"Unto the godly there ariseth up light in the darkness."--Ps. cxii, 4.
IN his Preface to the First Edition of this book, Edward Maitland has dealt so fully and so ably with the subjects of the source and method of these Illuminations, and the nature and import of the revelation contained in them, that there is little, if anything, that can with advantage be added under these heads; but there were some matters connected with them the account of which he reserved for later publication, and these he related (shortly) in The Story of the New Gospel of Interpretation, which was published in 1893, 1 and (fully) in his great and final work, The Life of Anna Kingsford, which was published in 1896. 2 These two biographies are my authority for the following additional information which cannot fail to interest all who read this book. They also contain further of "the store of similar treasures" (to these Illuminations) left by Anna Kingsford (including her conversations with her Genius) to which reference is made in the Preface to the First Edition. I have not thought it advisable to alter the character of this book by incorporating herein any new or additional matter, although of a nature entitling it to be classed with these Illuminations. My object has been to leave it, so far as the Illuminations are concerned, as Edward Maitland left it. Nothing, therefore, has been added to, and nothing has been omitted from, the Illuminations as recorded in the original edition of Clothed with the Sun.
In The Life of Anna Kingsford, Edward Maitland says that they had manufactured for them expressly "a volume, large, handsome, of superfine paper, with lock and key, and bearing on the cover a solid brass pentagram 3--symbol of man perfected"--for containing a record, which they had been instructed to
make, of "the Scriptures" which had been and were then being imparted to them; and, he adds, "In this book Mary 1 was to write, in her boldest and most picturesque hand, the chapters received by her. And I secretly indulged in anticipations of the time when the book would form one of the most precious possessions of the Church of the Future, as a relic of the seeress and scribe of the New Gospel of Interpretation, and one to look on which the Faithful of the ages to come would make pilgrimage from afar, regarding it with the veneration that now would be accorded to the originals of their own Scriptures, written by the hands of the revelators themselves. The writing was duly commenced, but was destined never to be completed, the requisite health, strength, and leisure not being vouchsafed. And it accordingly stopped short at its initial pages. And only when the record was ultimately made in print was it possible to observe the directions given." 2
Regarding this "record," the selection and order of the chapters containing the lesser mysteries was left to their own judgment, but as to the order of the chapters containing the greater mysteries they received the following instructions: "Put all that relates to the Seventh Sphere at the end of the book. Write the Apostles' Creed the first in the book, putting all the past tenses in the present. The Creed contains the spiritual history of the Sons of God, and the mysteries of the kingdom of the Seven Spheres. Follow it with the Lord's Prayer. But before all put, on a single page, I AM." 3 Although the special record remained uncompleted, they were, nevertheless, except in the cases below mentioned, careful to keep a written record (which they regarded as of priceless value) of all the Illuminations they received, and no change, even of a word, was ever made therein 4 and many of them were by Edward Maitland committed to memory. 5
Knowing the value of their Illuminations, which were "derived directly from celestial sources, the hierarchy of the Church Invisible in the holy heavens," 6 they were well aware of the
devices likely to be contrived by their invisible foes--the astrals--to bring about the loss or destruction of their written records: and--to show the great care they took of them--in the latter part of 1878, when they were travelling from Paris to London, and when duplicate copies of some only--and that a minority--of them had been made by Edward Maitland, he carried the unduplicated copies in a wallet which he would not on any account unstrap from off his shoulder while en route: and this plan was continued to be practised to the end, and "no loss was ever sustained." 1 And this was not the only risk they had to guard against, for in the following year they were warned: "The air is filled with the haters of the mysteries. . . . Fire and Sword and War are against you; you walk in the midst of commotion; and your life is in peril every hour until the words be completed." 2 Later, Anna Kingsford, being lucid, said that her Genius was present, and that he considered it advisable for them to have in their keeping "a duplicate copy of the communications" received by them. 3 Although, as stated, no loss of any of their records was ever sustained, it must not be understood that none of Anna Kingsford's Illuminations were ever lost, for on several occasions, when she was not well (and those who have read The Life of Anna Kingsford will know what terrible and frequent sufferings she endured through ill-health), she omitted to commit Illuminations received by her to writing, "so that some were lost." 4 And, on her death-bed, she from time to time received "Illuminations which she described rapturously as being most glorious, confirming and amplifying all that she had been taught, and disclosing vista after vista of the divinest truth and beauty beyond," but she was then too weak to retain the particulars so as to tell Edward Maitland, or to write them down. 5
