Lilith And The Harper Valley PTA

Whenever you see sexist hypocrisy wittily called out by a jaunty, wise-cracking woman, you know Lilith is near. In this case, she had a little help – a Uranian Eclipse and a Gemini.

In 1968, Harper Valley PTA arrived out of nowhere and immediately became a huge hit. A country music song about a woman confronting the double standards of her local Parent-Teacher-Association,Β  recorded by an unknown, it was not expected to go anywhere. But it went straight to number one on multiple charts, selling eight million copies and inspiring thousands of women to disrupt their PTA meetings or equivalent self-appointed morality cops. Newspapers wrote scornful editorials against it – e.g., “that song has done for the P.T.A. what Godzilla did for downtown Tokyo, and the Boston strangler did for door-to-door salesmen” – but nothing stopped the high-rotation or the sales.

It was one month off a Solar Eclipse conjunct Uranus in Virgo/Virago, and Jupiter in Virgo squared Lilith in Gemini.

It was a steep success trajectory for Jeannie Riley, a Libra, young mother, and aspiring performer.Β  She’d married at 17, was working as a secretary, and posting out demo tapes to try and get a break. Her second take of Harper Valley PTA became the hit. You can see her Mercury-Lilith in Scorpio conjunction in the live television performance. It’s in the arch emphasis on certain words and knowing conspiratorial glances.

She was suddenly famous and made enough money to buy “a house, expensive perfume, and a Cadillac.” But she drew venom from people whose ideal female performer was the “Queen of Country” Loretta Lynn and songs like “You Ain’t Woman Enough…To Take My Man.” Others were mad that she’d bumped the Beatles Hey Jude off the top of the pops chart or felt that Riley should have stopped working at marriage.

The song talks of a widow but the songwriter, quadruple Gemini Tom Hall, wanted it to be about a single mother. Presumably, that was still too rad for the mid-60s. He was born with Lilith trine his Gemini stellium and refers to Harper Valley PTA as his “novel.” He was inspired by a particular woman who awed him and his friends at the age of nine.

I was just hanging around downtown when I was about nine years old and heard the story and got to know this lady. I was fascinated by her grit. To see this very insignificant, socially disenfranchised lady — a single mother — who was willing to march down to the local aristocracy read them the riot act, so to speak, was fascinating.

I wrote the song 30 years later; that song was my novel. I had been reading Sinclair Lewis. As a young man, I read Lewis’ novels Babbitt and Elmer Gantry, which are about hypocrisy; Babbitt is, of course, about the social structure of the small town. So, being a big Sinclair Lewis fan, when I wrote “Harper Valley,” I incorporated elements of Elmer Gantry into the song.

It was released on August 10 and was a sensation by the end of the week – Uranus and Pluto were trine his Venus in Taurus, and Lilith was smack-bang on his Gemini Sun.Β  It’s difficult to envisage in 2021 but back then, the prospect of being slut-shamed by the small-town establishment or deemed an “unfit mother” was a tangible threat. A pop-cultural phenom rebuff of that mindset was enormously supportive, galvanizing the ‘women’s lib’ movement.


42 thoughts on “Lilith And The Harper Valley PTA”

  1. As this came out in ’68 when of child bearing years, it was prob contributed to deciding to forgo offspring.
    A memorable phrase in a popular novel in the 60’s described birthing as trying to ‘shit a water melon’, altho’ the greatest reason was looking at a newborn’s head then looking down without a mirror even, thinking ‘the measurements don’t make sense’.
    No woman took a mirror there before the Awakening of the Goddess Within movement.
    A Baby Boomer who didn’t boom, didn’t want to own land-house and listened to folk singer Pete Seeger’s ‘Little Boxes’, recently the theme song to Weeds πŸ™‚ and wondered why all white goods were square, square being the worst thing you could be with the beatnik era recently past.

