Which Witch Was Sybil?

By C. Marguerite Hafeman, © 2008-09

Dame Sybil Leek was one of the most famous Witches of the 20th century, besides working as an astrologer consulted by the rich and powerful. She was born in Normacot Staffordshire, England to a prosperous family having a long history of association with witchcraft, dating back to the 16th century. Her father taught her much about nature, animals and metaphysical subjects; her grandmother taught astrology, the psychic arts and divination. The family was prominent enough to be treated to visits by such famous people as H.G. Wells and Aleister Crowley. As a young woman Sybil put in a year living with Romany Gypsies to extend her occult education, presiding as high priestess in a number of covens along the way. She first worked as an astrologer on the French Riviera but this early career was cut short by the advent of World War II.

During the war Sybil officially served as a nurse in the Shetland Islands, however she was also a member of M16 British Intelligence. Afterwards, she returned to her astrology practice and for a time operated three antique shops in England, while her notoriety as a witch grew. After moving to America, she actively promoted neo-paganism and astrology through numerous books, radio interviews and personal appearances, while somehow finding time to raise two sons. Sybil also founded the world's first astrological business management consulting service, which is still thriving today. She became famous too, for accurate predictions of mundane events such as assassination attempts, governmental coups and scandal. She generated controversy within witchly circles, objecting to "sky clad" ritual and having no use for mind-altering drugs; however unlike most witches she did believe in cursing. (1)(2) Sybil publicly gave her birth date as February 22, 1922. (3) However at her death in October of 1982 the funeral card gave a birth date of February 22, 1917 (4). Which leads us to ask, which of the two birth dates yields a stronger signature for a business-savvy, publicity-minded witch?

The birth time of 11:52 pm is used for both horoscope charts, therefore all house cusp lines including the angles, are similar within minutes. Both birth horoscopes feature a witchy Scorpio Ascendant and showy Leo Midheaven. The Aquarian IC could be at home anywhere in the world; the Taurean Descendant demands good money-making ability out of potential partners. Otherwise, the similarities of planetary placement between the two charts are just as fascinating as the differences.

A horoscope chart cast for the later birth date of 1922 does not portray a particularly friendly, socially adept witch (Figure 1). A restless-or dogmatic- Sagittarian Mars rules the sixth house of witchly work and tenants the first house of basic persona; a driving force in square to Pisces Sun, Venus and Uranus all in the fourth house of home base. This is one who could present with a self-centered tendency to argue and alienate, not a likely combination for the often sensitive work Sybil did or her broad appeal to a wide audience. True, the Sun, (center of identity) Venus (values) and Uranus (cosmic creativity) are all in trine to Pluto resident in the ninth house of higher mind and organized systems of belief, certainly reflective of one who is deeply mystical and philosophical, perhaps inclined to publicize these views to the broader world.

However Pluto squares Saturn (karma, work, and limitations) and asteroid Chiron (wounding, the teacher) both located in social houses; another indication of someone not inclined to easy social relations but capable of ruthlessly pursuing prestigious associations towards a calculated end. Libra Saturn retrograde in the eleventh house, close to North Node of the Moon in Libra would not glide easily with friends or groups either, however could be quite an adept user; Saturn in opposition to Chiron in the fifth house of pleasure and creativity can indicate problems with grounding spirit in the body. Sybil herself was known to be sweet and gracious to many; she was expert in herbal lore and well grounded in other earthly matters; she was a bit of a name-dropper, however.

At the later birth date, Mercury the communication planet is retrograde in Aquarius, sign of the esoteric arts; it is located in Mercury's natural third house home of basic communications, commerce and lifestyle, in opposition to spiritual-mystical Neptune retrograde in the ninth house of ideology. A double retrograde opposition with these planets can indicate difficulty in communicating visions and concepts in terms easily understood by others. This Mercury can certainly speak up but would take its time in doing so, while being very selective about the audience it might address. Both planets in square to the Scorpio Ascendant do delineate capability in manipulation through the spoken word or published media; or someone proverbially tongue-tied and scattered in their communications.

