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Hilarion Smerdis, Serapis Bey and the Legend of the “Brotherhood of Light” and Luxor

Alchemy. Prime Matter of Philosophers’ Stone.


Signature of Master Serapis Bey in Letter no. 7 to Col. Olcott.

Another less known Theosophical master of a sub-brotherhood of the Greater Fraternity of Adepts, known as the Egyptian Brotherhood of Luxor is Hilarion Smerdis, whom K. Paul Johnson attempts to identify with a little known character by the name of Ooton Liatto. Hilarion resided in Cairo, and H.P.B. describes Hilarion Smerdis in one case, as a “Greek gentleman” she had known since 1860 with a black beard and long flowing white garments – and from a distance to look like another one of the adepts, Serapis Bey.

This elusive Egyptian Brotherhood of Lukshoor (or Luxor), the Egyptian branch of the “Fratres Lucis” is said to be “one of the oldest and most powerful of Eastern Brotherhoods. It is known as the Brotherhood of Luxor, and its faithful members have the custody of very important secrets of science. Its ramifications extend widely throughout the great Republic of the West. Though this brotherhood has been long and hard at work, the secret of its existence has been jealously guarded” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, pg. 308 fn.).

The term “Luxor” refers to an Egyptian city, known for its ruins of great historical value.

H.P.B. states, that the Council of Luxor chose Mesmer as a pioneer to enlighten a small portion of the Western nations in occultism. Tuitit Bey, an adept involved in the early journeys of H.P. Blavatsky, who informed her to found the “Miracle Club,” in a letter to Henry S. Olcott details the Sections of this Brotherhood and the names of their chiefs: Ellora Section under Serapis Bey; the Section of Solomon under a Polydorus Isurenus; and the Section of Zoroaster under Robert More. In the end of the letter, it states that it was written in the “Observatory of Luxor.” These sections indicate an inter-cultural dimension to this Brotherhood. The Ellora Section of the Observatory of Luxor to which this Serapis Bey belonged to and headed is very curious, according to the notes of C. Jinarajadasa, in regards to this letter. In India, Ellora is a system of caves and cave-temples 225 miles Northwest of Mumbai, and is on the World Heritage List of the UNESCO.

“Its hundreds of monuments include at least 34 ancient monasteries and temples. Ellora certainly constitutes a major magnetic centre, and some of its caves might be unknown and invisible to the public…In “The Secret Doctrine”, volume II, pp. 220-221, H.P. Blavatsky strongly suggests Ellora and other ancient places have even today vast nets of subterranean labyrinths and passages, perhaps with six or seven stories. As to old and forgotten times, in “Isis Unveiled”, volume I, pp. 561 and 567, HPB says that the buildings and ruins of Ellora are so similar to the ancient ruins in Guatemala, Mexico and other places that their builders evidently had close contact among them. On p. 590 of “Isis” she also mentions ancient Ellora subterranean rooms and their connections to other places.” (Carlos Cardoso Aveline, The Observatory of Luxor)

Morya in one letter refers to Serapis Bey as a superior to K.H. and M: “…Once that you had determined to make of India your new home, it was in compliance with the direct orders of our beloved Lord and Chief – him whom you know under the name of S. — and Maha Sahib.”

This “Great (maha) Sahib” of the Egyptian brotherhood of Luxor is not the same person as the Chohan, who was chief of the trans-Himalayan brotherhood (see Sarat Chandra Das the Bengali Spy, Sengchen Tulku and the Maha-Chohan Connection).

Colonel Henry S. Olcott describes Serapis Bey physically, as having a body of young age, but he is one of the highest adepts among the Brothers, the “Teacher of our Teachers, a Paramaguru.”

The very name “Serapis” refers to the official god of Egypt during long occupation of the country by the Hellenistic Macedonia, between 305 B.C.E. and 30 B.C.E. Serapis, the protector and healer-god of syncretic Alexandria was adopted by Ptolemy I Soter, the first Greek ruler of Egypt, who wanted to establish links between Egypt and Greece. This again brings into direct lineage and relation — Theosophy, Alexandria and the Neoplatonists. Sufficient for the case, Carlos Aveline Cardoso quotes Matthew Battles:

“In the first centuries of our era, there was in the city an intense cultural competition among Pagans, Jews, Christians and Neoplatonists. That which we know today as Jewish-Christian tradition had its origins in the Alexandrian Eclecticism. Its libraries remained almost in every occasion above such disputes: their goal was to have in their bookshelves the whole of Greek literature, as well as the most significant works written in various other languages. The Library of Alexandria was, therefore, the first one to have universal aspirations; and, together with its community of students, it became the prototype of the modern era universities.” (A Conturbada História das Bibliotecas, p. 36.)

Demonstrating a continued current of thought existing on a more subtler level than a mere external association, we are told by H.P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine (p. xlv), that:

“This period, beginning with Buddha and Pythagoras at the one end and the Neo-Platonists and Gnostics at the other, is the only focus left in History wherein converge for the last time the bright rays of light streaming from the aeons of time gone by, unobscured by the hand of bigotry and fanaticism.”

The word theosophy, says H.P. Blavatsky: “comes to us from the Alexandrian philosophers, called lovers of truth, Philaletheians, from phil ‘loving’, and aletheia ‘truth’. The name Theosophy dates from the third century of our era, and began with Ammonius Saccas and his disciples, who started the Eclectic Theosophical system. (…) Hence the motto adopted by the Theosophical Society: ‘There is no religion higher than truth’. The chief aim of the Founders of the Eclectic Theosophical School was (…) to reconcile all religions, sects and nations under a common system of ethics, based on eternal verities.”


Serapis was working in joint cooperation with the Himalayan brotherhood, therefore the creation of this modern esoteric movement was a combined operation of three main groups of Adepts. These three main groups, or centres of the Adepts are mentioned in a Mahatma Letter (no. 85), while though being separated geographically, promulgate the same esoteric tradition:

“Hermetic Philosophy suits every creed and philosophy and clashes with none. It is the boundless ocean of Truth, the central point whither flows and wherein meet every river, as every stream — whether its source be in the East, West, North, or South. As the course of the river depends upon the nature of its basin, so the channel for communication of Knowledge must conform itself to surrounding circumstances. The Egyptian Hierophant, the Chaldean Mage, the Arhat, and the Rishi, were bound in days of yore on the same voyage of discovery and ultimately arrived at the same goal though by different tracks. There are even at the present moment three centres of the Occult Brotherhood in existence, widely separated geographically, and as widely exoterically – the true esoteric doctrine being identical in substance though differing in terms; all aiming at the same grand object, but no two agreeing seemingly in the details of procedure. It is an every day occurrence to find students belonging to different schools of occult thought sitting side by side at the feet of the same Guru. Upasika (Madam B.) and Subba Row, though pupils of the same Master, have not followed the same Philosophy – the one is Buddhist and the other an Adwaitee.”

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