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HPB's Occult Ring


Another Chapter of Theosophical History Clarified

by Frank Reitemeyer

Since the split up of the Theosophical Society into various lineages after the death of Helena P. Blavatsky, foundress of the Aryan Theosophical Society at New York in 1875 and Head of its Esoteric School there is quarrel until today about the if, how, why and to whom of HPB’s occult successorship, beginning with the 1894 controversy between TS co-founder William Q. Judge and Annie Besant about the leadership. [1]

According to Gottfried de Purucker, who was regarded as the fourth messenger of the Masters of Wisdom in serial order since Blavatsky [2], the split of the TS was a “plan B” of the Masters to save as much as was possible after the deadly karmic shakings were culminating into a final spiritual destruction of organized Theosophy. In a private instruction, given in his Katherine Tingley Memorial Group, which continued Blavatsky’s Inner Group, on meeting 18, dated August 12, 1930 he explains:

“In our own theosophical movement, comprising all these various Theosophical Societies today, the break-up into these various Societies was deliberately engineered. Why? Because the teachers knew that if certain ones were not called out, called apart -- I mean certain ones who could be depended upon -- they would be swallowed up, lost, in the welter of religious and psychical superstition which had already begun to invade the theosophical movement before Judge died. Do you understand me?“ [3]

In the Blavatsky-Point Loma tradition Blavatsky had appointed Judge in 1891 as her successor and teacher, who in turn in 1896 he had appointed Katherine Tingley as his successor, while she in turn in 1929 had appointed de Purucker, who in 1942 had appointed a Cabinet of 12 for administration and also a committee which had to identify a possibly new successor and teacher, who - according to that tradition - never appeared until today. [4, 5]

The handing over of the occult business from Judge to Tingley as the new torch-bearer of Truth in 1896 was polemical attacked in many publications in the following decades by Theosophists, who claimed that with Blavatsky and Judge the succession had stopped or that HPB has had no successor and was unique or that other persons were the right successors. The subject became more complicated by the fact, that both Judge and Tingley was not allowed to speak publicly or to exoteric TS members about their true occult standing as amanuensis and Outer Head of the Masters of Wisdom, obviously because of the “engineering”.

But in 1976, eighty years after the incidents which happened in New York City, Iverson L. Harris has published an article about the quarrel of Judge’s notes relating to Tingley [6], clarifying this chapter.

In 1979 Elsie Benjamin, secretary to both Tingley and de Purucker, made a statement, which was published in 1985, clarifying the riddle on HPB’s occult ring and its entitled possessor. [7] In the Blavatsky-Point Loma tradition it is believed that the original occult ring HPB wore with locket was given by her to Judge-Tingley-Purucker, while Annie Besant got a duplicate HPB had precipitated in London, which was an exact duplicate with the exception, that this duplicate has no locket as HPB’s original ring had.

In 2000 Ernest Pelletier published an outstanding, nearly 1,000 page book, which sums up the history of the TS split under Judge and Besant. It has also a chapter about HPB’s ring, including the impression of its occult signet on the ring, which is also the esoteric seal of her Esoteric School [8]:

Unfortunately, there appeared no photos in Miss Benjamin’s article, in which she compares another, the Wachtmeister duplicate, which has a locket, with the ring of the then International President of the Adyar Theosophical Society, which has no locket.

For the record five photos of Miss Benjamin’s ring are published here [directly below] from my archives. They came into my possession from the President of the Unterlengenhardt Theosophical Society, headquartered in Berlin, who received them in April 1977. Elsie Benjamin was in the 1970’ies and 1980’ies a frequent visitor and lecturer there, a group whose initial lodge was founded by de Purucker around 1930, but declared independent in 1951, when James A. Long made claims about his successorship which founding President Miss Mary Linné could not accept as in accordance with the esoteric teachings. [5]

In her Berlin talks Elsie Benjamin once reported about an interesting incident of 1929 on HPB’s occult ring, then worn by Katherine Tingley, Leader of the Point Loma TS. During the 1920’ies she developed much activities in Germany, trying to re-unite the various lineages including the Anthroposophists under her leadership in a “new Point Loma World Headquarters” - as she called it - in Erlangen near Nuremburg, an effort which failed in the end upon new quarrel about the legality of her Leadership.

