Linda Goodman’s recommended reading
– a critical commentary
– October 9th, 2007
In my early days of learning astrology, long before I had Internet access, and limited to a very small range of readily available books on the subject in Waterstone’s in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, I built up my acquaintance with the subject primarily through following leads from the bibliographies in the first books that had come into my hands, which were ‘Linda Goodman’s Love Signs’ (which I stumbled upon in 1994, and a friend then lent me the following year) and ‘Parkers’ Astrology’ (which I bought in 1995 in Shrewsbury, with deliberate intention to learn the basics of the subject properly, and indeed put to precisely that purpose). The following summer, 1996, after exhausting ‘Parkers”, I ordered a whole lot of books from the bibliographies of both these first two acquisitions at Body and Soul bookshop in Edinburgh, which was the first specialised bookshop catering to occult interests including astrology that I had ever had occasion to set foot in, my home county of Shropshire as a whole having offered nothing of the kind.
In the mid-1990s, living outside London and not being attached to any school of astrological studies or local astrological organisation privileged with its own collection of books, I discovered that it was impossible to find most of the books listed in the bibliographies of either of these works offered directly for sale, and then that only some of them could even be ordered specially, in this case through Body and Soul’s supplier, the Airlift Book Company. No doubt, if I had lived in London with the London Astrology Shop (of whose existence I knew nothing until I had the Internet) at hand, the selection of books available would have been far wider.
Twelve years later, with the advantage of Internet access, they are mostly very easy to find for almost anyone, whether it be new or secondhand. Times have changed a lot since the mid-1990s when it comes to the accessibility of serious astrological literature to residents of outlying parts of the UK. I suspect that in major population centres in the US it has rarely if ever been that difficult to get hold of good quality astrology books since the early 20th century, but certainly I have the distinct sense that the new book trade in the UK has tended generally to shun serious astrology books for most of my lifetime at least, and specialised occult bookstores have been few and far between unless you happened to live in London. The Internet has therefore been a great leveller and opener of access.
It can be interesting, having read most of the books on them, to review astrologers’ bibliographies that were once shrouded in mystery, and comment on them with the benefit of experience.
Linda Goodman’s bibliography in ‘Love Signs’ is very basic by the standards of a traditional astrologer, but reaches far beyond the sun-sign level that characterised her own writings. In its day (1978), it arguably provided a very valuable service, leading people onto their next steps in studying the subject. It has its limitations of course, not least among which is that she refers to books by the dates of the most recently available editions, which gives little clue to their history. With this point in mind above all, here is my annotated reprise of her booklist, excluding ephemerides, tables of houses and ‘Time in the USA’, since there is little I find worth saying about such basic calculation tools as that, especially in an age of automatic computer calculations.
Sydney Omarr ‘My World of Astrology’ (1965).
Comments: This is rather a basic, popular book of simple calculations and natal delineations whose main interest arguably lies in the historical autobiographical material included in earlier chapters by the author.
Sepharial ‘The Manual of Astrology’ (1962).
Comments: This is a most interesting book and well worth reading, but there is little to recommend the 1962 edition over originals from 1898 or the ‘Revised and Enlarged Edition’ of the very early 1900s. The 1962 edition superimposed Pluto delineations here and there and abbreviated Sepharial’s introduction, detracting from some of the spirit of the book.
Robert DeLuce ‘The Complete Method of Prediction’ (1978).
Comments: A technical work on secondary directions that has become quite scarce in any edition, but the 1978 date is misleading as DeLuce was dead by then and the first edition was published around 1935.
Grant Lewi ‘Heaven Knows What’ (1962).
Comments: Well worth reading for Lewi’s Sun and Moon sign combination delineations, but again the date given by Goodman is misleading, the original being from 1935, and then credited to Scorpio, not Grant Lewi, though of course it was really him.
Grant Lewi ‘Astrology for the Millions’ (1975).
Comments: Offers a very simplified table-based method for calculating planetary positions and transits which is highly inaccurate. This might have been considered justified in the popular marketplace back in 1940 when it was actually first published, as distinct from the 1975 date suggested by Goodman, but I personally think it’s better to teach the use of a proper ephemeris.
Vivian Robson ‘Astrology and the Human Sex Life’ (1963).
Comments: This was a strangely name-changed edition of the time of ‘Astrology and Sex’, whose original publication date was 1941. I don’t personally see the point of the name change, which makes the book sound like a strange anthropological study. The original is an excellent book on traditional principles concerned mostly with natal indicators of relationship affinity, rather than with synastry.
Lois Haines Sargent ‘How to Handle Your Human Relations’ (1958).
Comments: A much-loved, very compact guide to synastry, not offering the last word in detail when it comes to its synastric delineations but still perennially popular with astrologers.
Charles Carter ‘Aspects’ (no date given).
Comments: Better known as ‘The Astrological Aspects’ and originally dated 1930 I believe, this in my experience is an excellent book, and I heartily approve of Carter’s embracing of the empirical scientific methodology, using his own observations from case studies as a basis for determining his delineations.
