What The Reviewers Say

 

Solar Fire Deluxe

Canopus Academy of Astrology highly recommends Solar Fire to all its students and associates for its reliability and user friendliness."

               —Linda Reid, Canopus Astrology Forum

" I love the Graphic Ephemeris with the dates and degrees on it and the way one can extend into other years with a click ."

              —Penny Foster, Western Australia, Astrologer Teacher

"I continue to admire and wonder at the comprehensive range of Solar Fire DeLuxe, its versatility, wealth of detail and incomparable ease of use. I have had Solar Fire for some years, but almost daily I discover new pathways and uses. I doubt that I shall ever come to the end of it --  truly the most wonderful tool ever to light on the astrological world."

              —Dymock Brose, South Australia, Astrologer

"I absolutely love the new Solar Fire - what a great job! I love the new features and I'm only just discovering more. Well done! I'm so proud of you guys - and it's Australian!"

               —Lynda Hill,  Author of "360 Degrees of Wisdom, Charting Your Destiny with the Sabian Oracle"

Advances in Astrology Software: Solar Fire Deluxe
Review by Hank Friedman.
Published in The Mountain Astrologer, June/July 2005

By the time you read this, the long awaited update to Solar Fire 5, called Solar Fire Deluxe, will be available. Like the previous versions, it runs on PCs using Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 or XP.

Solar Fire Deluxe is a wonderful upgrade. It adds many great new features as well as important enhancements of already present functions. The authors have thoughtfully included capabilities that will appeal to everyone, as well as more specialized and advanced functions. Upgrading from a previous version of Solar Fire is easy, because at the time of installation, the program allows you to import all your previous settings (e.g. house system, aspect set, wheel style, default place, etc.) as well as the wheels or pages you've designed, into the new version. It also can import and convert to the new file format all of your chart files. This feature is so well designed that it allows you to choose to overwrite files in the new version with the same name, or never overwrite them, or choose whether to use the old or new setting or file one at a time.

One of the most appealing new features is the program's ability to preview charts, via its Chart Preview, in many places in the program. When you open a chart file, if you click on any chart in the list, you can see a preview of the chart appear. As you move down any list, each chart is shown in the preview window. Similarly, on the main screen, you can see a preview of any of the charts in the calculated charts listing. After doing a time or chart file search (see below), you can see previews of any of the charts in the results window, i.e. that meet the search criteria. (See Figure 1: Preview Chart) The Chart Preview also shows you whether the chart has been saved or not, and whether it has any events or comments attached to it (see more on life events below).

Another really valuable asset is the improved ability to search for a person in all of your chart files at once, and then preview any chart in the resulting list. Solar Fire Deluxe has a new file system that saves comments and an unlimited number of life events in the main chart file. This enables you to keep all of a person's important experiences in one place and you can instantly see biwheels of each event around the natal chart in Solar Fire's biwheel animation module.

One of my personal favorites is the ability to "highlight" the aspect lines drawn in a chart wheel. The highlighting feature allows you to control the thickness of the aspect lines to a remarkable degree: you can select from many options how the closeness of the orb of each aspect thickens a line (i.e. the tighter the orb, the thicker the line), from a linear thickening, to one based on the square root or square root squared, or only highlight partile aspects, or actually specify for each degree of orb how thick the line should be. You can also choose to have the software draw lines between conjunct planets. Finally, this function wonderfully allows you to show separating aspects as dotted lines. See Figure 2: A wheel with highlighted aspects. All of these are great features that enable you to instantly see the strength of aspect lines and whether they are applying or separating. Wonderful!

Another place where highlighting really shines, especially the displaying of separating aspects as dotted lines, is in Solar Fire's superb animation module. You can watch, for example, the transits move around the natal chart, and watch their aspect lines thicken as they get stronger, and then turn to dotted lines when the transiting planet's aspect starts separating from the natal planet. Truly excellent!

Perfectly complementing highlighting aspects is the ability to filter aspect lines. Filtering means to show only some of the aspect lines, instead of all of them. The filtering options include the ability to display only one type of aspect line (e.g. trines), one type of aspect harmonic lines (e.g. hard aspects or quintiles or septiles, etc.), or only applying or separating lines, or only aspects to a specific point, or only a specific aspect pattern (e.g. ranging from simple T-Squares through to the more complex Kite and Star of David chart patterns), or only aspects within a specific orb or percentage of maximum orb.

While you probably will choose a style of highlighting to use for every chart, you will most likely use the filtering feature as a way of quickly analyzing charts onscreen for specific types of aspects. That's why the filtering can be set to turn off when you close the filtering window. Note: if you are running Windows 2000 or XP, you can make the Aspect Highlighting & Filtering window transparent, so that you can easily see the charts underneath.

There are actually too many enhancements in Solar Fire Deluxe to cover them all in this review, but among them are the ability to create several birth charts in a row without leaving the data entry screen, and the ability to create several subsidiary charts (e.g. returns, progressed charts, etc.) again from within the appropriate screen – you just hit the new Apply button each time you want a chart to be calculated. Backing up charts files and restoring them to Solar Fire is now simple, too.

It has become easy to select which transiting or progressed planets you want displayed in the outer ring of a biwheel. You can also, while viewing any chart or table, edit the settings for it, e.g. change the aspect set, orbs, modulus, frame style, points used, etc. and then save the new settings. You can save wheels, pages, and graphic ephemeris screens to the PDF format, which is ideal for use in publishing, and can be scaled to any size. The creators of Solar Fire have even added a whole new set of interpretations - of progressed charts – to the new version! (See Figure 3 A Section of the Progressed Report)

For those who create and save customized predictive searches – e.g. transits by the outer planets for four years – the new version allows you to specify (and save for future sessions) whether you want the search to begin on a fixed date, the current date (or the start of the day, month, quarter, half year, year or any number of days before or after from the current date), or the birth date (or any of the intervals, e.g. year before, days after the birth date). This feature will be invaluable to those who want their searches to automatically begin at a specific date.

Solar Fire Live is an important new capability added to Solar Fire. In order to use this feature, you must be connected to the internet. Solar Fire Live notifies you when new updates to Solar Fire become available (and allows you to automatically install them), when and where workshops on Solar Fire will occur, the latest news and reviews of Solar Fire, a Tips and Tricks and Frequently Asked Questions column, links to online astrological tutorials and a wealth of other reference materials, and a forthcoming Charts in the News page, showing the astrological charts of newsworthy events and people.

In order to meet the growing interest in Vedic astrology, Solar Fire Deluxe has added several Vedic features. When you create a Vedic chart, if you haven't switched to the Sidereal Zodiac, the program alerts you and assists you in choosing the Sidereal Zodiac. The program now defaults to the most accepted ayanamsha (Lahiri), instead of the seldom-used Fagan/Bradley ayanamsha. You can now create any of 20 divisional charts easily with Solar Fire, including Iyer's variation on the D-11 chart. You can also, at the click of a button, switch a chart back and forth between the Tropical and Sidereal zodiacs.

