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MARCH [1884] witnessed the arrival in England of the Founders of the Theosophical Society. (1) Colonel Olcott was the first to arrive, Madame Blavatsky having elected to remain awhile in Paris. One of his first acts was to hold a meeting for the purpose of initiating new members. We were present at the function, but failed to be greatly impressed by the solemnity. Indeed, the President-founder seemed anxious to relieve the occasion of any undue amount of feeling of the kind. Among other things, he explained that the expression in the initiation formula, Ab Oriente lux,” which signifies “Light away from the East,” was a mistake for “Ex Oriente lux,” which means “Light from the East.” But as the mistake had been made, it had not been considered worth while to correct it.

            There was a melodramatic element in the first appearance of H.P.B., which for us seemed altogether incompatible with any sense of seriousness. The occasion was the Lodge meeting at which our successors were to be inaugurated, and to show our acquiescence in the change, we attended it. By all but a few who were in the secret, Madame Blavatsky was believed to be still abroad. But during the meeting the whisper went round that she had unexpectedly and mysteriously arrived, and would presently appear. The excitement of the devotees was, of course, intense on finding themselves about to be brought face to face with so miraculous a personage. And it culminated when, on entering the room, she authoritatively bade Mary and myself to present ourselves to her, and then peremptorily bade us to shake

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hands with Mr. Sinnett, and let bygones be bygones for the sake of the universal brotherhood. Meanwhile she fixed her great eyes on us, as if to compel us by their magnetism to obey her behest. Making myself spokesman for us both, I remarked to her, firmly but quietly, that repentance ought to precede forgiveness. Let Mr. Sinnett do his part, and we should not be slow to do ours. At this unexpected opposition her eyes flashed yet more powerfully on us, especially on Mary, who, as presumably the weaker vessel, might be expected to yield the more readily. Of course neither of us was in the smallest degree affected by her sorcery. And the President, seeing that Madame was courting a fiasco, approached her and said that he would not have her trying to magnetise Mrs. Kingsford. The rest of the evening was passed in conversation more or less amicable, curiosity and amusement being our dominant sentiments. And in the issue, being unable to reconcile ourselves to their programme [and in deference to the general desire for officials devoted wholly to the Eastern teachings], we withdrew from [our positions of President and Vice-President respectively of] (1) the Lodge, and sought an independent platform for our own teaching. The result was the formation of the Hermetic Society, in which we had the concurrence and assistance of the Theosophical Society Founders and several of its members, their desire being to make it a separate Lodge of their own Society. This, however, to our satisfaction, proved impracticable, owing to the issue of a rule prohibiting membership of more than one Lodge at a time. (2) The Hermetic Society was therefore established on

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an independent basis, with Mary as its President. Throughout the whole course of the contentions our valued friend, C.C. Massey, had proved himself a wise counsellor and indefatigable supporter, and he now threw himself heartily into our new enterprise, having found himself compelled to sever his connection with the Theosophical Society on account of certain incidents which failed to find satisfactory explanation.


Diary. May 11, 1884. Early in the morning, or rather in the night between the 9th and 10th of this month, Friday and Saturday, Death carried from me my last little friend. Now I have no pet. Friday the 9th was the day of our inaugural meeting of the Hermetic Society, at Captain Lloyd’s house. And Piggy died before the next dawn. I envy her, almost, lying very quiet and still now under the ground in the garden at home. For A. took away the corpse that same day.

            I am still in the self-same puzzle in which I was this time last year at Montreaux. There seems to me to be no way out. And now I have a Society for discussion; perhaps we may be able to arrive at some sort of conclusion thereby. I do not yet know, myself, exactly what it is we seek to gain in this Society. I do not want to be a Teacher, arrogating to myself all authority and illumination. I want light. Perhaps the best way will be to have discussion days on the subject of some paper previously read. What we really seek is to reform the Christian system and start a new Esoteric Church. When once this is started it may go on indefinitely, as does the Exoteric Church.


To Lady Caithness.


“May 12, 1884.

            “DEAR FRIEND, – Will you kindly send me the title and publisher of the book on Masonry that I read when I was staying with you in Paris a year ago? I mean the book containing pictures of the various signs, grips, ceremonies, etc. I hardly dare ask you to lend me the book, because I know how much you value it, and how rare it is; but probably, if it is at all procurable in England, I might be able to get a copy through some collector. The Pope’s recent denunciation of Masonry makes me anxious to investigate more closely than I have hitherto done the details and purport of the craft; for I think I have discerned the cause of the enmity borne

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by the Catholic Church against the Masonic system. I believe it is nothing more nor less than the ancient feud between Judaism and Christianity. Yesterday I had a long conversation with a Mason, and am convinced that the main object of the craft is no other than the perpetuation of the Jewish system and religion. It is fundamentally opposed to the very spirit of the Catholic Church, and especially to the worship of our Blessed Lady. It is materialistic and male, and radically subversive of spirituality and womanhood in its supremest sense.

            “Our Society (the Hermetic) was inaugurated on the 9th with good success. Colonel Olcott was present, and expressed his sympathy with our intention and objects. But we want to get known. Sometimes I think that the truths and knowledges we hold are so high and so deep that the age is yet unable to receive them, and that all we shall be permitted to do is to formulate them in some book or books to leave as a legacy to the world when we pass away from it. The truth we have is far in advance of anything the disciples of Madame Blavatsky and her Gurus possess. They know only the Lower Triangle of the Seal of Solomon; (1) and this, again, is all that the Masons or the Buddhists know. This Lower Triangle is Solomon’s Temple, which the Masons are always engaged in ‘rebuilding.’ But that which has been expounded to us, and which we hold in trust for the age to come, is the secret of the Upper Triangle – ‘the city not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.’ Do not talk about this to Madame B.; she cannot know it; she is an occultist, not a mystic, and she is incapable of comprehending this Upper Triangle.

            “I like Mohini Chatterji. I think he knows more intuitively than Mme. B. is capable of knowing. I have had two hours’ conversation with him, and found him instructed and intelligent. I think him honest and free from malice, so far as I can judge. Do you know anything of chiromancy? If you do, ask to see Madame’s hands. – Your most true and affectionate friend,



LIVORNO, May 6, 1884.

            “MY DEAR SIR, – Some five or six weeks ago I sent you my first instalment of thanks for your welcome and valuable letter of March 3, and for your photograph enclosed therein. I think photographs should always be exchanged by correspondents who do not know each other; it brings them nearer than the mere exchange of written thoughts, and the sun-printed features speak more intelligibly to us than the chirographic characters, typical though these may be.

            “Since my return to Leghorn I have received the Pall Mall Gazette of April 26, which you were kind enough to send me, and which contained the interesting account of an interview with Madame Blavatsky. The Russians are a terribly clever people, but while the men are only vulgarly acute, i.e. eminently fit for outwitting others, the women have, or seem to have, a more elevated form of intelligence, often combined with considerable soul-power. I have had Russian friends in my youth, and I have known some most imposing specimens of Russian womankind, but I never knew how much of what

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I admired in these women was due to genuine genius and depth, and how much to mere ‘esprit’ and imitativeness and mercurialness, which is sheer want of selfhood or typical οủδια. Far be it from me to decry or even to doubt the extraordinary qualities of Madame Blavatsky. Nor is it her epistolary correspondence with the Thibetan Mahatmas, regardless of spatial distance, which puzzles me, such things fitting perfectly into my metaphysics. But her remarks on ‘Zanoni,’ on ‘Vril,’ and on the ‘Coming Race’ induce me to believe that she is not a mould, but only wax craving for a mould, and that her receptivity or impressibleness is greater than her spontaneity or selfhood. That would not disqualify her for certain forms of mediumship. On the contrary. In fact, if Isis could be unveiled (which I humbly deny), and if it were lawful or becoming for human hands to draw the veil, such a woman’s hand might do the deed. But only her hand, not her mind.

