Planetary ContainmentsA Study of 990 Combinations by John Sandbach and Roun Ballard. Seek-It Publications, Birmingham, AL.
The very simple concept of this book never really caught on, and I dont understand why. Its basic idea, that adjacent planets influence one another, is very common-sensical, whether one views them in the heavens or in a chart.
John and Roun present 3-planet combinations of all of the ten major planets plus ascendant and midheaven. Planets are read in zodiacal order. For instance, for Taurus, Gemini is ahead of it, and Aries is behind it. A planet behind Planet X shows the basis, the motivation of Planet X, and a planet in front of it shows how it is manifested.
It doesnt matter if the planets are close or far apart. It is the order that counts. My Aquarius Sun, for instance, is motivated by hard-working Mars in Capricorn, who wants success. And it manifests through my Pisces Mercury as astrological writing and counseling.
I have found, however, that planets on both sides contribute many things to Planet Xs expression. There are other variables which affect adjacency. But just this very simple quality of planetary order can greatly enrich a chart reading. This book is very valuable in adding depth to all types of charts. And it is so simple to use.
This book was first printed in 1980, and can be found new, as well as on used book shelves. Also, Seek-It is astrologer Ray Merrimans publishing company, and Ray can be reached at his e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Goddess in Your Stars by Geraldine Thorsten. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1980 and 1989. Out of print; available used.
Im going to begin with a tip to all astrology studentswould-be, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. THE BASIS OF ALL ASTROLOGICAL UNDERSTANDING IS THE SIGNS AND THE PLANETS.
All other techniques, charts, bodies, etc. depend on an understanding of the twelve signs and the ten major planets. Without that, everything else is superficial.
This should be your major focus as you deepen your understanding of astrologythe good old basic signs and planets. They are archetypes, with core meanings, and yet archetypes have as many facets as does life. They are complex in their totality, and only truly understood through observationcontinually observing life and planetary correspondencesdifferent every momentand painstakingly gathering a body of evidence which yields working hypotheses.
Thats all astrology is: working hypotheses. E.g., How does Venus work in this circumstance? How does it work in that circumstance? Books can help us get ideas, but the answers are not in books. They are in life.
One can never master this field, because every moment in the sky is different, and every moment in a persons life is different. We can just develop working hypotheses, deeper and richer and more accurate as our experience increases.
That said, I want to recommend a book which brings feminine interpretations to the Sun Signs through connecting them with ancient goddesses. We are conditioned to a masculine emphasis in astrology, and this book is a breath of fresh air in approaching the signs.
The Goddess in Your Stars by Geraldine Thorsten (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1980 and 1989), is worth looking for on secondhand book shelves.
Geraldine begins with Taurus, lead sign of the zodiac, and reminds us that when astrology first began, people believed that God was feminine, that she created and nurtured all, and welcomed us back into her mysteries at death and prepared us for rebirth. Taurus celebrated the awesome , creative powers of the Goddess as Earth.
It helped me to hear her talk about how the strength and stability of Taurus can be a handicap during transition periods, when change is required. When my progressed Sun and Moon entered Taurus I felt horribly slow and inertcould hardly stand it. My Taurus friends got me through that transition with their understanding.
Now we are moving into Scorpio season, and Geraldine says that Scorpios power comes from its connection with the worlds original deity, Mother of All, who ruled the sky, the earth, the depths of the earth, the waters of life, and fires of heaven and hearths. Her first emblems were the snake and bird of Scorpio.
This book opens new vistas in understanding of the signs and of mythology, and it is fascinating reading. Geraldine also gives visualizations for each sign.
Karmic Astrology, Vol. II, Retrogrades and Reincarnation. Martin Schulman. Red Wheel/Weiser Inc., New York, 1977. Paperback, $9.95.
This is one of those gems that is so good, it is still in print after nearly 25 years. This fascinating book gave me my first real understanding of how retrograde planets work. Martin Schulman is very clear and concise. He talks about retrograde planets generally, each retrograde planet individually, and each retrograde planet in each sign and in each house.
With retrogrades we look back to, and repeat, experiences and reactions from the past. The past can go all the way back from now to many lifetimes. Our effort, with a retrograde, is to bring that past pattern into our present life. This is a greater or lesser challenge, depending on the planet and the sign, and whether we can use past experience productively rather than get stuck in it.
I really identify with what Martin says about my retrograde Neptune in Leo: "Karmically, she is to take the enormous power of her positive belief systems, which she has come into this life with; get in touch with them, and then help to create the better world her Soul has dreamed of."
