Richard Francis Burton, the famed British explorer of Africa, Asia and the Americas was born two hundred years ago this week. He was amazingly erudite as well as scandalously fascinated by the sexual customs of the peoples he visited. He spoke 29 European, Asian, and African languages, visited Mecca when Europeans were forbidden access on pain of death; made an unexpurgated translation of One Thousand and One Nights; published the Kama Sutra in English and with John Hanning Speke visited the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile. He served in the army in India, the Crimean War and after his African travels was British consul in Equatorial Guinea, Brazil, Damascus and in Trieste.
Born 19 March 1821 9.30pm Torquay, England, he was a controlling Sun Pluto in Pisces with a jam-packed 5th house of Venus North Node Mars conjunct in Pisces, as well as Sun Pluto, and Jupiter Mercury in Aries. He demanded attention wherever he went, was driven to be thought worthy of respect though he fell out with almost everyone throughout his life, being highly critical of authority as well as egotistical. His 12th house Libra Moon opposed Saturn and squared onto a highly-strung, individualistic, rebellious Uranus Neptune in Capricorn in his 3rd, which would give him a tinge of genius – as well as fashioning him to be a trailblazer and destabiliser.
It’s worth noting his Venus Mars conjunction which was shared by Jeffrey Epstein in Pisces; and it also occurs in other signs in several of Epstein’s buddies’ charts. Ebertin describes it as passionate and sensual – ‘ a strongly emotional and sexual life coupled with disharmonious tendencies, infidelity.’
His wife, Isobel Burton, 20 March 1831 8.50am London, a good Catholic married the non-Christian and unstable Burton against her family’s wishes. She had been told by an astrologer that her life would be ‘all wandering, change and adventure.’ Her husband expected her to fit in with his peripatetic lifestyle, issuing a curt ‘pack and follow behind’ instruction when he moved onto a new job or project.
She had a Pisces Sun conjunct his Sun Pluto and that all squared her Gemini Moon; with her Pluto conjunct his Jupiter Mercury – there was undoubtedly a strong, possessive bond between them. She had two strained Yods – one of Neptune sextile her Sun inconjunct a 4th house Saturn, which is a difficult configuration to handle, bringing harsh lessons in life, and undoubtedly making it difficult in her case to put down domestic roots. She also had her Moon sextile Saturn inconjunct a 9th house Neptune – giving her an idealistic, none-too-practical outlook, suiting her to live in an emotional ivory tower, no doubt believing the best as she was towed round the globe. Her rose-coloured glasses would help her cope with an impossible husband.
Their relationship chart had an affectionate, possessive composite Sun, Venus, Pluto, Mercury conjunction. There was also an explosive Mars square Uranus and an unfair, one-sided Mars sextile Saturn. But it held together. When he died she controversially burnt many of his papers, including a further translation of The Scented Garden, with a final chapter on pederasty. He intended this to be published after his death, to provide an income for her but her Catholic upbringing baulked and she destroyed it.