FLOODS OF LIGHT
IT was the last year of her student course, provided all went well. It was ushered in by a frost of extraordinary severity and duration, lasting, with scarcely an intermission, from November to April. The Seine became a glacier; the lakes in the Bois were fields of solid ice; the Fahrenheit that hung outside my bedroom window fell to zero; Paris was menaced with a famine, both of fuel and of water; and not even the freest expenditure of the former article sufficed to maintain in our apartment a temperature compatible with vitality. The natural resource at such season, a visit home for Christmas, was doubly barred. The weather made travelling dangerous in the extreme; and she could not spare the time from her studies. We resolved, therefore, to stay where we were and make the best of the situation, and, if possible, to turn the frost to account by making it minister to my recovery. For my sufferings from deranged circulation were indescribable. In this view I resumed my old and favourite pastime of skating, thinking such exercise the best panacea. And we accordingly repaired daily to the Bois, where I devoted myself to propelling my colleague in a chair over the ice. Failing to gain ground as I had hoped, I betook myself to the Hammam, where I followed up the Turkish bath with douches the coldest, the strongest, and the longest, and such as in my normal condition I could not have endured. But, to the attendant’s astonishment no less than to my own, I was completely indifferent to them in one way or another. My next resource was to consult a doctor, which I did with fear and trembling, though I took the precaution to select an English practitioner, and one whose position would ensure his being of the highest grade. This was the physician to the British Embassy. He fully appreciated the extraordinary character of the symptoms, but was wholly unable to comprehend
explanation I could give him of their cause. His prescription was digitalis.
Had it been its fellow-drug, strychnine, it might – as I subsequently learnt –
have somewhat modified my ailment. But as it was, he gave me the most
unsuitable of the alkaloids, the effect of the first dose of which was to give
me a vivid suggestion of what the sensation of dying might be like, and the
second so nearly to realise the process that the third remained untaken; on
each occasion it was as if my heart had been touched by a lump of ice. My ear
trouble becoming thus more acute than ever, I repaired to an aurist, reputed
the most skilful in
The frosty atmosphere seemed to supply electric conditions highly favourable to spiritual illumination. And the early morning of January 31 brought the wonderful dramatic exposition “Concerning Vicarious Atonement,” which stands as Chapter XXIX of Part I of Clothed with the Sun, and a portion of which was as follows. The exposition was prefaced by an object-lesson which was in this wise. A lad at a dame’s-school had been sentenced, for some grievous fault, to be branded on the hands and expelled. The daughter of the schoolmistress, however, had voluntarily taken the punishment on herself; and on Mary’s inquiring of her the rationale of this act, the following dialogue ensued, the girl speaking first: –
“I told you the punishment due to the child cannot be escaped; and I have taken it upon myself of my own free will, although I am innocent and the beloved daughter of her who has been so grievously offended and injured. As he would have been branded, I am branded; and as he would have been expelled, I am expelled. Thus have I
redeemed him. I suffer for him. Justice is satisfied, and he is pardoned. This is Vicarious Atonement.”
Then, as she spoke these words, a wind blew in my face, and I breathed it in, and being inspired, spoke thus, with a loud voice: –
“O fool, to imagine that justice can
be satisfied by the punishment of the innocent for the guilty! Rather is it
doubly outraged. How can your being branded on the hands save the child? Hath
not the Word of God declared, ‘No man shall take the sin of another, nor shall
any make atonement for his brother’s trespass; but every one shall bear his own
sin, and be purified by his own chastisement’? And again, is it not written,
‘Be ye perfect’? And as no one can become perfect save through suffering, how
can any become perfect if another bear his suffering for him? To take away his
suffering is to take away his means of redemption, and rob him of his crown of
perfection. The child cannot be pardoned through your assumption of his
chastisement. Only if through suffering himself he repent can he receive
forgiveness. And so with the man who sins against the Creator by outraging his
intuition and defiling the
“This is that Mystery. There is no such thing as Vicarious Atonement; for none can redeem another by shedding innocent blood. The Crucifix is the emblem and symbol of the Son of God, not because Jesus shed His blood upon the cross for the sins of man, but because the Christ is crucified perpetually so long as sin remains. The saying, ‘I am resolved to know nothing save this one mystery, Christ Jesus and Him crucified,’ is the doctrine of Pantheism. For it means that God is in all creatures, and they are of God, and God as Adonai suffers in them.
“Who, then, is Adonai? Adonai is the Dual Word, the manifestation of God in Substance, who manifests Himself as incarnated Spirit, and so manifesting Himself, by love redeems the world. He is the Lord who, crucified from the beginning, finds His full manifestation in the true Son of God. And therefore is it written that the Son of God, who is Christ, is crucified. Only where Love is perfect is Sympathy perfect, and only where Sympathy is perfect can one die for another. Wherefore the Son of God says, ‘The wrongs of others wound me, and the stripes of others fall on My flesh. I am smitten with the pains of all creatures, and My heart is pierced with their hearts. There is no offence done and I suffer not, nor any wrong and I am not hurt thereby. For My heart is in the breast of every creature, and My blood is in the veins of all flesh. I am wounded in My right hand for man, and in My left hand for woman; in My right and left feet for the beasts of the earth and the creatures of the deep; and in My heart for all.’
