Martha Gellhorn – She Scorped

Martha Gellhorn, the brilliant war correspondent, identified with her Scorpio Sun sign and mentioned it frequently – in conversation, letters and her diaries. Take this, for example, from the excellent Caroline Moorehead biography – Gellhorn: A 20th Century Life

“The capriciousness of luck she tended to disregard, particularly at her tougher moments, allowing only – and, improbably, an odd concession in someone so rational – an intervention by the stars. Scorpios, she wrote, referring to herself, were with geniuses or miserable or both, well-known to be very spiky characters…for whom life is not lined with smiling faces.’

Lucky people, she maintained, had lucky natures; either way good behaviour was immutable, as was strength of character and purpose. Only the weak ‘sat on their arses.’ The people she liked ‘got out and there and fought.'”

Leaving aside the tedium of astrological awareness dismissed as ‘irrational,’ Gellhorn was correct about her scorpionic temperament but it’s sad she didn’t also reference it in relation to her courage and cultural impact. She was a transformer in that her electrifying reportage altered the consciousness of readers and innovated journalism itself.

The only woman to land at Normandy on D-Day in 1944 and one of the first journalists to report on the concentration camps after they were liberated, she was not only a Scorpio but a woman of Pluto.

Her Scorpio Sun trined Neptune, reflecting her vision and glamor yet Gellhorn’s Mercury in Libra  – arguably the key point for a writer – was exactly trine Pluto and her North Node in Gemini, the sign of the scribe.

So she was drawn to plutonic topics – power, evolutionary developments, sex, danger, secrets, revolution and the psyche. It’s s pity that she is so often mentioned in connection with one of her relationships – her marriage to Ernest Hemmingway – especially as it was evidently incredibly difficult for her. You can read an epic take on this here.

Defending her against a particularly skeevy biography, one of her friends said

“Martha was passionate and political, glamorous and exciting. She loved to drink and gossip and smoke and flirt. She was hugely entertaining and motivated by a deep-hearted, deep-seated concern for justice; the friend of the dispossessed, the oppressed, the neglected. And she was a good writer.”

She shunned cloying relationships and took up with lovers more in the way that male writers of her generation picked up and discarded their women. She’d go the second things went wrong and was devoted to her beauty and grooming. One of her partners, said that she had only two speeds: “running away or asleep.

Nothing is better for self-esteem than survival,” she said. She found relationships cloying and that men wanted her in bed rather than on the battlefield or even questioning their political views. Her most enduring love turned out to be words and ideas – the thrill of breaking stories.

Scorpios,” she told her fellow Scorpio James Fox (the author of White Mischief) belong in turbulent times.”

34 thoughts on “Martha Gellhorn – She Scorped”

  1. Actually, they had a great love story (Hemingway and Gellhorn). She was indeed a Scorpio with Taurus Moon, and he was a Cancer (Virgo rising). They were, in fact, as far as astrology is concerned, more compatible than any of their other relationships/partners. They were together nearly 10 years, separated here and there while each was on assignment. That is true that she didn’t want to be KNOWN solely for her marriage to Hemingway, but it would be dismissive to say that it was not significant for her. She didn’t actually want to end the marriage, in the end; neither did he, really. Cancerian men are complex and moody. She got to a point when she just wouldn’t put up with it. They both had Gemini prominently influencing their charts, too, and that is interesting (both had the love of a secret affair; once it was official, it lost some of the appeal.)

  2. i loved the film, i found it fascinating. i am also scorpio, also venus in libra, so very interesting what u write…i must know more about the free love thing lol never heard that before. re hemingway/gelhorn…this was a screenplay, embellished…we were not there, we dont know truly their connection…they wrote beautiful letters to each other, that’s a fact…but we really can’t judge…

    1. He could just be depicted as a marionette, or lumpy stocking stuffed figure posed into action in the relevant scenes.

  3. I would love to have met her.

    Thanks Mystic and MM team for always writing about interesting people/matters past and present xox

  4. Hemingway so over rated, Gellhorn so superb. I need to read more of her work and stat. Love to see that Mars-Neptune being put to good use, she’s an inspiration to our kind!
    Not holding high hopes in Kidman’s interp, but more importantly, let’s hope the script doesn’t write her out of her story…

  5. erm … I’ve read about Ms. Gellhorn in the past and, to me at least, she’s seems like a giant pain in the ass. While I admire her cajones as an independent woman in that era as well as the war correspondent fab part – the personal side was destructive. She was not the innocent the HBO drama portrayed her to be in the relationship with Hemingway. I doubt that she truly “didn’t like the sex” because she was apparently at it quite a bit with loads of people, many who were married and during her own marriage. It tastes like the excuse-making common among those caught red-handed in some embarrassment “Really I’m a victim of it all, I don’t really like doing it” to mitigate their stink. There were certainly many amazing benefits she welcomed happily as Mrs. Hemingway – if she didn’t want her lil’ star to appear teeny next to Hemingway’s Red Giant Molten Sun she ought not to have hitched her hooks to it.

