The Astrological Kondratiev Cycle

First published in “ISAR International Astrologer”, December 2015
German version originally published by ASTROLOGIE HEUTE magazine No. 176, August 2015

One of the most discussed prognosis models of modern futures studies is the Kondratiev Cycle. It postulates a regular pattern of upswings and downswings in the economy, ranging over 50 to 60 years. This cycle is based on collective paradigm shifts, caused by the emergence of new technologies that revolutionize both the economy and society at large. German economist and astrologer Dr. Christof Niederwieser has identified a close relationship between the Kondratiev Cycle and the astrological Uranus-Pluto Cycle and has created a synthesis: the Astro-Kondratiev model.

Cycles are the fundamental basis of the astrological system. The circuit of birth, growth, culmination, retraction and completion for a new birth is reflected in cosmic patterns like the moon cycle, the course of the sun and the planets through the zodiac or the aspects between the planets. From this meshwork of astrological cycles the individual time quality of a moment, a period or epoch sprouts.

Nikolai Kondratieff

Nikolai Kondratiev

Cycles also play a significant role in other fields of science. For example, in the fields of philosophy and history cyclical theories of political evolution have been expounded by Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and Machiavelli and in the cyclical theories of cultural morphology presented by Giambattista Vico, Leo Frobenius, Oswald Spengler and Arnold Joseph Toynbee. In economic sciences there are market cycles, trade cycles, business cycles and the product life cycle. It is logical to ask then if there is any correspondence between theses cycles and astrological constellations.

One of the most famous cycles of macroeconomics is the Kondratiev Cycle, also called the Kondratiev Wave. It was first presented in 1926 in an article by Nikolai Kondratiev (1892 – 1938), founding director of the Institute of Conjuncture in Moscow. He provided evidence of “Long Waves in Economic Life” by empirically analyzing a comprehensive range of the historical economic data and statistics available at that time: long-term developments of commodity price indices, interest rates, government bonds, foreign trade turnovers, production of coal, steel and iron, private savings or the salaries of various industries. A significant pattern emerged in all of these data series: an upswing period of about 25 years was followed by a downswing of similar length.

New Core Technologies As Economic Growth Engines

Kondratiev searched for empirical patterns associated with this cycle. And he found a strong correlation with significant changes in social and economic life. At the beginning of each cycle new technological innovations arise and revolutionize the methods of production as well as the global market structure. These innovations find the first practical applications for the mass markets and hence accumulate enough capital to make investments into the new sector profitable. The new market starts to boom and soon becomes the new global lead market.

The first known Kondratiev Wave was initiated by the steam engine and the mechanical loom. Based on these core technologies the Industrial Revolution started around 1790 and triggered a huge economic upswing. By 1815, this sector reached its maximum potential. Growth slowed down and finally led into decline and recession. During the downswing period of the first cycle, the basic technologies of the second cycle were invented. Kondratiev identifies several inventions: the public steam railway (1825), the turbine (1824-27), Portland cement (1824), the mechanical harvester (1831), the telegraph (1832), the rotary printing press (1846) and the sowing machine (1847).[i]

The increasing practical use of these innovations initiated the Second Kondratiev Wave around 1850. Mass transport and communication became the new growth drivers. Railway and telegraph networks sprawled across the countries. For a quarter of a century the economy experienced a tremendous boom until the railway mania bubble burst in 1873 and initiated “The Long Depression,” an economic downturn that lasted for twenty years.

In the 1890s the Third Kondratiev Wave began with the rise of a new core technology: electricity. Countless new products and industries became electrified. In combination with another new invention – the assembly line – it revolutionized production. The era of modern mass production began. The third cycle brought on the transition to the modern consumer society. When Kondratiev published his findings in 1926, he was convinced that this cycle would soon reach the limits of its growth and that an era of decline was soon to come.[ii] He was right. Three years after publishing his prediction, “Black Thursday” opened the heaviest economic crisis in the history of humankind. The world’s economy tumbled into a decade of hyperinflation, mass unemployment and severe depression.

Kondratiev Wave

The original Kondratiev Cycle

The Kondratiev Waves Today

Initially Kondratiev’s theory didn’t gain much attention. This changed in 1939 when Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883 – 1950) published his influential book about “Business Cycles”.[iii] There he presented the Kondratiev Waves to a larger public and confirmed it empirically on the basis of annual US wholesale prices. The reactions of the scientific community were controversial, especially since three repetitions of the wave were not considered sufficient to prove the existence of a Long Wave Cycle. So what has happened in the past 70 years? To what extend did mundane economic developments confirm Kondratiev’s pattern?

In the early 21st century the Long Waves are still popular and frequently debated, particularly in the areas of innovation studies, trend research and futurology. Authors such as Leo Nefiodow, Carlota Perez or Christopher Freeman assume that there have been two other waves since the time of Kondratiev and Schumpeter. The chart above illustrates the typical contemporary assumption of the wave pattern:

According to this model the Fourth Kondratiev Wave started in the mid 1940s with the emerging automotive and airline industries. The central theme was “individual mobility”. Over 30 years this market expanded massively. At the end almost every household in the industrialized countries had been motorized and air travel had become affordable for the masses. The climax and turning point of this cycle is marked by the oil crises of the 1970s, which sent the economy in a downward trajectory again before finding a new core innovation for growth.

The Fifth Kondratiev Wave kicked off in the 1980s with the emergence of information technology. Computers became a tool for everyone. The Internet and mobile phone industry sprawled into the zeitgeist and connected millions of people across the world. Consumer electronics started to dominate the global market.

When the New Economy Bubble burst in 2001, many Kondratiev followers proclaimed that the climax of this cycle had been reached and predicted a downswing for the future. However, during this decline the core technologies for the forthcoming Sixth Kondratiev Wave would develop. Most authors identified areas like environmental protection, holistic health and bio/medical technology as hot candidates and summed them up under the central theme of “human and environmental health.”[iv]

Criticism Of The Kondratiev Model

To this day the Kondratiev model has remained popular. It’s one of the very rare macroeconomic theories that allow concrete long-term forecasts. And it vividly explains the major growth drivers of the last 200 years. There are different opinions about details like the exact time when the cycles start or end or the exact names of the leitmotifs. But many researchers agree that there is something behind these cycles. Nevertheless there are some critical points, especially methodological ones.

Thus, there is still controversy as to whether or not the wave pattern really shows up in empirical data. Statistics from different decades and countries are not directly comparable. They have to be smoothed out first. Methods of data aggregation change over the years. Different countries use different formulas to calculate indicators. The definition of industry sectors and market baskets are modified in the course of time. Nominal data have to be adjusted according to inflation rate or currency changes. The methods of data processing thereby significantly determine the final shape of the curve. And depending on the method used, the Kondratiev Wave may or may not be revealed.

Kondratiev’s followers elegantly evade this problem. When presenting a graphical chart of the cycle, they usually put the decades on the x-axis. But the y-axis remains unlabelled. Carlota Perez, Professor of Technology and Socio-economic Development, is one of the most renowned contemporary Kondratiev experts. She admits that “Indeed, the Long Waves actually cannot be verified at the macro-economic level. But if we look at the level of innovations and also include social aspects, the Long Waves are clearly visible – even if these changes don’t necessarily reflect in macro-economic data like the GDP or large waves overlap.”[v]

Apart from these methodological uncertainties there is also substantive criticism of the social dynamic. When looking at the continuation of the cycle by Kondratiev’s successors, there are several discrepancies in apparent zeitgeist developments:

  1. Downswing of the Electricity-Kondratiev already around 1920?In 1926 Kondratieff himself predicted that the decline of the Electricity Wave was soon to come. His successors, however, laced the highpoint earlier, in the period around the First World War. Presumably this was primarily motivated by reasons of symmetry, because otherwise the time span for a downswing would be too short before the beginning of the Automobile-Kondratiev in the 1940s. Apart from the general economic slump caused by the First World War, Electrical Engineering was still far from reaching its growth limit in 1920.
  2. Start of Individual mobility not before the 1940s? The beginning of the Automotive & Aviation Wave is postulated for the 1940s. But both core technologies had already reached marketability around 1900. Since then automobile companies and airlines were booming, soon becoming affordable for the mass market. For example, Ford’s famous “Model T” alone sold more than 15 million units in the years between 1908 and 1927. So, talking about the beginning of a boom for “Individual Mobility” in the 1940ies is not plausible.
  3. Downswing of the IT-Kondratiev already since 2001? When the New Economy Bubble burst in 2001, most of Kondratiev’s successors assumed that the Cycle of Information Technology had reached its climax and entered its downswing period. But actually the contrary was the case: thanks to smartphones and tablets microelectronics are currently in their heydays and more popular than ever before. Only years after the New Economy crash Internet companies finally started to develop lucrative and sustainable business models, and learned how to transform clicks into bucks. Today it has become one of the biggest growth markets worldwide. IT companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Samsung have conquered the list of the world’s most valuable brands – and still their value increases. So talking about a decline of the IT Wave for the past 15 years doesn’t make any sense.

What has happened? Did the Kondratiev pattern disappear after its discovery in the 1920s? Or has Kondratiev’s model been misextrapolated by his followers in their permanent chase for the next big trend? Here astrology can give a clear answer.

The Kondratiev Cycle And Uranus-Pluto

So let’s scan astrology for a long wave planetary cycle that indicates the following pattern: new core technologies trigger a radical transformation of the economy and society, a revolution of power systems and thinking models, a profound collective paradigm shift. This pattern is typical for the Uranus-Pluto Cycle: New ideas and technical innovations (Uranus) disrupt established power systems and ideologies (Pluto) and become the new leitmotif for the masses (Pluto).

