Most astrology books reveal how to read your
character — Planets in Play
tells how to change it, specifically showing how to
embrace zodiac traits that you need more of and diminish those
that are harming your life.
The reviews are coming in... Read Chris
Lorenz's review in Dell Horoscope
from the November 2007 issue.
"Convention holds that a father shouldn't
recommend a work by his son. May I revision this code by
endorsing Laurence Hillman's book for its upbeat insights and
—James Hillman, author of
and The Soul's Code
"There aren't many books that come along
that can still change the breadth and depth of interpreting and
explaining astrology. This book can easily do that and is well
—Colonel Clarke E. Johnston, USAF
Ret. (practicing astrology for thirty-five years)
"Shakespeare taught us that "All the World's
a Stage," Laurence Hillman takes it a step further: "All the
Universe is a Stage." Through the global language of theatre,
Planets in Play gives anyone access to astrology as never
before. Mixing ancient wisdom and modern
psychology, Hillman intelligently and
compassionately explains our inner gods. I highly
recommend this book not only as a delightful way to explore
one's inner world, but also as a powerful reference tool."
-- Richard Olivier, Artistic
Director, Olivier Mythodrama and author of Inspirational Leadership
"Perhaps you are an entrepreneur, a lawyer,
a bartender, a web designer, an engineer, or an astrologer.
Whatever your role, Laurence Hillman’s exuberant new book is
sure to reinvigorate and reanimate those parts of your life that
have become tarnished with repetition and dullness. In language
that is fresh, clear, and direct, Hillman masterfully translates
the archetypes and myths that are the foundation of astrology,
bringing the wisdom of the heavens to bear on the problems of
modern-day life. Read this book. It will draw open the curtain
on a vibrant inner theater brimming with magic and
inspiration, altering your perspective on life in unexpected and
-- Pythia Peay, inspirational writer
and journalist, author of Soul
Sisters: The Five Sacred Qualities of a Woman’s Soul
"In Planets in Play, Laurence Hillman's
wonderful ear for the music of the stars, and love for deep
places, leads me directly to the river moving through my life."
-- Mark Rylance, Actor and Artistic
Director Shakespeare's Globe Theatre London 1996-2005
"This book is a MUST HAVE - an amazing
reference tool for anyone practicing psychotherapy. Use it to
broaden your vision of the inner world of clients, or to enrich
dream work, hypnotherapy, or voice dialogue/empty chair
sessions. The fact that it makes astrology accessible and
practical is truly a bonus. You will continue to turn to it
again and again, as I do both in my personal life and in my
-- Merideth Tomlinson, PhD,
"Planets in Play" by Laurence Hillman. Many
astrologers entered their field through an initial interest in
psychology. After realizing that psychology in itself didn't
provide any timing for the unfoldment of individual character or
any systematic approach to the psyche, those who discovered
modern astrology saw their world open up with unlimited
potential. Along the way, psychology students inevitably came
across James Hillman, one of the foremost psychologists of the
twentieth century, especially noted for his archetypal
And now, in the twenty-first century, James
Hillman's son, Laurence Hillman, is a professional astrologer
with his first book out: Planets in Play. This
father-to-son succession, bridging the study of archetypes to
astrology, reveals the natural growth of astrology in our
society. James Hillman broke away from his Jungian studies to
create innovative archetypal principles, including the idea that
the ego itself is an archetype. Laurence Hillman takes this one
step further and identifies the Sun as the ego archetype. The
material around the Sun, which he describes as the Solar
Principle, comprises chapter One. Then, the Lunar Principle is
chapter Two, and so on through the pantheon of traditional
Planets in Play is organized around the idea
behind William Shakespeare's famous lines: “All-the world's a
stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their
exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many
parts.” The many parts that a man plays are the archetypes, as
depicted in his horoscope. Some archetypes (planets) are more
obvious to the individual than others, and an individual
generally identifies with one more than the rest and acts it
out. This is what one is "mostly."
The kinds of clothes this actor wears
reflect the sign the planet is in. These are the costumes or
disguises through which a planet can express itself. The props
on the stage describe where the action takes place, and in
astrological terms are shown by the planets in the houses. Each
chapter gives a brief description of the planet in the twelve
signs arid twelve houses, referring to these sections as the
planet wearing certain clothes and where it's acting. Hillman
describes three ways to identify the most important planets,
which are labeled as the Greatest Tension, the Lead Character,
and the Invisible Actor.
