The Case against C. W. Leadbeater


The vast majority of quotations and references in this article come from the research and investigations of thec-w-leadbeater-theosophy late Gregory Tillett, who over several decades devoted a surprising amount of his time and energy to uncovering the facts about C. W. Leadbeater and writing about him at great length, including the published book “The Elder Brother: A Biography of Charles Webster Leadbeater.” If students of Theosophy learn to think and perceive everything in terms of Karma and reincarnation, it may perhaps be seen that in reality Tillett was not an “enemy” of Leadbeater (as the latter’s fans and supporters claim) but actually a great friend to the soul who was, for that lifetime, embodied as the personality C. W. Leadbeater. By demonstrably informing the world that Leadbeater was not someone to be trusted, he helped to lessen the accruing of even more unpleasant Karma by that soul. We personally believe that Leadbeater and Tillett were connected in previous lives and that, in his latest life, Tillett worked arduously to Karmically help and aid that soul who occupied such an immense amount of his thought, attention, and fascination. With Tillett’s death a few years ago, his website no longer exists and so, although ideally we would rather not have on this website anything dealing with the types of subjects dealt with below, we have taken it upon ourselves to put the most important and significant parts of Tillett’s labours on this page, so that anyone so interested will always be able to continue to find this important information, which for many people is the main thing that makes a difference as to whether they will study and follow the Theosophy of H. P. Blavatsky or that of Leadbeater and Besant.

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Some Theosophists, especially some members of “The Theosophical Society – Adyar” are so inexplicably devoted to C. W. Leadbeater that they will casually disregard and deny anything unless it is so detailed, specific, and referenced, as to be of such a nature that it has to be taken seriously and cannot be ignored. Hence the need for this present article. Perhaps most Adyar Society members do not realise it but to many other Theosophists they seem very strange and questionable for continuing to either endorse or fully or partly condone or at least failing to condemn, the work and actions of this man who, after his death, was described in one obituary by some Canadian Theosophists as having singlehandedly destroyed the Theosophical Movement. That is of course something of an exaggeration, since no-one and nothing can truly destroy the work of the Masters of Wisdom.

This article does not deal so much with the vast alterations made by Leadbeater to the teachings and presentation of Theosophy, with the exception of touching upon some of his more blatant attempts to Catholicise Theosophy, such as teaching and promoting the practice of confession and priestly absolution of sins through the Liberal Catholic Church, of which he was a Bishop, the assertion of the legitimacy of apostolic succession through the Roman Catholic Church, and the hailing of the Virgin Mary as “the World Mother.” Other articles on this site, such as Original Theosophy and Later Versions, may be read for further details about differences in teaching.

Our aim here is simply to establish whether or not C. W. Leadbeater was a paedophile, sex criminal against young boys, a chronic liar, fraud, and even a black magician. For over a century, many concerned Theosophists have been emphasising that this is unfortunately the case. Yet many others prefer to turn a blind eye to it all and even to attempt to suppress and obscure the facts, perhaps partly because to discredit Leadbeater inevitably means to discredit Annie Besant, as can be seen from what follows, as well as their immediate successors in the leadership of “The Theosophical Society – Adyar” such as George Arundale and C. Jinarajadasa, not to mention the Liberal Catholic Church and Bishop James Wedgwood, and such popular Leadbeater devotees as Geoffrey Hodson. It also necessarily means to cast a dark shadow on the claims, teachings, and aims, of Alice Bailey, since almost everything in her books is derived from Leadbeater’s ideas and innovations and certainly not from the work of H. P. Blavatsky, as some peculiarly think.

Why does the official website of “The Theosophical Society – Adyar” continue to state that Leadbeater was born in 1847 when they know perfectly well that this was a deliberate lie (one of many) on Leadbeater’s part and that he was in fact born in 1854? [NOTE: A few days after this article was put online, their website quietly corrected the date to 1854 and a large framed photograph of Leadbeater was taken down from its place of prominence at the London headquarters of “The Theosophical Society in England.”Why does Adyar Society member Anand Gholap continue to fanatically promote Leadbeater as “Mahatma C. W. Leadbeater” and Annie Besant as “Mahatma Annie Besant”? Surely anyone of sound mind who reads on can see clearly that these two must have been very far from being even Initiates, let alone Mahatmas in their own right. Why and how could Alice Bailey or her supposed “Tibetan” inspirer “D.K.” say of Leadbeater that “of his sincerity and of his point of attainment there is no question”? (“Esoteric Psychology” Vol. 2, p. 302-303)

What matters most? Comfortable delusion or uncomfortable truth?

A fact, which no-one can deny, is that Leadbeater admitted under oath in 1906 to intimately touching and performing indecent acts on young boys in his care on numerous occasions and often in ongoing circumstances. This confession, which he made after complaints and allegations from several boys, quite rightly resulted in his being forced out of the Theosophical Society in shame and disgrace, only to later be invited back and readmitted by Annie Besant, much to the disgust of many other Theosophists.

Please read on, decide for yourself, and do not fear or hesitate to challenge and question Leadbeater defenders and supporters as to why they continue to respect and venerate such a person.

In H. P. Blavatsky’s important article titled “On Pseudo-Theosophy” she made some rather prophetic statements and remarked that it would be better for the Theosophical Society to lose almost all its members than to be “made a spectacle to the world through the exaggerations of some fanatics, and the attempts of various charlatans to profit by a ready-made programme. These, by disfiguring and adapting Occultism to their own filthy and immoral ends, bring disgrace upon the whole movement.”

She went on to say that “If the “false prophets of Theosophy” are to be left untouched, the true prophets will be very soon – as they have already been – confused with the false. It is nigh time to winnow our corn and cast away the chaff,” adding that both “the false prophets, the pretenders” and “their weak-minded dupes” must be challenged, because “We do not believe in allowing the presence of sham elements in Theosophy.”

Dear friend, don’t be a “weak-minded dupe.” Stand up boldly for what is right. Stand up for Genuine Theosophy and for the real work of the real Masters and Their Messenger HPB!

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“Mrs Dennis added the testimonies of the mothers of two boys (one of whom was herself, although she did not state this) giving details of how the information had been received.  The first boy had suddenly become antagonistic towards Leadbeater, but despite rebukes from his mother would not explain his feelings, saying: “Mother, I shall never tell you, but if you knew what I know, had heard and seen the things I have heard and seen, you would not wonder.” Eventually:

“A few months ago charges reached me of immoral sexual practices by Mr L. with boys, having been made in India, and the same having been suspected in England.  When [the boy] was again questioned he testified that Mr. L. had taught him how to practice self-abuse [i.e. masturbation]. When asked what reason he gave for teaching him such practices he said, ‘Mr Leadbeater told me that it would make me grow strong and manly.’ Asked his reason for concealing these facts so long from his parents, he said, ‘He made me promise not to tell.'”

“The mother of the second boy had also noticed her son’s sudden change of attitude toward Leadbeater after a short trip the boy had made with him when he was fourteen years old. The boy no longer replied to Leadbeater’s letters until his mother insisted upon it, whereas previously affectionate letters had been frequent between them. When questioned the boy said he could not tell why his attitude has changed. When the charges against Leadbeater became known to the boy’s mother, she questioned him again:

“With great reluctance he admitted the facts of Mr L.’s immoral conduct and in reply to the question ‘When did it happen?’ he said ‘The very first night I visited him we slept together.’ When asked what excuse Mr L. gave for such conduct, the boy’s words were ‘Mother, I think that was the worst part of the whole thing, somehow he made me believe it was Theosophical.”

“The boy had rejected Leadbeater’s advances and the matter was dropped, although the boy felt that Leadbeater no longer liked him, and he was glad to return home. . . .

“Mrs Besant . . . urged Mrs Dennis to understand that, given Leadbeater’s occult status, the charges made were an impossibility.  She reminded her that “all who approach the path have to face these searching ordeals, and hold on through all”. . . .

“Leadbeater then considered the specific cases, and admitted having taught masturbation to the Pettit and Douglas boys, and to having told one boy that his physical growth might be encouraged by the practice. . . .

“In the case of Douglas Pettit, Leadbeater continued to claim that the incident had been an isolated one, occurring as the result of the boy’s request for advice regarding the psychological and physiological effects of the onset of puberty. Leadbeater said he was able to tell from the boy’s aura that he was experiencing desires and feelings which disturbed him, and offered masturbation as a natural outlet for these. The boy, however, subsequently made a sworn statement in which he gave his account of events:

“Mr Charles W. Leadbeater and myself occupied the same bed, habitually sleeping together. On the morning succeeding the first night that we slept together and before we rose to dress, Mr Charles W. Leadbeater explained to me the practice [of masturbation] and urged me to engage in the practice, giving as a reason therefore that it would aid me in overcoming any desire to have sexual intercourse with women – which desire, he told me, would develop in the course of nature at my age very soon. Mr Charles W. Leadbeater also told me that the practice was recommended by his Master and teacher for that reason and advised me not to speak of the matter to anyone. This reciprocal practice continued for the greater part of seven months.” . . .

