The Sorrows of Young Werther and Zodiacal Releasing

After reading the previous post, which is a translation of an article from Argentina about zodiacal releasing, several people have asked me to provide an example of the method in practice. I decided to look at the life of the German author and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who is perhaps best known for his Faust which has inspired countless operas and other works of art. Interestingly, Goethe begins his famous autobiography with a description of his own natal chart.

According to, Goethe was born on 28 August 1749 at 12:30 pm LMT in Frankfurt am Main. The Frankfurt city archive states that he was born “between 12 and 1 o’clock,” so a birth time of 12:30 pm LMT is within 30 minutes of his actual birth time. In his autobiography Goethe says that he came into the world at midday, as the clock was striking twelve; this comment about the clock may have been written more for dramatic effect than historical accuracy.

  • At Noon he would have an Ascendant of 17 Scorpio 38, a PF of 24 Taurus 20, and a Lot of Spirit of 10 Taurus 56.
  • At 1 pm he would have an Ascendant of 28 Scorpio 28, a PF of 5 Gemini 46, and a Lot of Spirit of 21 Taurus 11.
  • We can be certain the his Ascendant lies in Scorpio and his Lot of Spirit in Taurus.
  • His Lot of Fortune lies in Taurus before 12:30 pm and switches to Gemini after 12:30 pm.  Thus, his “peak” periods will lie in fixed signs before 12:30 pm and in mutable signs after 12:30 pm.

Here is the whole sign chart for 12:30 pm LMT.


This is a day chart, and Mercury rises before the Sun. Thus, the members of the day sect are the Sun, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury.

  • Jupiter is the benefic of the sect in effect and thus the most beneficial planet. Because Jupiter lies in Pisces, the mutable signs are generally favorable for the native.
  • Mars is the malefic of the contrary sect and thus the most problematic planet. Because Mars lies in Capricorn, the cardinal signs are the most difficult.
  • The Part of Spirit is definitely in Taurus, ruled by Venus, so we will begin zodiacal releasing from Spirit in Taurus.

Goethe became a literary celebrity by the age of 25 as a result of his novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther), which was written in just six weeks in the period from January to March, 1774 and published on 29 September 1774. The novel is about a sensitive young artist who becomes involved in a love triangle and ends up committing suicide to resolve the matter. The book had a powerful cultural impact which rocketed Goethe to super-stardom as a popular author by the age of 25. According to wikipedia:

“The Sorrows of Young Werther turned Goethe, previously an unknown author, into a celebrated one almost overnight. Napoleon Bonaparte considered it one of the great works of European literature, having written a Goethe-inspired soliloquy in his youth and carried Werther with him on his campaigning to Egypt. It also started the phenomenon known as the “Werther Fever”, which caused young men throughout Europe to dress in the clothing style described for Werther in the novel. … The book reputedly also led to some of the first known examples of copycat suicide.”

Zodiacal Releasing from Spirit:

To study Goethe’s career we look at the Lot of Spirit, which lies in Taurus. The first 8 years of his life are ruled by Venus which then turns over chronocraterhip to Gemini/Mercury for a period of 20 years. Goethe’s rise to fame as a novelist occurred during this Gemini/Mercury period. In the 12:30 pm birth chart the Part of Fortune lies in Gemini, making this period one of intense activity and accomplishment in professional matters. Here is the tabulation of releasing from Spirit:

Goethe ZR

Level I:  

In 1774 Goethe was in a 20-year Gemini/Mercury on Level 1 in releasing from Spirit. In the 12:30 pm LMT chart, Gemini contains the Part of Fortune, making this an important “peak” period.  Mercury, the ruler of Gemini, occupies the 10th house of career and public standing. Interestingly, the time-lord Mercury squares Pluto in the 1st house; and Pluto is part of a grand water trine linking Jupiter in Pisces in the 5th (romance, merriment) and Neptune in Cancer in the 9th (publishing, higher learning) so that these parts of his chart are activated during the Gemini period.

Level 2:

On level 2 Goethe is in a Taurus/Venus period from 20 March – 15 Nov 1774. During this time Goethe has just finished writing his novel and is in the process of getting it published, which occurs on 29 September 1774.

On level 2 Goethe enters a “Loosing of the Bond(LB) Sagittarius/Jupiter period from 15 Nov 1774 – 10 Nov 1775. During this time Goethe achieves rock-star fame for his novel about young Werther.  His young readers begin to dress like Werther and there are a number of copycat suicides, which causes the authorities to ban the Werther style of clothing in some regions and to ban the sale of the book entirely in others. This is a period of major transition in Goethe’s professional life: mentions that “by 1775, Goethe was famed and invited by the Duke of Saxe-Weimer to join his court. Goethe only intended to stay a few months, but remained there the rest of his life” — clearly a major turning point occurred in Goethe’s life during this Nov 1774 – Nov 1775 LB period.

Level 3:

The book is published on 29 September 1774 during a Virgo/Mercury period on level 3. This is a “peak” period because Virgo is square to the Part of Fortune in Gemini. Virgo activates his natal 11th house which contains the degree of his MC, the Sun and Venus — the ruler of his Lot of Spirit. Robert Schmidt remarks that when the sign containing the ruler of Spirit is activated, it often involves finding one’s life work or vocation. The Sun rules the 10th house of vocation and Mercury occupies the 10th, so there is a strong emphasis on career advancement at this time.

Level 4:

The book is published on 29 September 1774 during the few days of a Capricorn/Saturn period on level 4. Capricorn activates the 3rd house, which is the 8th of death from Fortune. Mars occupies Capricorn and is the malefic of the contrary sect. One effect of the book was the suicide of several of his young readers, which is not was Goethe intended. Saturn, which rules this period, lies in Scorpio with Pluto and is in square to Uranus in Aquarius — again possibly symbolizing the unexpected deadly effect the book would have on some readers. Capricorn is also the 6th house of ailments from Fortune.