Two of the most powerful additions to Solar Fire Deluxe, which share a lot in common, are the Chart Search and The Electional Search. Chart Search looks for astrological factors in the charts on file, while the Electional Search looks for the same factors in the sky, for specified date and time ranges. In both cases, you can combine two or more searches with logic operators like AND or OR or NOT, e.g. search for charts or dates with Mars conjunct Saturn AND Mars in Aries.

The Chart Search can search the chart file that is opened, or all of the chart files, or just selected chart files. You can search chart files for a huge number of factors including person's name, birth date, birth time, time zone, birth place, longitude or latitude of the birth place, comments, number of days until their birthday, coordinate system, house system, birth time accuracy rating, the file the chart is in, and more.

Both Chart Search and Electional Search allow you to search for all of the basic astrological factors, such as planets in houses or signs or aspects, and you can restrict aspect searches to applying, separating, or partile, as well as search for phases between planets. Searching by Dignity allows you to look for ancient factors such as triplicity, term, face, peregrine, is planet of hour or day, accidental dignity, combust, Cazimi, under the Sun's beams, and Oriental. Horary consideration searches include Void-of-Course Moon, Sun above horizon, Moon waxing or fast or in the Via Combusta, and the Ascendant near a sign boundary. You can also search for dispositors and house rulers, and planets greater, equal, or less than a particular position in longitude, latitude, RA, speed, declination, azimuth, or altitude.

The planetary patterns search finds the following patterns: T-square, grand trine, Thor's hammer, grand cross, kite, mystic rectangle, hard rectangle, focused Yod, rosetta, square key, diamond, stretched pentagram, grand quintile, square key, hele (trines joined on one end by a semisextile and a square on the other end), double yod key, and yod. Wow!

By clicking on the Show Advanced Options checkbox, additional choices appear, you can preface most of the searches with: the modern, traditional, hierarchical, or esoteric ruler of, the almuten of, or the antiscia or contra-antiscia of. For example, instead of searching for Jupiter in the First House, you could search for the traditional ruler of Jupiter in the First House (i.e. the dispositor of the sign Jupiter is, in by traditional rulerships).

You can use Electional Search to find the birth data for a person whose chart (but not their data) is printed in a book or magazine. Then you can construct the chart with extra points, look at harmonics or divisional charts, etc. You can also save and restore any specific search conditions that you create, to use at a later date.

Solar Fire Deluxe has so many nice touches within these two search methods. While building a set of search criteria, for example, you can add new searches, replace old searches, clear all of the search criteria, and delete specific searches at the push of a button. You can change the location (i.e. time zone and coordinates) for any search, select the aspect set, and specify any time range for the search to the minute for both the beginning and the end of the search.

For the more technically-minded astrologer, Solar Fire Deluxe has added age and age + 1 harmonic charts, longitude equivalent declination charts, direction arc multipliers for Solar, Ascendant, and Vertex directions, precessed and/or converse transit charts, and in the Dynamic Searches, Jayne's directions of declination, void-of-course Moon events (last aspect and sign ingress), and van Dam primary directions.

Finally, Solar Fire Deluxe adds new wheels, such as tri- and quad-wheels that show degrees and minutes for every point in each ring., has an aspect analysis report that includes all of the aspect patterns (e.g. rosetta) present in a chart, and a display of the configurations that make up each pattern. Additionally, the cursor for the graphic ephemeris shows date and zodiacal degree and you can move forward or backward in time while viewing a graphic ephemeris, as well as see a lifetime graph of declination arc directions

Solar Fire Deluxe has indeed earned its name. It is an awesomely powerful and versatile program with more features than most astrologers will ever use! Its enhancements will empower both novices and advanced practitioners, and keep Solar Fire in its place as one of the most valuable astrology programs ever created. Bravo!

To order, please visit our webshop.

Solar Fire v5

The following review appeared in the Dell Horoscope Magazine US in January 2001.

SOLAR FIRE 5.0, designed by Esoteric Technologies, has some fascinating new functions for astrologers to explore.

Whether you're just beginning or a seasoned professional, the latest version of Astrolabe's astrology calculation program is visually exciting, easy to use, and profoundly informative. Twenty-four clickable icons across the top of the opening page give immediate access to the most commonly performed tasks, including the most exciting add-ons introduced in 5.0. Here's a glimpse of what you can do with 5.0 just by clicking on one of these icons.

Relocation astrology, or finding geographic areas of influence for a specific horoscope, is as easy as clicking on the globe icon. Once a horoscope has been calculated, or once it has been opened from a file, the planetary lines of influence take a second or two to calculate and display on a world map. This technique, popularly known as Astro*Carto*Graphy, is also sold as Esoteric Technologies' Solar Map software, but is now included in Solar Fire 5.0. With this information you can tell at a glance where you might find romance (under a Venus line), success (Jupiter), or domestic happiness (Moon). Unlike ACG maps, astrologers who regularly use asteroids in natal horoscopes will find these Goddesses displayed on the Solar Maps when they are enabled in the calculated charts. At three icons to the right of the globe, you'll find a red heart with an "i" in the centre. This button leads to the synastry interpretation report, which gives a printable description of how two people might get along according to how their individual horoscopes match up. Before running this routine, you'll need to open or calculate the two charts you want to compare. Then, clicking on the heart pops up a small window for you to check off a few options, and voila! Instant synastry report. This report generates romantic descriptions, and generally cannot be used for parent-child or business partnerships. Romantic discussions are found in all planet-to-planet aspects, as well as the standard Venus, Mars, and Pluto links. Chiron is always included in this report, but not the asteroids.Perhaps the most innovative new feature is the animated chart function. Astrologers may be familiar with the astro-clock, the horoscope that continually updates itself so you know exactly where the Ascendant, Midheaven, and planets are at the current moment. The animated chart is the same, but you can use any calculated chart to animate. Then, you can animate a bi-wheel, so that a natal chart is surrounded by a continually updated transits wheel. Or a natal chart can be surrounded by an animated progressions wheel. Or go to the tn-wheel so that the natal chart is at the centre of moving transits and progressions wheels. Yes, even animated quadri-wheels are possible with variable speeds (faster or slower) and forward or backward in time.

The Astrologer's Assistant is found under the wizard icon near the far right. This handy function allows the user to compile a list of commonly performed tasks, and then run them all at once with the click of a button. For example, you can run dynamic transits and progressions reports from a calculated chart, view them on a tn-wheel, and print them, all by clicking on a preset task list. This function may take a little practice, but how-to guidelines are readily available by clicking on the Question Mark icon. This leads to the Solar Fire User guide, a complete manual accessible from within the software. If you've been using Solar Fire 4.0, the upgrade is well worth the US$99. If you haven't yet chosen a software product, Solar Fire 5.0 is a terrific teaching tool and/or professional asset.

Solar Fire 5.0, like its predecessors, is based on standard Windows programs format with drop-down menus, a design module that makes for easy, intuitive navigation. Any popular astrology technique can be found herein, as well as some not so popular and even downright controversial techniques. They're all here.

 

Solar Writer—Modern

"The modern version of Solar Report Writer is great for clients and those folks who are curious about their charts and want that 'first time look' to see what it is all about. It is easy to understand and will not scare away the novice. For students of astrology it gives you a clear indication of how a chart should be read for a client. I can highly recommend this program. Stephanie has done a great job."

