The name given to him by his parents was Claude D. Dodgin (the “D” always present when he used it). The name he chose for himself later in life was Maurice Doreal.
If you haven’t heard of either name, try an online search for “The Emerald Tablets of Thoth-The-Atlantean,” his best-known literary effort as M. Doreal. Or Brotherhood of the White Temple, the esoteric organization he founded in the 1930s. Or look for Claude Doggins, the version of his name that a few publications gave him in 1946 when he was announcing his group’s retreat into the Colorado hills from imminent nuclear warfare.
And then be prepared to enter the Bizarro Zone that combines vintage science fiction, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and a host of alien contact/underground civilization/government conspiracy theories.
Dodgin/Doreal’s presence in all of this is sketchy and based on his own self-promotion. But the very lack of information on his background and its context stokes a mystique on a low-grade but persistent level. Information in public records available online should now seriously challenge the mystique.
He’s been called a “metaphysician” or “metaphysicist” — terms that sound like they have some actual science involved – also a “contactee” with off-Earth beings and members of “pre-Adamite” non-human races. And, of course, his own preferred identification as “the Voice,” anointed representative of the Supreme Council, a group of super-wise, hyper-evolved human and extraterrestrial teachers called “Ascended Masters.”
Dodgin revealed little about his pre-Doreal identity in the longest interviews he ever gave to journalists and doesn’t seem to have mentioned much about it, if anything, in his long series of esoteric booklets. Time (September 1946) and Life (October 14, 1946) magazines reported that he claimed to have been born in Oklahoma, to be part Choctaw Indian, and to have served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
He was born on August 25, 1902 to Thomas D. and Alta Belle (pre-marriage surname Corbin) Dodgin, the youngest of their six children.
According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Thomas Dodgin and family were then living in “Township 4,” in what was then “Indian Territory” held by the Chickasaw Nation before Oklahoma gained statehood in 1907. Its likely Claude was born here. In researching his genealogy I found nothing that indicated Native American lineage, which is not unusual when sometimes all there is to go on is a family story.
As for military service, Dodgin would have been too old in World War II for the standard draft ages of 18-37. And ineligible at ages 15-16 for the 1917 and 1918 draft registrations of World War I. There is no evidence that he lied about his age, no evidence that he ever served in any branch of the U.S. military.
These were the least outrageous claims he’s known to have made.
At the time of the 1910 Census, the entire Thomas Dodgin family was living in Childress, Texas. In the 1920 Census, only Claude lived with his parents in Sulphur, Oklahoma, where Thomas operated a “truck farm.” The three lived in Wichita, Kansas, in 1922 according to the city directory, where both men were listed as “laborers.” His mother died in 1923. A year later, according to the 1924 city directory, Thomas and Claude were still living together and worked as “landscape gardeners.” Thomas presumably died soon after as he doesn’t show up in other records found online.
His youngest son claimed later in life to have had his first encounter with an Ascended Master at the age of 3, and another at age 12. He also claimed to have retained the experiences of previous incarnations so well that he didn’t need to be taught anything by the time he became Claude D. Dodgin.
“When I was born into this life I had a full and complete memory of my past lives and incarnations. And I never had to study over again the forgotten things that most of us do. I did not have to learn to read and write. I did not have to learn mathematics or physics or chemistry, or anything else because in the past I had acquired that knowledge and had retained my attainments of the past…” (From “Personal Experiences Among the Masters and Great Adepts in Tibet,” circa early ’40s, page 6).
How or why Dodgin’s extraordinary knowledge would go undetected and apparently unused until he chose to establish a correspondence school of mysticism is never explained. His working-class parents don’t appear to have had any easier life through the attainments of their youngest child, the most precocious kid on the planet.
What those attainments did do, he went on to say, was prepare the 23-year-old Claude D. Dodgin to meet face-to-face with the Great White Brotherhood, according to “Personal Experiences.” Upon receiving the Call, he left immediately for Calcutta, where he was then guided to Darjeeling and from there to the secret underground kingdom in Tibet where the Ascended Masters and “great adepts” had their headquarters.
He gave a sketchy account of his nearly two-year stay studying with the Great Ones in “Personal Experiences,” dropping in vague bits such as occasionally sitting “in the Yoga pose.”
