Few things are quite so beguiling or fascinating as one’s first look at an astrological natal birth chart. Whether you believe in the ability of the planets to influence our lives or not the first sight of the map of a horoscope with its technical data and esoteric symbolism is a humbling and moving experience.
Natal birth charts are used to represent a point in time – one that is frozen and portrayed in a uniquely diagrammatic form. Only someone who us highly trained and experienced in interpreting its mysteries can really reveal the sacred essence that is cryogenically sealed within.
At least that used to be the case for many of todays top and most established astrologers have been prepared to put pen to paper in order to reveal the essence of their craft by publishing introductory manuals that aid the beginner in untangling the inherent mysteries contained within any natal chart.
Wisdom of Astrology
Amy Herring has been a consultant and teacher of astrology for more than twenty years. In her book Essential Astrology she strips back to its very foundations the essential aspects of the natal birth chart.
From an initial explanation of what a chart is, how it is formed and what it represents through to an in-depth examination of the birth chart of US comedian Steve Martin, Herring gradually unfolds the many symbolic associations between planets, signs and aspects that both individually and collectively reveal the core essence of an individuals psychospiritual makeup.
There are two fundamental aspects to astrological interpretation. The first describes the significance of the planetary positions and what they represent – in other words what technical elements they observe.
Secondly astrology considers what these relationships actually mean and how they specifically reveal your hidden or inner personality traits.
Any astrologer will explain with a fair degree of unanimity what, for example, Saturn in Aquarius represents. Where astrologers will divide in their opinions is what exactly does any particular planetary placement reveals about the native.
This is where the skill in analysis, the breadth of personal experience and even intuitive capabilities of an astrologer come to the fore – even though they can and often do, lead sometimes towards contradictory analysis.
In her book Herring establishes and provides the reader with the sort of holistic analysis that is required by a modern astrologer in interpreting a natal chart and in a way that the layman can understand.
To this end she approaches natal chart analysis from a psychological perspective preferring to utilize the belief that a chart offers opportunity for work and personal development by its owner rather than force hackneyed predictions fixed upon old premonitional concepts.
Around the Wheel
As a newcomer to the subject the reader is invited to take a journey through the zodiac, the planets of our solar system, the astrological house system, planetary aspects and the Moon Nodes before being introduced to the more advanced work of putting it all together in chart interpretation.
Any experienced astrologer will be able to immediately look at a natal birth chart and get an intuitive ‘feel’ of the person for whom it was constructed.
Those of lesser capabilities will need to grope their way around it picking out key features at first and by slowly and systematically building a framework for interpretation.
Herring offers her reader guidance in being able to do this for themselves. She also offers specific guidance on what primary features to look for in a chart and how to unearth not only the more evident elements of a chart but also its oddities and possible peculiarities.
The birth chart may represent unfathomable depths to many but with newly adjusted eyes and a keener form of perspective on planetary influence the horoscope can finally come to life.
According to the author’s bio she was trained in the Steven Forrest Evolutionary Astrology Apprenticeship Program. It shows for this book exhibits all the hallmarks of a contemporary form of astrological analysis.
It is a publication that was designed for a beginner and so this fact may or may not be significant to you – after all, it could be argued, if astrology is a science or one that calls upon mathematical computation as a basis the related astrological school should be of no consequence.
This, as the reader will discover for him or herself, the fundamental style of analysis that an astrologer chooses to employ matters a great deal – particularly if you approach the natal chart as a potential tool for spiritual expansion and psychological growth. If this is yours then in Essential Astrology you will encounter a publication of immense value and quality.
Unlike the sort of dust-laden works that I studied when learning astrology Essential Astrology is a book of great clarity and a wide spacial context. It presents the art in a way that reflects 21st century thinking and Aquarian consciousness.
I was not overly keen on the prolonged astrological analysis of Steve Martin that was used as an example of how to interpret a natal chart and would have preferred instead the same space to have been dedicated to a variety of charts from people with differing professional backgrounds.
I also felt that the book would have also benefited from more extensive use of illustrations. For example there is no visual indication of what astrological symbols and signs pertain to or which zodiac period nor of planetary symbols in the chart to the relevant planet. The same is the case for the aspects. It is left to the reader to unravel this for themselves.
Nevertheless, despite these shortcomings this is a well-delivered book and is one which rises above others of its type by virtue of its strong interpretations of aspects and the inclusion of those many practical techniques used by astrologers but which are also jealously guarded by them. I think it is a great book to get started off with on the path to self-discovery through astrology.4/5