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Book Review: Under a Sacred Sky: Essays on the Practice and Philosophy of Astrology

March 2, 2016

By Armand Diaz, PhD.   

It is a rarity to find an astrology book that can be read with interest and appreciation by both professional astrologers and people with no specific knowledge of astrology. Under a Sacred Sky is just such a book, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

The book is a compendium of essays written by Ray Grasse, an experienced astrologer with a very holistic approach to his subject. He traverses a great deal of ground, covering what astrology can do for individuals as well as the use of astrology to understand changes in our collective consciousness. The essays are short enough to be read in one sitting, but the themes are developed thoughtfully. The reader will appreciate that Grasse doesn’t stray from his topic, and he manages to encompass a great deal in a short space.

Essays on astrology for individuals are often geared towards professional astrologers. However, these are accessible to anyone, as Grasse avoids overuse of astrological terminology and frames his discussion in general terms. An excellent essay On the Perils of Telling People What to Do, for example, cautions astrologers against offering clients advice on what to do rather than giving them perspective to make their own choices. This essay is also valuable for astrologers’ clients, as it will help them to have realistic expectations about what may come out of a consultation. Similarly, Grasse outlines The Seven Most Common Mistakes Made by Astrologers – good reading for both astrological professionals and their clients. Astrology can help us prepare for the future by learning from the past, he emphasizes in an essay that will also assist all readers in making the most of an astrological session. A short piece that correlates astrology with the chakra system is among the best I’ve read on this topic.

My favorite chapters are on astrology and the collective consciousness. Grasse takes complex topics and makes them readily available to the reader, astrologer or not. He is especially fond of writing about cinema, and uses this form of entertainment to explore fluctuations in the zeitgeist in several of the essays. In other chapters, he takes on topics like the Age of Aquarius, and Carl Jung’s idea of synchronicity.

The style of the Under a Sacred Sky is very readable, and I was immediately drawn in by Grasse’s conversational tone and the way he shares relevant personal stories. He deftly moves between the big picture and details, so that the reader is never lost about what is being said, and why. Most chapters conclude with “Final Thoughts”, a summation of the important take-away messages covered in the essay, and these make for a handy reference on revisits to the book. The book can be read in any order, and relevant points covered in one essay are repeated briefly in others, so you can jump in to whatever grabs you at the moment. Before long, however, you’ll find that you’ve covered all of Under a Sacred Sky.

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