Leadbeater and the Ordination of Women

One of the questions Wedgwood and Leadbeater had to consider when establishing the Liberal Catholic Church, especially given the emphasis on equality within the Theosophical Society and the break with tradition by Co-Masonry in allowing women to be initiated, was that of whether women could be ordained. Wedgwood had been challenged on this issue in 1918 by a question in the British Theosophical Society journal, The Vahan, when a correspondent suggested that a refusal to ordain women was contrary to Theosophical principles. He responded with an article entitled “Women and the Priesthood” presenting a number of arguments, including that the occult nature of women’s bodies, as identified in “recent occult investigation”, was unsuitable for the Christian priesthood. See J.I. Wedgwood “Women and the Priesthood” in The Vahan 28:1, August 1918:4-5.





Quoted in Joseph E. Ross Spirit of Womanhood: A Journey with Rukmini Devi author, 2009:1-4

Leadbeater had examined the matter clairvoyantly and sought the advice of the Master, and his conclusion was negative:

These forces as now being used could not be sent through a feminine body safely at all; an entirely different arrangement could be made, but it would be a different arrangement. All priestesses in olden days were priestesses of Goddesses. Quoted in C. Jinarajadasa On the Liberal Catholic Church Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1952:39.

And in The Science of the Sacraments Leadbeater wrote:

The forces now arranged for distribution through the priesthood would not work efficiently through a feminine body; but it is quite conceivable that the present arrangements may be altered by the Lord Himself when He comes again into the world. It would no doubt be easy for Him, if He so chose, either to revive some form of the old religions in which the feminine Aspect of the deity was served by priestesses, or to modify the physics of the Catholic scheme of forces that a feminine body could be satisfactorily employed in the work. C.W. Leadbeater The Science of the Sacraments Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1967:391.

There were rumours, never substantiated, that Leadbeater consecrated Mrs Besant to the episcopate. Cf. John Plummer The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement Apocryphile Press, Berkeley, 2005:163-164.


A photograph of Mrs Besant sitting in the sanctuary during a Liberal Catholic liturgy, with the caption “Mrs Annie Besant in the Sanctuary of the Liberal Catholic Church. Was she the first modern woman Bishop?”, appears in Lewis Keizer Wandering Bishops. Apostles of a New Spirituality 2000:26 [revised on-line edition www.hometemple.org/WanBishWeb%20Complete.pdf ]

Since Leadbeater wrote The Science of the Sacraments (1920), “the present arrangements” do not appear to have been “altered by the Lord Himself when He comes again into the world”, presumably not least because “the Lord Himself” appears not to have come in the sense predicted by Leadbeater and others in the 1920s.

The (London-based) Liberal Catholic Church experienced a series of significant schisms essentially relating to the ordination of women beginning around 2002, leading to the establishment of a number of separate Liberal Catholic churches in which women were ordained as Priests and consecrated as Bishops. The earliest schism within the Liberal Catholic Church in the USA in 1941, which ultimately became known as the Liberal Catholic Church International, has permitted the ordination and consecration of women since 2004.

The (London-based) Liberal Catholic Church reacted to increasing calls for the ordination of women and the schisms in which such ordination was permitted by introducing a number of means for what can best be called the non-ordination-ordination of women, including the establishment of the office of the Deaconess (who is not the equivalent of the male Deacon), and of the Order of our Lady in which women candidates are admitted (not ordained) by a Bishop through a series of stages (not orders) with rituals somewhat similar to those used for the (male) Minor Orders, the Sub-diaconate and the Diaconate. Each stage is symbolized by a flower which is given to the candidate: purity (white rose); devotion (red rose); knowledge (yellow rose); love (pink rose); will (white lily); wisdom, or Deaconess.

The World Mother movement established by Leadbeater, and other related women’s groups, see:



Work for the World Mother (2)

The World Mother was known within inner circles of the Theosophical Society from around 1915, but only made public in 1928.




The O.E. Library Critic Vol XVIII No 1 August 1928


A portrait of the World Mother attributed to Florence Fuller (1867-1947)

Esoteric “Work for the World Mother” was initiated by Leadbeater in an inner group of members of the ES in Sydney in 1925.  Mary Rocke, a wealthy Theosophist and physician, established the Temple of the Motherhood of God, with an elaborate ritual drafted around 1921, and intended to be performed by nine virgins. Dr Rocke and Lady Emily Lutyens were consecrated in 1925 (probably by Wedgwood) by the laying on of hands to lead the Temple. However, the Work was not successful and dissolved after Dr Rocke’s death in 1927.

