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Not only is the recital of all these old controversies to be regretted, but also the record of many private incidents that should never have seen the light. What, above all things, we imagine, Mr. Maitland has at heart, is that the teaching he venerates so highly should be judged on its own merits; what good, then, to discount it so heavily by these private incidents? However, perhaps after all it is best so, for now all can form their own judgment and compare good and bad together.
It is just the personal factor that is so important in all things psychic; so that when we remember the collaborators' detestation of Mr. Gladstone and their opinion of Madame Blavatsky, we are not surprised to read the record of two prophetic visions, in the first of which Mr. Gladstone is in hell, a Laocoon in the grip of deadly pythons, and at the same time illuminated within by the fires of remorse, while H.P.B. is in the Brâhmanical heaven smoking cigarettes. Mrs. Kingsford introduces her to God Mercury; at which the “old lady” is much surprised and is converted to the belief in a personal God, asking whether his godship objected to smoking! All of which is very mixed. The Brâhmanical heaven is called in Theosophical parlance Kâma Loka, and by some spiritualists the “Summer Land"; the same remarks applying to Mrs. Kingsford's own Greek heaven, where are the gods and guinea pigs.
This brings out another trait iv Mrs. Kingsford's character, one for which all honour is due to her. Her extraordinary love for animals led her to prosecute an unremitting crusade against the barbarous cruelties of the vivisectionists; withi pen and voice she urged the cause of the poor defenceless dumb creatures, and never relaxed her energies as long as she could stand or hold a pen. In this she did most admirable and praiseworthy work, but here again she forgot the wise old saw, “ nothing too much," for not only did she love the animals, but she loved them more than her own kind. Her chief pets were guinea pigs, and one especially she loved beyond all others. When her little friend “Rufus" died she was frantic with grief, and ever afterwards, on the anniversary of its exodus, she kept up a kind of Shraddha ceremony, offering up prayers for its “soul.” This tendency in her symbolized itself to her dreaming consciousness in a very graceful vision. She was at the feet of the
Pope, praying the Holy Father to establish an order for the suppression of vivisection and give it a symbol. Taking a sheet of paper from the table the successor of St. Peter rolled it into the shape of a fool's cap and placed it on her head, saying, “There is your symbol, daughter. You shall be called the ‘Fools of Christ.”
But, indeed, hier unbalanced love for the animals led her to such extremes that it is difficult to write on the matter without strong speech. She deliberately tried to "will" Claude Bernard, Paul Bert, and Pasteur, the leading vivisectionists, to death. She believed that she had succeeded in the first two cases, and determined to do her utmost to compass the end of the rest of their confrères. To put it plainly, this was calm, deliberate and cold blooded murder; and one so unbalanced, under sufficient provocation, would be likely to stick at nothing to accomplish her ends. It was in reference to this subject that Madame Blavatsky wrote to her :
“I feel sure and know that the Master approves your opposing the principle of vivisection, but not the practical way you do it, injuring yourself and doing injury to others, without much benefiting the poor animals. Of course, it is Karma in the case of Paul Bert. But so it is in the case of every murdered man. Nevertheless, the weapon of Karma, unless he acts unconsciously, is a murderer in the sight of that same Karma that used him. Let us work against the principle, then; not against personalities.”
It is, however, with Mrs. Kingsford in her capacity as seeress that we are most interested. Taking all data into consideration, she must be placed, generally, in that category which, while transcending ordinary mediumship, falls short of really trained seership —that desirable attainment which is the goal of the truly philosophical and scientific mystic. At the same time she seems occasionally to have touched the higher level, and sometimes to have fallen to the lower, being, as she was, a kaleidoscope of moods.
One of the “illuminations " which seems to have given especial pleasure, for it is quoted no less than three times, tells us that an occultist is a “religious scientist ” but not a "saint." We have neither any quarrel with names nor yet any reverence for them, our business is rather to try and understand human life and character; and here again we get the personal factor in the cominunication at the expense of truth.
We had always thought that ethics had been inculcated almost ad nauseam by the "occultists,” in the theosophical sense, their ideals being the Christ and Buddha, whom they have hitherto regarded as saints, pace the Genius of Mrs. Kingsford.
With the general programme, however, of Mrs. Kingsford we are in entire sympathy; her effort was to unify and interpret all the religions of the world known to us, especially directing her attention to the Grecian, Egyptian, Jewish and Christian. The essentially oriental religions entered but slightly into the scheme; of the Veda and Pitaka and Zend Avesta little is said. The leading idea of Mrs. Kingsford was that the Christian religion must trace its true origin to the Mysteries-preëminently the Mysteries of Bacchus; and though we are strongly inclined to believe the main postulate, we can by no means endorse the details. This much is certain, that no subject is of greater interest for the western world than the one proposed by the authors of The Perfect Way. But for the satisfactory accomplishment of the task two things are absolutely necessary ; firstly, the faculty to read the old records of the world-inemory at will, the result of stern discipline and the exercise of that supreme coinmon sense which so few inortals ever possess; and secondly, a faculty of scholarly research, whereby the results arrived at may be fitly recommended to the minds of the students of religion and history. It is the rarest thing on earth to come across the mystic who will submit to such training, or check his impressions by the stern discipline of research ; and though no one would deny that Mrs. Kingsford had the ability, we look in vain for the results of that accurate research in her works.
