Book Reviews

Aspects in Astrology

Sue Tompkins


Second year student to professional.


Modern Psychological/ Contemporary but absolutely something here for every astrologer.

Sue Tompkins’ classic book ‘Aspects in Astrology‘ is so well written and easy to read it’s like chatting with an astro friend who knows everything there is to know about aspects that. And then some. I recently read an interview with Sue Tompkins in the August/September 2020 issue of The Mountain Astrologer (TMA) journal and she comes across exactly as I would imagine from her writing- down to earth, amiable and bursting with astrological insight and knowledge. OK, maybe not bursting but definitely a fount of knowledge that runs deep and flows steady. I’d love to sit and listen to her talk one day, if opportunity arises. Check out the article at the link below. If you aren’t already subscribed to TMA and you are serious about astrology, you really need to get this sorted asap!

Between the covers

Aspects in Astrology‘ concisely covers everything you need to know about aspects, just like the title says. From interpreting the aspects, weighting the chart, aspect orbs (a guaranteed conversation starter at your next astrology conference or meeting, preferably after everyone has has a tipple for maximum impact), applying and separating aspects and a super brief but informative paragraph on declination which explains just enough to inspire you to find out more. If you are so inclined check out the brilliant astrology resource that is Astro-Seek at the link below –

There is a brief but detailed chapter on the planets, you could write a basic but believable newspaper horoscope from the information contained in this chapter. Not recommended, but you could if required. The chapter on calculating the aspects is aimed at beginner astrologers, but I’ve given this a second year student up rating because you really want to have the basics down before jumping in here. New astrology students are going to have questions. So. Many. Questions. In my mind (and experience) the first year of astrology studies is for the basics – signs, planets, houses, hours spent chatting about your chart, your family charts, your friend’s charts, your love life, your work life, your new classmates charts, your chart because you just discovered another new Very Important Astrology Concept! Finally, after exhausting yourself, and your teacher, you deep dive into the aspects.


The chapter on Qualities, Elements and Signs is brilliantly detailed, and perfect for getting a handle on configurations. It will also probably motivate you to have another look at your beloved’s and your own chart to look for ‘hereditary’ patterns. And this is what you want out of a ‘classic’ astrology text, inspiration and ‘oooh let me have a look’ moments. The meaning of the aspects covers exactly that, from the standards – conjunction, opposition, trine, square, sextile, quincunx – to what I like to think of as the awkwards – semi-square, semi-sextile, sesquiquadrate and quintile. You know what they say – awkward by nature, awkward by number. Or something like that.

So, to the selling point – aspect interpretations. This section is titled ” A Planetary Cookbook” but it really isn’t compared to many other popular astrology books written in the latter half of last century. In many cases the cookbook style of astro writing is so black and white it can be frustrating and the interps are often so damn final you’re left feeling doomed for life, especially if your chart is rife with hard aspects. With the ‘Aspects in Astrology‘ cookbook you can go easy on the salty. Sue Tompkins writing style is open, for want of a better word. She pulls no punches but also no alarms and no surprises. Each planetary aspect is discussed in a conversational overview with example charts and keywords. You truly get the whole vibe of that particular aspect between those particular planets. It’s terrific. Whether you are inclined to traditional, contemporary, sidereal or any other astrological bent, here you will get the gist of the aspect. No judgement, no excuses. Wonderful.

Must. Own. Aspects in Astrology

Aspects in Astrology‘ is available at the usuals – paperback version from Book Depository and Amazon, digital at Amazon, and lo and behold – it may also be available at your local bookstore, it is that popular. This is definitely and definitively another Must Own for any astrology library.

Happy astro reading!

