THE URANIAN INSTITUTE
[Witte was born 1878.Mar.02 at 21h12m44s LMT in Hamburg, Germany, per his own records (*2)]
Alfred Witte was a professional surveyor/engineer and astrologer/astronomer credited with formulating an astrological methodology forming the basis of what are today called "Uranian Astrology" and "Cosmobiology". Witte sought to test and sort out assumptions of classical astrology, and thus his early writings include techniques which he eventually discarded. An example of the astrological fundamentalism that Alfred Witte confronted in the early 20th century was the centuries-long trend of working with house systems simultaneously putting the Ascendant at the first-house cusp and the Meridian at the 10th. Witte noted in an article in the Astrologische Rundschau in the 1920s that the Ascendant and Medium Coeli measure two different dimensions and should not be combined as house cusps in a single system, and that even Ptolemy had already spoken of separate houses for the Ascendant, and houses for the Meridian (1975 p250). Many fundamentalist astrologers nonetheless continued to turn a deaf ear to his statement. Witte later recommended that houses be dispensed with (1975, p 255), noting that effective use of midpoints often yields similar, but more precise information.
Another observation of Witte's (1975, pp 166, 250) that put him ahead his time was that IF there must be a "ruler" of a chart, it should be the planet closest to the MC, rather than the traditional "ruler" of one's Sun sign or of the zodiacal sign of the MC. This observation, recorded in 1924, is in line with the principles of the later systematic research-based findings of Francoise and Michel Gauquelin indicating that the most powerful planets in the chart are those in proximity to the MC or Ascendant.
According to a 1924 article by Wilhelm Hartmann, professor of astronomy and Nuremberg Planetarium superintendent (Witte, p 279), "Hamburg School Astrology" was first publicly presented as a coherent system at the Second Astrological Congress in Leipzig in 1923 by Friedrich Sieggrün (Witte, 1975, p 298). Sieggrün expanded Hamburg School techniques through publication of the first known ephemerides of four transneptunians further beyond those posited by Alfred Witte, but Witte rejected Sieggrün's transneptunians and sought only to validate the first four, named Cupido, Hades, Zeus, and Kronos.
Witte's early writings from 1913 indicate his study of theories of Johannes Kepler which led to Witte's comments on the synchronicity of the color spectrum and musical scale with the celestial location and composition of the planets. Witte describes his early findings in the first few articles in the anthology entitled Der Mensch (Witte, 1975, pp17-25). Witte eventually concluded that the mathematical interrelationships among the planets, termed Planetary Pictures, are of greater significance than traditional 'house' placement. In an article first published in 1924, Witte (1975, p165) stated that a planetary picture is formed by three planets or points, where one of them stands in the middle, at the halfsum (midpoint) of the other two. At that time, Witte worked with what he referred to as "sensitive points", similar in principle to 'Arabian Parts', but triggered by a fourth (often directed or transiting) planetary factor -- yet eventually dropped them as being marginally useful (1975, p 255).
Most significant for astrology today is something astrological fundamentalists ignore -- that Witte himself ultimately recommended the trimming away of superfluous techniques, including his experimental "sensitive points", in an article praised by master Hamburg astrologer Ludwig Rudolph as one of Witte's master works. In Witte's article, "Zum Artikel 'Unbekannte Geburtzeit'" (1975, p 255), written sometime after 1922, Witte summarized the techniques of Hamburg School astrology at that point in time, and referred to sign rulerships, fixed stars, sensitive points, planetary dignities and detriments, and other non-planetary factors, as redundant techniques to be set aside in favor of the more pertinent, essential, and informative mathematical interrelationships among the planets (i.e. midpoints, and angular relationships validating some of the traditional "aspects"). It is this path that has been taken up and developed by more recent German Uranian Astrologers such as Ruth Brummund. Meanwhile, many English-speaking astrologers not aware of Witte's later comments still base their techniques on translations of the early writings of the 1920s and 1930s, and teach use of the old sensitive points, antiscia, rulerships, and other historical techniques that Witte recommended be discarded. There are also some fundamentalist German astrologers who, for some odd reason, continue to use Witte's early experimental techniques, supposedly to continue to find more common ground with conventional astrologers still using techniques prior to Witte's Kepler Circle research.
Witte's accounts of the astrological influence of the traditional planets and transneptunians were recorded by his students in the 'Regelwerk für Planetenbilder' (Rulebook for Planetary Pictures), and first published by Ludwig Rudolph in 1928. This book was banned by the Nazis in 1936, and Witte was prohibited from publishing any further astrological writings all the way up to his death in 1941. Meanwhile, Reinhold Ebertin, son German astrologer Elsbeth Ebertin, presented selected components of Witte's teachings and observations in the form of the German edition of the 'Combination of Stellar Influences' ('CSI', 'COSI', Kombination der Gestirneinflusse, or "KdG"). The introduction to Ebertin's book gave a rather highly critical appraisal of Witte's approach, and his negative assessments of Witte's work were subsequently popularized through translation into a number of world languages. After the Nazi Party went underground and covert after 1945, Witte's 'Rulebook for Planetary Pictures' resurfaced, and it was substantially expanded by Hermann Lefeldt (*1) to include Sieggrün's transneptunians and Pluto, and published again by Ludwig Rudolph.
