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On the Heavenly Spheres Paperback – November 19, 2010
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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It begins with a survey of the Ptolemaic universe, an introduction to the theory of the four elements, the hot-cold and moist-dry dualities, and their application both to human personality and to the physical universe. These were the universal physical assumptions of the world of classical astrology, and the entire system makes a great deal more sense when they are presented.
Not sure that it works as a textbook, though. It's a treatise, like Ptolemy's is. Being as crammed with information as it is, reading it is rather like being hit with a fire hose. You'd want to go through this with a teacher who will supply what it lacks as an educational resource: applications, exercises, and examples. It's more of a reference book, but as a reference book it would be better served with a more extensive index.
Fortunately, Lilly is rich in exercise and example, unusually so for a seventeenth century writer. Lilly assumes a fairly extensive background, though. If you are serious about traditional astrology, this book will arm you with the lexicon and concepts you need to proceed.
It begins with the foundation of astrology, the 'hot and dry and moist and cold' orientation to the tropical zodiac and maintains that orientation throughout. It makes sense not only of the techniques of the ancients but also of their world view, how they saw the essence of the universe and captured that essence in their techniques. It takes you from the Earth-center to beyond the firmament and reveals a forgotten but marvelous rendition of the universe and its meaning to mankind. It is a practical book fully intended as a textbook and reference; it is encyclopedic in its coverage with a very complete table of contents. I have read it cover to cover and intend to start over tomorrow--and over again the following tomorrows. BUY IT!
As a final comment, I would like to say "thank you" to Helena and Luis for writing this wonderful book.
The book provides a bibliography for further research into traditional astrology. One of the books listed is only available in Spanish, rather than English however. There are a few places where the authors mention that a topic is beyond the scope of this book but provide no information or resources at to where one can go for more information on those topics which I found disappointing.
There are also places where there are spelling errors (missing or transposed letters) and a few places where the Spanish “e” rather than the English “and” are used. Also the constellation Scorpio is misstated as Scorpion. I believe the authors and editors could have done a better job of catching and correcting those errors.
The book deals with traditional astrology, so does not cover Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, the Asteroids, modern geometric interpretations of the angles, etc. in the main text, but does include a number of appendices which briefly comment/cover those topics but mainly indicate that they do not coincide with the traditional astrological system.
The reading can feel at times like you are reading a text book and therefore can be tedious, but it is a very good book on learning the basis of astrology.
It does cover hayz, joy, auge, scoring, fixed stars, Arabic parts or lots, lunar mansions, almugea, dustoria, occidentality and orientality, almuten, syzygies, prohibition of light, under the beams, translation of light, antiscia, face, sect, terms, triplicities, and other areas not always covered in beginning astrology books. The majority of the book introduces new concepts and builds upon the previous chapters while the last chapter puts everything together into an integrated whole. The same charts are used repeatedly throughout the book to illustrate various concepts. Some like Edgar Allen Poe, Agatha Christie and Jim Morrison are more likely familiar to an American reader like myself, others like King Sebastian and a Portuguese poet/feminist Florbela Espanca are less likely to be familiar to an American audience.
I would recommend this book as a starting point for someone who wanted to learn astrology and someone who is more experienced who wanted a more solid basis in astrology. If there were no spelling errors, using Scorpio instead of Scorpion, and consistent in using English, instead of the Spanish language had been adhered to, and references as to where to go for more information on subjects not covered by the book but mentioned by the authors had been included, I’d give this book 5 stars, but as it is I’m going with 4 stars for those reasons.