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Astrology, Karma & Reincarnation

Let us introduce you to Karma, that mysterious Sanskrit word. Karma is what others do to you because you have already done it to them. In astrology, it gets combined with reincarnation, the idea that you may have lived before. So, according to the theory, the net outcome of your previous lives determines the kind of natal chart you have (eg., determines your birth moment). About this point, our authors stray off into talk of retrograde planets, lunar nodes and Saturn, and while we basically agree with the Saturn part (we think outer planet retrogrades are generational, not individual), we wish to point out that everything in a chart is either the product of previous lives, or an accident of the birth moment and we're not so sure about the accident part. So we think there may be lots more to astrology and karma than has yet been brought to light, in western astrology at any rate. As for nodes, see the sections, Nodes and Vedic Astrology
See also Retrograde Planets
and Little Wonders

KARMA IN THE HOROSCOPE - Helen Adams Garrett, $19.95



1. The karmic degree
2. Saturn
3. Retrogrades
4. Declinations
5. Interceptions
6. The Moon's Nodes
7. Twenty-ninth degree
8. Cycles
9. A karmic study


The more I see of Garrett's books, the more I like her. Short, sharp, to the point, and for all the brevity, does a very nice job of covering the subject. She died in 2002, this book, a new one, first appeared in 2011. I presume it had been previously published, but, going back to 1995, I was unaware of it.

The first chapter, the Karmic Degree, is your Sun-Moon midpoint as the ascendant of an equal-house chart. Males are to have the Sun in the top half of the chart, females in the bottom half, so if the Sun/Moon midpoint doesn't do that, take the opposite point as the ascendant. This is always justified, since all midpoints have an equally valid opposite point. Put in your natal planets, this is your karmic chart.

Second chapter, Saturn in the signs & houses. By contrast to other authors, Garrett only deals with daddy in the signs & houses that are appropriate to daddy, which is refreshing.

Third chapter, Retrogrades. This chapter is not as well done, with the exception of retrograde Neptune, which Garrett gives in great detail.

Four, Declinations. Declinations are karmic if they are Out of Bounds (OOB), which is to say, further from the celestial equator than the sun gets at the Summer & Winter Solstices, which is 23 degrees, 27 minutes North or South. This was an idea of the late K.T. Boehrer, but it is not clear to me if the two women arrived at the idea independently. (The K.T. crowd wants to claim everything for her.) To Garrett, planets in south declination bring problems from past lives. Planets in north declination are there to help. Delineations in this chapter include Sun, Moon & planets by sign, north & south declinations.

Chapter five is on interceptions, and is only two pages. Garrett's idea is that intercepted signs are like being "shut out" or "in a closet" or "in a drawer". These are areas of life that are not readily available to you & which you must "unlock" by one means or another.

Chapter six is on Nodes. Nodes are a large area. Her notes on nodes in houses conforms to my observation that one should reduce the house placement to the relevant sign on the natural wheel (Aries = Ascendant) and read that. There are delineations for south node conjunct planets, south node representing karma from the past, as well as delineations of the north node conjunct the planets. I don't have anything within orbs, but I read the delineations for the planet closest to the south node, and closest to the north node, and was impressed. These may be the best node-planet-conjunction delineations ever written. Despite having already written node delineations by house, Garrett returns to the subject to write 144 more delineations, each of the twelve signs per house. I didn't especially resonate to those. Garrett closes the chapter with nodes & synastry: Aspects to nodes from friends & lovers.

Chapter 7 is the 29th degree, the ultimate degree. This is the text of her best known book, The Anaretic Degree, which is otherwise out of print. In this chapter, brief delineations for each of the planets at each of the twelve 29 degree positions. Some examples:

Saturn at 29 Taurus: Too much or too little work for wages. Has high value standards. If out of work, appears too dependable on others. . .

Mercury at 29 Cancer: Interested in the old family tree or could care less. Wants to be like family or totally different. Too much or too little of releasing emotions.

