Astrology resources

Well, I was convinced I’d already written this!  But apparently not…

When I started learning about astrology I was overwhelmed by the number of books out of there that claim to be a complete guide.  Obviously I didn’t expect any of them to be the entire encyclopedia of the subject but I also didn’t know if they would be right for me.

There are different types of astrology out there and people who practice in different ways and as a beginner it’s hard to know where to start.  Thankfully the internet does make this easier as you can generally get a feel for an author before you invest in their book.  In my case, my main resources have been:

  • In The Stars, Hali Karla’s year long astrology course which will soon be available as a self guided programme.  I chose this course because I loved Hali’s approach to astrology and because it was art based as well.  I had followed her for a year of monthly reflections before and knew that she would provide a lot of space for reflection and drawing your own conclusions.  It isn’t prescriptive and it isn’t about learning signs and positions by rote.  She is a guide and a steering hand.  Her way with words and images really helped me to understand things in a way I know but can’t always put to words.
    • She is also doing courses which focus on signs and planets so you can just learn about your sun and rising sign and also see how you get on with her teaching style.
  • is great for pulling up birth charts and is also full of articles and stuff but it is a bit overwhelming if you are completely new to astrology.
  • Cafe Astrology has a lot of pages on specific placements and I used it to ‘check’ my thinking about my chart.
  • Chani Nicholas has a great newsletter filled with beautifully written horoscopes and whatever your feeling about astrology, she’ll give you some food for thought!  She also has courses but I’ve not yet done one although I would think they’d be of a high standard.
  • Alyssa Trahan (previously Sharpe) has a website and youtube channel which is fully of fantastic, biting sarcasm and accurate, informed information.

But I started this post talking about books.  I love holding information in my hands.  I love being able to flick and return and underline and pick up again.  And so I did want astrology books and I didn’t feel that the complete ultimate wonderfully jam packed guide to astrology would be for me.  Instead I was patient and started out with just one, recommended by Hali Karla.  She had a few recommendations but this one stood out because of a quote she included on the course:

“This, then, is the real purpose of astrology: to hold a mirror before the evolving self, to tell us what we already know deep within ourselves.”
– Steven Forrest

The Inner Sky by Steven Forrest is the closest I have come to a bible for astrology.  He breaks things down into signs, planets and houses but never oversimplifies.  He talks about the archetypes of the planets, what potential they have and what pits they could fall into.  He takes some very complicated information and, without dumbing it down, makes it readable, and enjoyable.

The Chart Interpretation Handbook by Stephen Arroyo is a bit more prescriptive and a lot less detailed than The Inner Sky but is a good introductory text.  I’ve also found the section about aspects useful.

Dynamics of the Unconscious is a series of seminars in psychological astrology by Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas.  It isn’t for beginners and in places it’s quite dense as it’s packing in a lot, but if you want to explore your Mars and Pluto in more depth, or get a more myth based feel for the outer planets then this is the book for you.

Liz Greene also unpicks some of the related mythology around the zodiac signs in The Astrology of Fate.  I’ve not read it all yet but knowing more about the symbols and the myth behind the signs is an enlightening way to feel into their meanings.




I’m a few days behind the flurry of good intentions and well meant resolves but I’ve not been well.  And that is a key reason why I don’t actually engage in new years resolutions.  My health is not predictable enough to commit to doing less of this or more of that.  My health also means most of the standard options are off limit.  I can’t eat more healthily or choose this year to be the one where I lose weigh.  I can’t declare that as the clock flicked to 12:01 I would become an exercise fiend.  This is not going to be the time I decide to earn more money, get a promotion or start out on a new career.  And anyway.  If you want to do any of these, just do it, don’t wait until the deep, dark winter when you’re feeling tired and sluggish and emotionally, physically and financially wiped out by the festive season.

It’s not just me, there are more and more posts out there denouncing new years resolutions.  In previous years, I’ve let Susannah Conway’s approach guide me.  She produces a helpful workbook which supports your reflection on the year past and helps you to identify what you want to embody for the year ahead.  In doing so, she encourages you to choose a word, previously mine have included ‘peace’ and ‘engage’.

This year I have a different approach.  During 2018 I learnt a lot about astrology and have found it to have more and more of an impact on my life and the cycles of my energy and mood and such.  I have incorporated this learning into my alternative to new years resolutions.  Looking at where the sun will be throughout the year – which zodiac sign – and what house this corresponds to in my birth chart, I have created 12 different statements or intentions.  So at present, the sun is in Capricorn and in my 7th house and I have identified the following:

I can work to break taboos by relating to others, building trust and tending to relationships.

Other intentions include:

I begin again.  I am open to healing, to nurturing and loving myself.  I reach for the resources to support me with this.

I choose to fight for my dreams and to pioneer new ways of being.

I clear away the image of being a martyr to my past.

Being only a month long, these are more mindsets that something concrete to achieve.  They are for me to mull over, to reflect on, to consider and to think about for that phase of the year.  Some will be more uncomfortable than others.  Some will probably take up more of my mind than others and I will go with that flow because I cannot control my health and I will trust that what will be will be.

Each month I will also use Carrie Mallon’s 2019 workbook to lean into the statement, reading my tarot cards and listening to my dreams.


