“Carried Away” by the Moon’s Nodes

In Leonard Bernstein’s musical On the Town, Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote these classic comedy lyrics

I try hard to stay controlled,
But I get carried away;
Try to act aloof and cold,
But I get carried away!
When shopping I’m a sucker for a bargain sale,
If something is marked down upon a shelf,
My sense of what is practical begins to fail,
I buy one, then another, and another, and another,
I buy the whole store out and IÕm in biz-ness for myself!

But for many people, getting “carried away” is no laughing matter. At best, you get a case of buyer’s remorse. At worst, you devolve into a full-blown addiction, that ruins both your life and the lives of everyone close to you.

My former husband, for example, was a sucker for get-rich-quick schemes. You name it, he tried it: real estate investing, Ebay power-selling, accounts receivable factoring, put-options, multi-level marketing. Every manner of “educational program,” he charged to credit cards, each time thinking he would recoup it all within a couple of months — until he amassed credit card debt of $168,000.

And I had to cover his bills out of money I’d received from my mother’s estate, until I had almost nothing left. I didn’t recognize this pattern as a gambling addiction, until I was already in way too deep.

My mother, on the other hand, represented the opposite side of that coin: Instead of a voracious appetite that no amount of consumption could satisfy, her prime motivator was Disgust. Terribly class-conscious, she felt literally soiled by merely being in close proximity to a low-class person. “Trash is trash, no matter what color it is.” Her snobbery was so disgraceful I found it embarrassing.

It wasn’t until I began studying the Indian astrological system — Vedic, or “jyotish” in Sanskrit — that I came to understand how everyone is driven by these opposing forces of Obsession and Revulsion. And the planets that show this . . . are no planets at all: The Nodes of the Moon, the two shadow points in space that cause the eclipses of the Sun and Moon.

Because they are not physical planets, they are often treated as an afterthought (if at all) in the Western astrology that you are used to. But in Vedic astrology they are major players. If you are beset by chronic difficulties that have no logical explanation from the other planets, look to the Nodes to figure out what’s really going on.

Their Sanskrit names are Rahu and Ketu. Their myth is that they were once one snakelike creature, a demon who got a drop of the nectar of immortality, only to be chopped in half by Vishnu when the Sun and Moon exposed the snake’s trickery. Now Rahu has become a head without a body, while Ketu is a body without a head. Ever after, they have sought revenge by chasing the Sun and Moon throughout the heavens, and sometimes they even catch up and swallow the Sun or the Moon. But because both Rahu and Ketu are not self-contained bodies, each still having an opening at the neck, the Sun and Moon are always able to find their way back out again.

Rahu is the North Node in the Moon’s orbit, that causes solar eclipses when the Earth, Moon and Sun all line up on a single plane. Ketu is the South Node of the Moon’s orbit, that causes lunar eclipses.

Now think for a moment, about Rahu as a head without a body. What would happen if that head tried to eat anything? It would all just drop onto the floor, right? Think of Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean, swilling wine only to have it spill through his ribcage. “No food or drink can satisfy our hunger; no wench can slake our lust.” Significantly, he explains that “the Moon shows us for what we really are.” (Or “arrrgh.”)

Can you think of something that you want so much, you can’t get enough of it? Something that would make you neglect everything else in life? Something that would cause you to spend beaucoups of bucks to get it? Only to find that the satisfaction is ephemeral — it doesn’t really give you the happiness you seek, at least not for very long.

Rahu’s placement in our charts shows us where we are most likely to become obsessed with something. Whatever it is, we have a difficult time assimilating or implementing it — like my husband’s inability to put any of his money-making “programs” into actual practice. We exhibit a great deal of immaturity around the issue. Some astrologers even believe that Rahu represents an issue that we have never experienced before, and this is our first incarnation where we are wanting to experience this thing.

But if Rahu shows our inexperience, Ketu — the body without a head — shows us where we bring a ton of experience to this life. The history of all our previous incarnations is bound-up in Ketu. This is the destiny that is thrust upon us, and we may in fact be very, very good at it, but it brings us no joy because we did not choose it.

Think of a Depression-era girl who had to drop out of high school to help her father in the town general store. Such a girl would become very, very good at running a small business from a young age . . . but what would she miss? The rite of passage known as The Prom. Do you think she would grow up to be rather socially awkward around the opposite sex, because she missed out on the whole dance of flirtation? She probably even wouldn’t have many girlfriends who could understand her, for living worlds apart.

Or think of George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, constantly having to put his own personal ambitions on hold, carrying on his father’s business out of a grudging sense of duty, because he knows he is the one thing standing between the townspeople and the poverty they would all fall prey to, if the greedy Mr. Potter had his way.

Ketu shows us the things we reject: that which we abhor so much, the very thought of it makes us feel sick. Rahu shows up prominently in the charts of addicts; Ketu dominates the charts of renunciates, hermits, people who “opt out” of society in some way.

Wherever they show up in our horoscopes, is where our buttons really get pushed — and we often can’t even explain why, because they operate at a subconscious level. They are shadows: they create blindness wherever they go.

Both of them show us where we don’t want to listen, or take good advice from anybody: Rahu, because “I have to see for myself!”; Ketu, because “I’ve seen it all before!” Either way, they give us stubbornness and arrogance. (How often have you heard somebody say, “I don’t wanna hear it!” That was probably their Ketu talking.)

Both of them show where we tend to go overboard in life, and get “carried away” — either with insatiable desire or utter revulsion — driven by some deep psychological need that doesn’t even make logical sense if we were pressed to explain it. Everybody has something going on in their lives, that fits this description.

In my own chart, my Nodal Axis lies across the 5th and 11th houses, and its effects showed up early. Among other things, the 11th is the house of crowds. My Ketu is there, and from a very young age I could not bear the thought of being just like everybody else! Creativity and self-expression is what I craved above all else, as shown by Rahu in the 5th house.

In the case of my mother — I do not have an accurate birth time for her, so I can’t say precisely where her Nodes landed, by house — but by sign, I do know they were exactly opposite from mine! I was fascinated by Bohemians; she considered them savages.

The paradox about Ketu is that the very thing we profess to abhor, we also need, in a way that can be hard for us to admit. As much as my mother wanted to isolate herself from “the great unwashed” of the world, she also cared desperately about “what will other people think.” I craved acclaim for the self-expression of my 5th-house Rahu — but for that, I needed to learn to get friendly with the 11-house crowds. Any creative work that I make, has to serve their needs too, by illustrating a scenario that they can relate to and learn from.

And the paradox about Rahu is that there is probably a better way to satisfy the emotional need you seek, without bankrupting yourself to do it. Fortunately, once you start asking the right questions, Rahu will often come through with some innovative and genius answers.

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