When Witte published the ephemerides for the first four Transneptunians, he wrote of them as though they were very real planets, and stressed that they were not likely to be found by conventional telescopes due to their distance from our Sun, and due to the colors of the sunlight they reflect to Earth being either within the ultraviolet sector or else too close to the color of the night sky (Witte, 1975, pp 220-222). Additionally, their likely low-density gaseous composition would further complicate their verification.
Witte was well aware of the search by LeVerrier and other astronomers for transneptunian planets (Witte, 1975, p 23), and his findings were ridiculed when Pluto's existence was ascertained. It was assumed that Pluto's proximity to Witte's posited Cupido discounted Cupido's existence, but new discoveries vindicate Witte -- Pluto is a small, dense physical body not a part of the harmonic sequence of planets in accord with Newton's laws, located among several small regional planetoids which may be former comets pulled into orbit around the Sun by gravitational factors. Pluto's classification as planet or planetoid is largely irrelevant to astrological considerations.
We are today no longer restricted to use of conventional ground-based telescopes. Orbital telescopes have now verified numerous small bodies orbiting near Pluto. Since the early 2000s, we only began to see a minuscule portion of what the new space technology could reveal about the outer regions of our solar system. Recent research on proto-planets may begin to explain the nature of the Witte's and of Sieggrün's transneptunians -- and Witte himself indicated that his 'transneptunian factors' may be visible only via infra-red photography.
How exactly Witte made his transneptunian discoveries is still somewhat mysterious. Hamburg School documents indicate that Witte regularly studied the night sky with a telescope in his room, and worked with a pre-computer-age calculating device. Witte was rarely concerned about conventional assumptions, and sought new information beyond. Others claimed that he noted points in the astrological chart repeatedly triggered by similar events, and so postulated that planets were there.
Witte's questioning spirit has been perpetuated among some of his students, and subsequent work with his discoveries and hypotheses after his death in 1941 have led to further research and conclusions. Continuance of Witte's critical approach to historical astrology, and focus instead on ongoing applied research, assists in sorting out the many historical superstitions which have clouded and encumbered astrology for centuries.
Since the onset of the 21st century, more and more transneptunians have proven as real, and this has generated a resumption of interest in Witte's work. New astronomical technology continues to unveil the mysteries of the outer regions of our infinitesimal corner of the Universe -- which we still sometimes refer to as "the" Solar System... as though there is only one. The existence of barely-visible gaseous planets and barycenters is today considered fact among mainstream astronomers, and may explain some of the Witte and Sieggrun transneptunians.
[You may begin studying the methods that remained after Witte and some of his more experienced students in Hamburg sifted out from the morass of speculative methods in the Beginning Lessons in Uranian Astrology.
(*1) Publications by Hermann Lefeldt in the 1950s and 1960s picked out selected, traditional, techniques of Witte and presented a version of Hamburg School astrology biased toward classical methods and fatalism, and are generally quite negative in tone. Lefeldt played a key role in editing most later versions of the Rulebook for Planetary Pictures, and the relative negativity and fatalism of interpretations added by Lefeldt is noteworthy. Lefeldt's works and methods were translated by Hans Niggemann and presented to American astrologers as Uranian Astrology in the mid-20th century.
(*2) 21h12 LMT is published as Witte's birth time in the Der Mensch anthology of articles by Witte and associates published by the Hamburg School. Ruth Brummund, in her Uranische Techniken book, further specifies that 20h30m50s UT (21h12m44s LMT) is indicated on a later chart used by Witte himself.
Brummund, R. 1990 (with addenda to 2001). Regelwerk-Neufassung (The Brummund Rulebook). Hamburg: Ruth Brummund Eigenverlag.
Brummund, R. 1994. Uranischen Techniken Hamburger Astrologen (The Brummund Technique Book). Hamburg: Ruth Brummund Eigenverlag.
Brummund, R. 1999a. The Hamburg School Today. San Francisco: The Uranian Beacon.
Brummund, R. 2001a. Beginning Lessons in Uranian Astrology. San Francisco: The Uranian Institute/Beacon.
Brummund, R. 2001b. Sensitive Points, Sums, and Midpoints. San Francisco: The Uranian Institute
Brummund, R.. The Brummund Rulebook. Included, in electronic format, in the 'Special Uranian' Astrology computer program by Aureas Software in France.
Rudolph, L. 1933, 1965. Leitfaden der Astrologie. Hamburg: Witte Verlag.
Witte, A. & Lefeldt, H. 1959. Regelwerk für Planetenbilder (Rulebook for Planetary Pictures), 5.Auflage. Hamburg: Ludwig Rudolph (Witte-Verlag).
Witte, A. 1975. Der Mensch--eine Empfangsstation kosmischer Suggestionen ("Man: A Receiving Station of Cosmic Influences"; an anthology of articles written by Witte and associates in the 1920s and 1930s): Hamburg: Ludwig Rudolph/Witte-Verlag.
-- San Francisco, 2001; updated 2008 and 2022Mar24.
THE URANIAN INSTITUTE FOR ASTROLOGICAL STUDY & RESEARCH