Hemingway – An Astrological Profile
This profile is part of a series that looks at the horoscopes of extremely accomplished people. The idea is that extremely accomplished people should have easy to fine extreme correspondents of those qualities in their charts. And this should lead to a good demonstration of the veracity of Astrology. So far in this series we’ve looked at Picasso, Edison, and Leonardo da Vinci. When we are done looking at Hemingway, we should be able to answer the following questions from an astrological perspective. Why was he a writer? Why was he famous? Where do his macho qualities come from? Why was he an avid sportsman? Where does his talent come from? Why did he commit suicide? We also have to address the major elements in his chart. We’ll look at: Mars in the first house in Virgo; Mercury in Leo, in the 12; a “T” square in angular houses in mutable signs involving Neptune, Pluto, Mars, Saturn, and Uranus; the Sun and Venus in Cancer in the 11th house; his Full Moon in Capricorn; and Jupiter in Scorpio. We’ll look at the involvement with various planets of the stars Sirius, Alphard, Regulus, Denebola, Rigel, and Betelgeuse. Finally we’ll note the transits that were operative during events that led to his demise. This article draws information from “Papa Hemingway” by A.E. Hotchner and “Conversations with Earnest Hemingway”, edited by Matthew Bruccoli. The following pieces by the author were also used: “Death in the Afternoon”, “Islands in the Stream”, “The Sun Also Rises, “ For Whom the Bell Tolls”, “A Farewell to Arms”, “The Old Man and the Sea”, and various short stories.
Mars in Virgo in the 1st House with a Virgo Ascendant.
Your attention should have been grabbed right away by the mention of Mars in the first house. This defines him personally as Martial, especially male, and tending to draw Mars things and people to him. Did he have a rack full of guns that he loved to use? Yes. Did he love bull fights and cock fighting? Yes. Did he have numerous head injuries during the course of his life? Yes. Was he involved in wars and injured in war? Yes. Was he famous for his heavily muscled body and macho qualities? Of course. (1) 64, In addition to this, it has to be noted that the characters of his writings are heroic and found in grave danger amidst brutal settings with emphasis on death and killing. Please note the bag of heads in “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and the killings of fascists in the village in the same novel. (2) A Square from Pluto to Mars may make this brutality more intense. Hemingway was noted as a military expert. He thought that war was a great science. And that human conduct under danger was of great interest. (3) 194 He was an ambulance driver in WW1 and in England and France during WW2 and also patrolled Cuban waters for subs. Hemingway says that he didn’t go to college he went to war. (4)105 197 An unbecoming Martial quality that he was noted for was his tendency to kick people out of his inner circle, sometimes publicly. (5) 120 Hemingway was noted for his high energy. He wrote 400 to 700 words a day standing up when working on a piece. He would then hunt or fish in the afternoon. (6) 114, 177 In wonderful guy style he says, “I always have a hell of a healthy life for the first three hours of every day. “ (7), 25 Before we leave Mars we have to mention his gusto for life with included a great deal of alcohol usage and partying. We have to note the daily beatings he received for 2 years from a fellow football player in high school. And finally, let’s cite the great bear tale where he was surprised by three grizzlies, while hunting, and manages to kill all three. (8) 179, 94,95 Before leaving mercury ruled Virgo we should note his phenomenally retentive memory. He was also noted for his superb skill at instruction and infinite patience. (9) 11 He could assimilate numerous things simultaneously, like listening to one conversation while being involved in another. (10) 70, 71 A Mars in Virgo quote could be Hotchner saying,” His curiosity and sense of pursuit would send him swimming through schools of minutiae which would flow into his maw and emerge crystallized on the pages of “Death in the Afternoon”. (11) 60
Mercury in Leo in the 12th House.
Since Mercury rules Virgo, Mercury in Leo in the 12 also describes him personally. He is Mercury, he is Leo, and he is the 12th. It’s too perfect that this writer is Mercury ruled. His Leo explains his zest for life and creativity. His placement in the 12 is about his awareness of sorrow, his self undoing, and the delicate side of things and life that come out in his books. Let’s look for expressions of his writing style, creativity, and emotions as manifestations of his Mercury, his Leo, and his 12th.
