From ‘The Life of Anna Kingsford: Her Life, Letters, Diary and Work’ – A Sampler
Anna Bonus Lingsford, frontispiece of Edward Maitland’s edition of her 1896 biography .
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA are excerpts taken from ‘The Life of Anna Kingsford: Her Life, Letters, Diary and Work’, by Edward Maitland-Originally published by George Redway, London, 1896-here the 3rd Edition, edited by Samuel Hopgood Hart for John M. Watkins, London, 1913. We wish you an exciting sleuthing of the gems hiding in the obvious…
From pages 127-128
‘Meanwhile I lost no time in examining the various accounts given in the Bible of the same experience, and was not a little struck by the relation in Exod. XXIV, 9-11, in which it is stated, as if in token of the extraordinary power of the spiritual battery with which Moses had surrounded himself, that no less than seventy of his initiates were able to receive the vision without magnetic reinforcement by the imposition of their master’s hands. Pursuing my researches, I found that the same vision has always been a recognised experience of mystics in all times and places, and that for them also the form beheld was dual, the only reason why this is not specified in the translations of the Bible being that, apparently unknown to the translators, the names for God themselves imply the duality expressly declared in Gen. I, 26-27.
From the time of my receiving this vision there was a new meaning for me in what is probably the grandest verse in all Scripture, if not in all literature, that in Rev. XX, 11, in which the seer says, “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.” It was not that there was any disappearance of creation by reason of its change of place; but that the perceptive point of the mind of the seer himself had transcended the sphere of the manifest, and penetrated to that of the unmanifest, where creation is not. He was in the within of space, the arché or “fourth dimension,” whence returning outwards and downwards he would find creation where he had left it, as I did.
There was another point of identity which I recognised as subsisting between my own experiences and those of the mystics generally. This was the suspension of the ordinary respiration during the ecstasy or trance state and the substitution for it of an internal respiration, as if by the breathing of a distinct personality within and other than the physical organism. This condition would continue for an hour or even longer, according to the period of abstraction and the degree of its intensity. Not that the inner personality in question was that of some being other than and foreign to myself. Rather was it – as I found myself concluding – my own inner and substantial, as distinguished from my outer and phenomenal self; that which Aristotle calls the ‘entelecheia’; the self which, when finally perfected, constitutes the “Christ within” of St. Paul; being the spiritual and substantial individuality engendered within the physical and phenomenal personality, and representing, therefore, the rebirth of the man on a plane transcending the material.
There were also seasons, and these not unfrequent, during this period of my initiation, when I found myself in a condition of the real nature of which I seemed to find an explanation only when I came upon the writings of the foremost of all the great Neoplatonic school of mystics, Plotinus. This was a condition in which the enhancement of power, physical and mental, was so extraordinary, as to make it seem that it was only necessary to will or to speak to work some great miracle, whether of healing or of destroying. It was not in the least as if one were possessed and filled by something other than one’s proper self; but as if that self, instead of but partially animating the organism, had descended into it in plenitude, completely suffusing it with the spirit, to the indefinite enhancement of every faculty, one effect of which was to suggest the idea that the spiritual part of man does not, as a rule, reside within the man, except to a very limited extent, but hovers over him, descending into him in varying measure according to circumstances. Such were my experiences of the state which I supposed to be that described by Plotinus, as “being united with his God,” meaning that portion of the Deity which is allotted to any particular individual, the microcosmic God within, as distinguished from the macrocosmic God without.
But, as I learnt by careful observation, close as such union may be, it involves no suppression of the self, or loss of individuality. The mere external personality, indeed, may suffer effacement, but the substantial and permanent individuality, the true self, becomes by such union indefinitely enhanced and reinforced, whether the union occur by means either of descent from above, or of ascent from below, the latter being the condition in which the individual expands into the universal without loss of individuality.
Of such kind were the experiences which, when the time came for us to receive the long-lost gnosis which underlay the works sacred scriptures and religions, enabled us to recognise it as indefeasibly true, and founded in the nature of being. It interpreted us to ourselves, by finding response in ourselves. Among its utterances was the following: –
“As God is at the heart of the outer world, so also is God at the heart of the world within thee.
“When the God within thee shall be wholly united to the God without, then shall thou be one with the Most High.
