Practical Occultism by William Quan Judge, Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, CA, 1951

This book is taken from letters written by one of the three principle founders of the Theosophical Society, William Quan Judge, who had a formative influence on the history of our branch of the Theosophical movement - the Theosophical Society (Pasadena). Judge's’s emphasis was on the ‘living’ aspects of Theosophy and definitely not the development of the occult arts which might be implied to many people reading the title today. His mighty effort for the re-establishment of theosophy in the Western world in his short life of 45 years is underlined by the depth, scope, and volume of this correspondence included in this book, which includes many disparate subjects from advice on running branches of the Theosophical Society, through to questions on the highest philosophy such as the nature of karma, detachment, and realistic priorities of the esoteric life as lived every day. For those interested in Theosophical history of the period 1882 through HP Blavatsky’s passing in 1891, the book has much valuable historical source material from Judge’s letters originally stored in the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Archives. For those not so much interested in TS history, the book is full of shining gems of practical advice on living the theosophical life originally offered to the members of both the TS and Esoteric Section who wrote to him. But the reader has to dive deep into the book to search for these gems scattered as they are amongst the historical material, and they are not as easily found as his more accessible and popular book, Letters That Have Helped Me.

Practical Occultism is a rare theosophical classic seldom mentioned in theosophical discussions, but definitely worth reading closely by all serious theosophical students. Particularly so in this cycle of TS activity with its emphasis on living theosophical teachings rather than just studying them academically, and applying ‘practical occultism’ in the sense of altruism every day. The book is available in print or free online at: . – Andrew Rooke

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