The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 206, titled:
With Chris Brennan and Christopher Renstrom
Episode originally released on May 21, 2019
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released June 17, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
Chris Brennan: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode was recorded on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 starting at 2:17pm in Denver, Colorado. And this is the 206th episode of the show. In this episode, we’ll be talking with Christopher Renstrom about the famous astrologer Evangeline Adams and the general topic of astrology in America in the 19th and early 20th century. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes, while getting access to subscriber benefits like early access to new episodes and other things, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. Hey Christopher, thanks for joining me today.
Christopher Renstrom: Thank you for having me Chris, it’s a pleasure.
CB: Yeah, we’ve been planning this for a while, and I’m excited to do it. So we’re dealing with two topics that are sort of discrete topics that could almost be episodes on their own, but they’re so interrelated that we’re going to try to deal with both today. And one of them is the development of the practice of astrology in America over the course of the past two or three centuries. And then also separately, one of the leading figures in early 20th century astrology who really helped to popularize astrology who was Evangeline Adams. So yeah, so I should say we’re basing a lot of this talk off of Karen Christino’s book titled Foreseeing the Future: Evangeline Adams and Astrology in America. This is a book that was published in like 2003. But she recently in January of 2019, published a revised and updated edition. And I did want to say that I did try to get her for an interview, but I wasn’t able to. But she suggested that I should talk to you because you’re an expert, about astrology and American, especially the 19th and 20th centuries, right?
CR: And it’s an incredible privilege and honor that she suggested me. I hope I’m up to the task. Karen is an extraordinary researcher, and this book on Evangeline Adams is absolutely amazing. My background is the history of astrology in America from prerevolutionary to modern time. And when I was beginning it back in 2000, about 2003, Karen’s book was instrumental and meeting her and working with her, and I still do work with her quite a bit, is instrumental. So this is an extraordinary book, she’s an extraordinary astrologer, and it’s an extraordinary honor to have been asked to step in for her because of her very, very busy schedule.
CB: Yeah, and I stayed up last night, late, very late, extremely late, I don’t even want to say how late reading the book.
CR: How late?
CB: And it was actually until like 6:00 o’clock in the morning, so it was actually an amazing book. It’s an incredibly well written, and it’s an incredibly easy read. It’s like just over 200 pages, but I read it over the course of like a night. Because not just because it’s compelling, but it’s actually incredibly well written. So you know, hats off to Karen for writing an amazing book. And it’s like history and biography, but she has great sort of insight and occasional like wit and other things that just make it a really enjoyable read.
CR: She has a wonderful prose style actually. You know, she has a very simple prose style, but it’s also very evocative. So it’s just a terrific book.
CB: Sure, and so we should define Evangeline’s time period first, before we get into the broader topic of astrology in America just so people know when she lived.
CR: So basically, Evangeline Adams is pretty much known for two reasons. The first one is a trial that took place in 1914 in New York City, in which she was arrested for fortune telling. And she combated that charge, and she won. And that has always been seen as a real sort of plant the flag victory for astrologers here in America. What happened as a regular thing is that the police would go through Gypsy fortune telling parlors or immigrant fortune telling parlors in New York City, and they would do these sweeps where they would just sort of like sweep up anyone who was doing what they determined as being fortune telling which one was defined very generally and very vaguely. So that could include a Gypsy, it could include a German Jewish immigrant, it could include a spiritualist, and they would be taken down to magistrate court and they would be fined. And that’s a story in itself because it wasn’t quite that draconian, some of them would contest the fine and some of them would amuse the magistrate to such an extent with their abilities that they were let off. But Evangeline Adams was brought on in, and she contested it, and she won. And so this did a lot to legitimize astrology in terms of its legal standing, and gave it a very strong foothold in society. So I would say that that’s primarily what she’s remembered for. The second thing that she’s remembered for is that in the 1920s, she passes in the early 1930s, but in the 1920s, she was interviewed in every single woman’s magazine across the nation. She ends the ’20s with a radio program which is broadcast, Forhan’s toothpaste which was the competitor of Pepsodent at that time was her sponsor. So she was really a household name as well. I mean, the closest that we… Modern-day equivalent of that would probably be Susan Miller or before then it would have been Linda Goodman. So Evangeline Adams was this really towering figure in the early nineteen teens and ’20s of the United States of America.
CB: Right, and she would have been like one of the leading figures, and helped to popularize astrology in America in the early 20th century. I think Holden said that she would have been the most famous astrologer in the first third basically of the 20th century.
CR: Easily, easily, without a doubt. And in fact, her business model, the way that she did astrology, and what I also want to sort of articulate here for your audience is that we are talking popular astrology. So we are not talking astrology that’s in astrology magazines, manuals, like for instance, Alan Leo had an astrological magazine that he ran, and that was for an astrological reading public. We have American Astrology, Dell Horoscope, these magazines that come out, but these were astrology specific.
CB: Sure, like astrologers talking to astrologers versus what she was doing was as an astrologer talking to the public.
CR: You would find it on the news rack. And the other thing that sort of combined with what she was doing, because she read for celebrities, is that astrology magazines as they begin in the 1920s, it ends up happening much more than the ’30s, would model themselves as movie magazines. So if you went to a news stand on your way to grab the subway in New York or get a bus or whatever, you would pick up a movie magazine and then an astrology magazine, which looked just like one and you get that one there. So what this did is that this proliferated, this really seeded astrology in the imagination and the consciousness of the general public. And so she got outside of sort of those more esoteric or rarefied circles. And she really brought astrology pretty much to the common man, she’s like the Johnny Appleseed of astrology. And that’s her legacy, that’s her legacy.
CB: Brilliant. All right. So that’s a great context then for this broader discussion about the Evangeline Adams and her life that we’re going to get into, but then also the rise and popularization of astrology in America. Because one of the things I’ve talked about in the past, I did an episode with Nick Campion about the revival of astrology in modern times. And part of the context for that was that in Europe astrology kind of dies out or falls into disrepute around the 17th century and around the time of the scientific revolution.
CR: It’s during the Parliamentarian, you have the Parliamentarian wars, which is Lilly’s rise, but then right after that, with the restoration of Charles II and the setup of The Royal Society. Astrology because it had become so dangerous as… Didn’t matter whether people believed in it or not, it was dangerous as a propaganda tool got disconnected. One of the first things that The Royal Society does is debunk astrology in terms of science, but they also make sure that it has no access to the press at all. And that’s because Charles I’s father was beheaded. And part of what played in that beheading was of prophecy by William Lilly. So there was no interest in astrology continuing during the restoration period. So you basically have an unplugging of the apparatus, and astrology travels to America in two forms. Astrology comes to America with the pilgrims. And it comes to America in the almanacs. It comes to America in the Culpeper’s, English physician. And it comes to America in something called the Book of Knowledge, which we would see as basically being a popularized book of astrology. So when England stopped writing and publishing astrology, for instance, the Book of Knowledge, which gave the signs and how to predict and planetary hours and things like that, that was still a best seller in the colonies.
CB: So astrology is on its way out in the 17th century. So ironically, Lilly put
CB: So Lilly publishes his work in, what was it?…
CR: I’m sorry, I don’t have my dates here. But I believe it’s like about the 1630s 1650s. It might be a little bit later like 1680s, but it’s during the midsection of the 1600s.
CB: Yeah, it’s 1647. So William Lilly publishes… I just looked it up. William Lilly publishes Christian Astrology, which is like the first great English language manual on astrology in 1647. Because up to that point, even books written in England tended to be written in Latin, which was like the educated language of the day. Lilly publishes that in 1647. It’s like this great compendium of natal and horary astrology and a great introduction to astrology. But then astrology by that point is already on its way out for a variety of different societal and other factors. It wasn’t just the scientific revolution, as you said, but there were other political and other social factors going on as well.
CR: Absolutely, absolutely.
CB: Astrology is on it’s way out at that point in Europe, and then like, you know, the UK and France and Germany, and even though it has that little flourishing towards the end of that with Lilly publishing that text and some of his contemporaries, it’s sort of on its way out. But in America, where they’re sort of still influenced by some of those texts and stuff, you’re saying that there is some transmission of astrology to the United States or what became United States I guess, a century later.
CR: You know, Chris, the best way of thinking of it is as repotting a plant. Astrology had kind of run its course in Europe. You also have to remember it lost university sponsorship and being taught in the university in the early 1600s. So there was nothing to support astrology as an academic discipline except a consumer market. And that consumer market was something that Lilly utilized with his pamphlets, and that brought up… I mean, that really popularizes astrology in England, it becomes seen as dangerous, and it’s unplugged. And then the Royal Society set up. But that plant which had kind of like outgrown its pot is then transplanted to America. And in America, which already has this Puritan tradition, which is anti. It’s not anti-King, not yet, but it already has this, we’re coming away from a place of religious intolerance, etc. picks up astrology. It doesn’t really see it as a contradiction at all. What’s also I think really important for your audience to understand is that Lilly isn’t the only important astrologer in England at this time, Nicholas Culpeper is. And actually it can be argued that Culpeper was probably more popular earlier than Lilly was because he had connected astrology to the herbal. He had translated from the Latin into the vernacular into English The English Physician which was based on herbs, but also getting the right herb with the right planet and time of day, and Culpeper initially published the herbal physician with an ephemeris, you bought the two together. So this is what the Puritans are coming over to America with. There’s no pharmacy, there’s no drugstore in America. So they are consulting astrological texts both in their almanacs and in their herbals and also the Book of Knowledge. Astrology takes root in America in two places, which is the Massachusetts Bay Colony and then Philadelphia.
CB: Sure, okay. And then Lilly’s writing in the mid-17th century, but then it’s not until a century later that we have the founding of America as like a new country in the 1770s and all of the sort of enlightenment era, sort of founding fathers and some of those thinkers and some of the motivation behind what they were doing with that. One of them that’s interesting that astrologers sometimes talk about, and sometimes the discussions are kind of misleading is Benjamin Franklin and the question of whether or not he was an astrologer, had anything to do with astrology, because he did publish an almanac at the time, right?
CR: Right. But at that point, the presence of astrology in almanacs, the height of the presence of astrology in almanacs is with Nathaniel Ames, out of Massachusetts. And once he passes away, you’ve got John Tolley, and you’ve got some other things. But they’re starting to be criticized by the rise of the Enlightenment. Franklin publishes this famous parody of the death of an astrologer, and then the astrologer’s like, “I’m still alive,” and turns into all that.
CB: And that’s really important. Let’s dwell on that point just for a second before moving on because that’s important. Because sometimes I see on like Twitter periodically, some astrologer will quote Benjamin Franklin when he’s writing under a pseudonym in his almanac, where it seems to be favorable towards astrology. But in fact, if you study some of that materials he was doing, he’s seemed to be doing like satire and parody. And he was kind of like making fun of astrologers. And like making predictions that some astrologers would die, and then when they didn’t die, he would like pretend in the next issue that they were dead and this astrology–
CR: That was the whole joke, and was it done on a…It was done on Partridge. I think it was Partridge. I’m sorry. I wish I had had my notes, but it was done on a contemporary astrologer at the time. And it was uproariously funny. I mean, everyone enjoyed it, you have to remember, they didn’t have Twitter back then. So when he published an almanac, it was there for the year. And so people got a whole year to like read it. And the fellow wouldn’t have been able to unless he had an almanac, where he could have responded. So no, Franklin had nothing to do with it. But what you also have to remember is that astrology is still on the almanacs. There, you know, plantings being done by the moon and things like that, but they’re still carrying planetary movements. Weather prediction is done according to the planets during that period of time. So astrology might not and then of course, Culpeper’s, English Physician.
CB: So that’s really important though that astrology is only really surviving in the public consciousness through this popularized form of like almanacs, and almanacs would contain a whole mixture of different things. And some of that material is astrological, but it’s not hardcore astrology. And there’s definitely a decline in the practice of astrology and the publication of astrology books and astrologers casting birth charts and things like that is at an all-time low during the 18th and 19th centuries, not just in Europe, but also in America. But it is surviving in some popular form in these almanacs.
CR: Well, and also two other things I have to throw. First idea I want to get everyone to understand is that it’s gone into the background. Just because you don’t recognize it as astrology doesn’t mean it’s not astrology. So that’s really, really important. The other thing is that it’s carried along in the Book of Fortune. And that’s really important because the Book of Fortune is what moves from the almanac into popular entertainment. And this is where I make an argument somewhere else that if it weren’t for the Sun sign column or the popularization of astrology, you wouldn’t have astrology. So what happens is that in the late 1700s or early 1800s, what you have are these dream manuals, where people are looking up their lucky numbers and dreams and seeing what these things mean. And these are being sold in every grocery store again from coast to coast, along with sheet music, because people sang, that was evening’s entertainment, you sang at a piano. And astrology was being carried along in that as well. So it always stayed in the public memory, it always stayed in the public consciousness. Might be called lucky day, it might give you a psychological characterization of you, it might come up as part of dream interpretation. But it was always kept in the public consciousness by the mass media. And that’s something that as astrologers we really, really have to be thankful for. Because again, I think the piece that we take out is that once it left the protection of the universities, it was vulnerable to extinction unless it took up in the popular press.
CB: Sure, although certainly the perception of astrology and its legitimacy declined, so that it became associated with mysticism and like to some lesser extent maybe occultism or irrationality and things that were not necessarily seen as good. There started to be, prior to previous centuries, more of a stigmatism associated with astrology. It seems like to some extent than, let’s say, before where it’s in universities and like doctors use it for diagnostic purposes and some of the greatest astronomers like Galileo or Kepler are astrologers themselves. This is a different cultural context for astrology in like the 18th and early 19th century.
