PRACTICES FOR THE AUGUST SOLAR ECLIPSE
Everyone seems to be discussing the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse. There are even flights to go view it! In Jyotish, or, Vedic astrology and astronomy, eclipses are particularly powerful events. Eclipses occur when the nodes, Rahu (North) or Ketu (South) fall within a certain astronomical degree of the Sun / Moon. Since eclipses occlude the luminaries, the Sun or Moon, from our vision, they are viewed as inauspicious events in Vedic astrology. Jyotish suggests the the times of eclipses are ideal for spiritual practices.
Solar eclipses occur on a new Moon when the Sun and Moon are closely aligned with one of the nodes, Rahu or Ketu. In Vedic astrology, eclipses weaken both the Sun and the Moon.
While many people are intent on watching the eclipse, this is never recommended in the tradition of Vedic astrology. Those who do look at them may suffer from greater difficulty in the future. The mythology related to the nodes, Rahu & Ketu can help explain why. What follows is a very simplified version of the tale.
THE STORY OF RAHU AND KETU
The nodes were initially embodied in a demonic form. They desired immortality. One demon heard of a private party where the Gods were imbibing amrita, the nectar of immortality. He desired to join the party, donned a disguise, and gained admittance. The amrita was passed around the table and the demon tasted it, and was then discovered by the Sun and the Moon. One of the Gods threw a discus and chopped the demon into two halves: the head (Rahu) and the tail (Ketu). Having tasted the nectar of immortality, Rahu is forever questing for that elixir and is never satiated.
Thus, the nodes are correlated with illusion and disguise. Rahu creates unending questing, desire, ambition, and a hunger for whatever it feels it still needs to attain. There is the connotation of desiring to partake in a situation and with a group where it does not belong. Ketu is usually associated with spiritual pursuits, though the theme of questing is still active.