—Carol A Wiggers, Horary Practitioner Diploma Course JustUS & Associates Publishing.

"Perfect for those astrologers who are not report writers or word processing experts but who would like to add personalised information specific for the client."

—Alice Kashuba

To order, please visit our webshop.

Solar Writer—Zodiac Child

"The Solar Writer Zodiac Child report is particularly suitable as a gift to new parents. There is a cuddly tone in the report that harmonizes well with the energy of new babies and very young children. It contains a minimum of astrological lingo yet doesn't skimp on advice. The writing is consistently positive throughout so you don't have to worry about inadvertently dropping any bombshells on the new parents. The abundance of colorful pictures of children also make this report particularly suitable for gift giving. The average report is 17 pages."

—Astrology Software Shop

To order, please visit our webshop.

Solar Writer—Goddess

“I have just read the Goddess report and found it beautifully written, lovely art work and a very perceptive summary. At a first quick read I am very impressed with the delineation. It brings out my main characteristics repeatedly, and that is impressive.”

              —Gillian Helfgott, International Astrologer and Author

“I think it’s brilliant. It serves to take a chart reading to a much deeper level than the conventional delineation of planets. It confirmed things for me, that I know about myself, but couldn’t explain through planetary positions and aspects alone.”

—Elizabeth MacGregor, Astrologer and Counsellor, SA, Australia

“Thank you soooooooooooo much for the Goddess report. My initial thoughts are "right up my spiritual alley!!!" I just LOVE anything to do with femininity and goddesses of course!”

—Tracey Johnson, Naturopath and Dance Teacher, WA, Australia

“I liked the educational component of the Goddess Mythology sections. The report was also very accurate. It added to my understanding of my birth chart, giving it another layer of subtleties and interpretation.”

—Peta Field, Achievement Consultant, SA, Australia

“I read the Goddess report. It is really, really fantastic. The info given on those women is great and the report has scarily accurate personal insights. Above all, it is truly uplifting and inspiring.”

—Marz, Tarot Reader, SA, Australia


“I found the text incredibly evocative and really soulful. The text 'cracked the code' of an impossible client. I'd not used the asteroids with her chart before, and your text 'solved a mystery'.

—Melanie Reinhart, Astrologer, Bedfordshire, UK

To order, please visit our webshop.

 

Solar Writer—Classical

"The Classical version of the Solar Report Writers is one of the most useful teaching tools for classical astrology that I have ever used. This is a must for students of classical and non-classical methods, but will also bring a true understanding of classical astrology to astrologers in all fields. This program is a must have."

—Carol A Wiggers, Horary Practitioner Diploma Course JustUS & Associates Publishing

"I enjoyed the ancient delineations, because they really spoke to life in their times and yet applied to ours once you translated them into current parlance."

—Kaye Shinker

"This report ties different centuries of astrological thinking together in ways which are both clear and education."

—Michael Munkasey

Solar Writer—Fixed Stars

"Solar Writer - Fixed Stars is a new report from Esoteric Technologies about to be released at the beginning of December 2004. It's written by Diana K. Rosenberg, astrology's foremost authority of fixed stars, and produces an incredibly well-written and extensive report on the nature of fixed stars, and delineates in depth the conjunctions of fixed stars to the planets, angles, and nodes. It comes complete with beautiful star maps and a wonderful introduction.

 

The report includes the names, meanings, and mythology of these stars from many different traditions (e.g. Chinese, Arabic, Hindu, etc.), a remarkably detailed and original interpretation of the stars and their effects, including a section on possible physical and/or psychological manifestations, and finally a large set of famous people having the same conjunction.

If you ever wanted to study the effects of fixed stars on your chart or the charts of others, this is the report to get. Very Impressive! "

           —Hank Friedman, Softstar News.

"Your fascinating (and beautiful!) Fixed Star Report arrived and I'm amazed at the extent to which it adds depth and nuance to the chart as well as provide additional insights. Thank you so much!"

          —Lenore Canter, US Astrologer

 

"Just blew me away -- a masterwork -- nothing short of thrilling! I've got to have it!"

           —Dr John D Andre

Solar Writer - Health and Wellbeing

"I thoroughly loved reading my Health and Wellbeing Report. It was very accurate in regards to my temperament; in fact it was like reading my own life's biography. It clarified for me those areas in my life that I have been trying to understand. It confirmed what I had always thought to be true and revealed ways to improve my life and health. Amazing!! " -- Dianne Horvath, Chinese Medicine Practitioner.

Solar Fire v4

"Solar Fire v4 has options that provide incredible power for the classical astrologer; it is a tool which finally allows us to easily test variants in methods, so we can finally forecast with the confidence acquired by thorough understanding of our techniques."

—Lee Lehman, author of Classical Astrology for Modern Living and Essential Dignities

Editor's Choice Australian Personal Computer magazine. The following review appeared in the February 98 edition of the Australian Personal Computer magazine.

"Impressively boxed and well written, Solar Fire Version 4.0 beats the competing products hands down for functionality and ease of use. While it by far the most expensive of the four packages, Solar Fire 4.0 is also the most feature rich and includes astrological functions for professional astrologers and beginners alike.

"The fact that the publisher is a South Australian company means that users requiring technical support do not have to liaise with the USA.

"Solar Fire 4.0 for Windows does far more than churn out preprinted interpretations and pleasant sounding predictions. Written by South Australian company Esoteric Technologies, Solar Fire has become something of a standard in astrological software and it's easy to see why. Aside from being extremely easy to use, the interface is well designed, if not attractive, and the manual is excellently written.

"Type in an incorrect date and the software will automatically rectify the problem. The diverse and useful feature set can be accessed through the bland but simple start-up screen. It is not noticeable at first, but there is a continually updating ascendant of your present location and a list of planetary positions at the bottom of the screen,so a quick glance will show you why you are having one of those days.

"The power to manipulate the software in Solar Fire is noteworthy. You can change everything from the default font to whether you want to see asteroids on a chart wheel. The resultant charts can be as complex or simple as you require and the software comes with a hotch-potch of variations from the basic BiWheel and TriWheel systems to Solar Arcs and Harmonic charts, not to mention several Dials.

"Astrologers who like to do things the traditional way will definitely enjoy the Arabic Parts Editor which lets you add any A+B-C factors with accompanying keywords. These factors might include house cusps, dispositors or any specified degree in the zodiac. Similarly, the Fixed Star Editor allows astrologists to add traditional star meanings to those already in the program.

"Solar Fire 4 comes with several mini applications that enhance the entire product, one of the most productive being the Planetarium, which contains visual data on 50 fixed stars.

"For professional astrologists, who regularly print out customer charts, one of the most valuable features is the selection of predesigned pages. This allows every chart to look unique; but if none appeal to your sense of style you can whip up your own "style template"."

The following review, by Andrew Smith, is reprinted from The Dublin Astrologer Newsletter.

