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

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.

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.

The Aquarian and Uranian nature of progressive rock

Aquarius

Aquarius

As both a fan and musician, I have had more than a passing interest in progressive rock (prog rock or prog) for the last forty years. As an astrologer for the last thirty years, I noticed some time ago that Aquarian and Uranian themes are very common in the charts of many progressive rock musicians and that the whole musical genre is essentially Aquarian-Uranian in nature. From the often original and experimental nature of the music, to the eccentric musicians themselves, to the frequently intellectual lyrics in search of the truth. Not all Aquarian and Uranian musicians are prog rockers and not all progressive rock musicians have Aquarius or Uranus strong in their charts but the link is there.

Progressive rock gradually evolved out of the late 1960s, beginning with the more experimental sides of the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys and others. “Progressive” and “experimental” are of course words that are frequently associated with the astrological symbolism of Aquarius and its ruling planet Uranus, both being concerned with challenging existing conventions and exploring new territory. It has been suggested that Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) by The Beatles was the first progressive rock album and it certainly has many features that have come to be recognised as prog rock trademarks. There is an overall concept, a Progrockcolourful album cover – a piece of art in itself – and an extraordinarily wide range of musical and lyrical influences. Others have suggested that In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969) by King Crimson was the beginning of progressive rock. By the 1970s and the likes of Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes having established themselves, progressive rock had emerged as a subgenre in its own right. The term “prog”, sometimes used in a jokey or derogatory sense, appeared much later.

SevenFourUnusual and quirky (Aquarius) time signatures and unconventional song structures are often a feature of progressive rock. Rather than conforming to the more typical 4/4 rock and pop beat, artists such as King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree often use alternatives such as 7/4 or 13/8. Pink Floyd’s Money on Dark Side Of The Moon and Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill are examples of using a 7/4 time signature. Aquarian progrock often breaks the musical rules in all sorts of ways – the traditional verse and chorus structures are frequently avoided in favour of extended instrumental sections or other alternatives. Unpredictability is the name of the day, although critics have observed that this can seem musically pretentious, sometimes appearing to sound different for the sake of being different. Such criticism is of course unlikely to bother a musician with several planets in Aquarius or a strong Uranus in their birth chart, who will follow their own path, regardless.

Dave Gilmour, Sun square Uranus

Dave Gilmour, Sun square Uranus

A quick look at the astrological charts of famous progressive rock musicians confirms the prominence of either Aquarius or many close aspects between Uranus and the personal planets. Guitarist Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd was born a Pisces Sun with a square to Uranus. In a 2014 interview promoting Floyd’s The Endless River album, producer Youth gave a perfect Sun-Uranus description when  commenting on his experience of working with Gilmour:- “It’s funny with David, you think he’s going to be one way and then he goes completely the other. He’s unpredictable like that, and that’s good” (1). Keyboard player Rick Wakeman of Yes has Moon and Jupiter in Aquarius, flautist and singer Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (a brilliant eccentric if ever there was one!) has Mars conjunct Uranus in 10th house. The extraordinarily gifted and uniquely intelligent guitarist Robert Fripp (King Crimson) was born with a close Venus conjunct Uranus trine Jupiter and another multi-talented guitarist and musician Steve Hillage (originally with the eccentric and sometimes brilliant Gong) was born with a close Mars conjunct Uranus at the apex of a Cardinal T-square. Kate Bush, who made her spectacular live comeback in 2014, has pretty much transcended all genres but the strong prog leanings are there. She has a natal Sun-Uranus conjunction and almost certainly, depending on the time of birth, Moon in Aquarius.

Peter Gabriel's Aquarian birth chart

Peter Gabriel’s Aquarian birth chart

At their 1970s peak, Genesis were one of the most interesting and innovative progressive rock bands. A very English group of musicians making clever and eccentric (Aquarius/Uranus) music, fronted by Peter Gabriel’s clever and eccentric theatrical performances.  Although Genesis became more commercially successful after Phil Collins took over as singer, most prog fans consider that the more interesting and original ideas (Aquarius/Uranus) started to run out after first Gabriel and then Steve Hackett left the band. Both Hackett and Gabriel have natal Sun, Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius, being born one day apart on 12th February 1950 and 13th February 1950 respectively. The Aquarian urge for freedom and independence would have played its part in them branching out to pursue extremely successful solo careers, each achieving substantial international recognition for their artistic brilliance across a number of musical genres.

