The oldest of its kind, Raphael’s Ephemeris has a rich history, being published by W. Foulsham & Co. (London) since 1836. Founded by William Foulsham in 1819, this is also the current publisher of Old Moore’s Almanack, produced annually since 1697, and of Raphael’s Ephemeris, which Robert Thomas Cross acquired in the 1870s and edited until his death in 1913.
Raphael’s Ephemeris was first issued as part of an almanac entitled The Prophetic Messenger in the early nineteenth century. However, several astrologers around that time mysteriously used the angelic name ‘Raphael’ in order to maintain privacy.
‘Raphael’, the name given to one of three archangels in the Old Testament, was in fact one Robert Cross Smith (1795–1832), a former carpenter who had developed an interest in astrology. Smith first used the pseudonym in 1824 when he edited a periodical called The Straggling Astrologer, later re-published as The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century. He also referred to himself as the ‘Royal Merlin’.
The Straggling Astrologer was a relative failure, but by 1827 Smith had assumed editorship of The Prophetic Messenger, read widely by astrologers of the day, and contributed to a renaissance of interest in astrology in the 19th century.
Raphael’s Ephemeris was issued as a separate publication after Smith’s death, whilst others adopted and continued with the name ‘Raphael’. The second Raphael was John Palmer (1807–1837), a former student of Smith’s, who edited Raphael’s Sanctuary of the Astral Art in 1834.
The third was a Mr. Medhurst, the editor of The Prophetic Messenger between c. 1837–1847. Smith is sometimes confused with ‘Edwin Raphael’, who in fact was the pseudonym for the succeeding Raphael, (number four) a certain Mr. Wakeley (d. 1852).
Number five was a Mr. Sparkes (1820–1875), editor of The Prophetic Messenger from 1852 to 1872, who even briefly edited Raphael’s Ephemeris’ main rival at the time, Zadkiel’s Almanac. (‘Zadkiel’ was the pseudonym of Richard James Morrison, an astrologer/inventor whose almanac dates back to 1831.)
Robert Thomas Cross (1850–1923) became the next Raphael, obtaining the copyright to the publication at some time in the 1870s. Robert Cross Smith was also responsible for popularising the system of astrological house division known as the Placidean, after the Italian monk Placidus de Titus (d. 1668). Placidus house tables, for locations in northern latitudes, are still listed in Raphael’s Ephemeris.
Further Reading ~ The Seven Faces of Raphael by Kim Farnell
A brief history of
VIDEO: Almanacs were very popular in the nineteenth century. These were small pamphlets listing planetary information along with various forecasts and predictions.