"You must fight your way upward into the light; you must strive after that realization which awaits you upon the subtle planes of life and existence. Turn your mind inward to that Group of Divine Beings who have your destiny in their keeping. Seek them out; wrestle with them, though unseen to your mortal eye, until they have given you your just birthright. For it can only come to you as a result of your ardent seeking. You must take the Kingdom by storm! Do you get what I mean?"
The Hermes Of Harlem is available in Issue 6 of the Abraxas Journal (September, 2014)
Robert T. Browne (1882-1978) was an unprecedented mystery of a man, both during his life and after. Early on in life he was a religious and political activist, working with Marcus Garvey and others in Harlem for the Black Nationalist movement. Working for the US War Department, he was sent to the Philippines during WWII and captured by Japanese soldiers. For three years he was held captive and starved in an internment camp, where he taught esoteric meditation practices to other prisoners, helping them all to cope with starvation, anger, and madness. He was also an esoteric mathematician and author, with some attention garnered by his The Mystery Of Space. Known as "Mulla Hanaranda" or "The Blessed Master," Browne was also an influential religious leader. He single-handedly created his own religion, The Hermetic Society for World Service, which still operates internationally today. Like many, I first discovered Browne's work in Mitch Horowitz's brilliant Occult America. After contacting Browne's extant religious followers, discovering his own religious texts, and with heavy research in newspapers of his time, I have attempted to compile the most exhaustive portrait of Browne that is now available. His life is further contextualized in the broader role of esotericism in the African-American culture of Harlem during the early part of the 20th century.