MY visit to the rectory resulted in an intimacy which made me to such extent
a member of the family as to remove all obstacles to the collaboration required
of us. It was soon made evident that not only our association, but her design of
seeking a medical education was for both of us an indispensable element in our
preparation for our now recognised joint-mission. In its general aspect that
mission had for its purpose the overthrow of Materialism, and in order to
qualify us for it, it was deemed necessary that we undergo a training in the
most materialistic of the world's schools. This was the
constitute an impassable barrier, but both were opened to view, and the latter was as real and accessible as the former.
It was about the middle of 1876 that these remarkable accession of faculty began to manifest itself in plenitude, I being the first to experience it, notwithstanding my previews total lack of any faculty of the kind, or of belief in the possibility of my having it. But the purification which my physical system had undergone by means of my new dietary regimen, and the constant and intense direction of my thought inwards and upwards, the forcible concentration of my mind upon the essential and substantial ideas of things, and this under impulsion of an enthusiasm kindled to a white heat – and enthusiasm, as already said, both of aspiration and of repulsion – and the enhancement of faculty through sympathetic association, – these had so attenuated the veil that it no longer impeded my vision of spiritual realities. And I found myself – without seeking for or expecting it – spiritually sensitive in respect of sight, hearing, and touch, and in open, palpable relations with a world which I had no difficulty in recognising as of celestial nature; so far did it transcend everything of which I had heard or read in the annals of the contemporary spiritualism; so entirely did it accord with my conceptions of the divine.]
That I refrain from employing the terms “supernatural” and “superhuman,” is because they assume the knowledge of the limits of the natural and the human, and arbitrarily exclude from those categories regions of being which may really belong to them. The celestial and the divine are not necessarily either superhuman or supernatural;
they may be but the higher human and the higher natural. If they are at all, they are according to natural order, and it is natural for them to be.
Nevertheless, vast as was the interval it represented between my past and present states, it came so naturally and easily as to be clearly the result, not of any abnormal or accidental cataclysm envolving a breach of continuity, but of a perfectly orderly unfoldment every step of which was distinctly traceable. For though the process was akin to that of the attainment of sight by one previously blind, and the final issue was sudden, the issue had been led up to in such wise as to render it legitimate and normal. For its earliest indication (1) was an opening of the mind in such wise that subjects hitherto beyond my grasp, and problems deemed insoluble, became comprehensible and clear; while whole vistas of thought perfectly continuous and coherent, would disclose themselves to my view, stretching far away towards their source in the very principles of things, so that I found myself intellectually the master of questions which previously had baffled me.
The experience I am about to relate was not only remarkable in itself, it was remarkable also as striking what proved to be the keynote of all our subsequent work, the doctrine, namely, of the substantial identity of God and man. It had suddenly flashed on my mind as a necessary and self-evident truth, the contrary of which was absurd; and I had seated myself at my writing-table to give it expression for a book I had lately
I was alone and locked in my room in my chambers of Pall Mall, Mrs. Kingsford
being at the time in
The passage I had been writing concluded with these words: –
“The perfect man of any race is no other than the perfect expression in the flesh of all the essential characteristics of the soul of that race. Escaping the limitations of the individual man, such an one represents the soul of his people. Escaping the limitations of the individual
people, he represents the soul of all peoples, or Humanity. Escaping the limitations of Humanity, but still preserving its essential characteristics, he represents the soul of the system of which the earth is but an individual member. And finally, after climbing many a further step of the infinite ladder of existence, and escaping the limitations of all systems whatever, he represents – nay, finds that he is – the soul of the universe, even God Himself, once ‘manifested in the flesh,’ and now ‘perfected through suffering,’ ‘purified, sanctified, redeemed, justified, glorified,’ ‘crowned with honour and glory,’ and ‘seated for ever at the right hand of the Father,’ ‘one with God,’ even God Himself.”
At this moment – my mind being so wholly preoccupied with the utterance and all that I saw it involved, as to make me oblivious of all else – the presence I had felt bending over me darted itself into me just below the cerebral bulb at the back of my neck, the sensation being that of a slight tap, as of a finger-touch; and then in a voice full, rich, firm, measured, and so strong that resound through the room, exclaimed, in a tone indicative of high satisfaction, “At last I have found a man through whom I can speak!”
So powerful was the intonation that the tympana of my ears vibrated to the sound, palpably bulging outwards showing that they had been struck on the inner side, and that the presence had actually projected itself into my larynx and spoken from within me, but without using my organs of speech. I was conscious of being in radiant health at the time, and was unable to detect any symptom of being otherwise. My thought, too, and observation were perfectly coherent and continuous, and I could discern no smallest pretext of distrust of the
reality of the experience. And my delight and satisfaction, which were unbounded, found expression in the single utterance, “Then the ancients were right, and the Gods are!” so resistless was the conviction that only by a divinised being could the wisdom and power be manifested of the presence of which I was conscious. The words, “At last I have found a man” were incompatible with the theory of its being an objectivation of my own particular ego, and, moreover, they indicated the speaker as one high in authority over the race.
