Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday/Sunday Superwomen

I've decided to do an occasional weekend post about women who, in their own way, are or were "superwomen": women who have approached life feeling true equality with men, in some cases even before equality was on the agenda. Beacons.

The women I'll feature won't necessarily be household names. One from each side of the Atlantic this time: Helen Thomas, who has been suggested by my blogging colleague Wisewebwoman as a good subject for investigation; and from across the pond, Englishwoman and traveller of the 19th century, Isabella Bird. I want to take a brief look at their natal charts to try and pinpoint the source of their "super-ness".

Superwoman # 1: Helen Thomas is a reporter for the Hearst News Service, dean of the White House press corps, a White House correspondent, and King Features Syndicate columnist. Thomas has covered every President of the USA since JFK.

"To say Ms. Thomas is old school is not a shot at her age, but rather an honor. After all these years, she still believes the function of the press is to keep an eye on government, and that goes for U.S. presidents, too."

"Thomas is undoubtedly one of the last of a breed, the Tough Broad. When Rory Kennedy asks her if she ever used her sexuality to get a story, Thomas dissolves into laughter. She's also a bastion of Old Journalism -- "If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out," she quips -- a reporter who believes that the main job of the press corps is cutting the president down to size."

"Helen Thomas certainly personifies the difficulties of remaining hard-nosed with people you have to deal with every day, people you might actually like or even pity. She describes the day President Nixon opened a press conference by congratulating her on becoming the first woman to be named head of UPI's Washington bureau. She wondered how seemly it would be to follow this gracious moment with a tough question about Nixon's alleged perjury. She solved the dilemma, she says, by asking the question but feeling bad about it."
(Quotes attributed at end of post)

Born 4 August 1920 (coincidentally same day, different year, as Barack Obama) in Winchester, Kentucky. No time of birth available, so this chart is set for 12 noon. Exact position of Moon and ascendant will remain a mystery. Moon, though, must be somehwere between 00Aries and 14 Aries.

Four planets in Leo (Sun conjunct Neptune, Venus conjunct Jupiter) indicate a leader of some sort, full of self confidence. Sun conjunct Neptune is often found in the charts of artistic individuals or novelists. In this case any artistic ability isn't apparent from her public persona, her writing is factual rather than imaginative. But Neptune can also indicate a spiritual nature, which may apply here. Venus/Jupiter - charm (Venus) allows this lady to be painfully honest and critical of those people who intimidate many others. Jupiter rules publication, how appropriate that the publication planet should be part of her prominent Leo cluster in the chart of a woman so closely connected to the press.

Moon in Aries will trine (harmonious aspect) Sun, whatever birth time - bringing Fiery leader Leo and impulsive energetic Aries both clearly into play in her nature.

There's a different side to Helen Thomas, too. A Grand Trine in Water linking Mars with Pluto and Uranus links her energy from Aries (ruled by Mars) in a more sensitive and intuitive fashion to two outer planets - which could be said to signify "the collective mind" of the public. Hard as some of her criticisms may have seemed, there was always a deep and caring basis for them.

Saturn in Virgo sextiles (helpful aspect) Mars in Scorpio - here's a hard-working lady, not afraid to be critical, with Mars in its own sign of Scorpio adding passion to her beliefs and criticisms. This Mars/Saturn sextile is almost certainly part of a Yod formation, with Moon at its arrow-pint, even though her time of birth is unknown. This symbolises that her passionate criticisms and points of view are directed through the core of her inner self (Moon), underlining the fact that they are not based in partisanship, resentment or personal bitterness.

~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~

Superwoman # 2: Isabella Bird. Not a well-known name. It was unknown to me until our trip to the Colorado Rockies two years ago. This lady's travels, at the time they were undertaken, seem nothing short of amazing to 21st century minds. Born in mid-19th century England, she was not part of the feminist revolution, apart from her own personal revolution. She travelled. She travelled a lot, then she wrote about her travels in a very engaging way.