Astrology and me

Some of you, depending on when you first got to know me, might be surprising to find out I’m doing a year long astrology course and have just paid for a reading – both with the wonderful Hali Karla.  You might be asking yourself how someone with a masters in mathematics has arrived at this.  And I think you’d be right to wonder.

For a long time, I mostly thought of astrology as horoscopes and the horoscopes I’d come across were ones that are nicely generic and can apply to everyone at any point in their lives.  Newspapers which claim that this week pisces are going to feel hurt by someone in their lives and aries are going to find themselves facing a financial challenge.  This is so generic as to fit anyone, regardless of their sign.

My journey towards astrology started with tarot being used as a tool for self reflection.  I’ve also always loved the moon and a lot of people who talk about tarot online also align their lives to the moon.  They pay attention to what part of the cycle it’s in and create ritual around different phases.  Whilst I had unclear feelings about the power of the moon in this sense, it does give a nice symbolic way of thinking about and experiencing life and ritual has power in and of itself.  I’ve spoken about tarot and ritual before on here and I know that they both have an important role in my life; one for touching in with my heart and the other for setting intentions.

As part of my moon journey, I started listening to Hali’s monthly moon reflections.  They had a different flavour each month as she focused on which sign the moon was in.  Again, it gave me a cycle to hang my life on – life loses a sense of time and place when you retire.  And the twelve different zodiac signs cover 12 key ways of looking at and experiencing life.  This means that regardless of your feelings about astrology, if you’d followed her for a year you’d have done some deep and broad reflection.

I loved the recordings partly because of their content, partly because Hali is an artist and partly because I find her voice really soothing and friendly.  She seemed very approachable and whilst she was taking it seriously, it wasn’t too serious!

At one stage she talked about charting the moon’s journey through the zodiac signs and seeing how that appears in your life.  I wasn’t especially convinced, particularly given I wasn’t really sensing much with moon cycles, but I went along with it.  And wow.  Without knowing much about the signs, I recorded my activities and energies across a month.  As I’m retired I can mostly go with my gut and see where my whims take me.  At the end of the month I looked back and saw some interesting themes so carried on making notes.  I think the moon had been through the signs three times when I stood back and properly looked at patterns.  As I discerned differing energies and priorities, I began to look beyond the stereotypes of the signs and get a better feel for what they are and the two – the signs and my activities – aligned incredibly, and surprisingly, well.

I was somewhat shocked but there had been a couple of times when things had changed suddenly in the day and it transpired that was when the sign had actually changed.  I’ve had enough slightly weird, unexplainable things happen to me that I didn’t rule out the power of the moon and the stars.  I carried on charting a bit longer to see if the themes continued and I began to notice that some signs had much louder themes, emotions or activities than others.

I was still listening along to the monthly recordings and I was starting to pick up more about astrology and the different signs so I looked up my birth chart and began to learn a little more about it, beyond just knowing I’m a Pisces.  For example, I’d not come across the idea of rising signs until recently and just knowing I’m a Cancer rising with Pisces sun gives me a lot of food for thought.  It also gave me some interesting insight into my charting.  The signs where I wasn’t feeling such a strong pull in a particular direction were the signs which were empty on my birth chart.

By this point, I’d figured out enough about astrology to realise that regardless of whether it is ‘real’ or not, it was another good tool for self reflection.  The more I learnt the more obvious this became and this was a big motivating factor in my decision to join Hali’s In The Stars course.

For those of you who aren’t into astrology, a birth chart is made up of the 12 zodiac signs, 12 houses and 10 planets.  Each planet represents a different kind of energy or motivation, each sign is a filter for that energy, how we act it out and each house is a different life area.  So you can see how a year long course which looks at all of these in detail is going to provide a lot of food for thought and reflective material.  And this is how Hali approaches her course.

“The real purpose of astrology [is] to hold a mirror before the evolving self, to tell us what we already know deep within ourselves.”
– Steven Forrest

In the first lesson we were asked what we think astrology is and for me, it’s a symbolic language through which we can develop our self awareness and sense of connection to ourselves and to others.  It is a tool which we can use to help understand the ideas and impulses which call to be expressed or wrestled with within.  It is a way of relating archetypes to our own lives and seeing how we can work with those to become more like ourselves.


How the moon makes me feel

But I said I got a reading, how can someone else’s reading of my birth chart be self reflective? Well, it turned out, the more I learnt, the more a-ha moments I had and the more I felt like I understood myself and could validate my experiences and perspectives of the world.  To have Hali do a reading for me felt like it could be a powerful way of getting external validation and direction and she is excellent at giving you food for thought.

It turns out my reading was actually pretty accurate, and not in a newspaper horoscope kind of way.  There were things she touched on that resonated deeply and other aspects that she was able to give words to which I had not yet managed.

So what do I think of astrology now?  Well, I still don’t really know.  But one of the areas we looked at this week was about how we face and interact with the unknowable.  And astrology is dancing with the unknowable.  We won’t ever know if it’s ‘real’ and if it is, we won’t know why it works.  I am moving towards making peace with that, to accepting the strange, beyond coincidence moments I’ve experienced, and towards a place where I don’t feel I need to question everything.

“Negative capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”
– Keats