Readings for Women!
Benita French is an author and one of Australia’s most experienced Numerologists. She is a widely respected Adelaide Numerologist. Her study of Numerology began in 1981 and has continued ever since.
Benita French is a top Adelaide Numerologist integrating her own approach to Numerology as part of her exclusive healing sessions for women. Benita was always sincerely interested in intrigued with her clients experience enabling them to open up to her in ways they hadn’t with other therapists.
Benita’s Adelaide Numerology Readings were followed up with Kinesiology and Intuitive Counselling. This helped to heal pain from her client’s past and aimed at correcting their old emotional patterns so they can create more positive experiences and interactions in all aspects of their life.
This remainder of this Numerology Adelaide page is a testimonial to the pioneering women and men of Numerology in Adelaide.
While the Adelaide Numerology scene didn’t begin with the novelty fortune-telling cafes like Melbourne or the thriving Spiritualism churches like Sydney, the more conservative Adelaide (in the late 1800s) did have a select number of professional tarot readers, palmists, crystal gazers, phrenologists and psychometrists.
Most of these 19th Century ‘readers’, in Adelaide, acted as women’s advisors in a pre-suffragette world that didn’t yet have professional counselling for Women (outside of the male-dominated Church). Right across Australia, this upcoming profession, often mislabelled as ‘Fortune Telling’, was predominantly practised and patronised by women and for women. The act of frequenting these readers were often attacked in the media as a weakness and foolishness of the opposite sex. Many of these women were, in fact, clinging on to the ancient role of ‘Village Healer’ and ‘Wise Woman’ as both an important role and an independent form of work, while the newly established spiritual, medical and university organisations around them were increasingly restricted and licensed to deny women a place in an advancing White Male Australia.
It was fashionable for these Adelaide Numerologists, Palmists and Clairvoyants to take on names like Madame Mora, Madame De Haile, Madamoiselle Zara, and Zingara the real Caravan Gipsy. For most of the women who called upon these practitioners, it was a safe and important psychological outlet for the emotional expression of their sexual and marital concerns. A chance to discuss the possibility of a new relationship without being mocked or at risk of creating gossip. For other women, it was an amusing entertainment that was also viewed critically during this period and seen as a frivolous distraction to a woman’s only place in society, one that consisted purely of domestic duties.
When Adelaide Women booked a Numerology reading over the phone with Benita French, they came to it purely with expectations of Fortune Telling and most don’t tell their partners.
130 years on, Benita’s Numerology is a highly developed tool of insight to focus the more important discussion of how you are going to take charge of and direct your life towards something happier. The real service still remains to be a rare and safe place for women to air their side of a deeply emotional story and gain unprecedented support in all their future desires, decisions and actions.
“My clients were women and they came to me because they had no-one who truly listened to them”.
One of the hardest working of these 20th-century intuitive counsellors was to become the first Australian to use the term Numerology professionally. The humbly titled Mrs Barr, who came to Spiritualism in 1891 and developed her skills as “an honest medium” under her Mother’s guidance, offered her Clairvoyante and Psychomoter services every day from 11am to 5pm for over 20 years. She began in 1896 from a small 2 bedroom terrace next door to the Glebe Uniting Church on St Johns Road, Sydney and progressed into Inner City rooms and professional venues. Over the following decades, Mrs. Ellen Barr counselled thousands of women and spent substantial time in Newcastle (1898), Bathurst (1990), Melbourne (1904), Adelaide (1908), Perth (1911) and back to Adelaide(1912).
Mrs Barr’s first year in Adelaide (1908) was also the year that the very first Western Numerology book was published. “The Philosophy of Numbers” by Mrs. L. Dow Balliet (Sarah Joanna Dennis). Together with her unfinished work “Success Through Vibration” (1906), these two books still remain to be the foundation of every Western Numerology work that followed. Her system of reading the vibration of numbers from a person’s name and birth date was the most comprehensive development of Pythagoras numerological mysticism and one that brought Numerology out of the secret societies and into the NEW psychology schools and Spiritualist movements worldwide. It was her American friend and student, Dr Julia Seton who, in 1907, gave the Science of the Vibration of Names and Numbers its current name of Numerology.
Benita French – A child prodigy in Numerelogy
70 years later John. C. King channeled a deeper variation of this western numerology and it was directly from his lecture notes that Benita French began modeling her Numerology readings from the incredible age of 6 years old.
