LIFE OF ANNA KINGSFORD
IT would naturally be supposed that our delight culminated with an achievement such as the recovery of this Hymn to the Planet-God. And so it might have done had the highest satisfaction of which man is capable been that which is of the mind. But such is not the case. There is a joy of the heart that transcends aught of which the mind is capable. And such joy was ours when, passing from the sphere of Dionysos, the “Spirit of Power,” and Elohe of the “third Day” of Creation, we entered the sphere of Aphrodite, the “Spirit of Counsel” or Love, and Elohe of the “fourth Day” of Creation, and received the first instalment of her mysteries.
event was preceded and heralded by a singular experience, and one that at first
caused Mary considerable perplexity. She had been eagerly anticipating the
revelation of the mysteries of Venus, to use the Latin name for this divinity,
thinking that they must be yet more exquisite than the rest, but failing to see
how there could be room for such superiority. While in this frame of mind she
received in sleep, from a source the nature of which was concealed from her, as
intimation that she could not expect to have given to her the mysteries of the
– as so often before – bring the desired revelation. And so it proved. For on the night of March 15, the moon being at its full, she received that most precious of all the “precious things brought forth by the moon” – as said in Deuteronomy – the hymn entitled, “A Discourse of the Communion of Soules, and of the Uses of Love between Creature and Creature, being part of the Goldene Booke of Venus.” For, like most of the things read by her in sleep, it was in archaic spelling.
During the following morning, without telling me what had occurred, she sat writing, book in lap, for an unusually long period, completely absorbed. At length she rose from her seat, and with a heavy sigh put her book away in her private drawer without speaking. Recognising and respecting her evident desire for privacy in the matter, I refrained from making allusion, to it, intensely eager though I always was to learn the subject of her inspirations. The following morning saw her similarly engaged for an equal space. Having at length finished her task, she called to me in jubilant tones – for we were sitting in different divisions of the drawing-room – to come and hear what she had written; whereupon she to me the hymn she had been writing down, and was delighted to find that my appreciation corresponded to hers. After I had remarked that its style reminded me of the Imitation of Christ, and that the two might really have come from the same source, she told me the following history of it: –
The volumes of Scriptures which had attracted her attention on quitting Lilly’s laboratory on the occasion of her being taken there by her Genius to have her horoscope told, had dwelt in her mind, making her long to return and read them. The longing seemed to have but awaited the next full moon to adopt my suggestion and fulfil itself. For on that very night while in sleep, she found herself there alone, and with the books at her disposal, and she believed that her choice of that particular poem was determined by her mood of that day; for she was sorrowing greatly for her lost pet, Rufus, his successor having failed to fill his place in her heart. Enchanted with the poem, she had read and re-read it, hoping to be able to retain it and write it down afterwards. And her disappointment was great when, on attempting to do so, she was able to recollect only about the half of it. She determined, therefore, when night came, to
will herself back to the place and the book, keeping her secret to herself lest the clue be broken or obscured by any action of my mind. The attempt was successful, and on the following day she completed the transcript, with the exception of a single verse which she recovered soon after. Such is the genesis of that most exquisite hymn which stands in Clothed with the Sun as Part II, Nº. XIV, Part 2. We recognised it as the first expression the world had ever seen of really Christian doctrine. In talking about it she remarked with much emphasis, “The world has but to know that hymn for it to be the death-blow of vivisection.” We wondered much – as about so many of its companion scriptures – whether it had ever before seen the light on this planet. The only thing that suggested the probability was a dream received shortly afterwards, in which Mary saw some lines in Italian which seemed to her to be a translation of the beginning of it.
Sundry utterances under illumination, on the evenings of the 22nd and 25th, partook of the nature of a recovery of ancient recollections. One occurred during a discourse on the Great Pyramid, when she said, while looking at it in vision, that it appeared to her as if she was once there herself, her sensations about it being so much like a memory, and that she saw the ceremony of initiation actually taking place. She then added: –
“I see that, although I have been initiated once or twice, I have never been regenerated. Nor have you, though you, too, have been initiated. Most initiation in our day took place in the Great Pyramid. There was a cave of initiation at Cana of Galilee. The story of the marriage-feast and the miracle of turning water into wine has reference to the final initiation of Jesus. The water was the symbol for the soul, the wine for the spirit. ‘The beginning of miracles’ for the man regenerate is the spiritualisation of his own soul, which is therefore mystically called the changing of water into wine.” (1)
following coincidence struck us as curious in view of the circumstance that the
year 1881 was the date supposed by so many to be indicated in the Great Pyramid
as that of the “end of the world.” On inquiring at the reading-room
were greatly amused thereat. We refrained from telling them, strong as was the temptation to do so, that the prophecy was actually in course of fulfilment, and that the world was really coming to an end in that year in the sense intended.
