Reviews & Interviews

Book Review – Astrology For Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart by Tayannah Lee McQuillar

Book Review

Astrology For Mystics

Exploring the Occult Depths of the

Water Houses in Your Natal Chart

by Tayannah Lee McQuillar

Publisher: Destiny Books

176 Pages

Publication Date: March 9, 2021



Most astrology books focus on the basics. Most of us – myself included – never get beyond these basics in astrology. We may know – as I do – our sun sign, moon sign and rising sign – perhaps we know our other signs, too – so that when we read that Venus or Jupiter or Neptune is going to be turning retrograde, we know what that means for us personally. But few of us – and again, I include myself in this group – know the meaning of the houses of our charts.

But they are very important.

Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart, by Tayannah Lee McQuillar, and published by Destiny Books, take a look at the houses of your chart – specifically the water houses.

In the introduction, “What is a Mystic?”, Tayannah McQuillar says that she is “not an astrologer” but that she “Absolutely” considers herself a mystic, which is defines as “the foundation of all religions and spiritual systems in the world.” (McQuillar, 4,2). As to focusing on the water houses, she says that she “thought it would be useful to have information about the possibilities contained in the water houses in one book…to assist you in the realization of your own potential, talents, and abilities that traditionally fall under the domain of the fourth, eighth, and twelfth houses.” (McQuillar, 4-5).

Like she states, Tayannah McQuillar is not a trained astrologist but she is a tarot reader and a researcher of religion and mysticism. I Googled her to find out more about her and found this website ~~~~> She has several other books published, including The Hoodoo Tarot.

For such a slender book, there is a wealth of information in here. I advise you to read each chapter carefully. If you are so inclined, take notes or underline passages that you want to remember. And if you have an astrological chart made up for yourself or one of your loved ones, have it next to you as you read – you will want to refer to it. I know I did!

The first chapter is about the nature of water and the spiritualism of water. She touches on pollution and how westerners – especially – have become comfortable with the idea of water pollution – as some kind of necessary evil. As a woman who has grown up in the Great Lakes region, and who has seen what kind of devastation the capitalist profit mindset has wrought, not only on the waterways but also on the land, the air quality, and every aspect of our lives, I can attest that people have not only gotten used to this polluted normality but think that there’s no way to change any of it. But nothing could be further from the truth. As McQuillars writes, “There is simply no way you can grow and expand if you keep running to the same occult practices, inspirational quotes, etc., that you’re comfortable with.” (McQuillar, 16). She gives practical advise on how to overcome this problem and then warns us, “Astrology is only a map and should not be considered a fortune telling device. You decide how much you will get out of life, depending on whether you are willing to put in the extra work.” (McQuillar, 16). I agree with her on this, and believe it to be true for all divination methods.

She then talks about the water signs, which are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. I have five water signs in my chart – a Pisces Moon, Cancer Rising, Pisces Midheaven, Scorpio in Neptune, Pisces in Chiron. I have always felt that my Pisces Moon was very strong and as a homebody, Cancer Rising highly influential. It’s only recently that I have been looking more closely at the other placements of my chart. Perhaps because in the last year or so, I have gone through several planetary returns and I am reviewing all aspects of my life.

Chapter Three is about the signs and the houses of the Zodiac. For some reason, I never progressed to this part of Astrology – my knowledge remained quite elementary. This is a failing I of which I am not proud to admit and I am now working to learn what I previously blew off as “blah blah blah”. Years ago, I really only wanted to know if what lover was going to be the best match for me! So, yeah – my interest in astrology was superficial at best. But if you want to know what’s what when you’re looking at an astrological chart, you must know about the houses and you must know the meaning of a planet residing in that particular house – it isn’t enough to know that you’ve got a Pisces Moon and a Cancer Rising.