“While a few members of the TS may have felt suspicion about Leadbeater, there is little doubt that many came to regard these charges as unsubstantiated and false, and probably connected in some way with Black Magicians and the enemies of the Masters. It came as a surprise, therefore, when a letter allegedly from Leadbeater to one of the boys was found in a house in Toronto. Copies of the letter were widely circulated, as was another letter also allegedly from Leadbeater to a boy. The first of the letters, some of which was written in code, became known as “the cypher letter” and copies of it were distributed throughout the Theosophical world, and widely discussed.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 243-252 –

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“PRIVATE: My own darling boy, there is no need for you to write anything in cipher, for no one but I ever sees your letters. But it is better for me to write in cipher about some of the most important matters [. . .]

“Turning to other matters, I am glad to hear of the rapid growth and the strength of the results. Twice a week is permissible, but you will soon discover what brings the best effect [Then occurs the following passage in cipher, the boy’s translation of it being given]. The meaning of the sign is urethra. Spontaneous manifestations are undesirable and should be discouraged. If it comes without help, he needs rubbing more often, but not too often or he will not come well.

“Does that happen when you are asleep? Tell me fully. Glad sensation is so pleasant.

Thousand kisses darling.” (Letter from C.W. Leadbeater to one of his boy pupils, exhibited as evidence against Leadbeater in his 1906 “theosophical trial” –

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“When confronted with a legally attested copy of the letter, Leadbeater admitted that he recognized it, but said that he did not know it in “its present form”, but did not explain what that meant. It remained one of the mysteries associated with his life; he never denied that he had written it, although others, including Mrs Besant, suggested that it was a forgery. Miss Edith Ward, in a circular letter to the British Section of the TS, called for a full investigation and a denial or admission of the letter by Leadbeater. He refused to give an answer, saying it was “a gross impertinence” to suggest that he should.

“The American Theosophists began moves to have Leadbeater expelled from the TS, and Mrs Besant tried rather desperately to defend her colleague, writing letters to those making the charges in an attempt to pacify them. In response to the letters from Mrs Besant and Leadbeater, the American committee decided that it was necessary for definite action to be taken. It was felt that Leadbeater should be “tried” by the British Section, since he was a member of a Lodge within that Section, and also be “tried” as a Presidential Delegate. The American Section sent a representative, Mr R.A. Burnett of Chicago, to see Colonel Olcott, the General Secretary of the British Section, and officials of Leadbeater’s Lodge. Burnett also saw Leadbeater himself. The American Section demanded that he should resign all connection with the TS and its activities, or accept a “trial” before the Section, leading, they assumed, to his expulsion from the Society. . . .

“The Committee began its meetings at the Grosvenor Hotel, Buckingham Palace Road, London, on May 16th [i.e. 1906].  Leadbeater attended, having been given the assurance that the proceedings would be confidential. The Committee was to consider not only the two American cases, but the general subject of Leadbeater’s relations with his pupils. . . .

“The following extracts are taken from the official transcript of the “trial”:

Thomas: I should like to know definitely whether it was simply in the nature of advice or whether there was any action.

Leadbeater:  I want to call up quite clearly the exact incidents. I scarcely recollect. There was advice but there might have been a certain amount of indicative action. That might be possible.

Mead: The boy suggests in the most distinct way that the difference between ‘Z’ [the other boy said to have been involved with Douglas Pettit] and you was that in the case of ‘Z’ he spoke of these things, and in your case something was done to him.

Leadbeater: Nothing was done to him. You can’t be suggesting what seems to be the obvious suggestion.

Mead: You say the boy lies?

Leadbeater: He has misrepresented. I don’t like to accuse people of lies, but a construction has been put upon it which is not right.

Thomas: Your reply as to scarcely recollecting suggests that there were so many cases. I would like to know whether in any case – I am not suggesting sodomy – there was definite action.

Leadbeater: You mean touch?  That might have taken place.

Thomas:  You admit giving advice to more than the two boys?

Leadbeater:  You are to take it that the same advice was given to several.

Olcott:  How many?  Twenty altogether?

Leadbeater:  No, not so many.

Mead:  The second charge read: ‘That he does so with deliberate intent or with the promise of the increase of physical manhood.’ The evidence of these boys says nothing about applying to him for help.  I want to ask whether this advice was given on appeal or not.

Leadbeater:  Sometimes without, sometimes with. I advised it at times as a Prophylactic.

Miss Ward: I suppose from what you saw on the other planes?

Leadbeater:  From what I saw would arise.

Olcott:  That is not within our discussion.”

“Leadbeater eventually gave clues as to the origin of the principles behind the advice. These amazed the Committee and constitute yet another mystery in this affair.

Bernard:  Since Mr Leadbeater was teaching these boys to help them in case of need, considering that men may be in the same difficulty, has he ever taught this to any grown-up men?  Has he taught the same thing in the same personal way to grown-up men as to children?

Leadbeater:  I believe that at least on two occasions in my life I have given that advice to young men as better than the one generally adopted.

Olcott:  Since you came into the Society?

Leadbeater:  I think not, but one case might have been. You are probably not aware that one at least of the great Church organizations for young men deals with the matter in the same manner.

Mead:  Do you deliberately say this?

Leadbeater: Yes.

Mead and Burnett:  What is its name?

Leadbeater:  I am not free to give this.  I heard of the matter first through it.

Mead:  Mr. Leadbeater states then that there is an organization in the Church of England which teaches self-abuse.

Olcott:  Is it a seminary for young priests or a school?

Leadbeater:  It is not a school but I must not give definite indications.

Olcott:  Is it found in the Catholic Church?

Leadbeater:  I expect so.

Olcott:  I know that in Italy Garibaldi found many terrible things.

Mead: This last statement of Mr Leadbeater is one of the most extraordinary things I have ever heard. It is incredible to me that there is an organization of the Church of England which teaches masturbation as a preventative against unchastity. I ask, what is the name of this organization?

Leadbeater: I certainly should not tell.

Mead: I understand that it is an organization pledged to secrecy and I take it that Mr Leadbeater received his first information from this organization.

Leadbeater:  I suppose it would have been better if I had not mentioned it.

Mead:  I absolutely refuse to believe that this is so.

Leadbeater:  I decline to prove it in any manner.”

“As to the identity of the organization, if indeed it did exist, no clues were given.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 254-260 –

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“Finally, with Leadbeater out of the room, the Committee considered the case, and decided to accept his resignation, although they were divided over the issues of whether he should be expelled, what sort of publicity should be given to the case, and what sort of official announcement should be made. Bertram Keightley commented:

“Unless in some public manner the Society is informed that Mr Leadbeater is no longer a member, he will be visiting branches and giving lectures and picking up boys, as he has done in the past. I cannot leave this room satisfied until I know that no member of the Society can be taken unawares. We cannot allow there to be any doubt that Mr Leadbeater has ceased to be a member of the Society.” . . .

“Leadbeater’s arguments, then and later, fell down when it was realized that he, first, admitted to giving the advice to pre-pubescent boys who had not sought it, and, second, admitted employing some form of “indicative action” which might have included touch.  Precisely what Leadbeater did or did not do has been a matter of debate and conjecture ever since the matter first became known. . . .

“Mrs Besant . . . agreed that Leadbeater should have resigned, and suggested that she might do so in protest. She intended to expel from the ES all who had taken part in “this insane action” [i.e. against Leadbeater], and to cancel her American tour. But she was “fully, utterly, certain” that Leadbeater had acted with good intentions . . . She also speculated on what he could do, though she suggested if public activities were impossible it was because the Master had more important work for him. . . . Mrs Besant felt Leadbeater’s loss was a “terrible blow to the Society” . . .

“Mrs Besant’s understanding of her colleague seems to have taken a change of direction, for on June 9th, she issued a strongly worded letter to members of the ES in which she condemned his teachings, and, implicitly, him:

“Mr X [Leadbeater] appeared before The Council of the British Section, representatives of the French and American Sections being present and voting; Colonel Olcott in the chair. Mr X denied none of the charges, but in answer to questions very much strengthened them, for he alleged that he had actually handled the boys himself and that he has thus dealt with boys before puberty as a prophylactic. So that the advice supposed to have been given as a last resort to rescue a boy in the grip of sexual passions, became advice putting foul ideas into the minds of boys innocent of all sex impulses; and the long intervals, the rare relief, became twenty-four hours in length – a daily habit. It was conceivable that the advice as supposed to have been given had been given with pure intent, and the presumption was so in a teacher of Theosophical morality; anything else seemed incredible. But such advice as was given, in fact such dealing with boys before sex passions were awakened, could be given with pure intent only if the giver were, on this point, insane.”

“And she concluded:

“Let me here place on record my opinion that such teachings as this given to man, let alone to innocent boys, is worthy of the sternest reprobation.  It distorts and perverts the sex impulse, implanted in man for the preservation of the race; it degrades the idea of marriage, of fatherhood and motherhood, humanity’s most sacred ideals; it befouls the imagination, pollutes the emotions and undermines the health. Worst of all is that it should be taught under the name of the Divine Wisdom, being essentially ‘earthly, sensual, devilish'”.