“(…) And because the Son of God loves, He is powerful, and the power of love redeems. He being lifted up, draws all men unto Him.
(...) They were not forgiven because Christ died; they were changed because he loved. (...) The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin, not by the purchase of pardon with another’s gold, but because the love of God hath changed the life of the sinner.”
Thus was it at length made absolutely clear to us that the ghastly and revolting tenet of vicarious atonement rests upon the rendering by sacerdotalism of the word for to mean instead of, when it really means in and with, as a mother suffers for her child, by sympathy.
This vision was instantly followed by another in which the seeress “beheld an infinite expanse of sky, open and clear, and blue and sunlit, all in the most intense degree, and across it and upwards flew an eagle like a flash of lightning,” her impression of the meaning of which, as stated in the original edition of Clothed with the Sun, was that it signified that, with the reproach of innocent blood removed from God and the Divine character vindicated from the aspersion cast on it by the priest-constructed tenet of vicarious atonement, there is nought to check the soul’s aspiration. Another meaning was, however, subsequently shown to me as the one intended when preparing the American edition of the book, which led to my insertion of the following note: –
“Representing the return of the inspiring spirit to God, the apparition of the eagle was, like the illumined image of Pallas, an emphatic declaration of the divinity of the utterance.”
Some time after the receipt of the illuminations on this subject we read an account of a great gathering of London butchers under the presidency of Mr. Spurgeon, when the chief feature of the occasion was the singing of a hymn, “There is a fountain filled with blood,” which had been selected as peculiarly appropriate to the butcher-mind, and was insisted on as true in the grossest and most literal sense. And Mary conceived the idea of sending a copy of her expositions to Mr. Spurgeon, in the hope of awakening in him a sense of the hideous blasphemy of the teaching he had been imposing on the poor butchers as divine truth.
There was a grotesque element in the suggestion which struck my fancy, and I was disposed to encourage it. But knowing something of the papal character of the divine in question and his compeers, I saw it would never do to appear before him as a superior claiming to be qualified to instruct him, as that would be only to arouse opposition and resentment. Better, I thought,
to pose as an inquirer respectfully seeking counsel and guidance in view of the doubts raised by the expositions in question. Thus called on to teach, there was a possibility of his learning something. But the occasion was suffered to pass, the pressure of our work being too great to allow of the expenditure of time and force upon an enterprise of which the issue would be so dubious. And the divine in question finally quitted the earth-life in glad anticipation of making the personal acquaintance of the great master-butcher whom he had insisted on glorifying as God.
On February 2 she wrote: –
“I went in my sleep last night from one torture-chamber to another in the underground vaults of a vivisector’s laboratory, and in all were men at work lacerating, dissecting, and burning the living flesh of their victims. But these were no longer mere horses or dogs or rabbits; for in each I saw a human shape, the shape of a man, with limbs and lineaments resembling those of their tormentors, hidden within the outward form. And so, when they bound down a horse, and gathering round him, cut into him with knives, I saw the human shape within him writhe and moan as if it were a babe in its mother’s womb. And I cried aloud, ‘Wretches! You are torturing an unborn man!’ But they only mocked at me, for with their eyes they could not see that which I saw. Then they brought a rabbit and thrust its eyes through with hot irons. And the rabbit seemed to me, as I gazed, like the tiniest infant, with human face, and hands which stretched appealingly towards me, and lips which tried to cry for help in human accents. And again I cried to them, ‘O blind! Blind! Do ye not see that your victim is of your own kind, a child that is human?’ But they only laughed and jeered at me, and in the agony of my despair I woke.”
Her persistent refusal to allow her professors to vivisect at her lessons continued to subject her not only to constant altercations with them, but to a constant change of them. Of one of them, Dr. L––, who has since become very notorious as an experimentalist, she abruptly asked one day, “Pray does your wife know how her husband occupies himself in his laboratory?” – for she knew the lady in question to be young, charming, and innocent. He looked surprised and annoyed, and at length replied very gravely that he “would not have her know it for worlds.” Her next blow terminated the connection. It was to give him a copy of our pamphlet, De Ia Ligue contre Ia Vivisection, but without avowing her part in it. For that might have been to imperil her degree. Her avowal of agreement with it, however, led to his resignation.
One day she came home from the schools delighted to be able
to report a reprimand administered by the examining professor to a student who had cited experimentation upon animals as the method he should employ for testing the effects of poisons and other drugs. “Then, sir,” the professor had replied sharply, “you would employ a method fit only for idle and inaccurate men.” Another day she reported how a student had quoted an experiment of the notorious Professor Majendie, on which had been based the conclusion that the stomach does not contract in the act of vomiting. The experiment in question consisted in dissecting out the stomach of a dog, and replacing it by a pig’s bladder containing various articles of food; an emetic was then injected into the veins, which caused the animal to vomit, and because the dead bladder could not contract, it was concluded that therefore the living stomach does not contract! This conclusion had long held good in the schools, and had only recently been renounced. But of its renunciation the student concerned was ignorant. But he brought on himself a twofold rebuke, for not being up to date in his information, and for basing any conclusion upon animal experimentation.
