go towards because it will reward you if you take advantage of it.
RGD: That’s kind of what he was saying in his book, in short.
CB: So that’s where Rudhyar started taking it in 1936. Rudhyar tried to go back and read some of the inherited, mainly later Renaissance tradition authors like William Lilly and people after that who continued that direction to some extent that Bonatti took of treating the North Node as having to do with increase and the South Node with decrease.
And Rudhyar tried to go back to first principles and you can kind of see him philosophizing. And he takes that notion of increase and decrease, and the North Node moving upwards and the South Node moving downwards, and he starts associating it with directionality and talking about past and future.
When you read this brief treatment in The Astrology of Personality, you can see that he’s kind of riffing on it as something that’s not fully formulated yet, but he says almost speculatively that perhaps this could be something that could be applied to a future life and where you’re going versus your past life and whatever karma or whatever things you’ve brought into this life. He had a background in Theosophy and he was very much influenced by some of the ways that the Theosophists were integrating Hindu doctrines of karma and reincarnation and things like that.
So that was Rudhyar in 1936. But then by the time we get Martin Schulman, that books from, what, 1960- or 1970-something?
RGD: ‘75, I think it was. Yeah, mid-‘70s he did it. I think it was ‘75. And the other thing that I had told you when we were talking back and forth is the interesting thing is Margaret Hone and her book, The Text-Book of Astrology. A lot of your viewers won’t know it, but in the ‘50s and ‘60s, even ‘70s, that was the main text for the faculty of Astrological Studies in England. And when I went through her text, I mean, the North Node and South Node weren’t used really. She does say something in there about that it’s used in Hindu astrology.
But I remember when I started to take the faculty course—I think it was in the late ‘70s; I started it and then I never finished it—they had a lot of articles that they gave you as supplementary material, so I do believe they had something on the nodes. Of course they’ve revamped their whole curriculum and their whole syllabus, but she was really considered to be the main textbook that was used for the faculty.
And then you have also, like you said in the beginning, Evolutionary Astrology, which I’m not really that involved with or familiar with except that they do use the nodes as a starting-off point, as they do with draconic astrology.
CB: Let me finish…
RGD: There’s also the whole school—yeah, sorry.
CB: …my previous point before we get there about Evolutionary. But the development of this is Rudhyar was the first one—as far as I can tell—to make the suggestion that they could have to do with past and future lives, and it’s something that’s speculatively presented in 1936 in The Astrology of Personality.
And then by 1975 or so, Martin Schulman publishes this book on the nodes where he goes through and treats them much more explicitly as having to do with past and future lives and provides actual delineations through each of the houses for that. And some astrologers that I’ve talked to, like Steven Forrest, have said when they came into astrology that book had an important influence on them, and it was just something that was taken for granted at that point that the nodes pertained to past and future lives.
And so, it became by the last two decades of the 20th century something that was sort of taken for granted by many modern Western astrologers, especially those that were spiritually-oriented or more oriented towards incorporating doctrines of karma and past lives into their astrology, which especially became prominent in the Evolutionary Astrology school with Steven Forrest and Jeffrey Wolf Green.
But even other authors, like Jan Spiller, for example, that is a very important and key concept in her book that she sort of uses and delineates. Okay, so that’s where we’re at today in terms of the development of that doctrine. And what were you just saying about Evolutionary Astrology?
RGD: Well, what I was saying was that then suddenly, after nobody was talking about the nodes that much, there were a lot of books on the nodes, again, some of them out of print. I mean, the Hubers in Switzerland—Louise and Bruno Huber—really were very, very well-known and they did conferences in Switzerland as I was saying before we started. They also wrote a book called Moon Node Astrology.
And my teacher, when I first started studying astrology, learned from them and talked about very similar things to how Martin Schulman describes the nodes in the houses. Although he wasn’t talking about it as much as in past lives, like I said, the delineations are really good. And I think that was the turning point for me because I learned Western astrology before I learned Indian astrology.
And to me, when I read Martin Schulman’s book, I was like, wow. I mean, the nodes—perfect, clear—because the nodes were something that people were very vague on. And Schulman’s book, it’s a short book, it’s a great book. It’s really good in terms of that increase and decrease, where you’re going to. Push yourself to that North Node; that’s where you need to go for your evolution.
