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SOME FORMER INCARNATIONS
THE following letter, written from her mother’s house, whither Mary repaired on quitting town, gives a graphic view of the situation: –
“56 WARRIOR SQUARE,
“ST. LEONARD’S, August 2, 1885.
“DEAREST LADY CAITHNESS, – All the time I remained in London, I was so hunted about with all manner of lectures, at homes, calls, and engagements of all sorts, as well as literary and medical work, that I thought it best to wait until l got away to the sea-side before sitting down to write to you. I have now been here since July 31, and I hope to remain for about ten days before going back to Shropshire. I have quite given up the idea of going abroad or elsewhere this year; in fact, l have no possible time for a holiday-ramble, seeing that my daughter’s schooling is over, and I must take her home until the end of September; after which I have several lecturing engagements to fulfil in various parts of England, which will occupy me until the beginning of November. Mr. Maitland is now staying close by, on the Grand Parade, so that we meet often.
“Mr. Sinnett speaks quite enthusiastically about you and your forthcoming book, the scope and plan of which he considers excellent. No doubt you have by this time read The Virgin of the World, and our two essays prefixed to it. I am longing to hear what you think of it and them. Our Hermetic Session was far more successful at its close than at its opening. No doubt you have read the reports in Light of our weekly meetings. Next session I hope to go on with my lectures on the Creed, which I suspended this time in order to permit other speakers to be heard. It is, however, extremely difficult to impress a catholic and mystic view of things on the British mind. The fogs and clouds which enwrap their isle seem to enshroud their spirits also. And yet how lucent, how splendid, how entrancing this wonderful Truth is, could they only receive it! Is it indeed the fact, I sometimes wonder, that a few of us have senses developed which are unknown to the majority of our race; and do we really walk about among a blind and deaf generation for whom the light we see and the words we hear are not?
“I have been trying hard to persuade Lady Archibald Campbell to produce next year, as a pastoral play, in Coombe Wood, the story of Buddha, founded on Edwin Arnold’s magnificent poem, The Light of Asia. You know this has long been a dream of mine to
educate the people by means of the stage, by reproducing in tableaux or spectacular drama the lives and teaching of the world’s holiest and noblest. The Light of Asia lends itself peculiarly to such an idea. The verse is melodious and dramatic, the situations are excellent, and the scenery, being mostly forest and jungle, quite easy to manage. I proposed to give four acts — the Departure, the Ministry, the Triumph, the Return, and to introduce into these all the chief episodes in Buddha’s career. I drew out a tableau of the acts, with the chief situations fully described, and rehearsed the whole at Lady Tennant’s, in Grosvenor Square, in the presence of Lady A. Campbell, Lady Ribblesdale, Hon. Mrs. Lyttelton, Hon. Percy and Mrs. Wyndham, Mr. Tennyson (the poet’s son), Miss Tennant, Mr. Godwin (the manager of the Coombe Wood plays), and some others. All were delighted, but the technic of the matter appeared to them to involve great difficulties. Edwin Arnold, to whom I wrote on the subject, said he would do everything he could do to forward the idea, and to ensure its success if it were found workable.
“As for my novel, that is quite at a standstill. I hope, however, to take it up again as soon as I return to Shropshire. I have a story coming out at Christmas in the Catholic magazine, The Month. All this time I have been talking about myself, and have not said a word about you. That is very egotistic of me.”
The story referred to was afterwards republished in her Dreams and Dream-Stories under the title, A Village of Seers. With the exception of some minor details, it was entirely elaborated by her in sleep, and was thus a veritable “Dream-Story.” The main incident, that of the rescue of the lost child by the clairvoyant dogs, was so intensely real for her that she actually made it an argument on which to base an appeal against vivisection, as if it represented an ascertained fact, and was only with difficulty made to see the incongruity of thus using an imaginary incident, and induced to withdraw the paragraph.
Diary. – August 15, 1885. The Feast of the Assumption again, and the anniversary of the death of my dear little friend Rufus. One day I hope I shall meet with his dear little ghost in the world of Realities. (...) I find the old longing on me to set myself free from all ties – yes, even from Myself, and get away into a new Life and a new Person. I am tired of being Myself. I hate to wake every morning and re-collect all the old threads, warp and woof of the circumstance and data of this existence, and go on spinning the same interminable yarn. I want to be a new individual, with new ties, new surroundings, new thoughts, new views. How would it be if one ran away from it all, and went off somewhere into a wholly fresh set of activities? A dream, a dream, but better than most dreams. Will there ever be a new Break-away for me, I wonder? Hardly now.
Such were the wailings in which she would give utterance to
the consciousness of her spiritual unrelatedness, even to her nearest physical relations, and the impatience of life engendered of a habit of early deaths, with the consequent craving for sympathy, and for a change even of her own personality.
On her return home she resumed the course of reading and meditation indicated by the following entries in her Diary: –
October 19  – Synesius was a Christian bishop of Alexandria and a Platonist, holding the doctrine of Transmigration. He says: “The spirit may be purified, even in brutes, so that something better may be induced. How much will not the regression of the rational soul be therefore base, if she fails to reject that which is foreign to her nature, and suffers to linger on earth that which rightly belongs on high, since it is possible, by labour and by transition into other lives, for the contemplative soul to be purified, and to emerge from this dark abode? And this restoration, indeed, some may attain as a gift of divinity and initiation.”
