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Reading Astrology, Karma & Transformation has truly been my Mercury retrograde journey over the past several weeks. This is my third reading since I first read the book in the late 1990’s. I remember finding the information helpful as I was learning to read charts, and I appreciated the thoroughness and depth reflected in the subtitle, “The Inner Dimensions of the Birth Chart.” This time, however, working my way through the book was like trying to walk through deep water. I kept getting snared by certain sentences or concepts and would need to float and gradually detangle myself from them before I could move on. Past charts, past experiences were evoked on nearly every page and insisted on being integrated into my comprehension before I could fully grasp the concept. I was relishing every minute I spent with Arroyo’s book but I thought it would never end.

By the title, Arroyo suggests that astrology can reveal to us the deeper spiritual purpose of our life journey. It teaches us “the higher principles that ‘govern’ all of life,” including the law of karma – for each action, there is a reaction – and the law of opportunity, which established that we are all put into the exact right situation we need to grow spiritually. Life then demands of us that we transform, not once, but many times, and the astrological chart can function as a road map for transformation. A square from transiting Pluto to the natal Sun indicates the native’s sense of identity will undergo a death and rebirth. An opposition from transiting Uranus to the natal Mercury suggests the native will be challenged to think independently as the perception of “reality” becomes electrified and changed. A conjunction of the transiting Saturn to the natal Moon restricts and dampens how natives feel about themselves and may push them out of their comfort zone.

The “trans-Saturnian planets – Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – are considered by Arroyo to be “keys to transformation.” If one has a natal personal planet in aspect to a trans-Saturnian planet, we are faced with energies which cannot be controlled but towards which we can control our attitude. With Saturn, we are tasked with dealing with life in the real world in order to make spiritual progress. A great part of this journey is facing our limitations and that we cannot have everything or be everything we hoped for. Whatever house in our chart Saturn is transiting tells us what in our life we should be defining and working towards building into a more solid structure.

This book includes a brilliant diagnostic of natal aspects and how aspects in relationships function as well as an in depth discussion of progressions and transits. What is most helpful, though, is the final chapter in the book which covers the role of the astrologer as counselor. Stephen Arroyo is a psychologist and uses astrology as a tool in his practice. He writes that his main role is as counselor and he uses astrology “as a primary tool” in this work. He also believes that the astrologer is as important as the astrology. It’s essential that the astrologer stay spiritually connected to the mission of his or her work. “The astrologer serves as a channel to a dimension of order, knowledge and insight,” he tells us. We have to avoid too much ego involvement and never lose the awareness that this knowledge is a divine gift we transmit to our clients. We are not here to tell people how to live their lives but to help them become more aware of their potential and the deeper meaning of their experiences and how it can lead them to spiritual growth. “I feel,” Arroyo writes, “that anyone who finds that his creative purpose compels him toward the practice of astrology as a profession should realize that he is privileged to serve as a guide for others struggling to find their way amidst the storms, whirlpools, and shipwrecks of life on a material plane.” If we do not lose our connection to this ideal, we can remain sensitive and aware of our clients’ ideals and can help them grow towards a transformed life.


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