Reinhold Ebertin’s Kombination der Gestirneinflüsse and Kosmopsychologie:
The evidence trail of the early edition history of two modern astrological classics.
– Written and researched by Philip Graves for Astrolearn, January-February 2023
Reinhold Ebertin was one of the most prolific astrological book authors and magazine editors of the entire 20th century. Collectively, his works as judged by the number of edition-volumes of his books alone exceed those of any other author represented in our astrology library.
His most famous work among astrologers remains Kombination der Getirneinflüsse (commonly known for short among German-speaking astrologers as K.d.G.). The first English translation, as The Combination of Stellar Influences, appeared in 1960, and has been reprinted and revised several times since. But what do we know of the history of the original German-language edition?
Well, if you look at virtually any later printing of the book, you will see two copyright dates given, 1940 and 1950. The 1950 edition is common. It was available both in paperback and in hardback. The hardback was priced at DM 10,80 and the paperback at DM 9. The small difference between their prices, combined with the greater durability of hardback books generally, probably accounts for why the hardback edition is the one more usually found in circulation today.
You can see the 1950 edition documented by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek here.
As indicated, it has 214 pages.
However, the DNB also intriguingly records an edition of 96 printed leaves, which it claims to date from 1940, here. No other library listed on either Worldcat or the Karlsruhe Virtueller Katalog (KVK) records any edition before 1950.
What is troubling about this earlier catalogue record is that the claimed place of publication, Aalen, does not match where Ebertin-Verlag was based in 1940, which was Erfurt.
Indeed, Astrodienst’s Astrowiki entry on Ebertin records that he did not move to Aalen until 1944. He was still based at Erfurt when he was arrested by the Gestapo in May 1941, detained for three months, and obliged to cease his astrological activities – in common with most other astrologers of the time, upon whom collectively the Nazi regime instituted a major crackdown following the flight of Rudolf Hess to Scotland. (For more details on Ebertin’s arrest and detention, see his book Das Schicksal in Meiner Hand (1975 edition, pp. 25-6.)
So the DNB’s record must be wrong in at least one respect. Either its edition was not published at Aalen, or it does not have the 1940 edition. It will take a thorough examination of circumstantial evidence to suggest which of these is more probably true.
Part One: Evidence from Advertising in Mensch im All.
Much of what we know of the 1940 edition can be gleaned from the contemporaneous advertising for it in Ebertin’s journal of the time, Mensch im All. Unfortunately, such advertising was extremely limited. He does not appear to have made much of an effort to either announce the book or have it reviewed in the pages of his own magazine.
I’ve picked out and commented on ten notable examples in chronological order below.
1. From Mensch im All, 12. Jahrgang, Heft 7, April 1940:
Here, in the middle of the third paragraph, Ebertin casually announces the forthcoming publication of Kombination der Gestirneinflüsse in ‘Karteiform’ (i.e. in the form of cards). So we can confidently say that by April 1940, it had not yet been published but was in preparation.
2. From Mensch im All, 13. Jahrgang, Heft 6, März 1941:
Here, Ebertin advertises a new ringbinder for the use of his card-form works, in which category he lists both K.d.G. and something he refers to as K.K.E.. The latter refers to a work known at the time as Kartei Kosmobiologischer Entsprechungen. The original edition of these cards, like the original card-form edition of K.d.G., is very rare, but the K.K.E. were reprinted in the early 1950s under the revised name of Kosmobiologischer Kartei, as well as being serialised on the back covers of successive issues of Kosmobiologie.
What is puzzling is that in all the intervening months (May 1940 to February 1941), no further announcement is to be found regarding K.d.G.. It seems almost as though he wasn’t confident enough in it to advertise it properly in his own magazine. Now we suddenly learn that it already exists through the medium of the advertisement of an optional ring-binder for it! So it must have been published some time in the time frame of these ten strangely silent months, and we can reasonably presume from later copyright references that it had indeed been published by the end of 1940.
What’s more, I’ve checked the advertisements in the only other major German-language astrological periodical that was still in print through 1940 and into 1941, Sterne und Mensch, and there is not a single advertisement for or mention of K.d.G. there. So apparently Ebertin didn’t care to promote his work in rival magazines either.
