Great courtesans – a turbo-charged Venus helps

Harriet Howard

A rollicking, rumbunctious dramatic rendering of the lives of great courtesans is begging Netflix for a long running season or several. Not all women through the ages were caged house pets. Some rose to great prominence and glided easily through the corridors of power.

 Harriet Howard was one.  The daughter of a bootmaker, she ran away from home at 15 to go on stage, lived in style with a famous jockey, moved on at 18 to a fabulously wealthy married major, who made her rich for life after she bore him a son.  They lived together in London and entertained the cream of society. Which was where she met Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, recently escaped from prison and pretender to a throne of his uncle, Napoleon I, that no longer existed. At 23 she left her married lover and devoted her fortune, which she took with her, to the Napoleonic cause. His family name and her money got him elected as president in 1848. Four years later after a coup manufactured by him, paid for by her, he stepped up to become emperor, naming  himself Napoleon III. Having pawned all she owned to hoist him to glory, she got the title of the Comtesse de Beauregard for her trouble and was then cast aside as he married and moved on to other mistresses.

 Born 13 August 1823 in Brighton, England, she was a Sun Mercury in Leo as befits a lady who aimed for a five star lifestyle and it squared Saturn opposition a Scorpio Moon – passionate, obsessive and ego-centric. She also had a super-charged Cardinal Grand Cross giving her initiative by the shed load and a restless temperament – with Venus in Libra in a seductively charming and manipulative opposition to Pluto square slippery and highly-strung Neptune Uranus in Capricorn in an ever-optimistic opposition to Jupiter.  

In modern times Pamela Harriman described as “the greatest courtesan of the 20th century” by one onlooker and “a world expert on rich men’s bedroom ceilings” by another” galloped through an astonishing number of marriages and affairs and still ended up a highly respected figure in political circles.

 She was born 20 March 1920 4.30am Farnborough, England, into a wealthier background than Harriet Howard but like her was an accomplished horsewoman growing up. She married Randolph Churchill, who had an illustrious name but a serious gambling habit. She went on to marry a Broadway producer and have affairs with Edward R. Murrow, Prince Aly Khan, Alfonso de Portago, Gianni Agnelli, and Baron Elie de Rothschild amongst others. Latterly she married W. Averell Harriman, a former lover and Democratic politician, then 79 years old and recently widowed, moved to Washington DC and started her political career.

 She had a final degree Pisces Sun conjunct Moon; and like Harriet Howard a highlighted Venus.  Her Venus in Pisces was conjunct changeable Uranus and in a Water Grand Trine to a seductive Pluto trine a determined Mars in Scorpio and her Venus was opposition Saturn. Her calculating charm would be her talent. She also had a strong Jupiter Neptune as did Howard, in her case conjunct and trine Sun square Mars. Jupiter Neptune has a tendency towards scandal, is a dreamer, eternally optimistic and good at glossing over unpleasantness.

  Though she did have legal problems with Harriman’s children after the inheritance after he died.

Lady Jane Digby, 3 April 1807, London, the daughter of wealthy Admiral, was married first to an earl, thence through affairs with a first cousin and Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg. After a scandalous divorce which ruined her family, she moved to Germany became the lover of Ludwig I of Bavaria but married a German baron, before finding a new lover in a Greek Count followed by Greece’s King Otto and then a Thessalian general. Finally she travelled to the Middle East and fell in love with a Sheik 20 years her junior. Their marriage was a happy one and they lived together in a tent until her death 28 years later. She had four children, three of whom died young.

  She was a Sun Aries, again with a super-charged Venus in Taurus. It opposed Saturn in Scorpio, which isn’t as damped down as it sounds since it often coincides with ‘sex addiction’. That opposition which includes a constantly-changing Uranus squared onto Jupiter in broad-minded Aquarius and was in a passionate trine to Mars. Her Mars was in a determined and courageous opposition to Pluto widely square Neptune. A wildly impulsive, none-too-stable personality who headed straight for hat she wanted. Tr Pluto in Taurus was crossing her Venus when she met the Sheik who finally settled her down.

