Look at the Famous Astrologer Evangeline Adams
by Karen Christino
Here are some of the legends: Evangeline
Adams made astrology legal in New York. She predicted the Windsor Hotel
fire, the stock market crash of '29, World War II, the deaths of King
Edward VII, Enrico Caruso, and even herself. Her books, now all out of
print, are eagerly sought after by students, and even stolen from library
shelves. Her reputation rests on her astrological expertise, but she was
also known to be a palmist. Some even say she was primarily psychic or
clairvoyant. But the fact remains that she was the best-known American
astrologer of her day. I was fascinated by this woman, and intrigued by
the events in her life. Just what was true, and why is it still discussed
over half a century after her death? As I began researching Adams' life
for my book about her, I would ask these questions again and again.
Evangeline Adams had an eventful life and
ran a hugely profitable and successful business at a time when women
commonly remained dependent upon men for their livelihood. She has left us
not only several astrology books, but an autobiography as well. And there
is much documentation on her life available: Adams was an active promoter
of herself, giving many interviews to newspaper and magazine reporters.
Fortunately, consistent birth data for
Adams has been published: February 8, 1868 at 8:30 am in Jersey City, New
Jersey, making her an Aquarian with Pisces rising. Adams' horoscope is
quite revealing, as it indicates an emotionally sensitive individual. I
feel that Adams truly believed in her work. Her compassionate nature drew
her to help others through astrological consultation and guidance. The
Pisces influence is also probably responsible for the mystery, glamour and
romance which surround Adams.
Evangeline’s autobiography, The Bowl
of Heaven is laced with humor and irony, and is her life as she would
have us see it. I view the book as a promotional piece for both astrology
and the author. As such, it is free of bold confessions, dicey personal
anecdotes, or any hint of sex. Today we are accustomed to the juicy
"tell all" biography. But Evangeline Adams was writing at
a different time, and she was writing as a professional. Her readers
therefore only get those facts which are either entertaining or which
support Adams' role as an astrological authority. If we will have the real
story of Evangeline's life, we must read between the lines.
Take, for example, the only references to
her father: "My father died when I was 15 months old," and
"My father, through no fault of his own, had lost most of his money
just before his death." How tantalizing they are! And yet I have
been unable to find out exactly what occurred. Was there an accident or
illness? Was the man swindled or did he make a bad investment? We may
Ascertaining anything about Evangeline's
personal romantic life was also difficult. Once more, limited details are
provided by the author herself in her autobiography, but it appears
obvious that her employer, Mr. Lord, was the same man to whom Evangeline
was engaged. Yet there are glaring contradictions in her account. On one
hand, she professes to have been in love with and engaged to the man. Then
she describes herself as being "totally unresponsive" and
declares "I did not love him." What really went on?
We can say that logically she contradicts
herself. Setting pure logic aside, however, it is apparent that she had
mixed feelings about the relationship. She is able to see, feel, and
understand alternate views of the situation, especially in retrospect. A
complicated emotional nature is revealed.
What is also revealed is the extremely
important role which astrology played in Adams' decision-making process. I
estimate that her engagement took place between about 1893 and 1896, when
she then left her secretarial job behind and began practicing astrology
professionally. She had been studying astrology for at least seven or
eight years and already had great faith in it. I believe that Evangeline
herself broke off the engagement. In late 19th century Boston, this was a
real no-no, even approaching the censure of divorce (a woman couldn't even
kiss a man unless they were engaged, meaning that they would soon
definitely marry). This must have been a frightfully dramatic episode, but
Adams characteristically sidesteps the details. She goes on, instead, to
discuss how vehemently her family opposed her. Obviously, part of their
anger was due to the fact that Evangeline was breaking not only
intellectual, religious and philosophic taboos, but social ones as well.
Any influence Mr. Lord exerted was along
conventional lines -- the traditional promise of a home and family.
Her astrology teacher, Dr. Smith, on the other hand, represented the
unconventional: astrology and an independent life. We can only
imagine how torn Adams was as she fought to reconcile these opposing
ambitions within herself. What would be the element of power in her
life, the love and financial support of a well-to-do husband, or having
control of her own destiny through an independent career? The objective
nature of astrology finally tipped the scales.
Evangeline Adams was born during the
Victorian era. She came from the Boston area, in her own words, "the
most conservative circle of that conservative city". Some of her
forebears had been Congregationalist ministers, and this conservative
religious group was the successor to the Massachusetts Colony's Puritans.
Although Adams would from young adulthood espouse untraditional views and
unorthodox beliefs, her upbringing was what would in those days have been
termed "quite proper." Extremely independent and
liberal-thinking, Adams nonetheless had as part of her nature a strict
sense of social morality. Her telling and sometimes humorous account of an
early consultation with a prostitute gives us insight into her background.
"That first interview in Boston prostrated me. I wasn't myself for
weeks. And I have the same reaction even now on a less violent
scale." Here we have a woman with a certain moral code. And we can
expect that she will always try to conduct herself in a manner consistent
with good taste and proper decorum. Strong social forces forced Evangeline
to keep her private life private.
Adams' impressionistic style is what makes
her writing so enjoyable. But as we have seen, it also make it quite
difficult to verify particulars; intuition must fill in the gaps. Her
writing technique, which I feel was quite natural, contributed to what I
view as the "myths" which surround Adams. Many stories are so
richly symbolic and almost parable-like that they lend themselves quite
easily to embellishment upon repetition.
Take, for instance, Adams' arrest for
fortune-telling in New York in 1914. Many publications have repeated the
fiction that Evangeline made astrology legal in New York. Anyone who took
a look at Section 889 of the NY Criminal Code would see that it still
remained illegal for anyone to "tell fortunes." So where does
this misleading statement originate?
If we return to The Bowl, Evangeline tells
us that, "I had but one ambition: to legalize astrology in the State
of New York". She goes on to give us an overview of how she was
acquitted of wrong-doing. Yet we must recognize that the laws had
not changed. A precedent had been set, however, in how the law would be
interpreted in the future. Just because an astrologer practiced
professionally would no longer legally mean that she was guilty of wrong
doing. Evangeline implies in her book that she was successful in
making astrology legal -- the reader's mind tends to fill in the rest in a
certain way. The is the nature of Piscean accounting!
Today, there do continue to be those who
believe that Adams was primarily psychic or clairvoyant. Her four
books on astrology convince me that this is not the case, and her
predictions consistently seem to invoke the clear timing which only
astrology can provide. Evangeline was highly attuned to the planet
Neptune. We must assume that she had quite a strong intuition, and that
she was in touch with the Infinite. If we want to understand Evangeline
Adams as a true and complex person, we must be willing to admit that there
was more to her life than astrology alone.
I cannot help but feel that Adams' life and
memory have now been truly resurrected, as well as transformed as a
result. So many of the old legends turn out to be true, confirmation
is available, even though some claims have often been exaggerated through
Karen Christino is a consulting
astrologer and the author of Foreseeing the Future: Evangeline Adams
and Astrology in America (One Reed Publications, 2002). She's also
written Star Success (Pocket Books) and articles for Marie
Claire, Modern Bride and Seventeen magazines. Her popular
"Choose Your Career" column has appeared in American Astrology
magazine since 1992.