For an astrologer, a new book on mundane astrology is already an event. The use of planetary cycles in mundane astrology is traditional, the astrologers of the past used especially the Jupiter Saturn cycle and the zodiacal sites of their conjunction.
On the other hand, the use of planetary cycles of transsaturnian planets has been extensively used and developed since 1970 by the french astrologer Andr? Barbault, who reintroduced also the astrology of Morin de Villefranche in France (published by AFA) . Certainly, Richard Tarnas has written a best seller with the passion of the Western mind: he published also an interesting booklet on Uranus.
Unfortunately, this document doesn't hit again the target. Good references to the work of Barbault are lacking, altough Barbault developed the theory of planetary cycles in a deeper and more convincing way. Did Richard Tarnas really ignore this work? Does Richard Tarnas has a real good understanding of mundane Astrology? Not sure... Furthermore, the number of pages could be reduced by half. There are too many repetitions in the book, they hamper a good undertanding of the key concepts. Written for non astrologers, Richard could now extend his study and deliver a real and usable book of mundane astrology for propfessionals...
After carefully reading about the first hundred pages of Cosmos and Psyche, I concluded that an in-depth reading wouldn't repay the time invested, and began to skim. There are several reasons for this.
One reason is that Richard Tarnas is a wordmonger, in several senses. First, he uses words impressionistically, so that many of his sentences do not yield a precise meaning even when closely analyzed. Second, he is extremely fond of stringing together clause after clause. An example (p. 77): "The range of correspondences between planetary positions and human existence is just too vast and multidimensional -- too manifestly ordered by structures of meaning, too suggestive of creative intelligence, too vividly informed by aesthetic patterning, too metaphorically multivalent, too experientially complex and nuanced, and too responsive to human participatory inflection -- to be explained by straightforward material factors alone." Others may consider such prose "lucid", but I don't.
However, if I had felt that Tarnas had something important to say, I would have plowed through his vast tome. And so we come to the main reason that I largely gave up on the book: his attempt to rehabilitate astrology for the modern mind is preposterous. Of course, given his vague writing style, it isn't clear exactly what he is claiming, and he hedges his bets with numerous qualifying phrases. He admits that astrology cannot be used to predict specific, concrete events; instead, one has to interpret history in terms of archetypes. And don't forget that archetypes can manifest themselves in numerous ways (p. 132): "Many diverse factors appear to play determining roles in shaping how an archetypal complex is concretely embodied: cultural, historical, ancestral, familial, circumstantial. To these must be added such factors as individual choice and degree of self-awareness, as well as, perhaps, karma, grace, chance, and other unmeasurables." In short, anything can happen.
In the end, Tarnas's correlation of historical events with astrological archetypes is purely semantic, and therefore highly subjective. Although Tarnas claims that an archetypal interpretation can provide a "wealth of insight" (p. 168) or help historical events become "intelligible" (p. 169), any attempt to impose an archetypal pattern on historical data will in fact narrow, not broaden, one's receptivity to different interpretations. And is it really to be believed that researchers could never understand a grouping of historical events and the connections between them without having an archetypal pattern to work from? How could knowing a single astronomical datum (e.g., Uranus and Pluto are aligned) make the connections more intelligible?
There are some reviewers who believe that, decades from now, Tarnas's book will be heralded as a watershed in human thought. I believe that his book is representative of the superstitious thinking that still lingers on. Is Tarnas really any different from those who pore over the quatrains of Nostradamus or delve into Bible prophecy?
In the early part of the twentieth century, a Russian by the name of Alexander Chizhevsky worked up an elaborate theory on the causation of many human phenomena, including wars, revolutions, epidemics of disease, and so on. He amassed an enormous corpus of material in support of his theory that solar activity is the primary influence, and attempted to show correlation with the eleven-year solar cycle. I have a copy of one of his books (in Russian), and it is replete with tables of historical events, charts of epidemics, etc. Thus Chizhevsky and Tarnas have put forward incompatible theories, while each claims to have persuasive evidence. I wasn't persuaded by either one.