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Geoffrey Cornelius on The Moment of Astrology

Geoffrey Cornelius on The Moment of AstrologyEpisode 53 of the podcast features an interview with astrologer Geoffrey Cornelius about his book The Moment of Astrology: Origins in Divination.

The book was originally published in 1994, and over the past 21 years has become one of the most influential books on the philosophy of astrology in modern times. Rob Hand has called it “one of the most important astrological books of our time.”

In the introduction Cornelius states from the outset that the book is “a review and critique of the conceptual foundations of Western astrology.” He then introduces his central argument, which is that astrology is a form of divination:

“…the primary theme [of the book] is that the main body of astrology’s practice, and especially the interpretation of horoscopes, is properly to be understood as a form of divination.  It is divination despite all appearances of objectivity and natural law.  It is divination despite the fact that aspects of symbolism can be approached through scientific method, and despite the possibility that a few factors in horoscopy can arguably be validated by the appeal to science.”

Topics Covered in the Episode

During the course of this nearly 2-hour interview Geoffrey and I talk about the book, and go over some of the main arguments that he introduces in order to make his case for astrology as divination.

This ended up being such a sweeping interview that covered so many topics that I’m not even going to attempt to write out a full outline of everything we covered in the show, as I usually do, although here is a partial list of some of the issues we touched upon:

  • Reconceptualizing astrology as divination.
  • Reintroducting the distinction between natural and judicial astrology.
  • Horary astrology as the access point for astrology as divination.
  • The problems with attempting to validate astrology scientifically.
  • The participatory nature of astrology.
  • Acknowledging the subjective, participatory element, and how this effects our view of the efficacy of different technical approaches.
  • The metaphor of astrology as a language.
  • Understanding symbolic thinking.
  • Exploring different themes like katarche, same-timeness, and the doctrine of origin.
  • Issues related to fate, free-will, and problems with deterministic thinking.

And many other topics.

Links to Books and Websites Mentioned

Here are links to some of the books and websites mentioned in the episode:


A full transcript of this episode is available here: Episode 53 transcript

Listen to This Episode

You can either play this episode of the podcast directly from the website or download it as an MP3 to your computer by using the buttons below:

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  • Great podcast! I will have to read the book. It is a very good Critical Theory/Semiotic/Deconstructionist investigation of astrology and quite thought provoking. Maybe I missed it but I never heard an actual definition of “divination”. It seems like a similar review and critique of the foundations of modern thought and scientific theory would be equally informative on the status of astrology.

    • My thought exactly – I kept hoping divination was going to be defined. What a brilliant interview – it has has answered so much for me – put to rest my own wondering. Oddly, it is comforting to hear that we do not know exactly how astrology works, and that that is OK -(it’s not just me that does not have all the answers!). I thank this work as it encourages astrologers to not give up because of the inability to explain the mechanics etc. I find it extremely liberating to hear Mr. Cornelius affirm that it is okay not to have to be sure of why the process works. I also found it very illuminating to not only question causality but also synchronicity. LOVE the analogy of it being a craft – that the end product is just as valid whether we know all the whys or not. Can’t wait to read the book. Thank you for bringing such a great mind and conversaton to the public in this forum.

  • That was a good one…I appreciated very much listening to Geoffrey articulate perspectives that I would be slow putting into persuasive words. Now I will have to follow up with his book and web site. Yes, there is a distinct underlying meta-physic in the personal/transpersonal symbolism of the narrative story of astrology. Everyone enjoys the daily grooming with a mirror, regardless of the frame of the mirror. I remain convinced that astrology facilitates the conscious fusing of body/mind/soul to spirit. I like de Chardin’s teleology in its spiral acceleration, yet it was most likely that Pierre did not reflect or contemplate the divining mirror of his own natal chart.

