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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.

Zodiac Moon Reading Cards, by Patsy Bennett

Zodiac Moon Reading Cards, by Patsy Bennett and illustrated by Richard Crookes
Rockpool, 9781925924268, 36 cards, 84 pages, March 2021

Patsy Bennett is a journalist, a psychic intuitive, and an astrologer with over 25 years of experience. Writing horoscopes for magazines and newspapers in Australia and around the world, she has also written several books and is a speaker and teacher in the area around her home in Byron Bay. She created the Zodiac Moon Reading Cards as a “powerful 36-card set and booklet depicting the Sun, Moon and eclipses through the zodiac signs.” I watched a YouTube video of Bennett and listened to an interview to get a better idea of her astrology background.  She’s the real deal!

I was intrigued by the use of eclipses in this deck.  Although we will only see four eclipses in 2022 (there were four in 2021 and six in 2020), it is interesting to note the energy of an eclipse in each zodiac sign–and this is what Bennett has captured. She features the twelve Sun signs, twelve Moon signs, and the twelve eclipse signs.

Due to my study of astrology over the past two years, I have been interested in anything that focuses on the zodiac, the Moon, or other planets.  She does a great job of explaining the energy of the Sun, Moon, and eclipses, as well as the twelve zodiac signs.  Her language is easy to understand and very informative. Bennet includes two spreads for the deck, although I decided to focus on one-card readings for my initial foray into these cards.  The guidance shared in the booklet is very rich and detailed.

When I saw this deck, my interest was piqued, as I wondered how the guidance for these cards would be revealed, so I dove right in, deciding to use the cards for my weekly Coffee & Cards group. 

Initially, I asked a question for myself, posing a query around a work situation.  My card was Eclipse in Leo.  Keyword:  Compassion with Tagline: “Shine brightly like the star that you are.”1  The verbiage in the guidebook suggested that I consider this time to be a turning point and remember to use my skills in both compassion and creativity. It also guided me to more self-care and a focus on activities that I love.  

I took this guidance to mean much more to me about a personal project I am about to undertake and saw it as a “green light” to move ahead. It also urged me to: “Keep the channels of creativity and happiness open with an active and optimistic mindset.”2

Next, I pulled a card for each of the women in my Saturday card group.  One woman asked a question regarding her new job prospects.  The guidance she received came from the card Sun in Sagittarius with Keyword:  Adventure and Tagline: “Stride out into new territory.”3  Similar to my experience with my card, she felt that the card answered a different question she had regarding taking a trip to South America to work with her Shaman.  At the very end of the passage, Bennett shares “If you asked a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, the answer is ‘yes’.”4

Another woman asked a question regarding starting a website to sell tarot decks. She has been studying and buying decks for over twenty years.  Her card was Eclipse in Aquarius with Keyword:  Awakening and Tagline: “Your deeper resolve rises.”5  She shared that just this week, she had made a decision to stop job hunting and focus 100% of her energy on setting up her website for teaching Tarot and selling cards. She felt that this card confirmed that decision. One paragraph really stood out in the guidebook for her:

Digital and technological ventures can reach a new level. You may see your abilities in the digital world in a new light. Avoid being consumed by technology; Ensure you create balance in your life between technology and everyday concerns.6 

She shared in the group that while she had a little experience in developing a website, the new technology was a concern.  She took this card to be her confirmation that she can handle whatever comes her way and that her resolve to provide not only cards for sale, but also educational information and support for people on a spiritual journey will be key.

The cards are a little larger than most oracle decks and hard for my small hands to shuffle in the traditional way.  However, by mixing them up on a tabletop or doing an overhand shuffle, the cards can be shuffled for each use.  The cards are of a medium to light-weight card stock and I’ll have to be careful not to bend the cards.  Also very glossy, the cards are highly varnished on both sides.  I noticed that I had to turn off the overhead light to photograph them for sharing online. The highly varnished surface reflected the light and distorted some of the graphics. However, this is minimized by turning off the light. The deck and guidebook come in a beautiful box, with an indentation to hold the cards and a magnetic closing flap.

Bennett and her illustrator have done a beautiful job of matching the keywords and taglines with images that bring the verbiage to life. The guidebook is easy to read and has been printed in full color, including color photos of each card.  It is arranged in Zodiac order from Aries to Pisces for each of the three sections. Bennett has provided two ways for you to find your card or cards, if you are unfamiliar with the natural order of the Zodiac signs:  1) She has numbered the cards from 1 to 36 and 2) there is also a Table of Contents.

I really enjoyed working with the Zodiac Moon Reading Cards.  The messages were clear and the guidance was detailed and flowed beautifully from the guidebook.  This deck would be great for anyone who wants to learn more about the Zodiac signs and the energy of the Sun, Moon and eclipses.  No prior knowledge of astrology is required and this is really helpful for most people.  I’m also planning to keep this deck close by and refer to it when the Sun and Moon moves into each sign.  This will help me continue to build on my knowledge of the qualities for each of the Zodiac signs.

