THE sense of anticipation and responsibility with which we entered upon the year 1881 was of the keenest and profoundest. It was the year announced in so many prophecies as the pivot upon which the world’s destinies hinged, the turning-point between that old and that new dispensation, the former of which had been divinely condemned as “evil and adulterous,” and the latter indicated as introducing the kingdom of heaven on earth. Understanding that the event to take place was of such a nature as to constitute the dealing of its death-blow to the system, materialistic and idolatrous, hitherto prevailing in Church, State, and society; religion, science, and convention, we made this the criterion of the fulfilment of the prophecies in question, and saw in the first formulation and promulgation of the doctrine committed to us an event which would satisfy the conditions. Thus far that doctrine was fragmentary, and before it could be propounded to others it must be woven into a system at once logical, coherent, luminous, and inexpugnable. To say which is to say that the products of the “Woman” Intuition, whose office is Interpretation, must be submitted to manipulation of the “Man” Intellect, whose office is Manifestation, and by him adapted for promulgation to a world in which the intuition is well-nigh extinct and the intellect alone is active, though not free through its bondage to the sense-nature.
Stupendous as was the task before us and brief the time in which to accomplish it, and weak and suffering as we still were from the toils and ordeals and wounds of the conflicts we had gone through, we were none the less hopeful and confident of the ability of the powers directing us to accomplish their purpose through us. They had promised that the spring
would bring the needed renovation to myself, and they had given too many proofs of their power to fulfil their promises for us to doubt them. Meanwhile, as if expressly to depress our vitality and test our faith, the winter had set in with severity which rivalled that of its predecessor, and we were precluded from combating it in the same way. The ice, indeed, was almost at our doors, for the Serpentine was frozen well-nigh to the bottom, but the conditions of using it were prohibitory, even had I still possessed the force requisite. My colleague was far too precious and fragile an article to be exposed to the perils of a crowded London ice-rink, and so we made the reading-room of the British Museum our recreation-ground, and found at once instruction and delight in exploring the records of the past for the verifications they afforded beyond aught that we had anticipated in confirmation of our own experiences and results. Nor were we unmindful of our clients, the victims of scientific cruelty. For we lost no time in joining the committee of the Society to which we already belonged, the “International,” and our work on this behalf took equal rank with our spiritual work, in accordance with the instruction that the redemption we were to accomplish comprised “both man and beast.”
Among the friends who found us out
were two with whom we had made acquaintance in
Like his celebrated grandfather, Varley was astrologer as well as artist, and at his instigation Mary turned her attention to the former subject, reading for the purpose the writings
of the noted
English astrologer of the seventeenth century, William Lilly, whose predictions
of the great fire of
“I found myself last night in a small, low-ceilinged room at the top of an old house. Opposite to me, at a square table, in a black robe, sat a man whom I recognised as William Lilly, the astrologer. He was casting my horoscope, and we held the following conversation about it: –
“‘I have,’ said he, ‘but a very
indifferent account to give you as regards fortune and worldly success. It is
true that every man and woman, however contemptible and mean may be their
actual position in life, have at least one course open by their natal
influences by pursuing which they would gain fortune, honour, or success. With
some persons this course is a virtuous, with others it is a vicious one. Now
the Rulers of your Nativity indicate clearly one path in which you would have
met with brilliant success and immense wealth. The course is, however, an evil
one. It is the career of the Harlot. I find that course so plainly indicated
for you, and the signs so manifest, that I can from them and from their
position in the various Houses, trace no inconsiderable part of the Fortune
which awaited you in that career. You would have been a second Aspasia, a
second Ninon de L’Enclos; and your fascination over men would have been due
less to your beauty of person than to your intellect and political acumen. For
you would have been the mistress of the most powerful men of the time. And
chief among these there appears a man who by means of you would have acquired
enormous political importance in
He is an Austrian. As a Courtesan you would have travelled much and continually in many different parts of the world, chiefly with the statesmen, princes, and dignitaries of the court and other political personages, on secret missions of importance. And your peculiar talents and fascinations would have been employed by these men to accomplish their objects. One of your lovers – the Austrian noble already mentioned – would have been faithful to you from your first alliance with him, and, in spite of your numerous connections with others, would never have deserted you, but would have been ever your devoted and loving friend, your chief comfort and confidant. Your life would have been one of unprecedented luxury, success, and fortune; and though your health would not have been robust, you would never have suffered from any distinct malady such as the diseases to which you are now prone, the cause of which is due to your having thwarted your destiny.
“‘You took the first fatal step when you contracted marriage. No marriage could have been fortunate for you, because the Rulers of your Nativity were in a most extraordinary degree favourable to harlotry, and therefore opposed to marriage. It was destined, therefore, that your married life should cease immediately after the birth of your only child, because this act of motherhood was your second fatal step. The malady which has been the chief curse of your life, and which will be your chief hindrance throughout life, and the cause ultimately of your death, was contracted on your wedding-day, because all your Rulers are strongly unfavourable to marriage.
“‘Your horoscope has nothing for you but misfortune so long as you persist in a virtuous course of life; and, indeed, it is now too late to adopt another. I speak herein according to your Fortune, not in regard to your Inner life. With this I have no concern. I tell you what is forecast for you on the material and actual planisphere of your Nativity.
“‘It was fore-ordained that you should be successful in all deceitful and delusive arts. When, therefore, you speak truth, you will be credited with lies.
“‘It was fore-ordained that you should be luxurious and addicted to the use of all manner of sweet and cleanly perfumes, baths and anointments, which render the body fragrant and pure. You will, therefore, in opposing your destiny, be extraordinarily apt to contract all manner of such filthy complaints as accompany poverty, dirt, and the reverse of the condition to which your Rulers destined you. Unclean insects and impure diseases may pursue you, and you may fall a prey to one or the other.
“‘As you were destined to Incontinence, the world will not believe in your chastity, even though you be chaste. But you will be pursued by suspicion and avoided by persons of character under the belief that you are what, according to your destiny, you should have been. And this with shame, since you persist in virtue; whereas, had you adopted the Fortune set before you, you would have had honour and renown in your unchastity.’
“‘Is there, then,’ I asked, ‘no career in which I might have succeeded with virtue – as a painter, for instance?’
“‘No,’ he returned; ‘for your sex would have prevented you from opportunities of fame.’
“‘As a poet, then?’
