Essential Astrology

by Amy Herring
Paper – 382 pp. 
Price: $24.99 US/$28.95 CDN.
 
Good astrology books for beginners have gotten to be hard to find. And just when you think you’ve found one that will work for your students, it invariably goes out of print indefinitely and the search begins again. So, I was delighted to find this new offering from Amy Herring. The author is a seasoned astrologer who approaches astrology from a psychological perspective that emphasizes the potential for evolution inherent in the chart. She has definitely been influenced by the tenets of evolutionary astrology, but at the same time, she is not pushing any one system of astrology. She sees the chart as a tool you can use to help you build the life you want. She also sees astrology as a symbolic language and shows you how to make sense of those symbols — without resorting to cookbook interpretations, I might add. Why? Because she feels they are limiting.
The writing style is clear and simple, though the content is pretty profound. The book begins and the beginning and progresses in orderly fashion. The book opens with a short history of astrology, the astronomy behind the astrology, and a guided tour of the major components of the chart. Section Two discusses what planets, signs, and houses mean. One major goal in this section seems to be moving beyond those aforementioned cookbook stereotypes. So, for the planets for example, she includes a thorough discussion of each, including both common themes and what happens when they are misdirected. She also clarifies commonly used keywords and differentiates between the nuances in interpretation of keywords that are used for more than one planet — for example individuality as it applies to the Sun and individuality as it applies to Uranus. There are a couple of specific examples of how each placement operates — for example, the Moon in Libra in the fourth house contrasted with the Moon in Aries in the third house. I see some beginners being frustrated when their placement isn’t covered, but the point of these exercises is to make you think. Last but not least, there are questions to ask yourself in regard to each placement. So for Mercury, you are asked what topics draw your attention most easily, what style of learning works best for you, how you express your ideas, and so on. And as you journey through the chart, you learn…
There’s a section on the basics of chart interpretation with a decent chapter on aspects and a lot of tips and tricks for synthesizing— including some tips on resolving contradictions. One in-depth case study — Steve Martin’s chart — is used. It is presented in tropical Porphyry.
The book is rounded out with an excellent glossary and a good list of recommended reading and resources, including web resources.
As a book for the solitary student studying alone, this may not be the best — especially if the student is brand new. For new students at the beginner or advanced beginner level studying with a teacher, this is an excellent textbook or supplement that I suspect both teachers and students will enjoy using and gain from. Give it a look!

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