The biggest impact of this archetype takes place under the major hard aspects: conjunction, opposition and square. In his groundbreaking work “Cosmos and Psyche” Professor Richard Tarnas recommends an orb of 15° for conjunction/opposition and 10° for squares.[vi] This has been confirmed by my own research. Especially when the constellation entered or left these orbs, many of humankind’s major revolutions, inventions and economic crises have taken place as the carination’s most evident manifestations. This results in a core period of 7 to 10 years, in which the technologically induced paradigm shifts take place.
When comparing the astrological Uranus-Pluto activations with the turning points of the Kondratiev Waves, one is fascinated to observe that they are completely identical until the 1920s. The conjunctions and the oppositions mark the beginnings of the Kondratiev Cycle. The squares mark the years when the Kondratiev Waves reach their climax and enter their downswing phase.

Horoskop Nikolai Kondratieff

Horoscope of Nikolai Kondratiev (16.03.1892, Witschuga = 04.03.1892 julianic, RR X)

It seems that Nikolai Kondratiev (born on 16th March 1892 in Witschuga) had been gifted with a subtle intuition for zeitgeist qualities and discovered this cycle with a mixture of sensitivity (Sun-Jupiter-Conjunction in the last degrees of Pisces…) and hard detail work on huge amounts of data (…in opposition to Saturn in the last degrees of Virgo). It’s very unlikely that he was influenced by astrology, because he published his work about “Long Waves in Economic Life” four years before Pluto’s discovery.

After the 1920s the cardinal points of the Kondratiev Cycle and the Uranus-Pluto triggers drift apart from each other. Since the start of the Automobile Cycle in the 1940s, postulated by Kondratiev’s successors, the correlation disappears. The explanation can be found in the strongly elliptical orbit of Pluto. When Pluto travels across his perihelion (the area of his orbit nearest to the sun) it only takes him 11 years to cross the Scorpio sign. When Pluto travels across his aphelion (the area of his orbit most distant from the sun) it takes him 31 years to cross the Taurus sign. Therefore the periodicity of the Uranus-Pluto Cycle is very irregular. Whenever Pluto is very distant from the sun, it only takes around 50 to 60 years between conjunction and opposition. This has been the case in the period investigated by Kondratiev (1790 – 1920). When Pluto comes closer to the sun this period is prolonged considerably. From the last conjunction in the mid 1960s to the next opposition in the mid 2040s it will take 80 years. It took half a century before the current square aspect alone, which corresponds with an upswing period of 50 years for the current IT wave. While Kondratiev’s successors generally assume that the last two Waves have shortened considerably, the Uranus-Pluto Cycle suggests the contrary: the current Kondratiev Wave takes 80 years and it is actually extraordinarily long.

The Third Astro-Kondratiev 1900-1965: Global Interconnection

How does an astrological Kondratiev Cycle look like if the findings of Nikolai Kondratiev are combined with the periodicity of Uranus-Pluto? The first Wave (steam engine) and the second Wave (railway) are identical. Also the third Wave starts synchronously around the year 1900. But it’s not limited to electro-technology and mass production. It also contains the areas of automotive, aviation and mass media that reached marketability in these years and also started an impressive boom. Extensive electrification in all areas, mass production with assembly lines, the first automotive companies, the first aviation enterprises and airship lines, the birth of aeroplanes and motorcycles, the first transatlantic radio transmission, the birth of radio, cinema and beginning mass production of gramophone records as new mass media, all this emerged in the few years when Uranus in Sagittarius was opposing Pluto in Gemini.

This does not only confirm the Uranus-Pluto signature of technologically induced paradigm shifts. The position of this constellation in the zodiac also allows us to describe the morphology of this period. The axis of Gemini-Sagittarius represents motion and the intermediation between the small world of the near neighbourhood and the large world beyond the horizons. Pluto in Gemini transforms areas such as technics, communication, media, locomotion, trade, the functional and operational principle. In Gemini the massive, inert machinery of Pluto in Aries/Taurus (second Wave Mass Mobility) learns to run. It speeds up, swift and flexible, filigree and differentiated. Instead of the heavy machinery of the second Wave the new spearheads of technical progress are expeditious, rapid and versatile insect swarms of specialized technologies that sprawl in all directions across the globe and ramify into all areas of life. The material nerve tract of humanity spans like a giant rhizome around the whole earth sphere: power supply systems, road and airline networks, streams of consumer products and mass media, armadas of radio stations and cinemas. Uranus in Sagittarius defines the direction: into all horizons at the same time – the sky is no limit.

The Cycle of “Global Interconnection” (this leitmotif also includes “individual mobility” and “modern consumer society” as subthemes) reaches its climax at the beginning of the Uranus-Pluto square (1928 – 1937). A decade of global economic crisis and the emergence of fascistic dictatorships characterize these years and mark the turning point into the downswing period. In many countries the Second World War is followed by “economic miracles”, not based on new core technologies, but rather on post-war reconstruction. Finally, in the 1960s the zeitgeist is flooded again by radical innovations and a major paradigm shift.

The Fourth Astro-Kondratiev 1965 – 2045: Information

Exactly at the following Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo (1961-1971) the next boost of innovation emerges. On one hand, the Cycle of “Global Interconnection” achieves its completion by man’s conquest of Outer Space: In 1961 the first cosmonaut enters Outer Space. In 1962 the era of civil communication satellites begins. Man’s expansion into space is crowned by the first manned moon landing 1969 and the first space station Salyut 1 in 1971. With these milestones global interconnection reaches its maximum expansion for the time being. In the vein of Gemini/Sagittarius the outer, material network of connections, traffic infrastructure and communication lines, is completed. The nerve tract of humanity has woven its net around the globe. From the 1960s the focus shifts more and more towards inner expansion. In the vein of Virgo the new core technologies are increasingly dedicated to the quality and quantity of the entities that rush through the global network. These entities become always smaller, faster, more differentiated, detailed and complex.

Mikrochip Intel 4004

The core technology of the Fourth Astro-Kondratiev: The first microprocessor Intel 4004

In the 1960s the core technologies of the new cycle emerge: the modern computer, the internet (back then as „Arpanet“), information technology, electronics and nanotechnology. What the steam engine was for the First Cycle, the microprocessor is for the Fourth Cycle. This new fundamental innovation reached marketability with the “Intel 4004” at the end of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in 1971.

The leitmotif of the current Astro-Kondratiev is “Information“. And Virgo pulls all the registers to generate, analyse and exploit a maximum of information. Her character has been embedded in the zeitgeist since then: optimization, rationalization, perfection, differentiation, specialization, systemization, detail-orientation, miniaturization. As German astrologer Werner Held emphasizes, the current keywords of socio-structural change are typical for Virgo: the service society, the knowledge society, but also the security- and control society.[vii] Always more detailed, always more accurate, always more precise, always working, sorting, hedging, regulating. Virgo is the diligent troop of pioneers that restlessly extends the territories and living worlds of Leo, while forgetting to live herself. ADHD, multitasking, permanent information overload, surveillance mania and big data, legions of compliance managers that try to navigate their enterprises through the mushrooming jungles of new laws and regulations – now that we’re in the core period of the Uranus-Pluto square (exact aspect 2012-2015) the shadier sides of this cycle intensify. The Fourth Astro-Kondratiev has reached its climax.


The Astro-Kondratiev Cycle

The Astro-Kondratiev Cycle by Dr. Christof Niederwieser

Looking Into The Future

The Astro-Kondratiev not only explains the major technical and social developments of the past centuries. It also allows for a concrete look into the future. What will come next after the Information Cycle has reached its climax? What socio-political implications can be expected in the forthcoming years? What current technical innovations might become the core technology of the Fifth Astro-Kondratiev that will start in the 2040s? In what larger pattern is the Astro-Kondratiev embedded and how can its morphology be described in more detail?

These questions are highly significant for areas such as politics, corporate governance, strategic planning, innovation management and investments. The following articles will give some answers.


Ulrich EBERL: Zukunft 2050 – Wie wir schon heute die Zukunft erfinden, Beltz & Gelberg, Weinheim 2011

Erik HÄNDELER: Die Geschichte der Zukunft – Sozialverhalten heute und der Wohlstand von mor-gen (Kondratieffs Globalsicht), Brendow Verlag, Moers 2005

Nikolai KONDRATIEFF: The Long Wave Cycle, Richardson & Snyder, New York 1984

Anja MÜLLER: Das Comeback von Kondratieff, Handelsblatt vom 18.04.2010

Leo NEFIODOW: Der sechste Kondratieff – Wege zur Produktivität und Vollbeschäftigung im Zeital-ter der Information, Rhein-Sieg Verlag, Sankt Augustin 2001

Joseph SCHUMPETER: Konjunkturzyklen – Eine theoretische, historische und statistische Analyse des kapitalistischen Prozesses, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1961

Richard TARNAS: Cosmos and Psyche – Intimations of a New World View, Plume: New York 2007

Werner HELD: Die 10 großen astrologischen Weltbeweger – die Langsamläuferzyklen von Jupiter bis Pluto, Rockradio-Sendung „Kosmos & Psyche“ am 13.05.2014


[i] Kondratieff (1984), S. 60ff

[ii] Kondratieff (1984), S. 103ff

[iii] Schumpeter (1939), S. 481ff

[iv] Eberl (2011), S. 12f, Nefiodow (2001), Händeler (2005)

[v] Müller (2010)

[vi] Tarnas (2007), S. 148

[vii] Held (2014), 12min00 ff

New Video Lectures & Seminars

Astrology is a fascinating way to understand yourself and the world better. In recent years I have given several hundred lectures and seminars, mostly on the innovative new methods that I have developed in over twenty years of research and practice (e.g. the Group Horoscope for analyzing whole families or teams, the Astro-Kondratieff Business Cycle Model, new methods of long-term forecasting, Cycle Docking, the Job Horoscope and much more). So far, more than 1.000 students have started their path into astrology with my educational programs in German language.

Now finally some of my best lectures and seminars are also available in English language. You can watch the video recordings immediately after purchase:

“The Group Horoscope – Key to Collective Astrology”: This 3,5 hour seminar I have given at the Conference of the FAA (Federation of Australian Astrologers) in 2018. It introduces a groundbreaking new approach that allows to create and interprete horoscopes for whole groups such as teams, families, departments or even music bands or political committees.

