Bernadette Brady is an Australian astrologer well-known for her efforts to restore and promote “visual astrology” – knowledge of what’s actually visible in the sky at night, the position and declination of planets and stars, and of course, star lore.

This is Brady’s second book about fixed stars. Her first book, Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars (Weiser, 1998), is a substantial compilation of the stars in zodiacal and other constellations, along with basic star-meaning concepts and interpretations. The book introduces parans, a method for calculating a star’s position relative to the date and latitude of a birth or event. Stars may rise, culminate, and set with a planet or axis point. These influences can be integrated into a chart interpretation.

In Star and Planet Combinations,  Brady reviews the principles of parans once more. She emphasizes the crucial role of heliacal rising and setting stars in a birth chart. Section 2 provides star tables to make finding the stars that are active for any location (latitude) at a particular time of year. She examines the role of stars at pivot points (Asc-Dsc, MC-IC) at the moment of birth.

Section 3 (pp 63-258) is the meat-and-potatoes of the book. There are delineations for 64 stars, arranged alphabetically for easy look-up. These include an overview of the general meaning of a star’s constellation, the meaning of the star, and a cookbook list of star-planet combination delineations, from the Sun to Pluto, and the Nodes. There are examples of people born with star-planet and star-pivot combinations. The summary also includes remarks about each star as a heliacal rising, setting, or pivot star.

The author has spent decades collating star lore from numerous sources. She has extrapolated star meanings that are more digestible to modern sensibilities. Ancient sources tend to describe a star’s effects in terms of worst-case scenarios. The sheer nastiness of some star meanings may well have played a role in the abandonment of stars as astrological significators. Since astrologers have moved away from rigid, fateful chart interpretations over the past century, Brady’s re-examination of star meanings is a conscientious and meritorious effort that may help restore use of the fixed stars in astrology. On the down side, her interpretations send wind up the skirts of hard-core traditionalists, who would also regard the omission of a star’s planetary correspondents as a poke in the eye.

Since star lore is a wide-ranging and potentially contentious branch of astrology, astrologers may want to acquire this book in addition to other books on the subject. It’s somewhat easier to use than “Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars.” The overview of 64 stars is not exhaustive; the focus is on very bright and powerful stars of the first or second magnitude that have a noticeable impact on charts. This is an advantage for newbies to the topic, as there are hundreds of named stars and the sheer mass can be overwhelming. The book is well-written, nicely formatted, and includes a bibliography. It will be useful for astrologers who are beginning to integrate stars in delineations.

Recommended for intermediate astrologers seeking an accessible entry into the subject of star lore.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Author: Bernadette Brady
The Wessex Astrologer, 2008
261 pages, $32.96

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