Historical Astrology in Perspective

and another view of 'What is Uranian Astrology?'

2014 by L Blake Finley, M.A.

--updated 2022.Mar,22--

First off, the author wishes to state that he does not assume that midpoint astrology was invented by Uranian Astrologers, Cosmobiologists, or Alfred Witte.  Historic use of midpoints in astrology is clearly acknowledged in German Uranian Astrology literature, and it is only some English-language astrologers ignorant of this literature who have made the accusation that Uranian Astrologers in Germany think they invented the use of midpoints. Hamburg Uranian Astrologers Udo Rudolph and Ruth Brummund made clear their recognition, in a German text published in 1985, that the routine use of midpoints by astrologers occurred at least as far back as Guido Bonatti/Bonatus in the 13th Century AD.

The actual facts are that comprehensive methodologies of using midpoints as the primary technique in functional chart readings have been developed substantially in Germany, which may or may not replicate historical precedents, and lawsuits have been filed over attempts to copyright Uranian Astrology and its methods, as well as the 90-degree dial, without success, and laughed out of court in Germany already at least once in the past. However, lawsuits over copyright printed works (articles, books), and unacknowledged and/or unauthorized translations of them, have successfully been pursued and won in nearly every country on the planet. This is something not well understood by people who do not exercise the mental capacity to produce substantial original written work worth reading, and therefore simply steal others' writings and deceptively present them as their own, a common practice in criminal societies where theft is considered an integral part of daily living.  In the past, some countries legally allowed people to translate books and then put their name on them as the original authors, although this has always been considered unethical in academic circles, grounds for professional censure, and an indicator of probable lack of competence.


There are several websites recently claiming that if you don't use uranian houses, you aren't doing real Uranian Astrology. Others claim that if you don't use sensitive points or A+B-C pictures or 'Arabic Parts', you are not using Uranian Astrology. These are of course matters of opinion. Opinions are like dirty handkerchiefs -- nearly everybody has at least one. Opinions backed up with evidence and/or substantial functional experience are worth something, while the rest are relatively worthless. As early as 1924, the extensively experienced (in research) Alfred Witte, founder of the Uranian Astrology paradigm via the Kepler Circle and later Hamburg School, recommended that astrologers discard sign rulerships, sensitive points, and planetary weighting systems and instead focus on the relationships between the planets.  It was others, including some Hamburg School astrologers, who continued using them despite his recommendations. Also of note that by 1924, the majority of Witte's articles preserved in the "Der Mensch" anthology also discontinued reference to house systems that he utilized earlier.  

Before studying Uranian Astrology techniques with Ruth Brummund, for a period of 25 years, the author of this article might have agreed more with the view that houses are somewhat indispensible for standard practice, due to having learned astrology from books and astrologers that used them. However, results of intensive, skeptical study with Ruth Brummund over a period of over 10 years led to a more experienced view that so much essential, accurate information is available from midpoints and aspects (referred to as 'clusters' on the harmonic dial), when used effectively and in depth, that houses can be dispensed with without major loss of vital chart information, and that too much emphasis on houses can be distracting from more precise critical midpoints in a chart that involve the planet under investigation.  Many Uranian Astrologers, because they are taught to do so, try to encapsulate the full, historic and varied range of Alfred Witte's highly critical and scientific evolution-oriented thinking over a period of at very least 28 years (i.e. not including years before he published) into one fragmented methodological practice that most astrologers find disjointed, cumbersome, and confusing. This is because those who continue to promote all the techniques used by Witte over those 28 or more years of extraordinarily intensive and evolving study, have lost a main point of his research and writings -- to test various methods and discard the dross -- and discard he did, per some of the most prominent members of the Hamburg School. Furthermore, Witte was continuing the trend of  Johannes Kepler to weed out unreliable or marginally pragmatic techniques used historically. We would not normally include all scientific approaches and conclusions of 1913, much less 1613, in scientific practices -- and so why do we think it makes sense to do so in astrology?  How can a "Kepler College" ignore this primary objective of Johannes Kepler's astrology?

