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Alchemy: The Soul of Astrology

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An alchemical approach seeks to release the latent potential which resides within the individual and within the cosmos. There was never any question that the work of the alchemists depended upon a knowledge of the planets and their cycles, since alchemical transformations could only be successful if carried out at the astrologically appropriate times.
This book has been steadily fermenting and evolving for over twenty-five years, and as such it represents a true alchemical process. It has gone from being an idea to a passion, and then a project and now it is a fully-fledged book. Learn firstly about the mystical process of alchemy, and then discover how it deepens our understanding of the transits of the outer planets to the natal chart. A fascinating book that deserves a place in every astrologer’s library.

Clare Martin

Clare Martin

Clare Martin has an MA in Integrative Psychotherapy and has been a practising astrologer and teacher since 1990, working in London for the Faculty of ...

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In Alchemy: The Soul of Astrology, Clare Martin offers us a vision of profound insight into the workings of alchemy and astrology, operating together to enrich our understanding of the path to personal transformation.

She opens with a breakdown of the essential components of the ancient art of alchemy, the process by which we attain illumination, arrive at the seat of the Self or in a more modern Jungian parlance, Individuation. The stages of the magnus opus (the Great Work) are explained, showing how alchemical symbolism parallels that of astrological symbolism and how the four elements and the individual planets each represent an element of, or stage along the path, to self-realisation.

Illustrated throughout with classic alchemical images and accompanied by a very useful glossary at the front of the book, we are led gently into the strange world of the alchemical process where each obscure mystical image is broken down, explained, and explored in modern psychological language which is enlightening and easy to digest.

In chapter four, Alchemy, Astrology and the Soul, Clare draws upon the work of Carl Jung and lays out the process of alchemy as it pertains to the perfecting of the human Soul, before examining in more depth the relationship between Saturn (coagulatio), Uranus (sublimatio), Pluto (calcinatio) and Neptune (solutio), which describe the main processes in the alchemical opus, or work.

In each of these subsequent chapters she explores the nature of these planets according to alchemical principles, and gives some short, truly insightful, real-life client examples showing how opportunities for personal growth express themselves during moments of crisis and depression under significant outer planet transits. These examples really under-line the powerful observation that the “alchemical processes can only proceed under the right astrological conditions” and to think of these planetary cycles as life ‘process’ is vital to unravelling the intelligent plan of the soul. Transits represent so much more than a series of detached, randomly occurring events, and the alchemical/astrological relationships presented by Clare Martin offer deep insight into ‘soul process,’ giving us a refreshed perspective on the outer planets as indicative of a soulful communion rather than a waiting-for-the-next-dreadful-event-to-befall.

This is not a large tome, nor is it replete with the usual occult esoteric language and undecipherable imagery, but it is an invaluable and fascinating book to help astrologers understand the larger and inner forces at work that shaped the understanding of the alchemists of old. It firmly places the significance of the process of personal development related to major planetary transits from the perspective of much deeper ongoing life processes and in writing it, Clare Martin has given us a profound map, and a context, to help others navigate life’s difficult moments.