The stellium of Sun, Black Moon Lilith, Venus and Uranus, all in Pisces in the fourth house of root psyche and home base constitutes a very mystical bundle of energies, however quite hidden from the public view. Venus and Uranus are tightly quincunx to Saturn and the North Node of the Moon in signs and houses once again not reflective of particularly easy relations with the public-or in romance for that matter. This could be someone who keeps a cauldron simmering in the kitchen but who would be prone to emotional turmoil or addictive habits, perhaps having issues with placing public value on their own creative gifts (Black Moon in Pisces conjunct Sun and Venus). The grouping can bespeak a reclusive home life, prone to much upset or sudden change and perhaps with some relational abnormality present in the childhood household (Pisces Venus in the fourth house in tight, difficult aspect to Saturn).

Jupiter (fortune, expansion, beliefs) retrograde resides in the hidden twelfth house of karma and secrets; it is in sextile to the Part of Fortune well placed in the second house of making money, which is also Jupiter ruled. Jupiter is also in trine to the Mercury retrograde; these aspects are certainly reflective of someone who makes money behind closed doors or in institutional settings, especially through tapping into collective beliefs and fears. However this Jupiter retrograde is more likely to be conservative in action, not reflective of the pioneering risks Dame Sybil routinely took over her long life.

Lastly, a cool, business-like Capricorn Moon in the third house of practical communications is in square to Libra Jupiter, otherwise not making any user-friendly aspects. The Moon should be distinctive by sign and house and quite active by aspect in the chart of a witch/healer/shaman as an indicator for empathic and intuitive ability, its placement is also associated with the capacity to associate freely with others, or not. This Jupiter-Moon combination can capitalize on collective beliefs and fascinations. The Moon located in the third house of commerce and the media; ruling the ninth house of worldly philosophies does reflect Sybil's success with publishing, media presentations and business management astrology. Keep in mind too, that Capricorn and its ruling planet Saturn are ancient indicators for those involved in the witching arts. However in sum, the tone of this chart is reflective of one who could be hard-hearted, volatile and quite exploitive in orientation; the witchly power quotient overall is adequate but not particularly representative of Sybil's style.

The earlier birth date of 1917 yields a natal horoscope equipped with many more positive and dynamic indicators (Figure 2). Mars is in tender, mystical Pisces, in conjunction with the Sun in the fourth house of root psyche, an aspect for the essential self actively focused in spiritual-mystical pursuits and grounded in home life. Mercury the communicator is once again in Aquarius, however now the Messenger is direct and therefore communicating freely. Besides ruling the eighth house of occult matters, this Mercury makes a strong T-square to the Ascendant-Descendent axis from the third house of practical communications, a much more direct demonstration of Sybil's very public promotion of her other-worldly affiliations. It is also in opposition to a ninth house Black Moon Lilith in Leo, an excellent symbolization for the flamboyant witch who loves to show off for the public; both are part of a loose T-square with Taurus Jupiter in the sixth house of witchly work, lending earthy energy to performance. Jolly Jupiter actively squares mystical Neptune, sextiles Pluto, the Sun and Mars too, making a tangible statement about Sybil's high level of productivity.

At the earlier date, Venus (values, money, and attraction) and Uranus (cosmic inspiration, astrology) are conjunct in Aquarius, symbolic of an unusual female engaged in metaphysical undertakings and inclined to care for mankind at large. Mercury, Venus and Uranus all in the third house of practical communications, along with the North Node of soul growth also in the third house, present as much more potent indicators for Sybil's extensive work in various kinds of media, also her alternative lifestyle and love of travel. Venus and Uranus are in trine to the Part of Fortune in the collective and karmic twelfth house, reinforcing Mercury as ruler of the eighth house for making a practical living through contact with occult and collective currents.

