Clothed With the Sun
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Anna Kingsford was an extraordinary 19th Century woman. She was one of the first women in Britain to become a medical doctor; edited a feminist newspaper; served as president of the Theosophical Society; knew Helena P. Blatavsky, Eliphas Levi, and many other primary figures in Occult and Esoteric circles of the time; was a principled vegetarian and anti-vivisectionist, and opposed foxhunting; and she was considered one of the inspirations for the Golden Dawn, a ritual magic secret society which was one of the sources of modern neo-paganism, although she did not live to join it. In particular, the equality of the sexes in the Golden Dawn is acknowledged as her contribution. Her insights, which she claimed to receive in trance-like states and in her sleep; were collected from her manuscripts and pamphlets by her lifelong collaborator Edward Maitland, and published posthumously in this book.
This book has 285 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1889.
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Excerpt from 'Clothed With the Sun'
The following remarks on the chief points in this indictment of the Church visible on behalf of the Church invisible, will serve to facilitate the comprehension of this book.
Christianity--which is rightly definable as a symbolic synthesis of the fundamental truths contained in all religions--early fell into bad hands. Like its Founder, it was crucified between two thieves, who were no other than the types of its crucifiers. These were, on the one hand, Superstition, which is the distortion of spiritual perception; and on the other hand Materialism, which is the privation of spiritual perception. These are the "two beasts" of mystical Scripture, which come up, respectively, from the "sea" and the "earth," to ravage the hopes of humanity. And the two are one under the name of Sacerdotalism, being but varied modes of its manifestation. It was Sacerdotalism that crucified both Christ and the doctrine of Christ with its two hands Superstition and Materialism.
For, operating as Superstition, Sacerdotalism perverted into mystery, and rendered not merely unintelligible but irrational, a gospel which in itself was absolutely simple, obvious, and reasonable. This is the doctrine that the true life and substance of Humanity are not material and created, but spiritual and divine; and that it is possible for man, by co-operating with the spirit within him, and subordinating his lower nature to his higher, to rise wholly into and be reconstituted--which is "regenerated"--of his higher, and become thereby divine, having in himself the power of life eternal. And that whereby this is effected--namely, inward purification--is the sole secret of the Christs. Wherefore he in whom this process finds full accomplishment, has and is Christ, and attains the summit of human evolution, the point of junction between Humanity and Divinity. Thus demonstrating to men in his own person their divine potentialities, and the manner of the realisation thereof, and by his loving self-devotion on their behalf softening their hearts and winning them to follow in his steps, he becomes their "Saviour." And that he is said to save them by his blood, is because "the blood is the life," and the true life-blood of the Christ is a spirit absolutely pure,--the inward God in the man,--and by the attainment of this pure spirit man is redeemed. And that the Christ is said to suffer and die for others, is because through his abounding sympathy he suffers even to death in and with them;--not instead of them--"for" does not here mean "instead of"--for that would be to deprive them of their means of redemption, since only through his own suffering can anyone repent and become perfected.
This doctrine, so reasonable and obvious, and satisfying alike to head and heart, Sacerdotalism, operating as Superstition, superseded by shifting the whole edifice of Christianity from its proper-because its only intelligible and consistent--basis in Pantheism, or the doctrine that God is all and in all--to that of an impossible Manichæanism--or the doctrine of two eternal, self-subsistent opposing principles of good and evil,--a doctrine which by making evil a positive thing, and thus exalting it to an equal rank with God, at once dethrones God and eternises evil. It deprives God also of His supreme quality of justice, by representing Him as accepting physical suffering as an equivalent for moral guilt, and the punishment of the innocent in lieu of that of the guilty. While by removing Christ from the category of the highest human to that of the superhuman, it robs all of their potential divinity in favour of the exclusive divinity of one; and thereby effectually neutralises the significance and value of his mission, the express purpose of which was to show his fellow-men, not what could be achieved by some great supernatural personage, with whom they could have nothing in common, but what they themselves have it in them in due time to become, simply by giving fair play to their own best, namely, the ideal of perfection disclosed to them by their own intuition. For the fulfilment of the intuition is the realisation of the ideal; and the realisation of the ideal is the "Finding of Christ."
Operating as Materialism, and preferring the letter to the spirit, the symbol to the verity, the form to the substance, Sacerdotalism ignored and suppressed the real, because the mystical and spiritual, import of Christianity, by means of the idolatrous exaltation, as the agents of salvation, of its persons, events, forms, and other things physical, in place of its spiritual realities, the principles, processes, and states implied by these and of which they were the symbolic representatives. The obvious truth that religion, as a thing relating not to the senses but to the soul, and appealing, therefore, only to the soul, must consist in things cognate to the soul, in that they are of like nature with the soul, and not in things material and physical, was altogether set aside, all logical proprieties being violated, as just shown, by positing physical bloodshed and suffering as the compensation for moral guilt, and these, too, of another than the guilty--instead of the repentance and amendment to which they are ordained to minister. While every expression in Scriptures avowedly mystical and parabolical was enforced in its literal sense, in defiance of repeated injunctions in Scripture to the contrary. And that which was really "an eternal gospel" by virtue of its being founded in the unchanging nature of things, and everlastingly demonstrable to the mind and verifiable by inward experience, was made dependent on the perishable records of physical events in themselves exceptional, and liable--whatever the testimony--sooner or later to be called into question.