Internationally renowned teacher Oscar Hofman uses 24 case studies to demonstrate how the rich symbolism and myths behind the fixed stars can add a deeper and more spiritual dimension to astrological chart delineation.
Formula 1 driver Nikki Lauda had his notorious accident in which he suffered serious burns to his face, when the fixed star Achernar was activated by progression. This star is connected to the story of Phaeton who, overestimating his powers, tried to steer the solar chariot through the heavens, lost control and came down in flames.
In the chart of Nicolai Tesla, unsurpassed genius in electrical design and invention, the Sun is on the fixed star Castor on the IC; Castor is the dying brother of the famous heavenly twins Castor and Pollux. One of the critical events in Tesla’s youth was the death of his elder brother who was killed by a horse. The heavenly Twins, represented in the zodiac by the sign Gemini, are known as horse tamers.
Review by Ken Irving Horoscope Guide June 2020
There was a time when the so-called fixed stars were a relatively minor part of modern Western astrology, with the few books available on the subject seeming mostly to have the same information in them: lists of stars, often in alphabetical order, along with tropical longitudes and instructions on how to correct them for precession.
Interpretations were sparse, often based on hints that this or that star was of the nature of this or that planet or combination of planets. The primary problem with such information was that it was very difficult to integrate it into a sensible interpretation of a chart. It was as if the stars were little stickers, decorations attached to the Sun, Moon, and planets, and the mention of them was an afterthought.
In the latter quarter of the 20th century, new technology from personal computers to the internet changed astrology in many ways, with old techniques revived, revised, and brought into modern times, so now if you type “fixed stars” into a browser search bar, you will come up with a whole library of books and supporting materials aimed at showing astrologers how to use the stars as part of a chart interpretation in a more meaningful way. Things definitely have changed. The book under review here, however, seems to offer yet another change that is quite different from what has come before. ln order to understand why I say this, consider the statement in the first sentence of the first paragraph in the first chapter of Oscar Hofman ‘s Fixed Stars in the Chart: “The basic theme of the fixed stars and constellations is to indicate how mankind can escape from a state in which he is overly bound to earthly desires and wishes, like success, pleasure, money, power, sex and status – in fact everything that stands in the way of detachment.”
This seems quite different from other books on the stars I have come across in the last few years, as it proposes a comprehensive approach to their interpretation that can be stated clearly in a single sentence. In the preface the author notes that it is based on workshops given at various times over the last 20 years by English astrologer John Frawley, so I’m not immediately clear whether the underlying philosophy expressed in that sentence originated with Frawley or is a development contributed by Hofman. What matters, though, is that the principle it defines immediately dispenses with the old-fashioned notion of the stars as stickers slapped on a chart to spruce up the interpretation. As this initial chapter (titled “The Spiritual Background” and encompassing less than three pages) develops, by the end of it we are left with the concept of the celestial sphere as a matrix of meaning that contains the planets. The meaning itself comes from the various mythologies surrounding the constellations.
The author’s application of this principle is not necessarily simple, but it is developed carefully and in a straightforward manner in the chapter that follows, which begins with a seven-point list of precise guidelines for how to learn this mode of interpretation. The guidelines that make the mythology useful are very succinct and require building the interpretation in a specific order, but understanding and using the instructions depends to some extent on a good working knowledge of standard Western astrology. This makes the guidelines more immediately useful to experts than to beginners. However, professional astrologers who have developed the ability to easily recognize star positions can have problems too, if they don’t pay attention to the guidelines. This is because any thought of how a particular star might contribute to an interpretation should be brought into play only after working through five of the seven points.
The chapters that follow explain the mythology underlying the various constellations in the night sky, a listing of stars by sign, and a discussion of lunar mansions. Everything then comes together in a chapter presenting case studies based on familiar celebrities like Madonna, political figures past and present, and mundane events such as ingresses and disasters. Three appendices give keywords for stars, the 48 traditional constellations, and the Arabic lunar mansions. Some of the content mentioned in this review can be found in many, if not most, books on the fixed stars in astrology, but the principles underlying the method of interpretation taught here are, I think, unique. Added to that is the fact that it is well-written, and the explanations of this new method are clear and direct. Oscar Hofman’s Fixed Stars in the Chart: Constellations, Lunar Mansions and Mythology is an intriguing and refreshing look at how to bring the fixed stars and the mythology of the constellations from the periphery of a chart interpretation to the center.
Review by Joe Polansky, Diamond Fire Magazine
This is a wonderful book that you will need to read many times. There’s no way that you will get everything in it from just one reading. I’ve only read it once and I know there is much I’ve missed. I plan to read it again and I hope the author will forgive me if I’ve left some things out.