Nothing more passed on that occasion; but a vivid impression was left with me that my visitant belonged to the order of spirits called “Planetaries.” But as I had then no knowledge of such beings, I put aside the question of his identity for the solution which I trusted would come of further enlightenment. This came in due time, with the result of confirming the impression given me at the time. The explanation, however, does not come within the scope of this present writing. Some time afterwards, when searching at the library of the British Museum in the writings of the old occultists for experiences analogous to our own, I came upon one account which described the entrance into the man of an overshadowing spirit exactly as it had occurred to me, so far as it concerned the nape of the neck as the point of entry and the slightness of the sensation. The only further reference to the incident necessary here is as follows.
A little later Mrs. Kingsford had returned to
The first experience received by her in relation to our work, after her return
On bringing it to me on the morning of its occurrence, she exclaimed as she entered the room, “Oh, I have had such a terrific dream! It has quite shattered me. And I have brought it for you to try and find its meaning, if it has one. I wrote it down the moment I was able.” Her appearance fully confirmed her statement. It alarmed me. This is the account: –
“I was visited, last night, by a dream of so strange and vivid a kind that I feel impelled to communicate it to you, not only to relieve my own mind of the oppression which the recollection of it
causes me, but also to give you an opportunity of finding the meaning, which I am still far too much shaken and terrified to seek for myself.
“It seemed to me that you and I were two of a vast company of men and women, upon all of whom, with the exception of myself – for I was there voluntarily – sentence of death had been passed. I was sensible of the knowledge – how obtained I know not – that this terrible doom had been pronounced by the official agents of some new reign of terror. Certain I was that none of the party had really been guilty of any crime deserving of death; but that the penalty had been incurred through their connection with some regime, political, social, or religious, which was doomed to utter destruction. It became known among us that the sentence was about to be carried out on a colossal scale; but we remained in absolute ignorance as to the place and method of the intended execution. Thus far my dream gave me no intimation of the scene which next burst on me, – a scene which strained to their utmost tension every sense of sight, hearing, and touch in a manner unprecedented in any dream I have previously had.
“It was night, dark and starless, and I found myself, together with the whole company of doomed men and women who knew that they were soon to die, but not how or where, in a railway train hurrying through the darkness to some unknown destination. I sat in a carriage quite at the rear end of the train, in a corner seat, and was leaning out of the open window, peering into the darkness, when, suddenly, a voice, which seemed to speak out of the air, said to me in a low, distinct,
intense tone, the mere recollection of which makes me shudder, – ‘The sentence is being carried out even now. You are all of you lost. Ahead of the train is a frightful precipice of monstrous height, and at its base beats a fathomless sea. The railway ends only with the abyss. Over that will the train hurl itself into annihilation. THERE IS NO ONE ON THE ENGINE!'
“At this I sprang from my seat in horror, and looked round at the faces of the persons in the carriage with me. No one of them had spoken, or had heard those awful words. The lamplight from the dome of the carriage flickered on the forms about me. I looked from one to the other, but saw no sign of alarm given by any of them. Then again the voice out of the air spoke to me, – 'There is but one way to be saved. You must leap out of the train!'
“In frantic haste I pushed open the carriage-door and stepped out on the footboard. The train was going at a terrific pace, swaying to and fro as with the passion of its speed; and the mighty wind of its passage beat my hair about my face and tore at my garments.
“Until this moment I had not thought of you, or even seemed conscious of your presence in the train. Holding tightly on to the rail by the carriage-door, I began to creep along the footboard towards the engine, hoping to find a chance of dropping safely down on the line. Hand-over-hand I passed along in this way from one carriage to another; and as I did so I saw by the light within each carriage that the passengers had no idea of the fate upon which they were being hurried. At
length, in one of the compartments, I saw you. ‘Come out!' I cried; 'come out! Save yourself! In another minute we shall be dashed to pieces!’
“You rose instantly, wrenched open the door, and stood beside me outside on the footboard. The rapidity at which we were going was now more fearful than ever. The train rocked as it fled onwards. The wind shrieked as we were carried through it. 'Leap down!' I cried to you. 'Save yourself! It is certain death to stay here. Before us is an abyss; and there is no one on the engine!'
“At this you turned your face full upon me with a look of intense earnestness, and said, 'No, we will not leap down; we will stop the train.'
“With these words you left me, and crept along the footboard towards the front of the train. Full of half-angry anxiety at what seemed to me a Quixotic act, I followed. In one of the carriages we passed I saw my mother and eldest brother, unconscious as the rest. Presently we reached the last carriage, and saw by the lurid light of the furnace that the voice had spoken truly, and that there was no one on the engine.
“You continued to move onwards. 'Impossible! Impossible!' I cried; 'it cannot be done. Oh, pray, come away!'
“Then you knelt upon the footboard, and said, 'You are right. It cannot be done in that way; but we can save the train. Help me to get these irons asunder.'
