While perusing an October 1934 issue of our club magazine, a time when we had a large format publication filled with literary articles, I was struck by an amusing and speculative story on astrology. I was even more surprised by its author, an early club member who gained acclaim in the California History world, and also led the California history study classes for The Ebell.
Mrs. A.S.C. Forbes was an avid journalist, an author of several historical books now highly prized and a renowned historian. I’d consider her the ultimate Renaissance woman. She is best known as California’s “Bell Lady,” having designed, created and seen to the installation of the ubiquitous shepherd-crook shaped mission bells that dot California’s El Camino Real. But here is a story totally out of context on the personality of The Ebell according to the alignment of the stars.
The article’s title: Ebell—Natal. It leads with the club’s 1894 origins: we were conceived in September, christened in October and chartered for life in December. “Three months of joyous preparation for its work and its place in the City of the Angels,” Forbes states. “Could it be that these influences of nature shape the life, plans and destinies of clubs and organizations?” she adds. She considers the attributes and personality traits associated with each of these months, weaving in historical figures and mythology.
The introduction is intriguing. “Astrologers and necromancers delight to play with the magic and black art of conjuration and enchantment. They like to predict love and tragedy, harmony and discord, fat and lean years and charge the account to science, stars, witches or pre-natal influence.” Do you suppose they considered pandemics?
The argument for The Ebell being a Virgo, or September’s child, is convincing. Those born under this sign are destined to be kind, considerate, orderly, methodical and successful. Add to that scholarly, musical and leaders in educational work. They are humane and loyal, but may be secretive about their own affairs. But wait, she says, they can become selfish and critical, having so many good qualities that they expect perfection in others. A Virgo frequently attains success, wealth and power, and has a fondness for luxurious travel. Endowed with a wonderful nature, great things are expected of them. A Virgo is also exacting in commercial matters.
It is easy to relate many of these qualities to the club as a whole, but Mrs. Forbes points out that: “certainly we are restless and enjoy traveling for have we not as a club migrated all about this town and enjoyed building bigger and better houses until our final trip has placed us leisurely in the lap of luxurious elegance?” For the record, The Ebell has had seven meeting places in our history.
September, Forbes goes on to state, is the lucky ninth member (three times three) of the Twelve Houses of the horoscope. It is also the month that California celebrates its birth as a state.
Moving on to our Christening month of October, when Libras rule, Ebell became permanently organized and a part of the working community of the City of Angels. This is when we bid for our share of the blessings and treasures destined for this City unlocked by its band of Angels—along with a destiny of active responsibility. Under the guidance and influence of Jupiter and its moons, of which Mrs. Forbes states, in 1934, that there are four and maybe five such moons (as of 2021 the official count of Jovian satellites is 79!) the god Jove and mythology come into play. She tells of Ebell’s own satellite here, our separate organization of Juniors that existed at the time. Jove also is credited as a distributor of wealth and offers a warning as to the distractions of Mars.
We learn that women of October birth are home-builders, but inclined to be extravagant. They are excellent poets, writers and musicians, although they disdain the dirty work. The Horoscope predicts, per Forbes, that we are excellent real-estators.
“The diagram of the Twelve Houses, according to Jupiter’s influence,” writes Forbes, “sets forth that Ebell should be generous, ambitious and talented to a marked degree, full of hope, enthusiastic, never permitting defeat to discourage or conquer.”
On December 8, 1894, we closed the charter membership and set about the business of Clubdom. We were pleasing the Sagittarian gods governing destinies of winter’s child: Energy, Progress, Skill and Execution. Forbes tells us: “Women born in December are said to be fine housekeepers, excellent wives and usually judicious mothers. Their greatest virtue is Truth and Loyalty. Wrapping it up, she says, “After all is said and done, there is nothing so fine or that equals the influence of a good mother”.
It feels apropos for this challenging time to think our Ebell foremothers have seen to our destiny with such auspicious organizational timing, along with such good skill sets. No matter our own date of birth, we can now consider ourselves honorary Virgos, Libras and Sagittarians.