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This article was recently published in the Astrological Association of Great Britain's Journal

Horoscope data:
R. Amundsen
16 7 1872,
05:00 LMT
59N17, 11E07
from Astrodatabank

UK Union
1 1 1801,
00:00 LMT
51N30, 00W07
from 'Book of World Horoscopes'

Latham departure
18 6 1928,
16:00 CET
69N40, 18E58
from the newspaper 'Aftenposten'
(Alcabitius house system due to high latitude)

R. Huntford,
Scott og Amundsen
(Ascehoug 1980)
Reissue title: Last Place on Earth

R. Kvam Jr.,
De 4 store
(Gyldendal 2000)


The Race for the South Pole by Lars Widding

On December 14, 1911, the great era of Polar exploration came to a climax as Norway's Roald Amundsen conquered the South Pole. His British competitor, Robert Scott, arrived a month later - but died with four of his men on the return journey, just a few miles from the next supply post. Scott became a legend, Britain's heroic symbol of 'the solid stuff of national character' for which men will 'do or die'. Amundsen, the victor, suffered a backlash of scorn. The contrast between the personalities of the two men and the consequences of their journey is remarkable. Joined in a common tale, each ultimately died a hero. Here Norwegian astrologer Lars Widding explores their lives, characters and achievements by comparison to their birth charts.

Amundsen's Story

'No man has ever reached his goal and found himself so diametrically opposite his real goal.' Amundsen wrote these words in his journal just after reaching the South Pole, thinking of his original intention of being the first man on the North Pole. In September 1909 he had prepared his expedition with intentions to explore the polar basin, when the news about Peary's success arrived. The Arctic was taken. Amundsen decided immediately to go for the only undiscovered land left; the South Pole, and to do so in the deepest secrecy. Having a Sun-Uranus conjunction, Amundsen was quite capable of a sudden turn of direction. Also of keeping it secret with the Moon in Scorpio as ruler of his 12th house Sun.

Birth chart for Roald Amundsen

The situation was delicate; Scott had already declared his second expedition to the Antarctic and had by general opinion the right to go for the Pole. But Sun-Uranus is not very impressed by public opinion, although Amundsen was vulnerable to it. Sun conjunct Venus in Cancer in the 12th house square Neptune, gives him away as highly sensitive. With the Sun as the ruler of the 2nd house, this trio of planets also influenced his economic affairs. Like many times in his life, he had at this point large debts, and badly needed a success.

Contrary to Scott, Amundsen had a deep passion - close to obsession - for exploration of sub-zero environments. Moon is in Scorpio, the sign of fixed water or ice, opposing Pluto. From a young age he began exercising systematically, aiming to prepare his body and mind for the journeys he longed to make. Jupiter on the Ascendant is a strong statement for his hunger to explore and experience adventure. Quite in accordance with the Moon in Scorpio, his mother wanted him to study medicine. He obliged her and became a less than eager and below average student. When she died he followed his own star.

Amundsen was the first to sail through the Northwest Passage. In this period he spent time with and learned from the Eskimos. How they dressed, built igloos, drove their dogs and prepared furs. When Amundsen led his party to the South Pole, he had already learned the craft of surviving in polar regions. This good sense is shown by Saturn in Capricorn on the cusp of the 6th house opposing Sun-Venus in Cancer. He is willing to do, and able to get satisfaction from, the tedious work of preparing and perfecting. As a result he has been referred to as the only true professional polar explorer. This was also very necessary for making his Neptunian dreams come to life.

Reading both Scott's and Shackelton's books on their previous attempts, Amundsen learned from their mistakes. In his journal he wrote: 'The English have loudly and openly told the world that skis and dogs are unusable in these regions and that fur clothes are rubbish. We will see - we will see...' In Iceland there is a proverb: 'If you spend enough time outdoors, you become a pagan.' Having the advantage of growing up in close contact to nature, Amundsen observed 'the British Antarctic explorers' main weakness is that they try to live too civilized, and fight against nature.' Practically inclined, Amundsen let the dogs clean the lavatories by eating the excrements. He had other things to take care of.

