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Joseph Jefferson
Enrico 'The Great' Caruso
Rudolph Valentino
Notes & References
About the Author

By Karen Christino

Evangeline Adams and Astrology in America by Karen Christino

Evangeline Adams' Decumbitures by Karen Christino

The famous American astrologer Evangeline Adams served a wide clientele from 1899 until her death in 1932. Although often referred to as one of the first modern psychological astrologers, she nevertheless came from a more traditional astrological background. Her first astrology teacher, Dr. Heber Smith, was a homeopathic physician who used astrology in his medical diagnoses. Adams' apprenticeship consisted of erecting horoscopes for Smith's patients and she talked about the importance of medical elections in her autobiography, The Bowl of Heaven.[1] Evangeline later studied with Dr. George Adams, another homeopath and director of an insane asylum in Westborough, Massachusetts, who used astrology as an aid in treating patients.

Adams made many fantastic claims in her autobiography. An early client was actor Joseph Jefferson, famed or his interpretation of Rip van Winkle. Adams said of him: "It was my sad duty to foresee the great man's death, and to know in advance that it would happen within 30 days of the time it actually took place."

She also told the story of how she had forecast both the recovery, after final rites were administered, as well as the later death of Enrico Caruso; and Evangeline reportedly forecast the death of Rudolph Valentino in 1926. Because of her medical astrology background and her many references to clients' health and deaths, it seems obvious that Adams had techniques which helped her analyze these affairs. Dr. Luke Broughton, another homeopath, included some of Cardan's and Culpeper's aphorisms on decumbitures in his comprehensive text, Elements of Astrology [2] which would have been available to Adams. At least one of her teachers had studied directly With Broughton, so we may conclude that Evangeline had familiarity with decumbiture charts and that she used them in her own practice. Let's look then, at the considerations that would have been affecting her judgement in the high-profile cases of Jefferson, Caruso and Valentino.

Joseph Jefferson

Joseph Jefferson

Joseph Jefferson was a fourth generation American actor who had been a client of Adams while she practiced in Boston from 1899 to 1905. He was a popular and well-known comedian, making his name in the mid-19th century with such shows as 'Our American Cousin', 'Evangeline', and adaptations from Dickens. He became best known for his adaptation and performance of Washington Irving's 'Rip Van Winkle', with which he toured extensively. Born February 20, 1829, in Philadelphia, the actor had other Piscean talents, and was also a skilled painter and expert fisherman. [3]

Jefferson had fallen ill shortly after a visit to former President Cleveland. Although the family physician had initially diagnosed only a mild type of pneumonia, the doctor reported that the condition of the actor had become more serious on April 3, 1905 'at about noon'. A front page article in the New York Times considered Jefferson at this point to be 'dangerously ill'. [4]

Joseph Jefferson falls ill

At first glance the horoscope for the event does not betray its ominous warnings. The exalted Sun in Aries rules the ascendant and is placed high in the sky, suggesting strength and vitality. The benefics Venus and Jupiter are in the 10th house with Venus ruling the midheaven and in its own sign. If we stopped here, we might say that Jefferson would recover. But the Sun has no close major aspects except its application by sextile to Saturn, ruler of the 6th house of disease, indicating that the illness progresses. Saturn's position on the cusp of the 8th house is a classic indication of an illness ending in death, confirming the physician's eventual diagnosis that this is indeed a 'serious' condition.

The Moon conjunct the ascendant is a questionable placement, which certainly portends a changeable condition and raises concern through the Moon's rulership of the 12th house. Its position in Leo may be thought to produce more vitality but in decumbiture the Moon in a fixed sign suggests a stubborn illness.[5] More worrying is that the Moon moves from the square of the Sun (its own dispositor and ruler of the ascendant) to square Mercury and Jupiter, the most elevated planets, providing difficulty in expressing physical vitality. Jupiter is ruler of the 8th house and dominates the chart, squaring not only the Moon but exactly squaring the ascendant as well. "The Moon transferring the light and influence of the Lord of the ascendant to the Lord of the 8th, brings usually death", is an aphorism recorded in William Lilly's Christian Astrology; another: "The Lord of the 8th in an Angle, the Lord of the ascendant in a cadent, is always mortall", is also appropriate here.[6]

It's interesting to note that the cause of death is accurately reflected in the chart. Pneumonia stems from inflammation of one or more lobes of the lungs, with the aveoli at the ends of the air passages becoming congested with fluid so that oxygen and carbon dioxide can no longer be exchanged. Saturn in Pisces on the 8th is a perfect illustration of a blockage originating from an abundance of 'flux and fluid' [7] whilst Jupiter, ruler of the 8th, is the planet which governs the lungs. Here it is closely conjunct retrograde Mercury, the planet of exchange.