Mars at 29 Scorpio: Very physical. Muscular development or weakness of muscles. One who can rebuild from an illness. Practices controlled action.

Chapter 8 is Cycles. Cycles, to Garrett, are orbital, not medieval. This is a very short chapter.

Chater 9 is a Karmic Study, the subject is Edgar Cayce. This is an extensive and detailed delineation, using progressions, solar & planetary returns. It illustrates each of the previous chapters in the book. You will not look at Cayce the same.

When she was alive, Garrett self-published her many monographs. She was assisted late in life by her son-in-law. Since her passing, these monographs have been collected and are now published, several in a single volume, by the AFA. This is the case with this book. Read her, and you will discover that Helen Adams Garrett was one of the few who knew what she was talking about. When you know your stuff, you don't need hundreds of pages.

AFA, 86 pages.

Read the book? Want to tell the world? How many stars (1-5) would you give this book? Tell us!

PATTERNS OF THE PAST, The Birthchart, Karma & Reincarnation - Judy Hall, $26.00
Contents: Acknowledgments; Foreword by Melanie Reinhart; Introduction; 1. The presence of the past; 2. Patterns past, present, future; 3. Credits & deficits; 4. Mansions of the soul; 5. Soul intention; 6. The wound of the soul; 7. Karmic dis-ease; Conclusion: Moving beyond karma.

Notes, glossary, Chart sources, Bibliography, Copyright permissions, A list of astrological schools & organizations, Index

Comment: Formerly entitled, The Karmic Journey, the new edition revised & updated. The result of 25 years of study, chart reading & past life regression are combined in this book. The author explores many kinds of karma & in many cases tells us where they can be found in the birthchart. She also explains how the mysterious act of grace can neutralize some karmic debts, shows us generational karmic patterns & how they can be overcome. She explores Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Chiron, the Nodes & prenatal eclipses as karmic indicators. Parts of this book I like very much, parts of it are mysterious to me.

Wessex Astrologer, 349 pages.

KARMIC CONNECTIONS: The birthchart, karma & relationships - Judy Hall, $25.00
Contents: 1. Karma & relationships. 2. Kindred Spirits. 3. Individual Expectations. 4. The relationship houses. 5. The karma of interaspects. 6. Nodal connections. 7. Early relationships. 8. Adult relationships. 9. What do I see in you? 10. Soulmates. Chart sources, Bibliography, Astrological organizations, Index.

Comment: This book was spun off from the first edition of Patterns of the Past (above). Revisions & updates on that book eventually produced both it & this one. Lacking metaphysical training, the author, as she ages, tends to see more & more detail and, somehow, less & less overall structure. So, in Judy's books, we find 14 types of karma, some 19 reasons why two people would be drawn together from life to life, etc. Hall is very good when she works directly from 25 years of first-hand clinical experience: chart reading, clairvoyance & regression. When she falls back on abstract ideas (the meaning of Plutonian aspects in a chart, for example), she's not so good.

From the back cover:

Karma shows itself in relationships. The people you meet, the expectations you have, the circumstances in which you relate, the kind of marriage or other association that you find yourself in, all reflect previous liaisons. You are the sum total of all that has happened to you & much of your experiences will come through relationships. If you have enjoyed good & positive relationships in the past, you will find relationships generally beneficial & life enhancing, but bad experiences will be traumatizing. It is these difficult relationships that create the most ingrained karma & which need healing. The threads of a relationship can often be traced back through several lives - most significant 'others', have been with you many times. This book will help you to identify the history of these relationships through the birthchart & where necessary, release the past in order to move on.

Wessex Astrologer, 350 pages.

