One of the Greatest Workers in the
Theosophical Movement Since 1875
Pioneer thinkers of the esoteric
philosophy often preferred to work in
anonymity and to remain unknown, and
this is especially true at the United Lodge
of Theosophists, U.L.T. The following
2001 article is therefore the first public
testimony on one of the main leaders of
the ULT. John Garrigues’ silent, wise and
longstanding work had a decisive impact on
the history of the theosophical movement as
a whole. He was one of the main theosophical
leaders since the foundation of the movement in 1875.
The present article was first published by “The
Aquarian Theosophist” in October 2001, pp. 11-12.
It was then signed with the initials “G.E.N.”. Its author,
Mr. Gabriel Blechman, was a lifelong and dedicated
North-American theosophist and ULT associate who died
in 2005. We have added the notes at the end of the text.
(C. C. A.)
John Garrigues, known to friends as JG or to young people in
John,” was a mainstay of the United Lodge of Theosophists (ULT) since its
inception in 1909. Los Angeles
Since he passed on in 1944  , anyone who remembers him has to be pretty well along in years. I first met JG in 1929-30 when he and Grace Clough  came to
to put the local ULT on a firm footing. B.P.
Wadia  had established that ULT center in 1922 upon leaving the
Theosophical Society [Adyar] and joining
the work of ULT. When he left to return to New York India,
there was suddenly a vacuum in the work of the lodge. New York
Mr. Wadia was an accomplished worker and speaker who did virtually all the work in
(lectures, study classes, etc.), attracting large audiences and much interest
in Theosophy. My father found Theosophy once again about midway through the
seven-year period of Mr. Wadia’s presence (1922-29). He had contacted it
casually through a college friend when going to New York Columbia
University in , and it made sense to him. He
rediscovered it through an ad in the New York Times and became a regular at
meetings. New York
Mr. Wadia held
morning, which was a work time for my attorney father. As soon as JG and Mrs.
Clough arrived, they changed the time to Sunday morning, which was when Theosophy
School Theosophy School
met. My father then brought me at the ripe young age of 9. I attended long
enough to be eligible to join the newly formed New York Pathfinder group  in the fall of 1930. Mrs. Clough as
superintendent of Los Angeles was a good
communicator with the minds of children. She held my interest, and theosophical
ideas made sense to my questioning mind. I did not accept new ideas lightly
even at that young age. Theosophy
My early memories of JG were from the periods before
started, when he greeted the youngsters in a friendly way. He spoke with them
at their level of understanding about various nature objects that were at hand in
a glass display case or about anything that someone brought in. He fascinated
us with low-key interesting things about all the kingdoms of nature. We hardly
noticed that he was missing one arm. Other children and I looked forward to
those pre-class sessions with JG. He never acted important, and we had no idea
how vital he was to the work of the grown-ups. Looking back in later years, his
attitude reminded me of the verse from “Light on the Path”  about the ideal student
of occult lore: “That power which the disciple shall covet is that which shall
make him appear as nothing in the eyes of men.” Theosophy School
My father later told me that JG and Mrs. Clough put willing students to work rather than just having them listen, which is what happened in the previous seven years. The roster of good speakers at the
lodge eventually became extensive.
The new workers did not attract 500 people to a lecture, but most of the people
came again, and many joined in the work. The early location at New York 67th Street and
Central Park West was in an apartment-hotel that had a large auditorium. Some
of the workers lived in the building or nearby. We and most other New Yorkers
commuted mainly by sub-way when the fare was just a nickel.
The next time I encountered JG in person was in the summer of 1941 on my first trip to
He and Grace Clough were vacationing at a Los Angeles Pacific Grove
summer vacation home on the
peninsula. I came to Monterey
by train and stayed with theosophists active in the work that I had become acquainted
with by mail through Pathfinder activities.
I came down to the lodge at 33rd
and Grand  almost every day to work with Gordon Clough and Henry
Geiger, the two chief publication workers, on “Theosophy” magazine. In the
course of a six-week stay, I wrote about two “Lookouts”  worth of
material that the editors had collected on various subjects, mostly scientific
as I recall. Mathematics and science were my strong suites. California
During that time JG and Mrs. Clough came down to
for about a week, and I got to
converse with them several times. The five of us also went to lunch together
several times. JG liked to shock people out of detectable complacency, although
I did not realize it at the time. He casually asked one time at lunch if I knew
why in the old West the people who drank never mixed their drinks. I thought to
myself, “Why would a theosophist talk so casually about something that we did
not approve of?” JG went on to explain why mixed drinks were not good. I don’t
remember the explanation now, but I think it was correct and made some sense to
those who drank alcoholic beverages. I remained puzzled for some time. The
others took JG’s remarks in their stride since I think they knew his modus
operandi well. Los Angeles
I heard that during his Sunday night lectures, which were presented in a quiet tone of voice, he often suddenly thundered out some words in a loud voice. When asked about this, he said it was to wake up the people that he may have put to sleep. This showed a good sense of humor as well as an awareness of audience response to what he was saying. His tactic was a kind of shock similar to that of his remarks to me on mixed drinks. He kept people on their toes so they could respond actively to what was going on.
Unfortunately, I did not see or hear from JG again in this life, but I certainly felt his influence in all theosophical work, past and future.
G. E. N.
 In the original, 1943, which is a mistake. John Garrigues died during the first part of the evening, on May 24, 1944. Garrigues was born in the
September 1868. United States
 Grace Clough. One of the pioneers of the United Lodge of Theosophists, from its foundation in 1909.
 Mr. B. P. Wadia (1881-1958) played a key role in giving the ULT a worldwide strength and expression. Like John Garrigues, Mr. Wadia is among the greatest theosophists since the creation of the theosophical movement in 1875. Among his best-known books are “The Gandhian Way”, “The Building of the Home”, “Studies in ‘The Secret Doctrine’ ”, Book I & II , and “Living the Life”, all of which can be obtained from Theosophy Co. (India).
 Pathfinder activities – activities for young people.
 The ULT building in
 Pathfinder Group - a group of young theosophists.
 “Light on the Path”, a book written down by M.C., Theosophy Company (
), Fifth Indian Reprint, 1991,
90 pp. India
 The ULT building in
 The author is referring to the Section “On the Lookout” of “Theosophy” magazine.
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