Anna Kingsford passed away, in her forty-second year, on the 22nd February 1888. Some seven months after her death, Edward Maitland, being their in communication with her, asked whether she approved of his intention to publish a book "containing all her Illuminations," when "an, answer was given emphatically in the affirmative, with an instruction to add
explanatory notes stating their source and significance." 1 The outcome of this communication was the publication, in the next following year, of Clothed with the Sun, and during the preparation of the notes and appendices, some of which dealt with matters of the utmost profundity, Edward Maitland "was conscious of assistance from Anna Kingsford, not verbally and audibly, but by means of enhancement of perception and judgment." 2 The subjoined passage, from The Life of Anna Kingsford, relating to its publication is of considerable interest. Edward Maitland says: "The book of her Illuminations was all in type, and the first sheet of the final revise had been sent to me, without my having been able to find a title to please me; and in default of it the printer had begun to set up a portion of the sub-title at the top of the left-hand page. I was in despair. Titles had always been a strong point with me, and now I found myself at a loss with the book I esteemed above all others. Meanwhile I felt absolutely convinced that there was in the world a title to suit it, and one only, yet I could not hit on it, and the printer was waiting! 'I must have it!' I exclaimed to myself. 'Where and what is it?' Another instant and it was flashed upon me, and proved to be one of the most familiar of Bible phrases, and so absolutely appropriate that I marvelled greatly at my failure to see it before. It was 'Clothed with the Sun,' an Apocalyptic expression which we had recognised as denoting the Soul under full illumination of the Spirit 3 and having full perception of Divine Truth. Another instant and there were similarly flashed on me full instructions for the binding and cover. The front was to have on it the central part of the design which Mary had drawn for The Perfect Way, 4 the figure of the woman standing in the sun, and the back cover to have a monogram of the initials of her mundane name, also invented and drawn by herself. This was a butterfly feeding on a twig, so disposed as to make the letters A. K. and representing occultly the soul feeding on the tree of life, and the colour was to be that of the 'blood-red ray of the innermost sphere, where Wisdom and Love are One.' So absolute and supreme
was my satisfaction that I gave no thought to the possible source of the suggestion, but only wondered at my failure to think of it sooner.'" 1
Three days later, Edward Maitland was visited by a clairvoyant friend, a lady who knew nothing whatever of his book or of his design to publish one. On taking her seat and becoming lucid, he says, "she at once began to smile as at some exquisitely pleasant circumstance, and then, before I had time to question her as to the cause of her hilarity, she exclaimed: 'This is most curious, to see how you two think the same thing so exactly at the same moment that it is impossible to say who thought it first. . . . I have to tell you that your friend who calls herself Mary is here, and she bids me tell you that she sees you are very much pleased with the title of your new book, and that you think it is your own. But it is not. She gave it to you. She not only acquiesces in it, she claims it.'" 2
The arrangement observed in recording the Illuminations contained in this book follows the directions, to which I have referred, that were given to Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland when seeking advice as to the order to be observed in the record they had been instructed to make of the Scriptures imparted to them 3; and "they were one and all received exactly as they are printed, without the change of a single word." 4
Speaking of those wondrous chapters in the second part of this book headed each by a letter of the Greek alphabet, Anna Kingsford affirmed them to be "the ipsissima verba of the Gods," some of them being the original rituals in the sacred mysteries of antiquity which were used in the composition of the Bible. 5 Edward Maitland, also, referring to these chapters, said that they were "the sources from which the Bible-writers largely derived both their doctrine and their diction," 6 and they both recognised in them "the destined Scriptures of the future, so long promised and at length vouchsafed in interpretation of the Scriptures of the past." 7 They were chapters which no one having the smallest perception of the Divine could read
