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…”AT&T Park”…any last nod to aesthetic, historic or
even human activity has been bleached out of the ballpark's name. But, of course, it is not really a name anymore. It is an initialing of a territory—the megabucks version of a street artist's tag.

Politics and astrology might at first seem strange bedfellows. Folks of a metaphysical persuasion tend not to resonate to the ‘political' label, and political thinkers tend not to give astrology the time of day. But it is time to shake off the constraints of both labels.

Famed astrologer and political thinker Jessica Murray begins her eye-opening book Soul-Sick Nation with this simple but profound statement. How many cynical left wing politicos have you heard disparage astrology as “bunk”? How many believers in astrology have you seen shrug their shoulders at the political mess our country is experiencing and say, “So many charts—so how can you explain the whole thing?” With a foot in both worlds, Murray weaves them together with the dexterity with which those who have read her astrological publications have come to rely, and the passion with which her left wing political friends have come to recognize as a voice of pure unvarnished truth.

How often must one say about a book, “Clearly, it is not for everyone”? Not so here. Clearly this is a book for everyone. For the astrologer there is the clear explanation of what is happening to our country through the interpretive discipline of astrology. In addition, the astrologer who might not have kept up on all the political ins and outs of the history, especially the recent history, of the United States, will learn 200 pages worth of it through the prism of one of the world's oldest systems of interpretation of events. For the left wing politico there is a clear explanation of what is happening to our country through the blow by blow description of the quagmire that we find ourselves in today. In addition, the politico who may have little or no knowledge of the discipline of astrology will learn a respect and appreciation for why things are the way they are…through the stars (never fear—in addition to a thorough explanation of the discipline of astrology throughout the chapters of the book there is a brilliant series of appendices). For all those with knowledge of both worlds this is a must read—an in depth illumination from a real master. But perhaps those who just enjoy a great book by a brilliant writer will benefit the most. For no one can write like Murray. Funny and poignant, knowledgeable and enquiring, able to turn a phrase, illuminate a point with just the right analogy or metaphor, Murray offers anyone who loves books a really great read.

For this reviewer—who is acquainted with Murray's work for the past three decades and considers herself an avid reader and a student with a foot in both worlds, Soul-Sick Nation is a must-read work of a great mind and spirit in her prime. We are all of us, astrologer, politico, student of both worlds and avid reader alike, fortunate (in all senses of that word) to have Murray show us the way at this time in her life's work. For the politico with no knowledge of astrology, she hand holds with her simple, clear and insightful look into the world she has mastered. For the astrologer with no knowledge of politics, she is a virtual “what's what” of the real history of the United States. For the student of both, she is the firm bridge between these two disciplines. And for the avid reader, she is a garden of literary delight.

“What is your sign?”—what for the astrologer is way too simple and for the politico is that crazy pick up line from college—becomes the backbone of the way out of the quagmire. For this is an exploration of the entity that was born July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—its potential both positive and negative—and what has happened in the intervening years with that potential. Murray also offers suggestions as to what can be done to turn the gifts and promise of our country away from the brick wall we seem to be headed toward and into the light of the bright promise of the future free from our “Soul Sickness”.

Murray's examination of our country and us as her people is nothing short of breathtaking. She warns us:

Many of us have tried over the years to understand the blind spots of our family of origin, so as to keep them from becoming our own blind spots. The same process must be undergone with national blind spots if we are to live free of them.

Murray on our need for wealth and accumulation of worldly goods and place is razor sharp. She speaks of everything from the renaming of our national sports arenas:

…”AT&T Park”…any last nod to aesthetic, historic or even human activity has been bleached out of the ballpark's name. But, of course, it is not really a name anymore. It is an initialing of a territory—the megabucks version of a street artist's tag.

…to the truly dark center that lurks somewhere in the middle of our national soul:

Pluto's placement here tells us that issues of wealth arouse the darkest human drives that exist. Pluto's purpose is to push buttons. And there can be little doubt in America, money is the button pusher.

…and:

America's money neurosis is clearly linked to what the psychologists might call an entitlement complex, a phenomenon astrologers usually chalk up to a prominent Jupiter. In the US chart, Jupiter—largest of the eight planets—is conjunct the Sun, so Jupiter is the obvious culprit: this is the governor of increase, exaggeration, abundance, opulence and waste.

Murray doesn't stop at our thirst for wealth. She goes on to explore all aspects of who we are from our world “leadership” role:

Though it identifies with the job of Big Daddy of the World, America cannot truly inhabit the role of benevolent patriarch because it rejects its own Saturn. For all the lip service it pays to family values, “traditional” marriage, and old-time religion, America remains deeply estranged from Saturn's core principles. Maturity, sustainability and self- limitation are dismissed, mocked, or espoused in an ersatz way.

For those of the avid reader category who fear that this book is just not funny enough, consider passages like this one:

If a system of information is corrupted to the core, we would expect it to share characteristics with other life systems in decay. In Nature, when an organism is about to die, it may go through a flailing disintegration, a penultimate frenzy of faux-vitality. Think of a chicken with its head cut off, madly running around the barnyard. Then think of the evening news.

And so on and so on and on she goes—deftly and cleverly taking us and our country apart, planet by planet, foible by foible, event by event, joke by joke. But all is not fun and games. She clearly gives us her fears:

I have unconditional faith in universal laws—something always rises from the ashes—but none at all in this system of plutocratic governance—and whether we like it or not, business and government are, at this point in American history, joined at the hip. Unless the country as a whole can rebirth itself completely, not just partially, the country is in for a wrenching identity crisis.

But in the end, Murray is quite positive about what we can do, if we choose to do it. In one passage, she speaks to the politicos and astrologers and all those in between:

“Think globally, act locally”say the activists. Astrology too subscribes to this maxim, by conferring meaning upon the exact location on Earth occupied by the native whose transits are being calculated. This is astrology's restatement of the old adage Start where you are. As the rest of the world watches in dismay from the outside, American truth seekers must realize they are on the inside for a reason.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. You will laugh, despair, be enlightened and come around to renewing your hope and belief in yourself…and in your ability to make a difference in this time and in this place. Run, do not walk, to get your copy of what I have no doubt will be looked on in years to come as a classic of our time.

Find out more about or to order Soul-Sick Nation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katherine James is a politically left leaning Aries. She is a theatre artist who acts, writes, directs and produces. The current play she is workshopping is called Olympus, an exploration of the mythology of motherhood told through the stories of Greek Mythology. The first person to apply theatre to the law, she is a nationally recognized trial consultant (www.actofcommunication.com) who helps attorneys and witnesses act like themselves and tell their stories to judges and jurors.


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