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SISSON, Marina Villares Lenz Cesar. Anna Kingsford and Helena Blavatsky.

           Information: Revised and enlarged text based in numbers 7, 8 and 9 of the bulletin Informativo HPB. This text is being presented to the public for the first time in this site. Besides the numbers of the “Informativo HPB”, most of the information in it contained is also present in the chapters nº 12, 13 e 14, of the book A Esfinge Helena Blavatsky (The Sphinx Helena Blavatsky – see in the main menu of this section), edited by the author, 2003. 307 pp.

           The text Anna Kingsford and Helena Blavatsky has a biographical and interpretative character, mainly focused in the difficult, but very interesting, relations of Dr Anna Kingsford with Madame Helena Blavatsky and The Theosophical Society, founded by the later. 

Read below the index of the chapters and the complete text:


Marina Cesar Sisson



1.  Introduction

2.  Edward Maitland: Her Great Associate (1874)

3.  The Illuminations of Anna Kingsford (1874-1888)

4.  The Hymns to the Greek Gods

5.  The Reincarnation Doctrine (July, 1881)

6,  Anna Kingsford President of the London Lodge (January, 1883)

7.  The “Divine Anna”

8.  Sinnett and the Authority of the “Esoteric Buddhism” (July, 1883)

9.  Anna Kingsford’s Protest and the Emergence of the Crisis (October, 1883)

10.  Letter from Master KH to the London Lodge (January, 1884)

11.  Discord is the Harmony of the Universe

12.  The Chohan Wants Anna Kingsford in the TS

13.  Distance Adds to My Beauty (March, 1884)

13.  HPB Arrives Suddenly to London (April, 1884)

15.  The Hermetic Society

16.  Anna Kingsford and the Golden Dawn (1886-1887)

17.  Hermes Trismegistus’ Sacred Books

18.  Re-veilation

19.  Bibliography



1. Introduction 

Anna Kingsford was a great pioneer during her time and was endowed with psychical faculties and with a brilliant mind. She was a tireless defender of vegetarianism and a fighter against animals’ vivisection. She was a spokeswoman for the women’s rights, for the doctrine of reincarnation and for a new symbolic (and not historical) interpretation of the Christian Scriptures. After a period as President of the London Lodge (LL) of the Theosophical Society (TS), she founded the Hermetic Society. On the occasion of Anna Kingsford’s death, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (HPB) recognizes her immense capabilities and the value of her work. HPB wrote: 

“Few women have worked harder than she has, or in more noble causes; none with more success in the cause of humanitarianism. (...) Few women wrote more graphically, more takingly, or possessed a more fascinating style.
           “Mrs. Kingsford’s field of activity, however, was not limited to the purely physical, mundane plane of life. She was a Theosophist and a true one at heart; a leader of spiritual and philosophical thought, gifted with most exceptional psychic attributes. (...) though her religious ideas differed widely on some points from Eastern philosophy, [she] remained a faithful member of the Theosophical Society and a loyal friend to its leaders. She was one, the aspirations of whose whole life were ever turned toward the eternal and the true. A mystic by nature – the most ardent one to those who knew her well – she was still a very remarkable woman even in the opinion of the materialists and the unbelievers.” (CW IX, 89-90) 

The Countess of Wachtmeister, describing the visit of a few days that Anna Kingsford did to HPB in 1886, then in Ostende, Belgium, reports the intellectual debate that both ladies had, starting from apparently opposed points of view and finally converging: 

“it was interesting to me to hear different points of The Secret Doctrine discussed from the Eastern and Western standpoints of occultism. The powerful intellects of these two gifted women would be engaged in animated discussions, starting from apparently two opposite poles. Gradually the threads of their conversation would seem to approach each other, until at last they would merge in unity. Fresh topics would then arise which would be grappled with in the same masterly way.” (Wachtmeister, 58) 

Her way of thinking, adapted to the Occident, oriented to recover the esoteric Christian tradition of the western Occultism, as well as her fight in favor of vegetarianism and her love for the animals, attracted the Great Chohan’s attention and provoked his unusual interference on the London Lodge crisis, as Master KH explained in a letter to Sinnett, in January 1884: 

“I myself am simply carrying out the wishes of my Chohan (...) Suffice that you should know that her anti-vivisection struggle and her strict vegetarian diet have won entirely over to her side our stern Master.” (MLcr-119, 406; ML-86) 

Who was this woman who debated with HPB at the same level, and whose work captivated the attention of the Maha Chohan? This article offers an answer to this question, presenting briefly Anna Kingsford’s life and works, mainly focused on her relations with HPB and the Theosophical Society.



2. Edward Maitland: Her Great Associate (1874) 

Anna Bonus Kingsford was born on the 16th of September, 1846, in England. In 1867 she married Reverend Algernon Godfrey Kingsford (of the Anglican Church), and had a daughter of him. In 1870, for his regret, she joined the Catholic Church. Between 1872 and 1873 she edited a newspaper connected to women’s rights (CW IX, 439). In 1873 she met Edward Maitland who became, with Reverend Algernon’s consent, Anna’s companion during the time of her medical studies in Paris, since 1874. To avoid gossips the two of them introduced themselves as uncle and niece.
           Anna became a vegetarian during this time and her thesis at the end of the course was about the vegetarian diet for the human being. Afterwards, her thesis was revised and published with the title The Perfect Way in Diet (1881). Vegetarianism and the fight against vivisection became causes that she openly defended for the rest of her life. (Godwin, 335).
          Edward Maitland was her great associate since this time until the end of her life. He too was endowed with psychical faculties. Maitland’s psychism was totally conscious, like an “automatic typing” (Godwin, 337), and partially with the help of this faculty he wrote two books. In one of them, The Soul and How It Found Me, he described his experiences and his new vision of the spiritual realities that these experiences gave him. 



3. The Illuminations of Anna Kingsford (1874-1888) 

Anna Kingsford had psychical faculties since her childhood. At the time she was studying Medicine she started having experiences containing inspiring messages which she called “Illuminations”. Although some of those messages were transmitted by dictation when she was in trance, most of them were received by visions while she was naturally asleep. She described her visions immediately after she woke up.
           Some of the messages came as an answer to her own difficulties others came as an immediate response to Maitland’s mental questions, of which quite often she had no cognizance. Frequently they could not understand the answers at the moment they were given. That proved that the answers were not dependent of Anna’s and Edward’s mental limitations: 

“They never failed, however, sooner or later, to demonstrate themselves to us as necessary and self-evident truths, founded indefeasibly in the very nature of existence; and never did we finally accept and use them until thus demonstrated to and recognised by us both.” (Clothed, xx) 

Kingsford called the one who inspired her as her “genius” and she describes him as an “angel”, whose work was “to guide, admonish, and illumine.” (Clothed, 36) In one of her Illuminations, she speaks about the relations between the genius, God and man: 

“Man is a planet. God – the God of the man – is his sun, and the moon of this planet is Isis, its initiator, or genius. The genius is made to minister to the man, and to give him light. But the light he gives is from God, and not of himself. He is not a planet but a moon, and his function is to light up the dark places of his planet. (...)
           “The genius is the moon to the planet man, reflecting to him the sun, or God, within him. For the divine Spirit which animates and eternises the man, is the God of the man, the sun that enlightens him.” (Clothed, 39) 

Although her genius knew her future, he would say nothing to her, except that she could be certain that she would have problems, for “No man ever got to the Land of Promise without going through the desert.” (Clothed, 37) She says: 

“My genius looks like Dante, and like him is always in red. And he has a cactus in his hand, which he says is my emblem. (...) He tells me to say that the best weapon against the astrals is prayer. Prayer means the intense direction of the will and desire towards the Highest; an unchanging intent to know nothing but the Highest. (...)
           “I am to inform you that the genius never “controls” his client, never suffers the soul to step aside from the body to allow the entrance of another spirit. The person controlled by an astral or elemental, on the contrary, speaks not in his own person, but in that of the spirit controlling; (...).
           “Another sign, he says, whereby to distinguish extraneous spirits from ones genius, is this, – the genius is never absent. Provided the mind is in a condition to see, he is always present.” (Clothed, 36-37)

Maitland says that these Illuminations were not the result of any artificial stimulation of her faculties, neither were they the result of an induction to any abnormal state, such as drugs, mesmerism or hypnotism. All that was done was the promotion of the interior conditions favorable to the reception of these Illuminations. Therefore, they were the result of: 

“the intense direction of the will and desire towards the highest, and an unchanging resolve to be satisfied with nothing less than the highest, namely, the inmost and central idea of the fact or doctrine to be interpreted”. (Clothed, xx) 

Kingsford never declared herself to be a medium or a clairvoyant in the ordinary meaning of these words. She called herself a prophetess and thus she explained her gift: 