Claude Bernard, too, whose authority on the matter could not be disputed, had openly asserted the inutility of the practice up to that time, saying of the whole order of experimental physiologists, “Our hands are empty today,” and this after some 2500 years of it! Nevertheless the practice was insisted on; and in order the better to perfect themselves in it, numbers of the students were wont to supplement the professorial lessons by following it at their homes, converting their lodgings into laboratories on Sundays. We discussed together this palpable discrepancy between doctrine and practice, with the result that I suggested to her to put the question directly to the chef of her hospital. This was a man of much eminence in his special line, which was surgery, and known to us both as a man of kindly nature, though blunt of speech and abrupt of manner. She rather shrank from the task, saying it would be an unheard-of presumption for a student to interrogate a chef in the wards, and very much as it would be for a common sailor to interrogate the admiral of the fleet on his quarter-deck. I reminded her that her position was not that of the generality of students. She was a foreigner, and not necessarily bound to share the awe which a chef inspires in the students – his fellow-countrymen. She was English, and had a
prescriptive right to be eccentric; and above all she was a woman – not to say a good-looking one – and by that fact was accorded privileges denied to men, so that her very weakness was her strength. The chef, too, was evidently kindly disposed towards her, and would probably be pleased with her pluck in attacking him on the subject. So, as she was really anxious to have the problem solved, she determined to put her question, which – exactly stated – was, “Why is vivisection insisted on when, as a method, it is considered unscientific, and the conclusions to which it points are rejected as unsound?”
She returned in great glee and told me that, having watched for a favourable opportunity of putting her question, the chef had replied with the utmost graciousness, telling her to remind him after the course, when he would make a statement on the subject. So, when all the wards had been visited, he addressed the assembled class of students, which was a very large one, telling them that, in consequence of a question put to him by one of their number, he was going to make a statement about vivisection. He then spoke to this effect: –
“Speaking for myself and my brethren of the Faculté, I do not mean to say that we claim for that method of investigation that it has been of any practical utility to medical science, or that we expect it to be so. But it is necessary as a protest on behalf of the independence of science as against interference by clerics and moralists. When all the world has reached the high intellectual level of France, and no longer believes in God, the soul, moral responsibility, or any nonsense of that kind, but makes practical utility the only rule of conduct, then, and not until then, can science afford to dispense with vivisection.”
Such a confession from one of the leaders at the headquarters of the practice filled us with delight, and was treasured up accordingly as a potent weapon for use in the “New Crusade.” It was a recognition not only of its uselessness, but of its immorality and impiety – since it was these that qualified it to be a protest against moralists and religionists – and this by one who regarded morality and religion as chimeras.
Another day she returned from a private lesson declaring that she believed the majority of people were mad, and we were among the few sane ones; and as the persons who were deprived of their faculties were in power, those who were in possession of their faculties would have to conceal the fact, lest they be shut up as lunatics. She then proceeded to relate the cause of her provocation
to this outburst. Her lesson was on “forensic” or legal medicine, and she had appealed to the professor for a precise definition of insanity, whereby to test a patient suspected of it. The chief test, he informed her, was the possession of a fixed idea which no reason or evidence could displace. On asking further for a case in point, she was told as follows: –
“Only last week,” said Dr. B––, “one occurred in my practice. I and some other members of the Faculté were called upon to pronounce on the mental condition of a man who, in all respects but one was as sane as you or I; a man in good position and repute, a clever writer, and good man of business. But he had a fixed idea which nothing could shake that he held conversations with his dead wife, and as his relations feared that, under such imagined influence, he might dispose of his property otherwise than in their favour, they very properly took medical advice, and he is now in an asylum.”
“What!” Exclaimed Mary. “That was the only proof of his madness?”
“Certainly. What better proof could there be? The man’s wife was dead, and he believed that she came and talked with him.”
“And, pray, why should she not?”
“Why? Because she was dead.”
“But that is to assume the physical organism to be all, and that there is no principle which survives and can communicate with the living.”
“Oh, if we were to admit the possibility of that, we should be admitting the truth of the spiritualistic hypothesis; and what, then, would become of us and our materialistic philosophy, on which we have made up our minds?”
“Well, then, do you mean to say that no reason or evidence would convince you that there is a soul which survives, and can hold converse with the living?”
“No; I cannot imagine anything that would convince me of that. On the contrary, were I to find myself disposed to believe anything of the kind, I should suppose that I was going out of my mind, and should at once put myself under medical treatment.”
“Very well, then,” she had replied, “it is clear to me, from your own definition and confession, that you are already qualified for a certificate of lunacy, and if I had my diploma, I should be justified in signing it; for you admit that you have a fixed idea which no reason or evidence would shake.”
One of her subjects with this
professor was that of “toxic doses,” meaning the quantity of any particular
poison necessary to affect the system injuriously or fatally. The text-book
used gave a number of instances showing the effects of such drugs on the human
system, and she asked how the writer could have obtained his knowledge. On
referring to the Medical Register, it appeared that he had been physician to an
asylum for enfants
trouvés, and must have made his experiments upon the foundlings. Whereupon the professor exclaimed: “Lucky fellow! He got his subjects for nothing, and human ones, too! I wish I had his chance!”
