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[Portrait of Edward Maitland AET. 70]
CHAPTER XXXVII AND LAST
IN the spring I took up my abode in some newly erected studios in Thurloe Square, (1) being attracted thereto by various considerations. Among these were my preference for large, lofty, and well-lit rooms; the fact that, having never before been occupied, they would be free from the possibility of uncongenial influences remaining from former associations, and amenable, therefore, only to those introduced by myself; and the fitness of a building thus styled and dedicated for one who, though neither painter nor sculptor, was none the less artist, in that he always is artist who, cultivating an ideal, strives to make that ideal an actuality, and so far as in him lies, to recreate the world in the image he has cherished, – a point of view regarded from which the supreme artist is God Himself.
Thus settled, I devoted myself sedulously to the threefold task of re-establishing my broken health, carrying on our work as I knew my vanished colleague would wish it to be carried on, and watching for tokens of the fulfilment by her of her promises to come to me and continue our collaboration. Of her ability to perform her part of the compact I had no manner of doubt. I doubted only of my own ability to regain the sensitiveness requisite for my part of it. All depended, I was convinced, on the recovery of my physical health. For I knew by experience that the higher the tone of my organic system, the more open I should be to such intercourse. It is to the record
of the intercourse which actually occurred that this concluding chapter will be mainly devoted. Thus only will this history be complete, seeing that, first, allusion has been made in the course of it to incidents the promised sequel of which was post mortem; and, secondly, that the very nature of the work recorded necessitates experiences of the kind in question in corroboration of its doctrine. It remains only to state that she had made me her literary executor and trustee, and bequeathed to me the few hundred pounds saved of her professional earnings, to be expended on the publication of her literary remains, and such allied purposes as our work required; and I am free to pass at once to the subject of this chapter.
My faculty, it will be remembered, had consisted in sensitiveness of hearing and touch rather than of sight, saving only when asleep; for then my spiritual vision was of the keenest. For this reason I did not anticipate ocular proofs of her presence; unless, indeed, she should visit me in sleep. And concerning this possibility, I reflected that any experience of such kind would be unsatisfactory, as it might be but a dream, and would require corroborative evidence to give it value, such as would be afforded by the communication of knowledges specially characteristic of her. But no dreams of such kind occurred to me; and for a considerable period the only intimations I had of her presence consisted in such enhancement of mental perception in regard to our work as might be due to the duplication of my faculty by hers, the result being fresh applications of the key given us to the interpretation of spiritual mysteries.
In May  I made the acquaintance of a lady who, without being a medium in the sense of going under control, was in a remarkable degree clairvoyant and clairaudient to spiritual presences. My anxiety to lose no chance of communication, added to my recognition of this method as legitimate, induced me to sit with her for the purpose, she coming to my rooms, where I was satisfied the conditions would be best. She was a person of ordinary intelligence and acquirements, but simple and genuine of character. The answers repeated by her in reply to the questions put by me were all such as might have come from Mary, and as the intermediary was incapable of devising. Hence I give some of them, though not deeming them conclusive as proofs. Her own knowledge of us, and our
association and work, was but slight, and far from such as would have enabled her to invent the replies. I will call her Mrs. H.
Thus, to my question about the personality of the influence declared by the sensitive to be present, the latter replied that she was shown the letters “A.K.” as denoting the name she was generally known by, but that there was another, which for the present the spirit reserved. As to my question about her present state, whether it was one of complete freedom from the physical suffering of which she had experienced so much while in the body, and from mental distress, it was answered: –
“I put off all physical suffering with the organism. For the rest, I have only a sense of work unaccomplished. The past is gone, with its joys and its woes, its triumphs and its failures. Look not back to it; care only for the future. For yourself, all depends on the care you take of yourself how long you live. Avoid all excitement, especially argument and controversy, which injures both yourself and your work. Work on quietly and steadfastly, unimpressed by any strange influence. You have not time to repair errors, therefore avoid making them. There are those who will try to hinder, and who will resent what you say. But do not heed them, and do not seek to champion me. You have other work to do, something new, and interpretative of what we have written; something suitable for the masses. For the world is so low, material, and grovelling that people can be raised only by the most elementary instruction, absolutely simple and plain. Use no hard words. Hitherto the learned have written only for the learned, and have left the generality in ignorance. Your work is rather to give our truths to those who are in total darkness than to those who think they know. Avoid, then, technicalities; help the receptive who are ready, willing, and unprejudiced. And in writing my life, do it only as the history of a soul, in its weakness and its strength; not as a eulogy of a person, but as I see you have it in your mind to do it.”
To my question if she had been with me of late and trying to make me conscious of her presence, it was replied: –
“Yes, and you have received from me the impressions I wished to convey, though unaware of their source. We used often in my life to read each other’s thoughts directly, and without using words, and we shall now do this more and more according as you encourage the wish and direct your mind to me.”
“Is there,” l asked, “much new matter of high importance for me to receive? And must I work hard, or is there plenty of time before me?”
“There is much to do,” was the reply, “but not much time to do it in. So work while you can.”
To my question whether certain messages sent to me by various mediums, some of whom were strangers to me, were
really from her – for I greatly distrusted them, if only because I could not imagine her visiting some of those whom I did not know – it was replied: –
“Not personally or actively. I influenced the controls of certain mediums to give them messages from me to you, assuring you of my welfare and continued alliance with and regard for you.”
This was a reply which fully accounted for the inability shown by the controls in question to answer any further question about her put by the circles visited, even though they had spoken as if really herself, claiming to be her, as if for the moment believing themselves actually to be the person they represented, an illusion fully compatible with the astral character I ascribed to them, and not due to any conscious or intentional deception.
Among the messages sent me by strangers purporting to come from her was one which struck me as of exceptional importance, being accompanied by another purporting to come from Swedenborg, in which I was informed that, as he had interested himself in our work during her lifetime, so now he was in relations with her and was serving her. As we had never, at that time, mentioned to anyone our intercourse with Swedenborg, this struck me as too remarkable to be an accidental coincidence, and I called on the sender for an explanation of the manner of its reception. But all that I could extract from him was the statement that it had been received by a certain lady of his acquaintance who did not wish her name divulged, and who had entrusted the message to him for transmission to me.
The time was then approaching for the annual meeting at St. James’s Hall of the London Spiritualist Alliance, when some notable trance-medium was to deliver an address. I was not in the habit of attending such gatherings, but on this occasion I found myself so strongly impelled to go as to make me wonder at the circumstance, and to seek the reason therefore. This I failed to find, but none the less did I obey the impulse as possibly due to some suggestion which I might regret not having heeded, even though unaware of its origin and motive. In any case, the worst that could happen was a wasted evening. So far as the address delivered was concerned, it was such an evening, excepting perhaps for the proof afforded of the astral character of the speaker’s inspiration, as shown by its utter unspirituality. For it consisted in a denunciation of the doctrine of Reincarnation, on the ground
of the diminutiveness and general insignificance of this planet as compared with other heavenly bodies and the universe at large, no account being taken of the lessons to be learnt by experience of the lives lived here. By which it appeared that the speaker ranked physical dimensions above spiritual evolution, thereby showing himself to be a spiritualist of a very materialistic kind.
In the course of the evening I was accosted by a stranger, who said that he was commissioned by some ladies who were present to request my consent to an introduction to them. They proved to be a Mrs. and Miss W., the latter a simple and unsophisticated girl of about seventeen, through whom had been written the two messages sent me, of which one purported to come from Swedenborg. Finding them to be persons of high consideration, excellent social position, serious, and in every way desirable as acquaintances, I accepted an invitation to visit them and witness Miss W.’s exercise of her gift, which consisted in the power of writing under a control which used her hand only, without affecting her consciousness.
For, besides being unaware of what was being written by her hand, which altogether transcended her own knowledge and capacity, she was able to converse with those present with a freedom which showed that her mind was in no way engaged in the writing. The controlling influence claimed to be the soul of a woman not long dead, who, as representing a group of souls, spoke in the plural. Being spiritualists rather than mystics, the family had little knowledge of our work, and it was soon made evident to me that the communications were independent both of them and of my own thoughts. They began: –
“We call you the shell-breaker. You crack the outer crust of problems and get at their kernels. We see the form of a spirit who is near you, and yet we can hardly call it a spirit, but rather a glorified soul, and she speaks to us, but cannot herself control the writing for want of use. But she will answer the questions you put, and we will write her answers. She has sent, she says, no communication to you direct from herself, but has given several medium-spirits messages for you. She knows that the power will be given to impress you herself so distinctly that she will be able to continue her work through you. And she bids us say that, when she can find a medium unspotted by the world, she will communicate with you through her, but she hesitates to place the pure water of life in a dirty glass. The inner communion with you has already commenced. Soul speaks to soul; but your soul is not yet able to impart the impression to the body. She lost time, she says, in
establishing the material link, because she thought there would be no need, for she thought that you also might be allowed to leave the body. But now she knows that your work on earth is not yet finished, and so she will try to establish the inner consciousness. To this end you should devote a certain hour daily to withdraw your thoughts from other things and centre them upon her, not with any straining, but with a calm and restful feeling.