Before her last journey to Germany she putted off HPB’s occult ring from her finger and handed it out to Elsie Benjamin, as she reports in her 1985 article. But in Berlin she gave additional information on this incident. On request about the reason Tingley answered: “I’ll do not come back.” Tingley was right in her forecast, as she had a car accident in Germany and died six weeks later in her theosophical center in Sweden, never to return to Point Loma. [9] Gottfried de Purucker then declared successorship to the Leader, stating that the Masters M. and K.H., who sent H. P. Blavatsky forth, have visited him in the mayavi-rupa in his office at Point Loma. [10]

This information of oral history shows two things: First, that Tingley was aware of the fact, that her time has come and second, that Elsie Benjamin had direct knowledge to HPB’s occult signet ring, which she passed on to de Purucker, when he became Leader and Teacher for himself.

By the way, some other important information of Elsie Benjamin as for example the existence of a third and fourth volume of HPB’s main work “The Secret Doctrine”, ready for the printer, was discussed since 1888. However, the newly un-edited and complete transactions of HPB’s London instructions by the Point Loma Theosophical Society supports this information [11], which came down to me in fourth or fifth instance from her father, who was a member of the Blavatsky Lodge in London during HPB’s lifetime.

Amazing as it is that 120 years after HPB here and then lost information appears, not at least while tireless students spent much time, money and energy, there is much left in the dark, as for example about details of Blavatsky’s line of descent from her German side. [12]

Blavatsky passed her ring to Judge and gave Besant a precipitated duplicate of it, obviously part of Besant’s trial period. Judge received after-death communications from HPB and transcribed them on loose sheets. In such a trans-communication between two worlds there is also one entry dealing with HPB’s occult ring, where HPB confirms that Judge and not Besant possesses the original ring:

„April 3 night: The ring you [W.Q. Judge] wear is mine. She [Annie Besant] thinks she has mine and that you have hers. But you are right. It was done by substitution, in the night by one of us.” [13]

Before the split of the TS Judge had sent several letters to Besant, warning her not to do several things. These letters have never been published until today. Perhaps Annie Besant has destroyed them as she did with the Mahatma Letters which Judge has precipitated and sent to her for instruction. But in one letter, dated Jan. 24th, 1895, there was a P.S., in which he writes about HPB’s occult ring and which was published by Besant, obviously thinking she could turn it against his credibility as occult teacher:

"As a friend I would advise you to be careful in statements as to H.P.B.'s ring; you do not possess it."

To these Besant replied in the magazine Lucifer:

“When I read this, I prepared for the circulation of a new myth, and I have just received a letter from America in which I am told that Mr. Judge, at a meeting of his School, in January last, “made the remarkable statement that by some peculiar means he came into possession of the ring which belonged to H.P.B., and that the one you have is a substitute.”

The facts as to the ring are very simple. H.P.B. often told me that I was to wear it after her death, in place of the duplicate she had given me in 1889. There were but the two large rings, the one she wore and the duplicate she had made for me, and these two are distinguishable by some very slight differences, only perceptible on close examination. I was absent when H.P.B. left her body, but she told Mrs. Cooper-Oakley that the ring was for me, and after her death it was drawn from her finger and locked up till I reached home, when it was given me, and I put off the duplicate and put on hers. It has never since left me, and I wore it continuously till the summer of 1893, tied on my finger by some threads of silk, because it was too large for me; in the summer of 1893 I bought a gold ring to fit inside it, and so obviate the necessity of tying it on. The duplicate ring she gave me I gave to Mr. Judge, after he arrived in London in 1891, and this is the one he is showing as H.P.B.'s ring. Such are the simple facts which are apparently being developed into "The myth of the Ring." [14]

From a wider point of view these facts are not as very simple as Besant thought. Apparently HPB wore at the time of her death a duplicate on her finger, so that one duplicate was replaced by another duplicate. Judge was warning her, but being under dark influences [15] Besant thought that Judge wanted to trick her.

Here is the development of the story as reported by Elsie Benjamin in 1979-85. We reprint the article verbatim et literatim.


Facts About HPB’s Occult Ring

Elsie Benjamin

The following statement, titled as above, was written and signed by Elsie Benjamin and dated 2nd March 1979. She was evidently responding to some inquiry about HPB’s ring and, since there are various stories about it, thought it a good idea to keep Eclectic Theosophist informed.

Mrs. Benjamin was a member of The Mahatma Letters Trust when it was first established, also editor, since its inception, of the monthly Corresponding Fellows Lodge Bulletin. In earlier years she was private secretary to Dr. G. de Purucker at Point Loma, from 1929 to 1942, but a year after the latter’s death returned, in the midst of WWII, to her native England, where she died September, 25, 1981.