Patrick Graham for Astro Book Club

This is now one of my favourite books. It’s hard to write this review because there is so much that I love about it. Clare has the ability to turn otherwise nuanced and abstract concepts into simple explanations without compromising their complexity. Understanding astrology’s connection to alchemy helps us to deepen our understanding of astrology’s symbols. This is the reason why it’s on my students’ must-read list.
Ana Isabel for Lightways Astrology
There are three fundamental scenarios in using a birth chart. The first is seen in the case of people who know the basics of astrology and are not yet proficient when it comes to interpretation. The learner is face-to face with a piece of paper with a chart on it, and trying to make sense of all the relationships among the planets, signs, and houses.
The second way is seen in anyone who has learned enough to become fluent in analyzing a chart in such a way that in a sense the chart is no longer an object, but rather almost a living thing that conveys a message.
The third scenario is seen when the astrologer conveys that message to the person the chart belongs to, something that in a sense changes the both of them. The book under review here introduces another element to that third scenario with the proposition that what is going on between astrologer and client involves not just the two of them, but rather the universe as a whole. This is made clear in the introduction with a quotation from E. F. Edinger, author of The Creation of the Consciousness and the Myth of the Anthropos. Edinger says, Each individual is, to a greater or lesser extent, a participant in cosmic creation. Every human experience, to the extent that it is lived in awareness, augments the sum total of consciousness in the universe. This fact provides the meaning for every experience and gives each individual a role in the ongoing world drama of creation.”
In other words, just as the astrologer and the client are not simply isolated individuals, neither are they isolated from the sum total of consciousness in the universe. If this sounds like a difficult concept to grasp, I would agree with you. I don’t say this to be dismissive in any way, mind you, but rather to point out that what seems on the outside to be a small book is, on the inside, a weighty tome in terms of the information it contains and the work that a reader may have to do in order to grasp the essence of its approach to astrology and learn to make use of it.
Those who know something of the work of C. G. Jung will have a head start, and those who can add to that some familiarity with alchemy will do even better. Based on length you could probably read through it in a couple of days, but full understanding will take patient study.
As a whole this book is well-written and well-organized, nicely illustrated and includes a good bibliography and index. Alchemy: The Soul of Astrology presents a gentle challenge to the way we usually look at astrology, and it is innovative in its treatment of the practical, philosophical aspects of astrology. This one will take study, but you will rewarded for every minute you spend reading it.
Review by Kenneth Irving for Horoscope Guide June 2020
I very much enjoyed reading this book. One reading will not be enough. It is so juicy, so deep, that multiple readings will be required to fully grasp what is being said. But it’s well worth it. It is the distilled essence of many, many years of study and reflection.
This book would be suitable for both beginners and advanced students. You don’t need to know a lot of astrology to understand it. It is basically about the philosophy of astrology (the most interesting part of astrology) rather than the mechanical details of chart erection and interpretation.
Here she marries astrology and the ancient science of alchemy and shows how they are related. In fact, if I understood her correctly, she is saying that the horoscope – and especially the transits of the outer planets – are in reality alchemical processes in the soul and should be understood this way.
Alchemy was never really about transforming physical lead into physical gold. This was only the exoteric side of it. The esoteric side – the real alchemy – was about transforming psychological lead – the negative qualities in the psyche – the negative events of life – into spiritual gold.
In more simple language – stripped of all archaic symbolism – alchemy was (and is) about taking a lemon and making lemonade – as in the famous expression, “when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade” – convert the lemon, the undesirable event, into something positive and healthful.
Alchemy is one of the most important things a person can learn here on earth. For, life is constantly handing us lemons and we need to know how to convert these things.
There are the lemons that life hands us everyday and there is the BIG Lemon that is our mortal 3D personality with its negative karmic momentums, fears, worries, angers, hatred and false view of life. It is good to handle the little lemons as they come, but the job – the Magnum Opus – is not complete until we tackle the BIG lemon. For it is the BIG lemon that is causing all the little lemons to come.
The alchemist of old was really the Yogi of the Western Tradition. It was a form of yoga Western style. The object was transforming the human personality into what it was intended to be.
She shows that the horoscope is the place where this happens. The horoscope is the alembic – the container – where the transformations happen. The transits of the outer planets are performing alchemical transformations in us. No major transit of an outer planet leaves us the same as before. We always emerge transformed in some way. It is as if the cosmos itself is performing an alchemy in us whether we like it or not. However, as she clearly says , it is much better if it is consciously understood.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about either alchemy (she has read all the major texts) or astrology. More importantly she opens doors to the philosophical side of both disciplines. Highly recommendable.
Joe Polansky – Diamond Fire magazine


Thanks to Clare Martin’s clarity and depth of writing alchemy, so often confusing and ambiguous, is alive with meaning and full of insight. As an accomplished astrologer, Clare brings the wisdom of alchemical imagination and clinical practice to enlighten and ensoul astrology, honouring the art as an in-depth psychology of the soul. Our understanding of images, symbols and passages is intensified and amplified, which in turn activates a deeper appreciation of both the astrological and alchemical processes as soul making. The alchemical metaphor is animated in a way that reveals astrology as a sacred tool in the laboratory of life; that we are the vessels of our own transformation. Beautifully written, skilfully crafted, allow yourself to be immersed in the transformative process this book evokes.      

Brian Clark, author of Soul, Symbol and Imagination

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