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Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  983 ratings  ·  94 reviews
From a philosopher whose history of Western thought was praised by Joseph Campbell & Huston Smith comes a book tracing the connection between cosmic cycles & archetypal patterns of experience. Drawing on years of research & on thinkers from Plato to Jung, Tarnas explores the planetary correlations of epochal events like the French Revolution, the world wars & 9/11. Whether ...more
Paperback, 592 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Plume/Penguin Group (NYC) (first published September 1st 1996)
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Feb 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Sure, trying to make a serious case for the cyclical positioning of the planets as having an intermediary influence upon the terrestrial course of events seems loopy and absurd in this, our high tide of technocultural rationalism - but full marks to Tarnas both for having the sheer balls to publish this obvious labour of love and for refusing to back down from the implications of his own argument. He will doubtless join the ranks of those like Koestler, who endured much maligning - and took a se ...more
Morgan Blackledge
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was ok

All of the "evidence" for astrology was "retro-dictive" rather than predictive.

In other words, the "research" looked at history and explained the events based on the astrology.

The idea was that the events were explainable by what an astrologer could have predicted.

And that somehow proved astrology is true.

That doesn't really prove anything.

The book had a sciencey feel.

But it was clearly not science.

I'm embarrassed that I read it.

But I did.

That was back when I still had an open
adam prometheus
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow! I think this book is going to change the world. Tarnas' research is absolutely astounding-- he is a well-renowned historian, and he's the only one to go into historical astrology in such depth and with such scientific dignity and prowess. 30 years in the making, Cosmos and Psyche is a mind-blowing masterpiece which presents historical eras alongside the planetary alignments and astrological events, along with the lives of historical figures, their birth charts and planetary returns, and exp ...more
Owen Spencer
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book has permanently altered my worldview. In short, the author, a respected scholar/scientist, presents a busload of data strongly suggesting that the movements and alignments of the outer planets of our solar system are strongly correlated (i.e., synchronistic) with certain kinds of events that repeatedly and predictably occur on Earth. Strange though it may seem, the data convincingly demonstrates that the entire solar system predicts (and perhaps influences) the trends of human history ...more
Abner Rosenweig
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was deceived. There is nothing in the book's title, or on the description on the back cover, or in the first 60 pages(!), that mentions the book is about astrology. If I had known this book was about astrology, I never would have bought it.

I want my money back.

Disappointment aside, Tarnas is an outstanding writer and I would eagerly read his other book, "The Passion of the Western Mind." The first two parts of "Cosmos and Psyche"--approximately the first 60 pages--are a stunning recapitulati
Gregory Tilden
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Quote me on this, that this book is an early sign of an entirely new potential re-structuring of the way we relate to the world. Most beautifully written, brought me to the point of tears as well as shakes when reading, even only 100 pages in. I hope to study with Tarnas at CIIS for graduate school.
A.J. McMahon
Tarnas is not a very good writer, being one of those authors who is verbose in the extreme. He never uses one word where ten will do, and his prose style is so over-the-top that at times I just had to laugh. His ideas are interesting, however, and he expresses them so clearly as to be highly intelligible, which is a big point in his favour. His argument is that up till the Enlightenment we lived in a world in which we were a part of a larger whole, which meant among other things that meaning was ...more
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Proof of astrology and that Pluto is a planet.
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
If what he claims is true, it would be something beautiful. Unfortunately, it takes a stretch of the imagination to convince myself. The selective choices made concerning persons and events, along with the elasticity of archetypes, allows for a kind of dullness of the intellect to take over if one gives in to it. Skepticism chastens us for the better, I believe, and I prefer to remain in good conscience. That being said, though the thesis here is not a topic for proving, it is not necessarily un ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first encountered this book at the Henry Miller Library last summer I had a vague hunch that there were answers to be found somewhere inside, so I followed up and began the complicating, invigorating, and disillusioning process. What I found was: a cultural history of the past 2500 years of "western civlization" engaging enough to almost have a plot; an introduction to discerning archetypes within the collective and individual texts of cultural-ish activity (and thus, over time, intimatio ...more
deborah pearmain
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
This author really got on my nerves with his" why use 10 words when 100 will do" approach.Verbose is a word I don't use often but to this book it should be applied in spades.I did not enjoy the book. I didn't find anything new and refreshing in it. The ideas were all familiar to me. Maybe that is because I had studied astrology in considerable depth prior to reading the book. I did not experience a meeting of minds between myself and the author or any profound revelations. It's easy to prove ast ...more
Carole Brooks Platt
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Richard Tarnas is a man with a vision, which happens to include not only the vastness of the universe (the cosmos), but also the depths of the individual creative mind (the psyche). In the process, he combines a historical time frame (the synchronic) with the diachronic sweep of time through the lens of the alignment of the outer planets. Whereas you would think an astrological vision would be totally out of reality's ballpark, it turns out that his argument is very convincing, most of all becau ...more
Jessica Davidson
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: astrology, mythology
This brilliant book follows on from The Passion Of The Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View and offers a worldview and cosmology to help heal the disastrous split in the Western psyche. Tarnas demonstrates with overwhelming levels of detail and clarity, that there is another way of looking at reality. For full review: http://jessicadavidson.co.uk/2013/12/... ...more
Anita Ashland
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: astrology
An almost overwhelming look at history and how the patterns of various cycles of war, economic downturns, inventions, bursts of creativity, etc. coincide with the transits of the outer planets. A superb reference for just about any historical event and how it relates to, say, Uranus-Neptune, or any of the other outer planet transits.

