To the Editor of Light.
• • • • • • • • • • •
One of the most vital of all religious questions is the question whether the Gospels are historical or allegorical – whether, that is, they are intended as a relation of the physical history of some one actual but exceptional man, or as a dramatic presentation of the spiritual history of every man regenerate, the question whether the portraiture is wholly ideal, or drawn, more or less exactly, from some actual person or persons, being left open as comparatively unimportant. (...) Everything turns on the questions (1) as to the sense in which they spoke of Jesus Christ, and (2) as to the correctness of the belief which regarded Him as an historical person rather than as a spiritual ideal. The controversy turns upon the method and intention of Scripture, and how far religion is addressed to the senses or to the soul. It requires, therefore, for its determination a combination of much learning with profound spiritual insight, and is not to be settled off-hand on the strength of any individual testimony, conviction, or preference, however strong. E. M.
To the Editor of Light.
SIR, – I do not think Mr. Roden Noel and the “leaders” of the Hermetic Society are so much in disagreement as Dr. Wyld seems to think.
The “leaders” of the Hermetic Society have never denied, nor wished to deny, the historic Jesus. They have but pointed
out that not the historic but the spiritual Christ is the real essential of Christianity, and subject of the Gospels. (1)
I have – speaking for myself – distinctly stated at recent meetings of our Society, that I should be grateful to anyone who could reconcile for me the difficulties and discrepancies abounding in the way of belief in the historical Jesus. I should be glad to receive any really logical and scholarly rectification and explanation of the many serious and important misstatements and inconsistencies undoubtedly existing in the Gospels. These difficulties do not concern mere details, but the chief facts of the life itself. (2) I do not doubt the achievements of Napoleon, but then it is a matter of no moment to the souls of the world to-day whether Napoleon achieved anything or not. So neither I, nor any other person interested in eternal things, cares to verify his history or his acts. As for the miracles, they are no sort of difficulty to me. I am not in the position of the non-Spiritualist. But does not Dr. Wyld see that he proves too much in proving the modern phenomena of Spiritualism to be identical with the “mighty works” of Jesus? What, then, was Jesus no more and no greater than the medium of to-day, but merely a better medium!
I have said that I should be glad to be able to think the Gospel stories true, because so to think would bring me into closer union and harmony with many friends whose sympathy is dear to me. But, for myself, such a belief would add nothing to my faith in Christ. For I am quite sure that there is, virtually, no such thing as history. The things that are truly done, are not done on the historical plane; nor has any fact in the history of the world ever been truly chronicled. For no man can know
any fact, and cannot, therefore, set it down. The knowledge one man has of any given fact is not the knowledge of another; man is incompetent to know facts, for he has no possible means of knowing them. Only Omniscience can know facts.
But man can, and does, know his own spiritual experience, and this is, indeed, the only needful knowledge. Jesus Christ comes in the flesh when He is incarnate in man; and this is the way in which He comes to all mystics, in which only He can come.
It does not matter to me, therefore, whether the Gospels are true or not on the merely outer plane. They are true, essentially, and, for my soul, my true self, the historical and the physical are not. Nothing done on that outer plane can save my soul; it must all be transmuted into spiritual terms and spiritual application before it can have any true saving value and grace.
As for the doctrine of re-births, I do not want to enter into that question again, because already in these columns, in reply to Dr. Wyld, I once undertook a disquisition of some length about it. (1) There are no re-births any more for the soul that has found Christ Jesus, and is one with God. Unto which grace may we all be brought. (2)
ANNA KINGSFORD, M.D.
To the Editor of Light.
SIR, – Dr. Wyld’s letter of the 4th inst. reads so much more like the product of a desire to “bring a railing accusation” against those who presume to differ from him, than of a desire to elucidate truth, that were I to follow my own impulse I should leave it unnoticed. As, however, there may be among your readers some who imagine that, because a charge is unanswered, it is therefore unanswerable, I will indicate, as briefly as possible, its chief fallacies.
In the first place, there are in the Hermetic Society no persons whom Dr. Wyld is entitled to call its “leaders,” for the simple reason that the term “leaders” implies followers; and the members of the Hermetic Society are wholly unpledged and independent, and are not, therefore, followers of any persons whatever, but purely and simply of truth.