CR: And to my mind and imagination, it’s one of its riches times. It’s extraordinary. We have to be careful when we talk about irrational and mysticism in America. Okay, Europe is a different deal from my limited understanding of European history and, and certainly, please correct and, and educate me. But here in America, the scientific enlightenment doesn’t take off with the same character that it does in Europe, Europe had gone through the Thirty Years’ War. And so religion was something they really wanted to have no part of, you know, it had caused all this conflict. But in America, we describe America as a Christian nation. But the reality is that America is a nation of Christianities. We’re the only country that has as much as many spins, variations, different versions of Christianity than any other country on the earth. And so during this time of scientific enlightenment, what should have been scientifically enlightenment here in America, you also have this incredible religious revivalism and then the splintering off of all these different Christianities. Whether it’s Seventh Day Adventists, the later on it’s the Pentecostals, you get the Jehovah’s Witness, you get the Mormons. I mean, you get Episcopalians and you get Congregationalists. I mean, it even starts with the founding. And this is something that we have to really keep in our mind, because in these religions were also prophecy and the idea of opening up the Bible and being able to prophesy from it. This is why in the early 20th century, during the Scopes Monkey Trial, that whole literalism of the Bible is so important. So even though it’s not astrology that’s irrational, what you use the word irrational and mysticism, this was infused in the American culture, but not in a, we have to get rid of it, we have to be more scientific way, which is actually more the European might even be argued, the German I went with that, but I would say more the European model. In America, we have this revivalism that’s going on. So we have a mystic impulse that’s going off in a variety of different directions. That’s just the Christian part of it. We also have Spiritualism, which is an extraordinary movement that sweeps through the United States of America in the 1840s and 1850s.
CB: Yeah, and I want to introduce that. Before we do that, I want to contrast it with… Because we can’t understand the importance of the rise of Spiritualism without understanding how that was something new prior to that, let’s say, in the century that led up to it. I understand and I sympathize with the counter argument that you’re making that there was a strong religious and mystical bent, always underlying American culture. But there was also with like some of the founding fathers and the creation of the US, There was also some of that post enlightenment or or enlightenment sort of thinking going on that was very strong, as well as a major current. Like, even with things like creating a separation between church and state, for example, is a sort of result of that. So that’s happening in like the 1770s. But then yeah, during the middle of the 1800s, we get this new development. Interestingly, not too far from the discovery of Neptune, we get the rise of Spiritualism.
CR: I think it’s around the same year or within 2 years.
CB: Yeah, it’s in the 1840s or 1850s.
CR: No, it’s 1846 1848. So one of them is the Fox sisters and the other one’s Neptune. Might actually even be the same year.
CB: And so what is, if we can define it really concisely, Spiritualism as it sort of develops in the middle of the 1800s?
CR: Spiritualism is an extraordinary movement that again, because it’s misunderstood, it tends to get diminished, but it was much more powerful than that. It was basically this idea that you could communicate with the dead. What we have as a result of Spiritualism is the Ouija board. This is when it becomes invoked or following Civil War is when it becomes invoked and when it becomes popularized. But before then, you had talking to the dead. This was connected to the Fox sisters, which is a group of three sisters who would answer questions that people would ask with knocks. And this was supposed to be dead people who were communicating, and they become this extraordinary sensation. Spiritualism is very important. Again, because what we have to keep in mind is that Spiritualism does for the feminist movement what Quakerism does for abolitionism. It gave women a voice in houses of worship where they were not allowed to speak. Okay, so the audience of Spiritualism was majority female. But most of the proponents, most of the advocates, the people speaking in Spiritualism, were also female. Our closest analogy to understanding really what a Spiritualist was, would be if you remember from the 1980s the popularity of channeling. I think one of the products out of that is the Book of Miracles or Seth Speaks, where someone would go into a trance, and they would channel an entity. This is what they were doing. And so they were speaking to the dead. And there was this feeling that I don’t have to die go to heaven and then meet my loved one, I can actually communicate to my loved one right now. And so what was being communicated was this beautiful paradise, this lovely heaven, everyone went to heaven, this utopian society. And so this gave hope to women. We have to remember how many children died in childbirth, how many women died in childbirth during this time. And so this idea that you could talk to newly departed loved ones and that they were alive on the other side, this threw the idea of Christianity on its head. What also spearheaded Spiritualism is the Christian crisis in America. We’re talking 1840s, 1850s in the time in which you had some Christians saying, you know, “We are all born of light and spirit, and so we’re made in the image of God and in God’s image of light and spirit,” and other Christians who were slaveholding, and who were saying, “No, we’re not all born this way. And we have slaves, and these aren’t people, this is property.” So this was an extraordinary clash between the two sides of schism through Christianity in the culture at that time in Spiritualism. We would call it right now like an alternative belief, but it was so much more powerful by that. And one of the things that it really championed was women’s rights. The Spiritualists talked about marriage as being slavery, overthrowing of that institution, that women who were silenced in a house of worship could rent a theater or or speaking hall or whatever, and go on about Spiritualist beliefs and channel. So it gave this incredible voice, and it goes flying right through the country. I mean, there’s this network of Spiritualists that goes from Philadelphia, all the way to Los Angeles or California. Eventually, I mean, it doesn’t do it right in the 1840s. But it takes that much time. And this is the same circuit across the country that astrology will later on take because obviously astrology was of interest to that audience as well.
CB: Sure. So people suddenly comes into vogue through Spiritualism to start holding like seances, and like seances become very popular, which is like a group of people trying to raise spirits or talk to the dead or something like that. And so on the one hand, yeah, there’s that whole, there’s the positive spin that you’re giving, I want to put the other part of the spin or the other perspective that people sometimes have on Spiritualism, which is that sometimes there were people taking advantage of the perception that there were metaphysical or occult or like spiritual powers, and they might have been ripping people off or pretending they could talk to the dead when they weren’t necessarily or like making up ghost sounds or something like that.
CR: Oh, it got ridiculous. They would actually have people like dressed up behind a curtain, because this is 19th century theater. And they would like wear garments and shrouds, and they would peek behind and enter and walk through and everyone be like, “Oh my goodness, it’s the spirit of whatever.” I mean, it’s really cheesy, but I want to make one point, and then I want to do a compare and contrast. So quick point that I also want to make is that the rise of Spiritualism also combines with America’s first exposure to the Asian cultures and the Asian religions in particular, and the most popular feature being reincarnation and yoga actually. Although yoga comes a little bit later, but reincarnation is introduced through Spiritualism in the 1840s and 1850s into America. So this idea of life after death or having past lives or reincarnated, this is when this comes into the American consciousness, and this is due to Spiritualism. But a very quick thing that I want to say is that Spiritualism hits this scandal in the 1870s 1880s with Spiritualist photography, which was done with double exposure and revealing the spirit, and it was ridiculous. I mean, everyone laughed at it. But you also have to keep in mind something else. Okay. At the same time, you had just as many Christians saying, “The apocalypse is now,” or naming a date for the end of the world or saying, “The world ends here,” you know, and that Millerites were famous in the 1800s. So that date for the end of the world would show up, and it didn’t happen. So that same argument was levied against the more extreme Christians who couldn’t produce the apocalypse on time. And so that made them a laughingstock as well. So there was always the sort of like back and forth that was going on between both camps, but what they have in common is mysticism. What they have in common is the occult imagination or the spiritual imagination. So this is also why Christianity and the occult or Christianity and astrology have always gone at it with each other. They’re like these two siblings that are kind of like bound at the hip, slamming and beat on one another. But that has to sort of give you the broader context of the background.
CB: And although there are occasionally like mystical variants and sects of Christianity, for the most part, Spiritualism though represented a break and an alternative sort of approach to religious and mystical experience that was outside of mainstream religion and was almost like a thing unto itself. And that was part of what was novel about it and part of what led to its popularization in some sense.
CR: And also utopian vision, remember that 1846, 1848 is when Karl Marx writes the Communist Manifesto. So this idea of a utopian society where people are going to be equal, this again was the message of many of the women spiritualists, that men and women were equal. In fact, the woman who influences, has such a profound influence on Evangeline Adams, [Elizabeth Pelt?]. She was a spiritualist, and she combined Christian ideals and equality of the sexes together. So this was something that has a very, very deep impression on Evangeline Adams as well. And it also tells women in America one of the biggest things that makes America so singular, so unique in astrological history, is that it’s practiced by so many women. In other societies, it’s practiced mostly by men. But here in America, it’s practiced a lot by women, and it starts earlier with the students, and it comes out of that spiritualist impulse. But that idea of equality of the sexes, marriage institution as a slavery, overthrowing it, bringing equality of the races, bringing economic equality, we don’t have time today, but I can show you the 1848 or 1849 pamphlet where they talk about this at a meeting. So a lot of these themes that we’re seeing with the new Green Deal, for instance, are actually showing up in the conversation of spiritualists. So they really sort of articulate a utopian vision of America that then goes on to inform new ages and things like that.
CB: Right. Yes, spiritualism in many ways, people often trace not the beginning, but it’s sort of the precursor to the New Age movement. And that’s when things start heading in that direction. Then by the late 1800s, we have the birth of the Theosophical Society, and that’s sort of like an outgrowth of spiritualism to some extent.
CR: That I have to correct you. Now, if you’re going to say Theosophical Society, fine. Okay. If you’re going to talk about theosophy, no, it’s much older.
CB: So there’s a difference between theosophy with a little t versus like Philosophical Society with a capital T and a capital S, which is fundamentally and primarily the writings, begins with the writings of Madame Blavatsky in like the 1880s. And she through her writings, where she synthesizes some elements of spiritualism with some of the basically, lifting of Eastern religious concepts like karma and reincarnation which she stews together into one big mixture with some Western philosophy and some other religious concepts and basically creates a new religion of some sort.
CR: A publication, you have to remember Madame Blavatsky is the PT Barnum of the occult in the 19th century. Okay, whatever was sensational, grand, exaggerated, you know, that’s what she did. And so she becomes this big deal. And in some ways, actually, in some ways, it just struck me for the first time, she might have been like the Evangeline Adams of her era. Because she’s a big media personality. She becomes this big deal, but she actually takes off more like in England and maybe like the Los Angeles area of America, but everyone else is not going to Madame Blavatsky. She just happened to end up getting repeated in the histories, and particularly the occulted history of America. But her influence is actually more like in England and then it comes back over here to Los Angeles. But spiritualism was much bigger than her and the range of the appeal was much more broad. She was only here for a few years and then I think she moves back or something like that. So really she tapped into it and she sold some periodicals, but the spiritualist movement was its own thing and actually goes beyond her. I’m kind of like showing what I think of Madame Blavatsky. I mean, she becomes known because she’s on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band along with Crowley.
CB: The Theosophical Society had like hundreds of thousands of members, and along with spiritualism, was one of the major movements that shaped and created basically the New Age movement as we know it in the 20th century or at least contributed to it. And this helped create some of the cultural context where astrology would eventually start to make a comeback, starting in the late 19th and early 20th century where we start seeing practitioners of the subject again, we start seeing more books being published on the subject, and we start seeing it being popularized in the public consciousness again, not just in the form of almanacs.
CR: Yeah, let me… No, that’s not how it works. Astrology is reintroduced in… Again, the two ground zero points for astrology are the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Philadelphia. What happens, and I apologize for not having this note ready, but astrology comes back into being because there was an astrological dictionary that’s published that begins basically, and then becomes published in America. I think it’s the early 1800s. And then I think at this point, you have Raphael, and he’s doing an almanac over in England, and it’s being carried over here into America. But astrology in America really takes off because of Thomas Hague, who is a British transplant to Philadelphia. And he’s the first one who transforms an almanac into an actual astrological publication. And this is in the 1840s. So I think, it’s even 1830-ish, about 1838. Okay, so remember we don’t have the beginning of the Fox sisters until 1846, 1848. So 1838, he starts publishing a purely astrological magazine called Horoscope. This becomes the model then for Dr. Luke Dennis Broughton, who brought his monthly planetary reader and astrological journal on April 1860. It’s got no spiritualism in it whatsoever. In fact, he originally envisioned it, it’s a long list here, so I apologize. He originally envisioned it as a miscellany intended to cover the topics of astrology, phrenology, which was very popular at that time, had nothing to do with spiritualism, zodiacal physiognomy, medical botany and astro meteorology, which basically means weather. But then because he publishes it right at the advent of the Civil War, he does a prediction of the Civil War which comes true and makes his publication really quite popular. And it takes off. So none of this had any spiritualist leanings. There’s no talk of reincarnation or anything like that. And it’s at the same time that Madame Blavatsky is also beginning to publish, but it’s not connected to spiritualism at all. And Broughton’s really important because he’s the one who teaches astrology to Americans with Chaney, Hazelrigg, Catherine Thompson. And so it’s a very basic astrology, it’s an astrology that you would recognize absolutely, Chris. And it’s an astrology that’s being recognized as astrology. So astrology might be carried along on spiritualism, but it’s not connected with it at this point. In fact, the astrology at this time is very meat and potatoes.
CB: Yeah, and there’s books that are eventually, I think Broughton like republishes or publishes an astrology book, but a lot of the books for a long time seem like they’re just republishing parts of William Lilly’s Christian Astrology, right?
CR: I wouldn’t say Broughton was writing his own prognostications and things like that. And if you look at Elements of Astrology, it’s his stuff along with newspaper clippings because he would get in arguments in the newspaper with scientists over astrology and things like that.
CB: Because I have the big green book that you have behind you, who did that one? Do you know?
CR: Which green book are you talking about?
CB: The like gigantic one in the top right shelf.
CR: Right there?
CB: Yeah, that one.
CR: That’s Sibelius astrology.
CB: Right. And that’s like a warmed over version of Lilly though, right?
