The German philosopher, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, was also a cultural critic, poet and philologist. His body of work had a profound influence on modern intellectual history and consequently on human consciousness, covering a wide range of topics, including art, philology, history, religion, tragedy, culture and science
Unfortunately his achievements were marred by his sister Elisabeth (and her husband) who was a Nazi supporter. After Nietzsche’s death in 1900, as curator and editor of his manuscripts, she reworked his unpublished writings into a book – The Will to Power – to fit her own German nationalist ideology. Through her published editions, Nietzsche’s work unfortunately became associated with fascism and Nazism. Nietzsche must have turned in his grave!
As Philip Stokes wrote a few years ago: “it may be another hundred years before his philosophy is widely appreciated for the genius it is.” (Philosophy. 100 Essential Thinkers.)
The chart reminds me of Nietzsche’s mane-like moustache – seen from above – which hides his mouth with its fierce outspokenness against the world out there. With no planets in a large empty space on the YOU-side, running from part of the 5th to part of the 9th house, his planetary energies are mostly on the I-side. He was indeed a solitary man, as he wrote in one of his first books, The Gay Science: “We are always only in our own company.”
All those planets on the I-side of his chart could be behind the fact that he was against almost every ruling belief in his world, such as nationalism, Christianity, aesthetics and the master-slave morality. The title of one of his earlier works, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, could read Thus Spoke Nietzsche. It is a perfect reflection of his North Node in the 1st house where its closeness to the Moon suggests self-assertion was indeed close to his heart.
The Five Oppositions
There are five oppositions running through his core on both the Individuality and the Relationship Axes. In addition to all these oppositions, all that open space on the YOU-side means the 6 planets on the I-side were all challenged by the development of his consciousness, from the age of 16 up to 56 in 1900 – the year he died.
The Individuality Axis
Uranus in the 4th house, being present in four of these oppositions, played a major role in Nietzsche’s innovation in conventional values. This is what enabled his Mercury conjunct Mars – involved in the Ambivalence Triangles – to stand out from the crowd as their placement in the 10th house implies.
Often the oppositions in his consciousness are reflected in the titles of his works. Those on this axis, are echoed in The Re-Evaluation of Values. Also in the concept of the übermensch, translated as the superman or overman who is superior, not to others, but to his little ego, so that übermensch would probably be translated as the Higher Being/Self today.
The linear opposition between Jupiter in the 4th house and Mars in the 10th could mirror The Will to Power in which he argues that there are competing wills in every human subject. Happiness – or Jupiter’s abundance – is not an aim in itself, but the result of the successful pursuit of one’s aims and of overcoming hurdles, in other words, of the fulfilment of the will. (Assagioli also refers to Nietzsche in his Act of Will.)
The Relationship Axis
The opposition between his Sun in the 11th house and Pluto in the 5th is mirrored in his writings on Apollo and Dionysus, order and chaos, the crystallisation of philosophical thought and the dissolution thereof. Opposites are, Nietzsche believed, what underlies tragedy, as he wrote in The Birth of Tragedy.
The Ambivalence Triangles
The above oppositions form the base of five Ambivalence Triangles which – at their blue angles, the 3rd pole of the triangle – suggest an ideal world. As the Hubers say in Aspect Pattern Astrology (p155), “it indicates a kind of switch point in the correct management of the ambivalent energies.”
In Nietzsche’s case, these ‘switch points’ are the Moon, the North Node, Saturn and Neptune. Managing the ambivalence via the Moon conjunct the North Node would be easy, but Saturn and Neptune are both in an intercepted Aquarius and Pisces in the 3rd house.
However, in his House Chart, the Ambivalence Triangles with Mercury vs Uranus and the linear Mars vs Jupiter, become Achievement Triangles with the release points in the Moon conjunct the North Node in the 1st house, thus in reality enabling him to let off all that steam in him. With the Moon as his strongest ego planet in Sagittarius, I imagine it was a red or blood moon as it is called.
What shone brightest in his temperament was not the Sun – as one would expect of a great intellectual – but the Moon, lighting the way for his soul’s Sagittarian journey into an adventurous and sometimes arrogant self-assertion.
Nietzsche grew up in the small town of Röcken near Leipzig. His father, a Lutheran pastor and former teacher, died from a brain ailment in 1849, the same year as his youngest son. The family then moved to Naumburg, where they lived with Nietzsche’s maternal grandmother and, after her death, they moved into their own house, now Nietzsche-Haus, a museum and Nietzsche Study Centre.
In 1854, he began to attend a boys’ school in Naumburg. His father had worked for the state (as a pastor), so that the now-fatherless Nietzsche was offered a scholarship to study at the internationally recognised, prestigious Schulpforta. He studied there from 1858 to 1864, while his Age Point was moving through the 3rd and 4th houses.
Both Aquarius and Pisces are in the 3rd house, giving his learning a philosophical and creative character – Apollo and Dionysus again. When not studying, he wrote poems, composed some music and led a music and literature club.
