For any Pagan interested in working with the planets I highly recommend Planets for Pagans; Sacred Sites, Ancient Lore and Magical Stargazing by Renna Shesso. Comprised of 10 chapters and five appendices, Shesso goes through the Sun, Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and then various special space phenomena such as Haley's Comet and the Orion constellation.
Shesso begins the book with chapter 0 - Following the North Star. Here they give a brief summary of the sky including navigation before maps and gps, various myths and how to find the North Star and the Big and Little Dippers. They then go into chapter 1 which discusses the Western zodiac. Here Shesso talks about what the zodiac is, how to find the constellations and gives a very brief overview of each of the sun signs.
From the zodiac Shesso goes into each of the celestial bodies they talk about, beginning with chapter 2 - the Sun. These chapters are full of information including astronomical, mythological and spiritual. For example in chapter 5 - Mercury; Magical Messenger and Soul Guide Shesso talks about retrograde motion and explains exactly what it is as well as discussing deities associated with Mercury including Thoth and Hermes, Mercury's temples and planetary motion.
Each chapter on celestial bodies ends with a section called Learn by Doing. In this section Shesso gives the reader several suggestions and ideas for ways they can work with the energies of the celestial body. For example, in chapter 9 - Saturn, they give four ideas; make a will, explore your limits, create a mobius strip and stop and smell the marigolds. Each idea has a short paragraph with it to explain exactly what Shesso is suggesting and how it relates to the chapter.
The book ends with five appendices which have Mercury's and Venus' elongations and Mars, Jupiter's, and Saturn's locations in the sky for a set of years. In the chapters Shesso does discuss what the elongations are. Past the appendices is included sections on notes, a bibliography, a list of illustrations and even an index. This book is indeed well organized with chapters and sections placed logically. It is also nice because this is a book one can pick up, pick a chapter at random and read just that chapter.
All in all Planets for Pagans is an incredible book. Its chock full of information, it includes suggestions, stories, images and is well cited. It is written in a way so that one can understand the astronomical information even with no scientific background as well as anyone with any Pagan background. I do have to say though that my first thought upon opening it was "Where is Neptune, Uranus and Pluto?!" There were no apparent notes as to why these three planets were not included, though given how newly discovered they are there is much less information about them so it is understandable. All that being said, I highly, highly recommend this book.
~review by Jessica Elizabeth
Author: Renna Shesso
Weiser Books; 2011