    Being a beatnik at 13 when it was impossible to buy black stockings in Adelaide and wore dark green as the closest. This was pre tights the ugliest garment ever but now shown to be erotic, they don’t have the same panache of peeling them off and tossing them over the bed chair or his/her head.
    Back then it was mostly his head as lesbians could arrested if they had a fly in their trousers.
    Jeans changed the law thanx to Mr Levi, but imagine the fear of a 16 year old wearing jeans and fashion shirt and tie with hair cut so radically short it was done with manicure scissors, walking past a police station after a blue with boyfriend and not knowing that strange law had changed. Only knew it existed mother had a friend who had her suits tailor made with side zip, wore ripple soled shoes and road a Harley much to my grandmother’s horror.

    Misogyny ruled in those years, college boys the worst.
    Young women took their cues for the boys as not many other role models in the dark ages, (we are in enlightened dark ages now) until Germain’s book, the Female Eunuch who’s cover i thought was a new style of lingerie, a bodysuit!
    Thought it was the bomb, the outfit that is and ordered a few from ballet shop and worn them ever since, so never had to burn the bra as the only ones owned were ‘cosmetic’ and too expensive to burn.

    Women were deemed to be either ‘male orientated’ or male defined’, not many took their cues from deep inside themselves.
    Like Jeanie Riley.
    This was also a time when nightclubs had no liquor license so spirits had to be served in teas cups in case of raid.
    Hypocrisy reigned and had to be kept cached from the fun police.
    Jeanie Riley exposed that!

    Darling Mystic’s Women,
    btw where’s the Aries Feminist Male Sage-come back David L-we need your wisdom, and teachings), it is a rainy cold Friday and have micro-dosed a nootropic study aid, so thought you may like a history lesson about the times this song was written.

    Mystic may delete it….lol πŸ™‚

    Listening to: Yoga Dub Mystic Eastern Sun remix by Desert Dwellers.Wild throat spooky throat singing, obviously putting me into a trance…lol And they dubbed David Attenborough in Elephant’s March. Wowie!
    Reading: myself.
    A thousand kisses deep. x

    1. Shula Smith Firestone; was “shit a pumpkin” I believe & I am not sure it helped *wink

      Agreed, where is David?

  2. I love this so much. She’s fab in every way. And your analysis is bang on. I love watching her shove it to the small town patriarchy and I love the songwriter story of this being his life work – songwriters don’t get enough credit enough for the lasting impact of a single song <3

    1. The words are a ‘sock it to them’ aren’t they. Just wrote about those times, feathers.
      Over 50 years have past….gulp πŸ™‚

  3. Thinking lots about underdogs lately. tho that’s not quite accurate. love the character in HVPTA film and nice info about Lilith. Admit to being worried about her influence unnecessarily. Not a woman but Sammy Davis Jr’s character in O11 coming up hard lately. love a genius in disguise.

  4. I loved this song as a very young girl… still do as an old one since I’ve lived through this era. Learning how to value myself more after being taught and living otherwise

    1. U2 :-). Never say ‘OLD” we are wise patient kind and don’t give a fuq anymore about how anyone else lives or how they think. Overlay shitty memories with some fabulous ones you now give yourself permission to make no matter how wild wicked wondrous. NEVER allow ANYONE to put you down in any way whatsoever
      and remember what the white rabbit said…x

    1. You had a Lilith in your life too? Mine was nurturing Scarab, a close friend with witchy red hair, studied anthropology and yes, as wise as a snake and tall as a tree also.
      She would be 77 if she had stayed a bit longer. Taught me every time you say the word ‘love’ it’s sends out a good vibration.

  5. K.. Let me get this right; according to astro . com, I have natal B.M.Lilth in Gemini & according to some pixie lady online, we are currently in B.M.Lilith in Gemini for about a year, beginning this July just gone.. so I am experiencing a B.M.Lilith return? If so, this may explain why I am suddenly on the local news & about to be again due to some local housing issues, in my region which are fifty shades of Fkd up, all the while personally experiencing displacement. I am feeling driven to get my wild women spokesperson ON. Anyone able to verify this & possibly signpost to some useful inner Lilith connecting practices & remain protected whilst this gets uncomfortable? Thanks so much *deep inhale/exhale xx Mystic is really busy so anyone who is able to confirm my bats theory is welcome β™‘

