Blood and Fire Through and Through

An Astrological Perspective on The Salvation Army
 
Originally published by The Astrological Association Journal, Sept/Oct 2007

 
The mere name “Salvation Army” evokes powerful images of aid in times of crisis, charity in times of need, mercy and transformation in the hours of one’s personal deepest, darkest hour. The Salvation Army’s role in social reform during the latter half of the 19th century cannot be underestimated.

William Booth, the Salvation Army’s self styled General, who stood in a point of history when suffering was both overwhelming and unnecessary, saw the world in need of radical change. Like Petrarch some 400 years before him, Booth was adamant he would make a difference. Together with his wife Catherine, their eight children and the support of close friends, William Booth set out to bring salvation to the lives of the hopelessly poor, the destitute, the homeless and the hungry. From humble beginnings in London’s east end, today the Salvation Army operates in 111 countries, utilising 175 languages and has a well established reputation for being the first organization to arrive in the aftermath of disaster, providing clothes, food, shelter and healing words. At the time of writing, the Salvation Army continues its work in Iraq where it provides food, clothing and shelter to a land ripped apart by war. “The people of Iraq love the Salvation Army because it brings the message of the love of God to the Iraqi people,” said a Shia Muslim spokesperson, demonstrating the Salvation Army’s well deserved reputation for transcending all barriers to bring comfort to the suffering.

The Salvation Army uses a flag with an eight sided, yellow star on a red background with a blue border. Originally, the star was meant to be the sun but the Booth’s changed it to a star as it offended a branch of the Zoroastrian’s when the Salvation Army was first in India. Astrologers would recognise a double grand cross in the star and an emphasis on the fourth and eighth harmonic. John Addey wrote about 8th harmonic: “The numbers four and eight have a special reference to outward events and conditions.”[1] We regard squares in a chart as indicating conflict. The Salvation Army so embroiled itself in conflict that its joint founders, William and Catherine, manifested a child (Kate—see her chart) who had the Salvation Army symbol in her chart shaping–which seems nothing short of miraculous and a testament to the struggles the family faced in their war on sin and poverty.

Kate Booth's chart with soft aspects removed

The Booths achieved so much in their lives together that it is overwhelmingly tempting to uncover their motivation to change the course of history. What makes ordinary people extraordinary? What makes a hero take risks, not just as opportunity arises or once in a lifetime, but over and over again? What, astrologically, can account for such phenomenal success in the extreme adversity the Booths faced nearly every day of their early ministry?

The man who would be the Salvation Army’s Founding Father and first General was born on 10 April 1829 in Nottingham. His own father, Samuel, was a man dogged by financial disaster but yet retaining an honest and chivalrous streak when it came to money, often re-paying loans that were not entirely his responsibility. William was said to detest his father’s numerous “money-making schemes and contrivances” and had described his father as having “a sense of truth and honour combined with a strong desire to get on in the world who knew no greater gain or end than money.” [2] Growing up, his mother would never allow the young Booth to forget that his family continually hovered between solvency and bankruptcy, just-getting-by and poverty. Shortly after his father died a broken and bankrupt man, William was left without further funding for education. It seemed William Booth—as well as his mother and sisters—would be doomed to a life of grueling impoverishment.  This perhaps rather explains why a 13-year-old William would so willingly allow himself to be apprenticed to a pawn broker. Booth would later reflect that the devil had tested him by sending him to work amongst moneylenders. It is almost unimaginable to consider the implications if Booth had been able to make a career of pawn broking.

Though no accurate birth time is recorded, it can be seen using the data from his birthday, that Booth had a Venus/Pluto conjunction on his S. Node. This configuration would echo in many of his life events: it reflects the animosity he attracted, the effects of poverty he so railed against, the encouragement for “self-denial” he gave to his followers, and even the hold the women of his life, first his mother then his wife, would have over him. Booth had an uneasy fascination with death: he was present at his own mother in law’s autopsy, he held his dying wife in his arms and when he himself came to the end of his life he did not simply die but was “promoted to glory.”

