A Word Upon the Objects of the Theosophical Society
The Hour of Twilight
The Mask of Apollo
The Secret of Power
The Priestess of the Woods
A Tragedy in the Temple
Jagrata, Svapna and Sushupti
Verse by AE in the "Irish Theosophist"
To A Poet
The Place of Rest
H. P. B.
By the Margin of the Great Deep
The Man to the Angel
Songs of Olden Magic--II.
In the Womb
In the Garden of God
The Breath of Light
Songs of Olden Magic--IV
W. Q. J. *
Fron the Book of the Eagle
The Protest of Love
The King Initiate
The Dream of the Children
The Chiefs of the Air
The Palaces of the Sidhe
The Voice of the Wise
A Dawn Song
--An Ancient Eden
The Fountain of Shadowy Beauty
A New Earth
The Element Language
At the Dawn of the Kaliyuga *
The Meditation of Parvati
A Talk by the Euphrates
The Cave of Lilith
A Strange Awakening
The Midnight Blossom
The Story of a Star
How Theosophy Affects One's View of Life
The Ascending Cycle
The Mystic Nights' Entertainment
The Gardens of Twilight
Night The Second
The Northern Lights
On the Spur of the Moment
The Legends of Ancient Eire
Review: "Lyrics" by R.H. Fitzpatrick [London: W.
Stewart and Co.]
--"YES, AND HOPE."
The Enchantment of Cuchullain
I. The Birds of Angus
II. Cuchullain's Dream
IV. The Maidens of the Sidhe
V. The Mantle of Mannanan
Shadow and Substance
On W. Q. Judge's Passing
Works and Days
The Childhood of Apollo
The Awakening of the Fires
Our Secret Ties
Priest or Hero?
The Age of the Spirit
A Thought Along the Road
The Fountains of Youth
—By "AE" (George William Russell)
1st:—To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity,
without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.
2nd:—-To promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literatures,
religions, philosophies and sciences, and demonstrate the importance
of that study.
3rd:—-To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the psychic
powers latent in man.
Started a little under a quarter of a century ago, in an age grown
cold with unbelief and deadened by inexplicable dogmas, the
Theosophical Society has found adherents numerous enough to make it
widely known, and enthusiastic enough to give it momentum and make it
a living force. The proclamation of its triple objects— brotherhood,
wisdom and power, acted like a trumpet call, and many came forth to
join it, emerging from other conflicts; and out of silence and
retirement came many who had grown hopeless but who had still the old
feeling at heart.
For the first object no explanation is necessary; but a word or
two of comment upon the second and third may help to show how they do
not weaken, by turning into other channels, the intellectual energies
and will, which might serve to carry out the first. In these old
philosophies of the East we find the stimulus to brotherly action
which might not be needed in an ideal state, but which is a help to
the many, who, born into the world with a coldness of heart as their
heritage, still wish to do their duty. Now out duty alters according
to our conception of nature, and in the East there has been put
forward, by men whom we believe to be the wise and great of the earth,
a noble philosophy, a science of life itself, and this, not as a
hypothesis, but as truth which is certain, truth which has been
verified by eyes which see deeper than ours, and proclaimed by the
voices of those who have become the truth they speak of; for as
Krishna teaches Arjuna in the Dayanishvari: "on this Path to whatever
place one would go that place one's self becomes!" The last word of
this wisdom is unity. Underneath all phenomena and surviving all
changes, a great principle endures for ever. At the great white dawn
of existence, from this principle stream spirit and primordial matter;
as they flow away further from their divine source, they become
broken up, the one life into countless lives, matter into countless
forms, which enshrine these lives; spirit involves itself into matter
and matter evolves, acted upon by this informing fire.
These lives wander on through many a cycle's ebb and flow, in
separation and sorrow, with sometimes the joy of a momentary meeting.
Only by the recognition of that unity, which spiritually is theirs,
can they obtain freedom.