“The engine was connected with the train by two great iron hooks and staples. By a tremendous effort, in making which I almost lost my balance, we unhooked the irons and detached the train; when, with a mighty leap as of some mad supernatural
monster, the engine sped on its way alone, shooting back as it went a great flaming trail of sparks, and was lost in the darkness. We stood together on the footboard, watching in silence the gradual slackening of the speed. When at length the train had come to a standstill, we cried to the passengers, 'Saved! Saved!' And then, amid the confusion of opening the doors and descending and eager talking, my dream ended, leaving me shattered and palpitating with the horror of it.”
This vision was intended to show us the destruction, moral, intellectual, and spiritual, towards which the world was tending by following materialistic modes of thought, and the part we were to bear in arresting its progress towards the fatal precipice, at all hazards to ourselves. The startling announcement made to her by the invisible voice when the crowded train was rushing at full speed to its doom, “There is no one on the engine!” exactly represented the philosophy which, denying mind in the universe, recognises only blind force.
I had determined to include an account of this vision in the book on which I was then engaged, England and Islam. And I was alone in my rooms, reading the proofs of it, my mind being occupied solely with the letterpress, until I came to the remark ascribed to me in the vision, as made in reply to her entreaty that I would jump out with her to save ourselves, “No, we will not leap down, we will stop the train.” At this moment the voice which shortly before (1) had said to me, “At last I have found a man through whom I can speak!” addressed me again, saying in a pleased
and encouraging tone, as if the speaker had been following me in my reading, and desired to remove any doubts I might have of the reality of our mission, – “Yes! Yes! I have trusted all to you!” This time he spoke from without me, but apparently quite close by. And among the impressions which at the same instant were flashed into my mind, was the impression, amounting to a conviction, that whatever might be the part assigned to others in the work of the new illumination in progress and the restoration thereby to the world of one true doctrine of existence, the exposition of its innermost and highest sphere, the head corner-stone of the pyramid of the system which is to make the humanity of the future, had been committed to us alone. And now, writing nearly twenty years later, I can truly say that this conviction has never for a moment been weakened, but on the contrary has gathered confirmation and strength with every successive accession of experience and knowledge, and while cognisant of and fully appreciating all that has taken place in the unfoldment of the world's thought during the interval.
Ever since that memorable winter of 1876-7, the conviction, shared equally by my colleague, has been with me that the controlling spirit of the Hebrew prophets was that also of our work, the purpose of which was the accomplishment of their prophecies, by the promotion of the world's spiritual consciousness to a level surpassing any yet attained by it, to the regeneration of the church and the establishment of the kingdom of God with power. Having which conviction, there was for us but one object in life: – to fulfil at
whatever cost to ourselves the conditions necessary to make us fitting instruments for the perfect accomplishment of a work which we recognised as the loftiest that could be committed to mortals.
My colleague's enforced return to London was promptly signalised by an experience which served not only yet further to demonstrate the reality and nature of our mission, and of her primacy in our work, but to disclose its essentially Christian character, which hitherto had been an open question for us. For that upon which we ourselves were bent was the discovery of the nature of existence at first hand, and independently of any existing system whatever. It was truth and truth alone that we sought, and to this end we had laboured to make ourselves as those of whom it is said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” For in divesting ourselves of all prepossessions and prejudices, we had made ourselves as “little children.” We were neither believers nor disbelievers, but pure sceptics in that best sense of the term in which it denotes the unbiased seeker after God and truth. This is to say, we were, and we gloried in being, absolutely free thinkers, a term which, in its true acceptation, we regarded as man's noblest title. This is the sense in which it denotes a thought able to exercise itself in all directions open to thought, outwards and downwards to matter and negation, and inwards and upwards to spirit and reality. And our work proved in the event to be the supreme triumph of Free Thought.
The experience in question was as follows. It was night and I was alone and locked in my chambers, and was writing at full speed, lest it
should escape me, an exposition of the place and office of woman under the coming regeneration. I was conscious of an exaltation of faculty such as might conceivably be the result of an enhancement of my own mind by junction with another and superior mind. I was even conscious, though in a far less degree than before, of an invisible presence. But I was too much engrossed with my idea to pay heed to persons, be they whom they might, human or divine, as well as anxious to take advantage of such assistance. I had clearly and vividly in my mind all that I desired to say for several pages on. Then, suddenly and completely, like the stoppage of a stream in its flow through a tube by the quick turning of a tap, the current of my thought ceased, leaving my mind an utter blank as to what I had meant to say, and totally unable to recall the least idea of it. So palpable was its withdrawal, that it seemed to me as if it must still be hovering somewhere near me, and I looked up and impatiently exclaimed aloud to it, “Where are you?” At length, after ransacking my mind in vain, I turned to other work, for I was perfectly fresh, and the desertion had been in no way due to exhaustion, physical or mental. On taking note of the time of the disappearance, I found it was 11.30 precisely.
