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Part II

As shown in Part I of this article, a new cosmology is at present emerging in which the cosmos is seen again as one living organism. This paradigm shift is shaking the foundations of the scientific-materialist worldview and has consequences for how we understand astrology. The main ideas discussed so far are:

  • There is one cosmic mind and one universal psyche – the ‘anima mundi’.

  • Human minds are contained in and united by the cosmic mind while human psyches are embedded in the cosmic psyche.

  • The cosmos as a whole has an inner life with imagination, feelings and intentions.

  • Every part of its fabric is conscious down to the smallest particle.

  • The universe can be envisaged as a nested hierarchy of systems within systems, contained within and interfused by the whole.

  • The cosmos is also like a hologram, each particle of its light containing information from which the whole can be reconstructed.

  • The patterning of the macrocosm and the microcosm correspond.

Chaos theory has made us aware that fractal patterns in Nature repeat on all levels of scale. For example in the above tree the shape of the lowest branching of the trunk repeats in the higher boughs, branches and twigs. It seems that information stored on a non-physical blue-print level of existence is constraining matter to conform to certain geometric shapes. So perhaps Plato was right when he spoke of the Forms, including numbers and geometry, as eternal ideas in the universal mind.

If there is fractal correspondence on all levels in the universe, the Platonic conception of top-down meaning makes sense. The phenomenon of synchronicity is also explained if the macrocosm (the outer world) and the microcosm (the inner world) mirror each other. Then our minds would continuously reflect the current patterning within the universal mind – ‘as above so below’!

Perhaps all that exists in any case is mind. The physicist Wolfgang Pauli noticed similarities between the quantum level he was investigating and the collective unconscious described to him by his friend Carl Jung, and commented that the quantum flow appeared to him more like a giant mind than anything material. The ripples arising in it corresponded to thoughts, and the interpenetrating quantum waves reminded him of the way ideas associate in a mind.[1]

In his seminal book Cosmos and Psyche [2] Richard Tarnas demonstrates the unity of cosmos and psyche using many examples of synchronicities between planetary alignments and historical events. And in The Archetypal Cosmos[3] Keiron Le Grice suggests that the quantum field, the collective unconscious and deep space could in fact be three levels of the same phenomenon. In that case I suggest we could see the latest cosmic microwave background map as a ‘photo’ of the contents of the universal mind taken at the inception of the universe. Then the areas of intensity showing up in it could be the physical manifestations of core archetypal ideas beginning to take shape!

If the cosmic mind is the largest whole of a nested hierarchy of minds from which everything in existence derives this reverses the way causation is normally understood. For example evolution is normally described by the scientists as bottom-up and linear – the first primitive life forms to emerge produced the higher more complex ones culminating in homo sapiens. However, if all things are embedded in the whole, what comes into being emerges from the flux of the whole and in a process of top-down causation.

The Tetraktys and the Egyptian Gods of Creation

The most ancient creation myths known describe the world coming into being top-down through the successive emergence of a set of creative principles – the primary archetypes that the Egyptians called the ‘Neters’. In the beginning was Atum, whose name means the totality, who engendered Shu and Tefnut - a male-female pair. These engendered Nut the sky goddess and Geb the earth god, who parented the four creative principles that rule our space-time world – Osiris, Isis, Nephtys and Seth. Although they are distinguished from each other qualitatively, all these principles are manifestations of Atum the One.

The steps of their emergence are shown in the tetraktys – a numerical teaching aid attributed to Pythagoras but no doubt originating in Egypt. It can be interpreted as follows: In the beginning was One, the absolute, represented in geometry by a point or in astrology by the circle. Next One becomes Two. The primal schism creates the male-female duality and heaven is separated from earth, represented in geometry by a line and in a horoscope by the division of the circle into two hemispheres.

Next Two becomes Three. A third point lying above and between the Two arises to unite them, represented in geometry by the triangle and in astrology by the cardinal, fixed and mutable modes of time. Next Three becomes Four and matter is created. Whereas the preceding steps have described creation in the higher dimensions, the emergence of four spatial directions allows the material world to take shape. This is symbolized by the square in geometry and by the angles in astrology, each corresponding to a cardinal point and to one of the four elements – the first material states to arise when energy condenses into matter.

