Stephen Arroyo – a modern master of astrology

Stephen Arroyo - Astrodienst Astrowiki

It is fairly safe to say that Stephen Arroyo would be included in any list of the most influential and popular western astrologers over the last fifty years. Arroyo’s books have been translated into over 25 languages and continue to make their mark on the world. Several of them are still astrological bestsellers. 

Beginning with the groundbreaking 1975 debut of Astrology, Psychology and the Four Elements, Arroyo’s work has masterfully integrated astrology, psychology and related fields such as counselling and spirituality. Various astrological organizations, including the Astrological Association, have awarded him prizes through the years. Arroyo’s books are characterized by an intelligent and accessible approach using clear, precise language. 

A quick look at Stephen Arroyo’s chart (born at 5.35 pm in Kansas City, Missouri on 6th October, 1946) shows an Air emphasis, with Sun in Libra and Moon in Aquarius. The best of both show up in his writings – an often beautiful presentation of original ideas, with a charming and quirky sense of humour never far away. Close aspects between the inner and outer planets, including Sun sextile Pluto and Moon trine Uranus, show a cosmic kind of guy! A more challenging close square between ruling planet Mars in Scorpio and Saturn in Leo has no doubt been a motivating creative force.  

The new book

Experiments and Experience with Astrology: Reflections on Methods and Meaning (2019)

The new collection of Stephen Arroyo writings was released at the end of 2019, a small volume and an ideal companion to his previous books. Those familiar with Arroyo’s work will recognize familiar themes but there are various snippets of new information and fresh perspectives too. 

The first chapter is a detailed interview with Arroyo, previously published in both a Serbian astrological magazine and The Mountain Astrologer. Arroyo answers a range of questions and describes how he initially came across astrology through studying psychologist Carl Jung, then going on on to study and build on the work of astrologers such as Dane Rudhyar and Charles Carter. Elsewhere in the book, Arroyo explores familiar themes of clarity, simplicity and viewing the chart from a holistic perspective. “Polish that lens… because astrology is a way of seeing… that’s why it depends so much on the individual practitioner and his or her personality and level of consciousness.” (p. 46) 

Going against current trends for cramming the birth chart full of “extras”, the author cautions against using too many factors in chart interpretation. Do astrologers want to help people understand their lives and themselves more clearly, or do they want to confuse the client by adding more and more detail, so that eventually just about anything can be rationalized. Arroyo keeps a focus on the fundamentals of the birth chart, including an interpretive technique using Subtones.

Whilst fully embracing astrology’s healing power and the huge potential for contributing to and interacting with both psychology and science, Stephen Arroyo also stresses the need for humility on the part of astrologers and astrology. As usual, he is pointing the way forward.

Previous books

Astrology, Karma and Transformation: Inner Dimensions of the Birth Chart (1978)

Still a modern classic and great for beginners or advancedastrologers. This has been something of an “astrological bible” to many. The depth of Arroyo’s writing here is extraordinary and the author has said that Saturn and Pluto transits were involved when he wrote it. Perhaps the only criticism is that so much is packed into one single book, sometimes in the form of very long sentences. But this is hardly a complaint.

The outer planets are covered extensively with many examples of aspects and transits to the birth charts of people with relatively ordinary lives. This makes a refreshing change from astrological literature that deals only with famous people, or people with severe problems of one kind or another. The chapter on Saturn is excellent, particularly the journey of Saturn through the twelve houses. 

This book is not only full of essential contemporary astrology. Arroyo also draws on his considerable experience of other tools for spiritual and psychological growth. He has a background in marriage and family counselling (see chapter on Karma and relationships), and his many references to various spiritual teachers, Eastern religions, Western psychology and the Edgar Cayce psychic readings add to the spiritual power of Arroyo’s writing.

Chart Interpretation Handbook: Guidelines for Understanding the Essentials of the Birth Chart (1989)

Some astrologers consider this the best basic astrological chart interpretation book on planet Earth! For anyone interested in understanding the essentials of astrological birth chart interpretation, this is an excellent starting point.