“Mrs Besant’s sudden, and never explained, change of attitude, and her refusal to give him the support he had come to expect of her, was a serious blow to Leadbeater.  However, they continued to exchange letters as Mrs Besant went on working in India, and Leadbeater lived quietly at Harrowgate, the island of Jersey, or Sicily, continuing his occult investigations. He continued to seek her advice regarding his future, and to remind her of their past occult work together:

“You have been in daily contact for years with my astral and mental bodies, and you know they are not impure or sensual in the ordinary meaning of those words, and there are other higher things too. You doubted the highest once, you remember, not unnaturally, but summoned up again, and said at leave-taking: ‘You will not think again that I am only a dream will you?’  Can you have doubted again?” . . .

“By September 27th, Mrs Besant’s attitude was again changing, and she wrote a much friendlier letter to Leadbeater. She was, however, still concerned that she may have been under a “glamour”, that is, an artificial and illusory image, throughout her working with Leadbeater. This could have explained why she thought she had done great things in the spiritual worlds with a man who was “earthly, sensual, devilish”. Leadbeater’s next letter to her, on October 17th, reassured her on this, implying that this sort of doubt was likely to have been fostered by the Black Powers. He informed her that he has sent out a little printed letter giving his side of the affair, and that there was a move in the USA to establish a fund to compensate him for the financial loss resulting from his resignation.  And he warned her against Chakravarti, to whom she was turning again: “He is playing a double game”, warned Leadbeater.

“By November 6th he was giving Mrs Besant an account of his attempts to contact Mrs Dennis on the astral plane:

“Mrs Dennis’ attitude is a mystery. I have tried to reach her astrally but it is useless; she gives me the impression of a different person altogether. Does this seem to you also? I do not like to make the suggestion, and I shall not hint a word of it to anyone but you, but the truth is that it seems to me a kind of half obsession. The Mrs Dennis that I used to know would not have behaved as she has done even if I has committed all the crimes that she appears to believe. She had not such bitterness and rancour in her.”

“The exchange of letters between them moved from the first phase of support and collaboration, through a period of formality and coldness on Mrs Besant’s part as she was more and more influenced by the Theosophists at Adyar who had been horrified by Leadbeater’s behaviour, to a gradual resumption of friendliness by the end of 1906. As the result of his frequent letters, regular reminders of their occult work together and the occult bonds which indissolubly linked them, she came gradually to reinterpret the events of 1906.

“The relationship between Leadbeater and Mrs Besant was too close to be dissolved, even by so great a scandal. The fallen prophet gathered his forces, and awaited his return to power.  He did not have long to wait.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 260-273 –

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“Leadbeater was beginning to take the role of a martyr, remaining quietly remote from the Society that was being increasingly torn apart by argument about him, and patiently awaiting the re-instatement which he had doubtless foreseen. His relationship with Annie Besant, whatever it may have been (and critics have offered some remarkable suggestions) was too strong to be broken either by scandal or separation. . . .

“By August, 1907, Leadbeater and Mrs Besant were together again, working on their occult investigations at Weiser Hirsch in Germany; accompanying them were Jinarajadasa, Miss Bright, Mrs Russak, Mrs van Hook, and her son, Hubert. . . .

“By the end of 1907 Leadbeater was answering questions in The Theosophic Messenger, the American journal, despite the strong objections of his enemies in that section. The objections became so vociferous that Dr van Hook, the General Secretary, felt obliged to conduct a referendum, resulting in an overwhelming vote in favour of Leadbeater’s articles: 1,245 in favour, and only 285 against. . . .

“At the annual convention of the TS at Adyar in December, 1907, the issue of Leadbeater’s return to the TS was the burning question.  Dr van Hook, inspired, so he said, by the Masters, issued a series of letters in support of Leadbeater, calling for his reinstatement. The first of these appeared in April, 1908, and was titled The Enemies of Mrs Besant are the Enemies of Charles W. Leadbeater, of the Masters and of the Future Religion of the World. . . .

“These letters had been inspired by Mrs Besant who, according to a letter she published in the journal of the ES, had been told by HPB (on the inner planes) that a defence of Leadbeater must be prepared, but that she was not to do it personally. Van Hook initially said only that the letters had been inspired by the Master M, although he later claimed that they had been dictated verbatim. No explanation was forthcoming for the contradictions between the Master’s opinion in conversation with Olcott and dictation to Van Hook, although critics of the letters and of Leadbeater were not slow to point them out.

“The American Theosophists were generally very impressed with the letters and took them seriously. They had already been warned by Jinarajadasa of the dangers of opposing the work of an Initiate: in the Theosophical Messenger for July, 1908, he noted that such opposition would lead to complete loss of “occult privileges” for three or four lifetimes.

“The British Theosophists were less impressed. The 1906 transcript was published and sent to all members, no doubt in an attempt to discourage them from following the strange logic of the Van Hook letters. At the annual convention of the British Section, a motion allowing for the reinstatement of Leadbeater produced violent arguments. A special committee was appointed to prepare a report on the matter; it consisted of Mrs Maude Sharpe (the General Secretary of the British Section), Edith Ward, G.R.S. Mead, Herbert Whyte and Herbert Burrows. Numerous pamphlets were circulated giving the broadest possible publicity to the opinions of the special committee’s members. All the details of the 1906 trial were resurrected, copies of letters to and from Leadbeater were re-published, and emotions ran high.

“Herbert Burrows drew attention to the discrepancies between the Masters talking to Olcott, and the Masters dictating to Van Hook, and demanded that

“the last vestige of this foul teaching which audaciously calls in the Masters to its aid, must absolutely disappear from the Theosophical Society.”

“Burrows was supported even more vehemently by G.R.S. Mead, who declared that the TS was on “the brink of an abyss” into which it would be “inevitably plunged, if an imperative halt is not instantly called”. And he declared:

“At all times of great spiritual revival, the foul reflection, the distortion, the perversion of the most Sacred Mysteries accompanies it; at all such times the true Mysteries have been surrounded and besmirched with the foulest of sex crimes. For the High Mysteries have to do chiefly with the Mystery of Regeneration.” . . .

“At the Convention, Mrs Besant had already referred to Leadbeater as a martyr, wronged by her and by the Society, and she declared that “never again would a shadow come between her and her brother Initiate”. A ready explanation was found for the difficult events of 1906-7:

“…this dreadful ordeal which he had to undergo was the symbolic crucifixion through which every candidate for the Arhat Initiation must pass.”

“Leadbeater himself later explained the occult significance of such a trial:

“It is one of the features of the Fourth (Arhat) Initiation that the man shall be left entirely alone. First he has to stand alone on the Physical plane; all his friends turn against him through some misunderstanding; it all comes right afterwards, but for the time the man is left with the feeling that all the world is turned against him.”

“Leadbeater had also to endure the evil thought-forms which his enemies directed, consciously or unconsciously, towards him; in most cases, he told his pupils, the thought-forms had been so weak as to provoke nothing more than amusement or pity in him.  Sometimes, however, when they were really unpleasant and he did not feel they should be allowed to wander about, he would transform them through his own power into positive and good thought-forms, sometimes sending them back to their originators in the hope that they might be inspired with brotherly love.

“However torn the TS may have been by the arguments and dissension, Leadbeater himself remained placid and serene, choosing to ignore his critics and the attacks they made upon him. To his friends this represented spirituality and detachment; to his enemies it was an indication that the charges were all true and he dared not try to answer them. He arrived back at Adyar on February 10th, 1909, accompanied by Johan van Manen, his Dutch secretary, and re-occupied the same octagonal room in which he had previously played host to the Masters. To welcome him Mrs Besant wrote in her Adyar Bulletin:

“Welcome, thrice welcome is he, and most glad shall I be of his help, both in writing and in teaching work.” . . .

“At Adyar he was surrounded by friends, even if the Theosophical movement had been split by his return to it. The production of pamphlets continued unabated, eminent figures in the Society resigned, or broke away to form separate movements. But Leadbeater, the fallen prophet restored, had now become a martyr of Theosophy, chosen of the Masters.   Having undergone suffering and symbolic crucifixion, he was now returned to his rightful place in the occult order of things.

“It now remained only for Leadbeater to don the robes of a John the Baptist and proclaim the imminence of the Second Coming, taking the Society into yet another period of crisis, dissension and turmoil. As he continued his occult research into past incarnations he moved steadily towards that new role, and assumed it one day in April, 1909, when he “discovered” Krishnamurti.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 374, 383, 387, 391-404 –

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“As for Krishnamurti, the Indian philosopher whom Leadbeater “discovered” on the beach at Madras in 1909, and trained intensely for many years to play the role of Vehicle for the Coming Christ, and who rejected the role as defined by Leadbeater, he rejects him completely.  In December, 1976, at a gathering of friends in India, including Dick Balfour-Clarke, Krishnamurti was asked to accept the sincerity of all those who worked closely with him in preparation for the Coming – Annie Besant, Leadbeater, Arundale, Jinarajadasa and Wedgwood. He replied sternly: “The only sincere one was Mrs Besant.” To Mary Lutyens, when told about The Elder Brother, and asked for his comments, he said simply: “Leadbeater was evil”, and refused to discuss the matter further, beyond the comment that he found even thinking about Leadbeater, or hearing his name, distasteful.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 73-74 –

– – –

“Frederick Samuel Willoughby had formerly been an Anglican incumbent, but was obliged to resign his living after charges of sexual immorality, by which was meant homosexuality. He joined [Archbishop] Mathew’s small church, apparently informing Mathew of some of the charges against him, and suggesting that they were not only untrue, but part of a plot by his ecclesiastical enemies – that is, low church Anglicans who objected to his high church approach. Mathew consecrated Willoughby as a bishop on October 28th, 1914, in the banqueting hall of the Bell Hotel, Bromley, in Kent. When his attention was drawn to the scandals concerning Willoughby – as the result of the John Bull articles – Mathew suspended him.

