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Astrology of the Shadow Self, by Maria D’Aoust

Astrology of the Shadow Self: Working with Oppositions in Your Natal Chart, by Maria D’Aoust
Destiny Books, 164411917X, 352 pages, April 2024

Polarities are what ultimately bring everything into harmony. However, often we wind up focusing on just one side, especially in astrology where everyone wants to read about the specifics of their natal placements, forgetting they are part of a bigger picture and creating an imbalance through neglect of the other half. In Astrology of the Shadow Self: Working with Oppositions in Your Natal Chart, Maria D’Aoust teaches readers how to discover the shadows of their natal places and through this polarity discover wisdom that yields more insight about their strengths and weaknesses.

D’Aoust is a scholar of alchemy, practicing witch, and professional astrologer with over 20 years of experience. She holds a master’s degree in transformation psychology, using her educational background to inform her astrology readings. Her previously published works include The Occult I Ching, Familiars in Witchcraft, A Witch’s Bestiary, and The White Witch Tarot.

In this book, D’Aoust teaches readers about the power of embracing their shadow. In her introduction, she describes how through embracing the “not I” aspects of ourselves, the parts we disown and do not identify consciously with, we can perpetuate oppression, superiority, and victim mindsets–all of which strip ourselves and others of power the more we refuse to acknowledge it.1 It is through embracing these shadow aspects that the full potential of astrology as a tool for healing, self-acceptance, and personal growth can be utilized.

“Here we shall try a new way of dealing with the shadow, the unwanted self, the naughty one. We shall raise it up into power so that it grows and matures. The shadow within us may then ascend and become not a more powerful shadow but rather a more powerful part of our whole self. This prevents the shadow from taking over the self and hiding, lurking in our blind spots, and gives it a chance to actually heal.”2

D’Aoust instructs readers how to create an “antichart”3 where all their natal placements are in the opposite sign and house. This is one’s shadow chart. She also explains how the concept of shadow can be used for transits as well. For instance, when the Sun is transiting Aries, the shadow exploration would be the Sun in Libra. Whether one is curious about their own personal shadow chart or looking to examine the current cosmic influences, D’Aoust’s descriptions of the shadows are a wonderful starting point to further understanding the energy in play.

For each planet–Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto–D’Aoust profiles the shadow placements of every zodiac sign. Readers are looking up their shadow placement, rather than their natal placement as they explore the book. For instance, in the Mercury chapter, as an Aquarius Mercury natally, the entry pertaining to me would be Leo Mercury Shadow.

Her entries are very thoughtful and provide great insight into the shadow placement. Each entry has the title, a few word description of the shadow, the corresponding birth planet, parasite of the shadow, a two to three page description of the shadow, and an example from nature (almost always a quote) that grounds the shadow in the natural world.

The first thing I did was read all the entries for the planetary placements in my chart, and right after I also created my husband’s shadow chart and read his entries too. Honestly, reading about our shadow placements opened up a whole new level of dialogue for us and it put a lot of things in perspective. Things that we couldn’t articulate, yet were impacting our relationship (habits, communication styles, emotional relating, etc.) were laid out bare for us to reflect on.

It’s extremely evident that D’Aoust has spent so much time exploring these shadow placements and bridges the gap between psychology and astrology in her writing. Plus, the examples from nature are also something both my husband and I found added a beneficial new layer of understanding to the shadow description. When you can see how the energies manifest in the natural world, it puts things into a context that is tangible.

Another really neat way that I’ve engaged with the book’s text is when writing my new moon manifestations. Every month, I’ll write out a manifestation list in my journal, using present tense as always recommended! Usually, I will draw from the traits of the sign the sun/moon are joining in, for instance Aries was the most recent new moon. But this time I decided to instead explore the shadow of the new moon and read about the Libra Sun Shadow and Libra Moon Shadow. Wouldn’t you know it? I was engaging more with the shadow attribute of the new moon (toxic codependency, not clearly verbalizing my true feelings) more than the Aries attributes!

This made me pause and reflect on how I wanted to attune myself to the new moon energy and write my manifestation list. Rather than just putting all Aries qualities, I choose to focus on transforming the shadow qualities coming through the opposing Libra energy. And my manifestation list felt extra powerful! I’m going to continue exploring the shadow for on-going transits to better understand the full-spectrum of the zodiac shadows beyond just what is apparent in my shadow chart.

“Why must we deal with counterforce? We live in a universe that contains opposition as a physical law of reality; nature is always seeking to reach homeostasis and equilibrium. We find peace not by destroying opposition, for this imbalances the scale, causing the weights to swing wildly; we must only equalize and neutralize.”4

My favorite chapter is “Ophiuchus Shadows: The Venom Master” where D’Aoust examines the shadow of this hidden 13th sign, which many astrologers typically do not acknowledge. I have always been fascinated by Ophiuchus though and was thrilled to see it included. As the sign is between Sagitarrius and Scorpio, D’Aoust explains how the shadows fall in the sign of Gemini. So those with prominent Gemini placements, specifically near the Orion constellation, will have the Ophiuchus shadow. Her interpretation for the shadows is briefer than the other planetary shadows, but it gives a good start point to explore. She notes “Placements here are the venom masters and poison artists, usually studying plants, healing, and medicine.”5

The remaining chapters focus on the shadow of the moon’s nodes, thought to correspond to one’s destiny or life purpose, and D’Aoust’s insight on shadow integration. There’s also the bonus of an epilogue all about eclipses and their relation to shadow. This was another favorite chapter of mine since I was immersed in the book leading up to and during the solar eclipse on April 8th. Perfect timing!

Another thing I really enjoy about this book is how D’Aoust draws from different religious traditions when discussing the shadow and the journey one must undergo to integrate it. There’s examples from Taoism, Christianity, Judaism, alchemy, and more. These examples go to show the archetypal nature of shadow work, as well as offering different perspectives about the experience. There’s also a good deal of depth psychology woven in as well.

All in all, Astrology of the Shadow Self is a must-read book for those with an interest in astrology. It was absolutely the best astrology book I’ve read in a while; none of the material was recycled, depicting the same old as countless books out there. This fresh take and unique perspective of the shadow chart was entirely new to me and already the concepts in this book have enhanced my astrology practice and lead to wealth of personal insight. D’Aoust has done a great service to the astrological community in writing such an insightful book. There is so much we can learn from the shadow, and it’s something we must face if we truly want to transform. This book is a wonderful starting point for those ready to explore their own shadow and immensely expand their astrological knowledge.

The Complete Book of Spiritual Astrology, by per Henrik Gullfoss

The Complete Book of Spiritual Astrology, by Per Henrik Gullfoss
Crossed Crow Books, 979-8985628159, 270 pages, October 2022

Those who feel a spiritual calling often need to learn new tools to help guide their journey. Some turn to meditation, others towards tarot or oracle cards, but my favorite way to connect to the divine has always been through astrology. The Complete Book of Spiritual Astrology by Per Henrik Gullfoss is a beautiful book that takes readers on a magnificent journey through the zodiac. This book goes beyond the routine descriptions of the signs and houses, as Gullfoss’s soulful communication style brings readers to new internal awareness that brings them more in touch with the special qualities they carry within.