“The Corona Crisis as a Bridge into the Air Age”: The German version of this lecture has been held and published many times since 2017. It shows the astrological background of how I was able to forecast the Corona Crisis already years before it happened. This English version has been held in autumn 2020 for the Astrology University. No astrological knowledge is needed to understand the content of this lecture. Hence it gives numerous new insights into Mundane Astrology even for astro-professionals.

“Introduction to Business Astrology”: Since 2014 I am offering an extensive education in Business Astrology in German language. This video lecture gives a general introduction into this fascinating world, also showing numerous practical examples from the fields of Strategy, Branding and Human Resources.

The Group Horoscope – Introduction

First published in “The Mountain Astrologer”, December 2017
German version originally published by ASTROLOGIE HEUTE magazine No. 180, April 2016

For many centuries, individual horoscopes have been central to astrology. As a rule, particular points in time are analyzed, whether concerning human beings, states, organizations, or mundane constellations. Currently, however, only two horoscopes can be conveniently related to each other. Groups of three or more individuals quickly become difficult to master when conventional tools are used, and such groups therefore elude a systematic analysis.

What is essential for a systematic approach, however, is the synthesis of relations within a group. Whether a family, a circle of friends, the department of a company, a party executive committee, a government, the G8 Summit, a football team, or a rock band, a group is always more than the sum of its individuals or of the relations between any two members within it. To this end, I have developed a new astrological method that allows a synoptic view of up to 20 horoscopes: the Group Horoscope or Niederwieser Relationship Chart.

In this article, I present the basics of this innovative technique. I also demonstrate its practical application, using an example from my daily work as an astrological business consultant: This case concerned the research and development department of a medium-sized company, which had lost its talent for innovation. Finally, the article introduces a wide range of further applications of the Group Horoscope.

Previous Tools of Group Analysis

Suppose a client tells you the following: “Something’s wrong in our research department. We have capable engineers and technicians who all work assiduously and are dedicated to their project plans, but at the end of the financial year we lack innovative product developments. Can you help us?”

Once you are given the birth dates of the employees in this department, the madness begins: Astrology provides excellent tools for decoding the individual character, the strengths and weaknesses of a person or an organization; likewise, the relations between two horoscopes, including their evolution over time (transits, progressions, directions, etc.), can be analyzed by having recourse to the traditional tools. However, decoding the essence and dynamics of groups astrologically is a much more difficult process. Dealing with three or more persons becomes extremely laborious.

For situations such as these, astrologers have elaborated various approaches. Sometimes the network of relations is reduced to the sum of relations between two members: You can relate the head of the department to every single employee, or you can analyze problematic relations between any two co-workers who don’t get along. But what is inherently wrong with the department will not be fathomed.

Other astrologers may spend hours delving into all the individual horoscopes, juxtaposed in front of them on a huge desk or on a wall. With this kind of approach, you can reach your aim instinctively, but you run the risk of neglecting important correlations, while spending far too much time on the matter.

Then there are the long established tools of partner analysis: On the one hand, the Composite Chart uses the half-sums (or midpoints) of the single horoscope factors of each partner to create a new horoscope. On the other hand, the Davison Relationship Chart calculates the arithmetical mean of the time of birth and the coordinates of the place of birth of two horoscopes. Both methods also have their group variants, the Multi-Composite Chart and the Multi-Davison Relationship Chart. That way, as many persons as necessary can be added at will, a conventional chart being produced at the end of the process. While these horoscopes clearly show the essence of the group as an entity, individual horoscopes totally disappear from the chart. It is impossible to initiate changes through organizational development or systemic therapy (a special form of psychotherapy that focuses on the social environment of the client).

Finally, astrology software often offers multi-synastry, an extension of synastry. This type of graphic representation is perfectly suitable for two or, at best, three horoscopes. Although more than three are possible, they quickly become confusing, thus making them unsuitable for a clear synthesis.

Example: Group Horoscope of an R&D Department

The Niederwieser Relationship Chart

Several years ago, I developed a new chart that is suitable for groups of up to 20 members: The horoscopes of all participants are inscribed in the same zodiac, and each individual is assigned one specific colour so that they can be distinguished from one another. When ten or more persons are involved, the colours are supplemented by geometric figures in which the planets are inscribed (e.g., planets within circles, triangles, squares, etc.), making it possible to distinguish them easily at first glance.

I recommend placing 0° Aries on the left as a fixed point. Alternatively, adherents of Uranian astrology can still use 0° Libra, of course. If I want to highlight the relation of a particular person to the rest of the group, I will use the conventional view and place that person’s Ascendant on the left, with the remaining horoscopes built around it.

To facilitate the navigation in Group Horoscopes, I recommend using a coherent colour scheme. I, for one, always use the colour black for the focal person (the client, the head of a department, etc.). The colours of the remaining members of the group can be assigned according to the element of their Sun sign (or of their Ascendant or Midheaven): red hues for fire signs, blues for water signs, greens or browns for earth signs, and yellows or greys for air signs. This colour scheme is shown in the Group Horoscope for the above-mentioned research department. It is also possible to use warm hues for women, cool ones for men, or to adjust the colour lightness according to the age of the person concerned (e.g., darker tones with increasing age).

Suitable colouring frequently depends on the group structure. If a group consists of a large number of people belonging to the same age group or the same sex, or having the same dominant astrological element, the latter examples will obviously not be appropriate for the colour scheme. If the group features various sub-groups — for instance, a focus on certain products (product segment A, B, C) or functions (engineering, research laboratory, prototype-building, design, patents, etc.), as in the case of the above research department — this may be the most adequate criterion. There are no limits to the variants. You need only to make sure that your colour choice reflects your intuition, that it enables you to navigate quickly and reliably across the Group Horoscope.

Generational Imprint

In the basic chart form, all factors are inscribed in the inner circle. In order to improve the visibility of the generational imprint, I place Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in the outer circle. That way, the generational task of the group members (how the group is connected to the zeitgeist) is made evident. The inner circle thus features the personal dispositions: Ascendant and MC (when known), Moon, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and North Node — while the outer circle shows the cultural lens: how the group is embedded in trends and generations (the trans-Saturnian planets). If necessary, I also add the relevant minor planets, such as Eris for matters of competition, Nessus in cases of harrassment at work or Makemake in creative groups.

A separate collective graph can also present an additional advantage, because for several decades there has been an overbalance on the right half of the zodiac. For the age group professionally active today (birth years c. 1950–1995), Pluto is positioned between Leo and Scorpio, Neptune between Libra and Capricorn, and Uranus between Cancer and Capricorn. If all factors were inscribed in the inner circle, it would give the impression that these signs are overrepresented. A separate collective diagram has the useful side effect that the chart becomes clearer and more comprehensible.

Generationenprägung der aktuell berufstätigen Jahrgänge

Generational Imprint of the current Working Cohorts

The Focal Person in the Group Horoscope

In groups, there is very often a central person whom others gather around. Most of the time, this is the founder or head of the group. In the above-referenced chart, we can see the department of research and development of a medium-sized company. As is often the case with astrological business consulting, only the person’s day of birth is available, and thus we do not know the person’s chart angles. The head of the department is mapped out in black. The Sun, Mercury, Mars, and Saturn in Capricorn attest that he is a very capable administrator, a diligent, extremely reliable boss committed to the values of the company and devoted to its management. The dominance of Capricorn makes him an ideal representative of his department, with an acute sense of each employee’s roles and responsibilities. He treats his co-workers with respect and upholds fairness in the workplace. The Moon and the North Node in Leo attest to his open heart for the people in his department. He grants them a lot of freedom, fights for high salaries and bonuses, and keeps inconveniences from them. “My staff members should be able to concentrate on their projects and must not be disturbed while they work!”

The head of a department often plays a central role in the recruiting process; many of them choose candidates through the lens of their own horoscope, selecting somebody with whom they have affinities and to whom they are sympathetic, rather than somebody who would meet the best requirements for the job. I have often noticed that particularly long-time heads of departments build their co-workers around their own horoscope, as an extension of their own personality, so to speak. In this Group Horoscope, notice the striking fact that substantial clusters are formed around the department head’s Venus and Moon; many employees’ planets snuggle up to them.

A Research Department without Innovation

The central task of an R & D department is to develop innovations. The company’s products should constantly be adapted to the needs of the customers, according to cutting-edge technologies. Ideally, the department functions as a pioneer and invents new technological solutions never before imagined.

This central task is represented by what I call “the innovation zone of the zodiac” — the signs of Aquarius, Pisces, and Aries. The creative potential of the undiscovered, from which new ideas timidly sprout like tender saplings, is located in Pisces. If new paths are to be tried, someone has to venture into these mists and seas of the unknown. Following the path of causality (in the sequence of the zodiac), Aries propels this novelty into appearance and storms out into the world. He is a pioneer pushing the idea forward by playfully exploring and testing, approaching the possibilities of implementation through trial and error. As the driving force of innovation, he brings new impulses into the group and starts new projects at its vanguard — often in a chaotic zigzag.

Following the path of finality (in the zodiac’s opposite direction), Aquarius flies through the world of these innovations like a bird, making sightings of the current inventions, trends, and ideas circulating in the scientific community. He is always on the lookout for the extraordinary, for constructive new ideas he can use for the improvement of his own developments. In astrology, inventive talent is often denoted by Aquarius or its ruler, Uranus. This is but half the truth: He is only the messenger collecting the innovations born in Pisces and using them for building his inventions.

A research department should therefore have an emphasis on Aquarius, Pisces, and Aries in order to have the capacity to develop true innovations. In the Group Horoscope, this sector is practically empty. It is instantly noticeable that this R & D department will hardly be able to invent successful, innovative products.

Through his Jupiter in Aquarius, the head of the department may have a marked interest in the newest discoveries of the science world, and would be willing to spend more time with research. But he is burdened with organizational obligations to such a degree that this Jupiter is practically paralyzed. Aside from that, the other Capricorn worker (in green) occupies the innovation zone with the Moon in Pisces and Mars in Aries. Because of this person’s lower educational level, he never made it further than technical draughtsman, spending his time perfecting existing sketches and draughts. He lives out his urge for experimentation in his private workshop.

