|War reporter Marie Colvin in Homs.|
Photo: Democratic Underground.
It's on another continent, the people speak another language, have different customs than mine. They are in the midst of a bloody civil war. But the same sun rises, and then there are the children...
If you are so inclined you can look at S.O.S footage on youtube of children with shrapnel wounds. This is much harsher than any imagery we have had from any previous conflict. There is no picture editor involved. The internet has changed the way we see war.
So do we need journalists to go in there and risk their lives? Did Times correspondent Marie Colvin need to die last week? Does the sight of French journalist Edith Bouvier lying on a bed in a room with no electricity tell us more than the sight of a Syrian child lying dead? Can't local people tell the story?
To me the answer is obvious. Yes, we need the war reporters. They perform a task for all of us: bearing witness. That doesn't mean we have to listen to the reports, but it's important in the grand scheme of things that there are witnesses to history, people who are not involved in the conflict, who watch and listen and try to tell the truth. It may not even be important now but for posterity.
There is nothing like an eye witness who is also an outsider. Who can forget Ed Murrow's broadcasts from bombed London, once you've heard them of course? Local people and combatants have their story to tell, but a correspondent sees the world with fresh eyes.
But what kind of person risks their life repeatedly like that? There must be a thrill of adrenalin, a love of risk, an ideal of truth-telling, an ability to tell a story – and above all courage.
|BBC's Orla Guerin in Pakistan|
You'd expect contact between Mars, the planet of war, and Mercury, the planet of communications, at least. In fact none of the charts I looked at had a really tight connection between Mars and Mercury: clearly communicating about war is not the prime motivator. So what is going on?
Unsurprisingly, this is a pretty hard-boiled bunch – a lot of Capricorn and Saturn there. You have to be persistent to get the story, I guess.
Christiane Amanpour, the CNN journalist, and Marie Colvin, were born on the same day, January 12, two years apart. That gives them both Sun in Capricorn, ruled by Saturn. They also both have a Saturn-Mars conjunction. Stamina-Courage = True Grit.
|CNN's Christiane Amanpour Afghanistan|
Taurean Orla Guerin, the veteran BBC correspondent, has Saturn conjunct her Moon and sextile her Sun-Mars conjunction. Kate Adie, who was shot in Tiananmen Square, has Saturn sextile her Virgo Sun but no Saturn-Mars contact.
So far that is four earth Suns. And there's the Canadian Lyse Doucet, who also reports for the BBC from conflict zones: born December 24, Capricorn. War reporting would seem to require an essentially grounded, practical character.
The odd ones out (of my chosen list) for Sun signs are:
Martha Gellhorn - Scorpio - ruled by Mars, the god of war and Pluto, master of the kingdom of death
|The BBC's Lyse Doucet|
You may have noticed something about the correspondents I've found. They are all women. At first that was unintentional. Then I realised that the job of war correspondent is one at which women have excelled. We have yet to break the glass ceiling in the boardroom, but the split between men and women reporting war seems to be about 50/50.
Shouldn't the asteroid of the female warrior, Pallas Athena, feature in these charts then? Yes and she does. This is way stronger than Mercury-Mars: all orbs are tight.
|CBS's Lara Logan embedded with US troops|
Colvin - Sun-Pallas conjunct
Logan - Sun-Pallas conjunct
Doucet - Pallas conjunct NN trine Chiron
Adie - Pallas sextile Venus in Leo (we think of her dressed in a flak jacket) square Saturn
Guerin - Pallas conjunct Venus (again, the helmet the flak jacket)
Amanpour - Pallas in Aries (war) opp Jupiter trine Mercury
Maybe it's less about a need to tell a story (Mercury) than a need to be there, being true to your own nature.
There are other things to consider: glamour (Neptune) and stimulation (Uranus). Take a look at how those two planets play out in each chart for yourself.
|Kate Adie reporting the first Gulf War|
Gellhorn - North Node in Gemini (story-telling) conjunct Pluto (death)
Logan - North Node in Aquarius conjunct Venus (she is beautiful even in battledress) sextile Mercury (storytelling) and inconjunct Pluto in Virgo
Doucet - North Node conjunct Pallas (she-warrior) in Libra (balance)
Adie - North Node conjunct Mars (war)
Guerin - North Node conjunct Sun-Mars in Taurus
Amanpour - North Node conjunct Jupiter-Neptune (very glamourous) square Uranus (thrills) and trine Pluto
The least obvious North Node is Marie Colvin's but it does happen to be on the midpoint between Neptune (sacrifice) and Mercury (the story). And the most exact transit to her chart when she was killed Neptune, the god of sacrifice, at 0° Pisces exactly opposite her natal Jupiter in Virgo.
Readers of this blog will know I believe that Jupiter comes when it's time to go home. Certainly, for this week at least, her death has brought home to those of us safe in our houses, the horror for those people in Syria.