Hemingway’s credo was that a writer should write as well as he can about things he knows and feels deeply about. He says that the poet writes about what he loves and everyone else analyses. (12) 57, din af) He notes that one invents fiction but that what it is invented out of is what counts. He says true fiction must come from everything you’ve ever known, seen, felt, or learned. What you know is in your heart. (13) 61 The well is where your juice is, your creativity. (14) 103, 119 He notes that if you walk into a room and get a feeling or emotion that you should remember exactly what gave you the feeling; noises, smells, etc. Then write all those things down that convey the same feeling to the reader. Hemingway felt that writing was something new and alive and that he wanted to create something so true that the reader took it with him as his own experience. Hemingway dealt with the things that Faulkner referred to as “the eternal verities of the human heart”. He is described as a man engaged with all his seriousness in the serious business of discovering the secrets of life and living”. (15) 125 129 169 79 Hemingway felt that writers had to hurt terribly before they could write seriously. (16) He felt that the hardest trade in the world was to write straight honest prose about human beings. (17) 169 He notes that he learned to write from others: writers, painters, and musicians. (18) 118 It is interesting to note his relationship to paintings and painters. He would go to a museum to study one painting. He notes that everything he knew about describing landscapes came from studying certain artists. And his life’s ambition was to write as good as a particular Cezanne. (The painting is not specified.) When looking at a painting Hemingway wanted to locate the heart of the painting – “the pure emotion”, the real thing the artist set out to achieve. Hemingway’s knowledge of art came from reading, a natural eye for form and color, and familiarity with the people and places painted. He knew Miro, Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Gris, Masson, and Monet. He notes that he fell in love with the girl in Andrew del Sarto’s “Portrait of a Woman”. (19) 187 186 For Hemingway being in love was a religious feeling and he says that he wrote best when in love. (20) 263 114 When he wrote poetry, the poem was a response to a direct hit on his emotions. (21) 42 Going in the other direction and sounding like his 12th house, he felt that ill health led to worry and worry affected the subconscious and destroyed the reserve, from which one writes. Incidentally Hemingway, an avid reader, was self educated. Each year he read King Lear. (22) 115 119 And like Shakespeare, he had Neptune in Gemini. He also had 5000 books in his home in Cuba. (23) 13 14
We’ve been looking at expressions in Hemingway of Mercury in Leo and Mercury in the 12th House. Let’s focus a bit more on each. We’ve seen Leo qualities of love, creativity, the arts, and references to the heart. Let’s note that Hemingway had 52 cats and two dogs in Cuba. He felt that they helped him work. (24) On one occasion Hotchner was leaving the finca. He looked back and saw Hemingway in the front doorway. He described him as Leonine against the massive house. Like a Leo, he was generous with his friends, money, possessions, and time. He planned fun as seriously as work. Each day was a challenge of enjoyment. (25) Hemingway’s eyes were described as gleaming with a delighted eagerness in fits of enthusiasm. (26) He is further described as having a massive upper body and as being intensely electrokinetic – like a race horse reined in. He is said to have known how to enjoy himself and he radiated fun and well being. (27) Here’s a Leo-like example regarding some money won at the track by him and friends. “Never have so few bought so much, but I am happy and proud to say that not one thing anybody gave to anyone is useful.” (28) Let’s finish with two little adventures. On a train trip from Italy to France Hemingway noticed a pretty Swiss girl in his car. Since the train was moving slowly in ascent, he decided to jump off the train, pick her some flowers and jump back on. He jumped off but didn’t know that there was a tunnel ahead and that the train doors were locked when going through tunnels. He had to cling to the side of the train in the tunnel where there was so little clearance that his clothes were torn and he got skinned and bled. But he managed to hold on to the train and the bouquet. The girl was impressed, cleaned his wounds, and he made out okay. (29) Many years later at 4 in the morning, marching 5 abreast, arms linked and singing, Hemingway and his friends blocked the progress of a Renault containing a Frenchman and a beautiful American woman. This Pamploma feria mob of friends decided to scare off the Frenchman and kidnap the girl. She recognized Hemingway and a famous bull fighter in the group and was delighted to be captured. She also offered her female traveling companion as a prisoner. (30)
Here are a few Mercury in the 12th notes. Hemingway is described as an immortal sea god by Hotchner due to his comfort and prowess while swimming in even rough water. (31) He talked Indian talk to animals and is credited with talking a bear out of blocking traffic on a local road in Ketchum. (32) 29 30 Hotchner describes his method of talking to people by saying, “the words come to you through a corridor of intimacy”. (33) 57 And finally, Hemingway felt that all good writers were rummies. (34)
The “T” Square.