In the next place, Dr. Wyld has misrepresented the position of those whom he assails. We have neither “denied the historic Christ,” nor that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh,” though we may differ from Dr. Wyld as to the sense to be ascribed to the latter expression.
Respecting this sense, it is necessary to remember that the fact that there was a difference of opinion in the Primitive Church – not whether Christ had come at all – but whether the manner of His coming had been such as to constitute the anticipated coming “in the flesh,” – shews that the phrase bore a meaning so subtle and occult as to be readily susceptible of misconception.
Had Christ indeed “come in the flesh” in the sense insisted on by Dr. Wyld, and been an altogether exceptional personage, miraculously engendered, a performer in public of numerous stupendous physical marvels, and so different in kind from other men as to be superhuman rather than a merely superior human, the fact would – we may well believe – have been so palpable and flagrant that no question could have arisen about it; and certainly it would not have been so depreciated by Paul. But so far from this being the case, there was a numerous party which held that Jesus was but an angelic or phantasmal appearance, unrelated to humanity, and that consequently no manifestation
of Christ in and through humanity or the “flesh” – meaning thereby human beings – had occurred.
Dr. Wyld, however, not only assumes the right to be positive now about a matter concerning which there was doubt then, but takes a view which, as it seems to us, neither the Apostles nor their opponents held; and hastens to invoke anathema upon those whose respect for religious truth prompts them carefully to search the Scripture for its real meaning and intention, instead of foisting upon it their own preferences and foregone conclusions. It is evidently but an ungracious reception that the promised “Spirit of Truth” when He comes, will receive at the hands of the Dr. Wylds of the period, in case He ventures to differ from them. As it is, it may well be that in refusing to accept the mode of coming I have suggested as a “coming in the flesh,” Dr. Wyld incurs for himself the condemnation he seeks to pass upon us.
Even if we had made the denial ascribed to us by Dr. Wyld, the fault – if a fault at all – would, by his own shewing, be a venial one, since he holds that “the historic Jesus, as a bare fact, may have very little influence on the souls of men,” and that notwithstanding His “full possession and transmutation by the Divine Word,” Jesus so slightly transcended the medium of the period that a “replica of almost every miracle attributed to Him may be found in modern Spiritualistic phenomena”! And, further, even if we had denied the “historic Jesus,” we should not therein necessarily have affirmed that such Divine possession and transmutation had never occurred to any human being on this planet, seeing that similar experiences are ascribed in the Bible to two other persons, Enoch and Elijah; so that Dr. Wyld, when he cites the transmutation of Jesus as an unique event, shews himself to be as slenderly acquainted with the Old Testament as he obviously is with the New.
The very paper on which Dr. Wyld mainly bases his strictures admits the probability of there having been some special figure which served as chief model for the character delineated in the Gospels. We have denied only the proposition that there is in the Gospels anything that can, without an abuse of language, be called a history of such a person, or that is not true as mystically interpreted of every regenerate man.
As if despairing of proving his case by reasoning, Dr. Wyld betakes himself to assertion, and this in the most dogmatic fashion. “I assert,” he says, “that there is not one discrepancy of importance in the four Gospels,” but only “a few verbal
discrepancies,” and these such as to afford confirmation of their genuineness by shewing that they were not fabrications. The hardihood of this utterance, extreme as it is, is not its only objectionable feature. As a direct unqualified contradiction of us it is also discourteous. There are plenty of ways of expressing dissent from an opponent without plainly implying that one considers him so unworthy of heed as to be best met by a flat contradiction. The presumption of it, too, is amusing, or, at least, would be so but for the melancholy proof it affords of the utter failure of its utterer to have followed the developments of modern research in these grave matters. Dr. Wyld evidently supposes that he will have settled the question to his satisfaction when he has succeeded in discrediting us; whereas he has, on the contrary, to deal with the vast array of competent and candid scholars who in the last half century have devoted themselves to the inquiry, with the result of demonstrating absolutely the hopeless disaccordance of the Gospels, both with each other and with contemporary history, and the large extent to which they are reproductions of legends, and compilations from literatures long pre-existent; and, consequently, their non-historical character. These are results irrefragably established for all who have carefully and candidly examined the grounds on which they rest. And yet they are to be disposed of by the simple ipse dixit of one who is so much of a tyro in the subject that little over three years ago, in a discussion upon it, he expressed surprise at learning, among other discrepancies – all of which have sorely exercised the orthodox – that the Gospels disagree as to the day of the Crucifixion! As he had taken their agreement in this and other respects for granted then, so now. For his letter shows that he has not improved the interval by acquiring further knowledge of the subject.