The next morning failed to bring my thought back to me as I had hoped it would
do; but it brought instead, an unusually early visit from Mrs. Kingsford, who
was – as I have said – staying in
though it was late I was not inclined to rest, for I was wakeful with a sense of irritation at the thought of what you are doing, and at my exclusion from any share in it. And I was feeling envious of your sex for the superior advantages you have over ours of doing great and useful work. As I sat by the fire thinking this, I suddenly found myself impelled to take a pencil and paper, and to write. I did so, and wrote with extreme rapidity, in a half-dreamy state, without any clear idea of what I was writing, but supposing it to be something expressive of my discontent. I had soon covered a page and a half of a large sheet with writing different from my own, and it was quite unlike what was in my mind, as you will see.”
On perusing the paper I found that it was a continuation of my missing thought, taken up at the point where it had left me, but translated to a higher plane, the expression also being similarly elevated in accordance both with the theme and the writer, having the exquisiteness so characteristic of her genius. To my enquiry as to the hour of the occurrence, she at once replied, “Half-past eleven exactly; for I was so struck by it that I took particular notice of the time.”
What I had written was as follows: –
“Those of us who, being men, refuse to accord to women the same freedom of evolution for their consciousness which we claim for ourselves, do so in consequence of a total misconception of the nature and functions both of Humanity and of Existence at large. The notion that men and women can by any possibility do each other's work, is utterly absurd. Whom God hath distinguished, none can confound. To do the same thing is not to do the same work; inasmuch as the spirit is more than the fact, and the spirit of man and of woman is different.
While for the production of perfect results it is necessary that they work harmoniously together, it is necessary also that they fulfil separate functions in regard to that work”. (1)
This was the point at which my thought had failed me, to be taken up by her at the same instant two miles away, without her knowing even that I contemplated treating that particular theme, as I had purposely reserved it until I should have completed the expression, hoping to give her a pleasant surprise; for it was one very near to her heart. This is her continuation of it. It will be seen that, besides complementing my thought, it responded remedially to her own mood: –
“In a true mission of redemption, in the proclamation of a gospel to save, it is
the man who must preach; it is the man who must stand forward among the people;
it is the man who, if need be, must die. But he is not alone. If his be the
glory of the full noontide, his day has been ushered in by a goddess.
His pulse quickens, He utters the word that works the miracle. Hail, Mary, full of grace: Christ is thy gift to the world! Without thee He could not have been; but for thine impulse He could have worked no mighty work. This shall be the history of all time; it shall be the sign of the Christ. Mary shall feel; Christ shall speak. Hers the glory of setting His heart in action; hers the thrill of emotion to which His power shall respond. But for her He shall be powerless; but for her He shall be dumb; but for her He shall have no strength to smite, no hand to help. It is the seed of the woman who shall bruise the serpent's head. The Christ, the true prophet, is her child, her gift to the world. 'Woman, behold thy Son!’”
Such was the first intimation and the manner thereof, given us of the truth
subsequently revealed in plenitude, – the presence in Scripture of a mystical
sense concealed within the apparent sense, as a kernel in its shell, which, and
not the literal sense, is the intended sense. (1) As was later shown us in regard to the story of
the cursing of the fig-tree, that of the marriage in
of Christ, and the conversion thereby of a perfect philosophy into a gross idolatry. Meanwhile, the experience was a further demonstration to us of the reality and accessibility not merely of the world spiritual, but of the world celestial also, and of the high source of the commission under which we had become associated together. It was also an indication that as concerned ourselves our work appertained to the spiritual, rather than to the social plane. Such application of it would follow in due time. No other hypothesis that we could devise would account for the facts. Nor could we imagine any source other than the Church invisible for an interpretation so noble of the Scriptures of the Church visible.
Not that the hypothesis of an extraneous source accounted for all our experiences. For besides receiving knowledge from such influences, there were instances in which we actually saw and seemed to remember scenes, events, and persons, long since vanished from earth, and felt at the time that it needed only that the period of lucidity be sufficiently prolonged to enable us to recover from personal recollection the whole history concerned.
I was somewhat surprised by finding the first experiences of this nature, as well as certain others of an equally high and rare order, occurring to me rather than to my colleague, of the superiority of whose faculty and of whose primacy in our work I had no manner of doubt. The explanation at length vouchsafed was in this wise. It was in order to qualify me for recognising by my own experiences the reality and value of hers when they should come. Not otherwise should I know enough to be able to believe. It proved, moreover, to be
part of the plan ordained to withdraw from me, in a great measure, the faculty requisite for them, when I had become familiar with them. The reason for according her such preference over and above the superiority of her gifts will presently appear. It was another and an exquisite illustration of the depth and tenderness of the mystical element underlying Christianity as divinely conceived and intended.
The partial withdrawal from me of faculty just alluded to took place early in 1877, but not until I had undergone a thorough experiential training in its varied manifestations. Among these were two which call for relation here, by reason of their serving to show that nothing was withheld which might minister to the completeness of the work set us. The first was as follows: –
Being seated at my writing-table, and meditating on the gospel narrative, with a strange sense of being separated by only a narrow interval from a full knowledge of all that it implied, I found myself impelled to seek the precise idea intended to be conveyed by the story of the woman taken in adultery. No account that I had read of it had satisfied me, least of all that which was proposed in the Ecce Homo of Professor Seeley, a book then recent and enjoying a repute which filled me with a strong feeling of personal resentment. For his account, especially of the feelings excited in Jesus by the sight of the accused woman, revolted me by its inscription to Him of a sense of impropriety at once monkish and conventional, and of a limitation of charity altogether incompatible with
the abounding sympathy which was the essence of His nature. It made Him that most odious of characters, a prude.