“Thy will shall be God’s will, and the Son shall be as the Father.”
With like alacrity we recognised the erroneousness of that view of Nirvâna, which identifies it with the mergence of the individual in the universal to the loss of his individuality, when we were told that instead of all re-becoming one, the one becomes many, the end of evolution being not the absorption of the individual in God, but the individuation of God. The only absorption that takes place is that of the externality of the individual in the divine in himself, by means of the indrawal of the circumference into the centre, of the nether into the upper, to the divinisation of the whole system. (1)
On one occasion, during a period when my consciousness was thus largely indrawn to my centre, it was given to me to see gamboling around me a group of spirits, diminutive and grotesque, being compounded of a variety of animal forms, assumed apparently without regard to congruity, the heads by no means matching the bodies. These, I was led to suppose, were some of the physical consciousnesses or “spirits” of my system, which were taking advantage of my indrawal to detach themselves, and indulge in objective manifestation.
(1) ‘In England and Islam’, Edward Maitland says: “The aspiration of the Buddhist is not towards extinction. Man seeks for some assurance that he is not merely a product or function of Nature, and partaker of her evanescence, but has in him an immortal principle whereby he may claim relationship, if not identity, with the eternal source of all secondary existence. To be ‘one’ or at one ‘with God’ is the goal of the aspirations of the souls of all men; and their various religions represent but the various methods whereby men seek to attain the assurance of that union. Attaining conviction of the essential identity of the spirit of which humanity is the sensible expression, with the animating spirit of the universe, the soul of man is content” (p. 23).
“The ‘Nirvâna’ preached by Buddha was no more annihilation than was the ‘heaven’ of Christ. Man could no more return to ‘nothing’ in India than he could spring from ‘nothing’ there or elsewhere. Buddhism was purest Pantheism, even as Christianity was purest Pantheism. And both alike taught that only by the sacrifice of the lower and outer self, through the total renunciation of the regime of selfishness and blood, on every plane of the consciousness and in every sphere of activity, can man attain at once the consciousness of his true self and of the identity of that self with God” (pp. 476-7).
“Buddha was a worshipper of existence. He recognised the ideal as the only true real, and God as the spiritual force-centre of all that exists. It was because the Oriental orthodoxies, flesh-fed and gross, were, like all others, unable to conceive of spirit apart from matter, of the ideal apart from the phenomenal, that they represented the spiritual perfection of Buddha as annihilation, interpreting no thing to signify nothing, even as certain other orthodox bunglers have done. His final absorption into God was no other than was signified by the Christian ‘heaven,’ when, the phenomenal done with, the perfected individual soul should return and become re-incorporated with the universal Parent Soul, even as a son returns from his world-experiences to his father’s house, with his consciousness heightened and his character perfected by the things which he has suffered, not to lose his individuality, but by retaining it to contribute to the higher satisfaction of that of the whole” (pp. 593-4). (S.H.H, editor)
From page 356
“May 13, 1880. – Swedenborg came to Mary in her sleep last night, and insisted strongly on the necessity of our showing how little of what is called Christianity is derived from Jesus, and how much from those who, taking His name as their authority, used it to sustain a system of their own derived from the ancient sacerdotalisms. In the case of Pythagoras, he said, all that was done was actually done by him, and nothing was foisted on him, and his system was perfect and complete in respect of all man’s needs for soul and body. For by his pure regimen, mental and physical, he was the saviour of both body and soul; while by his wisdom and culture he provided for the due satisfaction of all social and other instincts, and no one has added, or been able to add anything to his work; nor has he been credited with anything that he did not say or do.
“But with Jesus it is not so. Whatever the perfection He attained for Himself, either He omitted to show others how to attain it, or they have failed to make report thereof, and have accordingly left Christianity to take whatever form, whether of doctrine or of practice, men were pleased to give it. This was the case especially with the doctrine of Atonement, which was not taught or implied by Jesus, and in no way belonged to Him or His system, but was a revival and an aggravation of sacerdotalism. Jesus Himself was no originator, but was a reviver of other men’s doctrine, notably that of Confucius, and was a reformer rather than a founder, His aim being to renovate the Hebrew religion, not to destroy Judaism.”