"Bird was a sickly child and spent her entire life struggling with various ailments. Much of her illness may have been psychogenic, for when she was doing exactly what she wanted she was almost never ill. Her real desire was to travel."
Australia, Hawaii, Colorado, Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia all featured on her itineraries. It was her book "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" which first intoduced me to Isabella Bird. The book consists of journal letters to her sister. I mentioned Isabella and quoted some of her writing in my first ever posts on this blog, in August 2006. They are accessible via the archive links (September 2006) should anyone be interested in reading about our own travels in the Colorado Rockies.

Isabella Bird was born 15 October 1831 in Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, England, no time of birth, so exact Moon and ascendant positions are not known. Again, as in Helen Thomas's chart, four planets in one sign, but this time in Libra: Sun, Mercury Venus and Mars - four personal planets in the sign of charm and tact. These four planets are in harmonious trine with Moon, Jupiter and Uranus in Aquarius, drawing into her nature a love of freedom (Aquarius), evident in her apparent need to travel (Jupiter), as well as a feel that she was "before her time", more especially because Uranus was part of the cluster, and in its own sign, Aquarius, giving extra significance to that maverick planet.

I had expected to find some Sagittarius in this chart, but there's none. Instead there is emphasis on air signs and on Uranus in Aquarius, it's home sign. This lady was ahead of her time, no doubt about it at all.

Saturn is in Virgo again, as in the chart of Helen Thomas. Isabella's hard work came in different guise, as did her somewhat critical nature, which spiced her Libran charm. Pluto in Aries opposes three of her Libra planets - adding a harder edge to that Libran tactfulness. Her basic charm did help a lot in her meetings with a variety of odd-ball and characters she met during her travels.

It's necessary to read Isabella's book to appreciate the tremendous effort she put into her Colorado journey, both on foot and on horseback through, at that time, an uncivilised terrain in the Rocky Mountains.

"I rode up and down hills laboriously in snow-drifts, getting off often to easy my faithful Birdie by walking down ice-clad slopes, stopping constantly to feast my eyes upon that changeless glory, always seeing some new ravine, with its depths of color, or miraculous brilliancy of red, or phantasy of form."

A quote from Isabella Bird appears on this plaque in the mountains (click on photo for a larger version). "This is a view to which nothing needs to be added... This scenery satisfies my soul"

Isabella didn't hold back from criticising some of the characters she met, even her own countrymen, on occasion:

"I longed to tell Chalmers that it was he, and such as he, there or anywhere, with narrow hearts, bitter tongues, and harsh judgments, who were the true "Mrs. Grundys", dwarfing individuality, checking lawful freedom of speech, and making men "offenders for a word"."

So....two females who could be termed superwomen. Their natal charts contain different planetary configurations, but both mix charm with an underlying harder edge. Both charts show planet clusters, which bring extra focus to these individuals, the urge to apply a more than average amount of effort into what was the driving force of their lives. In both cases Mercury (communication/writing) lies in or close to a powerful group of planets, reflecting the fact that it is through their communicative skills that we have become aware of the true calibre of these two females. Neither woman relied in any way on looks or sexuality. Considering each, with hindsight, they stand out as beacons for women everywhere.

....and "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" by Isabella Bird.


anthonynorth said...

Two powerful women there - and glad to see a Yorkshirewoman among them. This Saturday post is a good idea, I think.

Wisewebwoman said...

What a great addition to your good blog, T.
I had never heard of Bird, what a fascinating free spirit.
And Helen at her now formidable age, I'v admired for years.
I think she is the only journalist that strikes the fear of God into the incumbent.

Twilight said...

Hi AN and WWW~! Glad you like the idea. It'll be fun sorting out other pairs to explore.

Sam Smith said...

The Judy Joy Jones Show just did a live interview with the brilliant Ms. Helen Thomas at:

Twilight said...

Sam Smith ~~~ thank you for alerting me to that - it's much appreciated.

I'm not in total agreement with Ms Thomas about President Obama, however, but do respect her views, even though they disappoint me somewhat - as do those of many others I'd thought might be supportive of a very new Prez. who faced an horrendous set of concurrent circumstances.