As I meditated, and in following my idea I passed into a state which, though highly interior, was not sufficiently interior for my purpose – for I wanted, so to speak, to see my idea – a voice audible only to the inner hearing, yet quite distinct, said to me, “You have it within you. Seek for it.” Thus encouraged, I made a further effort at concentration, when – to my utter surprise, for I had no expectation or conception of such a thing – the whole scene of the incident appeared palpably before me, like a living picture in a camera obscura, so natural, minute and distinct as to leave nothing to be desired, and, at the same time, utterly unlike any pictorial representation. I had ever seen of it. Close before me, on my right hand, stood the Temple, with Jesus seated on a stone ledge in the porch, while ranged before Him was a crowd of persons in the costumes of the country and the time; each costume showing the grade or calling of its wearer. Standing together in a group in front of Him were the disciples, and immediately beside them were the accusers, who were readily recognisable by their ample robes and sanctimonious demeanour; and quite close to Him, between Him and them, stood the accused woman. As I approached the scene, moving meteor-like through the air, He was in the act of lifting Himself up from stooping to write on the ground, and I had a perfect view of His face. He was of middle age, but, to my surprise, the type was that of a Murillo, rather than a Rafaelle, and the lower portion of the face was covered with a short, dark
beard. The expression was worn and anxious, and somewhat weary. The skin was rough as from exposure to the weather. The eyes were deep-set and lustrous, and remarkable for the tenderness of their gaze. One of the apostles, whom I at once recognised by his comparative youthfulness as John, though his back was towards me as I approached, was in the act of bending forwards to read the words just traced in the dust on the pavement; and, as if drawn to him by some potent attraction, I at once passed unhesitatingly into him as he bent forward, and tried to read the words through his eyes. Their exact purport escaped me; but the impression I obtained was that they were unimportant in themselves, having been written merely to enable Jesus to collect and calm Himself. For He was filled with a mighty indignation, which was directed, not against the accused woman, but against the by-standing representatives of the conventional orthodoxies, the chief priests and Pharisees, her sanctimonious and hypocritical accusers, – those moral vivisectors through whose pitilessness the shrinking woman stood there exposed to the public gaze, while her fault was so brutally blurted out in her presence for all to hear; for her attitude showed her ready to sink with shame into the ground, and afraid to look either her accusers or her Judge in the face. He, her Judge, also has heard it, and knows that they who utter it are themselves a thousand-fold greater sinners than she, inasmuch as that which she has yielded through exigency either of passion or of compassion, has with them been a cold-blooded habit engendered of ingrained impurity.
In contrast with them she stands out in His eyes
an angel of innocence; and an overwhelming
indignation takes possession of Him, so that He will not at once trust Himself
to speak. His impulse is to drive them forth with blows and reproaches from His
presence, as once already He has driven the barterers from the
meaning of the general move among these self-appointed censors of morals? “They which heard Him, being convicted of their own consciences, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest even unto the last.” No wonder they crucified Him when they got their chance. And no wonder that most of the ancient authorities omit all mention of the incident. Even of His immediate biographers only he records it who is styled “the Beloved,” and whose name, office, and character indicate him as the representative especially of the love-principle in humanity.
Such were the impressions made on me by this vision while it lasted, and written down at the time. And so strong in me was the feeling that I could similarly recall the whole history of Jesus, .that I mentally addressed to the presences which I felt, though I could not see, around me an inquiry whether I should then and there begin the attempt. The reply, similarly given, was a decided negative so far as that present time was concerned, but accompanied by an intimation that our future work would comprise something of the kind; a prediction which was duly fulfilled.
I found myself perplexed beyond measure to comprehend the modus operandi of this experience.
No explanation was forthcoming, whether from my own mind or from my illuminators, until long afterwards; and when it came it was in reference immediately to similar experiences received by my colleague, some of which likewise involved corresponding personal recollections coinciding with but surpassing mine. In the meantime the teaching given us comprised the doctrine of reincarnation, stated so positively, systematically, and scientifically that, when taken in conjunction with our experiences, we found that it, and it alone, afforded a satisfactory explanation of them. And then it was shown us that the method of the new Gospel of Interpretation, of which we were the appointed recipients, was so ordered as to be itself a demonstration of the truth of that doctrine, and that among the lives we had lived, which qualified us for our mission, were those in which we had been in association with Jesus and with each other. (1) Concerning this doctrine, the motive for its suppression, and the fatal consequences thereof to the religion of Christ, it will be time to speak when describing the results attained by us. It is with our initial experiences – those which constituted our initiation – that the present concern lies. There is one supreme experience in the spiritual life, known to mystics as “the vision of Adonai,” or God as the Lord. The reception of this vision by
us was, we were assured, a conclusive proof that nothing would be withheld that was necessary to our full equipment for a complete work. Although described several times in the Bible as an actual occurrence, it had failed to find any response in our own consciousness, more than if it had no existence. Nor had it ever been the subject of intelligent comment by any Bible-expositors known to us. Rather did it seem to have been entirely passed over as a matter wholly apart from human cognition. Hence, when it was vouchsafed to us, it was entirely without anticipation of its occurrence or previous knowledge even of its possibility.
