A Brief History of B.O.T.A by the Rev. Ann Davies


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A Brief History of BOTA, the Rev. Ann Davies


This is a transcript from a talk by the Rev. Ann Davies. It outlines the origins of Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A) and the remarkable journey of its founder, Dr. Paul Foster Case. It recounts Case’s early fascination with playing cards, leading to his immersion in the esoteric realms of tarot and Kabbalah. Through encounters with mystical guidance and personal revelations, Case embarked on a transformative path of spiritual awakening.

The narrative highlights the transition of B.O.T.A under the guidance of Rev. Ann Davies, emphasizing the importance of humility and openness on the journey of self-discovery. Through anecdotes and reflections, the speech underscores the essence of true wisdom and the transformative power of love.

Ultimately, the speech serves as a beacon of insight, inviting listeners on an enriching adventure of self-exploration and spiritual enlightenment through the teachings of B.O.T.A and the timeless wisdom of the tarot.


I would like before we take the Tarot key for the evening to give you a little short history of builders of the Adytum. Those in the class who heard it before, I am sure will not mind hearing it again because it is good to be reminded of the background of our work. And then for the rest of us, I think that it will be very helpful to know just how Builders of the Adytum came into being and why as you all know from reading our open door.

Dr Paul Foster case was the founder of Builders of the Adytum. However, though he was the founder of the name Builders of the Adytum, he was not and is not the founder of the tradition under which we work. He was given this mission by one whom we can call different people have different names for them, who we can call a master of the wisdom or an adept. It doesn’t matter what name you want to call it. But I think we should know just who and what’s behind our work.

When Doctor Case was just a young lad, he was very interested in playing cards and somehow this fascination was something beyond anything one would consider quite normal. So it’s difficult to know what normal is, isn’t it? And when he was 16 years old, he met Claude Bragdon. And many of you will recognize this name. It became quite famous in theosophy. At this time, Claude Fayette Bragdon was not yet at the office, but they knew each other. They were showing each other some very fine uh displays of pre digit education. I’m always proud when I can use that word. And as they were showing each other, some was a little difficult uh aspects of the press.

Claude Bragdon and said to Dr Case, where do you suppose the playing cards came from? This intrigued are the young man and he went off investigating. He started to haunt the library. He discovered the word taro something he had never heard before. He discovered many things. But what he discovered mainly was that the whole subject was so covered with myth with blinds that it was almost discouraging. So he would sit, he managed to get a pack of the tarot cards from which our present playing cards are defended and he would pour over them, pour over them and meditate on them some more, not realizing just what he was doing.

Because at that time, we didn’t know that the entire symbology of the Tarot pictures was so designed that it stimulated our entire subconscious subliminal nature into fields of awareness, which unfortunately, most people are not aware of. Although our modern psychologists have become more and more aware of this, especially since Freud and Jung. And as he poured over these pictures, trying to puzzle them out, a very peculiar thing started to happen to him, he started to hear a voice.

Very fortunately, he was the quiet type and didn’t spread the news that he was hearing a voice. So he managed to avoid this uh the dreadful incarceration which many voice hearers are subjected to. In other words, in mental institutions. He found his voice very peculiar in as much as it almost invariably helped him to discover whatever it was, which was puzzling him in relation to the Tarot Keys. An example, he would go to the library wanting to look up some uh aspect which would explain the meaning or the arrangement of a tarot key. And suddenly he would hear this voice. He this voice which he started to hear became tremendously helpful in as much as it would say something like this. If you’ll reach for the third book, top shelf from the left, you’ll find on page. So and so the quotation, you’re looking for sure enough, he would reach for the book there, it would be, this sort of thing was happening continuously that the case became very proud of the voice. He had done quite a bit of reading on Freud Jung and the subconscious. And he decided he had a very remarkable subconscious mind.

It gave him auditory hallucinations which were most helpful. So that was a very happy state for him to be in for a while. The time came when he had made so many remarkable discoveries about what tarot is and what it can do, which I will go into a little later that he felt it was necessary for him to start getting some of this on paper. He was quite a young man then indeed, he was barely in his middle twenties, but he proceeded writing down making a record of some of these amazing discoveries. He realized the impact of tarot had tremendous significance in the whole growth of the individual, especially as he noticed what it had been doing to himself.