YESTERDAY'S SKY: Astrology & reincarnation - Steven Forrest, $24.95


8 pages of Praise for Steven & Jodie Forrest's work
Foreword, by Paige Ruane
Introduction: My second wind

Part 1: The technique
1. Everything in a chart is karmic
2. Why believe in reincarnation?
3. The essence of the technique
4. A practical example
5. The astronomy of the lunar nodes

Part 2: The cookbook
6. The lunar nodes through the signs
7. The lunar nodes through the houses
8. Planets conjunct the south node
9. The planetary ruler of the south node
10. Planets in hard aspect to the south node
11. Planets in soft aspect to the south node
12. The right attitude
13. When the karmic wave breaks
14. Putting it all together
15. Agatha Christy
16. Bill Wilson
17. Adolph Hitler
18. Christine Jorgensen
19. Carl Gustav Jung

Conclusion: Beyond description
Recommended reading

Comment: The book starts bravely. Chapter 1, Everything in the chart is karmic. In this chapter, on pg. 32 is the statement, This is not a book about the lunar nodes. The author gives weight to this by a consideration of Saturn in the seventh house. And while the introductory chapters cover various other topics, that's it as far as the chart as a karmic whole. I have long believed the entire chart is karmic, but I am still waiting for book that will explore the entire chart

I would have put this book with the node books, but with Reincarnation on the front cover, it wanted to be here. You are, however, advised to hit the link, go to the Node page & read my method for interpreting nodes, as I am about to do that to Steven's book.

Chapter 3, on Technique: Whatever the typical number of prior lifetimes may be, if we had symbolism for all of them in every birthchart, it would be enough to paint the chart black. (pg. 67). And there the author stops. He says it's too complicated. So let me enumerate a few: A planet in a sign represents one life. The planet's house position can represent another life. The planet that disposes it can be a third. Any aspects it may make can each be a different life. Lack of aspects can indicate a life. You can easily find half a dozen lives in any one chart. To sort them out, look for affinities: By tracing the chain of dispositors, by sect (ie, day/night), by male/female signs, by aspect, by whim, if it makes a good story.

The book has a filter: It must be something left unresolved, it must be necessary to resolve it in this life. Remembered moods or attitudes are indicated by the south node (pg. 69). Specifically, it remembers wounds, tragedies, limitations & failures from the past, which potentially interferes with our ability to fulfill our soul-contract in this lifetime. (pg. 72) The book then takes up The Planetary Ruler of the South Node, which Mohan Koparkar termed The Karmic Control Planet, but Steven is not that well read - I checked the bibliography. But he does stab in the right direction:

If, for example, we see the south node in the ninth house, but its planetary ruler is in the twelfth house, we might reason this way: in a previous life, this person took a voyage (ninth house), but the ship sank! (Twelfth house: loss, trouble) (pg. 77)
Which gives me hope. Here is what I would do with that: The delineation can be confirmed by noting the signs on the cusps of 9 & 12. If they are both water, you've nailed it. You can then go a step further by noting the quality of the sign on the 12th, which indicates the final outcome: If mutable, ie, Pisces, the loss was helter-skelter. If cardinal, ie, Cancer, the ship was sunk by force (war, pirates, big wave, etc.). If fixed, ie, Scorpio, there was a secret plot to scuttle the ship & nothing could be done about it. Now imagine the client is Natalie Wood, who had a life-long fear of water and who, in fact, drowned. Steven's technique is not this sophisticated (he judges by planet & house, he does not consider signs, much less qualities), but I think there's hope. And he's making practical use of Koparkar's idea. He then concludes chapter 3 with an examination of conjunctions & squares to the nodal axis. Regrettably, many charts lack these features. Mine, for example.

On to the Cookbook:

Signs: My south node is in Virgo. The delineation for Virgo is rather good. In the natural wheel, that node falls in the 5th, which is the sign of Leo. So I read that, as a stand-in for the 5th hosue. And Steven is good here, too. (Which means the author is confusing houses with signs, but that's a common problem.)

