An astrological colleague recently contacted me for information about Evangline Adams’ method of horary astrology, which I have written about elsewhere in this blog. For those unfamiliar with her horary technique, Adams notes the degree rising at the moment the client enters her office for a consultation. She calls this the “accidental ascendant” of the client’s birth chart. She then calculates the Placidus house cusps that correspond to this “accidental ascendant” at the location of her office and puts the client’s natal planets in this new horoscope wheel, which she proceeds to read as if it were the client’s radix.
Curious about Adams’ birth chart, I looked it up on astro.com and was dismayed to see that Astro-Databank lists her well-established birth data as “DD” (conflicting or unverified). This is simply not true.
Karen Christino has extensively researched Adams’ biography and has verified with several primary sources (the New Jersey State Archives and US Census reports from 1870 and 1880) that Adams was born on February 8, 1868 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Astro-databank gives an erroneous alternative chart set for 1859, which does not accord with the facts of her life.)
In Adams’ biographical book The Bowl of Heaven she cites her father’s diary as giving a birth time of 8:30 AM (LMT was in use at the time). Thus, we can be certain that Evangeline Adams was born on February 8, 1868 in Jersey City, New Jersey at a moment close to 8:30 AM LMT with an ascendant more or less at 22 Pisces 05. Here is her birth chart according to this well verified information:
To verify this birth chart, we can check its details against Adams’ own description of her natal chart in The Bowl of Heaven. Here are some facts that accord with this chart but not with the erroneous 1859 chart.
- Adams’ astrology instructor, Dr. J. Heber Smith (Dec 5, 1842 – Oct 23, 1898), told her that she could not have been born at 7 AM (which she originally believed to be her time of birth) because the chart for that moment did not match her physical appearance. He estimated that a chart cast for 8:30 AM would match her physical stature very closely. She later discovered in her father’s diary that he had recorded 8:30 AM as the time of her birth.
- Dr. Smith told her she would travel to foreign countries because she had a major planet in the 9th house. She has Saturn in the 9th in the 1868 chart but no planets in the 9th in the erroneous 1859 chart. Dr. Smith apparently also told her that because she had Venus and Jupiter in her 12th house of the mentally ill “people ‘off their balance’ would always turn to me as their friend — as someone who would help them out of their predicament” (p. 63, The Bowl of Heaven).
- On pages 63-64 of The Bowl of Heaven Adams describes her own chart in a way that is consistent with the 1868 birth date but not with the erroneous 1859 birth date: “I was born under the influence of the human sign Aquarius with more than the usual number of planets rising in my chart: the Sun and Mars, which give courage; Mercury, which gives mental understanding; Neptune, which gives spiritual understanding; Venus, which makes possible the telling of ugly truths in palatable form; and Jupiter, which should provide the priceless gift of tolerance.”
- When Dr. Smith first looked at her chart, he told her that she had probably broken a leg around age 9. It was common practice for astrologers to verify a birth time by correlating the chart with events shown by primary directions earlier in the person’s life. Most likely Dr. Smith looked at the primary directions of Mars (accidents), Saturn (bones) in Sagittarius in the 9th (hips and thighs), and the Moon (the body) in the 6th house of bodily ailments. Here are the hard aspects of her primary directions (Placidus semi-arc, Ptolemy’s timing key, without latitude) at age 9:
- As expected, Mars opposes the Moon suggesting a forceful accident which might rupture something. Saturn squares the Moon, which suggests a bodily ailment involving her bones. Uranus squares the Ascendant, which is also an indicator of a possible accident, possibly related to the client’s willfulness. Adams asked her mother and learned that she broke her leg in an sledding accident in January of 1877, a month before her 9th birthday. She stubbornly refused to heed her mother’s warning about taking of the sled that day.
- Adams tells us that her father died when she was 15 months old. This early wound should show up prominently in her chart. Quite striking is the presence of Chiron (the wounded healer) at 23 Pisces 57 conjunct her natal Ascendant at 22 Pisces 05 from the 12th house side. By primary direction (Placidus semi-arc, Ptolemy key), the directed Ascendant arrives at Chiron a month after her first birthday and just two months before her father’s death. In July of 1869, two months after her father’s demise, directed Chiron conjoins natal Venus, suggesting a wound involving her affections. Dr. Smith would not have known about Chiron, but the symbolism certainly fits her emotional experience in the months following her first birthday.
- Evangeline Adams’ mentor, Dr. J. Heber Smith, died on October 28, 1898.
- Dr. Smith’s death must have played a role in Adams’ decision to move from Boston to New York City in March of 1899. She also notes that she consulted the ephemeris and “found that beginning about the middle of March of that year, I was coming under some of the most propitious planetary conditions of my life; and that those good auspices applied especially to the Astrological work in which I have now been for some years engaged.” (Bowl of Heaven, p. 32). Here is the ephemeris from Astrodienst for March of 1899:
As we can see, transiting Saturn in March of 1899 is crossing her Midheaven, a powerful impetus for career development. Transiting Jupiter in the first decan of Scorpio is trine her natal Uranus (associated with astrology) and will soon trine natal Jupiter, after which it will move on to trine natal Venus and her natal Ascendant. Transiting Mars, a planet of action and initiative, is trine her natal Venus and her natal Ascendant. Adams regarded these transits as “some of the most propitious planetary conditions of my life” and decided to move to New York to take advantage of them to advance her career. These transits only occur in the 1868 birth chart and not in the erroneous 1859 chart.
For a detailed discussion of the role of Evangeline Adams in American astrology, I recommend the Astrology Podcast with Christopher Renstrom.