“‘The same answer applies. But you might have succeeded as an actress, though not greatly, for the Ruler of your health is against it, and you needed more variety than this would have given you. And there are yet other reasons against it.’
“‘Shall I, then, be ever unfortunate?’
“‘I see nothing but misfortune before you. Yea, if you persist in virtue, it is not unlikely that you may be stripped of all your worldly goods, and of all you possess. And this evil fortune will follow your nearest associates. If I have any practical advice to offer, it is that you should save much, even at the expense of present privation, and that your associate should do likewise, for I see evil times threatening you. Make, therefore, no outlays, and deny yourselves in all possible things.’
“‘Can I never overcome this evil prognostic?’
“‘Only by outliving the time appointed for your natural life as a Courtesan. But this time is many years hence, and you will have much and terrible trouble first.
“‘My advice is, further – Steel yourself; learn to suffer; become a Stoic; care not. If Infortune be yours, make it your Fortune. Let Poverty become to you Riches. Let Loss be Gain. Let Sickness be Health. Let Pain be Pleasure. Let evil report be good report. Yea, let Death be Life. Fortune is in the Imagination. If you believe you have all things, they are truly yours.’
“‘Tell me,’ I said, ‘why certain kinds of life, even vicious ones, are indicated by the Rulers of Nativities as the only ones in which the Native will find prosperity.’
“‘Because,’ he replied, ‘every man makes his own fate, and nothing is more true than the saying that “Character is destiny.” It is by their own hands that the lines of some fall in pleasant places, of some in vicious, and of some in virtuous ones. So that there is in it nothing arbitrary or unjust. But in what manner soever a soul conduct itself in one incarnation, by that conduct, by that order of thought and habit, it builds for itself its destiny in a future incarnation. It should not be concealed from you that in most of your numerous previous incarnations you have pursued habits of luxury and free living. These have been dear to you; and the soul is therefore enchained by these pre-natal influences which irresistibly force it into a new Nativity at the time of such conjunction of planets and signs as oblige it into certain courses and incline it strongly thereto. But if the soul oppose its will to these influences and adopt some other course, it brings itself under a curse for such period as the planets and ruling signs of that incarnation have power.’
“At this point I beheld my Genius standing behind Lilly, and having his hand on his right shoulder, his eyes meanwhile being fastened on me.
“‘You will scarcely comprehend this,’ continued Lilly, whom, all the time, I could not help fancying to be Hermes in disguise, as I have so often seen him, ‘if you do not understand the process of Incarnation, and the method by which the soul takes new forms. It is this: –
“‘When two persons ally themselves in the flesh and beget a child,
the moment of impregnation is usually – though not invariably – the moment which attaches a soul to the newly conceived body. Hence, much depends upon the influences, astral and magnetic, under which impregnation and conception take place. The pregnant woman is the centre of a whirl of magnetic forces, and she attracts within her sphere a soul whose previous conduct and odic condition correspond either to her own or to the magnetic influences under which she conceives. This soul, if the pregnancy continues and progresses, remains attached to her sphere, but does not enter the embryo until the time of quickening, when it usually takes possession of the body, and continues to inhabit it until the time of delivery. A pregnant woman is swayed not by her own will alone, but as often by the will of the soul newly attached to her sphere; and the opposition and cross-magnetisms of these two wills often occasion many strange and seemingly unaccountable whims, alternations of character, and longings, on the part of the woman. Sometimes, however, the moment of impregnation or conception passes without attracting any soul, and the woman may even carry a false conception for some time, in which cases abortion occurs. There are innumerable accidents which may happen in this regard. Or, the soul which has been attracted to her may, under new influences, be withdrawn from her sphere, and from the embryo, which, having quickened, may consume away; or, the soul originally drawn to her orbit may be replaced later by another, and so forth. Some clairvoyant women have been conscious of the soul attached to them, and have seen it, at times as a beautiful infant, at times in other shapes. Children begotten by ardent and mutual love are usually the best and healthiest, spiritually and physically, because the radical moment is seized by love, when the astral and magnetic influences are strongest and most ardent, and they attract the strongest and noblest souls.’
“Here I said, ‘Tell me the origin and nature of the soul, clearly and fully, whence it comes, and how it passes from one body to another.’ And he said: –
“‘The plane on which the celestials and the creatures touch each other is the astral plane. The substance of all created things is the begetter alike of body and soul. The soul is formed by polarisation of the elements of the astral body, and it is a gradual process; but when once formed it is an entity capable of passing from one body to another. Imagine the magnetic forces of innumerable elements directed and focussed to one centre, and streams of electric power passing along all their convergent poles to that centre. Imagine these streams so focussed as to create a fire in that central part, – a kind of crystallisation of magnetic force. This is the soul. This is the sacred fire of Hestia or Vesta, which burns continually. The body and person may fall away and disappear; but the soul, once begotten, is immortal until its perverse will extinguish it. For the fire of the soul, or central hearth, must be kept alive by the higher air or Divine Breath, if it is to endure for ever. It must converge, not diverge. If it diverge it will be dissipated. The end of progress is unity; the end of degradation is division. The soul, therefore, which ascends tends more and more to union with the Divine.
“‘And this is the manner thereof. Conceive of God as of a vast spiritual body constituted of many individual elements, but all these elements as having one will, and therefore being one. This condition of oneness with the Divine Will and Being constitutes the celestial Nirvâna. Again, conceive of the degraded soul as dividing more and more until at length it is scattered into many, and ceases to be as an individual, being, as it were, split and broken up, and dispersed into many pieces. This is the Nirvâna of the Amen, or annihilation of the individual.’
“‘Whence,’ I asked, ‘is the supply of new souls for men’s bodies, whereby the population of the earth is continually being increased?’ And he said: –
“‘Souls, as you know, work up from animals and plants; for it is in the lowest forms of organic life that the soul is first engendered. Formerly the way of escape for human souls was more open and the path clearer, because, although ignorance of intellectual things abounded among the poorer sort, yet the knowledge of divine things and the light of faith were stronger and purer. Wherefore the souls of those ages of the world, not being enchained to earth as they now are, were enabled to pass more quickly through their avatârs, and but few incarnations sufficed where now many are necessary.
“‘For in these days the ignorance of the mind is weighted by materialism instead of being lightened by faith. It is sunk to earth by love of the body and by atheism, and excessive care for the things of sense. And being crushed thereby, it lingers long in the atmosphere of earth, seeking many fresh lodgments, and so multiplies bodies.
