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Book Review: Planetary Apothecary – An Astrological Approach to Health and Wellness

March 18, 2014

By Armand Diaz, PhD.   

“As above, so below” is the Hermetic dictum that astrologers like to use as a quick reference for their art. The idea that there are correspondences among things that can be just as important as causal relationships is alien to modern Western thought, but it was foundational to our approach to health and wellness until quite recently, and it is still an important part of Chinese, Indian, and Tibetan medicine.

In her book, Planetary Apothecary, astrologer Stephanie Gailing takes us on a tour of the twelve signs of the zodiac, offering suggestions for each to maximize their sense of wellbeing. After a brief introduction to the characteristics of each sign and an overall health focus, Gailing offers some customized advice in the areas of healthy eating tips, spa and wellness therapies, relaxation practices, yoga poses, aromatherapy, natural remedies, and flower essences. That might seem like a lot, but the book is a very accessible reading experience that requires no prior astrological knowledge (of course, it would help to know your sun sign!). Those who do have at least some knowledge of their birth charts can expand the author’s insights to their moon, ascendant, and beyond, although simply knowing your sun sign is all that’s really required.

Planetary Apothecary is in harmony with tradition, but not bound to it.

Gailing makes connections with areas outside of astrology, such as yoga and flower essences, moving far beyond the traditional associations of signs and planets with herbs and minerals. Her explanations will make sense to even the most uninitiated reader, and those with some experience (yoga teachers: listen up) will find Gailing’s suggestions very helpful in customizing wellness programs.

The core principle of the book is one that Western medicine has yet to fully grasp: bioindividuality.  Rather than assuming that one pill cures all, it makes sense that different people with varying temperaments and metabolisms will have different health issues and will respond differently to various treatments. The assessment of various body and temperament types is key to both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, and both of these recognize astrology as at least one important factor in determining the dominant disposition. The use of Western astrology can be used in a similar way, not replacing other considerations but augmenting them.

Planetary Apothecary isn’t so much about curing disease as it is about maintaining a healthy life. Of course, when setting out on a program to improve or maintain your health, you may want to contact some professionals besides an astrologer, such as a holistic health counselor or perhaps even a physician. In the quest for quality services, you will want to know a good massage therapist, a meditation teacher, and so on. Yet when we look for such professional services, we confront a universe of options. What kind of massage therapist will be of the most benefit? Do you need a practitioner skilled in shiatsu, or Rolfing? Tui Na or Thai Yoga Massage? What kind of meditation should you do? Even if you were to seek a Western physician for help with weight loss, you would encounter myriad options: low fat and low carb diets, medication, and more. A little help from the Planetary Apothecary can help you to select professionals and services that are in line with your disposition.

Stephanie Gailing’s interesting and accessible book is a great tool for understanding the choices that may be best for each of us, based on our astrology. It shows a practical, applied side to astrology that can be experienced and evaluated by each of us.

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