It is exceedingly probable that Mrs. Kingsford, in a past birth, was a priestess in one of the Egyptian temples, and recovered some glimpses of that birth. Both she and Mr. Maitland claim to have been initiated " in the past. That again is highly probable; but
"” what does " initiated" mean? There were thousands and thousands of the “initiated” in antiquity. Having passed through the preliminary teletai, the candidates proceeded to the muesis, where the facts of the kâmalokic state were dramatically represented for their edification, and explanations given to induce them to lead a noble life and escape from the attractions of sense.
. The candidate was then said to be “initiated.” If judged worthy, he could then pass on to the epopteia, where the state of blessedness or the facts of the deya
chanic plane were revealed, and in the higher stages of this degree psychic visions were induced. As Apuleius writes in The Golden Ass (xi.) : “I have seen the sun shining with brilliant light at midnight, and the lower and higher gods.” But real" initiation," in the theosophical and platonic sense, was beyond all that.
The vestal virgins, pythonesses and seeresses of the temples were not the directors of the Mysteries, but were used by the initiated priests as lucides. Of course we are only speaking of the genuine side of the Mysteries, and not of the time of their degradation, when the priests were mere charlatans and money-grubbers, of whom Porphyry writes : “The sacrifices of fools are mere food for fire, and the offerings they bring help the robbers of temples to lead their evil life.” The results obtained through such a lucide depended entirely on the moral character and knowledge of the directing priest; and seeing that the characteristics of Mrs. Kingsford place her in this category, an important factor to take into account is the said " directing priest.” The numerous admissions of want of knowledge on such points, and of lack of information on historical details that are thoroughly well known to students of such subjects, is sufficient indication that the necessary directing force was absent.
Nevertheless, it is precisely the presence or absence of such factors that make the whole record so interesting to the careful student of psychology. Granting that Mrs. Kingsford, for instance, had a correct impression of a past experience when finding herself in a chorus singing a Bacchic chant, nevertheless the version of that
a chant which she gives is patently only a blurred reminiscence, distorted by her own scientific studies. We fortunately have some of these old Hymus still remaining, and one who has tasted their genuine flavour is quick to detect even a single new ingredient, much more then to discover additions entirely unknown to ancient thought and feeling. The form, too, is disappointing ; the swing with which the verse starts is suddenly checked at the end of the line, especially of the second of the couplet, and it falls straightway into mediocrity. Mr. Maitland calls this the “recovered gnosis." No one would welcome more warmly the recovery of tliat gnosis than the present writer, as every reader of Lucifer is well aware ; but when we come across so many demonstrable errors, we should have preferred the claims to have been less and the industry of research greater.
The chief feature of Mrs. Kingsford's system is the glorification of womnan. Here again the personal factor is largely to the fore, for Mr. Maitland several times records the exaggerated opinions of Mrs. Kingsford on this point, and the keenness with which she resented any imagined slight on her sex.
Therefore, the woman is inade the type of the intuition, and we are finally confronted with the herinaphrodite conception of a deity designated by that horribly inelegant compound "bi-une." Personally we prefer the view of Porphyry, who wrote to his wife, Marcella: “Neither trouble thyself inuch whether thou be inale or female in body, nor look on thyself as a woman ”—all the inore so as this perpetual harping on sex syinbology has created great prejudice against many beautiful ideas in The Perfect Way. But why, above all things, has the mystic no idea of humour ? It is an enormous help to common sense, and might have saved the world inuch absurdity. There is another symbol of the intuition, which Mr. Maitland portentously reveals as a very great mystery; the reader who has been carefully indoctrinated with the idea of woman's transcendent superiority, and of hier being the only worthy symbol of the highest of all human faculties, is suddenly confronted withi the astounding revelation that the syinbol of the intuition in the Mysteries was-an ass!
Again, we can understand the meaning of a writer when calling Tertullian, for instance, a Calvinist. We should not accuse such a phrase as obnoxious to the charge of anachronism, for even the slenderest education is aware of the respective dates of the famous Montanist and of Calvin ; but when we are gravely informed that Paul was a Manichæan, and that the sect of Manichæans arose
many years before Paul wrote," we feel inclined to take the two thick quarto volumes of old Beausobre's Histoire Critique de Manichée from our shelves and hurl them mentally at the head of such an “illumination."
But it is impossible to go through the wliole of the present two volumes and the rest of the collaborators' writings, and point out the errors of this kind with which they are filled ; nor is it our desire to do so; for we should have to fill a number of LUCIFER at least.