Karmic Astrology, Vol. 1. The Moons Nodes and Reincarnation by Martin Schulman. Red Wheel/Weiser Inc., New York, 1975. Paperback, $7.95
This book is among the many fine basic astrology books published in the 1970s. Some of them have been reprinted, and this is one that I currently see on store bookshelves, although at $7.95 it costs more than the $3.95 printed on my copy.
The Moons Nodes are not visible points in the sky. They are mathematical points, always in opposing signs, showing where the orbits of Sun, Moon, and Earth come together. If Sun and Moon represent our basic solar system personality, adding in the Earth then shows how we develop that being on Earth.
Just as these points are invisible, they operate at an unconscious level in our lives. We simply draw towards us nodal experiences. Nevertheless, this opposition is in many ways the backbone of our chart and of our lives.
The South Node is symbolic of our past, in this life as well as in former lives. It represents the kinds of experiences with which we are familiar. The North Node shows the direction in which we are meant to grow. Because the experiences of the South Node are familiar, we can fall into them while neglecting the harder work of developing our potential as shown by the North Node. Ideally, we use the qualities developed through the South Node to further our growth towards the North Node.
The Nodes are in one polarity for about 18 months, and the whole world is on that particular journey for those 18 months. We are now concluding a session with the Cancer-Capricorn polarity, and moving into a Gemini-Sagittarius polarity for the next 18 months.
Martin Schulman talks about these mysterious Moons Nodes very clearly. He says,
"At one level they reveal the track that your soul is running on in the current life, while the rest of the horoscope adds additional information as to how you are to make the journey
.They define the karmic lessons one has chosen to take on for this life."
The Nodes "link us with the past and point the way to the future
They are points of soul magnetism."
Martin goes on to discuss the nodal axis and each Node separately. He then delineates the Nodes in the signs and the Nodes in the houses. His delineations are remarkable in matching peoples lives as they live them. I learned about Moons Nodes from Martin Schulman, and I use that information daily.
I, for instance, have South Node in Sagittarius and North Node in Gemini. My childhood was very Sagittarian, and all of the past life images with which I identify are of Sagittarian archetypes. Nature and wilderness most attract me. They feed my soul.
And yeteven before I knew of astrologyI thought of the whole thrust of my life as a struggle to become civilizedGemini. Just to live indoors used to be super difficult for me. Through my children, through animals, through working with nature and people, Ive moved consistently towards my North Node. From ages 70-75, Im in a Nodal planetary period for the first time in my life. Daykeeper Online is a very Gemini-Sagittarius endeavor on many levels.
If you want to have a deeper understanding of Moons Nodesor, in fact, astrology in general, get this book.
Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets by Barbara Hand Clow. Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 1987. Paperback.
This book came into my life in 1988, while I was home healing a broken foota Chirotic situation. It was like a huge explosion of light within me. Every moment of reading it was super-exciting, and it still continues to be my favorite reference book on Chiron.
Barbara Hand Clow IS Chiron, a maverick who teaches and nurtures and comes from a deep place of her own wounding. In this book she took me by the hand and led me deeply into the bowels of Chiron and his mountain cave. She helped me not only to know Chiron, but to feel him.
Chiron is the Wounded Healer. His wound was due to one of his students, Hercules, accidentally shooting him in the foot. In mythology, Chiron was a teacher and a healer, the "best of the Centaurs." Among his students were Asclepius, the father of medicine, and Jason, who found the golden fleece.
Barbaras book is thorough. She delves into Chirons mythology. She talks about its discovery in 1977, its orbit and its significance in connecting inner and outer planets. She shows how it is a guide to our higher selves.
She discusses Chiron as a ruler of Virgo, and then brings him through all the signs, houses, and aspects. She shows the importance of the Chiron Return at age 50-51. She gives many Chiron example charts.
Throughout, the text is both lively and applicable to real living. This book is one of my top favorites.
ASTEROID GODDESSES by Demetra George and Douglas Bloch. ACS Publications, Inc., San Diego, CA. 1986, 1999. Out of print; available used.
In my work I use the four major asteroids because I find them very significant. They were discovered in 1801, and are Earth Mother Ceres, Strategist Pallas Athena, Guardian Vesta, and Consort Juno. Their importance jumped out at me immediately because I had already noticed that of the 10 major planets, only twoVenus and Moonare assigned feminine identities. Use of the asteroids helps to balance the dynamics of a chart.
People often ask about the asteroids, and where they can learn more about them. The recognized asteroid expert is Demetra George, and together with Douglas Bloch, she has written the definitive asteroid book, Asteroid Goddesses. Demetra has a comprehensive background in mythology, and sometimes leads tours into legendary Goddess areas.