From pages 359
“THROUGH THE AGES”
WAKE, thou that sleepest! Soul, awake!
Thy light is come, arise and shine!
For darkness melts, and dawn divine
Doth from the holy Orient break;
Swift-darting down the shadowy ways
And misty deeps of unborn Time,
God’s Light, God’s Day, whose perfect prime
Is as the light of seven days.
Wake, prophet-soul, the time draws near,
“The God who knows” within thee stirs
And speaks, for His thou art, and Hers
Who bears the mystic shield and spear.
The hidden secrets of their shrine
Where thou, initiate, didst adore,
Their quickening finger shall restore
And make its glories newly thine.
A touch divine shall thrill thy brain,
Thy soul shall leap to life, and lo!
What she has known, again shall know;
What she has seen, shall see again;
The ancient Past through which she came, –
A cloud across a sunset sky, –
A cactus flower of scarlet dye, –
A bird with throat and wings of flame; –
A red wild roe, whose mountain bed
Nor ever hound or hunter knew,
Whose flying footprint dashed the dew
In nameless forests, long since dead.
And ever thus in ceaseless roll
The wheels of Destiny and Time
Through changing form and age and clime
Bear onward the undying Soul:
Till now a Sense, confused and dim,
Dawns in a shape of nobler mould,
Less beast, scarce human; uncontrolled,
With free fierce life in every limb;
A savage youth, in painted gear,
Foot fleeter than the summer wind;
Scant speech for scanty needs designed,
Content with sweetheart, spoil and spear
And, passing thence, with burning breath,
A fiery Soul that knows no fear,
The armed hosts of Odin hear
Her voice amid the ranks of death;
There, where the sounds of war are shrill,
And clarion shrieks, and battle roars,
Once more set free, she leaps and soars
A Soul of flame, aspiring still!
Till last, in fairer shape she stands
Where lotus-scented waters glide,
A Theban Priestess, dusky-eyed,
Barefooted on the golden sands;
Or, prostrate, in the Temple-halls,
When Spirits wake, and mortals sleep,
She hears what mighty Voices sweep
Like winds along the columned walls.
A Princess then beneath the palms
Which wave o’er Afric’s burning plains,
The blood of Afric in thy veins,
A golden circlet on thine arms.
By sacred Ganges’ sultry tide,
With dreamy gaze and clasped hands
Thou walkst a Seeress in the lands
Where holy Buddha lived and died.
Anon, a sea-bleached mountain cave
Makes shelter for thee, grave and wan,
Thou solemn, solitary Man,
Who, nightly, by the star-lit wave
Invokest with illumined eyes
The steadfast Lords who rule and wait
Beyond the heavens and Time and fate,
Until the perfect Dawn shall rise,
And oracles, through ages dumb,
Shall wake, and holy forms shall shine
On mountain peaks in light divine,
When mortals bid God’s kingdom come
So turns the wheel of thy [keen] soul;
From birth to birth her ruling stars,
Swift Mercury and fiery Mars,
In ever changing orbits roll!
– PARIS, MAY, 1880.
May 15, 1883. – There is, I find, much evidence to show that the primitive Christian Church understood her faith esoterically, and that her great dogmas were symbols only, or at least chiefly. The monuments, frescoes, and writings of the early years of the Church are evidence of this fact. Within the first century, allusions, both pictured and written, to Christ in the character of Apollo, of Orpheus, of Bacchus, and other Pagan gods, are constant; and it is, moreover, remarkable that at this early date recognition of Him as a historical character never occurs. Wherever He is depicted, it is as a young God – a youth, lovely and blooming, surrounded with vines, doves, lambs, fishes, and naked genii. He is never seen in His historical aspect, is never the “Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” of the later times. The Stations of the Cross, the “Gospel history,” as it is called, the crucifix, the agony, – these find no representation in early Christian art. The first idea of Christ was, strangely enough, purely esoteric and mystic.