3. From Mensch im All, 13. Jahrgang, Heft 9, Juni 1941.
This was the last issue of Ebertin’s magazine Mensch im All to appear before it was suppressed by the Nazi regime. We can reasonably suppose that it, like many magazines nowadays, was published in the month prior to its nominal date, although Ebertin retrospectively suggests in Das Schicksal in Meiner Hand (p. 25) that it was published as early as April, which may be an unreliable recollection on his part. Ebertin does however record that And in this case, as we have established that Ebertin was arrested around 9th June 1941, it must at the very least have been published before his arrest.
Here we see an advertisement for K.d.G. on the back cover. It is strange that this is the first such advertisement to be found, and yet it is already being described as ‘almost sold out’. The price of 9 Reichsmark is equivalent to about 30 US dollars or 25 British pounds in 2022. This was not one of Ebertin’s cheaper works, and was apparently aimed at serious students.
Again, we see the ring binder that was belatedly designed to go with it offered as an option for another 1.8 Reichsmark.
Although the work itself is advertised here as having almost sold out, Ebertin later tells a different story in his autobiographical book Das Schicksal in Meiner Hand (first published 1966; reprinted with a different cover design, 1975). Here (p. 25), he states that hardly 20 copies of the original card-form K.d.G. were sold before his arrest:
‘Als dann die KDG zunächst in Karteiform gedruckt werde, wozu ich mir mühsam den Karton beschafft hatte, und kaum 20 Exemplare verkauft waren, wurde ich beschlagnahmt.’
I’ve also found it stated that 200 copies of the original edition were produced, which would imply that 90% of them went unsold and were confiscated and destroyed by the Nazi authorities following Ebertin’s arrest. This makes the words ‘fast vergriffen’ in the advertisement for K.d.G. in the the June 1941 issue of Mensch im All difficult to interpret.
If 200 copies had been printed, and only 20 had been sold, how had the edition almost sold out? Either one of these figures is wildly inaccurate, or the words must have had a more sinister hidden meaning than at first meets the eye. We know from his testimony in the foreword to the 1950 edition of K.d.G. (see Part Two below) that the remainder of the 1940 edition was confiscated by the German authorities on June 9th, 1941, a few weeks after Ebertin’s arrest. But even before his arrest, could he have known that a clampdown on his activities was likely to be imminent, for which reason he was encouraging readers to place their last orders while it was still possible?
4. From Kosmobiologie, Heft 7, April 1949
Here, at the very end of the second column, there is a simple advertisement for K.d.G. in book form, either paperback at 9 Deutschmark or hardback at 12 Deutschmark. This is the earliest acknowledgement I’ve found so far of the existence of a printed book-form edition of the work. It notably predates the publication date of the supposed second edition of 1950 by a whole year.
We further learn from Ebertin’s list of his published works and their dates as included in his book Das Schicksal in Meiner Hand (p. 116) that the second edition of K.d.G. was in fact produced in 1947. If so, it would appear to have been circulated in very small numbers and to very little fanfare, because I cannot find any earlier mention of it within the pages of Kosmobiologie, which incidentally did not commence publishing until October 1948.
5. From Kosmobiologie, 16. Jahrgang [sic], Heft 2, November 1949
Here, we find another advertisement for K.d.G. in book form, with the prices for the two binding formats matching those given in the shorter advertisement back in April, but with far more detail about the book.
What is also notable about this particular advertisement is what it teaches us about another of Ebertin’s important books, Kosmopsychologie. The advertisement here specifically states that the first edition has sold out, and a new edition was to be launched at the beginning of 1950.
Both the DNB and Worldcat do not record an edition of the book Kosmopsychologie before that of 1950, which has 112 pages.
However, held in our library there is an edition of 92 pages, in typescript instead of professional print, with the cover title hyphenated as Kosmo-Psychologie, and with some differences to the text itself, which clearly predates the 1950 edition. I think that must be the edition that is being referred to here as having sold out before the November 1949 issue of Kosmobiologie went to press. Pictures to demonstrate the differences will be added later in February as an appendix to this article. Astrologer Reinhardt Stiehle has a similar early edition with a different front cover design of the same essential size format, and with 93 pages, bearing a dedication dated 1948.