The cumulative effect of these conditions and Saturn on the 8th cusp clearly makes death a very real probability. Saturn also rules the 7th house so makes an appropriate significator for the physician who had initially diagnosed the condition as only mild. With Saturn also squaring Mars in Scorpio in the 4th house, we could say the doctor sent his patient directly to the grave!

Yet how could Adams have forecast death within 30 days of April 23, the date of the actual death, as she claimed? She would have had information from the Times, and she presumably had Jefferson's birth chart from consultations, which we do not. The actor was already old; 76 years of age in 1905 was quite elderly. Saturn's influence in the decumbiture was not good; and transiting Saturn would conjoin Jefferson's Sun in early May, effectively snuffing out his light. Eclipses of February 19 and March 6, 1905, had afflicted both Jefferson's Sun and Moon. [8]

Death came with the transiting Sun very closely conjunct the decumbiture midheaven and squaring the Moon. As Venus would attest, the actor had a calm and resigned end, with his whole family beside him. True to his natal Sun and decumbiture Saturn in Pisces, he requested to see the ocean a few moments before the end.

Enrico 'The Great' Caruso

Enrico Caruso

Enrico Caruso Born

One of Evangeline's more famous clients was Metropolitan Opera star Enrico Caruso, who, she said, never crossed the ocean during the war years without first consulting her. Only 47, Caruso had an attack of pleurisy on Christmas day, 1920, which later developed into pneumonia, threatening his life. He seemed mortally ill for weeks. Transiting Uranus was approaching a conjunction with Caruso's Moon and Sun at the time.[9] Adams first told the story in the December I92I issue of American Magazine:

"I was called to the telephone three times between five o'clock and seven - seven in the morning mind you! As a rule, I can put off these inopportune demands. But, in this case, the woman who called me was in a state of such desperate anxiety that I couldn't refuse to give her my immediate attention. When she called at five o'clock, she wanted to know whether the sick man was going to die. I looked up the matter and told her that he would not die of that illness. Then I went back to bed; but at six I was called again, only to hear the same question. All I could do was to repeat what I had said before. But at seven she called a third time, and asked me again if he was going to die! And again I said, 'He won't die now. Not from this illness'.

'But Miss Adams,' she cried, 'he is dying! The doctors have given up hope and the priests are administering the final sacrament. He's dying!'

I wanted to say, 'Well, if you are so sure he is dying, why do you ask me?' But of course, I realized her state of mind, so I simply repeated, 'He won't die now! He will come through this attack'."

Caruso did in fact recover, and returned to his native Naples the following summer. In April of 1921 Uranus actually conjoined Caruso's Moon and Sun, turning retrograde near them in June; he suffered a relapse.

"In July, the same person that had called me up that morning last winter again consulted me about the famous singer. I told her then that I doubted if he would ever sing again, and that he was likely to die suddenly at any time. He did die within two weeks."

Uranus would exactly conjoin Caruso's Sun, the ruler of his 8th house, on August 7th; he died on August 2nd. Although the transiting indicators are portentous, it's difficult to say exactly how Evangeline formed such definitive judgments in these cases. Caruso first collapsed on December 25, 1920, at about 12:30pm. [10] Adams' reference to 'this illness' in her conversation with the client does suggest that she was referring to a decumbiture chart, rather than a horary.

First Collapse

In the 'first collapse' chart we find Aries rising, a vital sign, with Mars conjunct Venus high in the sky in the fortunate 11th. The Sun is also the most elevated planet, both appearing to be positive signs. Yet Mars also rules the 8th house, bringing the singer close to death, and there is a very close application from Mercury, ruler of the 6th. Fortunately, Mars also trines Fortuna in the 7th, suggesting that the physician was helpful in this case.

The Moon in Cancer is strong, and past opposing the Sun and trining Uranus. This is an interesting example because Adams in 1920 could not see the Moon's next aspect as a conjunction with Pluto. The Moon would finally sextile Jupiter and Saturn in the 6th, stabilizing Caruso's condition, and although it is already within orb of the 4th house, its cosmic state and aspects were good, so Caruso evaded death this time.

More equivocal is Mercury: it rules the 6th house, is placed in its detriment in Sagittarius, and approaches the square of Saturn in the 6th. Although its trine to the ascendant corroborates Caruso's debilitated condition, its lack of essential dignity and sextile to the Part of Fortune detracts from the strength of the illness. One wonders, though, whether Adams was quite as sure of the outcome of this case as she claimed. It's worth remembering, too, that this was the beginning of an illness that would later kill the tenor.

