Review from the Astrological Quarterly - Winter issue 2000/1

by Adam Smith

(thanks to Adam for permission to reproduce it here)

Many readers will have seen Garry Philipson’s interviews with prominent astrologers in the AA Journal and the Traditional Astrologer. Four years in the making, this book contains selected highlights of those conversations, plus additional views, presented to form a commentary for the general reader on the state of astrology at the Millennium.

A whole range of subjects are covered, from Sun signs and football forecasts to the latest astrological research and the ethics of prediction. The interviews are presented in a lively and readable style and build into a progressive argument or dialogue. Lecture (or in this case interview) transcripts often come across in this accessible way and some astrologers actually make a more interesting read in this spontaneous form than in their more considered published works. This may be the case here, with all of interviewees coming over as lucid, reasonable and interesting, prompted by intelligent questioning from Phillipson.

The section covering scientific and statistical research into astrology will probably raise a reaction among many readers. It forms a necessary part of any honest investigation into the state of astrology today, and the scientists have in no way disappointed with their thoroughness. Dean, Smit, et al have combined their responses under a suitably saturnine and depersonalised name, ‘The Researchers‘, and quite a read they make. The question that kept coming to my mind when reading these intellectual fetishists was ‘How did these people ever get into astrology, and what did they expect to get out of it? Their aim seems to be to turn astrology into something like a train timetable, with precisely regulated phenomena happening at perfectly predictable and reliable times. Any deviation from this state is treated as a symptom of astrology’s bankruptcy - as demonstrated by Smit’s abandoning of astrology when he once realised that he could derive meaning from a chart with an error in the birthtime. I was left in a state of totally bemused admiration at their consistency.

Overall, this book represents an excellent introduction to astrology today. It is direct and accessible and technical terms are explained with clear footnotes. Garry Phillipson deserves praise for making that most rare of astrology books – one without waffle or wasted words, and it is recommended thoroughly to both the experienced professional and the interested outsider.