“Only through being here, in the now, can we learn to thrive and flourish in this new time-space dimension that is opening up for humanity. And of course, the perfect map and tool to find your way through this maze of time and space is the astrological horoscope. The perfect description of how your being is manifested into time and space, and the perfect map for this being to find the magic doors into the eternal now.”1

Gullfoss is the founder of the Nordic School of Astrology, a philosopher, and spiritual guide for many. He has written books on astrology, tarot, and mythology, all with the aim of assisting others to better understand their “soul’s true intention.”2 He kindly shares his own astrological placements with readers at the start of the book, giving them a glimpse into who he is on a soul level, what he desires to communicate, and his unique approach to pursuing his goals

 What stood out for me is how he notes, “My Mercury is also in Taurus, and as such, I want to express and communicate beauty in an equally beautiful, yet practical way.”3 After reading this book, I feel that’s the best way to characterize Gullfoss’s insights–beautiful yet practical. They attune readers to their higher purpose while also providing a grounding foundation from which one can explore the nature of their soul’s intention during this incarnation.

There are four chapters in this book, which all are quite long and have many subsections. And there’s so much covered in each one. Topics in the first chapter, “The Signs”,  range from the houses to how to master astrological qualities. I really enjoyed how he puts things in terms of love, beauty, and joy. The focus for each description is how these aspects of a chart contribute to a soul’s mission of bringing about these things in the world, rather than the more common psychological focus. Gullfoss’s language is so inspiring, as he brings new meaning to the study of astrology, one in which the aim is to find balance and wholeness:

“Just as a human is one being with many shades and sides within the one, the horoscope is also one. The horoscope is primarily a description of an integrated unity. Psychology has divided our inner world into layers and compartments. We have subconsciousness, consciousness, ego, superego, shadow, anima, animus, libido, and so forth. The truth is that the inner space of a human is one. It’s convenient to use these divisions to understand what comprises a human being and their inner world. But as soon as we get a deeper understanding, we see that a being is an undivided whole.”4

Gullfoss gives special attention to the I.C./M.C. axis as well as the Ascendent and Descendent axis. For the I.C., he goes through each sign and describes the fear, the repressed, the reason, and what it means on a soul level to have this placement. Then for the Descendent, he describes the shadow, the dream, the integration, and finally the soul integration. His descriptions were very accurate for me and gave me plenty of food-for-thought about how I relate to others.

In chapter two, “The Planets”, Gullfoss moves through all the planets, providing a description of the energy for them in each element (water, fire, air, earth) and then each quality (cardinal, fixed, mutable). I appreciated this approach because it gave me a better understanding of how the energies blend, instead of trying to hone in on a very specific energy signature (ex. Moon in Scorpio) like many astrologers tend to do. Seeing the planets through this lens softened my stance, as well as opened new doors of perception for my interpretation of the placements in a chart. One of my favorite descriptions was Mercury in Air, part of which reads:

“There needs to be a balance between stillness and through, a gap where inspiration can rise. As strange as it may seem, Mercury in Air needs to surrender to the flow of inspiration and trust the mind of the universe in order to find the way to enlightenment. If it tries to always think and understand, it becomes caught in the outer web of life. It ahs to allow itself to open to the greater mind of the universe, to immerse itself in the collective mind of being.”5

Another really fascinating part of this section was about the rulership of planets. Gullfoss notes the difference between the traditional rule and esoteric ruler. He writes, “The rulers normally work within astrology and are esoterically connected with a person/horoscope operating from the level of ego consciousness. If you start to operate from a level of soul consciousness, there will be a change in rulership for most signs.”6 In revealing the esoteric ruler, I felt Gullfoss was peeling away a layer of the planet to provide more insight on the deeper energetic significance of the planet.

The third chapter, “Aspects”, goes into more nuanced astrology. There’s not really any background information provided for beginners, so it would be good for those unfamiliar with aspects to do a little bit of research on their own. Just like in the former chapters, Gullfoss provides a spiritual perspective in regard to the aspects, going into extra detail about septile and quintile placements. Then he discusses aspects between inner and outer planets and planets in retrograde. This whole section is very helpful for those who already have an understanding of astrology to tune into the energies from a soul level consciousness, embodying a deeper meaning of the planetary relationships in play.

The final chapter “Astrology and Time” is by far the briefest. Gullfoss notes the changing of time in the modern era and asserts “the time has come for a new faculty.”7 He reviews the three steps our consciousness has been built upon–instinct, emotion, and thought–and proposes cultivating intuition as the next stop. He reminds readers, “The only thing you have to do to develop thai reality is to develop your capacity of awareness in every moment – awareness of yourself and awareness of all the smaller aspects of life that you are a part of.”8

Overall, The Complete Book of Spiritual Astrology is perfect for those seeking to learn more about their soul’s purpose in life. Gullfoss does a wonderful job illuminating the multifaceted nature of the astrology chart, providing ample material for readers to reflect on as they continue to cultivate a meaningful spiritual path. Gullfoss’s writing is esoteric and deep while still being extremely applicable to daily life. Beginners and seasoned astrologers alike will benefit from the profound insights and thoughtful reflections about the esoteric nature of astrology.

Astrolations!, by Jill Carr

Astrolations! A Unique Astrological Guide For You and All Your Relationships, by Jill Carr
O-Books, 1803414200, 736 pages, March 2024

Holy moly! It feels only proper to begin a review of Astrolations! A Unique Astrological Guide for You and All Your Relationships by Jill Carr with an exclamation, given that even the title has it in there. I did not expect such a thoroughly engaging and hefty text, but when I opened my package and felt the weight of this book, I knew I was in for a real treat. Carr teaches readers how Western and Chinese astrology blend to provide a well-rounded understanding of the energies of your own astrological signature and that of those in your life. This comprehensive text is sure to shed light on why you are the way you are and how in turn your relationships are energetically with others.

The book begins with a long, long list of birthdates, ranging from January 1900 to February 2032, to help readers figure out their Western and Chinese astrological signature. For Chinese astrology, there is both an animal and element for each year. I quickly scanned all the birthdates to see I am an Aquarius Metal Horse, my husband is an Aries Earth Snake, my son is a Capricorn Water Tiger, and my mother is a Capricorn Earth Dog. While I wanted to quickly skip ahead to read the meaning for each one, I took the slow route and proceeded as planned by Carr through the sections.

In the Western astrology section, Carr covers the four elements, offering key words, the signs of each element, and a description of the essence of each element. She also covers the three qualities–cardinal, mutable, and fixed. There’s a description of how the elements relate to each other in Western astrology, and then she moves onto each sign. For every astrological sign, Carr provides its element and quality, planetary ruler, the part of the body it rules, and an overview of the sign’s attributes.

Next, the Chinese astrology section covers the twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac, the elements in Chinese astrology, and the interdependence of the elements and how they influence personal relationships. Chinese astrology has a lot more positive/negative aspects, or yin/yang, which Carr covers to give readers a full perspective of how the different zodiac energies, between both the animal sign and element, can manifest. There’s even a helpful little table of the twelve animal signs in just one word for the categories upside, downside, and gone rogue for those looking for quick references to better understand the signs. As someone who has studied Western astrology for years, it does take a bit of time to open to the system of Chinese astrology, but Carr does a good job of breaking the system down into bite-size bits for readers to learn quickly.

The way Carr organizes the rest of the book is going in traditional Western astrological order of Aries to Pisces and covering the Chinese astrology for each sign. Within the section which might be labeled “Aries Dragon” or “Cancer Rat”, Carr breaks it down even further by talking about the elemental nature of the profile too. In regard to the balance of elements, Carr writes:

“Each person has three elements in their basic sign combination: their Western Zodiac sign element; their native element of their Chinese sign; the element of the Chinese sign in their own birth year.”1

Essentially, it’s not about just one element in someone’s astrological signature, rather it’s more about the component of elements and how they work together. Someone could have all fire elements, which can indicate an imbalance of energies, or similarly, they might have elements that neutralize each other and provide balance.

