Maria Shaw's Star Gazer - Maria Shaw
Maria Shaw, a former model and TV anchor, has written the first comprehensive guide to the New Age that's geared specifically to teens. Now a professional astrologer, intuitive, and author, Shaw found herself fielding questions from her daughters and their friends about everything from astrology to tarot. She realized that there wasn't enough information out there for teens about these subjects. Her solution? Write a book about New Age topics for ages 12-18.

Almost everyone wants to know more about themselves. Self-discovery and understanding is why personality tests and systems are so popular. Likewise, this is a part of the reason that many are drawn to astrology, tarot, palmistry, dream work and the like. Not only are individuals looking to understanding themselves, there is a curiosity about the future and how life will unfold. Curiosity about self usually leads to an interest about others: is another trustworthy? Would they make a good friend? Could they be a love interest?

Teens are no exception to this curiosity and interest, wondering why they are on this Earth and for what purpose. Maria Shaw's Star Gazer is an excellent primer for beginning the quest of knowing and understanding self. Shaw acknowledges that New Age topics such as developing intuition and psychic abilities was taboo as recent as the 1970's, and it wasn't easy to find books about numerology, astrology, and other New Age arts. Of course, there is nothing new about the New Age, since it's really ancient wisdom that's been around for centuries that was forced to go underground because of the social or religious atmosphere of the times.

This book is soft cover, and 308 pages long. It's almost like a workbook, with sections devoted for writing down thoughts and impressions.

Chapter 1 of Star Gazer: Your Soul Searching, Dream Seeking, Make Something Happen Guide to the Future begins with a 58 page section on Astrology. Five pages are devoted to each of the 12 Sun signs. On the first page is a picture of the Sun sign, the astrological symbol, and the sign's color, ruling planet element, gemstone, lucky day, and number. Two pages are dedicated to describing the attributes of the Sun sign. An interesting element to this section is that Shaw actually addresses decans. Each astrological sign is divided into 3 decans; for example, the first decan of Aries is March 21-March 30, the second decans is March 31-April 9, and the third decans is April 10-April 20. There is a several sentences addressing the different "flavors" of the decans. (I must say, however, that both my husband and myself are Scorpios, and neither one of our decans described us accurately. In fact, they were way off.) There are whimsical, cartoonish drawings throughout the book, and in the astrology section, there is an illustration of the "Best Buds" of each Sign and "Best Traits". Also displayed are "Amazing Attractions", "Heart Breakers", "Worst Traits", and "Careers to Consider".

What bothered me about the astrology section is that Shaw states that an individual’s Sun sign sums up his or her personality. She writes: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if you cold be psychic for a day? When you first meet someone, you can size him up and know exactly what kind of person he is: his likes, dislikes...his personality? Well, it's easier than you think. Just knowing someone's birthday can give you the inside scoop. There are specific personality traits associated with each of the twelve signs of the Zodiac."

I couldn't believe a professional astrologer would make this assertion. The sum of a person is so much more than the Sun sign--such as which House the Sun sign is in, where the Moon and other planets are located, Ascendant (which is really an indicator of the face that is presented to the world--more so than Sun sign), etc. I understand that this is an introduction to New Age topics, but it seems remiss not to mention these other important factors and to lead teens to believe that the Sun sign is the sum of a person. Not only that, she even goes as far to say that certain Sun sign pairings "don't stand a chance". For example, in the Scorpio section she says "Taurus is Scorpio's opposite sign. These two will find each other stimulating and attractive, but both can be hotheaded and like to have their way. Cancer and Pisces are well suited to the Scorpion personality, as is Capricorn and Virgo. Leo and Aquarius relationships don't stand a chance."

A pretty bold assertion! One of my best friend's is an Aquarius, and I've always had incredible rapport with this sign...perhaps because my Moon is in Aquarius and I have a good bit of Air in my chart. But guess who I tend to but heads with in life? Capricorns and Tauruses. (Or is that Taurii?) This may because I don't have a lot of Earth in my chart, but that goes to show how other aspects of astrology are more of an indicator for compatibility or the lack thereof. As I mentioned, both my husband and I are Scorpios, with lots of planets in Scorpio, but because our Ascendants differ, as well as the House placements, we are extremely different in personality.

Still, the zodiac descriptions are pretty accurate and the whole astrology section gives a good cheat sheet to the Sun signs.

Chapter 2 is on numerology. Shaw writes an interesting introduction on numbers and why odd numbers are considered as having a "stronger" vibration than even numbers (odd numbers are masculine, and even are said to be feminine), and other tidbits on the origin of numerology--including how numbers shed light on personality and life path. She then shows how to calculate your birth number, and describes the nine basic personalities, as well as the master numbers of 11 and 22. Shaw then goes to explain how to discover your numerology number for the year, which is predictive in nature. Several paragraphs are devoted to each of the nine "years" and what to expect for the upcoming year.

Chapter 3 is titled In the Palm of Your Hand and discusses palmistry and the future. This is an engrossing section that discusses the life, heart, and head lines, as well as lines known as netting, branches, triangle, star, crosses, and breaks. Each section includes a sketch of a hand so you can assess your own palms and draw the lines on the blank hand. She includes key questions to ask such as Are the lines deep or shallow? Are there breaks, forks, or other indentations in your lines? Are your lines curved or straight? There are also hands that are drawn with the different types of lines so you can find them on your own palm. Shaw even shows you how to "age" your lines--dividing them up into decades.