There is a lot more to the symbolism which we could unpack, but let me stop here to avoid overwhelming the reader with too much detail.

I think this is an excellent example of the power of zodiacal releasing from Spirit and the nature of a Loosing of the Bond period in the life of a famous cultural icon.

Interestingly, if Goethe were born prior to 12:30 pm LMT, his Lot of Fortune would have been in Taurus and the Nov 1774 – Nov 1775 Loosing of the bond period in which he became quite famous would have occurred during the releasing from Fortune rather than Spirit. Perhaps we could use Zodiacal Releasing to help rectify the chart.

Valens on the Lots of Fortune and Spirit:

This is what Valens has to say in Book IV about these two Lots (Mark Riley translation, italics mine):

  • “I will now append this truly powerful method: to begin the vital sector with the Lot of Fortune and with Daimon (which signify the moon and the sun). Universally speaking, the moon is fortune, body, and spirit, and when it sends its emanations to us from its position near the earth, it causes appropriate effects, since it rules our bodily constitution. The sun is the cosmic mind and divinity. It arouses men’s souls to action through its own energy and love-inspiring nature, and it becomes the cause of employment and progress.”
  • “So, if we are investigating the chronocratorships with respect to bodily existence, such as critical points of illnesses, hemorrhages, falls, injuries, diseases, and whatever affects the body with respect to strength, enjoyment, pleasure, beauty, or love affairs, then we must begin the vital sector with the Lot of Fortune. Whenever the <first> chronocratorship ends, at that point we calculate the sign, the stars in conjunction or aspect, how the stars are configured with respect to the overall house-ruling star of the vital sector’s chronocratorships, and whether the rulers of the Lots are at angles or not.”
  • “If on the other hand we are investigating employment or rank, then we will begin the chronocratorships with Daimon [Lot of Spirit] as the apheta. We will make our determination according to the benefics or malefics in conjunction or aspect with it.”
  • “Note that if the Lot of Fortune or its ruler are badly situated, the Lot of Daimon will distribute both the bodily and the active qualities. Likewise Fortune will make the distribution of both qualities if the Lot of Daimon or its ruler is unfavorably situated, and the same is true of the controls and the house-rulerships.”
  • Whenever Daimon and Fortune are found in the same sign, we will derive forecasts of bodily constitution [Lot of Fortune] from that very sign, but the forecasts of activity [Lot of Spirit] from the sign immediately following. “

Clearly Goethe’s popularity and fame as a result of his novel about young Werther is a matter of employment and rank (Lot of Spirit, Sol) rather than of bodily existence and pleasure (Lot of Fortune, Luna). Thus it seems that the Loosing of the Bond in 1774 was more likely have been related to the Lot of Spirit than that of Fortune, which suggests that a birth time between 12:30 and 1 pm LMT is more likely. If he were born before 12:30 pm LMT, then both Fortune and Spirit would have been in Taurus and the releasing from Spirit, according to Valens, would start from the next sign Gemini.

An interesting aside:
If we look at Goethe’s solar return in 1774 for the 12:30 pm LMT birth time, we find that in the return Sagittarius rules the Ascendant and Jupiter lies at 16 Taurus 03, which is the exact position of the natal Part of Spirit in his 12:30 pm birth chart. The book was published in September of 1774, which was the start of a Jupiter profection year as well, so Jupiter was highlighted as both the ruler of the SR Ascendant and as the lord of the year in his annual profections.
The ruler of the natal Lot of Spirit in Taurus is Venus, which in the solar return lies in Leo (his natal 10th) in the 9th house of publishing and closely trines the Solar Return Ascendant withing 3 degrees.  Mercury, which rules his natal MC, is making a station and turning direct in Leo (his natal whole sign 10th house) in the 9th house of publishing in the Solar Return for the release of his novel about Werther in 1774.  Here is the SR chart.

Goethe SR cht


ADDENDUM (29 Sep 2017) — some observations by Martien Hermes:

In the FB Zodiacal Releasing Group, Martien Hermes made the following insightful observations about Goethe’s Loosing of the Bond from Gemini to Sagittarius (the Bowman) at the end of 1774. Martien discusses the chart from the point of view of the Lot of Fortune marking the ascending sign. Here is the chart followed by Martien’s  comments:
Goethe from PF

“We see the loosing going to the Bowman where we find the Moon and Jupiter, more importantly however is the fact that the ruler of the Bowman – Jupiter – is the Fortune-10th. Often an important indicator of success, and ‘sudden’ success is probably indicated because of the loosing of the bond. Furthermore, Jupiter is of the sect in favor, and opposed by Venus (a triplicity ruler of the sun, and the exaltation ruler of the Fishes, where Jupiter itself is), which is a bonification as stated in Schmidt’s book Definitions and Foundations. Again, an aversion kicks in, also suggesting an important break/change in this scenario. How? Period ruler Mercury is in an aversion with Jupiter, the now new ruler of the major period because of the loosing of the bond. A sudden change, and as we can see in this example, for the better.” — Martien Hermes.

Martien Hermes is the author of the well-received 2008 book in Dutch on zodiacal releasing from Spirit: Goede tijden, slechte tijdenPrognose met zodiakale Aphesis van het Pars Daimon. Moderne carrières en biografieën in beeld gebracht met Hellenistische Astrologie. [Good times Bad Times. Prognosis with zodiacal Aphesis of the Pars Daimon. Modern careers and biographies as viewed with Hellenistic Astrology.]  Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is not an English translation of this work. However, there is a Dutch-language review of the book online in PDF format at



About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
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