Will the real Dr. J. Heber Smith please stand up?


Years ago I purchased a booklet titled “The Transits of the Planets” from the American Federation of Astrologers. It was advertised as being written by Dr. J. Heber Smith, the mentor of Evangeline Adams whose books first introduced me to astrology. This booklet is currently listed on the AFA website as:

S4530 …. 978-0-86690-232-8..Transits of the Planets…. Heber J. Smith
Interpretive delineation of transits of the planets by a homeopathic physician who was a teacher of Evangeline Adams.

Booklet about transits, allegedly written by Dr. J. Heber Smith in the late 1800s and published by the AFA in 1968,

The Barnes and Nobles site gives the following description of the contents:

“This book represents the work of Heber J. Smith, a homeopathic physician in Boston who was born in 1842. He was a professor of materia medica at Boston University and a practicing astrologer who was a teacher of Evangeline Adams. Legend says that Julie Pontin, a rival of Evangeline, paid Heber $150 for a typewritten copy of this material-a large sum in the early 20th century. In addition to the value of the astrological experience and knowledge presented in this book, it is also representative of the thinking of the astrologers of the time, which was decidedly deterministic. Some of the words and phrases are quaintly archaic when viewed from the 21st century, and the writing style is also representative of an earlier time. Nevertheless, much astrology can be learned from the author’s insights into the transiting planets. He also includes examples from his own life regarding the effects of transits and directions. Included are chapters on the transits of Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in both favorable and unfavorable aspect to other planets.”

We know from historical records that Dr. J. Heber Smith was born in 1842 and died in 1898. I have been unable to determine how the AFA established that this text was, in fact, written by Dr. Smith. Apparently, the astrological library of the good doctor was bequeathed to Evangeline Adams, and she would have come into possession of this document when he died in 1898.

A puzzling feature of this booklet about transits is that many of the examples given refer to events that occurred after the year 1900, so that these sections could not have been written by Dr. Smith. except by a medium who was channeling his spirit from the afterlife. One such example is the discussion of the day Teddy Roosevelt was shot before giving a campaign speech in October of 1912, fourteen years after Dr. Smith’s demise.

Another curious example refers to a foot injury which the author sustained, in connection with the sign Pisces: “Under the aspect of Uranus square Mars in Pisces, I had a nasty accident to my foot” (Italics mine). Dr. Smith has his natal Mars in Libra, and Evangeline Adams has her natal Mars in Aquarius, so neither of them could have authored this statement. If the author meant that Uranus was in Pisces and squaring Mars, then Mars would have been in Gemini or Sagittarius. Interestingly, astrologer Catherine Thompson of Boston, who met Evangeline Adams in 1898 and became her teacher for a while, has Mars in Sagittarius. Could Catherine Thomson have appended this comment to Dr. Smith’s original notes during one of her lessons with Evangeline?

A possible explanation is that Evangeline Adams inherited the notes of Dr. Smith about transits and continued to revise and amend them, based on her own work with charts and lessons with other teachers. In her autobiography The Bowl of Heaven Adams uses many of the phrases and keywords from the booklet on transits in her comments to her clients, so it clearly had an impact on how she interpreted charts.

The Transits booklet contains some fascinating comments and techniques which few astrologers use today. Dr. Smith routinely studied both geocentric and heliocentric charts of transits and secondary progressions of the geocentric and heliocentric birth chart. I believe that by using this technique, Adams was able to rapidly and accurately foresee that King Edward VII of England might die in May of 1910 — a prediction for which she received much notoriety.

About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
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2 Responses to Will the real Dr. J. Heber Smith please stand up?

  1. Tom Callanan says:

    “Apparently, the astrological library of the good doctor was bequeathed to Evangeline Adams, and she would have come into possession of this document when he died in 1898.”

    Norm Winski, whom you might know on Facebook, purchased Evangeline Adams’ library. He might be able to answer your questions about Smith and the authenticity of that text. If you don’t know him, I do, and I can get in touch with him for you. Send me an e-mail if you’re interested.

  2. Hi Tom,
    I don’t know Norm Winski. If you could ask him about the original authorship of the Transits booklet, that would be great.
    Thanks,
    Tony

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