Sue Young Histories

Peter Davidson 1837 - 1915

April 28, 2009

Peter Davidson 1837 - 1915 was a Scottish musician and violin maker, homeopath, herbalist and publisher, who was associated with the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, founded in 1884.

Davidson was the lifelong publisher of The Morning Star and _Mountain Musings_, and he organised a World wide network of correspondents, concentrating on agricultural and holistic health practices ‘far ahead of their time’, and he also preached against religious and medical dogmatism (Allen Greenfield, The Roots of Modern Magick: Glimpses of the Authentic tradition from 1700-2000, An Anthology, (, 2006). Page 45 onwards. See also Joscelyn Godwin, Christian Chanel, John Patrick Deveney, The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor: Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism, (Weiser Books, 1995). Page 19).

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor were the guardians of the innermost secrets of Freemasonry which had been lost to the orthodox and conventional schools of Masonic knowledge.

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor influenced the founding of the Theosophical Society, The Golden Dawn, and similar instututions all around the World.

Davidson was a colleague of William Alexander Ayton, Emma Hardinge Britten, Thomas Henry Burgoyne, Gerard Anaclet Vincent Encausse, Hargrave Jennings, Kenneth Robert Henderson MacKenzie, Paulos Metamon, Paschal Beverly Randolph, Max Theon, John Yarker.

Davidson was also a member of the American Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and also a member of various Societies.

Davidson was probably profoundly influenced by Jacob and Eve Frank.

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor marks a change in direction for occult societies, previously extremely secret, Davidson offered membership via correspondence course, open to anyone who was prepared to submit their horoscope (Peter Davidson’s horoscope was donated to the Hermetic Museum by one of his grandchildren), a photograph, and on acceptance, be offered a mentor to induct them (John Michael Greer, The New Encyclopedia of the Occult, (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2003). Multiple pages).

From Max Theon came to England in 1870, where he and Peter Davidson established an “Outer Circle” of The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor. In 1873, Max Theon, then just twenty six, was made its Grand Master; Peter Davidson was the Order’s frontal Chief. Blavatsky, Olcott, Charles Barlet and many other occultists of the time were among its members. But in 1877 Blavatsky and Olcott severed their relation with the The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor

From Peter Davidson was a native of Forres, Scotland, a stone’s throw from what was destined to become the much-discussed magical community of Findhorn in the 20th Century. He was in his life many things; a homeopathic physician and herbalist, a classical accomplished musician and author of a very successful book on the history of the violin, and subsequently a publisher.

But his most outstanding contribution was to the world of occultism and occultist studies. Indeed, there is some prima facie evidence that the sexual gnosis so central to the teachings of the OTO may have been transmitted through Dr. Davidson, perhaps through his close and lengthy association with Gerard Anaclet Vincent Encausse.

In specific, Davidson had long and profound association with Hargrave Jennings and with Max Theon (was a Polish Jew, the son of a Rabbi, whose real name was Louis Maximillian Birnstein, also known as Aia Aziz), both seminal thinkers in the magical arena, and was a major influence upon Gerard Anaclet Vincent Encausse, who, in turn, is closely associated with Theodor Reuss and the early years of OTO history.

Exactly when and how Davidson became interested in occultism remains a minor mystery, but it appears to have begun relatively early in his life. Indeed, articles from various journals by Davidson survive among family members which date from the 1870s and already at that time evinces a rather sophisticated knowledge of things metaphysical.

In an 1877 piece entitled Astro Theosophical Fragments, Davidson opines that “In olden times it was the ambition of the well minded to be able to communicate with the Planetary and Tutelary Angels, and for this very purpose rituals were constructed…”

In The Signs of the Zodiac, written the following year, we find him liberally peppering an essay on astrology with references to Gnosticism, Kaballah, and the kind of “esoteric anthropology” one might associate with Gerald Massey (and later, Aleister Crowley).

He tells his readers that “the letters of all languages are very significant symbols which have the original Ten signs of the Zodiac for their origin… The letters SS and ZZ have always been interchangeable, and if we find the SS on Talismans, and other signs denoting evil or serpentine influences, upon others we find the double SS on the Sacramental or Communion Cups of the Church, indicating the presence of the Holy Ghost, or Pure Wisdom.”

Throughout his writing and teaching career, Peter Davidson would make it his business to take more or less standard conventional Christian religious terminology, and interpret it in a Gnostic and esoteric fashion. This was never more true than in his observations nearly twenty years later in Masonic Mysteries Unveiled.

He wrote that “The Male Principle was always symbolised in the Sacred Science of the Temple by the letter I… Upon a crowd of Egyptian monuments we see a crowned woman…  symbolized by the oval, or letter O… The union of the two Principles was the Cross, the symbol of the Christian redemption, the X or IO, the union of the I and O, which embraced all other figures…

“In Egypt, at the moment of final and supreme Initiation, the Candidate was extended upon a Tau - T, the Ansated Cross…”

But, this had been a busy twenty years indeed for Peter Davidson. At some point in the 1870s he had been recruited into the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, so closely associated earlier with such comparatively mysterious figures as the Polish Max Theon and the Egyptian Coptic teacher of Madame Blavatsky, Paulos Metamon.