Later, he would explain the lack of any apparent physical absence or passport stamps by claiming that it was actually his astral presence that made the journey.
An Oklahoma marriage license form found on Familysearch.org shows that Claude D. Dodgin, 25, and Ruth Proctor, 20, both of Altus, Oklahoma, were married in Chickasha on Sept. 4, 1927 by the Rev. A.H. Owen, Baptist minister.
City directories and the 1930 Census show that the couple lived in Wichita from at least 1929 to 1930 where they had a son and a daughter. Apparently, Dodgin’s extraordinary attainments could not be used for anything more than employment as a clerk, a cab driver, and a salesman, at least in one instance for the Kansas Brokerage Company. By the following year, they were living in Oklahoma City where he worked as a department store salesman.
The Oklahoma City directory listed Dodgin living alone in 1932, no occupation named. Presumably there was a divorce, because both Claude and Ruth later married other people. The former Ruth Proctor married a man who gave the two Dodgin children his own surname. As the identities of the children and second husband aren’t relevant to this story, they won’t be revealed here.
The 1933 Oklahoma City Directory listed Claude D. Dodgin as president of the Brotherhood of the White Temple. It’s the first recorded instance I can find where he has assumed his new role in life.
He had plenty of inspiration for the title of his organization. Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891) had long before made “Great White Brotherhood” a well-known term for the Ascended Masters who guided her into founding Theosophy. “Great White Brotherhood” and “Great White Lodge” – the name of the Brotherhood’s mystical secret hang-out – were concepts enthusiastically taken up by Blavatsky’s successors and competitors. Not to mention a host of other elements borrowed from the Christian allegories of Rosicrucian lore and Victorian fantasy novelists.
There was also a “Baptist White Temple” in Oklahoma City as early as 1909, and “Brotherhood” was a popular name for any number of organizations in an age when the secret fraternal handshake reigned.
What President Dodgin taught at the time he debuted his Brotherhood I haven’t been able to learn. There is nothing to indicate that he stood out from the rest of the age’s multitude of self-proclaimed fortune-tellers, seers, clairvoyants, occult advisers, card-readers, mediums, “white mahatmas,” yogis, gurus, swamis, and those teachers of esoteric wisdom who went by the self-granted titles of Dr., Professor, Madame or Master.
On July 21, 1933, a justice of the peace married Claude D. Dodgin to Mrs. Margaret Chadwell of Oklahoma City, according to the online archive of Oklahoma, County Marriages, 1890-1995.
“Mrs. Margaret Chadwell” was originally named Amboline Margaret Wallace, born in Arkansas in 1901. She had three sons with her first husband before their divorce in 1931. I wasn’t able to find out whether those sons ever lived with their new stepfather, but as their identities are also irrelevant to this story they won’t be mentioned here either.
In the 1934 Oklahoma City directory, “Mrs. Margaret Dodgin” was renting one address while Claude D. Dodgin was listed as operating a “Meta Physical School” nearby. Meanwhile, in the 1934 Denver City directory, “C.D. Dodgin” was operating as a “psychologist.” The following year in the same city directory he was “C.D. Dodgin,” occupation: Teacher.
Eventually, Dodgin decided on Los Angeles as his new place of operation. He opened an office there, according to the 1937 city directory, and in that same year he and the second missus split up. A brief United Press story found on Newspapers.com dated June 21, 1937 chortled about the cross-complaints filed between the “occult leader” and his wife. Margaret charged Claude with cheating on her; Claude complained that she denounced him in front of his disciples.
Again, presumably, the Dodgin couple divorced. The California Death Index found on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org shows that “Amboline Margaret Chadwell” died in 1944 in Los Angeles County.
The 1940 city directory for Kansas City, Missouri, had a listing for “M. Doreal,” which may have been Dodgin trying out his new business moniker in another venue. Or not.
But on April 1, 1940, a confirmed Dodgin reappeared in the Census taken in Bancroft, Colorado – a Jefferson County hamlet near Denver that doesn’t appear to currently exist. It was the first mention I found of Dodgin’s third wife, Sonya or Sonia, in public records.