“‘And, furthermore, you must not
conceive of Creation, or the putting-forth of things, as an act once
accomplished and then ended. For the celestial
“‘You have asked me – “How, if the planet consist of body, perisoul, soul, and spirit, can there be born of it entities which are not, like it, fourfold, but threefold or even twofold, as are minerals and severed parts of bodies, things made by art, and the like?” I answer you that your error lies in looking on the planet as a thing apart from its offspring. Certainly, the planet is fourfold, and certainly also its offspring is fourfold. But of its offspring some lie in the astral region only, and are but twofold; and some in the watery region, and are but threefold; and some lie in the human region, and are fourfold. The body and peri-soul are the metallic and gaseous envelope of the planet. The organic region composes its soul, and the human region its spirit, or divine part. For when it was but metallic, it had no soul. When it was but organic, it had no spirit. But when man was made in the image of God, then was its spirit breathed into its soul. Now, the metals have no soul; therefore they are not individuals. And not being individuals, they cannot transmigrate. But the plants and animals have souls. They are individuals, and do transmigrate and progress. And man has
also a spirit; and so long as he is man – that is, truly human – he cannot redescend into the body of an animal, or of any creature in the sphere beneath him, since that would be an indignity to the spirit. But if he lose his spirit, and become again animal, he may descend – yea, he may become altogether gross and horrible, and a creeping and detestable thing, begotten of filth and corruption. This is the end of persistently evil men. For God is not the God of creeping things, but Baal Zebub (1) is their God. And there was none of these in the Age of Gold; neither shall there be any when the earth is fully purged. O Men! Your exceeding wickedness is the creator of your evil beasts; yea, your filthy torments are your own sons and abominable progenitors!
“‘Remember that there is but one
substance. Body, sidereal body, soul, and spirit, all these are one in their
essence. And the first three are differentialities of polarisation. The fourth
is God’s Self. When the Gods put forth the world, they put forth substance with
its three potentialities, but all three in the condition of odic light. I have
called the substantial light sometimes the sidereal body, sometimes the
peri-soul; and this because it is both. For it is that which makes, that which
becomes. It is fire, or the human spirit (not the divine), out of which and by
which earth and water are generated. It is the fiery manifestation of soul, the
magnetic factor of the body. It is space; it is substance; it is foundation. So
that from it proceed the gases and the minerals, which are soulless, and also
the organic world, which hath a soul. But man it could not make. For man is
fourfold and of the divine ether or upper air, which is the
“Now, as I was about to quit the laboratory of my teacher, I perceived on a table a pile of books, and opening the topmost, behold! It was our Bible of Interpretation!
“‘You also have these Scriptures!’ I cried.
“‘Yes,’ said he; ‘but I keep them for myself alone.’
“‘And why so,’ I asked, ‘since, if you have them, they are for the learning of others likewise? Will you not rather communicate these saving truths to thirsty souls?’
“‘I will communicate them,’ said he, fixing his eyes on me intently, ‘when I can find Seven Men who for forty days have tasted no flesh, whose hands have shed no blood, and whose tongues have tasted of none.’
“‘But if you find not Seven?’
“‘Then, mayhap, I shall find Five.’
“‘And if not Five?’
“‘Then, maybe, I shall meet with Three.’
“‘But even this may be hard to find. And if you should not meet with Three, what then will you do?’
“‘One Neophyte would not be able to protect himself.’”
Always keen to detect and resent any disparagement of her sex, she remarked, she told me, a peculiar emphasis on the
word “Men,” as pronounced by her teacher, which seemed to imply that he used it in a particular and mystic sense, such as that intended in the exhortation addressed to us by Hermes on the occasion of Oliphant’s visit to us in Paris, wherein by “Man” was meant, not man as opposed to woman, but those who, whether men or women, have both sides of humanity, the masculine and the feminine on the planes mental, moral, and spiritual, unfolded and equilibrated in such wise as to be capable of knowledge and understanding in respect of all truth. Only when thus conditioned is man fully and truly man, and competent to represent the whole humanity.
She declared of her horoscope that it perfectly explained her to herself, and she had no difficulty in accepting the whole of it. Nor was I able to take exception to it even in respect of the disagreeable personal liabilities ascribed to her. For her sufferings from the enmity of the insect-world were such as to make her life a martyrdom, compelling a recourse to baths, perfumes, insectifuges, and other remedies and preventives to an extent which in ordinary cases would have been excessive. Yet, despite all the precautions observed in every detail of her household, dictated by a passion for cleanliness amounting almost to a mania, and accentuated by terror and disgust, it was rarely that a day passed without her finding herself compelled to the extremest measures to free herself from her tormentors. And this was not once or twice merely, but several times. And such was the fineness and sensibility of her skin that what to others would be but as a pin’s-prick and a momentary pang was to her a torture lasting for days. For the same reason she would often walk until ready to drop with fatigue, rather than enter a public vehicle. She was wont to describe herself as a magnet to attract them, and to speak of it as a personal persecution, directed against her to make the conditions of life impossible for her. And now her horoscope informed her that it and her other abnormal liabilities were due to her Karma, or destiny, acquired through tendencies indulged in previous lives. And when, as will be seen, in the future practice of her profession, she found herself largely called on to treat corresponding ailments, she saw in it the hand of a self-induced destiny, and endeavoured to bear it unflinchingly as something to be endured and worked out with as much resignation as might be, but not escaped.
While for me the horoscope supplied the solution of sundry traits and utterances which had been enigmatical to me, I saw in it an invaluable statement of the doctrine of the duality of man’s heredity, and therein a complete correction of the materialistic view; for it showed so clearly that, while we derive our exterior characteristics from our physical ancestors, we derive our interior characters and real self from our own past selves, and are what we have made ourselves as them; and that therefore we are permanent, and have our future characters and conditions in our hands, to mould according to the tendencies we encourage in the present.
Among the traits thus accounted for was her confessed capacity for passion, which, she declared, vastly exceeded her capacity for affection, excepting only where her animal pets were concerned, and for these she was constancy itself and invariable tenderness. Speaking one day, long before this explanation had come, of her incapacity for a lasting attachment to persons, she said, laughing, that nothing surprised her so much as the duration of her association with me, as she felt herself to be so inveterately inconstant to persons that she could account for it only as due to some higher and overruling impulsion; and that, had the tie been of any merely mundane kind, she felt sure she must have broken it.