6. From Ebertin Kosmobiologisches Jahrbuch, 24, Jahrgang, 1950:
This advertisement also advertises both K.d.G. and the book Kosmopsychologie. We cannot be sure exactly when in 1949 the yearbook was published, except that it must have been after September 1949 because one of the articles within quotes an article published that month. My provisional supposition, however, is that the yearbook was not published before the November 1949 issue of Kosmobiologie from which the previous advertisement was drawn.
This is chiefly because of the reduced asking price for the hardback edition of K.d.G. of 10.8 Deutschmark (down from 12), which corresponds with the later pricing of the 1950 edition. It’s also notable that two prices are given for the book Kosmopsychologie, which was stated as being out of print pending a new edition at the start of 1950 in the previously quoted advertisement.
It’s presumed here that this pricing was in anticipation of the availability of the new edition of Kosmopsychologie in 1950, and that it was included although the book was out of print at the time of going to press because the yearbook was thought to be useful for the whole year ahead and the book was expected to become available again early in that new year.
7. From Kosmobiologie 17. Jahrgang [sic], Heft 1, Oktober 1950
Here we are treated to the first more substantial advertisement for the 1950 edition of K.d.G. – a whole page. We learn for the first time that a new edition of the work is available and also that that new edition is over 200 pages long (somewhat longer than the previous 96-leaf edition). But the previously announced pricing for the two different binding formats has been held steady.
The 1950 edition of the work is relatively common, with multiple copies to hand in our library, and is copyrighted 1950 in print, so we know that this is the edition to which this advertisement refers.
It is notable that testimonials from several readers are included, although it is not clear whether these refer to the new edition or the previous edition.
8. From Kosmobiologie, 17. Jahrgang [sic], Heft 2, November 1950:
Here, we learn in the shorter advertisement for the new edition of K.d.G. that all pre-orders will shortly be fulfilled. As this is printed in the issue for November 1950, it serves as strong evidence for the new edition not having been published until the final months of the year.
The full-page advertisement in the previous month’s issue (see above) was apparently designed to herald the final appearance of the new edition, but at the time of going to press in October for the November 1950 issue, of Kosmobiologie, evidently some pre-orders had still not yet been fulfilled, hence the notice to reassure those who had ordered it based on advance publicity before it was in fact ready.
9. From Kosmobiologie, 17. Jahrgang [sic], Heft 3, Dezember 1950
In this advertisement, the new edition of K.d.G. is among works featured as ‘newly published’, which further supports the impression that it did not appear until around or shortly before November 1950, in spite of being advertised earlier.
10. From Kosmobiologie, 17. Jahrgang [sic], Heft 5, Februar 1951
This retrospective list of Ebertin’s past and present works only mentions the 1940 and 1950 editions of K.d.G., specifying the 1940 edition as having been published at Erfurt and in card form, which expressly contradicts the D.N.B.’s record indicating a 1940 edition published at Aalen.
We can see however that this list is sketchy and short on detail, as it only mentions the 1950 edition of Kosmopsychologie, whereas we know from one of the advertisements from 1949 shown above that a previous edition had sold out by late 1949!
So this list of works as printed in the February 1951 issue of Kosmobiologie cannot be taken as reliably exhaustive. It was arguably superseded by Ebertin’s fuller account of his works in Das Schicksal in Meiner Hand, which at least acknowledges (p. 116) the existence of an edition of K.d.G. published in 1947, between the original 1940 card-form edition and the edition newly published, according to the evidence gathered above, late in 1950. His account there further indicates 1949 as the original publication date of Kosmopsychologie.
Part Two: Evidence from pictures of Reinhold Ebertin’s books
The advertising record having been trawled through as thoroughly as available material allows, we now need to look at the editions themselves for further clues. To this end, we have obtained multiple early editions of both titles, where previously only one edition published up to and including 1950 of each work was held in the library.
We unfortunately do not have access to the original card-form edition of Reinhold Ebertin’s book Kombination der Gestirneinflüsse, which is extraordinarily rare and very unlikely to be found for sale again.