"Already one of the most popular astrology programs on the market, Version 4 firmly establishes Solar Fire as the most popular astrological software program available. What can you say about this program that would do it justice. It is an incredible work of art—even the introduction screen is good enough to save as wall paper for your desktop! It is easy to use, fluid and can be custom fitted to suit your own individual requirements. From the moment you click on the Solar Fire icon, it is a pleasure to interact with it.

"For those of you who are not familiar with Solar Fire, you do not have to be a professional astrologer to avail of this program. It is easy to install and use and comes available with an in-built and comprehensive Help module.

"Solar Fire has been designed with the astrologer in mind. Calculating charts is straight forward and the interpretation module means that if you know on a tiny bit of astrology you a click on a planet in a particular house or in aspect to something else and Solar Fire shows you a pre written interpretation of that combination. As you get more experienced you can edit the interpretation files and design your own interpretations.

"SF Version 4 is a much more powerful program than its predecessors, with more than enough applications to keep even the most experimental of you in a sustained state of bliss. There are so many features to play with and explore.

"The available house systems has been expanded from 27 to 30 with the addition of the Alcabitus system and also opportunity to view the chart with the Part of Fortune and the Ascendant on the 1st house cusp. Locality charts are now included making it possible to relocate your chart using a number of different methods, including geodetic and Johndro, to anywhere on the world.

"That coupled with the possibility of interfacing with Solar Maps, makes Solar Fire v4 the most complete astrological software program on the market today. In this reviewers opinion, one of the best features of v4 is the enhanced page edit module, meaning that you can design your own chart pages. Although this was a feature of v3, v4 includes over 50 different types of information blocks that can be placed on a page. Included as page layouts is a page of medieval techniques, the Huber methods, Vedic pages—planetary periods; beginner's pages that print the chart wheel along with a table of planets, signs and aspects; and the list goes on. This means that you can print off huge volumes of information on one sheet of paper. There have been times in during consultations when I have been lost amongst a mountain of chart wheels, midpoint trees, harmonic wheels etc. With this module that is a thing of the past. All necessary information can be included on one page—midpoint sort, full aspect grid, list of fixed stars, asteroids, etc. etc.

"It is also possible to print off up to 12 charts per page, which is a dream for anyone working with family patterns, or large groups of astrological data. It is also possible to switch between various chart layouts whilst you view the chart wheel. Along with the standard charts—natal, progressed, harmonic, return, composite, pre-natal, there are seven new chart types, which if this reviewer is honest, has no clue as to some of them, but it will keep someone out there happy!

"What really brings SF v4 into the Big league of astrological software is the addition of the graphic ephemeris to the program. The SF graphic ephemeris is incredible. You have the option of printing off the graph with grid line, aspects glyphs, and for mundane astrologers —the option of excluding the natal chart so that you are just viewing the planetary interactions. Graphs can be calculated for 22°, 32°43'38", 36°, 40°, 51° 25' 43", and 72° as well as all the usual angles, and I am sure that further updates will include user defined angles. As SF is a Windows based program, the graphs print off far more clearly than any DOS-based program.

"Other extremely valuable additions to the Solar Fire repertoire include an option to design your own aspects. Minor aspects such as the 22° 30' and 11° 15' can be included on all chart wheels which is really useful for research; in the transit and progression report, it is now possible to print off transits and progressions to a chart's midpoint sort, so you can watch how transits affect various sensitive midpoint structures. For those astrologers who prefer viewing the chart as a dial rather than a wheel, the dials now have movable pointers, that show the midpoints and aspects as the dial is rotated.

"Finally, after the graphic ephemeris, the most important addition to the Solar Fire program is the addition of a search facility that enables you to search any chart file for planets in signs, houses, or in aspects to other planets or positions, and to combine search criteria to perform complex search.

"If you are looking to make a study of MO-45-UR, all you do is input the details and the computer searches your data files for charts that have this combination. A real time saver, I think you would agree. In terms of data, SF has kindly given us the Clifford data files—over 500 accurately timed charts of public figures, along with a brief biography on each person.

In short, this piece of software is something that ALL astrologers should have."

The following review, by Paul O Hewitt, is reprinted from the quarterly journal The Horary Practitioner, July 1997. (available from P.O. Box 203, Salisbury, Qld 4107 Australia).

A quick overview of the program Solar Fire v4

"The last time I spoke to the staff of a large astrology software dealer, they reported that Solar Fire was out selling all other astrology software on the market 5 to 1. Is it any wonder? Solar Fire has, in a few short years, become the standard against which all other astrology software is measured. Upon reviewing a beta test version of Solar Fire 4.0 (SF4), my positive opinion of the product remains.

"As a software developer, I keep my customers in mind when I design software. So obviously does Esoteric Technologies, the developers of Solar Fire. You always know where you are in the program, and the buttons (choices) in front of you always relate to ONE question or choice (not 3 or 4 or 5). This makes wandering around in the program easy because of the logical way your choices are configured. All of the pull-down menus in SF4 (as in SF3) keep "easy to change" as the model. Consequently, in the vast majority of cases, wherever you are in SF4, you will know how to change the default settings with little effort. Once you've learned how to change one thing, you will notice that Graham has used the same approach almost everywhere in the program, making it easy to get familiar with the software. Another thing you will notice is that you don't need to reach for the manual to understand what is going on. (Reaching for the manual every second time you have a question is usually a bad sign. It means the software developer hasn't put themselves in your shoes, or hasn't listened to good beta-testers).

"Some of the best features are quite slick. On the third line of the opening screen is the continually updated Ascendant and MC of your present location, with the planetary positions at the bottom of the screen. Absolutely essential to understand why something isn't working around your office. (No wonder the photocopier isn't working properly—we have 28 degrees rising!)

"Want to see the Asteroids plus the Planets on a chart wheel you have on the screen? Click the right mouse button when you have the chart on the screen. Up comes a pull-down menu of everything you can change. Click "Displayed Points", then click "Plan&Ast.pts", then click "Redraw" when you return to the chart screen. A second later, you can see whatever points you want to see, quickly and easily.

"Do you want to change the Moon's Node? Click "Preference" on the pull down menus, then click Lunar Node Type and make your choice. Some professional astrologers report the Mean Node is more accurate than the True Node with all kinds of chart work. It is easy to change the default setting with SF4.

"Are you adding Fixed Stars to your work with clients? Solar Fire includes a Planetarium that gives you a tour of the sky with many fixed stars on the screen. Click on any star that appears in the Planetarium's sky and its name and position appear in a message box, plus an interpretation. This is a great way to introduce and study Fixed Stars, and is much more interesting than a text listing or a book.

"SF4 has just about everything I can think of that an astrologer would want. BiWheels, TriWheels, Helio charts, Solar Arcs, Composite charts, Harmonic charts, and a variety of Dials. One section I really appreciate is the "Dynamic Reports" section. You choose the length of time you wish to study, and then you can mix and add whatever you want, Transits, Solar Arcs, Eclipses, Secondary Progressions, and even Transits to Solar Arcs and Secondary Progressed planets. All of this can be seen on the screen (in colour) before you print it out, and your favourite combinations can be saved for reuse at a later date.

"In conclusion, Solar Fire version 4 is a very professional, well designed and easy to use program that will appeal to every astrologer's level of expertise."