Find out more about Sue Tompkins work in Astrology & Homeopathy here-

Check out the TMA interview with Sue Tompkins mentioned above, and while you are there get a subscription! It is an immense and credible resource for all astrologers and astrology enthusiasts. And cheap as chips for the digital version, even if you live on the other side of the world and you haven’t had a great currency exchange rate since last century…


Part One: The Principles of Aspect Interpretation


Dividing the Circle & Calculating Aspects

The Meaning of Aspects

Interpreting Aspects in Practice

Qualities, Elements & Signs in Aspect

Part Two: A Planetary Cookbook

Sun Aspects

Moon Aspects

Mercury Aspects

Venus Aspects

Mars Aspects

Jupiter Aspects

Saturn Aspects

Aspects between the Outer Planets

Part Three: The Angles

The Ascendant – Midheaven Complex

Planets & Angles





  • Douglas Adams
  • John Addey
  • Hans Christian Andersen
  • Maya Angelou
  • Jane Austen
  • Lucille Ball
  • Geoffrey Boycott
  • Marlon Brando
  • Vera Brittain
  • Pearl Buck
  • Agatha Christie
  • Coronation Street (TV Show)
  • Aleister Crowley
  • Bob Dylan
  • Edward VII
  • Albert Einstein
  • Jane Fonda
  • France
  • Anne Frank
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Mohanda (Mahatma) Gandhi
  • June & Jennifer Gibbons
  • Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Germaine Greer
  • Dag Hammarskjold
  • Katherine Hepburn
  • Herald of Free Enterprise (Ship)
  • Thor heyerdahl
  • Adolf Hitler
  • C.G. Jung
  • J.F. Kennedy
  • Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
  • R.D. Laing
  • Franz Liszt
  • Ken Livingstone
  • Shirley Maclaine
  • Princess Margaret
  • Karl Marx
  • Bette Midler
  • Spike Milligan
  • Patrick Moore
  • Eric Morecambe
  • W.A. Mozart
  • Richard Nixon
  • Enoch Powell
  • Vanessa Redgrave
  • Salman Rushdie
  • Bertrand Russell
  • Arthur Scargill
  • Albert Schweitzer
  • Ringo Starr
  • Tom Stoppard
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Townsend Thoresen
  • United Kingdom
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Raquel Welch
  • Duchess of York

Destiny Books

Rochester, Vermont

1989, 2001, 2002

*Nope, there are no kickbacks to me for my purchase recommendations on these sites.

Book Reviews

Key Words for Astrology

Hajo Banzhaf & Anna Haebler


All, but terrific for beginners


Traditional, Modern Contemporary, Evolutionary, basically all

Your go-to astro guide soon too

This is my absolute go-to astrology book when I am writing and suffering from the dreaded “ugh, how on earth can I clearly describe Mars conjunct Neptune??”. First published in 1996, Key Words for Astrology is a practical, easy to read astrology text, covering the meanings of the signs, planets, houses and aspects. Delightfully ahead of its time, it begins with a small disclaimer on assigning gender in astrology and the impracticalities of using masculine or feminine principles. Nice touch from the authors, but totally expected from authors with Sag and Aquarius ascendants!

Between The Covers

Each section is succinct and to the point, allowing us to interpret chart points and placements in the astro-style we prefer. The authors provide the keywords, as the title suggests, and a short blurb, the rest is up to us. Each section is easy to navigate and there is a cool ‘Illustrated Key to the Horoscope’ bit at the back of the book showing how to put it all together (though it is not actually illustrated, bummer), but it is still brilliant, especially for beginners.

‘Key Words’ covers both traditional and modern rulerships. The out of vogue 12 letter alphabet favoured in contemporary 20th century astrology books (Aries = 1st house etc) is touched on throughout the book, but not overly so. And as with most books of that time, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are not covered in great detail, which is really the only let down in this otherwise excellent book.

Guided by words to make you remember other words

One of the reasons I return to this book frequently after nearly two decades of astrology study is because it merely gives you a guide, you still have to use your noggin to work out what you want to say. The aspects between planets and points are presented as as either ‘harmonious’ or ‘discordant’, while planets in houses are given a ‘central theme’, ‘strength’ and ‘problem area’. The Signs chapter is the most detailed, listing Essential Dignities, archetypes, temperaments, physical correlations, guiding principles, actions, thoughts, feelings and occupational areas to name a few. Solid info!