Revelations from the Source, by Barbara Hand Clow

Revelations from the Source, by Barbara Hand Clow
Bear & Company, 1591434319, 352 pages, October 2021

It started with Revelations of the Ruby Crystal (2015), then came Revelations of the Aquarius Age (2018). Now, at long last, Barbara Hand Clow has completed the trilogy with the most recent book Revelations from the Source (2021). I have eagerly been anticipating this latest release after having grown quite fond of the tight-knit community of characters in this series. All my hopes and expectations were exceeded in this dynamic final book, which expertly weaves together multi-dimensional layers of information, inspiring revelations, and reconsideration of how things truly are in the world.

Before diving into things, while this book can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading the first two books before this one. Clow doesn’t spend too much time introducing the characters in this final book, and the few sentences to summarize the characters’ relationships for those who aren’t familiar hardly does justice to the complexity of their bonds. Plus, the characters have naturally evolved, and therefore their current circumstances in this book are directly related to the previous ones.

This being said, Revelations from the Source was a thrilling read because it has an up-to-date timeline of current events. While not every event in the book happened in real life, the story intends to parallel current events. From the election of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit to hold the position, to political tensions in Iran and the presidency of Donald Trump, all the way up to the COVID-19 pandemic, the book focuses on the characters’ experiences of events.

As I read, I was reflecting on having lived through these experiences, many not too long ago, with a new sense of perspective, as well as room to integrate what I was feeling as I moved through them. This is because all of the characters in the story are very tapped into the zeitgeist, all from their own point of view, such as a psychotherapist working with clients’ processing to an artist capturing energetic transmissions of sound in painting to awaken the masses. Another character is a reporter, who previously covered events in the Middle East but is now a correspondent for a newspaper reporting on the happenings in the Vatican.

My favorite character point of view is Claudia, esteemed fashion-designer and astrologer. Since I am an astrologer myself, I could remember all the full moons and conjunctions described, during which characters perform initiations or simply muse about the world. I especially recall the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in 2020, which was a significant moment in the book as well, as the characters work together to perform a ritual uniting the nine dimensions. I think those prone to reflecting on the placement of the stars, as well as the tumultuous events of the past few years would have a lot to gain from reading the insights of the characters in Revelations from the Source.

Clow’s astrological background is effortlessly integrated into the fictional narrative of this story. For instance, there is a lot of discussion about the nine different dimensions, with certain characters having more of a connection to each one. Clow previously authored the book The Alchemy of the Nine Dimensions, which I’m sure this story’s plot is based on. I’m always a fan of reading fictional stories where I can relate to a character’s feelings, thoughts, and experience, rather than just a non-fictional explanation of some phenomena. And it’s for this reason that I enjoyed this book so thoroughly. Other topics that Clow has woven in from her previous books include Mayan Codes (The Mayan Code), energetic influence of Chiron (Chiron), connections to other star systems (The Pleiadian Agenda), and lots of raising sexual energy as a form of altering consciousness (Astrology and the Rising of Kundalini)!

However, Clow doesn’t hesitate to venture into some of the deepest, darkest shadows in our culture as well. At times, it was hard to stomach parts of the story, especially the sexual abuse of priests on young children, which is a prominent theme in the entire series. This book really covers a lot of the energetic forces of the Catholic Church, as well as how the energy of youths has been inappropriately harvested for power, money, and prestige. Once again, while the story is fiction, it mentions events that really happened such as the Boston Globe story which revealed the extent of abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church.

Quite a few characters leave the Church, and by the end of it, I felt more confident in my resolve to do so as well. I was born and raised in the Catholic faith, even attending a Catholic university for my undergraduate studies. However I am increasingly finding it hard to find faith in a religion that does not value the spiritual authority of women and is rife with abuse and misconduct. The characters’ journeys were really empowering in my own spiritual path, making me see that I could follow their lead, rather than continue to go along with the corruption that has taken hold in the Catholic religious community. There’s so much history packed in the story, as another character is a scholar of early-Christianity, that I was constantly Googling new topic ideas, such as “Marconi” and “Mithraism.”

Other controversial topics include climate change, vaccinations, 5G towers, and the public-safety response to the pandemic. I will admit, sometimes the beliefs did feel a bit “conspiracy theory-esqe,” but I kept an open mind without discrediting anything. I was especially intrigued by the explanation for the coronavirus springing to life when it did, which had to do with telluric interference. Now that is a thought that has never crossed my mind!

At its heart, Revelations from the Source is a tale of the characters’ awakening into the Age of Aquarius. Due to their reputable, affluent, and influential families, the characters in the story are keepers of secret history, serving as a bridge between past and present. In this way, they serve as foils to modern society, clearly showing where humanity has veered off course, thus resulting in evil forces being unleashed through social strife, political controversy, intimate violence, and looming threats of war.

Clow clearly shows through the plot that the transition isn’t an easy one, and there are many forces at work during this tumultuous time. However, with the right perspective, and tools (art, past-life regressions, astrology, writing), humanity will be able to pull through. What’s most important is that we remember the importance of connection, building trust, and working together to overcome the destructive forces both within ourselves and the world at large.