The numbers in the tetraktys further inter-connect through addition and multiplication. Thus three multiplied by four produces Twelve, which was seen by the ancients as the number of the total forces governing earthly life. In geometry Twelve is represented by the dodecahedron, and in astrology by the twelve zodiac signs which emerge when the four elements of substance are multiplied by the three modes of time. Each zodiac sign stands for a core idea in the cosmic mind and has an associated field of qualities and themes. Thus the tetraktys demonstrates a top-down flow of meaning, and suggests it should be reached through a process of synthesis encompassing the larger wholes, rather than by linear analysis.

Concerning the Twelve, a Greek myth tells of twelve Titans who killed and ate the divine child (the One). Zeus blasted them for this unnatural act and then created mankind from their ashes. The myths of Osiris and Dionysus, who were cut into pieces and their body parts dispersed, express the same truth. And then there was Jesus whose body was symbolically consumed by his twelve disciples at the last supper, each traditionally representing a zodiac sign. As these myths reveal, we’re all composed of the qualities of the twelve astrological archetypes which derive in a top-down flow from the One.

The twelve primary archetypes are personified by a multitude of gods in the world’s mythologies and religions. Their characters correspond to the qualities of the principles they derive from, and their adventures mirror root archetypal patterns. And, although these primary archetypes are ultimately one, on the various levels of creation they differentiate into two, three, four and twelve deities forming a nested hierarchy with values and meanings. In Egyptian theology, for example, amongst the numerous half human, half animal gods, there were the twelve primary Neters who later became the Greek Archai – the Twelve Gods of Athens. Each had its own number and musical note.

Today numbers are only seen quantitatively as aggregations of digits. However the ancients were aware of their qualitative dimension, which we experience, for example, when they’re translated into music, or when they extend into space as geometry. Used in the architecture of a Gothic cathedral, for example, sacred geometry generates values. So I’m proposing that the sources of astrological meaning may lie in the qualitative dimension of numbers.

Like the hexagon – the shape that structures water crystals – we can see the zodiac as a geometric matrix within the cosmic mind. From this non-physical dimension it organizes the contents of our psyches, which I’ve suggested are fractals of the cosmic psyche. It is like the rainbow that always appears in the sky in the same shape and with its colours in the same sequence. Similarly we can envisage the twelve equally proportioned sections of the zodiac as twelve colours, each with its own resonance and consequently each evoking a different qualitative experience.

The geometry of the zodiac is made up of a circle (the One) containing polarities (the Two), triangles (the Three) and squares (the Four). As a template it represents the alpha-omega state of the relationships between the twelve astrological archetypes that continuously shift with time. And just as numbers acquire their meanings in relation to other numbers (two, for example, only has a meaning in relation to one), so the archetypes acquire their qualities through contrast and complement within the zodiac matrix. For example Aries becomes more gung-ho through its opposition to prevaricating Libra, and Leo becomes more hot and fiery through being complemented within the fire trine by Aries and Sagittarius.

So, to sum up what has been proposed so far, the sources of meaning in astrology lie in twelve core ideas within the cosmic mind, patterned in a geometric template that is mirrored fractally in every human psyche. The signs, houses, planets and aspects in a horoscope all relate to these twelve ideas and their inter-relationships. Each archetype is like a central magnetic node surrounded by a field of associated meaning, and all the phenomena of existence can be shared between their categories. This is the insight behind the ancient conception of the Great Chain of Being in which there is a top-down flow of meaning through the spiritual, human, animal, vegetable and mineral realms, and affinities between the contents of the categories.

The teaching of the correspondences between planets, plants, gemstones and the human body, for example, was the mainstay of medicine in past ages, and this knowledge is still used today in alternative healing, which makes sense if the universe is an interconnected whole. Below is the sector of the zodiac we know as Aries containing words taken from the different realms of Nature and human life to signify the potential meanings of this archetype.