Houses: My south node is in the 4th, but its sign does not agree with the sign on the IC. Not surprisingly, the difference in signs means Steven's 4th house delineation did not work. So let's look at the 5th, the sign that matches the sign of the (4th house) node. Here the author stabs in the general direction. As I have observed elsewhere, it is not unusual for authors to confuse houses with signs, and to write sign delineations that are actually about houses. Houses are, after all, a lot more real. If more astrologers knew that, they would do a better job separating the two of them in their minds. But judge for yourself. Read both by sign, and by house.

In chapter 9, Steven comes to a brief consideration of the Karmic Control Planet, which he had previously covered in chapter 3. The author seems uncertain if dispositors really work or not, so abandons the chapter in favor of chapters on hard & soft aspects to the nodes. That's why this is a short chapter. The ruler of the south node is hugely significant, but most of what you need to know about it is scattered around other parts of the book. (pg. 194) Please. Put it all together for us.

So what if you, like me, have no aspects to either node? Here is the solution:

...This can be frustrating if we want something more detailed to emerge, but it is important not to "push the data." Better instead to think about what this lack of information actually signals. In this situation, we lack much plot-oriented, development-oriented data. There are lives which, relatively speaking, not much happens - that is probably what you are looking at. Sometimes a set of circumstances arise which both utterly permeates a life, and is also going absolutely nowhere. For example, maybe the south node lies in Virgo in the sixth house conjunct Saturn. It makes no aspects. You were born a slave. You died that way, too. Nothing "happened." And that is the story. Translation: there is an underlying karmic vulnerability to getting into similarly "stuck" situations, and adapting to them for the long haul, even when that slavery is presently unnecessary. [emphasis in original] (pg. 196)
In support of this idea, it could be surmised that no aspects to the nodes = uneventful life, but that can only be true if, as Steven has already rejected, everything else in the chart is not karmic. Since everything in the chart is karmic, we would then logically conclude that those with no aspects to the nodes do not get their karma from those nodes, but rather from the other planets, houses & signs which make up the chart. Which leaves us begging for a proper karmic delineation of the rest of the chart. It should also be mentioned that as the nodes are not actual bodies, they have no "rays" & the orb of their aspects would therefore be limited, to perhaps as little as 1 degree.

But if I use whole sign aspects, then my south node is square to the ascendant, trine to Venus, and sextile to Mars. Steven's writing for these three specific node/planet aspects is flabby:

As a person one once knew, with the soft aspects it is not really appropriate to think of Mars straightforwardly as an enemy, although there may be elements of friendly rivalry and competition. Imagine your "worthy opponent" in chess or tennis or any other kind of contest. Or simply consider Mars as representing a comrade - someone who was on your side in a win/lose situation. The most obvious imagery here is that of warfare, and of the bonds of life-and-death loyalty that might be forged between people sharing that unfortunate situation. (pg. 220)
Which is the author grasping for straws. Steven prefaces all his aspect delineations with, "As a person one once knew," but that only applies to sign & house placements that indicate people.

I think I've written enough about this book that you must have a fair picture of it by now.

Seven Paws Press, 357 pages.

PAST LIVES, FUTURE CHOICES, The Astrology of Reincarnation - Maritha Pottenger, $16.95

1. Background on reincarnation: Reincarnation research; Trends suggested by studies of spontaneous recall; Physical evidence; Other methods for looking back; Astrology & reincarnation; So, how does it work?; What, exactly, carries forward?; Why don't more people remember?; Where did the souls come from?; Was I famous before?; The question of karma (and punishment); Why bother looking back?

2. Past life scenarios: Sun; 3. Past life scenarios: Moon; 4. Past life scenarios: Mercury; 5. Past life scenarios: Venus; 6. Past life scenarios: Mars; 7. Past life scenarios: Jupiter; 8. Past life scenarios: Uranus; 9. Past life scenarios: Neptune; 10. Past life scenarios: Pluto;

11. Past life scenarios: Saturn: 12 Letters: 1. To thine own self be true; 2. Gratifying & satisfying; 3. Witty & wise; 4. Interdependence; 5. Loving your inner child; 6. Service, not servant; 7. Fair is fair; 8. Psychological power; 9. Faith, hope & charity; 10. Reasonable responsibilities; 11. Future shock; 12. Universal understanding;

12. Past life scenarios: Saturn (in the 12 houses); 13. Emotional residues from past lives; 14. Karmic debts; 15. Karmic gifts; 16. Conclusion. Appendix: Mercury postions, Venus positions, Mars positions (all: 1930-2000, inclusive).

