stellium handbook cover

The Stellium Handbook by Donna Cunningham – Review

handbookcvrsmIf you grew up during the 1970’s like I did, you might remember the craze for executive toys at the time – kinetic and magnetic sculptures that could be fiddled with or watched as a form of stress relief. In our house we had a Newton’s Cradle and I was obsessed with it. I would spend hours tangling and then untangling it, setting the balls in motion then tangling it up all over again.

It’s funny, I hadn’t thought about this for years until I started reading Donna Cunningham’s Stellium Handbook.

Remember, no matter how difficult the combination of planets, a stellium is a great gift, not a deficit. It represents the kind of intense concentration that makes it possible to achieve something of merit in a single lifetime. Donna Cunningham

My fascination with Newton’s cradle as a child was perhaps my inner self trying to untangle the gaggle of planets I have in the 9th house – my own stellium that drives my chart.

Much like Newton’s Cradle, in a stellium, once one planet is triggered, all the others move in accordance. The energy ripples through them one by one until all are set in motion. Viewed from the side at a certain angle, you can only see the first ball. It’s only when you stretch up and look at it all from a different angle that you can see the full row of balls. And this is what it’s like to have a stellium. You don’t always see the energy behind your actions. It might be really clear to others but for the native stellium person, all planets involved act as one. It’s only when you look at things in a different way that you begin to see the true nature of what is driving you.


Donna’s book is surprisingly the first dedicated to this subject. Stelliums are of course mentioned in other books but finally someone has given them the full attention they deserve. In my chart, the planets in my stellium rule the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th (by old rulership), 10th and 11th houses. You can start to see then how a stellium can overtake almost all of the rest of the chart in practice!

Packed with information, this book is geared to all as there are explanations of chart basics, terminology and a glossary for beginners as well as fascinating research to keep the advanced astrologer’s interest. There are a ton of examples, clear and consistent information along with tools to ensure that you can work through your own stellium and gain a better understanding of it.

One of the things Donna begins with is an exploration of what exactly a stellium is and isn’t. Traditionally a stellium is a gathering of four or more planets in the same sign or the same house (or both) and two of these planets must be something other than the Sun, Mercury or Venus. Personally I include these but then many astrologers count triple conjunctions as stelliums as well. It’s one of those debates that rage on in astrology 😀

But everyone agrees that a gathering of planets in a house or sign means that there is one area of life which is super-focused and other aspects of life need to fall into line or can be ignored almost completely in favour of the stellium’s interests.

The handbook explores both the positives and negatives of a stellium – from having a strong sense of purpose or calling in life to the tenuous pleasure of having all your eggs in one basket. The problem is that when we are completely invested in one area of life, if things go wrong, it can feel utterly devastating. Naturally as well, with so much emphasis on our personal mission in life, relationships can suffer.

Donna presents a strong case for ensuring a more balanced approach to life and tools for understanding how you can implement that. She also offers many worksheets which help to get to the heart of your own stellium’s story to ensure that you can fulfil its potential. Donna suggests a list of ways to tap into the energy of your own stellium – everything from flower essences to psychological prompts to EFT and intention setting. There are links galore to point you to a variety of possible helpers.

If you have a stellium in your chart, or you are interested in studying more about them, I would highly recommend this book. With over 40 years experience as an astrologer, the author has a wealth of experience to draw upon. Anyone who visits her website will be familiar with her practical style and a love of gathering real world examples of how planetary energy can manifest. Perhaps this gathering of information may be attributed to her own Gemini stellium. Not only has Donna fully researched the topic, she has lived it too.

Skywriter – Donna Cunningham’s Website

Purchase The Stellium Handbook

Newton’s Cradle [public domain]