From my Diary of February 7: –
“I have been pondering much of late the method of inspiration, and seeking a test whereby to distinguish true inspiration from false; for that there is such a thing as the latter is obvious from the experiences of the spiritualists which claim to be due to extraneous spirits, generally the souls of persons recently dead, but are in no wise divine or reliable, though often quite beyond the ability of the utterers themselves to have produced them. We read, moreover, of false prophets as well as of true ones.
“Having been greatly perplexed over the matter, I mentally begged for an explanation, and my delight was beyond words when M. brought me this morning an instruction received by her [in sleep] during the night, which clears up the whole mystery in a manner surpassing any ever known, and this without her being aware of my need for it. When I had read it she said, pointing to the first verse, ‘But I did not ask for it.’ ’But I did,’ I replied; ‘and they treat us as one person, I suppose, because they recognise us as together making a complete faculty.’
“I heard last night in my sleep a voice speaking to me, and saying –
“‘You ask the method and nature of Inspiration, and the means whereby God revealeth the Truth.
“‘Know that there is no enlightenment from without; the secret of things is revealed from within.
“‘From without cometh no Divine Revelation: but the Spirit within beareth witness.
“‘Think not I tell you that which you know not: for, except you know it, it cannot be given to you.
“‘To him that hath it is given, and he hath the more abundantly.
“‘None is a prophet save he who knoweth: the instructor of the people is a man of many lives.
“‘Inborn knowledge and the perception of things, these are the sources of revelation: the soul of the man instructeth him, having already learned by experience.
“‘Intuition is inborn experience; that which the soul knoweth of old and of former years.
“‘And illumination is the light of wisdom, whereby a man perceiveth heavenly secrets.
“‘Which light is the Spirit of God within the man, showing unto him the things of God.
“‘Do not think that I tell you anything you know not; all cometh from within: the Spirit that informeth is the Spirit of God in the prophet.
“‘What, then, you ask, is the Medium; and how are to be regarded the utterances of one speaking in trance?
“‘God speaketh through no man in the way you suppose; for the Spirit of the Prophet beholdeth God with open eyes. If he fall into
a trance, his eyes are open, and his interior man knoweth what is spoken by him.
“‘But when a man speaketh that which he knoweth not, he is obsessed: an impure spirit, or one that is bound, hath entered into him.
“‘There are many such, but their words are as the words of men who know not: these are not prophets nor inspired.
“‘God obsesseth no man; God is revealed: and he to whom God is revealed speaketh that which he knoweth.
“‘Christ Jesus understandeth God: He knoweth that of which He beareth witness.
“‘But they who, being mediums, utter in trance things of which they have no knowledge, and of which their own spirit is uninformed: these are obsessed with a spirit of divination, a strange spirit, not their own.
“‘Of such beware, for they speak many lies, and are deceivers, working often for gain or for pleasure’ sake: and they are a grief and a snare to the faithful.
“‘Inspiration may indeed be mediumship, but it is conscious; and the knowledge of the prophet instructeth him.
“‘Even though he speak in an ecstasy, he uttereth nothing that he knoweth not.
“‘Thou who art a prophet hast had many lives: yea, thou hast taught many nations, and hast stood before kings.
“‘And God hath instructed thee in the years that are past; and in the former times of the earth.
“‘By prayer, by fasting, by meditation, by painful seeking, hast thou attained that thou knowest.
“‘There is no knowledge but by labour; there is no intuition but by experience.
“‘I have seen thee on the hills of the East: I have followed thy steps in the wilderness: I have seen thee adore at sunrise: I have marked thy night-watches in the caves of the mountains.
“‘Thou hast attained with patience, O prophet! God hath revealed the truth to thee from within.’”
Thus, for the first time known to history, was given a definition of the nature and method of inspiration and prophecy, at once luminous, reasonable, and inexpugnable, to the full and final solution of this stupendous problem; and comporting with and explaining, as it did, all our own experiences, we felt that we could bear unreserved testimony to its truth. But, vast as was the addition thus made to the New Gospel of Interpretation, it did not exhaust the treasures revealed and communicated on that wondrous night; for it was followed immediately by a prophecy of the meaning of the new dispensation on which the world is entering, and of which our work is the introduction. At once Biblical in diction and character, it reached in loftiness the highest level of Biblical prophecy and inspiration, demonstrating the
same world celestial and divine as the source of both. For which reason, and the crushing blow administered by it to the superstitions which have made of Christianity a by-word and a reproach by their gross materialisations of mysteries purely spiritual, it is reproduced in full here, although contained in Clothed with the Sun. The heading is of our own devising: –
A Prophecy of the Kingdom of the Soul,
Mystically called the Day of the Woman
“And now I show you a mystery and a new thing, which is part of the mystery of the fourth day of creation.
“The word which shall come to save the world shall be uttered by a woman.
“A woman shall conceive, and shall bring forth the tidings of salvation.
“For the reign of Adam (1) is at its last hour; and God shall crown all things by the creation of Eve.
“Hitherto the man hath been alone, and hath had dominion over the earth.
“But when the woman shall be created, God shall give unto her the kingdom; and she shall be first in rule and highest in dignity.
