|'Astrology for Today' by Joanna Watters
Published by Carroll & Brown Publishers Ltd., London, 2003
Reviewed by Deborah Houlding
Available online from Amazon
The first level of astrological study is to gain an overview of its elements, philosophy and terminology. Most student astrologers will turn to 'cookbooks' which offer a comprehensive and easy to digest reference to the whole subject.
More advanced scholars often treat cookbooks with some degree of disdain. The criticism against them is that their subject matter is broad and therefore necessarily shallow; as a result the subject exploration lacks the profound insight of more specialized tomes which focus upon a particular issue. Whilst that is very often the case, cookbooks remain the most expedient means by which a novice can gain the outlined summary that subsequent analysis requires.
There is most certainly a place for reputable books of this nature. However, astrology has suffered in the past by books of this genre having been written to please the eye and entertain the masses rather than support the budding astrologer who will one day want to take their study further. There has been a temptation to present astrology as a simple New Age subject with loose and easy workings, all of which can be tied within the contents of one all-encompassing publication, (providing we ignore certain contradictions and break away from its traditional philosophy).
The beauty of Astrology For Today is that it fulfils all the essential requirements of a book that aims to teach a complex subject to those with no previous knowledge, whilst remaining a valid source of reference for those that have probed the subject more deeply and are looking towards becoming professional in their craft. It is delightfully presented and richly illustrated - but more than that, the author, Joanna Watters, is a very credible expert astrologer and this shows. She has successfully built up her own international practice after having studied with and later taught for the highly reputable Company of Astrologers. Too many of these books are written by people whose experience is based on a 'way with words', rather than the hard experience of working closely with clients and teaching astrology directly to students. On the basis of her experience she anticipates areas of potential confusion and explains them in her text so smoothly that you don't even realize they exist.
Only an author with a very deep knowledge of their subject matter can write a simple and truly informative introduction. Joanna has managed to do so in a way that leaves no room for contention. She has recognized the need to explore traditional philosophies and introduce ingrained elements that are often ignored in similar works, such as planetary dignities, the nuances of house strength and interpretation and the distinction between traditional and modern aspects. Her commentary is sane, illuminating and authoritative. Joanna introduces astrology, but also acts as a guide to the problems that will confront the reader who sincerely seeks to become proficient. There is nothing in this book that I can disagree with and I was genuinely impressed with the simplicity by which certain intricacies were illuminated and conveyed.
This book is the best introduction to astrology that I have seen so far. It is a perfect book for beginners but will remain valuable for those that pursue the study to expert level. It has great strength in that its definitions are sound and reliable and this continues through to the concluding chapters which introduce advanced predictive techniques and the art of synthesizing charts in relationship issues. The final pages offer Joanna's practical advice for conducting consultations, offering warnings against problems that can easily occur, and demonstrating typical real-life situations by honest assessments of some of her own case studies.
I have often been asked to recommend a good, introductory book to students and in the past I've found it difficult to isolate one book that stands above the crowd and doesn't leave me wanting to qualify the recommendation with some proviso. Not now. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
18 Nov 2003