"Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman -- a rope over an abyss...What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal: what is lovable in man is that he is a transition..." Thus Spake Zarathustra.The birth chart of Friedrich Nietzsche -- the radical individualist and iconoclast, critically astute philosopher yet passionate poet, empirical psychologist yet visionary prophet -- stands as a symbolic portrait, not only of the titanic struggles of the man himself, but of the agonizing age which he ushered in -- our age.
The questions and psychic forces which tore at the soul of this mythic figure who dared to stand against the consensus of centuries, against the all-consuming power of the collective and its conventional pretensions, are burning issues for us still as we lonely individuals seek our rebirth amidst the rubble of Western civilization. Declaring the supreme value of the outstanding individual who towers above the herd courageously transvaluing all values, Nietzsche envisions his heroic 'Superman' standing at the pinnacle of history forging his destiny from the primary and godless Chaos of reality.
Depth psychology, existentialism and the human potential movement: the idea and practice of the liberation of the self involving a necessary opening to the hidden Dionysiac depths; the necessary break with the collective in its conventional, conformist and often cultural/moral mediocrity; individual empowerment through a healthily strong ego; the belief that deep societal change can only come about through personal transformation and individual growth in consciousness -- all this constitutes the best and deepest of the Nietzschean insights! Yet just as, in Nietzsche's own perspectivist and relativistic notion of truth, the truth cannot be properly abstracted from the man, this refined gold does not reveal the rough and complex ore, that most impure yet influential and reverberant message that was Nietzsche.
Nietzsche's fate, his eventual madness which followed an inspired fury of writing, was like that of the legendary Icarus who flew too close to the Sun, a Faustian and aristocratic inflation of ego, a hubris which eventually led to his possession by the Dionysiac unconscious. As the dwarf, the stunted Nietzschean shadow riding the back of the mountain climbing prophet warns, "O Zarathustra, far indeed threwest thou thy stone -- but upon thyself will it recoil!,"1 Nietzsche would pay the price for living his life in excessively Promethean terms; for understanding human development too much in terms of individual power and overcoming while demeaning the power of love and ordinary human belonging. As C.G. Jung, the wise old teacher of the universal processes of self-inflation, archetypal possession, shadow projection, and enantiodromia, put it, "...we are bound to admit that Nietzsche lived beyond instinct, in the lofty heights of heroic sublimity...Nietzsche got stuck in a state of high tension...one cannot avoid foreseeing that this joyful intensification of mood to heroic and godlike heights is dead certain to be followed by an equally deep plunge into the abyss." 2
In the face of nihilism and despair, this Promethean and almost mythically tragic figure, from an essentially positive and life affirming Sagittarian nature and powerful Mars/Jupiter and Jupiter/Uranus connections, courageously embraced a great Yea-Saying to life even in the suffering of its endless repetitions -- his doctrine of the 'eternal recurrence'. He was a man of powerful, critical and scientific or naturalistic intellect (Mercury conjunct a Virgo Mars in opposition to Uranus and trine Saturn) and equally compelling emotional instinctuality (Moon in Sagittarius rising; Scorpio/Sag. cusp Asc.; Moon square Venus; Pluto exact within one degree opposite Sun; Mars opp. Jupiter and conj. Mercury) who was moved to try to integrate -- as he had spoken of it in his early works on ancient Greece -- the Appolinian and the Dionysian; the solar, cultured and intellectual Libran with the powerful, primitive, instinctual, subterranean, Arian/Plutonian.
The revolutionary forces of Uranus and Pluto thrust up directly through the oppositions inflaming the Sun and Mars, apt symbols of individual power and achievement, toward a mythic self-overcoming, a Libran/Virgoian self perfecting which despised the ordinary and the mediocre. His central doctrine of the Superman or Overman, the quintessential and optimum expression of the 'will to power', is most appropriately symbolized by the Mars opposition Jupiter/Uranus warrior standing at the Midheaven.