The remaining team members keep to trodden paths. Their product innovations are mostly new combinations of established products in new colours, new materials, and new packaging. The enormous concentration of the department’s planets in Leo is particularly striking. This is even mirrored in its premises. The company’s other offices are cramped; however, thanks to “historical coincidences,” the research and development department is housed in a very big office with lots of space, where every employee has been able to build his own comfort zone. While hectic nervousness is king in the other departments, here people walk through the corridors at a dignified pace. There is a dictum in the company, in accordance with the Leo cluster: “In our company, R & D does not stand for research and development, but for recreation and downtime.” Although this dominance of Leo can be an excellent constellation for a marketing department, its contribution to the central aims of the research department were negligible.

Approaches to Systemic Solutions

Ideally, such group deficits can be compensated by recruiting new employees who have planetary clusters in the vacant zodiac areas. But the budget necessary for such a step may not be available. Still, there are always solutions for improving the situation within the bounds of possibility. In this particular case, several screws had to be adjusted.

Some of the organizational tasks were delegated from the head of the department to the Leo employee (in red), who revealed himself to be an excellent organizer and went about his new task with great dedication. Thus, the department head had more time to keep up with the newest technological developments and participate more intensively in the research itself.

The employee (in green), who has his Moon and Mars in the innovation zone, was entrusted with a project in the domain of foundational research. Despite his age, he was also given the opportunity to undergo further training and to regularly visit trade fairs and conferences. Similarly, he has grown into his new role and now repeatedly surprises the team with unconventional ideas and pragmatic solutions that nobody would have expected from him before.

Finally, since the in-house toolmaking department had to be closed due to internal restructuring measures, the workers’ council had negotiated the transfer of at least three of the ten employees concerned. In an astrological pattern analysis, I immediately noticed two Aquarius workers born in 1962, with enormous planetary clusters in this sign.

In private conversations, one of them turned out to be a rebellious spirit, the source of regular conflicts, according to the head of the toolmaking department (he was later fired). The other had participated in the punk movement in his youth and had never graduated from high school. Although starting a family had not been among his priorities, it had nevertheless accidentally happened and tamed him; the company had subsequently recruited him as an unskilled worker. Due to his faculty for quick perception and witty ideas, he had managed to obtain the position of deputy head of the toolmaking department. Privately, he had gathered an impressive amount of knowledge over the years and baffled me with explanations of molecular structures and quotes from Nietzsche, among other things. It was worth a try. Thus, he was made an assistant in the research department, where he thrived and became much more motivated. The company has even registered a patent in his name!

Other Applications of the Group Horoscope

I conceived the Group Horoscope in regard to the specific requirements of human resources and organizational development. I also rely on it regularly for market analyses, competitive analyses, and for the positioning and repositioning of products and brands, for instance. The potential applications extend much further, though; the Niederwieser Relationship Chart is a helpful tool wherever interconnections of three or more horoscopes have to be analyzed.

One important domain is systemic family analysis. The Group Horoscope can quickly reveal the family structure and internal relational patterns. It is fascinating to follow the family members’ ancestors and their entanglement over several generations. The Group Horoscope is also extremely helpful regarding love and relationship issues: For those who repeatedly end up with the wrong partner, a Niederwieser Relationship Chart involving all previous partners is very useful. It quickly reveals the search patterns that one has followed unconsciously.

A third example would be mundane astrology: The synthesis of many horoscopes is often indispensable, but has so far been very time-consuming, particularly in this domain. Group Horoscopes of the most important geopolitical states and politicians, of the parties or the government in a particular country, or of the leading companies in a particular sector represent a massive improvement in ease of analysis. At one glance, you can realize who has been most affected by the recent Saturn–Neptune square, for example, and who is the most probable “carrier subject” of this constellation (mundane constellations need carrier subjects to realize their potentials into actual events).

I will present this and numerous other applications of the Niederwieser Relationship Chart in more detail in the future. In the meantime, I would like to encourage you to experiment on your own with your circle of friends, family, co-workers, even important points in time in your own life. Although astrology has been centred on single persons, organizations, and events, now the vast world of synoptic view lies open before you.

Group Horoscope SOFTWARE

Since 2022 there is an innovative software, that enables you to calculate and analyze any kinds of Group Horoscopes very easily: The CHRONLEX Astrology Software, developed by Dr. Christof Niederwieser and Torsten Wernecke. CHRONLEX is cloud-based and works on any devices or operating systems.

Group Horoscope SEMINAR

In  2018, Dr. Christof Niederwieser has given a seminar at the Conference of the FAA (Federation of Australian Astrologers) in Melbourne. There he introduces into the 4 different steps of the interpretation system:

  • Collective Analysis: What makes up the group as a whole?
  • Role Allocation: How are the individual members positioned in the context of the group?
  • Group Dynamics & Relationship Patterns: How are the members networked with each other? How do they interact?
  • Focus Perspective: How does an individual member see the rest of the group from his or her personal perspective?

You can watch the entire 200 minutes video recording HERE.

CHRONLEX: The Astrology Software of the Air Age

With the new CHRONLEX astrology software, interconnections between the different horoscopes can finally be made visible and analyzed. The groundbreaking tool for the Air Age!

The Rediscovery of Astrology in Modern Times

In the West, astrology experienced its heyday during the Renaissance. Astrology was considered the royal science at the universities and courts. In the course of the 17th century, astrology was increasingly viewed critically by the emerging natural sciences. In the turmoil of the Thirty Years’ War (1618 – 1648), the increasingly sensationalist forecasts of astrologers still gave people comfort and support. But from the 1650s onwards, a rapid decline set in. The art of astrology seemed increasingly antiquated compared to scientific discoveries in physics and technology. In 1666, astrology was finally banned from universities in France and shortly afterwards sent to the realm of superstition throughout Europe. Thus astrology sank into a long twilight sleep until it was rediscovered at the end of the 19th century. Thus was born the astrology of our modern times.

Rediscovery by Theosophists and Rosicrucians

Alan Leo

Alan Leo

The English theosophist Alan Leo (1860 – 1917) is often called the father of modern astrology. He cleared out classical astrology and vested it in a contemporary garment. Compared to traditional astrology, his doctrinal structure was considerably simplified and easier to understand. In addition, Leo shifted the focus away from predictions of fate and towards psychological character interpretation. With his data collection “1001 Notable Nativities” he laid the foundation for empirical astrology. It contained the horoscopes of 1,001 famous personalities and historical events. For decades, this work was considered the data bible for researching astrologers. But Leo was also a resourceful businessman and was the first to recognise the potential for success in trivialisation. By reducing the complexity of a birth chart to the position of the sun, he was able to reach an audience of millions for the first time. “Star Sign Astrology” with its twelve human drawers was born and with it the popular newspaper horoscopes. He was also the first to produce horoscopes using text modules. With these two innovations, horoscopes were no longer elaborate custom work. They could be produced on an assembly line and sold cheaply to a mass audience.

Evangeline Adams

Evangeline Adams

In the Anglo-Saxon world, the first modern astrologers were mainly members of esoteric circles and spiritual associations, especially the Theosophists and the Rosicrucians. The best known of them were the Rosicrucian Max Heindel (1865 – 1919), the Theosophist Alice Bailey (1880 – 1949) and C.C. Zain (1882 – 1951), founder of the “Church of Light”. A prominent figure of this early phase was America’s first female astrologer, Evangeline Adams (1868 – 1932). She attracted a lot of media interest and made astrology really popular with her numerous striking predictions. She is said to have foreseen the fire of the Winsor Hotel in New York in 1899 as well as the stock market crash of 1929, the Second World War or the death of King Edward VII. Her clients included numerous celebrities such as the opera singer Enrico Caruso or the famous financial guru John Piermont Morgan, to whom the saying is still often attributed: “Millionaires don’t use astrology – billionaires do.” In 1911 and 1914 she was impeached for fortune-telling. In court, she convinced the judge of her astrological skills, so she was acquitted. In the media, which had followed the trial with keen interest, this was interpreted as scientific proof of astrology. Thus Adams became the first major media astrologer. She received her own radio broadcast and in 1930 also her own newspaper column.

Astrology in the German-speaking world

Around the turn of the century, rediscovered astrology reached the German-speaking countries. One of the first pioneers was Karl Brandler-Pracht (1864 – 1939). He published his first work “Mathematisch-instruktives Lehrbuch der Astrologie” in 1905. In the following decades he founded astrological societies and research groups in many Austrian, German and Swiss cities, as well as several journals. Brandler-Pracht is considered the grand signor of modern German-language astrology. Many well-known astrologers of the first half of the 20th century were students of his.

Grand Astrologers of the Interwar Period: Karl Brandler-Pracht, Frank Glahn und Johannes Vehlow

After the First World War, astrology entered two decades of enthusiastic optimism. Numerous doctors and professors were seriously engaged in it. They were sure that it would only be a matter of time before astrology could be proven by modern technical means and established as a science. Many astrologers from that time are still legendary today, for example Johannes Vehlow (1890 – 1958), who compiled a systematic collection of astrological knowledge from antiquity to the present with his eight-volume monumental work “Lehrkursus der wissenschaftlichen Geburtsastrologie” (from 1925). However, his house system, which places the Ascendant in the middle of the 1st house, was not able to assert itself. Also Frank Glahn (1865 – 1941) was very influential. His first astrology book “Erklärung und systematische Deutung des Geburtshoroskopes” (Explanation and systematic interpretation of the natal chart) was published in 1923. While the merit of Brandler-Pracht or Vehlow is above all the collection and compilation of traditional knowledge, Glahn shone through innovative techniques and new inventions. The house rhythms, still popular today, for example, can be traced back to him.

