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Book Review

Agents of Evolution 
by Marga Laube

Reviewed by Marianne Jacuzzi
M.A., E-RYT-500, CVA Visharada, CVA Kovid

Agents of Evolution by Marga Laube breaks ground in two distinctive ways, which weave together seamlessly to create a unique sub-genre of astrological books. The creative spirit that conceived this work permeates through the language. Noteworthy not just in theme and intention, the text delights with Its story-telling lightness, the freshness of style, and judicious use of metaphor. Personable and fluid, it engages the reader like a gripping novel, which keeps the reader turning pages well into the night. 

Laube makes clear her intention in the Preface. Given the severity of the various crises our planet faces in the 21st century—climate change, economic disparity, world hunger—she writes to raise the awareness of individuals to their impact and to galvanize them to participate in the evolution that can only create effective change if collective. She defines evolution as “the development of our capacity to embody, both individually and collectively, the truth of who we are.” Since astrology understands the interconnectivity of all life, it serves as a primary tool for understanding not just the life journey of an individual but the collective destiny of families, cities, countries—indeed the entire planet. 

Agents of Evolution does not teach anything about astrological technique. This is its first claim to uniqueness—filling a definite gap in the literature. Instead of the methodology of astrology, which so many books delineate, Agents of Evolution offers an ideology—a means for the novice to understand and appreciate the discipline without attempting to learn the techniques. Laube gives a useful analogy in her introduction. Music appreciation, she explains, teaches you “how to hear music but not necessarily how to play.” In a similar way, her book teaches readers how to perceive the planets operating in their lives but not how to read charts. 

The book features an entire chapter for each of the nine planets—first the luminaries (Sun and Moon), then the personal planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars), then the social planets (Jupiter and Saturn, and lastly the shadow planets (Rahu and Ketu).  Each chapter begins with a lengthy and colorful description of the energy of the planet—its classical indications for the most part understood in the context of their application to topical issues and evolutionary potential. For instance, the sense of identity that comes from Surya’s energy can expand to encompass a collective identity, “how we define who we are as a collective”. The force of desire that is Rahu can “take us beyond the ordinary, beyond the mainstream, beyond the status quo” to envisage new ways of organizing human energy systems, modeling society according to the interdependence and economy of a rainforest. 

Each planet’s energy comes alive through the many real-life stories Laube shares, each one demonstrating through the lives of representative mahatmas how that particular energy can serve as an agent of evolution. Though Laube acknowledges that mahatmas (great beings) are not exclusive to any culture, race, or sex, she chooses to feature female mahatmas of color, in order to “offer representation and elevation to those stories which are more often overlooked.”  And so after exploring the qualities of a planet, each chapter introduces a number of extraordinary women whose life work exemplifies the way that planet’s energy can serve as an agent of evolution. In the chapter on the Moon, we meet Kama Tai Mitchell, who became a doula and—seeing that mainly wealthy white women could avail of a doula—created a training program for black women to become doulas for black women, and so healing some of the racial disparity in childbirth experiences. In the chapter on Mercury, we meet Clare Fox, who after healing her own body from its dependence upon fast foods, becomes a food activist, directing first a non-profit and then a private agency, but always focusing her work towards making “delicious, nutritious food accessible to everyone everywhere”. 

In addition to the wonderful life stories, each chapter includes a writing prompt, and at the end of the book, all the prompts are listed in a separate chapter for convenient access. The prompts invite the reader into a process of self-discovery and transformation, forming the book’s second claim to uniqueness. Laube says explicitly that she intends her book to catalyze the evolution of her readers, and these writing exercises provide a practical means of generating that momentum for all, even those with no prior knowledge of astrology. For instance, in her chapter on Mars, after referring to the eco-philosopher Joanna Macy’s call to action—namely shifting from an industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization—she asks the reader to complete this sentence: “If I were able to marshal all the energy available to me, the one thing I would do for the sake of my world is . . . “  Similarly challenging, the writing prompt that follows from Ketu came from a prayer offered during an ancestor medicine training.  It invites readers to write a list of all the blessings and burdens they have received from their ancestors. And to finish by thanking them for the gift of life. 

As Laube acknowledges herself, you might not agree with her on certain points, because in coming forth with a strong political message, she opens herself up to critique. However, her message comes from a heartfelt and authentic place. It perceives the power of an astrological understanding to harness the energies of the human psyche towards healing transformation, not just individually, but collectively, for the benefit of all beings, and for the benefit of generations to come. 

The book succeeds in its stated intention. It not only offers a compelling and practical application of astrological wisdom towards global transformation, it provides unique insight into the usefulness of planetary energy as a paradigm for understanding the depth and range of the human psyche. As a book of “Vedic Astrology Appreciation,” it’s a suitable introduction for anyone, particularly those with some knowledge of Western Astrology since Laube references it in a number of places. But I believe the book to be of value even to those most experienced in Vedic Astrology. Its creative vision, delightful style, and cogent message make it a great read. Also, it’s important to step back at times from the intricacies of astrological technique and take a look at the broad perspective—understanding how basic concepts, thoroughly digested and assimilated, can become powerful agents of evolution. 

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