So I’m aware and I agree that that must have been a very huge influence on Evolutionary Astrology. And yeah, Jan Spiller, and the Hubers had Moon Node, and then there was a book by Celeste Teal on the nodes. And Pam Crane in the UK wrote a book on draconic astrology, which is a whole other field.
CB: Yeah, that’s a whole other topic.
RGD: That’s a whole other thing. We don’t have to get into that.
CB: Draconic astrology is an extension of how the nodes went from not a huge thing in Western astrology to an extension of how much modern Western astrology—in the final quarter of the 20th century—became almost crazy about the nodes. The nodes, for many people, are the first things that you look at in a chart and are the most important things that you look at in some schools of astrology or some approaches.
And draconic astrology takes that further, but the history behind that is a whole separate thing because I think that’s based on a misinterpretation of an ancient text. Some astrologers thought it meant something else, that they were creating a whole new zodiac, but they didn’t understand. It actually goes back to the very text that we’re talking about, about the dragon that’s being created in order to explain the rationale for the exaltation of the nodes in Gemini and Sagittarius.
I think that’s the text that was misinterpreted, and they thought it meant that you start the zodiac from the degree that the nodes are placed in. So that’s created a whole other variant tradition out of maybe a misreading, but that’s an episode I hope to do at some point.
RGD: My point with that is more just to say that, yes, in the last quarter of the 20th century, the nodes kind of had this revival. Or maybe not even a revival, but they started to get noted as a very important factor in the chart.
I mean, we always go back to Martin Schulman’s book because his book really was the first one for many of us of a certain era; Steven and I were kind of of the same era. We’re a few years apart; he’s a little older than me. But other than that, I think that that book was very important.
I don’t know if it’s out of print or not. I mean, Martin Schulman is not somebody who’s gone to conferences and been around, so he might be living a very nice life and we just haven’t heard much from him.
CB: Yeah, I’m not sure. It looks like ‘75. It looks like you were right that ‘75 was the date of the publication of that. It was titled, Karmic Astrology: The Moon’s Nodes and Reincarnation, and it was part of a series of like three or four books.
CB: He did another one on the Lot of Fortune and another one on…
CB: The other was?
RGD: The second one was on retrogrades and the third one was called Joy and the Part of Fortune. I have to tell you, each of those books are really nice, short books, but are very clear about how to look at retrogrades in the chart and how to look at the Part of Fortune in the chart; it’s kind of interesting.
Again, that was something that we didn’t really look at that much. We knew that it existed, the Part of Fortune.
CB: When I tried to research all of this in studying the history of astrology by the mid-to-late-2000s, the issue that I ran into when I reconstructed the history of the use of the nodes in different traditions is there was at least three or four distinct traditions of how to treat the nodes and what they meant, and they were all somewhat different and not entirely related.
CB: So there’s like one tradition which is—I’m not sure if I should do them chronologically or reverse chronologically. But one version is the modern version, which is the North Node has to do with your future and the South Node has to do with your past life.
So that’s pretty much it, and it’s explicitly tied into the notion of that the South Node has to do with the past life. But that as a concept is new and wasn’t used prior to the past century basically, so it doesn’t actually have any precedent. It just gets into a whole separate category where it’s assumed that that’s always been part of the tradition, but in fact, it’s a recent take on what the nodes mean, so that’s one tradition.
There’s the Medieval and Renaissance Western tradition that partially comes out of parts of late Hellenistic astrology, which is that the North Node has to do with increase and the South Node has to do with decrease, but it doesn’t have any connections to past lives or anything like that.
Then there’s the Indian tradition—which is the Parashara tradition—which treats the nodes as being very important and sort of crucial in different ways by being integrated into dashas systems and almost given the status of planets, but not quite.
And the nodes there are treated as somewhat difficult and sort of destabilizing factors, I guess is the best summary. What’s your best ‘one sentence’ summary of the nodes in Indian astrology, in the Parashara tradition?
RGD: Well, I always look at them as being intensifiers—that everything gets very intensified when they’re with the nodes; and the nodes create a lot of challenges to their general nature. So I always like to take on the whole idea of Rahu is like Saturn, but different in terms of the fact that it’s more voracious. Saturn is patient. Saturn has delays and structure. The node has no structure because it’s that head that keeps going over and over; it’s compulsive.