“I have no occult powers whatever, and have never laid claim to them. Neither am I, in the ordinary sense of the word, a clairvoyant. I am simply a ‘prophetess’ – one who sees and knows intuitively, and not by any exercise of any trained faculty. All that I receive comes to me by ‘illumination’, as to Proclus, to Iamblichus, to all those who follow the Platonic method. And this ‘gift’ was born with me, and has been developed by a special course and rule of life. It is, I am told, the result of a former initiation in a past birth (...) My initiation was Greco-Egyptian, and therefore I recall the truth primarily in the language and after the method of the Bacchic mysteries, which are indeed, as you know, the immediate source and pattern of the mysteries of the Catholic Christian Church.” (Clothed, xxii) 

These Illuminations, received along 14 years, were published by Edward Maitland after Anna Kingsford’s death, under the title Clothed With the Sun, in reference to the allegory of the enlightened soul which is represented in the Apocalypse (Revelations) as “a woman clad in the sun – with the moon under her feet, and a tiara of twelve stars on her head.” (Rev., 12:1) For them, the woman in the Bible was a symbol of the soul and of the intuition – the feminine principle in man.
           Kingsford and Maitland were deeply Christians, but they were incapable of accepting a literal interpretation of the Bible, or to accept the dogmatism of churches. For them, Christianity was only one of the religions of ancient times, and its mysteries taught the same truths about the soul’s destiny. The Illuminations confirmed their hypothesis because in them the Scriptures were almost totally allegoric – they are a description of the soul’s destiny:

“Religion is not historical, and in no wise depends upon past events. (...) Jesus was not the historical name of the initiate and adept whose story is related. It is the name given him in initiation. (...) The Scriptures are addressed to the soul, and make no appeal to the outer senses. The whole story of Jesus is a mass of parables, the things that occurred to him being used as symbols.” (Clothed, 86) 

Christ is not a person but the state of a regenerated man, in whom the soul became “united with the Divine Spirit.” (Godwin, 338) And Jesus was a man who had indeed lived and accomplished this state of union. He was an initiate, whose name she could only see the first letter – the letter “M”. (Clothed, 85) 



4. The Hymns to the Greek Gods 

However, not all the Illuminations came in a strictly Christian language. Anna Kingsford had visions of Greek gods. They shined like silver and dictated enchanted hymns to her. Those hymns were impressive as to their beauty and their profound poetic words: 

“1. As a moving light between heaven and earth; as a white cloud assuming many shapes;
           “2. He descends and rises, he guides and illumines, he transmutes himself from small to great, from bright to shadowy, from the opaque image to the diaphanous mist.
           “3. Star of the East conducting the Magi: cloud from whose midst the holy voice speaketh: by day a pillar of vapour, by night a shining flame.
          “4. I behold thee, Hermes, Son of God, slayer of Argus, archangel, who bearest the rod of knowledge, by which all things in heaven or on earth are measured.” (Clothed, 150)

The Hymn to the Planet-God, Iacchos, and the Elemental Divinities was given in a dream, in beginning of March 1881, while she passed “with a band of initiates through a vast Egyptian temple”. (Godwin, 338) The main theme of The Hymn to the Planet God is the Mystic Exodus, or the soul’s liberation from the body’s domain, where Egypt stands for the body and Israel represents the soul. (Clothed, 154) 

“1. O Father Iacchos; thou art Lord of the Body, God manifest in the flesh;
       “2. Twice born, baptized with fire, quickened by the spirit, instructed in secret things beneath the earth:
      “3. Who wearest the horns of the ram, who ridest upon an ass, whose symbol is the vine, and the new wine thy blood;
      “4. Whose Father is the Lord God of Hosts; whose Mother is the daughter of the King.
      “5. Evoi, Iacchos, Lord of initiation; for by means of the body is the soul initiated.” (Clothed, 154) 

The Hymns to the Elemental Divinities are dedicated to the four grand Angels, the spirits of the elements of the macrocosm and the microcosm, representing the four states “of the flesh, of the intermediary, of the human, and of the divine. (...) And the wheels of their fourfold kingdom encircle the whole earth”. (Clothed, 163) The first hymn is dedicated to “Hephaistos the Fire-King, whose symbol is the red lion, Lord of the serpent, the flame, and of the secret parts of the earth.” (Clothed, 160)
           The second hymn is to Demeter: 

“1. (...) fair Earth-Mother (...) whose hands are full of plenty and blessing.
           “2. Angel of the crucible, guardian of the dead, who makest and unmakest, who combinest and dissolvest, who bringest forth life out of death, and transformest all bodies.
           “3. (...) from thy womb they came forth, and to thee they return, O Mother of birth and of sleep!
           “4. Who makest the volatile to be fixed, and the real to be apparent, whether in the great or the small, whether in the outer or the inner.” (Clothed, 161-162)

The third hymn is to “Poseidon, Lord of the Deep, Master of the substance of all creatures, who weareth the face of an angel, for he is the Father of Souls.” (Clothed, 162) And the forth is to Pallas Athena, “blue-eyed virgin, Mistress of the Air, eagle-headed, who givest to all bodies the breath of life: Immaculate mother of the word of prophecy, symbol of the holy essence, goddess of the aegis and of the spear.” (Clothed, 163)



5. The Reincarnation Doctrine (July, 1881)

A little while before leaving Paris, Kingsford and Maitland discovered Isis Unveiled, and they found out about the Theosophical Society. Although they found Isis disorganized and needlessly truculent, they were astonished and delighted for meeting others in a parallel work. When they went to London, they got in touch with spiritualists, with psychic researchers and with members of the British Theosophical Society. In mid 1881, they gave several lectures that were published in beginnings of 1882 as The Perfect Way; or, The Finding of Christ. (Godwin, 339)
          This book caused great controversy among spiritualists; not so much because it presented a symbolical approach of Christianity rather than presenting a historical approach, but mainly because it defended reincarnation. Even in the spiritualist environment of that time there was not a consensus concerning this subject, which caused an almost constant debate. Until then, the strongest reincarnation defenders were the mediums of the French school founded by Allan Kardec; and in England, Lady Caithness, Anna Blackwell, Francesca Arundale, Isabel de Steiger and also the spirit Ski, who used to speak through Mrs. Hollis-Billing. On the other side, the majority of the American and British mediums, such as P.B. Randolph, Stainton Moses and Emma Hardinge Britten, were against the doctrine of reincarnation.
           It is important to note that the doctrine of reincarnation was not a current idea in the beginning of the Theosophical Society. HPB seemed to deny the doctrine of reincarnation during the first period of her public career, like in Isis Unveiled. Only later, when she already lived in India, HPB began to declare openly that she was in favor of such a doctrine. Olcott states that he, at least, did not know the reincarnation doctrine: 

“Of course, it is no concern of mine why we were not taught it (...) I do not believe that the mystery of the incongruity of the New York teachings of 1875 and the later Indian ones can be explained, at least to the satisfaction of those who attack the problem from the standing point of literary criticism: to those who have the power to lift the veil and study the question from the inside, this difficulty vanishes. But students limited to the physical plane, cannot be expected to receive as final the explanations of advanced pupils of the White Lodge. The conclusion to which I long ago came was that it must just be left as a mystery.” (ODL V, 38) 

There is no doubt that Olcott actually did not have been taught about reincarnation. What about Madame Blavatsky? William Judge affirms that, although she really did not teach the reincarnation doctrine to the public during this time in New York, “she did teach it to me and others, then as now. (...) HPB told me personally many times of the real doctrine of reincarnation, enforced by the case of the death of my own child, so I know what she thought and believed.” (Judge, 119)
           In a letter of March 1875, to Corson, HPB stood up against reincarnation in the way the followers of Kardec conceived it. (Corson, item 10) Eugene Corson, who published HPB letters to his father, comments about the reason why, then, HPB did not teach reincarnation: 

“It [reincarnation] was the dominant idea throughout the East. It was almost the keynote in Plato’s philosophy. The Neo-Platonism of Plotinus and Proclus is full of it (...)
           “The only explanation to my mind is that she kept silent as she did in so many other things at that time. She must have been aware that it would have been repugnant to the American spiritualists, and I am not aware that even to-day it is acceptable to them. I do not think it is acceptable in England either. The majority of spiritualists are not philosophically inclined, and do not care to look beyond the mere fact of intercourse between the two worlds. (...) My idea is that she was silent, just as she was silent on other matters which were extensively elaborated in her later writings.” (Corson, item 27) 

Sinnett arrived in London, coming from India, to publish his book The Occult World by the end of March or beginning of April, 1881. The book was published in June, and he returned to India in the 4th of July, 1881. During this period in London he met Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland. The three of them stayed until late night debating about the doctrine of reincarnation – they were in favor of it and Sinnett was against it. (Credo, 5)
           However, one year after that, Sinnett published in the magazine The Theosophist of May, 1882, a review about The Perfect Way, where he demonstrated that he had started accepting the doctrine of reincarnation. This, of course, surprised Kingsford and Maitland because they remembered how emphatic Sinnett had been in denying it, in the previous year. In a letter to Lady Caithness, Kingsford writes: 