The Christians appear to have devoted themselves in the primitive age of the Church to an attempt to purity and reform the culture of the Gods, adopting their symbols and images, and giving to them an interior and esoteric meaning. Such, indeed, they had in their first intention, but this had long been lost to the Pagan Church, and the original mission of Christianity seems to have been to restore the Mysteries. It is difficult to reconcile the evidences of the cultus of the early Christian Church with any other hypothesis, especially when one finds documentary evidence, such as that of Dio Cassius, that the first Christians were punished on a charge of atheism. Had they been merely adorers of a new God, zealots of a new supernaturalism, their adversaries would hardly have arraigned them on such a charge. But this charge of atheism is precisely that which is, in our day, brought by professors of orthodox superstition against theosophists and pantheists; for to the believer in idols the rejection of these in favour of mystic truth has ever been regarded as a form of atheism and unbelief. Lundy observes, in his Monumental Christianity: – “Had the Christians believed Christ to be a man, there would have been portraits of Him without end in painting, statuary, gems, and mosaics; but because He was deemed a Divinity, we find no such portraits, only ideal types.”
From page 167
From a letter to Lady Caithness – LONDON, March 11, 1884.
‘…When I hear from you that Madame Blavatsky has arrived at Nice, I will write to her on several subjects of vital interest in our Lodge. Meanwhile, will you tell her from me that she mistakes me in two points – first, the question of ‘belief’ in K.H. I don’t quite know the theosophical meaning of this word ‘belief’ but if it implies belief in the existence of ‘K.H.,’ then I believe in that quite as much as I do in her own. All that I see reason so far to doubt is the exact significance to be attached to the terms ‘Adept,’ ‘Mahatma,’ etc., as applied to him. The other point regards her own conception of the nature of the ‘gifts’ with which she is good enough to credit me. I have no occult powers whatever, and have never laid claim to them. Neither am I, in the ordinary sense of the word, a clairvoyant. I am simply a ‘prophetess’ – one who sees and knows intuitively, and not by any exercise of any trained faculty. All that I receive comes to me by ‘illumination,’ as to Proclus, to Iamblichus, to all those who follow the Platonic method. And this ‘gift’ was born with me, and has been developed by a special course and rule of life. It is, I am told, the result of a former initiation in a past birth, and the reason that I am enabled to profit by it is that I am an ‘old spirit,’ having, by ‘thirst of life,’ pushed myself on to a point of spiritual evolution somewhat in advance of the rest of my race, but to which all can attain in time who have really been once initiated. My initiation was Greco-Egyptian, and therefore I recall the truth primarily in the language and after the method of the Bacchic mysteries, which are indeed, as you know, the immediate source and pattern of the mysteries of the Catholic Christian Church.
“But powers of the ‘occult’ order, the exercise of which depends on the knowledge of certain natural modes of law, and on the development of an intellectual will, competent to grapple with and direct ‘akasic’ magnetism, – these can be communicated only by the initiation of the intellectual mind; and this, I have reason to believe, is not transferable from one birth to another, because it affects a vehicle of the human kingdom which is renewed at every new birth. Wherefore it is only to be attained by severe training and rigid exclusion from the world; and when thus the desired power is educed, the natural object of the fully developed occultist becomes to perpetuate the life during which only this initiation will be available. I will explain myself more fully, should you wish it, at another time. – Always your very affectionate friend, Anna Kingsford.’
From page 237
October 19, 1885 – Synesius was a Christian bishop of Alexandria and a Platonist, holding the doctrine of Transmigration. He says: “The spirit may be purified, even in brutes, so that something better may be induced. How much will not the regression of the rational soul be therefore base, if she fails to reject that which is foreign to her nature, and suffers to linger on earth that which rightly belongs on high, since it is possible, by labour and by transition into other lives, for the contemplative soul to be purified, and to emerge from this dark abode? And this restoration, indeed, some may attain as a gift of divinity and initiation.”
It was an Ass that carried the Mysteries of old, and a golden Branch was part of the sacred equipage: –
“Aureus et foliis et lento vimine ramus,
Junoni infernæ sacer.” – Æn. vi, 136.
(There lurks in a shady tree a bough, golden leaf and pliant stem, held consecrate to nether Juno [Proserpine]- Fairclough translation.)
And we read further, that there is in Alchemy, a certain noble body, which is moved from one “lord” to another, in the beginning of which there is suffering with vinegar, but in the end joy with exultation. “O blessed gate of blackness,” cries the Adept, “which art the passage to so glorious a change!” (‘Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery’, by Mary Anne Atwood).