                “‘We reverence Gautama Buddha,’ she says (according to her interviewer), ‘because he alone of all religious teachers orders his disciples to disbelieve his own words if they conflict with true reason.’ Why, then, reverence Gautama Buddha beyond all others, if the supreme authority is ‘true reason’? This lands us only on the platform of citizens Robespierre, Danton, and Marat; on the altar of La Déesse Raison, with the guillotine as its symbol of the salutaris Hostia. Or it may land us on the Baltic shores of my native town, Königsberg, where Kant erected the fences and the bulwarks of ‘Pure Reason’ against the inroads of speculation, Religion, and Mysticism.

                “It is Madame Blavatsky’s own reason which she reverences ‘above all Mahatmas’ and as her reason must be the reason of all reasonable people, it is Reason itself, Kant’s Pure Reason, La Déesse Raison, which she reverences and adores. And I ask, how can reason unveil Isis? The curtain could not be pulled by such an agency; and if it yielded, the indiscreet maiden would be struck blind, like that youth of Laïs who crept into the Temple by night. To enshrine the mystery and then to unveil it is like ‘eating the pudding and having it too.’ To enshrine the mystery and then to enshrine Pure Reason is like eating the pudding without having paid for its materials. I have to apologise for these low similes, but I feel strongly on the point. I lie prostrate and awe-stricken before the mystic altar, and I know what I am about. Gautama Buddha need not whisper to me, ‘Test the mystery by thy “pure” reason, and throw away whatsoever does not stand the test.’ How much more clear-headed was the kabalistic Paul, who bluntly bids us take our reason prisoner under our faith!

“I like to use my reason, and more particularly do I delight in mathematical sport. I have wasted much time on the Theory of Numbers, on Complex Functions, and on the Differential Calculus, but the tool becomes absolutely useless when I have passed the threshold of the Temple. There is no room there for criticism. The only instrument available there is one’s concrete self in its entirety, which either affirms or negates, either adores or despairs.

“In those sacred halls, it seems to me, there ought to be no discussion. There need not be absolute silence, but that which craves utterance there cannot adequately utter itself in argument.

(p. 190)

“What is Mystery? The answer is: Si quoeris, nescio; si non quoeris, scio. Therefore, do not ask, Fuge quoerere? And is not this the divine mission of Art, to give utterance to the unutterable? The child, the poor in spirit, and the sage may join in choral chanting though they can join in nothing else.

“Death has often been called the great leveller, before whom there is no inequality, no differences of rank. But is not our ignorance as great a leveller as Death? On the plane of transcendent truth we must all lie low as in our graves, though prostrate rather than recumbent. If you object that we crave articulate utterance and rational speech even on that exalted level, I would reply, that such utterance would have to take the form of preaching and dogmatic teaching, but never of polemical discussion, of criticism or apology. The subject-matter is too ethereal to bear discussion, or rather to be affected by it; and much of the critical and apologetic acumen displayed in the great controversy now pending seems to me to be like the stabbing of ghosts.

“That is the beauty and also the strength of the Masonic Lodges, that the Venerabile itself is never discussed: it is symbolically represented, and looks as if its hidden truths were reserved for the Adepts of the highest grade; but, somehow, nobody ever reaches the highest grade, and there is no deceit, no prevarication, in all this.

“Let me now tell you that I have read and re-read and thoroughly studied the four remarkable pamphlets which have appeared since Mr. Sinnett’s book, and which you were kind enough to send me. Six weeks ago I thanked you for the act of giving; now I thank you for the gifts themselves, and with a full knowledge of their value. My indebtedness to you can only be measured by the intense intellectual pleasure I have felt in reading those pamphlets.

“If I delight in mathematics, my love for metaphysics is equally great; only I could not call such occupation sport, since more than one mental faculty are engaged in it. There is a charm, an irresistible charm, in this projecting of transcendent truths on the reticulation of human dialectics; and I believe this mental embroidering is a legitimate, and even a salutary, occupation.

“Yet we should not forget that we remain outside the Temple withal, and that Isis cannot be unveiled either in this or in any other way.

“Mr. Massey has, with consummate skill, pointed out the characteristic differences between the theistic and materialistic world view. He has shown that evolution in the theistic view, being a mere procedure from the involved pre-existent to the evolved manifested, has nothing mysterious or transcendent in it; whereas the materialistic evolution is an incomprehensible generation of the higher from the lower, and as such illogical. Now, this latter assertion seems to me incorrect. The individual never pre-exists, not even as a potential individual: it pre-exists neither in the ovulum nor in the sperma, but its ingredients pre-exist, and that scattered or divided between the male and female parent. The ovulum that produces Cajus might have produced Sempronius if the father had been another man.

“The ordinary Darwinistic evolution (of modern science) is objectionable on other grounds, but not because it assumes the evolving of the higher from the lower. This objection could only be raised

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against the generalis spontanea, which is a downright miracle. But what would be a miracle on the material plane is an ordinary possibility on the spiritual plane. Jupiter’s thigh could not bring forth Bacchus, but only supplement Semele’s gestation; but Jupiter’s brain brought forth Minerva, and that full grown and in full armour. On page 21 of your Reply to Subba Row I find one of the most important arguments in this whole controversy. It may be yours, or it may be Kapila’s, but it is a profound and fertile thought, which opens up an intellectual vista not dimmed by anything except its own immeasurable length. The division of the evolutionary highroad into a downhill road and an uphill road is an argument which, it seems to me, has not been dwelt upon sufficiently. Without reconciling the theistic and materialistic views, it certainly brings them nearer, by showing that there is room for both downward and upward developments on the same evolutionary chain.

“In Schopenhauer’s quasi-Buddhistic philosophy we find a similar apparent breach of continuity in the chain which begins with the Unconscious, and which goes on, evolvingly, until quite suddenly the flash of conscious Intellect lights up the universe. Schopenhauer’s ethics are sublime and pure, but dogmatically his system is like most forms of Buddhistic philosophy, not only atheistic, but also akosmic. If the Unconscious is the Beginning, and the nirvânic Unconsciousness the end, what is the use of going through the farce of this evolutionary waltz, which ends where it began, and which ought not to have begun at all, and which can only be pardoned in consideration of the Unconscious not being accountable for its primordial fidgets?

“I believe this teleological argument against the ‘objective’ view (as Mr. Massey calls it) is stronger than the would-be logical one about the non-pre-existence of the higher evolvendum.

“But both the theistic and the materialistic views have one great difficulty in common, and that is the Beginning, the premier pas qui coûte. Mr. Massey might have acknowledged this more explicitly, but he certainly has not tried to hide it.

“The materialist, beginning with the Unconscious, can knit the whole chain except the first link, there being no motive in the unconscious unit for action or for dualising. The theist begins with the conscious Personality, and the conscious Ego being already dual (Subject-Object, as Schelling calls it), the evolutionary process has no difficulty even at the outset. But the difficulty lies here behind the first link: can the primum be a dual, or can anything dual be the Primum?

“It is as easy to say ‘yes’ as ‘no,’ but the ‘yes’ is infinitely more satisfactory, and in harmony with the constitution, not of our mind, but of our concrete self. The Ego craves an Ego-God. Nor can I see why that God should not be extra-mundane, considering that we stand here on mystic ground, where the miserable categories of our grammar-bound logic may not be valid. The Primum, whether conscious or Unconscious, must be the Causa Sui, and is this formula, though Cartesian, not the mystery of mysteries? We have the same in every system. Even Pythagoras, whose first was the άπєιρον or indeterminate unit, has it determined by the πέρας (or Limit); but whence did he get this second? And does not the Fourth Gospel

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begin, without the slightest embarrassment or apology, from the Dual of God and the Logos?

