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Pelley, William Dudley

Category: Writer


William Dudley Pelley (March 12, 1890 – June 30, 1965) was an American writer of fiction and a journalist, he then became a ‘political activist’ and finally towards the end of his life he became “a proto-New Age cult leader who worked with channelled material and was on the forefront of 1950s UFO research”. Which as we will see is a gross mis-representation of his activity after he founded Soulcraft.

Two of his short stories received O. Henry awards: "The Face in the Window" in 1920 and "The Continental Angle" in 1930.  He also penned screenplays for Hollywood films including the Lon Chaney films The Light in the Dark (1922) and The Shock (1923).

His  essay "Seven Minutes in Eternity"  - from which we have taken extracts - marked a turning point in Pelley's career, earning a major response in The American Magazine , when it was published in March, 1929.  In it he describes what would later be known as an out of body experience. It so frightened him that he thought he was dying, but as this was the first OBE he had had and OBEs were virtually unpublicised at that time, it would indeed have been a shock.  It was not an NDE, although it seems to have been converted into this by Wikipedia.

His later life as a political activist, founder of the Silver shirts and zealous anti-Communist activist is not particularly relevant to his OBE, but we will make mention of it and describe the background to his later life. There are some intriguing little twists to his story that appear to bear some relevance even today.

Early Life

Grant Wood - plaid-sweater-1931

Pelley was born in Lynn, Massachusetts and grew up in poverty, the son of William George Apsey Pelley and his wife, Grace (née Goodale). His father was initially a Southern Methodist Church minister, later a small businessman and shoemaker.

“Seven Minutes in Eternity ” With Their Aftermath By William Dudley Pelley

I WAS born the only son of an itinerant Methodist preacher. Soon after my birth my parents began that old-fashioned Odyssey of traveling from “call” to “call” in the northern Massachusetts back hills.
Orthodox Protestant theology as it was forty years ago, was far more plentiful in my father’s household than bread, butter, clothes and fuel in those days. Camp meetings and Quarterly Conferences, the Higher Criticism, Predestination, Free Will and Election, infant damnation, hell fire and the Day of Judgment, constituted the household converse in my young and “tender” years. God early shaped up to me as a weird combination of heavenly Moloch and sublimated Overseer of the Poor.

Grant Wood - American Gothic

Parish poverty forced my father from the ministry while I was in middle boyhood but with grim New England rigor he saw to it that his relinquishment of a pulpit did not lessen my surfeit of conventional theology. Three times to church on the Sabbath day and twice during the week — Tuesday evening class meeting and Thursday evening prayer- meeting — left me small opportunity to forget my Maker and the gratitude I owed Him. Just what this gratitude was owed Him for, troubled my small soul exceedingly in those far-off years because I found myself created a perpetually hungry, shabbily dressed and none-too-happy youngster who had to start his life labor at fourteen years of age and stay with it thereafter, even to the present.

Much Scripture was quoted to prove that my desire for a high school and college education was unfilial in view of the struggle dad was having for survival. I ceased to be strong for Scripture after interest in my first mill job had become a stalemate. I must further attest that the treadmill of a factory’s discipline when other kids of my age were disporting themselves in healthy animal play, did not make me much stronger for God.


The effects of these attempts at indoctrination were of course rebellion – “In the years between fourteen and twenty-two I became a smouldering little Bolshevik against every kind of authority” and at twenty-two, he started to publish a brochure magazine of ‘heretical tendencies’. 

Grant Wood - 1938

Fresh from a wry, lonely, misunderstood childhood, cluttered up psychologically with the worst sort of New England inhibitions, revengeful that I had been denied social and academic advantages for which my hunger was instinctive, I proceeded to Make Things Hot for several goodly people …. all the theological misfits in forty- eight states and a couple of foreign countries were soon buying my magazine and my twaddle was piling up to give me much heartburn later when I came to see that I took out on God what I should have taken out on an inhibited environment. The Almighty stood the onslaught pretty well, however.

