The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, by Joanna Martine Woolfolk
Taylor Trade, 9781589796539, 2008
The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need is an updated and revised edition of the 1982 text, now including more depth in the meaning of the signs, relationships, and includes “the latest information about new discoveries in astronomy.”
Let’s tackle this book based on the title, is it really the only astrology book you’ll ever need? It is a fairly comprehensive text. It covers all of the basics of modern astrology that you’d be looking for: sun signs, decanates, moon signs, ascendants, the planets, the houses, and how to read a chart. All of these sections are well written and informative, though I feel a bit of expansion would be helpful for those with less of a background in astrology, especially near the end of the book when everything was being drawn together in chart interpretation. That being said I found the descriptions of the different concepts fairly reliable and more precise in wording than a lot of current astrology books. Usually the language is a bit more cloudy and vague in an astrology book, here the language is more exact and specific, which is refreshing to see an astrological author willing to put their money where their words are because it’s a lot easier to be wrong when you’re specific rather than hedging with vague language. Continue reading
Kissing the Limitless: Deep Magic and the Great Work of Transforming Yourself and the World, by T. Thorn Coyle
Weiser, 9781578634354, 268 pp., 2009
“This is a book of deep magic, of high magic, of magic for our hearts and souls. The potency of this magic rests deeply within us, and the universe supports its unfolding.”
This isn’t your standard book on magick. This book is about the Great Work, Union with the All, the Divine, the Cosmos, the Limitless, and that is a refreshing change. Do not misunderstand me, I enjoy and see value in magickal books that provide us techniques to go the way of our wishes and to help us succeed in life, but it is nice to see a book on magick that puts that aside in favour of Union.
That being said this is more or less a beginner’s book, while we might often think of the Great Work as the ultimate quest for the experienced mage there is no reason why it cannot and should not be started earlier, and Coyle makes a good case for that. Though as with more goal and desire oriented magick the Great Work can be dangerous for those unready. “There are too many people who enter this work only partially prepared and walk around spiritual and magical communities with shattered auras or egos puffed up out of proportion to their beings or great ‘powers’ they use to manipulate others.” We’ve all seen these people, and while this is just one book Coyle does set out to help them, and help minimize this occurrence. Continue reading
A Magical Tour of the Night Sky: Use the Planets and Stars for Personal and Sacred Discovery, by Renna Shesso
Weiser, 9781578634958, 261 pp., 2011
A Magical Tour of the Night Sky is a pretty unique book. Despite the title, sub-title , and even some of the back cover this is not a book about astrology; it is a book about the sky, and our selves. While astrology does come up, there is some discussion of signs and planets and what they mean in astrology but it isn’t about astrology really, there are no mentions of personality traits, predictions, or matching Sun signs with one another. Instead this book focuses on the mythology, and the astronomy, the latter making it an especially interesting book.
Each chapter – starting with the Pole Star, to the Zodiac, then out through the planets – has Shesso weaving together mythology and history from various cultures, most notably Greco-Roman, Norse, Egyptian, and Babylonian. The reader is given a sense of the spiritual importance placed on the planets, as well as seeing how these views permeated the cultures and show up in everything from basket weaving to architecture. Though occasionally the links feel like a bit of a stretch, and some are just incorrect (the etymology of Yule and the history of term Summerland for instance) overall they’re sound and intriguing. She also then explains some of the astronomy behind the planets, and that’s the section that is probably most useful to a magickal practitioner. To generalize most Pagans (like most people in general in modern Western culture) can’t look at the Moon and say if it is waxing or waning, but Shesso explains simple ways to tell just that. She explains how the orbits and motions of Mercury and Venus function, the appearance of the morning/evening star, and interesting mathematical and astronomical facts about each, such as how Venus’ solar conjunctions slowly trace a pentagram in the sky. The ability to locate and understand the movements of the planets is a great step in being able to use them more efficiently. Continue reading
Casting Sacred Space: The Core of All Magickal Work, by Ivo Dominguez Jr.
Weiser Books, 9781578634996, 207 pp., 2012
Everyone in the occult community knows the usual complaint: there are too many 101 books, too many books for beginners. What could be more 101 than an entire book on creating sacred space? Despite the deceptively simple title and seemingly simple topic this book is not 101.
The subtitle of the book refers to making sacred space as the core of all magickal work, and it’s true most magickal systems, as most magickal workings involve some sort of delineation of space. But how hard could it be? You make a circle, you toss everything you don’t want out, and you begin — how could an entire book be devoted to that? As anyone who has dealt with multiple traditions knows, not all spaces are made equally, or in the same way. Dominguez does a brilliant job explaining a great variety of methods for the creation of sacred space, and the reasons why some methods are more appropriate in some situations than others. The majority of the methods in this book are unique being “re-created, from my past-life memories, visions, and careful thought based on this life’s learning.” If you’re the type of person to be turned off by the mention of past-lives in regards to something like this all I can say if give the exercises a try first, then decide. Continue reading
The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook: A Grimoire of Philtres, Elixirs, Oils, Incense, and Formulas for Ritual Use, by Karen Harrison
Weiser, 9781578634910, 239pp., 2011
In this book, we explore Herbal Alchemy as practiced in the West, through the uses of the plants and their Planetary signatures as developed by the 14th century philosopher and Alchemist Paracelsus.
A book on this topic couldn’t start with a more hopeful introduction. After a brief description of alchemy in different forms (lead to gold, internal alchemy, alchemy as a path to the divine), the author states this as her purpose for the book. While it sounds good, this is the beginning of my problems with the book: her use of the terms “alchemy” and “alchemist.” Continue reading