It was an Ass that carried the Mysteries of old, and a golden Branch was part of the sacred equipage: –
“Aureus et foliis et lento vimine ramus,
Junoni infernæ sacer.” – Æn. vi, 136.
And we read further, that there is in Alchemy, a certain noble body, which is moved from one “lord” to another, in the beginning of which there is suffering with vinegar, but in the end joy with exultation. “O blessed gate of blackness,” cries the Adept, “which art the passage to so glorious a change!” (Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery).
No man enters the Magian’s School but he wanders awhile in the region of Chimeras, and the inquiries he makes before attaining to experiential knowledge are many, often erroneous (Vaughan’s Lumen de Lumine, p. 40). Hence, doubtless, the Sphinx, that proposer of riddles and devourer of men, stood always at the vestibule of the temple and along its approaches, the terrible Dweller on the Threshold so fatal to weak or irresolute souls. But investigation once begun, in a right rectifying spirit, enters, and succeeds in tracing the chain of vital causes to their last efficient link in Deity; whence surveying, the Adept is enabled, under the Divine Will, to work such perfection in things below as transcends this life and the ability of the natural intellect to conceive.
The significance of the ass in the mysteries had yet to be disclosed to us. It proved to be a symbol for the Intuition, the faculty whereby is the consciousness of things spiritual, the horse being the corresponding symbol for the Intellect. The discovery proved an invaluable key to the solution of many perplexing passages in the Bible, including the incident of Balaam.
Passing from quotation to original thought, she thus continues: –
The description of the “coming of the Son of Man” in the New Testament agrees exactly with the account given by the Alchemists of the disruption of the vital forces in the human kingdom before the advent of the “Lord,” or Final Light. The Earth is overflowed with the Water, the Body is overcome by the Soul, the powers of Heaven are shaken and the tribulation is profound, the “sea” and its waves roaring by reason of the successive passion and prevalence of the vital principles one over another. And if the true interpretation of the Scriptures be thus throughout mystic and interior, what shall be said of those crowds of false teachers who expound the Bible according to the literal or letter-sense? Indeed, they have an exact counterpart in the spurious Alchemists, who made of Alchemy a material art for the search of physical gold, and so squandered their time and substance, misled their generation, and brought the whole art into mockery and disrepute.
As the smallest fragment of the Loadstone remains perfect in two poles, so may we conceive of every portion of existence as continent and comprehended proportionally of the great whole. Iamblichus says, speaking of the Regenerate Ether: “This substance, being connascent with the Gods, will doubtless be an entire and fit receptacle for the manifestation of Divinity. And an exuberance of power is always present with the highest causes; power which transcends all things, and is nevertheless present with all in unimpeded energy.”
November 5 . – A dream last night, of which the exact interpretation is not clear to me.
I seemed in my vision to be on a long and wearisome journey, and to have arrived at an Inn, in which I was offered shelter and rest. The apartment given me consisted of a bedroom and parlour, communicating, and furnished in an antique manner, everything in the rooms appearing to be worm-eaten, dusty, and out of date. The walls were bare and dingy; there was not a picture or an ornament in the apartment. An extremely dim light prevailed in the scene; indeed, I do not clearly remember whether, with the exception of the fire and a night-lamp, the rooms were illumined at all. I seated myself in a chair by the hearth; it was late, and l thought only of rest. But, presently, I became aware of strange things going on about me. On a table in a corner lay some papers and a pencil. With a feeling of indescribable horror I saw this pencil assume an erect position and begin of itself to write on the paper, precisely as though an invisible hand held and guided it. At the same time small detonations sounded in different parts of the room; tiny bright sparks appeared, burst, and immediately expired in smoke. The pencil, having ceased to write, laid itself gently down, and taking the paper in my hand, I found on it a quantity of writing which at first appeared to me to be cipher, but I presently perceived that the words composing it were written backwards, from right to left, exactly as one sees writing reflected in a looking-glass. What was written made a considerable impression on me at the time, but I cannot now recall it. I know, however, that the dominant feeling I experienced was one of horror.
I called the owners of the inn, and related to them what had taken place. They received my statement with perfect equanimity, and told me that in their house this was the normal state of things,
of which, in fact, they were extremely proud; and they ended by congratulating me as a visitor much savoured by the invisible agencies of the place.
“We call them our Lights,” they said.
“It is true,” I observed, “that I saw lights in the air about the room, but they went out instantaneously, and left only smoke behind them. And why do they write backwards? Who are they?”
As I asked this last question, the pencil on the table rose again, and wrote thus on the paper: –
Again horror seized on me, and the air becoming full of smoke, I found it impossible to breathe. “Let me out!” I cried. “I am stifled here – the air is full of smoke!”
“Outside,” the people of the house answered, “you will lose your way; it is quite dark, and we have no other rooms to let. And, besides, it is the same in all the other apartments of the inn.”
“But the place is haunted!” I cried; and I pushed past them, and burst out of the house.
