EITHER because I had not sufficiently comprehended the scope and design of my book, and of the end it was intended to fulfil; or because my confidence in its inspiration was in danger of failing me as I returned towards the ordinary level of spiritual vitalisation, communications reiterating its significance continued from time to time to be given me up to the moment when it was necessary for our circle to disperse. The messages written through the planchette were especially satisfactory to me, as constituting an ocular demonstration of the reality of our intercourse with invisible intelligences, and of the forces employed. So real indeed are these, that, chancing one day to place her hand over the centre of the instrument immediately after the delivery of a message, “Mary” received a somewhat severe burn, which exhibited itself in the form of a large watery blister on the finger, accompanied by much pain, no light or fire being near at the time. On our asking for an explanation, they wrote –
“We are sorry Mary put her hand in our midst. It was chiefly for this that we gave directions for the new writing-table made in the form of a cross, that no one may approach, lest we suffer by the contact.”
They declared, however, that they could communicate with me better by visions given through her than in writing. It is to an account of some of such visions that this chapter will be devoted. The first was given at her home in the country, and was heralded in the following singular manner: –
Awakened by a bright light, the Seeress beheld a hand thrust towards her, holding in it a glass of foaming beer, the action being accompanied by the words, spoken with emphasis – “You must not drink this.” This had occurred on the night previous to the vision about to be related; and, having no conception of its intention, we were amused by the conflict to which it gave rise, between her own desire to heed the injunction, and her husband’s wish that she should live, as he considered, more “generously” than was her wont. No indication had been given as to whether the injunction was temporary or perpetual; and the difficulty was finally composed by her resolving to follow it at least for that day. The next morning set all doubts at rest as to what this singular visitation had meant. The Seeress came down almost completely prostrated
by the intense and harrowing excitement of the scenes presented to her; and it took all her remaining power to write, while fresh upon her, the description of them. As usual, while to me, in my quality of “interpreter,” every line was full of significance, she herself could discern comparatively little meaning until I pointed it out to her. I will call it
The Vision of the World’s Fall.
“The first sense of consciousness which broke my sleep was a sense of floating, of being carried swiftly by some invisible force through a vast space; then of being gently lowered; then of light, until gradually I found I was upon my feet, and that before me was an open country. Hills, hills, as far as the eye could reach – hills with snow on their peaks and mists at their base. This was the first thing I saw distinctly. Then, casting my eyes towards the ground, I saw that all about me sat huge masses, which at first I took for blocks of stone, cast in the form of lions; but as I looked at them more intently, my sight grew clearer, and I saw, to my horror, that they were really alive. A panic seized me, and I tried to run away; but on turning I saw the whole country filled with these awful creatures, and the faces of those turned towards me were most dreadful, for their eyes, and something in
the expression, though not the form, of their faces were human, l was absolutely alone in a dreadful world peopled with lions – lions, too, of a monstrous kind. I fled from the spot, but on my way, in passing through the midst of them, and seeing them at their horrible repasts of blood, it suddenly struck me that they were perfectly unconscious of my presence. I even laid my hands, in passing, on the heads and manes of several, and looked into their very eyes, but they gave no sign of knowing that I had touched them, or that they had seen me. At last I found myself alone in what seemed to me a huge hall, yet scarcely a hall, for it was not built by art, but seemed formed by Nature. The walls were solid, yet they were composed of huge trees standing close together, like columns; and the roof of the hall was formed by their massive foliage, through which not a ray of outer light penetrated. Such light as there was seemed nebulous, and appeared to rise out of the ground. In the centre of this pavilion I stood alone, happy to have at last got clear of those terrible beasts, and to be undisturbed by their howlings.
“As I stood there, I became suddenly aware of the fact that the nebulous light of the hall was concentrating itself into a kind of focus on the columned wall opposite me. It grew there and spread, revealing as it spread a series of moving
pictures, but like actual scenes being enacted before me. For the figures in the pictures were alive and moved before my eyes, though I heard neither word nor sound. All was absolute silence. And this is what I saw –
“First, a writing on the wall, – ‘This is the History of our Planet.’ These letters, as I looked at them, appeared to sink into the wall, and to yield as it were to the pictures which came out, dimly at first, then strong and clear and vivid as actual seems. First I saw a beautiful woman, absolutely perfect, with the sweetest and most womanly face conceivable. She was living in a cave among the hills with her husband; and he too was beautiful, more like an angel than a man. They seemed perfectly happy together; and their dwelling was like Paradise. On every side was beauty, sunlight, and repose.
