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.
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 on–going 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