An attempt to revive this work was made in France in 1967 with the establishment by Mrs. Elisabeth Warnon (1915-1997) of The Order of the World Mother, “an Initiatic and Ritualistic Order which is exclusively for women, who for thousands of years have been denied entrance to the Priesthood and many of the Initiatic Orders”. See: http://kg.vkk.nl/english/organizations/omm_disabled.gb/omm.html For Elisabeth Warnon, see: http://esopedia.urobore.net/Elisabeth_Warnon

In 1919, while working with Wedgwood on the liturgy of what was to become the Liberal Catholic Church, Leadbeater was visited “on more than one occasion” by the World Mother, and sought Her advice regarding both Liberal Catholic and Co-Masonic rituals. She referred to an Order She had founded during her lifetime as the Virgin Mary in Palestine – the Brotherhood of Bethlehem. See: C. Jinarajadasa Work for the World Mother privately printed (ES), Adyar, 1948

In later years Leadbeater also sought to establish a further esoteric group: a feminine equivalent of the Christian Religion for the revival of ancient womens’ mysteries. He claimed that a form of “apostolic succession” from the World Mother was transmitted through him to four young women among the “Seven Virgins of Java”, a group of young Dutch girls who came to Sydney from Java, whom he “consecrated” as the female equivalents in this feminine religion of bishops in the masculine Christianity. Most of these girls were daughters of Liberal Catholic Priests.

Jinarajadasa commented in an ES document of 1948: Though the original four consecrated by the Holy Mother have lost interest in the work, nevertheless the succession given to them has been passed on, though for the moment it remains in abeyance. [C. Jinarajadasa, Work for the World Mother, privately printed (ES), Adyar, 1948:6] And Jinarajadasa foreshadowed: a secret organization confined to women only, working through one or more rituals under their officers, which the World Mother will use as a special channel of Her forces for the world.  Such a secret organization will not be confined to women of one race or faith only; it will be for all women, provided they qualify themselves, as is the case with all secret organizations.  If such a ritual body is to be Her channel, it must begin with those on whom She has conferred her “apostolic succession”….When those who have the “succession” inform me that they have begun the work, then will be time to make an announcement to the E.S. [ibid:23]

A detailed account of the World Mother activities can be found in Joseph E. Ross Spirit of Womanhood: A Journey with Rukmini Devi author, 2009.  Mr Ross provided me with an earlier (2005) manuscript of the original (2004) work. See also: http://theosophy.wiki/w-en/index.php?title=World-Mother





Leadbeater On Incense


The use of incense is full of significance. It is at the same time symbolic, honorific and purificatory. It ascends before God, as a symbol of the prayers and devotion of the people; but also it spreads through the church as a symbol of the sweet savour of the blessing of God. It is offered as a mark of respect, as it was in many of the older religions; but it is also used with a definite idea of purification, and so the Priest pours into it a holy influence with the intention that wherever its scent may penetrate, wherever the smallest particle of that which has been blessed may pass, it shall bear with it a sense of peace and purity, and shall chase away all inharmonious thoughts and feelings.

Even apart from the blessing, its influence is good, for it is carefully compounded from certain gums, the undulation-rate of which harmonizes perfectly with spiritual and devotional vibrations, but is distinctly hostile to almost all others. The magnetization may merely intensify its natural characteristics, or may add to it other special oscillations, but in any case its use in connection with religious ceremonies is always desirable. The scent of sandalwood has many of the same properties; and the scent of pure attar of roses, though utterly different in character, has also a good effect.

More than a hundred varieties of incense are known, and each of the ingredients employed has its own special influence on the higher bodies of man. There is a science of perfumes, and evil powers as well as good may be invoked by such means. Nearly all the incenses prepared for church use contain a large proportion of benzoin and olibanum, as experience has shown that these are both pleasing and effective. Benzoin is almost savagely ascetic and purifying; it deals trenchantly with all the grosser forms of impure thought, and is excellent for use in a great cathedral crowded with somewhat undeveloped individual. For smaller assemblies of less bucolic minds it needs a large admixture of other elements to produce the best results. Olibanum is the special incense of devotion; its fragrance tends strongly to awaken that feeling in those who are at all capable of it, and to deepen and intensify it where it already exists. A judicious mixture of these two gums is found satisfactory in practice, so it is frequently employed as a basis or central stock, to which other less important flavourings may be added.