“I would suggest, let us all openly acknowledge this. Whether scientific materialists or speculative gnostics, we must start from and bow before a primordial mystery. That is the narrow ground on which all must agree, while on all other questions they can only agree to disagree.

“In the Beginning lies the Unknowable. In the remainder both views are logically admissible, and the choice becomes (si’l venia verba) a matter of taste. A person that chooses the materialistic view may remain my friend as long as he says, ‘I cannot help it, but cursed be the day of my birth’; but a person abiding smilingly by this choice, and missing nothing, becomes a stranger, an enigma, to me.

“You and Mrs. Kingsford were unquestionably right in blaming Mr. Sinnett’s needlessly materialistic phraseology. As a mere recipient of traditional lore, he might claim a more lenient judgment, provided the lore has not suffered by the transmission.

“The ultimate question is, why should the East and West unite? We are all Aryans, and can learn from each other, but why should Christianity go more than halfway to meet its older but dreamy and fantastic sister? I venture to think that, to satisfy our metaphysical cravings, we need not go farther east than to Alexandria, to John, to the Gnostics, to Proclus. Let the Iseion become our common temple, guarded as it is by Sphinxes and emblems of silence. It seems to me finer than the grotesque Pagoda, which is filled and surrounded by fumes of opium-dimming consciousness, lest it might despair at the view of a godless and soulless Void. Where is the Gospel of mercy there? It may be implied in its dreamy lore, too, but it is not asserted explicitly. And, considering that we cannot empirically find God either in Nature (which is heartless) or in History (which is vicious), but that the only things divine we know of empirically are the impulses of mercy and compassion, of suffering with and for others, this tenet should be made the foundation, or the centre, or the apex of a religion, instead of remaining a mere ornament of its structure.

“The last number of the Zoophilist brought out a beautiful article against vivisection, emanating from the Brahmo Somaj. Apparently Western Christianity is put to shame by such Hindoo utterances. But what has Christianity to do with vivisection or with Western culture? Europe has discredited Christianity, which is altogether non-existent as yet.

“I have received the French Statutes of the Theosophical Society, I believe from Madame de Morsier, together with a prospectus of the Theosophist. I may become a subscriber to the latter, as soon as I have found a new home. As to the Theosophical Society, I cannot, in the present state of things, make up my mind yet as to whether it would be compatible with my views on the uses of association for non-combatant purposes to solicit the honour of membership.

“Meanwhile I follow your researches and your controversies with the liveliest and keenest interest. I shall feel most grateful to you for every glimpse you may hereafter allow me to get of the wonders of Thibetan lore, although thus far I have felt no inducement to

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leave The Perfect Way. – With sincere .regards to Mrs. Kingsford, I remain, ever yours truly,



            Diary. – June 3 [1884], Paris. I have come here for the Anti-Vivisection Congress, or rather Conference, which begins to-morrow. Matters look very gloomy for the cause of justice since the Pasteur investigations began. It may be that discoveries partially beneficial really may be made by this horrible system of inoculating madness and death. All the severer the ordeal for those who keep a perfect heart and a clear eye. And now dear old “Uncle Sam” [Samuel Ward] is gone to the other side. I shall not see him any more, nor hear his genial, gracious voice. It is difficult to realise – the death of a friend. Friends only die very, very slowly. Sometimes I think it is as well to have no friends. It is always through the affections that we suffer. “Uncle Sam” died on Monday the 19th May. I had known him barely one year, and yet he had become part of my life, and was bound up with all my thoughts about the future. It seems to me that he cannot be dead; that some day he must return to us, and bring me, as was his wont, a basket of fruit or a bunch of roses. What will he be – this dear old man – in another life? He is a relative of mine now, acquired by my Karma, and I feel sure in another birth we shall be of one kin.

How keenly, as one grows older, the idea enforces itself on the heart that all the events and experiences of this life are but Maya! How clearly one sees that all the light of this world is but a false radiance, and that all its seeming realities are the tricks and shows of illusion! Nothing is; everything passes, flits by, and vanishes.


From C.C. Massey to E. Maitland

“July 16 [1884].

            “I had a note from Olcott this morning. He seemed greatly pleased with his visit to Mrs. Kingsford. No doubt she will soon be ‘the Goddess’ with them again, as she was with Sinnett a year ago! As to their attitude towards yourself, perhaps you are right; but that, too, is a question of times and moods, and meanwhile your equanimity is not likely to be disturbed. And now that troubles are menacing on account of ‘the old Lady,’ other people’s depravity will throw yours into the shade. I, who have been the spoilt child of the theosophical movement up to now, may be discovered to be a very wicked wretch, if not a Jesuit. (1) We all have to take our turns at this sort of thing in the ‘Brotherhood.’ (...) As to amalgamation of the Hermetic with the Christo-Philosophical Society, I think that is a measure to be kept in view, and more likely than anything else, if it can be brought about by bringing them to us, to extend our connection in a very promising quarter – I mean the advanced Christians who are seeking to reconcile their denomination and calling (in the case of many of the clergy) with a more interior reading of the faith. This section of the Church is at present

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an unknown quantity, but I believe already a very considerable and an increasing one. It only needs a rallying-point, and if we could give them that, the Society would soon be a great power. Of course the Christo-Philosophical is only a nucleus, and it is languishing for want of definite direction. Find it that, and I believe there would be a great draught of fishes into the net, whichever name it had. A ‘Speculative Church Reform Society’ would be as good as any other, perhaps; but anyhow that is what the Hermetic Society has got to be, if it taps that spring at all. It struck me almost immediately after Mrs. Kingsford announced her lectures on the Creed, which at first, I own, I did not at all like the idea of. It seemed too much like putting new wine into old bottles, and, in short, not quite the sort of thing ‘Hermetists’ would look for. But then it occurred to me that if she really can show to the progressive minds in the Church that the esoteric doctrine is signified by the historical form and embodied in the Creeds, and that this historical faith is not really Christianity, but just its vehicle, then that truth might be seized upon, and might unite hundreds of influential minds in its propaganda. I mean that the lead might thus be given to a movement of real importance in the Church, and one which might re-ally it to philosophy. (…) Our movement is one of many. If it meets the want, the public will find us. With many others I feel that there are mighty spiritual forces vibrating beneath the surface of thought at present, and they must rush to the right outlet. But my faith is not yet strong that our Society will be the one to introduce to the world its needed revelation. For we know what is to precede that, ‘Lo, here; and lo, there.’ However, be that as it may, I recognise in you two a power, and I should like to see the most made of it.”


            In a subsequent letter to me he wrote: –


“I must tell you how much I like your last letter in Light. It would be impossible to express the true issue more clearly and tersely than in your sentence, ‘The controversy turns upon the method and intention of Scripture, and how far religion is addressed to the senses or to the soul.’ And the same remark applies to the earlier part of the letter equally well. I was really quite grateful to you for that statement, à propos to which there is a suggestion perhaps worth considering. It is said of Jesus, ‘And except in parable spake He not unto them.’ Is not this a hint, as it were, to us that this is the method of Scripture itself? Would there not be an inconsistency in the world being treated with more unreserve than the disciples themselves?”


            The news of the formation of the Hermetic Society elicited the following gratulatory expressions from Baron Spedalieri: –


“Your promptness in acquainting me with the result of your séance has satisfied my most eager desire. Thanks with all my heart.

