I started studying astrology in the 1970s and like most students, then and now, when I discovered it, got quite obsessed. I never thought of it as having career potential; I was just fascinated and, not being in any particular hurry, my apprenticeship was long and slow. As I progressed in my studies, qualified and started seeing clients, it became obvious to me that the most important facet of the horoscope, the bit that one urgently needed to understand and be able to describe, was aspects - and yet, I couldn't find much in the way of contemporary material on the subject.
Even then there was much that was excellent on the market as to the nature of planetary combinations. Stephen Arroyo for example on the outer planets and Liz Greene on these and Saturn. Charles Carter's book Astrological Aspects was and still remains a classic in the field but is a little out of date and does not include Pluto. Bill Tierney's book Dynamics of Aspect Analysis is invaluable for the subject of aspect patterns, so much so that the writer has not attempted to comment further on these. So Aspects in Astrology came about because I needed to know more, and as I began teaching I realised that students needed to know more too. So I set about my own low-key empirical research and what follows is the result of that.
Much of the art of astrological interpretation lies in the capacity of the astrologer to bring different symbols together and synthesise them. At every step of the way, this is what the interpreter is doing. The astrologer considering, for example, Mercury in Sagittarius in the 4th house has to bring together their understanding of the planet, the sign, the 4th house, and the houses that are ruled by Mercury. The average student of astrology can usually manage to juggle around with these different factors but when presented with the fact that Mercury is not isolated but is in fact in 'aspect' - that is, forming a relationship with other planets or points in the chart - can feel totally overwhelmed. This is not surprising. Interpreting aspect configurations is a very complex business and not easy, even for the most experienced practitioner.
Nevertheless such interpretation is worthy of effort for it is the aspects that provide the energy in the chart, the energy that transforms the horoscope from the description of a lifeless puppet into something symbolising an alive and vital human being, complete with conflict and joy. Above all else in the chart, the aspects describe the prima materia, the raw stuff out of which every individual has to build their life. Horoscopes can be set up for anything; their use is not confined to the study of human nature and human life but whatever the birth-chart depicts - the time of an event, a question, a live being. The aspects describe the drama, they describe what actually happens. And in terms of people, aspect configurations describe what psychologists call 'complexes' (groups of interacting symbols), of which the psychologist C.G. Jung commented that it is not so much people who have complexes but complexes who have people. In other words, aspects play a large role in describing what might be termed our 'fate' inasmuch as they describe what we have to deal with.
The birth-chart by its very nature is unique and has to be viewed as a whole; thus it must be clear that any astrological 'cookbook' such as this one is always going to have its limitations, interpreting as it does one piece of information out of the context of the rest of the chart. Nevertheless, the interpreter has to start somewhere and it is hoped that this book will provide some help.