“Yea, the last shall be first; and the elder shall serve the younger.
So that women shall no more lament for their womanhood; but men shall rather say, ‘O that we had been born women!’
“For the strong shall be put down from their seat; and the meek shall be exalted to their place.
“The days of the covenant of manifestation are passing away: the gospel of interpretation cometh.
“There shall nothing new be told; but that which is ancient shall be interpreted.
“So that man the manifestor shall resign his office; and woman the interpreter shall give light to the world.
“Hers is the fourth office: she revealeth that which the Lord hath manifested.
“Hers is the light of the heavens, and the brightest of the planets of the holy seven.
“She is the fourth dimension; the eyes which enlighten; the power which draweth inward to God.
“And her kingdom cometh; the day of the exaltation of woman.
“And her reign shall be greater than the reign of the man: for Adam shall be put down from his place; and she shall have dominion for ever.
“And she who is alone shall bring forth more children to God than she who hath a husband.
“There shall no more be a reproach against women: but against men shall be the reproach.
“For the woman is the crown of man, and the final manifestation of humanity.
“She is the nearest to the throne of God, when she shall be revealed.
“But the creation of woman is not yet complete; but it shall be complete in the time which is at hand.
“All things are thine, O Mother of God: all things are thine, O Thou who risest from the sea; and Thou shalt have dominion over all the worlds.”
The former of the two utterances especially evoked discussion between us. I was at a loss to reconcile the denunciation of spiritualistic mediumship with the fact of my having been not allowed merely, but compelled, to have recourse to “Winona,” and with results so satisfactory; she herself, moreover, charging me that we were to have nothing to do with spiritualism, as our work lay far above that. This was a problem the solution of which was reserved for a later period, and will be given in its place. It proved to be so subtle and recondite, and to involve occult experience and knowledge yet to be attained, that we could not at this time have appreciated it; for it turned upon the distinction between the different constituent principles of human nature.
The matter which chiefly exercised Mary was as to the personality of the “Thou” in the invocation to the prophet. If addressed equally to us both, it would imply that we had each exercised that function in one or more of our former lives. But as the instruction seemed to be addressed to me who had asked for it, rather than to her who had received it, her inference was that I alone was meant. To this I demurred, remarking that it was more in accordance with the method of our illuminators to deal with universals than with individuals, in which case the utterance would be an apostrophe to the prophet in general. Not that it was inherently unreasonable to suppose that it was also applicable to both of us. For not only were we both exercising prophetic functions now, but we both evidently had temperaments strongly predisposing us thereto, which would be accounted for by the doctrine of reincarnation, now so positively insisted on from a source beyond dispute.
The expression “Christ Jesus understandeth God” we recognised as referring, not to the historical or any special manifestation of the Christ, but to that principle in each person of which He was the full and typical manifestation, the “Christ
Jesus formed within” of Paul, meaning the new spiritual and substantial selfhood or individuality divinely generated within the physical and phenomenal personality, which, in virtue of being one in condition with God, namely, of pure spirit, is able to have knowledge of God.
To this Mary objected that it was to claim to be ourselves regenerate, which she was quite sure she was not, but very far from it in some respects. To which I replied that, coupling the doctrine of a multiplicity of earth-lives which was being taught us, and which we might find ourselves compelled to accept upon something more than a mere affirmation of it, difficult as we found it at present for its difference from our habits of thought, with the teaching obviously true of the Virgin Mary as being no person, but the soul and substance of existence, – I could understand how Regeneration might be a prolonged process extending over many lives, and comprising many stages and degrees, as, indeed, we had already been taught, so that it would be impossible to say exactly when it begins. And as the first manifestation of it must be the attainment of the spiritual consciousness, it certainly must have begun in our case, seeing how strong that consciousness is in ourselves. And if we had really lived before, it must have begun in some past life for us to be even what we are now. And then there are evidently two different regions of our nature in which it is necessary to be regenerated, of which one might be regenerated in advance of the other. These are character and faculty. For no man can be perfect who is deficient in either respect. And it might be that, in the absence of really perfect instruments for their work, or at least of perfect persons for their instruments, the Gods had chosen the best available, and were using persons who are possessed of the requisite degree of regeneration in respect of faculty without requiring of them a corresponding degree of regeneration in respect of character. And I was quite sure that a faculty such as hers would strike people in general as so marvellous as to be accountable for only by regeneration, supposing they knew what that is, however low might be her own estimate of herself in respect of character. And even as to character, it is impossible to judge how far a person is regenerate in that respect without knowing the strength of the ordeals to which he may be subjected through the tendencies of the bodily nature which is derived from his physical parentage.
For if regeneration is first of the interior and permanent self, it can only be by degrees that it can extend to and include the exterior and perishable self; and as the time requisite for this would depend upon the relative states of the two selves, the criterion of the degree of regeneration of the higher would be, not the success achieved, but the effort made. As we were taught, Jesus Himself had still an unregenerate point in His physical system, through which He succumbed to His crucifixion, showing that even the high degree of His regeneration, in respect of His substantial Self, had not sufficed fully to accomplish that of the organism which He had derived from His physical parents.