It is true in the experience of the race that devotion of any life
to universal ends brings to that life a strange subtle richness and
strength; by our mood we fasten ourselves into the Eternal; hence
these historic utterances, declarations of permanence and a spiritual
state of consciousness, which have been the foundation of all great
religious movements. Christ says, "I and my Father are one." "Before
Abraham was I am." Paul says, "In him we live and move and have our
In the sacred books of India it is the claim of many sages that
they have recognised "the ancient constant and eternal which perishes
not through the body be slain," and there are not wanting to-day men
who speak of a similar expansion of their consciousness, out of the
gross and material, into more tender, wise and beautiful states of
thought and being. Tennyson, in a famous letter published some time
ago, mentioned that he had at different times experienced such a mood;
the idea of death was laughable; it was not thought, but a state;
"the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest." It would be
easy to do on multiplying instances.
Now in a nature where unity underlies all differences, where soul
is bound to soul more than star to star; where if one falters or
fails the order of all the rest is changed; the duty of any man who
perceives this unity is clear, the call for brotherly action is
imperative, selfishness cannot any longer wear the mask of wisdom, for
isolation is folly and shuts us out from the eternal verities.
The third object of the society defined as "the study of the
psychic powers latent in man" is pursued only by a portion of the
members; those who wish to understand more clearly the working of
certain laws of nature and who wish to give themselves up more
completely to that life in which they live and move and have their
being; and the outward expression of the occult life is also
—Nov. 15, 1892
For the future we intend that at this hour the Mystic shall be at
home, less metaphysical and scientific than is his wont, but more
really himself. It is customary at this hour, before the lamps are
brought in, to give way a little and dream, letting all the tender
fancies day suppresses rise up in out minds. Wherever it is spent,
whether in the dusky room or walking home through the blue evening,
all things grow strangely softened and united; the magic of the old
world reappears. The commonplace streets take on something of the
grandeur and solemnity of starlit avenues of Egyptian temples the
public squares in the mingled glow and gloom grow beautiful as the
Indian grove where Sakuntala wandered with her maidens; the children
chase each other through the dusky shrubberies, as they flee past they
look at us with long remembered glances: lulled by the silence, we
forget a little while the hard edges of the material and remember that
we are spirits.
Now is the hour for memory, the time to call in and make more
securely our own all stray and beautiful ideas that visited us during
the day, and which might otherwise be forgotten. We should draw them
in from the region of things felt to the region of things understood;
in a focus burning with beauty and pure with truth we should bind
them, for from the thoughts thus gathered in something accrues to the
consciousness; on the morrow a change impalpable but real has taken
place in our being, we see beauty and truth through everything.
It is in like manner in Devachan, between the darkness of earth
and the light of spiritual self-consciousness, that the Master in
each of us draws in and absorbs the rarest and best of experiences,
love, self-forgetfulness, aspiration, and out of these distils the
subtle essence of wisdom, so that he who struggles in pain for his
fellows, when he wakens again on earth is endowed with the tradition
of that which we call self-sacrifice, but which is in reality the
proclamation of our own universal nature. There are yet vaster
correspondences, for so also we are told, when the seven worlds are
withdrawn, the great calm Shepherd of the Ages draws his misty hordes
together in the glimmering twilights of eternity, and as they are
penned within the awful Fold, the rays long separate are bound into
one, and life, and joy, and beauty disappear, to emerge again after
rest unspeakable on the morning of a New Day.
Now if the aim of the mystic be to fuse into one all moods made
separate by time, would not the daily harvesting of wisdom render
unnecessary the long Devachanic years? No second harvest could be
reaped from fields where the sheaves are already garnered. Thus
disregarding the fruits of action, we could work like those who have
made the Great Sacrifice, for whom even Nirvana is no resting place.
Worlds may awaken in nebulous glory, pass through their phases of
self-conscious existence and sink again to sleep, but these tireless
workers continue their age-long task of help. Their motive we do not
know, but in some secret depth of our being we feel that there could
be nothing nobler, and thinking this we have devoted the twilight hour
to the understanding of their nature.