C.W. Leadbeater The Science of the Sacraments Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1967:84-86

Leadbeater was also insistent that incense be used in the rituals of Co-Masonry.

This use of incense is perfectly scientific. All occult students are aware that, as was said in the last chapter, there is no such thing as really dead matter, but that everything in nature possesses and radiates out its own vibration or combination of vibrations. Every chemical element has thus its own set of influences, which are useful in certain directions and useless or even hostile in others. It is in this way quite possible, for example, to mingle certain gums which, when burnt as incense, will strongly stimulate the purer and higher emotions; but one could just as easily make another mixture whose vibrations would promote the most undesirable feelings. This is a matter about which some people are sceptical, because humanity is at present passing through a stage in its evolution during which its development is almost exclusively that of the lower mind, which is fiercely intolerant of any­thing which it has not specially studied. We all know how difficult it has been until quite lately to gain any recognition for non-physical phenomena, such as those of telepathy or clairvoyance, or indeed anything outside the most materialistic science.

Now the time has come when men are begin­ning to see that life is full of invisible influences, whose value can be recognized by sensitive people. The effect of incense is an instance of this class of phenomena, as is also the result of the use of talismans and of certain precious stones, each of which vibrates at its own rate and has its own value. Such things are not usually of importance so great that we need give much time to their consideration, but they all have their effects, and are therefore not to be entirely neglected by wise people.

The incense used in the Lodge tends to purify that part of man’s nature which is sometimes called the astral body, as it is made of gums which give off an intensely cleansing vibration. In this respect its effect is analogous to the sprinkling of a disinfectant, which will spread about in the air and destroy undesirable germs, though in this case the operation is on higher levels and in finer matter. It has also the effect of attracting denizens of the inner worlds whose presence is helpful to our working, and of driving away those which are unsuitable.

Two of the most important constituents of such incense as is useful for our work are benzoin and olibanum. The benzoin is a vigorous purifier, and tends to drive away all coarse or sensuous feelings and thoughts. The olibanum has nothing to do with that, but it creates a devotional and restful at­mosphere, and tends to stimulate those vibrations in the astral body which make people responsive to higher things. Attar of roses is also useful, and adds greatly to the effect produced.

If the incense is intelligently magnetized its strength is increased enormously; for example, by putting into olibanum the definite force of the will in the direction of calmness and devotion, its influence may be increased by perhaps a hundredfold. That is why the incense in church is always taken up to the celebrant to be blessed, and why in the Lodge it is brought to the R.W.M. in order that he may magnetize it with whatever special quality he thinks will be helpful for the work of the day. The sprink­ling of holy water in a church is another way of producing a similar effect, but incense has the advantage that it rises into the air, and wherever a single particle goes the purification and blessing is borne with it.

It is desirable on all occasions, and especially in Lodge, in the interests of the work, that the Brn. should have in their minds but a few definite and strong vibrations of emotion and thought; but instead of that they sometimes have forty or fifty small vortices of emotional and mental activity all whirling at once, each representing some small worry or care or desire. It is difficult for a person to do good work while these are present, and almost impossible for him to make real progress in the evolution of consciousness. If he is trying to attain a better emotional and mental condition, the incense will offer him a strengthening current of vibration which will help very much in combing out the tangle and producing calm and steadiness.

We sometimes find that there is much prejudice against the use of incense, because it is supposed to be connected exclusively with the ceremonies of the Roman Church, for it is only there and in some of the higher Anglican churches that Western people ever see it. Those who have travelled in the East, or are interested in the study of other faiths, know that practically all the religions of the world use incense in one form or another. It appears in the temples of the Hindus, the Zoroastrians, the Jains, and in the Shinto of China and Japan. It was used in Greece, in Rome, in Persia, and in the cere­monies of Mithra. All these people, including the Roman Catholics, avail themselves of it because they know it to be a useful thing; why then should not we?

For a time in England there was a very strong puritan wave, shortly after the Reformation, which led to the murder of King Charles, to the Common­wealth and to Cromwell’s rule. True, there was a reaction at the time of the Restoration, but the puritan feeling seems to have been of the most intense kind, and traces of it still remain in England, some of them showing themselves in the most amazing and unreasoning prejudice.