The fourth house relates to Cancer, the fourth sign of the Zodiac. “This is the sign of home and family, of heritage and everything we hold dear,” writes McQuillar, continuing, “This house reveals a person’s spiritual foundation or religious instincts (conservative or eclectic). This house is so important because even if everything else is your life is going well, you won’t be completely happy unless the circumstances of your life are aligned with the qualities of the sign in your fourth house.” (McQuillar, 30-31).

My fourth house is in Libra. When I read what she wrote, I thought – wow! Spot on! McQuillar writes, “There is a tendency for those with Libra in the fourth house to constantly compare themselves with others, which can wreak havoc on a person’s self-esteem.” (McQuillar, 51). Little does she know that this was the way I was raised and it’s been a lifetime unlearning this destructive lesson! And of course, I am still unlearning this – I’ll probably be comparing myself to someone else on my deathbed. But I am much better than I used to be.

Many of the suggestions she has for people with Libra in the fourth house, I have already learned through hard lifelong lessons but it is validating to read these instructions and recognize the value they have brought to my life.

Next up is the eighth house, which relates to Scorpio. The traditional ruler of this house is Mars and more recently, Pluto. “The eighth house is the house of sex, death, personal transformation and secret powers,” writes McQuillar. “It is the house of hidden potential.” (McQuillar, 65).

McQuillar warns that we are not going to like what we see here. “The eighth house also identifies the qualities we must master in order to reach a new level of spiritual growth…The more invested we are in staying the same, the more we will be irritated by or fearful of what lies in the eighth house, because of its power to end our old way of being.” (McQuillar, 65).

I have Aquarius in my eighth house. Without going into the quagmire of my romantic past, let me say that this explains everything. Especially when you consider its opposition to my Taurus in Venus. It also explains a whole lot of other stuff – my gypsy lifestyle, for one. There’s a lot to unpack here, too much for the scope of this book review, which isn’t about me, anyway! But – it just goes to show why Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart by Tayannah Lee McQuillar is such an important book – not just for me, personally – but for anyone and everyone. I cannot stress this enough.

The last house to be considered is the twelfth house, which is ruled by Pisces and Jupiter. This house is about sacrifice. In our culture of instant gratification, sacrifice is not something that you hear much of, but it’s a concept that affects us more than we know. In addition, the signs residing in the twelfth house “tell us about what desires we might be suppressing or hiding because we are afraid both of how we might be suppressing or hiding because we are afraid both of how they may be received by others and also that, once we express them, we run the risk of failing in our attempts to achieve them.” (McQuillar, 90).

Gemini is in my twelfth house. Again, so much of what I read here is remarkably correct, if not somewhat disappointing. But a complete chart shows a person’s positive aspects as well as the negative ones that need work and I do not mind admitting that my character needs a lot of work.

It’s interesting to speculate about one’s past life but I don’t have the information or the skill to figure out my past life using my astrological chart. Maybe someday I’ll have that knowledge. And as McQuillar writes, “…this lifetime is about learning the power of communication.” (McQuillar, 95). I’m focused on the here and now.

McQuillar then talks about the planets in the houses. In my own personal chart, my houses are empty of planets. However, your chart might be quite different. I looked at my son’s chart – he has Venus in the Fourth House, Mars in the Eighth House, and Pluto in the Twelfth house. So I looked up the meanings of those placements.

I had to laugh! “Fourth house Venusians often have a wonderful relationship with their mother…” (McQuillar, 121). James and I are very close. Mars in the Eighth house and Pluto in the Twelfth house were good descriptions of other certain aspects of James’ character as well.

In the conclusion, McQuillar includes a few charts to illustrate how all this works and how these concepts fit together. I found them to be quite enlightening.

All in all, Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart, by Tayannah Lee McQuillar is, without a doubt, the best book on astrology I have read in years. I sincerely hope she brings out similar books on the fire, earth and air signs. I will be the first to read and review them! I love this book and cannot recommend it highly enough! Do yourself a favor and order yourself a copy today.


McQuillar, Tayannah Lee. Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 2021.

Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart on Amazon


About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan but she gets along with a few of the masculine deities. She loves to cook and she is a Bills fan.

She blogs at She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.