Uranian Astrology (“Hamburg School”)

The most groundbreaking technical approach was founded by the surveyor Alfred Witte (1878 – 1941) with the Hamburg School, later known in the Anglo-Saxon world as “Uranian Astrology”. He presented his system in several articles from 1919 onwards and was soon the talk of the scene. In the course of the First World War, Witte had calculated thousands of horoscopes of comrades and had to realize that crucial events such as bombings, wounds or marriages were often not visible at all in the horoscope with the classical methods. He compared the birth pictures of people with similar experiences, as well as of people with the same birthdays, and found that the same zodiac positions were triggered at the times in question. These positions moved slowly. So Witte assumed that they must be planets beyond the orbit of Neptune that had not been discovered yet. Using the fall curve of the known planets, Witte calculated the distance and orbital period of these points and came up with the orbits of his four additional planets: Cupido, Hades, Zeus and Kronos. Witte called these undiscovered celestial bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune “Transneptunians”.

Whenever someone from the front went home to attend a big family celebration, Cupido was triggered. Death, destruction, decay, filth or harlots and thieves were indicated by Hades. The point that triggered lightning attacks, steam engines or gunshot wounds Witte called Zeus. Kronos stood for rule and authority, for the high and sublime. The following list shows in short bullet points the orbital periods and significance of the transneptunians found by Witte. They were later extended to eight by Witte’s student Friedrich Sieggrün (1877 – 1951).

    Umlaufzeit Bedeutung
Uranian-Astrology-Cupido Cupido 262 years Family, Marriage, Art, Community
Uranian-Astrology-Hades Hades 361 years Solitude, abscence, dirt, disease
Uranian-Astrology-Zeus Zeus 456 years Leadership, procreation, targets, fire, machines
Uranian-Astrology-Kronos Kronos 522 years Self-Reliance, State, Ruler, Grandness
Uranian-Astrology-Apollon Apollon 576 years Fame, success, expansion, science
Uranian-Astrology-Admetos Admetos 618 years Inhibition, separation, standstill, rotation
Vulkanus 663 years Greatest force, power, energy, violence
Uranian-Astrology-Poseidon Poseidon 740 years Spirit, Idea, Insight, Light, Enlightenment

The Transneptunians of Uranian Astrology (“Hamburg School”)

Witte’s second innovation were the “Planetary Pictures”. Classical astrology only knows relationships between two planets, whenever they correspond to certain angles, the aspects. Witte’s planetary pictures instead consist of three or more planets, provided that one of them lies exactly in the middle between the other two. The introduction of these midpoints, together with the transneptunians, allowed much more differentiated statements than traditional astrology. Thus the houses and signs of the zodiac, the two basic problems of astrology, could be largely neglected in the interpretation. The “Planetary Pictures” were the new focus of the horoscope.

Especially in times without computers, this meant aconsiderable additional effort in calculation. On the other hand, the Hamburg School had the reputation of achieving by far the most exact forecasts and the highest accuracy. With the help of numerous experiments, their students proved the superiority of their system over the other astrological schools. They calculated the birth of a child to the day or predicted exactly the winners and victors of boxing matches. Or they cast horoscopes to find the place of disappeared persons. To what extent such hits were the exception or the rule remains open. In any case, hopes were high that Witte’s system would soon establish astrology as an exact science. Therefore the Hamburg School used to put its astrological rules in mathematical formulae. Their bible was the “Regelwerk für Planetenbilder” (“Rulebook for Planetary Pictures”, first edition 1928). It contains hundreds of formulas such as:


Moon + Cupido – Aries = Weddings. General social clubs. Public balls and societies.
Venus + Uranus – Mars = Hot but refined sensuality. Sudden acquaintanceships that turn intimate.
Lunar Node + Hades – Zeus = Being sharply rebuked for shortcomings. Coming into contact with the police as a result of crime. Being affected by fire.
Sun + Kronos – Neptune = Confused authority. Incompetent leadership. Experiencing deception or rejection by leaders or self-employed persons. Destroyed by state power. Deposition of princes. If = Mercury: the confused leader or the intuitive leader.

Uranian Astrology remains a curiosity even today within the astrology scene. On the one hand, many of its followers enjoy a high reputation, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, where Witte’s teaching is still known today. On the other hand, the extremely mathematical approach never gained widespread acceptance. It was too complicated and detailed for a mass movement. Many astrologers were also disturbed by the strongly deterministic character of Witte’s disciples. Their claim to practice an exact science left no room for free will. Everything and everyone was precisely calculable. However, one should not overlook the fact that this strong orientation towards fate was very widespread in astrology until well into the post-war period.


Excerpt of Uranian Astrology Calculations, Alfred Witte (1924)

The Transneptunians brought the most rejection to Uranian Astrology. The existence of these eight additional planets was deduced from the analysis of thousands of horoscopes. But to this day, none of these bodies could be astronomically discovered. Moreover, it made many astrologers suspicious when the ninth planet Pluto was discovered in 1930, but it did not correspond to any of the Witte planets. Since 1992 tens of thousands of Transneptunian Objects have been discovered in the Kuiper Belt. But the Hamburg Transneptunians have no correspondence except for their names. Therefore they are now rather called “effective points” and no longer planets. Thus, the Hamburg School still leads an exotic existence, even though its achievements are considered undisputed in the astrology scene. The Midpoints and the Mirror Points, two techniques (re)discovered by Witte, have become commonplace in astrology.

Ebertin’s Cosmobiology

One of the most famous astrologers of the 20th century originally also had been a follower of Uranian Astrology: Reinhold Ebertin (1901 – 1988). He was the son of Germany’s first professional astrologer, Elsbeth Ebertin (1880 – 1944), who wrote the annual astrological forecast “Ein Blick in die Zukunft – Unabwendbare Geschehnisse in nächster Zeit” (A Look into the Future – Inevitable Events in the Near Future) in the interwar period. In 1928 he founded the Ebertin publishing house and published the journal “Neue Sternblätter” (“New Starpaper”), which was renamed “Mensch im All” (“Man in Cosm”) in 1933. This quickly became one of the most important mouthpieces of German astrology. Ludwig Rudolph, one of the main representatives of Uranian Astrology, or the well-known chirologist and physiognomist Ernst Issberner-Haldane published numerous articles in it. From 1932, the weekly magazine “Der Seher” (“The Seer”) appeared and soon reached a circulation of over 50,000.

Ebertin’s fame was also due to his organisational talent. In 1932 he organised the “Congress of Astrological Pioneers” with over 600 participants. It brought together all the leading figures in the astrology scene of the time. One of the aims of this congress was to critically examine the overflowing flood of astrological methods and to filter out the most successful techniques. To this end, Ebertin set 75 practical tasks over the course of time. Each astrologer, each school could solve them with their preferred methods. An evaluation of the techniques was then made on the basis of the correct or incorrect results. On this basis, the “Ebertin method”, later also called cosmobiology, developed in the course of the 1930s. The first edition of Ebertin’s main work “The Combination of Stellar Influences” was finally published after the war and is still considered a standard work of astrology today.

The “Ebertin Method” is less an independent approach to interpretation than an eclectic summary of the most generally accepted methods. From each school Ebertin integrated what seemed most useful to him and made numerous simplifications. This is the reason for the great success of his cosmobiology. From the Hamburg School, Ebertin adopted the Midpoint technique and the 90-degree disk. He rejected the Transneptunians, however. In addition, he turned away from the one-sided event and fate orientation of Witte’s teaching and emphasised the psychological side much more. To avoid the problem of the various house systems, his method dispenses with them completely.

Astrologer Persecution in the Third Reich

Thomas Ring

Thomas Ring

Like many astrologers of the interwar period, Ebertin initially tried to come to terms with the Nazi regime. He was a co-founder of the “Geistige Front, Reichsvereinigung für wissenschaftliche und praktische Menschenkenntnis, Berlin”. His journals contained articles on Germanism, racial physiognomy or “The Hitler salute as a Sign of Character” as well as horoscope analyses of Adolf Hitler, which astrologically confirmed his mission as a great leader. However, the association tried in vain to establish a professional body for astrologers in the “Kampfbund für Deutsche Kultur” (“Militant League for German Culture”). Although Nazi greats such as Hess and Himmler were very fond of the occult, astrologers were soon blacklisted in the Third Reich. In 1939, the “Astrologische Zentralstelle” (“Astrological Center Office”) was abolished and astrology was banned. After Rudolf Hess fled, numerous astrologers were arrested and deported in a great wave in 1941. Tons of astrology books were confiscated and burned. Many astrologers, such as Karl Ernst Krafft or Hubert Korsch, died in the concentration camps. Alfred Witte avoided arrest by committing suicide. Thomas Ring only narrowly escaped deportation when the well-known Freiburg parapsychologist Hans Bender (1907 – 1991) appointed him director of the Parapsychological Institute at the University of Strasbourg, thus helping him to leave the country.

To this day, the German astrologers of the interwar period are legendary. Like in hardly any other country, astrology had developed rapidly and aroused great interest even in scientific circles. Astrologers had already imagined themselves at the gates to the universities. But the Third Reich brought a double break. On the one hand, astrology was stigmatized by the public as a dubious occult practice due to its flirtation with the Nazi regime until 1939. On the other hand, many of its most important representatives and works were wiped out by the reign of terror.

The cosmobiology of Reinhold Ebertin survived the Third Reich best. In the post-war period, he succeeded in rebuilding his publishing house and making his teachings popular in America and Australia as well. Ebertin was active as an astrologer until the 1980s. In contrast to many German colleagues, he was also very active internationally and thus laid an important cornerstone for modern astrology. Since his death, however, his teachings have lost much of its radiance. The Ebertin publishing house finally went bankrupt in 2005. After the Second World War, Uranian Astrology (“Hamburg School”) was continued mainly by Ludwig Rudolph (1893 – 1982) and later by his son Udo. However, the great days were over. The great revolution in astrology faded. With its innovative approaches, Uranian Astrology had initiated modern times astrology after the First World War. But today it seems strangely antique and alien to theour modern mind.


