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Young Annie Besant, the Social Reformer

by Marguerite dar Boggia

A Life of Change in Search of Truth

When the hand of destiny shapes the life of a beautiful soul, such as Annie Besant, who wanted to save the waifs of humanity, the heart thrills with delight. She was an author, a prolific writer, public speaker, lecturer, editor, political and social rights activist, women’s rights activist, union activist, a teacher of science, Indian nationalist, president of several socialist organizations and eventually the president of the Theosophical Society.

Her father, Dr. William Wood, was extremely well educated, a mathematician, medical doctor, philosopher, and linguist, who spoke French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, a smattering of Hebrew and Gaelic. He was a lover of classical literature, and became a doctor because he wanted to help people. (Saturn in Pisces). He died when Annie was five years of age and her brother, Harry, was seven. Retrograde Saturn quincunx Sun signifies a separation from father.

He ridiculed the Church’s tenets of sin and hell. His Irish wife, Emily, swooned and fell unconscious when she learned he died. When she looked in the mirror her raven black, shining, thick hair had turned white. Jupiter and Moon in a T square in the fourth house denote the disruption of the family life and the influence of her religious (Jupiter) Mother and her religious upbringing. Annie adored her Mother as signified by Mars, (herself) sextile the Moon (Mother).

A Family Devoted to Education

The unexpected death of Annie’s father, left the family without funds. Her Mother hired a tutor for a boy her son’s age, whose parents desired educated. At the same time her son would be educated. She found an old house that had been a vicarage. She now could have more boys stay at her home for tutoring until they were ready to enter Harrow School. (Retrograde Saturn trines Moon in the 4th house.)

This was the ideal home for Annie Besant. It stood on top of Harrow Hill. Rosebushes covered the front and Ivy vines covered the back of the house. Fruit trees, firs, laurel and maple adorned the sloping landscape. There was not a tree that she did not climb. Annie also had one favorite tree, an old wide spreading Portugal laurel.

However, it was her bedroom, sitting room, and her larder, which was supplied from the fruit trees, where Annie sat for hours with her favorite book: Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” In her vivid imagination, she lived with the characters in the book. She does not recall how she learned how to read at the age of five. (Mercury is the most aspected planet in the chart.)

Young Annie’s Education was Unique

When she was eight years of age, Miss Marryat, a maiden lady of large means, was visiting at a neighbor’s house. Miss Marryat, who was lame, had been taking care of her ill brother, a famous author. When her Mother died, she felt the need to educate her niece, Amy Marryat, who was the same age as Annie Besant. She took a liking to Annie immediately and asked Anne’s Mother, Emily, for permission to be in charge only of Annie’s education.

Emily finally agreed. Annie would visit her on holidays. This was the beginning of an education that was unique and fortuitous. Other children of good families were later added. (The part of fortune trines Mars, the ruler of the ascendant.)

There were, however, spelling books, no grammar books. Miss Marryat, now called ‘Auntie’, taught them everything except music. A professional teacher was hired for that purpose. Learning spelling was a favorite. They would find words that sounded the same but were spelled differently such as weather and whether.

World Education and Travels

They learned geography by placing cut-out countries on a painted skeleton map. Every day, they were required to write what they had observed the day before. Auntie would correct their spelling and grammar. They read books in French and German. Their first German lesson was reading Schiller’s “Wilhelm Tell.” They learned history by one reading aloud, while others worked, such as learning how to sew. There were picnics that were memorable.

Auntie, told them stories from the bible. She was an Evangelical. The children themselves, also taught at the Sunday School. When lessons were over, they had plenty of fun; long walks and rides, rides on a lovely pony. Auntie was their merriest playfellow. They vacationed for months in France and Germany when Annie was 15. The children had such a delightful, wonderful vacation. Emily was proud of Annie’s progress in her studies.

At sixteen and a half, Annie completed her studies with Auntie. Progressed ascendant conjoined Mars signifying her freedom. Progressed IC conjoined Jupiter, denoting a change in residence.

