A Sense Of The Cosmos

Reflections on Happiness and Cosmology

Andrew Taggart
12 min readDec 14, 2021
Figure of the heavenly bodies — An illustration of the Ptolemaic geocentric system by Portuguese cosmographer and cartographer Bartolomeu Velho, 1568 (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris)

I. In Search of the Cosmos: A Plea for Astrology and Alchemy

You might find it an odd, not to say also an especially infelicitous, way to begin these reflections on the nature of happiness by offering up a special plea for astrology and alchemy. But hear me out.

I know precious little about either but enough about both to be able to say that what astrology gets right is that it seeks to connect this frail, finite creature with the warp and woof of reality. Somehow my life shares in the broader life; somehow my destiny cannot be divorced from the unfolding of this greater nature. I have no choice in the matter — be I willing or averse — no choice but to participate in ‘all of this.’

In this key respect, it doesn’t matter, at least for the moment, whether astrology gets the account of this relationship right. For what, undeniably, it points to is that there is deep within us all a deep longing for such a relationship, such a commingling and communion, for a way of losing ourselves and thereby finding ourselves.

Medieval alchemy, likewise, bore the stamp of this special, pregnant intuition in the famous cosmological utterance: “As above, so below.” In perhaps mysterious ways, the macrocosm must have an…