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Harry Palmer (author)

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Harry Palmer (born April 3, 1944) developed the Avatar self-development system of courses. Palmer founded and owns Star's Edge, Inc., which trains and licenses Avatar Masters (teachers) to deliver the Avatar Course worldwide. He released the first version of The Avatar Course on 15 October 1986. The course now has five sections: licensed Avatar Masters teach the first three; and Star's Edge, Inc. teaches the two advanced sections.[1]

Avatar literature can describe Palmer as a "[w]riter, teacher, lecturer, scientist, programmer, environmentalist, businessman, spiritual leader, explorer ... truly a Renaissance man."[2]

Published works

Star's Edge, Inc has published all of Palmer's works to date:

  • The Thoughtstorm Manual: An Evolution In Human Thinking (ISBN 1-891575-03-1) - a group exercise handbook originally published pre-Star's Edge in 1986
  • Living Deliberately: The Discovery and Development of Avatar (ISBN 0-9626874-3-X) - the story of how Harry Palmer developed the Avatar materials, including an overview of the course exercises. The Avatar website offers a free e-version, including a "Publisher’s Note and Disclaimer" which states: "...The characters and events described in the text of LIVING DELIBERATELY are intended to entertain and teach rather than present an exact factual history of real people or events."[3]
  • Resurfacing: Techniques for Exploring Consciousness (ISBN 0-9626874-9-9) - the workbook associated with Section I of the Avatar courses.
  • The Avatar Master's Handbook (ISBN 0-9626874-8-0) - associated with Section IV of the Avatar courses
  • Love Precious Humanity: The Collected Wisdom Of Harry Palmer (ISBN 1-891575-23-6) - a book of quotations from Palmer
  • Inside Avatar The Book: Achieving Enlightenment (ISBN 1-891575-13-9) - a collection of previously published articles

Additionally, Palmer has published course instructions and workbooks collectively known as "the Avatar materials".

Education and credentials

From a 1991 issue of the Avatar Journal Palmer's company's literature and associated websites started portraying Palmer as an Educational Psychologist, including claims that he received a Masters in Educational Psychology from Elmira College (or alternatively that he majored in Educational Psychology) . In his book Living Deliberately, Palmer claims to have majored in Educational Psychology as part of the Triplum Program at Ithaca College. In fact he received a Bachelor of Art in English from Ithaca College in 1969 and a Masters in Education from Elmira College in 1971, and gained certification to teach English in secondary schools. Neither Ithaca College nor Elmira College ever offered a major or minor course of study in Educational Psychology; and Educational Psychology never formed part of the Ithaca Plan (Triplum Program).[4]

The Florida Department of Health investigated the academic credentials of Harry Palmer in 2005/2006. The Department found that he used the term "psychologist" illegally and made him sign a cease-and-desist agreement.[5] However, some web sites associated with Star's Edge still (as of the end of 2007) have not complied with the cease-and-desist agreement. The federal and state authorities have decided not to pursue criminal charges against Harry Palmer at this time.

Scientology background

Though Palmer downplays his involvement in Scientology, saying (for example) that it related to a brief time of research for a program for the school district he taught in, both Harry Palmer and his partner, Avra Honey-Smith, studied Scientology for many years and achieved higher levels. From 1974 until at least 1984, Harry Palmer officially operated a Scientology mission for the Church of Scientology in Elmira, New York.[6][7]

In 1975 the Elmira Mission incorporated under the name the Elmira Mission of the Church of Scientology and the following year it gained a license to use all Scientology trademarks and service marks held and controlled by L. Ron Hubbard. In exchange for that right, Palmer paid 10% of the Mission's income as a tithe to Scientology.

Six years later Hubbard assigned his rights in all Scientology trademarks to Religious Technology Center (RTC), which the Church of Scientology had organized especially to own and protect all Scientology trademarks. RTC immediately increased the licensing fee. On September 9, 1982 Palmer signed a new License Agreement requiring the Elmira Mission to pay 15% of its income as well as additional fees to RTC in order to continue using the Scientology trademarks.

When in November 1984 Palmer ceased making any payments to the Church of Scientology, the Church filed a lawsuit against Palmer and the Elmira Mission for trademark infringement.[8] The Church won on appeal and the court sealed details of the settlement.[9] About this time Palmer produced the first of the Avatar-related materials, including the Thoughtstorm Manual.

On 28 February 1998 (in a court case he lost against former employees before the State Labor Board) Palmer mentioned the renaming of "the Church of Scientology, Mission of Elmira, Inc. [...] on March 11, 1987, pursuant to Federal Court Order, [as] the Center for Creative Learning".[10]

The original Avatar materials made extensive use of Scientology terminology. Harry Palmer sold them to other Scientologists, claiming that they achieved "end of case" and "cover[ed] the entire Scientology Bridge, the Buddhic path and beyond." Many of the terms continue in use in Avatar today, such as "Rundown", "Identities", "handling"; and Avatar offers similar courses of the same names ("Integrity Course" and "Professional Course").[11]

In addition to this history, similarities to Scientology in policies, structure, secrecy, and doctrine taught in higher levels have caused European news articles to refer to Palmer's Avatar Courses as "Scientology-Lite", picking up a term originally coined by Texas columnist Roahn Wynar.[12]

The Galactic Confederacy

Harry Palmer introduced the story about the history of consciousness in the Milky Way galaxy at the first Wizards Course in 1991. The tale includes his version of Scientology's Galactic Confederacy: picturing Earth as one of the planets seeded with life, and suggesting that humanity risks destroying itself through a "blight bomb" that stops photosynthesis. The introduction and end-comments indicate that Palmer does not regard the story as symbolic, but as a representation of fact.[13]

