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The Ascendant
by Jodie Forrest

The Ascendant by Jodie Forrest, Seven Paws Press, P.O. Box 2345, Chapel Hill, NC 27515 USA, 2007. Paper—238 pp.—$15.95 (ISBN 978-0-9790677-0-9). Available from: www.sevenpawspress.com

Jodie Forrest has been a practicing astrologer for 24 years, and her books are read and appreciated by countless astrology students. Her newest book focuses on the Ascendant, obviously a major component of the horoscope. Although classical and traditional astrologers thoroughly studied the Ascendant, it has perhaps been underrepresented in more contemporary work. This important chart factor is ripe for reconsideration and Jodie Forrest's new book presents a fresh, appealing approach to the subject.

Astrologers' ideas are not born in isolation; Forrest acknowledges that her perspective on the Ascendant is informed, in part, by astrologer Diana Stone’s lectures on the psychodynamics of the rising sign. Stone “proposes that the early development of the Ascendant occurs as a response to some issue or experience in our early environment … and that those issues and experiences lie within the archetypal energies of the Ascendant’s sign.” Forrest also includes direct quotes from psychologist Carl Jung and discusses his idea of the persona as parallel to the Ascendant. This fusion of ideas has been significantly articulated by Liz Greene and developed by many others, including Richard Idemon, with whom Greene collaborated. Out of this perspective comes the notion of the Descendant being the point that describes the anima or animus. Some of Forrest's most engaging observations address this concept.

The first nine chapters discuss the meaning of the Ascendant; Chapter Ten focuses on its connection to the physical body in a “cookbook” section that describes the physical characteristics and mannerisms of each rising sign. A larger cookbook section — the bulk of the book — contains delineations for each rising sign based on the principles of “evolutionary astrology” (as proposed by Steven Forrest and Jeffrey Wolf Green). For readers who are unfamiliar with evolutionary astrology, Jodie Forrest applies its principles to the Ascendant essentially by asking why someone would need a certain rising sign to “best further his or her evolution." In other words, how does each Ascendant help the native through life? Although the evolutionary role of the ascendant might sound a bit daunting, Forrest is playful throughout her book, and the sections on each sign offer suggestions that are not too abstract but rather visual and imaginative. Each rising sign is described in several ways: the Symbols and the Style; the Ambassador’s Host Country (i.e., the house position of the Ascendant ruler); the sign’s relationship to its opposite sign, which would be the Descendant; Staying Comfortable in the Body (e.g., Gemini “needs exercise to keep the body and the mind healthy”); Images for a Costume (Cancer: "A doctor’s or vet’s scrubs”); Images for the Vehicle (Leo: “A stretch limo. A Jaguar”); and Images for the Terrain (Scorpio: “The Twilight Zone. The Underworld”). These descriptions are lighthearted, yet they may help readers understand and recognize the nature of each zodiac sign as expressed through a human personality.

In my opinion, this book would have benefited from more rigorous editing. The author's interpretations are lively and valuable, but they are not always explained in much depth. Even though Forrest has considered the topic for 20 years, the book is written in a casual style — it seems like a notebook of sketches rather than a thoughtful assessment based on her long practice and observation of clients. To be fair, however, the desire for a more "thoughtful assessment" reflects my own preference. Indeed, one of the author’s strengths is her conversational and imaginative approach. The Ascendant is full of Jodie Forrest’s personal charm and anecdotes from her life; this is part of her teaching method. For example, throughout the book she recommends exercises that help the reader to discover Ascendant qualities and to experience how the signs might behave as they become the vehicle or persona for a life. (Although Forrest does speak of people close to her, she doesn't reveal her own Ascendant, which I'm curious to know, given the subject of the book.)

The Ascendant has a personal and accessible tone that invites exploration of its ideas. Astrologers at various stages of study and practice will recognize themselves and their friends and clients in these pages. And readers will find many ways to appreciate anew the impact of this highly influential placement in the horoscope.

— reviewed by Mary Plumb

 

 

 

 

 
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