The original version of this article including all sources can be found in the following book:
Niederwieser, Christof (2020) PROGNOSTIK 03: Trends & Zyklen der Zeit, Rottweil: Zukunftsverlag, S. 132ff


Astrology in early Modern History

In the wake of Islamic expansion, Arabian astrology spread from the 8th century via Spain to the borders of the Frankish Empire. From the 11th to the 13th century, numerous Arabic and Jewish works were translated into Latin. Oriental magic, Kabbalah and astrology thus entered the occidental cultural sphere and soon took on an independent development there. For a long time, the Church banned the divination of the stars as “empty fraud”. It was not until Christian theologians such as Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) developed the ideological foundations that astrology could be reconciled with Christianity. European rulers began to employ court astrologers. One of the first great astrologers of the Occident was the Italian mathematician Guido Bonatti (1223 – 1300). As court astrologer to Frederick II of Hohenstaufen and Count Montefeltro, he achieved fame with his predictions. Astrologers still refer to his works today. In the second half of the 13th century, Johannes Campanus, mathematician to Pope Urban IV, developed a new house system which, for the first time, was not based on the ecliptic but on the celestial space of the place of birth.

The Zenith of Astrology in the Renaissance

Astrology reached its zenith during the Renaissance. Europe was fulfilled by the reborn spirit of antiquity. Universities were founded in all major cities to institutionalise the new wealth of knowledge. And Astrology was considered the royal science. Even art was highly influenced by astrological allegories.

The twelve Zodiac Signs in

The twelve Zodiac Signs in “The Last Supper” of Leonardo Da Vinci“ (1494 – 1497)

Thus the twelve disciples in the famous painting “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519) were modelled on the twelve signs of the zodiac in their facial expressions, gestures and physiognomy. The row begins on the right with Simon the Zealot as a direct, combative Aries and ends on the left with Bartholomew as an impassively observing Pisces. The disciples are arranged in four groups of three, which correspond to the four astrological quadrants. Each disciple assumes the posture typical of his sign of the zodiac: Simon, Aries, resolute and impulsive; Thaddaeus, Taurus, neck-hugging and holding on to himself; Matthew, Gemini, youthfully smooth and wildly gesticulating; Philip, Cancer, fervently wallowing in emotion; the elder James, Leo, in expressive, radiant posture; Doubting Thomas, Virgo, warningly raising his index finger.

To the left of Jesus follow the autumn signs: John, Libra, weighing indecisively, Judas, Scorpio, stealthily receding, holding the purse tightly to himself, Peter, the religiously combative Sagittarius, hurriedly and disregarding the order, whispering in John’s ear. Finally, the three winter signs follow, the fourth quadrant. While all the other apostles are busy with themselves and their thoughts and feelings, the winter signs observe the events from a distance: the old, bald Andrew, Capricorn, anxiously raising his hands defensively, the younger James, Aquarius, fraternally embracing his friends, and finally the silently contemplating Pisces Bartholomew, the only disciple whose feet (traditionally assigned to Pisces) can be seen. As it was usual for his time, Da Vinci also incorporated astrological ideas into this famous work. He was probably advised in this by his close friend, the Swiss astrologer Konrad Fürst.

Albrecht Dürer "Sol Iustitiae"

Albrecht Dürer “Sol Iustitiae”

There are also numerous astrological allegories in the paintings of Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528). His copperplate engraving “Melencholia I” (1514), for example, is an artistic collection of the analogical chains of the planet Saturn. The astrological symbolism is probably most obvious in the copperplate engraving “Sol Iustitiae” (c. 1500). The personified sun is sitting on a lion. In her raised hand she holds a sword, in her lowered hand a pair of scales. This symbolises the astrological dignities of the sun. According to traditional teachings, the Sun rules Leo, is exalted in Aries (symbol sword) and in Libra in the fall. There are countless allegories of this kind in paintings and pictures from the Renaissance period. Numerous other examples can be found in the book “Astrologie in der Kunst” by Klemens Ludwig.

Doomsday Prophecies

Even though the reputation of astrology was at its peak during the Renaissance, there was already criticism at that time. One of the most influential opponents of astrology was the Italian humanist Pico della Mirandola (1463 – 1494). In his posthumously published work “Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem” he turned sharply against astrology. He suggested that astrological theories should be subjected to statistical tests to prove their uselessness. Mirandola criticised above all deterministic astrology, which interpreted man’s destiny as an unalterable consequence of the stars. And indeed, the Renaissance brought not only a tremendous spiritual expansion, but at the same time a last great upsurge of superstition. Numerous prophecies of the end of the world were read from the stars to terrify the people. Especially planetary constellations in one sign gave rise to gloomy predictions.

Thus the emergence of syphilis was explained by the preceding great conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the sign of Scorpio. The meeting of these two slowest planets was considered a royal constellation and extremely significant, especially for Mundane forecasts. Moreover, in the constellation of October 1484, all other celestial bodies except of Mars were in Scorpio, the sign of the sexual organs. A sexual epidemic seemed to be the logical consequence of this constellation for the astrologers of the Renaissance. The well-known astrologer Johannes Lichtenberger (1426 – 1503), on the other hand, predicted from the conjunction the coming of a prophet who would revolutionize the church. When Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation a few decades later, this was seen as proof of the accuracy of Lichtenberger’s prophecies. After all, Luther had been born in the sign of Scorpio in 1483, just one year before the constellation.

Astrological Pamphlet "The Great Watering" 1523 by Leonhard Reymann

Astrological Pamphlet of Leonhard Reymann (1523): The Conjunction of all Planets in the Sign of Pisces will bring the Great Deluge

Particularly spectacular was the prophecy of a great Flood for the year 1524, which the well-known astrologer Johannes Stöffler (1452 – 1531) had already predicted in 1499. His disciples, especially the first astrologer of Brandenburg, Johannes Carion (1499 – 1537), held on to this prophecy until the promised year and published numerous lurid writings on the subject. The Flood prophecies were based on a conjunction of all planets in the sign of Pisces in February 1524. Carion described the coming effects of this constellation in detail in his book “Prognostication und erklerung der großen wesserung” (1521). He predicted destructive storms and floods, which would lead to crop failures, famine and epidemics. He also prophesied discord and dissension between the spiritual and secular leaders, which would bring “great bloodshed of the Christian people” and “oppression of great heads” in 1525.

The best-known depiction of this prophecy of the Flood is the pamphlet “Practica vber die grossen und manigfeltigen Coniunction der Planeten, die im jar 1524 erscheinen vn vngezweiffelt vil wunderparlicher ding geperen werden” by Leonhard Reymann, published in 1523. The upper part of the cover shows a large fish with a dead man, the sun, the moon and the five planets in its body. The great flood pours out of its belly and washes everything away. In the lower part of the picture, the king, the pope and the clergy on the right and the peasants led by Saturn on the left are hostile to each other.

The closer 19th February 1524 came, the more people panicked. The rich bought ships to survive the Flood. The poor prayed to God for mercy. But the great deluge did not come. This, however, did not diminish the fame of the astrologers. Reymann simply published another paper in 1526 on the planetary clustering in Pisces. The Flood had disappeared from the cover. Instead, only the hostile peasants and feudal lords were depicted. Although the great deluge had failed to materialise, Reymann praised the accuracy of astrology. Looking back on the year 1524, he spoke of a constellation whose consequences could not be prevented by wisdom and concentrated on the depiction of the German Peasants’ War of 1525. Admittedly, this was already clearly in the air at the time of the forecasts. But in retrospect, it was possible to turn the diagnosis into a forecast and thus pass it off as a success for astrology.

Cardanus and Nostradamus

Such artifices were common in Renaissance astrology. Thus, Pico della Mirandola’s harsh criticism was not surprising. Nevertheless, astrology continued to enjoy great recognition for many decades. Outstanding scholars dealt with it, among them Paracelsus (1493 – 1541) or the Italian physician and mathematician Hieronymus Cardanus (1501 – 1576). Cardanus was a pioneer of probability theory and used this knowledge to finance his studies by gambling. Moreover, he was the first to calculate with negative and complex numbers and to develop a method for solving third and fourth degree equations. Cardanus was famous as the greatest physician of his time and healed numerous kings and princes. He was also considered an outstanding physiognomist and astrologer. Cardanus was very precise with his astrological predictions. For example, he predicted that King Edward VI of England would fall fatally ill at the age of 55 years, 3 months and 17 days. In fact, Edward died at the age of 16. Cardanus was also not afraid to predict his own death to the hour. When that hour finally came, but he was still in the best of health, he took his own life at the age of 75. So at least this prophecy came true.

Another great astrologer of the 16th century was Nostradamus (1503 – 1566). His prophecies still fascinate people today with their cryptic language. For centuries, experts have puzzled over whether there is an elaborate code behind the symbolically encoded verses or whether they are simply projection surfaces that always fit some kind of event. His medium was annual almanacs, each of which contained predictions for the coming year. These works were very popular at the time and often brought their authors far more income than astrological consultations. If we take the sale of astrological annual almanacs in the German-speaking world as an indicator, astrology reached the peak of its popularity in 1580 – 1610. Then a slow decline set in.

The Astrology of Johannes Kepler

In the course of the 17th century, astrology finally fell more and more into the corner of superstition. The invention of the telescope and the increasing acceptance of the Copernican world view demystified the starry sky and with it astrology. The last great astronomers who also distinguished themselves as astrologers were the Dane Tycho Brahe (1546 – 1601) and his student Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630). Both rejected large parts of the astrology of their time as unscientific, but still believed in the power of the stars. Kepler in particular tried to free astrology from its dubious, puffery-like ballast and to give it a new scientific foundation that would satisfy the demands of his time. In 1602 he published his short work on the secure foundations of astrology, “De Fvndamentis Astrologiae Certioribvs”. In this book he presented his theory of astrology and rejected many established methods as nonsense, for example the classical planetary dignities or the Arabic parts. Instead, he introduced new aspects into astrology: the quintile, the biquintile and the semi-sextile. He also made his predictions for the year 1602, a large part of which consisted of weather forecasts:

“The becoming stationary of Mercury now causes for the most part winds that are relatively rich in haze, and locally also snow or rainfall. We can expect these around 17 January, 20 April, 12 May, 15 August, 6 September and 9 and 31 December. (…) 4 January: Sun conjunction Mercury – snowfalls or winds as the general disposition will allow. Around the 10th/11th six extremely strong aspects – mild rains mixed with snow throughout. (…) I expect April to bring warmth at the beginning according to its nature through the biquintile of Mars and the Sun, that it will be rainy at least two days before and after the full moon. For all the planets are involved in the constellation.”

