In Vedic astrology he is known as the eclipse or seizer— illusionist, strategist, and unquenchable.
Indeed, most of the time it is hard to distinguish whether it is Rahu’s temptation or our heart and inner wisdom talking to us. Especially if Rahu is influencing the fourth house or the moon—both representative of our inner sanctuary, heart, and intuition.
Make no mistake, Rahu will masquerade as our inner knowing and wisdom giving us permission to move in a direction even when while knowingthat the action may be unhealthy, unproductive, or fruitless.
Depending of the condition of Rahu in the horoscope, his urgings can range from material to spiritual, self obsessed to altruistic. His intensity will keep us from caring for our health, eating too much, drinking too much and exerting beyond our capacity. He may also care too much, compel us into overblown focus on a goal or belief, magnify our creative abilities, or interpret infatuation for enduring love.
Rahu often ignores conventional customs and laws, and in extreme cases can totally abandon all civil behavior.
Rahu’s placement in a house intensifies and amplifies that area of life. His conjunction with other planets intoxicates and exaggerates the planet’s energy in our consciousness. We are at the highest risk of imbalance or immoderation when he is placed with sensual and desirous planets like the Moon or Venus. We can also become overly willful, passionate, and intolerant when he is conjunct Mars or the Sun. Even though he increases the intellect when placed with Mercury, there is still risk of imbalanced intellectual justification for our actions.
That is why Rahu gives better results when placed alone in the horoscope, or under the influence of the benevolent Jupiter (the only planet who can tame him). A well placed Rahu can make our dreams come true beyond our wildest expectations, but rarely gives fulfillment or inner peace.
Rahu dasha or bhukti is usually a roller coaster ride and often starts with an intense feeling or craving that draws us in, so Vedic Astrology recommends that you pay attention to your Rahu and not wait until it’s over to ask, “what hit me?”
Rahu urges us forward with a deafening voice in our head. The passion and zest with which he speaks overtakes the quieter less flamboyant voices of inner wisdom within that speak of simpler needs and uncomplicated choices. Awareness of Rahu’s unconscious drive in our horoscope is the key to helping the “elders,” or wiser planets in our horoscope, like Jupiter, Sun and Saturn to gain an upper hand in our destiny.
Prajnaparadha – Illusion Masquerading as Wisdom
There is a vital concept in Ayurveda called prajnaparadha, which in Sanskrit means “an affront against wisdom.” Actions that are not approved by the intellect (budhi), patience and equanimity (dhariya), ancestral memory and teachings (Smriti), and with the absence of discrimination (Viveka) createprajnaparadha, which is considered the root cause of all illness directly or indirectly.
The absence of these higher faculties in our decision making causes our thoughts and words to come into direct conflict with the actions we end up taking.
In Ayurveda, it is believed that if we continue to perform actions knowing full that they are not good for us, or while we are consumed by guilt or remorse, this burns out the ojas, or the essential life energy in the deep tissues such as the bones, bone marrow and reproductive system, which leads to serious health problems.
This is why the end of the 18 years of Rahu dasha usually brings some spiritual, mental or physical crises as we deal with depleted ojas, run down adrenals, and Rahu’s broken promises to bring us the peace, joy, and happiness we seek.
Children are socialized to experience remorse and guilt when approaching taboo boundaries in society. While they need to learn conventions and customs of their community, over correction and constant reminder of wrong behavior, especially when not age appropriate, also depletes ojas, and leads to mental and physical health problems throughout life.
A recent publication in JAMA Psychiatry is the first in western medicine to correlate childhood guilt with physical changes in the brain that lead to depression in adulthood.
Faith, Hope, and Joy
High ojas gives faith, hope, optimism, vitality, and strength to the body and mind. It gives balance and equanimity and a belief in some divine purpose to the events of our life. These are also all the attributes of a well placed benefic Jupiter in the chart.
Depletion of ojas causes loss of faith, fear, grief, guilt, and remorse leading to negativity, pessimism, and depression, which become further obstacles to our healing. The longer we wait to treat low ojas, the harder it gets because low ojas results in further loss of coordination between the mind and heart and we are not able to follow through with our resolve.
Addictions and Decision Fatigue
Burnt out ojas eventually leads to addictive behavior as we try and recover the “good feeling” that is lost and the sadness that ensues. You cannot deal with addictions of Rahu by guilt tripping him, as the temptations and fixations literally come from nowhere and are often our of our control. The more we rationalize their impact, the worse they become.
I read recently that we make over 35,000 decisions daily. Ayurveda recognizes that each decision, especially when we are really conflicted or feel guilty, drains our ojas or energy reserves. Low ojas can result in loss of self-control during the decision making process.
We only have a finite amount of energy to harbor self-control in our decision making, and when we run out of that all we hear is Rahu yelling in our head to “go for it: you can have your cake and eat it too.”
In other words, if you have serious addictions you almost definitely also have depleted ojas, as a healthy body will not be prone to addictive or extreme behaviors.
If you are under the influence of Rahu or know someone who is, have compassion for them and yourself. Recognize that Rahu's job is to put us on automatic pilot. The way to conquer him not by blame and shame but by slowing down, cultivating awareness, unconditional Love, and true spiritual knowledge.
Nutritional support to the body by increasing Ojas is also critical. In Ayurveda, the ability for self-control is a good measure of a person’s strength and vitality.
Contrary to what it sounds like, Rahu is not the ultimate “gangster” or “bad guy” leading us astray; he serves a very important function in our evolution. In India, there are many temples to Rahu and people regularly pay homage to this divine force as an aspect of Lord Shiva, whose job is to create a struggle between our higher self and our lower desires and passions, so that they can be permanently released from our consciousness.
Rahu periods can bring intense ups and downs because strong ancient, suppressed desires erupt in our consciousness, as well as the blocks against pursuing them.
According to Hindu spiritual thought, our desire inventory has to be completely exhausted before we can truly be free.
Following Our Heart
"Follow your heart, follow your spirit, live authentically" are the catch phrases of the new age culture. Clients often ask me how something that feels so right to them could possibly not be their inner knowing.
How do we know if it is truly the wisdom of the heart, or dissonance of Rahu that is guiding our decisions?
Sure honoring our desires is an important path towards our wholeness; however, any desire that is controlling, imprisoning, or obsessive is probably Rahu’s influence.
Rahu creates turbulence and the feeling of “I can’t live without this,” but the heart is not subject to such cravings, chaos, or fear. It simply gives a profound realization, or a spontaneous knowing from within.
Following our heart leads to health, truth, happiness, peace, and real knowledge. When Rahu is in charge of our decision-making, usually discord and conflict will follow.
(In some instances, discord and entropy are necessary, and therefore Rahu is also referred to as the outcast, exiled, or revolutionary. Robin Hood is a good example of a spiritualized Rahu).
Managing and balancing our Rahu is perhaps the most essential business of our work on this earth. Ultimately, how fulfilled and healthy our life will be depends on how well we navigate the task that life has assigned us, or the hand that we are dealt.