“The very reviewer – Mr. Sinnett – who writes with so much pseudo-authority in The Theosophist, has, within a year’s time, completely altered his views on at least one important subject – I mean Reincarnation. When he came to see us a year ago in London, he vehemently denied that doctrine, and asserted, with immense conviction, that I had been altogether deceived in my teaching concerning it. He read a message from Isis Unveiled to confute me, and argued long on the subject. He had not then received any instructions from his Hindu guru about it. Now he has been so instructed, and wrote Mr. Maitland a long letter acknowledging the truth of the doctrine which, since seeing us, he has been taught.” (Shirley, 15) 

To Kingsford it was the fact that she had explained the doctrine of reincarnation in The Perfect Way that had “provoked” a reaction from the Adepts – who consequently had decided to explain this doctrine. In January 1883, in a letter to Sinnett, Master KH warns him to write to Massey, telling that this was not the truth, for he had been taught about reincarnation since July, 1881, several months before the publication of Kingsford’s book. However, the fact is that this occurred after his long discussion with Kingsford and Maitland. Master KH says: 

“Only let me give you a warning. An affair now so trivial as to seem but the innocent expression of feminine vanity may, unless at once set aright, produce very evil consequences. In a letter from Mrs. Kingsford to Mr. Massey conditionally accepting the presidentship of the British T.S. she expresses her belief – nay, points it out as an undeniable fact – that before the appearance of “The Perfect Way” no one “knew what the Oriental school really held about Reincarnation”; and adds that “seeing how much has been told in that book the adepts are hastening to unlock their own treasures” (...) Write then, good friend, to Mr. Massey the truth. Tell him that you were possessed of the Oriental views of reincarnation several months before the work in question had appeared – since it is in July (18 months ago) that you began being taught the difference between Reincarnation à la Allan Kardec, or personal rebirth – and of the Spiritual Monad”. (MLcr.-101, 342-343; ML-57) 

Besides Sinnett’s review, an article from Hume, which contained the publication of some other letters from the Mahatmas, under the title Fragments of Occult Truth, and an editorial from HPB (CW IV, 119) which she attributed, privately, to Master KH, started showing that the Adepts after all were also teaching the reincarnation. This change in attitude caused controversy in the London Lodge, and it led Massey to request HPB to explain and clarify the issue.
           Then, Madame Blavatsky argued that there were indeed two manners of speaking about the individual’s destiny. From a more exoteric [external] point of view, given in Isis Unveiled, it was correct to say that a person never reincarnates. However, from a more elevated point of view, an individuality does. And to illustrate it she presented the esoteric [inner] scheme of the seven principles of the human being.
            According to this scheme, the three lower principles that form the Body, or the “earthly Ego”, always die. The next two principles form the Soul, or the “personal Ego”. They are destroyed after some time and only reincarnate under special circumstances, as it was said in Isis. Finally, the two remaining principles that form the Spirit, or “Spiritual Monad”, are eternal and indestructible. This scheme may be better understood in the following groups of Principles: 



7. Atma – “Pure Spirit”.

6. Buddhi – “Spiritual Soul or Intelligence”.

Spiritual Monad or “Individuality” – and its vehicle. Eternal and indestructible.



5. Manas – “Mind or Animal Soul”.

4. Kama-rupa – “Desire” or “Passion” Form.

Astral Monad – or the personal Ego and its vehicle. Survives Group III and is destroyed after a time, unless reincarnated, as said, under exceptional circumstances.



3. Linga-sharira – “Astral or Vital Body”.

2. Jiva – “Life Principle”.

1. Sthula-sharira – “Body”.

Compound Physical, or the “earthly Ego.” The three die together invariably. (CW IV, 185)



6. Anna Kingsford President of the London Lodge (January, 1883)

In 1882, the British Theosophical Society was going through a crisis. Some of its members, faithful spiritualists, did not accept HPB’s critiques to the Spiritualist movement. Others wanted proofs of the Masters’ existence. Its President, Wyld, had resigned. Massey was thinking about having more sections inside the Theosophical Society, among them, a Catholic Section. Therefore, he invited Anna Kingsford to join them. She, initially, did not accept his invitation because she had a quite negative image of the TS, as we can read from Maitland’s words: 

“we already knew enough about the origin, motives, and methods of the Theosophical Society to distrust it. Its original prospectus committed the glaring inconsistency of declaring the absolute tolerance of the Society of all forms of religion, and then of stating that a main object was the destruction of Christianity. Its founders had committed it also to the rejection of the idea of a God, personal or impersonal, and this while calling it Theo-sophical.” (Credo, 11) 

In fact, in a note written to divulge the Theosophical Society, in May 1878, when its Objects were not yet formulated as in the present way, they read: 

“The objects of the Society are various. (...) The Society teaches and expects its fellows to personally exemplify the highest morality and religious aspiration; to oppose the materialism of science and every form of dogmatic theology, especially the Christian, which the Chiefs of the Society regard as particularly pernicious; to make known among Western nations the long-suppressed facts about Oriental religious philosophies, their ethics, chronology, esoterism, symbolism; to counteract, as far as possible, the efforts of missionaries to delude the so-called “Heathen” and “Pagans” as to the real origin and dogmas of Christianity and the practical effects of the latter upon public and private character in so-called civilized countries”. (CW I, 376-377) 

Maitland says that this matter went no further at this time, but they: 

“were struck by learning that Mary [the name given to Anna Kingsford by her genius] had been recognised by the mysterious chiefs of the Theosophical Society as ‘the greatest natural mystic of the present day, and countless ages in advance of the great majority of mankind.’” (Credo, 12) 

Anna Kingsford finally consented to her nomination as President of the British Theosophical Society, after being “emphatically and distinctly told that no allegiance would be required of me to the ‘Mahatmas’, to Madame Blavatsky or to any other person, real or otherwise, but only to the Principles and Objects of the Theosophical Society.” (Credo, 19).
           Upon Massey’s indication, she was elected President of the British Theosophical Society in January 7th, 1883. Maitland and Wyld were elected Vice-Presidents. Considering that on this occasion she was still in France, she only took over her functions in May, after the 20th, when she returned to London. One day before Kingsford’s take over, Sinnett received a letter from Master KH. In this letter Master KH adverted Sinnett that this would be the year in which Societies would be proved and, therefore, the result would depend on their collective work: 

“Four Europeans were placed on probation twelve months ago; of the four – only one, yourself, was found worthy of our trust. This year it will be Societies instead of individuals that will be tested. The result will depend on their collective work, and Mr. Massey errs when hoping that I am prepared to join the motley crowd of Mrs. K.’s “inspirers.” Let them remain under their masks of St. John the Baptists and like Biblical aristocrats. Provided the latter teach our doctrines – however muddled up with foreign chaff – a great point will be gained.” (MLcr.-101, 342, ML-57) 

Anna Kingsford was really concerned to do her utmost at the London Lodge, so that it would become a truly influential and active body and would also overcome the crisis, which it was facing. For that, she believed that it would be important that one of the special objects of the London Lodge: “The reconstruction of religion on a scientific, and of science on a religious basis; and the elaboration of a perfect system of thought and rule of life” (Ransom, 196), should also be applied to Christianity, and not only to Hinduism and to Buddhism. In May, she writes: 

“I am going to do my utmost to make our London Lodge a really influential and scientific body . . . . Besides, we do not want to pledge ourselves to Orientalism only, but to the study of all religions esoterically, and especially to that of our Western Catholic Church. Theosophy is equally applicable to such study; but Orientalism can relate only to Brahmanism and Buddhism.” (Credo, 14) 

And, in a further letter, she says: 

“I have a plan which I earnestly hope I shall somehow have the means of carrying into practice next spring. It is to give lectures in London at one of the Lodge halls on ‘Esoteric Christianity.’ I should explain the hidden and true significance of the Catholic doctrines, – as much, of course, as is possible, – and the interior meaning of all sacred myths. I have already sketched out a little scheme which, if only it can be realized, will, I feel certain, do more for our Theosophy than any number of printed books.” (Credo, 14) 

In June, upon Anna Kingsford’s request, the members decided to alter the Society’s name from “British Theosophical Society” to “London Lodge of the Theosophical Society”, following the example of the Masonic movements. A Masonic order is formed as a single body with several subdivisions in Lodges. 