Arroyo builds on his other internationally best-selling astrology books here. In fact some of the content is directly lifted from previous work (e.g. Astrology, Karma and Transformation) but the book is no less value for money as a result. Step by step, Arroyo uses clear, modern language to reveal the essential meanings of any birth chart. Wisdom and clear intelligent insights spring from every page and even an experienced astrologer can benefit from Arroyo’s imaginative and precise use of language.

Unlike some of Arroyo’s early work, the Chart Interpretation Handbook is nicely laid out, due no doubt to the editing skills of Jerilynn Marshall who Arroyo enthusiastically acknowledges. It’s all here: the four elements and the twelve signs, key concepts for the planets, the planets in the signs, the ascendant and midheaven, the houses and planetary aspects. And, true to Arroyo’s sense of humour (always bubbling away beneath the profound depth of his writing), there’s even a couple of cartoons.

Astrology, Psychology and the Four Elements: An Energy Approach to Astrology and its Use in the Counselling Arts (1975)

Astrology, Psychology & the Four Elements by Stephen Arroyo · OverDrive:  ebooks, audiobooks, and videos for libraries and schools

Another classic and a genuinely pioneering book that still reads well today. Arroyo presents a language of energy that helped establish a new field of astrological psychology, ushering in at least some degree of acceptance of depth astrology, both in the helping professions and by the general public.

Arroyo transcends the boundaries of astrology and psychology, developing key words and concepts for the astrological elements and houses. Depending on where you are with your astrological studies, this book could be read as more of an intermediate level text. It is not an introductory cookbook describing planets and signs of the zodiac.

Arroyo aims at a deep and sophisticated understanding of the fundamental energies involved in astrology and does a great job.

Person-to-Person Astrology: Energy Factors in Love, Sex and Compatibility (2007)

Perhaps lacking the punch of his earlier work, this is still very high quality writing. The author commented that it was written more for the general reader and independent thinker.

The first few chapters explore a wide range of issues related to both astrology’s lack of widespread acceptance and the problems of forming healthy relationships in the modern world. Arroyo refers to the “mass psychosis” of the modern Western lifestyle that bombards us with commercial images and unrealistic expectations. Our ability to form relationships with each other is one area that suffers as a result. The author suggests that if more people opened their minds to what serious astrology has to offer, they would find a much-needed, precise, insightful tool for self-understanding.

Arroyo gradually moves on to explore astrological basics such as the four elements, the twelve signs and the rising sign. The personal planets and relationships are covered in great depth, with countless everyday quotes and examples from many years of observation. 

Relationships And Life Cycles: Astrological Patterns of Personal Experience (1979)

Book Review: Relationships & Life Cycles by Stephen Arroyo | RealAstrologers

A masterful and entertaining volume on the astrology of relationships. Early in the prologue, Arroyo explains his approach here: “Sometimes one must concentrate on tuning in on the LIVING nature of ideas by having fun with them, and this can often be more significant for students of astrology than systematic and dry attempts to be deep and meaningful”.

The majority of “Relationships And Life Cycles” is comprised of workshop transcriptions, much of these being naturally presented in a question and answer format. There are five sections: The Individual’s Capacity For Relationship, Techniques Of Chart Comparison, The Use Of The Houses In Chart Comparison, Understanding Transits, Some Thoughts On Astrological Counselling.

Numerous astrological perspectives on common everyday relationship experiences are scattered throughout the text. At the same time, all the theoretical basics are covered e.g. the Sun and the Moon, Venus and Mars in the different signs of the zodiac, aspects between the charts of two people (particularly involving the planet of commitment, Saturn). The section Understanding Transits could almost be a separate book in itself, there is an excellent few pages here on the journey of Jupiter and Saturn through the different houses of the birth chart.

