Witte, Alfred (1878-1941)
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 cosmo-biology, 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.
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.