War is without question the lowest that humanity can sink. It never solves anything and is an utterly pointless waste of millions of lives. But even from the lowest standpoint imaginable there is something about the First World War that suggests the human race found new unfathomed depths to plumb. As we reach the hundredth anniversary its hard to say we have really learnt any lessons but we have at least so far managed to avoid a global repetition since 1945.
The causes of the First World War were the conflicts and hostility that had developed between the major European powers over the preceding half century.
The war began however, as a result of the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the July Crisis of 1914 caused by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria – Hungary and his wife Sophie by Gavrilo Princip, an irredentist Serb.
Tensions in the Balkans had been high for many years and Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region. They pulled the rest of the Great Powers into the conflict through their various alliances and treaties.
In 1867, the Austrian Empire had changed its structure, becoming the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. At the beginning of the twentieth century Serbia was economically little more than an Austrian satellite, its major export being pork, most of which was bought by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When Serbia started trying to evade economic and political control by the Habsburgs, and build links with other countries, Vienna decided to punish the Serbs with economic sanctions in what was called the Pig War. These failed, Serbia refused to bow to Vienna and found other markets for its pork.
As a result, there was widespread advocacy of a war with Serbia in leading circles both at Vienna and at Budapest. Some leaders argued that Serbia must be dealt with before it became too powerful to defeat militarily. Some were convinced Serbian nationalism and Russian Balkan ambitions were having a disintegrating effect on the Empire, and Austria-Hungary hoped for a limited war against Serbia and that strong German support would force Russia to keep out of the war and weaken its Balkan position.
The Bosnian Crisis of 1908–1909 began when Austria-Hungary announced the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to great protests from Serbia and Russia. Germany had been Austria’s ally for hundreds of years and vowed to stand by Austria’s fight to remain as a great power. Germany believed that Austria should attack Serbia but if Russia supported the Serbs, then Germany would have to declare war on Russia. War in 1909 between Austria-Hungary and Russia was averted only because of a German ultimatum demanding the cessation of Russian aid to Serbia.
Britain had vowed to threaten any German support for Austria in a Balkan war. The signing of the French Entente Cordiale of 1904 meant that both France and Britain could have been involved. It appeared that a European war could have occurred in 1909 but this was averted because the Russians were not ready to take on Germany. Russia however, had felt humiliated because of its inability to support Serbia and began a major reconstruction of its military.
Germany had been ready for war for a while. German domestic politics was dominated by Prussian Junkers who feared the rise of left-wing parties. It was argued that they deliberately sought an external war to distract the population and whip up patriotic support for the government.
Tensions had existed between Germany and France due to the French loss of Alsace Lorraine as well as the humiliation of being compelled to pay a large reparation to Germany in 1871. Germany had also opposed French colonial expansionism.
Imperialist factors were important in the build up of tensions. Britain and France had accumulated great wealth through their empires’ control of trade in foreign markets. Other empires, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Russia had frustrated ambitions and these were strengthened by British policies that excluded them. In addition, the limits of natural resources in many European nations began to slowly alter trade balance, and make national industries seek new territories rich in natural resources. Commercial interests contributed substantially to Anglo-German rivalry during the scramble for the colonisation of Africa during the 1880s.
By the 1870s or 1880s all the major powers were preparing for a large-scale war. Britain focused on building up its Royal Navy, already stronger than the next two navies combined. Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Russia, set up conscription systems. Each country stockpiled arms and the arms race itself was a major cause of the war.
Many leaders speculated on controlled and preventive wars and looked to manipulate situations which might provoke a limited war that would bring them advantage. By 1912 Kaiser Wilhelm believed that war was inevitable and therefore it should happen sooner rather than later because Russia and Britain would become stronger military foes given more time.
War was avoided at the time but most of the leaders of the Great Powers were expecting a war to begin in the summer of 1914. It was as if the tensions that had built steadily in so many different areas had risen to a peak and the explosion that followed was inevitable.
The war began on 28th July 1914 as Austria – Hungary began the invasion of Serbia in retaliation for the Archduke’s assassination. At the same time Germany invaded Belgium, Luxembourg and France leading Britain to declare war on Germany.
What would astrology have to say about such a situation ? Explosions, particularly on such a scale have to come under the rulership of Pluto. The Great Powers fuelled by the imperialist and arms industries would have to be collectively ruled by Saturn, the authority figure.
But what would signify such a steady accumulation of tensions to an inevitable peak ? The Zodiac is a cycle, but the one point in the Zodiac that could be seen as the peak would be the summer solstice, 0 degrees of Cancer.
In 1914 Pluto was at 0 degrees Cancer, the first time it had reached this point since 1671. Saturn joined in with a conjunction at the same point at the end of July 1914. The culmination of all the tensions at the peak of the Zodiac caused the explosion into war ( Pluto ).
Twenty five years later, the 2nd World War began again started by the same two planets. Pluto moved into Leo in 1939 and Saturn was in exact square aspect to it on September 1st when it started. The 2nd World War was obviously caused by the rise of one man, Adolf Hitler, and both Pluto and Saturn were in exact aspect to Hitler’s Sun and Ascendant at the time.
In the last month before the start of World War 1, Saturn was moving through the end of the preceding sign Gemini and it caused the final sparks that ignited the tinderbox.
The Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the heir to the Austro – Hungarian throne. He had a powerful Sun closely conjunct the Ascendant in Sagittarius. This conjunction however, was opposed by Uranus suggesting a sudden unexpected event that would be critical to his life. Uranus also rules political insurgency and the opposition points to his life being disrupted by rebellious forces.
