Morrison, R. J.

Morrison, R. J. (Zadkiel)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Richard James Morrison (Zadkiel), an English astrologer, was born in Enfield, London, on June 15, 1795. He enlisted in the navy at age of 11, became a lieutenant in 1815, and retired in 1817, although he later served in the coast guard from 1827 to 1829. In 1828, he rescued four men and a boy from a wrecked vessel and later received a medal for this act of bravery.

Morrison became interested in astrology before he was 30. He was acquainted with the astrologer R. C. Smith, and, inspired by Smith’s almanac, the Prophetic Messenger, Morrison started his own almanac in 1830. The Herald of Astrology, which was renamed Zadkiel’s Almanac in 1836, was quite successful and was published for the next hundred years. Morrison also had interests in spiritualism, phrenology, and crystal gazing.

In the 1861 issue of his almanac, Morrison predicted an “evil year” for Queen Victoria’s husband. As it turned out, Prince Albert died suddenly and unexpectedly of typhoid fever in December 1861. As often happens in the wake of an accurate astrological prediction, some individuals were outraged at the triumph of “medieval superstition.” In this case, Edward Belcher, a writer for the London Daily Telegraph, attacked Morrison, who responded by suing for libel. The jury found in favor of Morrison, but he was awarded only 20 shillings. He was rewarded, however, by the substantial increase in sales of his almanac that the publicity brought him. Beyond his almanac, Morrison is best known for the abridged edition of Lilly’s Christian Astrology, which he published. Morrison died on February 8, 1874.

Sources:

Holden, James H., and Robert A. Hughes. Astrological Pioneers of America. Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, 1988.
Morrison, R. J. An Introduction to Astrology. London, H. G. Bohn, 1852. Reprint, San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press, 1980.