THE PROMULGATION AND RECOGNITION
AS will readily be imagined, the interest was intense with which we watched the progress of our work, in order to see whether the crucial event of its promulgation would coincide with the date prophesied for the turning point between the outgoing and the incoming dispensations. The predictions covered a period of six years, namely from 1876 to 1881 inclusive. In this period was to be laid the foundation of a universal kingdom of justice and knowledge, which should constitute the reign of Michael, and spring from a new illumination, one feature of which was to be the "return of the Gods" in 1876. It was in the autumn of this year that they first came to us, and the intimation was given us that the reign of Michael was then actually commencing; we having no knowledge either of the meaning or of the fact of such predictions. For, while the Bible references to Michael were altogether unintelligible to us, we had not learnt to refer the event to any assignable period. The fulfilment of this prediction disposed us to attach value to those which pointed to the year 1881 as that in which our work – supposing our estimate of its significance to be correct – ought to see the light. For our illuminators observed silence respecting times and seasons, contenting themselves with bringing under our notice the books containing the predictions,
the application being left to our own
perspicacity. We were powerless to influence events, even had we desired to do
so. We could but work steadily on, as we did, "without haste, without rest,"
until my colleague had finished her university course and obtained her diploma.
This she accomplished in the summer of 1880, soon after which we returned to
There were many other coincidences of a kind so remarkable as to make us feel that to ascribe them to accident would require a larger measure of credulity than to ascribe them to design. Among the most striking were those which concerned "Mary's" names, and which were in this wise.
When first the significance of the Apocalyptic utterance concerning the river Euphrates and the kings of the East was flashed on my mind, I asked her if she knew that she was mentioned, even to her very name, in the book of Revelation. To which she replied, smiling, that she had known it for some time, but which of her names did I mean? I said that I meant her married surname, which
fitted exactly a way made for kings across
a river, by the drying up of its waters, namely a King's ford, the "Kings
of the East," meaning those principles in man whereby he has knowledge of divine
things – the East being the mystical expression for the place of the dawn of
spiritual light, such as that of which she was the revealer. While the
She further identified the "Kings of the East" as functions of the three principles in man, the Spirit, the Soul, and the Mind; being respectively, right aspiration, which is of the Spirit; right
perception, which is of the Soul; and right judgment, which is of the Mind; the combination of which is the necessary and sufficient condition of divine knowledge.
Had we been sanguine of a favourable reception of our book by the press at large – which we were not – our disappointment would have been great. But we were by no means prepared either for the gross misrepresentation and even vulgar ribaldry with which it was treated by the few organs in the literary press which noticed it at all, or for the complete neglect of it by that portion of the press which especially concerns itself with religious exegesis. In no instance was any attempt made to exhibit its plan, purpose, and real nature, or any recognition accorded to its luminous solutions of the profound problems dealt with. The very claim to have experiential knowledge of things spiritual was accounted an offence; and it seemed as if the word had gone forth to adopt towards it an attitude which should effectually restrain the public from making its acquaintance, even though it met absolutely the need recognised on all hands as the world's supreme need, and vindicated its claim thereto by the presentation of teachings avowedly of divine derivation and demonstrating their divinity by their intrinsic character to all who are in the smallest degree spiritually percipient. To this day that attitude has never been abandoned or relaxed; and notwithstanding the assiduous endeavours made to counteract its influence, the whole mass of our people, saving only a few select circles, have yet to learn that the longed-for New Gospel of Interpretation has actually been vouchsafed, having been for years in their midst waiting
but to be recognised of them, – a "light shining in darkness and the darkness comprehending it not." (1)
In compliance with the injunctions of our illuminators, we had withheld our names from our first edition, in order to secure for it a judgment unbiased by any personal element. But though we ourselves thus escaped the opprobrium attaching to our book, "Mary" was at first inclined to repent of having exposed her pearls to such profanation; and was only reassured by the suggestion that it showed how desperate was the need for precisely the change our work was designed to accomplish, and how exactly was fulfilled the prophecy which foretold the wrath of the dragon and his angels at the advent of the "Woman" Intuition, their destined destroyer, and the consequent shortness of their own time. We knew of course better than to regard such criticism as being in any sense a measure of our work. For us it was, like criticism in general, a measure not of the thing criticised but of the critics themselves. And these, in our case, but truly represented the condition of the age, and knew not what they were doing.