CR: Sure, sure. But it’s an English publication, and so it would have appeared in an American bookshelf for instance. But you have to remember that Broughton learned his astrology from Culpeper. He comes from a line of astrologers in his family. And so I’m not sure how much one would say Culpeper is just like Lilly in terms of the way that they practice astrology. I’ll leave that to a couple of better informed people than myself. But Broughton’s lineage is to Culpeper. And what he is publishing on his own is uniquely his own. We know this because what he used primarily for his accurate prediction of the outbreak of the Civil War was Herschel, which we know is Uranus. But at the time that he was writing, it was named after the discoverer Herschel. And so Herschel plays a huge role in a lot of his predictive work that he’s doing. So he’s already incorporating a planet that Lilly would not have had any familiarity with. And so he’s… I mean, talking out loud, I would say he’s probably more in keeping with the Culpeper tradition.
CB: Okay, so Luke Broughton, he was one of the early sort of famous American astrologers. He lived from 1828 to 1898. So that’s his approximate timeframe, and used Uranus in his prediction of what eventually became the outbreak of the Civil War. And that was Uranus because it was actually making a return back to where it was in the founding of the United States. And that was the Civil War was actually the first Uranus return since the United States was founded in 1776.
CR: Yeah, Uranus returned to Gemini. I think it’s like seven or nine degrees Gemini, and that’s what he was using. And that’s what later on Evangeline Adams will pick up on. And that’s her famous, what’s been called the famous World War Two prediction is based on that Uranus return. And then of course, we have Uranus returning to that position, maybe I think about nine-ish years or whatever from now.
CB: It came back in the 1940s, and that was World War Two.
CB: Yeah, so that became part of her prediction, the basis of her prediction, which then goes back to Broughton who would use Uranus for his prediction of the Civil War. And then yeah, that’s a good point. So we just had Uranus go into Taurus this year. And so we’re now one sign away from Uranus returning back again to Gemini in the 2020s at some point.
CR: Yeah, feeling a little tense in society these days?
CB: Yeah, we’ll have to do a separate show on that at some point. Okay, so this sets things up. We have astrologers like that starting to practice again like Luke Broughton, and he influences and teaches a number of astrologers.
CR: Catherine Thompson, John Hazelrigg and Chaney.
CB: Sure. So by the late 19th century, the late 1800s, I guess this is the time to transition into talking about the other piece of this episode which is our main figure, which is Evangeline Adams. So Evangeline Adams was born in… Well, she’s born but she started out or the early part of her life was in Boston, right?
CB: Andover, okay.
CR: Andover, Massachusetts, yeah.
CB: So Massachusetts, and she went to like Andover Academy and was well educated, right?
CR: I’m not quite sure about that. I know that she… Yeah, I’m not sure if I remember that. Was she well educated? Absolutely, and she prided herself on her mathematics.
CB: Right. But early when she was a teenager, she got sick and had struggled with some illness, and then ended up consulting with a doctor. A doctor came and saw her, because they did house calls still in the 1800s…
CR: No, she met him socially. I understand why you came up with that. It’s because in his prediction that he does for her, he refers to her illness or having been injured, but she met him socially. He was the president of the homeopathy club, and she met him through another fellow. In her younger years, she’s socializing. Andover, Massachusetts is fascinating. Because it’s one of the few cities following the Civil War in which the men outnumbered the women. It was the other case because of the war obviously. But it was also a very, not… Calling it a feminist town would be a wild distortion, but it was a place that basically embraced progressive and at the same time staunchly Christian values. So she would have socialized, met a number of different people. And so she meets him through another friend. Probably after a lecture, she might have gone to a lecture on homeopathy or something along those lines. And he then does her chart, and she’s so impressed with it. And he picks out things like an illness or I think there might have been a broken leg or something along these lines. And he actually even rectifies the chart, he’s like, “You must have been born earlier if this happened or if this took place.” And so she’s so impressed by it that she wants to learn.
CB: Before you get into that, one of the things fascinated by him is that he’s a doctor, but he also had training in astrology. And part of that, which you mentioned briefly, it’s because he was interested and had background in homeopathy. Not just mainstream medicine, but also homeopathy, which was like an alternative sort of medical school at the time in some sense.
CR: At that time, homeopathy is… I’m not sure how alternative homeopathy is, it might actually be more of the mainstream at that time. I mean, I think medicine is transitioning into more… But a lot of homeopathic remedies are commonplace.
CB: Not all doctors though had astrological training at that point. It had dropped out of medical training centuries earlier.
CR: What you see there is actually a parallel to Dr. Luke Dennis Broughton, who was homeopathy and an astrologer. In the case of Broughton, he goes forward with the astrology. In the case of Smith, he doesn’t bring that up. And the reason he doesn’t bring that up is because he’s the… What was his title? It’s medica materia at Boston University. He’s this esteemed professor. And so that would not have… He was the professor of Materia Medica at Boston University School of Medicine. And so you wouldn’t bring up something like that. But he teaches her astrology, and he used astrology. And then from him, she begins… Is the term shadowing? You follow someone around. She begins shadowing another doctor who is dealing with the criminally insane and applying astrology to psychology, which is just beginning here because of William James in the United States. And so this is where she starts connecting homeopathy, psychology, and astrology. This is this unique education that she’s getting in Massachusetts.
CB: Right. So she develops this lifelong connection with Dr. Smith, and he ends up being like a hugely and influential teacher. She gets connected to and starts getting connected to another doctor who’s overseeing or in charge of like a medical institution, a mental asylum or like something like that at the time.
CR: Part of where they’re journeying is is the asylum. Yeah, that’s one of the rounds, you know, sort of thing.
CB: Right. But they’re actually like casting charts for patients. And she’s getting like real, not just like instruction in the basics of astrology from Dr. Smith, but also getting like real empirical observations of astrological charts in action in the lives of patients at this time.
CR: Yeah, and there’s an English astrologer many years before who did the same thing. I think his last name was Northrup or something like that. But he also cast charts for people who… Some of the charts that he casts were based on people who were mentally ill or disturbed or something like that, and he kept a catalogue or a file. So there’s always been that kind of impulse. But this is what she’s doing. And this begins her collection of files, not only of charts but also we have to remember palmistry. She was doing palmistry as well as astrology. And so she’s taking down the palm, the handprints and studying those, and also designing a way of profiling different personalities, and that’s where she crossed paths with Cheiro, who was a famous palmist at the time, and would be able to read people’s character off their palms. We have to remember bumps in the head phonology is also popular during this period of time. So this is where you’re really seeing the transition of psychology into what we would call the occult arts through the prism maybe of alternative approaches to health and alternative approaches to spirituality. You know, Kellogg’s cereal appears for the first time through the spas where people begin eating proper healthy food. All this is going on in the late 1800s, and this is a part of her culture.
CB: Yeah, and there’s still an ambiguity over the sort of scientific status of astrology. Because one of the things that people have to understand that’s kind of a misconception oftentimes, is that during the scientific revolution scientists started doing statistical studies on astrology, and it was proven to be false. That’s not actually what happened. There was no like studies that were done on astrology scientifically that disproved it, it just fell out of favor due to a sort of a shift in thinking and a shift that was social and political and to some extent, scientific or philosophical, but there was still this ambiguity, by the time you get to the late 19th and early 20th century, over whether astrology and other quasi metaphysical subjects could be valid scientific studies, and there were some people that we’re trying very hard to approach them more empirically to validate some of those subjects by using them in practice repeatedly by looking at tons of charts of patients or what have you.
CR: Well, it’s fascinating you bring this up and we probably shouldn’t talk about it right now, but I want to footnote it for later in our discussion. This is precisely why she is, everything you talked about is precisely why the charges against her are dropped and for scientific reasons, but it had nothing to do with proving the science of astrology. It had to do with the fact that- Yeah, yeah. But it actually all comes together in her trial, and maybe I’m being over insistent, but these weren’t seen as alternatives at the time. Okay? At the time, this was culture. Now we see it as alternatives and things like that, but what you’re talking about with astrology being demoted and things like that, there’s also a class bias that’s connected to that. There’s also sexism that’s connected to that. There’s also Catholicism in order to maintain that supremacy and American culture had to attack it. So, there’s a lot of what I call agendas that were set up here like with anything in history. So, it wasn’t purely science versus astrology and astrology was going to lose type of thing. It was how do you get rid of something which is maybe dangerous, or a threat, or a rival? And so, there’s that which was going on and I can’t speak for European culture, but in the American culture, that was certainly going on because astrology’s rise is basically through women. And so, when the women get the vote, for instance, in 1920, I mean, then they become consumers and all these sorts of things so there’s that connection as well. But as you’re saying, in late 19th century, it’s being reintroduced again. And hopefully, I did an okay job of describing the culture that Evangeline Adams was learning astrology and what was going to become her philosophy of practicing it.
CB: Sure. And let’s get into her life since we’ve only got about 45 minutes left. So, she’s born, her father dies relatively early in her life.
CR: I think she’s a baby still or an infant, yeah.
CB: So, she grows up with her mother. They’re in a relatively affluent family, and she’s well educated. She meets Dr. Smith.
CR: Right. Well, she has three older brothers, it’s relatively affluent. I think they were pretending to be maybe more affluent [Renstrom laughs] than they were. I mean, it’s really questionable actually how much money was behind because she does an extraordinary thing. She’s got three older brothers and they’re much older than her and things like that, but she takes on the financial care of her mother, which is actually and the care of that unmarried as a woman in that society.
CB: So, her mother gets sick at some point or is not well. Right. So, and that’s while she takes this caretaker role of her mother while she’s still a teenager, starts doing-
CR: Let’s say she’s a young woman at this point. She’s about 25, or, yeah, I think she’s about 25 or early ‘20s.
CB: Well, she was still a teen though when she started taking that caretaker role because I just read the book last night and that was something that Karen focused on pretty clearly and that’s one of the things that Evangeline…. Yeah, which is later but she’s been taking care of her for a decade at that point almost. That’s one of the things that makes Evangeline aside for, in addition to just her personality, uncharacteristically independent. She’s very independent as a young woman from a relatively early age.
CR: And self-sufficient. I mean, she knows her own mind, she has two marriage proposals that she turns down. If you’re taking care of your mother and you need finances or whatever, most people would have married, [Renstrom laughs] you know? And she turns them down because she doesn’t want to be told what to do and she’s going to financially provide and she builds herself up, she builds up that financial provide muscle. In her life, she starts as a stenographer and a secretary, I think she does some teaching, but ultimately, what it’s all going to lead to is making her living full time as an astrologer.
CB: Yes, and we’ll get there in just a second. But first, she does a bunch of odd jobs where she’s living independently or she’s working independently, which society really looks down on at that point in time for a woman to not get married young and to go out and work on her own and make her own way in life in some sense.
CR: Yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, it’s like, why don’t you marry and have kids? What’s wrong? [Renstrom laughs] And what makes it even more difficult is like you’ve got two marriage proposals [Renstrom laughs] where you say no.
CB: Sure, and she’s partially influenced by and seems to be really receptive to and embraces some of the feminist writings that are happening at this time that are being published around this time period.
CR: Spiritualist, we have to be careful with the word feminist with Evangeline because many of us would actually describe her as a feminist. I doubt she would have described herself in the same way. Spiritualism actually sows the seeds of feminism. In America, Susan B. Anthony played around with spiritualism. She doesn’t go that direction, but that network of women coming together and speaking up for women’s rights and things like that, that comes out of spiritualism. And so, Elizabeth Phelps as I mentioned earlier, a terrific influence on her and so she’s getting this sense of self-sufficiency, which I think is a better word than independence.
CB: And who is Elizabeth Phelps?
CR: She was basically her mentor when she was a young teen who was a famous spiritualist writer who wrote Gates Ajar and it was a bestseller in America. And so, she was someone who, as I was mentioning earlier, was really combining the idea of Christian principles with feminist ideals. So, even though I would doubt that Evangeline Adams would have described herself as a feminist, we would see her probably that way because of her insistence on economic self-sufficiency. And then later on in her readings, at no point is she saying obey your husband and go back to her or things like that. She’s really standing out for not only women’s, but men’s empowerment, so it’s equal sexes. But because she’s appearing so much in women’s magazines, fashion magazines, and stuff like that, her message is still you can take care of yourself and that is an extraordinary transition from the late 1800s into the early 1900s.
CB: Yeah, I mean, I think she represents a really extraordinary and fascinating and almost radical figure in that sense not because she was primarily motivated by ideology or something like that, but because she just wanted to do what she wanted to do and she was a very motivated and headstrong person that was going to do what she wanted to do. And so, once she’s doing these various jobs to make ends meet and to help support her mother, she eventually falls into astrology through this connection with Dr. Smith and began studying it and began studying it more and more and eventually starts causing tensions with her family. And her family doesn’t want her to keep studying astrology and doesn’t want her to start pursuing it because eventually she starts reading charts, but she pretty much just ignores her family and says, “I’m passionate about this and this is what I’m going to do and there’s nothing you can do about it.” And that makes her leave.
CR: She moves to New York. [Renstrom laughs] After the passing of her mother, she moves to New York. I mean, she was always involved in her family and she gave generously to different family members and things like that. But remember, also at the core of this, it’s not just about belief and Evangeline is going to be an independent person, she’s got to make a living, you know? And she’s not going to make a living as a stenographer or a secretary, she’s going to make a [Renstrom laughs] living as an astrologer because this is the thing that feeds her mind and this is what she believes in and this is what stimulates her and this is what draws business to her. I mean, she’s tremendously successful right off the bat, you know?
CB: Yeah. And so, she starts practicing astrology first in Boston and becomes relatively successful there already practicing astrology in Boston in, what time period are we talking about, like the late 1800s?
CR: I would say 1890s. Yeah, 1890s. Yeah, yeah.
