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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.

Scott's Story

On 17 January 1912, Scott and his party of four stood heartbroken at the South Pole. They had travelled for 80 days under extreme circumstances, just to find Amundsen's tent left there the month before. Inside was a letter addressed to the King of Norway, and Scott was kindly asked to bring it back in case something happened to the Norwegians. It has been said that Scott was in an instant reduced from being a polar explorer to a messenger boy.

At that point in the party's journey there were tragedies behind them and in front of them. They had started with dogs and horses to help them, but they had to drag the sleighs themselves most of the way. There were none skilled in managing dog-sleighs and the horses very soon died in the cold, deep snow.

By the middle of March the company was reduced to three as they set up their last and sixtieth camp. Both Evans and Oates had died from exhaustion and severe frost bites. Oates had developed gangrene in his feet and could only move slowly at great pain. He was slowing the others down and knew very well what had to be done. While striving with numb fingers to open the tent he looked back at his companions and delivered the classic line: 'I am just going outside and may be a while.' His body was never found.

Due to bad weather and complete exhaustion the company stayed in the tent until their deaths around 29 March. Scott wrote many letters and kept writing in his diary. He was worried his leg would have to be amputated. He was far from his hopes of promotion, honour and success and closer to being a leader of a catastrophic expedition. Still, or maybe because of that, in his letters he concentrates on ideals around bravery, heroic suffering and willpower. And these qualities were present in abundance.

Half a year later the tent was found with the bodies of Scott, Bowery and Wilson inside, still in their sleeping-bags. Their grave was marked by a cross made of skis. In hindsight, a rather ironic comment both to their lack of training, and to the old British approach to polar exploration: 'No dogs, no skis'.

Lacking a birth time for Robert Falcon Scott, the chart is set for noon on his birthday: 6 June 1868. The Moon was still in Sagittarius at that time of day, which fits with a description of the mother as 'a very devoted Christian, never questioning the view of the Church of England'. Scott adored and idealised his mother all his life, and also supported her financially after his father and brother had died. During his journey southwards he assured his worried mother that he maintained his religious practice.

Birth chart for Robert Falcon Scott

Saturn is also present in the sign of the Archer. Sagittarius is the sign of expectancy and with Saturn there is a tendency to have high hopes on behalf of yourself and the need to fulfil them in a very real way. In this sign we meet our beliefs, what inspires us, and our search for the truth. Saturn retrograde states that you need to search on, you have not found the truth yet. Are your beliefs merely assumptions, or can you relate to what is actually going on here and now? From that angle, a Gemini Sun might illuminate the situation by questioning, for example, why dogs and skis are not useful. Saturn retrograde might also point to Scott's father when he decided to sell the brewery he led and owned, and just let himself and the family live off the money with no other income. After some years he went bankrupt, to the surprise of the family who knew nothing of the real financial state.

To take a position of mental flexibility and really involve yourself and follow your heart is important for success with the north node in Leo and its ruler, the Sun in Gemini. Quite the contrary of Amundsen, Scott never had any inclination for snow, low temperatures and polar adventure. When he applied for the position as the leader on his first expedition, it was considered a smart career move. Now this sounds much more in tune with south node in Aquarius and ruler Saturn in Sagittarius. To promote the career by going on a long and hard journey with scientific instruments for the benefit of mankind.

The nodal axis is also reflected in his style as a leader. Caught up in his naval background, he was distant and impersonal. He could not seem to get on friendly or personal terms with his crew without fearing for his position. It can be hard to get over the fence of rigid, old belief systems with Sagittarius Saturn square south node in Aquarius.

The co-ruler , Uranus is conjunct Mercury in Cancer. The combination gives a style of communicating which from time to time made him come across as unpredictable with the odd emotional outburst. He became highly-strung under pressure and could suddenly change plans. In Uranian manner, he could also be very set in his own frame of mind. When at last receiving news about Amundsen's change of plans, which meant that he suddenly had an opponent, Scott decided that things should go on as if Amundsen had not existed. Scott was at the same time open to new ideas - like trying motorized sleighs. Not at all the easiest person to sort out.

