Book Review

Cosmos and Psyche”, by Richard Tarnas

Where ever in the globe, the promotion of social harmony is I think the order of the Day.

-These Days, full of unease and discomfort, with so Many “minds”, ready to risk so Much to take it all to the Extreme, where no one will ultimately benefit.

To calm down the “Minds”, I believe new insights and intimations like that of Mr. Richard Tarnas would help a lot. Perplexed by the conditions pertaining to my own roots -Ethiopia- or the world per se, on the way of my inquiry: “What is wrong with us? “, I recently came across the book of Mr. Richard Tarnas, “Cosmos and Psyche”.

It is Fascinating! According to my opinion, it is a “must read” for all those who belonged to the “generation of emotion” , whatever the “discrepancies” may have been and are still sacrificing tremendous energy and insightful intellect to bring about a better and peaceful community in any corner of the globe or the world at large. (It renders a sense of hope that all the sacrifice for the cause of social justice and progress in the history of mankind, is not in vain).

It is not just the “usual esoteric stuff” or astrological common place; you may be prejudiced

to be engaged with. It is in effect a comprehensive integral research on the “history of modernity” and enlightenment ( to be read with his prelude, “The Passion of the Western

Mind”) from an astrological perspective with an astounding details of historical facts and events without the slightest touch of dogmatism and prejudice towards historically conditioned emerging thoughts but with an objective of showing the celestial synchronicity (cf. Jung) of human development and their archetypal meanings (interpreted in astrological or planetary archetypal complex of ideas and meanings).

See for instance the following review from the astrologer’s perspective.

“….let me try and put things into perspective.

Firstly, it has to be said that some of the astrological connections Tarnas makes in these pages are breath-taking.

Perhaps my favorite is the parallel he points out between the French Revolution of 1789, and the contemporary mutiny on the Bounty, which he describes as: a kind of laboratory case of a continuing synchronous emergence of parallel events totally isolated from each other yet reflecting the same archetypal complexes. (p.303) Though the parallels between the 1960’s and revolutionary France around 1790 also need to be mentioned. (This is a recurrent motif in the book, beginning at p.144.)

Secondly, he is a respected academic. As events in university circles remind us periodically, there are plenty of academics with an untutored hatred for astrology. So, by explicitly advocating astrology, Tarnas must surely be putting his reputation on the line. And he is doing so in pursuit of what he believes in, in order to make the world a better place. So, absolute respect to the man!


Even if you belong to the skeptic mind and give room for methodical errors in the collection of data and their synthesis, you may admire the fact of being reminded to the vast collection of historical and intellectual events, which made the contemporary human collective mind; be it the way you may like to see it interpreted or otherwise. I am touched and animated to dig more and engage myself with the human jungle of knowledge, more and more than ever…Especially those who have had already their own personal phenomenological experience may find a lot of insight in the outlook of Mr. Tarnas. It is a demonstration of “Knowledge”, with its tremendous depth and scope always ready to be explored. I personally got the impression that I will be in a condition of a long lasting bliss (cf. Aristotle) if I get engaged in exploring all these insights indicated in “Cosmos and Psyche” as far as my intellect would like to cooperate…..

This is as far as this life is concerned. If there happens to be another one….which I

no doubt Hope for all the rest of my life….I will be the first to welcome this, if it is a sort of regeneration, in which all sorts of new archetypal meanings with different new major (planetary, to remain in the schema of Mr. R. T.) constellation will emerge and exist as new beings in the new generations to ultimately make and bear the “Harmonious Man” at the end of the Day…at the end of Time, if it has an End at all or No-Time. “The Harmonious Man” with all the major archetypes coherently embedded, and interacting within each other to make the divine proportion, where the very heart of one’s being is united with the cosmos and the divine in a sublime harmony. (R.T. on Dante’s epiphany, Cosmos and Psyche, p. 369).


So be it that or this way….
Wonderful….is the work of Mr. Tarnas…Try to get it on the Amazon….

No doubt it is worth it.
I could not escape the temptation of having it for my own, for future reference,
since I am grateful to come across these thoughts, which enforced me in my faith that “Life is full of purpose” and not simply a sort of an accidental “chemical scum” happening to emerge out of nothing and exist somehow around there in the universe…After the personal intuition on “The purpose of Life”, which I was trying to formulate in my playing ground -“The Harmony Model”, I would say this was the sort of a scholar work which I was looking for. While Mr. Tarnas was completing his scholar research, (who knows, as mysterious as the whole substance is, may be in the element of Synchronicity, ) way back in 2006, at the threshold of my new “Home” – Philosophy, out of my isolated mind, in my “search for truth” (not research), reflecting on my past, I was entertaining similar notions to explain the tiny insight of my “ Harmony Model” .

“Every time I was attracted during my holidays to Crete –Greece, I was sharing my passion with the dark sky above me, across the hill over the village of Paradiso with its twinkling stars and their twins in the Mediterranean See, to understand, what is behind all this. A mysterious area, as I always felt during my sojourn, where the philosophy of humanity has its cradles and the souls of the mighty philosophers are perhaps still observing us with their accustomed tolerance, while we are still staggering and stuttering in search of our destiny.