CB: Okay. So, practicing in Boston, somewhere during that period, her mentor Dr. Smith eventually dies and leaves her and wills her his entire astrological library including all of his notes.
CR: Yeah, which she had already borrowed. [Renstrom laughs] She was free to borrow. I mean, I think she even had a number of those books already. The important thing and Karen also points this out, yet she’s caring for her mother, but at the same time, she’s saving up her shekels for another astrology book, you know? [Renstrom laughs] So, as she’s working as the stenographer teacher, she’s also saving up to buy more books. So, this is really her calling, you know?
CB: There was a really charming quote that Karen Christino in her book quotes at one point about Evangeline I think it must have been in her biography reflecting on some of those early years when finances were really tough when she was already into astrology and having to decide between buying a new hat or buying a new bonnet versus buying this old astrology book that she found and deciding to go and [Renstrom laughs] purchase the book and having to make her curb financial.
CR: She’s an Aquarius. What do you want? [Renstrom laughs]
CB: Right. So, here’s the quote. This is from page 41 of Karen’s book and she quotes from Evangeline and Evangeline says, “Even the cost of a book was a big thing to consider when it meant going without a new hat. I remember distinctly having to decide on one occasion between a much-needed Easter bonnet to replace one of three years’ service and an old rare book on astrology. It’s needless to add that I used the old bonnet of fourth year and purchased the book.” So, during this period, she’s getting so into astrology that sometimes she makes financial sacrifices in order to pursue that. There’s also tensions with her family and she ends up having to cut out some of her family members. She did have a marriage proposal that she accepted at one point, but this was before I think she accepted that maybe before she got into astrology. But then when she-
CR: She had a problem with that or she was sensing problems with that, yeah.
CB: Yeah, once she got into astrology, it caused major tensions with that relationship and eventually led to the disillusion and she left that relationship.
CR: Well, Smith told her in her chart, I mean, either he out and outside, you shouldn’t marry or marriage wouldn’t do well. I mean, he predicted that and that was always in the back of her mind that marriage wasn’t really a good idea. Where other women might have felt like, “Oh, my goodness, I’ve been cursed, I’ve been whatever,” Evangeline’s like, “Yay, [Renstrom laughs] it’s like I’m free to do my thing.” And the only way that she was going to be able to be free to do her thing was to make money, to make herself economically self-sufficient. By the time she, I don’t know if I’m jumping ahead or not, but by the time she starts, she spends time in New York, goes back to Boston, spends time in New York, goes back to Boston, it’s a back-and-forth thing. But by the time she’s showing up here, she’s got a secretary working for her and she sets up in a hotel with a pretty steep rent on Fifth Avenue. So, Evangeline Adams is making money, but she was also working that as well. It comes to doing a lot around scripts where she would invite people to come on back or whatever it’s been, so she was a good seller. [Renstrom laughs] She was a good networker and a good seller.
CB: She’s a hard worker. She studied well, in her early studies, she also had an early teacher that was… This was actually a really interesting point that I was fascinated by that Karen uncovers is that she had another early teacher besides Dr. Smith who was actually a woman and she learned a fair bit actually from this person, but they must have had some falling out because Evangeline never, [Renstrom laughs] right, because Evangeline never mentions her in her later books, but it turned out or it appeared that Evangeline was actually strongly influenced by Catherine Thompson.
CR: Perhaps more by their rivalry. [Renstrom laughs]
CB: Okay, so and this is back while she was still living in Boston, right?
CR: Yeah. Catherine Thompson knew Broughton, I believe that she studied with Broughton. I’ve got notes where she refers to him and she’s talking about a solar return and things like that, but she was a notoriously difficult woman to get along with and she’s British, and she was very, very opinionated and you had to do astrology like this or whatever, and I think that just they clashed. And then as Evangeline Adams becomes more famous, Catherine Thompson starts competing with her in the newspapers and things like that. But where we’re going to remember Catherine Thompson and what really does make her important even though it only lasts for a couple of years, is her magazine called The Sphinx, which was again modeled on maybe a Raphael meets Alan Leo type of thing and that runs in like 1899 I think to about 1901 and just going off the top of my head, but she publishes that magazine. And I think it’s, I never know how to pronounce that guy Sepharial, right, he actually invested in it and writes this little bitchy letter because he lost [Renstrom laughs] all the money, he didn’t lose all of his money, he lost the money that he invested in the magazine. But she comes out with a magazine at that time and then John Hazelrigg comes out with a magazine as well. So, we’re seeing the publication of astrology magazines that are going outside of the astrological that are going outside of student circles and becoming commercial which again is informed. What Evangeline is learning is use the press. This is the big lesson that she’s learning which is use the press. And I don’t know whether you want to talk about the Windsor fire at this point or not or?
CB: Yeah, I just want to. So, let’s finish up the last of her time in Boston. So, she learns this teacher Catherine Thompson and then Catherine Thompson thing is interesting because Catherine sounded like an interesting but a weird figure. She was like a flat earther and may have been a little bit crazy.
CR: She was, yeah. [Renstrom laughs] I have so much Catherine Thompson material more than I know what [Renstrom laughs] to do with and she’s a little bit, yeah, eccentric.
CB: Nonetheless, it seems eccentric, that’s a good term. [Renstrom laughs] And yes, Evangeline one of the points that Karen makes implicitly in looking at Evangeline’s later career is it seems like she still emulated and ended up accomplishing some of the things that Catherine wanted to accomplish or had set as goals but never fully got to do like becoming the most famous astrologer in America was one of Catherine’s goals that she never quite accomplished but her student Evangeline did.
CR: Okay. Again, a resisting student because she picked up studies with Catherine a little bit, but I don’t think she spent much time. I think Evangeline was actually more like a pollinating bee. She was going from one person to another to another to another, so she’s really picking up her own ideas. And she actually writes what were considered a lot of Catherine Thompson’s writing rubbish and actually had some fundamental disagreements with the way that she was practicing astrology because Evangeline Adams is actually composing her own astrology, the way that she’s going to practice. So, she’s borrowing from a variety of different mediums as well as popular culture. So, I’m not ready to really say that Catherine Thompson was a teacher, she taught her some things, they become rivals, and it’s much more on Catherine Thompson’s end than it is Evangeline’s because of Evangeline just like Trump’s Catherine Thompson like nobody’s business. And so, she’s-
CB: One of the one of the problems, one of the things that’s difficult is we don’t know because Evangeline, one, doesn’t mention Catherine even though they did have some connections, so she is clearly going out of her way to emit something from her biography that otherwise should have been there. And two, one of the things that becomes really clear from Karen’s treatment of Evangeline is that Evangeline was very good at publicity and publicizing herself, but she also had a noted and market tendency to dramatize and embellish and tell different stories about her life that made for good almost like good TV but were not necessarily strictly accurate and sometimes were just plainly inaccurate, like her biography.
CR: Actually, you hit on a beautiful analogy. It is like TV, but make it the press. Okay, remember, she’s coming out of the 19th century theatricality. Remember, we had those spirits in their robes like peeking through. [Renstrom laughs] I mean, she comes out of this what we would find a cheesy, overblown, dramatic way of speaking. So, I would venture to say one of the things she learns from Catherine Thompson is actually how to work publicity, okay, and how to work the newspapers and how to present herself because the way she presents herself is similar. But where Catherine Thompson could get eccentric and opinionated and whatever, Evangeline was always, she develops this more poised and because she looks school mommy, she’s a short stoutish woman with pince-nez on her on her nose so she’s not going to win in the glamour department, but she can win in terms of a trustworthy face, a way of being in which you feel like you can really talk to this person that she really understands what’s going on with you. And the readings would always be championing you. How can you turn the forces of your chart to your advantage so that you can become the best person you can be? That kind of American way of practicing astrology is very much based in Evangeline, but she worked those newspapers like a reality like a Kardashian on Twitter. [Renstrom laughs] And that would probably be one of the analogies I would draw. She knew how to pique interest and she knew how to keep herself in the headlines. And the more she stayed in the headlines, the more people came knocking at her door.
CB: Yeah. Well, in the instances where she accidentally ended up being in the news, she knew how to capitalize on that and use it to its fullest advantage and to increase it, the stature or the things that she would get from that far beyond what she would get if she just did nothing. So, she had a real knack for courting the media and for but also like the dramatic, but part of the downside of that is you have to be a little bit careful reading her biography and that some of the things you can’t take purely for granted because sometimes she would embellish or I don’t want to go as far as to say to lie, but it seems like some of the stuff that she said sometimes about her life was not necessarily accurate.
CR: So, what Karen also talks about is you have to keep in mind her husband who then becomes her publicist and manager, he does a lot of the exaggerating, you know? Yeah. And so, because he’s in charge of a lot of the writing that’s going on, that’s what starts to get more exaggerated. But is it okay to talk about the Windsor fire because that’s going to actually bring these two ideas together? Okay, well-
CB: So, let’s talk about the transition point. So, her mother dies roughly if her dates are cracked and there’s a lot of ambiguity that’s really annoying about that because I’d love to look at Evangeline Adams chart, but there’s actually major disputes over what year she was even born because she seems to have given different years to the census and given [Renstrom laughs] right, different years. Yeah. But as a result of lying about her age to different sources like to reporters or to the census or when she was married and there was like an age disparity in her relationship, they lied about her age to try to close the age gap but as a result of that [crosstalk] Like 20-22 or something like that so-
CR: Evangeline was also a cougar mama.
CB: Right. Anyway, so there’s a lot of ambiguity even over what the correct year was that she was born which is terribly annoying because I’d love to know for sure what her chart was, but it may have been around the time of her Saturn return according to what Karen thinks Karen Christino her biographer thinks is her birthday, her mother dies and this frees Evangeline up to do what she wants to do and she ends up deciding to move to New York, which is just like this massive city in that period of time and it’s a much more like cosmopolitan city than Boston was and she moves to New York, and sets up shop there as an astrologer and right away moves into a hotel where she’s going to start doing astrological consultations out of the hotel or she already has an assistant and everything else. So, this then brings us to one of the first really major notable documented events in her life which is the hotel fire.
CR: Right. Well, what happens is that she shows up at a previous hotel and she’s talking to the proprietor and she says, “Oh, by the way, I’m going to be practicing astrology out of these rooms.” And he’s like, “Not on my premises.” And so, [Renstrom laughs] he shows her the door right off the bat. And then she goes on up to the Windsor Hotel which is Fifth Avenue maybe around 47th or 45th Street, which is away from the immigrant population, it’s a more posh or established part of town. And Leland, the owner of the hotel is delighted. He loves the fact that he’s going to have an astrologer on the premises. He plays the stock market, I think he plays the horses, and so he just thinks this is wonderful, you know?
CB: Right. And the way that she portrays it also is that the proprietor of the first hotel said that she couldn’t practice astrology there that she left and took her bag and trudged out of there almost as a protest saying like, I’m not going to stay here then if you’re not going to respect my… She seemed very, one of the recurring themes in her biography is being very motivated to make astrology respectable and to be seen as respectable for what she was doing and that if people didn’t take-
CR: I think it’s more she wasn’t going to make any money at that place, [Renstrom laughs] honestly. I mean, we have to remember hotel really means apartment building. Okay, right now, we think of hotels as guests now where you come and you stay at a hotel, it’s like renting an apartment. So, it would be like your landlord saying, “No, you can’t do that here.” That’s basically what she was told. And so, she goes up to the Hotel Windsor and he loves the idea completely and he’s like, “Hey, and while you’re at it, why don’t you read my palm.” And again, it’s important to emphasize that Evangeline is working with palms and astrology at the same time. And so, she reads her palm, and mostly this is from Bowl of Heaven, which Karen really references in her book, but she sees evil. Yeah, her autobiography. Yeah, yeah. So, she sees basically in his palm, disastrous aspects and again, there’s that 19th century drama coming through, disastrous aspects, porch ending of ills sort of thing. And then she consults the chart and says, “It’s actually very imminent. It’s going to happen very, very soon like maybe even on the morrow.” And he’s like, “Well, it can’t be that bad because tomorrow is a holiday Saint Patrick’s Day and the stock market’s closed, so I’m not going to lose any money.” [Renstrom laughs] And she’s like, “Well, beware.” It’s basically the message. And what happens-
CB: Yeah. And the one part of that story that is interesting because it sounds like one of those fantastic goal like astrology stories that’s embellished to some extent, but you’re never sure how much or if this actually did happen or if it happened exactly the way that it’s reported but one of the little pieces that I do find interesting that almost gives it a little bit more believability than I might have otherwise is she does make this point where she asks them in her reporting of it that she asked him, she said this aspect or whatever it was that she was looking at that is coming up that goes exact tomorrow, it looks like it’s happened two other times in the past, and that she then asked what happened during those times and he couldn’t really remember anything significant, just something about maybe there was a small fire or something at his establishment, one or both of those times but that was it and they brush it off and then go about their day.
CR: Right. Right, which is her unpacking and him checking out his hotel. But the following day is Saint Patrick’s Day and so they’re having a Saint Patrick’s Day parade and again, he mistakenly believed no disaster because he was thinking stocks. Everyone in New York City at this time, everything is stock market, which also plays a role in how fortune telling is treated as its own special animal and the great lengths that they go to distinguish the difference between stock market calculation and fortune telling because a lawyer working the right angle could turn stock market prophecy into fortune telling and arrest people on Wall Street for that, so that’s why the law was so very particular in New York. But anyway, everything stock market and so he’s like, “That’s close. It’s not going to be disaster.” The parade’s going up Fifth Avenue. I mean, I’ve lived in New York, I know what those [Renstrom laughs] Saint Patrick Days’ parades of the Fifth Avenue are like and a fire breaks out in the Windsor and immediately, and Karen says that the suspicion is that there was a fellow watching the parade who threw out his cigar or cigarette and it didn’t go out and it catches fire and basically, the whole hotel and fires back then as Karen also points out in her book were a huge deal because it was very easy for buildings to catch fire and to be burned down to the ground and maybe even take out a city block. So, with this fire starting and this parade going on, you can begin to imagine the panic on Fifth Avenue and so Evangeline and her assistant leave because she’s on the ground floor. But at the end of the day, it was the most disastrous fire in the history of New York, over 60 people died in it and so the press was all over it. The press was all over it. They were interviewing survivors and things like that, how did you survive, and they were telling tales of these great people who’d sacrifice things or who died miserably or whatever because the press at this point is very sensationalistic. It’s like National Enquirer and all the different presses.
