Water and Fire

Darby Costello

This volume is both a poetic and a deeply insightful journey into the essence of these two astrological elements and what they symbolise in the  human psyche. Part One examines the element of water first through its expressions in myth, alchemy, philosophy and psychology, and then through  the water signs and water houses in the horoscope. Each planet in a water house is described in terms of its meaning and expression; the three water  signs on the Ascendant are examined; and planets transiting through the water houses complete a detailed analysis of all the permutations of water in the birth chart. The chart of Marcel Proust is presented as a vivid  example of the imaginative power and longing for unity reflected by this most mysterious and most primal of elements.

Part Two takes the reader into the chaotic, inspirational realm of fire, beginning with the ways in which fire is symbolised in myth and philosophy, and then examining Mars, the Sun  and Jupiter as planetary rulers of the fire signs. Each fire sign is then  explored in detail, with an analysis of planets placed in fire signs and fire houses, the nature of a fire sign on the Ascendant, and the meaning of the outer planets in fire signs in relation to the the generation group to which the individual belongs. The charts of two very different fire  temperaments - William Blake and Heinrich Himmler - are presented, followed by a discussion of the meaning of a singleton in fire, what lack of fire in  a chart suggests, and the experience of fiery people born into generation  groups when the outer planets are placed in earth and water. Audience participation enriches this unique journey throughout both seminars,  allowing individual experiences to deepen the reader's understanding.

This book is also available as an eBook

Review by Mary Plumb - The Mountain Astrologer December 1999

I know I am in for a treat when books arrive from London's Centre for Psychological Astrology. The transcripts from seminars held at the Centre have been consistently rewarding, and Darby Costello's Water and Fire (Volume 11 in the series) is no exception.

Like other of her colleagues at CPA, Ms. Costello has a love of literature and etymology that makes her lectures an erudite experience. She quotes poets and writers and has a strong appreciation for Western literary tradition, but there is something else at work here - she is familiar with the imaginative realms, with astrology as a language of Soul and Spirit, and her teaching unabashedly conveys this view. Her thoughts will serve to fuel the imagination of any who may feel stuck in too literal a view of how the elements act in a human life.

Part One, "Water: The Womb, Death, and the Dream," begins by considering the levels of water. The author describes "terrestrial" water, then mythological, philosphical, alchemical, religious, and psychological water. The Section on "Astrological Water" explores the motifs of soul, emotionality, timelessness, separation and sin, and water healers. There is an appropriately meandering and yet orderly course through the water houses and a full look at each water sign. Water cusps are discussed, including fine distinctions between the natural houses of water's domain (4th, 8th, and 12th) and the houses that the water signs inhabit in any particular horoscope. She delineates the birth chart (four Cancer planets in the 4th house) of Marcel Proust, author of Remembrance of Things Past, as a quintessential water chart. Outer planets in water, water singletons, and the progressed Moon in water -  sign and house - take us through to the end of the section.

Ms. Costello writes that the "heart of fire is the Sun," and, in Part Two, she takes us into a spirited account of "Fire and the Imagination, The Heart of Our Story." The work is far too free-spirited to follow an identical outline to that in Part One, but is equally rich. After introducing the imaginal realm and fire as the "primary organ of perception," she investigates its levels, which include, again, terrestrial and mythological fire, the dangers of fire, fire divination, and celestial and imaginal fire. The fiery rulers,  Mars, the Sun, and Jupiter - have their own sections, along with focus on each of the fire signs. She also recounts the stories of two very fiery individuals: Heinrich Himmler, designer of Hitler's concentration camps, and William Blake, the mystical artist and poet. Finding a place for fire to express its powerful inner imagery is a theme throughout the work, and she also considers lack of fire, singleton fire, and fire healers. Throughout the book, there are wonderful contributions from the seminar participants, and examples from friends' and clients' lives.

Darby Costello knows the "currents and eddies" of the water signs, and the consuming and transforming nature of fire: About Saturn in Pisces, she writes: "That which is held too tightly melts like butter in one's hands." In discussing the effects of different amounts of water in individual horoscopes: "We are all little laboratories for Nature to play and experiment with as she evolves her way toward some mysterious sea." About fire, she writes: "Venus in the 9th gets educated by love. Venus in Sagittarius is an education in love." And, as advice for Pluto transiting Sagittarius: "Pay attention to the images that circle round your inner landscape. You may not be responsible for the images that arise, but you are responsible for how you attend and nurture them."

When I finished reading Darby Costello's book, I went for a swim in a cool pool in the blazing hot summer sun, always an inspiring combination. My mind was still humming with the words of Ms. Costello's equally inspiring tributes to the heat of fire and the mystery of water. If you are weak in water or fire, this book will give you insight into what others might be feeling. If water or fire are your strengths, reading this book will feel like a noble celebration of your essence.

© Copyright 1999 The Mountain Astrologer

Note: We do not sell the books direct from this site, they are available in good bookshops you can order them on the internet through Midheaven Books or Wessex Astrologer by using the link to the right.