The Transneptunian Planets of the Hamburg School: A Modern Sky Myth?
While serving in combat on the Russian front during World War I, German astrologer Alfred Witte sensed a new cosmic factor that he eventually hypothesized was a planet beyond the orbit of Neptune. He christened this discovery 'Cupido', after the Greek mythological figure. Cupido was the first of eight such Transneptunian planets (TNPs) to be 'discovered' by Hamburg School astrologers in the early twentieth century. In the intervening years scientific instruments have still not been able to detect any physical presence of these hypothesized bodies, yet they continue to be used in the practice of Hamburg School and Uranian astrology.
In this paper, I briefly explore the Greek myths chosen to delineate these new bodies' meanings as compared to the Greek myths attributed to the known planets of the solar system up to Witte's day. Then, I turn to Swiss thinker Jean Gebser's theory of the 'mythical structure' in his philosophy of consciousness to explore how the TNPs might function as myths themselves. From this vantage point, the paper will argue that Witte's work offers us a birth story of a modern sky myth in early twentieth century Europe.
Jenn Zahrt PhD is an author, publisher, and historian of astrology. She has taught and lectured in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Germany. Zahrt publishes scholarship on astrology, hermeticism, and more through the Sophia Centre Press and her own publishing house Rubedo Press. She currently lives in Seattle, WA. www.jennzahrt.com