Shadow Planets

Monday June 5th 2017

Smaug’s eye from The Lord of the Rings

A few weeks ago I attended a seminar here in Oxford which included a discussion of the Vedic (or Indian) interpretation of the North and South Nodes by Adam Smith. The Vedic view turns out to be rather different from the widely held Western interpretation of the Nodes of the Moon as karmic — ironically.

So I was fascinated by the Vedic personifications of the North and South Nodes of the Moon. Known as the “shadow planets”, they are considered as important as the seven traditional heavenly bodies. You’ll find flower-bedecked icons of these nine astrological “grahas” outside most Hindu temples.

The North Node — or Dragon’s Head — is personified as a coarse, vulgar, materialist, a plutocratic, money-grubber; amoral, charismatic; an unpredictable maverick; loud — and hungry. A strong North Node is excellent for businesspeople or politicians. Donald Trump is a clear example of a Rahu type person, and indeed his Sun is tightly conjunct Rahu, by just over a degree.

The South Node — or Dragon’s Tail — is an ascetic, a dreamer, a “loser”, adrift in the spiritual world, disconnected from reality, possibly lost in alcohol or drugs; an introvert and dreamer, a victim, a sacrifice. A strong South Node is good for poets and artists, healers and psychics — and priests. I thought at first that Pope Francis might be an example of a Ketu person — and yet his Sun is even more tightly conjunct Rahu than the Donald’s!

You can see how these two ends of dragon personify two opposing approaches to the world. Most of us need to find a path somewhere in between, no wonder the tension between the Nodes in our charts is so important and so defining. What’s more these interpretations are quite similar in feel to Pluto and Neptune. which are. of course, not used traditionally in India. Ketu has a 12-housey feel — self-undoing…

I think these ideas about the Nodes are useful — and could be applied readily to the round art of the West. But Vedic astrology uses a Zodiac that is 23° different from ours, so most points will be in different signs and houses, and the way of counting aspects is different too, so you can’t translate the concept wholesale.

If you are familiar with Vedic astrology, you will know that the interpretations of the meanings of the planets and lights are much the same as ours. But Vedic astrology is full of strictures and warnings, and actions to take to alleviate problems. In other words, it’s extremely practical in application, Saturnian, rather negative — and leaves little room for us to control our own destinies except with the use of mantras, gemstones and the usual Vedic remedies, such as making offerings to the correct gods.

I returned to my two examples to think about how these very different, very powerful men were using Rahu (or Rahu was using them).  I came back to the idea of hunger (which is one I often use myself when thinking of the North Node).  Trump’s Node in the 10th, quite simply makes him hungry for status and acclaim. The Pope is hungry for service with his Node in the 6th. For both of them Rahu is about earthly power — a prince of the Church and a prince of Capitalism.

It’s said that you can never satisfy Rahu’s hunger…

Logic Leferme — a world free diving champion, who helped glamorise the sport — had the Ketu-Sun conjunction. He died at the age of 37 when his equipment failed on a training session.

Loic Leferme — the world free diving champion who helped glamorise the sport — had the Ketu-Sun conjunction. He died at the age of 37 when his equipment failed on a training session.

So what about Ketu then. I looked up the tightest Ketu conjunctions to the Sun and was amazed to find that three out the top five hits for closest Sun-Ketu are downhill skiers— mind you I hadn’t actually heard of any of them. I guess skiing fantastically well, means being able to abandon everything and just go DOWN.

There are quite a few comedians too, including Eddie Izzard, another job that requires letting go. Listen to Tyler Perry talk about his “God Voice” — that’s Ketu.

Considering how much time she spent pretending to be in a parallel world where monsters roam, maybe it’s no surprise that Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played Buffy the Vampire Slayer for years with such intensity and vigour, also has this signature. Then there are the actors Sigourney Weaver, who fought the Alien in outer space, and Elijah Wood, who fought goblins in Middle Earth. (I think we might associate the South Node with the collective unconscious here.) The photographer Diane Arbus sought out misfits and “monsters” in real life, also has a tight Sun-Ketu. One of Weaver’s roles was opposite Ghostbuster Bill Murray — who, yes, has Ketu conjunct the Sun within a degree. His beautiful co-star in Groundhog Day, Andie MacDowell, also has this same signature. She has Ketu on her Ascendant too (all in Taurus). I’m not sure what to make of that, except that there is something magical about her screen presence. Another mesmerising screen siren has this too, Scarlett Johansson. She is a triple Sag, appropriately for a Scarlett.

Manolete — said by aficionados to be the greastest bullfighter of all time — was gored to death in the ring in 1937. His Sun is exactly conjunct Ketu.

And it’s interesting that Helen Keller, born deaf and blind, also has South Node-Sun in tight conjunction. A couple of great opera stars popped up too: Dame Janet Baker and Jose Carreras. Both are noted for their uncanny ability to bring the past to life.

As you can see from the captions, dicing with death seems to be more of a theme. Formula One hero, Aryton Senna, who died in a blaze on the track, also had this signature — although a 5° orb.  Punk heroin casualty, Sid Vicious, certainly had self-undoing tendency, and so did actor River Phoenix. Both had Suns very tight to Ketu.