Isn’t it a miracle that all these bright stars, heavenly and celestial bodies don’t move astray and descend upon us; that the sun doesn’t deny shining one day in the morning, that the moon never misses its path and that they all don’t sprinkle in various directions in bundles of energy from beyond and threaten our beautiful nature. Everything hovering over me, behind me and all over; they all seem to follow and obey their governing laws and take their own course and enjoy their existence. Whence comes then the arrogance to believe that we humans make the exception to entertain a notion, that we don’t obey any laws of which we are unaware? Why should we make the exception just because we are endowed with the special and beautiful nature of mind, called Reason and Logic, which can have its origin in nowhere other than all this substance around us?

This is especially true at least for the fortunate, who has a Faith of some sort or other, a source of somewhat and some sort somewhere over there or over here. Whatever the origin, I am not interested in any of the discussion on the so called “Design or Not”, which appears to be the “philosophical-religious” agenda of the day in the west, which in my opinion is only a question of the sovereign individual. My point here is only a belief that there must be a governing natural law for our social reality similar to the non-conscious material reality of nature, on which no one so far doubts and our science is today full of.

We are all endowed with the Mind, which manifests its high vitality with Reason and Logic, when it urges for sublimity and feels itself at its height. History has several times presented us with hundreds of intellects, who were at such extraordinary heights of intellectual position to tear down the curtains of ignorance and show us the governing rules of nature. This is the case, though; the human species may have lived before for a long period without being aware of them. – Theories.

Natural science is, as we know, full of these theories and hard facts. I for myself was convinced during my early youth, that there is always a governing Law behind life, until I was overwhelmed by the arrogance of my adulthood. This was just God in a nutshell; God, uncritically accepted, without any qualification and without any trouble of reason. God, delivered through the religion, to which I accidentally belonged. However, especially when I began to understand calculus in my first college years, with all other accompanying higher mathematical theories of series, infinity etc., I begun to be more delighted about all those beautiful facts of higher mathematics, to believe that everything may have a purpose and meaning and can be explained.. . A purpose and meaning, which I perhaps as a beginner cannot grasp all at a time but at any rate, would try some time to find the expertise of at least a section, which is part and parcel of the whole. That was the youth. The adult abandoned the faith of the youth to replace it with an ideological dogma, until sometime the new politically motivated belief was also again irrevocably shattered. Thereafter, through a process of liberating the mind the adult made Reason and logic the guiding principle until again this gave room for new awareness- Awareness, on the limits of Reason and Logic when they are devoid of Faith. Human life, if it is not supported by faith becomes simple and meaningless vegetation without a purpose. Not simply faith, but Faith so deep and so far as the dark heaven at night; as high and sublime as the intellect of all intellects beyond space and all dimensions, which may grasp a moment in eternity at a timeless and dimensionless moment….”….

This is Faith in the Absolute!

This faith is today strengthened, through my own, by far not complete, however, in its quality a long philosophy odyssey, I infatuatedly made in-between. But I must admit, this is now exponentially rattled and enforced, after I went through the thoughts of this scholar, promoted in his “Cosmos and Psyche”. It is marvelous and I am grateful, that there are all over the corners of the globe such “beautiful minds”.

Or is it just a “Western” or Euro-centric” interpretation as some “patriots” may rush to
condemn this work of an interesting scholar without the slightest bias towards other cultures (from whatever corner of our beautiful earth the culture emerges), as you would certainly conceive in his analysis of the relevant global events, insights, thoughts and inventions he collected for his research.

To make the circle complete, because of my Ethiopian roots, it just remains to see how far
and deep this astrological interpretation has its validity to particular areas of the globe too. I would be very eager to see an analysis of Ethiopian historical events and development out of this perspective. If I get the Data I need, I would take the pleasure of this hobby and will look into Ethiopian historical and perhaps intellectual landmarks (if globally relevant) to see how far the “universal archetypes and meanings” have their imprints on us and our people too.

Please take a break and a breath …and read it…I am sure you will not regret your time…
Past ….present ….and…..future…but be enlightened and multidimensional in your outlook.

All said (cf. Astrology), nonetheless, my foundation is still reality, as far and deep as the universe and as open as the reasonable mind can always permit!!

Reality on

1/ a material foundation

2/ a cultural background

3/ a social structure

but including ….

4/ a reasonable spiritual pre-disposition

based on a non-dogmatic philosophy, which gives room for a lot of substance

as much as my human condition, nature or life allows.

LIFE is a beautiful adventure full of Wonders for the curious Human Intellect!

June, 2009

H. B.



Charmed by the insights and intimations of “Cosmos and Psyche”, I could not resist the temptations to see if the “planetary archetypal meanings” fit into the “Harmony Model”, with which I am playing to understand the world and our psyche. They indeed do and as long as the tenets of the „Harmony Model” is understood, I think it is helpful in perceiving the phenomena (see pictures ff.)