Before the doorway stood a tall veiled figure, like translucent silver. A sense of reverence overcame me. The night was balmy, and bright almost as day, with resplendent starlight. The stars seemed to lean out of heaven; they looked down on me like living eyes, full of a strange immeasurable sympathy. I crossed the threshold, and stood on the open plain, breathing with rapture and relief the pure warm air of that delicious night. How restful, calm, and glorious was the dark landscape, outlined in purple against the luminous sky! And what a consciousness of vastness and immensity above and around me! “Where am I?” I cried.
The silver figure stood beside me, and lifted its veil. It was Pallas Athena.
“Under the Stars of the East,” she answered me, “the true eternal Lights of the World.”
* * * * * * * * * *
After I was awake, a text in the Gospels was vividly brought to my mind – “There was no room for them in the Inn.” What is this Inn, I wondered, all the rooms of which are haunted, and in which the Christ cannot be born? And this open country under the Eastern night, – is it not the same in which they were “abiding,” to whom that Birth was first angelically announced? (1)
The reading of this brought to my mind a passage in an instruction received by her some years before, which seemed to give the desired clue to its meaning. The passage was as follows: –
“The adept, or ‘occultist,’ is at best a religious scientist; he is not a ‘saint.’ If occultism were all, and held the key of heaven, there would be no need of ‘Christ.’ But occultism, although it
holds the ‘power,’ holds neither the ‘kingdom’ nor the ‘glory.’ For these are of Christ. The adept knows not the kingdom of heaven, and ‘the least in this kingdom are greater than he.’ (…) If the adepts in occultism or in physical science could suffice to man, I would have committed no message to you.” (1)
The receipt of the vision at the present time we ascribed to the fact that we were then a good deal occupied in discussing the heavy tribulations encountered by the Theosophical Society in reference especially to the event known as the “Coulomb incident,” and the hostile action taken by the Society for Psychical Research. And we regarded the vision as an intimation that the troubles had come through the failure of its leaders to devote themselves exclusively to the higher and true aspects of their work, and their recourse to methods which savoured rather of those lower phases of occultism wherein it is akin to sorcery. In which case it was a caution to us against letting our work being in any way associated with theirs.
Mary’s health at this time was such as to cause us serious anxiety, and her sufferings were of the severest. It was becoming evident that the climatic conditions of the place were in the highest degree unfavourable to her. According to the physiologists, asthma is a form of rheumatism, and on those low-lying banks of the Severn rheumatism was rife. And strong as was her attachment to her home, and manifold as were its advantages in other respects, as regarded her health it was in the highest degree deleterious, and it became a matter for serious consideration whether she could remain throughout the winter, and if not, whither she should go. The following entry in her Diary was made at a time when her bodily weakness and suffering were extreme: –
November 19, 1885. – I was ill all yesterday, suffering with violent pains in my head, so that I could not dress and leave my room. Yet, as has more than once happened, this physical disruption of the nervous system seemed to open my mind to interior conditions; and today I have more of the old feeling of the Poet on me than I have had for long years.
When I suffer like that in my head there happens to me something akin to the phenomenon experienced by drowning men. The past, with a hundred vivid pictures and sensations, reawakes, youth returns, and I am again, first a girl, and then a child. Yes, the years retreat, and the present shrivels up and rolls away like smoke.
I recover the old feelings, the old longings, the old hopes and beliefs in the goodness of life. I remember that I once thought the world an easy thing to conquer; that I then believed in myself, and thought that before I had reached the age of thirty years all men would have heard my name, and that I should have become great. Yes, I thought all that, and believed it. And now I am long past thirty, and behind me lies a life of wasted effort, of beating vainly against iron bars, of struggling vainly for success – a life of deceptions, of disappointments, of sharp mental pain and strife, of weary disillusionment. That is what comes to all of us who start in life with an ideal; that is the common fate of Poets. To have youth in one’s heart, and age in one’s body and mind! To feel that one is ugly, and infirm, and grey, and wrinkled; to have discovered the hollowness of life and the baseness of man, and the hopeless, horrible stupidity and ignorance of the whole human race, – its ingratitude, its falseness, its delight in lies, its love of tinsel and folly and sham, – to know all this, and to hate and loathe and despise it all; and yet to have in one’s inner spirit all the freshness of Nature and the undying desire to achieve! I think some day death itself will come and find me so, with the love of life so strong, and the hate of men so great; and again I shall be forced into existence, unable to rest, unable to sleep as others sleep when life is over.
That is my Karma. I shall come back again and again, with only the briefest possible interval of rest, until l am really able to do and to be what is in my spirit. Always I have had that aim – that Ideal – burning like a flame before me, and I wandering always after it through the deserts of existence. It has been there before me continually – the desire for greatness, the desire to achieve – and I have always followed it feverishly. Now it took to my vision one shape, now another. Sometimes it appeared to me that this highest good was Glory – the glory that comes of physical heroism and daring; then I risked all for that, and died in fire for my reward! Anon it danced before me in the guise of a crown; and again, in spite of warning and presage, I covered myself with blood and tears to snatch my prize. I knew it was but for a year, and yet I cast all I had upon that die, and perished miserably! Karma has always thrust me into mean births, and from these I have climbed always – to fall, and to die violently! And now across the wastes of Time and Eternity, when for a moment the veil of oblivion is stirred by nervous disruption, a corner of it moves and lifts, and there float back to my soul from behind it the old echoes of the battle, of the wild fever of enthusiasm, of the strong belief in myself, of the cruel, cruel disappointment, of the miserable stupidity and ignorance of the men who judged me, of the terror, the denial, the self-accusation, and the suffocation of death. Then again the plunge into new existence, the reckless determination to have all or nothing, the desire to eclipse, to triumph, to excel; the same overpowering egoism and belief in Self – the I that filled the world. And a phantom crown that dazzles me; and a wild desire that sweeps everything aside to snatch it – honour, pity, justice, reputation, truth – a Crown for which I lie and perjure myself; for which I steel my heart and stifle my conscience, to be like the wretch through whom only my highest good can come! I hear and see all this, and the heart-breaking
remorse which tore me in the silence of the night and slew the unborn child within my womb.