This is not a work for beginners. This is for serious and advanced students. The beginner will be totally lost. It is juicy and meaty. There is much to think about here, not just in terms of forecasting or the practical side of astrology, but also on the philosophical side. We get a whole new perspective on the philosophy of astrology.
The main part of the book deals with the influence of the Fixed Stars and how they influence a horoscope. These Fixed Stars move very slowly – approximately one degree every 72 years. So basically if there is a prominent fixed star influencing your chart you have it all (or most) of your life.
But the Fixed Stars are not only powerful in the Natal Chart, but also by Solar Return and Progression. And this is a great tool for forecasting.
When you get into the Fixed Stars you get into mythology. Each one has a mythology around it and this is part and parcel of the interpretation. The myths could be seen as the Bible of the ancient world. A bible written in the sky – “the heavens declare the glory of God” Psalm 19:1. Every star relates to a scripture, which is open ended and can be read in different ways. A good intuition is all important in the interpretation. The Fixed stars are giving spiritual lessons for the person.
Chapter 3 is devoted to explaining the mythology behind each of the Fixed Stars that are used in a horoscope. By the way, this chapter would be interesting for anyone interested in mythology – not just astrologers.
In Chapter 4 he gives a list of the positions of the important Fixed Stars so that you can locate them in your own chart or the chart of a client. In Appendix A there is a list of keywords for each of the stars, but best to find the story in Chapter 3 and relate it from there.)
Most people don’t know that there is a Lunar Horoscope as well as a Solar One. These Lunar Mansions as they are called are based on the Moon’s daily motion (13 degrees approx) and thus gives 27 or 28 Lunar Mansions (depending on the system you use). These he states are really “star houses” as they related to the fixed stars. Each Lunar Mansion Is related to a fixed star and its mythology. This gives more nuance to a chart reading. (A fixed star can be influencing a planet even if it is not exactly on the planet – it will influence it because the planet is a guest in its mansion.)
Most interesting are the numerous case studies of prominent people and events presented in Chapter 6. He interprets by the classical system. Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are not used. (He does mention in the beginning of the book that these are considered “like” fixed stars – an interesting perspective.)
What I especially liked about this book was his attention to, and explanation of, the philosophy – the spiritual rationale – behind his methods – both with the Fixed Stars and the Lunar Mansions. Too often we read books about some new technique or method and the philosophical rationale is not explained.
Well written, well researched and well organized. A true service to the Astrological community. This book will be read and studied for many years to come. Highly recommended for the serious student.
Review by Arlan Wise
Oscar Hofman believes that “ the stars in a chart represent an individuals’ life-quest in contrast to the planets, which indicate the events and the conditions of the life.”
He begins this excellent book on fixed stars with detailed instructions on how to use the mythical themes of the constellations before he gives a comprehensive teaching on each constellation – its myth and the fixed stars contained within.
He then gives a list of fixed stars sorted by signs and degrees. This makes it easy to find which fixed stars are prominent in your chart or the charts of your clients.
Hofman devotes a chapter to the Lunar mansions, a system used in Vedic and Arabian astrology. He tells you to consider the theme of the Lunar mansion and how to judge it alongside the prominent myths in a chart. He says to look at myths as many-layered, working not only on a concrete level but also on psychological, moral, and spiritual levels.
Before he starts delineating case studies, Hofman teaches the concept of Dignities and Receptions. He does this in case anyone reading is not familiar with these classical concepts. He examines charts of famous people, major events ( hurricane Katrina, the Titanic), and even astrological events ( the Jupiter-Saturn grand conjunction in 2000).
Oscar Hofman writes from the viewpoint of a traditional astrologer, but includes other techniques which makes this a comprehensive book. He gives basic instruction about using the fixed stars, such as what orbs to use, reminding us that the stars you see in the constellations are not the signs: The visible imperfect (constellations) is not the same as the invisible-ideal (signs).
He emphasizes the importance of seeing where in the constellation the star is placed, i.e., the foot or the head of the animal, and shows this in the images he includes with each description of a constellation. He is sensitive to the fact that much of the old writings on the fixed stars are negative and somewhat scary and tells the reader to look at these explanations last.
Hofman writes well. His descriptions are clear and he keeps them simple enough to avoid any confusion. He has a sense of humor which pops up in unexpected places. Have you ever thought of the 12th house as “the house of silly things we do to harm ourselves” Or, Pluto/Hades “connected to general nastiness.”
Oscar Hofman lives in the Netherlands and is the founder of the International School of Classical Astrology. One can see from reading this book that he is a good teacher. There is a lot of information in this book which is useful to fill in the gaps in one’s astrological knowledge or to deepen understanding of these topics. Hofman wants his readers to understand the essence of the mythological stories so one can use them in a creative way, based on understanding rather than relying on keywords. He succeeds in accomplishing this goal.