            “I can well believe that the resolution to establish a new society with the auspicious title of ‘Hermetic’ is as great a satisfaction to you as to me. You will thus be delivered from an entourage, turbulent and disaffected, from which you must, sooner or later, have

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parted. You will now be free to work to proclaim your glad tidings, urbi et orbi ad majoram Dei gloriam. Sursum cordam.

“I thank Mrs. Kingsford for having placed me in relation with Lady Caithness, who has honoured me with two charming letters. But I believe our correspondence will stop there. The Perfect Way and your correspondence have made me exclusive and intransigeant. I can truly say with Caliph Omar, that if others write what is not in your books, I do not care for it; if it is there, their writing is superfluous. I turn away, then, from the praisers of the Mahatmas, ‘possessors of great secret truths,’ of Swedenborg, of Boehme, and from the writer who complains in Light that you take no account of these authors. When, after long years of research and study, one has succeeded in finding that truth so much sought and longed for, it is distressing to see persons who ought by all means to rally exclusively to it wandering and dissipating themselves over strange doctrines. You have opened my interior sense. The light has shone forth and illumined it. I can now say, Hic est requies mea, and sing Nunc dimitte Domine. Why, then, should I seek elsewhere?”


            The objects of the Hermetic Society were set forth in its prospectus (1) as follows: –


“The designation of this Society was chosen in conformity with that ancient and universal usage of the Western world, which, regarding HERMES as the supreme initiator into the Sacred Mysteries of existence, has identified his name with the knowledge of things spiritual and occult.

“Its objects are at once scientific, intellectual, moral, and religious.

‘‘Its chief aim is to promote the comparative study of the philosophical and religious systems of the East and of the West; especially of the Greek Mysteries and the Hermetic Gnosis, and its allied schools, the Kabalistic, Pythagorean, Platonic, and Alexandrian, – these being inclusive of Christianity, – with a view to the elucidation of their original esoteric and real doctrine, and the adaptation of its expression to modern requirements.

“The knowledges acquired will be applied, first, to the interpretation and harmonisation of the various existing systems of thought and faith, and the provision thereby of an Eirenicon among all Churches and communions; and, secondly, to the promotion of personal psychic and spiritual development.

“To these ends the Society encourages and undertakes the publication of ancient and modern Hermetic literature, and invites its Fellows to further its efforts on this behalf by subscribing for the Works issued, by actively co-operating in the general purposes of the Society, and by contributing to the promotion of its special objects.

“In carrying out these designs, the Society accords to its Fellows full freedom of opinion, expression, and action; and in regard to doctrinal questions, recognises reason and experience alone as affording legitimate ground for conclusion.”


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The meetings for this session were held at the residence of Captain Francis Lloyd, Grenadier Guards, 43 Rutland Gate, the first being on Friday, May 9. And in token of the foundation of the Society having taken place on St. George’s Eve, the President made the legend of St. George and the Dragon the basis of an exposition of Hermetic doctrine, in the course of which she showed that it was one of many allegories of identical import. For, as the Dragon of the sacred myths of old was always Materiality, and the Princess exposed to it was the Soul, so the Knight who rescues and finally carries her off in triumph as his bride to heaven is always, directly or by delegation, Hermes, the angel of the understanding of divine things, by whose aid alone the soul is enabled to surmount the sense-nature and man realises his Divine potentialities. Applying this to the present age, she said: –


“In the revival of the Hermetic philosophy now taking place may be seen at once the token and the agent of the world’s deliverance. For it means the supersession of a period of obscuration by one of illumination, such that men can once more rise from the appreciation of the Form to that of the Substance, of the Letter to that of the Spirit, and thus discern the meaning of the Divine Word, whether written or enacted. Such recognition of the ideal as the real signifies the reconstruction of religion upon a scientific basis, and of science upon a religious basis. So long as religion builds upon the mere facts and phenomena of history, she builds upon a sandbank, on which the advancing tide of scientific criticism is ever encroaching, and which must sooner or later be swept away with all that is founded upon it. But when she learns the secret of Hermetic, that is, Esoteric interpretation, then, and then only, does she build upon a rock, which shall never be shaken. Such is the import of the term ‘Peter,’ which, as one with Hermes, properly denotes not only rock, but interpreter.” (1)


My contribution on the occasion was a sketch of the history and character of the Hermetic philosophy, which was followed by a discussion, the chief feature of which was an account given by Colonel Olcott of the origin and aims of the Theosophical Society, and of the derivation of its teaching from the sages of the East, whose methods and doctrines, he said, were purely Hermetic – a definition which we recognised as altogether excluding Mr. Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism.

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At the second meeting [on May 19], I read a paper on Revelation as the Supreme Common Sense, meaning that the consensus or agreement which it represents is that, not of all men merely, but of all parts of man; of mind, soul, and spirit; of intellect and intuition, combined in a pure spirit and unfolded to the utmost. There is no contradiction between Reason and Revelation, provided only it be the whole Reason and not the mutilated faculty which ordinarily passes for such, for that represents the intellect without the intuition. And it is precisely the loss or corruption of this last which constitutes the Fall, the Intuition, as the feminine mode of the mind and representing the soul, being mystically called “the woman.”

At the third meeting, which was on June 12, Mary gave the first of her promised course of papers on the Credo of Christendom (the Apostles’ Creed), and in the course of the session she gave five further lectures on the same subject, dealing with it clause by clause.

In her first lecture, dealing with the first clause, – “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,” – after affirming the universality and antiquity of really Catholic doctrine, and its identity with that of the sacred mysteries of all countries from the beginning, she showed the fallacy involved in the conventional anthropomorphic conception of Deity, and the necessity to a rational system of thought of a substratum to the universe which is at once intelligent and personal, though in a sense differing from that which is ordinarily implied by the term; the Divine personality being that, not of outward form, but of essential consciousness; and creation, which is manifestation, being due, not to action from without, but to the perpetual Divine presence and operation from within: “God the Father” being, in the esoteric and true sense, the original, undifferentiated Life and Substance of the universe, but not limited by the universe, and Himself the potentiality of all things.

The subject of her second lecture, which was given at the fourth meeting on June 19, was the second clause of the Creed: “And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who is conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.” Concerning this clause, she said that in insisting upon the esoteric signification as alone true and of value, we are but reverting to the ancient and original usage. It is the acceptance of the Creed

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in its exoteric and historical sense which is really modern. For all sacred mysteries were originally regarded as spiritual, and only when they passed from the hands of properly instructed initiates into those of the ignorant and vulgar, did they become materialised and degraded to their present level. The esoteric truth of this article of the Creed can be understood only through a previous knowledge, first, of the constitution of man, and next, of the meaning of the terms employed in the formulation of religious doctrine. This doctrine represents perfect knowledge of human nature, and the terms in which it is expressed – “Adam,” “Eve,” “Christ,” and “Mary” and the rest – denote the various spiritual elements constituting the individual, the states through which he passes, and the goal he finally attains in the course of his spiritual evolution. For, as St. Paul says, “these things are an allegory”; and in order to understand them it is necessary to know the facts to which they refer. Knowing these, we have no difficulty in recognising the origin of such portraiture and in applying it to oneself. Thus “Adam” is man external and mundane merely, yet in due time developing the consciousness of “Eve” or the Soul – for the soul is always the “Woman” – and becoming a dual being consisting of matter and spirit. As “Eve,” the Soul falls under the power of this “Adam,” and becoming impure through subjection to matter, brings forth Cain, who, as representing the lower nature, is said to cultivate the fruits of the ground. But as “Mary,” the Soul regains her purity, being said to be virgin as regards matter, and polarising to God, becomes mother of the Christ or Man regenerate, who alone is the begotten Son of God and Saviour of the man in whom he is engendered. Wherefore Christ is both process and the result of process. Being thus, he is not “the Lord,” but “our Lord.” The Lord is Adonai, the Word, subsisting eternally in the heavens; and Christ is his counterpart in man. And no Christ on earth is possible for him for whom there is no Adonai in the heavens.

