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Ketu means 'a flag, a sign, a symbol, intimation or indication'. It refers to the smoke that is the indicator or precursor of fire. It indicates the first light of the dawn or the first rays of the Sun. Ketu also refers to comets (upaketu), which were often regarded as omens of misfortune. Ketu indicates secret knowledge, including symbols, secret languages and ancient teachings. Ketu is the cut off body of a serpent and represents going beyond the mind.

Ketu is ruled over by Chitragupta who is the God of karma, connected to Yama or the God of-death. Chitra means 'a picture', and gupta means 'hidden'. Ketu reflects the karmic residues that are present like pictures in our deeper subconscious mind. These come out in sleep, death or deep meditation when the ordinary mind ceases its activity.

The supreme deity of Ketu is Brahma as the giver of spiritual knowledge, much like Jupiter. While Jupiter is the outer guru, Ketu is the inner guru. At a higher level Ketu relates to the formless Brahman or transcendent reality. Ketu, which is outwardly karma, is inwardly spiritual knowledge or J nana.

Ketu is also connected to Ganesha who is Dhumaketu or smoky Ketu. Ganesha, like Ketu, has his head cut off but replaced with that of en elephant (who has a serpent-like trunk). Ganesha, like Ketu, rules over both karma and spiritual knowledge and is also the main deity of Vedic astrology, which is the science of karma. Sometimes it is the skinny or thin Ganesha that relates to Ketu, while the fat Ganesha relates more to Jupiter.

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