By Dana O’Driscoll, Grand Archdruid and Grant Davis, Grand Historian and Archivist, AODA
Dr. Juliet Ashley (Booth) was born on December 27, 1887 at 8:20am in Northville, Michigan and spent the early part of her adult life in New York City. As early as 1935, Ashley showed an interest in the Occult, working with the famed Edward Cayce to have a series of life and spiritual readings. These readings, Ashley attributed to much of her later interest in the Occult, and likely directly led to her role as Grand Archdruid of the AODA.
Dr. Juliet Ashley was a small woman who dressed fashionably. James Dotson, who knew her as a teenager when she was living in a retirement community in the late 1970’s – early 1980’s describes her as who was extremely well dressed—the first time she met him, she was wearing a pink Dior Dress and served him brownies and champagne.
Dotson describes her as a very vivid personality who was incredibly well-read and had, even into her late 80’s an amazing library and collection of esoteric materials from around the globe. Dr. Ashley was into color magic and wore very vividly colorful clothing. She had very vivid dreams, strong visions, and these visions and dreams were highly influential on her.
According to her friend James Dotson, the Ashleys’ were quite wealthy and circulated in the upper levels of society, travelling often between New York and Paris and being in the company of people like Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. According to her Edward Cayce Foundation Reading file, Dr. Ashley was divorced sometime between 1935 and October 1938. Even after her divorce, Dr. Ashley remained quite wealthy. As Dotson describes, she had many jewels that she kept after the divorce and she slowly sold them off, living on the profits. This allowed her to continue to fund her esoteric and psychological studies, which led her deeper into the occult.
Life and Studies
The Foundation files indicate that in 1962, during her 32 year tenure as the Grand Archdruid of AODA, she shared a list of the places she had studied. She lists the areas of study as follows:
- 1944: Studied The R.C.A. Institute of Electronics and at Columbia University in New York, NY (She specifically indicates studying trig, analytic geometry and calculus at Columbia). Records from Colombia University indicate that she was enrolled in the school of General Studies from Sept. 1943 – Aug. 1946, May 1949 – Aug. 1949, Jan. 1950 – May 1950.
- 1953: The Carl Jung Institute in Zurich
- 1955: Hypnology with Dr. Alexander Cannon at the Isle of Man (she lived here and studied for some time, but left after being warned in a dream)
- 1956, Logotherapy and Existentialism with Dr. Viktor Frankl in Vienna
- 1957: Attended the Sorbonne in Paris.
In addition to these places, Dotson indicated that she also studied with Manly P. Hall and was a strong supporter of his work, helping fund the original publication of the Secret Teachings of All Ages among other projects. Ashley was in possession of one of Hall’s elephant folio versions, which was a presentation copy of the Secret Teachings of All Ages given only to those who supported the publication.
Ashley was interested in a wide variety of esoteric subjects including the study of traditional alchemy, astrology, occultism, theosophy, spiritualism, past lives, and UFOs. She was particularly interested in the Esoteric Astrology and other works of Alice Ann Bailey and discussed them extensively with the young Dotson. Later in her life, she also recommended Dotson read Michael Myers Handbook for the Humanistic Astrologyer.
As of 1966, according to the Cayce foundation files, she was a practicing psychologist, astrologer and also “lectured on Cosmology, Psychology and Religion, Hypnosis and Extrasensory Perception.” She offered one such lecture as the headliner in 1963 at the Los Angeles Association for Research and Enlightenment (known now as the Edward Cayce Foundation).
According to previous Grand Archdruid Betty Reeves, Dr. Juliet Ashley was either the second or third female to be initiated into the Order. Since Dr. Ashley celebrated the twentieth anniversary of her Druid initiation in about 1965, the Order must have started accepting women in about 1944 or 1945. Dr. Ashley was a prim and proper psychologist who used hypnotherapy to help people learn about their past lives and overcome problems in this life. She was a short woman of medium build. I think she was born in 1908 and she passed over in about 1988 after a long illness.
After the untimely death of then Grand Archdruid Robert Hayes (1936-1952), the AODA had a leadership vacuum. Mrs. Hayes, who was then the Archdruid of Fire, stepped down. The remaining Archdruids of Water and Fire declined to become Grand Archdruid due to their age. They appointed Dr. Juliet Ashley and Dr. Rhodonn Starrus (who later became Grand Archdruid after Ashley) as archdruids. Ashley immediately advanced to the Grand Archdruid (Archdruid of Earth) position and held this position for 32 years, from 1952-1974. According to AODA’s records, written by Betty Jean McCloud Reeves, Dr. Ashley innovated tremendously within AODA.
At this time, AODA was still a masonic organization, requiring all members to be masons, be married to a mason, or be a blood relative of a Mason. While Ashley sought to remove this requirement (it was not removed until after she stepped down as Grand Archdruid in the 1970’s), Ashley still was able to have a tremendous impact on the order. Ashley reworked many of AODA’s rituals, making them less masonic, and restructuring them to reflect Jungian archetypes, likely directly related to the fact that Ashley was studying at the Carl Jung Institute early in her tenure as Grand Archdruid. In fact, the AODA’s current rendition of the Sphere of Protection is a direct reflection of the quartinos that are part of Jung’s process of individuation (note: see more in John Michael Greer’s essay on Jungian psychology and the Sphere of Protection in Volume IV of Trilithon: The Journal of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (2017))
According to Dr. Reeves, Dr. Ashley also started the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn in Philadelphia, Denver and San Diego during or shortly after World War Two. She obtained a Charter for the Holy Order from its founder Arthur Edward Waite dated at Summer Solstice 1939. During 1998-1999 the Ashley lineage of the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn in Denver chartered the Magickal Order of the Golden Dawn. As of June 23, 2002 both Orders were still in operation. The Sphere of Protection taught by the AODA comes from the teachings of the Magickal Order of the Golden Dawn. While these organizations were still functional when Dr. Reeves was writing in 2002, as of 2021, when Dr. Driscoll is writing this, it appears the Magickal Order of the Golden Dawn no longer exists. This likely makes the AODA the final lasting organization that supports Ashley’s legacy.
In her 30 years as Grand Archdruid of AODA, Dr. Juliet Ashley had an enormous impact—and her legacy continues to this day. As each of our members engages in the Sphere of Protection, they are honoring a part of this legacy. To close, we will return to words spoken by Edward Cayce during her 1937 life reading, “In fact, her 1937 life reading, Cayce indicated, “It will find that in the application of self there may be much given to others, in the form of papers, in the form of charts, in the form of instruction that may become – as it were – a light set on a hill for many who grope in darkness and in doubt, who are fearful. For that quieting through the gaining of patience in self may enable the entity to give that light and that instruction necessary for the guiding of many.”
Personal Interview with James Dotson, friend of Dr. Juliet Ashley. Interviewed by Dana O’Driscoll, September 25, 2020.
Edward Cayce Foundation, Reading File.
Betty Jean McCloud Reeves, DD. “History and Heritage of the AODA.” https://aoda.org/history-heritage-of-the-aoda/
Personal Communication with the Colombia University Registrar, January 20, 2021.