Category Archives: reviews

The Waking Dream

Ray Grasse’s book, The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of our Lives, explains symbolist thinking:  holistic and right-brained correspondences, metaphor, analogy and qualitative views, rather than facts or figures.  The book is refreshing and wonderful on so many levels, simply because, as the author so eloquently explains, this worldview supports the spiritual rather the material – the opposite of today’s emphasis on science.  It is ancient and cross-cultural, though it unfortunately began to wane with 17th century rationalism. 

Grasse is an astrologer who is extremely well-versed in many other symbolist studies, and draws on a large array of books and esoteric subjects, sharing gems from prominent thinkers through the centuries and around the world, from the classics to popular culture.  His wide-ranging analysis looks at the meanings of external events, nature, dreams, ritual, astrology, psychology, cycles, fractal geometry and much more.  (No previous experience in any of these topics is needed.

This thoroughly researched work is deep, clear and uplifting, reminding us that, despite all of the linear, reductionist thinking in the contemporary world, there are no accidents, and that the Universe is still brimming with meaning.  And for the first time, I really understood how astrology works.  Well done!

Buy on Amazon.com: The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of Our Lives

Book Blog Tour

Check out the Blog Tour for my astrological mystery novel, The Precious Pachyderm. Set in 1920s New York City, astrologer Evangeline Adams and her two assistants discover who stole a priceless elephant figurine and killed one of their high-class clients.

Join me for some excerpts from the book and a review or two. I’ll also reply to comments and answer your questions. Plus: sign up to win a $15 Amazon gift card!

October 23: T’s Stuff
October 24: Books, Dreams,Life
October 25: This and That Book Blog
October 26: Fabulous and Brunette
October 27: Book Lover Promo
October 30: BooksChatter
October 31: Straight From the Library
November 1: fuonlyknew
November 2: Jane Reads – review
November 3: The Avid Reader

A Portable Cosmos

Rescued from a Greek shipwreck in 1901, the Antikythera Mechanism is not an astrolabe or armillary sphere. Was it a teaching tool? A demo for a World’s Fair? Is it the planetarium of Archimedes that Cicero wrote about? Alexander Jones’ fascinating book helps us learn more.

This extraordinary astronomical clock has baffled scholars as it’s unlike anything ever seen before. Some even thought it had fallen off a different boat many years later to combine with the earlier wreckage. Jones does an excellent job of researching the history of the Mechanism and evaluates the conclusions reached by various scholars. It wasn’t until 1971 that the piece had an X-ray analysis, and a CT scan in the 80s provided more information.

The author concludes that the Mechanism may have been made in Rhodes in the first half of the 1st century BCE. Made of bronze and pewter-like alloys, it was about the size of a shoebox with various dials and instructions on the front and back. It included Egyptian and zodiac calendar rings, rising and setting stars, Olympic years, an eclipse predictor, a revolving Moon phase ball and pointers for the Sun and visible planets’ positions. Composed of about 30 gears, it operated with a single turn of the handle.

The Mechanism was probably not accurate enough for an astrological reading, but Jones states that is was a good representation of the Greeks’ understanding at the time and would be relatively accurate for several centuries (it corrected for planetary epicycles). It probably required two people to complete – a designer knowledgeable of astronomy and math along with a craftsman with the mechanical skill to create the interlocking gear actions.

Alexander Jones does a thorough and painstaking job of presenting numerous related topics and filling in the background. He’s a professor at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, and the book is academic-style, exactingly annotated, with a bibliography. I was completely captivated by Jones’ discussion of the gear functions which includes many illustrations. I’ve studied the history of astronomy and astrology, calendrics and the mechanics of eclipses, but many sections were simply too detailed for my taste. It was also difficult to imagine the Mechanism parts at times. Perhaps the book is meant to be a classroom textbook and leaves the reader without the professor at hand.

Some of my basic questions were unanswered. How much would the piece weigh? How difficult was it to turn? Could you lose your place?