Peter Gabriel - Sun, Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius

Gabriel – Sun, Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius

With his Aquarian Sun and other 7th house Aquarian planets on display to the public, Peter Gabriel is the living embodiment of the most highly evolved Air sign. A major feature of Gabriel’s birth chart (2) is a powerful close opposition between Pluto in Leo on the Ascendant and Jupiter in Aquarius on the Descendant. Gabriel has achieved huge recognition and success as both a Pluto in Leo rock musician and a Jupiter in Aquarius visionary humanitarian. The tension between these two is mediated by a gifted and magical conjunction between Mars and Neptune in Libra, a perfect combination for a socially conscious artist and musician. He has often been years ahead of his time (Aquarius), from his founding of the Womad festival, to his support for world music through his record label and recording studio, to his involvement with one of the first music download services, OD2. Receiving the Prog God award at the annual Progressive Music Awards in London, September 2014 from comedian and prog fan Bill Bailey (there’s a fair bit of Aquarius in his chart too), Gabriel said:- “Despite prog probably being the most derided musical genre of all time there were – as today – a lot of extraordinary musicians trying to break down the barriers to reject the rules of music… We didn’t always get it right, but when it did work we could move people and get some magic happening.” (3)

Steve Hogarth and Fish - Mars in Aquarius

Steve Hogarth and Fish – Mars in Aquarius

Mainstream progressive rock was carried into the 1980s by Marillion, who are still going strong today. Both the original Marillion singer Fish and new boy Steve Hogarth (who has actually been with the band since 1990) have a prominent Mars in Aquarius. It has often been said that guitarist Steve Rothery is Marillion’s greatest musical asset, and Rothery was born with an almost exactly stationary Uranus in Leo. (Astrologer Stephen Arroyo recently observed that due to the use of computers, the importance of natal stationary planets is now often over-looked (4), something that contemporary astrologers might want to bear in mind.) Marillion were years ahead of everyone (Aquarius) when they famously first used crowdfunding to raise money for an American tour in 1997. As with many newer and lesser known 21st century prog acts, the Aquarian internet has continued to be essential to the band, enabling them to build a worldwide fanbase whilst remaining largely independent (Aquarius) of the music industry.

Francis Dunnery, Sun trine Uranus

Francis Dunnery – an astrologer with Sun trine Uranus

No piece on astrology and prog would be complete without a mention of Francis Dunnery, who is himself an accomplished astrologer. The inspired ex-It Bites and ex-Robert Plant guitarist and songwriter has a close Sun-Uranus aspect and Saturn in Aquarius. Appropriately, he runs his own label called Aquarian Nation.

Although progressive rock has always survived and thrived underground, it was uncool for many years. Since Radiohead’s OK Computer in the late 1990s, prog rock’s influence has become increasingly acceptable in the mainstream again – prog is no longer quite such a dirty word!

Notes

  1. “The Making of The Endless River”, Prog magazine, October 2014, p.44.
  2. Peter Gabriel, born 4.30 pm, 13th February 1950, Woking, England. Time of birth is from memory, according to astro.com databank.
  3. “Peter Gabriel honoured at Prog music awards”, BBC News website, 12th September 2014.
  4. “Experiments and Experience with Astrology: Reflections on Methods and Meaning”, Stephen Arroyo, CRCS Publications, November 2013.

A shorter version of this article is included in The Book of Music Horoscopes (2018) published by Flare Publications, UK.

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

Chart Interpretation Handbook by Stephen Arroyo

ChartInterpretationBook

The best astrological chart interpretation book on the planet!

For anyone interested in understanding the essentials of astrological birth chart interpretation, this is a great book.

Those familiar with Stephen Arroyo will not be surprised by the exceptional quality of the writing, which builds on his other internationally best-selling astrology books. In fact some of the content is directly lifted from previous work such as “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. Its 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.

I had been a practising astrologer for several years when this came out, and after one read through, the Chart Interpretation Handbook became my primary reference for birth chart work. Highly recommended, thank you Stephen Arroyo.

 

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