Such is the reason why so many will hear for the first time from this book that a New Gospel of Interpretation has been received. To turn to the other and compensating side. With those who were specially qualified to judge, it was far otherwise. And among the most notable of the recognitions received from this quarter was the weighty utterance which appears in the preface to the second
and succeeding editions, coming from that veteran student of the "Divine Science," the friend, disciple, and literary heir of the renowned Kabalist and magian, the late Abbé Constant ("Eliphas Levi"), namely, Baron Spedalieri of Marseilles, who though then an entire stranger to us, wrote to us as follows – for I think it may with advantage be reproduced here: –
"As with the corresponding Scriptures of the past, the appeal on behalf of your book is, really, to miracles, but with the difference that in your case they are intellectual ones, and incapable of simulation, being miracles of interpretation. And they have the further distinction of doing no violence to common sense by infringing the possibilities of Nature; while they are in complete accord with all mystical traditions, and especially with the great Mother of these, the Kabala. That miracles such as I am describing are to be found in The Perfect Way, in kind and number unexampled, they who are the best qualified to judge will be the most ready to affirm.
"And here, apropos of these renowned Scriptures, permit me to offer you some remarks on the Kabala as we have it. It is my opinion –
"(1) That this tradition is far from being genuine, and such as it was on its original emergence from the sanctuaries.
"(2) That when Guillaume Postel – of excellent memory – and his brother Hermetists of the later middle age – the Abbot Trithemius and others – predicted that these sacred books of the Hebrews should become known and understood at the end of the era, and specified the present time for that event, they did not mean that such knowledge should be limited to the mere divulgement of these particular Scriptures, but that it would have for its base a new illumination, which should eliminate from
them all that has been ignorantly or wilfully introduced, and should re-unite that great tradition with its source by restoring it in all its purity.
"(3) That this illumination has just been accomplished, and has been manifested in The Perfect Way. For in this book we find all that there is of truth in the Kabala, supplemented by new intuitions, such as present a body of doctrine at once complete, homogeneous, logical and inexpugnable.
"Since the whole tradition thus finds itself recovered or restored to its original purity, the prophecies of Postel and his fellow-Hermetists are accomplished; and I consider that from henceforth the study of the Kabala will be but an object of curiosity and erudition, like that of Hebrew antiquities.
"Humanity has always and everywhere asked itself these three supreme questions: Whence come we? What are we? Whither go we? Now, these questions at length find an answer, complete, satisfactory, and consolatory, in The Perfect Way." (1)
He subsequently wrote: –
"If the Scriptures of the future are to be, as I firmly believe they will be, those which best interpret the Scriptures of the past, these writings will assuredly hold the foremost place among them." (1)
For those who are unacquainted with the Kabala, its origin, nature, and intent, it will be well to state that it represents the transcendental and esoteric doctrine of the Hebrews, as handed down from the remotest times. In recognition of its divine origin, the Rabbins describe it as having been communicated by God, first, to "Adam in
It was also in recognition of this element in our book that Mr. MacGregor Mathers dedicated his learned work, The Kabala Unveiled, to us, saying –
"I have much pleasure in dedicating this work to the authors of The Perfect Way, as they have in that excellent and wonderful book touched so much on the doctrines of the Kabala, and laid such value on its teachings. The Perfect Way is one of the most deeply occult works that has been written for centuries."
