Tools of the Craft: A Review of “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need”

I mentioned to a friend that I was interested in learning more about astrology, and she immediately said “I have a book you should look at.” That book was “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need” by Joanna Martine Woolfolk. I started paging through it, and knew instantly that I needed to have my own copy and use it as a reference. For a while, it became the “coffee table” book for my roommates, who were both also fascinated with it.

In this post, I’ll review this book as a working tool, and tell you a little about what you can find in its pages. I don’t think this is the only astrology book you’ll ever need, but if you have a casual interest in astrology it is a good point to jump off from.

Like I said, this book is a great reference point. The author gives lots of information and context about the different signs, what the planets mean in the chart, the different astrological houses, rising signs, the importance of sun signs vs. rising signs vs. moon signs and all the rest. She includes charts of the planetary motions, so you can really easily draw your own chart or someone else’s chart.

Look at this pretty ascendant chart!

Here are some key features from the 21st-Century Edition:

  • Astrological tables for 1900 – 2100, including all the planets (but no Chiron, though that is a discussion for more advanced astrologers)
  • Specially designed rising sign tables (I found this a helpful revision from the older edition)
  • Sections on “astrology and love” and “astrology and health”
  • This is a great reference! It’s laid out in such a way that you can get more information from a section, or you can just use it as a general reference when drawing a chart or to remind yourself of certain astrological aspects.
  • This book really helps you to physically draw your chart, understand the astrology wheel, and figure out how to visually represent the information you’re gathering.

Here are some key drawbacks to using the 21st-Century Edition:

  • This book is only written for the northern hemisphere! It does not take into account planetary movements as they impact the southern hemisphere. This is especially clear in the rising sign tables – they only show rising signs at 30 and 40 degrees north.
  • This book is definitely written from the 1960s/70s New Age tradition, which feels a bit outdated to me. I definitely try to depart from this tradition.
  • Am I the only nerd that really wants historical charts? Probably. I bet there’s a different book for that.

I live in the northern hemisphere, so that first bullet isn’t a concern for me. I think this is an incredibly useful general tool to have in your toolbox, and has been a fabulous introduction to astrology for me.

This book left me thirsty for more. It’s pretty “traditional” (and by that, I mean very 1960s/70s New Age astrology), and increasingly that doesn’t jive with me.

I find the way that a lot of astrologers talk about romance and the signs to be problematic, or to not work well for my queer or polyamorous friends. “The Taurus Man” or “The Gemini Woman” seems very outdated to me. Yes, as a woman-who-likes-women I can read about the “gemini woman,” but my understanding of gender is that this is a spectrum. There can be biologically female people who exhibit masculine tendencies. There are people who are neither male nor female, but somewhere else on the spectrum – whether they are intersex or genderqueer.

I really want to read a book about astrology that takes into account a more modern understanding of gender and sexuality. Even if that means writing the gendered language out all together, that would be an interesting exercise.

But that’s not the purpose of “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need.” The purpose of this book is to give you a reference.

This book makes a fantastic reference. This book is a jumping off point, or a book to keep on your shelf as a reference. It’s huge, fairly comprehensive, and you’ll at the very least learn the basics.

5 thoughts on “Tools of the Craft: A Review of “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need”

  1. Lily Xavier

    I tend to agree, everything’s so hetero-normative that we end up feeling like something’s wrong if we don’t get it exactly on the nose. I like to joke that almost all the guys who had crushes on me in HS ended up gay (it’s mostly true). They were probably more attracted to male energy than they were to me physically.

    1. I have a blog post/series brewing about heteronormative astrology! This post actually originally went more into my frustrations there, but I decided to write a full post on this issue.

      Both tarot and astrology get really centered in “masculine” or “feminine” traits as descriptors – I’ve seen some tarot decks have done a lot to move beyond this, I know of some very specifically queer decks out there. I know less about queer astrology, but I’m looking into resources on that

      1. Lily Xavier

        I’d love to see a specifically queer deck. I’m really in love with my Deviant Moon deck, it’s got a good personality, but I’d be interested in if it differs from a dedicated queer deck, you know? I don’t personally mind “feminine” and “masculine” as descriptors, honestly. It’s a vibe or an energy when I tend to use it, regardless of the gender or body a person has.

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