Church of Light

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Church of Light

The Church of Light was one of the most important occult organizations in the United States in the mid-twentieth century. It had a special role in the modern revival of astrology. The church was incorporated in 1932, but it is part of the history of the Brotherhood of Light, which emerged in the nineteenth century. The Brotherhood of Light is a group of exalted beings who guide humankind (known elsewhere as the Great White Brotherhood ). The believers in the Brotherhood of Light had representatives in Great Britain in the mid-nineteenth century. One of these, Thomas H. Burgoyne (1855-94), a Scotsman, came to the United States in the 1880s. He resided for a period with a Captain Norman Astley and his wife, Genevieve Stebbins, in Carmel, California. He also met Henry Wagner and his wife, Belle Wagner, who owned the Astro-Philosophical Publishing Company in San Francisco. Through the Wagners, Burgoyne published the first volume of a book he was writing on astrology and occultism, Light of Egypt. Burgoyne and the Wagners also agreed to found an organization, The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, to give expression to the Brotherhood of Light on the visible material plane. The Hermetic Brotherhood was headed by a scribe, a seer, and an astrologer. Burgoyne was the original scribe and Minnie Higgins the original astrologer.

For a generation the organization pioneered occult and astrological thought in the United States. Then in 1909 Higgins died. A young student of the brotherhood, Elbert Benjamine, was called as the new astrologer. Benjamine was assigned the additional task of preparing a complete set of lessons covering the whole of occultism. These would become the textbooks of the brotherhood and introduce people to the emerging Aquarian Age. Benjamine set about the task, which would keep him busy until 1934. In the meantime, in 1913, the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luzor was formally disbanded. As the surviving leader, Benjamine inherited its mission and responsibilities, and in 1915 he began to hold informal classes, which were opened to the general public after World War I.

As Benjamine neared the completion of his lessons, he founded the Church of Light as the successor of the Hermetic Brotherhood and the visible expression of the Brotherhood of Light. The church teaches that there are two orders of truth science and religion. Between these two there can be no true antagonism. Nature's laws provide the substance of true religions. Astrology is an especially useful tool for interpreting nature, though all occult arts contribute. The church now offers 21 courses in occult knowledge based upon the lessons prepared by Benjamine and published as a series of books by the church.

Following Benjamine's death in 1951, Edward Doane was named as president. Members are scattered across the North America and relate to the church via correspondence. The church may be contacted at 2341 Coral St., Los Angeles, CA 90031. It publishes The Church of Light Quarterly.


Astrological Research & Reference Encyclopedia. 2 vols. Los Angeles: Church of Light, 1972.

Burgoyne, Thomas H. Light of Egypt. 2 vols. Albuquerque, N.Mex.: Sun Publishing, 1980.

Wagner, Henry O., comp. A Treasure Chest of Wisdom. Denver: H. O. Wagner, 1967.

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Church of Light

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