“There is more difficulty in her case than in that of many others. For she was not an ordinary human form. She was an unveiled soul, shining through the material form. She did not need to draw through different sources; she drew direct from the Infinite. There was no cloud between her and her Master, for they were one in spirit. And therefore, now she is withdrawn from earth, she shines as a light which sheds its soft lustre round the object she encompasses, and does not, as those less advanced, dart a ray on one single point. She bids us tell you that she now sees doubly all that she knew and felt on earth. But it is difficult for us to enter her sphere sufficiently to be able to convey to you what she wishes us to say. She speaks to us more by impression than by expression. We fail to render the poetry of her language. A thought had but to float towards her to be covered with a golden veil of poetry before she let it again go free. Thoughts clothed themselves in poetry as they approached her. She was an entirely different order from all those to whom she was allied by kindred on earth. For she was a soul made perfect, caged in the body for the purpose of uniting the chain of the earthly and the spiritual; but she had not one idea in common with those who were called her relations. She dwelt among them, but was not of them, she says, and had she not known you, would never have shown the life she possessed interiorly.
“It was not necessary for her to develop in the way that most have to develop. She did not cling to any to aid her to grow upwards. She clung to the highest power of all. She had no weight to attach her to earth. All in her was attached to the spiritual.
“And now she is in a sphere so far removed above us ordinary spirits that she appears to us as a constellation shining by a light of her own. She is so closely united with her Master, with Divinity, that she knows all things of herself, and does not require to be told them as we do. And she passed up so rapidly to her own sphere that she could not have held communication with anyone in the lower spheres, had there been any there whom she knew.
“She wishes you to know that the friend who had promised to receive her when she quitted the body was present and did receive her; (1) but she could not stay with her long, because she had to mount to higher spheres and leave the friend behind. But she is able to see her and hold converse with her. Remember, there is the difference between a soul being made perfect, and a soul which is made perfect.
‘‘She bids us tell you that a curious mist seems to come over her when she tries to recall the more material portions of her life on earth. She seems to see only the purposes which overshadowed all deeds. And that is often the way when we leave earth. Earth itself passes from our memory, though all that made earth endurable
lives for ever in our inner consciousness. She bids us also tell you that she would often have sent you messages, but being unable to speak them directly to yourself, she refrained from entrusting them to a channel which she feared might misunderstand and pervert them, and sully their purity.”
To my question as to how far she was still affected by the memory of her sufferings, it was replied: –
“She rejoices to let you know that the suffering she enjoyed – yes, enjoyed – was the ladder that led her spirit upward, ever upward. She knows now that, had that suffering not chained her spirit to her material frame, the power she possessed would have been of no use in this sphere of earth. For had her body not suffered, her knowledge could never have been expressed, but must have remained in her inner self as a dream, one day to be realised.
“We understand her as saying that she undertook to restore the thirteen sacred books she had possessed as the Sibyl, and meant that she was able to place on paper, in this her last earthly existence, all that was in the burnt books. The burning had not been by actual fire, for the books were not material books. But through yielding to passion she had lost the wonderful knowledge contained in the inner volume. There are many secrets still to be revealed. All has not yet been given. And the teacher must wait until the pupil is advanced enough to understand what is being learnt. That pupil is the world. That she had been able to recover so much of them, and to give them forth in her life just passed, was due entirely to her association with you. But for your influence she would have kept all she knew locked up in her own soul.
“When a soul gets very high it is impossible for it to come into direct contact with the material. She might, indeed, speak consciously to yourself, but yet be unable to control your hand. She might speak more clearly by dictating words than by directing through us the hand of our medium. May we be allowed to call her Mary? For that is the name under which her influence makes itself known to us.
“She wishes you to be assured that she who is now holding communication with you through us is indeed Mary – the soul. There are two A.K.’s, her outer detached personalities in the astral sphere, and you will have to distinguish her impressions from those of the others, should they come to you.
“We knew you wondered how it was that you came to attend the meeting where you met with this circle. It was the Divine Will that you should meet, and for that purpose you both were sent, that you might find others like-minded with yourselves. We can tell you what will surprise you, – Swedenborg; there lies the key. He was in your sphere and in the sphere also of our circle, and he was charged to bring you together through us.”
There were many things in these communications which I could account for only by supposing them to be genuine, and that I had really come into relations with the soul of Mary. I
had been so fully cognisant of the manifoldness of her personality as to wonder in which of her characters she would communicate with me, if at all. But I had strictly reserved the thought to myself. The possibility of a duplex and divisible astral personality had scarcely occurred to me. It is one of the most recondite facts in occultism. And, moreover, my friends were spiritualists, and unaware of the distinction between “Mary,” the true soul, and the astral phantom. Another fact known only to myself was that of her having had no relation or friend who had predeceased her who was spiritually related to her. Nor was anyone but myself aware of her being beyond all else a poet.
The statement, also, that owing to her union with her divine principle she knew all things of herself, and did not require to be told, was word for word what had been declared years before to us by our own illuminators, and had been kept strictly to ourselves. (1) The assurance now given me that she who was now speaking was indeed Mary, the soul, was for me another strong proof of genuineness, since no one but myself knew that she had been so called expressly in accordance with the symbolism which adopts Mary as the typical name of the soul.
I subsequently came upon yet further evidence at once of the genuineness of this communication and of the occult knowledge possessed by the ancient Gnostics. For in the year 1892, when reading King’s Gnostics, l found a citation from the Gnostic gospel, the Pistis Sophia, or Faith-Wisdom, in the chapter on the state of the Initiate after death, stating that after death the Initiate receives a light which denotes the number of his soul’s place in the spiritual spheres, and that in virtue of his possession of this light he passes rapidly up to his own proper altitude, the Rulers of the lower spheres being prevented by it from detaining him. Mary, we had been assured by our illuminators, had been initiated more than once in her previous lives. But as yet we had never divulged this knowledge.
During the summer I occupied myself in preparing her Dreams and Dream-Stories for publication, intending to preface it by a short account of her life and faculty. But I no sooner set about composing this than I found myself strongly impelled to use only as preface to it a paper which she herself had written in anticipation
of its publication in her lifetime, and thus to let her be the only speaker, save for the occasional brief notes requisite. Meanwhile my health was mending, though but slightly, and I was beginning to feel somewhat more conscious of her presence, and of her attempts to hold direct communication with me, but I obtained only vague impressions. On September 28  I sat again with the Mrs. H. already referred to, having had no communication with her in the interval; so that she was quite unaware of the situation. On becoming lucid she said, without my having given her any clue, that my friend Mrs. Kingsford was present, “But she now calls herself Mary, and not A.K., as before, and is so much better and sweeter-looking, as if at her very best in every way.” And she asked me to explain the change of name and appearance. After I had told her that by calling herself “Mary” instead of A.K. she meant she was present now in the soul, and not merely in the astral form, which would account also for her radiant look, the sensitive continued: –
“I am told to tell you that she has been much with you, and finds you more sensitive to her presence than at first; and that you have carried out all her wishes very well indeed, and she is quite certain that you are impressed by her. She fears, however, to press you too soon with what might be premature; but your time is short for doing all that there is for you to do, and she finds it hard not to be impatient to get all said that she wants to say to you. She fears also that you and she may be misunderstood by the great majority. Those who have the inner light will understand, and she desires to reach the rest by making plainer what has already been published. You must therefore put it into simple and child-like language, if the masses are to be reached. For the mission, she now sees, is not to the few, but to the many, to the all. You alone have charge of the inmost truth. All others have failed either to receive or to accept the pure truth; and for want of understanding it, they have distorted it. I am to tell you that it has been revealed to her that an attempt will be made to upset your work by depreciating it and you and her, but she cannot say by whom or how. But you must stand firm, knowing you have the truth. The attempt is already being made in some quarters. There are two great classes who will be against you: those who deny all revelation whatever, and those who take the so called Christianity as their standard, and turn against all who have a different interpretation. Your worst opponents are not the unbelievers, but the misbelievers.”
In reply to my question whether she approved of my intention to follow the present book [Dreams and Dream-Stories] by one containing all her illuminations, an answer was given emphatically in the affirmative, with an instruction to add explanatory notes
stating their source and significance. Her function in our joint work, she added, was essentially reflective. She was given to me to be a mirror to reflect to me the universe and man. It had originally been intended that she should also portray to the world the highest type of womanhood; but there was too much else to be done, and our actual work, that of interpretation, was considered the most important to be done first. The world could not go right so long as it has a false religion. It was then intimated that our conversation must now close, as she could not remain long with any medium. When I was better she could remain any length of time with me, and she would then inspire me with all that she had to say. Meanwhile, to that end, I was to follow a certain mode of life, of which particulars were given me, and the wisdom of which I fully recognised. To my parting expressions of affection it was responded that there was no need for us to give our love to each other; for that is a perpetual possession between us – a fixed, unalterable fact, recognised by both, and not needing words. For it dates from long ages past, as we had been together in the closest union in many lives, and shall be hereafter. She has no thought now but for me and the work. But although that makes her an “earth-bound spirit” in one sense, it does not make her one in the bad sense, in which the term is commonly understood. For she is remaining below voluntarily in order to do good.