Roy Hattersley, the Booth’s due biographer, called William’s life a “paradox.”[3] Indeed, it is a curious feature of Booth’s life that he exhibited both a driving sense of self determinism and an unbending goal to save as many souls as he could. Astrologers might recognize this in his natal Saturn opposite Neptune. This aspect reflects in several key events in his life. At an age when most 7 year old children are concerned with losing their baby teeth, William was signing pledges of eternal abstinence from alcohol (T. Saturn square N Neptune). Rather than playing the usual games associated with a Victorian upbringing, William’s precocious religious life centred around Nottingham’s Broad Street Chapel which was a testament to Methodist power in Nottingham at the time. It is unlikely the size and splendour of the building would have attracted a boy like William. Someone with Saturn trine Mercury would be far more interested in hearing about the discipline needed to abstain from alcohol, vice and gambling as ministered by the top itinerant preachers of the time. A poor boy like William would have thrived on the self deprivation prescribed by these Methodist preachers and have been lured by the notion of “instant conversion.” Thus, Booth became hooked on religion and at 15 was converted from the faith of his father in the Church of England to Wesleyan Methodism. Or, as Booth liked to put it, it was not merely a move between faiths but one to salvation (T Saturn and T Neptune over P Moon in Pisces).

As an adolescent preacher, Booth was regarded as unusual but not extraordinary. He and his youthful contemporaries found acceptance amongst the poor and illiterate. No doubt, it was Booth’s early experiences as a preacher to the working classes that he began to see poverty as the work of the devil. It was the beginning of his battle against the complacency towards hunger and despair. “Are you really going to spend your wages on in the public house while your wife and children and go barefoot and hungry?” he would challenge working men from his makeshift pulpit.

However, Booth was still the sole supporter of his windowed mother and it seemed, to him at least, he would be condemned to the life of a moneylender. A further manifestation of the Saturn-Neptune opposition can be seen in the young William’s despair, growing daily, as he was caught in the trap of needing to maintain a business and ripping people off–usually poor people. His despair was exacerbated as he saw the “victims“ leave his pawn broking shop after accepting a loan of coppers against the security of a workman’s tools or his Sunday suit before heading straight to the nearest pub. It seems completely fair to say that the only pleasure William had in his life at that time was his preaching, which was unpaid and hence, in the eyes of his family, unimportant work.

William eventually made his way to London where he lodged with his sister and her alcoholic, atheistic husband. His only regret was leaving his mother. Booth was determined he would work six days per week and preach on the seventh–irrespective of what his brother-in-law had to say about it. His destiny as a reluctant pawnbroker would change when Edward Rabbits, a wealthy boot and shoemaker, heard Booth preach and instinctively knew a good reformer when he heard one. Confident that Booth could shake up a few sleeping Methodists, Rabbits offered to pay a reasonable salary that would allow him to leave his pawn broking business. On Good Friday 10 April, 1952, Booth, now in the employ of Rabbits, left pawn broking forever and became a full time preacher. It is not hard to imagine that William would want to return home to his sister and brother-in-law with the good news. However, Rabbits persuaded him to celebrate his news with other Reformers at a tea meeting. It was at this tea meeting that William Booth met Catherine Mumford–the woman who would become his future wife. Catherine fell ill during this meeting and Rabbits paid for her carriage ride home. William accompanied her. When the pair arrived at Catherine’s home, her parents insisted that William stay the night rather than face another trek across London.

Astrology can provide insight into what was probably the most significant day of William Booth’s life. During this time, Booth had a spectacular pile up of transiting and progressed planets in Taurus: transiting Saturn and Uranus were about to pass over his progressed Mercury and Venus and in the coming months, over his progressed New Moon in Taurus. The new progressed lunar phase for William indicated this time marked a new chapter of his life. It is no small astrological wonder then that Booth would see to it that no one, poor or wealthy, sinner or saint, in comfort or in catastrophe, would starve if he had a say in it.

Catherine Mumford, would remember events slightly differently. She had seen Booth preach before this tea meeting and had been greatly impressed. Perhaps it is best that William would not remember their first conversation: William had admitted he was not completely teetotal as he used port for its restorative properties. Here, one might wish to have been a fly on the wall. Catherine cut lose with unremitting passion, attacking both her future husband and any middle class Methodist who believed that alcohol was acceptable in moderation. Rabbits, who had also been there, bullied William into reciting “The Grogseller’s Dream,” 210 lines of doggerel describing the Publican’s contempt for his customers whose lives were ruined by drink. Some 40 years later, Booth knew the entire poem and could recite it without error or hesitation. It would not be the last battle Catherine would win with William.