It was received first by myself, the manner of it being as follows. I had observed that when I was following an idea inwards in search of its primary meaning, and to that end concentrated my mind upon a point lying within and beyond the apparent concept, I saw a whole vista of related ideas stretching far away as if towards their source, in what I could only suppose to be the Divine Mind; and I seemed at the same time to reach a more interior region of my own consciousness; so that, supposing man's system to consist of a series of concentric spheres, each fresh effort to focus my mind upon a more recondite aspect of the idea under analysis was accompanied and marked by a corresponding advance of the perceptive point of the mind itself towards my own central sphere and radiant point. And I was prompted to try to ascertain the extent to which it was possible thus to concentrate myself interiorly, and what would be the effect of reaching the mind's ultimate focus. I was absolutely without knowledge or expectation when I yielded to the impulse to make the attempt.
I simply experimented on a faculty of which I found myself newly possessed, with the view of discovering the range of its capacity, being seated at my writing-table the while in order to record the results as they came, and resolved to retain my hold on my outer and circumferential consciousness no matter how far towards my inner and central consciousness I might go. For I knew not whether I should be able to regain the former if I once quitted my hold of it, or to recollect the facts of the experience. At length I achieved my object, though only by a strong effort, the tension occasioned by the endeavour to keep both extremes of the consciousness in view at once being very great.
Once well started on my quest, I found myself traversing a succession of spheres or belts of a medium, the tenuity and luminance of which increased at every stage of my progress; the impression produced being that of mounting a vast ladder stretching from the circumference towards the centre of a system, which was at once my own system, the solar system, and the universal system, the three systems being at once diverse and identical. My progress in this ascent was clearly dependent upon my ability to concentrate the rays of my consciousness into a focus. For, while to relax the effort was to recede outwards, to intensify it was to advance inwards. The process was like that of travelling by will power from the orbit of Saturn to the Sun – taking Saturn as representing the seventh and outermost sphere of the spiritual kosmos, and the Sun its central and radiant point – with the intermediate orbits for stepping-stones and stages, I trying
the while to keep both extremes in view. Presently, by a supreme, and what I felt must be a final, effort – for the tension was becoming too much for me, unless I let go my hold of the outer – I succeeded in polarising the whole of the convergent rays of my consciousness into the desired focus. And at the same instant, as if through the sudden ignition of the rays thus fused into a unity, I found myself confronted with a glory of unspeakable whiteness and brightness, and of a lustre so intense as well-nigh to beat me back. At the same instant, too, there came to me, as by a sudden recollection, the sense of being already familiar with the phenomenon, as also with its whole import, as if in virtue of having experienced it in some former and forgotten state of being. I knew it to be the “Great White Throne” of the seer of the Apocalypse. But though feeling that I had no need to explore further, I resolved to make assurance doubly sure by piercing, if I could, the almost blinding lustre, and seeing what it enshrined. With a great effort I succeeded, and the glance revealed to me that which I had felt must be there. This was the dual form of the Son, the Word, the Logos, the Adonai, the “Sitter on the Throne,” the first formulation of Divinity, the unmanifest made manifest, the unformulate formulate, the unindividuate individuate, God as the Lord, proving by His Duality that God is Substance as well as Force, Love as well as Will, feminine as well as masculine, Mother as well as Father.
Overjoyed at having this supreme problem solved in accordance with my highest aspirations, my one thought was to return and proclaim the glad news. But I had no sooner set myself to write down the
things thus seen and remembered, than I found myself constrained to maintain regarding them the strictest silence, and this even as regarded my fellow-worker; and all that I was permitted to say at that time was, that under a sudden burst of illumination I had become absolutely aware of the truth of the doctrine of the Duality in Unity of Deity to which that in Humanity corresponds, both alike being twain in one. On seeking the reason for the reticence thus imposed on me, I learned that the stage in our work had not yet come when it could be given to the world, either with safety to myself or with advantage to others; and it was necessary that my colleague receive no intimation in advance of any experiences which were to be given to her – of which this experience was one – in order that her mind might be wholly free from bias or expectation. Only so would our testimony have its due value as that of two independent witnesses.