Sitting again, October 13 , Mrs. H. said: –
“Your friend is here, and I am to tell you that she finds you greatly increasing in sensitiveness to her presence; and she will soon be with you in a more palpable way, for she prefers greatly to converse with you direct, and with you only. There is so much that she wants done which you alone can do. It is through you alone that she is to speak to the world. For you alone can perfectly understand her. She is greatly pleased with what you have written since the last visit. You have written more to the point, and to the right persons, and at the right time. She wishes your present work to be completed with all possible despatch, as there is so much more to be done. She has an idea that what you are writing now will meet with opposition. But you are not to be afraid, but go on, and do not heed ‘friendly criticism,’ as it will profess to be. Go on in spite of it, for the work’s sake. No one must be allowed to interfere. The work must be the paramount consideration. There are many, both on that side and on this, who are seeking to hinder the highest expression of Truth, which has been given to Us alone, and who know so much as to make them dangerous. But, in making haste, be careful to be accurate. Allow no doctrine or sect to have
any influence with you. Her relations, she says, may perhaps dislike her being presented as you will present her. But she must be so presented, as you knew her, or – and this she says with great solemnity – she will have lived in vain.
“Remember she is with you, and is one with you, in all you do, and follows and helps you in all. You are to declare the whole truth, and not to trouble about anyone or anything. With her co-operation you will be able to surmount all obstacles and solve all questions. Always be calm in your writings and conversations and discussions. Your coming visit to Atcham will bring her nearer by putting you into a more receptive attitude. The books you are now preparing will make her biography sought for, and this will educate the world more than all else, by showing how the Divine life can be led, and the faculties opened to Divine truth, and that to get that truth the Divine life must be led. This is her chief longing – to have the Life written as you are preparing to write it, and you must not let anyone change the plan of it. It is only through the woman-principle in man that such truth can come, and it was her mission to represent that principle.”
In the last week in October  I visited Atcham full of hope that the associations of the place would promote the conditions requisite for the experience I craved. And in this view I went daily to the grave, and endeavoured, forcibly but silently, to project my wish to the spheres, inner and upper, that I might at least hear her addressing me by the name which she had occasionally used for me, my initiation-name – Caro. But though I listened intently, I was unable to persuade myself that I heard any response; and after three or four attempts I desisted, intending to try again after a short interval. On the last occasion, however, I was convinced that my wish had not been dissipated in space, but had penetrated to the sphere to which it had been directed, and had actually reached her for whom it was intended, and formed a line of communication between us, by which she was endeavouring to transmit a response which only my defect of faculty prevented me from receiving. My sense of the existence of such a line thus made, and of someone at the other end of it thus engaged, and of there being a message on the way to me which expended itself without reaching me, was unmistakable, and I resolved to be content for the present with such result. The date of this last attempt was Tuesday, October 30. I made no mention to anyone of these attempts, or of my desire.
Four days later – Saturday, November 3 – I received by post from London, forwarded to me under cover, and bearing a Scotch postmark of November 1, a letter from a young lady, Miss
M.H.E., who had been an occasional correspondent of Mary’s, but had never seen her; and who, having the highest regard and veneration for her, had written to me in her illness inquiring after her. We had subsequently met in London, and had lately resumed correspondence in consequence of her desiring counsel under the following circumstances. She had, she told me, recently and quite unexpectedly developed the faculty of “mediumship,” and had received from her mother, then several years dead, visits and communications such as left no room for doubt as to their reality and genuineness.
Knowing enough of her surroundings to be aware that such experiences would inevitably be referred by them to the pathological rather than to the spiritual, and what was a recovery or an enhancement of a natural faculty would be regarded as a morbid delusion and “treated” accordingly, I had written cautioning her to keep strict silence respecting her experiences, and meanwhile to maintain a calm and critical, but not an unsympathetic, attitude of mind, firmly repelling whatever influences might be of an inferior order, and carefully recording all that happened. The event had proved the wisdom of the caution thus given, but either it had been received too late or had been disregarded. For, being under the impression that others would be as overjoyed as herself to find that one whom they had loved and lost still existed and cared for them, and could hold converse with them, she related to them what had happened, with exactly the disagreeable results to herself which I had anticipated and sought to avert.
The letter received from her by me on Saturday, November 3, was written on Wednesday, October 31, and in it she stated that in the course of the previous night – the night of the day of my last attempt beside the grave – she had been roused from sleep by someone whom she recognised as Mrs. Kingsford, who had caused her to write to me the letter now enclosed. The message thus dictated consisted of warm assurances of Mary’s continued regard for me and interest in our work, and concluded with the exclamation, emphatically underlined, and written with impetuous energy – “Caro! Caro! Caro! Does not my voice reach you? Caro!!! CARO!!! CARO!!!” Making it to appear as if she was then actually calling to me at each repetition louder than before, as well as writing, just as I had desired her to call, and as I had
felt that she was calling, though the sounds failed to reach my ears.
On the following day, Sunday, November 4, I received from Miss M.H.E., also forwarded under cover from London, another letter purporting to have been dictated by Mary, charging me to use for the book I had just edited, her Dreams and Dream-Stories, a preface which she herself had written, instead of one of my own composition, a copy of which I should find in a certain receptacle in the room which had been her study at the vicarage. The particulars, none of which were known to the writer, were correct in every respect, saving only that the word “schoolroom” was used instead of “study.” It was in the place named that I had found the preface in question, which, as before related, I had substituted for one of my own, under a strong impression that in so doing I was acting as she herself would prefer if consulted. The book, moreover, had actually just been published, so that the present instruction came too late to be acted on. From which it was clear that her knowledge of my doings was not fully up to date.
The letters thus dictated showed a gradual and increasing assimilation of the medium’s handwriting to that of Mary. But the envelope containing the last letter was addressed in a hand which was not merely like hers, but was hers, and was written with great freedom, clearness, and firmness, and as if dashed off at speed, the strokes being somewhat thicker than she was wont to make, as would naturally be the case when forcibly using the hand of another. It was accompanied by a letter from M.H.E. herself describing the sensation in her hand when writing it as that of being controlled by some pervading substance, which, while strong and firm, was soft and impalpable. The same post brought direct from Scotland another letter similarly addressed in Mary’s handwriting, as exact as mine was, to A. It had been written, M.H.E. informed me, on the same occasion as mine, but was delayed in the posting, so that it arrived simultaneously with mine from London. It came just after A. had quitted the vicarage for morning service, and while I was still in the house; and I placed it, pending his return, on the drawing-room table. The first person to see it was E., the daughter, who, on catching sight of it, at once called out to me, in great excitement, “Mr. Maitland! What can be
the meaning of this? Here is a letter for papa in mamma’s handwriting.”
Upon this I told her, what I had before kept to myself, that I also had received one similarly addressed, and that there was really nothing to be surprised at in the matter, as such things were well known to the ancients, and were mentioned in the Bible, and had been frequent since the rise of spiritualism; and it was only what was to be expected in the case of one so highly developed spiritually as her mamma. The purport of the letter to A. was identical with that to me. She had failed to follow me to the vicarage, and supposing I was still in London, had written to tell him to find the preface in question, and send it to me.
It will be remembered that in the spring of 1882 a difference had arisen between Mary and myself in relation to my book, The Soul and How it Found Me, on the ground of Miss Cobbe’s cruel aspersion and bitter persecution of her on identifying her as the “seeress” of that book; and that the experience especially cited by Miss Cobbe to her disadvantage was that entitled the “Vision of Creation,” or the “Vision of the Worlds,” and subsequently, in Clothed with the Sun, the “Vision of Adonai.” Completely demoralised by her acute suffering and sense of injustice on the occasion, she had forgotten her part in the publication of the book, and the necessity of it to our work, and conceived the impression that I had published it against her wishes, and committed a grievous error of judgment in the matter, which error she wished me to confess. I, however, had remained firm – in my conviction, and said that I would at once make such a confession if I could do so conscientiously; but that, so far from that being the case, I was absolutely convinced that some day – whether here or hereafter I knew not – she herself would be of my opinion, and would say that she was wrong and I was right in the matter. (1) I had failed to convince her, and the question remained, the one unresolved discord between us, though I had at once withdrawn the book from further sale. After her death I had still respected her feeling in the matter, though it had not found expression for a long time. And partly for this reason, and partly to recompense the publisher, who had so considerately
assented to my desire, I bought up the remainder of the edition and had it destroyed. There was yet another motive. I wished to be free to use the materials for my contemplated history of her and our work. Since the publication of Dreams and Dream-Stories I had occupied myself in preparing Clothed with the Sun. But here the question arose whether to include the vision which had been the source of so much distress and trouble. My own conviction had remained unshaken. It was absolutely indispensable to our work as showing that no mystical experience, however lofty and recondite, had been withheld from us that would enable us to speak with authority from personal knowledge. But the recollection of her objection rose before me so vividly as to make me uncertain whether it was only recollection, or whether it was being reinforced by her present opposition. In this dilemma I sought for some direct, palpable indication from her as to the inclusion of this vision. To that end I addressed to her, as though visibly present, a formal statement of my reasons for its republication, not speaking aloud, but mentally. To my great satisfaction, I found, on concluding, that I was no longer under any hesitation in the matter, but that whatever opposition there might previously have been was entirely withdrawn; and I accordingly included it in the book, placing it last, in order to be able to suppress it in the event of some later and positive intimation to that effect. Meanwhile I was so confident of her assent that the matter no longer weighed on my mind. I was conscious also of assistance from her, not verbally and audibly, but by means of enhancement of perception and judgment, in the preparation of the notes and appendices, some of which dealt with matters of the utmost profundity.