Like a fiery old testament prophet hurling jeremiads at the mediocre mass, Nietzsche was ceased by a polemical fury (sharply critical Virgo MH, scornfully deriding and intensely fierce Scorp. Asc.), an overwhelmingly subjective, touchily reactive and overly personal involvement (fiery Moon rising), a passionate identification with society as culture (Libra and 11th house Sun ruling 9 containing dispositor Venus and emphasized Sagittarius) which he adamantly differentiated from society and the State (Mars in 10 opp Uranus) and against which he took a direct and forcefully articulated intellectual stand (Mars conj. Mercury).
With his cardinal/mutable emphasis, Moon in Sagittarius rising, a Sagittarius cusp Ascendant and Jupiter in close opposition to Mars and angular, Nietzsche embraced becoming rather than being (fixed signs) as the fundamental nature of things, a Heraclitean flux in which the individual is ever in a state of becoming and ultimately, as the Superman, in a state of self transcending transmutation or sublimation of his 'lower', 'average' and 'mediocre' nature (the transition from Scorpio to Sagittarius, his cuspal Ascendant, symbolizes the emergence of the uniquely 'human' through a transmutation of the animal) -- a nature, which as a primal and essentially naturalistic chaos, is devoid of God. Thus, the Superman creates and forges himself 5 and his values entirely beyond the reach of conventional morality and religion, "beyond good and evil".
The central Christian values embodied in Western civilization -- self-effacement, sympathy etc. -- in their rejection of the instinctual, the will to power, are then actually anti-life. As a denial of a fundamental fact of nature, such values are held by Nietzsche to be actually preventing the evolution of higher forms of humanity. As disguised forms of resentment -- historically the resentment of the weak against the strong, the slaves against the masters -- such values exalt weakness and mediocrity rather than strength and nobility of spirit which can be embodied only in the outstanding individual, never in the mass. Even liberal democracy and socialism are reviled as secular forms of Christianity embracing sentiments which are without meaning in a godless universe.
The purpose of the collective, the fulfillment of history, is to support the development of the outstanding individual who alone is the flower of creation. This is how Nietzsche expressed his 'personal' Venus, Mars, Mercury and the Sun in the collective houses, 9, 10 and 11, which in another might manifest either as the need to achieve 'within' the structures, or as a dedicated service to the collective. With his Libra Sun, and Sagittarius Moon in major aspect to a ninth house Venus, he exalted the artist and philosopher as the highest expressions of the individual.
Nietzsche's Saturn in Aquarius, especially as apex of the T-square, manifested as an isolation from the crowd, a need to distinctively define himself in relation to the collective (the 'herd'). But Neptune is also in Aquarius through which he gave artistic expression in his writings. I believe that together, Saturn and Neptune in Aquarius constellated in Nietzsche's psyche the religious and secular modes of society; more specifically, the antipathetic issues of control and faith, justice and forgiveness, power and compassion, "strength" and "weakness" in direct relation to the possibility of collective evolution (Aquarius).
We can see in this view how Jupiter conjunct Uranus, the "revaluation of all values", the repudiation of the prevailing beliefs and mores, operates from the intensely individual 4th house. As such, the conjunction not only challenges particular moral values (though without a nihilistic leveling -- Jupiter & Uranus are in sextile to Saturn) but dangerously turns on its head (individual planets South directly linked to collective planets North) the prevailing meta-narrative of altruism, human rights and democracy -- that delicate and subtle balance of individual and collective which underlies both the religious and the secular.
Apart from Nietzsche's 'all-too-human' cultural elitism, snobbery and self inflation (his neurosis), his radically individualistic view (Mars conj. MH opp. Ju/Ur conj Nadir) remains a highly "subjective" cry, and in that sense a "true" expression of a deeper power locked within the individual. If the individual is to evolve and develop beyond his or her mediocrity, s/he must indeed find expression and must do so 'against' the crushingly limiting power of the status quo (Uranus-backed Mars in 10th, Pluto-backed Sun in 11th) -- this being especially so in the Nineteenth century for a Uranian/Plutonian prophet of awesome Twentieth Century insights!