Comment: After 10 pages of introductory material, the author gives past life "readings" for each of the planets in each of the 12 signs of the zodiac (Neptune is limited to Gemini through Aquarius, Pluto runs from Gemini through Sagittarius). Look up the planetary positions in your chart & read all about your very own past lives. For each planet/sign combination, there are six possibilities. Regrettably, this concept is rubbish & cannot be recommended. Examples:

  • Sun in Aries: Your parents were carried away by the plague when you were only 7. (pg. 13)
  • Moon in Taurus: You were born to European nobility & an arranged marriage. (pg. 35)
  • Mercury in Gemini: Born into poverty, you had a burning curiosity, but little education. (pg. 57)
  • Venus in Cancer: You worked as a cook for an aristocratic Scottish family. (pg. 78)
  • Mars in Leo: You were a coach at an exclusive boy's school. (pg. 99)
  • Jupiter in Virgo: Your father was an extremely cruel man. (pg. 120)
  • Saturn in Libra, from Letter 7, Fair is Fair: You spent a few lifetimes as a female sold into marriage for material or political reasons. (pg. 184)
  • Uranus in Scorpio: While still quite young, you made the acquaintance of a local crone. (pg. 141)
  • Neptune in Sagittarius: You were a rather unusual nun during the Middle Ages. (pg. 158)
  • Pluto in Virgo: You were an early medical student who studied illegally obtained cadavers to polish your understanding of anatomy & bodily functions. (pg. 168) (I wanted to give you Pluto in Capricorn, but Pluto stops with Sagittarius.)
This book is evidence just how sad things got at ACS in the years after Neil Michelsen's death, that such a book as this was even conceived, much less printed & distributed. First published in 1997, it is presently in its third printing, 2002.

ACS, 300 pages.

ASTROLOGY & PAST LIVES - Mary Devlin, $19.95
Contents: Acknowledgments; 1. Reincarnation & astrological research; 2. Basic precepts of karmic astrology; 3. The Sun; 4. The Moon; 6. The inner planets; 7. Jupiter; 8. Saturn; 9. Uranus; 10. Neptune; 11. Pluto; 12. The ascendant & midheaven. Conclusion; Bibliography.

Comment: The essence of this book can be found on pg. 8:

[I]f the entity's course of evolution is to be most effective, he or she must bow to the laws of the Universe, and these include the laws of astrology. Therefore, we can almost always find some validity in the following precepts:
  • 1. The Sun, Ascendant & dominant planets indicate the primary purpose of a given incarnation.
  • 2. Uranus, Neptune & Pluto represent different aspects of karma. [She goes on to give the typical natal keywords for these three planets.]
  • 3. The twelfth house may symbolize the immediately preceding incarnation. In general, however, it shows the unfinished business of the past.
  • 4. Saturn represents inclinations & characteristics which the soul-entity brings to the present from the past.
  • 5. The Moon, her phases & nodes, indicate the course the soul is taking in its prsent mission & show the progress it is making in filling out the outlines of Saturn's destiny formula.

This is based on the author's collection of over 400 present life & past life charts. Regret that I thought this book limited in its scope.

Whitford, 287 pages.