The story’s theme of friendship and community is a prompt for the reader to find their own community to assist during this changing of ages. And most of all, for readers to continue to do their own investigations and express their revelations with a broader community. In this age where the people have the power and the power is the people, increasing our ability to transmit thoughts, energies, and feelings effectively will be a key to survival.

Overall, I am immensely satisfied with the culmination of this trilogy. Revelations from the Source is a treasure-trove of alternative ideas woven perfectly into the seemingly-static fabric of our 3-D reality. Filled with history, ancient and secret knowledge, as well as esoteric understandings of humanity’s place within the greater star systems, this book will bring you into new realms of realization. By delving into the defilement and debasement of some of society’s most corrupt institutions, the truth is exposed. Something we will be seeing more of as the Age of Aquarius dawns.

I highly recommend not only this book, but this entire series, for those looking for a fascinating read that delves into many dimensions, facets of history, and opens a doorway to a future unlike what we’ve known thus far. The writing is engaging, and the characters will soon feel like an extended friend group (I certainly wish I could call on them for advice!). More and more, those awakening to the shifts will be looking for answers, and while it’s fictional, this book is sure to be the key that unlocks readers’ perception.

Moon Wisdom, by Heather Roan Robbins

Moon Wisdom: Transforming Your Life Using the Moon’s Signs and Cycles, by Heather Roan Robbins
CICO Books, 978-1-78249-849-0, 144 pages, 2020

Moon Wisdom: Transforming Your Life Using the Moon’s Signs and Cycles by Heather Roan Robbins is an amazingly informative book to help in understanding the important role the Moon plays in our lives. You need no working knowledge of the phases of the Moon, its relationship to signs of the zodiac, or even how to find your Moon sign in order to begin a deep dive into the book. The information is presented in an easy to understand manner with colorful graphics and charts. I envision this as a book that I will use every day, not one to be read and put on a shelf.  The book is divided into three sections and an Appendix that offer clear, guided ways to begin your Moon work. 

In Part I, “Navigate The Way With,” Robbins describes the effect the Moon has on our daily lives depending on what sign of the zodiac it’s passing that day. As she explains, the Moon moves through the entire zodiac approximately every 28 days, and so passes through each sign every two to three days. She describes how to work with the Moon in the moment, depending on what sign it is in, using it as a guide to navigate the day. She breaks down the aspects of the Moon for each sign by using the same headings: Mood Under the Sign, Romance, Contemplation/Meditation, Things to Do, and Garden (both your internal garden and the physical garden), ending with a chart on What to Watch Out For. Of course, I did an immediate check to see what sign the Moon was in on the day I read the section and found it spot on.

Part II, “If You Were Born Under,” Robbins explains the effect the Moon has on our lives depending on its phase and sign, based on the day one was born. This Moon imprint remains with us our entire lives and helps explain our unique gifts. The information offered in Part II is a guide to help raise self-awareness and also an awareness of the characteristics of friends and family. It was interesting to read that if one knows one’s Moon sign as well as one’s Sun sign, you can better understand how all Capricorns, for example, are not cut from the same cloth. The coupling of the traits of a Moon sign with that of a Sun sign creates a multi-dimensional picture of one’s self and also of others. Life Part I, this section is also divided into sections: Challenges, Primary Emotional Need, Dealing with Those (born under this Moon sign) at Work, in Romance, and in Family, and Unique Gifts. Of course, it’s not meant to be a one-size fits all description of what this Moon sign means to you, but it does put forth some very strong characteristics of the Moon sign and also offers much-needed guidance. 

In Part III, “Phases and Aspects of the Moon,” there is a deeper dive into the effects of the phases of the Moon and the corresponding energy on the sign of the day and also the sign of our birth Moon. Heather offers a guide to using lunar energy to live by – when to begin or end something, to attract or be more introspective, what we generally need at each phase, and how best to interact with others. She works with eight phases of the Moon, not just the four phases of which we are generally aware: full, new, waning, and waxing, offering a more details of the phases. 

She explains that the Moon phase at the time of one’s birth helps one understand where one is in the soul cycle, whether one is beginning a soul cycle if born under a new moon or completing one if born under a full moon. She also writes about the power of the eclipse (both solar and lunar) which she describes as a “form of astrological acupuncture” 1 meant to be surprising, uncomfortable, and ultimately revelatory. I found the section of Part III that delves into the aspects of the Moon to other planets to be the most technical and challenging to grasp in a few reads. It was definitely not a quick read, at least for me, and I will need to be re-read to fully understand. 

Part IV, “Appendix,” offers guidance on how to read an astrological calendar and a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions section that offers further details how astrology work and the definitions of astrological terms. Again, the colorful graphics and charts offer this information in an easy-to-understand form. 