As the foregoing testimonies represent the consensus of the Kabalists, Hermetists, and other great ancient schools of spiritual science in the West, so the following represents the consensus of the corresponding schools of the East. As will be seen, it involves a coincidence so notable as to point to a source transcending the human and terrestrial, as that of the great spiritual revival which our age is witnessing. That coincidence is in this wise: –
Within two years of the commencement of our collaboration in the work which proved to be that of the restoration of the Gnosis of the West – the divine doctrine of which, as we had come to learn, Christ was the personal demonstration, and the religion called after Him ought to have been the expression; a collaboration was commenced which had for its end the like exposition in regard to the religious systems of the East. This is the collaboration, also of a woman and a man, which had its issue in the Theosophical Society. The two
pairs of collaborators worked simultaneously through, the succeeding years in entire ignorance of each other and their work, until the commencement of the publication of our results in 1881, at which time the Theosophical Society was still so far from having completed the system of its doctrine, that neither of its two now fundamental tenets had yet been recognised by it, the tenets, namely, of Reincarnation and Karma – its chief text-book, the Isis Unveiled of its foundress, not containing them. We, on the contrary, had both of these doctrines, having derived them, as already stated herein, directly from celestial sources and wholly independently of human authority and tradition, of spiritualism, and of our own prepossessions.
It was clear, both by this fact and by the avowals of the parties concerned,
that up to this time the chiefs of the Theosophical Society had been unable to
obtain from those whom they claimed as their masters more than a very meagre
instalment of their doctrine. But after the arrival of our book in
them, if only in vindication of their own claims, to relax their rule of silence in regard to their mysteries.
The coincidence between their doctrine and ours comprised sundry particulars the most recondite, including – besides the two great tenets already named – the multiplicity of principles in the human system, and their separation and respective conditions after death, – a subject lying outside the cognisance of "Spiritualism." Among other points of agreement was that of their recognition of the great antiquity of the soul of "Mary," whom they pronounced to be "the greatest natural mystic of the present day, and countless ages ahead of the great majority of mankind, the foremost of whom – the most civilised – belong to the last race of the fourth round, while she belongs to the first race of the fifth round."
In presence of these and other proofs of the possession by the Eastern occultists, of knowledges which we had obtained directly at first hand from celestial sources, we could not but pay respectful heed to the claims of the representatives of the Theosophical Society, and welcome any token which might indicate it as a destined fellow-agent in the great spiritual revival of the age. So might it constitute, with "Spiritualism" and the work represented by us, a threefold power for accomplishing the promotion predicted for this era, of the consciousness of the race to a level which should transcend any yet reached by it as a race. With Spiritualism to represent the phenomenal and personal, Theosophy the philosophical and occult, and our own work the mystical and divine, every region of man's higher nature would find its due
recognition and unfoldment. Meanwhile, the
organ of the Society in
"A grand book, keen of insight and eloquent in exposition; an upheaval of true spirituality. (...) We regard its authors as having produced one of the most – perhaps the most – important and spirit-stirring of appeals to the highest instincts of mankind which modern European literature has evolved." (1)
We had a yet further warrant, derived from Scripture itself, for looking to the Theosophical Society as possibly a divinely appointed factor in the spiritual evolution of the time. The unsealing of the World's Bibles was upon us, and not of that of Christendom only. And we saw in the following saying of Jesus an obvious allusion to the present epoch, "In those days many shall come from the East, and the West, and the North, and the South, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." Not that the terms East, West, North, and South, denoted for us the quarters of the physical globe. We had learnt to understand them in their mystical sense, wherein they denote the various human temperaments, the intuitional, the traditional, the intellectual, and the emotional, all of which would find satisfaction in the doctrine then to be recovered. It was in the terms Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that the significance of the utterance lay for us; these being in one aspect the Hebrew equivalents for Brahma, Isis, and lacchos, and denoting the mysteries respectively of India, Egypt, and Greece, of the Spirit, the Soul, and the Body, and therein
of the whole
Having warrant so high for anticipating the restoration at this time of the faculties and knowledges represented by the various movements in question, and knowing also, if only by the example of ourselves, that the divinity of a mission is not invalidated by the limitations, real or supposed, of its instruments, but that these must be educated by experience, and in such sense "perfected through suffering" to be fitted for their appointed tasks; – we had no doubt as to the attitude it was our duty to maintain towards all candidates for a share in that which we recognised as the greatest of all the endeavours yet made by the human soul to regain her long-lost rightful dominion over the minds and hearts of
men, leaving it to time to determine that which was of divine appointment, and that which was not.