Exploring Jupiter: Astrological Key to Progress, Prosperity and Potential (1996)

This book is the very essence of Jupiter. From its apt title, to its generous use of many famous chart examples, to Arroyo’s trademark insight and wisdom on every page, Exploring Jupiter is positively a winner.

While outlining a framework for understanding Jupiter in the first chapter, the author comments: “…I cannot help but feel that Jupiter’s bigness and broad vision is inextricably linked to the perennial human search for a larger truth and for an experience of oneness with the universe”. The range of natal charts throughout the book reflects this, each one accompanied by a brief biographical account and astrological notes. Albert Einstein, Woody Allen, Eleanor Roosevelt, Michael Jordan, Robert Redford, William Blake are just a few of the charts covered.

Arroyo refers to Jupiter’s ancient rulership of Pisces as being significant, and the book is written with this in mind. Otherwise much of the book is built on the standard cookbook approach: Jupiter through the signs, Jupiter through the houses (arranged by element), Jupiter aspects in the birth chart and so on. The chapter on transits involving Jupiter is particularly good.

Practicing the Cosmic Science: Key Insights in Modern Astrology (1999) 

El extranjero » Blog Archive » Practicing the Cosmic Science. Key insights  in modern astrology, by Stephen Arroyo

A very broad range of often neglected issues are covered here. Many of them will be familiar to anyone who has been practising astrology for a number of years. For those starting out, the observations, insights and suggestions will be tremendously supportive.

Arroyo uses many excellent quotes from a vast range of sources to discuss astrology and its position in the modern world. Is it a science, a language, or a healing tool? What can it show you? Can it inspire you? Can it help you understand what other human beings and you yourself are going through in this life? What are the skills and qualifications necessary to be a good astrologer? How much should you charge? What kind of one to one connection can we make with other people? Do we have the necessary listening and communicating skills?

Since 1999 when this book was written, things have perhaps got better for anyone attempting to practice intelligent and genuinely consciousness-raising astrology. Most obviously, an increasing percentage of western society are now aware that astrology is not just about newspaper horoscopes. On the other hand, some changes in society are mixed blessings. As discussed in chapter 7, widespread use of computers by astrologers has cut out lots of tedious calculations, but the valuable period spent pondering the birth chart may be lost, thus potentially lowering the quality of interpretation. Similarly, although not anti-technology, Arroyo observes “there is a general degradation of standards in virtually every field that is widely promoted on the internet”. Twenty years later, these comments are more relevant than when they were first written.

The above article was originally published in Journal, the magazine of the Astrological Association https://www.facebook.com/AstrologicalJournal Thank you to editor Victor Olliver. This is the bimonthly publication of the Astrological Association http://www.astrologicalassociation.com dedicated to educating the public on astrology since 1958.

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

Astrology: Using The Wisdom Of The Stars In Your Everyday Life by Carole Taylor

Beautiful and thorough introduction to modern astrology

As both the Director of Studies at the Faculty of Astrological Studies and a previous editor of the UK Astrological Association Journal magazine, the author Carole Taylor is well-established in the astrological community.

Astrology (2018) starts as a basic cookbook and then goes much further. After beginning with the signs, planets and houses, there is an overview of the whole chart, including the axes, aspects and chart themes. Later on, transits are introduced as astrology’s key forecasting tool.

The last two sections, Understanding Yourself and Life Events, apply the basics covered in the first half to an individual’s life. Here, the huge astrological experience of the author shines through. And there are lots of pictures!

With accompanying case studies, there are guidelines with astrological perspectives on relationships, handling disagreements, finances, changing career, health issues and more. Occasional quotes from past astrological masters such as Howard Sasportas and Dennis Elwell are a nice touch, along with further resources and a glossary of terms at the back.

Astrology uses contemporary language in applying astrology to people’s everyday lives in the modern world. It deserves to play a part in raising the profile of serious astrology for all. Here there is considerably more substance than the majority of mobile phone apps, Youtube videos and Instagram posts that sometimes pass for current astrological wisdom.