Heather encourages one to work with a two-pronged approach to astrology, the “astrology of the moment” or today 2 and also the astrology of the moment of one’s birth. I loved her description of the benefits of working with the stars, constellate or con=with and stella=stars, versus disaster, or dis=against and aster=stars. The book truly reflects her belief that “we’re not influenced by the planets but that the planets are influenced by the same universal patterns that influence us.” 3

After reading Moon Wisdom, I have begun to refer to this book every few days to see the aspects of the day ahead based on the Zodiac sign that the Moon is in. I say every few days because the Moon lingers in each Zodiac house for at least 2 days. I have a Moon app that I use in conjunction with the book to help me with the Moon phases. I’ve begun using the phases of the Moon to guide when I start projects, when I want to delve into more introspective work, and even as a gauge as to what to expect from colleagues in my work day. While I’ve always loved conversing with La Bella Luna in the night sky, I now feel as if I understand her complexity and her pull on my life. She’s not just a pretty face! She’s a powerful force!  I highly recommend this easy to use guide. There is a tremendous amount of information offered in its pages.

Relaxation For Your Sun Sign

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with stress — you certainly know the habits that come out when it’s running high! Rather than defaulting to your usual patterns of coping, you can find new, constructive ways to navigate stress based on your sun sign. Read on to learn how your sign can relax and get back to a state of flow next time you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Aries

Get physical, take action, and move. Doing something active gets your entire body engaged, releasing the stress churning within you. The worst thing you can do is sit still and let the energy build up – this will only lead to a blow out down the line. Go for a run, put on your favorite music and dance, or hit a class at the gym. Cleaning up the house is another way to distract your mind, while engaging your body. Don’t feel obligated to invite others to tag alone. Some solo time and independence will help you to recharge. Blow off that steam!

Taurus

Spend time in nature. Engaging your senses brings you back to the present moment. By submerging yourself in the beauty of the outdoors, you will feel revived by the fresh air, sunlight, and organic tranquility of the plants and animals around you. Treat yourself to a massage, comforting meal, or small home decor purchase. By refreshing your environment, you are replenishing your well-being and releasing stress. Sticking to your routine also helps you to relieve stress, as the consistency in your daily life brings you stability.

Gemini

Do some research. Letting your mind be idle will only enhance your stress. You will best alleviate this stress by exploring how others have handled your situation, looking up tips and tricks for dealing with what you’re experiencing, gathering resources that makes you more informed about your current situation, and exploring what others have to say. By stimulating your mind, you become proactive in a solution. Having options about how to proceed brings the bit of fresh air you need to clear your head.

Cancer

Ask for support from your soul tribe and family. You are an integral part of many people’s lives, always offering support and reassurance, but often you forget they too want to nourish you. By being vulnerable and sharing your stresses, you create space to be nurtured. You can also tend to yourself emotionally by cooking your favorite meal, taking a bath, and journaling your feelings. The comfort of your home is your sweet spot for rest and relaxation.

Leo

Channel your stress into creative pursuits. When stress flares, it becomes hard for you to not get dragged along on a rollercoaster of emotions. Pour this excess energy into your favorite hobbies and projects. The simple act of creating, will make you feel more in control of how things are manifesting right now. Feel the empowerment when you do what you love most. Your talents will bring you joy that naturally uplifts you out of stress mode. You will also benefit from laughter; putting on your favorite comedy reminds you it’s not that bad.

Virgo

Perform an act of service for someone. Under stress, you often become a bit obsessive-compulsive, trying to keep everything in line, orderly, clean, and up to high standards. The quickest way to get your mind out of overdrive is to offer to lend a hand or do a favor for someone. Being helpful shifts your focus outward to others and distracts you from the stress you are feeling, clearing your head. You enjoy feeling productive and this act will make you feel more calm and settled as you put your energy towards something practical that makes a positive difference in the world.

Libra

Talk it through and get feedback. Vocalizing and sharing your stressors with another helps you to get a better handle on what’s going on. You’re a very communicative person and having someone to bounce ideas back and forth with gives you affirmation and reassurance. You appreciate hearing perspectives about what you’re going through and in return offer heartfelt advice that motivates and soothes your conversation partner – benefiting both of you! Sharing your thoughts with someone whose opinion you value diffuses the situation and brings levity back into your life.

Scorpio

Embrace solitude. Being in a crowd will only make you feel you need to mask all the turmoil you’re experiencing, which can lead to self-destructive behaviors as you try to conceal what’s going on beneath the surface. Go within yourself and examine the root of the stress in your life. You, unlike most signs, are not scared to face your fears and acknowledge the tension causing you stress. Take the space you need to do this deep dig and make the internal changes that will facilitate your personal transformation.

Sagittarius

Explore someplace new. Fresh scenery and the adventure of going someplace you haven’t gone before helps to alleviate your stress. You may want to take a drive to a nearby town, check out a new restaurant, or find a different hiking trail. Stimulating your need for variety is key. Your mood will change as soon as you’re on the road towards your next journey, and it improves the further you travel from your comfort zone. Looking up travel destinations or reading about another culture are a good way to armchair travel too to broaden your horizons and release stress.