Annie’s Later Teens & Meeting Her Husband

As she was growing into womanhood, her mystic love passionately twined themselves around sacrifice for Christ through the church. She longed to spend her time in worshipping Jesus. (Exalted Jupiter sextiles Mars, ruler of the ascendant.) When she was 19 she became betrothed to a Cambridge man, Frank Besant, a young clergyman and deacon. {Retrograde Venus conjoined natal Vertex (partners)}.

In the Autumn of 1867, before Annie Besant married, she and her Mother were visiting a family friend: Mr. Roberts, ‘a lawyer for the poor people’. He told Annie that he saw women working in mines, naked to their waists, with short petticoats barely reaching to their knees, rough, foul-tongued, brutalized out of all womanly decency and grace; and how he had seen little children working there too.

Awakening to Social Struggles

Children 3 and 4 years old were at the entrance of the mine, guarding it. They would fall asleep to be roused by curse and kick to the unfair toil. This was Annie’s first rude awakening to the political struggle for social justice, that would eventually sever her relationship with the church and with her husband. (Jupiter in the T square with Venus and Uranus)

In the winter of 1867 she married Frank Besant. Two children, Arthur Digby and Mabel, were born by the time she was 23 years old. {Sun, ruler of the 5th house of children, conjoins Venus and the N. Node of the Moon}.

Discovering Her Own Voice as Writer

While practicing on the organ in the small church, Annie Besant had a sudden urge to ascend to the pulpit. She gave a superb lecture to empty pews. The words came easily. She knew she had the gift of ‘speech’. She wrote short stories and sent them off to magazines. When one was accepted and she received 30 shillings, her joy was equal to that of Archimedes when he shouted eureka through the streets of Athens. She realized she was a writer. Mercury is the most heavily aspected planet in the chart.

As she began questioning her religious beliefs and the infallibility of the bible and the church, she became ill and even contemplated suicide in the summer of 1871. Doubt tortured her sensitive emotional nature. She had to know the truth. Finally, she resolved not to accept communion.

Spiritual Changes in Search of Truth

In 1873 when she refused to take communion, they legally separated. He was to have the boy and Annie was to have the girl, Mabel. At last, she was free. Retrograde Uranus conjoining the ascendant won her mutual closeness-freedom dilemma. Planets in Cancer (4th house) and Libra (7th house), desire closeness, while Uranus demands freedom.

Saturn in Pisces and Neptune in Aquarius are in mutual reception. Her future work (Saturn) was to reveal the love of God (Pisces). The true love of a Christian’s god is to work for the education (Aquarius) of humanity and to eliminate religious bigotry.

Annie Besant moved to London with Mabel. She joined the National Secular Society, which espoused free thought. She developed a close relationship with Charles Bradlaugh, the Editor of the National Reformer, an attorney and an MP in Parliament. From one extreme of religious belief, she thus went to the other extreme: atheism.

Writing for Justice and Social Reform

Annie Besant wrote many articles (Mercury) on issues such as women’s rights, marriage, and social justice. In 1874, she became a popular public speaker giving lectures all over the country. Her audience resonated with her Irish passionate heart. She espoused the freedom of thought, women’s rights, secularism, birth control and the rights of the working class.

She was a passionate opponent (Uranus) of all injustice to nations weaker than themselves, so that she found herself always in opposition to the Government of the day. Against their aggressive and oppressive policy in Ireland, in the Transvaal, in India, in Afghanistan, in Burma, in Egypt, she lifted her voice in all towns, trying to touch the consciences of the people, and to make them feel the immorality of a land-stealing, piratical policy. Against war, against capital punishment, against flogging, demanding national education instead of big guns, public libraries instead of warships.

This post first appeared on OMTimes Magazine - Co-Creating A More Conscious Li, please read the originial post: here

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Young Annie Besant, the Social Reformer


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