The entire spiritual history of man is thus comprised in the Church’s two dogmas, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. For they have no physical reference, but denote precisely that triumph and apotheosis of the soul, that glorification and perpetuation of the individual human ego, which is the object and result of cosmic evolution,

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and consummation of the scheme of creation. As may be supposed, this paper was followed by a conversation of unusual interest, in which a large number of Fellows and visitors joined, the chief point of discussion being the extent to which the Gospel narratives represent an actual personal history, and the value attaching to such history if real.

The following and fifth meeting, on June 26, was devoted to a paper of mine on “Mystics and Materialists,” in which I showed how dense was the ignorance and prejudice of the treatment accorded by the materialistic school to Mystics and Mysticism, and described the issue between the two parties as of the most tremendous import, being nothing less than the nature of existence, the constitution and destiny of man, the being of God and the spiritual world, the possibility of revelation, and the validity of the religious sentiment. Respecting all these, I said, the mystics claimed to have affirmative experiences of a kind absolutely satisfactory, they themselves being, by reason of their character and eminence, entitled to full credence. For the order to which they belonged comprised the highest types of humanity, and in fact all those sages, saints, seers, prophets, and Christs, through whose redeeming influence humanity has been preserved from the abyss of utter negation in respect of all that makes and ennobles humanity, and these have uniformly declared that the passage from Materialism to Mysticism has been to them a passage, physically, from disease to health; intellectually, from infancy to manhood; morally, from anarchy to order; and spiritually, from darkness to light and from death to life – even life everlasting. And none who had made that passage had ever been known to wish to retrieve his steps. And as it was through the loss of the intuition that the world has sunk into the materialism now prevailing, so it will be through the restoration of the intuition, now taking place, that the world will be rescued and redeemed.

The remaining lectures, with one exception, were all given by Mary, and that one, the sixth, was given by Mr. Arthur Lillie, the subject being Indian Yoga. (1) Careful abstracts of our own

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lectures, made by myself, were published in Light; and among the recognitions received from persons who read them there was the following from one whom we regarded as far and away the most advanced of them all in mystic and spiritual knowledge – Baron Spedalieri, who wrote to us as follows respecting Mary’s interpretations of the Creed: –


MARSEILLES, August 21, 1884.

“DEAR AND HONOURED MADAME, – DEAR SIR AND FRIEND, – Eliphas Levi was right when he told me that humanity needed not a new Revelation, but rather an explanation of that which it already has. This explanation would, he said, be given in the ‘latter times,’ and would constitute what he called the ‘Messianisme.’ The illuminated Guillaume Postel predicted likewise that the ‘latter days’ would be distinguished by the comprehension of the Kabala, and of the occult books of the Hebrews.

“You – the New Messiah – you are now accomplishing this double mission, and you are doing it in a manner veritably miraculous. For I cannot otherwise explain to myself how you have been able to acquire an erudition so exalted and a knowledge so deep that before it all human intelligence is dazzled. No initiation in any anterior state of existence suffices to explain this wonder. Moreover, the doctrines you expound relate to facts posterior to the ancient mysteries, and were therefore unknown to the initiates of remote ages.

“Nothing was ever known or written by any of the Christian Mystics, whether St. Martin, Boehme, Swedenborg, or any other theosophists, comparable to your writings. Eliphas Levi himself would be astonished at your teaching, so logical, so reasonable, so consistent throughout, and so convincing; before which the mind can but incline and adore, and which have made and will make my only strength in the presence of death.

“But this mission imposes on you a great duty. Time presses; the harvest of the earth is ripe. Why do you wait? Why confine yourselves to communicating to a small group of auditors that which ought to regenerate humanity: Why not at once publish these chapters on the Credo, and later the rest of your Hermetic expositions of the teachings of the Church? For then indeed the Church herself will for the first time learn with surprise how great a treasure lies buried under the materialism of her doctrines.

            “Prepared as I was by the study of The Perfect Way, your two

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first lectures did not surpass my learning. But the rest have been for me a dazzling revelation. They have opened to me new and unexpected horizons: the splendour of the Kabala has been surpassed. I have thoroughly studied the résumés in Light in order to grasp the depth and breadth, and shall I say the originality(?) of your commentaries. Your explanations of the Seal of Solomon are new to me; but their profundity and truth have ravished my mind. I cried aloud as I read, ‘How beautiful that is! How all the truth is there! Ah, my God, when will all this be published?’

“At last I have found the explanation of the planetary system of Esoteric Buddhism. But what a difference between the two! How simple is the truth, and how the reason is satisfied by it! Beautiful and accurate also is the distinction you draw between Mysticism and Occultism, whereby the superiority of the former is readily perceived.

“Dear and honoured friends, how can I speak of the great literary talent you have exhibited in the treatment of those most difficult subjects? You have placed them within the reach of every intelligence. You have handled them with admirable lucidity. Ali that I can say would be beneath the truth.

“With sentiments of the most profound and respectful attachment, I am your wholly devoted



Notwithstanding the arduous nature of our work in connection with the Hermetic Society, we had not neglected our crusade on behalf of our rudimentary brethren, the animals. In May we visited Exeter to take part in a public demonstration in the vegetarian cause, where Mary was the principal speaker; and in June we paid a hurried visit to Paris, (1) where she delivered an address in French, before the Society of which Victor Hugo was the president, in exposure of the pretences and methods of Pasteur, which was afterwards published in France. We stayed with Lady Caithness on this occasion, and Mons. V–––, the president of the committee of the Society in question, called there upon Mary to obtain her consent to a certain change in its title and objects. It would have, he maintained, a far larger number of adherents if, instead of seeking to prohibit vivisection altogether, it sought only to prevent the abuse of the practice. This was a concession to the enemy to which she was absolutely opposed. The practice itself, she maintained, was an abuse, just like murder and robbery, and one might as well legislate against the abuse of these as against that of vivisection. To concede the principle was to abandon the cause. Vivisectors themselves might consistently join such a Society as that would

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be. Mons. V––– was a man of formidable proportions and aspect, and a notable controvertist. He had evidently no doubt of the result of his visit. The discussion took place in one of the suite of large reception-rooms for which the house is distinguished, being an old ambassadorial residence. I was present at the commencement, but withdrew to an adjoining room on perceiving there was to be a battle-royal, both sides being equally determined and positive; for I knew that nothing would be so likely to prevent a surrender on his part when he found himself worsted – as I was confident he would be both in argument and in resolution – as the presence of another man. To a woman alone he might yield, but not before one of his own sex. The contest raged loud and long, so that it seemed as if it would end only in the sheer exhaustion of one at least of the combatants, and the whole vast suite of apartments resounded with their voices as if each side were a host. After nearly two hours there was a lull and a hush. Then the door of the apartment opened in which I was sitting with our hostess, and the pair entered, showing palpable signs of heat and excitement, and on Mary’s side a scarcely successful attempt to conceal a look of triumph. Then, addressing himself to our hostess, Mons. V––– said –

            “Madame Ia Duchesse, pour Ia première fois de ma vie, je suis vaincu en debat. Madame votre belle compatriote m’a battu.”