7. The “Divine Anna” 

However, Anna Kingsford’s desire to transform the London Lodge into “a really influential and scientific body”, not committed “with Orientalism only, but with the study of all religions esoterically”, giving special emphasis to the study of “our Western Catholic Church” (Credo, 14) was something that did not please HPB, who had a known ill disposition against dogmatic Christianity and a preference for the Eastern philosophy.
           As already mentioned, Anna Kingsford was a great humanitarian pioneer of her time, especially on her fight for vegetarianism and for the defense of animals, while Madame Blavatsky was not even a vegetarian. That added another point of tension between them.
           Besides the fact that Anna Kingsford’s lines of work were not the favorite ones to Madame Blavatsky, Kingsford considered herself a prophetess, spokeswoman of a new age and of a new gospel, and with a knowledge that she claimed to be superior to that HPB received, since it was obtained directly, during her Illuminations, without any intermediation, while the TS: 

“claimed for its doctrine a derivation from sources which, even if they had any existence – a matter on which we had no proof – were not to be compared with those from whom ours was derived, while the doctrine itself was palpably inferior so far as yet disclosed, and this both in substance and form.” (Credo, 11) 

Perhaps that is the origin of the ironical nickname HPB gave to Kingsford, on her private letters to Sinnett: “divine Anna”. (LBS, 44) Although in public Madame Blavatsky did not show her feelings towards Anna Kingsford, in her private letters to Sinnett, she would let them overflow, freely. She revealed her criticism: “I was from the first against her nomination but had to hold my tongue, since it is KH’s selection and that He perceives so wonderful germs in her, that He even disregards her personal flings at Him.” (LBS, 60) Or, referring to Massey’s attitude of choosing Kingsford: 

“was it not he, and he alone who proposed and had her elected as the only possible Saviour of the British Theos. Society? Well now thank him and keep her to turn all of you into a jelly. Of course she will wag you as her tail more than ever. I know it will end with a scandal.” (LBS, 22) 

The fact is that the “divine Anna” also disturbed HPB in other and quite more personal aspects. Anna Kingsford was a woman of rare beauty. Maitland described her with the following words, when he met her for the first time: 

“Tall, slender, and graceful in form. Fair and exquisite in complexion. Bright and sunny in expression. The hair long and golden, but the brows and lashes dark and the eyes deep set and hazel, and by turns dreamy and penetrating. The mouth rich, full, and exquisitely formed. The broad brow prominent and sharply cut. The nose delicate, slightly curved, and just sufficiently prominent to give character to the face. And the dress somewhat fantastic as became her looks. Anna Kingsford seemed at first more fairy than human and more child than woman. For though really twenty-seven she appeared scarcely seventeen, and made expressly to be caressed, petted and indulged, and by no means to be taken seriously.” (Shirley, 12) 

Such beauty also seemed to disturb Madame Blavatsky who by this time already had health problems and was quite fat. She demonstrates that by the manner how she describes her appearance and her way of dressing. HPB had requested Sinnett to give her a portrait of Anna Kingsford because she did not know her personally but, a little time later, she wrote to him saying “she was shown to me.” (LBS, 52): 

“Say – why was she dressed in a dress that looked like “the black and yellow coat of the zebras in the menagerie of the Rajah of Kashmir?” And is it true she had roses on her hair “which is like a flaming sunset, yellow gold”? And why – mercy on us! Why did she have “her hands and arms painted black, jet black – up to the elbows” for? or was it gloves? and then, is it true she had that night a brilliant metal pocket in front of her, with clasps and bells and something else; and “crescent moon, tinkling earrings” – symbolical of the growing brilliancy of the “London Lodge.” This moon has borrowed light from the Satellite. (...) But why – why had she “the mystic of the century” so much jewellery on her! How can she confabulate with the unseen Gods when she looks “like a Delhi English Jeweller’s front window.” Well, I too I think I saw her and would like to have her portrait to compare. For she was shown to me. Is she not tall rather, thin in the waist but broad in the shoulders, and very fair, and slightly rosy cheeks and with very red lips and a nose larger or thicker when she speaks than when she is at rest? Her eyes light blue. She is fascinating; but then, why make her beautiful hair look like “the mitre of a Dugpa Dashatu-Lama”? Well all this is bosh. I am sad to death, and do not care [for] joking.” (LBS, 51-52) 



8. Sinnett and the Authority of the “Esoteric Buddhism” (July, 1883) 

In July 1883, Anna Kingsford made her first public presentation as President of the London Lodge, in a meeting to welcome Sinnett, who had recently arrived from India and had also published his second book – Esoteric Buddhism. His arrival and the publication of the book completely modified the London Lodge because he came in the status of someone who was in contact with the Masters. Around the Sinnetts gathered a group of people to study the book, and the Lodge passed a resolution that they should devote themselves “chiefly to the study of occult philosophy as taught by the Adepts of India with whom Mr. Sinnett has been in communication.” (Ransom, 187)
           Kingsford and Maitland also dedicated themselves to the study of Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism. The main point criticized by them was the fact of having to accept an authority, independently of comprehending it. They considered that in doing so they would be creating a “new sacerdotalism” to these divinized men called “the Mahatmas.” (Credo, 17) In fact, they did not deny the possibility of the existence of such evolved Beings, but they questioned the method of how to verify if they were really Beings of such stature. Maitland wrote about this: 

“For, as only they who posses the Christ spirit in a measure can recognise the Christ, so only they who are themselves adepts in a measure can recognise the Adepts. And even if the teaching in question came from the source alleged, what guarantee was there that it had not undergone in transmission a change sufficient to vitiate it?” (Credo, 16) 

Their dissention started creating a difficult situation inside the London Lodge. Sinnett complained to HPB, who did not understand how could the Masters consider Kingsford so highly since “Mrs. K. does not believe, and if she believes she does not care one fig for the Brothers.” (LBS, 48) However, Madame Blavatsky soon started suspecting that, behind the selection of the “divine Anna” there was not only Master KH, but also his Superior, the Great Chohan:

“Why Mahatma K. H. should have inflicted upon your Society such a plaster as Mrs. K. seems to be, a haughty, imperious, vain and self-opinionated creature, a bag of Western conceit – “God” knows, I do not. My belief is that the Chohan has interfered suddenly as he often does. And now there will be a fine row.” (LBS, 64)



9. Anna Kingsford’s Protest and the Emergence of the Crisis (October, 1883) 

Until then, the conflict at the London Lodge was limited to its backstage. However, in October 1883, Maitland read at the Lodge a letter of Kingsford containing hard criticism. The internal conflict started to open up. There appeared, then, a movement demanding that she resigned the presidency of the Lodge. Anna Kingsford, then, writes a long letter to HPB, presenting her points of view and asking her to submit them to Master KH. In this letter, she stands against the feeling of idolatry and the unquestioning submission that the members, led by Sinnett, were developing towards the Masters. She thought that, besides the fact that it “must be displeasing to the Mahatmas themselves” (LBS, 70), this kind of feeling was creating for the Society an image of a sect, and this was harmful for a movement that intended to attract the attention of the leaders of thought: 

“It is “injudicious” because in a country “where the eye of criticism and unfriendly ridicule, is kept fixed upon every new movement” and it is “manifestly unwise of our Society to present itself before the World in the guise of a Sect having chiefs accredited with super-human powers of greatness.” All this led to the Standard calling “us a Society founded on the alleged feats of certain Indian jugglers.” (Ital. hers.) “This incident and other similar episodes have much annoyed and exercised” her. Much as she esteems Mr. Sinnett, she thinks that “he is making a mistake in carrying in this country the identical policy pursued by the Society in India. It will be fatally destructive to all our hopes of attracting the attention of the Leaders of Thought (...) and Science whose cooperation would be invaluable to us” etc. etc. etc.” (LBS, 70) 

To Kingsford the basis of the Society should be that of a philosophical school, “constituted on the ancient Hermetic basis, following scientific methods and exact processes of reasoning independent of any absolute authority of an extraneous kind, although accepting with reverence teaching from competent sources.” (LBS, 70) In India, where the knowledge about the Adepts was something common, such a policy could fit well, but in London this policy would lead the Society: 

“to be regarded on the one hand, as evincing uncommon credulity and ignorance of scientific methods; and on the other, as a system bearing – to the protestant mind – a striking resemblance to the Catholic system of Directors and confessors, the submission required of the catechumen towards his guru or Mahatmas.”(LBS, 70) 

To HPB and other chelas, as Subba Row, such a position was an unacceptable disrespect to the Masters and they were indignant about it: 

“Yesterday received a three yard long letter from Mrs. K. and her confidential address; first fruit of the kindness of K. H.! Well this is the Chohan’s Karma. However it may be, from Subba Row down to Brown everyone is inexpressibly shocked here with this most impertinent, insolent pamphlet or criticism of Maitland. She demands of K. H. to make her “the Apostle in Europe of Eastern and Western Esoteric Philosophy”!!!!!” (LBS, 63) 