Caruso was recuperating in Sorrento when he again began experiencing abdominal pains and fever. Physicians arrived on July 29, 1921, and found an abscess between the liver and diaphragm, accompanied by severe peritonitis; they scheduled an operation for August 3rd in Rome. The patient became delirious on the night of July 30, and his wife took him by private train to Naples, arriving at the Hotel Vesuvio on July 31. They planned to leave for Rome the following day, but Caruso was much worse so physicians scheduled an operation for August 1st. His condition quickly deteriorated; he took a turn for the worse at 4:30 am on August 2nd, and died at 9:00 am.[11]

Mrs Caruso was quoted in The Great Caruso as saying that after they arrived at the hotel her husband "went to sleep and never got up". We don't have an exact time for this decumbiture but various New York Times articles reported their arrival in the 'evening' and at 'night'. I have thus suggested an approximate time of 7:30 pm.

Fatal Illness

The Sun is strong in its own sign, and conjunct the 7th house cusp; but it is afflicted by a conjunction with Neptune, has no other aspects, and is actually placed in the 6th (the day itself is dying). The Sun also approaches a quincunx to Uranus. Saturn rules the ascendant and is both conjunct and parallel Jupiter, ruler of the 10th, in the 7th. This is a strongly negative sign; while Caruso had aid from his wife and physicians, it was too late. Saturn also squares the Moon, ruler of the 6th house; Venus, ruler of the 8th; and sextiles Mercury (Caruso's natal 6th house ruler), here placed on the cusp of the decumbiture 6th, and further associated with death through its rulership of the 4th house.

The Moon is peregrine in Gemini and rules the 6th, giving an apt description of the singers recent trip due to health problems. The Moon is decreasing in light, had just squared Saturn, and is applying - almost exactly - to conjunct Venus. As in Jefferson's chart, Caruso did have a peaceful end, with his wife and family by his side. Yet Venus rules the 8th, so its conjunction with the Moon as the 6th house ruler again unites the illness with death. As in the case of Jefferson, death is foreseen by the Moon transferring the light of the ruler of the ascendant (Saturn) to the ruler of the 8th (Venus). The Moon's recent trine to its north node in the 8th is a similar indication.

Uranus is highlighted through its placement in the 1st house, and it was transiting Uranus which afflicted the singer's natal Sun-Moon conjunction. In the decumbiture it is retrograde, symbolising the recurrence of illness. If we symbolically advance the decumbiture Moon 1° per hour, it will conjoin Mars in the 6th house in about 33½ hours, or 5 am on August 2. Our projected result would be approximately four hours off, as death didn't occur until 9 am. Yet Caruso had taken a decided turn for the worse at 4:30 am. The transiting Moon was nearly 18° Cancer at the time of death, conjoining Mercury in the 6th and perfecting its sextile to Jupiter.

Rudolph Valentino

Rudolph Valentino

In their book The Day the Bubble Burst, [12] Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts say that Evangeline Adams, "foretold Rudolph Valentino's death to within a few hours". This claim sounds outrageous, and I have seen it corroborated in no other sources. Yet the Bubble Burst team had scanned an incredible array of material in order to put together their book. And there are methods which Adams might have employed to forecast the stated outcome, as we shall see.

Rudolph Valentino born

Rudolph Valentino was at the height of his career as a silent film star when he died at the age of 31. To pinpoint his death from his nativity would not have been too difficult. [13] The progressed natal Sun would exactly conjoin natal Neptune on August 22, 1926, and the actor had collapsed from a ruptured gastric ulcer and appendicitis on August I5th in New York City. Uranus had recently stationed on the actor's ascendant, and transiting Saturn in the 8th was falling on his natal Uranus. After surgery on August 15th, Valentino's condition stabilised, but pleurisy was diagnosed as he suddenly worsened on August 21st and Valentino died a few days later. Pleurisy stems from inflammation of the membrane that covers the lungs and chest cavity and Valentino's nativity accords with his manner of death with 8th house ruler, Mars conjunct Jupiter (traditional ruler of the lungs) in Cancer, the sign which governs the chest area. Since Mars is the planetary significator of surgery it seems probable that the preceding surgery directly led to the inflammation that proved fatal a few days later.

Rudolph Valentino Collapses

The time of Valentino's August 15th collapse was reported in the papers the following day; [14] he had already survived surgery and the prognosis was hopeful. Yet one look at the decumbiture chart shows the difficulties ahead. A late degree of Libra rises, Venus is in a late degree as well, rules the 8th and the 12th, squares the ascendant and applies by trine to Uranus, which was presently situated on Valentino's natal ascendant. The Sun, Neptune and Mercury are in Leo in the 10th, showing the wide publicity Valentino's illness garnered (it was front-page news for days), while the Sun and Neptune are tied up in a powerful T-square with Jupiter and Saturn. The close Sun-Neptune conjunction in the decumbiture eerily mirrors Valentino's own progressed Sun to Natal Neptune.

