Theodor Landscheidt

by Bruce Scofield

On May 19th of 2004 Theodor Landscheidt, one of the most scientific contributors to the field of astrology in the 20th century, died. He was known, though not necessarily understood, for his occasional journal articles and presentations at conferences, mostly in the 1960’s and 70’s. During the past two decades he was known as a radical climatologist who operated outside the academic institutions and actually made bold predictions, many of which were quite accurate. He was born on March 10, 1927 at 5:08 PM GMT in Bremen, Germany. Landscheidt studied philosophy and natural science, earned a doctorate at the University of Gottingen, had a career as West German High Court Judge, and was the director of the Schroeter Institute for Research in Cycles of Solar Activity.

Landscheidt’s astrology connection was complex. He was no doubt influenced by the German schools of Uranian Astrology and Cosmobiology and during the 50’s and 60’s studied and published on topics such as the galactic center and the hypothetical planet Transpluto. His deeper interests, however, concerned an understanding of the entire cosmos as a kind of living cybernetic system, an organic whole that exchanges information and continually adjusts itself. Landscheidt’s cosmobiological conception of nature, with astrological overtones, could be thought of as an extreme extension of Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis, with which it was more or less concurrent. In 1973 his small book “Cosmic Cybernetics: The Foundations of a Modern Astrology” was published by Ebertin-Verlag. Landsheidt was probably the only person interested in astrology at that time that actually made an effort to explain the subject in terms of current trends in theoretical science – but in a speculative sense only, he wasn’t doing hard science. In order to bring some of his very broad ideas to life, he came to develop a heliocentric model for climatology.

Landsheidt’s climatology was based on the idea that solar activity is related to the motions of the Sun around the center of mass (barycenter) of the solar system. The gravitational forces of the planets tug on the Sun and pull it away from the center of mass producing a series of complex motions, the simplest of which is a 179-year cycle of the solar orbit around the center of mass. It turns out that a major sunspot cycle, the Seuss cycle, is of approximately that length, which supports the notion of a relationship between the planets and the Sun. Take this a bit further and you have solar activity affecting climate on Earth, for which there is much data. What Landscheidt did was to put this planet-Sun-Earth combination together and make actual predictions of El Nino and other regular, short-term climate phenomena. In his scientific papers, and there were many of these, he made predictions. Since his forecasts were based on a solar activity-climate connection, and since many of his predications were more or less correct, he was welcomed by the anti-global warming proponents (who favor a solar-driven climate model, as opposed to one that is anthropogenically-driven) and his papers still appear on websites devoted to debunking the notion that greenhouse gases will cause serious global warming. In regard to future global climate, Landscheidt predicted more cold, not heat. Those arguing for an impact on climate due to greenhouse gases are strongly opposed to this conclusion and Landscheidt was generally not taken seriously – plus he had the stigma of actually publishing in astrology journals and speaking at astrology conferences. He was regarded as a self-promoting (because he wasn’t affiliated with a university or government organization) crackpot (read “astrology”) who couldn’t say exactly how solar activity and climate were linked (and neither can other “scientists”). His 1988 book, “Sun-Earth-Man” was published by the Urania Trust.

In the 1970’s I heard Landscheidt speak in New York at an ISAR conference and came out of his lecture completely confused. Now that I can understand his writings I have a tremendous appreciation for his life’s work. Pretty much alone in this regard, he tried to find the science in astrology. There were few in astrology that could help him with this challenge and there was no one outside of astrology that could take this sort of a quest seriously. If it turns out that astrology is ultimately a quantifiable non-linear phenomena driven by the motions of the larger cosmos around us, then Landscheidt was the first one into the waters of a true cosmic science.

 

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