In various occult movements, Secret Chiefs are said to be transcendent cosmic authorities, a Spiritual Hierarchy responsible for the operation and moral calibre of the cosmos, or for overseeing the operations of an esoteric organization that manifests outwardly in the form of a magical order or lodge system. Their names and descriptions have varied through time, dependent upon those who reflect their experience of contact with them. They are variously held to exist on higher planes of being or to be incarnate; if incarnate, they may be described as being gathered at some special location, such as Shambhala, or scattered through the world working anonymously.
One early and influential source on these entities is Karl von Eckartshausen, whose The Cloud Upon The Sanctuary, published in 1795, explained in some detail their character and motivations. Several 19th and 20th century occultists claimed to belong to or to have contacted these Secret Chiefs and made these communications known to others, including H.P. Blavatsky (who called them the "Tibetan Masters" or Mahatmas), C.W. Leadbeater and Alice A. Bailey (who called them Masters of the Ancient Wisdom), Guy Ballard and Elizabeth Clare Prophet (who called them Ascended Masters), Aleister Crowley (who used the term to refer to members of the upper three grades of his order, A∴A∴ ), Dion Fortune (who called them the "esoteric order"), and Max Heindel (who called them the "Elder Brothers").
While in Algeria in 1909, Crowley, along with Victor Neuburg, recited numerous Enochian Calls or Aires. After the fifteenth Aire, Crowley said he was told that he had attained the grade of Magister Templi (Master of the Temple), which meant that he himself was now on the level of these Secret Chiefs, although this declaration caused many legitimate occultists to stop taking him seriously if they had not done so already. He also described this attainment as a possible and in fact a necessary step for all who truly followed his path. In 1947, when Aleister Crowley died, he left behind a sketch of one of the "Secret Chiefs", Crowley's invisible mentor that he called LAM. The sketch looks like a Grey Alien. 
Secret Chiefs (sometimes "Secret Chiefs of the A.'.A.'.") Aleister Crowley's term for those praeternatural entities which direct the progress of humanity for ends that are usually beyond the ken of mortal men. The Secret Chiefs are of at least the grade of Magus and Magister Templi, may or may not be in human form depending on their own needs at the time, and are utterly unknown to the rest of humanity except in the very rare times when they find it part of their plan to reveal themselves to one person. Crowley stated that he believes that Aiwass, who dictated The Book of the Law to him, and Ab-ul-Diz and Amalantrah, entities he contacted in other workings, were all Secret Chiefs.
The Secret Chiefs are possessed of immense powers, called the "Ophidian Vibrations" which allow them to "insinuate [themselves] into any desired set of circumstances." These powers allow the Secret Chiefs "to induce a girl to embroider a taperstry, or initiate a political movement to culminate in a world-war; all in pursuit of some plan wholly beyond the purview or the comprehension of the deepest and subtlest thinkers." In his Confessions, Crowley often discusses the events of his own life in terms of what he supposes to have been the plans of the Secret Chiefs. Crowley's immediate source for the idea of Secret Chiefs was the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which subscribed to the notion, and justified its operation with reference to them. Nineteenth century occultism was full of various sorts of "hidden masters," however. The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor referred to an "Interior Circle" of enlightened masters who could be contacted clairvoyantly. The Mahatmas (literally, "Great Souls") of the Theosophical Society were another important case. Johnson's Masters Revealed explores the possibility that, rather than otherworldly guides or fictional sources of legitimacy, the Theosophical Mahatmas were historical persons with whom Blavatsky associated.
Possibly the earliest example of the Secret Chiefs concept is found in the "Unknown Superiors" (Superiores Incognitii) of the Rite of Strict Observance, a Templarist Masonic body established by Baron von Hund in the mid-eighteenth century. Some writers (Kenneth MacKenzie, for example) believed that Hund's superiors were the Jesuits. At about the same time, however, the German Gold- und Rosenkreuz order also referred to its own mysterious secret chiefs (unbekannte Oberen).
G. I. Gurdjieff
The Graeco-Armenian G. I. Gurdjieff's teachings, known as the Fourth Way, mentioned a "Universal Brotherhood" and also a mysterious group of monks called the Sarmoung. Both groups were described as in possession of advanced knowledge and powers, and as being open to suitable candidates from all creeds. He also believed in advanced kinds of humans called "man number 6" and "man number seven", of whom he said:- They cannot perform actions opposed to their understanding or have an understanding which is not expressed by actions. At the same time there can be no discords among them, no differences of understanding. Therefore their activity is entirely co-ordinated and leads to one common aim without any kind of compulsion because it is based upon a common and identical understanding. ...although he never explicitly linked "higher man" to his "brotherhoods.