—February 15, 1893
There are dreams which may be history or may be allegory. There
is in them nothing grotesque, nothing which could mar the feeling of
authenticity, the sense of the actual occurence of the dream incident.
The faces and figures perceived have the light shade and expression
which seems quite proper to the wonderworld in which the eye of the
inner man has vision; and yet the story may be read as a parable of
spiritual truth like some myth of ancient scripture. Long ago I had
may such dreams, and having lately become a student of such things, I
have felt an interest in recalling the more curious and memorable of
these early vision.
The nebulous mid-region between waking and unconsciousness was the
haunt of many strange figures, reflections perhaps from that true
life led during sleep by the immortal man. Among these figures two
awoke the strangest feelings of interest. One was an old man with
long grey hair and beard, whose grey-blue eyes had an expression of
secret and inscrutable wisdom; I felt an instinctive reverence for
this figure, so expressive of spiritual nobility, and it became
associated in my mind with all aspiration and mystical thought. The
other figure was that of a young girl. These two appeared again and
again in my visions; the old man always as instructor, the girl
always as companion. I have here written down one of these
adventures, leaving it to the reader to judge whether it is purely
symbolical, or whether the incidents related actually took place, and
were out-realized from latency by the power of the Master within.
With the girl as my companion I left an inland valley and walked
towards the sea. It was evening when we reached it and the tide was
far out. The sands glimmered away for miles on each side of us; we
walked outwards through the dim coloured twilight, I was silent; a
strange ecstacy slowly took possession of me, as if drop by drop an
unutterable life was falling within; the fever grew intense, then
unbearable as it communicated itself to the body; with a wild cry I
began to spin about, whirling round and round in ever increasing
delirium; Some secretness was in the air; I was called forth by the
powers of invisible nature and in a swoon I fell. I rose again with
sudden memory, but my body was lying upon the sands; with a curious
indifference I saw that the tide was on the turn and the child was
unable to remove the insensible form beyond its reach; I saw her sit
down beside it and place the head upon her lap; she sat there quietly
waiting, while all about her little by little the wave of the Indian
sea began to ripple inwards, and overhead the early stars began softly
After this I forgot completely the child and the peril of the
waters, I began to be conscious of the presence of a new world. All
around me currents were flowing, in whose waves dance innumerable
lives; diaphanous forms glided about, a nebulous sparkle was
everywhere apparent; faces as of men in dreams glimmered on me, or
unconsciously their forms drifted past, and now and then a face looked
sternly upon me with a questioning glance. I was not to remain long
in this misty region, again I felt the internal impulse and internally
I was translated into a sphere of more pervading beauty and light;
and here with more majesty and clearness than I had observed before
was the old man of my dreams.
I had though of him as old but there was an indescribable youth
pervading the face with its ancient beauty, and then I knew it was
neither age nor youth, it was eternalness. The calm light of thought
played over features clear cut as a statue's, and an inner
luminousness shone through the rose of his face and his silver hair.
There were others about but of them I had no distinct vision.
He said, "You who have lived and wandered through our own peculiar
valleys look backwards now and learn the alchemy of thought." He
touched me with his hand and I became aware of the power of these
strange beings. I felt how they had waited in patience, how they had
worked and willed in silence; from them as from a fountain went forth
peace; to them as to the stars rose up unconsciously the aspirations
of men, the dumb animal cravings, the tendrils of the flowers. I saw
how in the valley where I lived, where naught had hindered, their
presence had drawn forth in luxuriance all dim and hidden beauty, a
rarer and pure atmosphere recalled the radiant life of men in the
golden dawn of the earth.
With wider vision I saw how far withdrawn from strife they had
stilled the tumults of nations; I saw how hearing far within the
voices, spiritual, remote, which called, the mighty princes of the
earth descended from their thrones becoming greater than princes;
under this silent influence the terrible chieftains flung open the
doors of their dungeons that they themselves might become free, and
all these joined in that hymn which the quietude of earth makes to
sound in the ears of the gods.—Overpowered I turned round, the eyes
of light were fixed upon me.