Franz Ferdinand had another very close opposition between Venus and Pluto pointing to an explosive event that would have dramatic impact on his personal life and in his relationships. The fact that Uranus is in the 7th house also brings his wife Sophie into the equation.
Franz Ferdinand and Sophie was a love match that was not recognised by the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph who refused to allow them to marry because Sophie did not come from a family of one of the reigning dynasties in Europe. It was only after several years and pressure from the Pope and the German Emperor who felt that the disagreement between Franz Joseph and Franz Ferdinand was undermining the monarchy that they were finally allowed to marry.
This is in itself an expression of the Sun in opposition to Uranus in the 7th house as the Emperor was against ( opposition ) Franz Joseph’s ( Sun ) choice of unsuitable and unconventional ( Uranus ) wife ( 7th ).
Pluto was opposite Franz Ferdinand’s Sun between 1908 and 1911 during the period of the Bosnian crisis and this sowed the seeds of resentment that surfaced in 1914 and caused his assassination. On the 28th June Saturn was at 23 degrees Gemini conjunct Franz Ferdinand’s Uranus and opposite his Sun and Ascendant.
The assassination was the final act that was required of Saturn at the end of Gemini as it moved towards the conjunction with Pluto that ignited the first World War.
The assassin, Gavrilo Princip’s chart very clearly describes his role in history. As a Cancerian his major motivation would be his homeland, but with the Moon and Ascendant in Sagittarius his goals were liberation and freedom. The Moon’s opposition to Pluto pointed to his role as a terrorist, but the real thrust of his life was indicated by a T Square.
A very simple astrological rule of thumb to quickly get to the essence of a chart is to look at the sign and house placings of the Sun and Moon and then to look at a T Square, if there is one. If a T Square includes either the Sun and Moon, this simplifies things. If the apex planet of the T Square is the Sun, the astrologer’s work is done for her.
Princip had a T Square based on the opposition of Mars in Aries in the 4th house to Saturn in the 10th. Mars in Aries is the placing of a fighter, a very assertive placing that sees life in simple black and white terms and is driven to act quickly and dramatically.
The assassination occurred when the royal carriage had taken a route that had not been planned and the procession had come to a halt. Princip was actually sitting in a cafe opposite, the attack had not been premeditated but in true Mars in Aries fashion he recognised an opportunity and acted straight away.
Princip’s Mars was in the 4th house, so he was a fighter for his country and his roots in opposition to Saturn in the 10th, so he was fighting against remote austere figures in authority. The opposition focused onto the Sun in the 8th house of death.
The symbolism is extraordinary. Princip was a terrorist fighter for his homeland ( Mars in Aries in the 4th ) but he was also sitting in a cafe (also the 4th house ). A procession of authority figures ( Saturn in the 10th ) had come to a halt ( also Saturn ). Princip immediately recognised his opportunity and acted immediately ( Mars in Aries ) to kill Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie ( apex Sun in the 8th house ).
The coming together of Mars and Saturn created the opportunity that caused the First World War. Followers of chaos theory would use this as an example of their worldview. If the royal procession had not come to a halt outside Princip’s cafe, the First World War would not have happened. This is of course nonsense.
The First World War had to happen because of the collision of Pluto and Saturn at the beginning of Cancer. Saturn’s transit opposite Franz Ferdinand’s Sun and Ascendant insisted that he was to be the sacrificial pawn in this larger game, so if the royal procession had moved another mile further on, then Saturn’s symbolism would probably have created another opportunity anyway. But the fact is that Gavrilo Princip was born to assassinate someone and he was inevitably in the right place at the right time.
Some wars are caused by particular individuals like Hitler. The First World War was not dominated by one character but there were a number of people who came to prominence and made their name during the fighting. From a British perspective the obvious candidate was Lord Kitchener whose commanding image, appearing on recruiting posters demanding “Your country needs you!”, remains recognised and parodied in popular culture to this day.
Kitchener was a military man an ex Field Marshall who had played a prominent role in the Boer war and also in India.
At the start of the First World War, Prime Minister Asquith brought Kitchener into the Cabinet as Secretary of State for War. Kitchener was one of the few to foresee a long war and he organised the largest volunteer army that Britain, and indeed the world, had seen and a significant expansion of materials production to fight Germany on the Western Front.
Kitchener had a 10th house Sun in Cancer in close opposition to the Moon in Capricorn in the 4th. He also had a T Square with Jupiter conjunct the Ascendant focusing onto an apex Mercury conjunct his Midheaven. This is the chart of someone who would inevitably rise to the very top in support of his country ( Cancer / Capricorn 10th house focus ), but also someone whose image would be presented very strongly to the people of Britain to inspire their support for the war effort ( Mercury in Gemini conjunct Midheaven square Jupiter conjunct Ascendant).
Kitchener’s Sun was at 2 degrees Cancer so Pluto was conjunct his Sun in 1914. Your country needs you was Kitchener’s own turning point. That Kitchener was drafted in at this point and his image was so tied up with the war effort gives more evidence to the view that the First World War was caused by the conjunction of Pluto and Saturn at the beginning of Cancer.
The only consolation is that these two planets had not come together in this position since the Crusades in the late 12th century and is not likely to do so again for some time. We may find many other means of causing widespread death and destruction but its unlikely that we’ll see an event like World War One again for a while.