I got into newspaper work, and marriage, and fatherhood, and more poverty, and that was the last of the heretical magazine though not of its owner’s theological complexes. For ten years I was one of the worst agnostics ….. Those were cruel, cruel years — looking back on them now. A couple of my business projects went to whack. So did my marriage. With each additional snarl I got more and more vindictive. The death of my first daughter mellowed me somewhat. I wrote a couple of novels in which love of human nature was largely a reflex from the fearful storm of hatred and despair that was waging inside me.

Early Career


Pelley eventually became a journalist and gained respect for his writing skills; his articles appeared in national publications like The Chicago Tribune.  The book he wrote entitled ‘Drag’, written in 1925, is a fictionalised account of this time.  The title appears to be meant in aviation's sense of "friction."  Pelley himself uses it thus

I had the unfortunate complex that the attainment of success meant a knock-down-and- drag-out scrap.   I wrote a couple of books which my publishers refused. I fought with them in consequence, still taking life by strong-arm methods. I wrote many stories that editors rejected. I fought with them too. I was a walking museum of how a man may reach middle life and be the worst internal mess that ever got into “Who’s Who".

There is nothing in this fictionalized self-history, however, about Pelley's greatest journalistic coup, his 1918 journey to Japan which became a six-months' introjection into Siberia with American troops sent to short-circuit the Bolshevik revolution.

I went with the Japanese forces to Siberia, acted as Red Triangle man, consular courier and war correspondent through the Bolshevik- Czech campaign.

Upon returning to the United States in 1920, Pelley wrote novels and short stories in addition to his journalism, and went to Hollywood, where he became a screenwriter.


Grant Wood - Haying

In May 1928, Pelley had his out-of-body experience. He described it in the article mentioned above entitled "My Seven Minutes in Eternity". 

In 1933, it was described again, but this time with added information as to what happened next and released as a small book -  Seven Minutes in Eternity: With the Aftermath

[The observations below cover both the experience and some of the aftermath, as this is most interesting.]

The Mystery of the Human Double – Ralph Shirley

William Dudley Pelley, the American author, described ….how when he was alone in his bungalow in California, he thought himself dying.   He awoke to find himself on another plane. ….He resented having to return, but at length had to resign himself to the inevitable. …."William Dudley Pelley," states Mr. Muldoon, “has become a changed man since this experience, physically, mentally, and spiritually, as all who know him testify.”


Grant Wood

The article produced a flood of mail, thousands and thousands and thousands of letters that took him over a year to reply to; and what was the most interesting was that only 24 were skeptic or derogatory and the majority said it had happened to them:

THE AFTERMATH To “Seven Minutes in Eternity”

The most gratifying surprise that I encountered, was of course the immediate discovery that I had not been alone in my adventure: that hundreds upon hundreds of quite normal persons from time to time throughout their lives had left their physical bodies under different sorts of provocation and visited the same hyper-dimension which I had explored so dramatically. But most of them lacked the courage to tell even relatives, fearing an indictment for irrationality.
I know that the vast majority of these persons were telling me the truth, because in their letters they went to considerable length to acquaint me with details, particulars, and items of their experiences which were substantially identical with details I had not mentioned in my public account in the magazine, and some of which I had never mentioned to my closest friends.

The Aftermath of the experience - GOLDEN RUBBISH

THE AFTERMATH To “Seven Minutes in Eternity”

AS you have seen, the second class of my questioners wanted more light on the actual modus operandi of the experience, but so involved was the explanation that I had only one expedient to adopt. It was evident that the happy solution was to try to assemble the most significant questions and reply to them in the form of a dramatized story — that is, a novel — which should carry out in fiction form some of the elucidations that letters could not convey. So I set to work to write a book which might clarify in entertaining form the process which had been at work in myself, and the method by which others might interpret the same phenomena if experienced by them .

Grant Wood - Sentimental

I wrote “GOLDEN RUBBISH”. . . .

I evolved the character of an old Vermont printer, Potiphar Buss, who was designed to represent the simple, child-hearted soul who had arrived at that degree of spirituality where he could represent humanity in the form most susceptible to celestial instruction. Over against him I put a hard-boiled New York business woman who believed that physical death was the end of everything and who had no patience with any sort of Mysticism. She called it rubbish!

