Published by Blavatsky Study Center.  Online Edition copyright 2003.


Was Mrs. Tingley Ever a Spiritualist?

Emmett A. Greenwalt in his book California Utopia: Point Loma: 1897-1942 (second & revised edition, 1978) provides the following relevant  material (see pp. 13, 70, 73, 14, 15-17) on the above question.


". . . in 1887 [Katherine Tingley] organized the Society of Mercy to visit prisons and hospitals.  To support this work she gave benefits, which included dramatic recitals and spiritualistic readings."

"If  Katherine had any religion during these years, it was spiritualism.   Like Madame Blavatsky, she displayed mediumistic powers, denying, however, that she ever operated  as a professional medium.  Although she later admitted that money was collected for her readings, she steadfastly insisted that the profits went to support her philanthropies. . . . "

". . . [Consider] the deposition of John F. Price of New York City, who had known Katherine Tingley in 1894 and 1895.  When asked [in 1902] if he had any knowledge of Mrs. Tingley as a spiritualist, he replied:

'She is a Spiritualist in belief, I know; and is given to going in trances as a spirit medium.  I  have seen her in a trance giving forth prophecies which never came true, and all that sort of thing.' 
[Quoted from San Diego Union, Dec. 30, 1902.]

". . . .[Mrs. Tingley] made no attempt to deny her spiritualistic background, but insisted that her readings had been made for charitable purposes:

'In these character readings I discussed the subject of hypnotism, opposing it on every occasion. . . . I never opposed spiritualism.  I accepted it. . . . I believe their teachings, but never endorsed phenomena. . . . I gave these readings in New York city during 1893, 1894, and 1895.'
[Quoted from Katherine Tingley vs. Times-Mirror Company.  Transcript on Appeal from Superior Court of San Diego County to California Supreme Court.  Filed August 15, 1904. p. 702.

"Katherine Tingley. . . [opened] the Do-Good Mission on the East Side of New York in the early 'nineties. . . . During a cold winter, while she was feeding the families of strikers, the man who had the answer to her spiritual problem stood watching her efforts from the fringe of the crowd.  Subsequently, he introduced himself as William Quan Judge, vice-president of the Theosophical Society. . . . "[See Tingley's My First Meeting with William Quan Judge]

". . . in 1895. . . weakened by the ravages of Chagres fever. . . [W.Q. Judge] journeyed south. . . How different life had been [for him] when Madame Blavatsky was alive. . . . How impossible now [for Judge] to reach her, or was it impossible?  In this last journey it was Katherine Tingley who stood by him, nursed him, and gave him spiritual consolation and strength. . . . Judge's cryptic diary reveals his conviction that through her mediumistic powers Katherine Tingley had put him in touch with Madame Blavatsky."

". . . In the period of uncertainty that followed the death of Judge . . . [in March 1896], Katherine Tingley showed herself in complete command of the situation. . . . "

"The key man used by Katherine Tingley in this situation was E. August Neresheimer. . . . On March 31, 1896, Neresheimer wrote to fellow theosophist, Alice L. Cleather, an amazing account of how Katherine Tingley brought him and the others to acknowledge her leadership in the Society. . . . "

'The day after he [W. Q. Judge] died he sent for me through [this symbol stands for Katherine Tingley] with whom he made me acquainted in 1894. . . . Next day early I called, could not connect with him [Judge], all I could get through [Mrs. Tingley] was 'to go slow, immensely slow.' He had something to say before the incineration. He came again at 12 m. next day but said nothing of any account. [Mrs. Tingley] was not conscious.'

'Two days afterward I was sent for in the evening.  We (Griscom, E.T. H. [Ernest T. Hargrove] and myself) had been engaged all along night after night sorting [Judge's] papers and things; I went [to Mrs. Tingley's home], made notes of what he [Judge] wished me to say to the others, which was mostly retailing my entire connection, introduction by him [Judge] to [Mrs. Tingley], all that transpired about the arrangement for the [T.S.] Convention of [April] 1895, program of which was furnished me by [Mrs. Tingley] and which was carried out. This I did to the (skeptical) audience consisting of E.T.H., Patterson, James Pryse, Griscom, Fussell (who were all designated to hear it) and I also transmitted the appointment for all of us to meet at Purple's [Mrs. Tingley's home] same evening at 7:45 p.m.'

'[At the 7:45 p.m. meeting] The Rajah [Judge] commenced to talk almost immediately through [Mrs. Tingley], suggesting to select the Outer-Head and the Council. First change of feeling occurred at recognition of the Rajah. Skepticism was carried to the winds, doubts vanished, and spontaneity prevailed. . . . I tell you the thing was most wonderful and impressive. . . . ' "


Return to Table of Contents of H.N. Stoke's
"William Q. Judge and Katherine Tingley" series of articles