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Studies in Imagination Series

The Planets Within

The Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino

Thomas Moore
Introduction by Noel Cobb
December 1993
More details
  • Publisher
    Lindisfarne Books
  • Published
    1st December 1993
  • ISBN 9780940262287
  • Language English
  • Pages 228 pp.

The Planets Within asks us to return to antiquity with new eyes. It centers on one of the most psychological movements of the prescientific age—Renaissance Italy, where a group of “inner Columbuses” charted territories that still give us today a much- needed sense of who we are and where we have come from, and the right routes to take toward fertile and unexplored places.

Chief among these masters of the interior life was Marsilio Ficino, presiding genius of the Florentine Academy, who taught that all things exist in soul and must be lived in its light. This study of Ficino broadens and deepens our understanding of psyche, for Ficino was a doctor of soul, and his insights teach us the care and nurture of soul.

Moore takes as his guide Ficino’s own fundamental tool—imagination. Respecting the integrity and autonomy of images, The Planets Within unfolds a poetics of soul in a kind of dialogue between the laconic remarks of Ficino and the need to give these remarks a life and context for our day.

“The reader turning to this book for knowledge and self-knowledge will be delighted to find it so instructive, enjoyable, and ‘user-friendly.’ With Tom Moore as guide you will feel at home in the marvelous world of Renaissance Hermetism, its psychological and astrological insights, its music, its madness. How much Moore knows and how generous he is in giving it to the reader.”

—James Hillman, author of The Soul’s Code and A Terrible Love of War

“In his presentation of psychological insight and understanding informed by Renaissance astrology and musicology, Dr. Moore’s clarity with complex matters is topped only by his wisdom. To tune the fantasy of a ‘well-tempered life’ with the disharmonic of ‘necessary madness’ is precisely the soulful genius that Dr. Moore’s master, Ficino, would have loved.”

—David Miller, author of Orestes: Myth and Dream as Catharsis

“In this erudite and engaging work, Thomas Moore (a psychotherapist and founder of the Institute for the Study of Imagination) elucidates the dazzling intellectual purview of Marsilio Ficino, presiding seer of the Florentine Academy in fifteenth century Italy. The author salutes this genius for restoring soul to the art of astrology with his emphasis upon arrangement, imitation, devotion, tempering and tuning. Ficino shows us the practices involved in ensouling the world and opening up to the enchantments of both the planets out there and the planets within. In chapters on the poetics of soul, planetary radiance and music of the soul; Moore spells out the meanings that encompass what he calls ‘the well-tempered life.’ There are ample riches to be discovered in Ficino's views on soul, music, love, madness, dreams and much more. Moore is a sensitive guide as he teaches us in this ‘school of imagination.’ At one point he notes: ‘The spiritual attitude gained from art, reading, serious conversation, ritual, celebration, camaraderie, athletics and other 'spirited' activities is itself the elixir that can transform all of life., making everything food for the soul.’”

—Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat (

Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore is the author of Care of the Soul, which spent forty-six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as fifteen other books on deepening spirituality and cultivating the soul in every aspect of life. He has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist, and today he lectures widely on holistic medicine, spirituality, psychotherapy, and ecology. He lectures frequently in Ireland and has a special love of Irish culture. He has Ph. D. in religion from Syracuse University and has won several awards for his work, including an honorary doctorate from Lesley University and the Humanitarian Award from Einstein Medical School of Yeshiva University. He also writes fiction and music and often works with his wife, artist and yoga instructor, Hari Kirin. He writes regular columns for Resurgence and Spirituality & Health. He is a patron of Re-Vision, a London center of spirituality and counseling, and on the board of Turning Point, a bereavement counselors training program in Dublin, Ireland. Recent works include Soul Therapy: The Art and Craft of Caring Conversations (2021) and Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey toward Meaning and Joy (2017).