Catherine Mumford was born 17 January 1829 in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Like William, she too had a personal planet conjunct Pluto, in her case, Mars–so William or anyone else for that matter didn’t stand much of a chance in getting their way when she was around. In addition to believing in absolute abstinence from alcohol, Catherine also believed in a democratic church and passionately opposed racial prejudice (one of the main reasons the Salvation Army banned tobacco was because, in Catherine’s eyes, it made the slave trade in the USA a necessity) and an all-male ministry. Her influence upon William was remarkable and William Booth would have been a different man without her—and the Salvation Army as we know it might not have come into existence.

During their long engagement, it became clear that William did not share her love of a formal education. She urged him to study theology; he claimed it got in the way of his preaching. She admired his ability to electrify a congregation but fretted over his sense of pride. In the early weeks of their marriage, which had taken place in Brixton on 17 June 1856, Catherine even called William a “blockhead” in the heat of a row.

Things were soon to calm down for the Booths: shortly after they were married, Catherine became pregnant. In due course, they would have eight children, all of whom would survive into adulthood and all of whom to a greater or lesser extent would play key roles in the early Salvation Army.

Bramwell, born 8 March 1856 and his brother Ballington, born 28 July 1857, were the causes of much concern for their parents. Bramwell would refuse salvation until he was 7 years old and at the same age, Ballington broke the pledge of no alcohol when he took a sip of gin from the glass of a visiting adult. For their sins, all of the Booth children were punished harshly and then promptly forgiven. None of the Booth children were permitted to play with ungodly children and all had absorbed the somewhat odd habit of preaching to their dolls and converting their pets. With William and Catherine as parents, it only stands to reason that the Booth children would be exceptionally sanctimonious. Bramwell, in particular, suffered for his piety. He was bullied without mercy at his school and at one point was even tied to a tree whilst the other children bashed him in an effort to get him to renounce his faith. Of course, he held firm and with a stellium in Pisces did so with an aplomb only a fellow martyr could hope to replicate.

It was during Catherine’s seventh pregnancy that the “Christian Mission” was born on 2 July 1865 in a revival tent in London’s East End. For Catherine (if she was born close to noon as the writer suggests she was), Uranus transited her N Moon. Up to this point, she had accepted a lack of home as a necessary sacrifice. Now she insisted on a permanent address, a “permanency” that would not last long. In the months preceding these events, Uranus had completed its first return since its discovery in 1781. Remarkably, it is this return point (Uranus at 24 Gemini) that features so prominently in the charts of Catherine and her children: Catherine had the Moon at 29 Gemini (noon chart) and was also converted on 15 June 1846 with the Sun at 24 Gemini,[4] Bramwell had Saturn at 23 Gemini, Ballington had the Moon at 24 Gemini, Kate had Jupiter at 20 Gemini, Emma had Mercury at 25 Sagittarius (opposite the Uranus return point), Herbert (born 26 August 1862) had Uranus at 20 Gemini, Marion had Uranus at 22 Gemini, Evangeline had an ascendant at 22 Gemini with Mars and Mercury straddling her descendant and Lucy had Venus at 23 Gemini. To top it all off, William’s “other baby,” the Christian Mission was founded when his progressed Mars was at 25 Gemini. It is as if William and Catherine and their children were plugged into the collective revolutionary power of Uranus and as a united front, the Booth family, battling under the banner of The Salvation Army, would change the world.

It was shortly after the Christian Mission was formed that William Booth returned home one Christmas morning’s preaching in a state of shock. “The poor only have their public houses!” he lamented. The following Christmas, the family distributed 150 Christmas puddings, mainly cooked in their own kitchen (and it’s a safe bet there was no brandy involved in the process). By the end of the century, 30,000 Christmas puddings would be distributed in an effort to provide a cheerful alternative to the public house. The Christian Mission’s chart shows a beautiful “magic triangle” (a trine between two planets connected to a third planet by sextile) between Mars and Jupiter both throwing a sextile to Saturn. It is a beautiful example of unrivalled generosity, discipline, a bit of luck and a very strong indication of the “itchy feet syndrome” the movement would eventually show to the world.

It cannot be overlooked that the William and Catherine made incredible sacrifices—another element of what astrologers might expect of the Saturn-Neptune opposition—and their children would be both victims and perpetrators of the sacrifice required by their parents.

