The various factors in the birth chart may be experienced on many different levels, both inner and outer. This volume explores the meaning and characteristic expressions of those fundamental axes which are concerned with our incarnation in the world – the angles and the Nodes of the Moon.
Part One, The Four Angles, looks in depth at their symbolism and meaning. The reader is taken on a journey around the angles, considering their element, mode, and accompanying natal and transiting planets, as well as an illuminating presentation of the astronomy involved. Traditional interpretations are augmented by the fresh and original perspectives characteristic of Melanie’s teaching style, which focuses on evoking personal insight as much as conveying information or technique. There is also a guided imagery exercise which can be followed by the reader, designed to further personalise and deepen the material.
Part Two, The Moon’s Nodes, invites the reader to contemplate their meaning from first principles, considering the interrelationship of the Sun, Moon, and Earth in space. Established ideas about the interpretation of the Nodes are reviewed and sometimes challenged, and there are several interesting and original avenues of further exploration suggested. The imagery of the dragon is considered, along with Draconic astrology, a fascinating case study, and an exploration of the psychological processes connected with eclipses. The existing literature on the Nodes is not vast, and this book will doubtless become a welcome addition, inspiring the reader with new techniques and perspectives which can easily be applied to the chart to yield new understanding.
Review by Robin Heath: Astrological Journal, 1997
To capture not only the content but also the mood and atmosphere of a productive group session within a book is a difficult task indeed. This latest offering from the CPA Press places its readers firmly within the ambience of a remarkable pair of seminars given on the 24th April and 24th November 1996 at Regent’s College, London. Part One of the book covers the four angles whilst part two deals with the Moon’s Nodes.
As the CPA Press themselves state at the end of this book, many of the volumes within the growing set are produced from ‘one off’ presentations which are not likely to ever be repeated. They have been transcribed and bound to enable a wider group of students to benefit from the wealth of experience and insight held by the leading lights within our current astrological teachers/practitioners.
Melanie Reinhart is one of these leading lights – a popular speaker and best known within the astrological world for her pioneering work on Chiron and, more recently the Centaurs. An articulate speaker and writer, she embraces the two themes presented here with great skill and has produced a work which can stand as definitive as well as seminal. Within the material, there are some refreshing approaches which prevent the reader from becoming too abstracted. Melanie strikes out some new pathways within the orthodoxy of psychological astrology books. Indeed, the book almost begins (page 12-13) with a form of ‘Earthing’ exercise, similar to the ‘eurythmics’ of Rudolph Steiner, in order to orientate the student to the Angles, the Local Horizon, the Prime Meridian and the four Cardinal Points of the compass. Mention is made of Sacred Space and its purpose in ritual, whence Reinhart likens the astrological map to a two-dimensional representation of one’s personal 3-D sacred space – the time and place of one’s birth.
Melanie then takes the four angles as a symbolic cross, representing our incarnation into matter, held within the circle or sphere of spirit. This cross is equated to an altar and the concepts of what prayer in front of such a symbol represents – all of which is rather different from the psychological astrology books of the past which tended to keep such things well into the background. Melanie’s background naturally leads the reader to consider the metaphysical and magical components of the chart. Such an introduction to her book does both her and the CPA Press credit. It may, of course, distance those readers who feel that the purely rational approach to astrology is the sole way by which the subject will ever find re-acceptance into the halls of academia. Chacun son gout. However before one criticises this approach, it is worth noticing that Melanie has no fuzzy edges in her astronomical knowledge of the Angles, nor in the dynamics of the Celestial Sphere. As we shall see, Part Two shows a grasp of nodal mechanics too.
The symbolic journey from Ascendant round to the IC, then to the Descendant and thence to the MC is shown by Melanie as usefully related to their house rulers – Mars, Moon, Venus and Saturn. The author makes the useful point that none of these is transpersonal – the ‘cross’ of the angles therefore represents incarnation. The Ascendant becomes “Who am I?”, the IC, “Where did I come from?”, the Descendant, “Who are you?” and the MC, “Where am I going?”. It is on this skeleton that Melanie fleshes out her incarnation ‘Owners Manual’ producing some masterful astrological wisdom in the process. One always has the feeling that Melanie is within the group sharing the material, never aloof or pretentious. Few teachers can achieve this, yet here it is in abundance and the reader can gleam something of what it was like to actually attend the seminar. Lively audience participation provides the anecdotal and astrological filler to confirm each axiom in turn, not without some humour.
There is some familiar territory. Howard Sasportas’ astrological chickens are still to be found pecking and clucking their differing ways out of their shells – perhaps the best analogy of the sign on the ascendant yet – and planets connected with the Angles are covered in detail, as is the ASC/MC midpoint. The effects of transits to the Angles provide some of the most insightful paragraphs within Part One – here one finds Melanie totally within her element and backed up with years of client-based experience to share with us all.