Such was the situation when I received an invitation to attend a sitting for automatic writing by two ladies who possessed that gift. Of these ladies one only of them was known to me. She was a Mrs. C., whom I had met but twice, but of whom I had seen sufficient to assure me that she was a person of sound judgment, mature in spirit as in years, and altogether reliable. Nevertheless, I at first declined the invitation, on the ground that I disliked mixed sittings, and never joined in them. I was assured, however, that the persons to be present were all serious inquirers, and no element of frivolity would be admitted; all that was
wanted of me was to be present and offer any suggestions respecting the conduct of the sitting. While pondering the matter I found my hesitation entirely disappear, and I consented to attend in the character described. I had no definite anticipation of any results personally interesting to me, but previously to going I mentally asked Mary to be present, and to tell me through them, if she might, of any change that ought to be made in my book of her illuminations. The sitting duly took place, the two ladies who wrote being in the centre of a circle of six or eight persons, when, after some messages which they recognised as from persons known to them, they said to me that my late friend, Mrs. Kingsford, was present, and would answer any questions I might like to ask. To which I replied by exclaiming, “So, then, you have really come at my request?” To which it was said in writing, “Yes; the tie is not snapped.” I then said, “Now is the time to tell me about my work. Is there any change you wish made?” To which it was answered, “I wish to tell you that since I have been on this side I have come to see some things differently from what I did before, and that about the ‘Vision of the Worlds’ I was wrong and you were right.” My satisfaction at this was supreme. Only we two had ever known of the difference which had thus arisen between us; and now, after the lapse of seven years, she had fulfilled my prediction, and used the very words I had declared she would use when her perceptions should become clearer, thereby showing recollection and growth and readiness to acknowledge her error of judgment. And when I explained the matter to the persons present, they fully appreciated the grounds of my satisfaction and the positive proof afforded of continuance and memory and advancement after death.
On June 5, 1889, Mrs. H. sat with me and reported Mary as saying that she was aware of the difficulties placed in my way by opposition of various kinds, and was pleased at my unswerving steadfastness; that the opposition was becoming weaker, and would gradual]y disappear.
“She sees,” she continued, “that you need rest and change, and is anxious that you get them soon, before beginning fresh work. You put so much of your own substance into your work that you exhaust yourself. Do not be afraid of taking all the rest and sleep you require now, without waiting for your holiday. Visit different places, as last year, keeping Atcham for the last, and returning thence home for your work. That place suits you best for several
reasons, one of which is, that she gets at you best there to help you. She much approves all you have done, and is surprised at the completeness with which you are able to carry out her wishes. Do not fear – as you have feared – that you have spoken too explicitly. Some members of her family may object on conventional grounds, but do not mind them. Be firm and gentle; the world is fast moving on, and will recognise your new book beyond any of the others. She fully approves the idea of a cheap edition of The Perfect Way, and wishes also for a small, plainly written book to be published, setting forth its teaching so that all can understand it; also a volume of her collected lectures, papers, and essays on Vegetarianism, (1) Vivisection, and other subjects, and by and by her lectures on the ‘Credo.’ These last are in advance of people now, but will not be so long, as people are themselves advancing. Meanwhile keep on writing the Biography, to be ready when the time comes for its publication, when those who might object to it will either be sufficiently advanced to object no longer or will be removed. The Biography will be a most valuable light to the world as exhibiting the history of the soul. All these books will together constitute a complete body of knowledge. She is very busy in advancing the work by influencing others also; and you will find help and recognition coming from many quarters where she is busy. Do not think of her past sufferings, or of herself as still weak and suffering and needing tending. All that was put off with the physical organism. Dismiss the recollection of these from your mind as mere pictures, useless and even pernicious to dwell upon, and as weakening to you both. For she derives strength from you when you think of her as superior to such conditions. You have expanded much, she says, and have a larger and firmer grasp of the truth even than when last you conversed with her through me. The influences here are excellent, and it is much better for me to come here than for you to come to my residence. It does me good to come here, the influences are so pure. She approves of an occasional conference of this kind, though well satisfied with her success in impressing you directly. You do everything she wishes, she says, and that is the best proof.”
To a question put by me about the Theosophical Society, The Secret Doctrine and its influence on our work, it was replied: –
“The ultimate effect of that Society will be to help your work. It will have acted as a great net to draw people to these subjects; but they will not long remain at the Society’s level, but will rise towards yours. That Society’s work fell into about the worst hands into which it could have fallen. There were no good instruments, and such as were available had to be used. They will pass away and be succeeded by better ones, and you will find that movement
has been a great help to yours. Madame Blavatsky’s sources of information are partly from study, and partly, as she states, spiritual, but reflective or astral rather than original and Divine, the truth being greatly obscured and distorted. Reading her book is like wading into a sea of mud to find a single little pearl. In all you write you should explain fully, and you will have nothing to recall; and remember that whatever you say will endure for ever.”
Startled by this last utterance, I remarked, “You mean whatever I say with full perception.” To which it was replied, with much decision, “I mean whatever you say. You will be allowed to say nothing without full perception.”
The sitting concluded with an injunction to use the medium only on an emergency, and to seek directly to Mary herself, as it was almost a sacrilege for any third person to come between us.
On June 24  I sat again with Mrs. C. and her friend, in compliance with an invitation which I had accepted only after much hesitation, notwithstanding the supremely satisfactory nature of my previous sitting; and that I did finally accept it was owing to an impulse of such a nature as to lead me to ascribe it to Mary herself. It was at a time when I was perplexed well-nigh to despair about the projected Biography. Two lines had suggested themselves to me, neither of which I cared to adopt, my chief difficulty arising from my consciousness of the offence likely to be taken by her relatives, especially at the intimations she had received about some of her previous lives, which were among the most valuable incidents to be recorded. One of the two lines was to write a brief memoir, keeping as close as was practicable to the conventional, and such as could give offence to no one; but that would be to produce a book entirely devoid of spiritual value, and to such extent to make her to have lived and suffered in vain. The other was to write in full, as she herself had charged me, and leave the book to be published when not only I myself, but all who knew her, had passed away, and to incur the risk of its never being published at all. I shrank equally from both alternatives, and no third course presented itself, so that I was altogether unable even to make a commencement. While in this dilemma it suddenly occurred to me to attend the sitting to which I had been invited, first asking her to be present and to solve my difficulty. Accordingly, when about to start from home for the purpose, I mentally begged her to accompany me, and wrote on a slip of paper a reminder of the point at issue, partly to ensure
my own recollection of it, and partly to show the circle what I had come prepared to ask, in the event of a reply according with my need. The words I wrote were these: “Am I to withhold anything or write in full?” No one in the world but myself knew either of my intention or of my difficulty.
As on the previous occasion, I took my seat in the circle, and the ladies wrote on a small table in the centre. We had lunched together first, and they had begun writing before I joined them in the drawing-room. But I had scarcely taken my place when their communications ceased, and it was written, “There is someone else here who wishes to write for one of the party.” “Is it for so and so?” they asked, naming one and then another. “No,” was the reply. At last I said, “Is it for me?” “Yes,” it was written. Then I said, addressing the controlling spirit, and resolved, as was my wont, to make the test a crucial one, by giving no hint of what was in my mind, “If you are indeed whom I suppose, you know what is perplexing me; can you solve my difficulty?” It will be remembered that my secret written question was, “Am I to withhold anything or write in full?” It was then instantly written, “Do not withhold anything. The minds of those left behind are changing, and will change yet more, and you will have no difficulty in saying all that you wish to say. Light will come in developing thought. All these things must and will be allowed. The leaven is working in many others. There must be criticism, but act independently of it. The time is not yet ripe, but do not shrink on that account. Your service is that of the pioneer.”
The surprise and satisfaction of all present may be imagined when I produced the slip of paper containing the question thus so directly answered, and in its own words. But this was not all. During the writing its character had entirely changed from a slanting, pointed, running hand to her own square, upright hand, the writers declaring that their hands had been compressed at the time with so much force as to make them feel faint from the pressure.
Speaking with Madame Blavatsky of these and other experiences, I remarked that her attitude towards spiritualism failed to take account of phenomena such as ours. To which she replied very emphatically that nothing that she said about spiritualism applied to persons like us, but only to persons who
are quite undeveloped in their spiritual nature, as the spiritualists are as a rule, and who can therefore hold intercourse only with phantoms and spooks, and such other low orders as correspond to their own level. What I had told her confirmed the belief she already had, that Mary had become what the Hindoos call a Nirmâna-kaya. That is an order of souls who have to such extent been adepts in their lifetime, and so far perfected their spiritual principles, that after death they are free, and able to renounce their right of immediate ascent to higher conditions, and remain within reach of the earth in order to influence and instruct persons who are still living on it.
