"Call to Reopen Judge Case" by Leslie Price.
Apr 29, 2006 00:00 AM
"Call to Reopen Judge Case" by Leslie Price.
is copied from PSYPIONEER, Volume 2, No 4; April 2006,
Notes by the Way
CALL TO REOPEN JUDGE CASE
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
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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