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"Call to Reopen Judge Case" by Leslie Price.

Apr 29, 2006 00:00 AM
by danielhcaldwell

"Call to Reopen Judge Case" by Leslie Price.
is copied from PSYPIONEER, Volume 2, No 4; April 2006,
pp. 91-92.


Notes by the Way 


Let's summarise, and then comment on a recent Theosophical 

A Brazilian Theosophist has called on the Adyar-based Theosophical 
Society to reopen the case of one of its founders, later its 
American leader, William Quan Judge (1851-1896). In 1894, Judge was 
accused of misusing the name of and handwriting of the Mahatmas, the 
advanced men believed to have inspired the formation of the Society. 
This led to a schism among Theosophists which persists to this day. 
The United Lodge of Theosophists the T.S. Pasadena, and the 
independent Edmonton Theosophical Society (Alberta, Canada) are 
among groups supporting Judge. 

In a letter published in the Edmonton journal Fohat (Spring 2006) 
Carlos Cardoso Aveline suggests that "independent students could 
write annual, open letters to the Adyar Theosophical Society asking 
it to re-examine its 'process' moved against William Q. Judge in 
1894-5 and suggesting that its leaders should either show proofs of 
his guilt or declare him innocent of any charges whatsoever." This 
letter also appears on the Edmonton web site 

In June 2004 the Edmonton Society published a 1000 page book "The 
Judge Case: a conspiracy which ruined the Theosophical Cause" by 
Ernest Pelletier which printed much relevant documentation. However 
in an Addendum to the "Supplement" to this book, Pelletier charged 
that the Adyar Society was withholding relevant documentation, in 
order to preserve the impression that Judge was guilty. 

In his letter, Aveline draws attention to the 1885 case of 
H.P.Blavatsky who was also accused as a fraud - in this case by the 
SPR. In April 1986, however, the SPR (which has no collective views) 
published in its Journal a paper by a senior member, Dr Vernon 
Harrison, which was highly critical of the previous findings. An SPR 
press release made Dr Harrison's new investigation widely known.

Now, does the Blavatsky /SPR case offer lessons for the Judge Case? 
I believe it does. 

The SPR had been asked to make available its surviving documentation 
about the Blavatsky investigation by Walter Carrithers ( pseudonym 
Adlai Waterman ) and it did so about 1960. Carrithers could be 
regarded as a hostile critic, in much the same way as Aveline or 
Pelletier could be regarded as hostile, but the material was made 
available anyway, and it circulated in photocopied or microfilm form 
among theosophical historians, before bearing fruit. (It revealed, 
incidentally, that Blavatsky had produced bell phenomena in the 
presence of members of the investigating committee, but this had 
been deleted at proof stage of a report. The written decision to 
delete had survived.) 91

Later the SPR, after putting Dr Harrison's paper through its normal 
review procedure, published it and publicised it. Not all members of 
the SPR agreed with Dr Harrison, just as not all agreed with the 
original Blavatsky report. But the sting of the mutual antipathy 
which had sometimes characterised SPR/TS relations since 1885 was 

Does the TS Adyar have any documents which would assist the 
defenders, or for that matter, the critics, of Judge? In the same 
issue of Fohat, Pelletier points to at least one relevant letter 
(Judge to Khandalavala Sept. 17 1884) of which he has a photocopy, 
but which he suspects may have been tampered with in the original.. 
And he has been told by Adyar people of other relevant material at 

Any new material could be published in a suitable place, like the 
quarterly journal "Theosophical History." In due course, "The 
Theosophist" (Adyar's main journal) could carry one of more articles 
by senior Theosophists of various views and organisations, drawing 
lessons from the case, in the light of what we now know. This might 
go some way to healing the wounds of the schism. 

However, I would not want to single out Adyar in this situation. It 
is but one of a number of relevant Theosophical archives. In the pro-
Judge TS Pasadena may be found letters of Olcott and Besant to 
Judge, the diaries of Judge, and the letters of the Mahatmas to 
Judge which featured in the Case. Someone might suggest the TS 
Pasadena was suppressing evidence of Judge's guilt. In fact all 
archives, by preserving documentation, are performing a vital 
service. It would be useful now to move beyond charges and for all 
parties to work together to get all relevant documentation into the 
scholarly domain. 

Beyond this Case, Judge was not only a profound Theosophical 
thinker, whose writings merit study, but also a witness to a variety 
of HPB phenomena - and a severe critic of the American psychic scene 
of his time. 


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