We had not long to wait for the fulfilment of the utterance prognosticating distrust and enmity towards her on the part of others, especially of her own sex. An instance occurred forthwith which was the occasion of unspeakable vexation, even to imperilling the continued association indispensable to our work, showing that “Apollyon” was never at a loss for instruments whereby to pursue his fell purpose. In pursuance of the monition to make ourselves known for our work’s sake, and of her strong desire to influence the leaders of her own sex, she sought of one of these a nomination for membership of an institution which was their chief headquarters, the first woman’s club, then recently founded, and called the S. The lady in question, an author and a publicist of high repute and corresponding influence in society, and a spinster of mature age, was already for several years a friend of Mary’s, being specially linked to her by their common enthusiasm on behalf of the rescue of the animals from their scientific tormentors, and up to quite recently
had corresponded with her in terms of unreserved affection and respect; for it was no other than Miss Frances Power Cobbe. Her amazement therefore was as great as her distress was keen when she received for answer an abrupt refusal to act in any way as her sponsor in London, on the ground that, having a family and a home of her own, she had adopted a profession and a career which, in the writer’s opinion, were incompatible with her domestic duties.
As this was an implication either that Mary had acted against her husband’s wishes, or that she and her husband were incapable of managing their own affairs, she replied representing the facts of the case; but as the response received was animated by a feeling so bitter as to show that the real motive was personal and the writer meant mischief, Mary at once referred the matter to her husband, who accordingly wrote to Miss Cobbe a strong rebuke, denouncing her conduct as in the highest degree impertinent, cruel, and wanton, inasmuch as every step taken by his wife had his full concurrence; and that, in the event of any overt action to her detriment, he should deem it his duty to seek legal protection and redress.
The warning was disregarded, and we found ourselves confronted by obstacles of a nature altogether unanticipated, in the shape of a personal persecution of a most malignant kind, the result of which was seriously to affect Mary’s position, social and professional, so unscrupulous and insidious were the de vices resorted to, and their nature being such as to put legal interference out of the question. Of the real motive I was in no manner of doubt, having sufficient insight into the character of the persecutrix to recognise her as capable of indulging any amount of jealousy of one whose endowments bid fair to make her a formidable rival in the cause with which Miss Cobbe had identified herself; and we had, moreover, ample testimony from others to the same effect. Meanwhile the incident disclosed to us a sad prospect of the conditions under which our work was to be accomplished. It is, however, for the sake of the sequel to it, rather than for that of the incident itself, that it is assigned a place in this history, instead of being consigned to the oblivion to which it would have been far more grateful to myself to have consigned it. Our anticipations, which were vivid, of the injury which would accrue to the anti-vivisection cause by
the division thus set up between its leading workers were fully justified by the event; for the inaccuracies and misrepresentations by which that cause has been so seriously injured would all have been avoided had Mary’s sound scientific knowledge and scrupulous exactitude been allowed their proper place in the conduct of the anti-vivisection crusade.
The correctness of my reminiscences
The following experience will show how rigorous was the supervision continued to be exercised over us in respect of extraneous spirits, and the class of persons to whom we might impart the knowledges committed to us. Hearing that a subject of interest to us was about to be discussed at the Spiritualist Institute, and being desirous of seeing how it would be treated, and also of learning somewhat about the class and calibre of that body, I attended the lecture and joined in the conversation which followed it. But I had uttered only a few sentences of what I intended to say – the whole of which was quite clear in my mind – when all my ideas clean disappeared, as if wiped out, leaving me incapable of proceeding, so that I had no choice but to resume my seat with what apology I could frame for my sudden collapse. Some of the speakers who followed expressed their regret at my failure to say more, as the little I had said threw a new and needed light on the subject. And one of them,
accosting me afterwards, said, “Why did you not say more? We were greatly interested. But I see how it was; YOU WERE STOPPED.” And such, indeed, was the case. I had been stopped, as we both had been stopped on the occasions already related, but without any of the concomitant sensations of distress then suffered. On reaching home, Mary’s first words to me as I entered the room, and before I had spoken, were, “I have been charged, while you were out, to tell you that if you attempt to speak to spiritualists of the things given to us, you will be stopped.” Such was the commencement of our acquaintance with Mme. Isabel de Steiger, for she it was who had thus accosted me – an acquaintance which grew up into a valued friendship.
The experience about to be related was all the more striking because, for a considerable time, I had entirely withdrawn my thoughts from the subjects of it to concentrate them on my spiritual work. Not that I took no interest in matters political. I was a warm patriot where the true welfare of my country was concerned. But the insight given me respecting the persons who played the principal parts had so thoroughly revolted me that – being powerless to influence the course of public affairs – I turned my back on them. The event proved, however, that it was considered necessary for me to know the view of the situation taken in the spheres celestial, and the following vision was accordingly given me. I recorded it as follows: –
February 1 . – In the early morning of the past night, being, I believe, asleep, I found myself in a vast building which I presently recognised as Westminster Hall. And as I stood on the steps which lead up to one of the law courts, which are on the right-hand side from the entrance, I observed in the centre of the hall a statue on a pedestal, both of which seemed to be of a light-grey stone; and remembering that I had never seen any statue there before, I looked at it with curiosity to see who it could be that had been deemed worthy of being thus commemorated in so distinguished a place. But before my glance had reached the face, it was arrested by the sight of two large labels depending from the waist, and bearing in graven characters, one the word “Judas,” and the other “Pilate,” Then continuing my glance upwards, with enhanced curiosity to see who it could be that was thus strangely labelled, and in a place the last conceivable for a practical joke, I found it was the living image of the Premier, Mr. Gladstone, being more like him than even the original. The labels were so hung as to be visible also from the steps at the upper end of the hall, towards which the statue faced.
As I gazed with amazement, wondering what it could mean, there
flashed on my mind the recollection that, in my book of four years ago – England and Islam – I had been impelled to exhibit Mr. Gladstone as enacting towards Turkey the part of Caiaphas towards Christ, by demanding its expulsion from Europe as a sacrifice for the benefit of Christendom, on the ground that if “it is good that one man die for the people,” it is good that one nation suffer for the others, the parties in each case representing respectively the priest and the prophet, Mr. Gladstone by his strong sacerdotal proclivities, and Turkey by its veneration for Mahomet. So that, by the addition of these two other characters, Mr. Gladstone was shown me as being “like Cerberus, three gentlemen at once,” in that he was enacting towards the country, in the sphere of politics, the three characters at once of Caiaphas, Judas, and Pilate – false counsellor, betrayer, and unjust judge. And I took it for a prophecy of that which was in process of fulfilment, and certain to be fully accomplished.