The female children in the Booth family overshadowed their elder brothers by being exceptional preachers in their teens. Both Kate (born 18 September 1858) and Emma (born 8 January 1860) were preaching to adult congregations though still children. Their mother’s heart must have been filled with ungodly pride as she watched her daughters grow into the kind of female preachers that could balance the gender inequality of that time. It was days after Emma’s birth that Catherine felt called by God to become a full time preacher like her husband and whilst all her children were still infants, she preached to the poor. It was said that Catherine “preached like a man” and was often the family breadwinner whilst William got on with the business of antagonising his patrons.

In the autumn of 1872 George Scott Railton met William Booth. Railton, with his Moon in hard-working Capricorn, Neptune on his South Node and his Jupiter trine a Uranus/Pluto conjunction, would prove to be indispensable to the expansion of the Salvation Army overseas but in 1872 he was just a youth, overexcited about preaching the gospel, who had the very good fortune of charming Catherine by standing shoulder to shoulder with her in his opinion on female emancipation. His Moon matched Catherine’s Sun in Capricorn and his Cancer Sun matched William’s Moon. Railton lived like a son with the Booths for the next 11 years. He was largely responsible for the flux of religious pamphlets using militaristic metaphors that blanketed England, was one of the first to adapt a military uniform (he had few other clothes) and was one of the few who took theology seriously (as did Catherine). It is thanks to Railton that the Christian Mission began making its way to the north of England where its ranks swelled with more and more followers, brass bands and banners–and finding itself in the centre of controversy. The Christian Mission welcomed everyone to its meetings: the rich, the poor, the pious–and the drunkards, the prostitutes, the felons and the broken.

Railton's Noon Chart

Salvation Army lore is filled with moving stories of lives hopelessly lost, converted and transformed to fulfil the glory of God. One such story is that of Elijah Cadman, the man who would become the first Salvation Army Captain. Cadman had been a drunkard since the age of six. Since he was small, he was ideal for a life as a chimney sweep and his reward for a hard day’s work would be a tall glass of beer. In his teens he was a prize fighter and this, coupled with his drinking habits, acquired him the description of being able to “drink like a fish and fight like the devil.” In modern terms, we might describe him as a sociopath. One day, he and a few fellow thugs happened upon a public hanging: “That’s you, Elijah!” he heard someone say in a stage whisper as the executed man’s feet swung. In a moment of drunken clarity, Elijah Cadman saw his future. He found redemption, never touched drink again, promptly married and joined the ranks of the Salvation Army. Since he was illiterate, his Sunday school class eventually taught him how to read. With a chart loaded with planets in Sagittarius and Aquarius, it could be said Cadman was full of hot air. Irrespective, he was a hit as a preacher and, like Railton, became one of William’s most trusted soldiers.[5]

Railton was also present in the autumn of 1878 when the name made the momentous change from the Christian Mission to the Salvation Army. Along with a name change, the Salvation Army set up a training home for officers and began a regular newsletter, the War Cry. The newly named Salvation Army had Pluto transiting Venus and Mars in the Christian Mission chart, an indicator of radical change in the relationship it had with the world at large. It was during this time that the Shirley family, British immigrants to the USA, began their own Salvation Army in Philadelphia. They pleaded to Booth for reinforcements. Railton, perhaps sensing Booth’s next right hand man would not be himself but Bramwell, begged to be sent to Philadelphia. Booth balked. The Christian Mission had prospered in the USA without London direction in 1873 but had withered away. With only Neptune in a mutable sign, six planets in cardinal signs and three in fixed signs, Railton wasn’t one to give up easily. His persistent pestering paid off and with six “hallelujah lassies” and a chaperone, he set off for America in March 1880. Railton was not content to stay in one place and he made his way down South where he bragged that the Salvation Army were “the only white people to whose company, to whose platforms and to whose operations, coloured people had the same welcome as others.”[6] In post American Civil war, Railton was forbidden to preach in St Louis. So he drew a line down the centre of the frozen Mississippi and claimed (on skates) that he was outside the boundary of the city. To keep costs down he slept on his office floor, refused dinners and wore such battered clothes that shopkeepers took pity on him. But he was seeing success and his journals were filled with conversions similar to Cadman’s.