To cite but a few of the contradictions to which a belief in the Gospels as historical and concordant commits its holder. He must believe both that Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin mother and the Holy Ghost, and was not derived from the house of David; and also that He was born naturally of Joseph and Mary, since only through Joseph could He have been “of the seed of David according to the flesh.” He must believe both that Jesus did go down into Egypt, His parents having fled thither on the night following the visit of the Magi, in order to escape the massacre ordered by Herod; and also that He did not go into Egypt, but remained where He was born to be circumcised after
eight days, and, after forty days, to accompany His parents to Jerusalem for His mother’s purification, a visit which was repeated every successive year for twelve years, and consequently that there was no persecution or massacre by Herod. He must believe both that the mother of Jesus was so fully aware of His Divine nature and mission as to treasure in her heart every incident concerning Him; and also that she failed wholly to comprehend His allusions to His peculiar nature and destiny, and joined His brethren in an attempt to withdraw Him from a public career on the ground of madness. He must believe that Jesus was crucified both on the day of the Passover, and again on the day after the Passover; that the resurrection occurred under four different and incompatible sets of circumstances, a different set being detailed and positively stated in each Gospel; that the ascension occurred both, as described in the Gospel of Luke, on the same day as the resurrection, and also as stated in the Acts, which purports also to be Luke’s, forty days after the resurrection; and that Judas both returned the money paid for his treachery and hanged himself, and also did not return the money but bought a field with it, and died therein of an accident. It is, of course, open to Dr. Wyld to plead that the parentage, birth, crucifixion, and ascension are not matters of importance, and I am quite willing to allow him this loophole for escape. But he cannot avail himself of this plea and still retain his belief in the historical character of the documents which thus differ respecting them, seeing that they, not to mention the system founded on them, treat them as of the utmost importance, and that, if not historical on these points, they are not entitled to be regarded as historical at all; but, if of serious import, must be regarded, as we regard them, namely, as mystical.
As for the pretended doubts about Napoleon, Dr. Wyld forgets that there remains a very substantial residue of indubitable fact in his case, while in that of Jesus there remains nothing after the doubtful parts are eliminated.
Had Dr. Wyld really desired to promote knowledge he would not have omitted to notice the striking demonstration given by me of the fact that so far from Jesus being represented as claiming for Himself an exceptional physical birth, He is represented as disclaiming anything of the kind, inasmuch as He is made to declare it necessary to every man that he be born again precisely as He Himself is described as having been born, namely, spiritually; – “Water and the Spirit,” and “Virgin
Mary and the Holy Ghost,” being but symbolical formulas for the soul and spirit of which man when regenerate is “born again.” But Dr. Wyld passes over this conclusive proof that the subject of the Gospels is really not a particular human personality, but the interior and spiritual personality of every regenerate man; and, as if under the impression that an assertion needs only to be repeated often enough to convert it into a fact, he proceeds to reiterate his disbelief in the doctrine of physical re-births or “re-incarnation.”
His remarks here are no less open to objection for their superficiality, their flippancy, and even their insincerity. The negative experience of a majority, however large, proves – as Dr. Wyld well knows – nothing as against the positive experience of a minority, however small. Nevertheless, he cites the non-experience of the majority as an argument against the doctrine. The reminiscence of past existences belongs, not to the spiritualistic, but to the spiritual, consciousness, and to an interior region of this; and it is therefore not comprisable in the order of experiences of which alone, as I am forced to conclude, Dr. Wyld has cognisance. Of the profound philosophy of the doctrine, and of the sanctity of the experiences on which it rests, he is obviously unaware, or he would not make contemptuous reference to the latter as by ascribing them to a process of “self-biologising.” The reply of Jesus to His disciples concerning this doctrine, though it evaded the question, neither was scornful nor denied it.