And then a very peculiar thing happened one day as he was on his way to work. He was then a musical director. He had half an hour before he had to get to rehearsal. This happened in Chicago. He was at the time 25 years old, a strange man walked up to him as he was about to board the street car and said to him, your name is Paul Case. You have half an hour before you need to get to your rehearsal. I have been sent by my teachers to give you a message. Would you like to sit down in the park Dr Case?

This man sat down and started to tell him some of the most peculiar things, things that no other individual usually has a right to know about. You told him about things he had been thinking about from childhood on things he had done things, he had felt things that no other human being knew. And apparently here was someone who had the information. It reminds one of the woman at the well, in the New Testament, you remember when Jesus told her a few things about herself, how she rushed off and said, I have met a man who has told me everything that ever happened to me or words to this effect.

After this man had shown Paul case that he certainly had means of discovering aspects of the mind and emotions which are not available to everyone that he knew about the innermost workings of his mind and emotions. He then proceeded to give him the message being as follows. You are coming to a place in your life where there are two paths open to you.

If you take one road, you will remain in the musical field, you will be fairly successful. You will never know want, you will have a pleasant life on the whole. But uh you won’t do any extraordinary amount of growing on spiritual level. If you take the other path, you will have a great deal more hardships to, to face. You will have many problems, many disturbances. However, you will be a channel through which untold thousands of people will be helped along the road to self-realization. And you will do a great deal more growing yourself.

Spiritually, all your teachers can promise you if you decide to take the second path is that in the last analysis, you will not go hungry. Well, this is quite a staggering thing to happen to a young man of 25 you must admit. And of course, there was no question which path he chose because here we are, he chose the hard road, which in the end usually is the easy one truly. And in due time, he retired from the musical field to give his full time to occultism because as the years went on, especially with the help of his auditory hallucination, he became more and more famous though this meant nothing to him for his tremendous insight and discoveries into tarot and Kabbalah and its usages for the Western world and spiritual unfoldment.

Then he was initiated into a mystery school. He had moved to New York at this time, he had already printed true the true attributions as he had worked them out with the help of his voice. And in this mystery school, which was a direct descendant of the mystery schools which go way back through the sens through the Egyptians, through the Babylonians, always my friends there have been small groups of people down through the ages, carrying on a special tradition of spiritual training, no matter what the state of the world has been.

Always when one particular name has outlived its usefulness for various reasons, it has reincarnated itself with the same tradition and the same training into the next phase.

Dr Case found himself invited into one of these mystery schools in New York there. He discovered that these tremendous revelations, he felt that he had made himself with his wonderful subconscious auditory hallucinations was not a bit new that it was taught in the mystery schools and had been taught in this manner down through the ages, which is a very good thing to help bring down the spiritual pride if we have a tendency to develop it here and there. And I’m afraid we all do, but let’s not get discouraged because we’re all in the same boat.

However, the interest interesting thing was that although in this mystery school, one has to take very strong obligations not to give out to the exoteric world, these attributions and teachings. This was not mandatory for Paul Case. The reason it was not mandatory is because he had already discovered and published, indeed had already been giving lessons. And the reason he had been developed in this manner was because our world had come to a point in its evolution and development where it was ready to have some of the deeper esoteric truths made exoteric. And this was why he was kept out of the mystery schools until he had been helped to discover these aspects for himself.

When Paul case was somewhere in his early thirties towards about 35 it was somewhere more in the middle thirties. He at that time was editor for the Azoth magazine, an occult magazine. The telephone rang, he picked up the telephone and there was his auditory hallucination speaking to him on the telephone. Now, this was a very strange type of experience. He claims that his hair stood on end. We can well understand why. And this voice over the telephone said, I presume you recognize my voice? Oh, ok. So, yes, indeed, I do. Well, would you like to meet me? Yes, indeed. I do.

Arrangements were made for Paul Case to go down to the Waldorf Astoria. That was the old Waldorf Astoria in New York where he met. But we know is a master of the wisdom who still walks around in a flesh and blood body. And how long he has been walking around? We are not prepared to tell you at this time but centuries this much, we can say he met this man. And for three weeks, he was under personal instruction from this great adept because he was being prepared for the next phase in the work that is for the next reincarnation of the mystery school.