Capricorn

Make a plan. When you feel out of control, your stress becomes more overwhelming. By focusing on the long-term goal, you are better able to navigate immediate stressors. Keeping your eye on the prize helps you to remain cool, calm, and collected in the present moment. Make sure you avoid overworking and take time for yourself, otherwise you will burn out. Lessen the load you’re carrying by delegating some responsibilities to others and try to scale down on your commitments to make space for resting. Always remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Aquarius

Spend time with your friends. When you get stressed, you tend to dwell in your own thoughts and isolate yourself from others. By reaching out to your friends, you shake off the stress ruminating within you. Hearing what’s going on with others is enough to stimulate your mind and broaden your perspective again so that you’re not hyper focused on what’s bothering you. Fresh ideas and communication liberate you by providing some detachment from your stress. Text, call, or Skype your buds: keep them in the loop about what’s going on with you and listen to how they’ve been. Before you know it, you’ll be laughing and at ease.

Pisces

Take a healthy escape to diminish your stress. Exploring unknown, imaginary realms is part of your journey in life. Choose to immerse yourself in the relaxing aesthetic of a museum, the fantasy setting of your favorite movie, or spiritual dimension of meditation. Sink into a deep relaxation and just let your mind wander. Allowing your stress and worries to dissolve in the background for a bit helps you to rejuvenate and find your equilibrium. As an intuitive, sensitive soul you will be replenished by a mellow atmosphere.

Kinesic Magic, by Donald Tyson

Kinesic Magic: Channeling Energy with Postures & Gestures, by Donald Tyson
Llewellyn Publications, 0738764132, 272 pages, August 2020

Integrating our bodies with our magical practice — there’s nothing I love more! But sometimes it’s hard to find a systematic way to do this (aside from watching The Magicians and seeing how the characters use their hands to cast spells, which I absolutely have incorporated into my own workings). I’ve occasionally found books on mudras for the astrological signs, and I am also familiar with the correspondence between body parts and zodiac signs, but never had I discovered a method to blend it all together. This is why I absolutely love Kinesic Magic: Channeling Energy with Postures & Gestures, in which Donald Tyson has created a comprehensive guide that shifts the practice of magic from complex rituals in arcane grimoires to the bare essential of one’s body. The techniques, despite being surprisingly simple, are a powerful way to work the fundamental energies of Western magic.

Tyson is a prolific author and expert in Western occultism. During his studies, he noticed a gap between Eastern and Western practices due to the exclusion of the body in most occult systems in the West. Eastern traditions include the practice of yoga as a method of transforming energy and connecting to energy of the Universe. Therefore, Tyson, who had alluded to how one could use their hands in magical works in his previous book The New Magus 1, decided to create his own system. A reader should be aware this is something Tyson created on his own based on his extensive experience and knowledge, but in no way does this detract from the effectiveness of these practices.

For those of you who may not know, the definition of kinesic is, “the study of body movements, gestures, facial expressions, etc., as a means of communication.” 2 In Kinesic Magic, most of the focus is on body movement and gestures, rather than facial expressions. The first chapter, “The Twenty-Four Postures,” is the fundamental postures used in this system (the rest of the book focuses on hand-gestures). These postures are essentially the foundation of the workings one may be doing, including invoking, banishing, projecting, channeling, binding, and manifesting. Every posture has a hand-drawn image of a man in the posture along with a written description and information on how it can be used.

It’s worth spending time familiarizing yourself with these postures since they are the basis of all the workings in the book. I found it to be quite an informative experience to feel my body in these different postures. Purposely integrating my focus, will, and body was harder than I thought it would be, but with practice, the postures became more intuitive. It took me about a week to learn these foundation postures before continuing on with the book. One could absolutely keep on reading without them memorized, referring back to them when needed, but I wanted to have truly mastered the postures before I went more deeply into the following chapters.

There are three types of hand gestures covered in the book: elemental, planetary, and zodiac. Tyson believes these forces are at the heart of Western occultism and also the first teaching that initiates of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn receive, which is one of the most influential systems of ceremonial magic. Every section is packed with information that offers the reader a thorough overview of these topics, in addition to the gestures of how to work with the energies.

Chapter two, “The Five Elements,” dives into the history of the five elements of the Universe: fire, air, water, earth, and spirit. Discussed is how philosophers Aristotle and Plato perceived the elements, including diagrams and vivid descriptions of the properties of the elements and how they interact with one another. Next, there is an overview of the Medieval medical concept of humours that asserted people’s disposition was dependent upon their dominant element. Then Tyson details the elemental spirits as well and includes workings you can do to connect with them.

This pattern of giving a detailed overview of the topic, going through each energy that has a gesture, then explaining the glyph of the energy is also done in the chapters “The Seven Planets” and “The Twelve Zodiac Signs.” These sections are filled with astrological information, and I found them to be more detailed than many beginner astrology books. I feel everyone will certainly get what they’re seeking due to the multiple angles Tyson uses to educate the reader about these energies, ranging form color and chakra correspondences of the zodiac signs to the works that fall under the domain of each planet. These sections are overflowing with creative ideas on how to work with these energies using postures and gestures, including meditations to simply connect with the energies without any elaborate working.