“The picture sank into the wall as the writing had done. And then came out another, the same man and woman driving together in a sleigh drawn by reindeer over fields of ice, with all about them glaciers and snow and great mountains lost in wreaths of mist. The picture was alive. The sleigh moved at a rapid pace, and the pair talked gaily to each other. But what caused me much surprise was that they carried between them, and actually in their hands, a glowing flame, the brightness of which I felt
reflected from the picture upon my own cheeks. The ice around shone with its brightness. The slow-moving clouds upon the snow mountains were tinted by it. Yet strong as were its light and its heat, neither the man nor the woman seemed to be burnt or dazzled by it. This picture, too, the beauty and brilliancy of which struck me greatly, sank as the former had done.
“Next I saw a terrible man clad in an enchanter’s robe, standing alone upon an ice-crag. In the air above him, poised like a dragon-fly, was an evil spirit, with a head and face like that of a man, but no more. The rest was the tail of a comet, and seemed made of a green fire which flickered in and out as though swayed by a wind. And as I regarded these two, suddenly through an opening in the hills the sleigh, bearing the beautiful woman and her husband, passed by; and I saw that in the same instant the enchanter had been seized by some kind of emotion, the nature of which I could not at the time comprehend. His face contracted; and the evil spirit lowered itself and came between me and the enchanter, concealing him from me. Then this picture sank and disappeared.
“I next beheld the same cave in the hills which I had seen before; and the beautiful couple together in it. Then a shadow darkened the door of the cave; and the enchanter stood before
it in his black dress, asking admittance. Cheerfully and even affectionately they both bade him enter; and as he came forward with his snake-like eyes fixed on the fair woman, I understood the nature of the change I had before noticed in him. He wished to have this woman for his own, and was even then planning how to carry her away. And the evil spirit in the air beside him, seemed busy suggesting schemes. This picture sank as the others had done, and but for a brief instant I caught sight of another. It was the enchanter carrying the woman away on his shoulders, she struggling and lamenting, and her bright hair streaming behind her. This lasted but for a second, and passed away giving place to the one which most of them all gave me the most vivid sense of horrible reality.
“I saw a huge pile of wood prepared in the midst of a market-place, a pile such as is used for the burning of heretics and witches. The market-place, round which were rows of seats as though for a large crowd of spectators, appeared yet quite empty. I saw in it only three living beings, the beautiful woman, the enchanter, and the evil spirit. Yet I think that the seats were really filled by invisible persons, for there appeared every now and then to be a stir as of a great multitude; and I had moreover a strange sense that I stood in the presence of a large
concourse. The enchanter led the woman to the stake, fastened her there with iron chains, lit the faggots about her feet, and withdrew to a short distance, where he stood with his arms folded, looking on as the flames rose about her. I understood that she had refused his love, and that in his rage and spite he was about to burn her as a sorceress. Then, in the flame above the pile, I saw the evil spirit poising himself as before like a dragon-fly and rising and sinking and fluttering in the smoke. While I wondered what this meant, the flames which had concealed the beautiful woman, parted in the midst, and disclosed to me a sight so horrible as to thrill me from head to foot, and for an instant to turn me into stone. Chained to the stake there stood, not the fair woman I had seen there a moment before, but a dreadful monster – a woman still, but a woman with three heads, and three bodies linked in one. Every one of her long arms ended, not in a hand, but in a claw like that of a bird of prey. Her hair was like the hair of the Gorgon Medusa; and her faces were inexpressibly loathsome to look upon. She seemed with all her dreadful heads and limbs to writhe in the flames, and yet not to be consumed by them. She gathered them in to herself; her claws caught them and drew them down; her three-formed body appeared to soak the fire
up into itself as though it had been air. The sight appalled me. I covered my face and dared look at it no more.
“When at length I turned my eyes again on the wall, the picture that had so terrified me was gone, and instead of it I saw the enchanter flying through the world, pursued by the evil spirit and that dreadful woman. Through all the world they seemed to go. The scenes changed with marvellous rapidity. Now the picture represented all the richness and gorgeous colouring of the torrid zone; now the ice-fields of the North; then a pine forest; then a wild seashore; but always the same three figures; always the same dreadful three-formed woman pursuing the enchanter, and the evil spirit hovering beside the woman.
“At last this succession of pictures terminated, and I saw a desolate region, in the midst of which sat the woman, with the enchanter beside her, his head lying on her lap. Either the sight of her must have become familiar to him with time, and so less horrible, or she had overcome his repugnance by some spell. At least, I saw that they were mated at last, and their offspring lay around them about their feet. These were lions – monsters with human faces and jaws dripping with blood. They roved to and fro, lashing their tails. The sight of them was
horrible. Then, too, this last picture faded and sank as the others had done. And through it came out again the letters I had seen before – ‘This is the History of our Planet;’ only they seemed to me a little different, but in what way I am not quite sure. The horror of the whole thing was too strong upon me to look closely. And I awoke, repeating to myself again and again, ‘How could one woman become three?’”