In total, there are 144 Western and Eastern main combination types, and the majority of this book (over 600 pages!) is dedicated to covering each one in regards to compatibility and as a child. For every combination type, Carr provides the element of the Western sign and Chinese sign, plus information on the Chinese element of the year the person’s birth. For instance, my husband is an Aries Snake; there could be an Earth, Metal, Fire, Water, or Air snake, depending on the year of someone’s birth, but he is an Earth snake. She also lists the attributes of the signs (positive/negative, cardinal/fixed/mutable, yin/yang). I found this information helpful because just beginning to understand the energies of the combination helps to attune yourself to the nature of the astrological signature.

Though Carr does provide a good deal of information for each combination, and her keen insights from decades of professional experience in both Western and Chinese astrology are spot-on. She compares and contrasts how the different yearly element will manifest for each combination (i.e. how a Metal Scorpio Horse will different from a Water Scorpio Horse), noting the overall similarities of the combination while also highlighting subtle differences. For every combination, she offers an assessment of their personality overall, how they are as a spouse/partner/significant other, and how they are as a parent/grandparent/sibling/friend/colleague. It’s a great deal of information, but it’s also cramming a lot into a small section (there’s two to three pages for each combination).

The depictions of each combination were spot on as my family sat around reading them aloud to each other. We had quite a few laughs at Carr’s insights due to the accuracy that was easy for everyone to see, even if the person being assessed didn’t like hearing some of their shadow qualities! She nailed me to a tee in the line:

“The Aquarius Horse colleague is a mixed bag of energy, innovation, and inconsistency. They are hardworking and have lots of stamina, but can get carried away by their own enthusiasm at times. The Fire AqH and the Metal AqH in particular enjoy a fast-paced working environment, and become impatient with plodders in the workplace.”2

I really enjoyed the section on the combinations as children since I have a one-year old son. I was amazed by the accuracy of him as a Capricorn Tiger. It literally matches him perfectly, from being on the move EARLY (he started walking at 8 months) to requiring “presence and attention to help them into a sleep routine”3 (he only falls asleep when snuggled or held). I am definitely going to be sharing these insights with friends who have children!

My only complaint is that only the overarching sections are listed in the table of contents, so when you’re looking for a specific combination, you really have to flip through the pages. It can take a minute or two to find what you’re looking for, and I often find myself wishing I could check the table of contents to simply see which page to flip to. However, once you start understanding the general order of things, the flipping becomes easier.

Overall, Astrolations! is an immensely insightful guide to the unique blend of Western and Chinese astrology that shapes personality. Carr does a fantastic job of explaining the two astrological systems and seamlessly blends them together to provide well-rounded portrayals of each combination. This book absolutely will enhance your self-knowledge as well as give you a better understanding of the people in your life. From your significant other to colleagues to siblings and children, you’ll better be able to see the elements that make the person who they are and recognize how your own elemental signature interacts with theirs, fostering new awareness within your relationships.

This book would be great for anyone seeking to learn more about the intersection of Western and Chinese astrology, or for those who simply seek to learn all they can about who they are for personal insight and the meaningful people in their lives to enhance their bonds. And if you’re seeking even more guidance, check out Carr’s website, where she shares regularly on her blog.

Galactic Guides Oracle, by Victoria Maxwell

Galactic Guides Oracle: Be Guided by the Love, Light, and Magic of the Galaxy!, by Victoria Maxwell and illustrated by Ellie Grant
Rockpool Publishing, 1922785415, 144 pages, 36 cards, March 2024

Calling all my cosmos lovers, it’s time to tune into celestial frequencies with Galactic Guides Oracle: Be Guided by the Love, Light, and Magic of the Galaxy! by Victoria Maxwell. This deck is out of this world – literally!

“We often look to the stars, thinking they are so far away and wondering what they have to do with us. They have everything to do with us; we are made of stardust.”1

Maxwell has a talent for attuning oracle card readers to new dimensions. Her previously published decks, Angels Among Us and Goddesses Among Us, are my go-tos when I am in need of some insight. Now with this deck, Maxwell transports readers into the galaxy to connect with the energies of planets, zodiac signs, and star systems for interstellar guidance.

I love what Maxwell shares in her introduction. She describes: “When I stopped focusing on what the planets, constellations and star systems meant according to traditional definitions and simply tuned into their energy, I found I could connect with them on a deeply personal level and invite them to guide me through astrological seasons and moon cycles and help me with what’s happening here on the ground.”2 This appeals to me because as an astrologer I’m always in relationship with the cosmos, yearning to go beyond what I know about each planet from books to create my own energetic connection. This deck is perfect for this purpose.

In the “How to use the cards” section of the guidebook, Maxwell offers different card spreads and describes the difference between the planetary cards, zodiac sign cards, and star system cards. The planetary cards tend to draw attention to something happening here and now that needs your attention; the zodiac sign cards ask you to look at the bigger picture and take a broader perspective; the star system cards have to do with destiny and insight from high-level guides. Additionally, she explains how each card also has an associated element, chakra, crystal, flower, and planet ally that expands the meaning even further. This information adds another layer to readings, though one can certainly glean plenty of insight just from reading the description of each card in the guidebook.

There is just so much guidance for each card! In addition to the aforementioned correspondences, each guidebook entry has an overall message of guidance, questions to ask yourself, description of the card, insight for the five common realms people seek guidance about (love, money, purpose, service, and spirituality), and a message from a lightwork perspective and shadow work perspective. So much insight for each card!

I had an insanely cool synchronicity happen with this deck. I happened upon a list of 100 baby names related to space. My son had a “D” name, so I was looking at other “D” names on the list and came across Draco. I thought it sounded cool, and I was envisioning myself calling my child that, but then told myself to refocus back to working with my deck. I shuffled and then pulled out the card.. Draco! Can you believe it?! The guidebook describes, “Draco, which is Latin for ‘dragon’, is one of hte largest constellations in the sky.”3 To add to the timing, it was also on the Chinese New Year, ushering in the year of the dragon!

I was mostly interested in the the card related to my love life, so I focused on that message in the guidebook, which reads:

“Relationships are the ultimate opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. The people who challenge you may have the most to teach you.”4

This felt extremely resonant, as I was working through some “growing pains” in my current relationship. This card helped me to reframe my perspective and remember that challenges do not mean the relationship isn’t success, rather they present a chance to grow stronger by doing my own inner work and focusing on spiritual growth.

The imagery on the cards, illustrated by Ellie Grant, all feature a person embodying the energy of the planet, zodiac sign, or constellation. They are very accurate, and at times can seem embellished, but I enjoy this because I can study the imagery and see all the attributes and characteristics of each energy personified. The general color theme is what you’d envision for deep space–blues, blacks, purples, greens–along with bursts of colors to make the characters on the cards pop and stand out.

My favorite image in the deck is Saturn, which features a gorgeous elder with striking gray hair. I always get a crone feeling from Saturn, the wise grandmother figure, so I enjoyed seeing Grant portray the energy this way too. Other cards that I got a kick out of include Aquarius, featuring a man who looks like he’s at Burning Man, covered in tattoos, necklaces, a scarf, and reflective sunglasses that flip up to remind us of the third eye. I also love the image of a woman holding her big pregnant belly, wearing a beautiful flower crown, for the Full Moon card. It’s also worth noting this is a very inclusive deck that personifies the energies of a diverse range of people.

My final thoughts about this deck are that it can feel a little ungrounding to work with. For those looking to attune to higher frequencies, it’s perfect! But if you’re not used to working with these energies, you might want to ensure you take the time to ground back in nature after working with the deck. I personally love how the deck gives me an out of body feeling while working with it, but for some this might feel disconcerting. So make sure to take the time to create the right space for working with this deck and balancing yourself afterwards.