The earliest edition of the book that we have been able to obtain is pictured above. This is the front cover, showing the small, eccentrically wide binding format that was typical of his works published between the late 1930s and the late 1940s.
The 1947 edition is not recorded as such in library records, but the DNB’s record for its supposed copy of the 1940 edition suspiciously resembles this one, in that they both have 96 numbered leaves and both measure 10 cm * 15 cm. It’s my best guess at this stage that the DNB doesn’t have the 1940 edition either, and has only this edition, miscatalogued as the 1940 edition because of the absence of proper dating internally.
Here is the first internal page of the same edition, which goes straight into the foreword (note that there is no internal title page or copyright page). On our copy, this first leaf has unfortunately suffered an old tear that has since been roughly repaired. The text remains legible, and gives some details of the edition history.
You can be sure that this edition predates the common 1950 edition from the internal references to war-time paper shortage compelling the use of low-quality materials.
You can also tell that this is not the 1940 first edition from three internal clues:
1. The pages are not in the form of cards that can be bound with an optional ring binder.
2. They are professionally printed, rather than being photocopied from typescript.
3. The preface refers to improvements to the contents over the previous edition.
Especially notable is that the text has not just been duplicated or copied from that of the card-form edition of 1940, but has been added to with readings for Pluto, which apparently had not been included in the original edition as published ten years after the planet’s discovery. This is quite an interesting revelation in itself, as many other astrologers had been much faster to incorporate Pluto into their books published after 1930.
Ebertin also says here that the text has also been extended with readings for the planets in the signs and houses – apparently not a feature of the original edition either, which was presumably focused almost solely upon midpoint interpretations.
Above you can see the following page, which shows the conclusion of the foreword to this undated second overall edition suspected as having been published at Aalen around 1947, and the start of an additional prefatory notice.
This second introduction that follows the foreword to this edition is dated ‘Herbst 1940’ on its last page, and has clearly been retained from the true 1940 edition, which was published in the Autumn of 1940. This may be the cause of the DNB’s error.
Here is the first side of the final leaf in the book as a whole, numbered 96 in print. Every main leaf of content is numbered on a single side only, so there are in fact 192 main pages although they are paginated as 96 leaves.
Although the binding format is much smaller than that of the 214-page 1950 edition below, the true difference in page count is only 22 pages.
Now we move on to the much more common third overall edition of 1950. Here you can see the (slightly chipped and worn) dust jacket front panel on our primary copy, which bears the standard font and emblem of the Ebertin Verlag at that time.
And here is the front board, showing variable shades of blue cloth incorporated into the gilt-printed cover design.
Above is pictured the title page of that same third edition from 1950.
And here is the copyright page of the same edition, which notably fails to refer to the previous edition at all, citing only an original copyright date of 1940 and a revised one of 1950. This omission is arguably the major cause of the widespread lack of bibliographical clarity to date on the early edition history of this book, as it falsely gives the impression that there has been only one previous edition.
Above you can see a key part of the foreword from the 1950 edition, referring to the past history of the work. At the end of the first paragraph, Ebertin discusses the 1940 edition, recalling that:
‘Only a small part of the edition reached the public. Already on June 9th, 1941, the date of the persecution of German astrologers, the rest of the first edition was confiscated.’
It is notable that the confiscation of the edition followed several weeks after Ebertin’s arrest, rather than coinciding with it.
Earlier in the same paragraph, Ebertin makes an interesting reference to the original contents of the book having been included in his publication Kosmobiologische Lehrbriefe, which he declares to have been printed in only about 100 copies, during the second world war.
There is also incidentally an original of that one in book form in our library, which notably was published at Erfurt and not Aalen (see photo above). It is undated in print, and unrecorded by the DNB or Worldcat. Tentative suggestions on German Wikipedia that it was published around 1960 are clearly false as it is referred to retrospectively as having been available during the second world war, besides the fact that Ebertin moved to Aalen in 1944.
From what we know of Ebertin’s arrest in May 1941 and subsequent prohibition from carrying on his astrological activities, it can safely be said that Kosmobiologische Lehrbriefe was probably published between 1939 and 1941. The contextual reference in the following sentence from the foreword to the 1950 edition of K.d.G., however, strongly suggests that it was published before the card-form 1940 first edition of K.d.G., as Ebertin states (my translation):
‘During the World War, it first appeared in mimeographed form in the Kosmobiologische Lehrbriefe in an edition of about 100 copies. Based on the experiences had with it, it was possible to print the small work in the form of cards with great difficulty in the autumn of 1940.’