That feeling has sometimes entered Masonic circles, and efforts have been made to induce the Grand Lodge to limit the definition of the Great Architect, so as to exclude the possible association of Masonry with non-Protestant beliefs. But the Grand Lodge has liberally refused to create any such limitations. Under the Grand Lodge of England incense is prescribed for the ceremony of consecrat­ing a Lodge and the Consecrating Officer and the Wardens are censed, though no definite number of swings appears to be laid down. Incense is also used in the Consecration of a Chapter of the Holy Royal Arch, under the Supreme Grand Chapter of England, and in the ceremonial of many of the higher degrees. Thus its introduction into Co-Masonic Lodges is in no way an innovation, but is in full accordance with Masonic usage.

C.W. Leadbeater The Hidden Life in Freemasonry Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1926:128-132

As part of his psychic research in preparing the liturgy for the Liberal Catholic Church, Leadbeater clairvoyantly examined the effects of 119 incense blends to determine the occult effects of each. The results of his examinations were committed to writing but, it seems, never published. Some examples follow:



The biologist, writer on occult subjects, and one-time Liberal Catholic Priest, W.B. (William Bernard) Crow, also wrote on the psychic effects of incense in The Occult Properties of Herbs The Aquarian Press, London, 1969 as did the writer on magical topics, Eric Maple in The Magic of Perfume. Aromatics and their Esoteric Significance The Aquarian Press, London, 1973.


The major scholarly study of incense in the early Christian liturgical tradition is Susan Ashbrook Harvey Scenting Salvation. Ancient Christianity and the Olfactory Imagination University of California Press, 2006. It is interesting that some early Christian writers were concerned with what they called the “spiritual”, and Leadbeater would have called the “psychic” effects of particular aromatics and blends of aromatics. The standard Christian works on incense in liturgy, unsurprisingly, do not refer to psychic research or the occult effects of the incense.

Leadbeater and Spiritualism

Thanks to Leslie Price for drawing attention to Leadbeater’s address to the London Spiritualist Alliance in 1897 and to the report of address in Light, March 27 1897:153-4. A digital version of the volume of Light containing the report is available on-line at: http://www.iapsop.com/archive/materials/light/light_v17_1897_raw.pdf


[Leadbeater] com­menced by acknowledging the cordial terms in which the President had introduced him to the audience, and deprecated the idea that there was necessarily any hostility on the part of Theosophists towards Spiritualism. Speaking as one who had considerable experience in the ranks of both parties, it seemed to him that in those cases where friction arose between Spirit­ualists and Theosophists it was due to mutual misunderstanding, the opposing individuals in such cases lacking knowledge of each other’s side of the question; the two schools should be the more ready to sink their differences when they remembered the two fundamental points which they held in common, viz., the immortality of man and the possibility of communicating with those who had “passed on”. Both Spiritualists and Theosophists knew and realised these facts in a way which tended to dis­tinguish them in a high degree from the world at large; and this certainly should form a strong link between the two parties. It was only after these two fundamental tenets had been agreed to and put aside that the possibilities of difference arose.

One of the most important of these differences, and the one with which he proposed to deal, related to the question of the sources of the communications received from the other side. Even here it would be found that the two parties were very much in agreement. He believed thoughtful Spiritualists admitted that such communication did not invariably come from the spirits of the departed. He would, however, try and put before them the Theosophical view on this subject, premising that Theosophists endorsed the proposition that communications did come very frequently from those from whom they purported to come, vis., the spirits of the so-called dead. The Theosophic idea of the next world, however, presented some points of difference as contrasted with the Spiritualistic idea. Spiritualists appeared to recognise but two worlds or places of being, the physical and the spiritual; Theosophists believed in several planes of exist­ence. Thus Theosophists would speak of the astral plane, by which they meant the state or sphere of existence next to the physical. They regarded this astral plane as being composed, of matter in an infinitely more refined state than the matter of this physical world.

Leadbeater was originally introduced to the occult world through investigations and involvement with spiritualism: see C.W. Leadbeater How Theosophy Came to Me Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1930 – text available on-line at: http://www.singaporelodge.org/htctm.htm

See also Spiritualism and Theosophy Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1958 – text available on-line at: http://www.anandgholap.net/CWL_Spiritualism_And_Theosophy.htm

Leadbeater appears to have involved, or been tempted to involve, having some of the boys with whom he was associated in his Anglican days in his explorations of spiritualism, and even to have them act as mediums for him.