  • I did not like, Chris, your final comment that ” it was the best podcast” you have done. Why ? because “the best” implies here that Geoffrey Cornelius was/is the “best” among your guests so far, leaving others way behind… what ? the knowledge ? the experience ? It is not fair towards Benjamin Dykes, Rob Hand and all others.
    Hovewer, in my private scale for “open mind”, Cornelius is the undisputable leader, not only because I know his book, and I agree 100% with him; but listen carrefuly how he does NOT push his opinions, arguing over every detail of his viewpoint.

    I hope we will listen to him again on Astrology Podcast, what he has to say about philosophical viewpoint about astrology. And how interesting would be to listen to Benjamin Dykes about the same subject (given his philosophical knowledge), and also Robert Hand and others. In my opinion interviews with these experienced and knowledgeable in philosophy astrologers would give more of a deep thoughts that we have been given in the discussion with Mark Jones.

    Anyways, thank you, Chris, for doing this great job on Astrology Podcast.

    • Sorry, I didn’t mean to demean any of my other guests or say that one astrologer is better than another. I just meant that it was the best interview I had ever done because I felt like we covered a lot of ground, and we were able to talk about all of the things that I had planned to talk about before we started. Oftentimes there are a lot of things that I want to talk about with a guest, but we only end up getting to a few of them. With this interview we were really able to cover just about everything, and there was a level of depth and nuance that I really found enjoyable. Of course I’ve also had many other enjoyable discussions with Ben and Rob and others. This is just an episode that I had been wanting to do since I started the podcast though, and I was happy with how it came out.

  • Fantastic interview! As I listened a really felt that we are so fortunate as astrologers to have people like Geoffrey Cornelius and Rob Hand to give us guidance and be points of reference. They have profound and clear ideas, but they deftly steer clear of dogma- no easy trick. I was so impressed by the way he explained how we can reconcile different forms of divination the same way we can accept the efficacy of different languages or musical genres. I think we all agree that the power of our craft is in understanding the archetypes and as long as we are firmly rooted in them (which can give us a common ground) the differences in technique can be understood as variations in temperament.

    This interview truly inspired me to continue on the path, knowing there are pillars of spirituality and wisdom like Geoffrey Cornelius to at least point us in the right direction. We are truly fortunate.

    Thanks again for your great work.

  • Wow. That was spectacular! There’s too much I’d like to comment on and ask. I’ll definitely be reading this book. Absolutely mind blowing stuff there Chris. Well done. What a wonderful guest!

  • Thank you for this episode! I have been sharing it far and wide. Great questions and a fascinating (if necessarily abbreviated) exploration of Cornelius’ thesis. I would agree that it is neither possible nor desirable to shoehorn the astrological perspective into the modern scientific materialist paradigm. Unfortunately, one’s own worldview is notoriously difficult for most people to notice (let alone question), and so I appreciate the attempts here to “pierce the veil.”
    For those who are interested in the philosophy of science and the history of ideas, here is a video of Rupert Sheldrake discussing his book “Science Set Free” in a lecture to students of the graduate program from which I earned my Master’s (so sad I was two states away and couldn’t attend!):

    Hopefully I can post links here in comments? In any case, this talk reviews some of the dogmatic assumptions of “science” (more accurately, “scientism”) from an extremely well-read and articulate scientist, Rupert Sheldrake. I’m rather in awe of his capacity to remain unruffled in the face of fierce criticism–though his audience in this video was extremely friendly, he does go a bit into some controversies his work has sparked . My favorite term from this talk is “perverse incentive,” which describes how exploration and innovation is stifled due to social pressures such as tenure, “respectability,” obtaining funding, and so on. Perhaps this can be a new keyword for a problematic expression of Saturn….
    Thanks again, Chris and Geoffrey!

  • What an awesome episode! I’m studying with Nightlight Astrology and Acyuta mentions this book extensively. I’m elated to feast my eyes on it soon…it’s currently on the way. Thank you for your work!

  • I LOVED this episode. It touched on a lot of the questions that have come up as I have been learning astrology. I cannot wait to read the book. Thank you both for letting us eavesdrop on such an amazing conversation. Bless you!