I did not find any preponderance of especially spiritual people with Sun-Ketu, but then is the Sun the planet to look at in this regard? The Dalai Lama has Pluto-Ketu conjunction in the first house, which is an interesting contrast in meanings — but it may symbolise his status as an exiled prince of the golden robes.

I’ve written a 12-page supplement on the Nodes shift from Leo to Aquarius, available to horoscope subscribers. To pick up your copy, click this button. [ddownload id=”14233″]





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  1. Eleonora says:

    Something went wrong with the link you posted:
    “To pick up your copy, click this button. Invalid download ID..”

  2. Eleonora says:

    Ok, now I see the button. Probably some temporary error with Joomla. Everything is fine now.

  3. Fleur says:

    Interesting, one day I need to learn Vedic astrology from within its own framework. I don’t see the nodes like that, but feel sure there is a way to link the Vedic way of seeing the Moons Nodes with how I see them. I see them as an axis, with no real difference between the North and South Nodes, or the squares to them for that matter, and even the 45 and 22.5 degree aspects to them may be significant. I have never found any real difference in effect between a conjunction, opposition or square. I see the Moons Nodes as about our social contacts, the people we mix with, and the Moons Nodes aspecting the chart angles are very common in famous people’s charts, maybe showing that they mix with the world at large, that is their social domain. Popularity is very much about the Moons Nodes; and the Moon and the Moons Nodes are significant in autism or autism-like states such as the chart of Natascha Kampusch. One reason I find Theresa May’s chart so interesting is that she has the positive shadow aspects of autism, and one of the first things she did when she became home secretary was to lift the extradition threat from an autistic man, which no Labour home secretary had done in over a decade; that is of course if her Moon aspects her Moon’s Nodes, which it does if she was born at noon but we don’t have her time of birth…….

    • Christina says:

      When I was researching this article, I came across the “deaths by sport” people with the Sun conjunct South Node — Leferme, Senna and Manolete — but I also came across a bunch with their Suns exactly square to the Nodes. I didn’t go into it here because it would have made the article too laborious.

      I find the square to the nodes by transit or natally very important — but in Vedic astrology the one they really count is the trine.

  4. mike says:

    Eclipses occur when the Sun is within 15* to 18* either of the lunar nodes and aligned with the Moon. P Francis was born three or four days after a solar eclipse and his natal Sun would be within three or four degrees of the solar eclipse point. Trump was born about one hour prior to a lunar eclipse, with Sun conj N Node opposing Moon conj S Node. Both have Sun conj N Node, but antipodal Moons relative to their Suns. Interestingly, both men have Uranus conj MC. Part of Nodal astrology is the effect of eclipses.

    I favor the notion that the Nodes are analogous to genetics: S Node imprints our psychological nature (the seed) and the N Node is the environment that nurtures our psychological development (the plant)…the stuff, whether deemed good or bad, that draws us forward. In my own usage of the Nodes, I don’t ascribe positive-negative attributes to either Node, as they work in tandem. The adage that panders to our kismet, “wherever we are is exactly where we should be”, capitulates the Nodes…LOL.

    • Christina says:

      Well, they are both making big changes in the world — outsiders at the top.

      • mike says:

        Yes, and each has opposing views of the other’s ideology, way up there at the top. It’s unfortunate that Trump hasn’t taken Francis’ lead at positive reform of an institution.

        • Christina says:

          Good point — destruction of an institution instead of reform. Apparently, many posts in Washington are still unfilled so no one knows who their boss is anymore. Trump and his buddies rattling around at the top and then a void.

  5. mike says:

    PS – I recently read an Atlantic article, “My Family’s Slave”, which made me wonder about “Lola’s” Nodes, Saturn, and Pluto positions. A longish, but fascinating read. The karmic interplay of the essay’s author, his mother, and “Lola” is overwhelming.

  6. Opal says:

    How interesting. I have Sun tightly conjunct Ketu and could never quite get the NN worship in western astrology – I mean if my Sun (life force/path) is opposite the point that I am supposed to work towards… well it just never made sense to me. But the Vedic view makes a lot of sense to me, ascetic, dreamer, adrift. Definitely. Oh, and self-undoing 🙂

    • Christina says:

      How about the deep-sea diving? Just kidding! Actually I found a lot of interesting people with this strong south node — too many to list in this article, but I am saving them up for the next one. The NN seems rather obvious and SN more subtle.

  7. Fleur says:

    Does Vedic astrology use antiscia? Somebody I know has Chiron conjunct their Moon’s North Node, and also conjunct the Sun’s antiscion. I don’t suppose Vedic astrology uses Chiron?

    • Christina says:

      Not sure about the antiscia. Definitely not Chiron — although I think some mavericks might!

      Aspects in Vedic astrology seem to be by the whole sign. The closer the orb, the stronger, but you count it from the whole sign, so for example anything in Taurus would oppose anything in Scorpio.

  8. mimi says:

    hi christina
    ever used the draconic horoscope ?

    I recently discovered Kim Falconer’s website – she has a very good article on the Draconic Nodes (very enlightening) and you can find the draconic horoscope as well on You should try it.