Overall, Galactic Guides Oracle is a really amazing way to connect with the celestial energies. Whether you’re looking for inspirational guidance, cool synchronicities, or a fun way to meditate with the energies, this deck has you covered. The imagery on the card does a wonderful job of bringing these energies into a form we can visually identify with, while the guidebook is filled with interesting facts about the stars as well as soulful messages that can help reorient you towards your higher calling. I highly recommend this deck for those who are interested in the myseries of space, the beauty of the stars, and interstellar travel consciousness.

Soul Journey through the Tarot, by John Sandbach

Soul Journey through the Tarot: Key to a Complete Spiritual Practice, by John Sandbach
Destiny Books, 1644117096, 384 pages, November 2023

I’ve been studying tarot for almost 27 years, but these magical cards contain so much wisdom that there is always something new to learn, and I often feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Most tarot books on the market tend to be geared towards beginners, rehashing the same sets of keywords and interpretations, so I get excited when I find a text that delves deeper into the esoteric teachings of the cards.

In Soul Journey through the Tarot: Key to a Complete Spiritual Practice, author John Sandbach shares his own unique magical system, co-created with his spirit guides and inspired by over 50 years of studying tarot. Sandbach first channeled these oracles in 1976, and wrote this updated edition with the intention that it will be used as “a tool for vibrational healing.”1

He has named the Major Arcana cards depicted in this book the Azoth Deck, and the illustrations were created by South Korean artist Daehee Son.

“Azoth,” Sandbach says, “refers to the spirit and energy of the planet Mercury, who in Egypt was the god Thoth, who was the inventor of the alphabet—the tarot being an alphabet of spiritual forces.”2

Sandbach has changed some of the traditional names of the Major Arcana. For example, as a departure from the final reckoning of Christianity, Sandbach calls the Judgment card “The Awakening,” a title that he feels more accurately captures the core meaning of Arcanum XX. The Devil, Arcanum XV, has been renamed “The Musician,” to avoid the negative connotations of the original title and shift the focus of the card to the inner harmony or discord of the seeker.

The book’s cover claims that this text integrates “numerology, astrology, Kabbalah, and the contemplative life.”3 I wanted to read this book to get a better grasp of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and Hebrew letters in relation to tarot, as well as deepen my understanding of the astrological tarot correspondences. However, I was surprised to find that many of Sandbach’s astrological and elemental associations are completely different from the Golden Dawn attributions I currently use, which I learned from The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic (1984) by Israel Regardie (1907-1985).

Sandbach associates The High Priestess, titled “The Guardian of the Gate (Veiled Isis)”, with Virgo instead of the Moon; The Hermit, titled “The Seeker (The Sage)”, with Aquarius instead of Virgo; The Star, “The Light”, with Gemini instead of Aquarius; and so on.4 The Suit of Coins is assigned the element of Air instead of Earth, and Swords are Earth instead of Air.5 Even though most of these associations don’t resonate with me, I decided to keep an open mind and shift my perspective to include them, at least for the duration of time it took me to read this book.

Sandbach justifies the association of Coins with Air by explaining that exchanging currency for goods is an abstract concept created by the mind, and “the air element resonates with concepts and systems formed through the mental activity of humans.”6 Swords, on the other hand, are practical instruments made of metal, which penetrate the density of matter. These elemental associations have Vedic origins, and relate to the Hindu tattwa system. He borrowed his elemental and astrological associations from The Sacred Tarot by astrologer and occultist C.C. Zain (1882-1951), a work that was a major influence on his approach to tarot.7 Sandbach acknowledges that these are less popular tarot associations, and advises the reader to use whatever correspondences make the most sense to them, because all systems are valid.

“Ultimately,” he says, “we must realize that the four physical elements are not four distinctly different things, but the same thing in different states.”8

This is an excellent point, and it made me more receptive to his alternative elemental associations. 

While I had a hard time connecting with many of these correspondences, the Virgo association with The High Priestess, titled “The Guardian of the Gate (Veiled Isis)” was compelling to me, particularly in how it influenced Sandbach’s interpretation of the card. Virgo rules the digestive system, and the message of the High Priestess is to “be watchful of what you ‘eat,’ whether it be food, thoughts, emotions, concepts, or vibrations.”9 I personally associate The High Priestess with Persephone, whose fast was broken by pomegranate seeds while she was in the Underworld, so the digestion message really spoke to me. The Moon, which is usually the planetary association for this card, is considered to be the ruler of Virgo in esoteric astrology, and knowing this reinforces the validity of Virgo as an alternative astrological association for the High Priestess.

The most unique tarot associations Sandbach gives are spirit names in the intergalactic Language of Space. “This universal constructed language, known as aUI,” Sandbach says, “was originally received from extraterrestrial beings by psychologist and linguist Dr. John Weilgart (1913-1981) in the early 1950s.”10 aUI (pronounced “ah-OO-ee”) is a sound-based language, and the aliens who transmitted it to Dr. Weilgart told him that it had been spoken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.11

Sandbach gives a spirit name in aUI for each major arcana card and supplies the correct pronunciations for the reader. For example, the spirit name for the High Priestess (Veiled Isis) is ytlUkU (pronounced “yit-LOO-koo”).12 Sandbach says these spirit names were channeled by him and belong to entities associated with the cards.

“The letters of aUI and their sounds can be used for contemplation and to make up your own magical words,” Sandbach says.13

What a fascinating concept! Even if a reader doesn’t agree with Sandbach’s tarot associations, the chapter on the Language of Space is intriguing.

I draw a daily tarot card for myself almost every morning, and I decided to apply Sandbach’s interpretations while reading his book. One of the cards I drew was Strength from The Bones Arcana.

Sandbach calls Strength “Arcanum XI: The Maiden (The Enchantress)” and associates her with the planet Neptune. I love the title “The Enchantress,” which brings to mind the Greek witch goddess Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios, who was accompanied by lions in the Odyssey and transformed Odysseus’s crew into pigs. I tend to prefer numbering this card 8 instead of 11 because I associate it with Leo, and the eighth month of August. Sandbach’s Neptune association aligns with the belief of some modern astrologers that Neptune is exalted in Leo.

Sandbach says of “The Enchantress” that “she has gained ascendancy over one of nature’s most powerful creatures, and she has accomplished this through the actualization of her psychic power, as well as through her love.”14 Sandbach’s description of Strength as “the arcanum of psychic power,”15 reminded me again of Witch Queen Circe. In the Odyssey, she was a loner who lived on the uncharted island of Aeaea. She was a master of illusion magic, involving shapeshifting and crafting potions, and she revealed the bestial natures of those who invaded her privacy by transforming them into animals.

All of these skills have a very Neptunian quality to them. Neptune is the hypnotic and bewitching planet of dreams, fantasies, glamor, illusions, mysticism, and drugs (or potions, in Circe’s case). Circe was the daughter of the sun god Helios, and Sandbach says the Sun is the root ruler of this card, while Neptune is the “therapeutic agent.”16 After exploring the Circe connection I made to the Strength card, I appreciate Sandbach’s Neptune association much more. 

Sandbach’s system is a radical departure from what most tarot students are probably familiar with, and this reminds me of the differences between tropical (Western) astrology and sidereal (Vedic) astrology. Western astrology is more popular, but both systems are equally valid. Tarot readers influenced by occultist C.C. Zain will likely resonate with Sandbach’s system, while those who have memorized the Golden Dawn’s tarot associations may find these correspondences a bit more difficult to integrate.

Sandbach claims that the system he uses, which is modeled after Zain’s work, “is a therapeutic or healing system,” while the more common associations, which he says are based on the Kabbalistic text titled the Sepher Yetzirah (the “Book of Formation,” or  the “Book of Creation”), encompass “the root, or actual system.”17 Approaching his associations as a complementary healing system may help readers blend Sandbach’s method with the one they currently use.

