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  < BACK TO BOOK REVIEWS March 2007  
 

Astrology, a Place in Chaos
by Bernadette Brady

The Wessex Astrologer Ltd, P.O. Box 2751, Bournemouth, BH5 2AZ, England, 2006. Paper-178 pp.-$28 U.S. (£15.50) (ISBN 1902405218) Available from the publisher: www.wessexastrologer.com

This intriguingly titled book is the newest work from the wonderful astrologer, Bernadette Brady. It is her invitation to consider the ideas of chaos and complexity theory as a kind of parallel to astrology, suggested herein to be "a form of divination, or pattern reading but without the causal gods." This provocative idea is an underpinning of the author's current work, which is primarily an immensely informative and accessible account of chaos and complexity theory.

Brady begins with the idea that astrology rightfully belongs in a different category than where it is commonly placed: as a phenomenon having a causal agent. If I understand her correctly, she is also hereby attempting to step out of the ongoing discussion of whether astrology is "scientific" or "spiritual," since both imply an outside "cause." While laying the foundation for her inquiry, Brady includes a survey of creation myths, which she divides into two basic streams, the Cosmic and the Chaotic. The cosmic creation story places God as a causal agent for establishing order, whereas in chaos creation myths, order arises out of a fertile, nonlinear, interconnected void. Western thought is firmly anchored in the cosmic creation model, articulated by the Greeks, whose "philosophies cemented linear causality in the Western mind." However, astrology's roots in Egypt and Mesopotamia bring its domain closer to the chaos creation myths, with their implied sense of the interconnectedness and cyclic rhythms of life.

Having thus established astrology's roots, Brady's discussion of the development of chaos theory covers a lot of ground and brings in many thinkers and philosophers, past and present. This is both a philosophical and a scientific survey, explaining such particulars as "self-similarity" and "scale invariance." The discussion also includes James Hillman's notion of the human soul, Aristotle's argument for telos, and much more. By exploring chaos theory, with its "strange attractors," "phase portrait," and "bifurcations," Brady describes a world where order or meaning is created without a designer but rather out of an intricate system of relationships.

Although astrologers reading this book will undoubtedly be drawing conclusions and applying these ideas to their own experience, Brady does put practical astrology at the center of the last chapter by giving some brief examples of the application of chaos theory in her work with clients. (The "edge of chaos" idea is especially rich as it applies to counseling astrologers and predictive work.) This part of the book is brief, and it somehow seemed both oversimplified and profound at the same time.

Bernadette Brady has had a long and creative interest in recognizing patterns; she designed (with Esoteric Technologies) the Jigsaw software, which, in part, finds patterns in large groups and families. Her reading in chaos theory and related matters is extensive; the book is fully referenced and cited and has an extensive Bibliography and Glossary of Chaotic Terms.

I have only sketched the implications of Bernadette Brady's Astrology, a Place in Chaos as I've tried to articulate what she's up to. I'm not sure I agree with her assessment of what astrology is; however, it is perhaps more accurate to say what astrology could be, since her aim "is to simply present the idea of the potential for this weave [of astrology with chaos theory] so we can begin to explore divination without the gods." She offers an intellectual exercise that raises beguiling questions about astrology and its place in the world. As a thinking astrologer, do yourself a favor and read her book.

- reviewed by Mary Plumb

Why History Repeats
by Theresa H. McDevitt
American Federation of Astrologers, Inc., 6535 S. Rural Road, Tempe, AZ 85283 USA, 2004. Paper-122 pp.-$19.95 (ISBN 0-86690-556-1).

This book, subtitled Mass Movements and the Generations Past-Present-Future, is a survey of Pluto's transits through the signs of the zodiac. Pluto takes 248 years to circle the zodiac, and its extremely elliptical orbit causes the time it spends in each sign to vary from 12 to 33 years. Because of its slow cycle, it is considered to be one of the markers of a generation. McDevitt's book compiles historical events and themes (i.e., "mass movements") that either have already occurred or are conjectured to be significant in the future. The time frame for the transits ranges from Pluto's transit through Aquarius in 305-329 C.E. to conjecture on the Future Pluto-in-Pisces Mass Movement Generation due to arrive in 2315. The author is a metaphysician as well as an astrologer and her speculations on future times are unique; however, the primary importance (and valuable contribution) of the book - and its use to astrologers - is as a tool for research. The scope of historical events and cultural motifs from the past, as well as the author's assessment of current Pluto themes, is both interesting and revealing. McDevitt also includes a chapter on the horoscope of Jesus, "The Search of the True Nativity" (where she refers to Donald J. Jacobs's work), and a Quick Reference that lists the themes for each sign covered in the text.

As Pluto spends its last year in Sagittarius and stands at the threshold of Capricorn, readers may enjoy this new, well-researched discussion of its impact throughout the span of history.

- reviewed by Mary Plumb

Path of Light
Volume I: Introduction to Vedic Astrology and Path of Light
Volume II: The Domains of Life
by James Kelleher
Ahimsa Press, San Francisco. james@jameskelleher.com, 2006. Hardbound - 436 pp. and 520 pp.-$38 each. (ISBN 0-9774480-0-2 and ISBN 0-9774480-1-0).

Everyone who is interested in the astrology of India is going to want this gorgeously illustrated two-volume set by James Kelleher. It's a gold mine of information, much of which is completely new to most Western students.

Like other introductions to Vedic astrology, Path of Light explains the signs, houses, and aspects that Hindu practitioners use. What makes these volumes different, however, is the exciting additional material they contain, such as an invaluable section on the nakshatras (Hindu lunar mansions), which relates the ancient myths associated with these important stars. I was also thrilled to find detailed information about the 36 drekkanas, some of the important subdivisions of the Hindu horoscope, which are too often neglected in Vedic readings in the West. Beautiful illustrations of the nakshatras and drekkanas - many in full color - accompany the text. The artwork is enormously helpful for readers who want to memorize these stellar divisions and the stories associated with them.

But once you have the basics down, how do you put together an insightful reading that will actually help your clients? Kelleher addresses the major issues clients ask about (health, career, relationships, children, etc.) and shows you where to look for practical answers in the Vedic horoscope and its subdivisions.

Some of the most entertaining portions of the books are Kelleher's descriptions of his travels through the India meeting with astrologers and saints. His personal experiences bring Hindu astrology to life for readers who haven't had a chance to visit the subcontinent yet.

Kelleher is a co-founder of the American Council of Vedic Astrology and an adjunct professor of Astrology at Hindu University in Orlando, Florida. He has been a student of the eminent Vedic astrologer M. K. Gandhi since 1975, and he has won honors in India in his own right, receiving the prestigious Jyotish Kovid and Jyotish Vachaspati awards from the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences. Here in northern California, where Kelleher makes his home, he is an enormously popular astrologer and speaker. For years, I've been eagerly awaiting his first books. They turned out to be even more impressive than I expected!

- reviewed by Linda Johnsen

© 2007 Mary Plumb - all rights reserved

Mary Plumb is TMA's Book and Web Editor. She lives in Ashland, Oregon where she teaches, writes, and has an astrological practice. To schedule an in-person or telephone consultation, call 541.488.3048, or e-mail: mary@maryplumb.com

 

 

 
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