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Ketu: the Mystery of Past Lives
by Ron Berger © October 2005

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Past Lives, or Rebirth as it is often referred to, is not a theory in Hindu culture; it is a fact. Generally we have amnesia about out past lives, but with the help of Vedic Astrology we can get some clues about where we came from, and how that past is influencing our present circumstances.

One of the best techniques for examining the past life is through the analysis of the placement of Ketu in the natal astrology chart. Ketu is the South Node of the Moon, one of two eclipse points: crossover points of the path of the Moon with that of the Sun, as seen from the Earth. Ketu is known as the 'inlet point' for past life karmas. Here the word karma is referring to past life completed actions. The prior activity of the soul comes through in this lifetime as unconscious behavior patterns, naturally familiar due to the prior experiences. The past life actions have created a 'groove' in the soul's memory. Thus, in this life, we are prone to fall back into that groove.

Opposite Ketu is Rahu, the North Node, which is considered to represent the karmas (actions) that have to be encountered in this lifetime for the soul's continued education. The relative strength of Ketu vs. Rahu has to be determined to tell whether the person tends to 'hang out' in the old, familiar, past life behaviors, or else embraces the new lessons shown by the Rahu position. Additionally, at different times in one's life one or the other of the Nodes will be emphasized, most notably during the Dashas (the planetary periods) connected with that node, but also through activation from other planets when they transit over the natal nodal positions. The activation of Ketu brings up unresolved issues from the past. The activation of Rahu makes us confront dilemmas related to what we are becoming in this life's incarnation.

If we wish to take a more active part in our soul's evolution, and move forward in this life, it would be good to understand more about our past life. We can become aware of where we are repeating the past; where we fall back into the old groove. The Houses of the chart correspond to specific different areas of human activity. Thus, the house position of Ketu in your Vedic Astrology chart will tell you something of what activities in the former life were a dominant concern.

For instance, if Ketu is placed in the 3rd house of everyday survival, then running around doing errands, keeping busy with the affairs of close relatives and neighbors, and promoting oneself to others with gossip, etc., are familiar activities that one tends to naturally fall into. In this case, Rahu's placement would indicate that the lessons of the opposite 9th house: the pursuit of higher knowledge, practice of religion, relationship with father and guru, are areas that need development. If the reverse is true, where Ketu is in the 9th house, then one has a tendency to study scripture, hang out in an 'ivory tower', and/ or stick to a religion or philosophy inherited from the past life. Rahu's corresponding position shows the 3rd house with its practical everyday requirements, cooperation with others, and development of mundane skills to be what one has to focus on this time.

The sign that Ketu occupies gives us clues about the qualities of the person we were in the former birth that become natural inclinations in this lifetime. These qualities are particularly obvious while we are young: the past life is still fresh in the soul's memory. The opposite sign position of Rahu shows what qualities and attitudes the soul seeks to learn to express in this birth. If Ketu is in Sagittarius, then you come in with a strong belief that your own way is best, that your own freedom to act comes first, and so feel threatened by anything that comes from another's reality. What you need to learn is to become more 'Gemini-like': to be interested in gathering more data, cultivate an interest in other people's truths, and to enjoy the exchange of ideas. Another example: if you are born with Ketu in Virgo, the past life was given over to the examination of details, with a need for exactness, getting everything right, and an attachment to order and routine. This lifetime you need to become more Piscean: be aware of the universal consciousness, surrender to the Higher Power, and trust what can't be measured or controlled.

A more detailed analysis of the relative strength of Ketu vs. Rahu is necessary to determine which house and sign position tends to predominate in one's life, and what potential issues will arise from the imbalance. But by simply knowing our own chart's nodal locations we can become more aware of unconscious behavior patterns inherited from the past birth and thus see more clearly what we have to overcome to continue on our path.

Ron Berger
2007 Pinehurst Road
Hollywood, CA 90068