As “Dr. C.D. Dodgin” he’s described as a “traveling minister,” a “Transient Across Country No Place Of Residence” in 1935. The Census interview took place at the Court Cottage Camps, “6605 Morrison Road-curve.”
Sonya apparently gave the information that she was born about 1908 in New York and had four years of college education, as did her husband – although I found no evidence that Dodgin’s formal education went beyond the sixth grade.
Perhaps Sonya brought the skills that Dodgin lacked among his multi-lifetimes’ attainments. Booklets written by “Dr. Maurice Doreal,” “Dr. M. Doreal” or just “Doreal” – neatly typed, crudely stenciled at times, all mimeographed on cheap paper, stapled and published by The Brotherhood of the White Temple – began to appear in 1940 soon after the couple’s arrival in Denver.
When “The Emerald Tablets” (early ’60s version at left) first appeared in the stream of little more than pamphlets I haven’t discovered — the title is partly borrowed from old alchemy lore. For the rest, there was an informational series available at an individual cost between 25 cents and a dollar to the general public that outlined various esoteric beliefs, and a teaching series that was designed for “neophytes,” enrolled paying students of the Brotherhood’s correspondence mystery wisdom school.
It’s highly probable that Doreal borrowed the correspondence school model from AMORC (Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis), an organization founded in 1915 by Harve Spencer Lewis (1883-1939).
Thanks to the advertising talents of Lewis, AMORC rose above competing “Rosicrucian” organizations to become a flourishing outfit by the 1930s. His large, compelling ads (like the one at left) in national publications – especially magazines of popular science, science fiction and mystery/detective stories — continued to run long after his death. AMORC’s city block-size “Rosicrucian Park,” dominated by ancient Egyptian-style architecture, a planetarium and museum, remains a tourist attraction in San Jose, California.
This was hitting it big in for-profit mysticism, which obviously didn’t escape Dodgin’s notice. It would be interesting to know if he ever joined AMORC or just closely studied its business pattern. He steered away from Lewis’ patented ancient-Egyptian hokum, but instituted an AMORC-like system of paying for enlightenment through correspondence study, with solemn rituals to perform at home for the initiated.
And like Lewis, Doreal claimed that a dedicated adherent of any of the great religious belief systems could also follow his own mishmash of teachings without any conflict.
By 1947, “M. and Sonya Doreal” were established at 430 E. 10th in Denver, according to the city directory. At the same time, “Rhereb Ramose” was listed at 1600 Logan Street. This was a misspelling of “Khereb Ramose,” Doreal’s sometime partner and perhaps alter ago in his early Denver days. Or perhaps it was an alias for Sonya.
1600 Logan Street is the address of the splendid William G. Fisher mansion, a large Neoclassical Revival edifice built in 1896 by a Denver department store magnate who died the following year. At some point it was sold and fell on harder times. It was leased out to a variety of businesses, including “The Brotherhood of the White Temple.” (It is now a handsomely restored office building.)
“Dr. Khereb Ramose” appears as a co-author in at least one of Doreal’s flimsy early booklets, published while the Brotherhood of the White Temple was still located in Denver. His/her name appears only on the inside title page. The work is signed at the end, as usual, only by Doreal.
“Symbolism of the Great Seal of the United States” is Doreal’s take on the hidden meanings of the symbol that appears on United States’ official documents and currency. But that’s only a small part of the contents.
The rest of the booklet is dedicated to the coming of a New Spiritual World Leader. Doreal claimed, with uncharacteristic modesty, that he was only to be the forerunner of the Avatar. “He will appear on May 2nd 1956,” the passage goes on to say. “This is the day when the present earth cycle closes and the Golden Age of the seventh cycle will dawn.”
The new Avatar would establish the “Christ-Kingdom,” which Doreal urged readers to help bring about by joining his “New Truth Movement.” “Christ-Kingdom” being Doreal’s term for the New Age initiated by the Ascended Masters.
Given his many writings on Jesus, it needs to be clarified here that Doreal – as with AMORC’s founder Lewis — had no interest in Jesus except as an icon of respectability from the dominant WASP culture that could be reinterpreted as just one of many Ascended Masters. Both men borrowed the Theosophical idea of “the Christ” as a separate thing not unique to Jesus of Nazareth –a “consciousness” that any spiritually enlightened elite could attain.