Experiments and Experience with Astrology by Stephen Arroyo

An ideal companion to Arroyo’s previous books

This new collection of Stephen Arroyo writings (Experiments and Experience with Astrology: Reflections on Method and Meaning) was released in paperback form at the end of 2019, a small-but-perfectly-formed volume and an ideal companion to his previous books. Those familiar with Arroyo’s work will recognize familiar themes but there are various snippets of new information and fresh perspectives too.

The first chapter is a detailed interview with Arroyo, previously published in a Serbian astrological magazine and The Mountain Astrologer. Arroyo answers a range of questions and describes how he initially came across astrology through studying psychologist Carl Jung, then going on to study and build on the work of astrologers such as Dane Rudhyar and Charles Carter. Elsewhere in this book, Arroyo explores familiar themes of clarity, simplicity and viewing the chart from a holistic perspective. “Polish that lens… because astrology is a way of seeing… that’s why it depends so much on the individual practitioner and his or her personality and level of consciousness.” (p. 46)

Going against current trends for cramming the birth chart full of “extras”, the author cautions against using too many factors in chart interpretation. He suggests that rather than running the risk of confusing clients by adding more and more detail, astrologers can help people understand their lives and themselves more clearly by fully exploring the fundamentals of the birth chart. Arroyo keeps a focus on the basics, including an interpretive technique using subtones.

Whilst fully embracing astrology’s healing power and the huge potential for contributing to and interacting with both psychology and science, Stephen Arroyo also stresses the need for humility on the part of astrologers and astrology as a whole. As usual, he is pointing the way forward.

The Signs by Carolyne Faulkner

Deservedly bestselling introduction to astrology

From the punchy introduction onwards, The Signs by Carolyne Faulkner (2017) is a deservedly bestselling introductory text on western natal astrology. As the author breezes through the signs, the planets and the houses, her style is accessible, upbeat and comprehensively thorough. The Signs is an energizing and empowering book that does full justice to the basics of the chart.

As with all the best writers of more serious astrology, it’s clear that the author has had a great deal of first-hand experience of working with clients. Throughout the book, there are brief examples and observations from people’s lives, keeping everything fresh and relevant. There are also good practical suggestions for anyone starting out e.g. “Write stuff down, I am a firm believer that when we write stuff down we remember it more readily.”

Carolyne Faulkner makes enthusiastic claims for her “Dynamic Astrology”. Although her style is inspiring, positive and transformational, the “pioneering new self-improvement method” seems to be much the same as the approach taken by the majority of modern practising astrologers. “Nobody’s future is written in the stars, it’s ours to create.” “Forget how you were in the past, the future is in your hands.”

There are many original, sometimes quirky touches in the interpretations. Unusually and disappointingly though, there are no references or recommended further reading at the end. The spirit of the author and The Signs is summed up in the final words: “Thank you to the universe! May all beings be happy and free from suffering!”

Getting To The Heart Of Your Chart by Frank C. Clifford

Quality and quantity for anyone interested in modern astrology, beginners or advanced

Over the last twenty years or so, Frank Clifford has breathed new life into modern Western astrology in a number of ways, and this book demonstrates why. His direct, enthusiastic and straightforward Aries approach runs throughout this carefully presented, professional and well written volume. It has been recently re-published after an original 2012 release. There is an astonishing amount of information and there are countless examples of astrology in action, which both beginners and experienced astrologers can benefit from.

This is very much a 21st century book – now that astrology charts can be quickly generated by computer, the whole process of presenting and interpreting them has speeded up since many of the classic 20th century astrology texts (Derek and Julia Parker, Liz Greene, Hand, Arroyo, Cunningham, Elwell and so on) were written. According to the cover, there are over 150 charts here. Drawing on his many years of experience, the author expertly zips through sometimes brief and sometimes in-depth analysis of a huge range of the horoscopes of characters from all walks of life. Frank Clifford is often meticulous in his attention to detail, including the accuracy of birth data, which he is well known for in the astrological community.