To these views she assented saying, among other things, that they accounted for so many anomalies which had perplexed her both in herself and in others; as, for instance, why some people who are exceedingly clever are so wicked, while others who are exceedingly good are so stupid; and that she longed for the time to come when she would be free to think over the philosophy we were receiving, as I was able to do, without having other work to occupy her mind.
It was only by such slow degrees that we assimilated the doctrine of the dual heredity involved in that of reincarnation, that I was quite startled by the suggestiveness of a remark made to my inner hearing when sitting alone one day and pondering the difficulty which people often find in correcting in themselves even the faults they most deplore. It was to my Genius that I learnt to ascribe the utterance in question: – “Tendencies encouraged for ages cannot be cured in a single lifetime, but may require ages.” And I thought how patient this ought to make us of the faults of others, and how impatient of our own faults.
Not the least remarkable for us was the recognition of the first chapter of Genesis as representing a process still in progress, and its “days” as denoting the continual spiritual elaboration of man. With regard to the intimation that the coming Messianic advent would be in the form of a woman, we were aware that such a belief had been entertained in certain schools of mysticism. But the reason now given us for it was altogether unanticipated. And we marvelled at the profundity of the spiritual insight which had been able to recognise the functions of manifestation and of
interpretation as respectively masculine and feminine. (1) This was not the only “annunciation” to Mary of her part in the nativity of “the Christ that is to be,” or the only prophetic intimation given us of the significance of the incoming dispensation; but it was the first of both of these.
Even this sublime utterance did not exhaust the record of that wonderful night. For the sleep in which it had been received was succeeded by a state which is neither sleeping nor waking, but intermediate. This is the state of perfect quiescence, in which there is complete abstraction from the exterior and withdrawal into the interior consciousness in such wise as to render possible the recovery of memories there stored up, be these remote as they may; the condition of their retention being that they have been sufficiently intense to penetrate through the outer and lower planes of the consciousness to the inner and higher, and become a permanent possession of the soul. It was thus that she recovered a recollection of that which, besides being an invaluable exposition of the philosophy of reincarnation in one of its aspects – the moral – constituted a proof of her having been an actual associate of Him whose mission and doctrine she was destined to vindicate against the disastrous perversions of them by the order which, after crucifying Him personally, has ever since continued to crucify Him doctrinally. The following is her record of the experience. It was included in the appendix to the first edition of The Perfect Way, but withdrawn from the following edition, chiefly because it was found to be a stumbling-block to many, and was made the subject of travesty by the spirits of the astral by which so many of the mediums of the day were infested. It was subsequently included in Clothed with the Sun, where it is entitled –
CONCERNING THE PREVIOUS
LIVES OF JESUS
“This morning between sleeping and
waking I saw myself, together with many other persons, walking with Jesus in
the fields round about
man being come up to us, Jesus took him by the hand and said, ‘What readest thou?’ And the man answered, ‘I see Thy past, Lord Jesus, and the ways by which Thou hast come.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Say on.’ So the man told Jesus that he could see Him in the past for many long ages back. But of all that he named, I remember but one incarnation, or, perhaps, one only struck me, and that was Isaac. And as the man went on speaking, and enumerating the incarnations he saw, Jesus waved His right hand twice or thrice before his eyes, and said, ‘It is enough,’ as though He wished him not to reveal further. Then I stepped forward from the rest and said, ‘Lord, if, as Thou hast taught us, the woman is the highest form of humanity, and the last to be assumed, how comes it that Thou, the Christ, art still in the lower form of man? Why comest Thou not to lead the perfect life, and to save the world as woman? For surely Thou hast attained to womanhood.’ And Jesus answered, ‘I have attained to womanhood, as thou sayest; and already have I taken the form of woman. But there are three conditions under which the soul returns to the man’s form; and they are these: –
“‘1st. When the work which the Spirit proposes to accomplish is of a nature unsuitable to the female form.
“‘2nd. When the Spirit has failed to acquire, in the degree necessary to perfection, certain special attributes of the male character.
“‘3rd. When the Spirit has transgressed, and gone back in the path of perfection, by degrading the womanhood it had attained.
“‘In the first of these cases the return to the male form is outward and superficial only. This is My case. I am a woman in all save the body. But had My body been a woman’s, I could not have led the life necessary to the work I have to perform. I could not have trod the rough ways of the earth, nor have gone about from city to city preaching, nor have fasted on the mountains, nor have fulfilled My mission of poverty and labour. Therefore am I – a woman – clothed in a man’s body that I may be enabled to do the work set before Me.
“‘The second case is that of a soul who, having been a woman perhaps many times, has acquired more aptly and readily the higher qualities of womanhood than the lower qualities of manhood. Such a soul is lacking in energy, in resoluteness, in that particular attribute of the Spirit which the prophet ascribes to the Lord when he says, ‘The Lord is a Man of war.’ Therefore the soul is put back into a man’s form to acquire the qualities yet lacking.
“‘The third case is that of the backslider, who, having nearly attained perfection, – perhaps even touched it, – degrades and soils his white robe, and is put back into the lower form again. These are the common cases; for there are few women who are worthy to be women.’”
She was distinctly and positively assured that the incident thus shown her was one that actually occurred, and that she had borne part in it, though no record of it survives.
