Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor

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Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (HBL), a British occult society, was founded in 1884 by Thomas H. Burgoyne (1855-1894) and Peter Davidson (1842-1916). Burgoyne, born Thomas Dalton, was a grocer in Leeds who as a student of the occult came into contact with Max Theon (1850-1927), a Polish immigrant working in London as a psychic healer. Theon was also an occult teacher specializing in teaching his students the means of contacting various preternatural beings, higher adepts similar to the theosophical mahatmas. Burgoyne began to channel material from these beings, known as the Interior Circle. Davidson grew up in northern Scotland near Inverness and had become a student of all things occult. He became a violin maker and later moved to Banchory, near Aberdeen.

At some point Davidson and Burgoyne met and with Theon decided to found the HBL, the first announcement of which appeared in 1884. The following year they began to issue The Occult Magazine, through which the brotherhood began to grow, both in Britain and France. The Rev. William Alexander Ayton provided additional leadership in England, and the head of the work in Paris was Albert Farcheux (better known by his pen name F.Ch. Barlet). Offering itself as a school of Practical Occultism best suited to Westerners, it contrasted itself to the Eastern perspective of the Theosophical Society which by then had moved its headquarters to India. Much of its teaching came from the clairvoyant contacts Burgoyne had with the Interior Circle, and aimed at placing members in direct contact with the same.

The HBL also quickly grew into the chief rival of the Theosophical Society. Thus it was that in the spring of 1886, when theosophical leaders discovered that Burgoyne was the same Thomas Dalton who had been convicted of mail fraud in 1883, they freely circulated the information. Prompted in part by a desire to escape the scandal, but also fostering a desire to start a communal experiment in America, Davidson moved to Loudsville, Georgia. The Davidson farm never evolved into the colony he had desired, but it did function as the international headquarters of the brotherhood for many years. The largest membership was in the United States and France. The HBL gradually ceased to exist as it was superseded by other occult groups, especially the Martinist groups in France, as Davidson shifted his interest into alternative medicine.

Burgoyne also moved to the United States, but he soon separated from Davidson and moved to the West Coast. There, he operated what amounted to a distinct HBL. In 1889, he published a summary of the HBL teachings in a book, The Light of Egypt, issued under his pen name, Zanoni. A short time later, Dr. Henry Wagner and his wife Belle Wagner put up $100,000, a truly massive sum at the time, to create an organization to perpetuate the teachings of The Light of Egypt. The money led to the founding of two organizations, the Astro-Philosophical Publishing Company (which would publish Burgoyne's subsequent title, The Language of the Stars and Celestial Dynamics ) and the Church of Light. Building on Burgoyne's base, the Church of Light would become a major occult teaching center and a pioneer structure in the revival of astrology. In 1900, some years after Burgoyne's death, the Astro-Philosophical Publishing Company issued a second volume of The Light of Egypt, reputedly channeled from Burgoyne through Belle Wagner.


Burgoyne, Thomas H. Celestial Dynamics. Denver: Astro-Philosophical Publishing Co., 1896.

. The Language of the Stars. Denver: Astro-Philosophical Publishing Co., 1892.

. The Light of Egypt. 2 vols. Denver: Astro-Philosophical Publishing Co., 1889, 1900.

Godwin, Joscelyn. The Theosophical Enlightenment. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Godwin, Joscelyn, Christian Chanel, and John P. Deveney. The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor: Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1995.