‘Any Book at all by Alan Leo’.
Comments: This would then include his seven large hardcover volumes ‘How to Judge a Nativity Part I’, ‘How to Judge a Nativity Part II’, ‘Astrology for All Part I’, ‘Astrology for All Part II’, ‘The Progressed Horoscope’, ‘The Key to Your Own Nativity’ and ‘Esoteric Astrology’, as well as his shorter small-format works ‘Mars the Warlord’, ‘Jupiter the Preserver’, ‘Saturn the Reaper’, ‘Horary Astrology’ and ‘1001 Notable Nativities’. Alan Leo died in 1917, and these books were all first published from 1899 to 1917. Some have become scarce in their original editions, some are detested by astrological traditionalists, but nearly all make for interesting reading, at least once.
‘Any Book at all by Manly P Hall’.
Comments: Back in the pre-Internet days I could not obtain any book by Hall in England, but I have since learned that Hall’s writings are vast in number and wide in range. If we are to limit Goodman’s recommendation to encompass only those on astrology, then we are to assume that she wanted us to read his well-loved book ‘Astrological Keywords’ (1929), his short history book ‘The Story of Astrology’, and his pamphlets ‘Astrological Essays’, ‘The Philosophy of Astrology’, ‘Psychoanalysing the Twelve Zodiacal Types’, ‘Pluto In Libra: An Interpretation’, ‘Planetary Influence and the Human Soul’ and ‘The Piscean Age: A System of World Prophecy’; and also his numerous lectures on astrology, including those still available as reprints from the Philosophic Research Society, which are ‘The Astrological Meaning of Comets’, ‘The Astrological Philosophy of Eclipses’, ‘Astrology and Extrasensory Perception’, ‘Characteristic Reaction of Each Zodiacal Sign to Social Change’, ‘Four Basic Temperaments & How to Live With Them’, ‘Influence of the Moon on the Psychic Life of Man’, ‘Living with your Birthday: Basic Problem-Patterns of the Twelve Zodiacal Signs’, ‘Stars, Nations & People: Basic Principles of Prophecy by Planetary Influence’, ‘The Theory of Astrological Keywords’, and ‘To What Degree Should Astrology Influence Our Decisions in Daily Living’, and those which are no longer available other than second-hand if you’re patient and lucky, which include ‘Principles of Prophecy: Eight Lessons, March and April 1941’, ‘Predictions for the World for 1942’, ‘The Riddle of Russia’, ‘The City of Good Intention’, ‘The Return of the War Lords – Have the Conquerors of the Past Been Reborn?’ (April 30, 1939), ‘The Third Term: Will Franklin D. Roosevelt Break the Tradition?’ (September 13, 1938), ‘The Great Conjunction of February 1962: The Most Important Planetary Configuration of Recent Years’ (February 19th, 1961), ‘The Horoscope of Soviet Russia’ (1961), ‘The Horoscope of the United States’ (July 19th, 1961), and ‘Survey of Vietnam – Its Religion, Its Culture and Its Problems’ (August 1st, 1965). She might also have expected us all to read his rare ‘Manly Hall’s Astrology Class’ from the 1930s, but I somewhat doubt this. All the same, I have to agree with her that the man’s work is very interesting!
The Dictionary of Astrology, by James Wilson, 1974
Comment: A very interesting and useful reference work although it conveys Wilson’s modernising bias quite strongly. Goodman’s date is of course highly misleading, since it was first published in 1819 in the UK, with the American first edition appearing in 1885.
Horary Astrology, by Robert de Luce (undated)
Comment: First issued as a stapled pamphlet in 1932, but the first more durable (black cloth) edition came out in the early 1940s. I can’t vouch for the quality of its guidance since I’m not (yet) an horary practitioner, but I somehow doubt it would please the traditionalists since it’s a mid-20th-century work.
Horary Astrology, by Geraldine Davis (undated)
Comment: Published in 1942 as a red cloth hardcover; reprinted in softcover in the 1960s. With the above two considered alongside Alan Leo’s text of the same name, Linda Goodman implicitly recommends three horary astrology books from the early 20th century. I suspect that she must have given horary a try using the literature available to her, but had little access to the more traditional texts.
Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, by Linda Goodman, 1968
Comment: No comment needed – the author is recommending her own best-selling sun-sign guide.
The Technique of Prediction, by Ronald Carlyle Davison, 1971
Comment: I personally found this to be a very useful beginning book from which to learn progressions when I bought a reprint back in the summer of 1996. Includes secondary, tertiary, converse, and even the bizarre weekly progressions.