Leadbeater’s early attempts to make contact with the Master K.H. via the medium William Eglinton (1857–1933) are outlined in C. Jinarajadasa (ed) The K.H. Letters to C.W. Leadbeater Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1941 – text available on-line at: http://hpb.narod.ru/tph/CWL_KHLE.HTM

During the time in which he was active in Sinnett’s London Lodge of the Theosophical Society, communication with the Masters involved mediumistic techniques, and it seems that Leadbeater himself acted as a medium for such communication. See: A. P. Sinnett (1840-1921) The Early Days of Theosophy in Europe Theosophical Publishing House Ltd, London, 1922 – text available on-line at: http://hpb.narod.ru/EarlyDaysTheosophyAPS.htm Digital version available on-line at: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.31822035060342

Autobiography of Alfred Percy Sinnett, Theosophical History Centre Publications, London 1986 – digital version available on-line: http://www.theohistory.org/THC/Autobiography_APSinnett2.pdf


Leadbeater, although alerting his readers to the inherent dangers (as he saw them) of spiritualism, was not at all hostile towards spiritualism or its methods as such when he wrote his work Spiritualism and Theosophy Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1958. Text available on-line at: http://www.anandgholap.net/CWL_Spiritualism_And_Theosophy.htm

Leadbeater’s “Wife” and “Daughter”

According to a family tree posted on Ancestry.com by the descendants of William and Alma Docksey, Leadbeater married and had a daughter in Australia.


The family tree claims that Leadbeater married on some unspecified date Alma Gladys Brooks (1899-1982), daughter of Matthew William Brooks and Elizabeth Harriet Brooks (nee Lavender), and they had a daughter, Ida Mavis Brooks (1921-1981) when Alma was 22 years of age and Leadbeater was 67 years of age.

Alma Gladys Brooks subsequently married William Albert Docksey (1901-1990) in 1923, by whom she had two children. Another family tree posted on Ancestry.com states that Ida Mavis Brooks was the daughter of Alma Gladys Brooks and William Albert Docksey, although born some two years before their marriage.

Ida Mavis Brooks was married to Roy Alfred Docksey in St Peters (Sydney) in 1938. What, if any, was the relationship between William Albert Docksey and Roy Alfred Docksey remains to be determined.

The claims of Leadbeater’s “wife” and “child” seem inherently improbable. All the people referred to in the story certainly existed, and can be traced. There is, unsurprisingly, no trace of a marriage between Leadbeater and Alma Gladys Brooks. There are records of the birth of Ida Mavis Brooks in 1921 but until a full birth certificate can obtained the name recorded for her father is not known.

As far as can be ascertained, Leadbeater was in Sydney at the end of 1920 and the beginning of 1921 when a child born on 11 September 1921, as was Ida, would have been conceived.

I hope to be able to trace someone from the Docksey family responsible for posting the family tree in an attempt to discover the origins of the claims of a marriage between Leadbeater and Alma Gladys Brooks, and of him being the father of Ida Mavis Brooks.

Oxford and the Bank Collapse

The standard version of his academic career cut short told by Leadbeater, and repeated by others (including Besant, Jinarajadasa and Hamester) to whom he had told it was, as Besant declared:

…he entered Oxford University, but his career there was cut short by “Black Monday”, the historic failure of Overend, Gurney and Co., in which his fortune was invested. Annie Besant “Charles Webster Leadbeater” in Adyar Day 17th February (TPH), Adyar, nd:11-12

By way of background, the 1861 British Census return, submitted on Sunday, April 7th, shows Leadbeater and his parents in England: Charles Leadbeater (35), who described himself as a “railway clerk”, his wife Emma (39) and their son, Charles W. (7) were lodgers in the house of a Mr William Henry Allen, a railway clerk, in Brompton, London.

Leadbeater’s father died of tuberculosis in Hampstead, London, in 1862, when his son was only eight. His occupation was given on the death certificate as book-keeper for a railway contractor, and his address as Rutland Cottage, John Street, Hampstead, London (now Keats Grove).

It might be noted that Besant’s reference to “Black Monday” is incorrect: the bank collapse occurred on 11 May 1866 which was a Friday, and the event was popularly known as “Black Friday”.

If Leadbeater’s university career “was cut short by “Black Monday”, the historic failure of Overend, Gurney and Co.”, some problems arise.

