Book Review: Astrology, Transformation and Empowerment by Adrian Ross Duncan.
Red Wheel/Weiser, 2002.
Adrian Ross Duncan is a Welsh astrologer who has made his home in Denmark, the man behind the
'World of Wisdom' chart software whose dynamic involvement in astrology is exemplified by his website.
He was also the editor of the British Astrological Association's Journal for a while and
published a previous book Doing Time on Planet Earth (Element 1990). Adrian did a great job
in editing the Journal and Doing Time… is a great book. I say this because it's profound, great fun to
read and something I go back to, particularly for the excellent section on transits
of the various outer planets to the four angles of the chart.
Amongst many other interesting things here, Duncan spends a lot of time advocating and
giving examples of using the consultation chart, a very interesting, useful technique that seems to
be gaining popularity.
Astrology, Transformation and Empowerment is very different to Doing Time…
the title will remind many of the classic Stephen Arroyo book - but it's not like that either.
This publication has a real sense of purpose because it's very focussed on the important issue of
how to work with clients as a consulting astrologer.
Adrian ran a school for training astrologers for seven years and so writes with great authority on
how we can improve our work with clients, providing many invaluable tips and insights. Perhaps the most
interesting thing in his approach is the advocacy and explanation of using neuro-linguistic programming
(NLP) techniques, which seem pivotal in much of the astrological counselling process so well explained
here. The NLP factor lurking within this is clearly a useful tool, not a replacement of astrological
counselling but something that enhances and focuses it.
The book provides a bridge between theory and practice, astrological understanding and the realities
of working with complex human beings. Here are detailed methods of cutting through familiar verbal
dance routines that do not bring the consultation process to the points that really matter, the areas
where the transformation and empowerment of the title could occur. Duncan explains how to read clients'
utterances that reflect defences, fears or missing insight and how to bring the client to the point
where s/he might, for example, see through a blind-spot and so see things very differently.
He explains how the astrologer, seeing an
astrological feature being mishandled by the client, could bring the client to the point where the
penny might drop and that factor in the chart begin to be handled more productively. Thus counselling
and astrological techniques can be married, sessions becomes about using these things together, rather
than always switching between two overly separated techniques. The rapid insight available through astrology
is the force of change here, not than the long, painful, questionable process of "discovery of self"
so enamoured of astrologers coming at the subject with a psychotherapeutic bias. It's this shift at
the centre of Duncan's model of how astrologers should work that make this book an exciting challenge to
accepted orthodoxy and a breath of fresh air.
Much of this book is delightful. There is a brilliant section on how to work usefully and
supportively with the client through evoking the positive memories and feelings locked up in easy
aspects; there are great example transcript segments from consultations, with explanation of the
astrological factors involved, more often that not with the chart of the client also on the page.
There is also an extensive section on planetary combinations which includes two and three factor
combinations (example of a three factor combination is Mercury with Jupiter and Pluto). The final part
of the book details transformation methods. The book is a generous offering from an excellent
astrologer, who thoroughly explains his way of working with clients in realistic and eminently practical
ways. I have not seen a single volume that explains a whole approach to working with clients so
completely and with such interest and insight. Any astrologer working with clients in any depth,
or training astrologers to do the same would do well to get hold of a copy.