"without at once recognising both a doctrine and a diction which transcended mortal knowledge and skill, and which evidently and avowedly proceed directly from the high heavens." 1 And it is even so: "God has a few of us whom he whispers in the ear," and one of these--perhaps the foremost--was for some time known as Anna Kingsford. 2 The day will come, and may not be far distant, when the Church, no longer fallen, and ignorant of the source and signification of its dogmas, but risen and rejoicing in the light of the spiritual consciousness, will thank God for and bless the Divine Soul who, in days of impiety, unbelief, and idolatry, came on a mission to restore to mankind the Divine Gnosis that had been so long lost. What of this part (for it was part only) of her mission she accomplished, 3 this book is a witness, and how and under what conditions she accomplished it, Edward Maitland's Preface to the First Edition and the books subsequently written by him, to which I have referred, fully and accurately relate. One thing is certain: wheresoever the New Gospel of Interpretation shall be preached, throughout the whole world, "that also which this woman (soul) hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her"--for these Illuminations were given, not for the few only, but for the many, yea, for the spiritual enlightenment and upliftment of the world. It is through souls such as Anna Kingsford's that "God stooping shews sufficient of His light for us i' the dark to rise by." We read that, at the close of his life, David--"the man who was raised on high . . . and the sweet psalmist of Israel"--said:
"The Spirit of the Lord spake in me
And His word was upon my tongue." 4
And thus it was with Anna Kingsford. 5
Neither must Edward Maitland's part in this great work be overlooked, for it was his loving care, help, sympathy and assistance, and his "restraining influence," that enabled Anna Kingsford to recover so much, and but for which she "would, never have shewn the life she possessed interiorly," she would
have become "dissipated in expansiveness"--so great was her "expansive energy." 1. And it is to him that we owe, not only the preservation of Anna Kingsford's Illuminations, but also that priceless record of their lives as contained in his magnum opus, The Life of Anna Kingsford. He passed away, at the end of his seventy-third year, on 2nd October 1897.
A few clerical errors in the previous edition have been corrected, and I have added one or two footnotes which I trust will be found helpful.
SAMUEL HOPGOOD HART.
xi:1 A third edition of this book (now out of print) was published in 1905, under the title of The Story of Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland and of the New Gospel of Interpretation.
xi:2 A third and enlarged edition of The Life of Anna Kingsford was published in 1913, and all references herein are to this last edition.
xi:3 Probably a printer's error for "hexagram," which is the. symbol of man perfected.
xii:1 "Mary" was the initiation name given to Anna Kingsford by her Illuminators.
xii:2 Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. i, p. 314.
xii:3 Ibid., Vol. i, p. 315.
xii:4 Story of Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, p. 163.
xii:5 Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. ii, p. 12.
xii:6 Ibid., vol. ii, p. 16. Notwithstanding their derivation, be it noted, they were by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland "judged entirely by their own intrinsic merits" (Story of Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, p. 84).
xiii:1 Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. i, p. 295
xiii:2 Ibid., vol. i, p. 318.
xiii:3 Ibid., vol. i, p. 398.
xiii:4 Ibid., vol. i, p. 361.
xiii:5 Ibid., vol. ii, p. 360.
xiv:1 Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. ii, pp. 413-414.
xiv:2 Ibid., Vol. ii. p. 419.
xiv:3 See Preface to First Edition.
xiv:4 The Perfect Way, or the Finding of Christ, which comprised nine Lectures on Esoteric Christianity given by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland in 1881, was first published in 1882. The present (fifth) edition, with additions, was published in 1923.
xv:1 Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. ii, p. 424.
xv:2 Ibid., vol. ii, p. 425.
xv:3 Ibid., vol. i, p. 314.
xv:4 E. M. Letter in Light, 1894, p. 419.
xv:5 E. M. Art. in Light, 1893, p. 104.
xv:6 Letter in Light, 1894, p. 419.
xv:7 Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. i, p. 284, See also p. 283.
xvi:1 E. M. Letter in Light, 1896, p. 154.
xvi:2 See Part I of Illumination "Concerning the Powers of the Air," post.
xvi:3 See Illumination " Concerning the Three Veils between Man and: God," post.
xvi:4 2 Sam. xxiii, 1-2.
xvi:5 Note the reference, in the Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. ii, pp. 172-173, to Esther and Mary Magdalen as "types'' of the Woman who should come to bring to the New Church "the balm of good tidings."
xvii:1 Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. i, p. 351, and vol. ii, p. 410.