The Book of Fire - The Life-Givers
by Steven Forrest
Reviewed by Marg Murphy - FAA Journal vol. 50 no. 1
Steven Forrest, Evolutionary Astrologer, inspires us with his deep exploration of the astrological fire signatures. This book is the first in a series of four and I look forward to reading all four. As lifelong students of astrology there is always more to sink into, new perspectives to ponder and fresh ways of viewing our sacred art.
Steven focuses on the nine signatures of fire in the chart: Mars, Sun, Jupiter, Aries, Leo, Sagittarius and the first, fifth and ninth houses. He says his work is a “triumphant celebration of the human ability to bounce back from life’s nightmares. More than that, it is a practical manual about how exactly to accomplish that.” (page 5)
The first two chapters are an introduction to the underlying premise of evolutionary astrology and his plan for the volume. Reading this book is a little like sitting with Steven in a comfortable lounge room and listening to an experienced and generous teacher tell stories. The book is filled with personal and other anecdotes and stories, it’s written in a very conversational tone. It does not include footnotes, an index or a bibliography. This is Steven Forrest, the elder, sharing his exploration and stories of the life-giving element of fire.
Following the introductory chapters are four sections; Part One: The Three Fire Clans; Part Two: Mastering The Alchemical Marriage Of Sign, House and Planet; Part Three: Mars, The Sun and Jupiter Through the Twelve Signs and Houses and Part Four: Seeing Possible Futures. Each section has several chapters, written as extended essays that build upon the previous.
In Part One the nine fire signatures are touched upon as members of the Clan stories. With Aries for example, he dives into the essence of the symbols of Aries, Mars and the first house. I found this section somewhat convoluted with so many anecdotal snippets and was wary of the combination of Aries, Mars and first house as a prescriptive recipe for chart reading. He does, however, emphasise that this is foundational information and in later sections delineates the differences between the planets in signs and houses. His core purpose is to illustrate the metaphysical aspects of fire as how we “recover from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, how we regenerate; how we sustain ourselves; and how we return ourselves to life – and how we stave off the forces that would rob us of it.” (page 34)
The final chapter of the Clan stories is the handout that accompanies his Fire workshops. A useful descriptor and an abbreviated version of the three previous chapters.
In Part Two Steven gives examples to guide the student through the synthesis of planet in signs. He describes Mars in Cancer, Capricorn and Sagittarius, then the Sun in Leo and Jupiter in Aquarius. The second part of this section is the placing of the same planets in a house.
This section is brief and a taster for the third section of the book; the typical astrological cook-book where each of the fire planets is described through each house and then each sign. The subheadings for Mars in the signs are Underlying Agenda; Strategy; Tools and Dealing With The Shadow. I found these headings useful and of course went straight to my Mars in Pisces. I was interested to read a different evolutionary perspective on my Mars and it has given me pause for reflection.
The sub-headings change for the Sun to Evolutionary Aim; Core Values; Strategy; Tools and Dealing With the Shadow. For Jupiter the sub-headings change again to The Prize; Never Underestimate; Beware of Inflation; Your Gift From The Gods and Helpful Wisdom. These are useful catch phrases that we can take into our consulting room and our astrological conversations.
In the delineation of Mars in houses the catch phrases are Battlefield; Strategy; Objective and The Shape of Failure. For the Sun it’s Necessary Action; Words to Live By; Synchronistic Correlates and The Shape Of Failure and for Jupiter it’s Above All; Believe; Never Underestimate; Your Gift From The Gods and When Ego Grabs the Steering Wheel.
This section could be read without the preceding chapters and beginners will find it informative and easily transferable to families and friends natal charts.
The final section of the book, Seeing Possible Futures, is where Steven guides us through the movement of the archetypal energies via transits, solar arcs and secondary progressions. Even if we don’t have much fire in our natal chart, there will always be fiery times in our lives. The moving points map our daily dynamics. Steven speaks of using fiery times to predict appropriate questions for us to find answers that lead us to the higher ground, rather than predicting events. His emphasis is on the speed that the planet is moving and the slower the movement the more time there is for a theme to be explored and develop complexity of meaning for us. We need to get into the rhythm of the cosmos and discern the significance of planets in motion. He outlines eleven aspects and the significance of waxing and waning movements.
Steven approaches this section with Mars contacts to each planet and also each planet’s movement into Aries. Then we have the progressed or SA Sun’s contact with each planet, the significance of the Sun changing houses, each planet's movement into Leo. The same pattern is described for Jupiter. Each of these has many stories and anecdotes to support the technical details.
Steven Forrest reminds us that the synthesis of all the facets of astrology comes together through the heart not the intellect. We are meaning makers and the Life Givers in our chart/skies give us resilience and vitality. “Built into our souls is a potential source of such indomitable, transrational, exuberant vitality that our spirits cannot be broken”. (page 289) FIRE!
About Marg Murphy
Marg Murphy has been studying Astrology since the mid-1970’s and has been sharing her passion professionally for the past 25 years. Marg has a particular interest in Black Moon Lilith. She has been facilitating AstroCamps in the Central Desert of Australia and other places since 2010. Her 9th house Jupiter means these camps are a fusion of astrology and the Indigenous culture of the country that the camp is held on. In 2018 Marg ran a camp in the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco, in 2020 she will lead a camp in the Rajasthani desert of India. Marg encourages students to embody the energies of the natal chart, to explore in a holistic way the possibilities and potentials it holds.