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 InHermetica
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
verness and had become a student of all things occult. He became
a violin maker and later moved to Banchory, near
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gradually ceased to exist as it was superseded by other occult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 AstroPhilosophical
Publishing Co., 1896.
———. The Language of the Stars. Denver AstroPhilosophical
Publishing Co., 1892.
———. The Light of Egypt. 2 vols. Denver AstroPhilosophical
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

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