COSMIC KARMA: Understanding your contract with the universe - Marguerite Manning, $15.95


Heart & soulfelt thanks

1. The birth chart: Your contract with the universe
2. The glyphs: your karmic keys
3. The sun sign: Your karmic degree

Sun in Aries
Sun in Taurus
Sun in Gemini
Sun in Cancer
Sun in Leo
Sun in Virgo
Sun in Libra
Sun in Scorpio
Sun in Sagittarius
Sun in Capricorn
Sun in Aquarius
Sun in Pisces
4. The sun house: Your karmic calling
Sun in the 1st house
Sun in the 2nd house
Sun in the 3rd house
Sun in the 4th house
Sun in the 5th house
Sun in the 6th house
Sun in the 7th house
Sun in the 8th house
Sun in the 9th house
Sun in the 10th house
Sun in the 11th house
Sun in the 12th house
5. Saturn: Your karmic lesson
Saturn in the 1st house
Saturn in the 2nd house
Saturn in the 3rd house
Saturn in the 4th house
Saturn in the 5th house
Saturn in the 6th house
Saturn in the 7th house
Saturn in the 8th house
Saturn in the 9th house
Saturn in the 10th house
Saturn in the 11th house
Saturn in the 12th house
6. Neptune: Your karmic debt
Neptune in the 1st house
Neptune in the 2nd house
Neptune in the 3rd house
Neptune in the 4th house
Neptune in the 5th house
Neptune in the 6th house
Neptune in the 7th house
Neptune in the 8th house
Neptune in the 9th house
Neptune in the 10th house
Neptune in the 11th house
Neptune in the 12th house
7. Pluto: Your karmic arsenal
Pluto in the 1st house
Pluto in the 2nd house
Pluto in the 3rd house
Pluto in the 4th house
Pluto in the 5th house
Pluto in the 6th house
Pluto in the 7th house
Pluto in the 8th house
Pluto in the 9th house
Pluto in the 10th house
Pluto in the 11th house
Pluto in the 12th house
8. The 12th house: Your karmic closet
Aries in the 12th house: Mars rules
Taurus in the 12th house: Venus rules
Gemini in the 12th house: Mercury rules
Cancer in the 12th house: Moon rules
Leo in the 12th house: Sun rules
Virgo in the 12th house: Mercury rules
Libra in the 12th house: Venus rules
Scorpio in the 12th house: Mars rules
Sagittarius in the 12th house: Jupiter rules
Capricorn in the 12th house: Saturn rules
Aquarius in the 12th house: Uranus rules
Pisces in the 12th house: Neptune rules
Comsic glossary
The 12 houses of the birth chart (and what you keep in them)

Comment: Chapters on the Sun's natal placement, by sign & house, are pro-forma. The author has written to correct my earlier misunderstanding. She, like me, does not think we go sequentially from one sun sign to the next, in either order. It seems things are a bit more complex than that. Her chapter on Saturn is a notch above the one on the sun. The chapter on Neptune, a planet which normally eludes authors, is a notch above that, which is to say, getting good. The chapter on Pluto, a planet which authors normally misunderstand completely, is quite good. As with Neptune, the individual delineations are brief & tightly focused.

The 12th house chapter is the best I've ever seen. Which is to say I read both the signs that appear in my 12th & was shocked. I've been in the astro book biz, one way or another, more than 20 years. I've seen lots of books. Shock doesn't happen often anymore. For a taste, here is Bill Clinton's 12th house Virgo:

Virgo in the 12th house: Mercury rules
Your soul's previous existence was one of physical duty & practical service to others. Dedicated to the highest degree of excellence in this past incarnation, your inability to achieve some type of physical perfection forced you to bury your keen intellect here in the house of "whose inadequacy is it, anyway." Hence, you are now constantly compelled to defend your sharp analytical abilities and your logical solutions, as they never seem to get the credit they deserve. Clearly this is your baggage, but when your critical thinking has been so severely suppressed, the mental baggage is bound to be abundant. Surprisingly observant, your organization and research skills are profound and instinctive. Deep devotion to the painstaking details that are so frequently neglected by others is your hidden strength.