Initially I was resistant to the teachings in this book because I was hoping to expand my understanding of the Golden Dawn associations, not learn a completely new system. However, being receptive to correspondences I didn’t agree with and exploring them with open-minded curiosity helped me glean new insights about the cards. I think any experienced tarot reader will benefit from questioning and reevaluating the associations they have memorized by being open to alternative ones or intuitively assigning their own. After all, when used as a tool for spiritual growth, tarot expands consciousness and opens our minds to new possibilities, so the archetypal images have infinite layers of interpretation. In this light, Soul Journey through the Tarot can help seasoned readers rediscover tarot and tap into new ways of relating to the cards.

Healing Pluto Problems, by Donna Cunningham

Healing Pluto Problems: An Astrological Guide (Weiser Classics Series), by Donna Cunningham
Weiser Books, 1578638151, 256 pages, December 2023

Ever since Pluto was first discovered in 1930, our perception of this celestial body has been growing and evolving. While Pluto was initially recognized as the ninth planet in our solar system, it was demoted to dwarf planet in 2006, and a lot of people who grew up knowing Pluto as a planet are still bitter about this demotion (myself included!). Despite astronomers minimizing its significance, modern astrologers acknowledge the Underworld power of Pluto by assigning it as the modern ruler of Scorpio and the Eighth House.

Native Scorpio Suns pride themselves on being Plutonians, and they can be quite possessive of that identity (all Scorpios believe they were born under the best sign in the zodiac!), but they don’t own Pluto. Everyone has Pluto somewhere in their natal chart, and significant Pluto transits can have profound and lasting effects on our lives.

In Healing Pluto Problems: An Astrological Guide, astrologer Donna Cunningham (1942-2017) explores the immense impact Pluto has on the soul’s evolution. Originally published in 1986, this Weiser Classics edition includes a foreword written by astrologer Lisa Stardust. This book has been on my wish list for a while now, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review it.

Cunningham defines a Pluto person as anyone who has Scorpio placements in their natal chart or a prominent Pluto connected to their Sun, Moon, Ascendant, or Midheaven.1 According to her definition, I’m a Plutonian, despite my Gemini Rising and Gemini stellium (Sun, Moon, and Venus in Gemini), because my natal Mars and Saturn are cozied up together in my Scorpio Sixth House. I was very close to having Pluto in Scorpio as well, but right before I was born, Pluto backpedaled into Libra due to retrograde motion, so I’m a member of the Pluto in Libra generation.

In Healing Pluto Problems, Cunningham addresses a wide range of taboo emotions and traumatic experiences Plutonians may experience with compassion and sensitivity, such as grief, resentment, alcoholism, domestic violence, incest, abuse, and suicidal thoughts. She gives guidance on how Plutonians can process the intense and complex emotions that arise from their life challenges, and she also coaches professional astrologers on how to counsel the Plutonian people who confide in them.

“One reason Plutonians keep their secrets is that so often the people they go to for help wind up making them feel worse—more ashamed, more angry, and more betrayed,”2 Cunningham says.

Being forced to keep their taboo emotions secret in order to avoid negative reactions from others often makes Plutonians feel isolated and alone, as if they are “from another planet.”3 I’ve observed this as spiritual bypassing in religious and New Age communities, in which people are often shamed for feeling angry or resentful about past victimization, and chastised for not being more forgiving of their abusers. Talking about Plutonian emotions can be a healthy way to release the pressure of them, but it can be difficult to find safe spaces with trustworthy people to confide in. For example, Plutonians who have suicidal thoughts must keep quiet about them when talking to a therapist, even if they have no intention of acting upon them, because that therapist may perceive the Plutonian as a danger to themselves and feel legally obligated to have them committed, which would be a traumatizing experience that would compound those negative feelings with more layers of shame and betrayal. 

However, Cunningham points out that there are potential benefits to Plutonian solitude. “Isolation may be a condition which some require in order to develop their abilities to the fullest or to achieve an agreed-upon life purpose,” Cunningham says. “It may be necessary to focus on some singular activity, rather than being immersed in the daily needs of family or other relationships.”4 Isolation can also be therapeutic, especially when one is processing grief or trauma.

“When we do not give ourselves time to regenerate and to process new stages of life,” Cunningham says, “resentment and grief can build up to toxic levels.”5 

Plutonian transits can generate healing crises, during which the Pluto problems seem to intensify, as if resisting one’s efforts to heal them. Repressed emotions are at the core of all Pluto issues, and they will flare up, demanding recognition. “The feelings don’t get worse,” Cunningham says, “you are just more aware of them and of the thought patterns behind them. Heightened awareness is part of the process.”6 The cathartic release of repressed emotions is like an acne breakout after a skin treatment. It seems like things are getting worse because all the dirt and grime that was clogging the pores is coming to the surface, but it’s all a necessary part of the purging and cleansing process. 

Cunningham offers healing methods to assist the process, such as affirmations, chants, flower essences, chakra cleansing visualizations, and color therapy. In the section on healing with color, I was fascinated to learn that purple, my favorite color, assists in “releasing and processing old resentments,”7 and that purple’s popularity increased when Pluto entered Scorpio. For almost a decade, I have preferred purple sheets on my bed, so perhaps my gravitation towards this color has been an unconscious impulse to help myself heal with the higher vibrational energies of purple while I sleep.

Cunningham supplies sample charts of a few famous Plutonians, including Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, and Sigmund Freud. Building upon her examples, I thought I would explore the chart of a prominent celebrity whose Plutonian struggles have attracted a lot of media attention. I read pop star Britney Spears’s memoir The Woman in Me (2023) alongside Healing Pluto Problems, which is quite fitting because Britney has Pluto Rising in Libra [natal chart], and her life struggles illustrate the unfair power dynamics that tend to manifest in the relationships of the Pluto in Libra generation.

Many of Cunningham’s insights about Plutonians apply to Britney. According to Cunningham, Plutonians tend to be the children of alcoholics, and, as a child, Britney was afraid of her alcoholic father, who would go on benders and disappear for days, which she said “was a kindness” because she “preferred it when he wasn’t there.”8 She also reveals in her memoir that her mother started giving her alcohol when she was in eighth grade. “By thirteen,” she says, “I was drinking with my mom and smoking with my friends.”9

As Britney rose to stardom, her Pluto Rising gave her a sexual magnetism that was perceived as threatening by the media, and she was criticized for being a corrupting influence on youth because of the way she dressed. During interviews, she was subjected to a lot of uncomfortable and inappropriate questions about her body and sex life, and she was shamed for her sexuality throughout her career. “I was a teenage girl from the South,” Britney writes in her memoir. “I signed my name with a heart. I liked looking cute. Why did everyone treat me, even when I was a teenager, like I was dangerous?”10

In her memoir, Britney describes herself as empathic and felt that she was absorbing all the negativity that was being projected onto her. She even believed her misfortune was due to bad karma catching up with her. It’s heartbreaking to read, in her own words, how this vivacious, free-spirited, and talented young woman was eviscerated by the media and financially exploited by her own family. After reading Britney’s memoir, I suspect it was ancestral trauma seeking expression and healing through her, not “bad karma” she had personally accrued (this is exactly why I have taken the word karma out of my spiritual vocabulary; it can guilt trip people into taking blame for things beyond their control!) 

“Tragedy runs in my family,” Britney says. “My middle name comes from my father’s mother, Emma Jean Spears, who went by Jean.”11 Britney was the spitting image of her paternal grandmother Jean, who took her own life in 1966, at the age of 31. Jean had lost a baby eight years prior, and shot herself over her infant son’s grave. Jean had also been abused by her husband June, Britney’s grandfather, and he had kept her institutionalized in an asylum where she was given lithium.