Describing, also under illumination, the events which occurred between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, as recorded in Clothed with the Sun, Part I, Nº. XXXIII, Mary said: –
“Jesus instructed His friends beforehand what to do. Joseph of Arimathea was a friend of Mary Magdalen, and she procured for him the requisite balms. I see her running with them through the sepulchre to the house. I have a most curious sensation, feeling as if, somehow, I were in Mary and were she.”
The following instructions for our personal guidance were received on various occasions at this period, being spoken under illumination: –
“It seems that we cannot do anything to facilitate the reception of the new Revelation. But my Genius wants me to lecture during the coming season. We are to become quite ascetics; not just at present, but when, it seems, we are without a house of our own. The more immediate thing to do is to lecture. We may tell all we know, but only to persons of the kind described in my interview with Lilly. (1) If we attempt to speak to others, it will be made impossible for us; we shall be stopped. This prohibition applies only to the Greater Mysteries. We may speak to others of things historical or interpretative, such as explain and reconcile the religions.
“He says I must not lecture under my own name, and he wishes us both to eat fish for some time to come. All these things belong to different mysteries, and they must not be confused. In the mysteries of Demeter it is an abomination not to eat vegetables. In the mysteries of Aphrodite it is an abomination not to eat fish.”
The following came a little later: –
“My Genius tells me that my addresses are to begin at drawing-room meetings, where, as they will be private, there will be no need to conceal my name. It is otherwise in the case of public assemblies, lectures, and publications. The name must be suppressed for the sake of husband and relatives, and a synonym or an assumed name used.
“They wish us to eat fish for the present; not for occult or mystic reasons, but to enable us to perform the hard intellectual work before us. Fish contains Iodine, and is necessary for us both, especially for you. The prohibition about fish related to the highest mode of life. These things are matters of Caste or Degree, and we are not yet of the highest; so that it is not obligatory on us to abstain from fish.
“My Genius says that we are, above all things, to teach the doctrine of Caste. The Christians made a serious mistake in requiring the same rule of all persons. Castes are as ladders whereby to ascend from the lower to the higher. They are properly spiritual grades, and have no relation to the outward condition of life. Like all other doctrines, that of Caste has been materialised. The Castes are four in number, and correspond to the fourfold nature of man.
“My lectures are to begin with the beginning of our work and the earlier truths given to us. The Greater Mysteries are to be reserved until we have a circle of pure livers, in number, if even to be reserved until we have a circle of pure livers, in number, if even, of 40, 12, or 10, and, if uneven, of 9, 7, 5, or 3. They may eat fish, but not flesh. But while eating fish we are to consider ourselves of a lower caste.
“Our own condition is yet impure. We are unpolarised, and do not hang together as we ought. We are, in a sense, dissipated, and go out from ourselves too much.
“It is doubtful to me whether any person living now, or for some time to come, can become regenerate, so as to escape death. The defect in your system is in the blood-vessels; in mine it is in the tissues.
particulars are shown me about the diet, dress, and mode of living necessary to
complete regeneration, but all quite impossible to be carried out. One in particular
is about the covering of the feet. To walk barefoot on grass and earth would
aid immensely in regenerating the body. Coverings on the feet –
especially of leather – shut off the magnetism. The feet ought to be
bare, and frequently bathed in cold water. The hair should be kept long, too,
as it is then a powerful agent in promoting magnetism. Food should be cold and
uncooked, and no fermented drinks used. Cakes should be sun-baked in a kiln,
that the particles may become polarised by the sun’s magnetism. I see a
row of cakes being baked in this way in
In such manner was knowledge poured in upon us, in a steady and abundant stream, until the time came when it was necessary to prepare for the promulgation which, by accomplishing the doom of the “evil and adulterous generation” which has been in possession ever since the Fall, was to be the “end of the world” as it has hitherto been; and the inauguration of that new and better order of things variously implied in Scripture under the images of the reign of Michael, the fall of Lucifer and Satan, the breaking of the seals and opening of the books, the budding of the fig-tree, the resurrection and ascent of the two witnesses, the flight of the angel in mid-heaven having an eternal gospel to proclaim, the exaltation and illumination of the woman, the
Battle of Armageddon, the second coming of Christ, and the revelation and destruction of “that wicked one,” the controlling evil spirit of the world’s selfish sacrificial system in Church, State, and Society, and the coming of the kingdom of God with power, – the whole stupendous programme of which was to be accomplished by the simple means of a new “Gospel of Interpretation”, such as was being vouchsafed to us, and the time for the promulgation of which was now at hand.
