My Books

Planets in Play 


QuotationOpenIn 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.QuotationClose

—Mark Rylance, Actor and Artistic Director Shakespeare's Globe Theatre London 1996-2005


QuotationOpenConvention 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 down-to-earth truths.QuotationClose

—James Hillman, author of "Re-Visioning Psychology" and "The Soul's Code"


QuotationOpenThere 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 worth considering.QuotationClose

—Colonel Clarke E. Johnston, USAF Ret. (practicing astrology for thirty-five years)


QuotationOpenShakespeare 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.QuotationClose

—Richard Olivier, Artistic Director, Olivier Mythodrama and author of Inspirational Leadership


QuotationOpenWhatever 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 dramatic ways.QuotationClose

—Pythia Peay, inspirational writer and journalist, author of "Soul Sisters: The Five Sacred Qualities of a Woman’s Soul"


QuotationOpenThis 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 psychology practice.QuotationClose

—Merideth Tomlinson, PhD, Psychotherapist


Book Reviews

Dell Horoscope - Chris Lorenz's review in the November 2007 issue:

QuotationOpenMany 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 psychology.

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.

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 archetypesQuotationClose


The Mountain Astrologer - Mary Plumb's Review in the June/July 2009 issue:

QuotationOpenOne 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.QuotationClose

Alignments - How to live in harmony with the Universe


FeaturedAlignmentsQuotationOpenThe mythic questions of our lives are profoundly addressed in this fascinating and unique orchestration of archetypal astrology and depth psychology. Hillman and Spencer guide the soul's journey with radical insight and luminous teaching.QuotationClose

--Jean Houston, Ph.D. author of "A Mythic Life" and "Jump Time"


QuotationOpenThis is one of the user-friendliest books on astrology I’ve read. The stories are captivating and the vision inspiring. This is astrology at its best, expertly presented and focused on specific issues in real life. Anyone who has yet to discover the intelligence and usefulness of good astrology could begin with this thoughtful and penetrating book.QuotationClose 

--Thomas Moore, author of "Care of the Soul" and "The Soul’s Religion"


QuotationOpenLaurence Hillman and Donna Spencer take us out of the tyranny of feeling bound to our past and open the sense of destiny experience, allowing soul to breathe again as it feels the call from the future. An extraordinary book, full of practical significance and beautiful, moving stories bridging depth psychology and vibrant astrology. If you want to feel your purpose for being here, with very specific indications of your life work and love, this book shows the way.QuotationClose       

--Robert Sardello, author of "Love and the World" and "The Power of Soul"


Book Reviews

The Mountain Astrologer - Mary Plumb's Review in the September 2003 issue:

QuotationOpenThis short and clearly written book is the product of a fertile collaboration between a therapist and an astrologer. Laurence Hillman, who has been an astrologer for 25 years, is the son of psychologist and author James Hillman. Donna Spencer has had a private psychotherapy practice for more than 30 years and has done postdoctoral studies with Milton H. Erickson and Gerhard Adler, on the workings of the unconscious mind. Hillman and Spencer have developed the "Practice," a method of working with clients; the two look "at the same pattern but from a different point of view." The book's emphasis is on psychology; the astrological method used here is basic, yet penetrating: Alignment is shown in the chart by the North Node, which indicates one's calling and serves as an integrating motif for the entire horoscope. Alignments is a gentle and deceptively simple book. Using basic astrology and clear language, the authors present a powerful tool for self-awareness. Practicing astrologers may enjoy this book as a reminder of the fundamental technique that can have a life-changing impact on your clients. Certainly, readers who are just beginning to explore the confluence of archetypal astrology and depth psychology will not find a more elegant and open invitation than that presented by Laurence Hillman and Donna Spencer in their moving book.QuotationClose      


Branches of Light Review - Fall/Winter 2002/2003

QuotationOpenLaurence Hillman (yes, he is the son of psychologist James Hillman) has been an active astrologer for 25 years. Here he teams up with Donna Spencer, a psychotherapist also seasoned in her craft, to present a radical, readable, and inspiring method for aligning your personality with your calling. This book is based on the premise that our life has meaning and that we are privy to know what our specific purpose is for being here. In a psychological setting, astrological theory is translated into a practical recommendation with tangible results.QuotationClose       


Spirit of Change Review

QuotationOpenExplaining the basic premise of astrology to the layperson is a daunting task. Laurence Hillman and Donna Spencer accomplish this by linking psychology and astrology through an understanding of synchronicity, “the strong parallels between interior and exterior events that are emphatically endowed with meaning.” Archetypal images in astrology are a means for discussing the soulful energies that connect a person with the universe, bridging the gap between our collective and our personal unconscious or soul. Becoming aware of the synchronicities in our lives is “a sign that the deepest part of us is being awakened to its alignment or misalignment with the universe.” As an astrologer, I have come to honor the importance of the North Node in such work, as a key to the spiritual path of an individual. Likewise, the South Node as an indicator of the obstacles or ways in which we get dragged back into past life situations, rather than dwelling in the rich opportunities that exist for us in the present.

       Hillman and Spencer come to a similar conclusion in Alignments. In describing one’s calling, the authors speak of how the role of being the awakener of yourself becomes an instrument of the awakening of humankind. Rather than an astrological cookbook to finding your own Node (despite a brief section on the meanings of your North and South nodes by house position), Alignments offers a more philosophical and personal look at the sacred task of aligning your personality with your purpose. Hillman and Spencer then discuss how they apply this information to their own lives, and in helping their clients integrate the symbolic wisdom of astrology with the analytical psychology of Jung.QuotationClose      


Publisher's Summary:

QuotationOpenThis book is based upon the premise that our life has meaning and that we are privy to know what our specific purpose is for being here. In a psychological setting, astrological ideas and theory are translated into practical therapy with tangible results. No longer is the "patient" gloomily working out his or her issues. Instead, there is a focus, a direction to the therapy process that guides a person towards his or her specific calling in life. This book presents a new, radical, and inspiring method for aligning one's personality with one's calling.

The authors, a psychotherapist and an astrologer, both seasoned in their crafts, have designed a book which develops practical methods of discovering an individual's calling in life; enables the reader to evaluate if their lives are on track or off track with this particular calling; describes an original and succinct theory with practical examples; presents a new look at relationships - based on calling - which deepens the partnership of marriage, friendship, and parenting,; sees calamities, dreams and synchronicities as wake-up calls to finding one's calling; and deals with these serious subjects in a humorous and lighthearted way.QuotationClose