It will have been observed that I have used the terms "mystical" and "occult" in such wise as to imply a distinction between them. It is important to the purpose of this book to define and emphasise that distinction. The instructions received by us from our illuminators were explicit and positive on this point.
This is because they refer to two different domains of man's system. Occultism deals with transcendental physics, and is of the intellectual, belonging to science. Mysticism deals with, transcendental metaphysics, and is of the spiritual, belonging to religion. Occultism, therefore, has for its domain the region which, lying between the body and the soul, is anterior to the body but exterior to the soul; while Mysticism has for its domain the region which, comprising the soul and the spirit, is interior to the soul, and belongs to the divine. Of course, the terms themselves, which are respectively the Latin and the Greek for the same thing, and mean hidden from the outer senses and also from non-initiates, do not imply such distinction, but they have come by usage to be thus referable.
The following citations are from the teachings received by us in this connection. They account for the scientific part of the training imposed on us.
"The science of the Mysteries can be understood only by one who has studied the physical sciences, because it is the climax and crown of all these, and must be learned last and not first. Unless thou understand the physical
sciences thou canst not comprehend the doctrine of Vehicles, which is the basic doctrine of occult science. ‘If thou understood not earthly things, how shall I make thee understand heavenly things?' Wherefore, get knowledge, and be greedy of knowledge, ever more and more. It is idle for thee to seek the inner chamber, until thou hast passed through the outer. This, also, is another reason why occult science cannot be unveiled to the horde. To the unlearned no truth can be demonstrated. Theosophy is the royal science; (1) if thou would reach the king's presence chamber, there is no way save through the outer rooms and galleries of the palace. (2)
"The adept or occultist is, at best, a religious scientist; he is not a 'saint.' If occultism were all, and held the key of heaven, there would be no need of 'Christ.' But occultism, although it holds the 'power,' holds neither the 'kingdom' nor the 'glory,' for these are of ’Christ.’ The adept knows not the kingdom of heaven, and 'the least in this kingdom are greater than he.'
"'Desire first the kingdom of God and God's righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.' As Jesus said of Prometheus (3), 'Take no thought for tomorrow. Behold the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, and trust God as these.' For the saint has faith; the adept has knowledge. If the adepts in occultism or in physical science could suffice to man, I would have committed no message to you. But the two are not in
opposition. All things are yours, even the kingdom and the power, but the glory is to God. Do not be ignorant of their teaching, for I would have you know all. Take, therefore, every means to know. This knowledge is of man, and cometh from the mind. Go, therefore, to man to learn it. 'If you will be perfect, learn also of these.' 'Yet the wisdom which is from above, is above all.' For one man may begin from within, that is, with wisdom, and wisdom is one with love. Blessed is the man who chooseth wisdom, for she leaveneth all things. And another man may begin from without, and that which is without is power. To such there shall be a thorn in the flesh. (1) For it is hard in such case to attain to the within. But if a man be first wise inwardly, he shall the more easily have this also added unto him. For he is born again and is free. Whereas at a great price must the adept buy freedom. Nevertheless, I bid you seek; – and in this also you shall find. But I have shown you a more excellent way than theirs. Yet both Ishmael and Isaac are sons of one father, and of all her children is Wisdom justified. So neither are they wrong, nor are you led astray. The goal is the same; but their way is harder than yours. They take the kingdom by violence, if they take it, and by much toil and agony of the flesh. But from the time of Christ within you, the kingdom is open to the sons of God. Receive what you can receive; I would have you know all things. And if you have served seven years for wisdom, count it not loss to serve seven years for power also. For if Rachel bear the best beloved, Leah hath many sons, and is exceeding fruitful. But her eye is not single; she looketh two ways, and seeketh not that which is above only. But to you Rachel is given first, and perchance her beauty may suffice. I say not, let it suffice; it is better to know all things, for if you know not all, how can you judge all? For as a man heareth, so must he judge. Will you therefore be regenerate in the without,
as well as in the within? For they are renewed in the body, but you in the soul. It is well to be baptised into John's baptism, if a man receive also the Holy Ghost. But some know not so much as that there is any Holy Ghost. Yet Jesus also, being Himself regenerate in the spirit, sought unto the Baptism of John, for thus it became Him to fulfil Himself in all things. And having fulfilled, behold, the 'Dove' descended on Him. If then you will be perfect, seek both that which is within and that which is without; and the circle of being, which is the ‘wheel of life,' shall be complete in you."