He may have been recruited by Max Theon who, in his turn, may have been tapped by none other than the great lion of 19th Century occultism, Paschal Beverly Randolph. Certainly, the decision to find a neophyte of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor in Great Britain was made, according to Davidson, in 1870, the same year that Paschal Beverly Randolph took his similarly organized Brotherhood of Eulis into public in America.

The subsequent history of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor under Max Theon and Davidson drew heavily upon the secret sexual gnosis taught by Paschal Beverly Randolph. However this may be… “the primary result of the Order was to introduce occultists to the practical methods of Paschal Beverly Randolph.”

This phase of development begins by the late 1870s, and overlaps with the founding of the OTO With Max Theon as Grand Master of the Exterior Circle, and Davidson as Grand Master of the Scottish Branch, after a false start or two,

Peter Davidson began his veritable public career as an occultist in February of 1885 with publication of the first issue of The Occult Magazine. Billing itself as “a monthly journal of psychical and philosophical research” with an ever present quote from Shelley on the masthead, “A Chronicle of Strange, and Secret, and Forgotten Things,” the journal contained bits and pieces on Paschal Beverly Randolph, Max Theon, John Yarker, Emma Hardinge Britten, the legend of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, mysterious secret chiefs, the Kaballah, Rosicrucianism, and metaphysical miscellany.

The following year the magazine, still under Davidson’s editorship, began to promote a proposed utopian community, which eventually settled upon the now “lost” community of Loudsville, White County, Georgia, U.S.A. as its designated location.

Davidson relocated his family to this rustic area, but continued to publish _The Occult Magazine_ through his publisher in Glasgow until the end of 1886 (when he travelled to America with his wife Christina Ross and their 5 children. Davidson subsequently married Jessie Mantock).

Thereafter, Davidson acquired a gasoline pulled printing press and began publishing under the name The Morning Star, always with the same quotation from Shelley from _The Occult Magazine_, and always with a publisher’s representative in Britain.

The colony itself centered on Davidson and his (considerable) family, and Davidson became something of a ocal celebrity. Such few historians as have given the matter attention seem to consider the colony a failure, but the author of the present essay found an on going impact in the area, even a hundred years later.

Family members provided much information on Davidson’s life, and members of the Davidson family continued to practice some of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor’s alternative healing techniques as late as the 1930s. One descendent we met with was operating an organic gro- cery and alternative health operation in Atlanta as late as the beginning of the 21st Century. Other relatives told us of tree grafting experiments performed successfully by Peter Davidson which were still producing exotic fruit in the 1990s.

The journal of the Clan Davidson Society produced an article on Peter Davidson in 1993, and the White County Board of Commissioners readily provided us with a biography of their celebrated pioneer father, referring to him as “a writer, translator and philosopher.”

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor publication directly gave rise to the local newspaper, The__Cleveland Courier , in 1897, which continued in print under Davidson family members until recent years.

Davidson’s emphasis in the magazine and various monographs such as the _Mountain Musings_ series continued to be initiation and metaphysics. For many years Davidson continued his close association with Gerard Anaclet Vincent Encausse and his Martinist Order, and the relationship with Max Theon became that of his American Representative, with The Morning Star increasingly devoted to Max Theon’s “Cosmic Philosophy.”

Max Theon had relocated to Algeria (then an integral Department of France), and sketches of the Theon and Davidson utopian homesteads half a world apart show remarkable similarities. The association continued until a family tragedy put an end to Max Theon’s active work, and even beyond, almost to the time of Peter Davidson’s death, in 1915.

It has been rumored that Davidson’s family made a bonfire of his papers after his death, but the present writer not only has found no evidence of this, but, to the contrary, found his descendents to have many letters, articles, copies of journals and related items. The last editor of The__Cleveland Courier, still being published on the same hand set press that produced _Mountain Musings_, The Morning Star and other metaphysical works, apparently has kept much material from that time under protective lock and key. Even the present owners of the former Davidson home show an almost reverential regard for the former legendary resident.

What may matter most is the link in the continuity of ideas from Paschal Beverly Randolph, through Peter Davidson and Papus, which somehow found its way into the core praxis and metaphysics of the OTO from its earliest days down to the present time. While other organizations have some claim to various aspects of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor legacy, the OTO, and the OTO. alone, can claim its inner core teachings as central to its present work.

Seen in this light, Peter Davidson may be seen as one of the outstanding links in the chain of occult tradition so very suited to the present Aeon.

Peter Davidson wrote The Mistletoe and Its Philosophy, The Mysterious Brothers - an old tale retold, The Book of Light and Life, Man Know Thyself: The Philosophy of Man, The Violin, Scintillations from the Orient, The Caledonian Collection of Music, Masonic Mysteries Unveiled, Fragments of Freemasonry, Mountain Musings, The Morning Star, Vital Christianity, A Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia, The Chaldean, Elementals, The Laws of Magic Mirrors, and he edited The Secret Documents, and _The Occult Magazine_.

Of interest:

Alex Davidson, one of Peter’s sons became the Editor of the Cleveland Courier, which remained in the family until 1975 via Alex’s son James P Davidson, and his son Richard Davidson.

Jim Davidson, one of Peter’s sons  was a private guard to the Queen.


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