At Schulpforta, Nietzsche received a solid foundation in languages – Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and French – so that he could read important primary sources. During this time, he had a penchant for pursuing subjects that were considered ‘unbecoming’, another reflection of his opposition to conventional thought. One day, Nietzsche arrived drunk at the gymnasium and was demoted from first in his class and his rank as prefect – as if Apollo had been demoted by Dionysus.
At age 16 – in 1860 – his Venus was opposed. Could this be when he went to a brothel where he contracted a venereal disease? (The word ‘venereal’ is based on Venus in her slatternly guise, in her lowest form.) This is the opposite of Nietzsche’s Venus in the 9th house, which would later in his life turn into the higher form of Venus as the goddess of aesthetics, inspiring all his writings on Aesthetics.
He then started his studies in theology and classical philology at the University of Bonn with the hope of becoming a minister. After one semester (and to the distress of his mother), he stopped his theological studies and lost his faith. As early as 1862, when he was 18, his essay Fate and History argued that historical research had discredited the central teachings of Christianity. Following in the footsteps of the philosopher Feuerbach, young Nietzsche agreed that people created God, and not the other way around.
It is noteworthy that as his Age Point conjoined Uranus and opposed Mercury in 1865, at the age of 20, Nietzsche wrote to his deeply religious sister, Elisabeth, a letter regarding his loss of faith: “If you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire …” His inquiries into religious beliefs would lead to his (then still shocking) statement: “God is dead.”
Mercury versus Uranus would lead him further on the road of inquiry. He then studied philology and philosophy. Soon afterwards, his first philological publications appeared. In 1865 (during the AP/Uranus conjunction) he was studying the works of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer whom he later would say was one of the few thinkers he respected.
While his Age Point was in the 4th house of home and country, Nietzsche signed up for one year of voluntary service with the Prussian artillery division in Naumburg. He was regarded as one of the finest riders among his fellow recruits, but while jumping into the saddle of his horse, he tore two muscles in his left side, leaving him exhausted and unable to walk for months. In his short time in the military, he experienced much and witnessed the traumatic effects of battle. He also contracted diphtheria and dysentery.
Consequently, Nietzsche again turned his attention to his studies in which he excelled to such a degree that he became the youngest ever – 24 years old – to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel. Before he moved to Basel, he renounced his Prussian citizenship – an apt ending to the home country of the 4th house.
In 1869 when his Age Point had just made its appearance in the 5th house, he met Richard Wagner and his wife who would play a great role in Nietzsche’s creative self-expression. They brought Nietzsche into their most intimate circle, including Liszt – all those people making an impression on the social scene at that time. In 1872, after the low point of the 5th house, Nietzsche published The Birth of Tragedy.
His Age Point was now moving into the section of the chart on the YOU-side where there are no planets. This book would be followed by several other publications, including one entitled Wagner in Bayreuth. By 1876, when his Age Point was in the 6th house, he was deeply disappointed by the Bayreuth Festival which he found banal and the people attending, base. It seems he had left the often shallowness of the 5th house (nowadays called the celebrity cult) behind. He was also alienated by Wagner’s championing of “German culture”. Soon he would distance himself entirely from Wagner.
The publication in 1878 of Human, All Too Human – a book of aphorisms ranging from metaphysics to morality to religion – coincided with the AP/Neptune square in. In this book he reacted against the pessimistic philosophy of Wagner and Schopenhauer, two figures who had inspired him greatly earlier in his life. Nihilism would never be acceptable to him.
After the low point of the 6th house of work, Nietzsche resigned in 1879 due to health problems that would plague him for the rest of his life. His Age Point entered the individual sphere of his chart in 1880 and for the next decade, he completed much of his core writing.
This seems to have been the major shift – the C2 – his consciousness went through in 1881. He published one book or major section of a book each year until 1888 – when he completed no fewer than five. During this time, many of his planetary energies were sparked by the AP square such as Venus in 1882, Jupiter in 1886, Mars in 1887 and both Uranus and Mercury in 1888.
Living off his pension from Basel and aid from friends, Nietzsche travelled frequently to find climates in Switzerland, Italy and France that were easier on his health. His excessive mutable motivation enabled him to move around, gladly, as free as Zarathustra walking around a snow-capped mountain top in the BBC documentary on Nietzsche, called Human, All Too Human. (Worth seeing!). This book alienated readers and Nietzsche was now without family, friends and a market for his books.
While his Age Point was wandering through the 7th house, he had the only close personal relationship in his (love) life with Lou Andreas-Salomé, a brilliant Russian. He met her at the time of the Venus square (1882) in Rome and fell in love with her. He proposed several times, to the horror of his sister Elizabeth who called her an “immoral woman”. In 1883 Nietzsche wrote that he now felt “genuine hatred for my sister”. That same year his Moon was opposed by the Age Point and his emotional ego suffered much when he fell out with Lou, his mother and sister. He never married.
While in Genoa, Nietzsche’s failing eyesight led to the appointment of a previous student called Gast as his ‘private secretary’ who would transcribe and proofread the galleys for almost all of his work from then on. Gast was one of the very few friends Nietzsche allowed to criticise him. This seems to have been his closest personal relationship.