HPB continues her letter saying that, according to Master KH, he himself had warned Sinnett that, unless he created a secret Section and also presided it, “while Mrs. K. would be the fair and glittering sign-board of the “Lodge” representing Esoteric Christianity or any other flapdoodle – they (the Mahatmas) would have nothing to do any more with the English Fellows.” (LBS, 64) And also that, upon Master M.’s orders, Subba Row was taking charge of writing a response to Kingsford’s criticism. This response, however, was only published three months later, at the end of January 1884. Meanwhile, HPB did not hold her criticism and continued protesting to Sinnett and to her Master, until He ordered her to be quiet. She thus writes to Sinnett, in November 1883: 

“for I knew all the time what an unbearable female snob was “the divine Anna.” I knew it, and repeated it and went on protesting from first to last until my BOSS M. called me a “nuisance” and a “short sighted female” (...) and ordered me “to shut up” an elegant expression he got, I suppose, out of Olcott’s store of Yankee words. Yet he never told me that I was wrong but simply that the zebra-clad Kingsford had been chosen by your guide and protector K. H. and that HE knew what He was about – notwithstanding all. Well I supposed it was one of their usual round about experiments in human nature and so shut up. But now, my tongue is once more untied. Fine doings!” (LBS, 65-66) 

But a few days later, she writes to Sinnett: “We are cooked, both you and I. (...) you and I are cooked beyond redemption”. (LBS, 69) Her plan of withdrawing the “divine Anna” – “a selfish, vain, and mediumistic creature, too fond of adulation and dress and tinkling jewelry to be of the right sort” (LBS, 69) – had failed completely because the Masters had decided that she was necessary for the movement and she should continue. With these feelings towards the “divine Anna”, HPB replied to her with “a long, polite and as I thought a diplomatic letter” (LBS, 71). But, to her sadness: 

“But, no sooner had I finished copying my letter (English corrected by Mohini) an operation performed on my best paper and with new pen, which took me a whole forenoon to the detriment and neglect of other work, than the following occurred. My letter 8 pages – was quietly torn one page after the other by my BOSS!! His great hand appearing on the table under Subba Row’s nose (who wanted me to write quite differently) and His voice uttering a complement in Telugu which I shall not translate, though Subba Row seemed to translate it for me in great glee. “K. H. wants me to write differently” was the order. They (the Bosses) have put their heads together and decided that the “divine Anna” should be humoured. She is necessary to them; she is a wonderful palliative (whatever on earth the word means in the present case!) and they mean to use her. She must be made to remain the aureolic President, you the nucleus (or nucleatic?) President. Both of you have to face each other as the two poles, chance guided by Masters drawing finally the true meridian between you two for the Society. Now don’t imagine that I laugh or chaff. I am in a state of mute and helpless despair – for this once I be hung if I understand what they are driving at!” (LBS, 71) 

How to understand that a woman who referred to Master KH with so little veneration could receive such a treatment? To these complaints from HPB, Djual Khool just answered: 

“The words of a woman wounded in her physical vanity, angry at not being taken notice of by Master (K. H.) are less than a passing breeze. She may say what she likes. The Fellows have done their duty to protest as they have, she will know better now, but she must remain, and Mr. Sinnett must become the leader and President of the inner ring.” (LBS, 71) 

Madame Blavatsky had to “write to her in consequence and tell her all manner of pious and lying compliments I do not feel.” (LBS, 72) And, if she did it, it was only because she should obey her Master, for she herself was obviously against it, as she writes: 

“Let the Karma of this fall upon BOSS – for I have been solely and only the weapon or irresponsible agent in all this. I suppose Mahatma K. H. played first fiddle and my Boss second as usual. I have as you say but to obey.” (LBS, 72) 

And, under this sentence, Master M. precipitated the following comment: “Quite so for it is the best policy.” (LBS, 72) At the end of the letter, to calm Sinnett, Master M. also precipitated the message below: 

“Sinnett Sahib – you must not wonder. We have the good of the whole Movement and Society at heart. Even the wishes of the majority shall not prevail – the feelings of the less enlightened minority having also to be consulted. The day must come when all will know better. Meanwhile the akhu tries to fascinate K. H. by her portraiture!” (LBS, 73) [Akhu: Intelligence, among the Egyptians. (Glosario Teosofico, 27)] 



10. Letter from Master KH to the London Lodge (January, 1884) 

The situation became more and more tense. About December 9th, 1883, Anna Kingsford and Maitland published a pamphlet with severe criticism to Sinnett’s book Esoteric Buddhism. Soon after the pamphlet publication, Kingsford received a telegram from Master KH saying “Remain President.” (CW VI, xxiv) Master KH also sent a telegram containing the same message to Sinnett and a letter that, although written on December 7th, he declares he had received it in January 1884. In the letter the Master says that the time for Sinnett to prove his good will had come, because it was the wish of his Superior, the Great Chohan, that Anna Kingsford remained President. Master KH writes: 

“In one of your recent letters to the “O.L.” [Old Lady, HPB] you express your readiness to follow my advice in almost anything I may ask you. Well – the time has come to prove your willingness. And since, in this particular case, I myself am simply carrying out the wishes of my Chohan, I hope you will not experience too much difficulty in sharing my fate by doing – as I do. “Fascinating” Mrs. K. has to remain President – jusqu’au nouvel ordre. (...) Minute explanations would be rather too long and tedious a job. Suffice that you should know that her anti-vivisection struggle and her strict vegetarian diet have won entirely over to her side our stern Master. He cares less than we do for any outward – or even inward – expression or feeling of disrespect to the “Mahatmas.” Let her do her duty by the Society, be true to her principles and all the rest will come in good time. She is very young, and her personal vanity and other womanly shortcomings are to be laid at the door of Mr. Maitland and the Greek chorus of her admirers.” (MLcr.-119, 406; ML-86) 

And the Master joins to this letter another one, to be read in a general meeting of the London Lodge. Virginia Hanson comments about this letter: “It is one of the most important letters in the book so far as the Theosophical Society – especially in the West – is concerned.” (MLcr.-120, 409; ML-85) Master KH starts this letter saying that he had sent the two telegrams notifying Sinnett and Kingsford that she should remain President, and that this was not only his and Master M.’s wishes, but the Great Chohan’s expressed own wish: 

“Mrs. Kingsford’s election is not a matter of personal feeling between ourselves and that lady but rests entirely on the advisability of having at the head of the Society, in a place like London, a person well suited to the standard and aspirations of the (so far) ignorant (of esoteric truths) and therefore, malicious public. Nor is it a matter of the slightest consequence whether the gifted President of the “London Lodge” Theos. Soc. entertains feelings of reverence or disrespect toward the humble and unknown individuals at the head of the Tibetan Good Law, – or the writer of the present, or any of his Brothers – but rather a question whether the said lady is fitted for the purpose we have all at heart, namely the dissemination of TRUTH through Esoteric doctrines, conveyed by whatever religious channel, and the effacement of crass materialism and blind prejudices and skepticism.” (MLcr.-120, 409; ML-85) 

Master KH continues the letter saying that he agreed with Mrs. Kingsford when she said that the Eastern public should see the Theosophical Society as a Philosophical School established upon a Hermetic basis, considering that such public had a very perverted notion of the Esoteric Buddhist System because they had never heard about the Tibetan System, and also considering that:  

“Therefore, and so far, we agree with the remarks embodied in the letter written by Mrs. K. to Madame B. [Blavatsky] and which the latter was asked to “submit to K.H.”; and, we would remind our members of the “L.L.” in this reference, that Hermetic Philosophy is universal and unsectarian, while the Tibetan School will ever be regarded by those who know little, if anything of it, as coloured more or less with sectarianism. The former knowing neither caste, nor colour, nor creed, no lover of Esoteric wisdom can have any objection to the name, which otherwise he might feel, were the Society to which he belongs to be placarded with a specific denomination pertaining to a distinct religion. Hermetic Philosophy suits every creed and philosophy and clashes with none. It is the boundless ocean of Truth, the central point whither flows and wherein meet every river, as every stream – whether its source be in the East, West, North, or South. As the course of the river depends upon the nature of its basin, so the channel for communication of Knowledge must conform itself to surrounding circumstances. (...)
           “Thus it is plain that the methods of Occultism, though in the main unchangeable, has yet to conform to altered times and circumstances. The state of the general Society of England – quite different from that of India, where our existence is a matter of common and, so to say, of inherent belief among the population, and in a number of cases of positive knowledge – requires quite a different policy in the presentation of Occult Sciences. The only object to be striven for is the amelioration of the condition of MAN by the spread of truth suited to the various stages of his development and that of the country he inhabits and belongs to. TRUTH has no ear-mark and does not suffer from the name under which it is promulgated – if the said object is attained.” (MLcr.-120, 409; ML-85) 