The following review is by Brian Lee for Caduceus Journal, publication date March 1999.

"If you are looking for an astrological program that you are unlikely ever to outgrow then you cannot do better than Solar Fire. This program, which was first released in 1992, has established itself as the best package for the professional astrologer as well as offering a comfortable learning curve for the beginner. Not only will it calculate transits, progressions, directions, midpoints, Arabic parts, harmonics and returns (solar, lunar and planetary) but you can design your own pages with it to print out (and customise them with your own name and contact details). It will display and print up to four charts on one wheel for comparison. It allows you the possibility to include not only Chiron but also the asteroids and hypothetical planets such as the "Uranians". You can output ephemerides either as lists or graphically. You can also compare charts by means of cross aspects and different combination techniques. And we've only scratched the surface of the calculation features available.

"In addition, the program generates interpretation files which can be viewed online by clicking on the glyph of a planet, or exported to a word processor or desktop publishing program for editing. The interpretations (for natal chart, transits and progressions) are by Australian astrologer Stephanie Johnson and are stimulating enough to get ones own intuition going while being rich enough to provide good printout for a client. Also if you don't like her interpretations, the program lets you use your own.

"But despite the wealth of features, the program is easy and intuitive to use. The only bone I have is that the data entry is fiddly. If you're only doing charts from one region like UK, or the US or Europe or Australia, fine. But if you're popping about the world you find you have to reset the file that the program gets the data from. Apparently this problem is less apparent if you have the full ACS Atlas installed. Solar Fire is part of a suite of programs for the professional astrologer including Solar Maps (for Locational astrology) and Jigsaw (for rectification, research and family patterns)."

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Solar Spark v2

"Solar Spark has saved me hours of time in doing electional work, because its design makes it so easy to screen times and zoom in on the windows of opportunity that still occur, even in times of general mediocre astrological conditions, also known as interesting times."

—Lee Lehman, author of Classical Astrology for Modern Living and Essential Dignities

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Solar Maps

"Solar Maps is the best all-around mapping program I have used, especially for the beauty of the maps, the zoom and move features to create maps, the fact that you have included Nodes, asteroids,Chiron, and even geodetics!"

—Ariel Guttman, co-author with Jim Lewis of The Astro*Carto*Graphy Book of Maps.

"Solar Maps is the finest program on the market for locational astrology. It allows the astrologer to use the best of the known techniques plus its features also offer the ability to access new and highly practical information."

—Steve Cozzi, author of Planets in Locality.

"Solar Maps is the most advanced astrological mapping program that I have ever reviewed. It comes with 59 maps, including ones for all of the major continents, most major countries, and several sections of the U.S., and is able to zoom in on any area of the World (and have that area be displayed full screen, and optionally saved as a new map for re-using later). You can change the color of the land masses, the bodies of water, the astrological points, and the lines (and change line thicknesses) and print maps in full color. You can even view and print the maps with day/night shading, (showing where it's daytime and where it's night).

"Solar Maps can show state and country boundaries, lakes and rivers, and city names. You can create your own lists of cities to display, or use one of the ones built in. The maps can be viewed as Cartesian or Mercator projections or on a spherical or oblate globe. You can even place a coordinate grid over any map showing longitude and latitude lines. These features are optional and can be turned on and off at any time.

"In its mapping features, Solar Maps really shines. It not only does a superb job of displaying Local Space (planet, house, and horizon) lines; Planet/Angle lines (drawn traditionally, using mundane angles as Astro*Carto*Graphy does, or using Ecliptic angles), and Paran lines (for any point to all other points -- a first!) but it can do each of these for both the traditional planets & points, AND for six asteroids, Vulcan, Transpluto, Lilith, the TransNeps, and for a selection of up to 36 fixed stars. Lines are both color-coded and very clearly labeled, so there is no ambiguity about what line you're looking at, even when you've turned on thirty different points or both Planet/Angle and Local Space lines at the same time. If you click on a line, a high-quality interpretation for that line immediately pops up. Solar Maps makes it incredibly easy to investigate what points are influencing you at any place in the world, and what their effects are. Solar Maps can also display the path of the Ecliptic and the boundaries of the zodiacal signs, and displays the eclipse paths for any eclipse from 1951 on. This is a powerhouse program that is so simple to use that even an amateur astrologer and computer novice will have no trouble.

"(For those readers who are unfamiliar with astro-mapping, a brief explanation may be in order. The basic theory is simple, that a city where a natal planet would be rising at the time of your birth, for example, would be a place that would tend to exaggerate or amplify that planets' energy. On a Saturn line, you may become more serious and hard working, while on a Venus line you might want to flirt more or create artwork. Planet/Angle lines are drawn for areas where planets are rising, setting, culminating, or anti-culminating. Each local Space line is drawn radiating from ones birthplace in the direction a planet was at birth. E.g., if Saturn was North West of you at your birthtime and place, the Saturn line would be drawn heading in that direction. Paran lines are placed where one planet is rising (or setting, culminating, or anticulminating) at the same time that another planet is rising.)

"Solar Maps' reports and listings are invaluable. You can view a list of all of the Parans by latitude, with the cities nearest each crossing shown too, a list of the Parans near any selected location, and a list of city directions showing what cities are nearest each local space line. You can view a three page interpretation of all of the astrological factors affecting any location, complete with information on how strong each factor is, and can print out the relocation report using Windows Write or your own word processor. You can also copy the lists, maps, and charts to the Windows clipboard, for pasting into another program.

"Solar Maps has almost too many features to be able to document them all adequately in one article. You can display a variety of chart wheels, including standard natal and relocated charts, local space wheels, and geodetic charts. You can switch to a Geodetic (equatorial) projection, if you wish to explore that system of mapping. If you own Solar Fire, you can run Solar Maps from within Solar Fire, and immediately return to Solar Fire when you're done.

"Solar Maps is full of niceties. As you move the mouse pointer around the map, it shows you the longitude and latitude wherever the pointer is. It also comes with several very useful tools, including the zoom tool, for looking closely at any area, a measuring tool that allows you to find the distance between any two points on any map, and a relocation tool, that you can use to instantly view any number of relocated charts, by simply clicking on each point on a map you want to see a chart for.

"Perhaps the most astounding feature of Solar Maps is its ability to do Cyclo*Carto*Graphy-type mapping, i.e. to display transiting, secondary progressed, and tertiary progressed planet (and other point) positions in relationship to natal angles. Solar Maps again goes far beyond Cyclo*Carto*Graphy, by allowing you to use any points, and by progressing not only Planet/Angle lines, but also Local Space and Paran lines. Progressed, transit, and return charts produced by Solar Fire can even be mapped.
Outstanding!

"As if these weren't enough features, Solar Maps introduces the first mapping Astro*Clock. You can watch Local Space, Planet/Angle, and Paran lines for the present moment move across any map. Each minute, the lines are adjusted for the new rising and culminating positions. What an amazing way to watch the sky!

"Solar Maps will fulfill virtually every astrologers dream of an astro-mapping program. With crystal clear maps and lines, any number of displayed points, predictive mapping, well-written interpretations, and an incredibly well-designed user interface, Solar Maps brings locational astrology expertise to your doorstep."