Then again the wheel of Fortune turns, and I fall. Swift and horrible death rends my soul from my body, and still I cannot rest. Back, back to the earth, so quickly that the past is hardly wiped out; the figures still stand freshly on the astral atmosphere around me. And still the same Flame burning ever before my spirit. But now its aspect is changed, for in that three hundred years of lapse my Karma has changed.
In those past lives my body ruled; for it was strong and robust, and life leapt within me to impel my soul to deeds of arms, of force, of physical pleasure, of gaiety and dissipation.
Now I reap the harvest of these sins of the flesh. My body is weakly, delicate, diseased; pleasure is forbidden it. The kind of triumph and display that comes of physical health and vigour are impossible to me; my soul is shut off from outer things, and forced inward upon itself. It is the reaction of Polarity. The focus of life is interior now. It seems like punishment, but it is Law. The force that expended itself in striving after earthly things spends itself now in the pursuit of things interior. The craving that found its outlet in physical action and in ambitions related to the world of sense is forced into occult and heavenly lines. The polarity of life’s current is changed; and whereas in former existences it flowed readily and easily through the bodily channels, breaking outwards and expending its vitality there, where magnetic attraction was strongest, it now flows upward and internally by a more difficult channel; for the bodily ways are blocked up and closed to it, and the magnetic focus lies within, on the mental plane. Men who pursue material ends, gained by physical means, achieve or fail, necessarily, during that period in which the bodily forces are strongest. The enthusiasm of patriotism, the physical courage and prowess of military adventure, belong to the time of the youth of the body, to the years when the vital forces of pulse and muscle and nerve are at their fullest and strongest. For the stream of life flows downwards through the body from the mind, and its impetus is rapid, furious, and soon expended. It is the roaring of a swollen torrent pouring from its source down a quick incline.
So also is it with the man whose desire is set on worldly rank and splendour. To women it is beauty and fascination that brings such things, unless they be born to them; and beauty and fascination are of the body, and if they bring aught to their possessors, it must be in youth. Again it is the same rushing outwards and downwards of the stream of life. The body is its channel, and the time of the body’s youth is short. The body has nothing to learn. It is at its best in its earliest days, for then its magnetic forces are most potent, and its powers of achievement keenest. There is no mental discipline needed for its triumphs. Material success must be gained in the morning of existence, for the day of the body is soon past.
But that is not so when the stream of Life runs upward and inward, as it does now with thee, O my child, that thinkest thyself lower now than Joan the peasant and Anna the queen, because thy morning is spent and the day of thy triumph is not yet come. Knowest
thou not that the youth of the Spirit endures when age already holds the flesh in his grip? The furious outpouring of life is past with thee. Karma has reversed the direction of the wheel of thy fate. Now it turns inward upon itself, and the forces of Life flow upward and inwardly. They flow more slowly now, because their direction is reversed, and the magnetic attraction which draws them is in the Mind, and not in the body. Thy body is feeble and tenuous; there is little vitality in it; it affords no channel for the outpouring of life. It is a mere veil of flesh, behind and within which the astral Mind and the Spirit burn and gather strength from day to day. For their youth has not yet reached its prime; their day-star is hardly yet above the horizon. The inner man is young and beautiful and full of force when the outer shell is decrepit and bowed with disease; for the inner man is the child of the Gods, and he is young even when Death despoils him of the garment of the body. Thou shalt be young in the midst of age, if the Gods love thee. Be content; long before thou art “thirty years old” thou shalt have won thy crown.
For the triumph that comes to the mind must be earned by discipline of the mind, and for that time is needed. The battles of the soul are fought with heavenly arms; the crowns of knowledge and of spiritual empire are achieved by Thought and Meditation. Laboriously the stream flows against natural gravitation, drawn up wards by strong magnetic attraction. All the polarities of thy being are changed. Thy past is but a shadow and forecast of what thy future shall be. Thou must translate the earthly honours or triumphs of the past into internal and spiritual achievements. Types and forecasts are ever meaner than the realities they foreshadow. They are on the lower plane – the plane which to the earth, of course, seems larger and worthier, because it is nearer to itself. But that which they forecast are the realities of the higher plane; and these, being lifted up above the earth, appear to its denizens smaller and more obscure. The material sword and crown are types; they have been thine and thou hast risen beyond them. But that which they foreshadowed on the Heavenly plane is still before thee. They are the Flame which calls thy Spirit onward.