In the following summer the same vision was vouchsafed to her in a measure and with a fullness far transcending mine. (1)
On the occasion she had been forewarned of something of unusual solemnity as about to occur, and prompted to make certain ceremonial preparations obviously calculated to impress the imagination. The access came upon her while standing by the open window, gazing at the moon, then close upon the full. The first effect of the afflatus was to cause her to kneel and pray in a rapt attitude,
with her arms extended towards the sky. It appeared afterwards, that under an access of spiritual exaltation, she had yielded to a sudden and uncontrollable impulse to pray that she might be taken to the stars, and shown all the glory of the universe. Presently she rose, and after gazing upwards in ecstasy for a few moments, lowered her eyes, and, clasping her arms around her head as if to shut out the view, uttered in tones of wonder, mingled with moans and cries of anguish, the following tokens of the intolerable splendour of the vision she had unwittingly invited: –
“Oh, I see masses, masses of stars! It makes me giddy to look at them. O my God, what masses! Millions and millions! WHEELS of planets! O my God, my God, why didst Thou create? It was by Will, all Will, that Thou didst it. Oh! what might, what might of Will! Oh, what gulfs! what gulfs! Millions and millions of miles broad and deep! Hold me! hold me up! I shall sink – I shall sink into the gulfs. I am sick and giddy, as on a billowy sea. I am on a sea, an ocean – the ocean of infinite space. Oh, what depths! what depths! I sink – I fail! I cannot, cannot bear it!”
“I shall never come back. I have left my body forever. I am dying; I believe I am dead. Impossible to return from such a distance! Oh, what colossal forms! They are the angels of the planets. Every planet has its angel standing erect above it. And what beauty! – what marvellous beauty! I see Raphael. I see the Angel of the Earth. He has six wings, He is a God – the God of our planet. I see my genius, who called himself A.Z.; but his name
is Salathiel. Oh, how surpassingly beautiful he is! My genius is a male, and his colour is ruby. Yours, Caro, is a female, and sapphire. They are friends – they are the same – not two, but one; and for that reason they have associated us together, and speak of themselves sometimes as, sometimes as We. It is the Angel of the Earth himself that is your genius and mine, Caro. He it was who inspired you, who spoke to you. And they call me 'Bitterness.' And I see sorrow – oh, what unending sorrow do I behold! Sorrow, always sorrow, but never without love. I shall always have love. How dim is this sphere! …. I am entering a brighter region now. .... Oh, the dazzling, dazzling brightness! Hide me, hide me from it! I cannot, cannot bear it! It is agony supreme to look upon. O God! O God! Thou art slaying me with Thy light. It is the Throne itself, the Great White Throne of God that I behold! Oh, what light! what light! It is like an emerald? a sapphire? No; a diamond! In its midst stands Deity erect, His right hand raised aloft, and from Him pours the light of light. Forth from His right hand streams the universe, projected by the omnipotent repulsion of His will. Back to His left, which is depressed and set backwards, returns the universe, drawn by the attraction of His love. Repulsion and attraction, will and love, right and left, these are the forces, centrifugal and centripetal, male and female, whereby God creates and redeems. Adonai! O Adonai! Lord God of life, made of the substance of light, how beautiful art Thou in Thine everlasting youth! with Thy glowing golden locks, how adorable! And I had thought of God as elderly and venerable! As if
the Eternal could grow old! And now not as Man only do I behold Thee! For now Thou art to me as Woman. Lo, Thou art both. One, and Two also. And thereby dost Thou produce creation. O God, O God! why didst Thou create this stupendous existence? Surely, surely, it had been better in love to have restrained Thy will. It was by will that Thou createdst, by will alone, not by love, was it not? – was it not? I cannot see clearly. A cloud has come between.
“I see Thee now as Woman. Maria is next beside Thee. Thou art Maria. Maria is God. Oh Maria! God as Woman! Thee, thee I adore! Marian-Aphrodite! Mother! Mother-God!
“They are returning with me now, I think. But I shall never get back. What strange forms! how huge they are! All angels and archangels. Human in form, yet some with eagles' heads. All the planets are inhabited! how innumerable is the variety of forms! Oh! universe of existence, how stupendous is existence! Oh! take me not near the sun; I cannot bear its heat. Already do I feel myself burning. Here is Jupiter! It has nine moons! Yes; nine. Some are exceedingly small. And, oh, how red it is! It has so much iron. And what enormous men and women! There is evil there, too. For evil is wherever are matter and limitation. But the people of Jupiter are far better than we on earth. They know much more; they are much wiser. There is less evil in their planet. Ah! and they have another sense, too. What is it? No; I cannot describe it. I cannot tell what it is. It differs from any of the others. We have nothing like it. I cannot get back yet. I shall never get back. I believe I am dead. It is only my body
you are holding. It has grown cold for want of me. Yet I must be approaching; it is growing shallower. We are passing out of the depths. Yet I can never wholly return – never – never!” (1)
The account given of the vision of Adonai in Lecture IX. of The Perfect Way, was written solely from our joint experiences. It was with an interest altogether novel in kind and degree that I now turned to the Bible narratives of the same vision, and found that in the record of its reception by the Elders of Israel, it is stated, as if in token of the power of the spiritual battery with which Moses had surrounded himself, that no less than seventy of his initiates were able to receive the vision without magnetic reinforcement by the imposition of their master's hands. But, as we learnt from our own manifold experiences, it does not follow that because there is no imposition of visible hands, no extraneous aid is rendered. The seeker after God cannot, even if he would, accomplish his quest alone; but always are there attracted to him those angelic beings whose office it is, as ministers of God, to sustain and illuminate souls by the imposition of hands invisible to the outer senses. In her case such aid was palpable. There was no effort on her part. And she held converse with those by whom she was upborne in her stupendous flight.
