Friday, May 16, 2008

Learning the Language

When shifting computers around last weekend I cleared some bits and pieces from the shelves under my desk and came across a book I'd forgotten I had. "Cosmic Combinations" by Joan Negus. She's a teacher, lecturer and consultant. This is a book of astrological exercises. I used it as part of my do-it-yourself astrology course. Should anyone reading this be similarly disposed - to using the do-it-yourself approach - I recommend seeking out a copy of this book.

The author begins with sets of straightforward exercises which help the student to identify and understand astrology's basic underpinnings, whilst becoming familiar with astrological glyphs. Years ago I used to find these off-putting, they presented a mental block.

Exercise 1, for example, lists 9 combinations of zodiac signs (by glyph) and asks 9 questions: e.g. "Which signs are initiating and interested in being directly involved in situations?" The student considers 9 sets of 4 or 5 signs and should choose the set of 4 cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn) as the correct answer.

The exercises develop gradually to show how signs and planets are combined, then later the astrological houses are introduced.

By excercise 29 the student is confronted with 12 sets of glyphs and houses, progressing to consideration of planets in aspect and major configurations. Extensive exercises accompany short introductions to each stage, with answers listed at the end of the book.

Finally the author presents examples of full chart interpretation and an opportunity for the student to find out just how much he/she has learned.

I don't pretend that these exercises are all-encompassing, but they are very helpful in establishing a basic grounding, and very importantly, becoming at ease with the glyphs. The book is best used in tandem with an astrology text book, or access to on-line astrology sites, so that any queries along the way can be clarified.

Learning astrology is much like learning a foreign language. "Cosmic Combinations" is akin to a phrase book, astrological fluency is not its aim, but it offers a useful base upon which to build.

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