The cosmic mind is not static. It should rather be envisaged as a flowing continuum in which the archetypes unfold their meanings. Combining in different proportions, they mix and merge to produce the unique quality of each moment of time. As in a piece of music, we experience their individual tones becoming louder and more dominant for a while before fading into the background. And, while they are predominant, leitmotifs from their fields of meaning manifest in our personal lives and in the world at large. Astrology is precious because it enables us to recognize the signatures of the archetypes as they emerge, and thus make sense of the experiences they bring us.

If causation and meaning in the universe are top-down, this has consequences for our understanding of astrology. It affects, for example, how we see its history. The conventional account describes it being invented bottom-up and empirically through centuries of observations of the sky by ancient astronomers. The data they collected was used to establish correspondences between celestial phenomena and events on earth for divination purposes. This version follows the scientific, reductionist approach that sees general principles as evolving from particular facts.

In contrast a top-down account would start from the eternal archetypes in the cosmic mind that still engender events today as they did in ancient Babylon. The geometric matrix through which their meanings emerge (the zodiac) is also eternal, being outside time and space, though the contents of its categories may be culturally determined. Because the cosmos is an open-ended process, and meaning in the cosmic mind is also in flux, no astrological method or rule will be fixed for all time. Significators that worked well for medieval astrologers may be taking a back seat now, and new significators are emerging. Chiron, for example, is now proving to stand for a powerful idea in the cosmic mind.

If meaning in astrology is top-down this affects the way we see the signs, houses, planets and aspects. As all chart factors are determined by larger containing systems, and their meanings ultimately derive from the twelve core ideas in the cosmic mind, a planet’s meaning should not be understood in isolation. Thus the French astrologer Gauquelin, who tried to prove astrology statistically, and to do so removed planets from their contexts, was barking up the wrong tree. And the results of his work are relatively insignificant.

The ancient Egyptians approached the planets top-down, which explains why Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, for example, were not seen as in modern astrology as separate principles each with its own character. Mars was called Horus the Red, Jupiter was Horus who opens Mystery, and Saturn was Horus Bull of the Sky. In other words all three planets were manifestations of Horus – the over-arching principle in whose meaning they shared. I suggest that a top-down view of the planets requires them to be seen as vehicles of the twelve primary archetypes, whose meanings they then carry round the zodiac in the course of their peregrinations.

An advantage of the top-down approach is that, when a new planet is discovered (and the latest powerful telescopes are finding hundreds of them now), astrologers need not scrape around to find new meanings for them if there are only twelve categories of meaning in the cosmos, and everything in creation derives from them. Thus we could identify Sedna, as belonging to the Pisces archetype, and Eris to both Aries and Scorpio for example, which considerably simplifies things. (A planet may be the carrier of more than one of the twelve archetypes, or an archetype could be represented by more than one planet.)

Top-down meaning also affects how we see the houses. As they are governed by the same geometric matrix as the signs, equal houses are favoured. The unequal house systems in use are calculated from specific geophysical factors, and are therefore products of bottom-up thinking. I propose that the same geometric matrix in the cosmic mind that determines the meanings of the signs also determines the meanings of the houses.[4]

A paradigm shift in astrology is needed to give it a basis appropriate to the new cosmology. And in my view archetypal astrology as developed by Tarnas and Le Grice is the approach most in tune with the emerging cosmological paradigm. It has the potential to restore meaning to our lives by renewing our relationship with the cosmos, and by reconnecting us with the twelve gods of creation within us. Opening up to their inspiration we taste the higher dimensional states of love, peace, joy, boldness and freedom – and also devotion as we move closer to their source in the One. Devotion arises naturally from the place in us that is one with divinity.

[1] David Peat Synchronicity: the Bridge between Mind and Matter, (1987) Bantam Books, p. 103 [2] Richard Tarnas Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, (2006) Viking Press. [3] Keiron Le Grice The Archetypal Cosmos: Rediscovering the Gods in Myths, Science and Astrology, (2010) Floris. [4] Phoebe Wyss Hercules’ Labours: the Evolutionary Path round the Horoscope, (2007) TreeTongue

Phoebe Wyss, April 2014

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