Though I have to tell you, there are SO MANY innovative workings Tyson offers to the readers. Here are some the ones I’ve personally practiced working: To Channel an Element3, The Planetary Spiral4, Meditation on Mars5, Ruling Planets6, Zodiac Squares7, and Invoking the Birth Sign8. I’ve filled up my notebooks journaling about the experience and meditations that have come from using the technique of working the postures and gestures for these purposes. For instance, using my body and mind to create a connection to the zodiac squares was a whole new perspective in understanding how the energy flows between each sign. It’s very neat to be able to embody these abstract concepts and relate to them through not just the wisdom of our intellect, but the wisdom of our bodies as well.

Overall, Kinesic Magic: Channeling Energy with Posture and Gestures is truly groundbreaking (trust me, I wrote my master’s thesis paper on the use of kinesthetic intelligence as a form of education, and the resources are few and far between on this method of learning). It’s a book brimming with exercises that can greatly enhance one’s magic working by including the body. There is so much information in it, one would be able to dedicate months, possibly even an entire year to experimenting with the workings. This is a must-have for anyone who has an interest in further integrating mind, body, and spirit. Tapping into the body’s wisdom has greatly expanded my awareness of possibility. Plus, all the workings in the book can be done without needing to collect or purchase anything at all. The simplicity is a reminder of the magic inherent within us, especially when we connect our will with our body.

Heavenly Bodies Astrology, by Lily Ashwell

Heavenly Bodies Astrology: Deck and Little Guidebook, by Lily Ashwell
CICO Books, 1782499312, 51 cards, 144 pages, February 2021

I have been reading different decks for almost 30 years (I started young!). But when Heavenly Bodies Astrology by Lily Ashwell arrived, I got chills. The presentation of this boxset is unlike any I’ve ever seen. The deck and guidebook came in a gorgeous keepsake box, which really made for a memorable deck unveiling. As I opened the inner cover of the box, I was greeted with a quote by Henry David Thoreau that instantly made me marvel at the idea that heaven is ever-present . Illustrated in tones of pinks and grays, lace, and a full moon, the deck mesmerized me from the get-go. It even has a gold ribbon that can be used to gently remove the deck from the box with grace and ease!

The intricate beauty put into the presentation of the deck and “little guidebook” conveyed to me that just as much care and love was put into the design of this deck. The smaller box within the keepsake box holds the deck, which also has a ribbon to be used to remove it from its holder. The back of the deck’s box has a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke, one of my favorite poets, while the inner lid of the deck’s box has a quote by William Blake. In her Introduction, Lily describes the importance of this quote in her journey, which brought the box to life. 

I normally don’t gush over presentations and artwork, but this deck is truly a magnificent work of art. The contents of this box set are appropriately referred to as “treasures” on the box sleeve. I actually sat with these three pieces laid out on the table in front of me to soak in the craftsmanship that went into their creation. I felt as if someone had shared treasure with me, and I relished opening the book to read its content and then opening the deck to hold the cards as I would a new baby. These feelings were confirmed when I read Lily’s description in the book’s Introduction:

“This deck and guidebook did not begin as something to be shared, let alone published, but as my own study tool, to deepen my understanding of the cosmos.” 1

Bingo – the box and its contents felt like I had come upon someone’s preciously stored items and private writings, something very personal written from the heart and soul. Ashwell is both author and illustrator of the cards and book. Her training at London’s Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design (inner back of book) is vividly demonstrated in the design of the cards, which combine symbolism and astrology to create meaningful works art on each card.

Lily recommends using the cards to learn astrology, decode planetary placements in one’s birth chart, and/or communicate with the angels. As she explains in the guidebook, “understanding the deck requires a general understanding of astrology.”2 She proceeds to give a brief introduction to items such as the planets, zodiac, houses, and major aspects.

As someone who becomes quickly lost when astrological discussions move beyond Sun signs, I appreciated how Lily builds upon concept upon concept to help me begin to better understand the workings of astrology. She began with using the card Jupiter, and then illustrated what Jupiter in Aries meant, and then what Jupiter in Aries in the 7th House meant. This introduction made me feel a bit less intimated to begin working with the cards. I say “a little” because I admit to my head spinning when I got into Nodes, Trine, and Sextile! However, the guidebook generously helped me to navigate the unknown and still find the answers I was seeking.

I was glad to read in the guidebook that she understood that one could become overwhelmed when first beginning to work with the cards, especially if one has a very limited understanding of astrology. I very much appreciated her writing, “That’s okay and totally normal – I felt that way too. Just remember, you don’t need to grasp how everything pieces together right away. This is the journey.”3

Lily remembers her own introduction to astrology and chose to make this deck usable and not intimidating.

“When I began my journey with the cosmos, I felt thirsty for information, but bored and uninspired by the textbook-ish materials available. It’s why I made this little guidebook simple and the cards beautiful. They provide you with enough information to explore the subject but not enough to trigger overwhelm.”4

This reassured me that I didn’t need to be an astrology expert to use the deck; I could use the deck to familiarize myself with astrology, while also enjoying the stunning visuals that help me to learn about the different energies described.

