This week I was surprised to learn that a meditation I have used regularly as the Church of Light mantram was authored by a man named V. Loy Edwards, who died in 1925, four years before the first publication of it I have found in Google books. Having temporarily misplaced my copy (which was tucked in the pages of a book), I looked it up only by typing the first few words “my soul is one with the universe, and my spirit is an emanation from deity.” The only publication of this affirmation I have found other than Church of Light documents was in the November 1929 issue of The Star, edited by J. Krishnamurti, where the author is identified as V. Loy Edwards. (see postscript added 3/12/2014)
Edwards died July 10,1925 in New Orleans at the age of 31. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. The adoption of his meditation by the Church of Light as its official mantram is attested in many publications, for example in volume 21, Personal Alchemy. The passage is reminiscent of one from the 1900 edition ofThe Light of Egypt, a letter from T.H. Burgoyne advising the student to use this phrase while concentrating one’s soul at the solar plexus: “my soul is one with the Universe, and my spirit an emanation from God.” This is further elaborated in Celestial Dynamics by the same author, so it seems likely that Edwards was associated with the students of Burgoyne, and hence with the Brotherhood of Light (the name of what is now the Church of Light from 1915 through 1932.) The last US Census entry for him, in 1920, finds him a 25-year-old U.S. Army sargeant in Salt Lake City. Newspaper reports from October 1918 indicate that he was from Provencal, Louisiana, and seriously wounded in action at the end of WWI.
In August 1929, Jiddu Krishnamurti gave his “Truth is a Pathless land” speech at Ommen in the Netherlands. He re-read portions for the American press in 1930, now viewable on Youtube (the second of these two clips). As Krishnamurti was repudiating the organization for which The Star was an official journal, The Order of the Star in the East, that journal was publishing the meditation which is now known to all Church of Light members as our own. How did this young man, otherwise invisible to history, write a work that touched two organizations as unlike each other as the Church of Light and the Order of the Star in the East? Perhaps the self-reliance implicit in the meditation appealed to Krishnamurti’s new anti-authoritarian line of teaching in 1929.
PS– It has recently come to my attention that a source earlier than 1929 might have originated the text of what became the mantram in question, unattributed as all the other instances except the one citing Edwards. The first line is found in early correspondence of T.H. Burgoyne, as has long been known, but the earliest published appearance of the full mantram after The Star is at this point an undated booklet from Wisdomquest Publications of Pasadena, CA, apparently from the early 1930s. The Order and Rules of Saint I Am is attributed to the “Hermetic Brotherhood” which suggests an earlier date of original authorship. It includes the mantram, opening another avenue of inquiry into its original composition and appearance. This “Hermetic Brotherhood” is not the HBofL and yet related to it. This blog post on “Occult Chicago” explains the context, but no evidence has yet emerged linking the mantram to the Phelon group.