The Brothers Of The Path (T.B.O.T.P.) was an International Occult Brotherhood, based in East Yorkshire in the 1930s and 40s. The “Founder-Principal” was Anthony Greville-Gascoigne. They seemed to operate mainly through a correspondence course in Britain and also around the world, and also via some local groups. It seemed that the correspondence course led to an initiation into an Inner Lodge. They published a quarterly journal called “The Golden Dawn Magazine” which contained articles by well-known occultists, literary criticism, and messages for students.
In their own words:
“The Brothers Of The Path are an Occult Fraternity founded to promote the study of the ancient wisdom teachings, and to serve as an Outer Court to the Inner Lodge of the Brothers. T.B.O.T.P. is non-political and non-sectarian. It encourages ideals of brotherhood and service to humanity. Its “Way of Living” does not conflict with ANY religious denomination, but is approved by all men and women of goodwill.”
From the back cover of The Golden Dawn Magazine (GDM) Vol 3, No 1.
“The Brothers of the Path is a free and independent Occult Fraternity, founded primarily to propagate the Western Esoteric traditional teachings and to foster ideals of Brotherhood and Service. It offers comradeship to all who desire to tread the Path, and fraternal help and guidance are freely and willingly given to all who ask. It is NOT, in the accepted sense of the words, a religious organisation but it teaches a “Way of Living” offensive to none and comparable with the highest Christian ideals of fraternal love and service.
It is non-sectarian, non-political and membership is open to all who apply and are accepted by by its Founder-Principal, Dr. A. Greville-Gascoigne Ph.D., F.R.S.A., M.I.J. It has no colour, caste or race prejudice, and makes no distinction whatsoever between its members and is maintained solely by their voluntary donations and gifts and from the privy purse of the Founder and his colleagues. There are no compulsory “dues”.
T.B.O.T.P. is the largest BRITISH fraternity in the world and is one of the three largest organisations of this character in existence. Its members will be found in almost every country in the world …”
From GDM Vol IV, No 1
In their own words:
“To all sincere seekers who desire to tread the Path the Fraternity offers a complete training which prepares for Initiation into the Mysteries. The training given is completely comprehensive and is not burdened with irksome restrictions. Among other things it embraces a sound knowledge of the Natural Laws of Health, Applied Psychology, Meta-Physics, the Basic Principles of Occultism, Yoga and Esoteric Laws. The complete outline and full details of the training can be had on application.”
From the back cover of GDM Vol 3, No 1
According to an assessment of ephemera by Caduceus Books some years ago, T.B.O.T.P. “offered a three year correspondence course. The first year concentrated on alternative health, the second applied psychology and personal efficiency, the third symbology and ceremonial magic. Suitable members would then be invited to join the Inner Lodge which required undergoing an initiation ceremony.”
There are references in the Golden Dawn Magazine to lessons being posted out fortnightly for “the Primary, Intermediate and Advanced courses” (p.29 of GDM Vol 3, No 4), and there are also reference to the Student’s Manual, containing for example “breathing exercises” (p.32 of GDM Vol 4, No 1):
“The new Manual is very beautifully produced, and is of an unusual size and appearance. It is bound in black cloth and lettered in gold, containing 200 pages and about 100,000 words.”
From p.27, GDM Vol 3, No 4
There is mention of shared meditation: “Ever since T.B.O.T.P, came into being, we at G.H.Q. have met together for Meditation at 8 a.m. and at 10 p.m. every day. At precisely these times, we are joined by our students in all parts of the world and, if specially requested to do so, our thoughts are directed to some particular student or friend who needs help. We have had reports from time to time telling us how helpful this projection of thought has been.”
From p. 28 of GDM Vol 3 No 4.
The Golden Dawn Magazine
The Golden Dawn Magazine was the official Organ of T.B.O.T.P., and was published quarterly from 1938 onwards. The Magazine incorporated earlier titles (“Freedom”, published from 1930, and Illuminiere from 1932), so it was claimed that the magazine had been published since 1930. The latest issue I know of was published in June 1944.
The magazine catered for those interested in the Occult and kindred sciences. It typically included an editorial by Anthony Greville-Gascoigne, columns on astrology, numerology, pages for women, messages for students, a gossip column, articles on the occult, psychology, health and diet, and a literary supplement.
In their own words:
“[It] has the largest circulation of any Occult Quarterly in the world. Almost every famous writer in the Occult and kindred fields has contributed to its pages.” (GDM Vol 3, No 1)
“It is sent to most civilised countries” (GDM Vol 3, No 1, inside front cover)
“Its American sale is equal to its English sale.” (GDM Vol 3, No 1, inside front cover)
Some issues from 1938 to 1944 are available at the British Library. Volume 3 No. 4 (Dec 1940) is available on the internet (as a 56MB PDF file!)
The headquarters of the Brothers of the Path (or G.H.Q. as they called it during the war) was at ‘El Sendero’ in North Ferriby, a village on the outskirts of Hull in East Yorkshire. According to ephemera sold by Caduceus Books some years ago, T.B.O.T.P. relocated to Southern Ireland in 1946.
Rathmell Wilson describes a 1939 visit to ‘headquarters’ in an article in GDM. He found “El Sendero” to be “a small but delightfully comfortable house,” with lovely gardens, and an office-room with many files and typewriters. There he met Anthony Greville-Gascoigne and some of the leading lights of T.B.O.T.P: Stanley Conrad Churchill (the Secretary, Associate editor and Astrologer), Andrew Philip Chetwode (the Business Manager) and Berkeley Spencer-Shaw (the Director of Studies).
Can you help?
We are looking for more information about the Brothers of the Path. Particularly more about their advanced course. Did they include Kabbalah or Golden Dawn style ritual in their work? I know there is material in circulation (such as copies of the student manual), but not sure who has it. If you can help, please get in touch!