Just as Railton was starting to enjoy victory, William called him home. Railton was gutted and at first refused. This time it was Booth who persisted (he also had six planets in cardinal signs). Unbeknownst to Railton, at home in England, the Salvation Army was enduring an unholy alliance of “professors of religion combined with haters of religion.”[7] All through England, local statutes were being created to prevent the Salvation Army from playing musical instruments and preaching in public. Breweries, which saw their livelihoods threatened by the Salvation Army’s insistence on teetotalism, were paying hooligans to disrupt evangelistic meetings. Wesleyan preachers were denouncing the Salvation Army from their pulpits and encouraging rumour and speculation. During this time, several “battles” took place with Salvationists being arrested and members being seriously injured. The adaptation of the Hallelujah bonnet (for women) and cap (for men)–designed to deflect stones, mud and worse–were not enough to prevent the severe injury of a male Salvationist who was held insensible on his horse until the end of a parade, nor the death of a young female Salvationist. The “Skeleton Army” was present at nearly every Salvation Army meeting during this time. In 1882 alone, 669 Salvationists were knocked down, 251 of them women and 23 of them children under the age of 15.[8] After on particularly bloody battle, William Booth quipped: “Now’s the time to have our photographs taken.” That the Salvation Army renounced communion and baptism (two of Christianity’s sacraments) did little to win support from the Christian church, which one would have thought would have positively encouraged the Christian charity the Salvation Army was offering. Happy first Saturn opposition.

Yet the Salvation Army had its successes. During the exact Saturn opposition, Kate (left) was sent to France on 4 February 1881. Upon arrival in Paris, she and a couple of Hallelujah lassies were arrested in Paris. With T. Neptune opposite her natal Venus, it took some persuasion to convince Kate and her colleagues that shouting “Amour! Amour! Amour!” was not such a great idea. Yet they persisted and not only would the Salvation Army convince the French that booze, tobacco and illicit sex paved the road to Hell, two of these French Hallelujah lassies would become Kate’s sisters in law: Florence Soper would eventually marry Bramwell and Maud Charlesworth would marry Ballington. Each, on their own, were exceptional, talented women. Both would experience a different type of Salvation Army destiny as we shall see.

A few months after Kate found her way to France, a titled gentleman living in India by the name of Frederick Tucker found his way to the Salvation Army. Thirsty for more adventure, Tucker came to England to renounce his highly paid job as an Indian law expert as a means to impress William Booth and join the Salvation Army. Fancying himself as the next Francis Xavier, Tucker persuaded Booth to allow him to form a small contingent and they made their way to India.

They travelled as far as Gibraltar before they were arrested for breach of the peace.

However, by using Tucker’s skills in law, they were released and eventually this group would become accustomed to life in India and discover the key to the Salvation Army’s success in their foreign ministry: they adapted themselves to life in India rather than make India adapt to them. By this time, the Salvation Army was also successful in France, Switzerland, the USA, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden. When Tucker’s elderly wife died, he married Emma Booth, thus securing a dynasty. That same year Kate, in 1887, married Arthur Clibborn and again the idea of separate destinies would be played out.

Meanwhile, Bramwell, who had been groomed to take over the Salvation Army since he was a small child had begun work with Josephine Butler. Together (and with the help of others) they would expose the horrors of child prostitution. Catherine would insist that men shoulder the culpability of responsibility for this sorry state of affairs–a progressive and threatening view at the time–that would extend to blaming men, rather than prostitutes, for the spread of syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases. Bramwell and particularly his wife Florence would found a house for fallen women and would be key to seeing that the age of sexual consent was raised. Florence had a stellium in Virgo, opposite to Bramwell’s stellium in Pisces. It is no small astrological wonder then that they could find such success in an organisation with “Saved to Serve” as its motto.

Booth should have looked on the late 1880’s as a period of positive change. As the decade closed however, it seemed the Army would grind to a halt: all the major players became ill, even Tucker who had previously proven to be impervious to all manner of tropical illnesses was incapacitated. There was so much worse yet to come.

Some time in 1887, Catherine found a lump in her breast. By the time she got around to seeing a doctor, the prognosis was grim. She would have two years to fulfil her work in the Salvation Army. Catherine would not be granted a quick, easy death. But not even agonising pain could stop her: “When we come to face eternity and look back upon the past what will be our greatest regret? That we have done so much? Oh no! That we have done so little.”[8] With the Salvation Army carrying on its work around her sick bed, Catherine came to hear of Annie Besant’s (right) work with match factory girls.