Other comment by C. Jinarajadasa on the Ring will be found in The Theosophist, Vol. LII, August 1931, p. 662, and by Annie Besant in Lucifer, XVI, No. 94, June 15, 1895, pp. 269-70; also see Josephine Ransom: A Short History of the Theosophical Society, p. 90. – Perhaps the whole thing could be called The case of the Mystifying Ring. – ED. [The Eclectic Theosophist]

 1. Olcott handed the ring to Mr. Judge – this was reported in one of the early Theos. magazines, according to E. W. Tillema, a theos. historian.

2. My exact duplicate proves that the original HPB ring had a locket. My ring was given to me by a Swedish member, Mrs. Elin Klingstrand, who had received it from her friend Count Wachtmeister.

3. Whether HPB had a jeweler copy [of] her ring, or whether she ‘precipitated’ it, is anybody’s guess. Christmas Humphreys believes it was precipitated.

4. Mrs. Klingstrand gave the ring to me because when she was wondering one morning to whom she should leave it, the mail brought her copy of the CFL Bulletin, with “Following the Blavatsky Tradition”, so she thought I was the one to have it. Not wanting to wait till her death, nor to send it by post, she decided to come over to England to give it to me. She had said nothing to [me] about the ring, but I told Harry [her husband] that as I had received so many courtesies in Sweden from FTS, I thought it would be nice if we invited Mrs. Klingstrand down for a day or two, which gave her the opportunity she wanted.

5. My ring of course has a locket, but so well fitted that unless one is looking for it, it can easily be missed. When Boris de Zirkoff some years ago was in Wheaton while Sri Ram, then International President, was there, and wearing his ring, Boris asked him if it had a locket, and Sri Ram assured him it did not. He took it off his hand and showed Boris. It is this ring which Annie Besant had after HPB’s death, claiming it to be the occult ring; but Judge had told her it was not, but was a substitute, that he had the occult ring. Annie Besant’s ring has been passed down from President to President, and is presumably the one that John Coats now has.

6. To make doubly certain about the absence of the locket, and realizing that even Boris could have missed it, I doubly checked. When Dudley Barr, then President of the Canadian Section was in London, on his way to the International T.S. Congress, he rang me up hoping I could come up and see him. I did so, showed him my ring, told him the whole story, and asked him, as he would definitely know what to look for, to ask Sri Ram to show him his ring. Sri Ram did so, and Dudley Barr assured me it had no locket.

7. Of course there are several replicas of the original ring, but that particular one is not a replica of the original Occult ring.

8. Judge left his original occult ring to Katherine Tingley, who passed it on to GdeP. I know it was original one because I had charge of it together with other contents of GdeP’s safes, and at his direction, handed it to the Chairman of the Cabinet, Iverson Harris, after GdeP’s death. That was the same ring Judge had given to K.T. Just before K.T. left for Europe on her last trip, she slipped that ring on to my finger, and said “Now you can always know you have had HPB’s ring on your finger.”

9. About the stone in it: It has at times been called an agate, but HPB said it was a bloodstone. Mrs. Christmas Humphreys, herself a jeweler with her own registered ‘hall mark’, told me the misunderstanding evidently came because some people think a bloodstone is red. It is not, except that when held to the light, it shows a red glow. To double check, I took mine down to the leading jeweler in Worthing, and asked what stone it was: “The lady instantly said ‘Bloodstone’. “Not an agate?” I asked. “No”, she replied, “I know, my own birthstone is a bloodstone”. It is significant that the Encyclopedia Britannica states that the bloodstone stands for Martyrdom!

10. The original ring was handed to Colonel Conger when he became head of the Point Loma Society, and after his death, James Long took it. Presumably Grace Knoche now has it.


Conclusively one Blavatsky photo might be commented on. It is called “the last photo of HPB” [16]:

“the last photo of HPB”

Why is it called “the last photo”? Probably it is indeed the last one taken before leaving her sick body. Perhaps it contains a message. Is it a picture puzzle, an occult rebus? The items of interest are:

1. The occult signet ring, which indicates the occult status.

2. Four fingers out of five are shown, the fifth finger (the thumb) is hidden.

3. She has a rolled up magazine in her “occult hand”.

4. It is “The Path” magazine of William Q. Judge, which is “pure buddhi”, as she wrote.

5. In her left hand she holds a burning cigarette.

6. She wears a white scarf (or is it a tablecloth?). White scarfs are an ancient tradition in Tibetan and are called kata, symbolizing purity of intention and aspiration. White is also the color of a shroud, the final garment. 