The T Square in mutable signs and in angular houses has to be the astrological signature of this famous writer along with the fact that Mercury rules the 1st and the 10th. I say this because mutable signs represent sequestered intellectuals and planets in angular houses can produce leaders and fame. I also feel that the aspects from Neptune, Pluto, and Saturn intensify all that we have said about Mars. Hemingway said, “My mother was a bitch and my father a suicide”. (35) 231 This sounds like the discord and tension of malefic planets and extreme planets in quadrature from the 10th and 4th to the first. Hemingway described his mother as a frustrated singer who gave musicals every week. After his father’s suicide, she spent the $50,000 bequeathed to Ernest on a music room for herself. As we look at the elements in the T square we see Mars, Virgo, Saturn, Sagittarius, Neptune, Pluto, Gemini, and possibly Uranus. Did Saturn squaring Mars give Hemingway the discipline to write? Does this Saturn in the 4th describe the suicidal father and lay the foundation for Hemingway’s own suicide? The father, who Hemingway was devoted to, taught him to shoot at two and a half and to use a pistol at age four. He was a task master and allowed Hemingway to shoot birds on the wing only. (36) Please note that Uranus is not in orb of the T square but I think it has some effects and further stimulates Hemingway’s fascination for sport. Moving to the next planet, does Neptune in Gemini confer on him a sense of poetry? My first impression of Hemingway’s writing was that he wrote about delicate things in a delicate way. These little spots of beauty are usually placed in a larger brutal setting. For example, in “The Old Man in the Sea”, the old man is being dragged around the Caribbean by a Marlin that he has hooked. The old man loves the marlin, but he is a fisherman and he is going to club him to death when he reels him in. He remembers and tells us of a male marlin who stayed with his hooked mate all the while she was being caught. Later while she lays hidden in the boat, the marlin leaps in the air to try to see her. Is this juxtaposition of touching beauty and brutal reality a representation of his Neptune square Mars? It is as though he weakens you with sentiment and than punches you with reality. In the same book we hear the quote that everything kills everything else. (37) 106 This ability to engender sentiment may come from the emotional perspective that can come from having the Sun and Venus in Cancer. The punch is his Mars in the 1st. And, yes, he did box. (38)
The Sun and Venus in Cancer in the 11th.
It is possible that many of the references to love, emotion, and the arts that were explained by Mercury in Leo could also be explained or further emphasized by the placement of these bodies in the water sign Cancer. But more specifically, this placement suggest important and beautiful friends. The friends he trusted were straight, unphony, and formed in their own image. True friends were true to their own identity and their performance was consistent. He knew writers, painters, actors and actresses. He was on close terms with Marlena Dietrich, Eva Gardner, and Ingrid Bergman. All but the last called him Papa and he called them daughter. (39) 91 Look at the names of the women above and note that Venus, representing friends and women is very near Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. The Moon opposing his Venus highlights this.
Full Moon in Capricorn.