The Scriptural allusions in this teaching, which was received by "Mary" under illumination occurring in sleep, proved to be on the lines of the Kabala.
There were sundry other tokens of recognition which are entitled to reproduction here, as showing to how wide a range of educated and intelligent opinion within the pale of Christianity our work appeals. Their value is due to their representing a class of minds which, while possessed of the ordinary ecclesiastical training, are not restricted to the knowledge thereby acquired. For, seeing that such training means little, if anything, more than the mechanical learning of what other men have said who, themselves, had no real knowledge, the opinions, expressed on the strength of it, are neither educated nor intelligent, but adoptive only and perfunctory, and represent learning, without insight. And as such precisely are the opinions which constitute ecclesiastical orthodoxy, the judgment of the representatives of that orthodoxy on our work possesses no more real value than did that of Caiaphas and his coadjutors
on Jesus and His work. (1) Denouncing Him as a blasphemer, they were themselves blasphemers. And inasmuch as they were types of the votaries of ecclesiastical orthodoxy of all time, it is obvious that the only new revelation – if any – which would find acceptance at their hands, would be one that confirmed and reinforced their errors, instead of exposing and correcting them. Proceeding, as was declared by Jesus, from their "father, the devil," a priest-constructed system ever prefers Barabbas to Christ; – prefers, that is, a system which defrauds – hence the force of the term "robber" as applied to Barabbas – man of the divine potentialities which Christ came to reveal to him by demonstrating them in His own person, together with the manner of their realisation.
Not that all who bear the title of Ecclesiastics come under this condemnation. In every age of the Church there have been those who, while holding office in it, have not consented to the "Scarlet Woman" of Sacerdotalism. And never was there a time when the proportion of these was larger,
or when their sense of the need of a New Gospel of Interpretation was more keen and urgent than now: so intolerable to multitudes of the clergy of all sections of the Church has become the antagonism recognised by them as subsisting between the traditional and official presentation of religion and their own clear perceptions of goodness and truths.
The testimonies which remain to be added are valuable as coming from men who, while possessed of ecclesiastical training, have been taught also of the Spirit, and, adding to tradition intuition, and to learning insight, have in themselves the witness to that which they utter.
A distinguished French ecclesiastic, the Abbé Roca, writing in L'Aurore, says of our books –
"These books seem to me to be the chosen organs of the Divine Feminine" (i.e. the interpretative) "Principle, in view of the new revelation of Revelation."
By which it will be seen that he shared Cardinal Newman's expectation referred to in the introduction; and accepted as realised the forecast of Joseph de Maistre when he said "Religion and Science, in virtue of their natural affinity, will meet in the brain of some man of genius – perhaps of more than one – and the world will get what it needs and cries for, not a new religion, but the revelation of Revelation." As the event shows, for "the brain of some man," he should have said "the mind and soul of a woman."
The Rev. Dr. John Pulsford, author of The Supremacy of Man, Quiet Hours, Morgen-rothe,
and other works distinguished for the depth of their piety and insight, thus wrote to me on the publication of Clothed with the Sun –
"I cannot tell you with what thankfulness and pleasure I have read Clothed with the Sun. It is impossible for a spiritually intelligent reader to doubt that these teachings were received from within the astral veil. They are full of the concentrated and compact wisdom of the Holy Heavens and of God. If Christians knew their own religion, they would find in these priceless records our Lord Christ and His vital process abundantly illustrated and confirmed. The regret is that so few, comparatively, who read the book, will be aware of the tithe of its pearls. But that such communications are possible, and are permitted to be given to the world, is a sign, and a most promising sign of our age.