Since the empowerment and confidence of the Libran ego normally demands a valuing of close communion and harmony with the other, with the human community, Nietzsche's radical embrace of the 'individual' was very much a denial of his own self nature suggesting grandiose self inflation rather than healthy self esteem. Such was the work of his Plutonian saboteur. Although Pluto upon a personal planet often indicates a sort of self repressive constipation, this is not generally an option for the creatively endowed such as Nietzsche. His giving birth to the pagan god Dionysus was declared from the roof tops. Yet Nietzsche strove, not for a Romantic excess of pure self expression but for an integration of the Dionysian (the transpersonal Uranus and Pluto -- especially in Aries) and the Appolinian -- his highly cultured, intellectually sophisticated Libran Sun and Mercury -- a profoundly artistic integration which he believed the Greeks had achieved before it was undermined by Christendom. His opposition rightly strove for integration.
As a philologist (cultural and classical historian) and with his elevation of aesthetics above the moral and the religious (Venus in 9 ruled by Sun in Libra) he was indeed Libran. C.G. Jung writes;
Nietzsche, like Schiller, had a pronounced tendency to credit art with a mediating and redeeming role. The problem then remains stuck in aesthetics -- the ugly is also "beautiful," even beastliness and evil shine forth enticingly in the false glamour of aesthetic beauty. The artistic nature...claims a redemptive significance for itself and its specific capacity for creation and expression...In adopting the view that the antagonism between Apollo and Dionysus is purely a question of conflicting artistic impulses, the problem is shifted to the aesthetic sphere in a way that is both historically and materially unjustified... 6And we must remember that the normally diplomatic and conciliatory Libra can sometimes take an entrenched stand against the group when he or she perceives the group consensus to be out of whack, for only in that way is a fairer and more balanced view attainable. Perhaps in this not so atypical expression of the Libran instinct, Nietzsche perceived the severe imbalance of Christianized Western civilization, and took the other side with an Arian strength fed by Pluto and delivered like bombs and missiles through the Mercury/Mars opposite Jupiter/Uranus along the Meridian, symbol of the subject's truth standing against the 'objective' consensus of society/state.
Indicating the need to integrate the shadow, the awesome pressure of Pluto actually implies an acceptance of one's 'lesser' side, sometimes a mean and petty dwarf rather than a titanic monster. It was precisely this that Nietzsche in his excessive pride could not face. "He would have been prepared to meet his own devil if this devil had appeared in some grandiose form. Precisely what is hardest to take is the devil as the personification of the pettiest, paltriest, meanest part of our personality." 7
...there remains no 'real thought' of Nietzsche which is statable in terms of definite philosophical theories. For the whole of his expressed thought becomes an instrument whereby Nietzsche as an existing individual, to use Kierkegaard's phrase, seeks to realize his own possibilities. His ideas represent a medium though which we have to try to discern the significance of his existence. 9
Complex and multi-dimensional, Neptune gives a free flowing expression through the trine/sextile to the Sun/Pluto axis of Nietzsche's essential Being seeking to mediate and express the tensions of the Sun/Pluto yet possibly compromising the boundary of the conscious ego and the unconscious! But an airy Mercury found its most immediate expression through its trine to an airy Saturn. This was his exacting logical and scientific side. He was respectful of the classical Goethe, rejected the metaphysically speculative and supernatural and was powerfully affected by Darwin. But his strongly Uranian/Saturnian Mercury was connected by a more challenging though constructively effortful sesquiquadrate to Neptune. This significant Saturn and Neptune counterpoint expresses itself also in his doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence, an attempt to articulate in naturalistic terms, and hence overly concretized and literal form, a mystical doctrine of cyclic repetition and the eternity of the soul.
His Neptunian obscurity and sometimes offensive polemics, has contributed to his being misunderstood by subsequent generations. Yet in keeping with the meaning of the 3rd house as one's siblings, it is interesting that much of his posthumous communication problems were due to the editorial bunglings of his anti-semitic and philosophically unsophisticated sister (whose Mercury was in exact-to-the-minute square to his Mercury and in sesquiquadrate to his Neptune! -- the revenge of the feminine?).