While the authors cheekily mention ‘malicious tongues grumbling that this book is a cookbook’ in the introduction, and it does incline to that style, it’s not annoyingly overdone. It really is exactly what it says, a book of ‘Key Words for Astrology’. Snippets of concise information to stir up the brain and let you think for itself.

Must. Own. Key Words for Astrology

If you’re looking for an overall astrological quick reference text, this book should be at the top of your list. Key Words for Astrology still in print and available at Book Depository, and Amazon has both Kindle and paperback versions.

If I had time I would sort it, but for now I do not receive money or perks from any endorsements made on this blog. It’s all for the love of astrology and books. Enjoy!

Happy astro reading!

The Luminaries, the Planets, and the Moon’s Node

The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac, or the Sun in the Signs

The Moon and the Planets in the Signs

Cardinal Axis (aka Ascendant – Decsendant – Midheaven (MC) – Immum Coeli (IC))

The Sun, Moon, and the Planets in the Houses

The Aspects

An Illustrated Key to the Horoscope

The Astrological Picture of the World



Not a lot of info on the Nodes, if they are your cuppa tea


Samuel Weiser, Inc.

York Beach, Maine


This post was first published on the stellarleeastrology blog

Book Reviews

The Houses

Temples of the Sky

Deborah Houlding


Intermediate* – Advanced


Traditional, Horary, Mundane, Medical, Technical, History

Serious fan get it

You know those astro books that you read and have so many aha! moments you want everyone else to read it too? ASAP! You just know that even if it isn’t their cup of tea/usual astro style, they’ll find it interesting and informative? Then you start daydreaming about gifting it to every astro friend, or starting an astrology book club so you can all sit around Zoom and discuss it for hours….no? Just me? Ok, fine, whatever, but The Houses: Temples of the Sky is that book. For such a slim astrology text (coming in at 168 pages, you can read it in a weekend!) Deborah Houlding sure manages to pack a whole lotta high grade learning between the covers. Best of all, you feel smarter before you even get to the first chapter. Brilliant!

Drama Central

For those of you who are wise enough to avoid the hot mess that is Twitter, you’ll be blissfully unaware of the “One True And Correct House System” cycle. Cliffsnotes – a few times a year someone (usually a student or an astro-twitter newbie) will post an innocent question/comment/complaint about house systems. One of the larger accounts will comment, often linking a ‘and here’s one I prepared earlier’ article or vid on their favoured house system. A fan of a different house system will wordily disagree. Subtweets abound. An amusing meme or two bring the lols. And the comments, aaah so many comments. It’s the only reason I’m there tbh, munching away at my popcorn….Well, if I was a more extroverted human, this is the book suggestion I would drop in the comments whenever the crap hits the Midheaven (whichever damn house it’s in ;)) in the never-ending Great House Debate. 

Between the Covers

This book provides you with more than just a solid historical foundation so you can pick your home team in Twitter battles; Temples of the Sky gives an in-depth synopsis into the meaning of each of the twelve houses and how they have evolved over time, from Manilius to Modern. Part 1 should be required reading for every first year astrology student imo, thus the asterisk up the there when considering what learning level this book suits best. I want you to know there will be no judgement if you peruse Part 2 and decide to pop the book on the shelf for a while so you can delve deeper into the very important things you took up studying astrology for. Like, say, learning if your relationship is doomed because your Sun signs are incompatible (shakes fist at Linda Goodman, still together 20+ years later) and why my your house was always messy if I’m you’re a Virgo rising (that’d be late Leo tyvm Ma, shakes fist at mum’s dodgy calculations using Linda’s books)!

Part Two

It’s juicy, with a thoroughly researched breakdown of the technical basis of the house systems, covering the where, when, who, why and how of the houses. Placidus, Morinus, Campanus, Regiomontanus, Alcabitius, Koch, Equal, Whole Sign and Porphyry house systems are all discussed, without judgement, which is refreshing, and allows the reader to select their preferred house system with confidence. I highly recommend wasting a few hours in the near future looking at your chart in all of the above styles, if you haven’t already. It’s an interesting experiment, and you’ll learn a thing or two, which is pretty much my favourite thing to do, and if you’re into astrology, I’m sure it is up there on your list too. 

