His father was the town librarian and a Deacon at the local Congregational church. When he was five years old, his mother began teaching him to play the piano and organ, and later in his youth, Case performed as organist in his family's church. A talented musician, he embarked on a successful career as a violinist, and orchestra conductor.
Case was early on attracted to the occult. While still a child he reported experiences that today are called lucid dreaming. He corresponded about these experiences with Rudyard Kipling who encouraged him as to the validity of his paranormal pursuits.
In the year 1900, Case met the occultist Claude Bragdon while both were performing at a charity performance. Bragdon asked Case what he thought the origin of playing cards was. After pursuing the question in his father's library, Case discovered a link to Tarot, called 'The Game of Man,' thus began what would become Case's lifelong study of the tarot.
Between 1905 and 1908 (aged 20-24), Case began practicing yoga, and in particular pranayama, from what published sources were available. His early experiences appear to have caused him some mental and emotional difficulties and left him with a lifelong concern that so called "occult" practice be done with proper guidance and training.
In the summer of 1907, Case read The Secret of Mental Magic, by William W. Atkinson (aka Ramacharacka) which led him to correspond with the then popular new thought author. Many people have speculated that Case and Atkinson were two of the three anonymous authors of The Kybalion, an influential philosophical text.
The stranger said that Case was being offered a choice. He could continue with his successful musical career and live comfortably, or he could dedicate himself to "serve humanity" and thereby play a role in the coming age.
From that time on, Case began to study and formulate the lessons that served as the core curricula of the Builders of the Adytum, the school of Tarot and Qabalah that Case founded and that continues in operation.
In 1916 Case published a groundbreaking series of articles on the Tarot Keys, titled "The Secret Doctrine of the Tarot," in the popular occult magazine The Word. The articles attracted wide notice in the occult community as organizing and clarifying what had been confusing and scattered threads of occult knowledge as illustrated and illuminated by the Tarot.
But to Case, sexuality became an increasingly important subject. In his Book of Tokens, a collection of inspired meditations on the 22 Tarot Keys of the Major Arcana, Case comments on the sex function, "You must wholly alter your conception of sex in order to comprehend the Ancient Wisdom. It is the interior nervous organism, not the external organs, that is always meant in phallic symbolism, and the force that works through these interior centers is the Great Magical Agent, the divine serpent fire." In his works, The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order and The Masonic Letter G, he writes of certain practices involving the redirection of the sexual force to the higher centers of the brain where experience of supersensory states of consciousness becomes possible.
Some members also complained about a personal relationship between Case and a soror, Lilli Geise. Case confessed the matter to Moina: "The Hierophantria and I were observed to exchange significant glances over the altar during the Mystic Repast... My conscience acquits me... Our relation to each other we submit to no other Judge than that Lord of Love and Justice whom we all adore." In time, Case married Geise, who died a few years later.
Perhaps Moina's correspondence also touched a sensitive area for Case. In her July 18th letter, she tells Case, "You evidently have reached a point in your mystical Way where there would appear to exist certain cross-roads. The artist in you, which I recognize, and with whom I deeply sympathize, would probably choose to learn the Truth through the joy and beauty of physical life." She continued, "You who have studied the Pantheons, do you know of that enchanting God, the Celtic Angus, the Ever Young? He who is sometimes called Lord of the Land of Heart's Desire?" Angus rescued Etain, the Moon, who had been turned into a golden fly. But Etain had to choose between bodily existence in the land of mortals and everlasting life. She continued still, "The artist in us may have lingered in that land for a moment. But you and I who would be teachers and pioneers in this Purgatorial World must be prepared before all the Gods to be the servants of the greatest of them all... the Osiris, the Christ, the God of the Sacrifice of the Self." Moina then asked Case to resign from his position as Praemonstrator.
Case resigned as Praemonstrator, responding to Moina, "I have no desire to be a 'teacher and pioneer in this Purgatorial World.' Guidance seems to have removed me from the high place to which I have never really aspired. The relief is great."
Apparently Case had already begun work on establishing a Mystery School of his own--the School of Ageless Wisdom, which later became Builders Of The Adytum.
Within a few years he moved to Los Angeles, abandoning, once and for all, his career as a musician, and established the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.). Still in existence today, B.O.T.A. claims to be an authentic Mystery School. Over the next three decades, Case organized the curriculum of correspondence lessons covering practically the whole corpus of what is called the Western Mystery Tradition: occult tarot, Qabalah, and Alchemy.
"B.O.T.A. is a direct off-shoot of the Golden Dawn, but its work has been purged of all the dangerous and dubious magic incorporated into the Golden Dawn's curriculum by the late S.L. MacGregor Mathers, who was responsible for the inclusion of the ceremonials based on the skrying of Sir Edward Kelly.
"There is much in these Golden Dawn rituals and ceremonies that is of the greatest value; but from the first grade to the last it is all vitiated by these dangerous elements taken from Dee and Kelly. Furthermore, in many places, the practical working is not provided with adequate safeguards, so that, to the present writer's personal knowledge, an operator working with the Golden Dawn rituals runs very grave risks of breaking down his physical organism, or of obsession by evil entities."
The Adytum News described it this way: "One day the phone rang, and much to his surprise the same voice which had been inwardly instructing him in his researches for many years spoke to him on the phone. It was the Master R. who had come personally to New York for the purpose of preparing Paul Case to begin the next incarnation of the Qabalistic Way of Return. ... After three weeks of personal instruction with the Master R., Builders of the Adytum was formed."Lilli Geise Case's first wife was Lilli Geise, a soror of the Golden Dawn, but the marriage was short lived when she died a few years later (May 9, 1924).Harriet B. Case (1893-1972) In 1943 Case married Harriet. Ann Davies (1912-1975) In 1943 Case was introduced to Ann Davies. She walked into one of his classes with her sister. Later, Ann and her small daughter Bonnie moved into the Cases' house where they helped by fixing meals, mimeographing lessons, etc.Liberal Catholic Church The Liberal Catholic Church was established in England in 1916 out of the failing Old Catholic missionary effort there. The Old Catholic bishop, Arnold Harris Matthew, had filled his clergy ranks with a number of English Theosophists and Golden Dawn Qabalists, all dedicated students of the 'Ageless Wisdom', which in Theosophy is held to underly all the world's great religions including Christianity. When Matthew left the movement, he left a valid apostolic succession in the hands of men prepared to teach the Ageless Wisdom and mystical Christianity, and to offer valid Catholic sacraments to all and sundry, but especially to religious non-conformists.
Case was ordained a priest by Bishop Charles Hampton in the Liberal Catholic Church in Ojai, California, in 1937, and served parishes throughout the southern California area.Masonic affiliations According to the membership archives of the Grand Lodge, F. & A.M. of California and an unpublished biography of Case written by the archivist of the Builders of the Adytum.
Fairport Lodge No. 476, Fairport, New York.
Hollenbeck Lodge No. 319, Los Angeles
Eagle Rock Lodge No. 422, Los Angeles
Some of the wording from "The Book of Tokens" was used in the Tarot-inspired musical episode of Xena: Warrior Princess entitled The Bitter Suite. In the show, a character representing The Fool speaks the quote, "ALEPH am I. From mine unfathomable Will, the universe hath its beginning. In my boundless Wisdom are the types and patterns of all things."