As a Research Assistant here at the Margaret Sanger Papers Project, I have the opportunity to research a myriad of subjects linked to Sanger’s life. Although I am usually digging up information about certain people, dates or laws, a few weeks ago I was able to delve into a topic much more enticing (at least to me) than the rest: Sanger’s beliefs in horoscopes. As someone who has an interest in this subject matter, I was excited that Sanger and I might share something in common!
As I studied the piles of microfilm in our offices, I quickly realized that Sanger had a consistent interest in astrology. As early as 1917, Sanger commissioned astrological charts from Elizabeth Aldrich, a New York astrologer. More early evidence of this preoccupation appears in April of 1922. Sanger is quoted as saying, “We must get all our work done before 1925. For my horiscope tells me I must begin then to do spiritual work & lie low with public causes.” However, the majority of discussion of astrology appears in letters to her good friend, Gladys Plummer DeWitow. They write back and forth, discussing Sanger’s “chart” and other spiritual musings. They address what “birthdays mean cosmically” and the necessity of spirituality.
Once discovering Sanger’s strong involvement in astrology, I was interested in her zodiac sign. After realizing she was a Virgo, I laughed at how appropriate and ironic it was that she had the sign of the ‘virgin.’ Whether or not you are a believer in horoscope signs, it was a bit uncanny how well a Virgo’s characteristics matched Sanger’s. A Virgo is said to be dedicated to serving. They are independent, critical and analytical. According to huffingtonpost.com, “In ancient times, a Virgo was a woman who was not the property of a man and therefore had the legal right to just say ‘no’.”
This exploration into Sanger’s spiritual beliefs in astrology, add to her intrigue. She was unafraid to explore unknown realms in an effort to further the birth control movement. As the logical, accomplished, intelligent woman that Sanger was, it is funny to think of her dedicating her time to these matters. It definitely makes me feel less crazy.
For more on Sanger and psychic phenomenon, see “Hands Up!” published in our Newsletter in 2003.