But like Saturn, it’s material, so they consider it material. It wants to gather. It wants to succeed. I mean, we can go into Donald Trump. He was born on an exact eclipse. He’s a perfect example of the node in the 10th house very close to the Sun.
Then you get the Ketu, or the South Node, again, an intensifier; but like Mars, it goes quickly. So it can destroy very quickly if you’re not careful. It’s like don’t get too close to the fire because it burns you. But it can even work in a very different way than Mars, it can be more destructive. Yet, the positive part of Ketu is that you can go quickly and really take those challenges on, but you have to watch it.
So again, they are intensifiers, but they’re challenges, they’re demonic. What I mean by ‘demonic’, in India they’re considered demonic. It’s sort of like Faust; you can make a pact with the Devil. You can take it too far and it’ll burn you. But if you kind of play along with it, and go with their intensity and really meet the challenge of it, you can really succeed; but they have their malefic qualities and their dangers. I mean, I’m being a little dramatic, but on the other hand they can be wonderful.
So I think that’s what people were always afraid of. As the years go on, people are embracing Indian astrology more and classical astrology (traditional astrology). But when I started out and told people I had gone to India, they were like, “Oh, no, no, no, please, I don’t want to know when I’m going to die.” And I’m like, “Well, neither do I.” So I’m not really looking at it that way.
People were very afraid of the Indian tradition and part of it was because of the way the nodes and other malefic forces are conveyed in some of these texts. And also, if you went to India many years ago, a lot of astrologers were very cut-and-dry. They didn’t mince words.
RGD: That’s a whole other experience. But I think what you said is correct in terms of looking at it in terms of different cycles or different partitions, so to speak. Yeah, that works for me.
CB: So in the ‘90s, weren’t there some Western astrologers that got into Indian astrology that tried to make analogies between the outer planets and the nodes in order to explain how they’re conceptualized in Indian astrology as well?
RGD: Right. And we did this a lot when we were starting to teach Western audiences. We had to be very careful because people were having a hard time kind of adapting to it. I think in this day and age, everybody’s so sophisticated with traditional techniques that they can grab onto it easier.
When I was explaining Rahu and Ketu, I would explain that Rahu can sometimes be like Uranus or Pluto and Ketu can be like Neptune because it’s very amorphous. I know some people say, “Well, how do you have Mars and Neptune?” But actually they can work in very similar ways in terms of that ability to obliterate, and the smoke, the fire.
But Uranus and Pluto, again, they are like the independent outsiders. The outer planets in your chart have a lot to do with things that you’re doing that are against the norm. And of course when I was growing up, things that were against the norm are now quite accepted, so you have to reevaluate what’s against the norm.
But I think the thing is as that went on, you had to do that because people would say, “How can you take away my Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto?” Or the same with the sidereal zodiac. “How can I be a Taurus in one system and Aries in another?” So I think that that was how we had to explain Rahu-Ketu because Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are there.
There are a lot of Indian astrologers who call themselves neo-Vedic or something. When I look at a chart—and I look especially at the transits—I’m going to use Neptune, Pluto, and Uranus. I mean, don’t you use the transits of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in your work?
CB: Yeah, I do. I don’t want to go into too much of a digression about that because I know you’ve got to go soon actually.
RGD: No, that’s okay.
CB: You have to go to a lecture. What time is your lecture? Is it at 6:00?
RGD: My lecture’s at 7:00. I’m okay.
RGD: 7:00 my time.
CB: So some of the Western neo-Vedic astrologers associated Uranus and Pluto, you said, with the North Node.
RGD: Well, that’s how I did it.
CB: Neptune with the South Node.
RGD: Dennis and I would do that. I mean, Dennis Harness and I would talk about it, and I remember we always agreed that Ketu was like Neptune because it was just formless. And Uranus and Pluto could also be similar to Rahu in the intensity of it, first of all, and also, the nonconformity of it.
Because that was the other thing—the nodes were the outsiders at the party, going back to that myth where Rahu disguised himself as a god in order to drink some of that amrita because the gods didn’t want him to. So they’re always like the outcasts, the people who invade you or something like that.