The parallels between Britney’s life and Jean’s are chilling. During Britney’s divorce from Keven Federline, the father of her children, she had a very public mental breakdown because she was grieving the loss of her two little boys since Kevin had full custody and would not allow her to see them. The breakdown landed her in a conservatorship, in which all her assets and every aspect of her life was placed under the control of the alcoholic father she had feared so much as a child. During Britney’s abusive conservatorship, her father, who apparently had learned from his own father to send defiant women to asylums, also had Britney institutionalized and put on lithium like her grandmother, in a disturbing reenactment of the Spears family’s intergenerational trauma. 

Pluto is a generational planet, and, after reading these two books together, I believe that the placement of Pluto reveals the intergenerational trauma that one is destined to transform into personal power. In other words, Pluto is your inheritance of unprocessed ancestral trauma. I feel like the Pluto in Libra generation in particular has quite a burden to bear because they are the intergenerational mediators, and the Libran desire to restore harmony may cause them to take on more than their fair share.

As a member of the Pluto in Libra generation, I sympathized with Britney’s relationship struggles and court battles because I also went through a nasty divorce around the same time she did. I’ve noticed that my own relationship issues are also rooted in ancestral trauma. I can only imagine how traumatic it was for her to go through all of that publically, especially compounded with the endless harassment by paparazzi. 

As a Libra Rising, Britney’s chart ruler is Venus, and her natal Venus at 25° Capricorn forms an exact square with her natal Pluto at 25° Libra. This emphasizes that her way of relating to people (Venus) needs to be transformed (Pluto) in this lifetime. Britney Jean’s Pluto is in the first house, and, by bearing her ancestor’s name, the trauma associated with her grandmother Jean’s memory expressed itself through Britney’s public persona. It’s also noteworthy that Britney’s Pluto is conjunct Saturn, the planet of incarceration, and she was locked under the conservatorship for almost the entire duration of Pluto’s transit of Capricorn (ruled by Saturn). Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008, the same year Britney’s conservatorship began. The conservatorship was terminated on November 12th, 2021, when Pluto was at 24° Capricorn, forming an almost exact square to her natal Pluto at 25° Libra.

In Healing Pluto Problems, Cunningham says that the square between Pluto and natal Pluto “is a major chance to heal your Pluto problems” and presents opportunities for “confronting and breaking down barriers.”12 Transiting Pluto squaring Britney’s natal Pluto liberated her from a thirteen year abusive conservatorship, so if anyone who is reading this is afraid of their own Pluto square Pluto transit (which is one of the so-called midlife crisis transits), this is proof positive that it can emancipate you from long-standing Plutonian difficulties. I’m experiencing mine right now and I find this to be quite comforting.

Healing Pluto Problems is an excellent resource that has given me a lot of insight into understanding Pluto’s power in a natal chart, and any student or practitioner of astrology should have it in their library. The therapeutic advice Cunningham provides also helps Plutonians work on reclaiming their personal power through self-healing. This work is indeed a classic, and as Pluto transitions into the sign of Aquarius, the guidance Cunningham gives is just as relevant now as it was when it was first published in 1986.

Oracle of the Universe, by Stacey Demarco

Oracle of the Universe: Divine Guidance From the Cosmos, by Stacey Demarco, illustrated by Kinga Britschgi
Rockpool Publishing, 9781922785015, 112 pages, 44 cards, 2023

The shining box for the Oracle of the Universe: Divine Guidance From the Cosmos really attracts your attention with the background of the night sky, a woman’s profile, and an electrical storm in multiple colors in place of the woman’s brain. By adding an overlay of even more stars, Stacey Demarco and Kinga Britschgi immediately let you know that a journey through the cosmos is about to begin!

Did you know that we have eighty-eight areas of the night sky? Demarco shares this:

“Constellations are named areas of the celestial sphere that are used to divide the night sky into specific regions for easy reference and we now officially have 88.”1

Stacey Demarco is an author, pagan practitioner and modern witch, whose passion is to “make practical magic accessible to everyone and to reconnect people with the power of nature.”2 Demarco has created nine oracle decks, one tarot deck, a lunar calendar and numerous best-selling books. She is a popular teacher and speaker in her native Australia and around the world. 

As an award-winning artist and digital creator, Kinga Britschgi has a degree in fine art and a master’s degree in bilingual education. After working as a teacher, Britschgi transitioned to the digital world, where she has been creating art for more than twenty years. Originally from Hungary, she now lives in the US with her husband and son. 

The collaboration for this deck of oracle cards is truly amazing! From the compelling cover art to the rich jewel-tone colors of the cards, I was mesmerized by the deep night sky combinations. Britschgi adds symbols, animals, people, nature, elements, and mythical creatures in a rich collage with stars, stars and more stars. Each card contains a number and a title that helps you identify it as either Constellation, Nebula, or Bright Star. Then, the creators add the name, a common name (if there is one), and a key word or theme. 

For example, for the card Sirius, it is identified as a “Bright Star,” tagged “Sirius”, modified as “Dog Star” as its more common name, and further marked with “Consistency” as its keyword. This method of identification is very helpful as you navigate the extensive guidebook. The Table of Contents is also broken into the three sections mentioned and each card is listed in number order. In addition to the name of the constellation, nebula, or bright star, they also include the key word in the table of contents.

The Constellations section is the largest grouping and includes the twelve zodiac star formations, as well as many others, such as Andromeda, Centaurus, and Cassiopea. In all, the creators include thirty-two Constellations, eight Nebula and four Bright Stars.

The guidebook is quite extensive and includes an introduction, a section on how to best use the forty-four cards, and several pages on spreads for this deck. Demarco also features a simple ritual for dedicating your deck and a few words on combining this deck with other decks. For each card, the creators feature a small, four-color photo of the card, key word, guidance summary, affirmation and information on the myth or history and IAU official astronomy tag for sky viewing. 

I took the cards on a test flight and utilized a spread called “The Stellar Read.”3 For this spread, I was to pull out the four Bright Star cards and set those aside. Next, I shuffled the rest of the deck and chose three cards. Then, I shuffled the four Bright Star cards and chose one. Here is a recap of the cards I drew and description of the spread placements:

  1. Represents the blind spot or hidden issue:  #7 Libra – Balance
  2. Represents the path of most empowerment: #35 Butterfly – Change
  3. Represents the truth of the matter: #3 Gemini – Rescue
  4. Bright Star Card: Represents the immediate action to take: #43 Vega – Dynamism

My question regarded how to get moving on a large project I was working on, where I felt stalled or sidetracked. From the four cards, I came to realize that I needed more balance, rather than an “all or nothing” work pace. I also was challenged to look at my schedule and see where changes could be made to better accommodate work in the mornings, when I am at my best.

I also got a message about waiting to respond to requests for guidance and help, rather than jumping in and “rescuing” people.  Finally, the Bright Star card spoke to the importance of setting goals, doing the work, and then resting when tired. This is a great reminder!

Next, I pulled cards for friends, both online and in my Friday “Coffee & Cards” group.  For one friend, I pulled the Crux, or Southern Cross, card.  She called to thank me and related that the message of carefully communicating to avoid sending mixed messages was right on track for her. The card featured two aboriginal men and she related that she has always been drawn to the indigenous people of Australia. 

Another friend asked: “What do I need to know as I head into the holiday season?” Her card was #26 Cygnus which talked of compassion. She was guided to show compassion for others and for herself.  I think I saw tears in her eyes when she read this passage from the guidebook:

“Get your self-compassion on and forgive yourself. It’s easy to show compassion to those you know, but a greater compassion is to show it in action to those you don’t. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. Show up.”4

One of my Facebook friends received #28 Draco, which featured a dragon and the theme of “guardianship.”  She wrote to share: “This message really speaks to me today.  I need to remember good boundaries, especially as we enter the holiday season.  Thank you!”

