The luminaries and five planets express much of our human nature and life concerns: our failings and deceptions, the changing conditions of our lives, and our possibilities for living abundantly. They account for both personal uniqueness and our lives as connected to the larger world. By reclaiming and redeveloping the significance of these seven planetary bodies, astrology can become more relevant to the real issues that people have. This book explores solar and lunar heroism, wisdom, friendship, and love, and his discussion of how to find these qualities in the natal chart. Wisdom seekers and astrologers of all kinds will find this book a worthy guide.
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I wrote this during a time of cultural instability and pandemic. I look at the development of astrology’s visible planets, features of ancient and contemporary psychology, and applying both to the charts of well-known and (often but not always) exemplary individuals. This leads to astrological discussions of will and desire, intellect and common sense, friendship and transcendence. In my writing life this is the work of which I am the most confident and proud.
Joseph Crane comes to the subjects of this accessible book with a background in a wide range of astrologies: psychological, traditional, modern, spiritual, electional, horary. So, at some stage before he began writing (as Covid-19 lockdown started in the US) Astrology and the Lives of People, he made a choice as to his preferred application: traditional. Not that this will surprise his reading public. His past titles include A Practical Guide to Traditional Astrology, Astrological Roots: The Hellenistic Legacy and more.
In his introduction, he tells of a conference he attended where a presentation was given on the rules and regulations underpinning proposed ethics in astrology – he was not entirely impressed. He was unhappy that these strictures were based “on similar documents by psychotherapy organizations”. His real interest, among others, was, “What character strengths make for an ethical astrologer?” In trying to codify ethical rules for impersonal usage among the tribes of astrology, the conference might not have got very far with Crane’s approach. But he then goes onto the crux of the matter: the luminaries and the five visible planets “express a totality of our human nature and life concerns”. In other words, are we to forget about Pluto or Neptune or even the asteroids and planetoids? As a starting point, yes. But interestingly even this classicist references the outers (as telling us something) in his delineations.
Thereafter, Crane – a Kepler College teacher – makes a very fine case for sticking to classical celestials through sharp studies of birth charts of notable figures in history. Chapter 3: The Moon’s Many Appearances is especially interesting. He notes that Walt Whitman’s Moon in late Leo is out-of-orb conjunct Regulus (regal) and dispositor of his 4th house – describing his commitments to family. During this, Crane explains that Moon and Regulus make contact not within standard orb but by “paranatella or co-rising” (or rising at the same time but in slightly different parts of the sky). If this is news to you, read the book for explanation. Crane’s book is a gold mine of exquisite, high learning extracted without fanfare (footnotes are especially well employed).
The chapter Big and Vast Jupiter is also a delight. He distinguishes solar and lunar Jupiter and then makes this simple point in a memorable way: “If Sun includes the stories that we tell of ourselves (and those others tell of us), Jupiter is who we tell our stories to”. A poor alignment between Sun and Jove can only lead to bloat.
The overall effect of Crane’s book is to deepen one’s knowledge and animate forgotten core ideas and beliefs in a remarkably lucid way. Even modernists will appreciate its wisdom and scholarliness. After all, we all of us pick and choose.
— Victor Olliver
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