“[James] Wedgwood knew that the charges against Willoughby were more or less true, and fearing that some of the mud thrown at Willoughby might stick to him, or to the church of which he had been elected leader, approached a number of other bishops seeking consecration. He wrote to the Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht, by whom Mathew had originally been consecrated, but received no reply. He endeavoured to persuade Bishop Frederick James, a fellow Theosophist and homosexual who ran a church known as The Sanctuary behind Harrods in London, to consecrate him, and he asked for assistance from a number of other free-lance bishops. None would oblige. He even thought of applying to the Syrian Catholic Church on the Malabar Coast of India, but finally settled for Willoughby.

“Thus, Wedgwood received from Willoughy, King and Gauntlett the Apostolic Succession which HPB had denounced as a “gross and palpable fraud”. Within a few months of his consecration, Wedgwood returned to Australia to confer with Leadbeater, leaving Bishop King, who generally earned his living as a psychic, in charge of the work in England.

“Leadbeater was most enthusiastic about the possibilities for the new church, “and having placed his services unreservedly at [its] disposal”, was ordained sub conditione to the priesthood by Wedgwood on July 15th, 1916, having first received baptism and confirmation, together with all the Minor Orders and the Diaconate sub conditione in case the Anglican sacraments he had received were later called into question. These ceremonies were performed at the residence of the Jonkheer Julian Mazel, a leading Dutch member of the TS, “Nandina”, in Undercliff Street, Neutral Bay, a suburb of Sydney.

“On July 22nd, Wedgwood consecrated Leadbeater to the episcopate at “Crendon”, the home of Mr and Mrs Gustav Kollerstrom, also eminent Theosophists. The Roman Pontifical in an English translation was used, and Wedgwood was assisted by two priests whom he had recently ordained, David Morton Tweedie of Adelaide, and John B. McConkey of Melbourne. The witnesses who signed the Instrumentum included the two priests, the Kollerstoms, and four of Leadbeater’s current boy pupils.

“Three days later, Leadbeater wrote to Mrs Besant:

“Wedgwood has arrived and is in good health.  His consecration to the Episcopate has had the unexpected result of putting him practically at the head of the Old Catholic movement as far as the British Empire is concerned, all his colleagues (except, I think, one) in it being Theosophists ready to work under his direction. This being so, he desires most earnestly to offer the movement to the World Teacher as one of the vehicles for His force, and a channel for the preparation for His Coming. I took him therefore to the LORD MAITREYA at the Festival, and He was graciously pleased to accept the offer, and to say that He thought the movement would fill a niche in the scheme, and would be useful to Him.  From what He said I inferred that He Himself had so guided events as to produce this curious result, that a branch of the Catholic Church, helping the Apostolic Succession in a form which cannot be questioned, should be entirely in the hands of Theosophists, who are willing and eager to do exactly as He wishes. He explained that this was a method of bringing over the Holy Orders of the old plan into the new one, and that this Old Catholic Church might very likely be the only branch of Christianity which would wholly and officially recognize and follow Him when He comes.  He does not want it to be aggressive in any way, but to go on quite quietly for the present, carrying on its services for its small congregation in London (as it is doing), gradually drawing round it those who love the Catholic ritual, but want a Theosophical interpretation of it and of the doctrine of the Church.”

“He then passed on the news of his own consecration:

“With His permission Wedgwood has consecrated me as a Bishop on the understanding that I am at perfect liberty to wear my ordinary dress, and am in no way bound to perform any ecclesiastical ceremonies or to take any outward part in the work unless I see it useful to do so, but am to act as intermediary between the LORD and this branch of His Church, referring to Him any points of action or of doctrine upon which it desires instruction. An interesting little glimpse of occult ways came to me the night after my consecration. My own Master [i.e. the Master K.H., according to Leadbeater] referred very kindly to it, and spoke of the additional power to help that it has given to me; and then He remarked: ‘You thought you had given up all prospect of a bishopric when you left your Church work thirty-two years ago to follow Upasika [HPB]; but I tell you that it would have been in this very year that you would have reached it had you remained in your original work, so you have lost nothing except the emoluments and the social position, and have gained enormously in other ways. No one ever loses by serving Us!’ That struck me as curious, for I had never thought of it in that way.”

“It may appear curious that an assistant curate in a small village, lacking a University degree or any social status, should have aspired to be a bishop in the Church of England at a time when its concern with social position was so great.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 590-595 –

– – –

“The present volumes have been written to small purpose if they have not shown that the apostolic succession is a gross and palpable fraud.” (H.P. Blavatsky, “Isis Unveiled” Vol. 2, p. 544)

“My clairvoyant investigation into those early periods absolutely confirms the contention of the Roman Church. They know that there has been no break in apostolic succession.” (C.W. Leadbeater, “Science of the Sacraments” p. 286)

– – –

“No one can force a man into harmony if he is persistently striving for disharmony; it is only “if we confess our sins” that “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is requisite that the candidate be anxious to rise above the imperfections of his nature, and to live the higher life. At all her principal services, the Church [i.e. the Liberal Catholic Church founded and run by Wedgwood and Leadbeater, initially named the Old Catholic Church] provides a form of general confession to be recited by her people, and a form of absolution to be pronounced by the priest; and if any man in the congregation is truly sorry for some slip or mistake which he has made, and earnestly anxious to put himself once more in full accord with the evolutionary current, there is no doubt that the divine force which flows through the priest when he pronounces the absolution does rush through that man’s higher vehicles, combs out the entanglement, and straightens the twisted lines until he is once more in perfect harmony with God’s Will. . . .

“The priest pours out the absolving force over his congregation, and does not know upon whom or in what direction it is taking effect; but if an individual comes to him privately and tells him exactly what is wrong, he has perhaps a certain advantage in being able to concentrate the whole of the force just where it is most needed. . . .

“But let no one suppose that the public absolution given to the whole flock is in any way less effective than private absolution, if the desire for rectification on the part of the wrong-doer is equally earnest and sincere. As has been said, in the slow process of time the distortion must come straight, under the influence of the ordinary evolutionary forces; and no doubt this procedure would be hastened by the strong desire of the patient for readjustment. The action of the priest in the matter is merely what is commonly called a “means of grace” – that is to say, a little help on the road of evolution provided by the Christ for His followers. . . .

“A man who steals, for example, puts himself in the wrong in three separate ways: he has broken the divine law of love and justice, and has thereby cut himself off from full and free communication with the higher side of Nature; he has broken the laws of his country; and he has wronged the individual from whom he stole. If he fully comprehends the mistake that he has made, and is genuinely anxious to correct it, the priest’s absolution will straighten out for him the etheric, astral and mental entanglement which was produced by his action, or rather by the mental attitude which made that action possible; but it does not relieve him from the legal penalty of that action, nor from the duty of instantly and fully restoring what he has stolen.” (C.W. Leadbeater, “Science of the Sacraments” p. 83-85)

– – –

“The clergy exist for the benefit of the world; they are intended to act as channels for the distribution of God’s grace . . . In him [i.e. the priest] also is vested the power to bless and to offer the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist. The strength which the priest brings down is not for himself, but for the flock which is committed to his care . . . So there are two aspects of ordination – the gift of the Holy Ghost which provides the Key to the reservoir and the personal link of the Christ Himself with His Minister. The former of these is the official connection which enables a priest, for example, to consecrate the Host and to dispense absolution and blessing.” (C.W. Leadbeater, “Science of the Sacraments” p. 301, 309)

– – –

“[Joseph] Fussell listed eight reasons why the Point Loma Theosophists rejected Mrs Besant, most of them were connected with Leadbeater. First, they did so “in defence of the innocence of youth, for the protection of the children and the sacredness of home-life, and for the public welfare”. . . . The fourth reason was the “absurd claim” made by Mrs Besant and Leadbeater regarding the “Coming Christ”, claims which Fussell suggested were especially absurd when one considered that Mrs Besant claimed that Leadbeater was on “the threshold of divinity”, although he had been declared by the High Court of Madras to hold immoral opinions, “unfit to be a tutor of boys” and “a highly dangerous associate for children”. . . .

“Fussell’s sixth reason also related to Leadbeater and Mrs Besant:

“Because of the influence, which I regard as most harmful and pernicious, of the colossal egotism and mutual laudation of Mrs Besant and Leadbeater one of another, claiming to be fellow initiates, and to have ‘stood in the presence of the Supreme Director of evolution on this globe,’ …claiming to have read the mind of the Logos; to have clairvoyantly witnessed the dawn of evolution of this world millions of years ago; to have been associated together as “monkey-creatures” on the moon… to have incarnated many times on earth in company with the ‘Lord Maitreya’ and ‘Jesus’ and other great ones, as well as other present members of Mrs Besant’s society, changing sexes and family relationships, now husbands of this one and now wife of that, with large families, Jesus sometimes being a man, sometimes a woman.”