"Do you now understand?"
"I do not understand," I replied. I see that the light and the
beauty and the power that enters the darkness of the world comes from
these high regions; but I do not know how the light enters, no how
beauty is born, I do not know the secret of power."
"You must become as one of us," he answered.
I bowed my head until it touched his breast; I felt my life was
being drawn from me, but before consciousness utterly departed and
was swallowed up in that larger life, I learned something of the
secret of their being; I lived within the minds of men, but their
thoughts were not my thoughts; I hung like a crown over everything,
yet age was no nearer than childhood to the grasp of my sceptre and
sorrow was far away when it wept for my going, and very far was joy
when it woke at my light; yet I was the lure that led them on; I was
at the end of all ways, and I was also in the sweet voice that cried
"return;" and I had learned how spiritual life is one in all things,
when infinite vistas and greater depths received me, and I went into
that darkness out of which no memory can ever return.
—March 15, 1893
A tradition rises up within me of quiet, unrumoured years, ages
before the demigods and heroes toiled at the making of Greece, long
ages before the building of the temples and sparkling palaces of her
day of glory. The land was pastoral, all over its woods hung a
stillness as of dawn and of unawakened beauty deep-breathing in rest.
Here and there little villages sent up their smoke and a dreamy
people moved about; they grew up, toiled a little at their fields,
followed their sheep and goats, they wedded and grey age overtook
them, but they never ceased to be children. They worshiped the gods
with ancient rites in little wooden temples and knew many things which
were forgotten in later years.
Near one of these shrines lived a priest, an old man whose simple
and reverend nature made him loved by all around. To him, sitting
one summer evening before his hut, came a stranger whom he invited to
share his meal. The stranger sat down and began to tell him many
wonderful things, stories of the magic of the sun and of the bright
beings who moved at the gates of the day. The old priest grew drowsy
in the warm sunlight and fell asleep. Then the stranger who was
Apollo arose and in the guise of the old priest entered the little
temple, and the people came in unto him one after the other.
Agathon, the husbandman. "Father, as I bend over the fields or
fasten up the vines, I sometimes remember how you said that the gods
can be worshiped by doing these things as by sacrifice. How is it,
father, that the pouring of cool water over roots, or training up the
branches can nourish Zeus? How can the sacrifice appear before his
throne when it is not carried up in the fire and vapour."
Apollo. "Agathon, the father omnipotent does not live only in the
aether. He runs invisibly within the sun and stars, and as they
whirl round and round, they break out into woods and flowers and
streams, and the winds are shaken away from them like leaves from off
the roses. Great, strange and bright, he busies himself within, and
at the end of time his light shall shine through and men shall see it,
moving in a world of flame.
Think then, as you bend over your fields, of what you nourish and
what rises up within them. Know that every flower as it droops in
the quiet of the woodland feels within and far away the approach of
an unutterable life and is glad, they reflect that life even as the
little pools take up the light of the stars. Agathon, Agathon, Zeus
is no greater in the aether than he is in the leaf of grass, and the
hymns of men are no sweeter to him than a little water poured over one
of his flowers."
Agathon the husbandman went away and bent tenderly over his fruits
and vines, and he loved each one of them more than before, and he
grew wise in many things as he watched them and he was happy working
for the gods.
Then spake Damon the shepherd, "Father, while the flocks are
browsing dreams rise up within me; they make the heart sick with
longing; the forests vanish, I hear no more the lamb's bleat or the
rustling of the fleeces; voices from a thousand depths call me, they
whisper, they beseech me, shadows lovelier than earth's children utter
music, not for me though I faint while I listen. Father, why do I
hear the things others hear not, voices calling to unknown hunters of
wide fields, or to herdsmen, shepherds of the starry flocks"?