Laurence Hillman's extraordinary background
is evident in the way he presents the material. His keen
insights are reflected in a series of quotes from well-known,
creative writers and artists, which is how he opens each
chapter. Then, the archetype under discussion is portrayed in
its various guises through ancient myths, through traditional
keywords associated with the planet, and through its expression
in modern times. Hillman's sociological education shines through
his treatment of the various planets, making this an exceptional
introductory book to psychological astrology.
One of Laurence Hillman's innovative
approaches to describing planets as archetypes is how he
explores when there's too much of an archetype, or too little.
Too much Sun is egocentric, pompous, haughty, and ostentatious.
Too little Sun has low self-esteem, low vitality, and no
personal power. Practical tips follow to get the archetype into
a balanced expression. Too much Mercury is portrayed as a
smarty-pants or a liar, while too little Mercury feels stupid.
Thinking clearly is the antidote to these problem areas. The
sections on Venus and Mars are particularly colorful, including
practical suggestions for getting these archetypes into balance.
Toward the end of the last century, it was
cool for many people to have their own psychological therapist.
In the twenty-first century, as Laurence Hillman suggests, those
who are growth-oriented will have their own astrologer. It's as
natural a progression as James Hillman's psychological
archetypes to Laurence Hillman's astrological archetypes.
-- Chris Lorenz, Dell Horoscope,
November 2007 Issue
The Mountain Astrologer:
One of the unending pleasures of exploring astrology is the many, many different ways that people investigate astrology and practice it as an art.
In Planets in Play, Laurence Hillman combines the imagery of theater with the planets and stars. The title has a dual meaning herein: Not only is the author describing the planets as characters in the staged drama of one's life, but he also invites the reader to engage the planets through a variety of means that essentially allow one to "play" with the archetypes. He serves as almost a theatrical producer himself, teasing out the nature of the planets in their various garbs and positions on the stage.
You will see the essentially practical and experiential method of his approach in the titles of the chapters, for example: "The Solar Principle — How to Shine Light on What You Want," "The Venusian Principle — How to Delight in the Way You Love," and "The Martial Principle — How to Apply Your Force." Each chapter introduces the reader to one of the planets with sections on their primary and subtler themes. He then describes how that planet may act in excess ("Too Much Moon: The Emotional Wreck" or "Too Much Venus: The Oversexed Come-on") or in deficiency ("Too Little Moon: I Feel Nothing and I Need Nothing" or "Too Little Venus: 'I Hate Everyone,' Said the Spinster"). Hillman then offers a selection of simple and practical tips for getting closer to a particular planet — no complex psychological processes, just directly and immediately playing with the planet. Next, he returns to the planets as characters in a play and sketches each by house ("Where Is Your Mars Acting?") and sign ("How Is Your Mars Clothed?").
Although the motif of seeing the planets as characters on the stage is often used, Hillman is very good at it. He is at home in the imaginal realm and brings metaphor, myth, story, Jungian psychology, and fairy tales to transmit the meanings of the planets. Each chapter leads off with quotes from diverse literary sources that further tap into the archetype at hand.
We use countless means to attempt to follow the words at the entrance to Apollo's shrine at Delphi: "Know Thyself." Astrologers are often motivated by this dictum. We also aim to guide our clients on their path of discovery — supported, of course, by numerous techniques, methods, and a rich history. Laurence Hillman's book facilitates this process in a very direct and accessible way. I think it would be a perfect reference for clients and friends who want to learn more about astrology without engaging in an in-depth study.
If any of you pros are feeling stale or bored or (more likely, perhaps) working hard to integrate a new technique, take a break and read Hillman's delightful book. It is easy to read and may very well give you a new — and more fun — view of yourself.
-- Mary Plumb, June/July Issue 2009
Planets in Play is the first
foundational book that lets the reader reimagine his or her inner
life through the self-exploratory language of astrology. Author
Laurence Hillman reconnects the planets with the character traits
given them by the ancients.
Whether one accepts astrology as being "real,"
its language and concepts can go a long way toward helping us see
the archetypes that play on our lives. In observing the strengths,
weaknesses, and character traits of each planet and zodiac sign,
readers receive a toolbox filled with instruments with which to
newly understand their lives.
The reader will then be able to make more
conscious choices about how he or she is living out these
different aspects. To that end, Hillman provides specific tactics
and highly practical ideas of how to expressly nourish or minimize
these tendencies through choice of behavior, lifestyle, and
personal surroundings. Case examples, stories, and anecdotes run
throughout the book to demonstrate and ease this process.
In its appendices, Planets in Play
provides a guide in how to get a quality astrological reading,
with an emphasis on one's dominant archetypes. In addition,
Hillman offers a basic grounding in astrology for those readers,
therapists, or counselors who wish to learn how the ancient art
works at a psychological level without necessarily committing
themselves to its study.