Here’s what reviewers are saying:
“This wonderful book brings together everything I have ever held dear in life. Priscilla Costello’s profound study is a substantial, scholarly work that is also completely accessible. The author knows her subject inside out and—even more importantly—she has the ability to convey her knowledge in a way that is constantly stimulating for her readers. We are both educated and entertained.
This book inspires me to re-visit the plays, especially the ones she has analysed in depth. Having absorbed this superb study of Shakespeare’s world, I feel armed with fresh insights, and will experience his plays in an entirely new way. Riches lie in store. Four hundred years on, Shakespeare himself would be applauding.”
—Lindsay Radermacher, MA Oxon (English), MPhil, professional astrologer (DFAstrol S.), Trustee of the Sophia and Urania Trusts
“The truth is now obvious: Shakespeare’s worldview was essentially identical with the occult philosophy of the Renaissance. Anyone who doubts this fact should read this exciting, revelatory, and authoritative new book. It will help you understand Shakespeare in a totally fresh and insightful way.”
—Richard Smoley, author of numerous books, including Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; former editor of Gnosis magazine
“In this extraordinary book Priscilla Costello brings a new and surprising perspective to our reading of Shakespeare. We discover the eternal symbols and archetypes in his characters and plays seen through the lens of astrological signs and planets. In turn, astrology is similarly enriched by the master of Western literature where his creative genius gives life, story and character to the planets and signs.”
—Ami Ronnberg, Director and Head Curator, Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS) at the C. G. Jung Center in New York City
“A book that will carry you beyond the stars into the heart of the cosmos. In Shakespeare and the Stars, Priscilla Costello recreates the ancient cosmological view of the heavens, infuses it with elements of the western mystery tradition that pose the interconnectedness of above and below where the mythic attributes of planetary deities are the archetypes for human personality.
Then through this profound philosophical lens, she looks at six of Shakespeare’s plays with meticulous precision, offering the secret key to unlock the deeper significance of his work.
This book is much more than a new analysis of Shakespeare’s work; it is an illumination of the cosmic vision that informed his creative outpouring.”
—Demetra George, M.A., author of numerous books, including Asteroid Goddesses, Astrology for Yourself, and Astrology and the Authentic Self
“Priscilla Costello’s groundbreaking book Shakespeare and the Stars will finally put to rest the question as to whether the greatest playwright who ever lived consciously alluded to astrology throughout his writings. The detailed and thoroughly researched examples that Costello provides will leave no doubt that the Bard utilized astrology to show how the fate of humankind is left less to chance than we would like to believe.
Costello’s knowledge and love of both astrology and Shakespeare make this book a classic which, like the Bard’s plays, will be read and re-read for years to come.”
—Ronnie Gale Dreyer, M.A., author of Vedic Astrology and Venus
Here are some comments from readers
I joyfully anticipated the arrival of this book and I was not disappointed! As a professional astrologer with an English degree, this book marries two of my favorite
subjects. I have both seen and read the author, Priscilla Costello, since 1996, so I was sure the quality of her work would be excellent. And so it is.
I am well into the Introduction at this point, but the Table of Contents is mouthwatering. She focuses first on more general topics, astrological and otherwise, that are relevant to the text (the temperaments such as choleric, sanguine, etc, for instance) before zeroing in on several individual plays, demonstrating how each one draws from a specific astrological archetype. I can hardly wait to get to The Tempest, my personal favorite of his plays and one I use in my own lectures.
Frequent, lengthy endnotes (at the back of the book) and the broad range of topics show the depth of her research and quality of her academic work. This book is clearly the result of decades of effort.
All this and it is a pleasure to read! Her love of the Bard is evident in every well-written word.
One of the first points in the book is that Shakespeare was writing to an audience who would perceive, understand and follow his astrological references since such knowledge was part of the mass consciousness of that day and age. However, the modern reader does not pick up on these key words and phrases, much less their significance, and therefore misses an entire layer of meaning in Shakespeare’s work.