Karma is just, and, being just, is merciful. Thou hast a greater, not a lesser, Destiny before thee than that which lies behind. I have lifted for thee but a corner of the curtain of thy Past, because it was not possible to hide it from thee altogether. Thou hast plunged too quickly into Existence in these latter years to keep the immediate past secret from the spirit whose sleep hath been so brief. Thou walkest among spirits whose age is not thine, whose existences are far fewer, and whose intervals of oblivion have been vastly longer than thine own. And thou hast brought back with thee into Existence the faint memory of the past, strengthened by the constant overshadowing of thy former astral selves. They seek thee. Take of them that which is good – their courage, their faith in self, their set purpose to succeed. And thou shalt be greater when forty years are told than they were at twenty. Thou knowest that the conquests of the Spirit are harder to attain than material victories, and that the powers of the Mind are matured later. In thy former lives – known to thee now – thou hast used the body as the instrument of the soul. Now thou usest the Mind. The body served thee then
as thy sword. Now it is only the sword’s scabbard. It is with the Mind thou strivest, and it takes long to temper a blade of such as this.
Anna’s crown was won at twenty, for it was by the body she earned it. Thine shall take twice that tale of years to gain; for it lies on a higher plane, and thy way is harder and steeper than hers. A nobler prize, and unstained with the blood and tears of others than thyself! Thou hast been the cause of suffering and death to many of thy kind. Thou must atone by bringing life and joy and peace to men. It is not fit that most living souls should know their past; for most would be so occupied with it, and with its bygone scenes of triumph and woe, of exaltation and danger, that they would forget to live in the present, and to build up new Karma for the future. But from thee it cannot be hidden. Let the knowledge of it spur thee to better greatness and to purer aims. Thou wert nobler as the peasant than as the queen. Be wiser and higher than either, as the Reformer and Apostle.
* * * * * * * * * * *
All this l heard or saw in the night; and more than this, for I seemed to be in a perfectly lucid state of spirit. Things were opened to me in the midst of my physical pain, as in the midst of the disruption of the storm the lightning opens heaven to the sight. Old hopes and fears came pressing back upon me from behind the veil; old feverish triumphs and intrigues, anxieties, and despairs. Not of this life; of a long-remote past. And at last I fell, as it were, into the darkness again, and saw far off, beyond and above me, abiding in the heights, uplifted over the mists and rain-clouds of earth, a Silver Figure, radiant and stately, with great calm eyes that filled my soul with light. Then again the clouds closed beneath her; and I am upon earth, and she abides in heaven. But I remember, and shall know more and more, as the years roll by – perhaps.
One thing further. As I awoke, I heard a voice say quite aloud and distinctly, “It is the dawn of the Sixth Consciousness.”
Some time after her death I sent a copy of this utterance to Baron Spedalieri, as the most competent of living men to estimate it. His response was full at once of awe and of enthusiasm. It was unique, he declared, both from the literary and from the occult point of view, and constituted a revelation of the way the soul comes, transcending any yet known to the world.
The more we studied the histories of the two characters thus so fully and positively indicated to her as having been among her latest incarnations, the more striking did we find the resemblances between her and them. Even when reading of traits, such as were some of Anne Boleyn’s, the reverse of what she would have been proud of, she would exclaim, “How like me! How like me! That is exactly what I should have said or done!” While every trait and experience of Joan’s fitted her
exactly to the very manner, including her aptitudes for situations wholly strange and novel to her, – there was the same resource fullness under difficult emergencies, the same quickness and incisiveness of rejoinder to hostile interrogation, the same peremptoriness of tone as of one born to command and accustomed to receive implicit obedience, and even more than the same responsiveness to spiritual impression and impulsion. Even the mission was identical in kind, being one of rescue and deliverance, with the difference that, while Joan’s was a mission of political and national import, hers was of spiritual and universal import. She owned also to a feeling which seemed to be derived from yet more remote incarnations, that the natural thing for her to do to those who displeased her would be to cut off their heads, and a sense of strangeness at being unable to gratify it.
Even as a return of Anne Boleyn, there was a fitness in the work assigned her. For, as Anne Boleyn, she had been the means of rescuing the letter of the Bible from virtual suppression, inasmuch as she was the cause of the quarrel which led Henry VIII to renounce the supremacy of the Pope and set up the Bible in opposition to him; and now it was her mission to rescue the spirit of the Bible by restoring the interpretation. And as if she had an instinctive consciousness to this effect, the very next entry in her Diary after that just recorded was the following, which she made on November 24 : –
“For at present there is no profound understanding of the Scriptures; nor does any look, as says Cornelius Agrippa, under the Bark of the Law. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. ‘Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord,’ says the Apostle, ‘the veil shall be taken away. For the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. We all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord’ (1 Cor. iii, 15). Unhappy, truly, therefore, is he said to be who regards the Law as a mere simple recital or in the light of an ordinary discourse; for, if in truth it were nothing more than this, one could even be composed at this day more worthy of admiration. ‘In order to find such mere words,’ observes the Kabalist, ‘we have only to turn to the legislators of this world, who have frequently expressed themselves with more grandeur and grace. (…) But it is not thus; each word of the Law has a meaning and cloaks a mystery entirely sublime. The story of the Law is the vestment of the Law; unhappy he who mistakes the vestment for the
Law itself. (…) The sages and servants of the Supreme King, those who dwell on the heights of Sinai, are occupied only about the Soul, which is the basis of all the rest’” (Zohar, Part iii).