That such claim on our part would be universally deemed a presumption as blasphemous as audacious, and these even to convicting us of stark staring madness, we were fully aware. But no consideration of what others might think gave us a moment’s concern or hesitation, if only because we knew that we knew, and we knew that they did not know. We had put our hands to the plough which was to run so stupendous a furrow through the field of the world with our eyes wide open; and so far from dreaming of looking back in view of what treatment might be accorded to us or our message, we took delight in fixing our gaze in anticipation upon the rich crop of blessings to the world which would spring from our labours. We knew, too, in whom we trusted; for had not all the spheres from the bottomless pit of man’s lower nature to the throne of the Most High been opened to us, and to us alone of modern times, enabling us to compare and estimate their respective values? And if danger threatened us for going on at the hands of the former, what was that to the danger at the hands of the latter for turning back? While, as for presumption, what presumption could approach that of putting ourselves in opposition to the Gods – manifested as they had been to us – by declining to execute their divine behests?
Casting about, according to my wont, for signs of the times presaging our work, and especially relating to Mary’s part in it, the first that presented itself was the following, which struck me as a peculiarly exquisite and happy augury. Mary’s spiritual emblem, it has been mentioned, the type of her nature on both planes, the inner and the outer, was that tall, slender, stately, and thorny plant surmounted by a splendid crimson blossom, the Cactus. In the newspapers at Easter-time in this year there appeared an announcement stating that the experiment of grafting vines and other fruit-bearing trees on the stem of the Cactus, in the arid wastes of Western Mexico – some of which
I had visited – had resulted in proving that, owing to the extraordinary capacity of that plant for secreting moisture, it was possible by thus using it to produce crops in regions otherwise hopelessly barren, and so, literally, to “make the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose.” Here was a sign exactly to my heart. For I read in it a token that the turning-point in Mary’s own spiritual history had come, and that thenceforth her evil destiny had expended itself, the redemption to be accomplished in her comprising both the world and herself.
A corresponding augury was contained in the following incident. We were on the committee of the then “International Association for the Total Suppression of Vivisection”, a body which contained a sacerdotal element of the most pronounced kind, and one which carried the traditional antagonism of the priest to the woman to the extreme extent of refusing to allow one of that sex to appear in public as a teacher on any subject whatever. When it said that the leader of this party in the committee was the late Rev. H.N. Oxenham, those who were acquainted with that vehement and uncompromising ecclesiastic will be able to appreciate the virulence of the opposition to a woman’s appearance on the society’s public platform, and the potency of the competing influences by which that opposition was overcome. For, as it proved, so profound was the impression made by Mary on the whole body of our colleagues, that the ringleaders of the opposition consented, at the request of the rest, to waive their objection in her favour, and accordingly gave their consent, excusing themselves on the ground that, though a woman by her sex, she was a man by her mind and her profession, and exempt, therefore, from the operation of the ordinary limitations. Mary was immensely amused at her triumph over prejudices so inveterate, and I hailed it as a sign of the times, betokening that at last the “woman” was in very deed to “crush the head of the serpent” of the corrupt orthodoxy hitherto in possession.
How much more Roman than Anglican this party was, though professedly of the latter, was shown as follows. After Mary’s address – which had evoked a storm of enthusiasm – another of our ecclesiastical colleagues – himself a beneficed Anglican clergyman – remarked to her in allusion to a Scriptural illustration which she had used – “Why, you, too, are a Catholic!
I am so glad!” “Yes,” she
said; “but how did you find that out?” “You said ‘
Notwithstanding this triumph for the “woman”, she was not yet delivered from the liability to be “driven into the wilderness and persecuted of the dragon and his angels.” With the view of exhibiting vivisection as a typical instance of the utter renunciation of that side of human nature of which the woman is the special symbol and representative, the side affectional, moral, and spiritual, I wrote a pamphlet (2) entitled The Woman and the Age, “on behalf of sundry members, clerical, medical, and lay,” of the society, such description including Mary, A., myself, and such others as agreed with us. But this was altogether too much for the sacerdotal faction. Not on any account could they suffer a body to which they belonged to be represented by or associated with a publication which thus ministered to the rehabilitation and exaltation of the sex so despised and rejected of the priesthoods. And their opposition became so vehement and even virulent as to make our longer continuance at the Board incompatible alike with our self-respect and with the requirements of our work. We accordingly withdrew to carry on our part in the anti-vivisection crusade independently, I contenting myself with prophesying that in thus
driving us from its counsels the society had pronounced its own doom, which prediction soon afterwards found its fulfilment in the withdrawal and subsequent death of our chief opponent, and the extinction of the society as a separate body, by reason of its incorporation with another and a larger organisation.