However, if one wants to stick with Witte's early methods and use house systems, one has a right to do so -- no one is forcing anyone to abandon historical methods if the compulsion is felt to keep them, whether it seems logical or not, and top astrological organizations continue to promote them for various and sundry reasons, possibly one of which is the following. Houses bridge Uranian Astrology with conventional pop astrology and astrologers, and they keep Uranian Astrology and Uranian Astrologers from being isolated in a separate world as long as those traditional methods remain popular. In addition, many people in various fields feel a blanket compulsion to preserve tradition, in that maybe it has some sacred and indispensible or even religious value of some sort.  'Fundamentalist' Christians prefer that creationism rather than evolution be taught in schools, promote debatable translations of translations of human authors written in a third historical language as 'the Word of God' to be pontificated. Such issues or refusal to acknowledge the fallibility of traditions came up when the Gauquelins and John Addey found no convincing evidence for many popular conventional methods, and many astrologers felt that astrology was being taken away from them and put in the hands of "evil scientists" with "no ethics" -- although there is a far higher percentage of criminals among adherents of religion than there are adherents of science.  It reminds the author of the times when people thought automobiles were evil because they scared the horses on the streets, that daylight-saving time was causal to communism.  While a generic social code of ethics drawn from other related sciences is indeed important for astrology, infusion of religion risks the ethical problems that have routinely plagued religions (i.e. holy wars, violent persecution of non-adherents, or genocide committed on "infidels" and "untouchables" -- crimes no less "evil" or common than those of unethical scientists -- plus the perpetuation of superstition and belief in things for which there is no proof).

Functionality of methods may depend on your priorities and objectives. Midpoint analysis can be divided into compartments of life similar to those defined by houses, if one understands how to use them that way.  However, among many old-style American Uranian Astrologers, midpoints are taught according to earlier technique systems, where midpoints are seen as mere adjuncts or marginal afterthoughts tacked onto house and sign or aspect interpretations for supplementary information.  Both house and non-house methods are valid approaches, and both can yield useful information.  The difference in approach relates to issues of efficiency, precision, focus, and perspective. How much one method is more purely 'Uranian Astrology', or else just a hybrid with traditional methods that some students of Alfred Witte claim he abandoned, is another issue, and perhaps far more a cosmetic accuracy-of-terminology issue than a pragmatic one, and one which may generate endless debate of questionable value or use to anyone. However, sign and house rulerships, dignities, detriments, exaltations, and 'falls', have been endlessly debated, with different versions and variants, over time because they seem to be of questionable significance or value.

In nearly all fields of knowledge, there are usually various theoretical and pragmatic methodological approaches to achieving objectives/results.  If the theory doesn't yield practical results, or isn't based on practical observations, problems result.  People spin theories and philosophies for various reasons... maybe based on what they first learned and so thus are sentimentally or habitually attached to, or because they don't want to learn a different system, or because a favorite or beloved, or even idolized, teacher or author advocated the method; or choices made in order to 'belong' in a group or school; or to support and attach to some particular ideological viewpoint that one substitutes for one's personal identity or chooses for seemingly practical reasons. This can happen to astrologers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, psychologists, or practitioners of most any field. But the question always remains whether a method is truly practical, and rooted in observable fact, rather than theoretical supposition.

In all fields and endeavors, including astrology, the most complex method is not necessarily the most effective or accurate (a historic principle of "Occam's Razor"), although there still remains a common tendency to assume that "if it's more complicated, or harder to do, it must be better". This is a myth quickly dispelled when one studies any subject in depth and from different viewpoints. There are indeed relatively wasteful and inefficient methodologies that are literally unnecessarily and unfruitfully complex, and the field of astrology is bristling full of them, particularly when one starts digging into the texts of the days of yore.  For example, if you carry water down a hill in individual bucketfuls, rather than running a pipe or hose from the source to the destination, carrying buckets is harder, involves more physical energy expenditure, impresses the observer with the hard labor involved, and sells more buckets -- but it causes more water to evaporate or spill to the ground, and is far slower.  While buckets preceded pipes in history, the pipe is not only more energy-efficient, but allows one to keep the overall flow, significance, and functional process in a more unified perspective.  Yet, some are attached to their buckets.  Some even still prefer old manual horse-and-buggy dials atop shifting paper charts over far more precise on-screen computerized dials, for some odd reason.