I have inspected our copy of Ebertin’s book Kosmobiologische Lehrbriefe (pictured above) closely. It does not contain anything even close to the promised full text of K.d.G., though it does include a section populated with examples of suggested midpoint conjunction delineations spanning leaves L21 to L27 only. This makes me suspect that the bound book-form issue of the work comprised only some of the ‘teaching letters’ that were originally issued serially to subscribers.
The introduction to the work promises (leaf L/2) that it will contain three different treatises, of which the first will be an introduction to the principles of cosmobiology, the second answers to questions from the group of participants, and the third the rudiments of interpretation under the title Kombination der Gestirneinflüsse. Yet the bound work apparently ends after the second of the three promised treatises, on answers to questions. This suggests a likely editorial decision to release the book-form volume without the K.d.G. content after it was decided to publish the K.d.G. content separately in the form of cards. The examples on leaves L21 to L27 are believed to form a part of the first treatise (of three) promised by the introduction, as the treatise comprising questions and answers comes later in the work.
The last leaf of the bound-form volume of the Kosmobiologische Lehrbriefe to hand is labelled F/26. This contains the final featured answers to questions, numbered 56 to 60. The answer to question 60 sheds further light on the date of the original publication of this work, as it indicates that Ebertin’s book Korrekturhilfe is in preparation and anticipated to be published within 2-3 months. This note firmly dates at least the original serial publication of the Kosmobiologische Lehrbriefe to 1939, because Korrekturhilfe is known from the later list of Ebertin’s publications shown in the advertisement extracted from Kosmobiologie, February 1951 (see above) to have been published that year, although it is undated in print (our original copy is pictured above).
Another interesting point of note from his foreword to the 1950 edition of K.d.G. is Ebertin’s declaration that only by a stroke of good fortune were two copies of the original 1940 card-form edition saved from the Nazi authorities, allowing the work to be reproduced via photocopying for a small new edition after the end of the war. This is presumed to be referring to the 1947 edition pictured earlier, although the sentence concludes with a clear reference to the present edition of 1950.
Finally, this is another issue of the 1950 edition in circulation, in brown cloth without variegation of shade. This is provisionally presumed to be an undeclared later issue, as the unvariegated brown cloth would suggest it to be a lower-cost production than the first printing thus, as might be expected from an early reprint. In all internal respects, this issue is identical.
The next formally declared edition does not appear until 1961, and it interestingly reverts to blue cloth, but without a variegated use of shades of blue on the front board.
Let’s look now at Ebertin’s other work discussed in this article, Kosmopsychologie. This is the front cover of the undated early edition (as Kosmo-Psychologie) in our library, which seems to correspond with the one that has been declared by Ebertin himself in his book Das Schicksal in Meiner Hand to have been first published in 1949.
You may recall from the earlier discussion of this book above that Reinhardt Stiehle has a variant issue of this early edition with an art cover and a dedication dated to 1948, casting some doubt on the actual year of issue recorded by Ebertin later, and even raising the possibility of two provisional editions having been produced, perhaps one in 1948 with the art cover and the next in 1949 with the professionally printed cover shown above.
Note that the title is spelt with a hyphen on the front cover of our edition. The cover on Stiehle’s edition shares this characteristic, although the type is differently set.
Our edition is internally printed in typescript, as shown from this picture of the first internal page. As with the post-war second edition of K.d.G., there is no title page or copyright page included.
Above you can see the front board of our copy of the much more common 1950 edition of Kosmopsychologie. This was produced in two binding formats, cloth and card. This is the cloth version. As you can see, the title has been printed all as a single word on the front board.
Here is a view from the inside of the 1950 edition of Kosmopsychologie, with the copyright page principally on display. Only a single copyright date of 1950 is declared, and no reference is made to the previous edition pictured earlier. You can see from the hint of the text on the first main page to the right of the picture that unlike the previous edition, this one was professionally printed throughout.