"'It is no little joy to me to feel that I am so much more in sympathy with God's daughter, the Seeress, than I supposed. The testimony is so clearly above, and distinct from, aught that is derived from the occult powers of the universe, rather than from the Supreme Spirit and Father-Mother of our Spirits."
Another notable student of spiritual science, a Priest, writing in Light of 21st October, 1882, after describing The Perfect Way as "that most wonderful of all books which has appeared since the beginning of the Christian Era," said: –
"It is a book that no student can be without if he will know the truth on these matters. It furnishes us with a master-key to the phenomena which so perplex the minds of enquirers, and gives a system, the like of which has not been seen for eighteen centuries."
The late Rev. John Manners, a man venerable of years and mature of spirit, and deeply versed in the sciences of both worlds,
declared of these illuminations, "the Great I Am
speaks in every line of them. Only the Logos Himself could be their source."
Lady Caithness, already referred to, upon receiving a copy of The
Perfect Way, wrote: "I have got another Bible, the most complete
Revelation, certainly, that has yet been given to man on this planet." (1)
And a Parsee scholar, a native of
* * * * *
As stated in the preface, this present book is intended but as an epitome and instalment of the far larger book in course of preparation. For, as with the old Gospel of Manifestation, so with the New Gospel of Interpretation, the excusable hyperbole is no less appropriate to it, – "I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books which might be written."
For the human soul is a theme as inexhaustible as it is paramount. And, as never in the world's history have the need and the desire for the knowledge of it been so urgent as they now are, so never in the world's history has there been a revelation of it comparable with that which has been vouchsafed in our day, and is contained in the narrative, the completion of which, and this alone, will
enable me to "depart in peace," having no apprehension of after disquietude on the score of having left unaccomplished a portion so important of the task committed to me.
(185:1) The French edition, subsequently issued at
(186:1) For the meaning of the "Four Rivers of Eden" see P.W., vi. par. 6. See note on p. 173. ante as to meaning of river Hiddekel.
(188:1) This indictment is as true to-day as it was twelve years ago, when the above passage was written. S.H.H.
(190:1) Cited from the preface to the second and succeeding editions of P.W.
(190:2) Cited from Life A.K. Vol. II. p. 155.
(194:1) Theosophist, May, 1882.
(197:1) The term Theosophy is here used in its Pauline and ancient sense of the science of the realisation of man's potential divinity; – the process, that is, of the Christ. – 1 Cor. ii. 7. E.M.
(197:2) From an address given on the 17th July, 1883, by A.K. to the Theosophical Society, a full report of which is given in Life A.K. Vol. II. pp. 124-128.
(197:3) A term which signifies forethought. The remonstrance is against undue anxiety and alarm on the soul's behalf while in the path of duty, as implying distrust of the divine sufficiency. E.M.
(198:1) Meaning that in such case the flesh itself is the impediment.
(200:1) In a letter on "The Church and the Bible," in the Agnostic Journal of 5th January, 1895, E.M. says: –
"Among the fallacies to be discarded is the fallacy which consists in believing that the Church, so vehemently denounced in its own sacred books for its manifold, grievous, and fatal perversions of the truth contained in those books, and so ignorant as to be unaware either of the source or of the meaning of its own dogmas, must understand its doctrines better than I understand them, whose high privilege it is to have been one of the two recipients of the New Gospel of Interpretation, which has been vouchsafed expressly to correct those perversions, and who not only have that gospel by heart, but who know absolutely by my own soul's experience – as also did my colleague – the truth of every word of it."
A long extract from this letter, including the above, is printed in the appendix to The Bible’s Own Account of Itself p. 83. S.H.H.
(201:1) See also E.M.'s remarks to the same effect in the Statement E.C.U. pp. 10-11.
(203:1) See Life A.K. Vol. II. pp. 52-53.
(203:2) See Life A.K. Vol. II. p. 241.