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Book Review: At the Crossroads — An Astrologer Looks at These Turbulent Times

July 21, 2014

By Armand Diaz, PhD.   

One need not be an astrologer to see that we are living in times of extraordinary change and transformation. In issues ranging from the environment to politics to social trends, there is both a significant push for change and a deep resistance to it. The resulting uncertainty has left us struggling to understand where we are and where we may be going. Apocalyptic and utopian visions crowd our collective consciousness as we sense that, in the words of Tom Atlee, “things are getting better and better and worse and worse, faster and faster.”

Astrologers have generally not seen our current epoch in such extreme terms, but we have recognized the incredible pace of change and have also seen that the character and tone of the changes correlates with astrological phenomena. At the center of the celestial storm in the second decade of the 21st century is a tense aspect between two of the outer planets, Uranus and Pluto.

Jessica Murray’s book At the Crossroads is a series of articles, blog posts, and essays written between 2009 and 2012 on current events in light of astrological phenomena. While the author uses some astrological lingo, this should not dissuade anyone unfamiliar with astrology from reading this excellent book. The introduction of planets and a several other astrological terms is no more demanding than learning the names of a few characters in a novel, and the reader will quickly come to know the personalities of these cosmic protagonists thanks to Murray’s excellent descriptions.

The book is organized chronologically, so that the reader can follow along year-by-year as the tension builds. Although you may be tempted to think that the stories are old news, in reading the book I was reminded of the standout events of the past five years, and Murray’s insights helped to see them in a new context. In the ongoing swirl of stories that never resolve in our attention-deficit news cycle, it may be that looking back into the past is the best way to ground our understanding in the present. But the key to the author’s ability to hold our attention is her skill at weaving macro-level themes through a number of seemingly isolated events.

There are a few points where our hindsight overtakes the author’s foresight. The Occupy movement fizzled without leaving an heir in the Western world, and the pace of change—as far as we can assess it while still in its midst—has been disappointing to many astrologers. Yet in a world where we are free to make choices it isn’t reasonable to predict specific outcomes, and Murray’s aim is to show us the symbolic meaning of the possibilities rather than to be a fortune-teller for the entire world. She does a remarkable job of achieving her aim.

At the Crossroads is an excellent book for anyone who wants to improve his or her understanding of the times in which we are living. Even without the astrology, Jessica Murray’s analysis of the challenges and opportunities with which we are confronted is brilliant. But the astrology is there, and a curious reader will see the value of taking an astrological perspective in understanding social and political trends. To the extent that we know the meaning of the time and can bring a greater awareness to the issues we face, we can make wiser choices—individually and collectively. This book is a valuable tool in that process.

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