But wait, there’s more

The appendices are a trove of excellent astrological information. The glossary of terms is in-depth enough to justify purchase on that alone. There’s an interesting reproduction of Al Biruni’s ‘Advice on Finding the Hour of Birth‘ which is further proof to me that day births have it easy from day dot (don’t fight me until you read it. Then fight me.) But my favourite bit is the brief but thorough look at the planetary hours, including instructions on how to calculate them, which you should totally have at least one go at, dear reader, you’ll feel like a total astro-boss if you do. It was a bit of fun to dust the cobwebs outta my brain and flood it with memories of learning how to do calculations – by hand! – and feeling like Einstein every time my math resistant brain got ‘it’ and could move onto the next bit to stumble over. Aah, the good old days, thank heavens for technology….I love you Solar Fire!

The bibliography is extensive, and if you are an astrology history buff, there’s plenty of highly regarded and meaty works here to tempt you. The general index and house rulership index are ah-MAZ-ing to this horary lovin’ library technician’s eyes, thorough, detailed…if you are familiar with it, you could pretty much answer a horary question using this index alone. Though I suggest checking out the STA link below if you really want to know horary.

Deborah Houlding is an absolute legend in the astrology community, and not just for this book. She is the creator of the Skyscript site, which is an absolute treasure trove of credible astrological articles, interviews and forums, the founder of the School of Traditional Astrology, an award winning astrologer, and, I found out today, an artist, and a bloody good one too! Check out Deborah’s sites below-

Must. Own. The Houses: Temples of the Sky

The Houses: Temples of the Sky is available at the usuals – paperback version from Book Depository and Amazon, digital at Amazon, and tbh, it’s a bargain. This is a Must Own for any astrology library.

I really wish I did at this point. But no, I do not receive money or perks from any endorsements I make on this blog. It’s all for the love of astrology and books. Enjoy!

Happy astro reading!

Foreword by Robert Hand

Introduction: (Wheels and Signs – Theories on House Division)

Preliminary Guide to Divisions of the Celestial Sphere

Part I

1. Introducing the Houses: An Historical Overview

2. The Angles: Significance of Egyptian Solar Philosophy

3. Aspects & Gates: The 2nd/8th House Axis

4. Planetary Joys: 5th/11th House Axis

6. Cadency & Decline: The 6th/12th House Axis

7. House Rulerships in Practice

Part II

8. Technical Basis & the Inherent Difficulties of House Division

9. Ptolemy’s Powerful Places

Appendix A – Glossary of Traditional and Technical Terms

Appendix B – The Planetary Hours

Appendix C – Al Biruni’s Advice on Finding the Hour of Birth

Works Cited

General Index

House Rulership Index


It is all about the houses. Just like the title says…


The Wessex Astrologer

Bournemouth, England

1998; Reprinted 2006

This book review was originally published on the stellarleeastrology blog.

Book Reviews

Asteroid Goddesses

The Mythology, Psychology & Astrology of the Re-emerging Feminine

Demetra George & Douglas Bloch


Intermediate – Advanced


Contemporary/Modern Psychological; Mythological

Rabbit Hole Ready?

Whether you are currently using asteroids in your chart interpretations or not, Asteroid Goddesses is guaranteed to make you pop them into your astro software, just for a peek at where they are in your chart, the charts of your beloveds, the charts of your most fave or loathed celebs, your cats…..they are that interesting. The depth and length of the rabbit hole you wander through from there is entirely up to you, though I highly recommend playing with the extensive list of asteroids on, if only to see whether the asteroid Beer is actually conjunct your beer loving aunt or uncle’s angles. You’ve been warned. And you’re welcome.

