Thomas Dalton alias Burgoyne 1855-1894
Jan 10, 2009 03:35 PM
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 Inverness and had become a student of all things occult.
He became a violin maker and later moved to Banchory, near Aberdeen.
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superseded by other occult groups, especially the Martinist groups in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: Astro-Philosophical
Publishing Co., 1896.
??. The Language of the Stars. Denver: Astro-Philosophical
Publishing Co., 1892.
??. The Light of Egypt. 2 vols. Denver: Astro-Philosophical
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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