The book of her illuminations was all in type, and the first sheet of the final revise had been sent me without my having been able to find a title to please me; and in default of it the printer had begun to set up a portion of the sub-title at the top of the left-hand page. I was in despair. Titles had always been a strong point with me, and now I found myself at a loss with the book I esteemed above all others. Meanwhile I felt absolutely convinced that there was in the world a title to suit it, and one only, yet I could not hit on it, and the printer was waiting! “I must have it!” I exclaimed to myself. “Where and what is it?” Another instant and it was flashed upon me, and proved to be one of the most familiar of Bible phrases, and so absolutely appropriate that I marvelled greatly at my failure to see it before. It was “Clothed with the Sun,” an apocalyptic expression which we had recognised as denoting the soul under full illumination of the spirit, and having full perception of Divine truth. Another instant and there were similarly flashed on me full instructions for the binding and cover. The front was to have on it the central part of the design which Mary had drawn for The Perfect Way, the figure of the woman standing in the sun, and the back cover to have a monogram of the initials of her mundane name, also invented and drawn by herself. This was a butterfly feeding on a twig, so disposed as to make the letters AK, and representing occultly the soul feeding on the tree of life, and the colour was to be that of the “blood-red ray of the innermost sphere, where Wisdom and Love are One.” So absolute and supreme was my satisfaction that I gave no thought to the possible source of the suggestion, but only wondered at my failure to think of it sooner. Meanwhile I kept it strictly to myself, as I had always made a
point of doing with my titles, looking as I did on a perfectly happy title as a property of priceless value, to disclose which prematurely would be to incur almost a certainty of loss through its appropriation by someone else.
Three days later my clairvoyant friend, Mrs. H., called on me, having been summoned by me to give her a certain commission from a friend. She knew nothing whatever of my book, or design to publish one. On taking her seat and becoming lucid, however, she at once began to smile as at some exquisitely pleasant circumstance, and then, before I had time to question her as to the cause of her hilarity, she exclaimed: –
“This is most curious, to see how you two think the same thing so exactly at the same moment that it is impossible to say who thought it first. Before you tell me what you have sent for me about, I have to tell you that your friend who calls herself Mary is here, and she bids me tell you that she sees you are very much pleased with the title of your new book, and that you think it is your own. But it is not. She gave it to you. She not only acquiesces in it, she claims it. And she tells me to say further, that although at present she has been unable to make herself palpable to your senses, as she yet hopes to do, she is most gratified by the readiness with which you receive and carry out all the ideas she suggests to your mind. And in answer to the one objection you have thought of to the title – that it has been used already for the recent book called The Mother, the Woman Clothed with the Sun – she says that it is no objection at all, because that book is an astral travesty representing the lowest order of spiritualism, and that by taking for your title Clothed with the Sun, which is the only part of it in Scripture, you will redeem it from such grievous perversion. I have further to tell you from her that she approves of all you propose to do, and of the dedication; and that, vast as is the work awaiting you, you will be allowed to remain until it is so far accomplished as no longer to need your presence. You alone can do it, and are to do it. Have, then, she says, no fear on that account. There is absolutely no one on whom your mantle could fall. You two are so much one in mind and thought, the harmony between you is so complete, as really to make identity rather than sympathy.”
I was not alone in my estimate of the book in question, as the following letter, received soon after its publication, will show, the writer being one whom I regarded as second to none in the power rightly to estimate it. For it was our ripe mystical friend, the Rev. Dr. John Pulsford, whose acquaintance we had made at Edinburgh: –
“January 31, 1890.
“I cannot tell you with what thankfulness and pleasure I have read Clothed with the Sun. Sincerely and very much I congratulate
you as the editor and collaborator with the Seeress. It is impossible for a spiritually intelligent reader to doubt that these teachings were received from within the astral veil. They are full of the concentrated and compact wisdom of the Holy Heavens and of God. If Christians knew their own religion they would find in these priceless records our Lord Christ and His vital process abundantly illustrated and confirmed.
“The regret is that so few, comparatively, will be able to read the book, or, reading it, to be aware of the tithe of its pearls. But that such communications are possible, and are permitted to be given to the world, in type, is a sign, and a most promising sign, of our age.
“The editing and the added notes, together with the appendix, are beyond all praise.
“It is no little joy to me to feel that, through these illuminations, I am so much more in sympathy with God’s daughter, the Seeress, than I supposed. The testimony is so clearly above, and distinct from, the degraded and degrading species of Theosophism derived from the occult powers of the universe rather than from the Supreme Spirit, and Father-Mother of our Spirits.
“Now let us expect Evah and Her Seed – the coming of Her Kingdom of the fourth dimension. Psyche, who is within and before Ether, shall yet be the flower and crown of Ether. – In the holy covenant and joy of Her Love,
One of the methods adopted by Mary to convince me of the genuineness of the impressions made by her on my mind was the communication of them to some friend at a distance who was sufficiently sensitive to her influence, with a charge to transmit them to me. My son’s return from India in 1891, after an absence and a separation of over ten years, was made the occasion of such a duplication. Having little sympathy with my work, and knowing the slenderness of my means, he naturally regretted my devotion to work commercially unremunerative, and made his engagement to be married the occasion of expressing himself to that effect. Meanwhile I had been advised by some of my adherents to form a society for assisting me in the promotion of my work, but had shrunk from the idea through my intense reluctance to the introduction of a money element in any form or kind. Nevertheless I felt that my son had reason on his side, and that it was a duty on my part to consider him and his interests. Between these conflicting feelings I was greatly perplexed, but was somewhat relieved when, on the near approach of his marriage, I received, palpably coming from Mary, an intimation that the event which seemed to me so calamitous for my work would really be advantageous to it, since it would compel me to assent to the proposals made of assistance from others.
This was the intimation, which was duplicated as follows. On the next day but one after the wedding I received from the mother of the Miss W. through whom I had held my first intercourse with Mary the following letter: –
“October 9, 1891.
“I enclose you a message which came for you this morning. My daughter was at breakfast, and found there was a communication to be made. We certainly had not been talking or thinking of you.
“‘We are asked to give you a message from the one who gives the name of Mary, to tell E. Maitland that she foresees some little amount of difficulty before him, but she wishes him to be quite easy, as it will not injure the cause of anything that he has at heart, but will in the end be a very good thing; and that he has her constant supervision and direction; for through the height of their wanderings together, she above can touch depths, and he below heights that bridge over the removal of the Body, and enable them to work together as formerly, as One.’”
In this way, without giving a hint of the nature of the subject to the intermediaries, she made herself perfectly clear to me, and ensured my acceptance, as really coming from her, of the intimation she had already impressed on my mind.
The first occasion on which, to my unbounded satisfaction, I was able to catch the tone and accents of her voice was as follows. By a train of events so exceptional as to seem to be ordered, I had been brought into relations with a certain weekly paper which was about the last I ever anticipated writing in. This was the Agnostic Journal and Eclectic Review, which I knew only as an organ of unbelief in its most pronounced form, its editor avowing it to be the object of his life utterly to discredit the Bible and destroy all that passed for Christianity. The few numbers I had seen of it had simply disgusted me by the dense materialism and coarse profanity of its writers. The editor, nevertheless, was – I was assured – better than his paper, and his revolt was not really against religion as such, but against the presentation of it to the destruction of which I myself was devoted. What if I could, in his columns, get pure spiritual teaching to an audience otherwise inaccessible on that side of their nature? The chief priest and Pharisee class had proved themselves as deaf as of old to any but the conventional orthodoxies. Appeal to them was useless. There was no room in the sumptuous inns of a press inveterately sacerdotal for the humanity represented by our work. How about the publicans and sinners of the lowly cave and stable
represented by the Agnostic Journal? I was bound to get a hearing, wherever it might be accorded, and what more likely than that the very novelty of the attempt to convict the dominant orthodoxy of heresy and falsehood out of its own sacred books, and thus to rehabilitate these, would win a hearing which would otherwise be denied?
Such were the conditions under which I consented to contribute to the paper in question the series of articles entitled “The Bible’s own Account of Itself,” and subsequently published under that name. I had despatched the first of the series overnight, without any particle of misgiving. But on rising next morning I found myself labouring to an extraordinary degree with apprehension at the prospect of the encounter I had challenged, feeling that I had gone into a hornets’ nest, or thrown myself, like another Daniel, into a den tenanted by far less noble creatures than lions, since, as materialists and vivisectionists, they had, most of them, so far suppressed their humanity as to be rather demon than human. Thus pondering and shrinking, I sat at the foot of my bed, when suddenly Mary threw herself upon me in an all-pervading embrace, giving me an immense accession of force and courage, and exclaiming in her own unmistakable accents, “Caro! They who are on your side are more than they who are against you. The mountain is full of horses and chariots of fire round about you!” And from that time forth, for all the years I wrote in that paper, I found myself possessed of force and lucidity amply sufficient to sustain me in every exposition and secure victory in every encounter; and from many of its readers – some of them life-long unbelievers – I received tokens of grateful appreciation, declaring that as I put spiritual things before them, they had no difficulty in accepting them.
Nevertheless such moments of depression would occasionally recur; and it was in an unusually severe access of such a mood that I chanced one day to be gazing on her portrait, that hung on the wall, when I was startled by a voice, which was unmistakably hers, speaking as from the picture itself, and saying, “Caro, you are the happiest man in the world!” To which I replied, “Well, I suppose I am.” But I am quite sure that anyone else would have declared that the picture itself had spoken.