All these reflections passed rapidly through my mind – the continuity between my consciousness of past and present being so unbroken as to make me doubtful whether it was a waking or a sleeping vision – and then my attention was drawn to the upper end of the hall. Here I noticed that the flight of steps which stretch across it had assumed the aspect of a stage; and upon that stage there presently stepped, coming as from behind the scenes to the right, the figure of Lord Beaconsfield. He wore his peer’s dress, coronet, vest, knee-breeches, silk stockings, buckled shoes, all except the robes; and thus attired, looked tall beyond his actual height and very gaunt. His face as he entered bore a look of wistful expectation, and he gazed about as if anticipating some gratifying surprise, of the precise nature of which he was unaware.
Another moment and he had caught sight of the effigy of his hated rival, and advancing to the extreme verge of the stage, bent forward over it, the better to inspect it and read the inscriptions; having done which, he stepped back and drew himself up to his full height, and then stalked up and down the stage almost on tiptoe, his countenance radiant with glee, and wearing an expression of triumph beyond description, sardonic and malignant. Then advancing to the front again, he pointed with both arms outstretched to the utmost towards the statue, and in a stage-whisper startlingly loud, distinct, and intense, exclaimed several times over, “Pilate! Judas! Both! Both! Judas! Pilate! Both! Both!” Fairly pirouetting up and down the stage in an ecstasy of delight. Presently his attention was attracted by something at the opposite end of the hall; and, following his glance, I saw the door open and the form of Mr. Gladstone himself enter and take up a position about midway between it and his statue, facing the latter, the back of which was towards him. He wore a court or some similar official costume, and the attitude he struck reminded me of the painting which represents Napoleon Buonaparte standing on the heights of St. Helena, absorbed in contemplation; for the arms were crossed over the chest, the face was down-turned, and the eyes glanced upwards from beneath the brows at his effigy.
Meanwhile Lord Beaconsfield had quitted his position on the stage, and gliding swiftly and noiselessly as a meteor across the hall, without touching the ground, took his stand close by Mr. Gladstone, and
commenced circling and almost dancing around him; and then, pointing alternately to him and to his image, he exclaimed over and over again, with redoubled glee and bitterness of mockery, “Judas! Pilate! You! You! Traitor! Executioner! You! You! Both! Both! You! You!” And this he continued to do without ceasing so long as the vision lasted.
But neither by look, by gesture, nor by word did Mr. Gladstone betray the smallest consciousness of his tormentor’s presence, but kept his eyes steadfastly fixed on his effigy, absorbed in contemplating with anguish and remorse unspeakable his own spiritual self and history. For as he gazed and brooded his whole form writhed, and his face blanched as with an extremity of agony at the contrast he now recognised as subsisting between that which he had it in him to have been and to have done, had he but followed his better nature and higher impulses, and that which he had actually been and actually done. No spectacle could be imagined more painful than this one of a lapsed soul undergoing the awful penance of the consciousness of having turned his back upon its true ideal, like another Paris following the lower love, which was self-love, and bringing destruction upon his Troy, and enduring the while the taunts of the fiend who, as his evil genius, had lured him to his ruin. Nevertheless, it was clearly impressed upon me, as I looked, that his very ability thus to suffer was a demonstration of his salvability; while, as for the other, he was an ingrained mocker, and as such was as clearly past praying for. In both cases that which I beheld was the very essence of the men, their own innermost spiritual selves, unveiled and undimmed by any material covering, so marvellously vivid were their portraitures as thus presented to my spiritual eyes. And never to this day has the vision faded or lost the sharpness of its outline, or that of the inextinguishable hate and malignant triumph of his foe. And when, some twelve or fourteen years later, there appeared in the Press an article analytic of Mr. Gladstone’s character and career from the pen of Auberon Herbert, entitled “A Soul in Ruins,” I perceived that I was not the only seer of the time to whom such vision had been vouchsafed.
On seeking for some possible connection between this experience and the date of its occurrence, I recollected that, in having for its representative in the calendar Matthias, the successor of Judas, February is really the month of Judas; and whereas of him it is said that “Judas by transgression fell, and so went to his own place,” of February it happens that it falls into its place in the year by the transgression, or skipping over, of a day.
Regarding the vision as of prophetic nature, the interest was intense with which from that time forth I watched Mr. Gladstone’s downward career through the years which followed, by the ladder of which the chief steps have been his policy in regard to South Africa, Egypt, the Soudan, Ireland, the Church, and the Constitution, and his identification in all but the means with the party he had himself denounced as “steeped to the lips in treason, and marching through rapine to the
dismemberment of the empire.” And recalling the prophecy of Trithemius as recorded by “Eliphas Levi” – whose own annotated copy of Trithemius has in the meantime, by a remarkable providence, come into my possession – that the reign of truth and justice, to spring from a new spiritual illumination to take place at this very time, should have its rise among the people who held the keys of the East, which people should undergo a moral crucifixion to fit them for their high mission, – I could not but see in Mr. Gladstone the destined instrument of such crucifixion, and in the triple character assigned him the token thereof; and in the event itself a merited punishment for the country which has allowed itself to be blinded to principles by the glamour of words.
Having no intimation respecting the use to be made of this prognostic, and being unwilling to incur the responsibility of withholding it, I sent copies to three or four newspaper editors, leaving it to their discretion to print it or not. The result was such as I anticipated, and as it would have been were I in their places. They one and all declined, some of them writing to me to express their concurrence in it, and their wish that they felt at liberty to use it.
One conversation which I held about
it is worth relating, if only as a characteristic reminiscence of a notable
man. Sir Francis Hastings Doyle was a member of my club. I had made his
intimate acquaintance on a visit paid by us simultaneously to Lord Houghton at
his place in
When, in 1886, Mr. Gladstone
perpetrated his crowning blow at the integrity of the empire, by declaring for
“Home Rule” in
by the editors in reply were far more emphatic than before in their recognition of the truth of the delineation. And Sir Francis Doyle, recalling our former conversation, and the occasion of it, wound up his denunciation of the so-called Liberal leader with the remark – accompanied by one of his genial laughs – “And the worst of it is, he is so infernally robust.”
