Astrology, Karma, and Transformation - Book Review - By Frank Breckenridge
In reviewing any book by Stephen Arroyo (and Astrology, Karma, and Transformation is perhaps his master work) one must really first look at the author's antecedents.
Stephen Arroyo was one of a handful of younger astrologers who followed in the (big) footsteps of the great Dane Rudhyar, who was heir to the seminal work of Marc Edmund Jones. What we are looking at with this lineage is a movement away from the kind of astrology that was practiced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This older form of astrology was based upon looking at the "horoscope" (the common word then) and using set interpretations of the various elements in it to arrive at a conclusion as to the person's character and life's prospects. This kind of astrology relied upon "good" planets and "bad" planets; good aspects and bad aspects. It was all very dualistic and fate driven.
Marc Jones was the first astrologer to break with this approach. It was he who brought into the astrological process the results of Psychology: the discipline coming into use by Freud and then Jung, Adler, et al. Jones began to see the "horoscope" as a whole, just as a person is a whole being. He rejected 'good' and 'bad' as qualifiers, and he pioneered seeing the natal chart (i.e. "horoscope") through planetary patterns taken together rather than as little bits and pieces.
Dane Rudhyar was not an astrologer when he met Jones, but he soon became totally captivated by this new approach to astrology, a 'psychological approach'. And, being the genius that he was, he soon had engulfed enough astrology to write his own first book, The Astrology of Personality (1936). This was the work that launched the modern humanistic approach to the ancient art. "Humanistic" was used in the sense that it reflected the results of psychology in seeing the person as a whole - thus a person-centered astrology.
Rudhyar continued to write (and publish when possible) prolifically on his humanistic astrology; and then in the late 1960s and early 1970s his work and thought came to the attention of the handful of younger astrology students I mentioned at the outset of this review. One of the brightest of this group was Stephen Arroyo.
Astrology, Karma and Transformation, ("AKT") - 1978) was his second book, which had followed closely on the heels of his first, Astrology, Psychology and the Four Elements (1975). These two books should really be seen as one work in two parts. However with "AKT" Stephen set out his most carefully considered conclusions, resulting from his diligent studies of Rudhyar and Jones' works, as well as his own research and practical experience.
I might go so far as to say that if one could only read one book on modern astrology, this would be that book. It is well-nigh encyclopedic in its scope. The chapters are entitled: Karma, Transformation, Keys to Transformation (Part 1), Keys to Transformation (Part 2), Saturn, and its Cycles, Aspects of Transformation in the Natal Chart, Karma and Relationships, Cycles of Transformations (Parts 1 & 2), The Ascendant and Midheaven: Vital Factors in Personality Structure, Concepts of Astrology in the Edgar Cayce Readings, and lastly, The Astrologer and Counseling.
The text is lucid, very well-written and logical. This book could conceivably stand-alone without the need of a primer first, but I would suggest that those interested in learning astrology find a primer just to give the "basics" of astrological terminology and structure. I began with Jeff Mayo's Teach Yourself Astrology (1964). It is still in print, now as Astrology (Teach Yourself), and is splendid even today 56 years later!
Don't be surprised if you find yourself eventually seeking out Rudhyar's books as a result of Arroyo's. At some point one usually wishes to delve deeper into the Signs of the Zodiac and the Houses, and Rudhyar wrote two important books on both subjects. And of course there is always The Astrology of Personality itself!
From the 1960s and its Consciousness Revolution to today, Astrology has blossomed and now there are many authors of good books where once there was only Arroyo, Liz Greene, Karen Hamaker-Zondag and a few others. But Astrology, Karma and Transformation remains at the center of study.
You may view a curated list of astrology books suggested by East West at this link: https://bookshop.org/lists/astrology. Purchases made using this link directly support East West Bookshop.
About the Author
Frank (Breck) Breckenridge is a student of astrology for over 45 years. He is also a master gardener, landscape designer, and wildlife photographer. He resides on Camano Island in Washington State. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org