And so, they hear about this woman who had predicted. I don’t know exactly how that got out, but they found Evangeline. Leland is completely in shock. He loses his wife and a daughter in the fire. He’s completely traumatized. And this shows part of Evangeline. She’s taking interviews, she’s [Renstrom laughs] telling her story. She would sing in the poem that it had happened in astrology or whatever. And so, I think the New York Herald picks up on that and then other newspapers come calling and she’s telling them the same story. At one point, I think, Leland confirmed it vaguely as or whatever so it just takes off. So, what we’re also dealing with is someone who was not shy about doing PR based on the misfortune of someone else.
CB: Well, and that was the point that was ambiguous to me because it’s like in some reports, she’s saying I can’t say anything without the permission of my client, but then in others, it seems like she’s talking to the press. So, there’s some ambiguity to me about how much to what extent the story was confirmed by Leland the owner of the hotel who lost his wife and his daughter as well as that the entire building burned down and like 60 people died and he goes into a state of shock and dies three weeks later. So, he’s not even around for that long after this terrible event to say a ton. But for whatever reason in the press and in the tabloids, we should say she gets this reputation for having predicted it and this does really make her very popular or really leads to an explosion of notoriety in New York at this time and she moves over and then sets up shop sets up consultations elsewhere. And from this point forward, she’s like firmly established in New York as a practicing citizen.
CR: She’s becoming more established. What Karen points out and I think it’s a great point is that she then writes an astrological forecast for New York City in 1899 that appears in a newspaper. I’m not sure if that would have been allowed, for instance, across the pond in England that a commercial newspaper would publish a forecast about a city but she does a forecast for the city of New York. It’s in the Sunday supplemental section, but she’s the headline of it with a photograph and a page or two of her forecasts. So, she’s gone from like, who’s this person who predicted this fire to now she’s the civil of New York City, you know? [Renstrom laughs] She’s the CRS of New York City. And that’s what sets her forward where she’s meeting with the glitterati, the celebrities of Broadway, the well to do as well as people who are working class and can afford it. And there’s an inclination that she might have worked on a sliding scale as well. So, this is what really launches her. But what we also have to remember is that she also knew how to take advantage of it and she worked at that forecast for the Windsor fire ends up appearing in England in both Modern Astrologer and another astrology magazine. She’s the one who sent that press material [Renstrom laughs] over there. So, this was a woman who was going to take advantage of these opportunities.
CB: Well, she sends like Leland’s chart and she sends the chart of like New York or something to Sepharial or to whoever’s publishing those magazines as almost a research document saying, “This is the chart and these are the indications. There’s things I think we should learn and take from this tragedy that are empirically useful as working astrologers and I want to share this with you.” And I don’t know how much that’s purely almost scientific versus how much that’s promotional. Yeah, it’s both.
CR: It’s both. It’s both. She had to make a living. She didn’t have a husband, there was no [Renstrom laughs] one to fall back on, she had to make a living so it’s both, which I think is a good thing to keep in mind about her story. This was someone who was intrepid and enterprising. And we might say, “Oh, how horrible or whatever,” but if you’ve got to put food on the table and make a living, this is what she was taking out of all those years of taking care of her mother, was I’m in charge of me so I have to make a living with something like this so that was always in the background as well.
CB: Yeah. And you mentioned the prediction for 1899 and so that was good that you mentioned that because I forgot to mention the dates. We’re talking like 1898-1899ish for her move to New York, right?
CR: 1899 I think I believe ’98-’99, yeah, I’m just repeating you, yeah, yeah, yeah.
CB: Okay. So yeah, from this point forward, she gets fully established in New York. Eventually, she sets up a residence at Carnegie Hall or something like that.
CR: Yeah, yeah. I’ve gone and seen the offices. I mean, they’re not hers [Renstrom laughs] anymore, but I’ve gotten into Carnegie Hall and seen it. We know of Carnegie Hall is where musicians play and things like that, but on the south side of the building are actually studio apartments and suites. I don’t know if they’re that anymore but they were at that time when Carnegie Hall first opened so they would have the symphony hall and then they would rent out apartments and those apartments were usually taken by musicians or artists and things like that. So, there’s this well to do bohemian life that she’s like rubbing shoulders with. It was like when I was living in the East Village and I just dated myself, there it is everyone was up and coming and they hadn’t yet quite arrived and so this is where she’s practicing astrology. So, she goes from like to studio rooms in Carnegie Hall that and she stays in Carnegie Hall the rest of her career to ending up with I think it’s six suites on the 10th floor. That’s how much her army of typists and things like that had expanded. So that’s where she sets up and I believe that that’s in 1904.
CB: Well, that’s one of the cool things early on to me about her move to New York is she was a badass and she rented out [Renstrom laughs] like these nice places, the hotel that burned down was a super nice place that she went to and the first hotel that she had attempted to go to on Fifth Avenue was also a super nice place. And then eventually, the place that she ends up settling into in Carnegie Hall was a super nice residence and office. And so, part of that was her part of it like a class thing, but also her presenting and wanting to present herself as being respectable and successful and trustworthy and she would just see like tons of clients and do tons of consultations and start to meet with and have very well to do clients in New York City.
CR: Absolutely, absolutely. And that’s why she becomes this local Sybelle, this prophetess and why she’s so well-known because New York at this time also remembers it’s the center of publishing. I mean, you’ve got some competing newspapers in Chicago, San Francisco, but New York is really the center of publishing. So, if you’re hitting, if you’re getting an interview in the paper or whatever, you’ve got newspapers syndicate sprouting right now around the McLaren syndicate, so it’s like the late 19th century and so, these news items are going outside of New York and they’re spreading across the country. And so, again, this is what’s bringing the notoriety and the fame but again, she’s very careful and this is what saves her or helps her with her trial, but she’s very careful to cultivate this learned established… I look at the chart dispassionately peeking over her glasses [Renstrom laughs] her image. And again, even though she wasn’t glamorous or particularly beautiful looking, that worked to her advantage as well because she looks like Miss Marple from the Agatha Christie [Renstrom laughs] mysteries or something, someone you can rely on and trust, salt of the earth I think.
CB: Yeah, I think like somebody maybe as Karen refers to almost as like your wise aunt who’s giving you advice or something. And so, she’s doing consultations, she’s set up in New York, but then eventually, she does run into problems and eventually runs afoul of the law at one point, at two distinct points in the 19 teens [Renstrom laughs] yeah, three, eventually. So, the first time she’s arrested and she’s busted for fortune telling, but that one is quickly dismissed. But then the second time in 1914, there is a sting that the police do and they have undercover officer go in and do it and get a consultation. And then afterwards, she’s arrested and charged with anti-fortune telling laws which were still on the books in New York at that time. And there was a serious like it was not a light matter, it was like a serious threat to her where she could have faced it was something like six months or six years in prison and a huge fine.
CR: I think it was more the steep fine. It was more of the steep fine. The magistrate’s court, first of all, where these fortune tellers were brought in as I referenced earlier, was really more like a circus than it was a Draconian affair. There was one mentalist, for instance, who is brought in and asked to demonstrate his abilities and he actually names the judges’ third grade teacher and tells the judge [Renstrom laughs] how much money he’s got in his bank account. And the judge’s like, “I can’t, charges are dropped. That’s the amount of money in my bank account and that’s indeed my third-grade teacher and how did you know that?” Or there was another fellow who had a parrot who would bob and weave around this hat and there were a bunch of cards in it and he would go abracadabra and hocus pocus and the parent went and took out a card and he takes the card from the parent and speak and says, “Your fortunes will soon improve.” And the judge was so amused by that that he let him go. So, the thing is it wasn’t always this Draconian thing, it was actually funny and if you actually put on a good show as a fortune teller and maybe we’re even accurate, you could get off and then they’d see you again six months later. So basically, fortune tellers were basically the same class as prostitutes which were also persecuted under the vagrancy law so many of them, we had seen them again and they’d gotten out or whatever, so it wasn’t when I was horrible.
CB: I don’t know, I think we should be careful not to downplay this too much because it seems like a major thing in her biography and it was a major threat to her. This was a serious charge.
CR: Yeah. But at the same time, I have the newspaper articles that describe all these different cases. So, the thing is it’s one thing to focus on the figure and then it’s also another thing, which I do in the way that I look at history, is to also focus on the culture by going to the newspapers and seeing what the accounts and the reports were, it becomes a big deal for Evangeline. I mean, I think what Karen really characterizes very well in the book is that Evangeline found it unsettling. Okay, she found it unsettling and she was disturbed by this. But the culture of the court was actually, it could be funny and then it could be serious, so it went back and forth in that regard and if you want, I can certainly produce the newspaper articles that describe this. What happens in Evangeline’s case is that she challenges it because she recognizes a PR opportunity that if she challenges this, okay, this is going to make the papers. And that’s where either she leaks or insinuates or whatever that she is a direct descendant of President John Adams and President John Quincy Adams of the United States, and that becomes wildfire in the press. Okay. Now, Karen is very, very careful and she bends over backwards saying, “Well, she didn’t really say this dah, dah, dah.” The headlines are saying it and where did they get it from? Okay. But that’s where Karen and I can have wonderful and intriguing conversation about that. But that’s what made the headlines and I’ve got the newspaper articles that are leading with those headlines. And so, this is what generates publicity. You have to remember she’s always looking on the PR end as well, but she also has an opportunity to prove astrology as a science, okay, and that’s what’s really important about this court trial and that’s what it becomes very well known for.
CB: Well, because that’s how she spins it in retrospect, like after the fact when she spins it, she spins it as a great victory for astrology and as she tries to spin it as demonstrating that astrology is a science, but prior to it, this was like an existential threat to her, her entire income was based on doing consultations. And suddenly, she got arrested for doing consultations and threatened with six months in jail and a huge fire.
CR: I think you’re… Yeah, I’m not sure where the six months maybe you’re absolutely right with that. Okay, okay. What you’re bringing to me is William Cheney who actually did do time in jail. Okay. He actually really did do time in jail.
CB: So, that’s not inconsequential like an astrologer?
CR: No, but you could buy your way out of it and they did. That’s the point that I’m making. You could make a deal to buy your way out of it, okay? She opts to make a stand, okay? And she’s not going to buy her way out of it, but I do have to represent the fact that many people bought their way out of it and that’s why they would show up in court and be gone and show up in court again.
CB: I mean, that’s the thing though is that this could have gone either way it seems like for her and she got lucky and that it didn’t go the opposite way and that she wasn’t convicted of fortune telling.
CR: No, she didn’t get lucky. She did an extraordinary case. She did an extraordinary case.
CB: No, I mean, I was reading the testimony and reading Karen her biographer’s treatment of it, it seemed like she ended up with a sympathetic judge and it came down to this-
CR: Chris, I’ve got the transcripts here.
CB: Yeah, apparently, I read the transcripts.
CR: Okay. And if you look at the transcripts, she does not have to prove that astrology is a science, what she has to prove is that she’s not engaging in any supernatural agency to come at what she’s saying. Okay, that is what she has to prove.
CB: And fortune telling, right? And fortune telling, but it all hinges on what is fortune telling.
CR: Right. And fortune telling is a very, very vague description, okay? If you look at the, don’t look at the 1967 fortune telling law. And Karen and I have gone through great pains to actually find the actual [Renstrom laughs] law from 1914, okay, but the actual fortune telling law is extremely vague. It refers to pretending to fortunes and finding lost items. That’s the line for fortune telling, okay? Everything off of that was people’s perceptions of it. Okay. And that would depend on the judge or the magistrate that the person was being brought up in front of by her saying I’m going to show that this is a science. Now in Evangeline Adams’ mind, she was proving that this was a science, okay. But if you look at the court transcripts, first, she is very careful about noting the fact that she goes through a very long and drawn-out process where she was referring to books and statistics and records in which she was talking about how the planetary placements could be interpreted this way, but at no point does she say this is going to happen on this date. That’s what makes her different from the Malcolm case which was also an astrologer and palmist in 1915 who was arrested. And Malcolm comes out and says, “On this date, this is going to happen, that’s going to happen, and this is going to happen.” And that’s why Malcolm actually gets hit with a very, very steep fine. But Evangeline Adams was able to say, “This is the inclination. This could happen as a possibility based on the signs that I’m looking at in the stars.”