  I must confess to having a sneaking admiration for women like these who threw caution to the winds and took what they wanted. Though their adventuring ways did cause a great deal of grief along the way. The goddess Venus ever was a fickle creature.

21 thoughts on “Great courtesans – a turbo-charged Venus helps

  1. Enjoyed this, thanks Marjorie.

    Talking of influential and powerful courtesasns who went their own way Veronica Franco the Ventian courtesan born in 1546 had a wonderful film made about her called ‘Fatal Beauty’. She had Venus in Pisces square Saturn and opposite Moon in Virgo combust Uranus. She was known for her writing poetry and wit among other qualities…
    My astrology teacher was obsessed with Venus/Saturn and the links with prostitution 😉

    • hi!!…. That is a terrific movie… (actually titled Dangerous Beauty!….:-))
      I, too, have been intrigued by these women in history…. no surprise as I have Venus opposite Saturn!
      Liz Greene plumbs the depths of Venus/Saturn hard aspects in one of her books. She wrote descriptions that I had always had but had never shared.
      Always knew I would have made a great courtesan… just didn’t go down that path officially.

      Yes.. late love.. difficulty in love. However, sooooo many gifts in the long learning, that’s for sure.
      And, boy, can I find deals on purchasing lovely things!!

      • I have the trine in Earth and even that has been quite hard work. As you say, love gets easier as you mature Ime. Venus is in Virgo in the first, so I’ve learned to be pretty self-sufficient.

        This piece was a really intriguing read.

      • Yes I love it, and yes it was called Dangerous Beauty but its also currently called Fatal Beauty, and had a completely different 3rd name when it was first released. Clearly they werent confident in marketing it re both subject matter and focus on a female lead, which is a shame, since its such a rollicking great romp of a film.

        Plus it has Rufus Sewell in his prime…sigh, be still my beating heart.

  2. Pamela Harriman was on the board of a historic property that I ran in Virginia. I would see her regularly. What impressed me was what a delightful, kind and charming woman she was, who was also nice to other women, even (and even perhaps especially) those she didn’t have to notice, like staff. She was highly intelligent and perceptive, warm, generous and genuinely funny. When I knew her Averell was extremely frail, nearing the end of his life. She was always extremely attentive to him when they were out together, making sure he was well cared for and had everything he needed. She was truly a great lady — and undoubtedly a great courtesan, too. I was sad to learn of her sudden death.

  3. Here is Jane Rigby’s rectified chart……
    When she died from dysentry & fever, she had tr Uranus, complications, conjunct her MC;
    trans Grave was opposition her 8th House cusp; trans Warren, ulcers, was conj her 4th cusp, endings;
    trans Zeus, fever, was conj her 8th cusp; solar arc Pluto was semisextile her solar arc Sun.
    Solar Return Sun, ruler of her 8th House, was on her IC; converse solar return Moon, stomach,
    ruler 6th, illness, was on her MC, opposed by solar return Mars, fever, on her IC, giving fever, dysentry.
    In her solar return, Virgo, intestines, on her 8th cusp, its ruler Mercury was conj Saturn & opposed Pluto.

  4. What a great post. I can relate. I have Venus-Mars-Mercury conjunct Uranus in Scorpio. I also have a Jupiter Leo in the 7th. I’ve had more lovers and more shameless fun with the opposite sex, than any other woman I’ve ever met. Although at 43 I’m slowing to a crawl, what a great time I had…

  5. Hi Marjorie (or anyone who can answer this)….
    Why might Saturn in Scorpio be a possible indicator of sex addiction? On the face of it, I would’ve thought it would point to some version of celibacy (????)


    • It’s not so much Saturn in Scorpio as Venus Saturn in hard aspect.
      We are so used to think of Saturn as austere, business-like, rigid, self-disciplined that the older meaning of Saturn, the horned and goat god, had faded into the background. Saturn was priapic, horny, lord of the Saturnalia which was a festival of celebration and liberty.

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