He had made no secret of his detestation of Mr. Gladstone’s policy, but had written strongly in the public Press in denunciation of it, otherwise I should not have cited him in this connection.
In her Diary, under date February 7, Mary wrote: –
“I dreamt last night that I was walking with C. through a city. I carried in my arms a little child, my own, a beautiful child of two or three years old. We came to a place where a game with balls or bowls was being played – I don’t know exactly what game, but it was played in a court having a slope on either side, down which the balls flew with great force and swiftness. There were no women playing; all were men. C. wished to join, and in spite of my begging him not to do so, as we had far to go and night was coming on, he insisted on taking a ball. I stood aside with the child in my arms to watch, when suddenly I heard a piercing scream, and, looking at the child, I saw that it had a terrible cut on the forehead, from which blood was running. It was C.’s ball which had rebounded from the spot to which it was thrown, and had struck the child. I thought it was killed, it looked so deathly white, and the bright red drops of blood trickled down its brow and fell on my dress. I cried out in terror and grief, ‘My child is killed!’ Then telling the bystanders about me to let C. know I had gone home, I ran off into the town with the child to seek a surgeon, the blood covering my dress and hands and face as I repeatedly kissed the child. I remember no more, and believe I then woke.”
Taking this dream as intended for a prediction or a warning, as the case might be, of some disaster to Mary’s faculty through an inadvertence on my part – though I was quite unable to conceive of myself as following any preference of my own in disregard of her expressed wish – I maintained a more careful watch than ever to avert it. It proved, however, to be a prophecy which was bound to be fulfilled do what I might, though not until some months later. The fulfilment, which may more conveniently be related here, in anticipation of its chronological place, was in this wise: –
It was during the delivery of our lectures, and Mary had received under illumination an exposition of the doctrine of the Logos, his nature and his relation to the Christ, in
correction of the received ecclesiastical presentation. But as I found it, though perfectly clear and lucid in itself and to me, couched in terms somewhat recondite and abstruse for the generality, I was desirous to have an exposition more simply worded, and accordingly [while Mary was under illumination] made a remark to that effect, which remark I repeated on receiving from her an answer which seemed to imply a demur on her part. But, for some reason not at the time apparent to me, there instantly arose in her system a violent disturbance which I can liken only to a magnetic storm, which manifested itself in convulsive and almost hysterical sobbings most distressing to witness. And it was not until a considerable time had elapsed, and only with great difficulty, that I succeeded in soothing and calming her. This was no sooner accomplished than she was impelled to write what proved to be a private instruction to me. For it was effaced from her mind as soon as written, and she retained no consciousness of it afterwards, but only the sense of some severe distress, which, however, duly passed off. This was the writing, addressed to me: –
“This is what I saw and heard.
“An expansive flame and an ascending flame, and between you and me my Genius. And he had his face covered and his hands spread, and in one of them a little child wounded.
“And he said, speaking with his face turned towards you: –
“‘Can you trust for great things, and not for the lesser? And shall the soul that informs of the inmost err in matters of expression?
“‘I have wrought a perfect instrument of music, and you have marred its strings. Is this the work of faith?
“‘When it shall be given to you to see and to hear, then heed your Angel. But as yet it is not given. Heed therefore that which is heard and seen.
“‘For I have given to mine own a perfect ear and a seeing eye. Let these behold and perceive and judge for you.
“‘Yea, let them judge between you, for she does not speak of herself.
“‘Have I misled you that you should thrust me aside? Or have I spoken falsely that you should give me no heed?
“‘But the air about you is filled with wandering lights; and the flame of the soul is poured out towards them like water.
“‘How long will you give heed to these, and discern not the true from the false?
“‘And now almost had I withdrawn both myself and her from you; for her child is wounded, and she is a viol unstrung.
“‘Yea, I am angry. I am against you, for you have opposed me these three times.
“‘And I know who opposes me, even the prince of the middle and lower airs;
“‘And the nature which has a misshapen form, a nature secretive and silent.
“‘These are horses which run not together; winds which blow contrary ways; voices which have no unison.
“‘And he who strikes has stricken with your hand; and but for you he had been without power to harm.
“‘But I take no heed of persons.
“‘Beware lest you also put on Paul and wound the elder Apostle.
“‘Is she not the elder to whom the
Gods first spake – yea, from the beginning, and while she yet served in the
“‘And I, am I not always in my place, whether I speak in trance or at another hour?
“‘Yea, I am against you, I of the Red Wheel. I am against these wandering and diverse fires.
“‘Neither shall they make common the Mysteries, nor scatter my pearls before the feet of men.
“‘But half the loaf shall you divide, and the holy names you shall retain.
“‘For if these be spoken save in the ear of the Elect, the Lord God shall divide you.
“‘Hear the word that is given, and what you shall hear obey.
“‘And the Gods shall give you the Word freely, in the lips of their own and of a woman.
“‘It is the will of God, who respecteth no man’s person.
“‘Who is the arbiter save God? And who scattereth save the Spirit of the Abyss?
“‘By this shall you know him, in that he scattereth and teareth asunder the strings of my viol.
“‘But she obeyeth when I spake, and she spoke not of herself.
“‘Accuse those who beguile you.
“‘For she is the minister of the Gods, and the Gods above all are just.
“‘And she is your Elder and your Angel, who led you out, being blind, from the wilderness.
“‘Be not deceived; for I suffer not mine own to be deluded.
“‘Neither is she led astray nor beguiled by false lights.
“‘But return inwards, and they which are false shall be dissipated.
“‘Are they not always deceivers, striking unawares?’”
For the rest of the day I was no less perplexed than distressed by this utterance. To its exaltation of Mary, her faculty, and her part in our work I took no exception. I was ready to bear any punishment awarded me, provided only that I recognised the justice of it. But I failed to see wherein my fault lay. Our work was before all else interpretative, and I had desired a clearer interpretation than the one vouchsafed. So that at most all that could be imputed to me was an excess of zeal. And yet I had been rebuked with a severity which could hardly have
been exceeded had my fault been wilful instead of accidental only, and such as it was scarcely possible for me to guard against. The very warning had been given no less than four months ago, and all that time I had not transgressed. I would not tax, even in my mind, the Genius with defect of knowledge or justice, but neither could I reconcile his sentence with these. Could it be that, knowing well only – as he had told us of himself – the things which concerned his own client, and of me only what my Genius chose to tell him, he had judged me not by the act itself, and its motive, but solely by the effect on her? Clearly it was only my own Genius who could solve my difficulty. But, as he had said, it was not yet given to me to see or to hear her save on the rare occasions when the utmost I had been able to gather was a few brief sentences.