“Settle not in the lees and puddles of the world. Have thy heart in heaven and thine hands upon earth. Ascend in Piety, and descend in Charity. For this is the nature of Light, and the way of the children thereof. Thou must live, as says Agrippa, according to God and the Angels, rejecting all things that are dissimilar to the heaven; otherwise thou canst have no communication with superiors. Lastly, Unus esto non solus. Avoid the multitude, as well of passions as of persons. And, in conclusion, I would have thee understand that every day is a contracted year, and every year an extended day. Anticipate the year in the day, and lose not a day in the year. Make use of indeterminate agents till thou canst find a determinate one; the many wish well, but one only loves. Circumferences spread, but centres contract; so superiors dissolve and inferiors coagulate. (…) Learn from thine errors to be infallible, and from thy misfortunes to be constant. There is nothing stronger than Perseverance, for it ends in miracles” (Anima Magia Abscondita, p. 51; Cœlum Terræ, p. 137).
“O Mysteries truly sacred!” exclaims the Bishop of Alexandria in holy transport! “O pure Light! As at the light of torches the veil that covers God and Heaven falls off. I am holy now that I am initiated. It is the Lord Himself who is the Hierophonta. He sets His seal upon the Adept, whom He illuminates with his beams; and whom, as a recompense for faith, He will recommend to the eternal love of the Father. These are the Orgies of my Mysteries; come ye and be received!” (Clemens Alexandrinus).
“Agrippa says, Clausum est Armarium, ‘The Scripture is obscure and mystical throughout; even in the simplest details most profound, but significant in its promises’” (An Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery).
On November 27  she received under illumination occurring in sleep the striking instruction concerning Revelation considered as re-veil-ation, which forms I, iv, of Clothed with the Sun.
Our lecture tour this autumn [chiefly anti-vivisection] comprised Gloucester, Malvern, Cheltenham, Hereford, Bristol, Clifton, Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon, and Tunbridge Wells. At all of these places she addressed large audiences, public and private, with her wonted power and acceptance, betraying no signs of the ill-health from which she was suffering, her enthusiasm for the causes advocated always sufficing to sustain her through the effort, however arduous, and lifting her to a plane at which she was superior to all limitations. At Bristol our labours were largely increased by a newspaper controversy in which we bore a plentiful part. At several of the places visited we were hospitably
entertained in private houses, and had opportunities both of making fresh friends and of imparting of our more recondite teachings. Among our most interesting visits was that to Weston, where we stayed with Professor Francis W. Newman, who poured out freely for us of the treasures of his richly stored memory concerning the many notable persons and things with whom he had been concerned. At once learned and pious – the latter to such extent as to hold family prayers morning and evening, which he conducted with much of devoutness – he astonished Mary, who was unaware of his sceptical views, by declaring that he had no consciousness whatever of having within himself something answering to what is called a soul, or anything beyond the mind, which, he firmly held, was an appurtenance of the body, and would perish with it. For his part, he said, he had no expectation of a future life, nor any desire for continuance; and he considered it unreasonable and presumptuous to want it, and to hope for it, as we ought to be content with having lived once. What it is in us and in him that makes us religious, if not a soul that is conscious of immortality, was a question to which we failed to obtain answer from him.
While staying at the Clifton Down Hotel, on this excursion, Mary found herself accosted in sleep by someone who was invisible to her, who told her that at Paris there is a paper, having a large circulation, which, while apparently innocuous and advertising dolls and other toys, really advertises various kinds of obscenities, the dolls meaning children, chiefly girls, whose ages and appearance are indicated by their height in centimetres, and other particulars, some of the advertisements referring also to animals. The headquarters of this infamous traffic, she was told, is called “Coin de Sainte Marthe,” and the police had long had them under watch, without being able to obtain proof on which to take action. On her asking her informant what this had to do with her, he said that, as she was engaged in a crusade against cruelty, the matter was done that she might fairly take up, the cruelty involved, especially to children, being very great.
Mary was confident that she had never heard of anything that could have suggested this conversation, and that it was really due to some extraneous spirit. We accordingly bore it in mind, with a view to informing the Paris police. But no
opportunity was afforded us of ascertaining the truth, or otherwise taking steps in the matter.
The following are two examples of her many popular addresses on behalf of the vegetarian regimen: –
“I always speak with the greatest delight and satisfaction in the presence of my friends the members of the Vegetarian Society. With them l am quite at my ease, I have no reservation, I have no dissatisfaction. This is not the case when I speak for my friends the Anti-Vivisectionists, the Anti-Vaccinationists, the Spiritualists, or the advocates of freedom for women. I always feel that such of these as are not abstainers from flesh-food have unstable ground under their feet, and it is my great regret that, when helping them in their good works, I cannot openly and publicly maintain what I so ardently believe – that the Vegetarian movement is the bottom and basis of all other movements towards Purity, Freedom, Justice, and Happiness.