Overall, an excellent book, packed full of insights and information for anyone interested in contemporary astrology.

Cosmos And Psyche by Richard Tarnas

An academically rigorous, complete, presentation of the case for modern Western astrology. Outstanding

Author and respected academic Richard Tarnas had already established a name for himself with “The Passion of the Western Mind” before the publication of this extraordinary book in 2006. “Cosmos And Psyche” is a substantial volume, masterfully written and the culmination of many years extensive research. It fully lives up to reviews that have described it as “groundbreaking” and “breathtaking”.

Tarnas has cleverly chosen to not use the signs of the zodiac or even use the word “horoscope”, and instead puts the focus entirely on the planets and their archetypes. Early on, he recounts his own journey from sceptic to astrological practitioner and researcher, made through repeated and extensive first-hand observation. gradually overcoming resistance along the way. He has thoroughly absorbed the best of late 20th century astrology (from the likes of Charles Harvey, Liz Greene, Robert Hand and others) and applied it to an extraordinarily thorough analysis of history and culture.

Whether the reader is familiar with deeper astrology or not, there is a ton of high quality work here. I found the analysis of Nietzsche’s life and the correlation with subsequent Jupiter-Uranus and Saturn-Pluto cycles particularly excellent. Apart from having to overcome huge cultural prejudice, astrologers also have to be pretty on the ball when explaining the often complicated nuances and subtleties of astrological symbolism applied to human affairs – Tarnas is masterful and precise with his use of language. Using his background as a cultural historian, and with hundreds of international examples, light is shone on historical cycles and their repetitive nature. Chapters are given to specific planetary cycles: Uranus-Pluto, Saturn-Pluto, Jupiter-Uranus and Uranus-Neptune.

For the open and educated mind, still sceptical but aware of the possibility that there might be something seriously going on with astrology, this is the book to seriously shift your paradigm! For established astrologers who have been frustrated for many years that astrology does not get the intelligent treatment or respect it deserves, this substantial volume is deeply satisfying. Tarnas re-unites the human and the cosmic, restoring transcendent meaning to both. Surely just what the alienated Western mind needs right now.

Astrology, Karma & Transformation by Stephen Arroyo

40 years later, still a modern classic, great for beginners or advanced

More than any other astrological text over the last thirty years, this book has continued to provide me with astrological wisdom and insights that no other book can match. The depth of Stephen Arroyo’s writing here is extraordinary, with perhaps the only criticism being that so much is packed into one single book, sometimes in the form of very long sentences. But this is hardly a complaint!

The outer planets are covered extensively with many examples of aspects and transits to the birth charts of people with relatively “ordinary” lives. This makes a refreshing change from much astrological literature that deals only with famous people, or people with severe problems of one kind or another. The chapter on Saturn is excellent, particularly the journey of Saturn through the twelve houses. Show any 29-year old (with a bit of self-awareness) the section featuring the Saturn return, and watch their reaction as they read!

This book is not only full of essential contemporary astrology; Arroyo also draws on his considerable experience of other tools for spiritual and psychological growth. He has a background in marriage and family counselling (chapter on “Karma and relationships”), and his many references to various spiritual teachers, Eastern religions, Western psychology and the Edgar Cayce psychic readings add to the spiritual power of Arroyo’s writing. Like nearly all of his books, still a modern classic.

An introduction to the astrological birth chart

Russell Brand's chart

Russell Brand’s chart

The birth chart (different to newspaper horoscopes) of a person or event can be described as a kind of road map or blueprint. For an individual, it shows the soul’s possible journey and the types of experiences and patterns that you are going to encounter along the way. In one sense, it shows your destiny and fate, your unique possible contribution to life. What it does not show, is how you deal with these patterns. In this way, we are each responsible for creating our own reality by our choices.