“Yes,” said old Potiphar in answer to this castigation, “but a Golden sort o’ rubbish t’ some of us, Miss Lou,” . . . from which comes the book’s title: “GOLDEN RUBBISH”.

Into the affairs of these two I injected two modern business men — Basil Van Dyke, an “awakened” young lawyer, and George Robling, a soul imbued with the true Christ Spirit. The story is the playing out of the real significance of my own “Seven Minutes in Eternity”. And I have submitted it to the nation as an answer to my ministerial critic who claimed that if the devil had not been tampering with my soul that night in California, I would have had much to say about the Deity and the Great Teacher of Galilee.

No more hunger

Another very positive thing that happened after his OBE, in the throes of the Great Depression of the 1930s, was that he wrote the book No More Hunger.  It is a good book, detailing the economic and financial flaws of private capitalism at its most extreme – as it is and was in the USA.   Pelley hints in his description of the aftermath that it was virtually dictated to him by his spirit helpers.

I have taken down a 400-page book on Political Economy so advanced in context and knowledge that it has surprised authorities on the subject who have perused portions of it.

Grant Wood

Note that No More Hunger is only 236 pages, however, so if the above holds true, Pelley edited it for the general public.   Pelley proposes what he calls a ‘Christian Commonwealth’ that would unleash the full productive capability of the nation, with full implementation of human rights for every solitary citizen.

During its republication in the sixties, thousands of copies were printed. “They were read by those who were protesting the economic and financial inequities of our society, and by those who opposed the nation's untenable and brutal embroilment in the Vietnam War. “

It is somewhat fascinating that the ideas he put forth, are still as relevant today. As the description of the book says “Peace with economic justice and stability in the nation cannot be realized without an honest and an analytical focus on the flaws of private capitalism and the abuses of the unconstitutional private banking system”.

He more or less said that it was futile to attempt to solve the serious problems of society whilst at the same time retaining the very economic structures that were responsible for the problems in the first place.  Plus ca change.

The next stages – the wrong move into politics

Pelley  moved to New York, and then to Asheville, North Carolina in 1932 and founded the Galahad College in 1932. The college specialized in correspondence courses on "Social Metaphysics" and "Christian Economics". He also founded Galahad Press, which he used to publish various metaphysical magazines, newspapers, and books on his new religious system, the "Liberation Doctrine".  But then he started to move in the wrong direction.  Politics.


There were two influences that Pelley felt were a real danger to everything he believed in – Communism and the sort of Banking structure he had described in No More Hunger.  The Banking system was associated very strongly at that time with Jewish families.  And Pelley invented the concept  of a "Dark Side" which consisted of Communists, extreme Capitalists and Jews – purely as a consequence of the Banking connections [although one gathers his experiences in Hollywood of the Jewish movie moguls might have also tainted his outlook]. 

In 1933, Pelley founded the Silver Legion of America, an anti-Communist, anti-Jewish military organisation.  In his somewhat naïve political way he then aligned himself with the Fascists, which was indeed truly stupid. 

What one needs to appreciate is that although he appears to have been singled out by historians, he was perhaps one of the least important critics of the Jews at the time.  The following is genuine and may help explain the overall sentiments at the time:

The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem by Henry Ford [3 November 1920]

….. the genius of the Jew is to live off people; not off land, nor off the production of commodities from raw material, but off people. Let other people till the soil; the Jew, if he can, will live off the tiller. Let other people toil at trades and manufacture; the Jew will exploit the fruits of their work. That is his peculiar genius. If this genius be described as parasitic, the term would seem to be justified by a certain fitness [sic].

In no other city of the United States can the Jewish Problem be studied with greater profit than in the city of New York. There are more Jews in New York than in all Palestine. The communal register of the Jewish Kehillah (or Kahal) of New York sets the population at about 1,527,778. …..If we accept the estimate of the number of Jews in the world as about 14,000,000, one Jew out of every ten resides in New York.

As a population, the Jews exert more power in New York than they have ever exerted during the Christian Era in any place, with the exception of the present Russia. The Jewish Revolution in Russia was manned from New York. The present government of Russia was transported almost as a unit from the lower East Side of New York. ….With the exception of one great department store and a few lesser ones, all the large department stores in New York are Jewish. .. The legal profession is predominantly Jewish. It is estimated that of the 27,000 news stands that control the distribution of New York’s reading matter, 25,000 are in the hands of Jews. ……..

