A book review by Sara Diamond of Greg Bogart’s newest book
Astrology’s Higher Octaves: New Dimensions of a Healing (Ibis Press) is Greg Bogart’s distillation of his career of 40+ years. Well-known as a therapeutic astrologer, he is also a scholar, professor, prolific author, householder yogi, and musician. In client work, he uses Jungian-style dream interpretation, career counseling techniques, and psychotherapy along with modern astrology.
Published in 2020 at the Jupiter–Saturn–Pluto conjunction, the book’s chapters are based on presentations Bogart has given for various astrological organizations, accompanied with ample charts. The topics flow smoothly from one to the next, giving a full picture of Bogart’s range of practice.
He opens with a chapter on therapeutic astrology, an approach he thinks is best suited for astrologers who are also trained mental health professionals. Because of the variety in how people respond to planetary placements, he doesn’t use astrology to diagnose specific psychological conditions. Instead, he sees therapeutic astrology as a form of yoga, “a practice of self-unification through awareness of time and life cycles.” He doesn’t “read” a chart for a client, but rather has a dialogue with them. He might ask them to describe how they express Mars in a particular house, or what happened at a time when an outer planet transited their Sun. He focuses a lot on Saturn, both natally and by transit, helping people to see how their lives have matured and pivoted during these critical phases.
There’s also a chapter on correlating dream material with planetary transits. Not only are astrology and dreams both governed by the principle of synchronicity, but all “astrological techniques assess the forces coalescing in a given moment, and how they visibly manifest in experiences resonant with the archetypal symbolism of the planets.” He tells a story of a night when he was walking his dog Kona and fumbling for his keys. Kona suddenly darted across the street and bit another dog in a vivid display of Aries aggression and predator-versus-prey instinct — right as the Full Moon in Aries conjoined Uranus.
Bogart also shares his technique, called Simplified Diurnal Astrology, of watching astrological archetypes manifest in daily life occurrences. He looks at the chart of a given moment, and then plans his next action based on transiting planets near angles and lunar aspects. It’s not horary — asking a specific question at a specific moment — but more like electional astrology, as “attunement to the daily motion and aspects of planets trains us to wait for an auspicious time for certain experiences, or to initiate certain actions.” There are more, and less, opportune moments to make a social phone call, or to rest, or to avoid an argument. It is “the astrology of the present time and how to examine its potentials.” It is a practice of being here now.
Bogart’s astrology is imminently practical. One of the things I appreciate most about this book is how it moves from the sublime to the worldly and back to the sublime again.
In his chapter on vocational astrology, Bogart shows how he helps clients “awaken the powers of each planet.” He credits the work of well-known vocational astrologers including Charles Lunz, Noel, Tyl, Joanne Wickenburg, Judith Hill, and Faye Cossar Blake. A non-astrological career counselor will have clients take assessment tests and report on career-relevant “traits and factors” they are consciously aware of. Vocational astrology takes a different approach because it’s not just about self-reporting. In one of Bogart’s examples, a young woman came to him wanting help in seeking a job. Based on the Sun–Venus–Mars conjunction in Cancer in the fourth house of her chart, he suggested that she look into the fields of property and hotel management, which she did. Over a 30-year career, she moved from a job as a desk clerk to becoming the vice president of a major hotel chain. Would she have discovered her calling without astrologically-informed career counseling? Maybe not.
The book is also a bit of a memoir, as Bogart weaves in pieces of his astrological career. In 1978, when he was 20 years old, an astrologer he had met at his guru’s ashram in India explained to him that with his natal Jupiter–North Node conjunction, he’d eventually become “a teacher, a lecturer, a counselor and advisor.” With natal Saturn in Sagittarius, he has worked in book and magazine publishing, proofreading, and in academia. (I’m about the same age as Bogart, with the same outer planet and nodal placements, and have had a similar career.)
Bogart wrote the book’s final chapter during his recent progressed Balsamic Moon phase, “a period of internal closure, ending, and completion of a long 30-year cycle.” Throughout the book, he emphasizes how he uses astrology in practical ways to help himself and others be more productive in daily life. “But now,” he writes, “I want to go in a different direction, because things are changing for me.” The chapter, “Sound of the Cosmos,” hints at where his astrological focus may be headed, i.e., how astrology and music are related disciplines, both about time and rhythm. “Astrology,” he writes, “aids our intelligent movement through time, in the world of work and human relations, but it’s also about mysteries, beauty, and subtle, vibrational matters that I intuit have something to do with the music of the cosmos.” In this chapter, his writing takes on a lyrical tone.
While astrology may serve each person’s individuation processes, or help get one’s material life in order, or resolve psychological and interpersonal dilemmas, its purpose has a “higher octave” as well. “Astrologers who develop themselves in accordance with the natal chart sound rich, chordal tones of personality, and thus become distinctive individuals,” writes Bogart. Personality, when “refined and unified by astrology evolves into a great song.” This is astrology as a transpersonal yoga, a way of attuning oneself to what many mystics experience as an inner sound, that which hums ineffably like the planets do, eternal and beyond our unique individuality. “Wise astrologers,” Bogart concludes, “choose how to sound a tone in the universe — to be an emanating source, a creator.”
Astrology’s Higher Octaves is a book for every astrologer’s shelf. It’s the kind of book that a beginning astrologer will find inspiring because it’s a model for how to integrate astrology with other professional practices. Experienced astrologers will enjoy reading it as well, because it shows how an esteemed colleague has built a successful career and personal life with astrology as a key note.
Illustration: Shiva Natatarj, the Lord of the Dance
Sara R. Diamond, Ph.D., J.D., has practiced law in the San Francisco Bay area for 19 years. Before that, she was a University of California, Berkeley-trained sociologist and author of four books about US politics. She is currently completing Astrology University’s four-year certification program.