The cards themselves are absolutely beautiful. Each card offers keywords and an “omen,” or the card’s overriding message. There are six categories of cards: the Planets, the Signs of the Zodiac, the Houses, the Major Aspects, the Natural Zodiac, and the Nodes of Destiny. They are have gentle, dreamlike colored tones that make you sink into your imagination when looking at them. The flowing design of the cards seems to make it easier to access my own inner knowing and also receive the card’s message on a soul level.

All the cards are filled with symbolic imagery, helping the reader to access the energy of the astrology viscerally, rather than just through the mind. The Earth card, for example, has four roses in various stages of blooming. There is a heart in the middle of the card, one side of the heart is a cage of bones while the other side is an intact red heart. The keywords are persistence, patience, and practicality. Then, Mercury has a butterfly set against the planet with a watercolor background of what reminds me of waterlilies. Venus’s card has a pale pink background, with an open clamshell displaying a white pearl, set against the planet itself.

My favorite illustrations are found on the House cards, which are bird-themed. The House Four card has a nest containing two eggs, set in a tree, against a full moon in a blue-black sky. The key words are cultural and family roots, home, peace, and comfort. Looking at this card makes me feel that sense of calmness, connectedness, and grounding associated with domestic life (which I also learned is it’s energy in astrology!)

I decided to work with the cards as Lily suggests, get to know them, try various spreads, allow them to speak to me, and to not get hung up with astrological terms. And guess what? I love, love, love working with them! I value Lily’s advice about asking questions of the cards by framing it as “what is…” versus yes or no questions. For example, “What is the best way to approach a job change?” instead of “Should I apply for job A next week?” This method helped me to open up to receive intuitive messages, deepening my capacity for communion with the cards.

In the guidebook, Liluyoffers three card spreads; a one card of the day, a three-card soul spread, and a four-card third eye spread. My favorite spread with this deck was the three-card soul spread, cards that revealed what one is learning, how one is learning it, and where the wisdom will take one.5 Without revealing my own card pulls, I will say that the way these cards communicated with me enabled me to drop my resistance to diving deeper into astrology and working with concepts other than my Sun sign.

I did the one card pulls for a few days. I sat with the selected card each day, reading the guidebook’s description and letting it marinate. I liked to pick my card early in the morning and sit with it all day – throughout my daily activities. Sometimes it resonated very quickly. Other times, it slowly revealed its meaning to me.

Three days in a row, I have pulled the card Yin! So, I’ve been trying to incorporate a slower pace in life. The Yin card is part of the Natural Zodiac in the Little Guidebook, along with Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Yang, Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. In addition to the keywords listed on the card itself, the guidebook also lists the “omen” for each card as described earlier as well as a description of the energy of the card itself. For example, for the Yin card, Lily writes about the “energy of the Divine Feminine.” 

The guidebook is easy to read and even includes blank pages at the end for note-taking, which offers the opportunity for me to personalize my deck with my thoughts and discoveries. I responded to Lily’s description of the energy of each card and found great insight in each card’s “omens.” I used the omen of a card to guide me, inspire me, and give me pause in my response to some of the questions posed. All food for thought – or rather, for the soul to digest.  I look forward to continuing taking it slow with the cards, allowing our relationship to develop, and learning more about the energy of astrology through the cards.

My next step using the cards is going to be laying them out to create different planet placements in my chart. I hope to gain insight from the visual representation of the energy of my personal astrological make-up, such as Moon in Aries in the first house and Mars in Taurus in the third house. I believe the keywords on the cards will help me to better understand these aspects in my chart, further deepening my astrological understanding.

All in all, Heavenly Bodies Astrology is a true gift in its beauty and its message. Lily’s honesty in describing her journey using astrology, her sharing of her artwork on the cards and in the little guidebook, and her gentle taking of the reader’s hand to encourage us to “find out own direct connection to the heavens,”6 makes for a very personalized feeling in this deck. The supreme elegance of the symbolic representation of the cosmos creates the feeling of sublime connection to the heavens. I highly recommend that you bring this treasure into your life. Whether you’re a novice or expert astrologer, you’ll feel there’s an exalted mysticism within these cards. As Ashwell writes, if this deck resonates with you, trust that you were brought to it for a reason. 

Yoga by the Stars, by Jilly Shipway

Yoga by the Stars: Practices & Meditations Inspired by the Zodiac, by Jilly Shipway
Llewellyn Publications, 0738763866, 272 pages, December 2020

When I was looking for something to shake up and add new dimensions to my yoga routine, I couldn’t have done better than to pick up Yoga By The Stars: Practices & Meditations Inspired by the Zodiac by Jilly Shipway. Although my knowledge of astrology isn’t expansive, I found Shipway’s book to be both accessible and inspiring. I love how she marries yoga practices tailored to each sign of the zodiac with meditative practices, prompts, and reflective exercises – all of which coalesce into a holistic dive through the “archetypal personalities” represented by the star signs.

Yoga By The Stars is broken into two main parts. In Part 1, Shipway outlines her general approach and provides some background information on both yoga and astrology. Part 2 consists of the twelve monthly practices corresponding to the signs of the zodiac, starting with Aries and moving through the rest of the astrological year.

