The Mountain Astrologer


October/November 2013 Issue # 171

By Mary Plumb

The Exquisite Zodiac by Rick DiClemente (with Liza Jane Brown)

Softcover – 184 pp. – $9.95 (ISBN 978-1467986816).
Available from:

Rick DiClemente has been practicing astrology for 40 years. His book, The Exquisite Zodiac: Why the Signs Are the Way They Are and What It Means for You, is a compilation of his observations on the cycle of meaning contained within the zodiac. Although he is welcoming to beginners in astrology, this is not a “Sun sign” book. He characterizes the zodiac signs as energies that “represent very intimate yet universal impulses that often guide us without our conscious knowledge.”

The author writes about the unique motif and nature of each sign and its distinct roles in the cycle. He describes the signs from the view that there is a “thread of divine intelligence [that] weaves its way throughout the zodiac.” Along with his exposition of the premise that each sign grows out of the previous sign, he also explains the primary ways that show how the sings interact – i.e., the three modes, the four elements, the self-oriented and other-oriented signs, the six polarities, and the ruling planets of each sign.

DiClemente writes: “The magical transformation of each archetype into the next is true alchemy.” His description of this switch between signs rings very true and is often funny – e.g., the Leo archetype as it reflects back to Cancer: “What are you so worried about? Get out there and take command!”

The author includes short poems, public personalities, and anecdotes from his life history that exhibit the essence of each sign. I felt relieved to be out of Scorpio and into the chapter on Sagittarius, about which he writes: “Caught between a rock (Capricorn) and a hot place (Scorpio), this happy harlequin reaches for new heights as it unconsciously prepares the way for the Goat to ascend the mountain regions of the zodiac and the summit of Mt. Capricorn.”

DiClemente distills the soul or spiritual purpose of each sign. He describes the enormity of the task of each and elevates all of them as part of this “brilliant zodiacal diamond and its clear-cut facets with distinct demarcations of one face to the others – twelve unique mirrors and windows comprising one beautiful gem.”

He makes pithy observations about the signs, Of Taurus people, for instance, he says: “One reason they are so persuasive is that they identify closely with the basic instincts of life.” I’ll let you discover his (to me hilarious) story of trying to date a Pisces girl in his college days and many other stories from his life. Here’s his take on Scorpio: “The definitive question that makes or breaks this archetype is: how much, if any, self-loathing do they harbor?” And for Aries types: “They aren’t necessarily trying to run that stop sign; they’re simply moving forward and the stop sign cramps their style.”

The Exquisite Zodiac: Why the Signs Are the Way They Are and What It Means for You is an excellent, accessible introduction to astrology that blends the full brilliance of the zodiac’s grand design with a practical understanding of the interconnections within the human family.