Everybody kills everything else sounds like the cynicism of the Capricorn Moon. This also describes the elevation of the women in his life. In reference to the Moon opposing the Sun, Mom and Dad, who can forget, “my mother was a bitch and my father a suicide”? His books are replete with tragedy that separates lovers. The full moon and the mutable T square probably both correspond to this. We might also note that a liquid killed him, it opposed his life. And his mother took his gold. Finally, how can we not love a guy who wears a war injury caused silver knee cap and who has Moon in Capricorn. For the uninitiated, the Moon “rules silver and Capricorn rules the knees. (40) Incidentally, when his knee cap was blown off on July 18th 1918, The Sun Moon, and Pluto were opposing his Moon.
Jupiter in Scorpio.
Let’s not leave out Jupiter in Scorpio. It’s out of sign square to the Sun may show someone who likes to make their own rules and is a bit excessive. Hemingway says, “I’ve been drunk 1,547 times in my life, but never in the morning”. (41) 184 Note that Saturn is angular and heavily aspected in his chart. Jupiter is cadent and much less aspected. Is he an optimist or a pessimist? Also, do you think that Hemingway believed in death? Was it a solution to problems? It seems that at a certain point he did not want to live if it could not be the playful, creative, gusto filled life he was used to. (42) 297
Let’s look at the placement of fixed stars on his planets. I’ll use the simple view that stars close to planets brighten the things the planets represent. We noted that the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, the big dog, is close to his Venus in the 11th house, denoting women and friends to be stellar. Alphard, in the snake, and Regulus, the heart of the lion, are close to him , the planet representing him, Mercury in Leo. Denebola, the tail of the lion is close to him, Mars in the 1st house. Rigel and Beteigeuze, in Orion the hunter, are near Pluto and Neptune respectively in the 10th house of fame. This is a lot of stellar activity to show up in any one chart.
I think we’ve answered all of the questions mentioned earlier except events leading to his demise. My impression is that the first difficult event was the African plane crash on Jan. 22nd 1954. (43) xiv At this time transiting Pluto was very close to him, Mercury in Leo. Mars was squaring this. And Uranus was approaching his Sun. This brought something overwhelming and violent to him with radical change. The accident caused him ongoing pain and caused him to drink more. (44) 188. In the same year , the publicity over his Nobel prize was like a beating to him. (45). In 1956, Mary talks about a change in his drinking and noted that he was destroying his life and the things that sustained him. 1957 was a bad year. He cut way down on his drinking and improved his health but was very unhappy. He had always used drinking to cheer himself up. (46) During this time he was having his Saturn return. In the summer of 1959 he was in Spain following the bulls with friends. It was the last good time in a lifetime of good times. (47) Energizing Mars is transiting his first house rulers, Neptune is close to his optimistic Jupiter, Jupiter is in its natal sign, and Saturn is just into Capricorn in his entertaining 5th house. The next difficult event was his need to leave Cuba due to the emergence of Castro. He had to leave his 20 year home, books, his favorite work places, special haunts, and villages and villagers that he loved. Castro’s men even killed his old dog. (48 ) 243 He left Cuba in July of 1960. (49) 188 Pluto was close to his Ascendant bringing with it the overwhelming and things that feel like death. Uranus was nearing him, Mercury in Leo, bringing radical change. And most important for loss events, Saturn was in his Moon sign.
Eventually all of the people close to Hemingway noticed that he was acting strangely. He was becoming delusional. He thought people were trying to kill him and the feds were after him. He even had shock treatments at the Mayo clinic. There was talk of him destroying himself and suicide attempts. (50) 274 288 289
On July 2nd 1961 in the morning, Hemingway took his own life rather than continue to live a unhappy one, a life where he could no longer write and live on his own terms. (51 297 299-300) Mars was in Virgo and approaching his Ascendant bringing violence. Saturn was still in his Moon sign and opposing his Sun, bringing loss, discouragement, and depression. Uranus was upon him, on his Mercury in Leo bringing change. And Pluto was on his Ascendant bringing death.
On a lighter note, I think we’ve accomplished a great deal, except to figure out why they called him Papa. He looked like a tropical Santa Claus. (52) This brings up the beard. It was worn to cover a skin condition. (53) That’s Mars in the 1st. But Mary Harrington says that he’s a little bigger, more alive and warmer than anyone else in any room he enters. (54) And now we are back to Mercury the 1st house ruler in Leo.