CB: Okay. In terms of how you guys were trying to convey how the nodes were conceptualized in Indian astrology and explain those significations to Western audiences, it’s interesting then hearing some of those associations. So when I ran into all of this ten years ago, I decided to take the nodes out of charts and stop using them for a while in order to rebuild my understanding of them from scratch because I considered that there were too many separate traditions that were treating them wildly differently without much overlap.
And there were too many assumptions that were being made about how important they were and what kind of cosmological or religious undertones were being attributed to them in terms of saying they definitely had to do with past lives or what have you. So I wanted to take them out and then I’ve only started to reintroduce them gradually over the years in order to try to rebuild my understanding from scratch.
And I think that’s a good thing to do in terms of not making assumptions about things. But instead, now that we have access to all these different traditions, figuring out how to reconcile them is one of our great challenges as astrologers, and how to maybe integrate them carefully or deliberately while also paying attention to other things, like empirical observation of what these things actually do in practice, or what you see show up when the nodes transit over a certain point or what have you.
RGD: Yeah, that’s a whole other episode.
CB: Yeah. And the other major area, and really, the main area where I use them at all at this point is just with eclipses because the primary thing that they’re connected to is the eclipse cycle, and that’s a valid additional way to use nodes. And I know that eclipses are something that you’ve done a lot of work on as well, right?
RGD: Yeah, with the nodes. I also wanted to say that especially in Phaladeepika, when he was talking about transits. As I was saying, the nodes tend to do well or better in 3, 6, 10, and 11 when he talks about the transits—in a whole sign house system of course, like as you do—from the Moon because the Moon is very important. You do it from the Moon or from the Ascendant. So when the nodes transit—again, it’s just Rahu; he doesn’t mention Ketu transit. When the node transits the 3rd house, the 6th house, the 10th, or the 11th, they give you positive outcomes.
Again, you have to take everything into account—dashas and transits and everything else that’s going on; profections. You throw in profections too and then you can get something, but as a general rule that’s what they say. Oh yeah, I mean, the eclipses are something in terms of my predictive work.
I mean, I think eclipses on a mundane level and on a natal level are probably one of the most powerful things. Again, that’s a whole other episode. But yeah, I do a lot of work with the nodes hitting the eclipse point—because the nodes are part of the eclipse—and when they activate the degree of the eclipse.
CB: So really quickly, what’s the nodes hitting the eclipse point?
RGD: So when you have an eclipse, you have the nodes very close to the eclipse. And if you take the degree of the eclipse, the node either hits that degree prior to the eclipse or after the eclipse. So oftentimes, when the node kind of hits the same degree or a planet—you can get Mars, Saturn—things happen.
So for instance, if you take the last eclipse of December 14 that we had, the node came to that eclipse degree in September because it was a total eclipse. So between September and December when you looked at things, I mean, it was actually on the degree of Donald Trump’s Moon, that eclipse. So that was one of the things that I kind of saw, that something was going to happen in September that was then going to then in December kind of have its resolution or something like that.
And indeed, in September, what happened in his chart is that the South Node was crossing his Moon. And again, I’m doing sidereal with a whole sign house system. So in that system, he has Moon-Ketu in the 4th, and he has Rahu-Sun in the 10th on a very exact lunar eclipse that he was born under. So you had the South Node hit the Moon and Ketu and then you had the North Node hit his Sun-Rahu. And he had a great achievement in September on that 10th house because he got Amy Coney Barrett onto the Supreme Court very quickly, but then he had Ketu going through his Moon, which was the ruler of his 12th, and he got COVID in that period too, so there were two things.
And again, I look at that as like the country because the President is always representative of the country. And then the eclipse occurred on December 14, and what happened then was that was when they certified the ballots, which was a very interesting phenomenon this year.
CB: Yeah, that was huge.
RGD: I know.
CB: I mean, that was the big eclipse thing that was the most impressive this election cycle. On December 14, there was an eclipse which was tropically in Sagittarius—which is in Joe Biden’s rising sign—and that was the day that the Electoral College voted and certified that he had won the election basically.