And so, what Freschi went off of and it’s very interesting in the way that he sizes up the argument for two points. One of the things that he talks about is the understanding that exists between the person who’s performing the service and the person who is being served. If both people have an agreed upon understanding that astrology is interpreting signs from the stars and so the consumer has a reasonable expectation that that’s what’s going to take place, then that moves it from fortune telling into actually a transactional business, okay? But what he was impressed by was the long list of history, the exhausting system that she went to, to arrive at this which she replicates in the trial. And then there’s a third thing, which I really want to make as a point which is very, very important. At the end of his summation, he’s… Okay, there’s two statements that are really important. One is the defendants counsel stated in his brief that astrology was an applied science in that it takes the established principles of astronomy as its guide in delineating human character and all its judgments are based on mathematical calculations. She successfully demonstrated that. But this is the way he ends it and it’s fascinating. He says, Freschi says, “No doubt, many, many years ago, for anyone to have attempted to say that the conformation of the head of that the physiognomy of a creature determine the character of the individual and that such and such a type would someday turn out to be a criminal would have been guilty of fortune telling, but the history of specifics has furnished us with a working thesis for these new theories that nowadays seem to be accepted by criminologists and the public in general.” I highlight that because at the time of her trial, there was the Bertillon method which was being used to measure body parts like skull size and limbs to determine criminal behavior and identity. That was in widespread use at the time. It went out of fashion because of its connection with eugenics. And then secondly, the practice of collecting fingerprints introduced as recently as 1903 to the New York state prison system was by 1914 just beginning to catch on with police departments around the country. So Freschi point was that it was not too farfetched that astrology or even palmistry, for that matter, might not at some point, be recast in a more serious light thanks to the emergent science of psychology. So that’s the way Freschi was looking at it.
CB: Yeah, there was ambiguity where maybe it could still be a science and she demonstrated that it was based on astronomy and she also came off as a respectable middle to upper class woman who was not some mystic who was doing a seance or pretending to talk to the dead, she was actually calculating charts based on an ephemeris and then making statements based on that, which she in the trial goes to great lengths to emphasize that she was qualifying her statements and she was not treating it as being completely deterministic so that whatever statement she make is couched in the sense of this will definitely happen to you, but instead that this was simply a possible indication. So, there was this whole weird subtext of determinism versus freewill and signs versus causes which is an interesting like 2000 yearlong recurring theme and issue in astrological discussions and somehow becomes crucial in this trial. But the problem is that astrology in the subsequent decades by the ‘60s and ‘70s would end up not becoming validated by science. And so that was the point where it could have gone either way for Evangeline is all she was able to do is convince this judge that it could quasi become validated at a science at some point and therefore might not just be fortune telling. But in reality, she was still doing fortune telling in some sense, depending on how you define fortune telling.
CR: The Freschi story is fascinating. First of all, most of the people who were being brought in for fortune telling were immigrants, okay.
CB: Right. And that was an underlying thing that I got from this as well is that she was an affluent, educated white woman and that was part of what he, not resonated with, but he judged her more favorably as a result of that whereas if she hadn’t been-
CR: Well, no, what I would like to throw into that soup is that Freschi is a first-generation Italian. His parents are immigrants.
CB: Okay. And what’s the full name again? Because this is the judge, but I don’t think we stated that explicitly.
CR: The full name, I am sorry just going by his last name, but it’s Freschi. I can’t find it. Yeah, he is first-generation Italian.
CB: John J. Freschi?
CR: Yes, yes. He’s first-generation Italian. So, first of all, he’s already got a sympathy towards immigrants. Okay. Secondly, he hits the police woman who sets up this thing and he doesn’t really like how that went down that she’s saying that she made all these statements or whatever. And he’s like, “Well, I’m having a five-to-10-minute conversation with Miss Adams and she can’t get through settings without referring to a Saturn or a Uranus [Renstrom laughs] or a whatever conjunction. It’s like there was an elaborate system here that she’s referencing. And so, he felt that the policewoman who was under Teddy Roosevelt was being disingenuous that she was not giving a proper account of what that was. Freschi was fascinating. There’s one case in which this IWW protester says that he got passionate and got into a brawl or whatever during a street political protest because he has an artistic temperament and Freschi said, “Well, what makes you artistic?” And he says, “I write poetry.” And he’s like, “Okay, well, why don’t you read some of your poetry out loud for me so I can judge how artistic your temperament is?” Freschi had this side to him that was really, he was curious and playful, but also could be very stern or whatever. So, he was very much intrigued by the… Evangeline Adams walks away feeling she had converted him to her side. No, he was intrigued actually by the judicial and philosophical argument that was going on here with astrology. And when you take into account that there were these techniques that were coming out where they’re measuring people’s skulls and looking at fingerprints, he talks about physiognomy which is astrological that’s reading of the face. I mean, he refers to it in the trial transcript. And he’s saying years ago, a physiognomist would have been called a fortune teller, but now we call it psychology. That’s what he’s saying when he’s summing up. So, he’s intrigued.
CB: Which again, in retrospect, like physiognomy is viewed as a discredited method of fortune telling at this point and not scientific in any way, so-
CR: Right. But at that time, this was the culture and so these were the ideas that he was… But he comes across to my reading and history is always about interpreting, it’s like a chart, but it’s like he’s actually very intrigued by her argument and annoyed, the way that this is being set up. And so, his feeling is if she’s going to make a convincing argument that it is an applied science. And she does, and she gets off for it, you know?
CB: Well, in the transcripts, she’s very clearly coached because they delay the trial and her lawyer says, “I need time to study astrology in order to properly defend this case.” And the judge is like, “Fine, whatever.” So, they schedule it for six months later, so she has like six months to prepare. And clearly in the transcripts, when they start asking her specifics about what was said or what was not said in the consultation, she comes back with a lot of what seems like clearly coached like I don’t remember statements, but then saying I wouldn’t have stated it that way when presented with specific statements that the undercover officer says that she made that were like specific predictions. And then she always subtly twists each of the statements to be slightly less deterministic and slightly more open-ended in terms of whatever predictions she did or did not end up making that day.
CR: Well, and Chris, let’s face it. She had fabulous optics. She comes in with a stack of books, and she’s opening up books, and she’s referring to this, and she’s referring to the British librarian who is referencing the number of charts that predict deaths by accident. So, I mean, remember, this is her education from Dr. Smith coming through, you know? By saying, okay, I didn’t say this, but this British librarian who’s a historian or whatever it says in this book, and she opens up the book and in the book, it lists what would cause an accidental death. And she’s like, “That’s the reference. That’s the source.” Okay. So, this is the stuff that is persuading the judge that, okay, this isn’t, woo-woo-woo, this is someone who’s actually learned and consulting books. And I may not understand the language, I can’t get through, ask here a couple of questions without setting for a long lecture about Jupiter. But she’s getting this information from a source and it’s in books and it’s proving it as an applied science. And this is actually what’s always made astrology different from the other occult sciences, you had to be literate, you had to be literate book read to be an astrologer. You did not have to be book read to be a palmist, or a channeler or whatever. But if you were an astrologer, you had to be able to read a book and you had to be able to do mathematics and that’s always been… [crosstalk 00:03:52:21] Yeah, yeah.
And this is what she demonstrated. So, for someone looking at this, this isn’t voodoo or my parents taking a little card out of the hat or I’m going to like guess the amount of money in your bank, this is someone who’s demonstrating an applied science and that’s exactly why the charges against her are dropped, but she also gets this extraordinary PR from it. And it also feeds her mission which is to make astrology acceptable in society. I mean, this is always also a big part of her. There’s a reason why she’s Evangeline, evangelist, the Word of God, you know? [Renstrom laughs] She’s speaking the word of astrology. Maybe she had a Sun in joy in the ninth, I don’t know, but [Renstrom laughs] this is her mission.
CB: So, she ends up though getting off of the charge of fortune-telling partially because she’s able to at least convey the pretense that she’s doing like some scientific stuff that’s based on book learning and based on astronomy and she’s not just pulling it out of thin air and the judge is impressed by this even though, like ultimately though, if you think about what she’s using that for is she’s still making statements about whether a person will get married, whether a person will encounter a career success, whether they will have children and other things like that which in all honesty, I get that.
CR: Yeah, she’s not naming the date and that actually becomes the big difference between her and that other trial that I referenced a number of moments ago.
CB: I mean, but anyway, but she’s still engaged in honesty and fortune-telling. And somehow, she still gets off because she’s able to convey that there’s other scientific materials connected with this and the judge for whatever reason, buys it and gives this judgment that it’s not fortunate-telling and she did not break the law.
CR: Chris, I hate to disagree, but I think the judge is impressed. He believes it. He believes her.
CB: Karen says that in her opinion, she thought the judge might have been favorably inclined from the start and seems lenient that if she had got a different judge, it could have gone a different way.
CR: Oh, absolutely. No, I think she happened to be lucky and she got a great judge who was that intellectual, honestly. You have to be an intellectual to sit through the demonstration of this. Judge Freschi would have people demonstrate. I mean, I can do a few more stories, I’m not going to go on about it, but people would make these claims and then Judge Freschi would say, “Okay, demonstrate this. If you have an artistic temperament, read some poetry to me and I’m going to see how artistic you are.” So, this is his attitude, this is the judge. But I don’t think there was some conspiracy or paying off or anything along those lines. I think she happened to be lucky that she pulled this judge. Clark L. Jordan, who is her attorney 12 years later, defends another astrologer using the same method and that astrologer gets off as well and I think she’s the president of the New York astrological society or something like that. So, Jordan, curiously, actually takes more cases like this. So, it did become a way of really… And that’s not Judge Freschi, Chris, that’s a different judge and Jordan use the same techniques and the woman ended up with the same ruling. So that doesn’t go with the judge being whatever. I mean, this was a successful technique and it worked twice.
CB: Yeah. Well, I mean, because part of my issue is that later in the 20th century and in the early 21st century as recently as the 2000s, astrology has run into issues the law again, but instead of trying to demonstrate that astrology is a science, astrologers have generally gotten off due to free speech laws and freedom of religion type laws rather than attempts to demonstrate the validity or scientific nature of astrology.
CR: Yes, although that was embryonic. There is a case from 1919 where someone is brought in for fortune-telling and it’s a spiritualist, the person’s channeling a spirit. And so, they’re trying to make the same thing apply and actually, the person is led off for freedom of religion and freedom of belief. So, what happens is that in 1967, the law becomes reworded in New York to become much more specific and to talk about spirit agencies, supernatural agencies and that curiously enough because it always gets back to immigration is targeted at the Santeria community and the voodoo community. And so, it’s being targeted there to go after people who invoke supernatural agencies and things along those lines and so that mover shift was made in 1967. Right now, currently, we have what I compared to as the don’t ask, don’t tell policy if you say that you’re an entertainer or this is for entertainment.
CB: Yeah. What is the law in New York really concisely? Because New York is one of those states or cities where astrologers do have to say that astrology this is for entertainment purposes only and they have to have some disclaimer when they’re advertising astrological services.
CR: Yeah, it has to appear on your website, yeah, for entertainment only or you say it. And again, what they’re trying to do is get away from people who are like, it’s targeted for those occult practices and this is the irony, but it’s targeted for those occult practices that don’t have a strict regimen like astrology does. [Renstrom laughs] Astrology does have a regimen. There’s a discipline, there’s a practice. You can have three astrologers. They might disagree about things or whatever, but you’re going to come up with three generally same things. And so, astrology has always been able to prove whether you believe in the system or not, that it’s systemized. That’s what makes astrology different from these other occult practices and so that’s where they brought in supernatural agencies. And if you think about it, Chris, that’s actually a distinction to make it different from astrology. Because as an astrologer, I don’t think that you would bring in a supernatural agency to read a chart. You’d follow a very set system to do that.
CB: Yeah. I mean, that’s a whole discussion in of itself to get into like intuitive astrology or channelers, or what have you. Let’s talk really quickly about timing here. So, we have I think 15 minutes left. You said you can go until 2:30, right? Okay. Is that definite? Because I’m going to structure the rest of our time based on if we only have 15 minutes left, these are the points we need to hit. So, is that-
CR: Are you pushing for more? [Renstrom laughs]
CB: Yeah. Well, we only just got up to the trial and she lived for another 15 something years. So, I just want to make sure we hit… One of them I want to hit so she got the trial set New York precedent, she gets a bunch of assistance, she gets really famous at this point, she does use this victory for PR purposes to validate her astrological work, maybe even overplays that a little bit by saying that it like raised astrology to the status of a science. Yeah, yeah. [Renstrom laughs] So, she spins it. She’s having a hardcore spin after she has the victory. She does want to start writing a book and she has some failed attempts to write a book, one of which was really super fascinating and there’s a whole great chapter on it in Karen Christino’s book is a short-lived business partnership with the occultist Aleister Crowley and he ends up helping to write for a couple of years large portions of what would eventually be published in two of her later astrology books, right?
CR: Is it a couple of years? I thought it was a summer.
CB: I was just rereading this one and the O.T.O one that was republished and they seem to say the majority of it was that summer, but it was extended over into two different calendar years.
CR: Okay, proofs and things like that. Yeah, he was basically a ghostwriter for her. And Evangeline Adams was not a writer. It’s pretty clear. The books that came out were either recycled written materials that had been sent out for the mail order. Horoscopes that she had done, she might have come up with that original material but it’s looking more and more like she was working with other people or used to hiring people to write this material. I think she probably dictated, probably told the person what she wanted to see and probably also reviewed copy and things like that. But I don’t-
CB: Yeah, and we should be careful because there’s almost a misconception that it’s a completely… Because his pieces of the book were republished in like 2003 under the title The General Principles of Astrology under the name Aleister Crowley with Evangeline Adams and this takes material that was definitely his contribution and turns it into a full book, but there were pieces that were definitely her contribution in her word and their writing styles and their way of approaching astrology were so distinct that you really can tell the difference between them at different points.
CR: Oh, it’s remarkably different, but what I’m also trying to distinguish for instance, Bowl of Heaven, Astrology Your Place in the Stars. [crosstalk 00:13:36:06] There’s a third. There’s Astrology for Everyone and these are written with hired writers. The only reason I go into this is because she was looking at Aleister Crowley as a hired writer, basically a hired hand.
CB: And he needed the money. He was like visiting the United States, but then he ended up being broke and needed work and one of his skills was being a really good writer.
