Recommended Reading

Only four authors are named in Elbert Benjamine’s Brotherhood of Light lessons as previous sources of Brotherhood teachings: Emma Hardinge Britten, Thomas Henry Burgoyne, Sarah Stanley Grimke, and Genevieve Stebbins.  Thomas Moore Johnson’s journal The Platonist was largely a collaboration with Alexander Wilder and their correspondence sheds light on the work of Britten, Burgoyne and Grimke.


Ghost Land (1876) by Emma Hardinge Britten is the alleged memoir of Britten’s European occultist colleague the Chevalier Louis, and combines fiction and fact in ways that baffle modern researchers.   It describes the Orphic Circle as a group of experimenters into clairvoyance, mesmerism, spiritualism, etc. In addition to the free online edition available through the SSOC (Standard Spiritualist and Occult Corpus) the most recent reprint is from the Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Art Magic (1876) by Emma Hardinge Britten is a companion doctrinal work attributed to the same narrator,  and with Ghost Land was studied by the HBofL and its successors into the 20th century.  In 2011 a scholarly edition with introduction and annotations by Marc Demarest was published by The Typhon Press.

The Light of Egypt (1889) by T.H. Burgoyne is the major doctrinal book by a founder of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor.   An astrological emphasis that began with the Chevalier Louis increases with Burgoyne. (Link is to a later edition of Volume One.)

Dynamic Breathing and Harmonic Gymnastics (1892) by Genevieve Stebbins is the first of several works influenced by her collaboration with Burgoyne.

The Language of the Stars (1892) is Burgoyne’s first astrological study, showing as much influence from Grimke as its predecessor, and foreshadowing influence from Stebbins as his next collaborator into the twentieth century.

Celestial Dynamics (1896) is Burgoyne’s second and final astrological study, other than the second volume of The Light of Egypt published in 1900.

The Quest of the Spirit  (1913) by Genevieve Stebbins is the accumulated life wisdom of a man known as “A Pilgrim of the Way,” almost certainly her husband Norman Astley.  It represents a radical shift of emphasis from Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor teachings, and reveals Stebbins and Astley to be devotees of Henri Bergson and William James rather than occult tradition.

Zanoni (1842) is a novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton that portrays its adept heroes as Rosicrucians.  Burgoyne took Zanoni as his pen name, and his colleague Peter Davidson took that of Mejnour, the master of Zanoni.  Britten named Bulwer-Lytton first among her Orphic Brotherhood mentors, and Blavatsky named him as an adept in a letter to a friend. (link to second volume here.)

Sarah Stanley Grimké Collected Works (2019) includes all of her publications as well as substantial new introductions to each text by the editor, extensive annotations, and appendices that detail her relationship to the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor.  The prologue, From Ghost Land to the Light of Egypt, and epilogue, Zanoni After The Light of Egypt, are available on academia here.

A Commentary on the Text of the Bhagavad-Gita by Hurrychund Chintamon was first published in London in 1874 and first reprinted in 2021 in paperback, subsequently in hardcover.  Its prefaces, introduction, and appendix are available online here.


Documents and Letters 

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor: Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism (1995), edited by Joscelyn Godwin, Christian Chanel, John Patrick Deveney, is the starting point for exploring the roots of The Church of Light.  This collection includes the documents and private lessons of this initiatory order, as well as correspondence among members in Europe and America.

Letters to the Sage: The Selected Correspondence of Thomas Moore Johnson, Volume One: The Esotericists  (2016), edited by Patrick D. Bowen and K. Paul Johnson, contains letters to the publisher and editor of The Platonist from 48 individuals, roughly half members of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor and half affiliated with the Theosophical Society– with many being members of both.

Letters to the Sage: The Selected Correspondence of Thomas Moore Johnson, Volume Two: Alexander Wilder, the Platonist (2018) contains letters from Wilder to Johnson along with those of eleven other correspondents.  A 2021 condensation with only the Wilder letters to Johnson is in print as Letters to Thomas Moore Johnson: Philosophical Correspondence 1876-1908.