Ballard, Edna Ann Wheeler (1886-1971)

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Ballard, Edna Ann Wheeler (1886-1971)

Leader of the I AM Movement and cofounder of the Saint Germain Foundation. Ballard was born on June 25, 1886, in Burlington, Iowa. She studied harp, and by 1912 she had become a concert harpist, on one occasion playing for the duke of Wales. She married Guy W. Ballard in 1916; they had one son, Donald, born in 1918.

During the 1920s she shared an interest with her husband in the occult and worked for a time in the Philosopher's Nook, a Chicago occult bookstore, and edited the American Occultists.

In 1930 Guy Ballard was at Mt. Shasta, California, where he had an encounter with a mysterious being, described as an "ascended master" named Saint Germain. He wrote about his experiences and sent letters to Edna Ballard in Chicago describing them.

After his return to Chicago in 1931 she joined with him in founding the Saint Germain Foundation and the Saint Germain Press, the two main organizational expressions of the I AM Religious Activity, and assumed the role beside him as an "accredited messenger of the ascended masters." Through most of the 1930s she took a secondary role in the organization. Guy Ballard allowed Saint Germain and other masters to speak through him almost daily.

Guy Ballard died in 1939, and Edna and her son, Donald, took control of the movement, but neither operated as a messenger. Shortly after taking control, she, Donald, and a number of the national staff were charged with mail fraud. Acting on accusations of several former adherents, the government contended that the leaders were defrauding people by selling them a religion they knew to be false.

Edna Ballard was convicted, had the ruling overturned, and was then convicted a second time. In 1944 the Supreme Court ruled in one of its most famous decisions (United States v. Ballard ) that people cannot be made to prove their religious beliefs in a court of law. It took several subsequent court actions over the next decade to completely undo the damage that had been inflicted upon the movement by the original conviction.

During the 1950s, Edna Ballard began to function as a messenger. For the rest of her life she periodically brought new messages from the masters (more than two thousand of whom were recorded). She had a radio show for a while during the 1960s.

After Ballard's death on February 10, 1971, in Chicago, leadership of the Saint Germain Foundation and the Saint Germain Press passed to the board of directors and to several "appointed messengers" who had served as teachers within the movement (though never as direct instruments of the masters, as had the Ballards).


Braden, Charles S. These Also Believe. New York: Macmillan, 1949.