    1. Hey Wizardora, sending hugs. Xx Like Narelle said, check out any of MM’s (the online “pixie lady”??☺) articles on BM Lilith. I like how MM describes Lilith more as a hypothetical “point” and thus feeling (in my experience, kinda like a psychological flavour to things) as opposed external event(s)/personalities (that say, Saturn and outer planets might make probable).
      My story with Lilith goes, she is conjunct my Ascendant in late Taurus (and by same degrees, Jupiter), and for me she means getting comfortable with Otherness. Being an outsider, being rejected for reasons such as ignorance. For me this seemed to be in appearance – whether because I looked different due to my ethnic heritage in my school playgrounds many decades ago, or getting terrible cystic acne in late teens, or just because I came from an unconventional (so-called “broken”) family background, and thus saw through a lot of pretense. But I found strength through this, and loss of fear. And maybe – I don’t know, honestly – this is the Lilith point – releasing need for acceptance/approval. And I much prefer to be an outsider now – I avoid P & C’s generally (lol) (as an e.g.), but love a group with my values (environmental action, art, etc). But am not afraid of being lonely – I prefer it. As for connecting to Higher Guidance on this, definitely consult your own as a matter of course. I am just (hopefully helpful) hot air (compared to Spirit). Good luck. πŸ’—

      1. P & C meaning, “people and culture” or something else?

        Thank you. I am definitely seeing more information about Lilith. thank you for insight into your placement of her, very interesting x

        1. Haha Wizardess, πŸ’– i honestly have no idea!! It is the Aussie version of the PTA mentioned in article above – whoops !! Pineapple and cheese..? Pretzels and chocolate..? Anyway I avoid it – but then, I give most groups the same respect I give the ocean – that is, a salute from a safe jetty//wide berth!!πŸ˜„
          I forgot to mention, for me Lilith also meant owning my stuff/crap/dharma. So, the otherness comes, and then before I get to the fearlessness (‘good’ stuff), I have to really find out why I did not want to be ‘other’ in the first place. Why I ‘other-ed’, others, beforehand, also. It’s never comfy (for me). This has been emphasised to me recently with Lilith return, while Pluto did drive-by trines (about to turn direct for another). But my Aries Sun really just wants to say, hope you win, give it everything you’ve got!! (But stay safe).😊 XOO

          1. possibly ‘parent & child’ in that case. [Mercury in gemini]. I loathe abbreviations & find them alienating because of their potential as veiled, insider meanings.

            ‘stay safe’ – Thank you, genuinely (x) … but I an-arf hacked off with women being *told they need to. *See UK Police spokes sexism this morning re: women needing to ‘understand’ the law about when to & not to get arrested to remain safe from police aggression & abuse.

            1. Oh I’m sorry to accidentally bring women’s lack of public safety to mind, I have absolutely no words, we’ve had some terrible times here in Oz, too. πŸ’—πŸ™ I was meaning keep safe in a Covid-sense, but – yes, in all ways. And yes, the problem is the violence, not the person receiving it. All deepest wishes for deep global change, somehow. X

              1. I’m know babe, I’m sorry. I am feeling all sorts of rage at the moment. that wasn’t supposed to be in any way direct & sharp at you xx

        2. I think P&C here in Oz stands for ‘parents and citizens’ although it’s many years since I’ve been associated with such an organisation.

    2. Wiz, that sounds grrreat what you are up to. The housing market … don’t get me started. It’s one of the reasons we moved last year.

      Well, it is pretty self evident that Lilith Return in Gem is letting rip. Nothing like a rebel mouthy Crab on a mission about Housing, heh-heh… Wish i could witness it! As for protection, seeing that you are a moon ruled Crab & Lilith is also part of the moonscape & psyche, i’d be simply calling on Luna’s protection in what ever Wizard-y way you have, while firmly grounding yourself to earth. Not so much astro advice as witchy advice. As an astro student, I am curious as to what House your Lilith is in. I’ve read that the House is more telling about the issues involved, while the Sign tells you more about the fashion in which Lilith acts (more like the costume). Anyways hon, tell it like it is & good luck!