Picking up a Numerology book and doing a reading is one thing, but knowing about how to combine numbers in order to reveal and explore a person’s personality is a lifetime commitment.
“Since 1981, hardly a day has passed when I did not do someone’s numbers and feeding that information back into my understanding of Numerology.”
Julia Seton (M.D.) embarked on long lecture tours throughout all the English speaking countries, exposing Numerology and her other New Thought views to the general public. In the hot summer of Adelaide in February 1916, number 51 Angas Street was overflowing with many open-minded thinkers from the general Adelaide public and I have little doubt that Mrs Ellen Barr was one of those eager to hear Mrs Seton speak.
Under the Auspices of the first International New Thought Alliance conference in Australia (hosted by the enigmatic Miss Grace M Aguilar of the Adelaide Truth Centre), Julia Seton gave five lectures each addressing a different subset of the Adelaide community, ranging from the medical professions, business workers, and women specifically, many of whom were already experimenting outside of the lingering doctrines and worn out creeds of the previous century.
In 1914, two years prior to Julia Seton’s first visit to Adelaide, Mrs Ellen Barr had already adopted Numerology into her daily Adelaide reading services and continued to do so until 1917 when she was caught up in the June sting operations and police raids against 18 women on charges of “having unlawfully used certain subtle craft”. This rather baited attempt to enforce clause 67 of the local Police Act was a rare event as many fortune teller’s of the time had been operating unhindered for decades without prosecution. Madame Mora (also prosecuted) had been operating as a Clairvoyant and Palmist in Adelaide for three decades. It was only in 1903 that the police in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart were pressured to halt the professionalisation of this fast-growing cottage business.
The other women prosecuted in the Adelaide raids of 1917 were; Madam Fitzsimmons, Mrs Glennie, Mrs Hamilton, Mary McAuliffe (Madam Mora), Mrs Vear, Madam Rosa, Charabella Fisher (Zingara), Madame Phyllis, Mrs Loftus, Madame Amalia, Madame Illah, Madame Zillah, Madame Rose, Miss Melrose, Madame luna, Madame Thelma, Mrs Kennedy, and Mrs Duquett.
Section 67 of the Police Act of 1916 was inherited from “The English Vagrant Act of 1824” (aimed at beggers) and in turn the “The Witchcraft Act of 1795” which finally outlawed the execution of magical women for practising witchcraft and instead imprisoned them for believing in witchcraft and pretending to practise it. These two acts combined, basically translated to it being a crime in 1917 to obtain money by false pretenses and even though no patrons came forward to support such a claim, all of the women were found guilty.
Although rarely enforced, the South Australian witchcraft laws were ONLY abolished in 1991. The 1917 prosecutions were actually a part of a national initiative to stamp out the roaring clairvoyant trade which was quickly moving out of the tolerated back streets and private houses and beginning to establish itself in the city’s professional business places.
This rare form of Women’s work was enabling the gifted Adelaide Numerologist to break through; from the lower social classes; from her domestic duty to the male provider; from the mediocre neighbourhood incomes of lodging, laundry, child-minding, sewing and empowering them towards something that could equal and threaten the profitable business incomes of the husband. Her patrons were also being empowered to take their relationship concerns seriously and even act upon them. All of this was of course resented by men who in turn had the positions and power to pressure political figures for prosecutions, a level of pressure which brewed long and strong enough to eventually reach the wartime Prime minister (a devout Anglican and Sectarian) and resulted in his 1917 directive to “crack-down on these women.” For Adelaide, the timing of this massive sting operation was justified in the press by getting a Woman Constable to approach each practitioner with concerns as to the whereabouts and future of her step-brother, fighting in the Great War (ww1) and ultimately reported in the Newspaper under the heading “Trading in War Sorrow”.
This was a nail in the coffin for most of these spiritually advancing Adelaide women and pioneering counsellors who had been practicing their craft long before the war. The hefty 9 pound fine, with only seven days to pay, was enough to force, Adelaide Numerologist, Mrs Barr into retirement. During her Clairvoyante and Numerology career in Adelaide (1908-1910 and 1912-1917), Mrs Ellen Barr predominantly practiced from the CBD (10 Carrington Street, 97 Flinders St, 1/208 Wakefield St, 69 Hurtle Square) and Kensington (High Street opposite Young’s Chemist). Following her public prosecution, Mrs Barr remained privately loyal to her Spiritualist religion. The expenditure of the so-called frivolous women who sought the counsel of these spiritualists was, in their husband’s minds, safely back under the control of men.
