It was on the 28th of August 1749, at the stroke of twelve noon, that I came into the world in Frankfurt on the Main. The constellation was auspicious: the Sun was in Virgo and at its culmination for the day. Jupiter and Venus looked amicably upon it, and Mercury was not hostile. Saturn and Mars maintained indifference. Only the Moon, just then becoming full, was in a position to exert averse force, because its planetary hour had begun. It did, indeed, resist my birth, which did not take place until this hour had passed.
These good aspects, which astrologers in later years taught me to value very highly, were probably responsible for my survival, for the midwife was so unskilled that I was brought into the world as good as dead, and only with great difficulty could I be made to open my eyes and see the light.
Goethe begins his autobiography with the above description of his birth. He was being somewhat fanciful, for he rejected the "metaphysical assumptions" of astrology, namely, that one's path in life was determined by the position of the planets and other stars at the moment of one's birth.
Nevertheless, he saw fate (Schicksal), an element of what he referred to as necessity (Notwendigkeit), determining one's life in an "incomprehensible way" (auf unbegreifliche Weise). Moral freedom was achieved by the individual working within the limitations imposed by necessity and thereby crafting a meaningful life. Goethe's view would seem to have much in common with the Ancients, especially the Stoics, an aspect I have not investigated much in connection with Goethe. There is a great element of willfulness in his view of the world, especially as he grew older, perhaps influenced by a resistance to enthusiasm or mysticism, as if willing something to be the case would make it so.
I suspect that Goethe's description of his birth is playing on the account in Matthew 2: 1-12 of the Three Magi who followed the star from the East to the site of where Jesus lay in the manger. They are portrayed above in a late 6th-century mosaic at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuova in Ravenna.
Even if Goethe himself rejected astrology, astrologers themselves have devoted themselves to plotting his natal chart. For a full "Astro-databank" on Goethe, go to this link, where you can find a larger image of the chart above; for Christiane here.
Poetry and Truth translation credit: Robert R. Heitner; natal chart: Astrotheme