Other references to Palmer's claimed extraterrestrial knowledge and experience occur rarely, but exist in other speeches and texts, such as an excerpt from "The Translurian Record"[14] and his claim to have read firsthand the equivalent of the "Prime Directive" of Star Trek.[15]

Harry Palmer, Star's Edge versus Eldon Braun

In 2000 Harry Palmer sued Eldon Braun, a former Avatar licensee and Palmer critic, for copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition, breach of contract, intentional interference with a business relationship, and libel. In 2005, the court awarded Palmer $36,000 in damages for copyright infringement, $20,000 for libel damages, and $364,527.68 in attorney’s fees, with all other claims dropped or dismissed.

The copyright claim related to a self-study course Braun developed called The Source Course, which Braun billed as "an analog of the Avatar Course", "a refresher" for the Avatar Course, "a take-home manual" for graduates of the Avatar Course, and the "equivalent" of the Avatar Course materials. A preliminary injunction against the work failed, but the appeal concluded against Braun.[16]


  1. "about Harry Palmer?". Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  2. "Who is Harry Palmer?". Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  3. Palmer, Harry; Kayt Kennedy (ed) (2000). "Living deliberately: the discovery and development of Avatar" (PDF). Altamonte Springs, Florida: Star's Edge International. pp. ii. Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  4. "Is Avatar a (psycho) cult?". www.AvatarCult.Info. "01-08-07". Retrieved 2008-09-02. ""To the best of our knowledge, Educational Psychology was not offered as a major or minor, in the graduate or undergraduate level." Registrar Elmira College 02-03-2007 [...] "Ithaca College's Dept. of Education did not offer a major or minor; rather it taught the courses needed for secondary school teacher certification for Biology, Chemistry, English, Math, Languages (French, German, Spanish), Music Ed, Speech Correction & Physical Education (Phys. Ed. also did elementary-level methods classes)." Ithaca College Library / College Archives 14-05-2007" 
  5. Photocopies of court documents and links to proof of claims appear at: "Is Avatar a (psycho) cult?". www.AvatarCult.Info. "01-08-07". Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  8. Church of Scientology International, Religious Technology Center and Scientology Missions International v. The Elmira Mission of the Church of Scientology a/k/a Church of Scientology, Mission of Elmira, a/k/a Dianetics Center, a/k/a Scientology Elmira, a/k/a Center for Creative Learning, Harry Palmer and Avra Honey-Smith — ruling in motion in case CIV-85-412T, United States District Court, W.D. New York, ruled August 1, 1985
  9. Church of Scientology International, Religious Technology Center and Scientology Missions International v. The Elmira Mission of the Church of Scientology a/k/a Church of Scientology, Mission of Elmira, a/k/a Dianetics Center, a/k/a Scientology Elmira, a/k/a Center for Creative Learning, Harry Palmer and Avra Honey-Smith — final ruling in case CIV-85-412T, United States District Court, W.D. New York, argued December 6, 1985, decided June 23, 1986
  10. New York State Dept. of Labor, claim numbers 07-87-0419 & 07-88-0136 [1]
  11. Original 1986 Avatar Course materials: Palmer, Harry (1986). "Beyond the Buddhic Path with Avatar". Avatar Master-Wizard Harry Palmer speaks. Archived from the original on 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2008-10-17. "( A "rundown" is a training exercise. It's an essential word/idea within Scientology. "Case" is also Scientologese: everyone is a "case" that need to be "handled". )" 
  12. Wynar, Roahn (2007-03-27). "Gettin' That New Age Religion: Cults at UT". Avatar for starters. Retrieved 2008-10-17. "... Avatar, which we like to call "Scientology Lite."" 
  13. Excerpts on p.71-74 "Soul Snatchers: The Mechanics of Cults" by psychiatrist and professional criminologist Jean-Marie Abgrall, Algora Publishing, New York, 2000. The full text appears online at Palmer, Harry (January 1991). "Galactic Confederacy Lecture". Retrieved 2008-11-20. "Many writers tell this story camouflaged with fiction. It's the story that is contained in our collective subconscious in the form of archetypical images, vague recollections, hunches, instincts, subtle recognitions."  — despite legal requests to remove it due to alleged copyright-infringement.
  14. In his book, "Resurfacing", Palmer writes a passage "[f]rom the Translarian Record, an unfinished manuscript by the author, which chronicles the spread of sentient life throughout the Milky Way galaxy" and includes "Translarian" precepts that appear throughout the materials, indicating an extra-terrestrial source originated or inspired them.
  15. In Palmer's "Seat of Being" speech at the Master Course on December 6, 2003, Palmer declared "if ... you find yourself on a planet across the galaxy — like I did — you’re going to have a pretty good idea of how to get Avatar started." See Palmer, Harry (2003-12-06). "Wizards Talk: Seat of Being" (PDF). pp. 1. Retrieved 2008-10-17. "And, if four or five centuries from now, you find yourself on a planet across the galaxy—like I did — you’re going to have a pretty good idea of how to get Avatar started." 

Further reading

Court material

External links

  • Official Avatar Website - includes links to free materials (mini-courses), short bio of Harry Palmer, Avatar Course student experiences, etc.
Pro-Avatar sites run by Avatar members or pro-Avatar without verifiable ownership
General information, articles, and discussion
Avatar critics

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