Notwithstanding the distressing character of these events, they had a side which reproduce for us that world-old feud of priest and prophet, and the suppression of the latter by the former, which in the Bible is represented, first by the murder of Abel by Cain, and last by the murder of Christ by Caiaphas. And we thought that, had Caiaphas become reincarnate, and been a member of our Board, he have acted towards us exactly as his fellow-priest had done.
Thus viewed, the incident served as an object-lesson to interpret and illustrate the eternal verities concealed in the Biblical narratives.
our explorations at the
work. For, while we found proofs indubitable of their recognition of the general principals of the interpretation received by us, we found that of the interpretation itself they had but the most dim and meagre glimpses; so that even Cardinal Newman – an unimpeachable authority on the patristic writings – while confessing himself in his Apologia to have been carried away with enthusiasm for the glimpses an suggestions he found in them of a system of thought, as, wrapped up in the Christian symbology, “magnificent in themselves, and making music to inward ear” – could but look on them as “making room for the anticipation of further and deeper disclosures of truths still under the veil of the letter, and in their season to be revealed.” And he had even declared his conviction that “he saw no hope for religion save in a new revelation.” Now that it had actually come we marvelled whether he would have the grace given him to recognise and acknowledge it.
It needed no long study of the Fathers to convince us of the truth of the utterance given us – “The Church knows neither the source nor the meaning of its own dogmas,” (1) and that it had inherited its mysteries without the key to them. And now that key – the “key of knowledge,” with the taking away and withholdment of which Jesus had so bitterly reproached, in the ecclesiasticism of His time, that of all time – after being forfeited, lost, and withdrawn from the Church visible by its guardians of the Church invisible, was once more restored by the latter, and to us; for that “time of the end” had come, the token of which was to be the “budding of the fig-tree,” the restoration of the inward understanding.
the Fathers to whom we were the most strongly drawn was he who had been
canonised under the name of “St. Dionysius the Areopagite,” a
bishop of the
The materials for our coming lectures were in our possession
and in abundance, and there was no doubt that
more would be forthcoming as we proceeded with the preparation of them. But the
task was a vast one; and not only was the time at our disposal short, if we
were to take advantage, as we proposed, of the London season – for it was
no ordinary quality of workmanship that would serve as the fitting expression
for the teaching committed to us – but our own physical condition was
still such that, had we only ourselves to trust to, we should have despaired of
success. The plan in view comprised the writing and delivery of nine
compendious lectures in about as many weeks; and while Mary’s health was
as variable as ever, comprising rapid alternations from the summits of
spiritual insight and power to the lowest depths of disability from pain and
weakness, mine – though the “broken link in the golden chain”
had been repaired, as promised, as the spring advanced and the sun waxed in
strength – showed but little abatement of the physical distress, which
seemed to have become chronic, and if curable at all, to require a term of
years rather than of weeks or months, and this combined with absolute cessation
of mental work. So deep-seated were the effects of the nervous strain and
depletion to which I had been subjected during the years passed in
The manner of our collaboration in The Perfect Way – for such was the title determined on – was in this wise. Having arranged the order of the exposition and ascertained the number of its main sections, we selected each the subjects which we felt the best able to treat, but not with any intention of confining ourselves exclusively to the subjects thus chosen. It was necessary that our collaboration be particular as well as general, and extend to every sentence and detail however minute, so that no single word go forth which did not represent the full light of our combined perception. Accordingly, whatever was written by either of us was passed to the other to be dealt with freely, and then passed back again to be similarly dealt with anew – a process the result of which was sometimes the complete disappearance of the original draft. Not that there was any thing tentative about the doctrine to be expounded. We were both masters of that. The question was of selection, arrangement, and expression, and the restriction of the exposition to the essential and fundamental, the primary and the
interior, to the exclusion of the accidental and superficial, the secondary and the exterior. Thus seeking always inwards and upwards to the highest, resolved to be content with nothing short of the highest, it would sometimes happen that what had at first presented itself would vanish in favour of something far superior, of which the former had been the suggestion only, essentially identical, but connoting rather an exterior orbit of the systems of which the latter was the true centre. This was a process which frequently reminded me of the motto of my once favourite pastime, archery – for proficiency in which I had gained the champion’s medal in 1878 – the phrase, “Centrum Pete,” and led me to see in that art a training for the lofty work in store for me, while Mary would remark that it was like mounting to a height by climbing alternately on one another’s shoulders. And sometimes what we had thus conjointly written would serve as a platform from which she would spring, as it were, into the infinite, so exalted would be the truth suggested which from such level she was able to discern.