Since bad health was such a major and formative part of Nietzsche's life and thought, it is interesting to look at the first recorded major onset of illness when he was released from school in the Summer of 1856 because of eye trouble and persistent headaches. What is most noticeable here is a transiting square of Saturn and Jupiter (6deg Cancer and 8deg Aries) impacting the natal Mercury/Uranus opposition (Jupiter conj. Uranus, Saturn t-square to Mercury/Uranus), symbol of mental and nervous tension and strain related to learning, thinking and reading, hence the possible eye strain. Also, for those interested, Chiron was retrograding back onto Saturn (orb in August, 1deg 3min from conjunct Saturn).
Again bad headaches in January and February of 1861. This time, transiting Saturn crosses natal Venus in square to Moon while transiting Uranus opposes the Moon. That is, a transiting tense square of Uranus and Saturn powerfully impacts Nietzsche's natal Moon/Venus square! Also, Neptune is on Jupiter and the transiting nodes make a close grand cross to the Sun/Pluto axis -- in square actually to where they were at the first episode of 1856.
Hollingdale cites what he considers to be Nietzsche's "earliest poem of real quality", 'Homeless', written 10th August, 1859, where "he sounds for the first time a refrain that was to appear again and again in his later writings: he is without a home but, for that reason, he is free..." 11 Most significant, Neptune transiting the fourth house is almost exactly on Jupiter -- freedom, travel, dissolving of all boundaries opening and expanding. Uranus is opposite the Moon -- restless, urge for change, disruption of roots. Moon's nodes are on Neptune. Jupiter is in exact square to the midpoint of Uranus and Pluto (23' orb) and the midpoint of Sun/Mercury (31'orb).
While at the Pforta boarding school, Nietzsche formed a literary and musical society called "Germania" on July 25, 1860. Most appropriate to the literary and musical form, Neptune is exactly on the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, (31' orb of exact midpoint). On the precise day, transiting Mars and Venus are in exact opposition in a close grand cross with the central Sun/Pluto axis! Uranus is opposed to the artistic and creative rising Moon (1deg 48min orb). Also, though much wider, Jupiter and Saturn make 5 degree orbs to oppositions with Saturn and Neptune respectively.
Another interesting picture: June 11th 1865: Nietzsche wrote a letter to his sister concerning the subject of truth and faith saying "the object of philosophy is truth even if uncomfortable" Saturn is sitting on the Sun (1deg 41min orb) while transiting Jupiter in the 1st house is square to natal Jupiter (1deg 25min orb) and Uranus squares the Jupiter/Uranus midpoint (orb 43').
Nietzsche's fatal breakdown of 1889 has been attributed by some to a case of syphilis he likely acquired on a visit to a brothel in February of 1865. Resonant to his natal conjunction, a transiting opposition of Jupiter and Uranus, a symbol of reckless expansion, freedom and play in defiance of 'rules', forms a close grand cross with his Mars/Jupiter axis! Also, Saturn is in exact square with Saturn that month. Also, transiting Pluto at the cusp of the [Placidus] 6th is square the Pluto/Ascendant midpoint -- well within a deg. of orb.
An important formative event of Nietzsche's life and thought (end of October, beginning of November 1865) was his discovery of Schopenhauer's World as Will and Idea. Most marked and significant is an almost exact square of Uranus to the Mercury/Uranus axis marking that Promethean moment of intellectual inspiration and discovery. The nodes are also on the Sun/Pluto axis.
When Nietzsche was only 23, recognized for his brilliant work, he was appointed to the chair of philology at the University of Basil (Feb 13th, 1868) and later granted the Doctorate without examination (Mar. 23rd, 1868). He experienced this as a restriction as much as an opportunity and honour which it obviously was. Saturn had just crossed his Ascendant and was close to the Moon and squaring Venus. Jupiter was conjunct the Nadir, hence in opposition to the Midheaven. Uranus is in close opposition to the Sun/Jupiter midpoint and square the Mars/Sun and Jupiter/Pluto midpoint axis.
Feb 15th, 1871. Nietzsche was granted a leave of absence after he became really ill. Periods of exhaustion and migraines occurred until end of winter semester. Most interesting is the repeat of the first major health incident (sect 2): Saturn (7deg Cap.) is again in T-square to Mercury/Uranus! Also, transiting Uranus is T-square to the natal Sun/Pluto axis while Mars crosses Mercury in opposition to Uranus.