Scott was prone to moodiness and could spend much time in his cabin, worrying and going over details. Mercury square Jupiter-Neptune can have difficulties with discerning important elements from mere trifles, and might need assistance when it comes to judging situations objectively. Not to mention when it comes to organizing a dangerous expedition.

In 1903 Scott had made a first and unsuccessful attempt for the South Pole, with the ship Discovery. As he watched the launching of Terra Nova, the ship that now would bring them to the bottom of the world, his thoughts were ahead of him: 'I just wish to finish the work begun in the Discovery. Then I'll get back to my job in the Navy.'

Saturn also shows the quality and nature of our boundaries and psychic defences. A classic defence against overwhelming circumstances is denial through idealising. With Saturn in Sagittarius idealization as protection is very likely. Which is demonstrated in some of his last words: 'Had we lived, I should have had a tale of hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman.' Clearly the description of the journey stirs the heart, Englishman or not. And the qualities of hardihood, endurance and courage are present in abundance, with Jupiter in Aries and Mars conjunct Pluto in Taurus.

The image of exhausted horses standing up to their bellies in snow is stirring on several levels. Besides the obvious suffering involved, there is the symbolism of not being connected to your instinctual nature. As any man is a part of his time, this might be the case for the whole nation in the post-Victorian age, but Scott and his expedition was confronted with this in a direct way. In his horoscope Chiron the centaur has a prominent place - 0° Aries, the first degree of the zodiac. So we have an image of wounded instincts, and a wounded leader and explorer. But not one lacking in qualities of hardihood and endurance. Mars conjunct Pluto in the sign of Taurus has tremendous amount of physical energy and stamina, and also has a need to go to the outer limits of ones strength and will-power. But this energy can also be used to just keep on keeping on in the tracks already laid down.

The capacity of Mars-Pluto in Taurus to relate to the very earthiness of life seems not to be developed to the same extent as the idealism in the chart. One might wonder if his inability to tolerate the sight of blood illustrates this on a symbolic level. Like Amundsen, Scott was very fond of animals, but his love was of the distant and sentimental kind. He never worked close with them or actually related to them. Oates remarked in a letter, that Scott was only too happy to stay in his cabin instead of seeing to the horses. As an eager scientist he spent long hours filling his journals with observations made on solitary walks.

The transits made during the last journey are quite telling. Transit Jupiter was in Sagittarius passing from a conjunction with natal Saturn to an opposition to the natal Sun. In the same period transit Saturn in Taurus was making two passes over natal Pluto. His tendency to prefer the map instead of the actual terrain was brought to a head, and he was confronted with it. You might say that he was taking a big bite only to find out that it was more than he could chew. Refusing to spit it out, he choked on it.

But he does not regret it in his last letter to his wife: 'How much better it has been than lounging about in too great comfort at home. What tales you would have had for the boy, but oh, what a price to pay.' Eager to communicate his experiences and his own view, he writes a number of letters during the last days in the tent. Displaying a talent for writing, storytelling and myth-building that is worthy of a Mercury-Uranus square Jupiter-Neptune.

On 12 February, 1913 The Times wrote: 'We owe honour and gratitude to Captain Scott and his companions for showing that the solid stuff of national character is still among us, and that men are still willing to be "killed in action" for an idea.'

Apart from the fact that in eighteen months WWI would begin, it is also interesting to observe that Scott's Mars is exactly conjunct Mars in the UK chart of 1801. In this horoscope Mars is in the 8th house of death, opposing Neptune in Scorpio and squaring Venus in idealistic Aquarius. 'Killed in action for an idea' indeed. As far as this t-square is concerned, a good hero is a dead hero.

Robert Falcon Scott

 Amundsen'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