CR: Chris, he needed money because he’s a drug addict. [Renstrom laughs] Okay? He’s a junkie, he needs money. He was going through money constantly. He had a huge reputation in Europe for this. And he comes to America and he’s trying to make a clean thing a bit or whatever, but he’s on the drugs and so this is affecting. Ernest Hemingway does a whole depiction of him. It’s quick little street portrait that he does in Moveable Feast where he’s basically described as a junkie. I mean, so Aleister Crowley needed money because he had a big drug habit. Now, he believed that drugs would, he’s ahead of the ‘60s in this regard, and that he believed that drugs would alter consciousness and open them up for magical abilities and things like this. But of the two, I think he actually comes from the from the affluent family. He certainly came from much more affluent family than Evangeline. I’m doing some lucky or educational guessing with this, but I would Imagine she was impressed by the fact that he was British and everything British made a very strong impression with her. Karen talks about that in the book with the king and things like that and she often visited England. And I think quite frankly, what it gets down to is she was super busy. She was busy with her clients and socializing and evenings at the theater and things like that. So, she gave him basically the keys to the summer house, she had two of them, and said you have X amount of time to write this book and there was an agreement or an understanding that her name goes on it and his doesn’t, and I’m sure that he signed something along those lines and he wrote this. And in this astrology book, her stuff shows up, and you can see that’s very different because his is a little bit more Alan Leo’s getaway. It’s like we’re going to look at these personalities and decision and things along those lines and hers is more like this is how you put it to use or whatever. It is much more down to earth.
CB: Right, because he had some background in astrology and he probably had a lot of book learning in astrology up to that point, but she had been a consulting astrologer for years at that point. So, her contribution would have been being able to convey some of that acquired knowledge that you get from like years and years of seeing tons of clients.
CR: And she had developed an American astrology. She had developed an astrology which was an Evangeline Adams’ astrology and so it’s not the British school, you know? And it’s just like in dance, you’ve got Balanchine and then you have the British school or you have very different types of balletic discipline and style and so you have that in astrology as well. And I think that over this-
CB: Although she wasn’t like unfamiliar with British astrology because she did travel to the UK and she bought Alan Leo books who was a contemporary of hers.
CR: I think she’s rising at the time when I think he’s fading I think because I think he’s-
CB: Yeah, his court case his big one is like in 1914 as well which was the same year as her and then he died a few years later. So, she lived like 15 years longer than him so he was a slightly older contemporary.
CR: Yeah, yeah. And the thing is no, she was very much…. And Karen I think even said that she had William Lilly in her library as well, so there’s definite familiarity with the British style. But I think that the PR, being the headline winner, talking to the newspapers, I think that also very much crafts her voice as an astrologer and crafts her style because I think Crowley makes a big point that she doesn’t even know basic astronomy. She’s talking about the science of astrology or whatever and she doesn’t even know basic astronomy or something like that.
CB: Well, and that was part of, we have to be careful with that because they had a huge falling out and then he was like super addict to her afterwards and she basically just erases him from her life and never mentions him again whereas he writes this whole screed against her in some journal article in 1917 and then in his autobiography, he says terrible things about her and says that she ripped him off and all this other stuff, some of which was actually interesting seeing his perspective on things and unfortunately, we never see her perspective because her response it’s just she never mentioned him.
CR: Well, you know why? You know why? She just did a Catherine Thompson with him. [Renstrom laughs]
CB: Yeah, yeah. And that’s actually a really interesting point because it comes up with other astrologers and other biographies where sometimes when there’s an astrologer who’s clearly influenced by somebody but they don’t mention them like almost like not mentioning somebody as a source or as somebody that you were influenced by or had major interactions with says more and says something almost as significant as mentioning that person.
CR: Well, it’s conspicuous. It’s a conspicuous absence, you know? And so, I think and maybe we just stumbled upon the way that she dealt with things that she didn’t like.
CB: Yeah. And then also, [Renstrom laughs] but that she sometimes hired different writers to help with projects and they didn’t get credit either. So, one of the things we have to be careful about is when we mention the name Aleister Crowley, there’s all this built up over the past century behind that whereas he was just like this ghostwriter that she hired for like a year or two who she had this huge falling out with, so he wasn’t necessarily like the Aleister Crowley at that point.
CR: Now I think it’s the ‘20s, so now he is the Aleister Crowley because he’s already done his deal with the Golden Dawn and been a bugbear for William Butler Yeats and all that kind of business so that’s already, I believe taken place at this point or would have recently taken place.
CB: Not the ‘20s. We’re talking about like 1914, 1915, 1916 when-
CR: I thought the book was around 19- Okay. Now then this would be following… Sorry, my Golden Dawn history, I apologize ahead of time, but I believe that follows on the heels of the falling out with the Golden Dawn and William Butler Yeats. It’s going to be around that period of time.
CB: So, anyways, they have they’re falling out, but what’s bizarre is she doesn’t end up taking that material until like a decade later and then cobbles it together with some other stuff in order to publish these two books.
CR: Well, the thing is, this is what I would submit as an idea. For any astrologer who keeps a blog, right? Okay, you can write about these pieces or whatever or you can do these predictions or whatever, but the internet is such a demanding taskmaster in terms of 24/7 that at some point, you might be repurposing, reusing. You might be wondering if you should repurpose or reuse or something along those lines. Evangeline Adams was spending most of her time. She only consulted in the afternoon from like 12:00 to 6:00 or 7:00 or something like that. But in the morning, she was going over what was going out of those male horoscopes and looking over copy and things along those lines. So, this I think was really much more the focus for her. So, I have, it’s a different idea of looking at it but I think she gave this guy some money and here’s the keys to my house, you’ve got a nice British accent and you’re an intriguing guy, write this stuff for me. The agreement is that you’re a ghostwriter handed and on time and ta-da. And it didn’t work out that way and he has a drug addicts’ reaction to things. Sorry, I’m just going to say that. And I think that she probably was like, “Someone deal with this.” [Renstrom laughs]
CB: Well, then she just went on and was busy and had a successful career because she’s seeing a ton of clients.
CR: She had a career that was going on. She didn’t have time for bad boys and these misadventures.
CB: Sure. And that’s probably why her book also took so long to get out eventually later in the 1920s because she was just doing consultations and she started doing mail order horoscopes eventually-
CR: Oh, she’s doing that in the teens. Right. So, it’s probably her husband Jordan who goes and says, “Hey, what’s this stuff?” I mean, I’m fantasizing but he probably picked it up and said, “We could use this.”
CB: Yeah. So eventually, she does get married and he becomes partly like a business partner as well and ends up helping to run her office. She ends up continuing to expand her offices at Carnegie Hall so that eventually she just has-
CR: Oh, he turns the PR machine. I mean, whatever she was doing for PR audaciously, he turns into a machine. [Renstrom laughs] He brings all of that to the table with her. He’s a tremendous asset to her.
CB: And then they end up having like tons of assistance and employees. Yeah, six suites-
CR: Six suites in Carnegie Hall on the 10th floor, yeah, that’s a lot of typists.
CB: And like dozens of employees. And eventually she gets on the radio and has like a whole radio show.
CR: Yeah, yeah. And yeah, she has a radio show. She’s sponsored by Forhan’s toothpaste which I hope I’m remembering it right with the Pepsodent. But Forhan’s was a competitor with the major toothpaste at the time and so they underwrote her show. And so, she would come on the radio with a sleepy time voice and I think her theme song was sweet mystery of life and she would speak into the microphone. I wish we had audio recordings [Renstrom laughs] because it would be wonderful to know what her voice was. And actually, she would do forecasts, but she was also doing question and answers and things like that. Something that I do want to point out in American newspapers at that time, this is the ‘20s, there were several astrology columns that were syndicated. In fact, the first female astrologer to be syndicated was Genevieve Campbell in 1917 and she… So, this is at the time when Evangeline is just learning her voice and getting an interviewer or three, but Campbell is syndicated with her tomorrow’s horoscope was the title of her horoscope from coast to coast and so I’ve got papers from Portland, Oregon, Salt Lake City, Miami, Florida that carried her. So, America was really hungry for astrology. And it would be different forecasts, some were whole page. McClure Syndicate did this one anonymous astrologer who actually had like incredible real estate for a newspaper. Others were-
CB: And in one of those publications, it’s a book, right? You showed it to me right before we started talking.
CR: Oh, I don’t have Evangeline’s book, but I have those newspapers are actually in, they’re really poorly reproduced mimeograph things, but I’ve got-
CB: Yeah, I just wanted to make sure you showed that book that you showed me at the beginning since we’re getting close to needing to wrap up here. Do you have it? Yes.
CR: Yeah. So, this is basically what makes Evangeline Adams a household name. In addition to the radio show, she came out with this pamphlet which is basically called Evangeline Adams’ Own Book of Astrology: The World’s Greatest Astrologer Reads Character in the Stars and she also teaches you astrology in this thin book. And it’s pretty much the features of the time that gives the history of astrology and then it gets into characters, and there’s a book for each sign, and there are celebrities that are being shown. But what was amazing about this and what makes it different from for instance, Astrology Magazine is that these were distributed through Woolworths. I don’t know if a lot of people in your audience are familiar or remember Woolworths, but think of Duane Reade, okay? It’s a drugstore that it’s all over the country or Walgreens. Okay, let’s go with Walgreens. Okay. Imagine Walgreens is the drugstore that goes from coast to coast in the country. Well, on every newsstand in Walgreens were these 12 booklets. And so, this was a big moneymaker for her. It got her name out there even more than even- This in probably late 1920s-1930s. This actual book is 1931. But this is-
CB: So, towards the end of her life in the 1920s and early 1930s, this is actually towards the end of her life because she dies in early 60s, but that’s when she hits the peak of her popularity.
CR: Oh, in her age and her 60s. I thought you said early 60s. [Renstrom laughs] Okay, yeah. No, she’s… Yeah, she’s at the peak of her popularity. What’s extraordinary about Evangeline Adams is that she keeps going up. [Renstrom laughs] It’s like she’s always taking the next step up until the last one is literally up in the heaven and she becomes this icon, this immortal icon. So, the story of her life is this extraordinary upward climb. And that’s what Karen emphasizes in her book a lot is the extraordinarily good luck and fortune that Evangeline Adams has and so she dies really at what would be the peak. I mean, there’s talk of doing a Hollywood movie about her and getting her on a lecture circuit, but she was easily as popular as any screen star at the time. And they were saying that more people know their astrological signs than the members of the president’s cabinet. That was a big statement that was made in the papers which isn’t a big thing if you think about it because how many of us know the members of cabinet anyway, [Renstrom laughs] but that was a statement or a claim that the papers made. So, she really went out on a high note.
CB: Yeah, because unfortunately, her health started to decline later in life. And so, she was still doing stuff and was still very active especially with the help of all of her husband and all of her assistants and that huge team of assistants that we’re doing stuff and answering, they set up to 4,000 pieces of mail a day. And one of the things that’s fascinating, she was really leveraging what were new technologies at the time, like being on the radio was a new technology. And it’s interesting, astrologers often are at the vanguard of new and emerging technologies in different eras and that was really one of the things and she did incredibly well.
CR: Particularly media, there’s two things that always take the next step up with the new media. It’s astrology and pornography, it’s those two things. [Renstrom laughs] They both explode when you go to print, when you go to book, when you go to film, when you go to whatever, but she’s an Aquarius, what do you want? But she took incredible advantage of the new media and if she didn’t understand it, she found someone who did and they took care of that. So, her deal was to bring the show. She showed up and she brought the show and then how it was distributed or whatever, but she becomes the model for Wynn who right after she dies, Wynn’s horoscope. He also does celebrity style movie magazines with astrology and things like that and he cashes in on his Hollywood connections. He certainly fills the void for a while with her. The big person that she becomes the model for is Bruce King better known as Zolar who by the way, also had a radio show at the same time she did and was taking questions and answers from the audience. And then he designs little fortunes that you can get from fortune machines at the movie theaters, he strikes a deal with the movie theaters. And then Zolar, we still know his name today. I mean, he becomes this juggernaut of astrology from the ‘30s until when he passes, I think it’s in the ‘70ss. But you can still see a Zolar dream scope or Zolar dreams interpreted or whatever, but his whole business model was Evangeline Adams. And I don’t know whether she would agree or not, I’m probably speaking out of turn, but I would also say Susan Miller is very much I mean, whether she made those decisions consciously or not, but if you go back and look at her business model, it’s very, very similar to Evangeline Adams. And again, it’s a story of someone who really built as an astrologer through the introduction of different media and technologies. So, the ripple effect of Evangeline Adams is really widespread.
CB: Yeah. And Holden refers to James Holden who wrote what I consider to be one of if not the most authoritative book on the history of Western astrology titled A History of Horoscopic Astrology calls her the most famous astrologer in the first third of the 20th century. And one of the things that stands out to me that’s really fascinating by that in America, he says, I should qualify that. One thing that’s fascinating to me about that is it doesn’t say like female astrologer, it’s most famous American astrologer in the first third of the 20th century. And that’s huge to me because that’s a huge turning point where for like centuries for 2000 or 3000 years up to this point, pretty much all of the figures that we know by name and the major people whose books that survive were astrologers who are men, and all of a sudden, there’s this turning point in the late 19th and early 20th century and Evangeline Adams is one of the first major figures of that where suddenly women come into their own as astrologers who are writing books and influencing the tradition in a major and perceptible way.