In September, during a Mercury retrograde period, his party made their first attempt. Amundsen was eager to start, he had to reach the Pole first to avoid disgrace. But the Antarctic winter was not quite over and it was still too cold. They had to turn back and, due to a hasty order, the men got separated from each other. Some were in danger. As transit Saturn at 20° Taurus was activating Amundsen's Pluto-Moon opposition, his leadership was challenged. Hjalmar Johansen, who had as much polar experience as Amundsen himself, critizised 'the boss' openly. Amundsen reacted in his Scorpionic way and Johansen was frozen out. Both men felt betrayed by the other.

Three months later, Amundsen led his company of men and dogs more effectively and with good margins to their goal. The men would arrive back at the main camp weighing more than they did when they left. He'd wondered whether he should leave a can of petrol in the tent erected at the South Pole, but decided against it; surely Scott would have enough equipment and provisions. As he stood and pondered the irony of being at the opposite point of his original desire, transit Neptune at 23° Cancer was conjuncting both Sun and Venus. Neptune was also squaring its own natal position in the tenth house of public reputation, and would continue to do so for a long period ahead. That was one area of his life he would not be able to control.

Although much celebrated on the return to civilization, many were not at ease with the secrecy involved. The leader of the Royal Geographic Society had already spoken: 'What rascals these poles are producing... Amundsen has been deliberately forming a plan to steal a march on Scott. He is a blackguard.'

Also in Norway some were anxious that his unorthodox methods could have disturbed the young nation's connections with England. And when the news of Scott's death came out, Nansen himself had to speak on Amundsen's behalf. Even if he was the one who lived to tell the tale, it was Scott's rendering of his own journey, full of heroic sentiment and tragedy, that caught the public's attention and feelings. The dead man's tale made a victim of the survivor.

With the strong emphasis on Neptune and the 12th house in Amundsen's chart, it is safe to assume that Scott and his men's fate affected him deeply. At the same time he got more bad news. Hjalmar Johansen, who had a past of alcoholism and depression, had committed suicide after his return to Norway.

The Moon in Scorpio opposing Pluto made Amundsen an intensely private person, who did not open himself to others. Not the one to let old grudges go himself, he could not reconcile himself with the British reaction. In scorpionic fashion, resentment turned to bitterness over the years. The librarian at the Royal Geographic Society characterized Amundsen as the unhappiest polar explorer he ever met.

In 1928, a former companion of Amundsen, Umberto Nobile, crashed on Svalbard in an attempt to reach the Arctic in an airship. Although they'd had a fall out publicly and were not on speaking terms, (or probably because of that), Amundsen volunteered for a rescue operation. They left Tromsų in the French airplane 'Latham', in the afternoon on 18 June and were never seen again. The chart for the time of take-off has 5 planets in the 8th house. Including Mercury retrograde conjunct the Moon in Cancer, and both squaring Uranus. Not the best time to travel by airplane over water. Neptune is on the MC. Descriptive for a rescue mission with an unknown destination.

'They say Amundsen has been underhand in the way he has gone about it but I personally don't see it is underhand to keep your mouth shut.' - Captain Oates.

'After all these years I still hold Scott to be one of the most capable and wise men, I have ever met.' - Admiral Edward Evans in 1943.

Roald Amundsen

 Scott's Story

Lars WiddingAn astrologer since 1990, Lars Widding is a tutor at the Den Nordiske Astrologiskolen School of Astrology in Norway, which offers a professional training program for astrologers.
Lars is soon to complete his training as a Psychosynthesis Therapist and also teaches Tarot, Alchemical symbolism and Shamanistic techniques, focusing on the practical applications of the insights gained through these methods. He has spoken at conferences in Norway and Sweden and will be appearing at this year's Astrological Association of Great Britain Annual Conference at York, where he will be speaking on Shamanism and astrology.

Visit Lar's Norwegian website at or contact him by email for details of his services.

© Lars Widding

Robert Falcon Scott
Roald Amundsen
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