Horoscope for Albrecht Wallenstein, calculated by Johannes Kepler

Horoscope for Albrecht Wallenstein, calculated by Johannes Kepler, 1608

Kepler devoted the last pages of this treatise to event forecasts. He indicated the days of the year which, in his opinion, held an increased danger of disease and plague, as well as of war. If one compares his predictions with the almanacs that had been customary a hundred years earlier, Kepler’s strong reluctance to make concrete, exact forecasts is striking. The constellations do not compel, they merely incline.

Kepler did not only make astrological calendars. He also calculated horoscopes and was imperial mathematician and astrologer at the court of Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. To him he dedicated his Rudolfin Tables, by far the most exact planetary orbit calculations of his time. In 1608 he wrote what is probably his best-known horoscope for an anonymous client, who years later was to become the most powerful army commander of the Thirty Years’ War, Albrecht von Wallenstein. Wallenstein was so impressed by the quality of the horoscope that it shaped his life. His biography has astonishing parallels with Kepler’s predictions.

Kepler’s main work, Harmonice Mundi (1619), was ultimately an attempt to unite the scientific knowledge of his time, numerological mysticism and neo-Platonism into an all-encompassing world model. Here, musical harmonies, geometric symmetries, number proportions or its planetary laws can be found just as much as human affects, soul capacities, social systems, theology, guardian spirits or astrology. Everything is connected harmoniously with everything else. The divine will rules over and in all things and unites them in a world harmony that can be experienced scientifically.

The End of Astrology as an Established Science

However, Kepler’s contemporaries were already sceptical about his teachings. Although he was renowned as a natural scientist because of his three planetary laws, his World Harmonics were dismissed as mystical-magical speculation by schollars such as Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). The times of a theological-spiritual science were over. Rationalism and empiricism began their triumphal march. René Descartes (1596 – 1650) soon published his first works and taught people to doubt methodically. Henceforth, not faith but evidence was to be the source of human knowledge. The end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648 brought the twilight of astrology as a leading prognostic discipline. The reason for this was not so much the emerging dominance of a “mechanistic-reductionist materialism”, as astrology enthusiasts like to claim to this day. Rather, the astrologers themselves were responsible for it with their numerous full-bodied false predictions, as the well-known astrology expert Nick Campion (*1953) states. Especially in comparison to the increasingly accurate forecasts of the emerging natural sciences, astrology was taken less and less seriously by the public.

The solar eclipse of 1654 played a major role in this, as the astronomer and calendar expert Klaus-Dieter Herbst (*1961) has discovered. Astrologers in Central Europe were divided as to whether the eclipse would be total or partial. A public dispute broke out which finally ruined the reputation of astrology. If the astrologers did not even know what kind of eclipse it would be, how would they be able to make their detailed predictions about coming wars, crop failures or natural disasters? In 1666, astrology was finally banned from universities in France and shortly afterwards in the rest of Europe. This was the end of astrology as an established science.

Only in England, where the eclipse of 1654 was not visible and hence did not raise public discussions, astrology experienced a last flowering with one last great astrologer. William Lilly (1602 – 1681) was best known as a master of Horary Astrology, a technique in which the horoscope is drawn not on the birth of the questioner but on the time of the question. Lilly advised numerous rulers and politicians in England and throughout Europe. His textbook “Christian Astrology” (1647) is still one of the great classics of astrology. His annual almanacs with forecasts for the coming year were bestsellers and contained numerous legendary hits. In the 1660s, Lilly’s fame also began to wane. In 1666 he was accused of instigating the Great Fire of London. One of his books from 1652 had contained a prediction about London burning. So it was suspected that Lilly had set the fire himself to refresh his fame as an excellent soothsayer. In the end he was acquitted. But he largely withdrew from public life.

In the second half of the 17th century, astrology sank into insignificance. The spirit of the Enlightenment had taken hold of Europe and wanted to free people from the shackles of faith, tradition and obedience to authority. Reason and objectivity were henceforth to be the maxims of thought. Science now had to prove its theories and be generally verifiable. Astrology could not meet such criteria. So it ended up in the curiosity cabinet of superstition and sank into popular belief as trivial fairground astrology. Only in a few secret societies astrological teachings continued to be practiced until they were finally rediscovered towards the end of the 19th century.

The original version of this article including all sources can be found in the following book:
Niederwieser, Christof (2020) PROGNOSTIK 03: Trends & Zyklen der Zeit, Rottweil: Zukunftsverlag, S. 119ff


The History of Astrology in India, Arabia and China

The history of astrology began in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC. But it was a long way from the pure observation of celestial signs to the calculability of planetary movements to the first personal horoscopes, as they emerged in Greece in the 5th century BC. Astrology finally took on its present form in the Roman Empire. Ancient textbooks from the first century AD, such as those by Ptolemy or Manilius, explain the basic elements of the horoscope that are still common today: the zodiac, the planets, the aspects and the houses. Modern astrologers from all over the world still refer to this basic structure. But with the decline of the Roman Empire, astrology fell into oblivion in Europe. However, the old teachings survived in the Arab world and in India.

Sidereal Astrology in India

Astrology had already reached India in the 4th century BC, especially during the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was integrated into the Hindu world view and its traditional lunar astrology. Thus, to this day, the moon plays a much stronger role in Indian astrology (Jyotisa) than in Western astrology. The 27 or 28 lunar stations (nakshatras) through which the moon passes in the course of its cycle were supplemented by the twelve solar signs of the zodiac (rashis) through Hellenistic influences. The ancient Indian solar and lunar calendars were extended by the five planets (Grahas) Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. And the seven-day week associated with the planets (one day each for the sun, moon and the five planets) was introduced. All these influences go back to the Greeks.

In the course of the following centuries, Indian and Western astrology increasingly diverged. One main reason for this is the zodiac. Traditionally, its starting point is at 0° Aries. In the last pre-Christian centuries, the Sun’s entry into the sidereal constellation of Aries was largely identical with the equinox. However, as the Earth’s axis shifts over the centuries (precession), the constellations and the equinoctial points drift further and further apart. About every 2,200 years they shift by one sign. Only after 26,000 years do they coincide again. In western astrology, the tropical zodiac was followed. This means that 0° Aries is defined as the point of the equinox and meanwhile has nothing to do with the constellations in the sky. In Indian astrology, on the other hand, the sidereal zodiac has been retained. 0° Aries is therefore still where the constellation of Aries begins in the sky. However, this day is now more than three weeks after the equinox, so not around 21 March, but around 14 April. A stormy Aries of Western astrology is thus still a dreamy Pisces in India. An eccentric Aquarius according to the tropical zodiac is a conservative Capricorn in the sidereal zodiac.

This contradiction is one of the main arguments of the critics against astrology. And indeed, astrologers are in a state of explanatory emergency here. Some astrologers claim that both the tropical and the sidereal zodiac are coherent and simply represent different levels of the horoscope. However, the question then remains open as to why the same characteristics are assigned to the individual signs of the zodiac in both reference systems. In a comparative analysis of Vedic astrology books, the renowned astro-historian Dieter Koch (*1959) has found that the descriptions of the signs of the zodiac do have some common features. For example, character traits are attributed to the sidereal Scorpio that are associated in the West with the tropical Sagittarius. With the coordinate systems, the areas of meaning have also shifted, so that the contradictions in content are not so serious. However, it becomes problematic with the ruler system. Here, as there, Mars is the planet of Aries, Jupiter the planet of Pisces and so on. A tropical Aries Ascendant is assigned the warlike malefactor Mars as his birth planet, while the same person in India is subject to the great benefactor Jupiter. This contradiction seems insoluble to this day. And so the most popular evasion is that Western astrologers dismiss the sidereal and Indian astrologers dismiss the tropical zodiac as nonsense.

Arabian Astrology

The second cultural area in which ancient astrology lived on was the Arab world. The Arabs preserved the intellectual heritage of the Greeks and developed it further, while Europe sank into the Dark Ages. Among the most famous Arab astrologers were Messallah, who calculated the date for the founding of Baghdad in 762 AD, Sahl ben Bishr, Abu Masar (both in the first half of the 9th century), Albubather (about 875 – 950) and above all the famous polymath Al-Biruni (973 – 1050), as well as Ali ben Ragel (1016 – 1062), one of the most quoted astrologers of the Middle Ages. The great influence that the Arabs had on the development of astrology is still expressed today in the term “Arabic parts”. Although this technique has its origins in antiquity, it was only practised on a large scale by the Arabs. It involves adding or subtracting the planets, the ascendant and the medium coeli (the highest point in the sky). The most prominent of these points is the Part of Fortune. Here the distance from the Sun to the Moon is measured and then subtracted from the Ascendant. The Arabs used hundreds of these parts, and each part could in turn be the starting point for calculating other parts. Al-Biruni names numerous Arabic points such as the following:

Triumph: From the Part of Fortune to Saturn, carried off from the Ascendant.
Mysteries: From the ruler of the Ascendant to the Medium Coeli, ablated from the Ascendant.
Destiny of the Sultan: From MC conjunction Mercury to the MC of the solar progression, ablated from Jupiter
Duration of Employment: From Sun to Saturn, subtracted from Ascendant.
Decapitation: From Moon to Mars, ablated from the cusp of the 8th house

Whether for father, mother, brother, sister, master, slaves, business, torture, profession, celebrity, inheritance, children, love, horsemanship, beauty or quarrel, even for wine, nuts or olives, there was an Arabic part for almost everything. The inflation of astrological interpretation factors already began at that time. There were so many Arabic parts that one could calculate anything and everything at any time, at least in retrospect.