Demetra and Douglas’s seminal work on the Big 4 asteroids – Ceres, Pallas Athene, Vesta and Juno, was originally published by ACS in 1986, was reprinted 15 times and finally updated and republished through Ibis Press in 2003. I currently own both versions and, utilising the one true litmus test of just how informative an astrology text is, have read them both, cover to cover. Whether this is because of my childhood-to-current-era love of Greek and Roman myths, the exact conjunction of Ceres to my Sun, or because it is just a mighty good read, I will never know. But you, dear reader, are sure to find some fascinating tidbits within the covers to get you thinking, and perhaps researching, these astrological power points.

Between The Covers

As the title says, Asteroid Goddesses is packed full of mythology, psychology and astrology. There are chart examples aplenty for house placement, sign and aspects (rabbit hole alert!), and a short interpretation for each. Considered, well-researched suggestions are presented for potential rulerships – Ceres as a ruler of Cancer and Virgo! Vesta as ruler of Scorpio and Virgo! – giving us plenty of food for thought but just enough to leave us wanting more. Never fear, there is also a ‘Further Reading’ bibliography at the end of the relevant chapters. True to Demetra’s interpretations, my Vesta placement would happily devote herself to a monastic life of reading and conveying information on astrological texts, if only Ceres wasn’t so prominent…who wants a fresh baked cookie?


There is a brief but very interesting (another rabbit hole alert!) overview chapter of the minor asteroids; Psyche, Eros, Lilith, Toro, Sappho, Amor, Pandora, Icarus, Diana, Hidalgo, Urania and Chiron, who is absolutely not merely a minor asteroid imo! Though fellow planetoid Pluto may be inclined to scrawl such mean things in blood on bathroom walls in fits of pique, Chiron is a sturdy addition to the planetary pantheon and deserves his own book. Luckily others agree and have remedied this (see upcoming reviews ;)).

Asteroid Goddesses was conceived and birthed during the latter days of the second wave of feminism, amidst the fight for gender equality based on the male/female principle, and in part, sought to redress the imbalance of male to female astrological points in a chart. The assignment of gender to the planets, particularly the more recently ‘discovered’ outers – Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – is a topic too lengthy and serious for this short read, hopefully entertaining and informative book review blog, but it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge readers who identify as non-binary; do not let the subtitle turn you off this book! We have a long way to go before there will be any accord regarding how best to refer to archetypal energies in non-gendered ways, but starting the discussion is always the best place to begin. Demetria and Douglas are gentle authors, and as inclusive as could be at the time of writing. I will leave you with this, as noted by Demetra (p.211)-

“The illusion of duality spawns an artificial separation between object/subject, me/you, male/female, us/them. responding to the possibilities inherent in the asteroid symbolism can lead individuals to a more inclusive and holistic awareness of all sentient beings”

Must. Own. Asteroid Goddesses

This book is a worthy inclusion into any astro library. The current edition of Asteroid Goddesses is available in paperback at Book Depository, and Amazon has both hardcopy and digital formats.

I do not receive a single razoo or perk from any endorsements I make on this blog. It’s all for the love of astrology and books. Enjoy!

You can check out Demetra’s abundance of excellence here –

Happy astro reading!

Chapter One – The Asteroids – Agents of Transformation

Chapter Two – The Asteroids – Harbingers of a New Mythology

Chapter Three – The Mandala of the Asteroid Goddesses

Chapter Four – Ceres: The Great Mother

Chapter Five – Ceres in the Horoscope

Chapter Six – Pallas Athene: The Warrior Queen

Chapter Seven – Pallas Athene in the Horoscope

Chapter Eight – Vesta: The Eternal Flame

Chapter Nine – Vesta in the Horoscope

Chapter Ten – Juno: The Divine Consort

Chapter Eleven – Juno in the Horoscope

Chapter Twelve – The Minor Asteroids: An Overview

Chapter Thirteen – An Astronomical Portrait of the Asteroids

Chapter Fourteen – Epilogue

Appendix: Ephemerides of 16 Asteroids 1931 – 2050



I’m still miffed that Chiron is in the book because planetoid, but other than that, the authors have got it all covered.


Ibis Press

Lake Worth, Florida


This book review was originally published on the stellarleeastrology blog.