“As examples of these extraordinary claims, Fussell cited the life Leadbeater claimed he and Mrs Besant shared on the moon as monkey creatures, and, even more horrifying to Fussell, twelve lives further on, when Mrs Besant was described cooking rats for the twelve brothers (including Maude Sharpe, Esther Bright, Charles Bradlaugh and Mrs Bright) who were her husbands. Fussell was shocked by the immorality implicit in revelations that Leadbeater had been married to Alcyone (Krishnamurti) and his brother in past incarnations. He was even more incensed at the blasphemy inherent in accounts of the marriage of Julius Caesar and Christ.” . . .

“Fussell sent copies of his pamphlets with a covering letter to the Attorney General of New South Wales, suggesting that a police investigation should be made into Leadbeater.   He noted:

” …Leadbeater is a very clever man… and further, that, as is the case with almost all who follow such a line of immoral teaching and conduct with young boys, he is a clever hypnotist and capable of resorting to any sophistry in order to gain victims and blind any who may have the slightest inkling of his proclivities.”

“The letter noted that Mrs [Katherine] Tingley had requested Fussell to draw the attention of the police to this dangerous person residing within their jurisdiction.

“After receiving these documents in July, 1917, the Attorney General instructed the police to initiate an investigation.  As was the case on every occasion when the police desired to question him, Leadbeater was declared to be too ill to see them, and was said to be suffering from a heart condition. Although he had previously been staying with Mr and Mrs Martyn, he had now moved into a flat in the King’s Chambers, attached to the headquarters of the Sydney Lodge of the TS. Staying with him was Oscar Kollerstrom.  The police conducting the enquiry noted that Leadbeater had been running some sort of Theosophical School at the Martyns’ house for the past three years, and that at present there were six or seven boys in the school, all between eight and fourteen years of age.

“The police drew some quite definite conclusions from their investigations:

“Leadbeater has the reputation of being a very clever man and a hypnotist… Reputable residents in the locality have been approached and all are of the opinion that Leadbeater is a sodomist, but they have seen nothing that would warrant any action being taken, although a careful watch has been kept on the house.”

“The Inspector-General of Police reported to the Attorney General on January 2nd, 1918, that there was “no evidence to support any charges that Mr Leadbeater is guilty of immoral teachings or practices”, and the Attorney General replied to Fussell along these lines. The police had questioned Mr and Mrs Martyn, and some of the boys.  The file was kept open, and a brief notation was made on September 17th, 1920, to the effect that another enquiry had been received about Leadbeater. Two years later this file was brought out and used in a major investigation.

“The illness that prevented him from helping the police in their enquiries continued for most of 1920, and Leadbeater devoted his time to Co-Masonic work, having been appointed Administrator-General of the Order in Australia. He had also become Corresponding Secretary of the ES in Australia, succeeding T.H. Martyn in that office.  Martyn’s departure from that responsibility marked the beginning of his disillusionment with Leadbeater, and the way Mrs Besant was managing her Society.

“Mrs Martyn had become progressively more concerned about having Leadbeater in her home; she had seen naked boys in his bed, and details of the earlier scandals had been brought to her attention. When Leadbeater was forced to move out during an outbreak of scarlet fever in 1918-19, she simply refused to allow him to return. She told her husband nothing of her discoveries, and Martyn himself at this time refused to believe any of the allegations about Leadbeater.

“But in 1919 Martyn travelled to the United States, and was horrified to hear Hubert van Hook talk freely about “faking the Lives”, [i.e. “The Lives of Alcyone,” Leadbeater’s book about the past lives of Krishnamurti and others] and of Leadbeater’s immorality with boys. Martyn had already been approached by one of Leadbeater’s boys, and had been told by him of Leadbeater’s sexual activities when the boy sought Martyn’s help.  But, having regard for Leadbeater’s occult status, Martyn “tried to forget what this confession involved, to explain it away; and succeeded”. Now he was obliged to reconsider all that he knew of what had happened in London, in America and in his own home. He came to the conclusion that

“….Leadbeater is a sex-pervert, his mania taking a particular form which I have – though only lately – discovered is a form well known and quite common in the annals of sex-criminology.”

“From the United States, Martyn travelled to London, where he met Mrs Besant; she told him that she had an urgent and most secret task for him to undertake. He was to carry a message from her back to Wedgwood who was then resident in Sydney. Wedgwood was ordered to leave the TS, the ES and associated movements, since he had “seriously compromised himself”, and she knew him to have been guilty of “sex depravity”. She was concerned that the message should be conveyed in the most secret manner possible, since it involved “compounding a felony”. Mrs Besant further explained to Martyn that an address she had given to the ES concerning black magic and sexual excess was directly referring to Wedgwood’s case. Mrs Besant stated quite categorically that Wedgwood was not, and could not be, an initiate.

“Martyn was also approached by another Theosophist who sought his advice in the same case. She claimed that the police were preparing to take action against Wedgwood, together with Bishop Robert King, and two priests, Ferrer and Clarke, and she wanted to warn Wedgwood. She said that she had arranged for Ferrer to leave England, thus removing one of the main witnesses, and hoped that Martyn would pass the information on to Wedgwood. During his stay in England, Martyn heard further allegations against Wedgwood of sodomy and sexual involvement with boys from other officers of the TS, and from members. All this led him to have serious doubts about the claims of Mrs Besant and Leadbeater to high occult status, the promise of the Coming, and the whole foundation upon which the TS and its esoteric structure rested.

“Martyn returned to Sydney gravely disturbed. He passed Mrs Besant’s message regarding Wedgwood on to Jinarajadasa in the first instance, he being Mrs Besant’s deputy in the ES, and then visiting Sydney. Raja (as he had become known) was horrified; he focused on the statement that Wedgwood was not an initiate:

” …the breakdown of Wedgwood involved to him nothing short of the collapse of Leadbeater as an Arhat; of the divine authority of the L.C. Church; and of all reliance on the genuineness of reported initiations, discipleships, etc. in which great numbers of people are supposed to have participated.”

“Raja immediately consulted Leadbeater, who repeated his assurance that Wedgwood was an initiate. Raja cabled Mrs Besant:

“Martyn reports you said Wedgwood not Initiate. Leadbeater asserts you were present at initiation. Am most anxious members’ sake there should be no fundamental divergence between you and him on such important occult matters…. Do you mean that since you have no recollection you cannot assert Wedgwood initiate but do not wish to be quoted as saying he is positively uninitiated.”

“This was despatched on December 17th.  On December 22nd Mrs Besant cabled her reply:

“Brother’s [i.e. Leadbeater’s] statement enough, accept fact, cancel message sent.”

“This only served to add to Martyn’s alarm. Prior to Raja sending his cable Martyn had a long, private conversation with Leadbeater in which he informed him of the evidence against Wedgwood. Leadbeater, so Martyn recalled, had said: “Well, we had better get rid of him.” It seemed that 1920 was not going to be a good year for the TS, or for its leaders, and simmering hostility was soon to break into open warfare.”

“In Sydney it had become known that E.L. Grieg, Secretary of the Sydney Lodge, had employed a private detective to follow Wedgwood the last time he had been in Sydney.  The detective reported that Wedgwood had visited eighteen public toilets in a period of two hours, and, when questioned about this, explained to the police that he had been searching for a friend whom he had known in a previous life, but who had now “gone wrong” and needed rescuing.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 628-638, 669 –

– – –

“Wedgwood had also left Adyar, although very much under a cloud. No official statement had been issued, but Mrs Besant ordered him off the Estate having discovered – or rather re-discovered – some of his sexual activities. The O.E. Library Critic gleefully announced this fact, denouncing Wedgwood as a “sodomitic sex pervert whose unholy doings were a public scandal in London”.

“Leadbeater was also facing continued attacks in the Sydney Press; the Truth had run headlines reading “An Episcopal Menace”, “Leadbeater’s Illicit Lessons Lead Boys Astray” and “Pseudo-Bishop and His Evil Doctrines”. Smith’s Weekly, however, took a more humorous approach, and considered Leadbeater’s accounts of past lives with a headline that read: “Was Bishop Leadbeater the Man in the Moon? Moving Account of Annie Besant on Dead Planet. She Stood on her Tail.”

“The Truth articles inspired Gustav Kollerstrom to initiate a law suit against the newspaper, claiming ten thousand pounds in damages. The paper was delighted, and announced its intention of calling Leadbeater as a witness, and of producing documents from the Crown Solicitor’s office concerning the police investigations into Leadbeater’s activities. Mr Kollerstrom sought to withdraw the suit, but Truth refused. When the matter finally came to court later in 1926, Kollerstrom’s solicitors did not present a case, and he was ordered to pay the full costs of the newspaper, amounting in all to some seven hundred pounds. It was announced that Leadbeater had been too ill to appear in court – just as he had been too ill to be interviewed by the police in 1922.

