Llewellyn’s “Special Topics in Astrology” series has been doing a good job on covering just what its title suggests, and this effort by their longtime astrology acquisitions editor is definitely one of them.
One of the more daunting aspects of astrology for the would-be student is the thought of having to learn the meaning of every single planet, in every sign, every house, and every possible aspect. Even if you’re keeping your numbers simple, that would be over 10,000 combinations. How do you separate the wheat from the chaff, cut to the chase, just find a door into all this complexity?
The most obvious way should be to look at the whole gestalt first and then chase the details that suggest themselves from there. See what the overall pattern looks like, then address its relevant parts. Strange to say, there are precious few books on how to do that well — really only two, one by Marc Edmund Jones and the other by Robert Jansky — so it’s nice to see another new one which includes the older observations plus a compendium of more recent ones garnered elsewhere.
When you look at a horoscope with its planets all laid out in a circle, you are usually struck at once by its pattern. Everything is on one side, or maybe there’s two bunches opposite each other, or perhaps a single planet sticks out all by itself, or they’re just all over the place. The meanings of these different natural clusterings was originally delineated by early 20th century astrologer Marc Edmund Jones, which is why they have come to be called “Jones Patterns,” and later further refined by Robert Jansky in the 1970s. Most astrologers are familiar with the Jones terminology of chart types: bundle, bucket, bowl, locomotive, see-saw, splay, and splash, each describing a separate overall personality type, especially characterized by the dominant planet involved. Jansky further dissected the approach by associating the types with the nearest or most likely aspects involved in each, hence “aspect patterns.”
This is where it could get confusing. Strictly, aspect patterns are simply interlaced sets of aspects: grand trine, T-square, grand cross, star of David, yod, kite, box, mystic rectangle, basket, wedge, skullcap, and many more. Are the aspect patterns the real story, or the general type clustering, or both? How general or how exact to you need to be in recognizing and interpreting these things?
Stephanie Clement does an excellent job of leading you through all of it, with chapters on each of the Jones Patterns and their key concepts along with an integration of the interlocking aspects that may fall into them and perhaps characterize them. Example charts abound, and there are even identification and practice sections that help you stepwise to identify and interpret individual patterns. This is an inclusive work, drawing from a variety of authors who have written books and articles on the subject as well as Clement’s own experience and analysis. Coming from the pen of someone who is an editor herself, she doesn’t take sides but compiles all she has to draw from, so you can pick and choose from it as you learn to apply it and add to it yourself.
The overall shape and pattern of the horoscope has everything to tell us, because everything in the detail of necessity lies therein. It is for many of us the first and most graspable handle to use when delving into a chart and its many possibilities. It’s the organization of the whole, the essential preface and contents page you need to read before plunging into the total experience. Stephanie Clement has done a fine job laying it out so that the next time you analyze a chart, you can do the same.
[For another interesting view and theory of why these patterns are important and the possible dynamic principle behind them, see our recent article series on planetary order:
Planetary Order I: ... rising ahead of the Sun
Planetary Order II: … all your ducks in a row
Planetary Order III: Islands in the Sky]