When in due course the time came for us to receive the ancient and long-lost Gnosis which underlay the sacred religions and scriptures of
antiquity, the following was given us, and we
recognised in it the original Scripture from which the opening sentences in
After defining the Elohim as comprising the two original principles of all Being, “the Spirit and the Water,” or Force and Substance, and bringing up the process whereby Deity proceeds into manifestation to the point described in Genesis in the words, “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the Waters. And God said,” – the utterance thus continues, –
Then from the midst of the Divine Duality, the Only Begotten of God came forth:
Adonai, the Word, the Voice invisible.
He was in the beginning, and by Him were all things discovered.
Without Him was not anything made which is visible.
For He is the Manifestor, and in Him was the life of the world.
God the nameless hath not revealed God, but Adonai hath revealed God from the beginning.
He is the presentation of Elohim, and by Him the Gods are made manifest.
He is the third aspect of the Divine Triad:
Co-equal with the Spirit and the heavenly deep.
For except by three in one, the Spirits of the Invisible Light could not have been made manifest.
But now is the prism perfect, and the generation of the Gods discovered in their order.
Adonai dissolves and resumes; in His two hands are the dual powers of all things.
He is of His Father the Spirit, and of His Mother the great deep.
Having the potency of both in Himself, and the power of things material.
Yet being Himself invisible, for He is the cause, and not the effect.
He is the Manifestor, and not that which is manifest. That which is manifest is the Divine Substance (1).
The reason for the suppression by the translators of the Bible of its numerous affirmations of the Divine Duality, saving only those of Genesis I. 26, 27, was in due time disclosed to us; as also was the extent of the loss to man through the elimination of the feminine principle from his conception of Original Being, and the consequent perversion of the doctrine of the Trinity, and therein of the true nature of Existence, in both its aspects, Creation and Redemption.
(39:1) In 1875. (Life A.K. Vol. I. p. 73.)
(40:1) The book was England and Islam: or the Counsel of Caiaphas, which was published in 1877.
(43:1) This vision occurred in
(47:1) p. 41.
(52:1) E. and
(53:1) It is probable that E.M. intended this statement to apply only to the N.T., or to the Gospels, because, before February, 1874, when he first visited A.K. at her house (p. 2), she had received in sleep “an exposition of the Story of the Fall, exhibiting it as a parable having a significance purely spiritual” and E.M. certainly regarded the Biblical Story of the Fall as “Scripture.” S.H.H.
(58:1) The expression of which the above is an
adaptation, had recently been applied by Mr. Gladstone to the Turkish power. For
the period was the eve of the Turco-Russian War; and Mr. Gladstone had found
vent for his strong sacerdotal proclivities by siding fiercely against the
priest-hating and prophet-venerating Turks, and demanding their expulsion from
Europe, very much on the plea that “it was good for Europe that one nation die
for the rest.” It was in recognition of the part thus played by him that I took
for the sub-title of my book (England and Islam) The
Counsel of Caiaphas. The book – which was written under a high degree of
illumination – contained an earnest appeal to Mr. Gladstone, which, if heeded,
would have saved the country from its subsequent humiliations. Among other
things I was clearly shown that the policy which sought to detach
(60:1) There is another fact, referred to in Life A.K., that must be taken into consideration in connection with experiences of this nature, that is, “the survival for an indefinite period of the images of events occurring on the earth, in the astral light, or memory of the planet, called the anima mundi, which images can be evoked and beheld.” (Life A.K. Vol. I. p. 125.) S.H.H.
(64:1) This “Vision of Adonai” by A.K. was merely referred to in the previous editions of this book. I have extracted the following account of the most interesting part of it from Life A.K. (Vol. I. pp. 193-196.). S.H.H.
(68:1) Speaking of this vision, E.M. says: – “Her apprehension was not without justification; for her body was completely torpid, and several hours passed before consciousness was fully restored to it.” (C.W.S. p. 283.)
(70:1) This is one of the illuminations that were received by A.K., during the latter part of 1878, “directly from the hierarchy of the Church Invisible and Celestial.” Speaking of these illuminations, which “dealt with the profoundest subjects of cognition,” E.M. says that he and A.K. found in them “a synthesis and an analysis combined of the sacred mysteries of all the great religions of antiquity, and the true origines of Christianity as originally and divinely intended, together with the secret and method of its corruption and perversion into that which now bears its name”; and they “were at no loss to recognise in them the destined Scriptures of the future, so long promised and at length vouchsafed in interpretation of the Scriptures of the past.” (Life A.K. Vol. I. pp. 293, 294.) S.H.H.