Limited to a single earth-life, the experiences requisite to enable a “Captain of Salvation” to be “made perfect through suffering” would indeed be few!
Equally fallacious is his demand for “scientific proof” of the facts of the spiritual consciousness. As if the reality of a remote memory of any kind was capable of sensible demonstration! While his denial of there being any historic confirmation of the doctrine seems to imply that Plato, Pythagoras, and Buddha are names as strange to him as those of Enoch and Elijah appear to be. As a student of such subjects he ought to know that the whole of the ancient religions comprised the doctrine of transmigration, and consequently of re-incarnation. But there are students and students, and Dr. Wyld’s letter makes it difficult to class him with those who merit to be called serious.
One remark on what Dr. Wyld so warmly eulogises as the “testimony” of Mr. Roden Noel. The argument from the alleged necessity of a realised ideal of perfection in another as an aid
to the pursuit of it in oneself, if valid at all, must be valid in cases other than that where the perfection in question is spiritual. Is it the fact that the belief in the existence of some transcendentally physically-beautiful specimen of humanity is necessary to enable us either to aspire after physical beauty in ourselves or to form a conception of perfect beauty for ourselves? Assuredly not. We none the less recognise and desire beauty because we know of no one perfectly beautiful. And the artist is none the less able to devise a perfect type because he cannot find a perfect model. For all that is necessary for him is to have suitable subjects from which to compile the manifold excellences he desires to combine into a single image. Greek art was a new revelation of the beauty of the human form. Yet it needed not that any one individual be transcendentally beautiful; or even that there be more beauty than usual in the world; but only that there be an enhanced perception of beauty. Why may it not have been so with the inspired artists to whom the world owes the portraits of its Christs? It is none the less a “coming of Christ in the flesh” that His lineaments be distributed among many. But Dr. Wyld sides with those who say, “Lo, here is Christ, or lo, there!”
Regretting the length at which I have been compelled to write, and trusting that any reply that may be made will in some degree tend to edification, – I am, etc.,
To the Editor of Light.
SIR, – Historical records differ wholly both in nature and in terms from mathematical or arithmetical formulae. These represent the only exact science; while there is nothing in the world so inexact as “history.”
The fact that two and two make four is a fact essential and abstract; it posits an idea, and is only conceivable and recognisable as an idea. Wherefore it is an eternal verity; because two and two not only made four in the past, but make four now, and will continue to make four so long as the world shall last.
It is not necessary that any inspired writer of antiquity should
inform us of such a fact as this, for its evidence does not rest on authority, but inheres in the terms of the fact itself, and on the immediate recognition of the human intelligence.
Dr. Wyld is, therefore, comparing things that are not similars.
The same may be said of his statement that fire warms, that food satisfies hunger, and the like. These facts are not historical; I verify them in my own experience every day, and need not that any should testify to me about them.
Mr. Maitland’s letter has answered the other objections made to our position by Dr. Wyld, and I need not, therefore, notice them.
If, when all the legendary framework, obviously unhistorical and allegorical, is removed from about the central figure of the great Christian Mythos, Dr. Wyld still thinks that what is left constitutes of that figure “the most important historic person this planet has ever known,” I shall be curious to hear how he will substantiate his opinion. Of the thirty-three years which Jesus is said to have lived, the Gospels affect to give only the events of the last three. Concerning nearly all the rest, they are dumb. Consequently, they give us in no sense whatever “a life” of Jesus; and what they do give is obviously mostly mythical.
What, under such conditions, can we know or divine of the “historical Jesus” as He really was?
We know far more of Gautama Buddha; of Pythagoras; of Apollonius; of Plato; of Socrates.
As for my own personality, I doubt much whether it will be an historical “fact” eighteen centuries hence that I lived at all, much less that I was “President of the Hermetic Society.” If ever I pass into “history,” no doubt just as many foolish and untrue things will be said of me as are now said of Rosamond Clifford, of Joan of Arc, of Mary Stuart, and of every other personage of the past.
Already, I am aware that many supposed “facts” which are wholly baseless have been told and believed concerning me, and I have observed a similar state of things in respect of several of my contemporaries.
ANNA KINGSFORD, M.D.
To the Editor of Light.