The study and analysis of the Antikythera Mechanism has filled in gaps in scholars’ understanding of the Greeks and their technology. And the incredible complexity of the device should remind us that we’re no smarter than those over two millennia ago – we just have different tools. As astrologers we’re extraordinarily lucky to have salvaged our practices; the Mechanism reminds us how easily the past can be forgotten.

Buy at Amazon.com: A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World

In the Shadow of the Moon

At the time of the Uranus-Neptune conjunction in the early 90s, I was thrilled to read some of Professor Anthony Aveni’s books. Conversing with the Planets looked at people’s relationships with the cosmos through history and across cultures, and Empires of Time covered how people consider time, which derives from the cycles of the Sun and Moon. These books both touched on astrology, as the author is both an astronomer and anthropologist. Aveni became one of the first prominent voices on what would now be called cultural astronomy or, at the time, archaeo-astronomy.

Anthony Aveni’s work is refreshing since he accepts people’s beliefs (including astrology) as part of what makes them interesting. His latest book, In the Shadow of the Moon, covers solar eclipse viewing and arrives in time for total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. on 8/21/17.

In the Shadow of the Moon looks at not only eclipses but also the people who study them. The author eloquently shares his own eclipse viewing experiences and presents others who’ve captured the spectacle in words. We learn about predicting eclipses through the centuries, from Stonehenge to Babylon, the ancient Greeks, Chinese and Maya, with detailed accounts of eclipse expeditions in the U.S. and abroad in more recent times.

Full of insight and wit, Anthony Aveni’s eclipse book is part science history, part human interest, and captures the challenges of navigating capricious weather as well as the joys of encountering this rare natural phenomenon.

While this book doesn’t address the astrology of eclipses, it provides an excellent background to studying them and communicates why they’re so compelling, regardless of time and space.

Buy from Amazon.com:  In the Shadow of the Moon: The Science, Magic, and Mystery of Solar Eclipses
Empires of Time: Calendars, Clocks, and Cultures
Conversing with the Planets: How Science and Myth Invented the Cosmos (Kodansha Globe) by Aveni, Anthony published by Kodansha Globe Paperback

About Wholism

Whole by T. Colin Campbell, PhD explains the difference between a holistic paradigm and the view favored by science and medicine. The linear reductionist view is generally accepted as the “truth” by government agencies and in the media. Campbell addresses nutrition and health and the extreme and debilitating effects resulting from the American population’s acceptance of government guidelines and medical professionals’ second-hand opinions. Those of us who are astrologers face similar challenges with our holistic perspective, which is often at odds with the norm.

Dr. Campbell was an insider for over 50 years, teaching standard courses on nutrition at Cornell University, and receiving numerous research grants throughout his career.  He explains that funding is only available to those willing to tailor their research to a strictly linear, cause-and-effect model. While I was already aware of the many ways our society diminishes a holistic view of life, this book was still an eye-opener. It’s disturbing to see how medicine and the media are deeply enmeshed with corporate America.

Growing up on a farm, Campbell began with and advocated for a standard American diet. Yet over his years of research and study, he came to support whole foods and plant-based nutrition. Studies for such a diet are difficult to find as they are not linear and are not supported by industry. Apparently there are nevertheless many such studies, which show the positive effects of the diet, though they often cannot gain the attention of publications or the media (both of which are also often funded by industry, especially pharmaceuticals and other special interests).

This is an important book, however as with many of its kind, its value and limitations are both due to the author’s strong point of view. He comes just short of saying that vegetarianism can cure cancer, for example. It’s hard for us to know if he’s right or wrong. But given the predominant influence of the pharmaceutical and food industries on medicine and lifestyle in this country, more alternative voices need to be heard.

Arcturus/Psyche

I recently wrote about Edgar Cayce’s psychic readings on the Fixed Star Arcturus, and heard that astrologer Michael Munkasey had done independent research on this star. His work appears in Exploring Consciousness in the Horoscope (Llewellyn, 1993).