I have mentioned that we had failed to find a satisfactory explanation of her Roman dream, entitled, in Dreams and Dream-Stories,
“A Haunted House Indeed.” (1) l had sent the book to a friend in Denmark, Herr Carl Michelsen, a notable and scholarly mystic, and to some extent a sensitive; and shortly after reading the story he wrote to me saying that, while pondering its meaning, a spirit giving the name of Anna came and told him that it meant Materialism. This was an explanation that I found altogether satisfactory, since it is by yielding to the glamour of the sense-nature, and therein to matter, that man becomes absorbed and loses his individuality. “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”
The result of my complying with the proposals made to me was the formation [in November 1891], under the name of “The Esoteric Christian Union,” of a society having for its object the propagation of the New Gospel of Interpretation, of which we had been the recipients. (2) Mary’s interest in the movement was
vividly manifested in various ways, notably in the supervision she exercised over the composition of the statement of the society’s
aims, methods, and scope. This was a compendious little epitome of the real doctrine of Christianity as founded in the nature of existence, and as subsisting in the Bible properly interpreted. (1) It made a small volume of less than a hundred pages, but, owing to its very smallness, it required an immensity of labour, so much had it to be condensed into so small a space, and with brevity it was essential to combine lucidity. The writing of it gave me more labour than anything I had ever before written. Night after night for weeks I went to bed satisfied with my day’s work, and woke in the morning with an entirely new presentation, far superior, which I had been enabled to think out in sleep. Occasionally during the day’s work her presence was palpable both to hearing and to touch. One instance of the former was as follows: –
I was aware of the numerous allusions in the Bible to the Intuition as the feminine mode, or “woman,” of man’s mental system, and I was seeking for some fresh allusions to the Intellect as the masculine mode, or “man,” of that system. I had paused in my writing to think inwardly for what I wanted, ransacking my memory, but for some time in vain. Presently she said to me, in her usual clear, incisive tones, “Caro, Lucifer is the intellect. Read the chapter,” with a strong emphasis on “chapter,” implying that I was to read it as a whole. This showed that she knew exactly where my mind was on the subject. I knew the chapter well, but had not read it as a whole, owing to the apparent division made in it between the first part, which refers to the king of Babylon, and the second, to Lucifer. I knew what was meant by the king of Babylon, and his fellow-kings of Egypt, Assyria, Tyre, and others – that they were mystical terms to denote the ruling principle in the world’s materialistic system – and she knew that I knew it; but I had not identified him with the principle apostrophised as Lucifer. But now, on turning to Isaiah xiv, I saw at once that they are the same; and that as, when united with the pure Intuition, the Intellect is the force
by which man may grasp and apprehend the truth, and is called therefore Lucifer, the Light-bearer, the bright and morning star, and opener of the gates of the day of the Spirit; so, when divorced from the Intuition and leagued with the sense-nature, he is the king of the Babylon of this world, and “prince of devils” in man. And it is of Lucifer in this sense that the fall from the heaven of his supremacy is exultingly hailed in anticipation by the prophet – as is subsequently that of “Satan” by Jesus – on the restoration of the “woman” Intuition, when she shall be “clothed with the sun” and carried to the throne of God, and her sons shall make war with the dragon of Matter and have victory over him.
The manifestation of the presence of Mary at this period culminated during the writing of the passage on page 80, alluding to the practice of vivisection as the initial prompting cause of our seeking the revelation which had been vouchsafed to us. This is the passage: –
“And if it be asked how, or under what circumstances precisely, an event so momentous came about, and what token, if any, there is to show that the Saviour it claims to restore is in very truth the same with Him of whom, it is alleged, man has been so cruelly defrauded, and that the Christ of the proffered Gospel of Interpretation is identical with Him of the accepted Gospel of Manifestation – this ought surely to suffice, He had His birth among the animals. (1)
“For their terrible wrongs, culminating at the hands of their scientific tormentors, were the last drops which filled to overflowing with anguish, indignation, and wrath hearts already brimming with the sense of the world’s priest-caused degradation and misery, wringing from them the cry which rent the heavens for His descent, and in direct and immediate response to which He came.
“For the New Gospel of Interpretation was vouchsafed in express recognition of the determined endeavour, by means of a thought absolutely fearless and free, to scale the topmost heights, fathom the lowest depths, and penetrate to the inmost recesses of Consciousness, in search of the solution of the problem of Existence, in the assured conviction that, when found, it would prove to be one that would make, above all things, Vivisection impossible, if only by demonstrating the constitution of things to be such that, terrible as is the lot of its victims here, the lot of their tormentors hereafter is unspeakably worse; as has proved, with absolute certainty, to be the truth, to the full vindication at the same time of the Divine Justice and the Divine Love.”
As I wrote the words, “the cry which rent the heavens for His
descent, and in direct and immediate response to which He came,” she threw herself upon me in an ecstasy of emotion, exactly as my mother had done fifteen years before, thrilling with intensity, and for some moments wept passionately through me, in token at once of her appreciation of my recognition of her work and its motive, and of her delight at having the truth thus fully and distinctly declared.
This was in December 1891. A very few weeks later brought the following experience: –
A lady living in London, whom I will call Mrs. C., – altogether unknown to me, but of a family notable for intelligence, energy, and beneficent public activity, wife of a distinguished lawyer, and an intimate friend of several of our foremost experts in science and philosophy, at whose feet she may be said to have been brought up, – came into contact with another lady, a friend of mine, and honorary secretary of my new society, “The Esoteric Christian Union,” and after a brief conversation was prompted to unbosom herself as follows. She was supremely unhappy, she declared, through the conflict in her mind between the two presentations of doctrine, the materialistic and anti-religious, and the spiritualistic and religious. All her surroundings belonged to the former; but she herself was to such a degree a sensitive that she was able to receive instruction from the world of spirits, and, under such influence, to write things which transcended her own knowledge and ability to originate, but not her power to appreciate and recognise as true. Any intimation to her scientific and philosophic friends of her gift and her belief in this direction was at once scouted as ridiculous, and declared to be the inevitable precursor of madness if persisted in. “That way lies Bedlam,” they would say, and solemnly caution her against encouraging such tendencies. And as they who spoke thus were the foremost exponents of the science of the day, she hesitated to trust her own judgment against their positive assertions that such things are utterly impossible. The mental conflict thus engendered in herself made her, she declared, unhappy, ill, and irritable, and incapable of properly discharging her duties, domestic and other; and she felt that, for the sake of all concerned, it must be put an end to if possible. She had therefore yielded to the impulse which had seized her to ask my friend if she could direct her to any person of experience and judgment
whom she might consult with advantage. The result was a visit to me, and a conversation lasting for some two hours. I found her a person of bright intelligence, high culture, perfect sincerity and candour, lofty ideals and great energy, and able to recognise at once the fallacies which, as I pointed out to her, vitiate alike the methods and the conclusions of the materialists in such a degree as to lay them, and not us, open to the charge of insanity. For, while claiming to found their system on experience, they really found it upon non-experience, because they deny on the strength of their own non-experience the things which we affirm on the strength of our experience, and consider that our affirmations thus founded are effectually disposed of by their denials thus founded. Doing which they really make, not experience, but non-experience the basis of conclusion. Then, again, while claiming to be Agnostics, and declaring that man is incapable of obtaining knowledge save through the bodily senses, and denying the possibility of knowing anything about God, the soul, and immortality, they are really posing as Gnostics, and claiming to know the limits of human faculty. And they, moreover, set limits even to Omnipotence itself, by denying to God the power to make Himself known to man. Their doctrine of Evolution, moreover, as defined by them, is an impossibility. For they deny the permanence of the Ego, which is the subject of Evolution; and without a permanent Ego to retain and advance by means of experiences undergone, there can be no Evolution. And not only this, but even while believing in Evolution, and admitting their total ignorance of the nature of the force by which it occurs, of the substance in which it occurs, and of the impulsion through which it occurs, they presume to assign limits to Evolution, as by denying the possibility of the experiences relied on by us. True, they call the substance in question matter, and define Evolution as the “integration of matter.” But seeing that matter is phenomenon, in thus defining Evolution they build their system on the appearance instead of on the reality of which matter is the appearance, totally ignoring the underlying original Substance, which is necessarily nothing less than Divinity itself, since there can be but one Substance of which all things are modes of manifestation.
Passing from the illogicality of their method, which she fully recognised, to their results as regarded the outlook for humanity,
I inquired whether her scientific friends were satisfied with the universe as constructed by them, and content with blank annihilation as their lot; to which she replied with emphasis, “No, indeed! Some of the very foremost of them have confessed to me the temptation under which they find themselves to commit suicide in order to get rid of the horror they feel at the idea of there being no future for them, and that they will be none the better permanently for all that they have done, and suffered, and learnt.”
I then told her of our results, and the certainty to which we had attained, both doctrinally and experientially, of our past as well as of our future existence; and went on to explain that it was precisely the mission of the Christ to demonstrate to men their own equal Divine potentialities with Himself, which belong to them in virtue of the divinity of the constituent principles of existence, its Force and its Substance; with all of which, and much more, she heartily concurred, and she took her leave, expressing the highest satisfaction, relief, and gratitude.
