Astrology Book Review: Flirting with the Zodiac (Kim Farnell)
August 27, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
Both modern and traditional astrologers like to grouse at Sun sign columnists for prostituting the ancient astrological art. The complexity of the natal horoscope is reduced to one single factor – the Sun sign – and the public is disappointed when these simplified predictions do not pan out. At least, that is the common understanding. However, there is much more to Sun sign astrology than meets the eye, and it has quite a historical pedigree to boot. Flirting with the Zodiac is the latest book by Kim Farnell, who takes us along on a journey through the history of Sun sign astrology, showing that Sun sign astrology has its importance and has played an important role in astrology’s history.
A captivating and fascinating journey through 2000 years of Sun sign astrology. The strength of the book is in its vivid, brisk descriptions of the motley crew inhabiting the world of astrology. Recommended for astrologers of all levels; beginners will gain background on the who’s who of Sun sign astrology, while more advanced astrologers will find fascinating nuggets of information not widely available elsewhere.
Contents & Structure
Flirting with the Zodiac is set up chronologically; Farnell walks us through Sun sign astrology in the ancient world (did you know that the Roman legions carried standards with zodiac signs?), followed by its role in the Middle Ages. There is an in-depth discussion of the importance of almanacs in providing quick and easy astrology advice, like in daily newspapers today. Here we see an important reality check to those of us who like to believe that historically, all people were deep, profound beings with a grasp of the nuances of astrology. Really, the majority of people always wanted an astrological “quick fix,” whether it was via almanac prediction or by reading their daily horoscopes in The Times.
Interestingly, the chapter on the 16th century, arguably the best century in recent history for legal, quality, in-depth, profound astrological work, is the shortest with regard to Sun signs. Perhaps in the last few hundred years, the availability of the quickie astrology fix is inversely related to the amount of more in-depth astrology being done.
The book gets more detailed and anecdote-rich once we hit the last 150 years, with a fascinating journey through the interconnected worlds of mystical societies, gurus, and astrologers, all of which loom larger than life. The public’s hunger for occult wisdom about 100-150 years ago was undeniable, after a couple of centuries of pure scientism. Many astrologers stepped in to fill that void, including Sun sign columnists and publishers of astrology magazines. Serious astrology became interesting again, too, but the popular astrology got the lion’s share of attention.
Farnell gives us some in-depth chapters on two Sun sign greats; the turn of the century astrologer and palmist Cheiro, and 1960s “Queen of Sun sign astrology” herself, Linda Goodman. A nice summary of the scientific backlash against astrology follows.
Finally, we come to one of my favorite parts of the book, the Hall of Fame, which is a collection of biographies of some contemporary Sun sign astrologers, including Patric Walker and Russell Grant. These short articles provide an interesting summary of the astrologers’ careers, along with hard-to-find tidbits and facts about their lives.
Flirting with the Zodiac is something of a meta-book, in that the book is not unlike its subject of Sun sign astrology. Lots of interesting tidbits are presented in a snappy, engaging manner, but without wearing out the reader with too much technical or historical detail. A very good history of astrology, particularly with an emphasis on recent centuries, that can stand on its own as both a tribute and a history of this fascinating corner of the astrological world. Farnell’s book has certainly given this astrologer a new respect for Sun signs!
Flirting with the Zodiac
By: Kim Farnell
Wessex Astrologer, 2007
256 pages, paperback
Available at amazon.com, astroamerica.com, and wessexastrologer.com.