No man enters the Magian’s School but he wanders awhile in the region of Chimeras, and the inquiries he makes before attaining to experiential knowledge are many, often erroneous (Vaughan’s ‘Lumen de Lumine’, p. 40). Hence, doubtless, the Sphinx, that proposer of riddles and devourer of men, stood always at the vestibule of the temple and along its approaches, the terrible Dweller on the Threshold so fatal to weak or irresolute souls. But investigation once begun, in a right rectifying spirit, enters, and succeeds in tracing the chain of vital causes to their last efficient link in Deity; whence surveying, the Adept is enabled, under the Divine Will, to work such perfection in things below as transcends this life and the ability of the natural intellect to conceive.
The significance of the ass in the mysteries had yet to be disclosed to us. It proved to be a symbol for the Intuition, the faculty whereby is the consciousness of things spiritual, the horse being the corresponding symbol for the Intellect. The discovery proved an invaluable key to the solution of many perplexing passages in the Bible, including the incident of Balaam.
Passing from quotation to original thought, she thus continues: –The description of the “coming of the Son of Man” in the New Testament agrees exactly with the account given by the Alchemists of the disruption of the vital forces in the human kingdom before the advent of the “Lord,” or Final Light. The Earth is overflowed with the Water, the Body is overcome by the Soul, the powers of Heaven are shaken and the tribulation is profound, the “sea” and its waves roaring by reason of the successive passion and prevalence of the vital principles one over another. And if the true interpretation of the Scriptures be thus throughout mystic and interior, what shall be said of those crowds of false teachers who expound the Bible according to the literal or letter-sense? Indeed, they have an exact counterpart in the spurious Alchemists, who made of Alchemy a material art for the search of physical gold, and so squandered their time and substance, misled their generation, and brought the whole art into mockery and disrepute.
As the smallest fragment of the Loadstone remains perfect in two poles, so may we conceive of every portion of existence as continent and comprehended proportionally of the great whole. Iamblichus says, speaking of the Regenerate Ether: “This substance, being connascent with the Gods, will doubtless be an entire and fit receptacle for the manifestation of Divinity. And an exuberance of power is always present with the highest causes; power which transcends all things, and is nevertheless present with all in unimpeded energy.”
And A Wee-bit More
From the book, ‘Dreams and Dream-Stories’ part 1, by Anna Bonus Kingsford. Edited by Edward Maitland. Second Edition: George Redway, London, 1888. 281 pp.
Chapter IX. THE BANQUET OF THE GODS
I saw in my sleep a great table spread upon a beautiful mountain, the distant peaks of which were covered with snow, and brilliant with a bright light. Around the table reclined, twelve persons, six male, six female, some of whom I recognised at once, the others afterwards. Those whom I recognised at once were Zeus, Hera, Pallas Athena, Phoebus Apollo, and Artemis. I knew them by the symbols they wore. The table was covered with all kinds of fruit, of great size, including nuts, almonds, and olives, with flat cakes of bread, and cups of gold into which, before drinking, each divinity poured two sorts of liquid, one of which was wine, the other water. As I was looking on, standing on a step a little below the top of the flight which led to the table, I was startled by seeing Hera suddenly fix her eyes on me and say,
“What seest thou at the lower end of the table?” And I looked and answered, “I see two vacant seats.” Then she spoke again and said, “When you are able to eat of our food and to drink of our cup, you also shall sit and feast with us.” Scarcely had she uttered these words, when Athena, who sat facing me, added, “When you are able to eat of our food and to drink of our cup, then you shall know as you are known.” And immediately Artemis, whom I knew by the moon upon her head; continued, “When you are able to eat of our food and to drink of our cup, all things shall become pure to you, and ye shall be made virgins.”
Then I said, “O Immortals, what is your food and your drink, and how does your banquet differ from ours, seeing that we also eat no flesh, and blood has no place in our repasts?”
