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Who Are YouCosmos and Psyche

by Richard Tarnas

Viking Penguin Group, 569 pgs.
ISBN: 0-670-03292-1

Publication Date: January 2006

There aren’t many books that shake my paradigms and cause me to see the world in whole new ways. Cosmos and Psyche, however, is one such book. I began it as a person who had never considered the field of astrology as a window into the evolution of human civilization and the human species. When I did think of astrology, it was with decided skepticism. By the time I read the last page in Cosmos and Psyche I was absolutely convinced that there is intelligence and an evolutionary impulse in the stars and planets that have influenced life on this planet from the beginning.

Tarnas, a scholar at the California Institute of Integral Studies, has meticulously researched the correlation between significant historical events, trends and figures of Western Civilization (if he’d included the whole world this would have been three volumes at least!) with four outer planetary cycles: Uranus and Pluto, Pluto and Saturn, Jupiter and Uranus, and Uranus and Neptune. Because of these planets’ distance from the sun and Earth, they come into alignment infrequently. In the case of Uranus and Pluto, it happens only once a century. (The most recent conjunction was the decade of the 1960’s.)

Each planet is associated with specific archetypal characteristics. Because of computer technology, it is now possible to go back through time and know precisely what the planetary alignments were on any date. This is what Tarnas did in his decade long research for this book. I was astounded and awed by the depth and breadth of his research and the clear archetypal themes that emerged with each planetary alignment.
To cite some examples:

    The Uranus Pluto alignment is characterized by widespread radical political and social change, massive empowerment of revolutionary and rebellious influences and intensified artistic and intellectual activity. This alignment was present during the decade of the 1960s and the French Revolution from 1787-1797.

    The Pluto and Saturn alignments were the same at the onset of WWI and WWII, the beginning of the Cold War and the establishment of the Iron Curtain, and September 11, just to mention alignments in the last century. Archetypically this alignment is marked by contraction, international crisis and conflict, empowerment of reactionary forces, organized violence and oppression.

    In contrast, an alignment of Jupiter and Uranus is characterized by expansion, growth, progress, abundance and high culture. Here are just a few of the discoveries that Tarnas describes in detail that occurred under this alignment: Galileo’s demonstration of the telescope confirming Copernican theory, the introduction of psychoanalysis by Freud, Planck’s introduction of quantum physics, Darwin’s public announcement of the theory of evolution, the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon.

    Finally, Tarnas explores the Uranus and Neptune alignments which are characterized by spiritual awakening, the transcendent and the dissolving of boundaries. These planets are in conjunction for 14-19 years, but only every 172 years. The most recent was 1985-2001. We can all attest to the spiritual awakening and renewal of this time. This same alignment was present at the time of Socrates, when Christ was teaching, and the heart of the Italian Renaissance. The Quakers, Methodism, Mormonism, and Hasidism were all founded during a Uranus-Neptune alignment.

This is just a cursory look at what the book spends 500 pages revealing. Literature, art, religion, philosophy, psychology, war, and technology of the past two millenniums are explored through the lens of the planetary alignments. The book is not an easy read. However, it is absolutely worth the work. For a coach, it is an eye-opening invitation into a deeper understanding of the forces that affect us all.








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