that portion of the work which consisted in selecting and arranging the
teachings received fell to me, Mary desiring rather to reserve herself for the
fresh illuminations which might be in store as we proceeded. And, moreover, I
was the more familiar of the two with what had been received, having, as their
copyist, committed them largely to memory, while for her they had become
somewhat dimmed. Among the sources of my satisfaction while thus engaged was
the discovery that much of what I had written while in
Mary continued to receive from time to time, until after the commencement of our lectures, further instructions concerning the Genius, which were as follows: –
“The memory of the soul is recovered by a threefold operation, – that of the soul herself, of the ‘moon,’ and of the ‘sun.’ The Genius is not an informing spirit. He can tell nothing to the soul. All that she receives is already within herself. But in the darkness of the night, it would remain there undiscovered but for the torch
of the Angel who enlightens. ‘Yea,’ says the Angel-genius to his client, ‘I illuminate thee, but I instruct thee not. I warn three, but I fight not. I attend, but I lead not. Thy treasure is within thyself. My light showeth where it lieth.’
“When regeneration is fully attained, the Divine Spirit alone instructs the hierophant. ‘For the gates of his city shall never be shut; there shall be no night there; the night shall be no more. And they shall not need the light of the lamp, because the Lord God shall enlighten them.’ The prophet is a man illumined by his Angel. The Christ is a man married to the Spirit. And he returns out of pure love to redeem, needing no more to return to the flesh for his own sake. Wherefore he is said to come down from heaven. For he hath attained, and is a medium for the Highest. He baptizeth with the Holy Ghost, and with the Divine Fire itself. He is always ‘in heaven.’ And in that he ascendeth, it is because the Spirit uplifteth him, even the Spirit who descendeth upon him. ‘And in that he descendeth, it is because he has first ascended beyond all spheres into the highest Presence. For he that ascendeth, ascendeth because he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth. He that descended is the same also who ascendeth above all the heavens, to fill all things.’ Such an one returns, therefore, from a higher world; he belongs no more to the domain of Dionysos. But he comes from the ‘sun’ itself, or from some nearer sphere to the sun than ours, having passed from the lowest upwards.”
“And what of the Genius himself?” I asked. “Is he sorry when his client attains perfection, and needs him no more?”
And he said, “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom. And he that standeth by rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. I return, therefore, to my source, for my mission is ended, and my Sabbath is come. And I am one with the twain.”
Here he led me into a large chamber where I saw four bullocks lying slaughtered upon altars, and a number of persons standing round in the act of adoration. And above, in the fumes arising from the spirits of the blood, were misty colossal shapes, half formed, from the waist upwards, and resembling the Gods. And he said, “These are Astrals. And thus will they do until the end of the world.”
After this instruction concerning the degradation of religion through the materialisation of the spiritual doctrine of sacrifice, and the source of that degradation, he resumed: –
“The Genius, then, remains with his client so long as the man is fourfold. A beast has no Genius. A Christ has none. For, first, all is latent light. That is one. And this one becomes two; that is body and astral body. And these two become three; that is, a rational soul is born in the midst of the astral body. This rational soul is the true Person. From that moment, therefore, this personality is an individual existence, as a plant or as an animal. These three become four; that is, human. And the fourth is the Nous, not yet one with the soul, but overshadowing it, and transmitting light as it were through a glass; that is, through the initiator. But when the four becomes three, – that is, when the ‘marriage’ takes place, and the soul and spirit are indissolubly united, – there is no longer need either of migration or of Genius. For the Nous has become one with the soul, and the cord union is dissolved. And
yet again, the three become twain at the dissolution of the body; and again, the twain become one – that is, the Christ-spirit-soul. The Divine Spirit and the Genius, therefore, are not to be regarded as diverse, nor yet as identical. The Genius is flame, and is celestial; that is, he is spirit, and one in nature with the Divine; for his light is the divine light. He is as a glass, as a cord, as a bond between the soul and her divine part. He is the clear atmosphere through which the divine ray passes, making a path for it in the astral medium.