The formation of the Hermetic Society was speedily followed by a letter from the President of the Paris Société des Occultistes, stating that they had been compelled to break off their relations with the Theosophical Society, and proposing a conjunction with ours. The appreciation expressed by the writer, Dr. Fortin, greatly surprised us by its warmth, considering the greatness of the gulf which separates the mystical from the scientific so called. But we felt that it was better for each Society of the kind to retain its independence, and accordingly agreed simply to exchange results with each other.

We had been warned that our attitude towards the Theosophical Society and its Masters exposed us to personal danger from the occult powers possessed by them, and some of the more ardent of their partisans had already expressed their surprise at our immunity from their vengeance. Certain incidents which occurred during our sojourn in London this summer

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seemed to lend confirmation to the idea, of which the following is one: –

            Mary was roused from sleep one night by a sound of rustling among some manuscripts which were on a table at the foot of her bed, and on looking to see the cause, beheld a dwarf figure, which she recognised as that of an elemental of the order of the Gnomes, or earth-spirits; for it was costumed as a labourer, and carried a long-handled shovel, their distinguishing symbol. It was turning over the manuscripts as if looking for some particular paper, and muttering to itself in French. She therefore accosted it in the same language, sharply demanding its business, and bidding it begone. Upon which the imp looked at her in great surprise, as if not expecting detection, and exclaiming in the same language that it had made a mistake, took its departure.

On the following night I was aroused from a sound sleep by hearing her exclaim in great distress, “Caro! Caro! I am dying!” Owing to the distance between our rooms – for they were on different storeys and staircases – I knew that her actual voice could not have reached me, call as loudly as she might. I took it, therefore, for an interior summons, obeying which I hastened to her door, and knocking at it, asked if she was in want of anything, as I fancied I heard her calling out. Whereupon she presently exclaimed, “Oh! I am so glad you have woke me; I was just being suffocated by a terrible nightmare.”

She had been much exercised about the experience of the previous night, owing chiefly to the circumstance that the goblin spoke in French, this being quite a novel feature to her; and she could not help connecting it in some way with a visit she had on that day paid to Madame Blavatsky, in which they had chiefly spoken French together. The visit itself had been marked by an incident which we had discussed with considerable interest, and which was in this wise.

On calling at the house where Madame Blavatsky was staying, she found her on the point of going out for a drive, and instead of entering the house, complied with a message asking her to get into the carriage and wait there. Presently Madame appeared, with one of her Indian protégés, one M–––, and the three went for a drive together, Madame being very cordial, and cheerful even to jocularity. After a while she referred to

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the criticism we had written on Mr. Sinnett’s book, Esoteric Buddhism, quoting a sentence which she ascribed to Mary, and asking how she could say such a thing. To which Mary replied that she had said nothing of the kind, but quite the opposite. Whereupon, in order to prove herself right, Madame asked M––– for the pamphlet, saying she was sure he had it about him. This M––– denied, but, on her persisting, searched his pockets for it, but without finding it. At this Madame seemed disappointed, but presently regained her cheerfulness, and showed herself full of vivacious humour, much to Mary’s delight, as she had heard so much of that trait in her character, but had never yet witnessed any exhibition of it. In the course of the drive the “Old Lady” proposed that they have some refreshment, and the party accordingly repaired to a confectioner’s, and called for some chocolate. While sitting there Madame again recurred to the pamphlet, reaffirming her accuracy, and insisted on M––– again searching his pockets for it, saying in a tone of command, “I must and will have it.” This time, after a short search, he produced it; upon which Madame exclaimed triumphantly, “There! You see! The Masters –––.” To which Mary responded by saying quietly, “That is very nice; now I will show you”; and taking the book, she found the passage, which proved to be as she had declared. Madame at once frankly admitted her mistake, saying she was very glad to find she was wrong; and the rest of the time passed pleasantly all round.

On coming home and telling me the story, Mary said that, even if she had believed there was a miracle in the matter, she would not have shown any surprise, as that would have been to credit Madame with a monopoly of thaumaturgic power. What she wanted, however, to do was to find a middle course between a miracle – in which she did not for a moment believe – and a barefaced trick, deliberately contrived and rehearsed to impose upon her. The explanation to which we inclined was this twofold one. Madame had been prompted, partly by her irrepressible love of fun, and partly by her desire to put Mary to a test to ascertain whether she was really a sensible person, or belonged to the category of those whom Madame had been wont to call her “domestic imbeciles,” “flapdoodles,” and the like names. It was the way of the Adepts in occultism to test their neophytes, and Mary took this as an ordeal similarly

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devised to try her, and believed that her behaviour on the occasion had greatly raised her in Madame Blavatsky’s estimation. In this view I was glad to concur, but could not help remarking that it was a serious risk for the “Old Lady” to run, whether as regarded her own credit or that of her cause, as the generality of persons would be apt to take a view less favourable to her. But then prudence was notoriously not her strong point, and, in fact, was the very last quality with which either her friends or her enemies would credit her. For she was veritable personification of impulsiveness.

Knowing, too, as we did know, that for several years prior to the formation of the Theosophical Society she had followed the vocation of a professional spirit-medium, and knowing also the class of entity with which such persons are apt to be in relation, and the liability of sensitives to yield to sudden suggestions from such source, we were disposed to regard her peculiarities as representing a survival from her former vocation, and as due, therefore, to what she herself called “the spooks of the séance-room,” rather than to any deliberate design of her own to deceive.

Having been interviewed by Mr. W.T. Stead, then editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, Mary wrote for that Journal the following account of the Hermetic Society, which duly appeared, but under the misleading heading, “The Newest Thing in Religions”: –


“The name of Hermes as the divine representative of the intellectual principle has ever in the Western world been associated with the study of spiritual and occult science, and with the knowledge of things hidden and removed from the reach of the superficial sense. Hence the very word ‘hermetic’ has, in common parlance, come to be applied to the enclosure and sealing up of objects which it is desired to preserve inviolate and incorrupt. The Hermetic Society, however, though, as its name implies, concerning itself mainly with the study of the secret science, is not a secret association. Its Fellows are bound by no pledges of silence, and use neither password nor sign. In a Society having a catholic object, and aiming at the inauguration of a school of thought which, though old in the history of the world, is new in that of our race and time, it is considered that a policy of exclusiveness would be anachronistic and out of place. Moreover, the origin and character of the Society are not of a nature to render secrecy either necessary or desirable. Composed as it is, not of initiates, but of students, and numbering in its ranks sound scholars and competent thinkers more or less intolerant of ecclesiastical methods and control, the

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task which the Society has set itself is one for which it seeks and invites co-operation on the part of all able contributors to the thought of our day. This task involves the investigation of the nature and constitution of man, with a view to the formulation of a system of thought and rule of life which will enable the individual to develop to the utmost his higher potentialities, intellectual and spiritual. The Society represents a reaction that has long been observable, though hitherto discouraged and hindered from public expression by still dominant influences. Reaction is not necessarily, nor indeed usually, retrogressive. It bears on its wave the best acquisitions of time and culture, and often represents the deeper current of essential progress. The tendency of the age to restrict the researches of the human mind to a range of study merely material and sensible is directly inimical to the method of Nature, and must, therefore, prove abortive. For it represents an attempt to limit the scope and the possibilities of evolution, and thus to hinder the normal development of those higher modes of consciousness which mark certain advanced types of mankind. Reason is not less the test of truth to the mystic than to the materialist; but the mode of it to which the former appeals is on a higher level, transcending the operation of the outer and ordinary senses. ‘Revelation’ thus becomes conceivable. Only to thought which is absolutely free is the manifestation of truth possible; and to be thus free, thought must be exercised in all directions, not outward only to the phenomenal, but inward to the real also, from the expression of idea in formal matter to the informing idea itself. Our age, failing to comprehend the mystic spirit, has hitherto associated it with attributes which really belong not to mysticism, but to the common apprehension of it – obscurity and uncertainty. The Hermetic Society desires to reveal mysticism to a world which knows it not; to define its propositions, and to categorise its doctrine. And this can only be done by minds trained in the philosophical method, because mysticism is a science, based on the essential reason of things – the most supremely rationalistic of all systems.