SIR, – Though sympathising with your desire to close the discussion on this subject, I must nevertheless ask to be allowed to make a brief reply to some of the statements contained in this week’s Light.
To take first the letter of Dr. Wyld. The epithets to which he objects applied not to himself, but to his style and argument. If flat contradiction in a matter such as that under treatment is not “discourteous,” then, and then only, was I not justified in using the term. I believe, however, that I was justified in using it. Thus much as to the style.
With regard to the argument – to which I applied the other terms complained of – if to use an argument to another which does not satisfy oneself – as, for instance, Dr. Wyld’s argument from majorities, which he certainly does not regard as sound in regard to things spiritual – is not to be “flippant, superficial, and insincere,” then, and then only, was I wrong in using those terms. As it is, I hold that I am justified by the facts of the case. Dr. Wyld replied to me by an argument which, he well knows, has no weight with himself.
Dr. Wyld’s veneration for the “beloved disciple” cannot exceed mine. But the question between us is, not what that disciple wrote, but what was his meaning. Dr. Wyld in his present letter simply reiterates the expression before employed in order to stigmatise us as “false prophets,” without taking the smallest notice of my suggested explanation of the meaning of the phrase “Come in the flesh” – thereby aggravating his original fault. We maintain no less strenuously than Dr. Wyld himself that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh,” and by that coming inaugurated the Christian dispensation. But we differ from Dr. Wyld as to the modus of the coming, and believe that our view is the true one, and that which the “beloved disciple” himself intended.
Dr. Wyld’s persistent substitution of the word “mythical” for “mystical” – which I used – is, I hope, due to accident rather than design, for the perversion involves a serious misrepresentation. It is, however, clear from his remarks on the
Miraculous Conception that his own view of what is implied in that event is neither mythical nor mystical, but materialistic; and that as, for him, “Christ Jesus” denotes, not Man regenerate and purely spiritual, but a physical and historical personality; so “Virgin Mary” denotes, not the human soul become pure and fit to be the “mother” of such “Man regenerate,” but a physical and historical personality. But perhaps Dr. Wyld is of those for whom Adam and Eve and the serpent are “historical” personages. If so, it is no wonder that he falls foul of us who hold that the Bible teaches by means of parables which, referring to things spiritual and in perpetual course of enactment, are not “historical,” but true for all time. It is precisely the insistence of the materialistic, because historical, view that has wrought havoc with Christianity and even with religion itself.
I cannot but regard Dr. Wyld’s allusion to what he considers the exposure of “Koot Hoomi” as unfortunate for his case. If only by shewing how easily a fictitious personage may come to be accepted as a real one, the history in question is suggestive in a direction the very opposite to that which Dr. Wyld would approve. Concerning the case itself I pronounce no opinion. But concerning the spirit in which Dr. Wyld has dealt with it I have a decided opinion, and find it not difficult to believe that had he lived – as perhaps he did – some eighteen centuries ago, the “pretensions” of a certain other personage, also intimately associated with “a tree,” would have found in him an equally scornful repudiation.
If I have indeed “somewhat overstepped bounds” in alluding to Dr. Wyld’s admissions in past years, I am sorry for it. But I alluded only to what he has said repeatedly and before others, and was in no sense private, but has since been borne out by his own published letters. If Dr. Wyld can say the same of the remarkable utterance he ascribes to me, I shall be content to incur the reproach due. This, however, I know that he cannot do; for, whatever may have been the remarks on which he bases his statement, they were certainly not as he represents them; first, because, however high I may believe to be the authority for the doctrine of re-births, it is contrary to my practice to rest any doctrine on authority, and still less to advance pretentious personal claims; and next, because the expression, “forsaken of the Gods,” would imply my belief in a previous enjoyment by him of Divine communion; and happy as I should be to credit Dr. Wyld with so high a privilege, he has yet to furnish
the grounds which would justify me in doing so. But it may be after all that the solution of our difference here is to be found in the proverbial difficulty which persons of Dr. Wyld’s nationality are said to have in apprehending a joke.
I do not care to contemplate a harsher explanation of Dr. Wyld’s mistake in this matter, but am content to ascribe it to some defect either of apprehension or of recollection, and would therefore remind him that, however positive he may feel about his accuracy, all that he can possibly be sure of is his own belief as to what passed on the occasion or occasions to which he refers.