11. Discord is the Harmony of the Universe 

To the Great Chohan, both of them – Sinnett and Kingsford – were necessary, exactly because they were different, “just because they are the two poles calculated to keep the whole body in magnetic harmony, as the judicious disposal of both will make an excellent middle ground to be attained by no other means; one correcting and equilibrising the other.” (MLcr.-120, 411; ML-85) And Master KH continues speaking about the importance of the diversity of opinions, of the liberty of thought and of the “harmonious discordance”. For, “discord is the harmony of the Universe”, and that this was the secret of the Theosophical Society’s success in India: 

“I need hardly point out how the proposed arrangement is calculated to lead to a harmonious progress of the “L.L. T.S.”. It is a universally admitted fact that the marvelous success of the Theosophical Society in India is due entirely to its principle of wise and respectful toleration of each other’s opinions and beliefs. Not even the President-Founder has the right directly or indirectly to interfere with the freedom of thought of the humblest member, least of all to seek to influence his personal opinion. It is only in the absence of this generous consideration, that even the faintest shadow of difference arms seekers after the same truth, otherwise earnest and sincere, with the scorpion-whip of hatred against their brothers, equally sincere and earnest. Deluded victims of distorted truth, they forget, or never knew, that discord is the harmony of the Universe. Thus in the Theosophical Society, each part, as in the glorious fugues of the immortal Mozart, ceaselessly chases the other in harmonious discord on the paths of Eternal progress to meet and finally blend at the threshold of the pursued goal into one harmonious whole, the keynote in nature. Absolute Justice makes no difference between the many and the few.” (MLcr.-120, 412; ML-85) 

Therefore, although thanking the majority of the London Lodge theosophists for their loyalty to them, the invisible Instructors, it was necessary to remember that Mrs. Kingsford: 

“is loyal and true also – to that which she believes to be the Truth. And, as she is thus loyal and true to her convictions, however small the minority that may side with her at present, the majority led by Mr. Sinnett, our representative in London, cannot with justice charge her with the guilt, which (...) is one only in the eyes of those who would be rather too severe. Every Western Theosophist should learn and remember, especially those of them who would be our followers – that in our Brotherhood all personalities sink into one idea – abstract right and absolute practical justice for all. And that, though we may not say with the Christians, “return good for evil” – we repeat with Confucius, “return good for good; for evil – JUSTICE.” Thus, the Theosophists of Mrs. K.’s way of thinking, – were they even to oppose some of us personally to the bitter end, – are entitled to as much respect and consideration (so long as they are sincere) from us and their fellow-members of opposite views, as those who are ready with Mr. Sinnett to follow absolutely but our special teaching.” (MLcr.-120, 412; ML-85) 

In the beginning of February, the telegram was showed to the Lodge and Anna Kingsford was confirmed on the presidency. As the situation at the London Lodge was still confused, and both factions were not managing to come to that harmony requested in the letter, the members decided to postpone the election. They were expecting Olcott and Mohini’s coming to London to help in the resolution of the matter, which according to what Master KH said, although “distressing to some and tiresome to others, yet it is better so than that the old paralytic calm should have continued.” (MLcr.-121, 413; ML-84) 



12. The Chohan Wants Anna Kingsford in the TS 

Trying to find a solution that would allow her to continue her work at the London Lodge, Anna Kingsford proposed the creation of two Sections. One would be formed by the members that wanted to follow the Mahatmas’ teachings and also to recognize them as their Masters, with Sinnett as President. The other Section would encourage the study of the esoteric Christianity and also of the Western Occultism from which it originated. This section would be known as the Catholic Section, and would be presided by her. In this proposal, members could freely attend to the meetings of the two Sections. (Ransom, 197) This idea was close to what the Masters wanted, with the creation of two groups inside the London Lodge, since the Great Chohanwho never meddles in anything theosophical least of all European” (LBS, 90) wished that Kingsford stayed in the Society, having her working space preserved:  

“I do not know what it is that Master ordered Olcott to do. He keeps his own counsel and says nothing. But I feel sure that even the Chohan would not force her upon the Society against the will of the majority. Let her found a Society apart from yours (...) Now, my Boss wants her – since the old Chohan is in love with her vegetarianism and her love for animals – to remain President – but not necessarily of your Society. The Chohan wants her in the Society, but would not consent to force the opinion or vote of a single member of the L.L. He will not influence the last of them, for he then would be no better than the Pope who thinks he can enforce implicit obedience and then avoid to take upon himself the person’s Karmas. This is what Boss has just been telling me to write to you. Hence you better prepare and seek the opinion and advice of every member who is of your way of thinking and get ready to split yourselves in two Societies, for this is what the Colonel has to do – I am told.” (LBS, 81-83) 



13. Distance Adds to my Beauty (March, 1884) 

HPB, Olcott, Mohini and Padshah with the native servant Babula, sailed February 20, 1884, from India, reaching Marseilles March 13. She did not want to go. While still in India she wrote to Sinnett, during January 1884, that she had only agreed going to Europe under the following condition: 

I must not, shall not, and will not, go to London. Do whatever you may. I will not approach it even. Had my Boss ordered it to me even – I think I would rather face his displeasure and – disobey him.” (LBS, 74) 

When she was already in France, in March, HPB received so many repeated invitations to go to London, that she ended up answering them all in a circular-letter, thanking but refuting them because her health would not permit her to go to London. Besides that, HPB writes in that circular-letter: 

“And what would be the use of my going to London? What good could I do to you in the midst of your fogs mixed up with the poisonous evaporations of the ‘higher civilization’? (...) Am I fit for such civilized people as you all are? But in seven minutes and a quarter I should become perfectly unbearable to you English people if I were to transport to London my huge, ugly person. I assure you that distance adds to my beauty, which I should soon lose if near at hand.” (Letters of HPB, VI) 

To Sinnett, HPB also wrote that Olcott and Mohini, with the instructions that they had from the Masters M. and KH, respectively, were the appropriate people to solve the question because: 

“I would do the reverse. I could not (especially in my present state of nervousness) stand by and listen calmly to the astounding news (from Gough!!) that Sankara Charya was a theist and Subba Row knows not what he is talking about, without kicking myself to death; (...) Really and indeed I do not feel like going to England. I love you all at a distance, I might hate some of you of the L.L. were I to go there. Don’t you understand why? Can’t you realise with all you know of me and of the truth, (the latter is ignored only by those who will not see it) that it would be an inexpressible suffering for me to see how the Masters and their philosophy are both misunderstood?” (LBS, 78-79) 

On April 5th, 1884, in the morning, Olcott departed from Paris to London, leaving HPB in Paris because she declared she did not have the least condition or wish to go to London, since she had her nerves weakened by the tension accumulated during the months that the case Kingsford-Sinnett had been carried over: 

“How can I ever face a Society some of whose members harbour such insulting thoughts and express them in print? This is why I cannot come to London. Were I to follow the dictates of my affection for both of you and my desire to get personally acquainted with such charming members as Mrs. and Miss Arundale, Mr. Finch, Mr. Wade and others I know the results. I would either jump up and tear heaven and hell at the first opportunity, or have to explode like a bomb-shell. I cannot keep calm. I have accumulated bile and secreted gall for over six months during this Kingsford-Sinnett embroglio; I have held my tongue and been forced to write civil letters which are now represented in the light of “sympathetic and encouraging correspondence.” I – well, never mind what, and how much I suffered of this coléres rentrés; my present illness is more than partly due to them. But, I am not born for a diplomatic career. I would spoil the broth, and do no good – at any rate, not till after the whole thing is settled and the equilibre théosophique est retabli.” (LBS, 81) 



14. HPB Arrives Suddenly to London (April, 1884) 

William Judge, who had stayed with Madame Blavatsky in Paris, to help her with the Secret Doctrine, describes that in the night of April 5th, when they were sitting, talking, he felt “the old signal of a message from the Master and saw that she was listening.” (Caldwell, 172) HPB then, said to him that Master had just ordered that she went to London, the next evening, in the 7:45pm express, that she stayed there only for one day and returned on the following day. Thus, unexpectedly, obeying to orders, although confessing that she was not understanding them, she left to London on April 6th, and stayed with the Sinnetts.
           On the set day for the election, April 7th, Maitland proposed Anna Kingsford’s reelection, but only one or two members supported this proposal. Sinnett then presented Finch, who was elected by the majority. Olcott proposed that Kingsford’s group created a new branch, which would be called “Hermetic Theosophical Society”, and this was accepted. (ODL III, 97)
           Once the most delicate point had been solved, they started the discussion of the night. Olcott tried to match the differences of opinion, but was not very successful on it, and the ambiance became tense. Then, HPB entered unexpectedly in the meeting, took a seat at the back of the room, beside Archibald Keightley, who was a new member and had not met her personally yet. He describes that, in the moment that someone at the front alluded some action of Madame Blavatsky, the stout lady beside him confirmed, saying aloud: “That’s so.” (Caldwell, 175) At this point, the meeting became confuse and Mohini ran to prostrate at HPB’s feet.
           C.W. Leadbeater, who was also a new member and was present to this meeting, describes that a stout lady, dressed in black, had entered and sat in the back of the room. After some minutes, showing impatience because the discussions were not evolving, she jumped over her seat and shouted in a military command tone: “Mohini!, and left to the hall. Then: 