  6. Why need acceptance from society or anybody ?

    From people muddled in their own heads who don’t know what they THEMSELVES are doing ? Who have a hundred e-mail addresses on their stupid, non-funny forwarded e-mails to show you what they do with their time ? “Well I’m into relationships, friendships, blah, blah, blah.”

    Enrichment, elevated consciousness not important to them.
    (They don’t know what enrichment is or how to spell it or anything.)

    And when a person can’t spell words correctly or do simple math though they grew up in a rich country and blame their busyness on having kids
    and tending to family I say, “but you didn’t have kids when you were eight and being taught all this stuff did ya ?”(Don’t actually say this but I will next time.)

  7. Scorporation, Inc.

    I went to sleep last night expecting all manners of dreamtime wonderfulness– but got my ex-husband instead! I was like, “What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here,” and he’s giving himself a tour of my house, and then tries to lie down on the couch like he’s going to take a nap. I pulled him up off the couch– he was drunk!– and I said, “If you come here again, I will get a restraining order.” I walked him out of the house, and to the car that had brought him to my place, which was waiting for him in the driveway. His friend was driving. It was a hearse.

    Sometimes I feel like the more I look at my chart, the more confused about it I am. I think that astro-wise Martha and I have some similar arrangements, though.

    My ex is a very talented, smart guy; I fell in love with him that way. Unfortunately, he has this Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing going on with his drinking/substance use, and he can’t seem to leave them alone. We met and married in the same year. I was very naive and optimistic regarding his drinking and what-not… Of course, I don’t regret our time together one iota: my son came from our union, and my son’s the best thing that ever happened to me! My marriage, then, was destined and worth every painful minute: I would go to hell and back again if it meant having my son in the end.

    My ex is drinking himself to death, and I’ve been aware of that for a few years now. I feel for my son. Maybe ex died last night– ? — maybe his death is right around the corner. My ex is Cap sun– my son is Cap sun. Zap zone. Zapped and zoned.

    I was born with rx Saturn in the 5th/Kataka. It aspects my Sun/Mars/Venus in the 8th/Scorp. I don’t think Uranus figures into that mix, but I could be wrong. Or does it even matter? Haha

    Unlike me, my son has squares all over his chart. Pluto in late degrees of Sagg/6th house, and Uranus in early degrees of Pisces/8th house. He has Sun/Venus/Mercury in Cap. Saturn in Leo/1st house. Moon in his 12th. Like I said, I feel for him.

      1. Scorporation, Inc.

        I always appreciate the cosmic heads-up, however it comes, whatever it’s about.

        The oracle just advised me to put salt across my front entrance tonight. Done!

    1. Scorp inc… that sounds like a bit of a heavy dream… I was wondering how does your son feel, with a father who is an alcoholic / heavy drinker? it’s strange having parents who have these kinds of problems, takes time to cone to terms with and dissociate the psyche as an adult 🙁 love xx

      1. Scorporation, Inc.

        He’s doing ok. It’s a lot to process, especially for a young kid. I left with him when he was a baby, so he’s never had to deal with the whole living with an alcoholic drama. His dad’s been awol on the visitation front for the last three years, but even when he was seeing our son 2x/week he could never stick with the schedule long before he needed “just a couple weeks off” (of being a dad). It’s hard to drink up/be hungover when you’re alone with a toddler/preschooler, I imagine.

        So my son deals with the whole absent parent thing, more than anything. We talk. I mention his dad’s good qualities and talents to him a lot; as he’s gotten older he’s asked me some of the harder questions. I just try to be honest yet age-appropriate, and speak about alcoholism objectively, without sounding judgmental or angry. I get how much my son’s identity is wrapped up in his dad, whether my ex is present or not, sober or not– and I try really hard to keep that foremost in my mind when we talk.