“The programme by which the Hermetic Society intends to regulate and direct its labours is a rich one. It comprises the comparative study of all philosophical and religious systems, whether of the East or of the West, and especially of the ‘Mysteries’ of Egypt and Greece, and the allied schools of Kabalistic, Pythagorean, Platonic, and Alexandrian illumination. The researches of the Hermetists in the direction of Christian doctrine are especially interesting, on account not only of the importance of the subject, but of the novelty of the treatment accorded to it. In the papers on the ‘Credo of Christendom’ now in course of delivery, the President deals with the historical element of our national faith as its accident and vehicle only, the dramatic formulation of processes whose proper sphere of operation is the human mind and soul.

“These observations will suffice to show that the Hermetic Society is not more friendly to the popular presentation of orthodox Church doctrine than to the fashionable agnosticism of the hour. It represents, indeed, a revolt against all conventional forms of belief, whether ecclesiastical or secular, and a conviction that the rehabilitation

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of religion on reasonable and scientific grounds is not only possible to the human mind, but is essential to human progress and development. This line of thought was first introduced to the public in a work entitled The Perfect Way; or, the Finding of Christ, with the production of which it is an open secret that the present President of the Hermetic Society had much to do. The book consists of a series of lectures, delivered to private audiences in London in the year 1881, and published in the following winter. The subject chiefly handled in these lectures is the Christian tradition; and the Roman Church, as the principal and completest exponent thereof, is connected with and referred to the Hermetic ‘mysteries’ of Egyptian and Hellenic origin; the method adopted by the neo-Platonic school in expounding these being applied, in The Perfect Way, to the Christian revelation, as their descendant and heir.

“Students of the ‘solar myth’ have again and again demonstrated the fact that the dogmas and central figures of Christianity are identical with those of all other religious systems, and are probably all traceable to a common astronomical origin; but it was reserved for the writers of the book in question to define the esoteric significance of the solar myth, and to point out the correspondence subsisting between the symbology of the various creeds founded on the terms of this universal myth, and the processes and principles concerned in the interior development of the individual human Ego.

“The appearance of this book, it is asserted by those who claim to know, awakened the interest of the Eastern ‘Adepts,’ whom the Theosophical Society venerates as its leaders and master; and the writers were invited by the London representatives of that Society to join its English branch in an official capacity. The views and aims of the two parties proved, however, to be in some important respects divergent. The writers of The Perfect Way found that their labours, though not inconsistent with personal interest in the propaganda of which Mr. Sinnett is the accredited exponent, could not be carried on within the same organisation. Their paramount idea lay in the direction of the revival of Christian mysticism, as the form of theosophy best adapted to the genius of the European mind. In this view many readers of their book concurred, and thus, while friendly to much in the objects of the Indian Theosophical fraternity, the Hermetic Society has its raison d’être in the distinctly Western proclivities of its promoters. It has a mystic rather than an ‘occult’ character; it depends for guidance upon no ‘Mahatmas,’ and can boast no worker of wonders on the phenomenal plane. Its Fellows do not, as Hermetists, interest themselves in the study or culture of abnormal powers; they seek knowledges only, and these not so much on the physical as on the intellectual and spiritual level. Such knowledge must, they hold, be necessarily productive of good works. Hermetists are expected to be true knights of spiritual chivalry, identifying themselves with movements in the direction of justice and mercy, whether toward man or beast, and doing their utmost, individually and collectively, to further the recognition of the Love-principle as that involving the highest and worthiest motive and method of human action.”


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“To the Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette.’

“SIR, – Pray allow me to remove the erroneous and unfavourable impression likely to be produced by your heading of the article on this Society in the Pall Mall Gazette of to-day. So far from being ‘the newest thing in religions,’ or even claiming to be a religion at all, that at which the Society aims is the recovery of what is really the oldest thing in Religion – so old as to have become forgotten and lost – namely, its esoteric and spiritual, and therefore its true, signification. I had hoped that this had been made sufficiently clear in the article to prevent any misconception on the point. Thanking you for the publication of the article, and requesting the insertion of this important rectification, I am, Sir, your obedient servant,



“GARMISCH (BAVARIA), August 7, 1884.

“MY DEAR SIR, – I thank you much for the two Pall Malls and the prospectus of your new ‘Hermetic Society,’ which were forwarded to me hither after some delay. The disorder consequent upon the removal of my furniture to a magazine made it well-nigh impossible for me to give due attention to such subjects as were touched upon in your last communication of May 22, and even in these mountain retreats, which are just now filled with a restless crowd of excursionists and pleasure-seekers, I have had some difficulty in tuning my mind for theosophic harmonies. How little repose there is in this Western world of ours, and what a world of toil and drudgery it must be to induce such holiday excitement!

“I was greatly and agreeably surprised to hear of the constitution of the new Society. I had received the Statutes of the London Lodge, and later the Statuts de Ia Société Theosophique, but of the actual secession of some of the London brethren, and of the foundation of a new and independent Society, I knew nothing; and now that l have carefully read its prospectus, and the admirable commentary contained in your Pall Mall article, I cannot but congratulate you on this step. Your article is a masterpiece of persuasiveness, and so irresistibly plausible that my former objections to such forms of mental co-operation have grown weaker, and may at any moment be waived together.

“It was a bold but salutary thing to proclaim the scientific dignity of Mysticism, and to vindicate the claims of Christian mysticism in particular. And what you say about the knighthood of spiritual chivalry completes your programme most satisfactorily by bringing, explicitly or implicitly, every one of our great moral agitations within its range.

“If the editor of the Pall Mall Gazette calls this ‘the newest thing in religions,’ he only proves what we all know but are apt to forget, that newspapers are at best but advertising agencies and sensation-mongers. Fortunately, this nouveauté did not come from Paris.

“You would greatly oblige me by telling me, at your leisure and convenience, a little more about the status and the prospects of

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your new Society, and by letting me know the conditions of membership.

“You are right in what you say about the variety of ‘planes’ on which a new spiritual fermentation is observable (from the Buddhistic revival and apparition of the Mahdi down to the Salvation Army), and from the Hermetic point of view this must be considered as effects of ‘illumination,’ or influxus divinus, while ordinary rationalists would ascribe it to evolution from below, helped on and accelerated by the multiplication of the channels and means of human intercourse. But, then, what is ‘evolution’ what is all so-called spontaneity (whether of generation, or of thought, or of will), without some divine subsoil, or some hidden spiritual vis a tergo, which is but the alter ego of the Spirit above reflected and refracted in the spray of matter?

“I find among my papers a little note which I beg leave to transcribe here, although it is out of date. It runs thus: – ‘I said in my last letter to Mr. Maitland that the individual cannot pre-exist either in the sperma or in the ovulum. I might have said, more accurately, one part of the individual, namely, the four first principles, being dependent for their aggregation on natural or intentional selection, cannot collectively pre-exist, but manas, buddhi, and atma may be supposed to pre-exist somewhere as to wait for the formation (from below) of a suitable substratum.’ – Yours sincerely,



From the numerous letters from strangers which reached us from various distant regions, I select the following, which was written in reply to a brief communication supplying some desired information respecting our work. The writing is a model of clearness, the Hebrew and Greek characters being written in the most scholarly style, the former as if by a student in a Jewish school. It was expressly declared to be for ourselves alone, and I therefore withhold the name. The writer, however, has since become distinguished as the author of some very valuable contributions to theosophical literature: –


MINNESOTA, U.S.A., August 27, 1884.