—Hank Friedman from his website www.soulhealing.com

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Jigsaw

The following review, by Ken Gillman, is reprinted from the quarterly journal Considerations, October-December 1994. ($30/yr., available from P.O. Box 491, Mt. Kisco, NY 10549).

"Jigsaw for Windows. Version 1.0 by Bernadette Brady and Graham Dawson. Astrological research software. Two 31/4" disks. Requires IBM-compatible PC with minimum of 80386 processor, 2 MB RAM, and Windows 3.1 running in 386-enhanced mode. $330.

JigSaw is dangerous; definitely not like the astrological software my PC normally runs. None of the usual "enter data, press print, then go off and interpret". These are fun programs. Astrologers, particularly those into rectification, are just not accustomed to that.

JigSaw is simple to load, accompanied by an unusually clear and complete instruction book, and guaranteed to keep the astrologer transfixed with delighted curiosity. Set JigSaw up in your PC (a few minutes only), enter data (no time at all), and expect to spend the rest of the day engrossed by the important relationships you'll discover.

JigSaw is three tools all linked to each other.

Rectification: JigSaw provides the tools of Graphic Rectification, based on transits to angles, with all its screens and systems. Enter dates of events and, depending on the transiting bodies called for and the aspects chosen, easy-to-read graphs are produced which identify the degrees most frequently aspected. Possible birth charts are then defined in which combinations of these significant degree areas are angular. Each of the alternatives can then be evaluated using transits, secondaries or solar arc directions.

I entered events listed in Nick Sutherland's article on Reagan and JigSaw came up with a likely time of birth of 0:46 a.m., close to the Sutherland/Harvey result. I also had excellent results with the data of the different rectification contests run in this magazine. The software's greatest value may be highlighting times that otherwise wouldn't be considered.

This graphic tool can be used for research other than rectification. Bernadette tells me she entered three sets of data: the birth dates of all Australian Prime Ministers, a list of dates from Australian history, and the date of every Federal election. All three of the resulting graphs had the same peaks—ones not supported by the accepted chart for Australia, but pointing to the chart for the day the last colony joined the Federation.

The Dynamic Chart feature is a particular delight. One watches one's choice of transits, progressions or solar arcs move around the outside of the chart as time passes, stopping wherever one wishes. As aspects to the natal are formed these flash onto the screen. When a life event is clicked, the whole picture of what is happening to the natal chart in terms of pro-gressions, etc. is displayed.

Family Patterns: Synastry with groups of people or events. The pattern-hunting ability here is excellent. Put in a family of charts—no limit to the number of members—define the type of search and JigSaw hunts through the group, searching through harmonics, working with midpoints and/or planets, and then presents the patterns within the group both visually and as text. Financial astrologers will like this particular tool. Enter a set of market events and then find common astrological patterns.

Research: This module may bring the everyday astrologer into the world of research. This powerful starter package is visually easy to use.

Apart from the normal features one would like to have (including creation of matching sets of control charts), its many features range from Essential Dignities, through azimuth and altitude to the Gauquelin domifications and Addey's harmonics. Chi-square testing is included.

So, what's wrong with JigSaw? Nothing I found. My initial disappointment, that transits and progressions were only available direct in time, disappeared when I realized I could fool JigSaw by entering the converse transit dates as well as the usual dates for the different events.

That gave me exactly what I wanted. And this software is fun.

—Ken Gillman.

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Astracadabra

"Overall the program looks wonderful, is user friendly, and has so many diverse options in Tools to select from - a real PLUS.  When a person is involved in as many branches of astrology as I am - this is a VERY attractive feature for a pocket PC program...it's a big piece of  wonderful work for a little machine!"

                 —Sandy Crowther, USA

FAA Journal, December 2004

Review by Peter Burns

There is a view amongst some modern astrologers that Uranus rules both computers and astrology (the traditionalists maintain that Mercury rules both domains!). We can certainly say that major advances in computing have enabled and facilitated the adoption and study of astrology by many more people than was otherwise possible.

 

First of all we had astrology software programs like Nova and Winstar become available in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Up to this time astrologers were doing calculations by hand. If you were really quick you could erect a chart in 45 minutes. Most took an hour. Suddenly the advent of personal computers and astrological software squeezed this time frame into minutes.

 

Over the last decade we have witnessed the introduction of many powerful astrology programs such as Janus, Air, Matrix, Astrocalc, Kepler, Solar Fire, and Time Cycles for the Macintosh, to name a few.

 

The next significant technological development for astrologers was the introduction into the market of laptops and portables. Suddenly astrologers became mobile. We began to see astrologers printing out reports at markets and other public venues. At conferences and public lectures it is no longer a surprise to see astrologers crowding around a laptop, examining some chart or technique.

 

The third significant development was the development of the internet, and with it the capacity for astrologers to email charts and to promote their viewpoints on web sites. The creative output made available by this technology is still building momentum, and is creating unparalleled opportunity for astrologers to connect with the wider community.

 

We are now witnessing the fourth significant technological development for astrologers with the introduction of PDA's and Pocket PC's. These devises can easily fit into a shirt pocket, and they are very light. Their batteries can power them for up to eight hours in some cases.

 

Now astrologers can practice their art anywhere - on planes, trains, coffee shops. With the push of a button charts can be viewed instantly. Want to do a horary for that question? Now you don't have to wait until you get home to calculate the chart on your personal computer. You can do it right now with your Pocket PC!

 

For the PDA's there is a shareware version of Parashara's Light - Palm Edition, and Astro-Pocket for the PalmOS® Personal Digital Assistant. For the Pocket PC's there is Astroworld's Astrology Software for Windows CE, pivique Astrology, and AstroWin CE.

 

Pocket PCs use a Windows system which allows many programs to be operated simultaneously. They are usually faster than their Palm-based pocket cousins, and have sharper and bigger screens.

 

Now from Australia we have the very powerful Astracadabra 2004 for Pocket PCs, authored by Neville Lang from Victoria.

 

Astracadabra comes complete with the full ACS PC Atlas, which provides automatic entry of coordinates, time zones, and time changes. An important feature for Solar Fire users is that Astracadabra synchronises with the Solar Fire data base on the main computer, enabling chart files to be transferred between the main computer and the Pocket PC. However I should mention here that you do not need to own Solar Fire to run Astracadabra. This is a powerful 'stand-alone' product.

 

A choice of 31 house systems and 12 zodiacs are offered in both Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs. The major asteroids, Chiron, the Part of Fortune (day/night or fixed), and the Vertex can be displayed. Charts can be displayed in color or black and white. Aspect lines can be switched on or off. There is also the option of displaying only one aspect type, such as squares or trines. Given the small screen size, this is a really neat feature.

 

Astracadabra also presents a choice of systems: Western, Vedic, and Classical. Other options include the ability to select aspects and orbs from a pre-defined list of aspects, true/mean Node selection, selecting the formula for the Part of Fortune ¬(day/night or fixed), parallax Moon option, geocentric latitude option, planet glyphs selection (eg. Uranus, Pluto, Capricorn), default 'Home selection' (default place in Solar Fire terms), chart angle progression type (5 options) as well as progression day type (2 options).