These cards are dynamic, beautiful, and so very healing.  The rich artwork and gilt-edge finish may draw you in, but the guidance is deep and resonates on many levels. I really like the layers of the information in the guidebook. A person can simply select a card and use the keyword as a theme for their day.  Or they can go to the guidebook and read the guidance summary.  If someone has more time and wants to learn about the myth or history of the nighttime star or nebula, the information on each one is extensive. Finally, if a person wants to find the star or nebula in the sky, the information to do so is provided.  

I appreciate the structured layout of the guidebook and the easy navigation. Demarco has created signposts to make retrieving the guidance, the myth, and the sky placement easy and effortless. Oracle of the Universe would be great for a novice oracle card reader, as well as the more experienced diviner.  Also, if someone is interested in stars and nebulas, this would be a great gift! I can see myself adding this deck to client readings for a final bit of guidance.  I also look forward to using this deck for my own daily card reading.

Surfing the Galactic Highways, by Barry Goddard

Surfing the Galactic Highways: Adventures in Divinatory Astrology, by Barry Goddard
Moon Books, 978-1803410104, 216 pages, January 2023

“This book is aimed at anyone who has a little bit of knowledge of astrology upwards. Astrology is one of those subjects that enters your bones, and if it is there, then it is there, however much or however little you know. It is a primordial connection to the sky that many of us feel.”1

The quote above succinctly expresses the intention of Surfing the Galactic Highways: Adventures in Divinatory Astrology by Barry Goddard. The twenty-one (21) chapters cover an expansive and fresh perspective that differs from the usual books on astrology and often a more mechanical approach that forms a less intuitive structure for the reader. The visual appeal draws the reader in simply in the cover art work and the colors used and imagery, which exude a playful approach. It is reminiscent of the required dioramas that we crafted as children in elementary school. 

Lest, this playful first encounter set the tone for frivolity in the content, there is an abundance of practical and very relatable information within the pages of this title. To that point, “Chapter 1: The Power of Astrology” begins with the First Vaccination Chart reflecting the date when Margaret Keenan (UK), received the first dose of the COVID vaccine on December 8th, 2020. Using this as a starting point for the innate power of astrology as a predictive tool grounded in the present celestial events, Goddard creates the fertile space of return to inclusion of a sentient and accessible Universe as a tool of free will and intention…. 

“Astrology enchants the universe in an age when that enchantment has been replaced by the notion of a dead universe, that the universe is just a thing and we are just one more thing in it. We are the first people in history to entirely forget our roots in spirit, in the sense that consciousness is fundamental.”2

As you move through the chapters of this book, there is a sense of being part of an adventure in exploration of the astrological basics versus the academia of the subject matter. “Chapter 2: Keeping it Simple” exemplifies this approach beautifully. Goddard provides the reader and novice with just enough astrological information to make sense of the deeper explorations of the components of astrological practice. 

“I like to keep astrology simple, because it is then easier to remain close to the symbolism. When you are close to the symbolism, when you feel it strongly, it can speak through you. Anyone can learn the set of meanings of the planets and signs and put them together to read a chart. A computer can do that. But that is not astrology, because it is not the gods speaking through you, but the intellect, which needs to be the servant, not the master.”3

This simple approach is sampled in the reading of Barack Obama’s chart – only containing the Sun, Moon and Rising signs. The lesson here is one of using the highlights (Sun, Moon, and Rising) information as the starting points for analysis of an individual chart. The reader is reminded of the deep, albeit for many unconscious, knowing we have of the two largest celestial bodies of reference we have access to directly: the Sun and the Moon. This concept follows the idea of connection and symbolism and allows those very common things to speak through the astrological reading by way of what is already established as a connection to the reader’s ideology of what the Sun and Moon mean to them beyond astrological purposes. 

Goddard provides all of the usual information sought after by those looking to astrology with specific intentions. “Prediction, Political Astrology and Bad Astrology” (Chapter 3), “Relationships” (Chapter 4), “Astrology, Divination and Science” (Chapter 10) and “The Elemental Balance” (Chapter 11) are just a few of the highlights that would satisfy the more traditional approach.  But, the more interesting perspectives can be found in chapters such as these: “Trusting in Death” (Chapter 8), “Tweaking Our Creation Mythologies” (Chapter 12), “The Geography of the Underworld” (Chapter 21) and others that pique the reader’s curiosity about entwining astrological concepts into more expansive areas of consideration. 

Throughout Surfing the Galactic Highways, the underpinnings of a scientific approach to astrology are woven with the mythos of sign and planet and the symbolism becomes one infused with reality and intuitive creativity. Each chapter is primed with visual examples of charts that have been simplified in how much is contained within, allowing the reader to properly digest the concepts presented and create new pathways of understanding that can at a later date be expanded upon. 

Would I Recommend?

In Surfing the Galactic Highways, Goddard has successfully taken some very dry and often challenging principles of astrology and crafted them in such a way that makes them relatable to everyone at all layers of knowledge base. Goddard’s writing style is one that elicits an ease of reading that is similar to that of sitting and discussing a complicated subject with a patient and enthusiastic friend whose only goal is one of wanting to share their passion for that topic. All in all, this book is an excellent resource for those who wish to explore the many uses of astrological application and enjoy the journey of new awakenings. 

About the Author: Barry Goddard

In his twenties and thirties, Goddard was engaged in Buddhist practice, but for the last 25 years the main currents have been astrology and shamanism. He regularly writes blogs and Facebook posts about both shamanism and astrology, to which he brings a fresh and sometimes controversial perspective.

Old Stars, New Light by Daniel Guirchovitch

Old Stars, New Light: Astrology, Tarot and Runes, by Daniel Guirchovitch
Daniel Guirchovitch, 979-8987826300, 597 pages, April 2023

As someone who has studied astrology and tarot for over a decade, it can become quite boring reading the same reiterated information over and over again. While these descriptions of the characteristics of Sun in Capricorn or the Lovers card can provide insight at times, more often than not, it feels like there’s a general script being stuck to, ensuring the card is conveyed in the “correct” way. As a natural rebel and information seeker, I yearn for a fresh perspective on the esoteric arts. Old Stars, New Light: Astrology, Tarot, and Runes by Daniel Guirchovitch provides just that, and reading it over the past months has revived my passion and curiosity for the celestial insight and divine knowledge accessible when we extend our perception and invite in wisdom from beyond.

This book is unique in the span of time it took to collect the material and the methodology of how the information was obtained. For over 26 years Guirchovitch spoke with Elias, energy personality essence channeled by Mary Ennis, about topics related to astrology, tarot, and runes. Elias is fascinating, and I recommend learning more about him and Mary’s process of exchanging energy with him before reading the book by looking at the website www.eliasweb.org. There’s plenty of interesting transcripts and audio records you can read dating back to 1995. I really appreciate how the website is so well organized, making it easy for viewers to see the topic of each session.

Guirchovitch describes:

“The book reflects my journey to become a professional reader, which included a spectrum of challenges ranging from self-doubt, to re-examining the fundamentals, to learning to synthesize multiple factors and to flow with the interpretations.”1

The content reads as a dialogue between Guirchovitch, who goes by his first name Dan in the book, and Elias in a style of Socratic questioning, the thoughtful dialogue between the two exposing new truths and unraveling frames of mind to see beyond limited perception. As a reader, I gained just as much from Guirchovitch sharing his viewpoint and the questions he asks as I did from Elias’s thought-provoking answers.