First, he must have been attending, or at the very least been enrolled at, the University of Oxford, when Overend, Gurney and Company, a leading London discount bank founded in 1800, collapsed in 1866 with debts in excess of eleven million pounds, and its directors were prosecuted for fraud. See John Irving The Annals of Our Time Macmillan, London, 1880, Volume I, Events for May 10 and 11, 1866. See also Geoffrey Elliott The Mystery of Overend & Gurney: A Financial Scandal in Victorian London London: Methuen, 2006.


In 1866 Leadbeater was 12 years of age. That would make it improbable, but not entirely impossible, that he was attending, or at the very least enrolled at, the University of Oxford. Or, according to his fictious birth date of 1847, he was 19 years of age which is more realistic. Unfortunately, he was not born in 1847 but in 1854, so, except in his private fiction, he was not 19 years of age in 1866.

There are publicly accessible records of all students who matriculated for, enrolled at, or attended the University of Oxford. Both the public records and statements from the University of Oxford show that Leadbeater was never one of them. So he had not, even in the vaguest sense of the term, “entered Oxford University” by 1866 or at any other time. Therefore, “his career” at Oxford University could not have been “cut short” by the collapse of Overend, Gurney and Company, or of any other bank, or, indeed, by an asteroid hitting England.

But, being charitable, let us assume that, somehow, Leadbeater had some association with the University of Oxford in 1866, whence came the “fortune” invested in Overend, Gurney and Company, or indeed, anywhere else? Leadbeater was born in a slum in Stockport, Manchester, and, with his parents; moved to a poor working class area in London; and then, following his father’s death, moved with his mother to another poor working class area in London. Tracing his family back on both his father’s and his mother’s side if the family for several generations, there is no indication that anyone was other than working class.

Leadbeater’s father died in 1862, some four years before the collapse of Overend, Gurney and Company, and must therefore have died in possession of the family “fortune”.  However, on his death his widow, Emma, and James Tomlinson Morgan (her brother), as the two executors of the will of Charles Leadbeater, senior, sought a grant of probate declaring on oath that his sole assets were “Effects under £1,500”.


From the Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England, Wills, 1862.

Where was the family “fortune”, presumably invested with, and lost four years later with the collapse of, Overend, Gurney and Company?




Is C.W. Leadbeater a reliable authority?

On August 19, 2016, I posted some comments on an article published by Dr Pablo Sender -“C.W. Leadbeater – A Personal Appreciation” The Theosophist Vol 137 No 10 July, 2016. See https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/sender-on-leadbeater/

Dr Sender kindly responded to my comments and generously gave me permission to publish his response – see https://wordpress.com/post/cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2962

On September 19 2016, I posted the following on this blog – see https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/pablo-sender-in-australia/

The Theosophical Society in Australia has announced that Dr Pablo Sender will be visiting Australia in the “second half of April 1917” to speak at the “2017 School of Theosophy” – http://austheos.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/tina-2016-september.pdf – and it seems to me that Dr Sender’s visit would be an excellent opportunity for him to participate in an academic debate regarding C.W. Leadbeater, given his strenuous defence of Leadbeater in response to my blog: https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/dr-sender-responds/

 I note that Dr Sender has failed to reply to my two (basic) criticisms of my responses to his defences of Leadbeater: https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/special-pleading-for-an-arhat/ and https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/even-if-it-is-a-lie/

So – perhaps a public discussion on “Is C.W. Leadbeater a reliable source?” could be organized? Perhaps at the Theosophical Society in Australia’s national headquarters, or yet at The Manor (the national centre of the Esoteric School – or whatever it is now called – in the Australia)?

I would, of course, expect no financial benefit from participating in such a discussion and would be happy for any income derived to benefit the Theosophical Order of Service.

I eagerly await the response of Dr Sender and the Theosophical Society in Australia.

I have received no response to that posting, but I appreciate that Dr Sender is obviously a very busy man, and that authorities of the Theosophical Society in Australia are extremely unlikely to read my blog, or to have time, or inclination, to respond to comments posted on it.

However, I note that details of Dr Sender’s visit to Australia have now been published, and take the opportunity to renew my invitation for him to engage in a public discussion on “Is C.W. Leadbeater a reliable source?”