Αîτεîτє, καì δοθήσεταs ύμǐν; ‘ςητεìτε,

кαì εύρήσετε кρούετε, кαì άνοιγήσεται ύμîν.

“DEAR SIR, – Your letter of the 10th inst. and the pamphlet have been received. I am very thankful for them. What you tell me about Dr. Kingsford does not surprise me. The language and teachings of The Perfect Way, compared with her language and teachings in the Theosophist and Light, point to her. I wrote ‘Sirs’ as a mere matter of formality; for, while reading the book, I said that a Catholic, and I felt that a woman, had co-operated in its production. As it is all honour to her and to her fellow-worker. I procured The Perfect Way, read it three times, underscored all strikingly interesting statements, and circulated it among a few prudent friends, men and women. All have admitted it is full of

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love and light, and each is about to procure a copy. My copy has been sent to Pennsylvania. The woman-friend to whom I sent it writes me that she is ‘re-reading’ it. Truly it bears ‘re-reading.’

“I thank you for offering to answer questions I may put. But before I ask any question, that I may be understood, let me depart from my usual habit and say a few words about myself.

“I am a Swede; to-day thirty-five years of age; unmarried; physician by profession; have been in America about twelve years. I was brought up in the Swedish (Lutheran) State Church. My mother was a pious woman, and sought to inculcate what she supposed to be the truths of eternal life, especially by example. Her influence was powerful for good. But there were other and more powerful influences at work to counteract her – Strauss, Renan, Flammarion, Theodore Parker, Boehme, and a host of others, foreign and native, good and evil. Each had his season of influence. Relatives and companions had theirs. Behold a poor boy in his teens, seeking, but not finding, mental and moral rest, wandering alone in wood and field, sighing for spirituality, spending his nights in reading pro and con immortality, crying with St. Paul, ‘Miser ego homo; quis me eripiet ex isto corpore mortis.’

“Since I came to America I have continued my search and struggle. For ten years I have studied the entire theology of Swedenborg. His teachings have made a profound impression upon me. But the ‘New Church’ that his followers have established. Alas!

‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ (:תבל תבל٠ם חבל חבל) ‘The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.’

“I read Ghostland. I am indebted to the author of it. It led me to read Isis Unveiled, The Occult World, the Theosophist, and Esoteric Buddhism. The last led me to read The Perfect Way. While reading it I thought at times that it had been inspired by some ‘Mahatma’ – a thought not repugnant to me. But the thought that ‘departed spirits’ might have had something to do with it did not enter my mind, because the productions of ‘departed spirits’ – as many of these as I have met with – consist either of pathetic nonsense or downright imposture, neither of which is visible in The Perfect Way.

“I confess frankly that I am disappointed to learn that a brotherhood of the kind I referred to in my letter does not exist. (1) I would give much if I could find a brotherhood that could show a Christhood. And I would give more if I could get the spiritual help the ‘Chelas’ get, that the author of Ghostland got in India; and that is gotten in the adyta of some of the temples of the East.

“I am looking for a sign of the Son of Man. Where, my good Sir, shall I find it? In books? In Thibet? In my heart? ‘In the latter,’ you would say. I understand you. But, consider, I am not, like Dr. Kingsford, and perhaps yourself, born into such a psychological state that I can elevate myself beyond the matters of the senses and learn the secrets of the ‘Woman.’ Alas, no! Of what profit is my book-knowledge, my abstinence from unclean food, and

(p. 211)

my other possible virtues? Will these alone open the adytum of my being, restore the memory of the forgotten past? Again, alas, no! Then in what respect am I better off than the ignoramus, the cannibal, and the libertine? ‘A melancholist,’ you would say, ‘seeking signs.’ Sir, I have not practised table-tipping, slate-writing, and tambourine-playing, in dark or lighted chambers. And I do not intend. But I feel daily the force of Goethe’s words, ‘Ernst ist das Leben.’ And I am looking for the Christ. Do you blame me?

“I have now not any direct question to put. You will readily perceive this whole letter is a question. For your letter I thank you again. I give you hereby my word of honour not to misuse any information you have given, or may give, in the future.

“Please tell Dr. Kingsford that she has attentive and appreciative readers in this distant land, who will not knowingly trample the ‘Woman’ under foot; who will, if possible, ‘restore the Queen.’

“Are your works, The Pilgrim and the Shrine and the Keys of the Creeds, of an Hermetic nature? By the by, the discussion now going on in Light between the Spiritists and the Theosophists is very painful to me –Respectfully yours,





(185:1) The object of their visit to England was to compose the division that had been set up in the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society. It was then that the two parties first became acquainted with each other. (See E.M.’s letter in the Unknown World of March 15, 1895.) – S.H.H.

(186:1) Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland did not at first sever their connection with the Lodge, but remained members thereof, with the double object of examining any further teachings that might be received from the East, and effacing personal antagonisms. At the close of the year, however, they took the further step, and resigned their membership in the Lodge. (See p. 221 post.) – S.H.H.

(186:2) A charter was, in fact, granted by Col. H.S. Olcott, the President-Founder of the Theosophical Society, to the new society, which was to be known as the Hermetic Lodge of the Theosophical Society, and members of other Lodges were to be eligible for admission to the Hermetic Lodge without renunciation of any previous affiliation: and on April 9, 1884, a meeting for the purpose of inaugurating the new Lodge was held at C.C. Massey’s Chambers, Col. H.S. Olcott presiding. But owing to the issue almost immediately afterwards by Col. H.S. Olcott of the above-mentioned rule prohibiting membership of more than one Lodge at a time, and as some of the members of the Hermetic Lodge were also members of the London Lodge and had no desire to sever their connection with it, it became necessary to make the new adventure outside of the Theosophical Society; and at a meeting held on April 22, 1884, it was unanimously resolved to surrender the charter affiliating the new Society to the Theosophical Society, and to reconstruct it independently of that organisation. It thus became possible for members of a Lodge in the Theosophical Society to remain in or join the Hermetic Society without severing their connection with the London or any other Lodge of the Theosophical Society. – S.H.H.

(188:1) The hexagram, or double triangle.

(193:1) This is an allusion to a charge made against us to account for our action in reference to the Theosophical Society. We were alleged to be “agents of the Jesuits” on the authority of occult knowledge! – E.M.

(195:1) I.e. the revised prospectus. For the prospectus as originally issued, see Light, 1884, p. 186.

(196:1) For Anna Kingsford’s exposition of the legend of St. George and the Dragon, see the story of St. George the Chevalier in Dreams and Dream Stories (Third Edition), p. 288.

(199:1) The following are the dates and subjects of Anna Kingsford’s six Lectures on the Credo of Christendom: –

            June 12, 1884 (Third meeting). First Lecture, on the clause “I believe in God,” etc.

            June 19, 1884 (Fourth meeting). Second Lecture, on the clause “And in Jesus Christ,” etc.

            July 10, 1884 (Seventh meeting). Third Lecture, on the clause “Suffered under Pontius Pilate,” etc.

            July 17, 1884 (Eighth meeting). Fourth Lecture, on the clause “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church.”

            July 24, 1884 (Ninth meeting). Fifth Lecture, further on the same clause.

            July 31, 1884 (Tenth meeting). Sixth Lecture, further on the same clause. – S.H.H.

(201:1) See p. 193 ante.

(210:1) This was the community described by me in The Perfect Way, Lecture VII, pars. 40-49, on the strength, as it seemed to me, of interior recollection. – E.M. (See p. 65 ante.)



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