During the colloquy I had become aware of the presence of Mary. She did not, however, manifest herself to my visitor. But the latter had scarcely departed when she said to me, “I like her! I will come to her.” It did not occur to me what she meant by this. But some ten days later I learnt that she had actually come to her on the day following her visit to me, and after avowing herself to be the spirit who had collaborated with me and was now helping me, commenced giving her a series of instructions, and introduced to her a group of souls of a like high order, for the same purpose; all of which she wrote down under their guidance, they explaining the process to be, not that of “mediumship” or control – for her own consciousness was never set aside – but of enhancement of faculty by blending with her own mind. This continued for a space of about three months, (1) during which Mrs. C. came to me from time to time to read me what she had thus received and written; and in several instances, especially in the communications which I recognised as coming from Mary herself, it was identical even in terms with what she had suggested to me for the statement I was then writing for “The Esoteric Christian Union.” (2) Such is the genesis of the
little book entitled, A Message to Earth. That it was issued without any word of preface or introduction was due to the unwillingness of the recipient to risk recognition by her relations and friends. As, to my great sorrow, she was removed shortly afterwards, the omission will be made good in any subsequent edition, by the relation of its history; the testimonies received by me to its value from many persons of culture and judgment, having been of the warmest description.
The following is one of the utterances thus received. It came from Mary, and was one of those most characteristic of her. It contained expressions I had myself received from her. It was given in response to an appeal, made in a desponding mood, about the results of the new spiritual awakening generally, and about our work in particular – “Was it indeed the work of God, and would it be successful?” The utterance was headed –
“A CRY FROM THE BEYOND
“It is the work of God, nor can failure be where God is. The hour is at hand, cry Those of the Beyond, and they of earth’s denizens who can read the signs of the times shall unite with us to accomplish our holy work.
“See ye not that in many ways God works among you? On one level the stirring of the masses finds voice in what men call the ‘Salvation Army.’ On another, the Churches turn restlessly around, seeking to revitalise their faiths. Everywhere men’s minds are seeking truth or despairing that truth is not for man. Wherever your intuitions are true to Everlasting Fact are ye led to see beyond the veil into the things which transcend sense. Whether the result take place in one form or in another, the same Divine outpouring it is that underlies the spiritual phenomena of your age. Science, even, in laying bare the phenomenal aspect of the Universe, so far as man’s reason through his fleshly tenement can gauge it, has awakened men’s consciousness to the vastness of their surroundings, and has whetted their appetite for further knowledge. Nor will her cry – the cry of Science – that ‘what lies beyond the phenomenal is unattainable by man,’ avail to stay the onward tide of your eager souls. She has established the fact of Evolution as the pivot on which your Universe revolves – as the main-spring of its Being. And shall she set bounds and order limits to its unfolding in man himself? Shall the priesthood of Science replace the priesthood of Religion? Not so in face of facts she will not look upon, or can account for only by a denial of their existence. If the priesthood of the Earth – uttering itself whether as Religion or as Science – prompted by fears lest Truth abolish it, shall seek to withhold from you your Birthright in God; if, as Religion, its effort be to arrest man’s mind in contemplation of dead doctrines formulated centuries ago in self-preservation; or if, as Science, because of its own blindness, it utter a
limit to man’s growth towards the Divine, most assuredly shall it pronounce its own doom and awaken but to the knell of its own passing bell.
“For, has not God, in your accepted Evolution, decreed that the tyranny of man shall no longer restrain his fellow-man from reaching upwards to the clear Heavens he discerns above awaiting his approach? From henceforth, know, ye men, that God’s Church is the Universe, extending from Earth to Heaven; that God’s Temple is the human creature, whose goal is God; nor shall any limit be set by man to man’s conceptions of the Divine within or without him. And from henceforth, know, ye Churches of the Earth, that ye shall stand and grow in exact measure as ye grasp this truth and, having grasped it, as ye urge men on to realise the divinity Christ claimed for them. And, ye Churches of the Earth, ye shall perish, and that utterly, as ye blast man’s Divine hopes and impulses, perpetuating the priest-constructed doctrine of his sinful origin from a blood-loving deity.
“Nor shall Earth alone be glorified in its own redemption. Not in vain do the long ages of its past awaken in the voices of those who once called it by the sweet name of ‘Mother Earth.’ Not in vain do the Angels who claim to have been its own men and women appear to you in vast harmonies of love and faith, prophesying its near resurrection; not in vain do the Celestial ones audibly appeal to you, their loved ones, to join hearts and voices that Christ’s divine mission, the establishment of God’s Kingdom ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven,’ shall no longer be as a meaningless sound in your children’s ears” (pp. 21-23).
Another occasion on which I was distinctly accosted by her was the following, which occurred in 1893. I had been invited to take part in a discussion on vivisection at the S–– Club, but I hesitated about accepting, in the belief that its members – all of whom were women – were of the kind who prided themselves on sinking the feminine side of their nature in favour of the masculine, and accordingly were hopelessly committed to the side which I should oppose. I left the matter open until the last moment, having almost decided not to go. But while in the act of crossing Pall Mall from my club, about half an hour before the meeting, it was said to me in tones which were unmistakably hers, “Tell my sisters of the S–– Club that the really fallen woman is the woman who suppresses her womanhood.” I could not help being amused at the idea of presenting myself to such an audience with such a message. Nevertheless I did so, giving also the history of it, and, to my great relief and satisfaction, it was most cordially received.
The completion of this history was signalised by the last of the post-mortem experiences I propose to recount. The stage in our
intercourse had long passed at which an intermediary was necessary. I was able either to hear her voice or to receive on my mind the vivid impression of the ideas she desired to convey. The writing of this book had been my own secret, and no one had been allowed opportunity of making objection if so minded. But being finished, the time had come when, in the event of opposition being offered to its publication, such opposition was imminent. Of the probability of such opposition, its source and its motive, she had long since warned me, and had charged me to be resolute, and to suffer nothing and no one to hinder me. Now, however, in view of the announcement of its near publication, she evidently considered it advisable to reiterate and reinforce her previous admonitions, in order to strengthen me against any disposition to hesitate or yield; and she accordingly came to me and held colloquy with me to this effect.
When she had written that I should have no difficulty in saying all that I wished to say, her meaning was, no insuperable difficulty. The powers of evil, those “Haters of the Mysteries” from whom we had so greatly suffered, would inevitably do their utmost to prevent the publication of such a book, and they can always find instruments to do their bidding. It had never been shown to me why she was allowed to pass away with so much of the work left undone. It was now needful for me to know it. Our work had two sides, the doctrinal and the experiential. As the former it is a revelation of Divine truth; as the latter it is a record of actual facts demonstrating the spiritual nature of existence. The former had been largely accomplished in our published books; the latter would consist in the history of our work, which would give the world the demonstration so greatly needed of the utter falsity of materialism as proved by our experiences of the reality of the soul and the spiritual world. But this record could not be made public in her lifetime; and there remained to me, who was alone able to write it, little more than a sufficiency of life and power for the task. She, therefore, had been removed to allow of my doing this. And I was to let the knowledge that she had died when she did expressly in order to enable me to do it, and that without it she would largely have lived and suffered in vain, steel me against any opposition that might arise, however fierce, from whatever quarter proceeding, remembering that no mortal has a right to forbid the Almighty to make a new revelation
to the world, or to choose His own instruments. Should conflict arise, she would be on my side, aided by Divine help.
As the event proved, this admonition was not without its uses. It served greatly to support me at a very critical moment.
This record would be incomplete without the following answer – the only one at present in my power to render – to a question which can hardly have failed to present itself to my readers. This is the question: In virtue of which of my own former lives was I most specially qualified for the part assigned me in relation to the New Gospel of Interpretation? Throughout the whole course of our collaboration, from the time of our spiritual initiation in 1876, I had carefully borne in mind the intimations and suggestions which pointed to my having been a certain person, to be a reincarnation of whom, and of no other, would account for a number of circumstances otherwise inexplicable to me. But respecting such an identification I had maintained an absolute reserve, never hinting it even to my colleague, for I felt that if it were withheld from her by our illuminators – as, for reasons obvious to me, might well be the case – it was not for me to communicate it to her. I was far from admitting it to myself as a positive fact, and kept it as a surmise rather than as a conviction, as a possibility rather than a probability or a certainty.
Meanwhile, when once suggested, the idea remained with me, only to gather strength from accumulating evidences of the reality of which I was satisfied; for I knew by careful observation that, however sensitive I might be to psychical impressions, I was the reverse of fanciful. Among these evidences were my strong feelings of personal acquaintance with and attachment to Jesus; the longing to clear His character from complicity in the horrible doctrines founded on Him; the sense that whatever I seemed to know of Him was due to actual recollection, which, it will be remembered, I recorded as occurring long before I had the smallest conception of the doctrine of Reincarnation, and of the possibility of recovering such recollections of a previous existence; my high appreciation of and preference for the Fourth Gospel; the utterances with which my reading of certain portions of the Book of Revelation had been accompanied, and the likeness to the recovery of a lost memory of the process by which I discerned the meaning of such passages as I came to understand, and the feeling that it needed but a sufficient enhancement of
such faculty to regain the sense of the whole of it. Then there was the intimation so early given me that I was to live with my colleague as John would live with Mary Magdalen, were the two to come back to tell the world what they knew of Jesus – a life which I took to be one of entire devotion to her highest welfare and interests, with the tenderest consideration for the limitations and liabilities surviving from her past, and not yet wholly outgrown, and steadfastly surrounding her with the spiritual atmosphere essential to the perfect fulfilment of her mission. The agreement with each other of our recollections of Jesus, His person and ways; and the strong resemblances in character and faculty which I could not but recognise as subsisting between John and myself. My own frequent vivid dreams in childhood of imprisonment, persecution, and martyrdom, and notably of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, at which event, it seemed to me, I must have been present. And, lastly, the circumstance which occurred shortly after Mary’s death, of a certain medium, a man whom I met at a friend’s rooms, and to whom I and my work were totally unknown, giving in trance a description, as having connection with me, of the martyrdom of John by being boiled in a cauldron of oil, no thought of that legend having previously occurred to me.
