To trace the origin of the Brotherhood of Light and the Religion of the Stars, recourse must be made to tradition. The only safe criterion of the genuineness of any tradition of esoteric teaching is the amount and accuracy of the information contained therein.
We welcome investigation with a view to proving their value. The lineage here given is not to claim infallibility or to prove authority but to disclaim any originality in the ideas set forth beyond their method of presentation. Upon the prima facie evidence these lessons contain as expositors of THE RELIGION OF THE STARS The Church of Light is well content to rest all its claims.
According to our traditions, in the year 2,440 BC a group separated from the Theocracy of Egypt, and through all subsequent times, as a secret order, the name of which translated into English means The Brotherhood of Light, has been perpetuated, and has exerted a beneficial influence upon western civilization.
To this school we are indebted for the foundation of every science upon which rests, and which alone makes possible, modern civilization.
The Greek philosophers, Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, Eudoxus, and a score of others famed for learning that might be mentioned received initiation directly at the hands of the Egyptian members of the fraternity.
At a later date this venerable order gave the impetus to learning in Alexandria, which made that city so justly famous. And it was one of The Brotherhood of Light, the noble Hypatia, who, after the decline of the colleges in that city, was the last to withstand the onslaughts of superstitious ignorance, and died endeavoring to spread the light of ancient wisdom.
It was The Brotherhood of Light who preserved the taper of learning from complete extinction during the dark ages, and who was responsible for kindling with it the fires of science and philosophy in Europe, even in the face of ruthless persecution.
In later ages, to preserve this knowledge for posterity and at the same time to keep it from the hands of a fast degenerating priesthood, the masters of this ancient religion and science became a secret organization. No one was initiated into The Brotherhood of Light, thus formed, until they proved mental and moral fitness to receive such priceless wisdom.
The Brotherhood of Light not only has persisted as such on the inner planes, but the line of succession has been kept alive, although at times it became exceedingly thin, also on the physical plane.
The Brotherhood of Light in the 20th Century
Born December 12, 1882, Elbert Benjamine (C. C. Zain) began his occult studies in 1898 at the age of sixteen.
While developing his psychic faculties, he contacted The Brotherhood of Light in 1900.
On December 8, 1907 while in Lake Charles, Louisiana, he sent out a prayerful request that he be guided to the work which would enable him, while on earth, to contribute his utmost to human welfare. Although he was not informed of the nature of his work at that time he was assured by the Brethren of the Light that he had a lifetime task to perform.
In the spring of 1909, The Brotherhood of Light called upon him to take a trip for the purpose of being made the successor of one of the council of three who conducted the affairs of the organization on the physical plane.
At this meeting, attended by two other members of the council, he was given considerable information. The two other members of the council convinced him that it was imperative for some member or members to prepare a complete system of occult education by which the dawning Aquarian Age might become conversant with THE RELIGION OF THE STARS.
He shrank from their suggestion that he, being still young while they were well along in years, should undertake this task. During the year following this trip the circumstances of his life changed markedly. He became closely associated with members of The Brotherhood of Light on the inner plane and they succeeded in doing what the council on the physical plane had failed to do.
In the spring of 1910 he gave a definite and irrevocable promise he would write the 21 courses of lessons on the three branches of occult science, and that he would reestablish THE RELIGION OF THE STARS on earth. In this work he had the cooperation of the older members of the organization on the physical plane, and received constant guidance and direction from Brotherhood of Light teachers on the inner planes.
He spent the next five years in preparation. In May 1915, he moved to Los Angeles, started classes, wrote The Outline of Initiation, and began the gradual process of building a membership. The World War was raging and he was instructed not to open membership to the public at large until the war was over. The first public class, officially gathered under the auspices of The Brotherhood of Light, was held on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918.
Work on developing The Brotherhood of Light lessons began March 21, 1914. Although the lessons were edited until his death, the final lesson on the 21 Courses of 210 lessons was completed Feb. 20, 1934. By 1950, the 21 BofL Courses appeared as 210 printed booklets as well as in 23 bound books.
Benjamine was informed by the Brethren of Light on the inner planes that it was imperative that this work be finished by 1950. Although that called for the expenditure of a huge amount of effort, and the straining of the financial resources of the Church of Light to the utmost, this task was accomplished. His death November 18, 1951 made it apparent why it was necessary to complete his Church of Light work.
Between 1915 and 1951 much of the church’s history revolves around Mr. Benjamine’s efforts. When he died in 1951, the following was written:
A great soul marches on! On Sunday, November 18, 1951 at 2:41 p.m. PST, our beloved President, Elbert Benjamine laid aside his earthly form and moved to his new work in higher realms.
His mission on earth complete with the writing, rewriting and printing of the Brotherhood of Light lessons, he felt that his physical form was worn beyond repair and that he could better serve the cause of Universal Welfare by leaving the body behind and moving to the next phase of his work in God’s Great Plan. The doctor in charge stated that he was suffering complete nervous exhaustion. Yet, Elbert Benjamine would not leave his physical form until he was assured that the Great Work would continue without interruption and his desires would be faithfully carried out.
In accordance with his instructions, there was no public funeral and his body was cremated. He desired to be free from thoughts and emotions of grief so he might made a speedy adjustment in his new life; and so wished that those left behind not be tortured by well-meaning expressions of sympathy. Because of this the announcement of his passing was withheld until the Response Day dinner in Los Angeles on December 18, 1951.
Elbert Benjamine left a priceless heritage in the Brotherhood of Light lessons, which must be preserved and passed on unchanged to succeeding generations He left us with a tremendous responsibility.