RGD: And it was on Donald Trump’s Moon and Ketu and activating that; I mean, that was one reason. I don’t make predictions publicly, and also, because I have to watch my own politics and make sure that that’s not influencing my astrology. So it’s very hard. I think it’s a fine line that you walk if you’re making public predictions.
But I think what happened then, the interesting thing was it went right over his Moon, and the Moon was the lord of the 12th, and it was in the 4th, so it was like the loss of the 4th. And I mean, just as an aside, somebody many years ago—I don’t remember who it was—I believe it was an Indian astrologer who told me that when you’re predicting elections, don’t look at the 10th house. Don’t look at anything that has to do with what somebody is going to get, look at the 4th house because the person who has malefics in the 4th has to move.
RGD: So if they’re an incumbent, and they have this malefic force in their 4th house, they have to go; so it was kind of interesting. But those are the kind of things that when you’re looking at the nodes, something starts and finishes. Even with the pandemics last year, December 2019, there was a solar eclipse December 26 with Ketu and Mars together.
Because Ketu is like Mars, when it transits together, it can give very explosive things. They were conjunct on 9/11. And then last year, they were conjunct February-March when we had the real pandemic all over the place. That activated that eclipse in December, which kind of already was having the pandemic in China; it was already there.
RGD: I can go on and on about that, but that’ll be another episode.
CB: Yeah. And Leisa and I did an episode on interpreting transiting eclipses based on what houses they’re falling in your birth chart in Episode 215. So people can check that out if they want to learn more about that.
I think we did it. I think we did a pretty good overview of the astrological tradition and some of the different traditions and ways that the nodes were dealt with traditionally prior to modern times, in the Persian and Arabic and Indian astrological traditions, and to a lesser extent, in the Greek astrological traditions.
So thank you. Thank you for doing this with me, I appreciate it. And I hope it gives people a broader perspective or at least some avenues for research for understanding the nodes better. Where can people find out more information about your work and what you have going on?
RGD: Yeah, they can just go to my website, RonnieDreyer.com: R-O-N-N-I-E-D-R-E-Y-E-R.com. And I’m always teaching Indian astrology, but also, you can sign up for my newsletter on that website. And I do a newsletter once a month; at least I try to. And I talk about current planetary weather and conferences and things like that.
I’m probably speaking at a few conferences coming up: one, the Great Lakes Conference in July, and I’m speaking for the Hartford Astrology Group, which now because it’s Zoom, you don’t have to be in Connecticut. I’m talking about fixed stars, and I’m doing a workshop on predictive techniques, which will include dashas and eclipses.
RGD: So listen, I’m so happy to have done this, Chris, because we have been talking about this for so long. And I love your podcast. I mean, I don’t listen to all of them, but I do listen to a lot of them. Especially it means a lot to me also because I was on Jacqui’s original podcast, who you got this from, Jacqui Menkes, and I was very friendly with Jacqui.
So I was very happy when you took it over, and you also really kind of expanded it so much. So I’ve been listening to you since you took it over. Anyway, I do appreciate it. And I know we just touched the surface and there’s a million things that we didn’t say, but that just shows you the depth of the topic. Yeah, and I think it’s great. People can do their own research.
CB: Yeah. Well, I think a little, two-hour episode covering 2,000 years of history is pretty good, and I think we did a decent job. So yeah, maybe there will be follow-up episodes. I’m sure people will have comments for us below the video version or on the podcast website. So feel free, people, to leave comments there. And I guess that’s it for this episode.
RGD: I just wanted to mention Adam, because Adam’s was really great when you talked about the eclipses on that podcast. Which podcast was that? What number? I know you mentioned it.
CB: It was Episode 127.
RGD: Yeah, that was good to listen to.
CB: It was titled ‘Unexpected Lunar Nodes Discussion with Adam Sommer’, back in October of 2017. So there’s no video version of that, there’s just an audio version. But you can find that along with a transcript on TheAstrologyPodcast.com website just by googling it or looking it up at AstrologyPodcast.com/episodes.
CB: All right, I think that’s it. You’ve got to go give a lecture on the nodes for an online conference today.
RGD: I do, at 7:00. Yeah, in an hour-and-a-half.
CB: So I’m going to let you go. But thanks everybody for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast, and we’ll see you again next time.
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