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
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
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Church of Light
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
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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