Astrology Book Review Book Reviews

The Rulership Book

Rex E. Bills


All, but essential for Horary, Mundane and Medical/Health Astrologers


All. It’s terrifically helpful

This book is another fave of mine

And imo, an essential reference textbook for any Astrologer. I purchased my copy in 2010 and every time I open it I am blown away by just how much information it contains. So you wanna know what rules the deliciously bitey sloe gin you’re cradling while writing your monthly horoscopes (no? Just me?), Rex knows – that’s Sun, Leo, Neptune for gin and Saturn for sloe. As I pondered this info and enjoyed the warm sunny glow on my insides after that first sip of gin, the bitter, slightly fruity undertones of sloe berry making me purse my lips like a cat’s bum for a second….yep, definitely Sun/Saturn. Cheers!

First published in 1971, and still in print today, Rex has collated an extensive and comprehensive list of primary and secondary rulerships of just about everything, including the kitchen sink (Moon, Cancer, Neptune, Pisces, in case you were wondering). The bibliography is very much of its time, listing works by famous astrological authors including Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson, Alan Leo, Marc Edmund Jones, Dane Rudhyar and many many more, but is extensive and reads like the astrology library we all dream of owning one day….


The Rulership Book is broken into easy to navigate sections; alphabetical, planets, signs, and houses. Rulerships that were mentioned by only a few astrologers (at the time of writing, remember it was published in the early 70’s) are given secondary rulership and are listed in parentheses. In the introduction Rex reminds the reader that rulerships can change, that greater research is required (I see Dr Lee Lehman has done just that but I don’t have her book  yet to compare, though it is on my wishlist!) and that there is disagreement amongst Astrologers on many rulerships. Imagine that, Astrologers quibbling  over details….it’s almost like we are ruled by Mercury, not Uranus as Rex says…

The Appendices are brilliantly comprehensive to my eye, but I am not a medical Astrologer by any measure. There are tables covering all parts of the body from bones to veins and they are just damn interesting! Prepare to read and reread them while looking at the astrological timing of every injury or medical issue you and your loved ones have ever had, especially if your partner is as accident-prone as mine. There is a table of house rulerships for organisations, very handy for Mundane research, and tables for flavours (Sunny Saturnine sloe gin anyone?). There is even a table for forms, as in circles, lines and angles, particularly in reference to handwriting, and perfect for any graphology fans out there or if you want to know why you can never understand your doctor’s scribble – Rex says Mercury btw but I reckon Saturn for sure. Read the book and let me know what you think.

The Rulership Book is a a great addition to any astro library, but an absolute must if you are interested in Horary astrology. Rex provides us with the rulerships for hundreds of countries, U.S states, U.K counties and popular regions of Europe. There are rulerships for many common anglicised first names, sadly not mine, but the name ‘Rex’ is ruled by the Sun. Makes sense, since he really is the star here. There are rulerships for Saints, musical scales, periods of life, gemstones, colours…I’m telling you, it was exhaustively researched and is mighty extensive!

Must. Own. The Rulership Book

For what is basically a two columns per page, 440 page long compilation of astrological correspondences, I reckon you will actually enjoy reading this text. It is available at all good bookstores, Book Depository and in both digital and paperback formats from Amazon.

Nope, I don’t receive money or perks from any endorsements I make on this blog. It’s all for the love of astrology and books. Enjoy!

Happy astro reading!

Part One, An Alphabetical Listing

Part Two, A Listing by Planets

Part Three, A Listing by Signs

Part Four, A Listing by Houses

Appendices, Special Listings

Principle Bones of the Body


Principle Muscles of the Body

Principle Arteries of the Body

Principle Veins of the Body

Chart of an Organization





Any info about the author! I like to ‘meet’ them and trawled many many pages on Google looking for even a smidgeon of information about Rex. I have Mercury in Scorpio – I. Must. Know. More. Please, please, let me know if you know any of Rex’s bio, surely there must be a published article or two in pre-digital astrology journals somewhere in the world?


American Federation of Astrologers, Inc

Tempe, Arizona

1971, my copy – 2007

This book review was originally published at the stellarleeastrology blog.