Apollo answered, "Damon, a song stole from the silence while the
gods were not yet, and a thousand ages passed ere they came, called
forth by the music, and a thousand ages they listened then joined in
the song; then began the worlds to glimmer shadowy about them and
bright beings to bow before them. These, their children, began in
their turn to sing the song that calls forth and awakens life. He is
master of all things who has learned their music. Damon, heed not the
shadows, but the voices, the voices have a message to thee from beyond
the gods. Learn their song and sing it over again to the people until
their hearts too are sick with longing and they can hear the song
within themselves. Oh, my son, I see far off how the nations shall
join in it as in a chorus, and hearing it the rushing planets shall
cease from their speed and be steadfast; men shall hold starry sway."
The face of the god shone through the face of the old man, and filled
with awe, it was so full of secretness. Damon the herdsman passed
from his presence and a strange fire was kindled in his heart. Then
the two lovers, Dion and Neaera, came in and stood before Apollo.
Dion spake, "Father, you who are so wise can tell us what love is,
so that we shall never miss it. Old Tithonius nods his grey head at
us as we pass; he says, 'only with the changeless gods has love
endurance, for men the loving time is short and its sweetness is soon
Neaera added. "But it is not true, father, for his drowsy eyes
light when he remembers the old days, when he was happy and proud in
love as we are."
Apollo. "My children, I will tell you the legend how love came
into the world and how it may endure. It was on high Olympus the
gods held council at the making of man; each had brought a gift,
they gave to man something of their own nature. Aphrodite, the
loveliest and sweetest, paused and was about to add a new grace to
his person, but Eros cried, "let them not be so lovely without, let
them be lovelier within. Put you own soul in, O mother." The mighty
mother smiled, and so it was; and now whenever love is like hers,
which asks not return but shines on all because it must, within that
love Aphrodite dwells and it becomes immortal by her presence."
Then Dion and Neaera went out, and as they walked homewards through
the forest, purple and vaporous in the evening light, they drew
closer together; and Dion looking into her eyes saw there a new
gleam, violet, magical, shining, there was the presence of Aphrodite,
there was her shrine.
Then came in unto Apollo the two grandchildren of old Thithonius
and they cried, "See the flowers we have brought you, we gathered
them for you down in the valley where they grow best." Then Apollo
said, "What wisdom shall we give to children that they may remember?
Our most beautiful for them!" As he stood and looked at them the
mask of age and secretness vanished, he stood before them radiant in
light; they laughed in joy at his beauty; he bent down and kissed
them each upon the forehead then faded away into the light which was
his home. As the sun sank down amid the blue hills the old priest
awoke with a sigh and cried out, "Oh that we could talk wisely as we
do in our dreams."
—April 15, 1893
It is not merely because it is extraordinary that I wish to tell
you this story. I think mere weirdness, grotesque or unusual
character, are not sufficient reasons for making public incidents in
which there is an element of the superhuman. The world, in spite of
its desire to understand the nature of the occult is sick of and
refuses to listen to stories of apparitions which betray no spiritual
character or reveal no spiritual law. The incident here related is
burned into my mind and life, not because of its dramatic intensity
or personal character, but because it was a revelation of the secret
of power, a secret which the wise in good and the wise in evil alike
have knowledge of.
My friend Felix was strangely disturbed; not only were his
material affairs unsettled, but he was also passing through a crisis
in his spiritual life. Two paths were open before him; On one side
lay the dazzling mystery of passion; on the other "the small old
path" held out its secret and spiritual allurements. I had hope that
he would choose the latter, and as I was keenly interested in his
decision. I invested the struggle going on in his mind with something
of universal significance, seeing in it a symbol of the strife between
"light and darkness which are the world's eternal ways." He came in
late one evening. I saw at once by the dim light that there was
something strange in his manner. I spoke to him in enquiry; he
answered me in a harsh dry voice quite foreign to his usual manner.