At the 11th hour I’ve studied the biography by Carlos Baker and the contrast with Hotchner is interesting. When you read Hotchner, you see Hemingway through the eyes of a friend who knew and liked him. With Baker my reaction is that I’m getting a carefully researched account by a man who does not know or care for Hemingway. He is presented as someone who is difficult to get along with and who takes liberties with the truth. He is painted negatively as some one with a lisp in his youth and later with girl friends in addition to four wives. (55) Baker does point out that Hemingway got his art and his eyesight (which kept him out of the war) from his mother. (56) He also tells us that the father’s suicide was the result of illness. (57) Baker notes that men wanted to tan in Hemingway’s rays. What a Leo! (58) In another interesting detail, that lets us wonder about the marvels of existence, we see Hemingway leaving Chateau Lingeard during WW11 due to the place smelling like death to him. The next day, the place came under fire. Several were killed and many wounded. (59) Also, Baker says that it was Machakos not Black Dog that was killed by Castro’s men. (60) Baker, in his detailed spirit documents the birth dates of Hemingway’s parents. We see that Grace loads Hemingway’s Gemini in the 10th house with Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the Sun. Is this the eyesight and art that he inherited from her? Surely this would add to his desire to set and achieve goals and become someone important. And it looks like he gets his writing skills from Mom. Clarence’s Virgo Sun falls close to Hemingway’s Ascendant and also stimulates his first house Virgo Mars. Shouldn’t this Virgo connection stimulate science? And would the Sun/1st house/Mars connection stimulate sport? Surely it enhances his penchant for detail. Isn’t it interesting that this important person’s parents’ Suns fall in his most important angular houses. Both Mom and Dad have Saturn in Capricorn near his 5th house Moon. This stimulates sport, creativity, goal setting and achieving, and emotional unhappiness. “My mother was a bitch and my father a suicide”. The father had Uranus and Jupiter in Cancer in the sign of Hemingway’s Venus and Sun. The mother had Uranus in late Cancer and Jupiter in early Leo near his Sun. It’s obvious that the success, money, and intelligence of the parents promoted him. (61)
- Conversations with Hemingway edited by Matthew Bruccoli – University Press of Mississippi, 1986, p. 64
- For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – Simon and Schuster, 1940, p. 330 and Chapter 10, p. 96
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 32, p. 194
- Papa Hemingway by A.E. Hotchner – Random House, 1966, pp. 105, 197
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 120
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 177 and Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 114
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p.25
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 179, p. 194, p. 195
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 11
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway pp. 70 & 71
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 60
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 57 and Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 61
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 103and Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 119
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 125 p. 129, p. 169, p. 79
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 123
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 169
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p.118
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 186 & p. 187
- Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway, Simon and Schuster, 1929, p.263 and Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 114
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 42
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p.114 & p. 119
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 14
- Bruccoli, conversations with Hemingway, p. 55 & p. 63
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, pp. 73,72,91
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 150
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 6
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 63
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 110
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 214
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 24
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway pp. 29, 30
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway p. 57
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway p. 123
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway p. 231
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway pp. 116,5,16,179
- The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway, Macmillan, 1952, pp. 49,50,106
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p 48
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, pp.119,99
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p.44
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 184
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 297
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. xiv
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 188
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 165
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 189
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 231
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 243
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 188
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, pp. 268, 291, 255, 266, 276, 293, 274, 288, 289
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, pp. 297, 299, 300
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p. 99
- Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, p. 156
- Bruccoli, Conversations with Hemingway, p.42
- Ernest Hemingway, A Life Story by Carlos Baker, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969, pp. 136, 56, 70, 155
- Baker, Ernest Hemingway A Life Story, pp. 8,2
- Baker, Ernest Hemingway A Life Story, p. 199
- Baker, Ernest Hemingway A Life Story, p.49
- Baker, Ernest Hemingway A Life Story p. 407
- Baker, Ernest Hemingway A Life Story p. 538
- Baker, Ernest Hemingway A Life Story p. 567