Review in The Mountain Astrologer, Issue 183, October-November 2015
In Inside the Cosmic Mind Phoebe Wyss chronicles her journey of following her curiosity about how astrology works, while along the way recording a theoretical justification for the practice of archetypal astrology, and its place in the context of postmodern thought. This is an ambitious undertaking but Wyss has written her book after long research and contemplation. She has visited megalithic sites in Britain, and pyramids and temples in Egypt, studied geometry, numbers, new paradigms in science, ancient and modern cosmologies, worked for 20 years in academia, and is a long-time practicing astrologer.
Her book underscores themes that have been woven into astrology’s history from the earliest days, ie. “a more organic world picture in which a ‘chain of being’ was the backbone of creation.” Wyss refers to Richard Tarnas and Kieron Le Grice, whose earlier books Cosmos and Psyche, 2006 and The Archetypal Cosmos 2010 respectively describe complex ideas that form a “holistic cosmology” and reflect the interface of archetypes and astrology. While resonating with the ideas put forth by Tarnas and Le Grice, Wyss has followed her own process of discovering an articulation of astrology based on a cosmological view. Just a Jung’s experiments with the I Ching were on the path to his publication of Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Wyss published an astrological board game in 1986, and then began to closely observe ‘the phenomenon of meaningful coincidence’. Familiar with ‘the magic of synchronicity’ from interpreting many charts, Wyss concluded that the astrologer’s “mind escapes from the limitation of time and space for a while....And we move down in our minds to a more profound level where the interdependence of all things can be glimpsed.”
The idea of synchronicity opened one door into how astrology might work, and Wyss’ book, which is both scholarly in approach and warm in tone, recounts her further investigation into the inquiry. Although she has many thoughts and ideas, one essential concept is that of a “top-down” approach to astrology. Here the twelve astrological archetypes are seen as “transcendent cosmic principles” that are then revealed through the geometry of the zodiac, which in turn is “the source of the values and meanings of the signs”. The planets as physical objects are “the visible representations” of the non-material “numinous essences” of these twelve archetypes.
In order to interpret a chart in depth, “an astrologer must merge her mind with the cosmic mind” – meditation, intuition and imagination are all suggested as guides in this capacity. The author laces her narrative with forays into many different fields – history, mythology, philosophy and quantum physics. She also employs diagrams to express the archetypes’ meanings, finds parallels between the ground plans of ancient temples and astrological charts, includes a section on the visualizations of the elements, and much more.
Wyss then takes a turn into astrological practice with the application of the archetypal approach in her extensive delineation of William Blake’s horoscope, informed by many intimate details of his personal life as well as his poetry and philosophy. This chapter well demonstrates how to begin to use the expanse of the archetypal approach in understanding other human beings.
Astrology is complex however you enter into it. Phoebe Wyss is a graceful writer with a light touch – an enormous asset when writing about such a multivalent world view. One phrase she uses in her concluding section is that astrology is a “value-giving cosmology” much needed to expand the worldview of scientific materialism with its obvious and dire implications. She also feels that we can use “astrology for its highest purpose – namely for spiritual development and the growth of consciousness”.
This is a nicely designed book as well. The many illustrations, Glossary of Terms, Endnotes, Appendices (with astrological basics), References and Index all add to a volume that conveys a view of astrology that is both expansive and accessible. Astrologers who are curious about this approach, whether newcomers or experienced professionals, will greatly enjoy the breadth of research and creative thought contained in Inside the Cosmic Mind: Archetypal Astrology and the New Cosmology. reviewed by Mary Plumb