A few of my favourites…

The Secret History of the World, by Jonathan Black (Amazon link)


This is the best book I have ever read. I’ve read it twice. And listened to the audiobook three times.

In one volume, Jonathan Black (aka Mark Booth) has elegantly distilled the esoteric wisdom of the past few thousand years.

It is beautifully written, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. This book is the work of a scholar of the highest order. If you want to understand the esoteric dimension of life, then this is the best place to start.

The Sacred History:How Angels, Mystics and Higher Intelligence Made Our World, by Jonathan Black (Amazon link)
I enjoyed the earlier abovementioned book by Black (the pen name of Mark Booth), The Secret History of the World.

In Sacred History, he gathers together what reads like a series of essays. He looks at angels, philosophers, astrologers and mystics in clear and beautifully written prose. The illustrations are sharp and of a high standard.

The book is ‘lighter’ in tone than Secret History. But after several chapters it nevertheless becomes a compelling overall narrative. An antidote to the ‘matter before mind’ views of scientific materialism; the predominating philosophy of our times. Black/Booth reminds us that it’s the other way around – mind came first.

The Fated Sky, by Benson Bobrick (Amazon link)
If you’re new to astrology and want an ‘armchair guide’ historical perspective on the topic, this is the book for you. Unlike many other authors, Bobrick (gasp!) doesn’t take sides. I’ve read works by other authors covering the same ground, but their underlying cynicism and dislike of the subject makes for a poor read. Bobrick is a gifted storyteller and historian, and he actually interviewed contemporary astrologers for this book.

Update September 16th, 2016: I’ve added a more detailed book review blog post about The Fated Sky.

Christian Astrology, by William Lilly (Amazon link)
A core text for any serious astrologer. Published in 1647, it still holds up as a masterwork of scholarship. Highly detailed and informative. Lilly did astrological consultations to many thousands of people, from milk maids to senior government officials.

This is a particularly good text if you’re wanting to learn Horary astrology. This technique was Lilly’s bread and butter work – short, sharp 20 minute consultations that didn’t require a birth date. No need here for ‘archetypes’ and ‘myths’, terms that seem to predominate in modern astrology.

Planets in Transit, by Robert Hand (Amazon link)
Published in the 1970s and still available in updated form, this is an excellent guide to transits. Rob Hand is still around and going as strong as ever. Since this book he’s move more towards traditional astrological techniques. An updated edition is due in 2015/16.

The Real Astrology, by John Frawley (Amazon link)
John has a range of books, including a very good one on Horary (The Horary Textbook). The Real Astrology was one of his first, and upset a few astrologers, because of it’s perceived sarcasm about modern psychological astrology.

But much of what he says on the topic is absolutely true, and the fact that he’s got a great sense of humour makes it an entertaining read.

The Combination of Stellar Influences, by Rheinhold Ebertin (Amazon link)
Fondly known as ‘COSI’ to some people, this was a well-used resource during my early days of learning astrology in the 1990s. Ebertin was part of an astrological movement called Cosmobiology. In typical efficient German fashion, they did away with annoying problem areas of astrology – like ‘Houses’.

Instead, they cut out all the vagueness, focussed on planetary mid-points, and published this short, sharp and concise guide, devoid of wish-wash and fluff. It gives clear keywords and meanings for various planetary combinations. No waffle, archetypes, myths or meanderings. Blunt. The Amazon copy has a yellow cover, but there are copies around with a blue cover.

The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, by Vivian Robson (Amazon link)
Like COSI (above), this was/is the must-have text on fixed stars. For years I had a crappy copy printed in India on what looked like brown wrapping paper.

The Elizabethan World Picture, by E. W. Tillyard (Amazon link)
Slim little volume about how the world was viewed in the Elizabethan era, by a wise scholar. Their view that ‘everything is interconnected’ is reminiscent of recent Gaia and chaos theory. And bits of quantum physics, like ‘entanglement.’