U.S. O.T.O. Grand Lodge
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Book Reviews
Review by Sr. Sphinx

The Hermetic Brotherhood Of Luxor: Initiatic And Historical Documents Of An Order Of Practical Occultism
Edited by Joscelyn Godwin, Christian Chanel, & John P. Deveney

Red Wheel/Weiser
October 2000
Paperback, 464 pgs
The new, and only, volume-length study of this 19th Century international magical order shows a level of scholarship that deserves to set a precedent in the treatment of such topics. Virtually all of the available primary texts have been reproduced, with analysis that sets them in context. Biographies of the principal figures of the organization are set forth, and its relationship to other groups is examined.

Anyone entertained by The World Teacher in the last Scarlet Letter certainly should plant her or his nose in this book. Among other things, it details the complex relationships between the H.B. of L. and the nascent Theosophical Society.

The H.B. of L. is a key element in O.T.O. prehistory. In the jubilee Oriflamme, the paper “Unser Orden” claims that in the O.T.O. synthesis, “The Rosicrucian esoteric teachings of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light were reserved for the few initiated into the Occult Inner Circle [of O.T.O.].” The very phrase “Occult Inner Circle” as used in the Oriflamme piece is telling, inasmuch as the H.B. of L. was divided into an outer circle of initiates and an inner circle of adepts. Godwin, Chanel and Deveney make the case that the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light was a revival of the Brotherhood of Luxor in Chicago in 1895. Thus the channel for sex-magical technology flows from PB. Randolph's Brotherhood of Eulis to the H.B. of Luxor, thence to the H.B. of Light, and finally to the Sanctuary of the Gnosis.

Though not presented as such, The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor as now published could provide the basis for a grass-roots H.B. of L. revival such as that enjoyed by the Golden Dawn. In many ways, the H.B. of L. technology is more appropriate for the task. While the H.B. of L. aspired to the formation of a Lodge system and group initiations, it appears that their modes of recruitment did not make such activity possible for the majority of members. So the emphasis is on individual study and self-initiation within a larger fraternity and symbolic system.

The book is attractively published in hardback on permanent paper with a cover price of $25. It should be included in any growing occult library.