The advent of the internet should make the study of astrology more accessible than ever, right? Anyone who has wasted hours reading nonsense online explainers (likely written by bots) will affirm that a good astrology guide is hard to find. And with endless books on the subject, from the days of the New Age to the current rage of Urban Outfitters pop astrology manuals, where do you begin your serious study of the stars? Consult some of our favorite texts below for guidance on basics, big ideas and ancient wisdom. Congratulations: You’re an initiate, baby!
For the Astrology Skeptics: Cosmos & Psyche: Intimations of a New World View by Richard Tarnas
When your new lover starts rattling off about how he “doesn’t buy” a system of correspondences dating back before Ancient Babylon, slam this tome on the table. Eschewing any mention of signs, Richard Tarnas employs the planets to chart eons of human history, connecting epochs and revolutions — from Spartacus to the fall of the Berlin Wall — to the collision of cosmic archetypes in the heavens. Cosmos & Psyche is not a book about sun signs and compatibility, but a rosetta stone to the infinite perspective of our place in an interconnected universe.
Start with the Essentials: You Were Born For This: Astrology for Radical Self Acceptance by Chani Nicholas
The perfect gift for the astro initiate in your life, Chani Nicholas’s starter kit gives new-user-friendly insight into the “big three” (sun, moon, and rising sign), and employs the charts of Frida Kahlo and Maya Angelou to elucidate the gifts, challenges, and discoveries in every cosmic profile. The clear design and explainers will build your fluency in the language of reading charts, and help you personalize an infinitely dizzying lexicon.
Go All In: Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology
Consider this the whole megillah on signs, planets, and houses; a total cosmic download which yields endless doggy-eared pages and insightful rereads, and is sure to save you hours of time wasted on crackpot astrology websites. Alan Oken was a great voice of the “new age,” and much of his language is informed by the Aquarian optimism of the ’70s. But whether you’re a true believer or a curious beginner, Oken’s talmudic bastion of knowledge will shift your awareness to a quantum level.
The Daily Cookbook: Planets in Transit by Robert Hand
Is transiting Mars f*cking with your natal moon? Did Saturn enter your eighth house of other people’s money? No text can better address the minute, comprehensive changes wrought by daily planetary movements. Hand details every possible configuration of how transiting (i.e. currently moving) planets affect the primary players in your birth chart, teaching you to make meaning of the ever-evolving cosmic narrative, both personally and globally.
The Big Picture: The Astrology of Fate by Liz Greene
Those who practice astrology as a means of counseling will be well-served by Liz Greene’s wisdom, gleaned from years as an astrologer and psychologist. How can the myths of our planets inform our reckoning of the inconceivable, from love to miracles? Exploring the archetypes of Pluto, Persephone, Medusa, and beyond, Greene forces us to accept and embrace the will of the planets, so that we may face triumph and tragedy with sober clarity and a greater historical perspective.
For the Astro Shaman: Chiron and the Healing Journey by Melanie Reinhart
Those who seek insight from the stars are rarely buoyant, boring, or unblemished by pain. In her study of the wounded healer archetype, Melanie Reinhart awakens the possibilities of metamorphosis for the student of astrology, sharing insight into how the core narratives of our chart can be alchemized into medicine to share with the world. A key text for reconnecting with the soul and meaning of this byzantine field of study.
Next-level chart-reading: Rulers of the Horoscope by Alan Oken
So you know the basics of chart-reading, but to really blast your skills beyond the basics, consult Oken’s guide to planetary rulerships: namely, connecting the planets to signs and houses. This breakdown will train your eye towards more holistic chart-reading, and help you bind the twelve houses to one cohesive story.
The Starter Spellbook: Secrets of Planetary Magic by Christopher Warnock
Christopher Warnock’s dense planetary guide initiates you into electional magic — namely, the timing of will, intention and invocation to the movement of planets, down to the minute. Including the Orphic Hymns to the planets and suggestions for rituals and altar design, Warnock’s text lays down the basics for integrating the planets into daily practice. Once you’ve mastered this guide, you’ll be able to personalize and experiment with your relationship to the gods and archetypes ruling the sky. Say hello to Venus for us.
Astrology, deconstructed: Postcolonial Astrology: Reading the Planets through Capital, Power and Labor by Alice Sparkly Kat
In her well-researched examination, Alice Sparkly Kat shows how the universal themes of astrology have been informed by the cultural apparati of their day: How have our images of the planets been warped by Roman supremacist values, and its current incarnations in contemporary society? In what ways have our understandings of fate and fortune been tangled up by the noise of our culture? Sparkly Kat invites readers to free astrology from any authority or institution, and claim its eternal wisdom for themselves.
The Astro-Tarot crossover: 36 Secrets: A Decanic Journey through the Minor Arcana of the Tarot by T. Susan Chang
The hardcore star girlies in your life may have mentioned the connections between tarot and astrology, with each of the major arcana ruling a sign or planet. T. Susan Chang’s text goes deeper, examining the assignment of the minor arcana to astrological decans (ten-degree sections of each sign). The study of decans remains elusive and rather inaccessible; by integrating their study to your daily card pull, you’ll deepen your knowledge of the signs, and their many dimensions.