The earlier birth date places the Moon exalted in mystical Pisces and nicely located in the fifth house of entertainment, creativity and pleasure. Chiron is still in Pisces, but receives some accidental dignity by its placement in the fifth house; the asteroid in conjunction to the Moon indicates one who has a wound associated with maternal relations; Sybil's mother was not mentioned in any of the biographical material consulted for this article. Sybil certainly might have been prone to emotional volatility or unavailability in stressful moments. In the higher register of expression, this planetary combination is symbolic of someone who could be moved to mother the world.

Moon-Chiron in the house of children in trine to Saturn retrograde (an unusual father) and the South Node of the Moon (past lives and family connections), in Cancer and the ninth house of higher mind does reflect the eldritch education Sybil received from her father and grandmother. As befits a Cancer Saturn in the ninth house with Capricorn ruling on the cusp of a very active third house, Sybil was mostly home schooled, yet she went on to write over 60 published books in addition to participating in countless radio and TV presentations.

Moon-Chiron in harmonious aspect to the Nodes of the Moon indicates someone who knew how to present controversial material in a way that would be favorably received by the public, perhaps striking a deeper, primal resonance with ancient roots in the collective (Nodes in the parental signs of Capricorn and Cancer). This depth of awareness would be reinforced by Aquarian Venus in the third house ruling the twelfth house of the collective and the Part of Fortune located within. The Part of Fortune serves as a quintessimal expression for any individual in that it is a combined expression of Sun, Moon and Ascendant; here it is in major aspect to the Moon's Nodes, Venus and Uranus, Saturn and the Moon-Chiron. Note that the Transneptunian point Hades (ancient influences) is situated between the Moon and Chiron in this birth chart, indicative of a soul who has been active in the mystical arts for many lifetimes.

Sybil was also active in environmental causes, therefore this "pain involving the mother" could as much refer to sorrow over the degradation of the feminine principle and nature in general that distinguishes our current age. As befits North Node in Capricorn in the third house, perhaps Sybil's life mission was to demonstrate divine intelligence as manifest in paganism and astrology, to the man on the street. Saturn is nicely supported in this task by Neptune in Leo nearby, an expression of embodying matters of spirit and other worlds in tangible form and in a very public way. Neptune is quincunx to the Pisces Sun while dispositing all planets in Pisces, indicating that some of Sybil's more occult expertise surely remained hidden away from broad exposure.

Lastly, Pluto lord of transformation and power is at home in the eighth house of occult matters in tight trine to the Sun and Mars, lending great charismatic power to the Sun and Scorpio Ascendant from its house of natural rulership. Pluto in the eighth house ruled by Gemini, bespeaks one who may have misused power in past lives though witchcraft, therefore in this life has the karmic task of communicating their dharma without abusing the privilege. Chart rulership in both horoscopes belongs to Pluto in Cancer; however the earlier birth-time chart contains a superior matrix of resonant themes, channeled through the "tuned in" Piscean Moon. Based on the contents of this chart, Sybil could indeed have been born five years earlier in order to be the excellent witch that she was. Further support for this date as her true nativity can be found by examining natal chart alignments with secondary progressions and solar arc directions, calculated for the date of her death on October 26, 1982 in Melbourne, Florida (2).

(1) "Sybil Leek, 20th century Witch-Astrologer", A Biography, by C. Ravin, Esq., 2000. http://lovestarz.com/leek.html

(2) "Sybil Leek", Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sybil_Leek

(3) Sybil Leek, Later Birth Date, Feb. 22, 1922, 11:52 pm UT, Staffordshire, UK, Koch Houses. Louis Rodden's AstroDatabank, http://www.astrodatabank.com

(4) Sybil Leek, Earlier Birth Date, Feb.22, 1917, 11:52 pm UT, Staffordshire, UK, Koch Houses. Louis Rodden's AstroDatabank, http://www.astrodatabank.com

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