7. The end of the white scarf falls off her four fingers.

It is the duty of every theosophist to avoid sectarianism and churchism and be true to HPB’s original program and keep the Theosophical Movement a living, ensouled entity:

“Some have failed because they were satisfied with what they had; satisfied that the revelation given was complete and perfect unto the next Messiah who should come at some indefinite time in the future, and neglected the duty of the moment, which was keeping the mind fluid, the heart warm with brotherly love, and therefore the avoidance of crystallization: churchism. Churches are always the danger of a movement like ours, churches which are brought about by self-satisfactions, with a feeling that "We have the truth" -- suspicious of our fellow-men, afraid to receive truth from a brother, because, forsooth, our own opinion is so great that our interpretation and translation of what we already have is so profound and so perfect that even a brother may not know a little more than we! […]

Fortunately, about the time when the new religious era will be upon us will be the time when the Great Teachers will make a special effort; and it will be at the beginning of the fourth quarter of the present hundred-years' period. I fancy that when the Envoy comes then, the Leader comes then, most Theosophical Societies will not welcome him; for his teachings and his personality alike would be unwelcome. He will not be what they think he should be; and with crystallized minds and crystallized societies set stone-like, there will be small hope for his getting help from these quarters. Let us be ready. Many of us will be gone, passed on, by that time. But those of us who remain, let us be ready to welcome the new Torchbearer of truth, the new Leader (for that is what a Torchbearer is), who will follow in orderly succession as the ages follow each other, the preceding leaders, the preceding thinkers, the preceding guides of men.” [17]

End notes:

[1] Ernest Pelletier: “The Judge Case. A Conspiracy Which Ruined the Theosophical Cause”, Edmonton 2000.

[2] Gottfried de Purucker: The Dialogues, Covina 1948, KTMG meeting No. 12, May, 14, 1930, online edition:

[3] Gottfried de Purucker: The Dialogues, Covina 1948, KTMG meeting No. 18, August 12, 1930, online edition:

[4] On de Purucker’s explanation of the serial succession of messengers of the Masters of Wisdom cp. “The Theosophical Forum”, July 15, 1932, question No. 94 and “The Eclectic Theososophist” No. 111, May/June 1989, p. 3-4 and the chapter “The Esoteric Succession of Teachers: 1. Messengers from the Lodge if the Masters, 2. The Insignia Majestatis in his “Esoteric Teachings, vol. II., San Diego 1987, pp. 121ff. An edited version of this esoteric instructions was also published in 1974 as “Fountain Source Of Occultism”,

[5] Kenneth R. Small: “The Conger Papers 1945-1951, Part 1”, in: Theosophical History, January 2000, pp. 11-34.

[6] Iverson L. Harris: “A Chapter of Theosophical History Clarified”, in: The Eclectic Theosophist, Nov. 15, 1976, pp. 2-3, online:

[7] Elsie Benjamin: “Facts About HPB’s Occult Ring”, in: The Eclectic Theosophist, March/April 1985, pp. 3-4, typos corrected and comments in brackets; German translation in: “Der Theosophische Pfad”, Nov./Dec. 1985, pp. 16-19.

[8] Ernest Pelletier: “Regarding H.P.B.’s Signet Ring.”, in: The Judge Case, op. cit. pp. II:116-119.

[9] Emmett A. Greeenwalt: “California Utopia: Point Loma: 1897-1942”, San Diego 1978, p. 192-3.

[10] The Theosophical Forum, Dec. 15, 1931, p. 90, in: Emmett A. Greeenwalt, op. cit., p. 195.

[11] Michael Gomes: “H. P. Blavatsky – The Secret Doctrine Commentaries, The Unpublished 1889 Instructions”, The Hague 2010, p. 104,, see also: Daniel Caldwell: Missing
“Transactions” by H. P. Blavatsky Discovered:

[12] Review of Prof. Peter Laur’s article “A German-Baltic background of 'Theosophy'?" by Frank Reitemeyer, in: Fohat, Summer 2006,

[13] H. N. Stokes: The Judge “Occult Diary”, Vindication of Tingley, Hargrove, Fussell, O. E. Library Critic, September 1932, pp. 12-13, online:, brackets added.

[14] Annie Besant in “Lucifer”, June 15, 1895, pp. 269-70.

[15] Ernest Pelletier: “Annie Besant, Her Passions and Her Relationships”, Fohat, Winter 2000 and Spring 2001, online edition:

[16] Photo taken from The Theosophical Path, May 1948, frontispiece.

[17] Gottfried de Purucker: Messages to Conventions, Covina 1943, pp. 76-78, reprint San Diego n.d. [1993],  online edition:



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