Few people are aware of the fact that he put a considerable inheritance into getting the lessons published. In fact, he worked at all sorts of jobs in order to get funds to carry out his pledge to the Brotherhood of Light. When he had sufficient funds to support himself for a time, he would quit work for pay and start writing on the lessons. While preparing to write the lessons, he spent considerable time on an island in Klamath Lake, Oregon. More time was spent on a boat in the Louisiana marshes, making his living as a commercial fisherman. To support his studies and writing he worked as a cowboy, a lumber man and the foreman of a crew on a Mormon ranch.
For 25 years he was president of the Southern California Nature Club, leading field trips along mountain trails and into the desert, studying plant and animal life, as well as the geological strata and rocks. The knowledge he thus gained is passed on to us in the Brotherhood of Light lessons. He worked diligently for the conservation of natural resources and was responsible for the establishment of a bird sanctuary in Los Angeles, California.
Those of us privileged to work shoulder to shoulder with him throughout the years observed his single-minded effort in behalf of the Religion of the Stars. Those of us able to hike with him on mountain trails were able to perceive the totally unselfish nature of the man. We came to love and understand him.
At no time did he view his effort as a sacrifice, in the painful connotation of the word. Rather he regarded it as a sacred privilege because in so doing he was Contributing his Utmost to Universal Welfare. It can truly be said he gave up the lowland of material ambition in order to attain the mountain top of spiritual achievement. He gained the soul satisfaction of knowing that he had fulfilled his mission on earth through working with God’s Plan of Progressive Evolution of Civilization, as well as individual souls.
We ask all of you to join us in seeing that this great work is carried on through the years to come.
History of the Church of Light
Post-war Los Angeles began passing laws prohibiting the practice of astrology*, a key tenet of The Brotherhood of Light tradition. Steps were taken by Elbert Benjamine to preserve the religious freedoms of Brotherhood of Light members. In In order to carry out its objective of reestablishing THE RELIGION OF THE STARS on earth, The Brotherhood of Light was incorporated as The Church of Light, on November 2, 1932, 9:55 a.m. PST, at Los Angeles.
The three founders of The Church of Light were Elbert Benjamine, who served as President until his demise November 18, 1951; Elizabeth D. Benjamine, who served as Secretary-Treasurer until her passing in 1942; and Fred H. Skinner, who served as Vice President until his demise in 1940.
The Church of Light was incorporated to teach, practice, and disseminate The Religion of The Stars, as set forth in the 21 courses of lessons covering each of the three branches of occult science, as written by C. C. Zain under the auspices of The Brotherhood of Light.
The Lessons are each complete, and the courses are so arranged that those having made no previous study of such subjects may advance by easy steps to a complete mastery of the most difficult subjects. At the same time the information is so condensed that no useless reading is required; and is of such a nature that the most advanced occult teacher will receive new light from every lesson from the first.
Those not Members, as well as Members, may purchase one or all of the lessons embraced in any course. Members, however, are given additional privileges. When a course has been studied with the aid of the question sheet furnished with each lesson, the Member is furnished with a set of Final Examination Questions covering the entire course. The answers to the Final Examination should be sent to The Church of Light headquarters where it will be audited based upon a pass/fail system.
Every Member passing the final examination on a course is advanced one degree in Membership in The Church of Light and is awarded a diploma showing the degree of Membership attained, and given a Private Manuscript corresponding to the number of the degree to which he/she has attained. Any Member who successfully passes all 21 Final Examinations receives a HERMETICIAN certificate.
The Private Manuscript for each degree is indicated in the List of Lessons. These Private Manuscripts are SOLD TO NO ONE, and can only be obtained by passing the requirements of the degrees to which they belong. They contain information of value that it is unwise to impart to those who have not shown mental and spiritual worthiness to receive such information.
Declaration of Principles
The Church of Light is a religious altruistic association. We consider all humankind brothers and sisters in the higher sense, and utilize our resources, both occult and physical, for their benefit.
We believe in progressive evolution. All forms of life, from the densest mineral to the highest angel, is in a state of evolving consciousness with opportunities to refine their ability and to Contribute to Universal Welfare.
Our members work on all planes and in every sphere of life, ministering to the needy. We recognize the call of distress and extend the helping hand. It is our endeavor to lighten the burdens and increase the happiness of all with whom we come in contact.
We teach the cultivation of soul attributes in the evolution of the individual from human to angel. In this development we believe there should be simultaneous progress and expression on the three planes of existence: physical, mental and spiritual. In addition to theorists, the world requires practical and unselfish workers inspired by a growing spirituality to relieve physical suffering, to enlighten the ignorant, and to bring hope to those in despair.
In life, nothing is more worthwhile than unselfish effort. To labor ceaselessly for the benefit of the needy, is to live the Life of the Spirit. Every opportunity to assist another should be grasped as a blessing and considered as such. Not along one channel only, but through every avenue of human endeavor available for such work, should the energies be directed.
There cannot be Two Orders of Truth in the universe. Therefore, we deny that there is any antagonism between true Science and true Religion. We accept only one book as infallible for interpreting the Will of Deity: the Book of Nature. We worship but one Religion, which is also a Science. It is Nature's Laws.
Our members are under no obligation to accept our teachings. We encourage them to investigate all existing religious and occult organizations, and we desire that in every way they may broaden their minds and increase the range of their knowledge, exoteric and esoteric.
We desire no one to accept anything upon authority. We encourage students to make critical comparison, not only with all other teachings; but, more importantly, with Nature, who presides as judge in the court of final appeal, and is the arbiter of all our destinies.
— based upon earlier "History and Principles" that it is believed Edward Doane, who worked closely with Elbert Benjamine, wrote.