That there should be such a return of John had been intimated by Jesus, both in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse, as to take place on the occasion of that second and spiritual coming of the Christ in the clouds of the heaven within men of their restored understanding of Divine things, which event, by interpreting the Christ, would constitute the latter days of that “evil and adulterous generation” in possession in the Church ever since the Fall. For the expressions, “tarry till I come,” and “not see death,” may well imply his continuance within reach of the Earth-life, instead of passing on to his final beatitude, since the word Death was used in the Mysteries to denote the last initiation whereby the soul, being dead to the world, attains its final perfectionment and emancipation from matter. Daniel and John, both of them “men greatly beloved,” had been told that they should stand in their places and prophesy at the latter days. There was so much of identity of spirit and character between the two men as to bear out the impression given me that John was a reincarnation of Daniel, in which case the annunciation
made to both of them that they should return would be fulfilled by the reincarnation of John, since the soul would be the same; and, as already related, it was Daniel’s inspiring angel, Gabriel, who gave us the interpretation of Daniel’s prophecy concerning the Time of the End. It would be an impiety to suppose such predictions to be made at haphazard, and argue complete ignorance of the power of the celestial world to foresee the future, and even to accomplish its own predictions by reincarnating at the fitting time the souls necessary for its purpose.
Another reflection worth noting in this relation is, that the belief that one has been such a person as John does not necessarily involve conceit or arrogance. The disciples of Jesus were, one and all, ordinary men, neither exceptionally great nor exceptionally good, and owe the veneration paid them entirely to their association with Him. Such veneration, therefore, is factitious, being reflective only and not direct.
But be these things as they may, the incident now to be recorded actually occurred to myself, in relation to the point involved, during the summer of 1892, the occasion being the preparation of the Second [revised and enlarged] Edition of the “Esoteric Christian Union” statement of our doctrine, under the manifest assistance of my late colleague. I do not, however, ascribe to her any part in it, nor was I at the moment conscious of any presence extraneous to myself. While writing I was suddenly seized with a strong desire to exchange supposition for positive assurance in regard to my identity with John; and looking up from my writing, I mentally put the question as to my own inmost self, being, as was my invariable wont, absolutely calm and collected, and without the smallest expectation of a response: “May I be quite certain of the reality of my seeming recollections of having been John the Evangelist and Seer, and that I am truly a reincarnation of the soul that was in him?” The response to this question came with an instantaneousness and force which seemed to imply that the question had been prompted and expected in order to make answer to it, there being no moment of delay to suggest the need of the arrival of anyone to answer it. It was electric for its swiftness, vividness, and intensity, and seemed to radiate from the very centre of my system to its farthest extremities, and it consisted in a mighty “yes,” which appealed to every sense at once, being alike heard,
seen, and felt. And when the sensation had passed away and the tones of the utterance had ceased to vibrate, I found myself perfectly content and satisfied, and undesirous of further assurance. The answer seemed to be intended as a final and conclusive reply, to seek beyond which would be to exhibit a distrust wholly without excuse in view of the history, relations, experiences, and achievements in which it had been given me to bear part.
(405:1) Nº. 1 Thurloe Square Studios, Thurloe Square, South Kensington, London, the house being the corner house on the south side of the square, and forming an angle with Pelham Street in the rear thereof. The chambers occupied by Edward Maitland were (entering) on the left-hand side of the ground floor of the building overlooking the garden in the square. They have since been somewhat altered in their internal arrangement. He went into possession in May 1888. – S.H.H.
(410:1) P. 356 ante.
(412:1) Vol. I, p. 340.
(418:1) See p. 46 ante.
(421:1) Anna Kingsford’s and Edward Maitland’s vegetarian writings have recently been published under the title Addresses and Essays on Vegetarianism; and this book will shortly be followed by their Addresses and Essays on Vivisection, and there are other writings to follow. – S.H.H.
(429:1) Pp. 314-5 ante.
(429:2) The object of the Society was not to form a new Church or Sect. Writing on this subject to a friend, Edward Maitland said: – “It is not at all our idea to form any new Church or Sect, but rather to radiate off our own illuminations into all existing bodies, with a view to lead them to recognise the spiritual truths underlying their own Scriptures and dogmas and formulas, believing that this will in due time cause the barriers of form which now separate them to dissolve and disappear before the recognition of their essential identity. (…) What I mostly desire is the opportunity of giving addresses on and readings in the New Interpretation to groups of persons really earnest for knowledge on the supreme subjects dealt with in it, and so by degrees forcing the official preachers and teachers of the existing Churches and Sects to recognise the fact that there is in the world, actually delivered in our own day, in accordance with numerous explicit prophecies, Biblical and others, a new revelation interpreting the former ones, and expounding all the mysteries of existence and religion in such wise as to satisfy absolutely man’s highest aspirations, intellectual, moral, and spiritual” (Letter, dated January 15, 1895, to T. May).
The Esoteric Christian Union did not survive the President-Founder. At the end of the first year of its existence its list comprised “some sixty members and numerous sympathisers,” but the Society was never much before the public. From the start it suffered from insufficiency of means. Few of the members were “of the richer sort.” There was never any money available for public meetings, for readings and expositions. By the rules, members were not bound to contribute anything towards the funds of the Society, contributions being optional. The Society also suffered from lack of workers. The writer joined the Society in 1894, and from that time there was never a general meeting of the members. Edward Maitland, as and when opportunity offered, delivered lectures and addresses, usually to private circles of students and inquirers in London and the suburbs, and he wrote numerous articles expository of the New Interpretation in various periodicals, notably in The Agnostic Journal, The Vegetarian, Light, and The Unknown World. For all practical purposes, Edward Maitland himself was the Society. Apart from his lectures and articles, the chief work of the Society was the dissemination by gift, loan, or sale of the publications and books regarded by the Society as the best exponents of the New Gospel of Interpretation (see note, p. 401 ante). In the second annual report, for the year ending December 31, 1893, Edward Maitland says: – “One notable feature [of the Society’s endeavours] is the increased desire evinced by the clergy of various denominations, especially the Anglican and the Roman Catholic, for fuller knowledge of the import of the doctrines and formulas of religion, and their greater readiness to recognise the writings disseminated by the Society as containing indubitably the interpretations hitherto sought in vain, but now in these latter days disclosed to the world in due fulfilment of the prophecies which foretell the breaking of the seals and opening of the Books, and the restoration of the faculty whereby is the understanding of divine things, as to occur at the present period and under the existing conditions of Church and World” (see also extract from the third annual report, pp. 400-2 ante). In the third annual report, for the year ending December 31, 1894, Edward Maitland referred to “the lightning-gleams of the advent of the new and divine Humanity [which were] already flashing from the east unto the west with a vividness and a lustre not to be mistaken,” and he appealed to “those to whom the blessing [had] been vouchsafed of light and knowledge in a degree transcending their fellows, actively to bestir themselves in spreading that light and knowledge”: and the report continues: – “What is especially needed is the accession of persons able and willing to address audiences, public or private, such as may be accessible to new light. At present the whole burden of such exposition has fallen on the President, but the results have been such as to show that only a sufficiency of labourers is required to reap an abundant harvest. (…) The world has entered upon a new epoch in its spiritual history, and one that is destined to issue in a dispensation truly millennial, in that it will witness the promotion of the spiritual consciousness of the race to a level transcending any hitherto attained by it as a race; seeing that never in the world’s history was the yearning for pure truth so intense and widespread as now; never were there such facilities for the transmission and diffusion of thought and knowledge comparable to those which now are; and never was that truth in its midst and accessible, in plenitude and simplicity, as now. Assuredly, then, while so many are hungering and thirsting after it, and it exists in so great abundance and perfection in our midst, there ought to be no lack of hands or means to convey it to them.” But this appeal did not avail, for the fourth and last annual report of the Society contains the following paragraph: – “The circulation of the Society’s special publications, a large proportion of which is gratis, continues to make such drafts upon its still very slender resources as to render necessary an appeal to its members and sympathisers for more liberal help.” The help again asked for was not given, and at the time of Edward Maitland’s death, in 1897, the Society was dead through stagnation. Whether it will ever be revived remains to be seen. One reason, no doubt, for the failure of the Society was the fact that “its members [were] so scattered as to render concentrated action very difficult.” In no place were they numerous enough to hold meetings of their own. – S.H.H.
(431:1) It was entitled The New Gospel of Interpretation, “being an Abstract of the Doctrine and Statement of the Objects of the Esoteric Christian Union” (see note, p. 401 ante). The Society also issued as a pamphlet The Appeal of the Esoteric Christian Union to the Churches and People of Christendom, which was written by Edward Maitland, and which set forth the two presentations of Christianity designated “Christ” and “Belial” respectively. – S.H.H.
(432:1) See p. 8 ante.
(435:1) February-June 1892.
(435:2) Pp. 430-1 ante.
[Picture of Edward Mailtland’s grave]
[Picture of Anna Kingsford’s signatures]
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