“I think it was Benjamin Disraeli who said that we had stopped short at Comfort, and had mistaken it for Civilisation, content to increase the former at the expense of the latter. Not a day passes without the perspicacity of this remark coming forcibly before me. Comfort, luxury, indulgence, and ease abound in this age, and in this part of the world; but, alas! of Civilisation we have as yet acquired but the veriest rudiments. Civilisation means not mere physical ease, but moral and spiritual Freedom – Sweetness and Light – with which the customs of the age are in most respects at dire enmity. I named just now freedom for women. One of the greatest hindrances to the advancement and enfranchisement of the sex is due to the luxury of the age, which demands so much time, study, money, and thought to be devoted to what is called the ‘pleasures of the table.’ A large class of men seems to believe that women were created chiefly to be ‘housekeepers,’ a term which they apply almost exclusively to ordering dinners and superintending their preparation. Were this office connected only with the garden, the field, and the orchard, the occupation might be truly said to be refined, refining, and worthy of the best and most gentle lady in the land. But, connected as it is actually with slaughterhouses, butchers’ shops, and dead carcasses, it is an occupation at once unwomanly, inhuman, and barbarous in the extreme. Mr. Ruskin has said that the criterion of a beautiful action or of a noble thought is to be found in song, and that an action about which we cannot make a poem is not fit for humanity. Did he ever apply this test to flesh-eating? Many a lovely poem, many a beautiful picture, may be made about gardens and fruit-gathering, and the bringing home of the golden produce of harvest, or the burden of the vineyards, with groups of happy boys and girls, and placid, mild-eyed oxen bending their necks under their fragrant load. But I defy anyone to make beautiful verse or to paint beautiful pictures about slaughterhouses, running with streams of steaming blood, and terrified, struggling animals felled to the ground with poleaxes; or of a butcher’s stall hung round with rows of gory corpses, and folks in the midst of them bargaining with the ogre who keeps the place for legs and shoulders,
and thighs and heads, of the murdered creatures! What horrible surroundings are these for gentle and beautiful ladies! The word ‘wife’ means, in the old Saxon tongue, a ‘weaver’; and that of ‘husband’ means, of course, a ‘husbandman.’ ‘Lady’ too, is a word originally signifying loaf-giver. In these old words have come down to us a glimpse of a fair picture of past times. The wife, or weaver, is the spinner, the maker, whose function it is to create forms of beauty and decorative art, to brighten, adorn, and make life lovely. Or if, as ‘lady’ of the house, we look on her in the light of the provider and dispenser of good things, it is not loathsome flesh of beasts that she gives, but bread – sweet and pure, and innocent type of all human food. As for the man, he is the cultivator of the ground, a sower of grain, a tiller of the field. I would like to see these old times back, with all their sweet and tender Arcadian homeliness, in the place of the ugly lives which most folkes lead in our modern towns, whose streets are hideous, above all at night, with their crowded gin-palaces, blood-smeared butchers’ stalls, reeling drunkards, and fighting women. People talk to me sometimes about peace conventions, and ask me to join societies for putting down war. I always say, ‘You are beginning at the wrong end, and putting the cart before the horse.’ If you want people to leave off fighting like beasts of prey, you must first get them to leave off living like beasts of prey. You cannot reform institutions without first reforming men. Teach men to live as human beings ought to live, and to think wisely, purely, and beautifully, to have noble ideas of the purpose and meaning of Humanity, and they will themselves reform their institutions. Any other mode of proceeding will result only in a patchwork on a worthless fabric, a whitening of a sepulchre full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Flesh-meats and intoxicating drinks – the pabulum of Luxury – are the baneful coil of hydra-headed Vice, whose ever-renewing heads we vainly strike, while leaving the body of the dragon still untouched. Strike there – at the heart – at the vitals of the destructive monster, and the work of Heracles, the Redeemer, is accomplished!”
“I have stood so often on this and other platforms throughout England, as well as in Scotland and Switzerland, to speak to my friends about the physiological, chemical, anatomical, and economical aspects of the non-flesh diet, that tonight, for a change, I am going to take another and a higher line. We will therefore, if you please, take as ‘read’ all the vindications of our mode of living furnished by various scientific arguments – that we have the organisation of the fruit-eater; that the constituent elements of vegetable food furnish all the necessary force and material of bodily vigour; that it is cheaper to buy beans and meal than to buy pork and suet; that land goes further and supports more people under a vegetable cultivation than when laid out for pasture, and so forth. All these arguments, more or less eloquently and clearly formulated, most of you have by heart, and those who have not may buy them all for six-pence of the Vegetarian Society. So I am going to talk to you tonight about quite another branch of our subject, the loftiest and fruitfullest branch of the whole tree. I am going to tell you that I see in the doctrine we are here to preach the very culmination and