Demetra and Douglas wrote my favorite astrology-learning book, Astrology for Yourself, which I recommended in a past column. As authors, they are very precise. They know how to ferret out the essence of their subject, and present it in ways which are deceptively simple, yet full of meaning.
This is much more than a sign-house book. There is an excellent introduction which discusses the asteroids as agents of transformation, as harbingers of a new mythology, and as part of the planetary mandala.
Then each asteroid is fully discussed in terms of her mythology, stories which illustrate her activity, her psychology, her various special associations with astrology, and finally her action in each sign and house, and connected to each planet.
There is more in this fascinating book. It is packed full of well-ordered, useful information. I highly recommend it.
An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformation and Its 360 Symbolic Phases, by Dane Rudhyar. Random House.
Many readers have asked about the source of the Sabian Symbols. I use the Sabian Symbols as translated by Dane Rudhyar in An Astrological Mandala. This book was published by Random House as a paperback in 1974, and was an immediate success. At some point it went out of print, but by then there were thousands of copies on used book shelves, and for years it was easy to locate a copy. However, those books gradually dwindled, as demand continued. And finally An Astrological Mandala was recently republished.
Other astrologers have made up images for each of the 360 degrees of the zodiac, but none approach the power of these symbols. You can use them however you want to. For instance, you can apply them to any degree in any chart to help illuminate the meaning of that degree or you can apply them to all the planets in a chart and make a story of them. Dane Rudhyar has devised a simple system to use the symbols as Oracles, similar to Tarot cards.
Dane Rudhyar has adapted his interpretations of the symbols from the original manuscript of astrologer Marc Edmund Jones, who first elicited them in partnership with Elsie Wheeler, a clairvoyant. Marc had been working with the idea of zodiacal symbols for many years, and suddenly he had an inspiration how to develop them.
On a certain morning in 1925, Marc took Miss Wheeler in his car to a park in San Diego, and stopped in a quiet place. He had with him a pack of 360 small index cards, and each card was almost invisibly marked with a zodiac sign and degree. Marc Jones then began to shuffle the cards thoroughly, and continued to shuffle them. He then picked one card at random, and without looking at the marking, asked Miss Wheeler what she saw.
Marc Jones quickly wrote down what she said, and eventually created his own book, Sabian Symbols. I like this book, also. Dane consulted with Marc, and the meanings are similar in both books, but I prefer Danes writing. And it was Dane Rudhyar who made the Sabian Symbols a coin of the realm in astrology.
Heaven Knows What: How to Cast Your Horoscope in 15 Minutes, by Grant Lewi. Now in its tenth printing, published by Llewellyn Publications.
Every few years a new Sun-Moon combination book is published. None of them compares with an old standby, Heaven Knows What by Grant Lewi, first published in 1935. I have a tattered 1978 Bantam paperback, and felt lucky to have it, because it was out of print for many years.
Heaven Knows What was a popular book, written for everyone to understand and use. One could start with the clever do-it-yourself horoscope system at the back of the book, and then move onto the aspects between the planets, all delineated in concrete, everyday termsexcept for Pluto, just being discovered when he wrote.
The book is brief, but amazingly accurate, far better than any computer report Ive seen. Many of Grants interpretations dont seem to arise from logic, but they are right on. His super intuitive ability is shown by his Gemini Sun conjunct Pluto and opposite Uranus. Grant died young, at 49. It seems a great pity that he wasnt around to write more.
But perhaps this uniquely useful book is quite enough for one person. (I do have one other by Grant Lewi.) It had hundreds of thousands of salesprobably millions by nowand was republished many times by several different publishers.
The good news is that it has been recently republished by Llewellyn. Grant had an engaging writing style, and once you open this book youll be hooked.
Astrology for Yourself: A Workbook for Personal Transformation, by Douglas Bloch and Demetra George. Wingbow Press, Berkeley, Ca.
People often ask me to recommend a good beginners book. If youre interested enough to do a bit of work, I suggest Astrology for Yourself: A Workbook for Personal Transformation by Douglas Bloch and Demetra George.
This book has become a classic primer. My copy was published in 1987, and it continues to be republished.
The reader uses their own astrological chart, and step-by-step works through the basic astrological principles, like a detective, eventually interpreting their own chart. The authors are both well grounded in astrology, and are able to lay out the basics in a simple fashion.
In fact, the language of astrology is simple. There are three basic categoriesplanets, signs, and housesand all interpretation is based on a thorough understanding of the meaning of each term, 34 in all. Practice is the key. A student could go through this simple book with many charts, of people they know or people in the news, and develop a workable understanding of astrology.
Since every chart is different, every combination different, experience is essential to develop a framework of meaning for each of the 34 terms. This book provides a good grounding, but like any other discipline, it requires practice to develop skill.