Arabian Zodiac

Ancient Arabian Zodiac

Western Astrology in Persia and China

It was only in the 2000s that researchers discovered that Western astrology had reached China via the Persian Empire, as early as the 8th century AD. The Canadian Tibetologist Jeffrey Kotyk (*1985) showed that in Tang Dynasty China, Persian astronomers worked at the emperor’s court and thus brought Iranian astrology, a mixture of Hellenistic and Indian influences, to East Asia. There it persisted for several centuries as a renowned forecasting discipline. Kotyk has also uncovered a number of fascinating details. For example, 8th century Iranian astrology used not only the Sun, Moon, the five planets and the lunar nodes (dragon’s head and dragon’s tail), but also a factor called Lilith. The orbit of this sinister, dark demoness corresponds to the furthest point of the moon’s orbit from earth (apogee). In modern astrology, this factor was only introduced in the 1960s and became very popular in the 1980s. Both the calculation and the interpretation of the modern Lilith correspond amazingly to the Iranian descriptions, although there is no connection whatsoever between these two lines of tradition. The images and descriptions of the planets and signs of the zodiac also show a great similarity with the Western models.

Western Astrology in China

The Zodiac Signs Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo and Virgo by Taizō zuzō 胎藏圖象 (1194)

Despite Western influences, astrology in China was still strongly connected to sign interpretation. The sky was observed and also served visually as a map of destiny. The Milky Way corresponded to the Yellow River, the most prominent stream in the topography of the empire. And above and below the Milky Way, the underlying regions of China north and south of the Yellow River were reflected in the sky. If constellations of planets occurred in these celestial regions, they also affected the corresponding region on earth.

According to the American sinologist David Pankenier (*1946), planetary constellations played a major role here. These were particularly significant when all the planets were gathered in one sign of the zodiac. This only happens about every 517 years. This rare event was seen as a sign that the existing order was undergoing a major upheaval and that the “Heavenly Mandate” (Tianming) could pass to a new ruler. And indeed, there is a surprising number of overthrows and dynastic changes in Chinese history at these major conjunctions. The 1953 BC conjunction heralded the era of the Xia dynasty, the 1576 BC conjunction the reign of the Shang, and the 1059 BC conjunction the rise to power of the Zhou. The conjunctions took place in the celestial regions of the corresponding dynasties. These rare celestial events apparently made such a powerful impression on rulers and subversives that faith moved mountains. One has to imagine the enormous motivating or demoralising effect of such a powerful sign when it is believed by everybody. And so one can be curious about the next great conjunction in September 2040, because such a rare omen could probably also develop a certain pull in modern China.

The original version of this article including all sources can be found in the following book:
Niederwieser, Christof (2020) PROGNOSTIK 03: Trends & Zyklen der Zeit, Rottweil: Zukunftsverlag, S. 114ff


The History of Ancient Astrology

Since time immemorial, man has looked up to the sky. When the daily hustle and bustle slowly comes to rest at dusk and the sun disappears on the horizon, the eternal order of the stars appears in the firmament. While everyday life is full of impasses, surprises, dangers and unknowns, the night sky offers stability and orientation. Seemingly unchanging, the stars form an eternal cosmic order in the nocturnal heavens. They offer man reliable anchor points in the waves of space and time.
The first lunar calendars of the hunter-gatherers, the first solar calendars of the Neolithic farmers, the monumental calendar buildings of the early civilizations, they are all based on astronomical patterns. They give people orientation in the course of time: When is the right moment for sowing and for harvesting? When will the days get longer again? When does the tide go out, when does the tide come in? Existential questions like these can be answered with calendars. And if already the course of sun and moon can give such precious information, why not also the course of the other wandering stars, the planets in the welkin? Thus, in the course of the 3rd millennium BC astrology arose in Mesopotamia.

The origins in Mesopotamia

Like the archaic calendars, astrology developed out of the interpretation of signs. For on the one hand the orbits of the planets are signatures in the sky. On the other hand they follow fixed temporal periodicities. Sun and moon not only form the basis of most calendar systems in the world. They are also among the main factors in astrology. Also Venus, the third brightest celestial body after the sun and the moon, had high influence in celestial interpretations. The Maya aligned her to the feathered serpent Kukulcan, one of their highest deities. They devoted extensive observations and their most exact calculations to Venus. Also in Mesopotamia Venus had been of high importance to forecast events. In early days it was interpreted as a celestial sign:

“If Venus is in a disk at the rising: The king will call his subjects to account in a battle. If Venus stands next to the sun’s disk as it rises: the land will revolt. Famine will be severe. The king’s people will kill him in a battle. If the solar disk is next to the moon as it rises, and Venus is visible before them: a well-known, important person will rebel against the Lord.”

Such celestial omina are found in Mesopotamia from about the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2000 BC, numerous stone towers dominated the cityscapes in the Tigris-Euphrates region, up to a hundred meters high already. These towers were mainly used for observing the sky. They began to record the orbit of Venus, its declination values, its disappearance and its reappearance before and after solar conjunctions. Also the fixed star positions were noted. As the centuries passed, the other planets were added. But for a long time, divination from the stars was more interpretation of celestial signs than astrology in the modern sense.

It was not until the 8th century BC that sky observation slowly became astronomy. Calculation tables for the future positions of the sun and moon developed from the centuries of observation data. With the help of the Saros periods the Barû already were able to predict solar eclipses. Later also the orbits of the five planets were included in the calculations. For this purpose the Babylonians invented the zodiac with its 360 degrees as a coordinate system. Around 600 BC, they divided it into twelve equal sections, the twelve signs of the zodiac. This laid the most important foundations of astrology.

Beginning of natal Horoscopes in Greece

Until that time, the vision of the heavens was exclusively royal and mundane divination. From the signs of the sky the destinies of countries and their rulers were read. Individuals were not taken into account. It was not until the end of the 5th century BC that horoscopes began to be calculated for the time of birth of individuals. The oldest known birth chart was drawn for the 29th of April 410 BC. It contains the zodiac positions of the Sun, Moon and the five planets. The ascendant, today one of the central elements of a horoscope, was still unknown to the Babylonians. It was introduced into astrology by the Greeks only in the course of the fourth century BC. The Greeks adopted astrology from the Babylonians, especially during the Persian campaign of Alexander the Great (356 – 323 BC). After Chaldean astrologers predicted Alexander would die there if he entered Babylon, and this prophecy came true, astrology rapidly spread in the ancient world. Chaldean astrologers such as the Baal priest Berossos founded schools of astrology throughout Greece.

The Greeks gave astrology its present form. For the first time they put great emphasis on the rising point of the zodiac in the east, the ascendant. Also the individual horoscope experienced its first bloom. This is certainly connected with the high value of the individual in the Hellenistic democracy. Contrary to obscure theories that astrology was already more than 10,000 years old, it only exists a little more than 2,000 years.

Astrology in Ancient Rome

From Greece astrology came to Rome. Cicero (106 – 43 B.C.) dedicated a couple of side blows to it in his book “Of Divination”. Even then, in the last century before Christ, he considered astrology to be humbug. In the fictional dialogue with his brother Quintus, a large part of our modern arguments for and against astrology is already exchanged. He argues against astrology that twins do not have the same destiny, although they are born at the same time. Or he criticizes that the planets were much too far away from the earth to have any effect on people.

“For who does not see that children imitate the form and manners, and most also the postures and movements, of their parents? This would not come to pass if it were not the power and nature of the procreators, but the temperature of the moon and the nature of the sky that produced it. How? Do not people born at one and the same moment have different natures, ways of life and destinies? Does not this sufficiently prove that the time of birth has absolutely no influence on the destiny of life?” (Cicero 44 B.C. “Of Divination”)

Astrology, like other types of divination, was already controversial at that time. Ancient people have not been less critical to such magic teachings than today. Rather, astrology was repeatedly forbidden by law in the Roman Empire, for example in 139 BC with the banishment of all Greek astrologers from Italy, or under Diocletian in 294 AD and Velentinian in 370 AD. In the latter two edicts, astrology was even described as “damnable” and anyone caught practising “this forbidden error” was threatened with the death penalty, both the astrologer and his clients.
In other periods, however, Roman emperors used astrology as exclusive ruling knowledge, for example under Augustus (63 BC – 14 AD) or Hadrian (76 – 138 AD), the latter even being an astrologer himself. During these periods, it was hoped that the prohibition of astrology would give emperors an exclusive advantage. And it was therefore made a punishable offense for private individuals to practice it, especially if they dared to make predictions about the fate of the emperor or the state. In the inner circle of leaders, however, astrology was used intensively and all important decisions were made according to the stars. The public reputation of astrology was therefore already subject to great changes in the Roman Empire and oscillated between a respected science of the future and frowned upon superstition.

The first Astrological Textbooks

The first textbook on astrology did not exist until the turn of the century. The “Astronomica” by the Roman author Marcus Manilius presents the basics of astrology in five books. The work, written in verse, presents not only the signs of the zodiac, planets and ascendant, but also the houses, as well as the main aspects, the significant angular relationships between the planets, the Trine (120°), the Square (90°), the Sextile (60°) and the Opposition (180°). Another influential work was written in the second half of the first century AD by Dorotheus of Sidon. However, his “Pentateuch” has survived only in fragments, partly in Arabic translations from the 8th century.

The most important astrology book of the antiquity appeared in the middle of the 2nd century A.D. The Tetrabiblos of Claudius Ptolemy (about 100 – 178 A.D.) is considered as the standard work of astrology until today. It is a systematical text in four books and contains everything that constituted the stargazing of his time. Besides a detailed presentation of the mathematical and astronomical basics, it offers comprehensive astrological rules of interpretation for planets, signs, houses and fixed stars. The merit of Ptolemy does not lie in the creation of an independent system of interpretation, but above all in the systematic summary of the astrological knowledge of his time. His geocentric view of the world and his epicyclic theory shaped the astronomy of the Middle Ages until the Copernican Revolution.

The original version of this article including all sources can be found in the following book (German language only):
Niederwieser, Christof (2020) PROGNOSTIK 03: Trends & Zyklen der Zeit, Rottweil: Zukunftsverlag, S. 110ff