Understandably, the 1920’s was a little quiet on the Numerology front in Adelaide and the word Clairvoyant was only ever used theatrically, but by the 1930’s the revival of interest in the “ancient sciences” of numerology, palmistry and card reading, was sweeping the social world with new zest. In 1932 the Occult Research Society which had its meetings at 107 Jetty Road, Glenelg was running regular Numerology classes every Tuesday afternoon.
Heading the 1930s revival for card reading was one of the most popular Adelaide Numerologists and women advisors of the 20th century. Madame Wu was first engaged in 1930 by The Register News-Pictorial (SA) introducing “a new feature to provide a lot of fun and interest for readers.”
The emphasis was strongly put upon this being just for fun.
Madame Wu had already achieved some fame privately, among social circles, by telling fortunes from a normal deck of playing cards with some obvious theatrics and lots of hilarity. In 1930, readers of The Register were instructed to select nine cards from a deck of cards, make a secret wish, ask one question, and send in the names of the cards in the order they were selected. 100s of letters poured in from Adelaide and the surrounding country towns and Madame Wu’s brief replies quickly filled five full pages. The Observer (a Saturday Paper and sister publication of the Register) also solicited readers questions and card readings and Madame Wu soon became a household name across South Australia and even Western Australia. Both of these newspapers and the Madame Wu column were later taken over by The Advertiser in 1931.
The now famous, Madame Wu began making high profile appearances at society weddings, fairs, and local events. There was an air of the showman about her readings and one can easily imagine this English-Australian woman swanning about in Chinese dress playing the part of Madame Wu with laughter all around her, but it was her “Wu Woolly Fund” to raise knitted clothing for drought-stricken farmers in outback South Australia that would thrust her into the more serious political circles of Adelaide’s highest society circuit and see her mingling with the Governor’s wife (Lady Hore-Rithven) and the Lady Mayoress of Adelaide (Mrs. C. R. J. Glover).
Fortune Telling in Adelaide had once again become acceptable, as long as it was disguised as entertainment!
Madame Wu, AKA Ethel Cooper (1888-1970), flirted with numerology, horoscopes, flower reading, spiritualism, meditation and even match-making in her replies (albeit safely in the bounds of Christianity across all denominations). She believed in the healing and manifesting power of positive thought and her column soon became more of a philosophical address laced with interactive sympathy and advice. Her “Wu Woolly Fund” of 1931 also introduced her to a radio audience and she began a weekly lecture on radio 5AD all throughout the 1940s. She should be celebrated as one of Australia’s most famous Women’s counsellor’s and a clear example of the natural link between the role of fortune teller and counsellor.
The Madame Wu’s women’s pages ran from 1930 to 1954 and although the role of women in spirituality in Adelaide was condemned during The Great War as “an evil preying on soldiers’ relatives”, it did (with the help of Madame Wu) survive all through the Second World War.
Other notable Adelaide Numerology events were;
- Madam Lillian Evans of Sydney’s Unitarian Church toured Adelaide as part of her world tour lectures on health, Astrology, and Numerology (1934).
- Mr Thomson’s lecture on Numerology at Oakley Hall, 79 Wakefield Street, Adelaide (1936)
- The Victor Harbor Book Exchange was a hub for Numerology in the 1980s and 1990s.
- Alex Zychal and his wife held the first “New Age Expo” in the Victoria Harbour Masonic Hall in 1996
ETHEL COOPER BIOGRAPHY: Our Ethel Cooper (Madame Wu), who should not to be confused with the Adelaide musician and famous wartime letter writer of the same era, was born in North Adelaide to Henry Taylor and Emily Esther Kingham in 1888. In 1915, at age 27, she married Arthur White Cooper (2nd son of Robert Cooper). Ethel Cooper had two sons Robert and James (occasionally referred to in her column as Bobby and Jimmy Wu). Ethel started her psychic column in 1930 and was often assisted by her sister at social events and functions. Arthur Cooper died at their home (41 Penzance St) in 1935. Ethel died in 1970 (aged 82).