Anyone who loves Shakespeare will enjoy Costello’s book not only on its own merits, but also because it will bring a whole new level of richness to his work.
—Linea Van Horn
I just wanted to write to say how much I enjoyed reading Shakespeare and the Stars. I finished it yesterday. What a masterwork…so marvellous!
I started with the plays. The Merchant of Venice is my favourite and it probably has something to do with the fact that my nodal axis is in Taurus-Scorpio, across houses 2-8. I lingered a long time on King Lear. As transiting Saturn approaches my Sun at 21° Sagittarius I was ready for it.
Then I returned to the beginning and was fascinated by your discussion of Elizabethan cosmology and the theory of the humours.
The endnotes were wonderful and the bibliography a treasure trove for future study.
Only you, Priscilla, could have written this book. I congratulate you on elevating astrology to the heights of learning and contemplation.
May this book be cherished and referenced for years to come. I loved it.
Reviews in Magazines and Journals:
Excerpts from the review in Dell Horoscope, September, 2016 (pp. 20-1):
Shakespeare and the Stars by Priscilla Costello offers a brilliant, original perspective by showing how the playwright used astrological symbols to provide the conceptual framework for many of his plays. This comprehensive, scholarly work is nothing short of a masterpiece and bound to become a treasured classic that any serious astrologer would be u display in the “favorite books” shelf. Liberal arts academics, especially those involved in literature, will be unexpectedly surprised by Costello’s research and findings. In the not-too-distant future one may find Shakespeare and the stars as required reading for Literature 101 classes.
And yet, casually reading this relatively lengthy tome is a delightful pleasure, especially for the astrologically savvy who will be among the first to accept Costello’s remarkable proposition. The mental jump one has to make to appreciate where Shakespeare was coming from is to understand how the collective mind set in his time differs from modern day attitudes.
In Shakespeare’s plays, astrological symbols are hiding in plain sight. Only modern academic bias against astrology has blinded us to the fact that Shakespeare wrote consistently and eloquently in support of the notion that humanity and the heavens are intimately connected. Costello’s groundbreaking, illuminating analysis reveals the genius behind Shakespeare’s unique body of work. The playwright secured his place in history with “an unusual combination of literary artistry, astute perception, and vivid imagination, along with a profound understanding of philosophical, esoteric, and spiritual wisdom.”
Excerpts from the review in the NCGR Memberletter, mid-2016, reviewed by Michael Munkasey:
This is an important book. This book is worthy as a textbook for a college level literature course. It is worthy as a primer for understanding the medieval mindset and style of life. It is worthy for teaching and showing how astrological attributes and inferences to the planets, etc., can be used to describe people’s intentions and character. It is worthy for showing how astrological basics for temperament, like the humors, can reveal character and circumstances.
This book is not easy to categorize in any simple or direct way because it works through at many levels. This book is not a simple, once done and then forgotten. It is a meaty and insightful tour through the various facets of life’s interactions and circumstances.
It must have taken the author many years of study, reflections, reassessment and thought to bring this work to fruition, and that shows through the book’s presentation and organization.
Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, Summer 2016; reviewed by R. Adams:
Shakespeare and the Stars by Priscilla Costello is a comprehensive and insightful study of the Shakespearean canon through the paradigm of astrology. The author demonstrates that the Elizabethan and Renaissance worldview was grounded in the ancient cosmology of planetary influence sometimes manifesting as human temperaments and physiological humors related to the planets and sometimes operating as planet-based archetypes and allegories.
The author’s in-depth analysis of six plays, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, The Tempest, and King Lear, reveals the astrological influences in each play encoded in plot, character, and dialogue, providing a fresh perspective for understanding and interpretation. Costello’s extensive research, referencing astrology, psychology, alchemy, and even quantum physics offers a view which enriches our understanding of Shakespeare’s literary cosmology. Shakespeare and the Stars is an original and valuable addition to modern Shakespeare criticism.