Planetary Archetypes and Meanings*

Integrated in the Harmony Model

1. Sun / Selfhood: The intersection of the Absolute, the Material, the spiritual and the Human planes

2. Moon / Psyche: The intersection of the Absolute, the Social, the Cultural and the Human planes

3. Mercury /Mind: The intersection of the Human and the Material planes within the Spiritual sphere

4. Venus / Love: The intersection of the Human and the Social planes within the parameters of the Cultural sphere

5. Mars / War; Struggle: The intersection of the Absolute and the Cultural planes in the context of the Social sphere


6. Jupiter /Victory; Success: The intersection of the Absolute and the Spiritual planes posited in the Material sphere

7. Saturn / Power: The intersection of the Absolute and the Social planes

8. Uranus/ R-Evolution: The intersection of the Human and the Cultural planes

9. Neptune / Faith: The intersection of the Human and the Spiritual planes

10. Pluto / Transcendence: The intersection of the Absolute and the Material planes.

*cf Richard Tarnas, “Cosmos and Psyche” 2006




Epilogue – From “Cosmos and Psyche“, by Richard Tarnas

It is returning, at last it is coming home to me-my own Self

and those parts of it that have long been abroad and scattered

among all things and accidents.


Thus spoke Zarathustra

The modern mind has long assumed that there are few things more categorically distant from each another than “cosmos” and “psyche.” What could be more outer than cosmos? What more inner than psyche? But today we are obliged to recognize that, of all categories, psyche and cosmos are perhaps the most consequentially intertwined, the most deeply mutually implicated. Our understanding of the universe affects every aspect of our interior life from our highest spiritual convictions to the most minuscule details of our daily experience. Conversely, the deep dispositions and character of our interior life fully permeate and configure our understanding of the entire cosmos. The relation of psyche and cosmos is a mysterious marriage, one that is still unfolding- at once a mutual interpenetration and a fertile tension of opposites.

It seems we have a choice. There are many possible worlds, many possible meanings, living within us in potentia, moving through us, awaiting enactment. We are not just solitary separate subjects in a meaningless universe of objects upon which we can and must impose our egocentric will. Nor are we blank slates, empty vessels, condemned to playing out passively the implacable processes of the universe -or of God- or of our environment, our genes, our race, our class , our gender, our social-linguistic community, our unconscious, our stage in evolution. Rather, we are miraculously self-reflective and autonomous yet embedded participants in a larger cosmic drama, each of us a creative nexus of action and imagination. Each is a self-responsible microcosm of the creative macrocosm, enacting a richly , complexly co-evolutionary unfolding of reality. To a crucial extent, the nature of the universe depends on us.

Yet it is no less certain that our own marvelously complex nature depends upon and is embedded in the universe. Must we not regard the interpenetration of human and cosmic nature as fundamental, radical, ” all the way down”? It seems to me highly improbable that everything we identify within ourselves as specifically human -the human imagination, human spirituality, the full range of human emotions, moral aspiration, aesthetic intelligence, the discernment and creation of narrative significance and meaningful coherence, the quest for beauty, truth and the good-suddenly appeared exnihilo in the human being as an accidental and more or less absurd ontological singularity in the cosmos. Is not this assumption, which in one form or another still implicitly pervades most modern and postmodern thought, nothing other than the unexamined residue of the Cartesian monotheistic ego? Is it not much more plausible that human nature, in all its creative multidimensional depths and heights, emerges from the very essence of the cosmos, and that the human spirit is the spirit of the cosmos itself as inflected through us and enacted by us? Is it not more likely that the human intelligence in all its creative brilliance is ultimately the cosmos’s intelligence expressing its creative brilliance? And that the human imagination is ultimately grounded in the cosmic imagination? And, finally that this larger spirit intelligence , and imagination all live within and act through the self-reflective human being who serves as a unique vessel and embodiment of the cosmos creative, unpredictable, fallible, self-transcending, unfolding the whole, integral to the whole, perhaps even essential to the whole?

If so, perhaps the approach of the second suitor to the mystery of the universe will ultimately be a more fruitful and appropriate strategy than one that presumes the universe’s fundamentally meaningless and purposeless nature as the very starting point of legitimate knowledge. Let us recall those remarkable words of Sir James Frazer a century ago at the end of his twelve volume magnum opus, The Golden Bough:

In the last analysis magic, religion, and science are nothing but theories of thought; and as science has supplanted its predecessors, so it may hereafter be itself superseded by some more perfect hypothesis. Brighter stars will rise on some voyager of the future- some great Ulysses of the realms of thought- than shine on us. The dreams of magic may one day be the waking realities of science.

Yet perhaps those stars will have been there all along, hidden by the bright dawn of our modernity. And our Ulysses will be but awakening to a very ancient cosmos whose vast intelligence, beauty, and mystery we have been slowly preparing ourselves to know.

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started.

And know the place for the first time..


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