"Oh, I am not going to trouble myself any more, I will let things
take their course." This seemed the one idea in his mind, the one
thing he understood clearly was that things were to take their own
course; he failed to grasp the significance of any other idea or its
relative importance. He answered "Aye, indeed," with every appearance
of interest and eagerness to some trivial remark about the weather,
and was quite unconcerned about another and most important matter
which should have interested him deeply. I soon saw what had
happened; his mind, in which forces so evenly balanced had fought so
strenuously, had become utterly wearied out and could work no longer.
A flash of old intuition illumined it at last,— it was not wise to
strive with such bitterness over life,—therefore he said to me in
memory of this intuition, "I am going to let things take their
course." A larger tribunal would decide; he had appealed unto
Caesar. I sent him up to his room and tried to quiet his fever by
magnetization with some success. He fell asleep, and as I was rather
weary myself I retired soon after.
This was the vision of the night. It was surely in the room I was
lying and on my bed, and yet space opened on every side with pale,
clear light. A slight wavering figure caught my eye, a figure that
swayed to and fro; I was struck with its utter feebleness, yet I
understood it was its own will or some quality of its nature which
determined that palpitating movement towards the poles between which
it swung. What were they? I became silent as night and thought no
Two figures awful in their power opposed each other; the frail
being wavering between them could by putting out its arms have
touched them both. It alone wavered, for they were silent, resolute
and knit in the conflict of will; they stirred not a hand nor a foot;
there was only a still quivering now and then as of intense effort,
but they made no other movement. Their heads were bent forward
slightly, their arms folded, their bodies straight, rigid, and
inclined slightly backwards from each other like two spokes of a
gigantic wheel. What were they, these figures? I knew not, and yet
gazing upon them, thought which took no words to clothe itself mutely
read their meaning. Here were the culminations of the human, towering
images of the good and evil man may aspire to. I looked at the face
of the evil adept. His bright red-brown eyes burned with a strange
radiance of power; I felt an answering emotion of pride, of personal
intoxication, of psychic richness rise up within me gazing upon him.
His face was archetypal; the abstract passion which eluded me in the
features of many people I knew, was here declared, exultant, defiant,
giantesque; it seem to leap like fire, to be free. In this face I was
close to the legendary past, to the hopeless worlds where men were
martyred by stony kings, where prayer was hopeless, where pity was
none. I traced a resemblance to many of the great Destroyers in
history whose features have been preserved, Napoleon, Ramses and a
hundred others, named and nameless, the long line of those who were
crowned and sceptered in cruelty. His strength was in human weakness,
I saw this, for space and the hearts of men were bare before me. Out
of space there flowed to him a stream half invisible of red; it
nourished that rich radiant energy of passion; it flowed from men as
they walked and brooded in loneliness, or as they tossed in sleep. I
withdrew my gaze from this face which awoke in me a lurid sense
accompaniment, and turned it on the other. An aura of pale soft blue
was around this figure through which gleamed an underlight as of
universal gold. The vision was already dim and departing, but I
caught a glimpse of a face godlike in its calm, terrible in the beauty
of a life we know only in dreams, with strength which is the end of
the hero's toil, which belongs to the many times martyred soul; yet
not far away not in the past was its power, it was the might of life
which exists eternally. I understood how easy it would have been for
this one to have ended the conflict, to have gained a material victory
by its power, but this would not have touched on or furthered its
spiritual ends. Only its real being had force to attract that real
being which was shrouded in the wavering figure. This truth the adept
of darkness knew also and therefore he intensified within the sense of
pride and passionate personality. Therefore they stirred not a hand
nor a foot while under the stimulus of their presence culminated the
good and evil in the life which had appealed to a higher tribunal to
decide. Then this figure wavering between the two moved forward and
touched with its hand the Son of Light. All at once the scene and
actors vanished, and the eye that saw them was closed, I was alone
with darkness and a hurricane of thoughts.
Strange and powerful figures! I knew your secret of strength, it
is only to be, nature quickened by your presence leaps up in response.
I knew no less the freedom of that human soul, for your power only
revealed its unmanifest nature, it but precipitated experience. I
knew that although the gods and cosmic powers may war over us for
ever, it is we alone declare them victors or vanquished.