Munkasey tested Arcturus (now at approximately 24½ Libra) in stock market forecasting and studied its major aspects with planets in newspaper headlines and natal charts. His 2+ years of study included inspiration, dogged research, group feedback and surprising coincidences. Munkasey found meaningful correlations with the myths of the Greek goddess Psyche, so much so that he rechristened Arcturus as “the planet Psyche” (not to be confused with the asteroid). Psyche

Edgar Cayce’s readings related Arcturus to enlightenment, transcendence and spiritual development. Michael similarly found Psyche/Arcturus to align with the evolution of consciousness and self-realization. Its path may include issues of cooperation and fairness, addressing differing viewpoints, the need to ask for help, innocence, beauty, loss in love and female conflicts. On some level it appears to epitomize Libra and Venus themes. But Psyche also suggests discipline in relationships (perhaps somehow related to Saturn’s exaltation in Libra).

Munkasey describes cycles of Uranus with Psyche in world events and includes numerous capsule descriptions of Psyche in natal charts. His research is top-notch and he’s boiled the subject down to its essence, making it easily accessible. The 25-page chapter provides a fascinating and comprehensive overview and includes an ephemeris for Psyche.

Michael Munkasey’s excellent article is highly recommended, especially for those interested in the Fixed Stars, relationships, Evolutionary astrology, feminine archetypes, consciousness and divine inspiration. Exploring Consciousness in the Horoscope is out-of-print, but available second-hand online. Edited by Noel Tyl, the book also includes chapters by Ed Steinbrecher, Steven Forrest, Tad Mann and others.  Buy at Amazon.com:  Exploring Consciousness In the Horoscope

Mike Brown and Pluto

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming is the charming memoir of astronomer Mike Brown’s life and career as a Kuiper belt object hunter. Engaging and funny, he explains scientific concepts in a straightforward and understandable way. Brown’s astronomical discoveries parallel his marriage and the birth of his daughter in a nice mix of personal and professional anecdotes. His “killing” of Pluto resulted from the discovery of the dwarf planet Eris. The controversy over who discovered dwarf planet Haumea could only have happened on Mercury retrograde!

Michael E. Brown was born on June 5, 1965 in Huntsville, Alabama, according to Wikipedia. Most of his horoscope is made up of a major T-square with the Sun, Mercury and Jupiter in Gemini at the apex, variously squaring the Moon, Mars, Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, and Saturn in Pisces. Quite a mutable mix. His writing has a light touch, and he’s definitely open enough to consider the possibility of astrology. Brown’s only trine is between Neptune in Scorpio and Saturn, perhaps leading him to state that, “I don’t have anything other than this deep feeling that another planet past Pluto makes sense. And I’m willing to bet there’s one there.” His intuition was right. Mike Brown

Since Brown’s career is so tied-up with Pluto, it’s fascinating to see that this planet is closely square his Sun and opposite Saturn! No wonder he jokes that he “killed Pluto.” He also calls it the “tiny lonely oddball at the edge of the solar system” and “everyone’s favorite runt planet.” His thoughts are in keeping with the pattern in his own horoscope.

If you’re interested in the discovery of Eris and other Trans-Neptunian Objects, this is an informative and entertaining read.
Buy on Amazon.com: How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming

Quantum Mechanics and Astrology

I read science books from time to time, astronomy, physics, history and research topics that may relate to astrology and provide another point of view.  The Cosmic Code (1982) by Dr. Heinz Pagels was one of these.  Physicist Pagels wrote an accessible book about quantum mechanics, which could help explain astrology.

Einstein and others had identified a paradox called “spooky action at a distance” involving entangled atomic particles.  This action is impossible according to relativity theory, but is a logical part of quantum mechanics.  TechnologyReview.com describes it nicely:  “Entanglement arises naturally when two particles are created at the same point and instant in space… Entangled particles can become widely separated in space. But even so, the mathematics implies that a measurement on one immediately influences the other, regardless of the distance between them.”