In addition, Doreal — self-proclaimed expert on Judaism’s Kabballah — also insisted that “..Jesus was not of the Jewish race,” (“Mysteries of the Gobi,” circa late ‘40s). Jesus came from one of the racially “pure” human groups known as “Gobians” who had fair skin, blue eyes and red or blond hair and lived below the Gobi Desert. Gobians, in Doreal’s booklet, were the “real” Hebrews who became priests to the Jews, but were not Jews.
Just so we’re straight on all the vaguely Biblical talk mentioned in Brotherhood of the White Temple’s books and web site.
This is a prime example of how Doreal often mixed Theosophy– itself a mixture of beliefs from other religions and Victorian fantasy novels — with both similar and disparate elements of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Kabballah, as well as concepts from such great philosophers as Nostradamus, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Jules Verne, Frederick Oliver (aka “Phylo the Tibetan”) and H. Rider Haggard.
Doreal’s emphasis on the Christ-Kingdom/Avatar angle decreased as his interest rose in the science fiction-stoked mythology of extraterrestrial races and underground civilizations. The date for the Avatar’s appearance and the earth’s momentous re-cycling came and went without another word about it to the outside world from the Voice.
What happened in the meantime was the Shaver Mystery.
This was a marketing concoction by Ray Palmer, free-wheeling editor of Amazing Stories magazine. Palmer took the crank letter of the delusional but talented reader Richard Shaver (at left, original source unknown, circa 1940s) and had it re-written into a story published in March 1945 called “I Remember Lemuria!” that claimed to be Shaver’s actual memories and real experiences.
The issue sold out and was met by a buzz of readers’ letters — probably both real and produced in-house – that shared similar memories, dreams and alleged encounters with the denizens of Atlantis, Lemuria and the hollow Earth, as well as descendants of warring extraterrestrial races like the evil Dero and the benign Tero.
One reader wrote to tell of The Brotherhood of the White Temple in Denver where Drs. Maurice Doreal and Khereb Ramose were talking about many of these same elements. His letter was published in August 1946, followed in the October issue by a lengthy response by Doreal that revealed him to be a dedicated fan of Amazing Stories. The cover of that October issue from my collection is pictured at the top of this column.
Doreal’s letter can be read in the Discussions section of the issue, pages 177-178, posted online at the awesome Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/Amazing_Stories_v20n07_1946-10.Ziff-Daviscape1736
In summary, Doreal boasted of his massive library of occult and science fiction works, his personal experiences with many of the Shaver Mystery elements, and visits via hidden entrances to underground cities below Tibet, the Gobi Desert and Mt. Shasta in California.
Had such fabulous claims appeared in a non-sci-fi publication not already studded with AMORC ads, they might have made more of the splash Doreal obviously hoped for. As it is, his claims barely made a ripple in the is-this-for-real cauldron of argument that Palmer kept stirring among his readers.
The Shaver Mystery echoed exciting times for post-WWII citizens – mysterious sightings of “flying saucers,” fear of invasion and “brain-washing” by Commies, the threat of nuclear annihilation – all played a part in serious discussions as well as integration into sci-fi mythos. These themes were increasingly reflected in Doreal’s booklets as titles such as “Secrets of the Himalayan Gurus” gave way to “Flying Saucers: An Occult Viewpoint.”
The Shaver Mystery novelty soon wore off, and a readers’ rebellion in 1948 encouraged the ouster of Ray Palmer (at right, original source and date unknown). He went on to found another magazine, Fate: True Stories of the Strange, the Unusual, the Unknown. (For more about the Shaver Mystery hoax, I recommend: Richard Toronto’s “War over Lemuria: Richard Shaver, Ray Palmer and the Strangest Chapter of 1940s Science Fiction,” and “The Man From Mars: Ray Palmer’s Amazing Pulp Journey“ by Fred Nadis.)
By the time Palmer was moving on to his next big thing, so was Doreal — a transfer of his headquarters from Denver to rural Sedalia, Colorado, in anticipation of nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. There was enough lead in the canyon walls of the area, Doreal insisted, to stave off radiation. A whole community was planned; all it took to join and avert the coming holocaust was $500 per person and a personality that would blend in well with the program.