The Moon in the 1st, in its fall in Scorpio, approaches a conjunction with Saturn, ruler of the 4th house - both planets transiting the actor's radical 8th house of death. Saturn placed in the 1st house of the decumbiture and ruling the 4th, shows death coming right to the native and its close contact with Valentino's natal Uranus in the 8th is illustrative of the sudden, dramatic onset of his mortal illness. The Moon is opposite Mars, in detriment in the 7th, denying a successful outcome to the surgery, with both planets tied into a T-square with Mercury on the MC. As Mars rules both the 6th and 7th houses, Valentino's health is linked to the doctor's skills, just as we saw in the Jefferson decumbiture. Due to the debilitated condition of Mars and its opposition to the Moon in Scorpio, the doctor succeeds in killing his patient.

In the Caruso chart, we assigned hours to the Moon's degrees in order to project the result. Here, Evangeline would have already known that Valentino had survived the night. Symbolically assigning days to the Moon's degrees, we find the square to the Moon's nodes in about six days: Valentino worsened on August 21st, six days after the collapse. The Moon perfects its conjunction with Saturn in about 9¾ days, on August 24th at around 6 pm. The actor died at 12:10 pm on August 23, so our projected result would be about 18 hours late. Tellingly, the Moon's continuing degree-per-day journey would place it in square to the Sun, Jupiter and Neptune a few days later, when there was public hysteria and riots at Valentino's lying-in-state. Several fans committed suicide.

The transiting Moon will square Saturn and its natal place, then oppose the Sun and Jupiter on the 22nd, making this his critical day. It opposed Neptune at around 1:00 am on the 23rd. If we chose this method the projected result would be about 11 hours early. Notice that the actual death occurred within an orb of influence of both aspects.

It would be difficult not to forecast death from this decumbiture chart. Venus, as ruler of the 8th as well as the ascendant, is helped only by a trine to Uranus in Pisces, signaling Valentino's abrupt flight from the physical body; its placement in the 9th also points toward the release to a higher plane. Today's astrologers can also see that Pluto in the 9th is exactly conjunct the North Node, and trines the Moon and Saturn, indicating a smooth transition.

Unfortunately it does seem difficult to exactly pinpoint Valentines death to within a few hours, as Adams was said to have done. With all of the Pisces Evangeline had in her own chart, the stories about her life and work are often exaggerated and sensationalized. Many of the reports, and all of he ones discussed in this article were published after the fact, so we don't know exactly what Adams had forecast in advance. Yet these decumbitures are very telling, and the indications for death are clear and obvious, even to those of us who don't use these techniques regularly.

  See also: A Brief Biography and the Birth Chart of Evangeline Adams

Notes & References:

  1] Dodd, Mead & Co., NY, 1926.
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  2] Self-published in New York, 1898
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  3] Birthdate and biographical information from The New York Times, April 23, 1905
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  4] Joseph Jefferson Dangerously Ill - The New York Times, April 14, 1905
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  5] Christian Astrology p.253
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  6] Ibid., p.256
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  7] Ibid., p.577
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  8] A. H. Morrison and a group of Mensa students had hypothesized that the effects of an eclipse lasted until Saturn conjoined its degree. The partial lunar eclipse of 2/19/05 fell at 0° 29' Virgo, and transiting Saturn would hit the Sun's place at 0° Pisces on April 19, shortly after the onset of Jefferson's illness.
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  9] Enrico Caruso: Lois Roden in Astrodata II cites P. Lucus in October 1979 Mercury Hour referring to Caruso's birth certificate, although times of 10:00 am to 12:14 pm have been used by others.
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  10] Caruso Taken Ill: Time and date from Caruso letter quoted in The Great Caruso by Michael Scott, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1988
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  11] Caruso's Fatal Illness: Caruso by Howard Greenfield, G.P. Putnam & Sons, NY, 1982 and The Great Caruso, op.cit.
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  12] Doubleday & Co, Garden City, NY, 1970
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  13] Rudolph Valentino: Steven Eerlwine in The Circle Book of Charts (AFA, Tempe, 1980) referenced M.E. Jones Sabian Symbols for this, but felt the time was questionable as Chronological Nativities gives a Capricorn ascendant. I would suggest a later time, putting the Sun in the 1st house.
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  14] Valentino Collapses: New York Times of August 16, 1926, gives 'shortly before noon'.
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Karen ChristinoKaren Christino is the author of Star Success and Foreseeing the Future: Evangeline Adams and Astrology in America. Her most recent book, What Evangeline Adams Knew: A Book of Astrological Charts and Techniques, (including the decumbiture charts), is available direct from or from The Wessex Astrologer (UK). Email for ordering information and charge card instructions.

© Karen Christino
Published in The Traditional Astrologer Magazine, Issue 14, May 1997.