For the rest the vision of that night was prophetic, and the feet
of my friend are now set on that way which was the innermost impulse
of his soul.
—May 15, 1893
Here is a legend whispered to me, the land or time I cannot tell,
it may have been in the old Atlantean days. There were vast woods
and a young priestess ruled them; she presided at the festivals and
sacrificed at the altar for the people, interceding with the spirits
of fire, water air and earth, that the harvest might not be burned up,
nor drenched with the floods, nor town by storms and that the blight
might not fall upon it, which things the elemental spirits sometimes
brought about. This woodland sovereignty was her heritage from her
father who was a mighty magician before her. Around her young days
floated the faery presences; she knew them as other children know the
flowers having neither fear nor wonder for them. She saw deeper
things also; as a little child, wrapped up in her bearskin, she
watched with awe her father engaged in mystic rites; when around him
the airy legions gathered from the populous elements, the spirits he
ruled and the spirits he bowed down before: fleeting nebulous things
white as foam coming forth from the great deep who fled away at the
waving of his hand; and rarer the great sons of fire, bright and
transparent as glass, who though near seemed yet far away and were
still and swift as the figures that glance in a crystal. So the child
grew up full of mystery; her thoughts were not the thoughts of the
people about her, nor their affections her affections. It seemed as
if the elf-things or beings carved by the thought of the magician,
pushed aside by his strong will and falling away from him, entering
into the child became part of her, linking her to the elemental beings
who live in the star-soul that glows within the earth. Her father
told her such things as she asked, but he died while she was yet young
and she knew not his aim, what man is, or what is his destiny; but
she knew the ways of every order of spirit that goes about clad in a
form, how some were to be dreaded and some to be loved; By reason of
this knowledge she succeeded as priestess to the shrine, and held the
sway of beauty and youth, of wisdom and mystery over the people
dwelling in the woods.
It was the evening of the autumn festival, the open grassy space
before the altar was crowded with figures, hunters with their
feathered heads; shepherds, those who toil in the fields, the old
and hoary were gathered around.
The young priestess stood up before them; she was pale from vigil,
and the sunlight coming through the misty evening air fell upon her
swaying arms and her dress with its curious embroidery of peacock's
feathers; the dark hollows of her eyes were alight and as she spoke
inspiration came to her; her voice rose and fell, commanding,
warning, whispering, beseeching; its strange rich music flooded the
woods and pierced through and through with awe the hearts of those who
listened. She spoke of the mysteries of that unseen nature; how man
is watched and ringed round with hosts who war upon him, who wither up
his joys by their breath; she spoke of the gnomes who rise up in the
woodland paths with damp arms grasping from their earthy bed.
"Dreadful" she said "are the elementals who live in the hidden
waters: they rule the dreaming heart: their curse is forgetfulness;
they lull man to fatal rest, with drowsy fingers feeling to put out
his fire of life. But the most of all, dread the powers that move in
air; their nature is desire unquenchable; their destiny is—never to
be fulfilled—never to be at peace: they roam hither and thither
like the winds they guide; they usurp dominion over the passionate
and tender soul, but they love not in our way; where they dwell the
heart is a madness and the feet are filled with a hurrying fever, and
night has no sleep and day holds no joy in its sunlit cup. Listen not
to their whisper; they wither and burn up the body with their fire;
the beauty they offer is smitten through and through with
unappeasable anguish." She paused for a moment; here terrible breath
had hardly ceased to thrill them, when another voice was heard
singing; its note was gay and triumphant, it broke the spell of fear
upon the people,
"I never heed by waste or wood
The cry of fay or faery thing Who tell of their own
Above them all my soul is king.
The royal robe as king I wear
Trails all along the fields of light; Its silent blue and
For gems the starry dust of night.
The breath of joy unceasingly
Waves to and fro its fold star-lit, And far beyond
I live and breathe the joy of it."