In recent years, there's a heavily advertised trend to 'go back to roots' in astrology, and while it has brought renewed insights in some cases, and an understanding of causal and developmental factors in astrological method, it has often gone overboard to excess, and removed astrology from current reality while overlooking the basic life reality of evolution, the real passage of time, the real and actual changes in reality over time, and the increased accuracy of systematic technical astrology (even if sometimes overshadowed by shallow pop culture astrology, which some astrological organizations promote to increase membership numbers or conference attendance.)

It is equally unwise to ignore the few past methods that may be functional but were abandoned for the wrong reasons, including premature conclusions, or subjectivity problems (such as the very limited literacy and printed information typical of past centuries), or difficulty in calculating without computers or chart dials (i.e. high-impact aspects that are not 30-degree multiples).

More specific to Uranian Astrology, some astrologers, for example, in reading the German 'Der Mensch' anthology of Alfred Witte's articles compiled, annotated, and published by Ludwig Rudolph, forget that (and some of this is repeated from earlier paragraphs):

1) One of Alfred Witte's objectives was to continually sort through and test methods over the years, in the continued spirit of the Kepler Circle and Johannes Kepler, i.e. to weed impractical and inefficient methods out of astrology.  This same objective was continued by some Uranian Astrologers (like Ruth Brummund), but neglected by others (like Hermann Lefeldt, whose translated books Hans Niggemann was for some time falsely attributed as having written) who wanted to keep the bridge to traditional and mainstream astrology alive by continuing to use previously popular methods like houses as the frame of reference. As Ruth Brummund pointed out to to me, Hermann Lefeldt (whose books Hans Niggemann translated) was a paid propagandist for the Third Reich, and later a TV astrologer, who chose the astrological methods that would have the widest possible public appeal in terms of familiarity of methods (using houses and signs in particular), and this determined the content of his books translated by Hans Niggemann. Ruth also pointed out to me that Udo Rudolph made available in English the astrological methods that were in demand by American astrologers, whereas Ruth's objective was to present the later stages of Witte's thinking by abandoning the earlier experimental methods, which Udo Rudolph ultimately presented again (and stirred controversy in his final years, after interactions with a persuasive cult, by advocating for uranian astrology as a religion).

2) An attempt was made among some Uranian Astrologers, including Ruth Brummund, to refine the field in ways that actually aligned with the findings by the Gauquelins and Addey, i.e. houses and signs seemed unverifiable in their research, whereas proximity to the MC and Ascendant, and harmonics, were significant, while Ms Brummund also continued to use midpoints, which had been proven both effective and accurate over many years of non-statistical research by German astrologers including the Ebertins and Cosmobiologists (and apparently not researched in detail by either the Gauquelins or Addey).  This was part of a thrust to make astrology more scientific and reliable, and in doing so also dismissed the supposition that the Transneptunians were necessarily to continued  to be classified as 'planets' (which Witte did initially). Note that Witte, in the 1920s, wrote that some Transneptunian factors were visible only by using infrared cameras, which he may have had access to -- and that a biography written about him by his neighbor, Carl-Otto Fleischhauer, describes his impersonal observations of Witte using a telescope during the last years of his life.

3) The 'Der Mensch' anthology of Witte's article, although published in 1975, contains articles from 1913 to 1924, and thus represents Witte's astrology from that 11-year period. Some astrologers have assumed that the material in this anthology reflects Witte's views at the time of his death in 1941. However, it does not include the astrological insights and evolution of Witte's astrology during the last 17 years of his life, which may or may not be still in existence due to Nazi censorship and book-burning, and so have been relayed only by his students and colleagues during that period, including Ludwig Rudolph.

Ruth Brummund, student of Witte's longtime student and publisher of Witte's teachings, Ludwig Rudolph, has asserted that Witte moved away from houses and toward more complex midpoint interpretation over the years, and that sensitive points and arabic-part type pictures were eventually abandoned in routine practice because of their relative inefficiency and redundancy, once far-more readily observable midpoints are actually used to their full potential -- and I have found this, after 36 years of specialist study of uranian astrology, independently, including under two experienced mentors, to also be the case.  What really matters, when it's all said and done, is how accurate the astrology is, and how practical and effective the methods are.

-- San Francisco Bay Area, 2014.Jan.31; updated 2017.Sep.10 and 2022.Mar.22.