by Nadiya Shah
Syncronicity Press, www.NadiyaShah.com, 2013.
Paper – 249 pp.
Price not marked.
The author is a syndicated Sun Sign columnist as producer and host of her own show on YouTube. She caters to newbies and novice astrologers, though I know many more advanced folks who watch her show as well. However, this bit of background will give you an idea of the thrust of this book. In it, Shah introduces you to the basics of astrology, beginning with a very solid historical view and a discussion of philosophy and critical thought regarding astrology. This section is both very readable and well researched and I wouldn’t be surprised if even those beyond the beginning stages learned something from it.
Next, Shah introduces you to the various factors that make up your birth chart. If you don’t have a birth chart, she lists three online chart services where you can punch in your birth data and get yourself a free chart. Next comes the usual discussion of planets, signs, and houses. Shah has chosen not to do this cookbook style, so if you’re wondering what the difference is between, say, Mars in Pisces and Mars in Gemini, you won’t get an answer here. You’ll simply have to think about it. This approach, plus the questions for consideration at the end of each chapter, makes this book an ideal text for teachers of beginning classes or students studying with a teacher. The material on planets, signs, individual houses, and aspects is well written, insightful, and clear. She also explains day and night rulers very clearly and succinctly.
I do, have some minor quibbles, however. First of all, I would have preferred to leave the seasonal emphasis of signs out of things, though she does mention that these apply to the signs as observed in the Northern Hemisphere. Fair enough — and yes, that simply reflects my preferences. The bigger problem for me is the use of the term “intercepted houses.” There is no such animal. I mean, have you ever seen a chart where there were only 10 houses because two got intercepted? C’mon — it’s the signs that get intercepted — not the houses. I know people use this terminology; I hear it all the time. But it’s just plain wrong. And in using it, Shah is encouraging a whole new generation to misuse it as well, and in doing so, garbling the distinction between signs and houses.
There is a good chapter on how transits work. There is also brief discussion of a number of topics well beyond introductory astrology including a very well-done explanation of progressions, a brief discussion of relationship astrology, and even a discussion of astrological magic — though I’m not really sure I’d link the Sabian symbols to astrological magic myself.
Consider this book a supplement to a basic astrology class. Use those questions at the end of each chapter to get students thinking about their charts. But for heaven’s sakes, make it clear that there are no intercepted houses.