Work, health & fitness are your addictions, but only because being useful is your weakness. While excessive worry & chronic faultfinding were the cause of your past undoing, they appear to be back for a repeat performance. The past has left you with an overwhelming sense of duty to repair the inevitable flaws of reality. Unfortunately, this unconscious fixation with perfection can actually cause you to avoid the ideal efficiency you seek by drawing you to flawed data, disorganized people, and impossible situations. You can stop wondering why we're so incompetent & you're so neurotic. Past influences & experiences include teaching, writing, critical analysis, accounting, medicine, engineering & craftsmanship. Cosmic advice: Stop worrying. You're still alive & the sky isn't falling. (pg. 123)

Which, as a single factor one-size-fits-1/12th-of-the-planet, I thought darn impressive.

Llewellyn, 189 pages.

KARMIC ASTROLOGY: Past lives, present loves - Ruth Aharoni, $14.95


Introduction: A word on returning to the past

1. Karma, incarnations & the birth chart
2. Karmic encounters
3. The pairs of signs
4. The planets & karmic relationships
5. A wheel for two
6. I'll follow you through fire & water
7. Two by two
8. The karmic houses
9. There's a dragon in the house
10. Relationships with the dragon
11. Karmic couples & cosmic couples
12. Spiritual attraction

Appendix A. The dragon's location
Appendix B. The major aspects

Comment: The Introduction, and the introductory chapters, promise a book that lays out the past life karma of relationships, but when the author gets down to writing delineations, boy - girl, girl - boy, the best she can muster is straight-forward synastry. Such as:

SATURN - PLUTO: This is a contact between two strong planets, under whose influence each individual forces the other to learn his or her own karmic lesson. The Pluto individual forces the Saturn individual to come out of his or her shell & undergo a change. The Pluto individual learns through relationship to be more practical & productive, and to not waste energy, but instead divert it towards an organized implementation of goals.

When this conjunction is disharmonious, suspicion, competition, and power struggles whose roots lie in past incarnations may mark the relationship; it is therefore their task to cancel such debts in this life. (pg. 102)

Which, aside from window dressing ("learn a karmic lesson", blow-ups are ancient history, etc.) is nothing new. If we jump to the obvious conclusion, that all significnat relationships - with few if any exceptions - are based on past life ties, then we conclude that all books on synastry are really books on karmic relationships anyway. I would have put this book in the Relationship section, but with a title like Karmic Astrology, it obviously wanted to be here.

As a book on relationships, how is it? Only fair. The addition of the word, karma too often becomes a weapon in the hands of the unhappy. Both those who seek nirvana in a relationship, as well as those looking for excuses to rationalize - or get out of - bad ones, do better by focusing on the here & now. Knowledge of past lives is more often a noose than a life saver. In a book such factors become distractions.

The analysis in the back, between the present day Ada, her previous incarnation as Helen, and her present-life husband, Aharon (why is this the same name as the author's?) is good. It's a pity the book was not based on deductions from such studies. Did the author write down to her presumed audience, rather than what she actually knew? Books don't come around all that often. Authors should strive to get the most from such opportunities, not the least.

Llewellyn, 182 pages.

HAVE WE MET BEFORE ? - Emma Belle Donath, $17.95


Past lives: Fact or fiction?
Comparing chart
Where were we?
Who were we?
How does the past affect the future?
Keyword guide


In 1989, I met Emma Belle Donath (1932-92), the sage of south-west Ohio. She was a dazzling Gemini. I had fun keeping up with her, and I imagine she met few who could. She was most noted for her research on the four major asteroids (Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta), which are included in this book.

This book is from 1982 and predates both Maritha Pottenger's, and Ruth Aharoni's (both above). Like Maritha's, it gives specific details to past lives, based on no solid evidence whatever, and, like Ruth's, is essentially a synastry book (his planets vs: her planets) dressed up as a reincarnation guide. The AFA says it's been selling quite well. Which is to say that simple solutions, stated clearly, have appeal.

