Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review--Let's Get Practical

Practical Astrology
(The Essential Guide)
April Elliott Kent
Alpha (2011)

Eyewitness Companions Astrology
Julia and Derek Parker
DK (2007)

While I putting my basic astrology workshop together, I checked out basic astrology books from the library so that I can return to a beginner's mind.  However, even basic astrology books are packed with intermediate information so I found myself in a deeper learning mode.

Practical Astrology by April Elliott Kent combines humor with a flowing narrative.  Elliott Kent starts at the beginning with the symbols, signs, planets, then moves into the houses, house systems, progressions and transits.  She comes from the synthesis school (blending the energies of signs, planets, houses), and focuses more on astrology as an everyday tool thus the name of her book.  She teaches her readers the chart basics, and even briefly how to draw a chart by hand for the more ambitious types.

Like every other astrology book I read, you will find the "cookbook" section (nothing to do with food, but descriptions of signs and planets through the different houses), which thankfully in this case doesn't feel tedious.  Elliott Kent has fun with the process even bringing in movie characters and featuring the natal and other charts of actress Drew Barrymore.  However, I feel that the strongest section of the book are the daily, monthly, yearly and lifetime planners which are based on the transits of the planets and moon cycles.  Farmers have been doing this for centuries and Elliott Kent comes from farm stock herself having grown up with a father who used the moon to cultivate his crops. After all, a farmer's almanac is a practical tool.

Elliott Kent isn't kidding when she teaches practical astrology even going as far as suggesting to her readers what colors or styles of clothing to wear during each Moon sign. 

This is a good book for beginners to intermediate astrologers.  I recommend it.

From the series Eyewitness Companions (DK), Astrology by Julia and Derek Parker we get a UK/Australian gaze at the planets, history of astrology, and yes another cookbook with striking photographs and artwork.  At first I thought the authors wrote the book for entertainment (a nice coffee table book), but once I dug into the first chapter (history of astrology) I realized that the Parkers prefer the scholarly approach, which I feel grateful.

They delve into the 12 Zodiac signs giving everyday examples (which helps when getting a feel for a sign, other than your own), plus in depth information about the planets, aspects, houses, and different types of astrology practices such as mundane, relocation, horary, and they teach readers to draw up a hand chart.  Again, the authors write with a flowing narrative while sharing what they learned from their decades of practice.  I did find a few discrepancies which might related to English verses American interpretations, such as the stomach listed under Virgo instead of Cancer.  While these authors put the fun back in astrology, they don't diminish the power of astrology in any way.  You'll walk away knowing intimate details of the 12 signs.

I recommend this book for both beginning and intermediate astrologers, but the intermediate astrologer would want to move ahead to the final chapters in the book, otherwise it could feel tedious.  Beginners will feel their heads swimming from all the information presented to them.  Remember you don't have to read the book in one or two sittings, and best to read just one chapter at a time, absorb the information then continue to the next chapter. Otherwise, you will feel overwhelmed.

I recommend this book, but it wouldn't be my first choice if I had little money to spend on astrology books.  DK publishes lovely books full of graphics and I'm always surprised the educational value of this series.

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