My trouble, and the wakefulness caused by it, must have enhanced my sensitiveness. For I found myself in the course of the night listening to a voice which was speaking to me with great earnestness. I scarcely knew whether I was waking or sleeping, my whole attention being engaged in listening. And presently I recognised the speaker as my Genius, who was endeavouring to console and reassure me, but without giving me the explanation I wanted. This, I was made to understand, could not yet be divulged to me for the work’s sake, excepting that it was one with which I should have no reason to be displeased when I knew it, but the contrary. It was not really with me that her fellow-Genius was so angry. He scarcely recognised me in the matter. And she was not allowed to tell him anything about me. He saw only the spirit of the Astral who was perpetually on the watch for an opportunity to strike at Mary’s faculty through me, and he was vexed at its success in eluding my observation and effecting its purpose. The Astrals knew that our work meant the destruction of their influence over men, and it was impossible for me to be too watchful against their machinations. “You will remember,” she concluded, “never again to question either the form or the substance of anything said by Mary while actually under illumination. The receptive and the critical attitudes of mind are then quite incompatible, and your remark was calculated to force her out of the former into the latter, to the great and even dangerous disturbance of her system; so extraordinary and so finely-strung
an instrument is she. Discuss with her afterwards if need be, but not then or immediately. Yes, YOU WILL REMEMBER!”
These last three words were spoken into my ear in a tone which, though unmistakably feminine, was a tone at once of entreaty, of promise, and of command, and so distinct and intense as to recall me suddenly to full consciousness, and cause me to start up and look round for the speaker; so certain did it seem that one capable of utterance so forceful to the hearing must be palpable to the sight. But I could not see anyone, though the words kept vibrating in my ear. And I recalled the statement that the sight which is capable of such vision is the last of the spiritual senses to be evolved, and the “client” of Mary’s Genius is a much older soul than I. The limitation referred only to the waking condition. In sleep my spiritual vision was perfect, and not the minutest detail escaped me. But my Genius had never shown herself to me, even in sleep.
Meanwhile our explorations in the
library of the
and all, assumed the falsehood of the claims to mystical insight, occult knowledge, psychic faculties, and magical powers, and denounced the claimants as impostors, charlatans, enthusiasts, and plagiarists.
Our researches failed utterly to disclose to us as already existing in the world aught that was comparable to the revelations received by us, whether for fullness, profundity, coherence, lucidity, or beauty. So that it became manifest to us that we were obtaining in plenitude and perfection a sublime system of doctrine of which – if others had ever had it in full – only fragments and glimpses survive. And the very method, moreover, by which we were obtaining it constituted a practical demonstration of its truth, by reason of the process being that of psychic or intuitional recollection, and therein a demonstration of the reality and persistency of the soul, and of her ability to recover, in a later incarnation, the knowledges acquired by her in her past incarnations, and to communicate of them to her possessor. But of this explanation of the intuition, her nature and the source of her knowledges, we found nowhere any recognition save the few obscure hints contained in the Bible and Plato.
One of the historical characters in whom we were especially interested was Socrates, and we eagerly examined the account given by Plato of his Demon, to see how far his experiences coincided with our own. We had no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the ministering spirit of Socrates was no true Genius, but only some ordinary extraneous spirit which had attached itself to him, after the manner familiar to the spiritualists of our time. For, while none of its utterances transcended the level of the ordinary, it indulged in trivialities altogether beneath the dignity of celestial beings, such as are those who claim to be our Genii.
The extraordinary correspondence in character, faculty, and experiences between Mary and Joan of Arc, and the part which had been enacted in our history by what purported to be the spirit of the latter, made the French heroine a subject of greater interest for us than even Socrates. But with every disposition on Mary’s part to exalt Joan, she was unable to ascribe her inspirations to a source comparable with that of her own. For, while they savoured exclusively of extraneous
human spirits, their object – great as it was – was purely mundane: for which, indeed, such lower agency was alone adapted, as the deliverance to be accomplished by Joan was national and political, and not spiritual. The time, however, came when, as will be seen, the mystery was cleared up for us in a manner no less unanticipated than strange, and nevertheless wholly convincing.
Early in March, Mary received the Hymn to the Planet-God, Iacchos, and the Elemental Divinities, which together comprise 168 verses. This was the longest, as it was one of the most important, of the recoveries made by her, – important no less for the method of the recovery than for its intrinsic value, since the method was such as to constitute it a proof positive of the great doctrine set forth in it, the doctrine of Reincarnation; for it was as one of a band of initiates, making solemn procession through the aisles of a vast Egyptian temple, chanting it in chorus, that Mary, being asleep, recollected it. She described the effect of the chant as it resounded among the columns of the temple as grand beyond expression, and for days afterwards the strains vibrated in her ears, seeming to come back as she wrote it out, to assist her memory of what she had thus heard in sleep. The problems solved for us by it were profound and manifold. There was no longer any room for doubt as to the source of much of the doctrine and the diction of the Bible writers, notably of the Mosaic books, nor of the purely spiritual import of narratives ordinarily taken as literally intended. Among the things which most struck us – fairly taking our breath away by their unexpectedness – was the identification of the Planet-God Iacchos with Jacob, and the light thrown thereby on St. Paul’s declaration that “these things are an allegory,” to the conviction of the Church of having utterly failed to comprehend its own Scriptures.
In pursuance of the design to adapt this history to the requirements of readers who are unacquainted with the books in which our results are published, I give that portion of the ritual so wonderfully recovered which will best serve to illustrate the rest. The theme is the Mystic Exodus, or flight of the soul from the power of the body, being the original of the quasi-historical narrative in the Mosaic books, where the apparent application is to the soul collective, or Church, and
points to the
migration of the sacred mysteries from
“Evoi, Father Iacchos, Lord God of
“Upon whose walls are the forms of every creature: of every beast of the earth, and of every fowl of the air;
“The lynx, and the lion, and the bull: the ibis and the serpent: the scorpion and every flying thing.