Part One finishes with a guided imagery exercise as a way of entering into one’s own personal sacred space. The feedback session from this reinforces the value of the session. Common in Stateside astrology books, such as Donna Cunningham’s Healing Plutos Problems, guided imagery has yet to find its place within the traditional UK astrological press. CPA Press are “boldly going” into this arena, offering right-brain activity within their exciting curriculum.
Part Two is formed from the edited transcripts of two deliveries of a seminar on the nodes of the Moon. By and large, western astrologers treat the nides with a rather irreverent disdain, yet their employment within astrology is much more ancient than our comparatively modern 12-sign zodiac. Perhaps it is because they are not a ‘real’ planet or object that we mumble and loosely interpret the nodes, and because of this, Melanie takes her readers on an introductory ‘nodal journey’. Her astronomy is accurate and she takes time to ground the nodes within the relationship the Sun, Moon and Earth hold to each other. There are no fuzzy edges here, either; Melanie is able to combine imagery with science, glyph with magic, eclipse theory with ancient myth. I found it a minor annoyance that the astronomy of eclipses was not covered within the corpus of material which begins this session, because mentions of dragons (and thus capul and cauda draconis, the ancient name for the nodes) derives from ancient attempts at eclipse prediction and, one assumes, from the time when the nodes were first postulated by the earliest astronomers.
Melanie takes the Sun and the Moon and the Earth and gives her readers an astronomical and astrological workout. I found it very insightful to approach the Sun, Moon and Earth her way. The ‘nourishment’ explanation of the Moon leads to a remarkable equating of the Moon’s signs of Dignity, Exaltation, Detriment and Fall with their traditional rulers – Cancer, Taurus, Capricorn and Scorpio. Here, beginning with the IC, these planets take us through the same journey covered in the Part One ’round’, IC, Descendant, MC and Ascendant. For the Sun, we find Sun, Mars, Saturn, Venus, whence Melanie draws our attention to the cross-connections and thus the complimentary nature of the Sun-Moon duad, suggesting that the result of their union (literally twice a month as the Moon crosses a node) drives the Earth and its inhabitants, the nodes being the familiar ‘Axis of Destiny or Axis of Fate’.
Each node is taken in turn, and example charts are given to allow the reader to compare the various interpretation of the nodes/nodal axis given within our traditional astrological texts. The reincarnation theme is grasped and developed, as in reference to Pam Crane’s work with draconic charts, as an informative appetizer for this growing aspect of astrological work. We hear so much talk of ‘past lives’ these days, and real or not, anyone in regular client work is bound to be asked about this very subject. This information, plus brief coverage of the treatment other writers have given concerning the nodes’ nodal axis (Rudhyar), allows the reader to compare techniques and, in true educational fashion, make up his or her own mind on the subject and be informed.
Each of the six nodal axis sign polarities is covered in depth and the seminar group was duly split into six to enable some personal work to be compared with other group participants. I found this work fascinating and I wonder why we don’t do more of this kind of thing at our own conferences when we have 200-odd captive astrologers!
Transits to the node and transits from the retrograding nodal axis are well covered and Melanie provides firm anecdotal material to augment the audience participation.
Finally eclipses are taken and looked at as examples of Sun/Moon nodal interaction. By now, the formula of astronomy leading to astrology has been established and although this section is rather brief, it packs a lot of useful information within its sixteen pages. The key 1996 eclipses – one solar and one lunar are given as charts and Melanie uses these to consolidate the material covered, ending the session with a guided imagery session.
I have some small criticisms to make. I would like to see the headers at the top of the odd pages reflect the content of that section and not merely repeat the book title over and over. In places, the extra gap left between words becomes irritating (mid page 72). Despite these minor issues, the layout is far better and the proof reading far more thorough than that evidenced in the output of many large publishing houses.
After reading this book, I had the impression that I had been studying a new way of learning astrology alongside the astronomy, the metaphysics and the psychology. I also felt that Melanie succeeded well in walking the tightrope between subjective and objective teaching. Although this is not a beginner’s astrology text, it serves many of the functions needed for a beginner to feel that astrology is 100% aligned with the Earth, the Sky, human aspirations and the deeper issues of being human. Nowhere is the metaphysics ladled out from a dogmatic cauldron, neither is the author to be found tub-thumping. Like the other volumes in the CPA’s expanding armoury of classic modern texts, Incarnation is a most worthwhile, mindful and user friendly book and will enrich the library shelf of any student of astrology.
© Copyright 1997 The Astrological Association of Great Britain
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