        Yeah, that dream… Who is inspiring nostalgia right now? Chiron? Haha Yeah, well, my ex can take his addictions and his buddies and his death somewhere else. My son deserves peace and laughter and wellness in his home, and he needs to be able to count on it. I deserve/need the same (although I never realized that until my son was born). I won’t have that Mr. Hyde shit, and I don’t feel guilty about it, either. My removing him from my house wasn’t leading him to his death: he rode up in the fucking hearse, he can go lie in it– not on my couch!


  8. Inspiring , she was courageous to be herself in those times . Yet it is funny how little we have grown in accepting women who change and step out of the norm . I loved a women like that, seems like they are tormented . And are running from themselves ?

    1. pushing a boulder up a hill against all of society can get a bit tiring no?, everyone wants somewhere to be themselves that is not in the line of fire against judgement no matter how much fight you got in you. I struggle enough now! I look at my passed grandmothers and can see the torment even in their lives.

  9. god I would hate to be known for a 5 year stint with some other man as my ‘biggest achievement when I had a life book like hers. That is the sexism of it all though. Lover and muse famed above own body of work. Then the turning on her for not playing the game, people still do this.
    I think I would OD for sure somewhere if I just got too old, don’t see the value in life you can’t live myself. Though I know that view is not popular.

    I am going to slowly start to write again just for my own sanity. One could go back to school to improve ones english and grammar though, my lack of decent education has been a spear through my heart most of my life

    sunmercury conjunct uranus 5th house scorpio

      1. that is kind. I have way to much mercury for my own good (gem asc, mars,NN, 3rd house jupiter,lilith,saturn virgo moon, venusneptune 6th house) so I hoard secret diaries.
        In all seriousness I fear I will have no friends if anyone read my writing, I make Silvia Plath look like a tropical holiday.

        1. Don’t worry about your readers or your friends, two groups which may or may not overlap. You have to get it out. My humble advice: Whenever in doubt, read biographies of female writers.

  10. I don’t have any of these conjunctions and yet, I go by my own surname nowadays so as to not be known for my marriage to someone, but to be known for my own body of work !

  11. She sounds like an interesting person..

    Fear of dependency and boredom… sometimes I do wonder if that’s why I am avoiding some sort of relationship (even that word feels like a ball and chain sometimes)

    On the other side of the coin, shame to hear that two of the most suave men whom I have had the pleasure of attempting to charm / attract in some way also have mars-venus conjunct in Libra. Fffffuuuuuuuuuuu…

  12. Gellhorn wrote only the once about Hemingway – in Travels with Myself and Another. Self-effacing and absolutely hilarious, it is, ostensibly, about the couple’s disastrous trip to China in the late 30s. He never forgave her for leaving him – the only woman to do so – and said some pretty vile things about her. Gellhorn, in contrast, said nothing – apart from this one, beautifully written story in which she is nothing but kind. Interestingly, they both suicided – Martha at 89 because she couldn’t bear the infirmities of old age; Ernest in his early 60s because the muse had long departed and shock therapy/alcoholism left him an empty shell.

    Moorehead’s biography is superb. For a taste of Gellhorn at the front, you can’t go past The Face of War.. By the way, the affair with Gen. James Gavin took place during WWII – Gellhorn struggled with post-war life – like her best friend Robert Capa, she was a frontline junkie and couldn’t adjust. Amazing generation.

  13. How annoying for her this constant association with Hemingwarp. I cannot stand him, and i get where she was coming from, feeling that way about him at the end. I also get why she might have been attracted in the first instance.

    I don’t have these conjunctions so i’m not sure exactly but i kind of feel the vibe of what you mean. Uranus in Libra trine Venus and square Mars, with Mars Venus semisquare, Mars Neptune semisextile…you see, fairly different detail but flavours of aspect.

    How can i please a man if i don’t please myself first and foremost? “She would move on as soon as things started to go wrong.” I did hang in there for 9 years with a man, i’m quite forgiving of human error, provided they are on their own adventure to grow. But once it’s clear that it is no error, it’s simply things going wrong, i’m gone. It just has to feel right. I’m the one who has taken a walk around the block to cool my mind and actually kept walking, perhaps going back to get my things one day.

    But the journalism about Dachau! Inspirational fearless truth telling. How could anyone not love her. Asked my nan while we were in Germany together, how long after the war did people find out about the camps? She looked me straight in the eye with her lips set straight: ah people always knew it was going on. I was deeply shocked. I had imagined thousands of people storming the places to help…

    Just love these beautiful haute Scorpionesses.

  14. I just love the quote from her…

    “Why the hell would I sleep with a little old man when I could have any number of tall beautiful young men?”

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