“In the celestial plane all things are personal; and therefore the bond between the soul and spirit is a person. But when a man is ‘born again,’ he no longer needs the bond which unites him, to his divine source. The Genius, or flame, therefore, return to that source; and this being itself united to the soul, the Genius also becomes one with the twain. For the Genius is the divine light in the sense that he is but a divided tongue of it, having no isolating vehicle. But the tincture of this flame differs according to the celestial atmosphere of the particular soul. The divine light, indeed, is white, being seven in one. But the Genius is a flame of a single colour only. And this colour he takes from the soul, and by that ray transmits to her the light of the Nous, her divine spouse. The Angel-genii are of all the tinctures of all the colours.
“I have said that in the celestial plane all things are personal, but in the astral plane they are reflects. The Genius is a person because he is a celestial, and of soul-spirit, or substantial nature. But the astrals are of fluidic nature, having no personal part. In the celestial plane spirit and substance are one, dual in unity; and thus are all celestials constituted. But in the astral plane they have no individual, and no divine part. They are protoplasmic only, without either nucleus or nucleolus.
“The voice of the Genius is the voice of God; for God speaks through him as a man through the horn of a trumpet. Thou mayest not adore him, for he is the instrument of God, and thy minister. But thou must obey him, for he hath no voice of his own, but showeth thee the will of the Spirit.”
The latter portion of this instruction was given to Mary in sleep while she was writing the lecture on the Atonement, and the episode of the Astrals and the bloody sacrifice was intended to exhibit the source of the world’s sacrificial selfish system, with especial reference to the current perversion of the doctrine of vicarious atonement. It was, she was shown, through the wiles of the Astrals that the Emperor Julian had been deceived into renouncing Christianity and restoring the sacrifices to the Greek Gods, who were personated by these spirits, he not knowing that in their true aspect the Greek Gods are really divine principles, and that bloody sacrifice is a diabolical device and utterly abhorrent to them.
The approach of the time fixed for the commencement of our lectures found us much exercised about the composition
of our audience, owing chiefly to the
conditions imposed on us. There was no lack of persons known to us who were
willing and even eager to attend. My books, England and Islam and The
Soul and How it Found Me, had done indispensable service in creating
for us a reputation which made many desirous to hear us. But this was mainly
among the devotees of the cult against which we had been so emphatically warned
– the spiritualists. The partisans of the traditional orthodoxy were put
out of the question by the fact that, being content with what they already had,
they were inaccessible to new light. Moreover, their very standard of judgment
incapacitated them; for, while our appeal was to the understanding theirs was
to authority; and while we insisted on a living God and a present revelation,
they recognised only an historical God and a traditional revelation, and
refused to recognise any interpretation of that revelation which did not
confirm their misinterpretations of it. The votaries of the current
materialistic philosophy were no less excluded by reason of their limitations,
if only because, by denying prior to examination all testimony to the existence
of the spiritual world, they made not truth, but the maintenance of their own
hypothesis, their object. Clearly it was from a region intermediate to these
extremes that our audience must be selected; but, even so, they must be in some
sense “spiritualists.” As the event proved, there are spiritualists
and spiritualists – those who seek to spirits, and those who
seek to Spirit itself; and of the latter we succeeded in finding as many as our
little drawing-room in
among these were sundry members of a body with which we now first formed
acquaintance, bearing the name of the British Theosophical Society. These were
a group of students of the occult science and mystical philosophy of the East,
who formed a branch of a parent society founded originally in
acquaintance shortly before leaving
The chief intermediary between the Theosophical Society and ourselves was my friend, Charles Carleton Massey, so well known and highly esteemed as the “C.C.M.” of the occult and mental literature of the day. Another of its members was Dr. George Wylde, also a man of considerable light and leading in the same line. When to these are added the names of the Hon. Roden Noel, Sir Francis Hastings Doyle, J.W. Farquhar, Dr. Inglis, Rev. John Manners, Hensleigh Wedgewood, Rev. Stainton Moses, Herbert Stack, Gerald B. Finch, Frank Podmore, Elizabeth V. Ingram, Francesca Arundale, Isabel de Steiger, and the Kenealy family, as members of our circle, it will be seen that we had an audience of more than average intelligence and culture of the kind requisite for the appreciation of our results. It is unnecessary to render any particular account of the course.
