Winter Solstice Book Review: “The steps of the Sun” by Paul F. Newman
December 23, 2009
At the Winter Solstice 2009, Paul F. Newman writes:
“The winter solstice, the shortest day, is for us in the northern hemisphere the
Sun’s lowest possible point. Its declination or latitude measurement is as far
south of the celestial equator as it is possible to be. These steps of the Sun
mark out the turning phases of our year and the customs we have attached to them….“
….and Anne Whitaker reviews “Declination in Astrology The steps of the Sun” by Paul F. Newman ….
Declination measures the position of planets North or South of the celestial equator, which is the Earth’s equator projected into space. As Paul F. Newman demonstrates in this broad ranging and informed study, it is a measure which has been used at least since Neolithic times, notably in the most famous solar temple in the world, five thousand year old Stonehenge. Do we astrologers use it today? The answer to that question is probably – not much.
The blurb on the back of the book asserts, however, that declination is “an ancient art of astrology currently undergoing a vital revival” and Paul F. Newman is to be congratulated on presenting the topic in both a practical and inspiring way which should have a number of astrologers checking Norths and Souths in future!
One of the problems with astrological practice is that there are so many techniques and approaches available that the practitioner, intent on earning a living, has to prune this cornucopia to a workable minimum of personal favourites.
As one reads through “DECLINATION in Astrology The steps of the Sun”, it becomes clear that declination provides easily accessible tools, which can most definitely enhance the art of analysis.
I have two favourites from the toolbox. The first is Out of Bounds planets – overstepping the declination boundaries set by the Sun, vividly describing ‘awkward squad’ tendencies in those who possess them!! The second is planets on or near Zero declination, the equatorial point dividing the earth into Northern and Southern hemispheres, and therefore in Newman’s own words “a potent and critical position”.
Readers familiar with Paul F. Newman’s writing will recognise the quirkiness and diversity of the examples from film, poetry, soap opera and science fiction he draws upon from his own wide reading to bring the book’s theory to life. We have “Tarzan of the Apes” rubbing shoulders with that late great astrologer John Addey (out of bounds Mercury); with Liberace (out of bounds Venus, you’d never have guessed!) ; with a famous “Photo of the Beatles”; with Mickey Mouse, the Elephant Man and “The Twilight Zone” to name a very few.
My favourite, as a poetry lover, is Paul’s brilliant and haunting analysis of Coleridge’s “Rime of the ancient mariner”. It is only after the old navigator crosses the equator ( Zero declination) and sails South, that all the strange events following the killing of the albatross unfold…read on, and experience the scary allurement of Neptune’s realm….
Paul F. Newman skilfully weaves astronomical declination theory together with key aspects of mythology connected to the solar journey throughout the four seasons of the year. The artwork is his own: he has produced diagrams which are both clear, and soothing to the brains of spatial dyslexics like myself who have rather a struggle with the astronomical basis of our great art.
This is an accomplished book which deserves to be widely read, contributing as it does to the updating and publicising of a dimension of astrology which until fairly recently has been somewhat neglected.
Paul F. Newman is an astrologer, astrology teacher, writer and contributor to many journals including ‘The Mountain Astrologer‘ and ‘The Astrological Journal’, author of “You’re not a person–just a birth chart” and “DECLINATION in Astrology The Steps of the Sun”
He can be contacted at email@example.com
600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Paul F. Newman 2009
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page