Then one of the Gods, whom at the time I did not know, but have since recognised as Hermes, rose from the table, and coming to me put into my hands a branch of a fig tree bearing upon it ripe fruit, and said, “If you would be perfect, and able to know and to do all things, quit the heresy of Prometheus. Let fire warm and comfort you externally: it is heaven’s gift. But do not wrest it from its rightful purpose, as did that betrayer of your race, to fill the veins of humanity with its contagion, and to consume your interior being with its breath. All of you are men of clay, as was the image which Prometheus made. Ye are nourished with stolen fire, and it consumes you. Of all the evil uses of heaven’s good gifts, none is so evil as the internal use of fire. For your hot foods and drinks have consumed and dried up the magnetic power of your nerves, sealed your senses, and cut short your lives. Now, you neither see nor hear; for the fire in your organs consumes your senses. Ye are all blind and deaf, creatures of clay. We have sent you a book to read. (1) Practise its precepts, and your senses shall be opened.”
Then, not yet recognising him, I said, “Tell me your name, Lord.” At this he laughed and answered, “I have been about you from the beginning. I am the white cloud on the noonday sky.” “Do you, then,” I asked, “desire the whole world to abandon the use of fire in preparing food and drink?”
Instead of answering my question, he said, “We show you the excellent way. Two places only are vacant at our table. We have told you all that can be shown you on the level on which you stand. But our perfect gifts, the fruits of the Tree of Life, are beyond your reach now. We cannot give them to you until you are purified and have come up higher. The conditions are God’s; the will is with you.”
These last words seemed to be repeated from the sky overhead, and again from beneath my feet. And at the instant I fell, as if shot down like a meteor from a vast height; and with the swiftness and shock of the fall I awoke.
(1) The book referred to was a volume entitled Fruit and Bread, which had been sent anonymously on the previous morning. The fig-tree, which both with the Hebrews and the Greeks was the type of intuitional perception, was an especial symbol of Hermes, called by the Hebrews Raphael. The plural used by the seer included myself as the partner of her literary and other studies. The term virgin in its mystical sense signifies a soul pure from admixture of matter. (Ed.)
Chapter XVI. THE METEMPSYCHOSIS
I was visited last night in my sleep by one whom I presently recognised as the famous Adept and Mystic of the first century of our era, Apollonius of Tyana, called the “Pagan Christ.” He was clad in a grey linen robe with a hood, like that of a monk, and had a smooth, beardless face, and seemed to be between forty and fifty years of age. He made himself known to me by asking if I had heard of his lion. (1) He commenced by speaking of Metempsychosis, concerning which he informed me as follows: – “There are two streams or currents, an upward and a downward one, by which souls are continually passing and repassing as on a ladder. The carnivorous animals are souls undergoing penance by being imprisoned for a time in such forms on account of their misdeeds. Have you not heard the story of my lion?” I said yes, but that I did not understand it, because I thought it impossible for a human soul to suffer the degradation of returning into the body of a lower creature after once attaining humanity. At this he laughed out, and said that the real degradation was not in the penance but in the sin. “It is not by the penance, but by incurring the need of the penance, that the soul is degraded. The man who sullies his humanity by cruelty or lust, is already degraded thereby below humanity; and the form which his soul afterwards assumes is the mere natural consequence of that degradation. He may again recover humanity, but only by means of passing through another form than that of the carnivora. When you were told (2) that certain creatures were redeemable or not redeemable, the meaning was this: They who are redeemable may, on leaving their present form, return directly into humanity. Their penance is accomplished in that form, and in it, therefore, they are redeemed. But they who are not redeemable, are they whose sin has been too deep or too ingrained to suffer them to return until they have passed through other lower forms. They are not redeemable therein, but will be on ascending again. Others, altogether vile and past redemption, sink continually lower and lower down the stream, until at length they burn out. They shall neither be redeemed in the form they now occupy, nor in any other.” (3) – PARIS, MAY 11, 1880.
(1) This was a tame captive lion, in whom Apollonius is said to have recognised the soul of the Egyptian King Amasis, who had lived 500 years previously. The lion burst into tears at the recognition, and showed much misery. (Author’s Note.)
(2) The reference is to an instruction received by her four years previously, but not in sleep, and not from Apollonius, though from a source no less transcendental. (Ed.)
(3) Remembering, on being told this dream, that “Eliphas Levi,” in his Haute Magie, had described an interview with the phantom of Apollonius, which he had evoked, I referred to the book, and found that he also saw him with a smooth-shaven face, but wearing a shroud (linceul). (Ed.)