Grant Wood

The New York Kehillah is a very powerful organization, whose membership strength is not accurately known. It may be described as the Jewish government of that city. … The Kehillah is the bar before which the authorities must answer for statements or acts touching the Jewish community. Its power is very great and its methods far reaching.  Politically, while the rest of the country is entertained with the fiction that Tammany Hall rules the politics of New York, the fact is rarely published that the Jews rule Tammany.

In Wall Street, the Jewish element is both numerous and powerful, as might be expected of a race which from early days has played an important part in the financial operations of the world.  This is not to say, however, that Jewish influence in American financial affairs is paramount. At one time it threatened to be, but American financiers have always been silently aware of the International Jewish Financier, and have endeavored quietly to block his game. …. The Rothschilds were the first to be beaten on American soil; the story of their hidden hand in American finance, politics and diplomacy is a voluminous one; but even their finesse did not avail against the sterling worth of American Business.

Thousands of Jews are scattered about the world, representing themselves to be “American business men"….. If the reputation of American business has suffered, it is because something other than American methods have been used under the American name………….

Jewish finance differs radically from non-Jewish finance in the fact that Jewish bankers are essentially money-lenders. They may underwrite great flotations of bond and stock issues for railroad and industrial companies, governments and municipalities, but these securities are immediately sold to the public. There is a quick money turnover. The public carries the bonds; the Jewish financier gets his money. The Jewish banker himself rarely has a permanent interest in the corporations he finances. Non-Jewish bankers usually feel obligated to retain a connection with the enterprises they have financed, in order to assure the investors a proper administration of funds; they feel obligated to contribute to the success of the investments which they handle for other people.

The Jewish banker keeps his capital liquid. The cash is always in his coffers. This is essential to his position as one who deals in money. And when the inevitable day of financial stress arrives, he profits greatly by the higher value then placed on liquid capital………….There is much control of industry, from the financial side, represented by Jewish power in Wall Street, and they have gained a monopoly of many metal markets. Large, prosperous Jewish brokerage houses are on every hand. The further one goes down the line of speculative operations, the more of the Jewish race one finds to be active in the work of company promotions and the marketing of oil and mining stocks……….

The effort of Jewish interests to gain control of the Stock Exchange is also an interesting story, and although the record shows a steady Jewish gain toward the end they desire, it is slow; but there are indications that the relentless persistence for which the Jew is noted, will prevail in the end—that is, if stock gambling continues to prove an alluring source of wealth.  When the Jews gain control of the Stock Exchange they will, for the first time, possess the power to wrest public banking control from the non-Jewish group.


And so it continues…..The full article can be found in Wikisource, follow the LINK .

It matters little to this section whether Henry Ford’s assessment of the situation was true or not, the fact remains that Pelley was a tiny tiny thorn in the side of the powerful banking elite, whoever they were, but for reasons almost impossible to understand, he became the target of what became a hatchet job.  Perhaps the elite decided to make an example of him. 

It needs to be born in mind that despite the fact that Pelley travelled nationwide, holding recruitment rallies, lectures, and public speeches, founding Silver Legion chapters in almost every state in the country – the highest number of members he ever had in his League [according to Wikipedia]  – the very peak of numbers was 15,000 in 1935, dropping to below 5,000 by 1938.  He was no threat at all to the banking fraternity, or all the institutions he had targeted in his book No More Hunger.  But he had clearly rattled them and he was hounded, vilified, demonised, abused, ridiculed and defamed. 

Syracuse University seems to have a particular hatred for the poor man, spewing out paper after paper, for example, Scott Beekman’s William Dudley Pelley: A Life in Right-Wing Extremism and the Occult , - even the title is inaccurate.  Then we have David Lobb, "Fascist apocalypse [sic]: William Pelley and millennial extremism." Department of History, Syracuse University.  The histrionics continue.  One can only assume Syracuse University is a hot bed of Communism and Banking materialists. 