In 1883, he tried to obtain a lecturing post at the University of Leipzig, but because of his attitude towards Christianity and his concept of God, no university in Germany would employ him. His Age Point traversing the 7th house was opposing his 1st house of self-assertion. “And hence my rage since I have grasped in the broadest possible sense what wretched means (the depreciation of my good name, my character, and my aims) suffice to take from me the trust of, and therewith the possibility of obtaining, pupils.”
In 1886, when Pluto in the 8th house favoured his consciousness with a sextile, Nietzsche broke with his publisher Ernst Schmeitzner, disgusted by his antisemitic opinions. That same year, his sister Elisabeth married the anti-Semite Bernhard Förster and travelled to Paraguay to found Nueva Germania, a “Germanic” colony – a plan Nietzsche responded to with mocking laughter. Sounds like his Jupiter laughing it off, triggered by the AP/square. Nietzsche would only meet her again after his collapse.
In 1887, when the Age Point was activating the Mars in him, he paid his dues to mankind with the polemic, On the Genealogy of Morality. A year later, the academic Georg Brandes delivered in Copenhagen one of the first lectures on Nietzsche’s philosophy, as if doing what Nietzsche’s Mercury versus Uranus, sparked by the AP square, would have done, were Nietzsche not too weak to attend. His Age Point was preparing the way for him to stand out from the philosophical crowd. In 1888, his writings and letters began to reveal a higher estimation of his own status and ‘fate’ as if he were recognising the authority Mercury in the 10th house bestowed on him.
Although Nietzsche had announced that he proposed to write The Will to Power, he eventually abandoned this idea and worked on Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist in 1888. His health was now better and he spent the summer in high spirits. On his 44th birthday, after completing these two works, he decided to write his autobiography, Ecce Homo. In its preface, he reminds readers to “Hear me! For I am such and such a person. Above all, do not mistake me for someone else.” Was he perhaps answering the urgings of his soul – as the AP/North Node quincunx that same year suggests: to finally assert himself as an adventurous philosopher who got the bigger picture?
With his Age Point in the 8th house in January 1889, its death is reflected in the mental breakdown Nietzsche had in Turin. And there would be no rebirth. In the following days, he sent short notes – now called the “Madness Letters” – to a number of friends. The letters were signed either ‘Dionysus’ or ‘The Crucified One’. He also announced, amongst many other brutal actions that would put an end to everything he opposed, that he, as creator of the world, was soon having all anti-Semites shot dead, as if all the oppositions in his nature had now become one and he was both the creator and the destroyer.
His friends decided that he had lost it and had to be brought back to Basel. One of them travelled to Turin and brought Nietzsche to a psychiatric clinic in Basel. Then he was transferred to a clinic in Jena. He was now 44 and lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897 – just after the AP/Venus conjunction – and then with his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche who allowed visitors to see him in his demented condition. (His Venus is, after all, on a low point.) Rudolf Steiner, who in 1895 had written Friedrich Nietzsche: a Fighter Against His Time, one of the first books praising Nietzsche, also met her uncommunicative brother before his death in 1900.
The Dominant Triangle
Unlike all the triangles in Nietzsche’s chart, the Dominant Triangle envelops the core personality and as it moves retrograde, its learning continued throughout his life. Everything the Hubers say about this structure of consciousness could be said of Nietzsche: “There is a profound creative quality in the Dominant triangle, thus, in the case of successful problem-solving producing a personality with a stronger influence and dominance in the environment. “(Aspect Pattern Astrology, p 203.)
This is how this triangle might have worked: To fulfil his soul’s task, as indicated by the North Node in the 1st house of self-assertion (and fired up by all the Achievement Triangles in his House Chart) his consciousness rushes to Venus, to his strong sense of Aesthetics, which lets him rise above the mundane in his search for a new, creative way to express himself (Uranus on the cusp of the 5th house). He saw art as the single, superior force against the negation of life, art as the anti-Christian and the anti-Nihilist counterforce par excellence.
Nietzsche made a major impact on 20th and early-21st century thinkers across philosophy – especially in schools of continental philosophy, eg Existentialism, postmodernism and post-structuralism, as well as art, literature, psychology, politics and popular culture. As Stokes writes: Nietzsche was “One of the most profound, enigmatic and ultimately controversial philosophers in the whole of the Western canon….Freud said of Nietzsche that ‘he had a more penetrating knowledge of himself than any other man who ever lived or was ever likely to live.’ ”
The Final Opposition
It is ironic that Nietzsche who was an extremely vociferous person during his life, spent his last years in complete silence. When his Uranus and Mercury were fired up by the AP square in 1888, he lost his mind, as if it were ‘burnt out’ by all the fire of the many oppositions in his consciousness. It is also ironic that this man, who had a great mind, lost his mind. But then, Nietzsche loved irony.
It seems he also lived it.
Excellent article and revealing the more subtle nature of this iconic figure.
Thanks for a thorough and thoughtful interpretation of Nietzsche’s chart, which will enhance my understanding as I read his work afresh.
Thank you for this wonderful post! Fred’s one of my fave historical friends, and I resonate with how much justice you’ve brought to the fore here.