His archetypal descriptions of the 7 traditional planets are excellent. He also has a section on what it is like to experience an outer planet transit in your person
Oct 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spirituality
I wanted to like this book - I was very interested in the subject matter (archetypes and astrology) and the author's point of view. Unfortunately, the writing style was so academic and dense that it was a real struggle to get through a page, let alone a chapter. I got the feeling that the author was using difficult language as a way to add credibility to his ideas. I read about a quarter of the way into it, and skimmed the rest. ...more
Todd B Stevens
May 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
It turns out astrology is right.
Travis Elliott
Remarkable book. After 1000 pages of Richard Tarnas (I read "Passion of the Western Mind" before this one), I can't imagine a more thorough, open-minded, and incisive tour through western human consciousness of the past 2000+ years. And in the end, it's a comprehensive and effective argument against the scientism that has dominated our relatively recent culture, and a compelling call to reanimate the world around us so that we can evolve and survive, both individually and culturally. ...more
Dec 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Mind-numbingly over-written with many repetitions and 70+ word sentences. This could easily be a couple hundred pages shorter and get the same points across. The points made in the book are interesting, but they're buried excess verbiage. ...more
Jennifer Parde
Jun 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful, historical and cosmological framework to support modern astrology practice

I’ve been an astrologer for 12 years and have always been intimidated by the breadth and scope of Tarnas’ work. I finally decided to tackle this book, breaking into sections over a 3 month period and discussing with friends (including some astrology beginners). I’m so glad that I did. Everyone learned so much about the planetary cycles of the outer planets, through the lens of history and cultural development
Incredible book! If you are on the fence about astrology this should put you in the believer camp.

Favorite Excerpts:

“The planets [Uranus] discovery in 1781 occurred at the culmination of the Enlightenment, in the extraordinary ear that brought forth the American and French Revolutions, the Industrial Revolution, and the beginning of Romanticism. In all these coinciding historical phenomena, the figure of Prometheus is of course readily evident as well: the championing of human freedom and indiv
Christopher Miller
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever wondered why certain types of historical events seem to recur on a fairly frequent basis? This book explains it in a way that makes sense of the whys and wherefores.

The Transformation of the Cosmos

Before the scientific age dawned, Man was at the centre of the Universe. Then Copernicus decided that the Sun was the centre of our local solar system and not the Earth, and Man became alienated with the Cosmos (according to the author Richard Tarnas). But, at the time, the scientists saw
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Every serious student of astrology should read this book before getting mired in all the pop personalistic pseudo-spiritual colour-by-numbers texts that offend the intelligence of thinkers who approach them with open minds. Richard Tarnas has sought and in some ways managed to bridge two worlds: the domain of subtle awareness and experience science has yet to explain, and the no less esoteric if rational realm of the academy.