“The stately and dignified Mohini came rushing down that long room at his highest speed, and as soon as he reached the passage threw himself incontinently flat on his face on the floor at the feet of the lady in black.” (Leadbeater, 36) 

Many people got up, mixed up. They did not know what was happening. But, right after, Sinnett, who had also gone to the back part of the room, came back and announced: 

““Let me introduce to the London Lodge as a whole – Madame Blavatsky!”
            “The scene was indescribable; the members, wildly delighted and yet half-awed at the same time, clustered round our great Founder, some kissing her hand, several kneeling before her, and two or three weeping hysterically.” (Leadbeater, 37) 

She was then conducted to the platform where, after hearing some explanations about the unsatisfactory character of the meeting, she closed it and held a meeting with the leaders. Leadbeater tells that, after hearing Kingsford’s and Sinnett’s explanations, she called them down as if they were two students and, then, made them shake hands as a demonstration that their differences were over! (Leadbeater, 37)
           As we saw extensively, HPB’s feelings were far from being impartial and exempt, as they appear to be in Leadbeater’s narrative. After the meeting, Madame Blavatsky went back to Sinnett’s house and stayed in London for one week before going back to Paris.
           The episode above accounted, in which Mohini prostrates at Madame Blavatsky’s feet, is very interesting. He presents aspects that can hardly be completely understood because they are part of the life of Occultism, and not of the common life. This is so because still in October 1883, when the Master decided that in the following year Mohini would go to London with Olcott to help him solve the issue of the London Lodge, HPB wrote to Sinnett, alerting him that he should not think that the Mohini he had met before was the same Mohini that would be in London: 

“On February 17th Olcott will probably sail for England on various business, and Mahatma K. H. sends his chela, under the guise of Mohini Mohun Chatterjee (...) Do not make the mistake, my dear boss, of taking the Mohini you knew for the Mohini who will come. There is more than one Maya in this world of which neither you nor your friends and critic Maitland is cognisant. The ambassador will be invested with an inner as well as with an outer clothing. Dixit.” (LBS, 65) 

The same way that HPB had alerted Sinnett not to consider Mohini as the usual Mohini, Master KH sends a letter to Mohini himself, in March 1884, saying something similar about Madame Blavatsky, and guiding him as to how he should behave himself. The Master writes to him that, as appearances were important, especially among Europeans, it would be necessary to cause impression on them, externally, before an internal impression, regular and lasting, occurred. For this reason, the Master instructs Mohini that when HPB arrived to Paris: 

“you will meet and receive her as though you were in India, and she your own mother. You must not mind the crowd of Frenchman and others. You have to stun them; and if Colonel asks you why, you will answer him that it is the interior man, the indweller you salute, not HPB, for you were notified to that effect by us. And know for your own edification that One far greater than myself has kindly consented to survey the whole situation under her guise, and then to visit, through the same channel, occasionally, Paris and other places where foreign members may reside. You will thus salute her on seeing and taking leave of her the whole time you were at Paris – regardless of comments and her own surprise. This is a test.” (LMW, 2nd S., 111) 

As we saw, HPB ended up going unexpectedly to London and Mohini met her there – and not in Paris, but he obeyed literally his Master’s instructions, prostrating at her feet to greet her in the way he would do to his own mother in India. Or, who knows, to greet the internal “Occupant” that could be there. 



15. The Hermetic Society 

On April 9th, the Hermetic Lodge was organized, with the presence of Olcott and Mohini. (Ransom, 198) However, the problem was not solved because a few days after the establishment of the Lodge Olcott decided to edit a new rule. By this rule, the multiple membership was prohibited. This meant, in practice, that the members of the Hermetic Lodge could not attend to the London Lodge meetings, and thus profiting from the instructions offered there and vice-verse. This decision disturbed the Hermetic Lodge’s plans and, in April 22nd, Kingsford’s group decided to return the Lodge Charter and to form a Society independent from the Theosophical Society. (Ransom, 198)
           Maitland says that Olcott would have made this rule that prohibited the multiple membership following Sinnett’s advises. (Credo, 24) Perhaps it is to this fact that Master KH refers to in the passage bellow, in which he reprimands Sinnett: 

“Then you deny there ever was any spite in you against K. [Kingsford]. Very well; call it by any other name you like; yet it was a feeling that interfered with strict justice, and made O. [Olcott] commit a still worse blunder than he had already committed – but which was allowed to take its course for it suited our purposes, and did no great harm except to himself – alone, who was so ungenerously snubbed for it.” (MLcr.-126, 424; ML-62) 

In May 9th, the Hermetic Society was founded and soon it proved to be a great success. Anna Kingsford’s lectures made large rooms crowded. At the end of 1884, Kingsford and Maitland left the London Lodge, but they did not abandon the Theosophical Society. They remained linked to Adyar. Anna Kingsford and HPB still met each other in two occasions, in July 1884 and in October 1886. This last meeting was in Ostende, narrated by the Countess of Wachtmeister and it was already mentioned in the Introduction of this essay.
           The Hermetic Society functioned regularly, mainly with Anna Kingsford’s and Edward Maitland’s speeches until the beginning of 1887, when Kingsford’s health conditions were very weakened. She had chronic lung problems and ended up dying of tuberculosis, at 42 years old, in February 22nd 1888. (Godwin, 335)
           After her death, Maitland published two books in her name. The first one, The Credo of Christendom, and Other Addresses and Essays on Esoteric Christianity is made up of several speeches of hers in the Hermetic Society. The other one as we have already seen in The Illuminations of Anna Kingsford is the compilation of her Illuminations obtained during almost 14 years. This book was entitled Clothed with the Sun, Being the Book of the Illuminations of Anna (Bonus) Kingsford.
           We can now evaluate better the reason why the Theosophical Society lost a great opportunity of becoming that which the Masters so much longed for: a center where different traditions could coexist harmoniously, putting into practice the tolerance which is the basis of its first Object. There are no doubts that, if Anna Kingsford had remained active inside the London Lodge, as the Great Chohan wished, this would have marked the beginning of an unheard opening of the Theosophical Society. For, as Master KH wrote: 

Hermetic Philosophy is universal and unsectarian, while the Tibetan School, will ever be regarded (...) as coloured more or less with sectarianism. (...) Hermetic Philosophy suits every creed and philosophy”. (MLcr.-120, 410; ML-85) 

However, the Theosophical Society took another route, much less universal, and ended up developing its own doctrine, with a very eastern profile and terminology. This doctrine was named “Theosophy”. In this way, it is not surprising that Master KH himself – who, following the Chohan’s wish, interfered in the London Lodge crisis – had given a severe alert concerning the ways the Theosophical Society was following, by writing, in 1900, in the last known letter with the handwriting of the Masters: 

“The TS and its members are slowly manufacturing a creed. Says a Thibetan proverb ‘credulity breeds credulity and ends in hypocrisy’.” (LMW, 1st S., 99) 

There can be no doubt, therefore, that the Theosophical Society lost a great opportunity to become the thought’s vanguard center that the Masters wished so much to have, especially in the Western countries. A center where these two factions could live together harmoniously, showing, in practice, the tolerance taught in the first Object of this organization. As P. Washington noted well: 

“The conflict between Blavatsky and Kingsford was both personal and doctrinal. Two strong women, (...) were bound to clash. (...)
      “This was an opportunity missed. The two women had different strengths which might have been complementary. If Anna had the edge over HPB in looks, wealth and social position, HPB had control of an international organization. But the differences went too deep. They were described by Anna herself in terms of oriental occultists versus occidental mystics, and this conflict was to cause frequent schisms within the Society in the years ahead. While HPB dismissed Kingsford as a mere medium, in Anna’s book her rival was an occultist – and occultists were well down the religious ladder, in contact with the spirit world only at second hand.
       “Shortly before her own death Anna Kingsford claimed to have dreamt that she met HPB in the Buddhist heaven. Blavatsky was still smoking her foul cigarettes, but she did so only after humbly asking permission of Anna’s own patron, Hermes (...) The scene is aptly symbolic. The split between western and eastern faiths (...) the first but by no means the last rebellion by those who felt that Theosophy was turning too far toward the East and abandoning the traditional Christian faith. This was not, according to its critics, a sign of religious universals but the whole-hearted embracing of an alien creed.” (Washington, 77-78)



