Benjamine, Elbert (1882-1951)
Benjamine, Elbert (1882-1951)
Elbert Benjamine, one of America's leading astrologers in the early twentieth century and the founder of the Church of Light, was born December 12, 1882, in Iowa. He began to study the occult as a teenager and in 1900 made contact with the Heremetic Brotherhood of Luxor, a small occult order headquartered in Denver, Colorado. The Hermetic Brotherhood was the outward expression of the Brotherhood of Light, a mystical order of enlightened beings believed by occultists to guide the destiny of humankind. The Brotherhood of Light was believed to have been founded in ancient Egypt and to have continued to the present under the leadership of a group of teachers not presently incarnated on the physical plane. The group is popularly known by many as the Great White Brotherhood. The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor circulated a series of lessons written by the Hermetic Brotherhood's founder, Thomas H. Burgoyne.
In 1907 Benjamine directly contacted what he believed to be the Brotherhood of Light in response to his prayer for direction in his life. The members of the brotherhood assured him that he had an important task ahead of him. Two years later he was called to Denver to become the Hermetic Brotherhood's astrologer, taking over the position formerly held by Minnie Higgins, who had recently died. He declined, but the next year he accepted an assignment to prepare a series of lessons on the 21 branches of occult science. After five years of intense study, he felt ready to write. His work would take some 20 years to complete.
Meanwhile, the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor was closed and Benjamine was left as an independent representative of the Brotherhood of Light. In 1915 he moved to Los Angeles and began holding classes. Only a small group gathered during the war years, but in 1918 he opened the brotherhood to the public and began his first public class on Armistice Day. As the lessons were completed, they were mimeographed and used as class texts. Eventually Benjamine would publish them under the pseudonym C. C. Zain, the name he used for all official brotherhood writings.
In the 1920s Benjamine also emerged as a specialist in astrology, the area of occult science he enjoyed the most, and he became an important force in rebuilding astrology in the modern world. In the 1940s, having completed his writing task for the brotherhood, he issued a number of important astrological texts, including How to Use the Modern Ephemerides (1940), Stellar Dietetics (1942), The Beginner's Horoscope Maker (1940), and Astrological Lore of All Ages (1945).
In 1932 Benjamine incorporated with Church of Light as a new esoteric expression of the Brotherhood of Light. He led the church until his death on November 18, 1951, by which time membership had spread across the United States and into Canada, England, Mexico, Nigeria, and Liberia.
Benjamine, Elbert. Astrological Lore of All Ages. Chicago: Aries Press, 1945.
——. Beginner's Horoscope Maker. Chicago: Aries Press, 1940.
——. Stellar Dietetics. Chicago: Aries Press, 1942.
"The Founders of the Church of Light." Church of Light Quarterly 45, no. 1 (February 1970): 1-2.
Zain, C. C. [Elbert Benjamine]. Brotherhood of Light Lessons. 22 vols. Los Angeles: Church of Light, 1922-32.