        1. It’s in the Northern Hemisphere, western part of Southern Europe & just east of the western most country there in the Iberian Peninsula.πŸ™ƒβ€¦ (Merc retro on my Asc/cafΓ© was extra strong this a.m)

          1. You are where my ancestors are from Skarab (methinks). And my mother’s surname is Basque, too. And your Asc. Conjunct/opp my nodes. No wonder I always learn so much from your posts.πŸ’—

            1. You’d learn from a matchstick, E – you have that sort of thirst. xx
              (yr right. i’m just over 250 km west of the Basque lands.)

      1. House 10. I’m curious too xx

        “Well, it is pretty self evident that Lilith Return in Gem is letting rip. Nothing like a rebel mouthy Crab on a mission about Housing, heh-heh… Wish i could witness it!” -suprisingly gentle in reality but clear, as I dont have a huge amount of fire in my chart. Double moons & mars in taurus for eg. My intention is from the heart but don’t get in the way, etc..Much in the same vein as my style as midwife.

        Moon bathing & regular gardening & or, sitting with particular smokey quartz/carnelian on rotation. Bang on advice, I’d say.

        1. Clarity – best policy always. Thanks for replying. I thought yr Lilith might of been in either your 11th (community) or 10th (public profile). Mystic did say in her daily : *Go with the friendly, powerful, and well-aligned astral influences. Maximize Saturn or Lilith – both if you can manage it* Seems you managed both pretty well!

    3. There is a saying about Lighting the Lamp or Drawing the Sword in psychology and has its origin in medieval times.
      To know how and when to differentiate which one applies, not to light the lamp if you need to draw the sword.
      Maybe do both πŸ™‚

  6. Wow I love this – thanks for sharing, Mystic. Yes that Lilith gleefully calling out the hypocrisy of the moral police. My Scorpio Mercury recognises those droll looks while truth is being delivered

  7. As a single mother and ( former) country singer I have this song in my head every time I’m driving to the P&C meeting 🀣 thanks for sharing the back story MM 😍

  8. Remember this song so well as a kid of a mother raising 5 children on her own and the same sort off deal happening when i a teenager at a catholic school. They told her that the way we where living wasn’t acceptable to their standards…..

  9. LOVE. Love, love this! Thanks so much for sharing, Mystic! Don’t think would have ever found it on my own. πŸ™‚ I have Transit Lilith about to conjunct my Gemini North Node, and natally in demure Pisces conj my Descendent. But my natal Sun sq Mars is mouthy enough in let’s-bomb-this-place kind of way. No wonder I love the song!

    1. Ooh astro twin you have just reminded me I must have Lilith coming up to my NN as well! I’ll look forward to that because I am on an independence bender at the moment. Natally I have her exact conj my Cap moon.

      1. Oooo..howdy Astro-Twin! I am looking forward to the Lilith-NNode conjunction. When she transited my MC a few weeks back, I told off a bigwig when he asked me to ‘Calm Down’ in a meeting full of dudes where I was the only expert. I also visited a witchy place full of ancient energy of powerful women. I am right there with ya on an independent streak. Uranus inching again into an exact square to my Sun and Opposite my Mars is just shits and giggles on top of it. 🀣

        Moon-Lilith in Cap would be fierce mother! I can just see her launching a family business as a Matriarch.

        1. Oh well done on clapping back to the patriarchy. It gives me the absolute merdes that women are still having to contend with such nonsense.
          That Uranus-Sun-Mars situ sounds interesting! We’ll look for you on the news πŸ™‚ x

          1. Thank you! πŸ™‚ During the last pass of it…I constantly cut myself, hurt my fingers, almost came within chopping distance of my thumb. Hope it spares my limbs this time.

  10. Super cool. Love a ‘mouthy’ lady who doesn’t know ‘her place’.
    Hellfire, I might even be one!

    (that’s my piss poor Aussie attempt to be country lol – soz! )

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