16. Anna Kingsford and the Golden Dawn (1886-1887) 

The interpretation that Kingsford and Maitland made of the Christian scriptures naturally led them to be interested in the Kabbalah. In it they found great similarities with Kingsford’s Illuminations. This led them to a relationship with Baron Giuseppe Spedalieri, a disciple and the literary editor of Eliphas Levi. When Maitland visited France, in 1887, he met Baron Spedalieri and received some of Eliphas Levi’s manuscripts and his copy of the Trithemius book, De Septem Secundeis. Later, Maitland gave this material to Wynn Westcott, who edited it as The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum. (Godwin, 345)
           Westcott was attached to the secret and occult order known as S.R.I.A. or Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia. Bulwer Lytton, John Yarker (who in 1877 had conceded a Masonic diploma to HPB) and Samuel L. MacGregor Mathers also participated in the Societas Rosicruciana. Westcott and Mathers were also the main founders of the Golden Dawn, that in the beginning presented itself as an Order “not masonic, open to men and women, and called ‘The Hermetic Students of the G.D.’.” (Godwin, 223)
          Westcott as well as Mathers were very active in Kingsford’s Hermetic Society, where Mathers gave two lectures, one about Kabbalah and another about Alchemy. During the year of 1886, he worked on the translation of a book that Kingsford and Maitland had consulted in the British Museum. When it was published, under the title The Kabbalah Unveiled, the book was dedicated to Kingsford and Maitland.
           According to Mathers’ biographer, Colquhoun, it was probably under Anna Kingsford’s influence that Mathers became a feminist, at least on what concerns occult matters, insisting that women were admitted in the Golden Dawn in equal conditions like men. But the similarities between Golden Dawn’s and Kingsford’s views went much further than this particular point: 

“One can understand the Golden Dawn much better after knowing Kingsford’s and Maitland’s work. Its rituals evoked the same initiatic universe as Kingsford’s Illuminations had described: one whose mythology was Egyptian, Kabbalistic, Eleusinian and Christian (Rosicrucian): it was a practical complement to the theoretical and moral teachings of The Perfect Way.” (Godwin, 362) 



17. Hermes Trismegistus’ Sacred Books 

In 1884, Kingsford and Maitland published a translation of The Virgin of the World of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, which contained very rare Hermetic texts. Besides the fragment that gave title to the book, it contains: “Asclepios on Initiation”, “Definitions of Asclepios” and “The Fragments”, which includes “Fragments of the Book of Hermes to his Son Tatios”, “Fragments of the Writings of Hermes to Ammon” and “Various Hermetic Fragments”. From this latter we quote Part III: 

“Wherefore the incorporeal vision comes forth from the body to contemplate beauty, lifting itself up and adoring, not the form, nor the body, nor the appearance, but that which, behind all, is calm, tranquil, substantial, immutable; that which is all, alone and one, that which is by itself and in itself, similar to itself, and without variation.” (Virgin, 151) 

Hermes’ sacred books contained Egypt’s laws, science and theology. The Egyptian priests declared that those books had been composed during the reign of the Gods – the reign that preceded that of their first king, Menes. There were four books that, subdivided, totalized 42 volumes. They were kept in the most sacred room of the temple and only the priests of a superior order were allowed to consult them. In the big religious processions Hermes’ books were reverently carried: 

“The chief priests carried ten volumes relating to the emanations of the Gods, the formation of the world, the divine annunciation of laws and rules for the priesthood. The prophets carried four, treating of astronomy and astrology. The leader of the sacred musicians carried two, containing the hymns to the Gods, and maxims to guide the conduct of the king, which the chanter was required to know by heart. Such were the reputed antiquity and sanctity of these Egyptian hymns that Plato said they were ascribed to Isis, and believed to be ten thousand years old. Servitors of the temple carried ten volumes more, containing forms of prayer and rules for offerings, festivals, and processions. The other volumes treated of philosophy and the sciences, including anatomy and medicine.” (Virgin, i) 

The Roman Emperor Severus joined all the writings about the Mysteries and burned them in the tomb of Alexander the Great; and Diocletian destroyed all the books concerning Alchemy. The renowned books of Hermes had been lost for 15 centuries. In the first centuries of Christianity, Hermes was considered an inspired revealer and his writings were considered the theology that had been passed to Moses. This opinion was accepted until Renaissance by several studious that took Hermes’ books as the source of the Orphic initiations and also the source of the philosophy of Pythagoras and Plato. (Virgin, ii)
            Although there are critics contrary to these conclusions, they recognize a great coincidence between these doctrines and the ones of Christianity. They recognize, therefore, that Christianity was not something totally new when it appeared, but it was an improvement or a reformulation of a doctrine long pre-existent. (Virgin, viii)
           Maitland explains that the Hermetic method to obtain perfection, on whatever plane – physical, intellectual, moral or spiritual – is purity

Not merely having, but being, consciousness, man is man, and is percipient according to the measure in which he is pure; perfect purity implying full perception, even to the seeing of God, as the gospels have it. In the same proportion he has also power. The fully initiated Hermetist is a magian, or man of power, and can work what to the world seem miracles and those on all planes – physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual – by force of his own will. But his only secret of power is purity, as his only motive is love.” (Virgin, xv) 

The Hermetic doctrines talk about intuition as the essential way for man to get in touch with his most essential and permanent being, the soul, and to obtain from it knowledge of the divine things that he had in distant times of his past. The doctrine of the multiple re-births of the soul in a physical body and the doctrine of the responsibility for the fruits of one’s actions are also present in the Hermetic teachings.



18. Re-veilation 

Anna Kingsford’s short life generated many fruits that are still available in her books. In them she reveals, through her Illuminations and philosophy, a way to the Occult. It is a most valuable legacy for those who dedicate themselves to follow it. Something that she herself had the presentiment when, a few days after the foundation of the Hermetic Society, she wrote: 

“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. (...) 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.” (Credo, 28) 

We conclude this essay about Anna Kingsford and her relations with Helena Blavatsky, quoting one of her Illuminations, Concerning Revelation. A message in which beauty, profoundness and poetry are distinguished: 

“All true and worthy illuminations are reveilations, or re-veilings. Mark the meaning of this word. There can be no true or worthy illumination which destroys distances and exposes the details of things.
      “Look at this landscape. Behold how its mountains and forests are suffused with soft and delicate mist, which half conceals and half discloses their shapes and tints. See how this mist like a tender veil enwraps the distances, and merges the reaches of the land with the clouds of heaven!
      “How beautiful it is, how orderly and wholesome its fitness, and the delicacy of its appeal to the eye and heart! And how false would be that sense which should desire to tear away this clinging veil, to bring far objects near, and to reduce everything to foreground in which details only should be apparent, and all outlines sharply defined!
      “Distance and mist make the beauty of Nature: and no poet would desire to behold her otherwise than through this lovely and modest veil.
      “And as with exoteric, so with esoteric nature. (...)
      “Therefore the doctrine of the mysteries is truly reveilation, – a veiling and a re-veiling of that which it is not possible for eye to behold without violating all the order and sanctities of nature.
      “For distance and visual rays, causing the diversities of far and near, of perspective and mergent tints, of horizon and foreground, are part of natural order and sequence: and the law expressed in their properties cannot be violated.
      “For no law is ever broken.
      “The hues and aspects of distance and mist indeed may vary and dissolve according to the quality and quantity of the light which falls upon them: but they are there always, and no human eye can annul or annihilate them.
      “Even words, even pictures are symbols and veils. Truth itself is unutterable, save by God to God.” (Clothed, 9-11)



19. Bibliography

Blavatsky, H.P. Glosario Teosofico. Ed. Kier, B. Aires, 1977.
H.P. H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings. (CW) TPH, Wheaton, 1977.
H.P. Letters of H.P. Blavatsky. Blavatsky Archives, 1999.
H.P. Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett. (LBS) TUP, Pasadena, 1973.
, D. The Occult World of Madame Blavatsky. Impossible Dream Publ., Tucson, 1991.
, E. Some Unpublished Letters of HPB. TUP Online Edition, 1999.

, J. The Theosophical Enlightment. State Univ. of New York Press, Albany, 1994.
Hao Chin Jr.,
V. (ed.) The Mahatma Letters (in Chronological Seq.). (MLcr) TPH, Quezon City, 1993.
C. (ed.) Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, (LMW) 1st and 2nd Series. TPH, Adyar, 1973.
, W.Q. Letters That Have Helped Me. Theosophy Co., Bombay, 1989.
, A.B. Clothed With the Sun. Sun Publ. Co., Santa Fe, 1993.
, A.B. & Maitland, E. The Credo of Christendom. Kessinger Publ. Co., Montana, 1916.
, A.B. & Maitland, E. The Virgin of The World of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus. Kessinger Publ. Co., Montana, 1885.
, C.W.  How Theosophy Came to Me. TPH, Adyar, 1986.
, H.S. Old Diary Leaves. (ODL) TPH, Adyar, 1974.
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, R. Anna Kingsford & Edward Maitland. Mandrake Press Ltd., Thame, 1993.
, C. Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine. TPH, Wheaton, 1976.
, Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon. Schocken Books, N. York, 1993.


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