“In 1925 one of Leadbeater’s most controversial books was published. The Masters and the Path contained material which had previously been circulated privately in the Esoteric Section of the TS. It included elaborate details of the Inner Government of the World, the Masters, their physical appearances and special work, and even plans of the home of one of them. It also included accounts of Leadbeater’s meetings with the Masters.  He claimed to have met the Master Jupiter and to have dined with him and T. Subba Row while he was working at Adyar, and to have met the Master The Count [i.e. Count Saint Germain] in the Corso in Rome; they had wandered into some nearby gardens and spent an hour in conversation about the TS. He also claimed to have seen the Master M in Hyde Park in 1851, the same year that HPB met him in London, and, in fact, three years before Leadbeater had been born.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 746-748 –

– – –

“Following the press allegations, the police undertook another investigation of Leadbeater and his activities. The results of their investigation have had not been published until the author’s The Elder Brother: A Biography of C.W. Leadbeater in 1982.  Other authors have referred to the general terms of the conclusions of the enquiry, and to the evidence collected by the police.  However, in the Archives of New South Wales there exists a file containing complete documentation of the police enquiry.

“The interest of the police in Leadbeater was originally aroused in 1917 by Joseph Fussell, but their investigations then found no evidence to sustain charges. From May to June, 1922, the police undertook a very thorough investigation of Leadbeater. Statements were taken from the Martyns, Mrs Kollerstrom, nine of Leadbeater’s pupils, a domestic servant of the Martyn’s, as well as from Jinarajadasa, Krishna [i.e. Krishnamurti] and Nitya [i.e. Krishnamurti’s brother Nityananda]. As in 1917, Leadbeater was said to be too ill to be examined by the police.

“The bulk of the evidence was inconclusive and unconvincing. It revealed a man with distinctly eccentric views on sex, but one to whom his pupils were so dedicated that they were prepared to say nothing detrimental. Indeed, the statements of some of his pupils read as though they were learnt in advance, and well-rehearsed.

“Martyn took virtually the opposite approach, for, as a later commentator noted:

“Martyn and his allies soon came to look upon the Liberal Catholic Church as no more than the front for a gang of pederasts.”

“Martyn told the police that he had joined the TS in 1891, and had first met Leadbeater in 1905.  He met him again in 1914, and when the tutor who conducted the informal school at the Martyn’s left for war service in 1915, Leadbeater had taken over, and lived with the Martyns until 1917, when he moved to live with the Kollerstroms. Martyn recounted only one event which might have provided evidence of questionable conduct on Leadbeater’s part.  He recalled arriving home late one evening, and passing Leadbeater’s room where the door was open:

“Mr Leadbeater was standing by his bed in his nightshirt, he turned down the clothes preparatory to getting in. Oscar Kollerstrom was in the bed without any clothes on and lying across the bed. Mr Leadbeater caught hold of his right shoulder and turned him over and switched off the light preparatory, I presume to getting in.”

“If he had considered this evidence of sexual misconduct, Martyn had taken no action at the time. But he later discovered that his wife had witnessed a similar event while he had been away on business.

“In her statement, Mrs Martyn recalled:

“I saw Oscar [Kollerstrom] in a state of nudity in the bed with Mr Leadbeater and Heyting also naked. He walked out of the room naked to his bed which was on the verandah… and I saw Mr Leadbeater getting into the bed where Oscar was and the light extinguished. I stood at the door not knowing what to do. I was very perturbed. I was in the house by myself.”

“However, Mrs Martyn took no further action, and didn’t mention the event until the police investigation some five years later.

“Martyn informed the police that Leadbeater always took a hot bath in the morning, and invariably had a boy in the bath with him, usually Oscar. Martyn told the police that he had come to some definite conclusions about Leadbeater:

“I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that Mr Leadbeater has as a motive and apart from any philanthropic purpose the gratification of a perverted sex impulse…. That his relations with some boys (probably not all the boys around him) has been for his personal sex gratification. For a long time I have thought it necessary to regard him as addicted to one particular form of male vice [sodomy].

“And Martyn added information about Leadbeater colleague and fellow Liberal Catholic Bishop, Wedgwood, describing his alleged immorality and claiming that he had stated that he travelled in episcopal attire “to avoid conscription”.

“The evidence of T.H. Martyn and his wife was the only material the police received directly suggesting that Leadbeater was sexually involved with his boys. Certainly none of the pupils’ accounts suggested anything improper, although the versions of Leadbeater’s sexual attitudes suggested more than a slight degree of eccentricity. A domestic employed by the Martyns stated that she heard Leadbeater regularly talking in disparaging terms about women, instructing the boys to have nothing to do with them.  All the boys related that Leadbeater had warned them to avoid sexual contact with women. Oscar Kollerstrom told the police that Leadbeater “told us to keep clear of unpleasant practices”. When asked what Leadbeater meant by “unpleasant practices”, he replied: “He told us, he mentioned to us to keep clear of women, and not to have anything to do with them”. Oscar denied ever having shared a bath with Leadbeater.

“Leadbeater’s aversion to women had become apparent during his many lecturing tours for the TS. When he took up residence at the Martyn’s, for example, he insisted that Mr and Mrs Martyn occupy separate bedrooms during his visit, and this had happened in other homes in which he had been a guest.  He separated a number of couples by telling them to give up sexual intercourse, and his aversion eventually reached a stage where he refused to shake hands with a woman, or stay alone in a room with one, though Mrs Besant was an exception in all these eccentricities.

“However, late in his life, Leadbeater mellowed, was prepared to treat women – even old women to whom he had an especial aversion – more as human beings, and finally took some female pupils.  He said his original refusal to do so was based on the fact that one “could always tell what reaction a boy would have to certain methods, but no-one could predict what a girl would do.”

“From the evidence of the police enquiry, with Leadbeater’s pupils all denying any sexual irregularity, one must either assume that they were all lying (or at least that some of them were) or that all the evidence which had been accumulated by Leadbeater’s enemies was a fabric of lies.  The only boy who gave a hint of something suspicious was one who had been flown from Chinchilla in Queensland at the expense of the Loyalty League to give evidence.  He said he had left the LCC because he had a feeling that “something was wrong” and “undue familiarity” occurred between Leadbeater and some of his pupils. . . .

“But, although the archival file of statements and depositions contains nothing of great significance, there exists a document which does. Given to the Executive of the Sydney lodge after its members had inspected the report furnished to the Minister for Justice, the Precis of the Leadbeater Enquiry, written by E.L. Grieg, begins with an account of the frequency with which a boy, called “A”, slept with Leadbeater.  It included the following statement:

“One boy explains that Leadbeater encouraged him first to bathe and then to lie down on his [Leadbeater’s] bed in his bathing wrapper on an afternoon preceding a T.S. meeting at night. He was to rest in order to be fresh for the meeting. Leadbeater lay on the bed with a book in his left hand, and the boy lay on the other side. Without any words Leadbeater with his right hand caught hold of the boy’s person and proceeded to masturbate him.  This boy had not arrived at the age of puberty. He explains that he had a feeling that it was not right and slipped off the bed. He avoided giving any further opportunity of the same kind, though there were other rest afternoons. No date could be fixed by the boy, but it seems probably the incident happened during the first few months of Leadbeater’s residence in Sydney 1915-1916.”

“The Precis noted that the majority of witnesses amongst the boys said that they masturbated regularly, as did two old Leadbeater boys.  The Precis also noted that almost all the witnesses in favour of Leadbeater had returned to the police seeking to amend or alter their evidence.

“The Head of the Criminal Investigation Department, who had led the enquiry, finally made his submission to the Inspector General of Police:

“I am of the opinion that there are good grounds for believing that [Leadbeater] is a sex pervert.”

“And the Inspector general, prior to passing the report to the Crown Solicitor, added the comment:

“The evidence in the possession of the Police does not appear to call for any independent action against Leadbeater at present but sufficient is disclosed in the accompanying papers to justify his conduct being kept under observation.” . . .

“The general opinion of the police seems to have been that, whilst there could be little doubt that there was a sexual relationship between Leadbeater and at least some of his boys, it would have been virtually impossible to prove the matter in court, given the unquestioning loyalty and devotion of the boys for their teacher, and their belief that whatever he did was motivated by spiritual or occult principles.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 671-679 –

– – –

“The Buddhist English School, founded by C.W. Leadbeater, has a history. Mr Leadbeater showed his fondness to a number of boys, and he started the school to teach them. The school became the centre of scandal, and Mr Leadbeater had to be sent away for a time to Adyar and the school was left in the hands of Sinhalese teachers.

“On his return from Adyar, it was found that he had not undergone any change, and he began holding seances with the few boys until midnight in a darkened room. I was one of the sitters. Mr Leadbeater made us lay our hands on the tea-table, and we observed that it began to move. Then he talked to the spirit and established a code of raps to get the answers. The first thing he did was to get the record of our past lives. Each one got a name and one boy was told that he was the wife of Leadbeater in a past birth.

“We continued on for some weeks and gave it up because of the scandal.” (Anagarika Dharmapala, famous Buddhist missionary, letter to “The Buddhist Chronicle” September 1922)

– – –

“Leadbeater’s sexual teachings were presented as so secret and sacred a matter that a dual standard of morality – that of the ordinary man, and that of the spiritually evolved occultist – applied. It was even said that one of the boys told police that he would kill himself rather than give evidence against Leadbeater. The select pupils, on rare occasions, engaged in a group ritual masturbation which was intended to send out especially powerful emanations.

