There is a lot of wonderful astrology writing these days. Astrology has really benefited from the Internet, but in particular from the blog world, where exposure to someone’s work and ideas over a period of time sorts out the dabblers from the serious students and practitioners. It also allows you to learn whether or not you have a particular affinity for a certain person’s work, and helps you get to know someone’s astrological point of view before you engage them in a consultation. This is something beyond what we would have thought possible a few years ago, when ‘serious’ astrology writing was dominated by a select few. The more good knowledge out there the better, I say.
However, astrology itself is having a bit of a struggle now, and is suffering the backlash brought about from our society’s extended exposure to all sorts of fundamentalism (I’m still waiting for the day when we as a society get tired of corporate fundamentalism). So in order to give more exposure to good astrological writing and to spread the word about what’s available out there, from time to time I’m going to feature a book that I think is well worth the read for people who are impassioned about astrology, its history, and its future direction. These aren’t book reviews, per se, but I will be pointing out the worthwhile and interesting books that contribute in some way to astrological knowledge. In short, books that help us to think astrologically, and therefore make us better astrologers. Worth a look for that alone.
I’m pleased to say that the first featured book is Jupiter Meets Uranus, by Anne Whitaker. Anne is an astrologer and writer living in Scotland, and is a graduate of The Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, the astrology school Liz Greene founded with Howard Sassportas. Her blog, Writing from the Twelfth House, is always a great read, and full of interesting diversions. I recommend her posts about her own paranormal experiences.
Jupiter and Uranus form a conjunction every 14 years. What happens when the planet of higher learning, adventure and exploration joins forces with the revolutionary spaceman? Well, Anne Whitaker decided to do her own exploring. The answers are not unexpected, but surprising in their accuracy and timing. What happened under a Jupiter/Uranus banner? Ponce de Leon discovered the “New World.” Mary Shelly published the story of Frankenstein (still a cautionary tale for our times), a man walked on the Moon and Dolly the Sheep was cloned. And that’s only for a start.
Anne’s book takes us through the Jupiter/Uranus high points (and inevitable low points) in history, and the chapters read like a novel. Her scholarship is first rate, and her observations insightful. The book is well worth a read simply for her descriptions of Jupiter and Uranus, and the introduction (do not skip) takes us on a journey through the mythology of each planet. Her contribution to the argument that the planet we now know as Uranus should be renamed Prometheus (an ongoing astrological debate) is strong. (I agree, although the legendary ruthlessness of Uranus, often forgotten, comes through in the mythology of Ouranos.) When you get to the end of this book, you will feel that you know both Jupiter and Uranus a lot more intimately, and will understand more clearly their function in a chart.
We experienced a Jupiter/Uranus conjunction at 5 degrees Aquarius in 1997. For those of us with planets there, it was an electric, expansive, often unnerving transit that brought not only the unexpected, but the unimaginable. At the time, it was conjunct my natal Chiron and opposite my natal Moon/Uranus conjunction (hard enough to have an ordinary Uranus opposition to itself, without all the other baggage, and Jupiter). The shocks to my conscious awareness were ferocious. My ‘ordinary’ life was put on hold as I experienced one type of psychic and other-worldly phenomenon after another–telepathy, astral travel, lucid dreaming, the entire panoply of the strange (Chiron/Moon is often associated with shamanistic experiences). Fortunately (or unfortunately), after what seemed like forever, it ended–but while it was there I was able to do nothing else, and experienced first hand the bizarre, stop-at-nothing single mindedness of the combination. I still carry its mark, but in, I hope, a constructive way.
Perhaps the best part of Anne’s book is the second half, where we are given case histories of ordinary folks who went through this transit, and how they were affected by it. This kind of study, and this kind of astrological inquiry, is absolutely invaluable to the profession, and I wish more of it would be done. The stories are told in a direct and accessible way that gets straight to the heart of the matter, and with each successive history we see how inner discoveries and journeys are as awe-inspiring, potent and transforming as external ones.
If you aren’t normally a reader of general astrology books, this one is a good place to start. The first thing you notice when you read the book is how good the writing is. A lot of astrological writing gets bogged down in terminology and choked with half-explained concepts, but Anne’s book is lively, clear, often funny, and her enthusiasm for her subject jumps off the page. Whether you enjoy seeing the correlations between astrological aspects and history, or you simply wish to understand how the combined energy of two more remote planets can merge to move us all forward via sharp collective shocks, pick up this book. At the end of it, you’ll be a better astrologer than you were when you entered it, and I can’t give a higher recommendation than that.
Astrological level needed: More advanced beginner to intermediate. Not too difficult for newbies if they’re willing to make the effort.
The book is published by The American Federation of Astrologers, and you can find it in your bookstores or through amazon here.