Hollingdale writes: "Kurt Hildebrandt concludes that between 1873 and 1880 he 'passed through a period of neurosis, the fundamental cause of which was a psychical conflict', and the climactic point of which was reached in 1879." 12 During this period we see that transiting Saturn makes a close T-square to the Sun/Pluto opposition, moves through the Saturn return, crosses Neptune and comes to sit squarely upon his natal Jupiter/Uranus conjunction in 1879.
Now, an interesting example of Nietzsche's unsuccessful dealings with the opposite sex and a piece of information concerning his birth time. Nietzsche makes a precipitous and impulsive proposal to Mathilde Trampedach (April11, 1876) whom he met only two hours before. 13 There is a conjunction of Mars (0deg Gemini 2min) and Venus (5deg Gemini 49min) on his Descendant opposing Jupiter (1deg Sagittarius 4min) on the Ascendant. Sun opposes Sun (13'orb) from a conjunction with Pluto while Saturn opposes Venus (1deg 46min orb).
Sep 7, 1870 when in the army, he collapsed with dysentery and diptheria. A transiting opposition of Saturn (22deg Sag 2min) to Jupiter (24deg Gem 14min) makes a grand cross to his Mars/Jupiter axis. Transiting Mars (conjunct transiting Uranus) is opposed to natal Saturn. Neptune is on Pluto opposite the Sun.
Christmas 1875 marks a serious general collapse. There is a formidable transiting grand cross with Saturn opposing Uranus and Pluto opposing Jupiter. Saturn is sitting on Nietzsche's Neptune while transiting Neptune makes a close square (26' orb) to natal Saturn. Indeed a Neptunian undermining of Saturnian structure!
From the beginning conception of Human, All too Human (a book attempting to ground things upon a psychological and non metaphysical basis) to its publication in May 1878, Saturn moves from an opposition to Venus (marking his final alienation from his friend and mentor Wagner) to a conjunction with Jupiter/Uranus (15'orb from midpoint). At the same time, Jupiter crosses the Ascendant, and then the Moon, and is just past conjunction with the second house Saturn at publication. Hence, the grounding of the Jupiter/Uranus and the philosophical deepening and expanding of the 2nd house Saturn.
His greatest and most Promethean work presenting his doctrine of the Superman, the Will to Power and the Eternal Return, Thus Spake Zarathustra was begun in the winter of 1882-83 when Uranus came to the Midheaven and Saturn in Taurus through a square was giving form to natal Neptune. Pluto was angular (1deg orb from conjunct the Descendant) in Feb 83 when part I was put to paper. The winter of 82-83 and the summer of 83, Kaufmann writes "were among the loneliest and most desperate periods in his life." 14 In November 82, Pluto exactly hit the Descendant and in August, Saturn was transiting his 7th house in exact opposition to his natal Moon after squaring Venus! With Zarathustra part III, Uranus is now squarely on Mars and opposing Jupiter while transiting Jupiter exactly opposes Saturn. The 'Superman' is born around the Uranus opposition, that highly creative point, as Richard Tarnas points out, in the life of the gifted Promethean. Around this time there is a mounting hubris. The nodes are conjuncting the Sun/Pluto axis. Neptune is still square Neptune and Pluto is exact on the Descendant.
On the morning of January 3rd, 1889 he collapsed in the street with his arms flung around the neck of a horse which had just been beaten. He would never recover. Promethean Uranus is on the Sun (22' orb) in exact opposition to the point it was when his father went insane; that is, powerfully activating the Sun/Pluto axis. He had become possessed by the archetype. Saturn is opposite natal Neptune. Jupiter makes a T-square with the natal Mars/Jupiter opposition. The transiting nodes are in close grand cross with the Sun/Pluto. Neptune is exactly on the Descendant at 29deg Taurus 52min.
Nietzsche died 10 years later at an exact nodal return with Uranus sitting on the Moon (half degree orb) and an exact transiting opposition of Saturn to Neptune forming a grand cross with Mars/Jupiter (most precisely, with the axis of Merc/Mars opp. Ju/Plu.). As if in a final grand gesture to the subsequent generations who would acknowledge his greatness, Jupiter was exactly on the Ascendant!
Top of Page