A person’s individuality is of course also influenced by their genetic make-up, the society/culture/religion they were born into, the social and economic circumstances, and so on. Two people may have very similar charts, both showing enormous possibility but only one may fulfil this for the reasons above.

Jimi Hendrix's cahrt

Jimi Hendrix’s chart

Looking at the chart, the familiar Sun sign of the zodiac is represented by a circle with a dot in the middle. This may or may not be very important in the whole of the chart, one of several reasons why people are often not typical examples of their Sun sign. Each of the other planets are shown on the chart by symbols with numbers next to them. Using the chart as a psychological map, each planet represents a different part of the personality.

Due to their position in the chart, we may be more or less comfortable with some parts of our personality than others – I know I am! In fact it is the challenging relationships between planets (such as 90 degree angles, known as square aspects) that give us the greatest opportunity for achievement. People with “easy” charts may struggle more to find purpose and meaning in life than those with more obvious problems.

At its best, a balanced interpretation of the astrological birth chart can be a healing experience, giving one a sense of belonging to life – a sense that it is actually okay to be who one is, and a sense that however often it may appear otherwise, life is unfolding exactly as it is supposed to.

Many people know that astrology is of course irrational pseudoscientific nonsense and not to be taken seriously. Having studied and worked with it extensively for over 25 years, I came to a very different conclusion a long long time ago!

One of the best astrology sites on the web is www.astro.com, another good one is www.cafeastrology.com. Thanks to www.astrotheme for the images here and elsewhere on this blog.

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

Astrology For Dummies by Rae Orion

AstrologyDummies
Good introduction to astrology 
If you have heard or suspected that there is a great deal more to astrology than the newspaper columns, this book is a good place to begin finding out more. Rae Orion explains the basics and complexities of the birth chart (a proper horoscope is based on the exact time, date and place of birth) in a clear, straightforward manner. In “The Cosmic Cookbook” section, Orion takes the reader through the basics of birth chart interpretation. Sun signs, Moon signs, the positions of all the planets in the various signs and houses e.g. Mars in Aquarius, Uranus in the sixth house and so on. Real life examples are scattered throughout the book. Other sections cover basic compatibility, both Sun sign combinations and more complex relationship astrology. The revised second edition has an entertaining section on using astrology in everyday life and various other bits and pieces. A great overall introduction to real astrology.

Cosmic Loom by Denis Elwell

Cosmic_Loom

Astonishingly creative and intelligent astrology

The quality of astrology in Cosmic Loom is quite extraordinary by any standards, one reviewer having understandably described it as “The most important astrology book in 100 years”.

Most astrology books written over the last 50 years or so, including many classics which I and many others rate very highly, interpret astrology primarily as the map of an individual’s psychology. While this approach is not dismissed by Elwell, his perspective is much broader, and simultaneously more simple and more complicated. Astrology as a whole benefits hugely from the kind of vision and intelligence that are eloquently expressed here.

At the beginning of the book Elwell suggests that “we have mistaken the nature of our reality”. This is a theme that runs throughout Cosmic Loom. An astrology chart is not only an accurate map of the psychology of an individual human being, it is much, much more. Rather, it is more a set of instructions, revealing what the cosmos is up to at a precise moment in time. We are treated to fascinating chart interpretations of the birth of the United States, the publication of Darwin’s “Origin Of Species”, and all manner of events from the most contemporary and mundane, to important moments in history.

DennisElwellElwell expands the cosmic science and language of astrology in its own terms. His imaginative but also absolutely literal interpretation of the chart opens up a whole new reality. Internal and external events in our lives are linked as Elwell plugs directly into a universe where everything is connected to everything else, where the observer is inseparable from what he or she is observing, where everything has a part to play in the great plan of life.

I came across the first hardback edition of Cosmic Loom sometime around 1990 and I am not surprised that it has come to be regarded as a modern classic. Even experienced astrologers can be taken by surprise with this book – expect the unexpected!

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