After your done examining your hand and drawing the lines on paper, there are sections on how to interpret the heart line (e.g. if your heart line curves up, you fall in love fast--but if your heart line is straight or has a small curve, you tend to be cautious in matters of the heart), the head line (e.g. if there's meshing or netting on this line, you need to learn to relax--and the longer your head line, the longer you take to make decisions), and the life line (e.g. very deep lines mean you have a lot of energy--a shallow life line means you have low physical energy.) Shaw explains how hand lines change as you grow and experience new things, and how some lines lengthen, shorten, or even disappear altogether!

I never gave much thought to palmistry until I met a palm reader a few weeks ago. What she told me was so uncannily accurate (including information that I had intuited about my future and my "always thinking" bent), that I concluded that palmistry is much like face reading and graphology (handwriting analysis): it is a reflection of our personality patterns and a type of life map. Shaw's palmistry section provides great introductory information and includes sections on writing your own thoughts and impressions about the different lines.

Chapter 4 spends 85 pages discussing tarot. She gives a brief overview of tarot, how to know which deck to get, how to take care of the cards, preparing for a reading, and includes a 3 card Past, Present, Future spread as well as a 12 month, 12 card spread for the upcoming year. Each of the 78 cards have a page of their own. There is a picture of each card from the Universal Tarot, and a brief description of the upright position and the reversed position. I found the descriptions of each card to be pretty much the standard interpretation; however, I was somewhat surprised about comments such as "Nothing is impossible for you if you draw this card" for the Judgment card, or comments like "You cannot fail" or "You will meet your soulmate." and other definitive, simplistic meanings. This is a book geared towards 12-18 year olds--and we're discussing soulmates? A teens life can feel pretty unpredictable anyway, but to guarantee things like fame and success and romance is what almost everyone wants to hear--but I feel the energies of the tarot are a little more subtle than the all-or-nothing descriptions of some of the cards. Still, Shaw does a good job of introducing traditional tarot to the uninitiated.

Chapter 5 is devoted to reading auras. It's a very simplified introduction to aura colors and what they mean, and Shaw writes how a person can train themselves to read auras. She does a good job explaining how energy fields extend beyond the body and often contain color--and why it is that some people drain us.

Chapter 6 is called Rocking Your World and covers the use of crystals. This is an engaging chapter, and Shaw relates a personal story about the use of rose quartz which is reported to help heal broken hearts and draw love. She describes how gemstones and crystals hold healing energies, and vibrate in alignment to different things--and how people have been using crystals for thousands of years to draw and create love, protection, healing, and prosperity. Shaw also discusses how to cleanse crystals and choose ones that are right for you. Included in this chapter is a Gemstone and Crystal Guide which shows you crystals that will help a variety of situations, such as attracting love, passing exams, removing negativity, boosting self-confidence, and aid in creativity. There is also a listing of 52 different crystals and gemstones and how they aid us and in which areas. Throughout this list are cartoon drawings of certain gems that add a bit of whimsy and interest.

Chapter 7 is about using candle magic. Some people burn candles while they pray for specific needs, and this chapter talks about what certain candle colors represent, as well as carving names on a candle as a form of intent. Shaw tells an incredible story of a friend who carved her name and that of an ex on her candle. Although he was emotionally abusive, she felt that he would eventually change and come back to her. The resolution of this story (this friend meeting someone who looked exactly like her ex--and with the same name!) is remarkable. There is a section on Candle Intentions which describes 36 different situations you can use candle magic, such as making new friends, stopping gossip, for peace in the family, for aid in forgiving others, and to increase psychic ability. Also, which day is best to burn the candle, a corresponding color and crystal, and an affirmation for each situation.

Chapter 8 is about dream interpretation, and Shaw discusses different types of dreams such as recurring, "pizza" (you know what happens when you eat pizza before you go to bed!) precognitive, warning, factual, inspirational, and visitation (when a love one that has passed on comes to visit.) A dream journal is recommended, and a sample page and questions to ask about a dream is outlined. A 10-page dream dictionary explains interpretations of dream elements such as colors, people, holidays--and objects such as doors, elevator, fish, police, rats, parents, etc.--as well as situations such as marriage, running, flying, digging, and falling. At the end of the chapter is a place to record your dream impressions.

Chapter 9 is devoted to developing psychic powers, as well as how you find a reputable and ethical reader (tarot reader, astrologer, tea-leaf reader, scryer, etc.), how to prepare for a reading, and what to expect from a reading. Shaw then gives some visualization exercises to increase mind-reading capabilities. She encourages teens to not use these skills for fun and games, but to create a wonderful life for yourself. She leaves the reader with this wise admonition: "Use them for your highest good and those of others. If you ever use your abilities to manipulate, hurt, or control someone, negative responses will come back to you. Just like a boomerang, whatever you put out will return to you."

In conclusion, I would recommend Maria Shaw's Stargazer for teens and adults alike who would like to know more about New Age practices; it's a good general reference for the curious, and provides some meaty portions to take with you in the quest for self-understanding. Informative, user-friendly, and easy-to-understand, it would make a great gift for a curious teen or for anyone wanting to explore the mysteries of the ancients through a light-hearted, whimsical lens.

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