Witte, Alfred (1878–1941)
German astrologer and founder of the Hamburg school of
astrological interpretation. Witte was born in Hamburg, Germany,
on March 2, 1878. As a young man, he worked for the
city of Hamburg and then served in the German army during
World War I. By the time the war started he had become interested
in astrology and pursued his speculations while soldiering.
He discovered a certain moving point in the zodiac that he
found helpful in interpreting charts and he hypothesized the
existence of a trans-Neptunian planet which he call Cupido.
Such a planet would be discovered in 1930 and named Pluto.
After the War, Witte gathered a group of astrologers, especially
Friedrich Sieggrün (1877–1951), to assist in developing
his insights. The results were an innovative system of astrology
that came to be known as Uranian Astrology or the Hamburg
School, after Witte’s hometown. As the system developed, Witte
postulated first three additional planets, named Hades, Zeus,
and Kronos, and then four additional imaginary planets. Criticism
of the additional planets, unknown to anyone except Witte
and his associates, was balanced by the good reports of satisfied
clients.
Witte also introduced the idea of midpoints, another imaginary
addition to the horoscope. As the name implies, a midpoint
is a point halfway between any two planets in the chart.
The combined influences of the two planets are evident at the
midpoint. This combined influence is activated by planets in
the present transiting the midpoint. The two planets and their
midpoint together made a planetary picture and the various
planetary pictures become an important element in chart interpretation.
The Hamburg School, as the Witte-Sieggrün system of interpretation
was called, created a controversy in Germany for its
challenge to traditional methods of astrological interpretation.
Witte defended the system, for which he claimed outstanding
results not provided by more traditional charts in several
books, beginning with Regelwerk für Planetenbilder (1928).
Witte’s system never gained support outside Germany and
did not reemerge from the Nazi suppression of astrology in the
late 1930s. It is remembered today primarily through cosmobiology,
the system developed by Reinhold Ebertin, one of
Witte’s students. The Hamburg school was championed by
Hermann Lefeldt after the war. Lefeldt published both a revised
German edition of Witte’s book and an English translation.
The progress of Uranian astrology stopped by Witte’s suicide
in Hamburg on August 2, 1941, a death possibly related
to the rise of Nazism and the resulting suppression of astrology
in Germany.
Sources
Brau, Jean-Louis, Helean Weaver, and Allan Edwards. Larousse
Encyclopedia of Astrology. New York New American Library,
1982.
Holden, James H., and Robert A. Hughes. Astrological Pioneers
of America. Tempe, Ariz. American Federation of Astrologers,
1988.
Witte, Alfred. Regelwerk für Planetbilder. 3d ed. Hamburg
Witte Verlag, 1935. Translated by Richard Svehla as Rules for
Planetary Pictures. Hamburg Witte Verlag, 1939.
Witte, Alfred, and Herman Lefeldt. Rules for Planetary Pictures.
Translated by Kurt Knupfer. Hamburg L. Rudolph
(Witte Verlag), 1974.