And if nuclear war didn’t actually come about, he said, the community could became a summer resort.
Newspapers and magazines across the U.S. had a lot of fun with the “doomsday cult” led by a “baldish, little man” who claimed to have met the Dalai Lama by astral projection and knew when atomic weapons were about to be unleashed.
It was the most publicity Doreal would ever get. He swanked around in gold robes, claimed to own a silver throne previously used by Emperor Maximilian of Mexico (an odd choice of furniture considering Maximilian’s ignoble fate) and proclaimed the new “Shamballa Ashrama” to be “the center of occult wisdom in the West.”
By February 1953, newspapers reported that Shamballa Ashrama had about 100 houses, a two-story temple, and some barracks-like buildings. With a nearby cave to store food for the long haul, the Ashrama was all set to survive The Bomb. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the leader of the cult…predicts the attacks in May or August or September…”
Those months came and went normally enough. After that, Doreal and the Brotherhood of the White Temple simply dropped off the radar, except for increasingly better-looking versions of the Brotherhood’s booklets. What Doreal turned his extraordinary attainments to after that is unknown outside the Brotherhood.
Shamballa Ashrama did not become a summer resort. You can see photos of it here, including the temple, in the Denver Public Library’s Digital Collections: http://digital.denverlibrary.org/cdm/search/collection/p15330coll22/searchterm/%22Brotherhood%20of%20the%20White%20Temple%22/order/nosort
According to Colorado state records, Maurice Doreal died on Nov. 28, 1963.
Brief mentions in old newspapers reported that some of Doreal’s followers took over his operation and finally figured out who was going to run things, after an internal power struggle that led to a few folks founding their own metaphysical churches elsewhere.
As for Doreal’s widow, Sonya, mentioned as “an attractive blonde” in one news report – I found her listed as a copyrights holder to Doreal works for some years afterward and a single post-husband reference to her in an old Adventist church bulletin posted online. It listed “Sonya Doreal” as a contributor of flowers to the 1967 opening of a new Adventist church in Colorado. That church’s current leadership says it hasn’t a clue who she is or why she donated the flowers.
The name “Dr. Diane England” now appears on a lot of Brotherhood materials. Last time I checked, the enclave still discourages uninvited outsiders — there’s no street address listed, no open-house type events, yoga classes, introductory workshops, seminars, etc., no invitation to the public to check things out, ever — and declines interviews with journalists.
No idea how many followers are still living at Shamballa Ashrama or what these folks may be doing to improve the world or advance the New Age except to invite new adherents. They may as well be Ascended Masters — undetectable but taking credit for being humanity’s benefactors anyway.
Regardless, Brotherhood of the White Temple is still licensed as a religious school by the State of Colorado. It’s still churning out Doreal’s works in spiffier, pricier versions. (None are listed with “Dr. Khereb Ramose” as a co-author.) The web site proclaims the Brotherhood to be a “metaphysical church,” not a “religious church,” without an explanation of the distinction. It also claims to be an “internationally acclaimed metaphysical organization” without explanation of where that global acclamation comes from.
The correspondence study of enlightenment still requires an application, an entrance fee and a monthly payment for an undefined length of time. The very short FAQ section makes it clear that there are no shortcuts, but there is also no course of study outlined, not even an approximate graduate date for the average diligent student. There are no testimonials from past graduates.
The mission statement is so vaguely worded as to give no clue about what Doreal’s teachings could do for the student as opposed to what any other formal belief system offers for free, or by checking out some good self-help books from a public library. Or by reading old copies of Amazing Stories of the Shaver Mystery era at Internet Archive.
Today’s Brotherhood web site says nothing about Sonya, Khereb Ramose, or Claude Dodgin and his life before becoming “the Voice.” It doesn’t even acknowledge his death, let alone his track record on major prophesies. It speaks only of Maurice Doreal, in the present, adoring tense. Past versions of the site’s posted history claimed that he would return to lead humankind into a New Age.
So perhaps he was supposed to be that Avatar he predicted all along.
My thanks to the savvy and funny Johanna L. Harden and Annette Gray, archivists extraordinaire at the Douglas County History Research Center, Castle Rock, Colorado. There are materials on file there about Doreal and the Brotherhood probably found nowhere else.