One word of thanks to Madame de Steiger for her excellent letter. She is indeed right, it seems to me, in her reprobation of those who, in their determination to have their human God, have caused Christianity to be discredited, and seriously endangered the whole fabric of religion.
It is impossible for me to deal here otherwise than very cursorily with Miss Campbell’s elaborate disquisition. I will therefore content myself with indicating a few of its salient points, as a means to a judgment of the whole.
Miss Campbell has sadly mistaken both the scope and spirit of my remarks. For those who, being sincere in their beliefs, defend them by sincere arguments, and even if mistaken have taken pains to learn, I have nothing but respect, no matter what their beliefs are, and to such as these my strictures bore no reference. It was to a particular line of argument, employed by a particular person, that I applied the terms she resents, and her application of them to the whole body of those who share the same views is at once unjust and unjustifiable.
So far from my interpretation of Mark iii being “astounding,” it is the obvious and only one possible. The word (v. 21) translated “friends” means undoubtedly, says the learned Dean Alford in his scholarly work on the Greek Testament, “relations,” “for the sense is resumed (v. 31) by the word” οὺν, – therefore. Moreover, his note is headed “Charges against Jesus of madness by His relations”; and the text expressly specifies His mother as one of those concerned.
After saying she “has never read the works of scholars either on one side or the other,” but will “simply let the Gospels speak for themselves,” Miss Campbell proceeds to set forth, not at all what the Gospels say, – namely, that Mary, as cousin to Elizabeth, who was of the house of Aaron, must have belonged to the tribe of Levi, and was not therefore of the house of David, –
but what “Roman Catholics are taught in their earliest lessons” by their priests, and is rested by them, not on the Gospels, but on a tradition in apparent discordance with the Gospels!”
Does not my fair, and doubtless amiable, though somewhat impetuous, opponent see that even if her letter does not call for the particular epithets by which I characterised that of Dr. Wyld there are yet others which might be used of a scarcely less favourable nature? The most fervent faith and zeal cannot afford to dispense with accuracy of statement and logical coherence. She seems to regard her acknowledged want of study, which means want of knowledge, – as a positive qualification for the task of defending her religious convictions. But how if such rule were applied to the discussion of other subjects as, for instance, chemistry or astronomy? Would she not consider as guilty of something not very unlike “presumption” the novice who, “having never read the works of scholars on one side or the other,” should undertake to contradict off-hand those who had devoted years to earnest investigation?
If, as I suspect, Miss Campbell thinks the presumption is ours for declining to accept the sacerdotal presentation of these matters, I would refer her again to her Bible, where, as she will find, it is always the priests who, alike in Old Testament and New, incur the Divine reprobation for precisely the degradation of doctrine from which we are endeavouring to rescue Christianity. If she can shew that the prophets are against us we shall indeed be answered. But we know and respect the Bible far too well to take our interpretation of things spiritual from any body of priests. Does she suppose that the sacerdotal character has changed since the days of Caiaphas?
Miss Campbell’s closing remark that “it is quite open to doubt the mystic sense of the Gospel,” shews that she has yet much to learn of her own religion before she is qualified to take part in this controversy. If the Jesus of the Gospels was indeed an historical character, then must His mother have been one likewise. Is it, then, such a character that the Church contemplates when, in its offices of the B.V.M., it puts into her mouth the words, “I dwell in the highest: and my throne is on the pillar of the clouds. I made an unfailing light to arise in heaven: and, as a mist, I overspread the whole earth”? Or when it says of her, “The Lord Himself created her in the Holy Ghost: and poured her out among all His works”? And declares, further, that “the Virgin Mary was taken up to the Heavenly
chamber, where the King of kings sits on His starry throne”? To us who accept her as a symbol of the soul, universal or individual, and at once Divine and human, these utterances are intelligible and true. But they represent the mystic sense of the Gospel, and therefore, for your correspondent, though a Catholic, are “quite open to doubt,” and the only sense that is imperative is that which, by applying them to an historical personality, makes them something worse than nonsense.