I have now sent the following e-mail to Dr Sender, to Linda Oliveira (both as National President of the Theosophical Society in Australia, and as Outer Head of the Esoteric Section); to Pedro Oliveira (who publishes a web-site devoted to the defence of Leadbeater – http://www.cwlworld.info/ – and is the Education Officer of the Theosophical Society in Australia); and to Dr Tara Tatray (General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in Australia), with a copy to the President of the Theosophical Society:

As Dr Sender will be aware, but the rest of you may not be, I publish a blog on C.W. Leadbeater – https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/  I append a post I made to that blog this afternoon.

Given that the question of the credibility of C.W. Leadbeater remains an issue of considerable controversy within the Theosophical Society, and that Dr Sender will shortly be in Australia, I suggest that a public discussion on “Is C.W. Leadbeater a reliable authority?” could, and indeed should, be organized.

Obviously, a Society that promotes as its motto that “There is No Religion Higher Than Truth”, must have a commitment to ensuring that the “truth” regarding C.W. Leadbeater can be, and is, freely and openly discussed. Unless, of course, it accepts that no reasonable defence of his reliability is possible.

I will be happy to have any such representative of the Theosophical Society as it may nominate arguing against my position that C.W. Leadbeater is not a reliable source, and would suggest that Dr Sender and Mr Oliveira would be eminently qualified speakers.

I look forward to your response.

Best wishes

Dr Gregory Tillett


Councils of the Mighty

Works of fiction involving Theosophy, or including characters like Leadbeater or Krishnamurti (even if “in disguise”), are few in number, so my collection on that theme is small and easily manageable. One curious novel which I read while at Adyar, but do not own, is:


W.H. Perrins Councils of the Mighty Boston, Christopher Publishing House [1947]

The world is awaiting the coming of a new World Teacher through Darien, a boy prodigy, facing difficulties with puberty and the temptations of sex, not to mention the mysteries of astral projection.

The Sacred Seven, the Council of the Mighty Ones, are overseeing the project and acting through their representative on earth, the Scribe of the Cosmos. They have, however, to fight against Dr Fingon, who is evil incarnate.


The novel outlines some curious sexual theories, and includes material on kundalini and psychic powers.

Perrins was an American Theosophist, and in 1953 had proposed a musical setting for The Universal Invocation written in 1923 by Besant.



“To All Parents Throughout the World”

I have been slowly working through some of the more than twenty volumes of notebooks I had filled while undertaking my original research on Leadbeater, 1980-1986, and found one listing literally dozens of books, booklets, pamphlets and circulars relating to the 1906 scandal.

One of particular interest had been written by Frederick Pettit, father of Douglas Pettit, the boy central to the case. It was a circular entitled: “To All Parents Throughout the World”. It was dated 18 August 1909, and bore Pettit’s signature and that of a Notary Public.

Pettit stated that his son, Douglas, had first met Leadbeater in Vancouver in 1903 when he was thirteen years old. He had initially gone on a trip with Leadbeater to California, but the trip had been extended to the eastern United States. Pettit had not considered or discussed placing his son with Leadbeater for “occult training”. On the boys’ return in July 1904, Douglas had appeared over-anxious, regarded women with contempt, and sneered at parental authority, saying that that was how Leadbeater had taught him to behave.

Douglas began back at school. He suffered an epileptic fit, and when consulting a physician, told him that Leadbeater had “taught” him to masturbate to make him “woman proof”. He also stated that Leadbeater had slept with him and “in other ways acted in a disgustingly familiar way towards him”.

This supports the Sworn Statement of Douglas D. Pettit presented as Exhibit CC No 1778 1913 Madras – see: https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/the-pettit-statement/


Leadbeater in the USA, 1904

In 1909, concerned that their son’s health seemed to be deteriorating, the Pettits took Douglas to the headquarters of the (rival) Theosophical Society at Point Loma (California). It was under the leadership of Katherine Tingley. That visit led to two consequences which cannot have helped Douglas.

In February 1910, Alexander Fullerton (1841-1913), a former Episcopalian Priest and Attorney, for a time General Secretary of the (Adyar) Theosophical Society, and General Secretary of the American Section until 1907, was charged in the Federal District Court in New York by the New York Society for the Prevention of Vice with sending obscene letters to Douglas Pettit. Copies of the letters had been forwarded to the Postal Inspector by Mrs Tingley, and criminal charges followed. Fullerton was adjudged insane and sent to an asylum for the criminally insane where he spent the remainder of his life. That, at least, meant that Douglas was not require to give evidence in court.