The one he belonged to at that time was falling apart due to certain dissensions which usually occur. You see, until human beings are perfected, you will always run in to the aspects in their nature, which have to do with ego needs, with vanities, with resentment, with rationalizations of these ego needs and vanities and resentment. And these are the elements which we might say the dark side of life use in order to disrupt whatever work is being used for spreading the light. However, it still serves its purpose. Always, those who are behind the scenes are aware of what’s going on, always this preparation so that the work will not be lost.

Dr Case tells us that something very peculiar happened to him during the three weeks personal training with the master. He said his consciousness was so heightened that there wasn’t a single thing he was told talk and so on which did not remain as bright as knew as vivid as the moment it was given to him. And of course, we can well understand why this should be when we consider that here was a man. I wonder if all of you know just what we mean when we say master of the wisdom? Is there anyone here who doesn’t? That’s nice, but a master of the wisdom has such a heightened consciousness, such a heightened magnetic field. But naturally you would stimulate to an extraordinary degree, the elements in whatever disciple or pupil he is working with. And this of course is what happened to Paul Case.

Shortly after that, we had another reincarnation Builders of the Adytum performed. It was not a new organization. It is a tradition that carries on as it has been carrying on down through the ages and along with the carrying on of this tradition, as we surely all realize as the world changes, as the social structures change, as our attitudes and points of view change. We need reinterpretations of the ageless wisdom. We don’t like to say ancient wisdom because there’s really nothing holy about anything being ancient but ageless wisdom is the word Dr Case always preferred. And so he was given the mission of reinterpreting the entire Tarot Kabbalistic method of self-unfoldment in terms understandable to the modern mind along with being the central figure in reincarnating the mystery school tradition so that it would continue with its very, very wonderful work when his part of the work was finished, when his mission was done.

“We’re going to start an adventure, which is the greatest adventure.”

Rev. Ann Davies

I do not like to talk about myself, but I think that we owe it to you to say a few words in as much as I am. Apparently the instrument through which you will be receiving some teaching. And I hope you notice I say the instrument through which not from me, through me, but we have been told bye, this master whom we have always called the boss that I wasn’t training since I was a small child. For this child, I was not aware of it when I was a child. So I was a very peculiar type of a child. We go along with the class and we bring in examples of how not to be.

We will have little anecdotes to share with each other. And perhaps you will then see just how queer a child I was. Of course, my dear friends say I’m still queer. But as long as they love me, this is all that matters. But as a small child, I was in training, Doctor Case was used as the channel through which I was trained. And when it was time for doctor case to leave, indeed, about 23 years before that I more and more became aware of the inner contact so that when he was taken, it was assured that the channel would continue open so that the work would go on. And I must say to you very frankly, this has nothing to do with any high state of spiritual development. I think that at least I very much hope that one of the main things we are going to learn in this class is not to sit around and figure or judge just how spiritually developed anybody is. This is bad business. It leads to spiritual pride. Indeed, we are not in any position to know just how spiritually developed anybody is. I may have very, very much farther to go than every single one of you sitting here, the fact that there’s something about me that makes it possible for me to be an instrument through which this teaching can go on does not mean that I have achieved by any means, any of the goals we have set. Indeed, I assure you we haven’t. And there are so many little things I would like to say to you as a preliminary, but mainly let’s not judge and by judge, I don’t even mean condemn. We all know basically that we shouldn’t condemn.

Although I’m afraid we all do from time to time. But let’s not be free to judge the various aspects of any of the personalities we come across, particularly amongst each other because we’re going to learn how to expose ourselves to each other in very peculiar ways and we’re going to learn to love it. And one of the most important things we must realize before we can do this is that we must lay aside our prejudices, lay aside our preconceived notions, indeed, lay aside what we like to call our principles because truly, it has been noticed that most of what we call principles are merely our prejudices dressed up and rationalized. And we don’t get very far this way.

We do not know under what pressure; any single individual is. Some personalities can carry a ¬£10 pressure and they may appear to be very highly evolved from whatever it is we think highly evolved may be. But life is only putting a ten pound pressure on them. So it’s very easy to seem serene or to do without this or to do that very easy. But some individuals may have reached a point where they’re carrying a 100 pound pressure and they may not seem to give as good a performance in some ways.

