Paul Foster Case (1884-1954) was an American occultist, author of numerous books on the Tarot and the Kabbalah. His career began as a musician; since childhood, his mother supported him towards what seemed to be his attitude, which finally led him to a career as a talented violinist and conductor.
His premature encounter with the occult occurred in 1900 when he met Claude Bragdon, an architect with spiritual openings, who provided him with the stimulus to approach the Tarot study.
In 1905 he began to practice yoga (pranayama), educating himself on the then-existing publications.
In 1907 he corresponded with William Walker Atkinsons, a follower of the New Thought, an American spiritualist movement established in the nineteenth century. Some speculated that Case and Atkinsons were the anonymous authors of The Kybalion, a text on the essence of Hermes Trismegistus’s teachings that had some influence in the occult environment.
In 1910 – according to what some sources have quoted – Case met, apparently by chance, a physician carrying a message from a “master of wisdom”, where the latter presented the young musician with a choice: to continue with his brilliant career full of satisfactions, including economic ones, or be the bearer of a spiritual message suitable for the new era. From then on, Case began to study and formulate the architecture of his school of Tarot and Kabbalah, the Builders of the Adytum (BOTA).
In 1918 Case met James Whitty, treasurer of a lodge – the Toth-Hermes – of Alpha et Omega, a group that arose following the Golden Dawn’s splits. He joined the lodge, and in the following years, he was appointed Second and Third Adept of the order in a short time.
Around 1920 a dispute arose with Moira Mathers, the widow of McGregor Mathers, one of the Golden Dawn founders. The dispute concerned the introduction by Case of teachings referring to the use of sexual magic, which at the time were not part of the order curriculum; Moira Mathers argued that the use of sexual magic had never led to happy results, while Case argued that the inner use of phallic symbolism was necessary to understand ancient wisdom. In the same year, he married a sister of the order, who died a few years later (1924).
In 1921 Case claimed to have met Master Racoczi, also known as Master R. or Earl of St. Germain, in New York, who gave him three weeks instructions on the Qabalistic Way of Return.
In 1922 Case abandoned the Golden Dawn to found the aforementioned Builders of the Adytum (The Builders of the Inner Sanctuary). Although born as an offshoot of the Golden Dawn, Case completely abandoned the Enochian rituals introduced by McGregor Mathers, considering them too dangerous; his teachings focused on the elements of the Western mystery tradition: Tarot, Kabbalah, Alchemy.
In the following years, he continued to lead the order he founded, definitively abandoning his career as a musician. Over the years, he briefly affiliated with some Californian Masonic lodges. In 1943 he remarried Harriet Bullock Case.
Case died in 1954 during a vacation in Mexico. BOTA currently has around 5,000 affiliates.