There are some odd parallels between Pelley’s treatment and the treatment being meted out to those who oppose vaccines on the grounds of safety.

Targeting and incarceration

In 1940, federal marshals conducted a raid on Pelley's headquarters in Asheville, and they arrested his followers and seized his property.  Although the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led Pelley to disband the Silver Legion, he was arrested at his new base of operations in Noblesville, Indiana, and in April 1942, he was charged with 12 counts of high treason and sedition.  Sedition is ‘conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch’.  Pelley was sentenced to 15 years in prison. After serving eight years, he was paroled and released in 1950, after the War was over.



His time in jail had a very profound effect on Pelley. 

In his final years he lived in central Indiana, and there developed an elaborate, spiritual philosophy called “Soulcraft”. 

Despite the fact Wikipedia says he based his studies  ’on UFOs and extraterrestrials’, the books he wrote are adequate testimony to the fact this is not true.  The titles alone show his philosophy ended up encompassing a vast range of largely mystic concepts and systems.   

Pelley died at his home in Noblesville on June 30, 1965. 

"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. " - Thomas Jefferson


  • The Greater Glory  - 1919
  • The Fog: A Novel  - 1921
  • Drag– 1925
  • Golden Rubbish (1929)

Underneath “GOLDEN RUBBISH” is a deep symbolism, prophetic in its character, which only the spiritually enlightened — people who are very close to an experience like my own — have thus far succeeded in recognizing. The average novel reader is not likely to understand “GOLDEN RUBBISH” ... to him or to her it will seem an unintelligible presentation of Mystical ideas. But here and there all over the nation advanced students in spiritual and political affairs are getting its message with a clearness of perception that is most uncanny. These people seem to constitute a great spiritual conclave and they are scattering report of the novel wherever they go. Slowly the book is getting on its feet, but from all over the nation the assurance is coming in to me with every mail that “GOLDEN RUBBISH” will be read and remembered when the sensational seasonable novels of 1929 are long since buried and forgotten in the archives of advancing modernity. I report this for what it is worth.


  • The Blue Lamp – 1931
  • Little Visits with Great Americans: Roger Williams (Vol. II, No. 7 in series)  (1938)
  • Little Visits with Great Americans: Hernando De Soto (December 1, 1937)
  • Little Visits with Great Americans: James Oglethorpe (Vol. II, No. 9 in series)  (1938)
  • Little Visits with Great Americans: George Rogers Clark (Vol. III, No. 9 in series)  (1941)
  • Little Visits with Great Americans: Francisco Coronado (November 15, 1937)
  • Little Visits with Great Americans: John Cabot (July 15, 1937)
  • Little Visits with Great Americans: Ferdinand Magellan: September 1, 1937
  • Little Visits with Great Americans: Robert La Salle ; November 1, 1938
  • The Door to Revelation - An Autobiography  (1939)


  • The Golden Scripts - Printed in the Order of the First Recordings  (1941)
  • Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive  (1942)


WEEK on week, month on month, I am taking down and transcribing volume after volume of scientific and theological knowledge derived from the same sources that were responsible for my California experience, and from time to time I shall edit and publish them. I have between 2,000 and 3,000 pages of these typed to date, material which squares perfectly with scientific information being gathered and released by such great physicists as Dr. Robt. A. Millikan, Prof. A. S. Eddington, and others of equal prestige.

  • Know your Karma - 1954
  • As Thou Lovest: The Biography of a Benefaction.  (1955)
  • Stairs to Greatness  (1956)
  • Soul Eternal  (1955)
  • Road into Sunrise: A Narrative of the Eternal Verities  (1950)
  • Getting Born: Design for Reembodiment  (1954)
  • Undying Mind.  (1955)
  • BEYOND GRANDEUR; Design for Immortality  (1954)
  • Getting Born: Design for Reembodiment , A book on reincarnation and related subjects by a spiritualist and political extremist who founded the Silver Legion, the first Fascist organization in the U.S., and went to prison for his political activities.  (1954)
  • Something Better: How To Bring In The Christian Commonwealth.  (1952)
  • Adam Awakes - Design for Romance  (1953)
  • Twilight Clear - A Volume of Soulcraft Poems  (1952)


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