She further assured me that the character in which she held this conversation with Jesus was that of Mary Magdalen; and, as may be stated here in advance, it was the character in
which the whole of her subsequent recollections of Him were recovered.
I was greatly struck by the fitness of the idea that she whose affection and energy had prompted her to be “last at the cross and first at the sepulchre” of Him who at His first and personal coming to be the fullest and foremost manifestation of the Christ-principle to the world, and she, too, who had doubtless ministered to Him of her substance, should be the one appointed to return and be the principal interpreter and introducer of Him to the world on His second and spiritual coming. And it was not without a sense of awe that I recalled the reply made to me when, on a former like intimation, I had asked for guidance on our proposed association – “Live with her as John the Beloved would live with Mary Magdalen were the two to come back to tell the world what they knew about the Christ” (1)
But, notwithstanding these intimations, I was exceedingly slow to recognise and accept them in their obvious sense. In any case, the revolution involved to my previous habit of mind was too great to be readily made by one who was intensely conservative of temperament. And the theory was inconsistent with the conception I had been led to form respecting Mary herself. For, while regarding her as a soul of extraordinary percipience, especially in respect of things spiritual, there were in her character certain inequalities and contradictions which were intelligible to me only as the result of youthfulness and immaturity, making her system a chaos replete, indeed, with divine potentialities, some of which were in an advanced stage of realisation, but yet wanting much to constitute it a kosmos. There was also between us in a marked degree this difference, which seemed to me to imply a far greater degree of maturity on my part. While for me the evidences of the reality of our work remained fixed in my memory and were cumulative, together building up a body of proof altogether inexpugnable; for her they were evanescent, no recollection of them being retained in such wise as to indicate a permanent and substantial personality as their recipient and depositary. And it was largely to this lack of the organic memory that I ascribed the facility with which she had been persuaded
by O. of the
illusory character of her spiritual experience “
There was also this characteristic in our experiences of which I sought for the explanation. And as a tentative hypothesis I tried the following. The revelations came to her mostly when, through my inability to find the interpretation which satisfied me, my work required them, and they came to her independently of any knowledge on her part that I was wanting them, or of any thought of or desire for them. (1) Might it not be, then, that it was really my own spirit who knew them, and who gave them to her for me, finding her so much more readily impressible than myself? The theory was not an agreeable one to me, partly because, however indispensable might be my part in the work, I recognised hers as the superior, and took delight in doing so; and partly because it failed to account for my possession of the
knowledges concerned. The idea occurred to me one night after I had retired, and I pondered it during the next day, but did not impart it to her, one reason for my reticence being that I knew she would resent any imputation of being simply “my medium” and reflecting me. What happened on the evening of that day, which was February 28, led me to suspect that our Genii had suggested it to me in order to make it the occasion of imparting to me the knowledge it was necessary for me to have respecting both the source and method of the revelation, and the secret of the anomalies by which I was so sorely perplexed.
In the evening, to my surprise – for we so greatly disliked that method of communication – she proposed to sit for some writing. (1) The event proved that the suggestion had been prompted by our illuminators; for we had no sooner placed our hands on the instrument than it began to write, as if we were being waited for. And this is what was written: –
“We are instructed to say several things tonight. We are your Genii.
“To Caro. – In the first place you entirely misconceive the process by which the revelation comes to Mary. The method of this revelation is entirely interior. Mary is not a medium; nor is she even a seer as you understand the word. She is a prophet. By this we mean that all that she has ever written, or will write, is from within, and not from without. She knows; she is not told. Hers is an old, old spirit. She is older than you are, Caro; older by many thousand years. Do not think that spirits other than her own are to be credited with the authorship of the new Gospel. As a proof of this, and to correct the false impression you have on the subject, the holy and inner truth, of which she is the depositary, will not in future be given to her by the former method. All she writes henceforth she will write consciously. Yes, she must finish the new Evangel by conscious effort of brain and will.”
When we had read this I told her of the idea suggested to me in correction of which it was given, and then the writing was resumed. It ran thus: –
“To Mary. – It may serve to exhibit the path by which you have come, and to suggest the nature of some ancient tendencies which
may yet tarnish the mirror of a soul destined to attain perfection, to learn that you dwelt within the body of Faustine, the Roman; she who loved to see men die, to whom life was lust, and all its ways were a famine of the flesh for meat and sense and wine.”
The shock of such a communication would have been tremendous even had it stood alone. But coming as it did immediately upon one so widely different, it was as a fall from the loftiest heights to the lowest depths. For some time neither of us spoke, and she sat with her face bent down and buried in her hands. At length, looking up, she said appealingly, “Do you think I ever could have been cruel as they say?”
The question was an embarrassing one on various accounts. Neither of us could entertain a thought of distrusting our Genii after all that they had shown us. And I did not see how, unless there were a weak point of the kind in her system, she could have been made the instrument of the influences which had caused me such acute and prolonged suffering. At length I replied by reminding her of her liability to be so completely possessed by her idea as to be blind to aught else, and suggesting that, if this was a characteristic of Faustine, she might have done cruel things without thinking whether they were cruel or not. Just as in her own present life there had been a phase when she herself took delight in fox-hunting, so in a previous life such a phase might have lasted all through. And I added that, without pretending to be well up in the details of the Roman history of that period, I remembered that there were more Faustines than one, and it was not clear to me which of them was intended. To this she replied instantly, with a positiveness which surprised me –
“Oh, I know. It was the Empress of Marcus Aurelius, she of whom Swinburne says –
‘Even he who cast seven devils out
Could hardly do so much, I doubt,
For you, Faustine.’”