And yet they may be very, very much more along the way. You might say several rungs up the ladder and we do not know what the pound pressure you might say is, which is being brought to bear upon any particular personality. And just as a little example of why it’s important not to judge hastily about spiritual development. Uh I’d like to give a little amusing example. Dr Case when he was about 24 years old, decided to experiment a little bit with raja yoga. Accidentally, we’re gonna have a great deal to say about why it’s wisest not to experiment with yoga in the Western civilization. But we won’t go into this at the moment.

He started to follow the procedures as outlined in a very fine book he got and found that most extraordinary things were occurring. However, uh some of the extraordinary things were rather painful. What an example is. He found himself very, very sensitive, became super sensitive, he became aware of what everybody was thinking and feeling, no friends becoming aware of what everybody is thinking and feeling is one of about one of the greatest nightmares we can ever face because surely when we stop to analyze it, the mind like a monkey is usually going round and round with ego needs and vanity, resentment, projections, fears, ha hatred. It’s pretty amazing at any rate.

Paul case found himself in Chicago. You know, a big city would be pretty rough when you’re this sensitive. He found himself in Chicago getting on street cars and sitting with murderers and thieves because haven’t we gotten mad enough to kill though? We won’t admit it to ourselves. Haven’t we wanted people out of the way? Haven’t we envied other people either possessions or qualities? That’s a part of feeling we want to steal what they’ve got silly, isn’t it? But we do so many silly things and we really learn how to get rid of a lot of the excess baggage. Then anyway, he found himself in quite a nightmare when he became aware of all the things that go on in the minds and emotions of the majority of people. He got to a point where it was so bad. He couldn’t bear it and they had to do something to desensitize themselves and desensitize himself very quickly. So he got some cigarettes and started to smoke like a trooper. And though he wasn’t a drinking man, he thought what? He had quite a few cocktails a day, he never got intoxicated, of course. And he sat down and ate some six steaks because he knew that meat and alcohol and nicotine would help desensitize. And it was a very wonderful experience for him because it helped him.

It was part of his training. It helped him to realize that you cannot go around in the Western culture, doing the sort of exercises that sensitize you on the subconscious level in India, in the East, what is it that they do? They go off to the mountains or valleys or what have you or caves? They go off into isolation in order to practice these practices. And even then it’s under the very strip observation and instruction of a teacher whom they call a guru, it’s tremendously, utterly dangerous to go in for the breathing types of practices, an adjunct which are taught in the East because these were not designed for Western minds and bodies nor for Western culture.

The basic philosophy between the East and the West is the same. Indeed, you will find that Taro and Kabbalah are a true synthesis of the true occult teachings of the East and the West. But the methods of unfoldment must be different if we’re going to make any headway. And the example I was trying to make or point out was that here was someone who really had made quite a bit of grade spiritually, not because he had become sensitive. This doesn’t mean he made braid but in other ways and yet had somebody come across him and seen him drinking a cocktail smoking a cigarette and biting into some thick rare steak. They would have thought him very materialistic, very mundane, very gross. And yet he was exactly the opposite of all these things.

It was necessary to his survival that he desensitize on those levels. And believe me, true, spiritual growth has nothing to do with whether you take a cocktail or smoke a cigarette or eat meat though. I don’t eat meat. I can’t, I feel a little too emotional about the little creature. So I just don’t, but I don’t ask anyone else not to. And I know that this is no indication of any spiritual level whatsoever. And indeed the point I’m trying to make again is that we want to be very careful that we don’t look for these indications or what we think are indications of spiritual levels. We want to look for anything. Let’s look to see how much love is flowing even in the face of conditions where ordinarily it would not be apt to flow freely. And because we do have to sort of look for something. And as long as we want to look for something, let’s look for just this. And meanwhile, we’re going to learn how to love most of us think we know about love. I think a great many of us know some, but I know that all of us are gonna learn a great deal more and we’re gonna learn it through the tarot, working with the tarot and we’re going to start an adventure, which is the greatest adventure. I know any of you have ever had. I know it’s the greatest adventure I’ve had and I’m still in it, of course. So I’m living in adventure.”