In the 19th century, matches were a fairly recent invention. And, as anyone who has ever started a fire using friction alone will attest, they were a necessary labour saver. Unfortunately, they required poisonous yellow phosphorous to ignite. Matches were manufactured by young girls who worked long hours for poor wages, under dreadful conditions. The finished product was delivered by even younger children who would eventually experience hair loss due to the toxicity of match heads. The girls who actually dipped the sticks into the yellow phosphorous developed an even more alarming condition known as “phossy jaw.” Phossy jaw is essentially a necrosis of the skin. It would begin with what looked like a bruise on the face and develop into a disfiguring ailment that could lead to death. Annie Besant was livid once she heard of the cause of the disfiguring sickness and in June 1888, was raising all sorts of hell which lead to Catherine taking on the cause too. During this time, transiting Uranus was trine to the Uranus of the Christian Mission’s chart. Uranus would also have crossed over Saturn, the N Node and oppose Pluto in that chart. In 1891, little over a year after Catherine’s death, the Salvation Army would open its own match factory using harmless red phosphorous and paying its labourers double the wages of the factory owners using yellow phosphorous. It’s enough to evoke images of Prometheus whose gift to man was fire.

In the wake of Catherine’s death, William had published “In Darkest England” which essentially became a template for modern social welfare. It was both exonerated and vilified when it came out in 1891. With Catherine no longer by his side, William began to lose interest in what was now an international organisation. He was an itinerant preacher at heart rather than an administrator and he looked more and more to Bramwell to lead the Salvation Army. Bramwell’s siblings, most notably Ballington, resented this and felt that all the children should have an equal say in the running of their Salvation Army. William was sympathetic but knew there could only be one leader so he felt he could do nothing to alleviate the growing tension between his children. Railton, too, was showing signs of dissatisfaction, particularly with the Salvation Army’s plunge into commercialism in order to promote “In Darkest England.”

It is important to note that Bramwell was not the same type of leader that his father was: with the exception of an Aries Moon (opposite to Mars in Libra), Bramwell had no fire in his chart. He was also nearly completely deaf following an extended illness. Though knowing his siblings’ acceptance of his leadership was precarious, Bramwell decided it was time to show them who was boss. In a move that his brothers and sisters described as musical chairs, Bramwell moved them from their posts without any sort of consultation. Herbert, though unwell, would take command in Australia. Evangeline would have to give up her work in London at the Officer’s training college and take over Herbert’s responsibilities in Canada. Kate and her husband were move from France to Switzerland; Lucy and her husband would move from India to France. Ballington was recalled to London and Emma and Frederick Tucker were warned that they may take over Ballington’s work in the States.

As a reaction, Ballington (left) displayed some of his Leo sun’s most deplorable traits: he was a gifted orator and actor and he not only refused to move, he “let it slip” to the press that he was leaving his work against his wishes, a move that was certain to cause anger amongst his followers. And there could be no doubt of Ballington’s popularity–he had cracked New York in a way Railton was unable to some twenty years before. Worse, in the months before, he had all but refused to write to his father, an oddity in a family of obsessive letter writers. The US Salvation Army looked set to split from its British counterpart and Ballington played on American patriotism in order to secure his position as leader. On 9 March 1896, Ballington and his wife Maud left the Salvation Army and set up what they saw as a rival organisation, The Volunteers of America.

“Send Eva!” William advised Bramwell. It was a cry he would utter again and again in a crisis. Like her sisters, Evangeline was a gifted preacher. Her stellium in Sagittarius was conjunct the Christian Mission’s Jupiter. Nobody understood the devastating effect Ballington’s succession from London would have on the Salvation Army’s foreign mission better than Eva. If the American succession was successful, it would only be a matter of time before other countries succeeded too. When she heard that Ballington had intended to bring the entire New York contingent to his newly found organisation, Eva (right) planned to gatecrash one of his meetings and stand up for the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army had an impressive building in New York and Eva found the doors locked when she arrived. So she ran around the back of the building and climbed a fire escape to get in. At first, a surprised Ballington refused to let her speak (perhaps the wisest move in the circumstances). Nonetheless, Eva launched an incredible emotional appeal that resulted in the majority of the audience there–on the verge of pledging loyalty to Ballington–to stay in the Salvation Army. During this time, transiting Uranus had opposed stability-loving Venus in Taurus in the Christian Mission chart. It was quite a wake up call and a reminder of what the Salvation Army held dear: their cause was to alleviate suffering. With transiting Chiron on his Mars, Ballington must have been smarting. The Volunteers of America would always be a second rate Salvation Army but Ballington would be its elected leader until his death. His and Maud’s legacy would be their work on prison reform. William too, with transiting Mars on his natal Uranus, must have felt the shock of a near miss. He should have been warned not to get too comfortable.