The Donath Method of past-life synastry is limited to his planets conjuncting her planets, 5 degree orb maximum. Houses, angles & nodes are excluded, but, as I mentioned, asteroids are present. (No Chiron, sorry.) Every significant relationship has at least one close conjunction between the two individuals. Between my wife and myself, the closest of the various conjunctions is her Moon to my Neptune. There is an extended delineation on pg. 45. Here the condensed version (keywords) from pg. 86:

Queen [female] & teacher of religion [male], woman & chaplain [male], female & deceiving lover [male, etc.], wife & thief, lovely maiden & serenader, female & sailor, or woman & priest brother.
Obviously the reader, who is, we hope, one of the individuals in question, will be able to sort through the possibilities and pick one that is most likely. In this case, as the male, I am either a cleric or a no-good, with the possibility of being a sailor, who, in most ports, is usually taken as a no-good on the face of it. You will also wonder, as I did, what if it's the man's Moon & the woman's Neptune? What then? Emma Belle doesn't really say. Thinking laterally, you are suddenly inspired to look at Sun - Neptune, which says,
King & priest, ruler & religious advisor, lord of manor & monk, knight & mistrel, man and healer, querent & medium, patient & prayer leader, captain & sage, or guardian & liar (pgs. 84-5)
But here the problem arises that these delineations are clearly male to male, not male to female. Elsewhere, Moon to Venus, Moon to Juno (etc.) are all female to female. Emma Belle, like many, presumes that we change gender from time to time & that this is no big deal. My own studies suggest that a gender switch is preceded by a dysfunctional life in one gender, followed by a dysfunctional life in the other gender, which is to say that switches are not made cleanly. Which is as one would expect.

Back to the issue at hand, is the closest of several conjunctions between my wife and myself the key to our overall relationship? Well, no. It isn't. This is too crude a method to determine that. Also note that so far as this method goes, everyone my wife meets who was born in the same year as me, will present himself as priest or a no-good. Including my wife's elder brother, or, for that matter, my eldest brother & his wife.

AFA, 94 pages.

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DISCOVERING YOUR SOUL MISSION: How to use karmic astrology to create the life you want - Linda Brady & Evan St. Lifer, $13.00
Contents: Prologue: Becoming spiritual adults; Introduction: You have a soul mission

Part 1: Soul Creation: Taking control of your life: 1. Creating our own lives; 2. Soul mates & soul contracts

Part 2: Journying to Your Soul Mission: 3. From who you are to who you want to be; 4. Learning about your soul pattern & soul potential; 5. Mercury: Your orientation to the world; 6. Symbolism & the unconscious

Part 3: Karmic Truth: The key to fulfilling your soul mission: 7. Saturn: Your journey to personal truth; 8. Mars: Handling anger wisely; 9. Pluto: Overcoming guilt & fostering forgiveness; 10. Neptune: Illusion versus aspiration

Epilogue; Glossary of terms; Suggested reading; Index; About the authors

Comment: An interesting book. There are some useful exercises. The chapters on Mercury, Saturn, Mars, Neptune & Pluto include ephemerides of their sign placements, 1900-2000. The nodes get only a passing mention, the moon (which has got to be the no. 1 karmic influence of all) is entirely absent, as are houses & the ascendant. All books of this sort are superficial (it cannot be helped) and all imply the path is easier & faster than it actually is. A specific detail as I browse the book: The list of past life occupations given as traits of Saturn through the signs (pgs. 164-169). I've spent 30 years, and have had some lucky breaks. I've got a sketch of my past lives going back 1000 years, some in greater detail than others. (Sad but true: Few past lives are memorable.) They bear no relationship to the traits listed for Saturn by sign, which in my case is Libra. If I turn Saturn's domicile (the 5th house) into its sign on the Aries chart (eg, Leo), things get a bit better, but the book still manages to miss many details, as well as the overall thrust. (Their description describes how I met my end about 4 lifetimes ago.) I give this as a caveat that one must work intensively & for a long time to get even few details, which cannot always be relied on.

Three Rivers Press/Random House, 266 pages.

See also Retrograde Planets
and Little Wonders

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