“And the columns thereof are human shapes, having the heads of eagles and the hoofs of the ox.
“All these are of thy kingdom: they are the chambers of ordeal, and the houses of the initiation of the soul.
“For the soul passeth from form to form; and the mansions of her pilgrimage are manifold.
“Thou callest her from the deep, and from the secret places of the earth; from the dust of the ground, and from the herb of the field.
“Thou coverest her nakedness with an apron of fig-leaves; thou clothest her with the skins of beasts.
“Thou art from of old, O soul of man; yea, thou art from the everlasting.
“Thou puttest off thy bodies as raiment; and as vesture dost thou fold them up.
“They perish, but thou remainest: the wind rendeth and scattereth them; and the place of them shall no more be known.
“For the wind is the spirit of God in man, which bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it shall go.
“Even so is the spirit of man, which cometh from afar off and tarrieth not, but passeth away to a place thou knowest not.
“Evoi, Iacchos, Lord of the Sphinx; who linkest the lowest to the highest; the loins of the wild beast to the head and breast of the woman.
“Thou holdest the chalice of divination: all the forms of nature are reflected therein.
“Thou turnest man to destruction: then thou sayest, Come again, ye children of my hand.
“Yea, blessed and holy art thou, O Master of Earth: Lord of the cross and the tree of salvation.
“Vine of God, whose blood redeemeth: bread of heaven, broken on the altar of death.
“There is corn in
“For in the kingdom of the Body, thou shalt eat the bread of thine initiation.
“But beware lest thou become subject to the flesh, and a bond-slave in the land of thy sojourn.
“Serve not the idols of
“For they will bow thy neck to their yoke: they will bitterly oppress the Israel of God.
“An evil time shall come upon thee;
and the Lord shall smite
“Thy body shall be broken on the wheel of God: thy flesh shall see trouble and the worm.
“Thy house shall be smitten with grievous plagues; blood, and pestilence, and great darkness: fire shall devour thy goods; and thou shalt be a prey to the locust and creeping thing.
“Thy glory shall be brought down to the dust; hail and storm shall smite thine harvest; yea, thy beloved and thy first-born shall the hand of the Lord destroy;
“Until the body let the soul go free, that she may serve the Lord God.
“Arise in the night, O soul, and
fly, lest thou be consumed in
“The angel of the understanding shall know thee for his elect, if thou offer unto God a reasonable faith.
“Savour thy reason with learning, with labour, and with obedience.
“Let the rod of thy desire be in thy right hand: put the sandals of Hermes on thy feet; and gird thy loins with strength.
“Then shalt thou pass through the waters of cleansing: which is the first death in the body.
“The waters shall be a wall unto thee on thy right hand and on thy left.
“And Hermes the Redeemer shalt go before thee: for he is thy cloud of darkness by day, and thy pillar of fire by night.
“All the horsemen of
“These shall pursue thee, O soul that fliest; and shall seek to bring thee back into bondage.
“Fly for thy life: fear not the deep: stretch out thy rod over the sea; and lift thy desire unto God.
“Thou hast learnt wisdom in
“Thou hast enriched thyself in the body; but the body shall not hold thee: neither shall the waters of the deep swallow thee up.
“Thou shalt wash thy robes in the sea of regeneration: the blood of atonement shall redeem thee to God.
“This is thy chrism and anointing, O
soul; this is the first death; thou art the
“Who hath redeemed thee from the dominion of the body; and hath called thee from the grave, and from the house of bondage,
“Unto the way of the cross, and to the path in the midst of the wilderness;
“Where are the adder and the serpent, the mirage and the burning sand.
“For the feet of the saint are set in the way of the desert.
“But be thou of good courage, and fail thou not: then shall thy raiment endure, and thy sandals shall not wax old upon thee.
“And thy desire shall heal thy
diseases: it shall bring streams for thee out of the stony rock; it shall lead
“Evoi, Father Iacchos, Jehovah Nissi: Lord of the garden and of the vineyard.
“Initiator and lawgiver: God of the cloud and of the mount.
“Evoi, Father Iacchos; out of
Concerning the identification of Jehovah Nissi with Dionysos, one of the mystic names of Iacchos – which is itself the mystic name of Bacchos – Mary soon afterwards received the following: –
“The names Nyssa, Nysa, Nysas, and Nissi are identical with each other, and also with Sinai, Sion, and those of other sacred mounts. For they all are names for the Mount of Regeneration, the mount or ‘holy hill’ of the Lord, within the man, to be on which is to be in the Spirit. The river Hiddekel has the like import. It is the river of the soul, herself fluidic and called Maria (waters), which, as the receptacle of the divine nucleus, winds about and encompasses the Spirit. Thus Daniel is said to be ‘on Hiddekel’ when under divine illumination.”
We had already been taught that by
Hiddekel, as one of the four rivers of
The essential identify of the Hebrew
and Greek theogonies was further confirmed by the discovery that, while the
former proposed as the object of worship the Jehovah, Adonai, Son, or Logos of
the Godhead, through whom the “Seven Spirits of God” comprised in the Holy
Ghost have their procession, the Greeks, veiling the former, propose these
Seven Spirits themselves, making them the Seven Great Gods of Olympus,
observing the order assigned them in Isa.
XI, 23 – as is more clearly rendered in the
in Gen. I., where they appear as the Creative Elohim respectively of the seven days of the Mosaic week. We had yet long to wait for the explanation of the cause for the exception in question – an important point, as it involved the creation of vegetation before that of the sun, to the triumph of the scientists over the believers. But, as will be seen, the explanation came at last, and proved altogether satisfactory.
Meanwhile we noted with huge delight the numerous points of identity between the Egyptian, the Greek, and the Christian presentations, and notably that of the symbols which, as representing the four evangelists and their gospels, imply the four elemental divinities. For the line, “having the heads of eagles and the hoofs of the ox,” expresses exactly the functions respectively of the fourth and the first gospeller, the eagle being assigned to John in token of his dealing with the spiritual and highest aspect of religion, the upper air of the divine wisdom, personified for the Greeks as Pallas Athena; and the ox to Matthew, in token of his dealing with the historical and material aspect, the ground-work, personified in Demeter, the earth-mother, whose symbol was the ox.
(423:1) Subsequently explained to us as denoting impurity, or the active principle in putrefaction and corruption.
END OF VOL. I
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