CR: Because astrology takes off in women’s magazine. Comfort magazine in 1897 publishes a palmistry column and an astrology column. And Comfort magazine was a household magazine and it was the first magazine to reach a subscriber base of over a million. And so, this is where astrology is acceptable enough for a woman of the household to read it and to want to learn it. And so, with women really entering a different tier of the workforce which is happening in the teens and the ‘20s. Again, Evangeline Adams gives the demonstration of that. I mean, your other choice was to be an opera star or Hollywood star or whatever, but here Evangeline Adams is an astrologer and a major businesswoman. We had other business women around that time as well. So, what she’s standing for and that so many astrologers at that time, Belle Bart is another one, are women and they’re speaking to a female audience. And again, this ground had been laid by spiritualism and it becomes later on women’s liberation. This is the same thing that Linda Goodman is connecting to as well when she writes and probably becomes, you’re going to be like Christopher, but probably the second most famous American Astrologer of [Renstrom laughs] 20th century would be Linda Goodman and I would make the case that they’re both women. Someone can go with Carol Ryder or Sidney. I mean-
CB: No, I mean, Linda Goodman definitely she had the highest selling astrology book of the 20th century and perhaps the whole time.
CR: Yeah, yeah, so they’re both women and-
CB: And she published that book in 1968 so that’s like in the second third of the century or even last third of the century.
CR: Yeah, I mean, you can have a lot of men contributing to astrology like Marc Edmund Jones or Dane Rudhyar or whatever, but people are going to know Linda Goodman. [Renstrom laughs] So, this is which is actually my case for why we should be looking at astrology in the popular culture as well because this is why astrology is still here and this is the woman who first made that possible then followed up by Linda Goodman. But with Evangeline, what you’re really seeing is her business model. That becomes the business model for anyone who blogs or does anything on astrology or who view Instagram or anything like that, this is who was doing it first, this is who had set that up, that formula up. And Karen says standardized that she had standardized astrology and that’s another thing that we have to be really grateful to her for.
CB: Sure. And she certainly helped to popularize astrology in America to make it acceptable and to pave the way for many other astrologers both men and women to make that their profession or whether they made up their profession and became professional astrologers or even just to develop a passing interest in astrology even if it was just Sun signs over the course of the next century.
CR: Well, and she also follows in the William Lilly tradition. Remember what Lilly’s rivals are saying with the publication of Christian Astrology. Well, now any dressmaker or bricklayer can become an astrologer because it’s all been shown in this volume, well, in her little book of astrology. I mean, in a curious way, she was being old school, she was aiming for a definitive book and she didn’t realize that her real treasure was this. [Renstrom laughs]
CB: Right. And there’s a funny little aside in Karen’s book where she says that some astrologer actually objected to the publication of one of her books and tried to get her thrown out of an astrological organization because they said that she was over simplifying astrology and just making and dumbing it down for the masses or something like that and that therefore not presenting in its true light.
CR: Well, you know what’s funny about that, Chris? The person who was doing that was Sidney Bennett better known as Wynn, the very man who would take her business model and produce the same magazines that she did and call on all of his Hollywood tactics. So, it was the height of hypocrisy that this was [Renstrom laughs] the person who was leveling charges against her, but that’s what happens whenever there’s envy or rivalry or whatever in different practices.
CB: Yeah. Well, and it’s one of those funny debates that just a constant debate in the astrological community between astrology as this advanced subject and how astrologers practice and talk about astrology amongst themselves within the community versus astrology as its presented to the public and the astrologers who are better able to or more directed towards speaking to astrology and presenting it publicly where you do have to simplify it to some extent versus doing a really advanced astrology within the community and the tensions between those two.
CR: Yeah, well, it’s just like a restaurant. You can have a five-star restaurant and you can have a come as you are restaurant. I mean, the thing is there’s a split or antagonism or whatever which really should not exist. I mean, that’s- [crosstalk 00:38:00:26] Yeah, of course. I mean, look how big heaven is. There’s all these stars in the sky. [Renstrom laughs] And one of the things that’s really great about the history of astrology in America is that it’s very democratic in the sense of like you can become your own astrologer. But we also have a tradition of PT Barnum which is the showman and Evangeline Adams really personifies both of those things. I mean, there was a part of her which was really devoted to the science and like any person who’s devoted to getting the word out there. It’s as old as Moses. He can get you to the promised land, but he doesn’t get to enter, you know? Evangeline Adams dies at the point when she’s established it, she’s pioneered it and she’s trailblazed and she’s been evangelical in her fervor or whatever and she dies at this extraordinary high point. But what follows her is really astrology taking over American culture. And that leads to a different topic or whatever, but that actually lays the foundation for the culture wars between astrology and the religious right that take place in the ‘80s and ‘90s and that we’re still going with today. But by mass marketing it, she brought astrology into the popular culture to such a point that it was a threat to other Christianity or religions. And what do we do to stomp this out? It’s not just science is a threat because they’re telling us not to take the Bible literally, but astrology is a threat too because it’s prophecy and it’s knowing the universal will and things like that. So, a byproduct of this is by popularizing astrology, she also recreated to some extent the very thing, the very reason why astrology was dismantled in England that it’s come back into the populace. And it’s kind of Jurassic Park. They’ve reintroduced the dinosaur [Renstrom laughs] type of thing and she did that.
CB: Yeah. Well, then she dies at really interesting crossroads an interesting period that’s like a great book end for the first third of the century in really reviving astrology in America or popularizing astrology in America and then dies in the early 1930s and it’s not long after that, that we have the development and the advent of the Sun sign column and Sun signs show up over the course of the next decade or two in newspapers and start to be printed everywhere. She really set the stage for that and paved the ground for that to eventually take over. And then eventually you get like you said works like Linda Goodman Sun signs that just further promote and popularized the idea of Sun signs in the late 1960s and early 1970s where you have that explosion of interest in astrology from the Pluto and Leo generation and from the hippie movement and everything else.
CR: We have to be careful. By the way, really quick, this is the first Sun sign column. Okay, it appears in this magazine, January- For the audio listeners, the title is Your Destiny Magazine of Astrology. Okay. And this is the first time that a Sun sign column appears in print. So, this is an American invention and this is the first time that it actually shows up inside this magazine.
CB: What about Naylor? Are you saying you’re countering like Naylor?
CR: No. Naylor publishes the horoscope of the New Princess in 1930 and it’s not a Sun sign column. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen their astrological forecasts. Evangeline Adams had been doing that since the teens in the ‘20s and newspapers. So that whole Naylor thing is great that he’s a big deal in England, but as far as the history of astrology and the history of astrology in America, we were really constructing that right now which you would you do Hellenized astrology, you will reconstruct and so history of astrology in America, we’re reconstructing. But Naylor, no, he does not invent the Sun sign column and first shows up in this magazine and it’s an American product and it follows on Evangeline Adams’ bio book that features your sign and you can read about yourself. So again, she’s setting up the model for that. But we have to be careful because everyone acts… You know how I was saying earlier that everyone thinks that astrology in America begins with Benjamin Adams’ trial? Everyone thinks astrology in America explodes in the 1960s. There was a very thriving popular astrological community in print and in magazines and publications in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Okay. It got downturned in the ‘50s and then in 1968, you’ve got the youth and then it comes forward. It’s just like if you were to ask the millennials right now on Instagram, they found astrology. Well, [Renstrom laughs] go 30 years ago or whatever, it’s like no, it was just as popular done. What’s happening is that you have a new media and it’s disseminating in a different fashion and it’s seizing the imagination. But the ‘60s-
CB: Well, it’s also different eras of and different types of astrology approaches like psychological astrology really comes into its own in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s with that generation whereas Evangeline Adams definitely represents an older school, and that would have been the type of astrology in her approach which is almost more predictive and deterministic, probably is part of what that group that came in in the ‘60s and ‘70s and ‘80s were reacting to when they tried to say that they were rejecting deterministic or overly fatalistic astrology I would say I was thinking to some extent.
CR: You have to be careful with that too because you can make an argument that psychological astrology is being practiced in the ‘30s Dane Rudhyar introduces or is the first to bridge Jung and astrology. There’s also psychology is being used in astrological titles in the books of the early ‘30s. What you have with 1968 which we’re calling the groundswell or whatever, what you have is actually this fascinating mirror to the spiritualist movement in the 1840s and ‘50s. People are dropping out, tuning in, they’re dealing with altered states of consciousness, channeling is going to take off in the ‘80s and so astrology is seen as… What really propels astrology in the ‘60s is its political activism which actually also mirrors right now as well. I mean, you have very politically voiced astrologers like Chani Nicholas or Jessica Lanyadoo in which Evangeline Adams would never have been that political. But right now, there’s a political charge to it and so that really actually emulates the ‘60s. But in terms of adjusting and reworking astrology, a lot of that work, the work on sidereal astrology things like that that’s taking place in the ‘40s and the ‘50s. So, there’s a lot. I just want us not to think that astrology is suddenly in the public mind, it does and it’s also associated to again the birth control pill and abortion and the attempted ERA so it’s being driven forward again by a change in feminism and women’s culture. But there’s a lot of different ways that we could play with that. But Jungian astrology, from my understanding, really comes into its being like in the ‘80s, maybe later ‘70s but it’s really like the ‘80s. But Rudhyar lays the groundwork for it in ‘30s.
CB: Yeah, 1936 is when the astrology of personality comes out but then he keeps publishing books, but Rudhyar really became at his most popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s from that generation he came in there.
CR: Oh yeah, absolutely. And that’s excellent and that’s new age and its a thing, but we also have to keep in mind that but politics drove it a lot and that you had the collapse, you had another religious collapse. I mean, the Time magazine cover God is Dead which appears in Rosemary’s Baby the film Rosemary’s Baby, so this was this feeling. And it supports a theory which I don’t always agree with, but that as you have a collapse in religion, you have an outpouring or an upswell of astrology. I think that’s based more on the rationality versus your rationality and those anxieties. But there is something to it that when there’s a collapse in religion, in the standardized religion that astrology does seem to be moving forward. But in the ‘60s, it was political and nowadays, it’s also driven by a political thrust as well.
CB: Sure. And then the very last thing that also makes Evangeline interesting in her epoch in astrology and what she represents from a technical standpoint is at one point she says her book was taking so long because she was still researching Neptune and still trying to figure out the significations of Neptune which was only discovered in the mid-1800s. But in the early 20th century, she was still trying to like nail down and astrologers are still trying to nail down at significations and then Pluto was only discovered in 1930s so that never becomes like a major player in her work. And so, then that’s also another generational shift that happened in that group in the ‘60s and ‘70s as they fully integrated Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and made them like whole components in their astrology.
CR: Yeah, you’re seeing Rory to do that, you’re seeing Liz Greene do that. They’re articulating a collective generational brand or signature and so you really see that being voiced. The work that had been done around Neptune, there was quite a bit of it actually in the early 19 teens and in American astrology periodicals. Neptune was already seen as visionary, but it was given much more of a scandalous air or flavor to it. By the time that she’s practicing astrology in the ‘20s, there was a working idea of Neptune enough for her to work with. Uranus was a bit more defined. But yeah, she was trying to work out planetary cycles and things like that with Neptune. Yeah, exactly.
CB: Yeah, in the 19 teens. All right, awesome. I think we did it. I think this is it and we’ve been able to do a decent treatment of our two topics of both the advent of astrology in American, the development of astrology in America and also one of the major leading astrologers, the most famous astrologer in the first third of the 20th century Evangeline Adams. So, thanks a lot for helping me to do that today. Why don’t we give a shout out one more time to Karen Christino and her amazing work on Evangeline Adams, especially this book that she just published the revised edition titled Foreseeing the Future: Evangeline Adams and Astrology in America. I will put a link to that, you can find it on Amazon and I’ll put links to it where you can get it in the description page for this episode on theastrologypodcast.com. Any other books you want to mention bibliography-wise here?
CR: Honestly, they don’t stand up to Karen’s. [Renstrom laughs]
CB: Yeah. No, so she’s the primary biographer and she’s great. There is, of course, we mentioned the Crowley book that’s been re-edited with his material which is titled The General Principles of Astrology that was published by Weiser in 2003 that has a very interesting introduction that has a very sensible treatment of Crowley’s relationship with Adams where he seems to be very sensitive to the issue in terms of presenting both sides of the case.
CR: Yeah, I mean, if we’re looking for supplemental things or whatever, it’s not a book. But I would probably also direct people to the lecture I gave on Trash Astrology. There’s a version that UAC has and there’s a version that Tony Howard at Astrology University has. And the reason I would direct you is because it actually puts it more in the context of the American history, but the emphasis is on popular astrology and there’s lots of pictures. So, there’s a lot of reproductions of different periodicals, magazines and things like that and it also deals with Evangeline. But if you want to get a fuller idea of popular astrology in America, I would direct you to those two places.
CB: Yeah, and that’s a great way you really document the, not the survival but the popularization of astrology and it’s really doing very well in Pulp publications and magazines and newspapers and things like that and documenting the sometimes under-looked or overlooked role that those played in the spread of astrology in the like 19th and 20th centuries.
CR: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that’s my mission. [Renstrom laughs]
CB: Right. All right, so people can find that by just doing a search for Trash Astrology. And like you said, it’s available as a lecture.
CR: Or maybe I can send you a link to those two lectures that you could post on the podcast page.
CB: Sure. I could put a link to that on the podcast website if you’d like.
CR: Yeah. Yeah, because I think it would complement Karen’s book quite. I mean, it would give a nice background for her book. Yeah.
CB: And where can people find out more information about you?
CR: At rulingplanets.com.
CB: Okay, so your website is rulingplanets.com? Awesome. Cool. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today. I really appreciate it.
CR: Thank you so much for having me on. [Renstrom laughs] It was a pleasure, Chris.
CB: Yeah, I’m glad that we got to do this. And thank you to Karen once again for the referral and being gracious about that as well as congratulations for her to republish the revised version of that book. Thanks to everybody for listening or watching to this episode of The Astrology Podcast. Thanks to all the patrons who supported it and made it possible. You can become a patron and get early access to new episodes by going to theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. Please be sure to like this video and to rate it on iTunes and YouTube. Otherwise, that’s it and we will see you again next time. So, thanks for watching.
CR: Okay. Okay, bye