Each lecture was succeeded by a discussion, and
a frank and marked recognition was shown of the value and beauty of the
teachings received by us, and of their difference, in kind as well as in
degree, from aught that had hitherto been known, as indicating their derivation
from a source altogether transcending any as yet reached within human
cognisance. Among others, Sir Francis Doyle – whose judgment, as a
scholar, a thinker, and a poet of no mean order, was especially valuable
– declared emphatically of some of the utterances recited by us that “they
were something quite new in the world; there was nothing in literature to
compare with them. And to hear them was like listening to the utterances of a
God or an
The break in the order of our lectures arose in this wise, and is related here as an illustration of the reality of the dangers against which we had been so emphatically and repeatedly warned, as arising from the indiscriminate promulgation of spiritual mysteries, on account of the enmity of the spirits of the astral.
The subjects of our second and third lectures were respectively “The Soul, and Substance of Existence,” and “The Discerning of Spirits.” Among the audience was one whom we knew of both as a scholar and as a spiritualist, and one so earnest as to have imperilled his worldly career by his advocacy of that cult. We were not aware that he was himself a powerful medium for physical manifestations. The first lecture drew from him the admission that the origin and nature of the soul,
and the distinction between the soul and the spirit, had formed no part of his inquiries; but all the spirits of whom he had experience – and his experience was very large – claimed to be souls who once had been human beings, and he was content to call them by the general name of spirits. The admission was regarded by us as a valuable confirmation of the distinction which had been drawn for us between our work and “spiritualism”, of which he was a representative exponent.
The next lecture comprised a definition of the distinction between the prophet and the medium, ascribing the source of true inspiration to the soul of the man himself enhanced by divine illumination, and repudiating as altogether delusive whatever might be due only to extraneous spirits, such as are the “controls” of the spiritualists. To this doctrine our friend took vehement exception, declaring that it was contrary to all his experience, inasmuch as he was certain that his own spirit bore no part in what he received, and that it was destructive of spiritualism as he knew it. This was so obvious that we refrained from arguing the point through unwillingness to distress him. But he was evidently much discomposed, and retired somewhat abruptly on the conclusion of the discussion, leaving ourselves and some of the more sensitive of the circle plainly conscious of a breach of harmony in the conditions. It was, however, in the night that we were made aware how serious the discord was. My rest was completely broken by the vibrations of the magnetic atmosphere, which seemed to be beating against me like the waves of a tumultuous sea, with the result of producing a mental effect depressing in the extreme, by making our work appear altogether vain and hopeless. Not divining the source and nature of the disturbance, but supposing it to be purely subjective and restricted to myself, it did not occur to me that Mary might be similarly affected. But on our meeting next morning her aspect was such as at once to suggest that something was much amiss; and her first words, uttered before I had spoken, were that if she was to have such nights as that which she had just passed after our lectures she must give them up. It had half-killed her, and she dared not risk a repetition. She then proceeded to describe an experience of the same kind as my own, only far more vivid and alarming; for she only wondered, she said, that the house, and every thing and person
in it, had not been wrecked and destroyed by
the tempest which had raged most of the night, so tremendous was it, and so
difficult to suppose that it occurred only in the sphere of the astral, and had
no manifestation in the physical. And it was to give her time to recover that
Lecture IV was postponed from June 8 to June 13, and the day of the week
permanently changed. Our dissentient visitor, we subsequently learned, had
quitted us in a state of mind which – knowing himself to be of choleric
temperament – he was unable to master, and thought it best for all
parties that he should withdraw forthwith; which he accordingly did, resolving
never to return – a resolution to which he faithfully adhered. The
experience was never repeated, and we concluded our lecture without further
molestation, and had no difficulty in believing the marvels reported of the
physical mediumship of Mr. Stainton Moses, subsequently editor of Light.
For he it was who had taken such exception to the doctrine of The
Perfect Way, and whose controls had taken such means of manifesting
their displeasure at it and their hostility to us. On discovering this we kept
our own counsel and maintained cordial relations with him, though to the last
he confessed himself altogether unable to comprehend our mystical
interpretations, or even to accept the doctrine of Reincarnation – a
proof positive to us of the astral character of the sources of his experiences.
We recognised another notable sign of the significance attaching to the year
was contained in our eighth lecture, though we had never before heard it said that such persons actually existed in the world now. We knew, too, that Reincarnation, under the name of Transmigration, was an Eastern tenet, and consequently the doctrine of Karma, which we had received in such plenitude of detail without ever having heard of that term for it. We were therefore greatly surprised to learn from Mr. Sinnett that these tenets formed no part of the doctrine of the Theosophical Society, being neither contained in their chief text-book, the Isis Unveiled of its foundress, nor communicated to it by its Masters, and on these grounds Mr. Sinnett rejected them, sitting up with us until long after midnight arguing against them, and saying, among other things, of the doctrine of Reincarnation, that even of the spiritualists only the few who followed Allan Kardec accepted it. Whereupon we stated our conviction that it would yet be given to his society by its Eastern teachers, and that, as for Allan Kardec’s writings, we knew of them enough to know that they were far from trustworthy, and his presentation of that doctrine especially was unscientific and erroneous. For the sole source of his information was ordinary mediumship, as exercised by some sensitives who could see only in the astral, and represented, therefore, no true spiritual vision, but only the ideas of living persons, whom they reflected. And when his own book, The Occult World, made its appearance, as it did in the course of that same year, we were able to infer from it that, if there really was a true system of esoteric philosophy in the East, it had not yet been imparted to the Theosophical Society, if only for the reason that the doctrine of that book was sheer materialism, and had no room for the Theos, who forms so essential an element in that which is denoted by the term “Theosophy”.
