Stephanie Clement has practiced astrology for nearly 30 years. She is versed in the domain of transpersonal psychology and its application within an astrological context. Mapping Your Birthchart attempts the challenging task of explaining basic astrological principles for a beginner while also providing personal insight and meaning.
The book begins by covering the basic astrological concepts paramount to anyone exploring astrology for the first time. Chapter one briefly touches on the design of the chart wheel along with the signs, planets, and houses, offering some keywords for reference. Aspects are also introduced with a thoughtful analogy to help define the quality of orbs. Retrogrades are oddly missing, however, and the inclusion of transits seems premature. While well-written explanations can be found throughout the chapter, I would have preferred more care given to this section and its organization as the foundation for an introductory book. A beginner may find themselves temporarily pulled off-track for a paragraph or two before the subject matter returns to the topic at hand. However, as the reader progresses through the book, many lingering questions should be answered.
Clement introduces her readers to the mythological underpinnings of the zodiac. Although the narratives are brief, it is a beneficial addition not often found in beginner books. The majority of Mapping Your Birthchart describes each planet, house and aspect in greater detail, introducing them as a trio in each chapter. This organization is unconventional, but functional. Most chapters contain case studies of well known individuals to assist in clarifying the concepts previously discussed. Exercises in each chapter offer an additional means of practice and integration.
Chapter six, titled "Mercury, the Third and Sixth Houses, and the Trine" is similar to most chapters; Mercury's astrological associations and symbolism is articulated in a warm and casual language, followed by a cookbook description of the planet through each sign. Next, the author expounds on the meaning of each house. Interestingly, a description of masculine and feminine signs is then inserted. In addition, some rudimentary information is provided on planetary rulerships and essential dignities. These pieces would have been more potent had they been woven into the first chapter on basic astrological definitions and concepts. Although they are oddly out of place in the middle of the book, each is an important piece for students to learn. I also wonder about the usefulness of essential dignities and debilities, generally a more classical application, in the context of a modern-based book; especially since the author does not appear to explain or use these considerations in the multitude of case studies presented.
As an introductory book, Mapping Your Birthchart contains the major points necessary for a new student to begin their study of the topic, despite its occasional disorganization. In addition, a glossary and appendix of astronomical data is included that any serious student should not be without. The CD included with the book is an added bonus for those who want to print a birth chart and don't have access to the internet.
The book is fine, the writing rather unappealing, and the CD doesn't add much. There are plenty of websites that you can get the same information for free.