“Once the sexual passions were aroused, Leadbeater taught, they should be properly directed, and not wasted.  Such sexual exercises could lead to the development of psychic powers and experiences of Nirvana, and the higher worlds. . . .

“Some of Leadbeater’s critics within the TS were convinced that he was teaching sexual magic, or tantra, which they automatically equated with black magic. They chose not to make this claim public for fear of the damage it would do to the movement, but they circulated privately within the TS documents arguing the case. The two principal exponents of this view were E.L. Gardner, the eminent British Theosophist, and Rex Dutta . . .

“In July, 1966, Gardner again wrote to [Boris] de Zirkoff, saying that he devoted the last six months to research into Leadbeater’s “interest in the many boys he contacted”. He had, even in the 1920’s, suspected that Leadbeater was undertaking occult experiments with semen, and had been undertaking research into the history of such practices. . . .

“In his other study, Gardner quotes a woman who had been “a devoted admirer of CWL” whom he questioned when she returned, “distressed and almost vehement” from a period in Sydney. She refused to tell Gardner anything beyond the comments: “Leadbeater’s a beast”, and “He makes them drink it”. Gardner cited material on traditions associated with the magical use of semen . . . Gardner concluded:

“CWL’s ‘discovery’ of the potency of the ‘semen of man’ he shared, at least, with one (FWP) [presumably, Frank Waters Pigott] – and thereby others. However well meaning CWL’s intentions his errors of judgment led to catastrophic results in the Theosophical Society.”

“Gardner took care to see that his private theories about the origin and nature of Leadbeater’s clairvoyance were not widely known. After his death his papers passed into the possession of another English Theosophist, Rex Dutta, the editor of a curious Theosophical journal, Viewpoint Aquarius . . .

“In the July/August, 1982, issue of Viewpoint Aquarius, Dutta reviewed the author’s The Elder Brother: A Biography of C.W. Leadbeater. Dutta began a consideration of Leadbeater’s claims to clairvoyance by reviewing the theory presented in There is No Religion Higher Than Truth, [i.e. Gardner’s book about Leadbeater] and HPB’s teachings about kriyashakti. However, he claimed that the “external stimulus” to Leadbeater’s clairvoyance was “Semen from young boys”, and he claimed:

“He wanted the semen; to stimulate his dense-grade clairvoyance. He drank semen ‘holy water'”.

Dutta concluded:

“Mr Tillett (pages 283-5) when he guesses at Tantrika Sexual Black Magic, doesn’t realize the half of it. Small wonder that HPB called [Leadbeater] WC.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 906-913 –

– – –

“By May, 1923, she [i.e. Annie Besant] was stating:

“There is a definite conspiracy being carried out against C.W.L.”

“But she concluded:

“Bishop Leadbeater is so far above them that all their raging cannot touch his exquisite serenity. His is the spirit of the Christ, who prayed: ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”

“However, those doing the “raging” were less complementary. The May issue of Dawn launched a vitriolic though veiled attack on Leadbeater:

“His psychopathic tendencies get him into trouble, but the dear, devoted souls rally round him again and again, fighting heroically for a bad cause…. He has a Rasputin-like influence over boys and old women who, even when his vileness is exposed, shout ‘Judge not – be tolerant’ …He binds his dupes with the old chain of priestcraft and ceremonial magic.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 701-702 –

– – –

“Leadbeater began the year [i.e. 1928] with another new enthusiasm: the discovery of a new member of the Occult Hierarchy. This time, perhaps marking his new attitude to women, it was a Woman, the World Mother. Mrs Besant initiated public discussion about this personage when on March 25th, the traditional Christian festival of the Annunciation, she preached a sermon in the Liberal Catholic church at Adyar. She declared it to be “World Mother Day”, and announced that the World Mother, whose Indian name was Lakshmi Devi, had long ago appointed Rukmini Arundale [i.e. the wife of George Arundale] to be her special representative on earth. . . .

“Leadbeater . . . claimed that . . . the Blessed Virgin Mary . . . had been a most highly evolved being, and had, after death, been offered various exalted positions, but chose instead to change her line of evolution from the human to the angelic, thereby ceasing to be a human being, and becoming an angel instead. Thus, the traditional Catholic ascription of “Queen of the Angels” was occultly literally true. And in her new role, she was appointed to the office of World Mother, having at her command “vast hosts of angelic beings”. She was especially concerned with motherhood, the birth of children and human suffering, and at the birth of every child her representative was present.

“The World Mother was also caused “considerable anxiety” by having to provide suitable incarnations for highly developed egos, and this concern was aggravated because

“Not understanding the wonderful opportunity which their sex gives them, women desire to be free from the restraints of marriage in order that they may ape the lives and the actions of men, instead of taking advantage of their peculiar privileges. Such a line of thought and action is obviously disastrous to the future of the race, for it means that many of the better-class parents take no part in its perpetuation, but leave it entirely in the hands of the more undesirable and undeveloped egos.” [Quote from Leadbeater’s “The Masters and the Path”; see source for detailed references]

“These arguments, suggesting that highly evolved people should have many children, seem to contradict Leadbeater’s previous eccentric approach to women in general, and to marital relations in particular, and one is led to wonder why the many doubtless highly evolved parents in the Theosophical movement did not produce large families following his logic. . . .

“Less reverent critics were speculating on what would be next: World Teacher and World Mother, with World University and World Religion, perhaps to be followed by World Father and World Infant?  Leadbeater . . . had already established a small group of girls at The Manor who were to work for the World Mother, and had them wearing blue robes and opal rings, which were to serve as a “focus of the influence which She will pour out”.  Since all the girls came from the Dutch East Indies, they were known as “The Seven Virgins of Java”.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 762-767 –

– – –

“In the biography of Charles Webster Leadbeater there are a number of “mysteries” that have nothing to do with the Occult Hierarchy, the depths of the atom or incarnations on the moon: they relate to the facts of his life story. The first of these is clearly the problem of his early life: what was the true story of his life up until he was ordained in the Church of England at Farnham? Where was he, and what was he doing, between 1854 and 1878?  Only a piece of major genealogical detective work – or recourse to the Akashic Records – could, at this stage, uncover that period with absolute certainty. But it is certain that he was not born in 1847, was not born on February 17th, did not have a brother named Gerald, did not go to Oxford (or Cambridge). The story of the adventures in Brazil is highly improbable: if the family did go to South America, it did so at a time when Leadbeater was too young for even a person of his unique gifts to be driving railway engines or engaging in sword fights with rebel generals. Why were these stories of a “life of manifold adventures” told? And when were they first told?

“It is important to understand that at the time – the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries – the proliferation of documentation which is regarded as an integral part of modern life was unknown. Passports were generally not required for travel. Identity papers were virtually unheard of in England, and the word of someone who appeared to be a gentleman was taken at its face value. It would have been odd, and insulting, to ask for proof of someone’s claim to have a particular birthdate, or even a claim to a University education, provided that the person appeared to be educated.

“The stories told by Leadbeater probably developed in two stages. First, upon joining the London Lodge of the TS in 1884 – his application having been made on November 21st, 1883 – Leadbeater was brought into some quite distinguished company, as he himself emphasizes in his recollections of the events. Even the ordinary members of the Lodge were quite distinguished people, drawn from the upper-middle-classes and the professions. The early years of the TS in England abound in the names of the eminent, and its members were usually people of education.

“Leadbeater was at a distinct disadvantage. He was a clergyman, and he was, from the formal Victorian point of view, uneducated. Self-educated or self-made men were not considered acceptable in a society that believed the established order to have been divinely appointed. Hence the need to explain both his origins and family, and his lack of a formal education. To be the son of a Manchester book-keeper, who died of tuberculosis, would hardly do. A company director, or, better still, the chairman of a company, was substituted. His failure to attend a good public school was explained by his time in South America with his family, a time of manifold adventures. His failure to attend one of the great Universities was explained: he did begin a career at Oxford, but it was cut short by a terrible financial disaster, which most of his associates would have recalled.

“So the fictional early life appears, and, having appeared, cannot really ever go away. With his increasing role as occult adventurer and explorer of the unknown, it proves yet more useful, as the lost secrets and treasures of the Aztecs, and objective proof of life after death are added. By the time he finds Jinarajadasa in Ceylon, brother Gerald is added. No-one is likely to check the details because it seems unlikely that anyone would lie about such matters.

“The birth date is almost certainly a later invention. It would be too much of a coincidence if Leadbeater chose a year that just happened to coincide with the year of Mrs Besant’s birth. Clearly, that story came after he had met Mrs Besant, felt a close affinity with her, and decided that their occult relationship should be reinforced with a temporal link.  It is equally improbable that he simply chose February 17th at random:  again, it would be too much of a coincidence for him to have chosen at random the date on which Olcott died. The new birthdate – February 17th, 1847 – had distinct advantages, symbolically, over the old – February 16th, 1854. And when, in 1922, Adyar Day was instituted, it must have seemed divinely providential.

“Did Leadbeater tell these stories with deliberate to intent to deceive? Did he begin to tell them until he believed that they were true? Considering the nature of his claimed clairvoyance and his power of creating history visually in his mind, it seems likely that he came to believe the revised story was the truth. Throughout his life he was not averse to modifying the past. Thus, for example, the 1906 Committee’s decision was thrown out by the 1908 Committee, including eminent barristers and judges. Or so he said: but there was no 1908 Committee, and the group of people to whom he referred by this title included no-one, eminent or otherwise, in the legal profession. Yet he seemed to believe the claim, and his disciples certainly did.