The man and woman with one soul, essentially dual, luminous, and glowing, between them; the woman forced from her proper place beside the man by the sorceries of priestcraft; depraved as to her intuitions under a regime of fire and force, and a base presentment of existence; and finally, her simplicity and innocence gone, become a trinity of demons, giving birth to a brood of ruthless carnivora, – truly the history of our planet, ever since the time when, making sense all, man first worshipped the outer and seeming, and made the lower self the rule of life, and blood, not love, the way of salvation. I could not doubt that the vision was but another mode of impressing on me the theme already descanted on in England and Islam, with the design yet more vividly to warn the world of the coming deluge of blood through which it must pass ere man learns to give proper heed to his intuitions,
and recognises the superiority of mercy above sacrifice as the agent of redemption. It was a striking illustration of the message shortly afterwards received by me in writing from our “genii” –
“We mean you to lay bare the secrets of the world’s sacrificial system. This is the work we have for you to do. We are all ready to help.” And I recognised it as the end to which every line I had ever written was directed; every truth I had ever discovered tended.
To the same end also were the following, which were similarly given. It will be observed that there is a continuity of design between the various portions of the communication, though given on different occasions. In the first the denial of the current orthodoxy in respect to the nature of Jesus cuts the ground from under the sacerdotal doctrine of vicarious atonement, and makes room for the exhibition of the parental element as preponderating in the divine character.
The vision represented a number of grey headed men discoursing together on the profoundest subjects. They talked long and earnestly, and evidently for the benefit of the dreamer and myself; but she was too much exhausted to retain more than the following fragments. The question being asked by one of
the elders, “What do you mean by Almighty God?” it was replied by another –
“God comprehends all things, but is no person in the sense in which we understand person. Divinity is the substance of all things. It throws off rings which become individualised as spirits.” And in answer to another question it was said –
“The Jews are undoubtedly right regarding the nature of Jesus. To conceive of God as incarnate, or having a son in the way supposed among Christians, is a blasphemy against the divine essence.”
The doctrine, nevertheless, which, under the name of the Trinity, has formed an essential element in the world’s religions from the earliest times, found recognition from them in the following suggestive sentence, similarly uttered to the Seeress –
“Let all the young people in the world resemble the second person of the Holy Trinity.”
This was evidently to the Seeress intended as a thesis whereon a disquisition was about to be made. But her trance was accidentally cut short at the moment, and the rest was lost.
The following, which was similarly imparted on the succeeding night, is the second of the visions referred to. I will entitle it
The Vision of the Lesson of Perfection.
“I was in a large room, and there were in it seven persons, all men, sitting at one long table; and each of them had before him a scroll, some having also books; and all but one were grey-headed and bent with age, and this was a youth of twenty, without hair on his face. When I first became aware of my presence in the room, one of the aged men, who had his finger on a place in the book before him, was saying to the others, ‘This spirit, who is of our order, writes in this book, “Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” How shall we understand this word perfection?’ And another of the old men, looking up, answered, ‘It must be wisdom, for wisdom is the height of perfection.’ And another of the old men said, ‘That cannot be; for no creature can be wise as God is wise. Where is he among us who could have designed the universe? That which is part cannot contain the whole. To bid a creature, therefore, be wise as God is wise, would be a mockery.’
“Then another old man said, ‘It must be truth. For truth only appears to me to be perfection.’ And the one who sat next him said, ‘Truth also is partial; for where is he among us who shall see as God sees?’
“And the next said, ‘It must surely be
justice; for this is the whole of righteousness.’ And another said, ‘Not so; for justice comprehends vengeance, and vengeance is the Lord’s alone.’
“Then the young man stood up with an open book in his hand, and said, ‘I have here another writing of one who also heard these words. Let us see whether his rendering of them can help us towards the knowledge we seek.’ And he turned over the leaves, and found a place, and read aloud, ‘Be ye merciful as your Father in Heaven is merciful.’ And all of them closed their books and fixed their eyes upon me.”
Even the Seeress’s husband, though one of the least imaginative of Englishmen, was not exempt from the operation of the same influences. For a vision was given to him in which the church in which he was ministering had become a tavern, while the prayer-book in his hands became refuse, to be flung away in disgust as containing doctrines derogatory to the divine character.