MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred: A report from Geoffrey Cornelius

I welcome the opportunity to report to Faculty students that the MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred at Canterbury Christchurch University started running in January 2014. I set out here some details of its genesis and ambitions, and indicate why this programme should interest students and practitioners of astrology.


We are fortunate in the UK to have a long established and harmonious tradition of astrological education, in which the Faculty is pre-eminent. Negotiating our culture’s one-sided mindset and making inroads into the educational establishment has however been a tortuous process, undertaken initially in adult education. More recently, through the Sophia Project, we have seen the development of Masters programmes that include in their compass the cultural significance, philosophy and cosmological implications of astrology. The Sophia Project, fulfilling the inspiration of its benefactress, made possible two earlier MA programmes at Bath Spa and at Kent. The MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, led by Nicholas Campion and now relocated to the University of Wales at Lampeter, has achieved notable success with online distance learning. Its emphasis is on sociological, cultural and historical studies. The original site-based Kent MA, under the inspiration of Angela Voss, has been reborn at Canterbury Christchurch, its teaching currently based on ten weekend intensives over a year, or over two years part-time. As with the work at Kent, this has been facilitated by the generous help of the Urania Trust. These two MA programmes are essentially complementary; although neither of them teaches the discipline or profession of astrology, together they offer a range of choice to students of astrology who wish both to deepen their intellectual potential and locate their practice within a broader philosophical context.

Details of the programme

In line with the ethos of its host university, the Canterbury Christchurch MA is concerned with the role of mythic, spiritual and symbolic understanding in achieving the true educational goals of self-understanding and transformation. This involves a reflexive and self-analytical approach, appropriate for practitioners, consultants and therapists who employ symbolic and spiritual models. These models may be traditional or contemporary. There is a distinctive emphasis on feminine wisdom in the programme. It has already attracted practising therapists, artists and musicians, as well as several experienced astrologers.

The full programme comprises four taught modules, each requiring a written essay, a Creative Portfolio with critical review, a Learning Journal and the dissertation. It can be taken on a one-year full-time / two year part-time basis. The following gives an indication of topics covered in the taught modules, and the other elements of the full MA award:

Four Taught Modules

I Theories and Methods

–          Methodological and holistic approaches

–          The nature of mythopoeic thought: symbol and metaphor

–          Ways of knowing from reason to revelation

–          The sacred in post-Enlightenment discourse

II Symbol and Imagination

–          What is imagination?

–           Platonic and Hermetic perspectives on the soul

–          Renaissance art and theurgic magic

–          Jung, Corbin and Hillman on active imagination

III Oracular and Divinatory Traditions

–          Divination in the ancient world

–          Classical and medieval cosmology

–          The Pagan/Christian debate

–          Contemporary divinatory practices

IV Spirit and Psyche

–          What is a deity?

–          Mystery rituals in the ancient world

–          The return to the gods in transpersonal psychology

–          Subliminal mind and the unconscious

Students undertake appropriate reading for these modules. Each module requires the completion of an essay, selected from a list of questions. Tutorial supervision is given throughout the programme.

The Creative Portfolio demonstrates the student’s creative literary, case study or artistic work in their own chosen field; in the critical review this is given conceptual expression in order to demonstrate the capacity for self-analysis and evaluation, and the sharing of ideas, within the criteria of academic debate.

The Learning Journal is a unique experiment in reflexivity whereby the student keeps a personal record of his or her progress of understanding or questioning. Portions or abstracts of this material are shared with other students.

The Dissertation is a self-directed written-up and referenced academic study of 15,000 words, bearing on the theme of the programme. The topic is chosen by the student in agreement with his or her supervisor.

In addition, there is a programme of guest lecturers, all of whom are recognised specialists in their fields.

What is the requirement for acceptance on the programme?

The usual standard for entry at MA level applies, namely a good first degree. However, the programme is also appropriate for mature students without an appropriate academic qualification but with commitment, relevant life experience and aptitude in study and writing. The MA tutors regard the FAS Diploma as evidence of a serious commitment to study, and it is certainly treated as relevant to the theme of the programme. 

Further Information

The principal tutors between them bring together a unique combination of studies and talents. Please check up on several of our tutors on their respective websites:,  (Marguerite Rigoglioso), (Geoffrey Cornelius). 

The current programme runs from the weekend of January 24th 2014. The next programme commences in October 2014. It is possible to take the programme at Diploma level, without the dissertation – please enquire. For further details, or for an application form, please contact Michelle Childs (Secretary) on 01227 863458. On-line details and links are also available on my site at


Geoffrey Cornelius has a range of interests in symbolic and imaginative disciplines. He is an astrological consultant and teacher, dedicated to the promotion of astrology in education. He was involved in the formation of APAE (Advisory Panel on Astrological Education) and was on the initial steering committee for the Sophia Trust. He worked with Angela Voss and Patrick Curry in pioneering the MA in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination at the University of Kent. A former President of the Astrological Lodge of London, in 1983 he co-founded the Company of Astrologers with Maggie Hyde and other leading practitioners. He has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies (University of Kent), specialising in divination. His writings include The Moment of Astrology – Origins in Divination (Penguin Arkana 1994, revised edn. Wessex Astrologer 2003). Further details:


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