I read this book, not so much as an astrologer trying to educate myself on the subject of grief, but as a person in grief needing to relate to a wider experience of others battling the same process. As I did so I felt a deep sense of gratitude to Darrelyn Gunzburg for sharing the insights that have emerged as a result of her long and detailed study, which has involved many years of working directly with people who are passing through various stages of the 'black depths'.
The first section of the book is an analysis of grief - the way that society reacts to it, the myths and understated facts involved, and a thorough exploration of all its sequences. The detailed case histories are illuminating in showing how grief can range tremendously in its effects and endurance whilst still relating to common patterns. My own grief was acute, brought on by the sudden illness and death of my young dog whilst I was away from home and unable to help or comfort her. Even so, I recognised myself in all the cycles: loss had entered my life with an impenetrable barrier and there was nothing I could do - no amount of hard work or wise decisions that I could employ to put an unbearable situation back to a level where I could find contentment. Darrelyn proclaims her book to be about "letting go". Although it's impossible to still the emotional pain involved in that process, my experience was that the author's obvious understanding and sensitive expertise did bring a comforting sense of reassurance and, albeit at a rational level, it helped to feel informed on what was taking place, physically and emotionally. Subsequently I've recommended this book to a number of acquaintances, even outside the field of astrology.
The book is primarily written for astrologers however, with the recognition that most of us are frequently encountering clients that are dealing with grief in one way or another, whether it comes from death or other types of loss and separation. The latter part of the book considers the astrological triggers and planetary reflections, and builds upon the expectation that, by now, the astrologer has a good understanding of the complexities involved. A lengthy section pursues the connections with myth and the centaurs, and the book ends with an ephemeris for the centaurs Chiron, Pholus and Nessus between the years 1900-2050. The book is marketed as suitable for all levels of astrologers and I would agree with this. The astrological explanations take nothing for granted but are clearly borne from many years' practical astrological experience and deep reflective probing. As such there is much to be learned from Darrelyn's astrological instruction, and even the most advanced astrologers will benefit from the in-depth analysis of the psychological factors at work.
I considered it interesting that Darrelyn herself has found it best to let six months pass before taking on an astrological client who is experiencing grief. As a horary astrologer I am reminded of the traditional consideration before judgement which instructs us to be wary when dealing with a querent who is represented by a combust significator, reflecting the condition of feeling overwhelmed, powerless or distraught. Many times I have seen this signification come up for people who express an inability to cope with the consequences of a loss. Lilly's advice is that such a client cannot be regulated and so the consultation, if it goes ahead, much be approached with the greatest of care lest damage be brought to a client in a fragile emotional state. What Darrelyn has certainly proven to me is that no astrologer should be engaging with grieving clients unless they have accepted the responsibility for understanding, in-depth, the complex factors involved in the needs of their clients. From that stance I'd regard this book as recommended reading for beginners on account of the breadth and depth of the insights involved, and essential reading for anyone involved in, or thinking of becoming involved in professional practice.
Although already an accomplished author in other fields, this is the first astrological title that Darrelyn Gunzburg has produced. I was surprised by that, in light of the masterful way she wound through her subject matter and the sensitivity by which she made contact with the pertinent issues. I am sure it won't be the last and look forward to seeing more of her work appearing in print.