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
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
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,
———. 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.