Lectures on Medical Astrology, by Davidson, M. D. (undated)
Comment: Goodman states (in 1978) that these lectures are ‘not easily available’. That has certainly been borne out by my observations, and they were last printed in 1979, but I have ended up buying copies of three different editions because they have a certain charm to them as cottage industry (i.e. Charles Jayne’s Astrological Bureau, in this case) publications in addition to the inherent interest of the subject-matter. The first edition from 1959 features every lecture in its own separate stapled pamphlet, each of which has a slightly differently coloured paper cover. It’s by far the most visually charming. The second edition from 1970 normally has the lectures paired up together, so there are four volumes each of two lectures, bound in yellow card covers with black tape. However, I’ve also seen listed on ebay a rare variant printing in which the lectures are individually issued and on a rather garish cyan paper. The third edition from 1979, which perhaps appeared in response to renewed demand caused by Goodman’s remarks, I have also seen in two versions, but in both all eight lectures are bound together in a single volume. One version has a white binding, the other green. It seems strange that such a rare work can have run through three editions of which the second and third both ran through at least two variant printings. I can only suppose that firstly each edition was printed in the low hundreds in terms of numbers of copies, and secondly that people tend to hold onto them. Most of the time, it is impossible to buy any edition at any price on the used market. Goodman also claims that they are the most comprehensive study of medical astrology. This is clearly not true since Cornell’s study is far lengthier for one. But Davidson’s lectures as a set are still a valuable contribution to the literature on the subject.
Any book by Margaret Hone.
This would then include ‘The Modern Text-Book of Astrology’ and ‘Applied Astrology’, both from the 1950s I think. Both very common works used, and clearly much-loved elementary text-books in their day. I can’t say I have read them thoroughly yet.
Any book by or about Evangeline Adams.
This would include ‘Your Place in the Sun’ (1928), ‘Your Place Among the Stars’ (1930), ‘The Bowl of Heaven’ (1928: her autobiography), and possibly the simplified introduction ‘Astrology for Everyone’ (1931). Today, it would also include Karen Christino’s two books on her, neither of which had been published in 1978 or even in 1995 when Goodman passed away.
The first two books in the list above have since been legally credited to Aleister Crowley. Their contents are nonetheless quite basic astrology, and I suspect that Karen Christino’s works and Adams’s autobiography are more truly enlightening upon her capabilities.
My notes on the above are necessarily sketchy owing to shortage of time, but if they attract comment or criticism from other quarters they will have served their purpose of stimulating the sharing of opinions on astrological literature!
– (Update in response to an enquiry, October 10, 2009:)
Much though it would be good to make Davidson’s medical lectures more widely available again, a significant first problem would be establishing who currently owns the copyright to them, if indeed any exists any more. According to United States copyright law, any work published between 1923 and 1963 inclusive whose copyright was formally renewed in its 28th year retains copyright for 95 years after first publication. Davidson’s medical astrology lectures having first been published as recently as 1959, this means that we would first need to establish whether or not their copyright was renewed on or around 1987. If so, they will remain in copyright until 2054.
If it was not, then there is no legal barrier to anyone reprinting the lectures.
If, however, it was, then the next necessary step would be to determine who is the current copyright holder and request permission and / or a contract involving the payment of royalties.
Since the author is deceased, and since both Charles and Vivia Jayne, who published his work, have also passed on some decades ago, it might be quite difficult at this time to trace living contacts of theirs who could reliably establish who inherited the copyright.
Works whose copyright holder cannot be traced are generally known as ‘orphan works’ and there are those, including Google lately, who firmly believe that such works are ‘fair game’ for being reprinted, but this is a legal grey area and anyone considering doing this is supposed first to take all reasonable steps to trace the copyright holder. This might in the eye of a court entail more than simply sending out a request to astrological organisations such as the American Federation of Astrologers and National Council of Geocosmic Research to appeal to their members for information about who might have inherited the copyright to Davidson’s lectures and request their contact details. It might entail the hiring of a copyright law specialist to undertake private searches through public records etc. and this could be very expensive. For this reason, I would personally be hesitant to go down this route, at least with a work whose original publisher left no known easily determined heirs and one that has not already been reprinted by another reprinter as an orphan work without consequence.
There are in fact several unsold second-hand sets of the lectures currently on the used book market. See www.vialibri.net, input Davidson under author and astrology health under title, and you will get some links to follow up.
Since the booksellers have been cagey about identifying the edition year, you probably would want to enquire before buying. The 1959 first edition in eight individually bound lectures is by far the most valuable, the 1970 second edition next, and the 1979 third edition bound as a single volume considerably less so. Don’t believe booksellers who write ‘first edition’ without specifying the year. They are often wrong.
There is also a good-value (at $99.99) set of the 1970 second edition complete with the additional introductory lecture (i.e. nine lectures in total) on ebay currently but it may not last until you order after I print the link here. The seller has mistakenly identified the set under the name of the introductory lecture which is only one ninth of what he / she is offering: http://cgi.ebay.com/Introduction-To-Medical-Astrology-William-M-Davidson_W0QQitemZ330303427570QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUS_Nonfiction_Book?hash=item4ce79e53f2
This is about the best deal you can reasonably hope to get for such a set, but I might at some point in the coming while contact Kris Riske at the AFA and see if she is interested in conducting the necessary copyright searches on the AFA’s budget with a view to reprinting in a single volume at much lower cost.