I promised some book reviews, when I find the occasional book worth reading, so here goes one, from one of my personal specialty areas, synastry. It’s by South African astrologer Rod Suskin, who hails from Capetown, a port forever associated in my mind with the CSS Alabama, whose visits there were legendary. If you grew up in that vicinity, you are certain to know the song “Dar Komm Alibama” which resulted and is still sung today.
Synastry: Understanding The Astrology Of Relationships, by Rod Suskin, Llewellyn 2008. Website: http://www.rodsuskin.com/
In all of astrology, there is nothing more complex and yet more in demand than chart comparison. Whether it’s for love or money, fleeting fame or perpetual posterity, how we get on with each other is the critical bottom line for a species that depends on social interaction for very survival itself. Making sense of it astrologically is perhaps the practitioner’s supreme challenge.
For many astrologers, students, and clients, it’s too often a challenge that brings more fantasy and confusion than results, simply due to its complexity, the needs of the participants, and a tendency to put the cart before the horse. By which I mean, it’s too easy (and often disastrous) to see the multiple charts and techniques first and the people involved second. That’s a common mistake, and a good reason to remember that it is critical to first know well what you’re applying the astrology to – in this case, evolution-driven human instincts and the biological and social needs that are the drivers to begin with.
From the very beginning of this wonderful work astrologer Rod Suskin does just that – he begins with exploring the nature of relationships themselves and deftly working in just how astrological factors color and help shape the progress of relating. That starts with looking at relating itself, followed by looking at each person’s relating potentials, and only then getting into the details of specific comparison elements between charts. By building very carefully from the foundations up, the author allows you always to get back to the basic structure if you lose focus along the way, something that is so critical and which so few astrologers manage to understand or convey.
This is a very easy and graceful read (though not for beginners), but it covers an enormous amount of ground, which the author clearly understands well. It ranges from an outlay of most of the common analytical issues that arise from combining synastry, composites, transits, progressions, and wedding charts, to addressing the unique client issues and motivations you will encounter in counseling two people at a time. In every instance Suskin gives you thoughtful and firm ground to come back to that reflects consistent internal order, right down to clearly knowing why not to use progressions for composite charts (because they grow by accretion, being conditional artifacts and not sets of initial conditions themselves).
Also refreshing is that an author who is so fully engaged with soul growth, karma, spiritual medicine, and the like in some of his other works has chosen not to clutter this work with any of it, however much he may have been tempted to, because it is unnecessary and the material is clearer without it. It’s kind of like separating church and state – both are better off because of it, and it’s something too few astrologers recognize. When you are dealing with such a fundamentally self-evident structure as astrology is, the more you let it speak for itself, the clearer it becomes. In a subject which is so rife with distractions and irrelevancies, that is actually harder to do than it looks, and few accomplish it. This is certainly a thorough and thoughtful wrap on astrological comparison that should be on any serious student’s bookshelf, both as a learning tool and a constantly-available reference point.
So, hearty congratulations to Mr. Suskin for supplying this bracing breeze from around the Cape of Good Hope. Unlike the ghost of Vanderdecken, he negotiates these complex and tricky waters with a master’s steady hand, in a single, even tack.