crown of the Gentle Life, that Life which in some way we all of us in our best moments long to live, but which it is only given now and again to some great and noble soul, almost divine, fully to realise and glorify in the eyes of the world. I said just now that ‘in our best moments’ we all long to lead the Ideal Life. Some of us have many ‘best moments,’ and long ones too; moments that dominate and top our work-a-day efforts always, like a light of stars overhead, through which the Heaven looks down on us. Some of us, again, have very few best moments, short and feeble, like lights over a marsh; never steadfast, always flickering in and out, and paling and flitting when we get abreast of them. With this class of persons the Ideal is very faint and unstable, while with the former it is strong and masterful. Societies like ours are made to encourage the ‘best moments’ of the weakly, and to glorify those of the strong. Societies like ours are made to train soldiers and provide them with leaders to fight for the Ideal. Beginners and feeble folk cannot stand without encouragement in the teeth of a hot fire, nor rush upon the enemy unless some hero heads them and shows the way. The Ideal Life, the Gentle Life, has many enemies, and the weapons used by these are various. They are pseudo-scientific, pseudo-religious, pseudo-philanthropic, pseudo-aesthetic, pseudo-utilitarian. And the enemies are of all ranks, professions, and interests. But of all the weapons used, the most deadly, the most terrific, is ridicule. Yes, Ridicule slays its tens of thousands! To be laughed at is far more awful to average mortals than to be preached at, groaned at, cursed at. It is the weapon which the journalists almost always handle with the greatest facility. These are the men who laugh for their living. They have replaced in modern days the paid domestic jesters of olden times. Every town keeps its paid jester now in the office of its local paper, as a few centuries ago great nobles kept their man in cap and motley to crack jokes on the guests at table. We have not changed in manners, but in manner only. And the very first thing that Reformers have to do is to get over minding the man in motley. Let him laugh. He cannot argue. Laughing is his stock-in-trade. If he laugh not too coarsely, and avoid blaspheming, he is, after all, very harmless. It is his privilege to laugh at all that is new and unwonted. All children do that, and the man in motley is but a clever child. Why let him knock you down with his fool’s truncheon? Wince, and shrink, and expostulate; he sees his advantage then, and belabours you pitilessly. But heed him not, and go on doing your work with a great heart as though it were a royal thing to do, and he will soon be off to some other quarry. Only be sure in your own mind that you are right; only be set in dead earnest on keeping that royal thing in clear view and working up to it, and the Ideal will reward you by becoming the real and actual.
“It is not necessary to go very far a field to find the royal Work. It does not lie – for most of us – in setting out to accomplish some vast task. Most of us will find it in just simply and calmly shaping out and lifting up our own lives so as to beautify and perfect and unify them, being just and merciful to all men and all creatures. We vegetarians carry the Ideal a stage lower, and therefore a stage higher, than do other folk. We find the duty to the lowliest the duty completest in blessing. Let me tell you a story. Once, in the
far-away old days of romance, there was a Christian knight of peerless repute, whose greatest longing and dearest hope it was to have the vision of the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail is the name given in chivalry to the Chalice of the Altar containing the sacred Blood of Christ, and this was said to be shown in a vision by God to those whom He judged worthy of the sight of this supreme symbol of His grace, in the moment when they pleased Him most. Well, the knight of whom I speak, in pursuance of the object of his desire, joined the Crusaders and performed prodigies of valour and wonderful feats of arms in battle against the infidels, but all in vain; he had no vision and remained unblessed. Then he left Palestine and went and laid aside his sword in a monastery, and lived a life of long penance and meditation, desiring always a sight of the Holy Grail. But that, too, was in vain. At last, sorrowful and almost despairing, he returned homeward to his own domain. As he drew near his castle he saw gathered about its gates a crowd of beggars, sick, maimed, aged and infirm, old men, women, babes and children – all who were left behind on the land while the hale and hearty went to fight the Saracens. Then he said to his squire, ‘What are these?’ ‘They are beggars,’ the squire answered, ‘who can neither work nor fight. They clamour for bread; but why heed such a herd of useless, despicable wretches? Let me drive them away.’ ‘Nay,’ said the knight, touched to the heart; ‘I have slain many abroad; let me save some at home. Call these poor folk together; give them bread and drink; let them be warmed and clothed.’ And Io! As the words passed his lips, a light from heaven fell upon him, and looking up, he saw at last the longed-for vision of the Holy Grail! Yes, that humble, simple, homely duty of Charity was more precious in the Divine Eyes than all his deeds of prowess in the field of arms or his long devotions in the cloister!
“And so with us, who so poor, so oppressed, so helpless, so mute and uncared for, as the dumb creatures who serve us – they who but for us must starve, and who have no friend on earth if man be their enemy? Even these are not too low for pity nor too base for justice, and without fear of irreverence or slight on the holy name that Christians love, we may truly say of them, as of the captive, the sick, and the hungry, ‘Inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, My brethren, ye do it unto Me.’ (1)
“For, as St. Francis of Assisi has told us, all the creatures of God’s hand are brethren. ‘My sisters the birds,’ he was wont to say; ‘my brothers the kine in the meadows.’ The essential of true justice is the sense of solidarity. All creatures, from highest to lowest, stand hand in hand before God. Nor shall we ever begin to spiritualise our lives and thoughts, to lighten and lift ourselves higher, until we recognise this solidarity, until we learn to look upon the creatures of God’s hand, not as mere subjects for hunting and butchery, for dissecting and experimentation, but as living souls with whom, as well as with the sons of men, God’s covenant is made.”
(239:1) Dreams and Dream-Stories, Nº. XXI.
(240:1) For the remainder of the instruction, see p. 97 ante.
(251:1) On the subject of the animals being “a living conscious portion of the divine mind,” so that every pang suffered by them is suffered directly by that mind, see England and Islam, pp. 214-216, 244.– S.H.H.
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