Research for Ghost Land has recently been facilitated by the availability of the Adyar Theosophical Society’s membership records at The Art Archive. Data on various members of the early TS has been helpful in contextualizing Ghost Land, but I have found it even more relevant to the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor’s origins within and outside the TS. One FTS (Fellow of the TS) of great resonance for the Church of Light is Amy Kirby Post, matriarch of a Rochester, New York family of celebrated abolitionists and reformers. Amy Kirby Post is profiled in this archive of feminist pioneers. She joined the Theosophical Society in September 1882, followed by John Ashley Post shortly thereafter. I’ve yet to establish his relationship to the rest; Amy’s sons Joseph and (Willett) Edward and daughter in law Mary Jane Post joined in February 1883. All are listed as having later dropped their memberships. The Rochester TS became a stronghold of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor by 1886, so the Post family deserves further investigation along this line. Fortunately their voluminous correspondence is preserved at the University of Rochester. A photograph of their home is found here.
Quaker abolitionists who became Spiritualists played a crucial role in multiple reform movements of 19th century America. As seen in the background of Sarah Stanley Grimke, they also figure in the origins of the Church of Light. The Post and Grimke families, along with David and Lydia Maria Child, were part of a social network that had tremendous influence for change. Emma Hardinge Britten was well acquainted with abolitionists among the Spiritualists, making this milieu a fundamental element of CofL prehistory. Post wrote the epilogue for the antislavery masterpiece Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. Lydia Maria Child edited the manuscript and wrote the introduction. Jacobs’s narrative provides a vivid firsthand report of the aftermath of the Nat Turner slave insurrection in northeastern North Carolina, extensively quoted in my chapter in Carolina Genesis.