Western and Vedic astrology have two very different interpretations of the Moon's nodes. In modern Western astrology, almost everyone has based their delineations on the work of Isabel Hickey (Astrology – A Cosmic Science). Beginner's Note: the Moon's nodes are always exactly opposite to each other.
She introduced the idea that the sign and house position of the North node indicated the direction the soul was supposed to move towards in this lifetime, while the South node meant just the opposite. So that if you had the South node in the 10th house, for example, you had in past lives already mastered career, fame, achievement and were meant to put more energy into (North node) the 4th house affairs of home, family, and looking inside.
What she and those who followed her ignored was the fact that the Nodes carry the energy of eclipsing. Vedic astrologers have based their approach heavily upon observation of the sky, and understood thousands of years ago that if you have either Node conjunct a planet, that planet becomes in some way eclipsed.
They further understood that the planets most sensitive to eclipsing were the Sun and the Moon, who actually do get eclipsed during their contacts with the Nodes at the time of the Full or New Moons.
And yes, the concept of eclipsed means exactly what it means in English: overshadowed, invisible, self-effaced, etc.
But the Vedic understanding of the Nodes goes much further. Rahu, or the North node, represents the ideas of exaggeration, ambition, materialism, compulsion, and lust, and when it conjuncts a planet, it often amplifies (sometimes in a distorted way) the expression of that planet. If it is well aspected and well ruled (i.e. the lord of its sign is well placed), then the amplification can lead to success, achievement, directed drives, and fulfillment.
If it -- and its lord -- are challenged, then there can be patterns of ego blindness: difficulty facing oneself and hearing feedback from others, addiction, obsessive thinking, inaccurate perceptions, and/or materialistic grasping. But if the person stays grounded and spiritually aligned, and works on seeing themselves and others clearly, they can overcome the negative patterns and manifest the positive ones.
Ketu, the South node, in its early, afflicted or lower manifestation represents feeling like nobody, powerless, unimportant, ineffectual, invisible, low self-esteem, overshadowed or ignored by others, ungrounded, and escapist. Conjunct a planet, that planet is weakened, made insecure, and/or sometimes loses control (and goes to its other extreme, e.g. outbursts).
Well-positioned, or after self-work, Ketu manifests the highest form of Nobody, the ego-less, enlightened vehicle for Divine transmission. Conjunct a planet, it can help the planet direct its energies towards selfless service, spiritual devotion, and compassion. The urge to transcend, to serve, to give oneself away, in both their higher and lower aspects are the province of Ketu.
In Sum, Rahu leads you more into your involvement with the Earth plane, while Ketu draws you towards things Eternal.
You can learn a lot more about the nodes here.
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