A couple of Mars returns later, on 10 January 1902, Kate left the Salvation Army too. Her husband was a Quaker and he had become increasing uncomfortable with Salvation Army’s militaristic regime. “Operation Save Kate” had been launched but to no avail: Kate would not leave her husband to be a single mother of nine children. William never understood why she couldn’t and, as in the case of Ballington, he never really spoke to her again. With Kate gone, Herbert wasn’t going to stay so the following year, he and his wife also left. Herbert was a gifted musician who had written many songs for the Salvation Army. When he left the organisation, he took the copyrights for all his songs with him. Not even Emma’s death in train crash in 1903 could re-unite the family: Ballington, Kate and Herbert, along with their families, were turned away at her funeral. The tragedy of the alienation of the Booth children from their father demonstrates the promise and the difficulties of the square aspect seen so clearly in the Salvation Army’s flag: a challenge eventually becomes easier to manage as time goes by. When today’s Salvation Army officers receive their “marching orders” is it met with a stoic comply because it is regarded as a necessity of the career in the war on sin and poverty. However, the Salvation Army, perhaps learning a lesson first taught by Bramwell, does not move officers unexpectedly to the other side of the globe.

With four active children in the Salvation Army, William Booth continued to preach. At the age of seventy-five, he travelled over 1,224 miles in 29 days and preached at 164 meetings from Land’s End to Dundee. He went on similar tours every year, in a different country, for the rest of his life. He met kings and queens, heads of state, bishops and other clergymen. He prayed with Cecil Rhodes on a crowded train. He carried the Salvation Army flag up the Mount of Calvary–the very flag that hung over his bed when he was finally promoted to glory on 20 August 1912. “Promotion to Glory” is a beautiful and apt manifestation of a natal Venus/Pluto conjunction in the life of a man who had battled all his life to make the world a better place.

Bibliography

Addey, John Harmonics in Astrology,

Begbie, Harold, The Life of William Booth, London: MacMillan, 1926

St John Ervine, God’s Soldier: General William Booth Vol 2 Book VIII, (London:Heinemann, 1934)

Watson, Soldier Saint, p. 58, Salvation Army Archives

Notes from Railton’s papers, from Salvation Army Archives

Hattersley, Roy, Blood and Fire, Abacus Books, London 1999, p. 261

Additional information from http://www1.salvationarmy.org.uk, Website accessed 2006


[1] Addey, John Harmonics in Astrology, p. 121

[2] Begbie, Harold, “The Life of William Booth,” London: MacMillan, 1926, Vol 1, Ch II, p. 25

[3] Hattersley, Roy, Blood and Fire, Abacus Books, London 1999, p. 261

[4] All Booth birth data from:  http://www1.salvationarmy.org.uk.  Website accessed 2006

[5] Birthdate from photo of gravestone, available online at: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=19846. website accessed 2006

[6] Watson, Soldier Saint, p. 58

[7] Douglas and Duff, Commissioner Railton

[8] St John Ervine, God’s Soldier: General William Booth Vol 2 Book VIII, (London:Heinemann, 1934) p. 673

Further Reflections: William Booth’s Birthday

On William Booth’s birthday, I made plans to visit his grave in Abney Park Cemetery. I found the experience very moving as even in death, Booth kept his key soldiers close to his side: his wife Catherine lies in the same grave with Railton’s and Cadman’s next to him and Bramwell across from him. Here are a few photos:

William and Catherine Booth's stone

William's right hand men even in death: Cadman and Railton

Bramwell and Florence who found their work in an organisation with "Saved to serve" as its motto

At last I can see Cadman's DOB!

The author in front of the graves

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