Thus far our experience of that body was a disappointing one, or at least would have been so had we yet anticipated much of it. Recognising, as we did, the time as having come for the unsealing of the world’s Bibles, and our own appointed mission as that of unsealing the Bibles of the West, we should have welcomed eagerly a corresponding movement having for its purpose the unsealing of the Bibles of the East. The Theosophical Society was, however, still in its infancy, and, we resolved to wait patiently and hopefully for its further unfoldment.
A notable incident in the composition of our lectures was the receipt by Mary of the exquisite and wondrous vision [“Concerning the Three Veils between Man and God”] at the end of Lecture VI. My only contributions to this lecture were pars. 28 and 29; and her completion of it was followed in the succeeding night by the vision of the three veils drawn by the corrupt priesthoods of the fallen Church between man and God, shutting out from man the perception of divine truth. It was more than a vision. It was a drama actually enacted by her in sleep, wherein she was withdrawn from the body for the purpose, thus making it real for the plane on which it occurred. The excitement of it was so intense that some days passed before her system fully recovered its normal state. We regarded it as a veritable annunciation to her of the redemptive work to be accomplished through her. Now the names of the three veils are Blood, Idolatry, and the Curse of Eve.
(3:1) See “Concerning the Great Pyramid, and the Initiations Therein” (Clothed with the Sun, Part I, Nº. XX). S.H.H.
(4:1) See Vol. I, p. 423.
(8:1) This truth was by the Egyptians symbolised in the Sphinx, which was at once a concealment and a revelation of the problem of existence. The Sphinx, Edward Maitland says, “represents mortal existence as rising from the earth into the animal, from the animal into the human, and finally from the human into the divine, simply by dint of fixing the eager, hopeful, yet withal calm and patient eyes of perfect faith on the vision of the ideal revealed to the institutions of its soul. The world well knew then that the soul that tends upward, subduing the animal to which it is attached, redeems itself and its animal along with it, so that its whole being at length returns towards the source whence it proceeded, taking with it into the Godhead the outermost spheres of the physical creation” (England and Islam, pp. 317-318, and see p. 312 n. post). – S.H.H.
(8:2) The pamphlet was dated Easter 1881, and was addressed to the Right Hon. W.E. Gladstone, M.P. – S.H.H.
(9:1) Writing on the story of Cain and Abel, Edward Maitland says: –“It is clear from the whole tenor of Scripture [that] Cain is no other than a type of the materialising priest, whether of religion or of science, who as the minister of sense recognises and cultivates only the lower nature in man, indicated in the expression ‘fruits of the ground.’ And Abel is the type of the prophet who as a minister of the intuition recognises and cultivates that highest and holiest of gifts, the ‘lamb’ of a pure and loving spirit, which is represented in the Apocalypse as finally overcoming all evil.” On another occasion, writing of the conflict between priest and prophet, he says: – “The two orders are really as Cain and Abel to each other: the former, who cultivates only the ‘fruits of the ground’ or sense nature, killing the latter who brings to the service of God the ‘lamb’ of a pure and guileless spirit, as in the New Testament the priest Caiaphas kills the prophet Christ. And to this day the Cain, Caiaphas, and priest in man, kills the Abel, Christ, and prophet in man, whenever the lower and sense-nature suppresses the intuition of the higher and spiritual nature.” – S.H.H.
(10:1) Anna Kingsford’s illumination, “Concerning the Prophecy of the Immaculate Conception.” See Vol. I, pp. 195, 196.
(12:1) See Vol. I, p. 256.
(17:1) One lecture was given each week, but not on the same day of each week. The first two lectures were given on a Monday and the third on a Wednesday. The fourth lecture was to have been given on the following Wednesday but was postponed for five days until the Monday following. The remaining five lectures were given on the consecutive Mondays. – S.H.H.