Also while at Point Loma in 1911, Douglas Pettit made an even more incriminating statement when Mrs Tingley interviewed him about his relationship with Leadbeater.   He swore that he and Leadbeater had actually had sexual relations, that Rigel and Nevers (two others boys named in the case) had also had sexual relations with Leadbeater, and that Leadbeater told them the Masters preferred this form of sexual relationship to heterosexual intercourse. Mrs Tingley, unsurprisingly, ensured that those claims were publicized.

Leadbeater was informed of this statement by Mrs Marie Russak in a letter dated March 1, 1911.  She concluded: “One of the black magicians has seized the weak mental state of Douglas.” Leadbeater, who, as usual, did not deny the charges made against him, replied that he had had problems with all the American boys who were “thrust upon him”.

Leadbeater, in his usual way, had dealt with all his American critics in a letter to Mrs Besant on October 9, 1906 when he concluded: “There is a certain unscrupulousness and want of honour in the American character which may be a troublesome factor in the new sub-race; and it seems to need only a little stress to bring it to the surface even in the better class of Americans.”


Leadbeater in the USA, 1904

On his website, Pedro Oliveira reproduces the wills of Frederick William Pettit and Emmeline Pettit, Douglas’ parents – http://www.cwlworld.info/html/archives.html – presumably to imply that the boy’s parents rejected any allegations against Leadbeater regarding Douglas since those documents appointed “Charles William [sic] Leadbeater” to be their son’s guardian in the event of their deaths. However, both wills are dated 10 November 1903, just when Leadbeater, having only recently met the boy, was setting out on a trip with Douglas, and some three years before the boy had made any allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Oliveira also reproduces, both photographically and in text form, a letter from Frederick Pettit to Alexander Fullerton, then General Secretary of the American Section, dated June 16 1906, demanding more information and evidence in regard to the charges against Leadbeater (who is referred to as “X” in the correspondence) and demanding a full inquiry into the matterWhether I find personally that C.W.L. has wronged my son and has deserved what has been meeted out to him or whether I decide otherwise”.

He concludes: “As I have said, I am not attempting to whitewash X. If there is anyone in the wide world who should be “boiling over with righteous indignation”, It should be I, — the father of one of the ruined boys.” Needless to say, Mr Oliveira does not provide any information about the criminal charges brought against the same Mr Fullerton in relation to Douglas.

The future fate of Douglas seems not to have been a matter with which anyone in either Theosophical Society was concerned. Research into his subsequent life is continuing.

Sutcliffe “An Appeal”

G.E. Sutcliffe An Appeal for Restitution and Peace to Indian Theosophists Laxmi Vijaya Press, Sholapur, 1908

Sutcliffe’s booklet offered an unusual explanation for and justification of Leadbeater’s sexual teachings. In referring to the teaching of Hatha Yoga, he declared that it

…is said to permit the quieting of these instincts by a physical artifice. This artificial proceeding need not be further defined, beyond the fact that it is a solitary vice, and hurts no-one but the party practising it. It is, of course, a general evil, since it is one of the forms of racial suicide so prevalent at the present day.

Sutcliffe claimed that Leadbeater had permitted or recommended this “artificial proceeding” to a new pupils.

George E. Sutcliffe was a Theosophist and astrologer who had predicted that 11 January 1910 had been “the occult birth of the young child who in due time shall be the vehicle for the blessing of the world.” That date was said to have been the date on which Krishnamurti underwent his First Initiation, his “occult birthday”, his real birth having occurred on 25 May 1896.

Sutcliffe’s  other works included:

Essays and Addresses on Theosophy and Science (1899)

Two Undiscovered Planets: Four Lectures Delivered in Oct.-Nov. 1900, at the Blavatsky Lodge, Theosophical Society, Bombay (1901)

A Gigantic Hoax; how the great French astronomer La Place has perpetrated a tremendous hoax on the whole of nineteenth century scientists (1905)

Studies in Occult Chemistry and Physics (1923) – originally published in thirteen articles in The Theosophist 1922-1928. Eleven of those articles were supposed to constitute Studies in Occult Chemistry and Physics Volume I which was published in 1923 by the Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar. Chapters XII through XXIII were supposed to be printed as Volume II which did not appear. The text of Volume I is available on-line at: http://hpb.narod.ru/tph/TPH_SOCP.HTM

The New Astronomy and Cosmic Physiology: An introduction to the subject (1930)