It’s typical of educated sceptics to regard Tarnas’s project with ambiv
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Tarnas clearly has an expansive and impressive grasp on the currents and paradigms of the history of western civilization. I found this book enlightening and mind expanding bringing insights on world history, philiosophy, the arts and cultural developments over the course of western histrory. Tarnas succeeds in giving us insights on the forces which shape our perspective and encourages us to look more broadly at the world and begin to reenchant our world views. The frame of reference of archetyp ...more
Jun 22, 2010 rated it liked it
You know, I really wish I liked this more. I liked the section a lot. I thought the middle sections were sufficiently informative, if not repetative and overlong. Another section in the middle about personal natal charts and the closer planets - which were actually known in antiquity would have really brought a lot of support to his arguments. However, I felt that at a certian point, he'd pointed out so many synchronist examples and pointed out the ambivalent archetypal connections of so many ev ...more
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spirituality
I actually couldn't finish this because it got too intense to read his outerplanet walk-through of modern history. That kind of stuff gets really real — the various planetary aspects that lead to, say, the Third Reich. That's not to say it's not cool or interesting, just that it's heavy.

Why you might actually read this book is for Tarnas' framing of astrology, which is archetypal. For those who don't know, Archetypal astrology (like Hellenistic astrology or traditional astrology or horary astrol
Started out well enough, though the style of was academic and opaque, and there were some interesting observations about scientists being as dismissive of Kepler and Copernicus as was the Church (that was eye opening), but then Tarnas decides to take astrology seriously and leaves the reader struggling through a WTF bog.

Not recommended for serious readers (anyone believing astrology is a lark) and those unprepared to wade through a sterile prose style.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In a lot of ways, this book challenges us to look into what could be the next step in our evolution, and re-connection with the cosmos.

Basically, Tarnas takes a look at the planetary alignments, particularly the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and yes, even Pluto) to historically examine the archetypes of these planets (both known and shadow), with the correlations throughout history that have occurred with the implications of these same alignments bearing similar and unique impl
Jun 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm still in the thick of it, but it's a really unique perspective on Astrology as it actually corresponds with Human History. Very compelling. The author has a tendency to repeat himself endlessly in his support and reiteration of his thesis, but it is understandable considering how skeptical most readers will be.

For believers and skeptics - a very interesting read.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: astrology
I abandoned this halfway through because I was so bored by it. I know (as an astrology student) that this probably makes me sound shallow about the subject--but I could not get through this. I respect the research and ambition of the author, to validate a subject I respect, but I couldn't connect to this. ...more
Nov 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book looked very interesting, but turns out to be a sham. It is entirely about Astrology and how the author claims it is all 100% true (how the alignment of Saturn and Mars can predict your aptitude and ambition, etc).
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Richard Theodore Tarnas (born February 21, 1950) is a cultural historian known for his books The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View and Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. Tarnas is professor of philosophy and psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and is the founding director of its graduate program in Philosop ...more

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“Humanity's "progress of knowledge" and the "evolution of consciousness" have too often been characterized as if our task were simply to ascend a very tall cognitive ladder with graded hierarchical steps that represent successive developmental stages in which we solve increasingly challenging mental riddles, like advanced problems in a graduate exam in biochemistry or logic. But to understand life and the cosmos better, perhaps we are required to transform not only our minds but our hearts. For the whole being, body and soul, mind and spirit, is implicated. Perhaps we must go not only high and far but down and deep. Our world view and cosmology, which defines the context for everything else, is profoundly affected by the degree to which all out faculties–intellectual, imaginative, aesthetic, moral, emotional, somatic, spiritual, relational–enter the process of knowing. How we approach "the other," and how we approach each other, will shape everything, including out own evolving self and the cosmos in which we participate.” 12 likes
“And if this disenchanted vision were elevated to the status of being the only legitimate vision of the nature of the cosmos upheld by an entire civilization, what an incalculable loss, an impoverishment, a tragic deformation, a grief, would ultimately be suffered by both knower and known.
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