“Mary Magdalen again!” I thought to myself. “How extraordinary is this frequent recurrence of her name in our history!” I was much struck, too, by the implication of Marcus Aurelius in the matter. For, of all characters in secular history, I had always been the most drawn to him, and fancied that in his place I should have been just what he was. But
his name had
never before been mentioned between us. How if we two had been associated in a
former life as Marcus Aurelius and Faustine! And what a reason, among others,
for our present association would be her having to make amends to me for her
ill conduct in that life! And “
Presently she remarked that it seemed impossible for a saint such as the Church accounted Mary Magdalen to come back so soon and be such a sinner as Faustine, especially in face of the Gospel-statement that her seven devils had been cast out.
To this I replied that it would hardly be safe to rely on either of those reasons. The Church went more by legend than by history, and the devils might have been cast out for the time without a permanent cure being wrought in the soul through whose weakness they had got access to her. That would be a much longer affair, as we were being taught. And then, what would be more like such a cometary character as she was than just such a sudden recoil from one extreme to the other of her nature? And I reminded her of the remark she had made to me when she had urged me to finish my story of Saint or Sinner? – how, when I pleaded that it was beyond my power because I had not enough of either character in myself to do it justice, she had declared that she was able to supplement any deficiencies of mine in both respects. (2) And I further suggested that so ambitious a nature as she allowed hers to be would inevitably prompt her to be foremost in whatever grade or condition of life she had found herself in; and that, with her extraordinary liability to reflect what was about her, she might be impelled to imitate others mechanically merely and without set intention of doing either right or wrong, but as if under magnetic control, in which case her moral responsibility would be of the smallest.
She seemed much struck by this view of herself; and then, as if craving some consolatory thought, she said, evidently speaking as much to herself as to me –
“But even if I was so bad in one of my lives, it does not follow that I was worse than other people have been in some of their lives. The history of the soul must be the same for all. And that one should be a greater sinner than another
would imply only a greater capacity, and therefore the possibility of becoming a greater saint. In any case it is a great comfort to think that even of the soul of a Faustine it can be said that she was ‘destined to attain perfection.’ I cannot imagine a more glorious gospel than that to preach to the world! And, after all, it is only what Scripture itself says when it says, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ And what else was the meaning of the parable of the Prodigal Son? It may have been His own soul’s history that Jesus was telling in it.”
Among other things she remarked on in this connection was the difficulty of reconciling her having been Mary Magdalen with the fact that the spirit at whose instigation she had joined the Roman Church also purported to be Mary Magdalen. This, I admitted, was a difficulty, and the only one I saw in the whole matter. But as we had yet everything to learn about the modus operandi of such phenomena, we had better wait for the explanation to come, as no doubt it would, in due time, if it was important for us to have it. For myself, I could conceive the possibility of a person’s own spirit making objective to such person any of its former selves.
In order to maintain the continuity
of my narrative, I have reserved until now the mention of a very striking dream
which she received on February 21. This was the experience given in Dreams
and Dream-Stories, under the heading of “The Old Young
(332:1) I.e. the old Adam of sense.
(336:1) The illumination refers not to persons, but to principles and offices. The man and woman are the man and woman of the mind, namely, the intellect and intuition (E.M., Lecture on the New Gospel of Interpretation). – S.H.H.
(338:1) See p. 173 ante.
(339:1) In an article in Light (March 17, 1888, p. 127), Edward Maitland, writing on this subject, said: “Most of [Anna Kingsford’s illuminations were] so timed as to come when, having exhausted my own power of interpretation, I stood in need of help, and this generally without her knowing my need, and always without her having been able to supply it had she known it. For the knowledges were far beyond us both, as also was the language in which they were expressed; and they equally excited her wonder and admiration and mine. As may well be supposed, our discussions were many as to their source. We seemed to have obtained access to a reservoir of knowledge at once unlimited and infallible, but the precise modus operandi remained hidden. All that we felt confident of, was that the knowledges in question transcended all of which we had ever heard; that they were exactly what all inquiring minds in the religious world were longing for; and that they did not seem to come from extraneous sources, but in some way to be revealed from within, as if stored up in some interior recess of the mind, and requiring only that we reached far enough to get them; and this, even when the agent of their transmission assumed a personal form, as not unfrequently happened” (see pp. 257-8 ante). – S.H.H.
(340:1) I.e. with a planchette. The use of the planchette had – for a long time past – been “of very rare occurrence” with them, “mainly [Edward Maitland says] because of the great expenditure of time and nervous energy involved in the using of that instrument, the exhaustion of the latter often requiring several days for recovery” (Article on A.K. in Light, March 17, 1888, p. 128, and see p. 346 post). – S.H.H.
(342:1) See p. 223 ante.
(342:2) See p. 158 ante.