Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor

From Opus
Jump to: navigation, search

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (HBL) evolved out of P. B. Randolph AKA Paschal Beverly Randolph's tour of Europe and the Middle East in the 1850s. He had already established a following for his philosophy and occult practices through the Brotherhood of Eulis based more on his own theories, and would organize the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis (FRC) in America by 1873 based on Rosicrucian principles. Joining with French Magician Eliphas Levi, a French version of FRC called the Fratres Lucis AKA Brothers of the Light and sometimes referred to as Fiat Lux, was formalized. Interesting side note, all Secretaries of the Grand Stewards Lodge of the United Lodge of England since 1885 have worn the jewel made for R.W.Brother Frederick Hockley called the Fratres Lucis or sometimes Fiat Lux. Some structural elements may have also been borrowed from the German Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross and their sister Masonic Lodge, the Order of the Asiatic Brethren. But both relied more on structured degrees, reading and practical Alchemy comparisons rather than Mirror Divination, sex magick and male/female polarity, as do so much of P. B. Randolph's teachings.

When Max Theon AKA Eliezer Mordechai Theon Ben-Rivka escaped the Pale in Poland, he entered Europe illegally and his identity has been more difficult to discern than most of the French and English Rosicrucians. His Zohar influenced Philosophie Cosmique combined a superior understanding of Qabalah with Randolph's practical occult techniques, attracting the attention of Rev. William Alexander Ayton who was already involved in Freemasonry and the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia,SRIA, and would soon be involved with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He also corresponded with Naturalist Peter Davidson in Findhorn, Scotland, and the three of them formed the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor in 1884. They were quickly joined by Thomas Burgoyne as Secretary of the Order, not knowing he had previous forgery convictions which would be used to attack the Order later. The famous Spiritualist Emma Hardinge Britten was an early medium for the male Seers, but after an unrecorded bad experience quit the Order and went to New York City.

While happy to join the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, Eliphas Levi's successor in France, Gerard Encausse AKA Papus was also busy taking over the Martinist Order of Freemasonry with Saint-Yves d'Alveydre and starting his own version the RC named L'Ordre Kabbalistique de la Rose Croix (Kabbalistic Order of the Rosy Cross) (OKRC) with Joséphin Péladan and the Marquis Stanislas de Guaita as it's first Grand Master in 1888.

Already well versed in Randolph's practical techniques with seership and magic mirrors, both Frederick Hockley and Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie were quickly recruited by Rev. William Alexander Ayton, along with Hargrave Jenning, Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton and other respected Freemasons and collector of ancient manuscripts. This respected group, through their Masonic contacts, had many friends with occult interests. The English Rosicrucians had met and developed their interests by progressing through the 3 Blue Lodge degrees and the degrees of The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, to join a less public Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA). Many also had experience with the Martinist Order of Freemasonry, the Rite of Memphis and Misraim developed from Alessandro Cagliostro' Napoleonic Masonry, and even the Swedenborg Rite named after the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg.

Impressed by the successes (and failures) of Utoipian Communes in upstate New York, Peter Davidson moved his large family to Northern Georgia and established himself as an expert in alternative farming, herbology, folk medicine and organizes music festivals (he built violins). After establishing the Commune with just his family, Davidson bought a printing press and began both a local news and separate Spiritual magazines. Theon moved to Algeria, then a French Colony for closer access to Arab and Jewish culture. Thomas Burgoyne came to America (possibly to avoid prosecution on felony fraud by newspaper)but chaffed living with Davidson and family, soon traveling Westward. In California, his book THE LIGHT OF EGYPT made an impression upon wealthy couple, Henry and Belle Wagner gave him a large fortune to establish a Commune, printing house and school to promulgate Max Theon's Cosmic Philosophy in it's Egyptian milieu. He soon hired astrologer Benjamin P. Williams AKA C.C. Zain AKA Elbert Benjamine to help write material and run the Fellowship of Light, which became the Church of Light in 1932.

The Initiations in the HBL were meant, as all initiations are, to bring the Candidate in stages from the Darkness of ignorance to the Light of Spiritual development. Most Orders structured their degree systems both to teach specific lessons and skills which would prove useful in upcoming degree experiences. They also usually fit these lessons on to an existing pattern, such as the 5 Classical Elements, the Tree of Life, or the Chakras. While their literature promised such a system of 4 initiations and 9 levels of degrees BEFORE reaching the 1st "Adeptship", the sad truth is many candidates had to wait for years for initiation due to internal squabbles or distance. Some initiations were done by sending a liquid, sigil and instructions to the Candidate, and performing complimentary Astral travel. The emphasis was on practical magical experience over cosmological theory, with little of the formal Masonic structure of other Hermetic Lodges or Freemasonry itself.

The Neophyte (1st Degree papers can be read in Joscelyn Godwin's invaluable book (see Resources) pages 103, 109 etc and show that from the beginning Elus and sex magick was introduced along with the Elementals and none of the usual ceremonial trappings of Lodge Work. It may well be that, like with the Zelator ritual of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the initiate went through the ritual without access to the "Symbolic Notes to the 1st Degree" (Paper A.2.A) to have the experience unfettered, then had it explained to their conscious mind, were urged to contemplate and inculcate the ideas, then received the Esoteric Notes filled with mythology and Hargrave Jenning's cross cultural proof that the Ancients mixed sex into their religion. While this might seem obvious to all Pagans, Wiccans, Neopaganism etc in the modern world, in Victorian England, it was quite a powerful revelation. As such, P. B. Randolph's practical Occultism and the Egyptian motif of Max Theon's Qabalistic cosmology began to attract members of H.P. Blavatsky's Theosophical Society. She became so alarmed that she both attacked members and the organization of the Luxor Lodges, but was forced to break a long standing antipathy towards the Occult and September 1888 invite certain students to join the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society. Unfortunately, the Teachings she channeled from the Eastern Hidden Masters did little to maintain the interest of students interested in Rosicrucian, Enochain and Ceremonial Magick. Many members also joined Magical Orders such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the OTO or the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor.


Resources; see The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor by Joscelyn Godwin, et al http://www.scarletwoman.org/scarletletter/v5n2/v5n2_hermetic.html; http://www.gnostique.net/studies/okrc.htm; http://esotericinstructions.net/;http://newtopiamagazine.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/mysteries-of-the-hermetic-brotherhood-of-luxor/; The Occult in Nineteenth-Century America, ed. Cathy Gutierrez, 2005 ;