Sometimes the dialogue is short and sweet, just a few sentences back and forth. Other times Dan shares an elaborate idea or perception with Elias and Elias shares his response, which ranges from a one-word agreement to a paragraph-long explanation.

Here’s a little sample from the section from Chapter 32, focusing on rune casting and other applications:

“Dan: So the divination aspect of the Runes, as in describing and helping to fine-tune situations, helping people to find the most beneficial alternatives.

Elias: Yes. Yes. Giving information, in a manner of speaking. They can be used for scrying. They also, because there is that element of magic, they can be used to be collectively expressing a type of intuition. Which, if you are defining intuition correctly, intuition is that communication that answers questions. Even if you don’t know you are asking a question, your intuition is answering your questions that you might be leaning into subjectively, or that you might be expressing an energy that is moving in a certain direction.

Now this is NOT precognitive or expressing predictions. But you can engage in a particular direction, and although you don’t necessarily see some aspects of that direction that involves the future that you are already engaging, and you may not see that objectively, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t already engaged [in] doing it. And your intuition can actually express that. Therefore, that may also be some of the questions that intuition is answering at times.

In this relation to Runes, they can be used in a very similar capacity except in relation to the collective energy – not simply individual – therefore expanded.”2

While one could certainly read this book cover to cover, it’s also very helpful to use the table of contents and find exactly what you’re seeking to learn more about. The book is chronologically organized into 39 chapters, starting with transcriptions from November 2013 and ending in November 2021. In the table of contents, underneath the chapter number and date, the topic(s) of the discussion is listed. For instance, Chapter 9 May 30, 2016 covers “Aries, Taurus, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Cancer.”3, while Chapter 29 January 20th 2020 covers “The Temperance Card.”4

Whether you’re into astrology, tarot, or runes, I have no doubt the content of these dialogues will leave you inspired, contemplative, and with a fresh perspective on things. So far for me the most revelatory passages were in Chapter 19 May 16, 2019 covering Leo and Aquarius. My ascendent is in Leo and descent in Aquarius, along with my Sun, North Node, and Mercury also there too. I’m still processing and journaling about all the insights from Guirchovitch and Elias about the relationship between these two signs!

What has stood out the most is Elias describing Aquarius by stating, “.. they are not as concerned with outward expressions, therefore they aren’t as concerned with whether everything is flowing, but rather whether they are flowing.”5 This passage was notable to to me because I feel like I rarely want to impede the flow of others by expressing myself, and I also deeply believe that everyone just lives in their own flow that things work out best. In reflection, my flow is definitely what shapes the landscape of my life and relationships – and I get very annoyed when external forces impede this inner flow!

Not only does this book provide information for self-reflection, it also is an opportunity to get a glimpse into the art of chart reading. Guirchovitch speaks with Elias about different aspects and planet placements, seeking guidance into their meaning. For those who read charts, this content is worth reading as it showcases the process “seeing” an astrological chart and slowly revealing the intricacies of the person through careful rumination on their chart.

For those who are students at heart, willing to see things in a new way, Old Star, New Light will open doorways for you to better understand astrology, tarot, and runes. This is a book one can come back to time and time again for a deeper understanding of their mysteries. Guirchovitch is generous in sharing his insights from Elias with a greater audience, choosing to gift the answers he’s received to readers rather than keep it all to himself. I think this would be a wonderful resource for a group to study together, as the material lends itself to discussion quite readily. But even read solo, these conversations are a starting point into our own dialogues about these topics, which are essential when contemplating and enacting our practice of these sacred arts. Be prepared for the “aha” moments that spring up as you read!

The Book of Norse Magic, by Cerridwen Greenleaf

The Book of Norse Magic: Charms, Incantations and Spells Harnessing the Power of Runes, Ancient Gods and Goddesses, and More, by Cerridwen Greenleaf
CICO Books, 1800651244, 144 pages, September 2022

I’ve always been drawn to runes, believing they are one of the most accurate divination methods, but my lack of knowledge of Norse magic has always made me a bit hesitant to explore this curiosity. While I know the well-known gods and goddesses – Loki, Odin, Freya – I had never taken a deep dive into Norse mythology or background that would give me a foundation for expanding my practice of rune reading.

But when I first picked up The Book of Norse Magic: Charms, Incantations and Spells Harnessing the Power of Runes, Ancient Gods and Goddesses, and More by Cerridwen Greenleaf, I felt my trepidation and anxiety about learning more about Norse mythology, magic, and beliefs melting away, replaced by an excitement that I might have finally found my in to explore Norse magic. Greenleaf has distilled the essentials to open a door for beginners to gain insight into how one can use Norse practice in their own magickal practice.

Divided into six chapters, this book covers different aspects of Norse magic: runes and divination, goddesses and gods, folklore of the forest, crystals and healing, essenes and incenses, and norse astrology. All throughout, there are beautiful graphics and color pages that make the information pop out to the reader. Whether one is looking for a quick spell or hoping to initiate a deep personal transformation, this book provides all that is needed.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much information Greenleaf provided about runes. From helping the reader pick the runes that are right for them (there are different sets spanning from the 2nd to 19th century!) to create a runic blessing bowl and altar, Greenleaf covers all the steps to get started doing readers. In addition to sharing the rune meanings, she also offers different methods of casting the runes, so the reader can discover their own divination style. There’s even information about how to create one’s own rune set! And my favorite part of this section was suggestions for how to use runes magically in one’s daily life through spellwork, candle magic, and creating charms.

The section on Norse legends covered the main gods and goddesses, as well as other spirits, such as Puddlefoot, a nature spirit, fairies, meremaidens, and Nidhogg, the dragon of envy. There’s also rituals for calling down the gods and goddesses, quelling restless spirits, and conjuring spirit guides. While these all are more in-depth magic practices, Greenleaf also includes more light-hearted sections, such as a table to create your own mythical name using dice. Mine turned out to be Queen Amethyst the Enchantress of the Night. Lol!

The section “Folklore Forest” felt really grounding, as it opened with a ritual for earthing, or connecting with Mother Earth. Greenleaf teaches the magical properties of various trees and how to use tree essences and herbal oils. There’s also bath potions (my favorite!), spellwork for prosperity, and guidance on how to create a wand from a tree branch.

Next Greenleaf’s focus switches to crystals, teaching the readers about the legends and magical properties of different crystals and gems. She includes spells for invoking Thor’s thunder and grounding with earth and water. Briefly tapping into lithomancy, Greenleaf shows how crystals can be used for divination and shares the meaning of different crystals. There’s also tons of rituals for a variety of things, including creating healthy habits, boosting your enthusiasm, relaxation, and inspiring creativity.

The following section, “Transformative Essence and Incense” was my favorite because of the recipes and “cozy witch” hygge vibe! Greenleaf writes, “I have incorporated everything I have learned from the wise women in my family and the greater community to which I I belong into my mindfulness regarding home and the creation of sacred space.”1 There’s brewing spells for magical potpourri and teas, DIY self-care blends, and aromatherapy guidance. All of which inspires me to bring a bit of enchantment to my home!

 The final section details how the “Germanic and Nordic pagans of old saw the year as only two seasons-winter and summer”2. Greenleaf includes rituals for Yule (start of winter) and Litha (start of summer), along with information on the nordic lunar system, astrological seasons, energy of the days of week.

I cherish authors who take their expertise, which this absolutely is for Cerridwen Greenleaf who is a scholar and dedicated teacher, to open new pathways for those eager to learn. It could appear this book is only skimming the surface or that the book has a Wiccan spin to it, but I’ve found that by making my way through The Book of Norse Magic and taking the time to do the exercise, spellwork, and recipes, there is potency in the content. I highly recommend it for those looking for a beautiful book to expand their magical cultural knowledge.