“The second mystery in the Leadbeater biography concerns his relationship with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.  Leadbeater claimed to have been a pupil of hers, and Mrs Besant claimed that she and Leadbeater were HPB’s chosen successors. The evidence against Leadbeater’s claim is virtually overwhelming. He was never a member of HPB’s group in London, nor was he a member of her Esoteric Section, or of its Inner Group. The membership of both is known, and his name is not included. Nor is there any correspondence between HPB and Leadbeater which suggests anything other than a fairly formal and distant friendship between them; their letters were rare and certainly not intimate. Boris de Zirkoff, acknowledged by Theosophists generally as the greatest authority on HPB’s works, and editor of her massive Collected Writings, stated that there was no evidence in any of her papers or correspondence to suggest any special relationship with Leadbeater. Mrs Alice Cleather, one of HPB’s Inner Group, specifically denied ever having heard HPB mention Leadbeater as a pupil, and says she never saw him at London Headquarters during HPB’s lifetime.

“There are also clear contradictions between HPB’s teachings and those contained in the letters alleged to have come from the Masters, and those given out by Leadbeater, usually claiming the authority of the same Masters. Leadbeater was a member of the London Lodge of the TS, which continued an almost independent existence apart from the Blavatsky Lodge in London, under HPB, and apart from the TS as a whole for a number of years. During this period Leadbeater was active as a psychic via whom A.P. Sinnett obtained communications from the Masters, and continued to teach doctrines which HPB had specifically denied. The most notable of these is the Mars-Mercury controversy, still a Theosophical debating point.

“Yet Leadbeater stated:

“In my own case, Madame Blavatsky taught me very much on behalf of the Master, but I was separated from her for some five years and sent out to India when she was in Europe.  Consequently, it was impossible for her, except by occasional letters and on the astral plane sometimes to give me any help.  Therefore I was put into the care of Swami T. Subba Rao.”

“Where are the “occasional letters”?  Those which are available are simply polite social correspondence. Why, when Leadbeater returned from India, did he visit HPB only twice, and on both occasions merely socially? And why did he only make public the claim to be a pupil of HPB well after her death, and once he had risen to fame within the TS?

“Similar questions might be asked regarding his claims to have been a pupil of T. Subba Rao (who was not a Swami). These claims were only made after Subba Rao’s death in 1890, and after the death of the one person who was known to have been a pupil of Subba Rao, and whom Leadbeater disliked intensely, A.J. Cooper-Oakley. Subba Rao certainly talked occultism to Leadbeater, but this did not in itself make their relationship guru-chela. Subba Rao broke with HPB over two matters: he did not believe that the world was ready for the revelation of occult knowledge such as she proposed to make in The Secret Doctrine, and he held to a four-fold classification of man, rather than the seven-fold system which HPB taught. On both of these issues Leadbeater was in direct contradiction with the man he claimed as his teacher: he popularized occult knowledge extensively, and he taught very definitely the seven-fold classification as a fact verified by his psychic powers.” (Gregory Tillett, “Charles Webster Leadbeater: A Biographical Study” p. 861-867 –

– – –

“Having recently been invited to examine Edwin D. Babbitt’s book, The Principles of Light and Color, N.Y. 1878, I found that the Leadbeater claims to originality in the matter of atoms have no foundation in sincerity, and the diagrams displayed in Occult Chemistry [i.e. one of Leadbeater’s best known books], First Principles of Theosophy [i.e. a book by C. Jinarajadasa, based primarily on Leadbeater’s teachings] and other works are direct plagiarisms from the work of Mr. Babbitt.

“I have withdrawn from such a fake setup of the real Ancient Wisdom in disgust, and prefer to keep away from any such ‘societies’ to conduct my studies of the original works of the Masters and H.P. Blavatsky alone, and free from such a befuddled mess. . . .

Occult Chemistry (1919 edition) even contains the remark on page 10 that the book, The Principles of Light and Color, N.Y. 1878, contains a drawing which “may be taken as correct” and is a “fairly accurate drawing”.

“How could any sane writer even hint at originality in such a case? Why has Mr. Jinarajadasa removed this reference to the work of Babbitt in his revised edition of Occult Chemistry? . . .

“Leadbeater will still continue to receive worship by members who may still assert “I don’t care what your logic says or your evidence involves, Leadbeater was clairvoyant – he saw these things – and you are merely a pompous ignoramus lacking an ‘Occult’ background. How dare you?”

“When did C.W.L. ever subject himself to a test,” we may retort, and quote the remark of Dr. Stokes of Washington, D.C. – “It is notorious that Leadbeater – despite all his talk about his powers has persistently declined to put them to the simplest test – one is compelled to laugh at this subconscious fiction factory.” O.E.L. Critic. . . .

“As Mr. Jinarajadasa omits the references to Babbitt in his modern optimism about the merits of Occult Chemistry he probably arrived at other and private conclusions about Leadbeater not yet published.

“The injunction of H.P. Blavatsky cannot be repeated too often where she says “Consequently unless the clairvoyant or seer can get beyond this plane of illusion, he can never see the truth, but will be drowned in an ocean of self deception and hallucination.”

“We can dismiss Leadbeater as a fake, and to quote H.P.B. again – “rest his shell”.” (Letter from Grahame W. Barratt – once a member of the Theosophical Society in London, England – to “The Canadian Theosophist,” 15th October 1953)

– – –

“. . . After three or four years, we were invited to belong to the Esoteric Section of the T.S. (1986).

“In 1988, the year of the Australian Bicentenary, we had the opportunity to stay at the Manor, in Mosman, Sydney; the headquarters of the E.S. in Australia.  In 1989, we went back to Mexico.

“As you know, the Manor was the main residence of the infamous Leadbeater. His memory roams about the place and is still alive in every corner of the house.  On almost every wall hangs a portrait of him, together with those of his “initiated” pupils like Annie Besant, Jinarajadasa, Arundale, etc.

“One day, I was reading the Biobibliography of G.R.S. Mead in the Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. XIII; I was puzzled by certain words written by Boris de Zirkoff concerning C.W. Leadbeater’s oblique practices, and later at the Manor’s Library – which is at the top floor, overlooking a magnificent view of Sydney`s Harbour – I found out the confirmation of the statement made in several books like: “The Theosophical Movement: 1875-1925”,  “The Theosophical Movement: 1875-1950”, “The Elder Brother”, etc.

“During the next months of our sojourn at the Manor, Maritza and I launched ourselves in an in depth research, using almost all our free time commenting daily on the fruits of our inquiry. In the end, we were both happy and sad. Happy because we were able to get rid of so much accumulated garbage that we had picked up since we joined the T.S.; and sad, because nobody at the Manor was willing to listen to our findings.

“Although the Manor is referred by the members as the “Occult Center for the Southern Hemisphere”, most of the classes are based on the most anthropomorphic conceptions written by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater.  It is something similar to a brain washing. They try to convince you, for instance, that Mahatma Gandhi was evil, and that it is good to kill in certain occasions. They talk about occult geopolitics, etc.

“There is a so called Egyptian Rite invented by C.W. Leadbeater and Wedgwood.  It is like a masquerade or carnival where people of the E.S. will disguise themselves like Egyptians to perform a promiscuous rite, that is half Masonic and half Roman Catholic Mass.  It is a secret organization within the Esoteric Section.  Originally this rite had two degrees: the blue and the red, but now there is only one left.  The celebration of the E.R. takes place in a large room in the ground floor of the Manor, called “The Temple”.  The ceremony is presided by the head of the Manor.  The rite is considered by the members to be: “very powerful”.  The climax of the celebration is when the chalice is hold by the priestess and the brethren take communion from the chalice and the host.  After that all brethren present, raise their arms – as one can see in the Egyptian vignettes – and “send forces to the world”.” (From a letter by the Mexican Theosophist José Ramón Sordo)

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One thought on “The Case against C. W. Leadbeater

  1. There are substantial quotes from Gregory Tillett’s work here,and it is good that his thesis is online. I read his book (which I believe preceded the thesis, unusually) a long time ago; there is a point at which he discusses briefly the claims of Stephen Phillips, namely that Quantum physics validates AB/CWL’s work on ‘Occult Chemistry’. Tillett does not, if memory serves, investigate this in detail, and I have the impression that the Phillips work was published not long before his work was finished, hence the fleeting mention. Most theosophists (myself particularly) labour under the difficulty of not having the mathematical and related training to discuss physics, classical or quantum. I would like to point out to readers of this blog that there is an article on the Yale University website, ‘Serious Scientific Lessons from Direct Observation of Atoms through Clairvoyance’, by J Michael McBride, which investigates the AB/CWL claims. It has a sceptical tone, but a key point he seems to make is that early versions of ‘Chemistry’ match late nineteenth tables of chemical values, values which are now more accurately measured and which diverge more from the alleged clairvoyant observations. It must be remembered that Besant studied Chemistry in her free thought days.
    I don’t know the policy on posting a link off-site here – if anyone has trouble finding the article they can message me.

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