 

The feature which wins the award for the 'cool factor' is the little dialog box on the bottom left of the screen, which provides a biwheel between the current transits and the natal chart, between various progressed charts and the natal chart, and between the solar-arced and the natal chart. With just one click the current solar chart for the selected natal chart is displayed. It is very quick and very convenient. Very cool!

 

When the biwheel is selected to view transits around a natal chart, with one click on the image of a yellow clock, Astracadabra displays a biwheel featuring a continually updating 'clock chart' (current transits) around a birth chart. Now is this not 'cool'? An updating 'clock' chart for the present location can also be displayed as a single wheel. And with either the biwheel or single wheel updating 'clock chart' turned on, the Pocket PC can be turned off at the main switch with this setting still showing, and is displayed again the moment the Pocket PC is re-started. This is 'immediate' astrology! Technology has brought an immediacy to astrology that was never before possible.

 

Astracadabra permits alternative locations and date/times to be selected for the progressed or return charts. However it does not yet have the ability to view a progressed chart by itself, unless it is re-entered as a new chart. It displays tables for planetary data, and house cusps, and whether a planet is slow, fast or stationary. It shows these details for both charts in a biwheel. It also has an aspects grid, and will sort aspects from the tightest to the widest orb.

 

For classical astrologers there is an Essential Dignities table, displaying the ruler, exaltation, triplicity, term, face, and detriments for each planet, with lords and dignity score. Peregrine planets are also listed.

 

Vedic astrology is included amongst the options packaged with Astracadabra. The Nakshatra and Pada are shown for each of the planets, plus a three level Vimshottari Dasa table, ten divisional charts, and debilitated planets for each varga.

 

To run Astracadabra you need a Pocket PC with Microsoft Pocket PC 2002, Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 or later operating system. It is recommended that your Pocket PC run at 300MHz or faster.

 

From my own perspective as a practicing astrologer, I would like to see a list of transits provided for the natal chart, and also the ability to compare charts (synastry), and to create composite charts. My feeling is that this new software for the evolving Pocket PC technology presents astrologers with an immediacy of access to their craft that was unthinkable in previous ages. We are witnessing the beginning of a revolution in astrological practise and application.

 

For the Pocket PC world, Astracadabra is a very powerful program and sets a very high standard. Neville is to be congratulated for his fine achievement. I look forward to reviewing future updates and editions of this exciting program.

The following review is by Hank Friedman, November 2004.

Astracadabra 2004
Written by Neville Lang
Published and distributed worldwide by Esoteric Technologies Pty Ltd
www.esotech.com.au

Astracadabra 2004 is a pioneering new astrology program for Pocket PCs. To run it, you will need a Pocket PC (not a Palm PDA) that has the Microsoft Pocket PC 2002, Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 or later operating system. It requires a minimum 64Mb RAM memory and a CPU using Intel's Strong ARM or XScale processors (or the equivalent). To really enjoy Astracadabra, I recommend that your Pocket PC run at 300MHz or (preferably) faster.

The "2004" in the program's name points to the developer's intent to continue developing new versions with more features over several years. Even with this version, which I will call Astracadabra for the rest of this review, the program offers a more diverse range of features than other astrology programs that I've seen for Pocket PCs.

Pocket PCs, by the way, are pocket-sized computers that use a Windows-based operating system and allow you to run many programs on them simultaneously. They differ from Palm-based pocket computers, in general, by being faster, having sharper and larger screens, and can run software that has more capabilities.

I cannot emphasize enough how valuable Pocket PCs are for astrologers. You can keep them with you all of the time, and at the push of a button, instantly see any chart, e.g. of the moment, for a client or family member, etc., and view pages of additional information about the chart. You can even set Astracadabra to display a continually updating chart of the moment (i.e. astroclock), for your present location, or even better, a biwheel with the current transits around your birth chart. If you turn off your Pocket PC with this setting on, then as soon as you turn it on again, it will show the biwheel again. Astracadabra is unique in offering a wealth of modern Western, Vedic, and Classical Western charts and tables. [Note: the 2004 version offers only round chart wheels.]

Astracadabra has the accuracy of the Swiss Ephemeris (the highest precision available) and comes complete with the full ACS PC Atlas data (the latest version of over 250,000 cities and towns) which provides automatic entry of coordinates, time zones, and time changes. It also will synchronize with Solar Fire, if you own it, automatically copying chart files from your base computer to the Pocket PC and vice versa, so both have the most up-to-date chart files. (Of course, you don't have to own Solar Fire to run Astracadabra.) It offers a choice of 31 house systems, both Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs (9 Ayanamsa) and Draconic and SVP "zodiacs". In addition to the regular astrological points, it can calculate and display the four major asteroids, the comet Chiron, the Uranian points, the Black Moon, the Part of Fortune (day/night or fixed), the Vertex and Antivertex, and the Equatorial Ascendant and Descendant.

Astracadabra can display chart wheels in color or black and white, with or without aspect lines. You can select which aspects to display and define two sets of orbs for each aspect (Natal/Transit orbs and Progressed orbs). You can also turn on or off aspects to the angles. A really nice feature, given the small screen of Pocket PCs, is that you can view a single aspect (e.g. only quintiles) or any set of aspects, making it much easier to notice specific types of aspects.

Program options include the Parallax-corrected Moon, Geocentric Latitude, and True or Mean Node, as well as 5 types of Progressed Angle methods (Solar Arc in longitude or Right Ascension, Naibod Arc in longitude or Right Ascension, or Mean Quotidian), and either Standard (Q2) or Bija (Q1) progressed days. You can customize the Essential Dignities table by selecting Ptolemaeic, Lilly or Dorothean Triplicities, and Ptolemaeic or Egyptian Terms. You have a choice of glyphs for Uranus, Pluto, and Capricorn. Finally, you can specify a default location for calculating new charts.

Astracadabra's Western astrological features include the ability to calculate Solar Return charts and biwheels with the Transits, Secondary or Tertiary or Minor Progressions, Solar Arc Directions, or (for chart comparisons) a second person's chart around the birth chart, showing the interaspect lines between the two charts. Its "Base Date" feature allows you to quickly select a different location for any of the progressed or return charts, as well as a different date and time. (To see Progressed charts as single wheels, you have to re-enter their chart data as a new chart.)

Among the excellent data tables in Astracadabra is the Chart Details screen which, for Western charts, shows the calculation options selected, the Julian date, the chart angles (including Vertex, etc.), all of the house cusps, the longitude, latitude, right ascension, declination, and daily motion for all of the planets (and indicates if planets are combust, moving slowly, or stationary ­ which is exceptionally useful). If you are looking at a biwheel (e.g. progressed to natal) when you select the Chart Details screen, it shows all of these details for both outer and inner charts.

You can also view an aspects grid, complete with aspect glyphs and degrees and minutes of applying or separating orbs; and for biwheels (e.g. progressed-to-natal or synastry) an aspect grid of the interaspects between the outer and inner charts. Finally, Astracadabra offers a very nice Sorted Aspect table, listing the aspects from tightest orb to widest orb.