In reference to the “correspondent” whom you answer at such length, I would add to your answer these two remarks: 1) That a careful examination of the subject would shew him that so far from “attacking Christianity” we are doing the one thing that can rescue and save Christianity – namely, restoring to it its spiritual sense; and 2) that the course he proposes to you in the conduct of your paper would be not only “idiotic,” but unjust and illogical. Light is described on its title-page as a “Journal of Psychical, Occult, and Mystical Research.” So that in demanding – as I understand – that it should deal exclusively with things spiritualistic, he demands that it should omit the whole of the subjects it professes to treat saving only a particular department of one of them – Spiritualism being defined as a department of Occultism. It is only recently that you deprecated the establishment of a rival magazine, on the ground that Light suffices to meet existing requirements. I feel tolerably confident that were you to do as your correspondent suggests, and exclude the classes of subjects to which he objects, it would very speedily be found that another paper of the kind would really be indispensable. – Yours, etc.,
(205:1) Letter written by Edward Maitland, and published in Light, 1884, p. 454.
(205:2) Letter written by Anna Kingsford, and published in Light, 1885. p. 331. It is also reprinted in The Life of Anna Kingsford, Vol. II, pp. 228-229.
(206:1) Many of Anna Kingsford’s Illuminations refer to Jesus as an historical character, some of them refer to Him as one whom she remembered in a past life. For instance, in an Illumination “Concerning Christian Pantheism,” it is stated, “The crucifixion of Jesus was an actual fact, but it had also a spiritual signification; and it is to the spiritual meaning, and not to the physical fact, that the whole of the mystical writings of the Christians refer” (C.W.S., Pt. I. No. xxvii). See also her Illumination “Concerning the Actual Jesus” (ibid., No. xxxiii), giving some most interesting details connected with the crucifixion as from an eye-witness; and declaring that His birth – that is, the birth of the physical man was mostly certainly an ordinary birth”; and distinguishing between certain incidentes in the life of Jesus that are “allegories of which the signification is spiritual” and incidents that are “real facts.” In another Illumination, “Concerning the Previous Lives of Jesus,” Anna Kingsford relates an incident which she was assured “actually occurred,” and that she had borne part in it, though no record of it survives (ibid., No. xxxiv). – S.H.H.
(206:2) See her Lecture on “Bible Hermeneutics,” p. 146, ante.
(207:1) See her letter “Concerning Re-Incarnation,” p. 191, ante.
(207:2) Shortly after the publication of this letter,
Anna Kingsford, writing to Mrs. Atwood – to whom reference has been made – said:
“If you follow, as you doubtless do, the career of the Hermetic Society in the
pages of Light, I trust you have taken note of Dr. Wyld’s
aspersions and criticisms on our position in regard to the ‘Historic Jesus.’ As
I rejoice to know that you share in our view in regard to this matter, you would
oblige me, infinitely, if you would send to Light a comment of your own on Dr. Wyld’s letter, and add the undisputed weight of your
scholarly knowledge and research to the Hermetic view, which, at present, it seems, we are almost alone in supporting,
of course, I know full well that the common understanding of men – even
so-called ‘Spiritualists’ – is wholly incapable of grasping
theosophic methods and processes in the manner necessary to comprehend
the spirit of scripture written by and for initiates: but still, much may be
done by testimony such as that you could furnish: – enough, I conceive, to
demonstrate, at least, the fact that one so versed as yourself in the study of
and endorses the view of ‘Christ’ which we are seeking to maintain. The more I observe the course of the world from
day to day, the more convinced I become that true history is really not to be
looked for on the phenomenal plane at all. Nothing really happens on that plane:
– nothing, that is, that is a true thing; essentials do not belong to that
plane, and only a foolish and uninstructed person would seek them there. (...) How right you are
when you say that ‘myths are truer than all history’! They are, of course, the
only history of
which the soul can have cognisance; for she can know
only the hyper-physical, and the sacred myths are its records and archives. But
those who write and think like Dr. Wyld. appear to me to imagine that flesh and blood, not soul and
spirit, are to inherit the
(208:1) Letter written by Edward Maitland, and published in Light, 1885. pp. 341-342.
(213:1) Letter written by Anna Kingsford, and published in Light, 1885, p. 354.
(215:1) Letter written by Edward Maitland, and published in Light, 1885, pp. 363-364; see also p. 379.
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11. Espíritos Externos e