Although one might expect to find only a unique yoga routine in each chapter of Part 2, I was overwhelmed by the wealth of ideas and practices in these sections. It is clear that Shipway put great care and thought into devising both the yoga sequences, the series of meditation prompts, and exploratory exercises for each month of the zodiac.

From the get-go in Part 1, Shipway assures the reader that no prior knowledge of astrology is necessary to explore the practices offered in Yoga By The Stars. Nor does one need to be an advanced yogi to complete the routines found in the book, though at least some experience with yoga asanas (poses) is definitely a plus.

Shipway proposes that undertaking a practice mixing astrological energy with yoga, one can embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-knowledge through observing how each of these archetypal personalities manifest within us, connecting us mind, body, and spirit to the vast cosmos.

She distinguishes herself from other astrologers in that she does not present an astrological yoga practice for the purpose of prediction, but treats the zodiac “as twelve archetypal personalities who are universally recognized and resonate with something deep in our own psyche.”1

One of the most integrative aspects of Shipway’s process is how she attunes the yoga practice to the cycles of the stars and seasons. Although the practices in Yoga By The Stars can be undertaken at any time during the year, she recommends using the practice of each sign during its time in the yearly cycle. This method will help us to align ourselves with the energy of that sign and, as a result, explore that aspect of ourselves which resonates with that archetypal personality.

Shipway also offers affirmations that can be used before, during, or after the yoga routine – or really, anytime one wants to while the Sun transits the particular sign of the zodiac. Furthermore, the meditation questions the author provides at the end of every chapter offer great ways to tune in to the perspective offered by each sign. Through contemplating or journaling about these questions, one can engage in both plumbing the depths of self-knowledge and engaging with the perspective offered by the sign.

Delving into Part 2 of the text, I found that using mantras during the yoga practice helped focus my attention and help tune my breath to my mind and body. I especially loved Shipway’s affirmation for the Pisces practice: In – A flower blossoms. Out – With each breath.2 She counsels the reader to use this meditation with the breath cycle to create the experience of continual renewal.

Each line of the mantra is a beginning as well as an ending, easing the yogi into a rhythmic cycle of breath and focused concentration. When implementing this in my own yoga practice, the continual use of the zodiac mantras, which I did for both Aquarius and Pisces season, helped me tap in and flow with the movements more deeply and easily than in much of my normal yoga regimen. I also felt a great sense of connection to the astrological energy of the moment as well, heightening my attunement to the current season.

Those already familiar with astrology, especially as a spiritual practice, know that attunement to the cycles of Nature is a critical method to harmonize oneself with the flow of the Cosmos. In addition to the guidance and exercises the author provides, Yoga By The Stars also contains little gems of wisdom interspersed throughout each chapter. This gave me the sense that Shipway truly embodies her craft, inspiring the reader to move beyond yoga as simply a kind of exercise to embracing its spiritual depths.

“Yoga is a rainbow bridge uniting heaven and earth. It celebrates an embodied spirituality lived out in cycles. The Sun rises, the Sun sets, and the next morning rises again.”3

Unfortunately, I have yet to complete an entire yoga cycle around the zodiac before having to write this review. I could have gone through and tried each of the yoga sequences for the different signs a couple times, but this did not feel quite right. Each yoga set, along with the accompanying meditation questions, invites one to really dig in deep to the energy of each sign. Moving too quickly between one sign and the next makes it difficult to truly connect with and embody each archetypal personality, so I’ve only done the sequences I’ve had the book for thus far.

Although practicing a yoga sequence from any book can be difficult, Shipway made it as easy as possible. Each asana of a sequence is thoroughly described and accompanied by simple stick-figure illustrations to guide the reader. Moreover, she summarizes each sequence in the form of a list as well as the complete series of illustrations. This was immensely helpful in thoroughly learning the yoga routine without having to flip through the book in the midst of practice. And once I’d gotten down the basic sequence after doing it daily for about a week, I was easily able to incorporate variations depending upon what I was feeling that day.

What really solidified the experience and growth in understanding the archetypal personalities was drawing upon the meditation prompts when I was away from the yoga mat. Whether it was before bed or at some random point during the day, one of the month’s prompts would breeze across my mind. Although I did not always have time to consciously contemplate the question, I knew that some part of my psyche was working through the idea and, thus, helping to ground me in the mindset of the month’s sign.

Overall, I cannot give enough praise to Shipway’s Yoga By The Stars! Writing a book to teach yoga sequences is difficult enough on its own, let alone integrating the practice with thought-provoking and inspiring astrological concepts. Shipway’s writing is inviting and easy to follow, with enough detail when needed, but not so much that it overwhelms the reader or turns into a treatise. Her masterful combination of yoga and meditation exercises is perfect for anyone interested in expanding their practice both on and off the mat. And even though the book is beginner-friendly, readers with advanced knowledge of astrology and/or yoga will find something unique and enlightening in Shipway’s  merging of the two practices.