A term which emerged in the nineteenth century to designate the superhuman adepts who were attributed with the founding of several secret magical orders. They were the real founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, for example, analogous to the Mahatmas or Masters who supposedly led the Theosophical Society (founded in 1875). Together they formed the Great White Brotherhood who from their lofty perspective secretly guided and influenced human history. They also had a model in the Superiores Incogniti, or hidden superiors, introduced by Baron Hund (1722-76) for his Strikt Observanz Masonic system.
The Secret Chiefs of the Golden Dawn were said to be unknown magi who were "Concealed Rulers of the Wisdom of the True Rosicrucian Magic of Light." Human founders W. Wynn Westcott, S. L. MacGregor Mathers and W. R. Woodman are supposed to be in contact with them.
King, Francis. The Rites of Modern Occult Magic. New York: Macmillan, 1970.