Astracadabra's main Classical Astrology feature is its Essential Dignities table. Here you can see, for each planet,the Ruler, Exaltation, Triplicity, Term, Face, and Detriment lords, and its dignity score, with peregrine planets noted.

The Vedic functions of Astracadabra include a Chart Details screen that shows (in addition to all of the information mentioned above for Western charts) both the Nakshatra and Pada for each of the planets. Another screen shows a complete Dasa table to three levels (dasa, bhuti, and antara), while a third screen shows a table of the positions of all of the planets (and Asc and MC) for ten divisional charts (D-3 to D-12), with a triangle pointing out debilitated planets for each varga.

Astracadabra is a powerhouse Pocket PC program that offers superb precision and the widest number of features available for pocket computers. Especially great for Western astrologers, Astracadabra also allows you to explore both Classical and Vedic astrology too. I look forward with great anticipation to the program's continuing evolution.

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Studyshops

 


The Alchemical Sky
Liz Greene and James Hillman

FAA Journal, March 2006 Vol 36 Number 1

Review by Sherrynne Dalby

It was with great excitement that I opened the package containing one of the newly released ‘studyshop’ series by Astro Logos. The CD I chose was “The Alchemical Sky” a one day conference by Liz Greene and James Hillman.
The packaging is impressive and promising, containing 4 lectures lasting between 45 mins and an hour each, along with accompanying charts and images all on CD.
I spent some time looking at the graphics and quotes before clicking on the first lecture. Even though the topics are appealing and speakers of the highest calibre, the sound quality proved to be poor and sometimes difficult to listen to. James Hillman is informative as well as entertaining, however Liz Greene’s presentation sounds flat, as though she is reading constantly from a script. Coupled with the low sound quality, this made it sometimes difficult to maintain maximum concentration on the material offered.
In a multimedia driven world this CD could use some editing and production. I feel the format is limiting, with the audio available only as MP3 files, meaning it can only be played on a computer or MP3 player. One of the drawbacks of listening to the recording of a lecture is that without the accompanying visual input, much of the intent and information is also missing. The fill here could be better. Although the images and charts are included on the CD, to access them you have to be sitting at the computer and click on the correct image at the appropriate time. My advice – print them all out first.
Perhaps I was expecting too much, imagining this would be a more complete multimedia or co-ordinated presentation package. Having said all that, the information content, totalling almost four hours, is certainly worth listening to. Plus if you have an MP3 player the sound files can be downloaded for portability.

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Eclipses - Their Role in Charts and Prediction
Bernadette Brady

FAA Journal, June 2006 Vol 36 Number 2

Review by Georgena Lee

Colour! Colour! Colour!
As a visual person, that was my first impression when opening the package containing Bernadette’s Study Shop. I was not disappointed to find that this first impression was supported in the presentations on the CD itself.
I first took some time to explore the numerous illustrations, diagrams, and charts through the links on the title page. These are both stimulating and informative for a beginner or a seasoned student of the subject of Eclipses. All charts used can be printed as desired, along with notes relating to the charts themselves.
As an experienced lecturer (with many years multi media expertise) Bernadette has presented the subjects included on the CD in a logical progression with enthusiasm and clarity, in six easy sessions, as she invites the listener to take breaks with her audience. The total lecture time is 4 ½ hours, her speech is alive, her manner assured and the sound quality good. The six sessions allow the listener to review any area they wish without the need to cover the whole content again, or to stretch the sessions to several different times as suits their other commitments, which is a distinct advantage for some. Alternatively, the lectures themselves could be downloaded on to an MP3 player and listened to while commuting or whenever the listener finds it convenient.
As an acknowledged expert on the subject, Bernadette first covers the history & geometry of Eclipses; Nodal transits and the impact of Saros Series through history. Then she moves on to an interpretation of the 2005 Eclipse seasons, the role of the predictive Astrologer and a review of some students’ charts. This is followed with an overview of secondary progressed lunar phases (for which there are additional detailed graphics and charts) and the study shop ends with a summary and question & answer session. There is a lot of detail and knowledge packed into the 4 ½ hours of these lectures.
Details of links and reference texts are included on the CD for further study of the topic. Excerpts from her book ‘The Eagle & the Lark’ are included for reference to dates of Eclipses, Saros Series interpretation and graphics. Bernadette speaks through the lectures of her evolving view of the impact of Lunar Eclipses since writing her book, which reminds the Astrologer that knowledge and experience often expand initial ideas or viewpoints.
As a tool, I feel this style of Study Shop, including graphics and charts, has much to offer and certainly is far superior to the medium of audiotapes we have used in the past.
What price would you pay for a full day workshop with a world renowned Astrologer? Certainly more than the $69.96 charged for the Study Shop CD that brings this top class (Aussie born) Astrologer into your own study at your convenience.

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Astrology Myths and Fairy tales
by Liz Greene

FAA Journal, June 2006 Vol 36 Number 2

Review by Mary Van Hummel

Liz Greene’s 4-½ hour 5 part workshop takes us on a fascinating journey not only in astrology and the importance of story telling but by using technology to get her message across in a fun and exciting way.
I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. My Venus in Aquarius and Mercury Retrograde loved being able to take notes in Microsoft Word, see images and charts (and print them out) while listening to Liz. If you need to listen again it is an extremely simple process. Being in five parts you are able to easily allocate your time to listening to each section. It is taped live and my only criticism is that there are a few moments when it was difficult hearing questions and comments from the audience.

Part One
Liz Greene explains how vitally important story telling is… especially as a tool in explaining a clients chart to them. There is always a myth or a fairytale that explains the charts journey. And as we tell of the journey the myth or fairytale helps us to explain how the conflicts might be resolved. A story is a cycle that ends where it begins. Begins with something that is unresolved, a conflict. There is a Protagonist, by their nature that causes the conflict. A crisis point where a choice must be made. It is finished with a resolution. The more myths, fairytales, stories, poems and music we have at our disposal the more we are able at explaining the journey in the reading of the chart. Liz goes on to explain the difference between myths and fairytales.

Part Two
Liz tells us how the Solar Cycle going through the signs as well as the angles depict the journey of the myth. We are able to access the stories and pictures of mythic hero’s Aires, Jason and the Argonauts, Dionysus and the original and bloodthirsty story of Cinderella just to name a few.

Part Three
We learn how to Apply mythic thinking to the natal chart. The IC/MC axis and the family all come into play. We then learn about Artemis and her links to the natal moon and the concept of the ancestral inheritance. We then explore the Sun, narcissism and the Sun’s natal House.

Part Four
Students ask Liz questions about star lore and myth. We then look at a student’s chart (which we are able to view and print out) and consider the implications of the elemental balance of the chart. We learn about The Grimm’s’ fairy tale “The Three Feathers” and its application to the balance of the elements in the chart. We view aspects in the chart relating to fairy tales.

Part Five
Liz shows us the spinal column of a chart the Sun, Moon, Asc and Saturn and their relationship to myths. A students chart related to Persephone and Demeter and mythic insights into Virgo is also discussed. And who plays the parts?
To sum it up, I found the workshop a wonderful learning tool for both the student and experienced astrologer

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