They are talking about particles, but the idea of being linked at the time of creation, despite distance between particles, is very resonant of distant planets continuing to have an influence on us after birth.Mtn Unsplash nicolas-cool-113895

What was most vivid to me in Heinz Pagels book was his strong argument against action at a distance.  It seemed to me that he was speaking from a bias.  Much of what he’d explained about quantum mechanics made action at a distance seem logically possible.  Either he couldn’t reconcile it with relativity theory or action at a distance smacked too much of metaphysics to make sense to him.  But physicists have, in fact, since proven that action at a distance is real.

The most ironic thing about The Cosmic Code, though, was the ending.  In it, Dr. Pagels, a mountain climber, shared a recurring dream he had about falling while climbing.  He did not become upset, but poetically concluded that, “I realized that what I embody, the principle of life, cannot be destroyed… It is written into the cosmic code, the order of the universe.  As I continued to fall in the dark void, embraced by the vault of the heavens, I sang to the beauty of the stars and made my peace with the darkness.”

Dr. Heinz Pagels fell to his death while mountain climbing in Aspen on July 24, 1988.  Though he probably wouldn’t have accepted it, I believe he foresaw his own demise.  No surprise, as he had a stellium of the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Jupiter all in the often psychic, transcendental water sign of Pisces.  This also explains his emotional bias in his thoughts in the action at a distance paradox.

Heinz Pagels was born on February 19, 1939 in New York City.

The Cosmic Code at Amazon.com:  The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature (Dover Books on Physics)

NCGR Geocosmic Review

Scott Silverman spun an essay on Evangeline Adams, and 1920s astrology and mysteries from his review of my book, The Precious Pachyderm, in the Winter issue of NCGR’s Geocosmic Journal. (This is a great issue edited by Leigh Westin, and includes articles by Bill Meridian, Christeen Skinner, David Perloff and Meira Epstein, among many others.) Geocosmic Jrnl Winter 2017

“Christino’s mystery novel is engaging, well plotted and paced, with dialogue that feels true to the time. I didn’t stumble across a single anachronistic historical detail, although, non-spoiler alert, EA does stumble across her fair share of shady operators, elephant aficionados and hard boiled detectives. After all, it’s a mystery.

High society matrons, condescending cops, delightful dog-walkers, and enigmatic emissaries of eastern mysticism are all present and accounted for as compelling secondary characters.”

More about The Precious Pachyderm here

Buy Kindle versionThe Precious Pachyderm (An Evangeline Adams Mystery Book 1)
Buy print version

Horoscope Guide Review

Ken Irving wrote an upbeat and positive review of my book The Precious Pachyderm:  An Evangeline Adams Mystery in the March, 2017 issue of Horoscope Guide (see below).  (The magazine also includes Jackie Sleven’s forecast, Tomorrow’s News and an article on Venus retrograde.)  Horoscope Guide 3-17

“Move over, Miss Marple!  There’s a new detective in the neighborhood and her name is…Evangeline Adams.  Yes, really, the famous American astrologer finds herself embroiled in a case involving a dead businessman, a valuable item gone walkabout, and herself as the prime suspect.  Though Adams is not alone in trying to work out the problem of who (her two assistants do a lot of the legwork), she is thinking astrologically all the way along.  In fact, given the problems to be worked out, at times we can feel a little sorry for Ms. Adams living in the era she did, as it would have been nice for her to have a PC or a smart-phone app rather than an ephemeris and a supply of pencils, pens, and horoscope blanks.  No matter, as our intrepid astrologer digs in and saves the day.  This fun tale is, by the way, written by the author of the definitive biography of the real-life astrologer, What Evangeline Adams Knew.  Grab a copy and settle in for a good read.”

More about The Precious Pachyderm here

Buy Kindle versionThe Precious Pachyderm (An Evangeline Adams Mystery Book 1)
Buy print version