The priestess advanced from the altar, her eyes sought for the
singer; when she came to the centre of the opening she paused and
waited silently. Almost immediately a young man carrying a small lyre
stepped out of the crowd and stood before her; he did not seem older
than the priestess; he stood unconcerned though her dark eyes blazed
at the intrusion; he met her gaze fearlessly; his eyes looked into
hers—in this way all proud spirits do battle. Her eyes were black
with almost a purple tinge, eyes that had looked into the dark ways of
nature; his were bronze, and a golden tinge, a mystic opulence of
vitality seemed to dance in their depths; they dazzled the young
priestess with the secrecy of joy; her eyes fell for a moment. He
turned round and cried out, "Your priestess speaks but half truths,
her eyes have seen but her heart does not know. Life is not terrible
but is full of joy. Listen to me. I passed by while she spake, and I
saw that a fear lay upon every man, and you shivered thinking of your
homeward path, fearful as rabbits of the unseen things, and forgetful
how you have laughed at death facing the monsters who crush down the
forests. Do you not know that you are greater than all these spirits
before who you bow in dread; your life springs from a deeper source.
Answer me, priestess, where go the fire-spirits when winter seizes
"Into the Fire-King they go, they dream in his heart." She half
chanted, the passion of her speech not yet fallen away from her. "And
where go the fires of men when they despair"? She was silent; then he
continued half in scorn, "Your priestess is the priestess of ghouls
and fays rather than a priestess of men; her wisdom is not for you;
the spirits that haunt the elements are hostile because they see you
full of fear; do not dread them and their hatred will vanish. The
great heart of the earth is full of laughter; do not put yourselves
apart from its joy, for its soul is your soul and its joy is your true
He turned and passed through the crowd; the priestess made a
motion as if she would have stayed him, then she drew herself up
proudly and refrained. They heard his voice again singing as he
passed into the darkening woods,
"The spirits to the fire-king throng
Each in the winter of his day: And all who listen to
Follow them after in that way.
They seek the heart-hold of the king,
They build within his halls of fire, Their dreams flash
like the peacock's wing,
They glow with sun-hues of desire.
I follow in no faery ways;
I heed no voice of fay or elf; I in the winter of my days
Rest in the high ancestral self."
The rites interrupted by the stranger did not continue much longer;
the priestess concluded her words of warning; she did not try to
remove the impression created by the poet's song, she only said, "His
wisdom may be truer. It is more beautiful than the knowledge we
The days passed on; autumn died into winter, spring came again
and summer, and the seasons which brought change to the earth brought
change to the young priestess. She sought no longer to hold sway over
the elemental tribes, and her empire over them departed: the song of
the poet rang for ever in her ears; its proud assertion of kingship
and joy in the radiance of a deeper life haunted her like truth; but
such a life seemed unattainable by her and a deep sadness rested in
her heart. The wood-people often saw her sitting in the evening where
the sunlight fell along the pool, waving slowly its azure and
amethyst, sparkling and flashing in crystal and gold, melting as if a
phantom Bird of Paradise were fading away; her dark head was bowed in
melancholy and all the great beauty flamed and died away unheeded.
After a time she rose up and moved about, she spoke more frequently
to the people who had not dared to question her, she grew into a more
human softness, they feared her less and loved her more; but she
ceased not from her passionate vigils and her step faltered and her
cheek paled, and her eager spirit took flight when the diamond glow of
winter broke out over the world. The poet came again in the summer;
they told him of the change they could not understand, but he
fathomed the depths of this wild nature, and half in gladness, half in
sorrow, he carved an epitaph over her tomb near the altar,
Where is the priestess of this shrine,
And by what place does she adore? The woodland haunt
below the pine
Now hears her whisper nevermore.
Ah, wrapped in her own beauty now
She dreams a dream that shall not cease; Priestess, to
her own soul to bow
Is hers in everlasting peace.
—July 15, 1893
I have often thought with sadness over the fate of that comrade.
That so ardent and heroic a spirit, so much chivalry and generosity
should meet such a horrible fate, has often made me wonder if there
is any purpose in this tangled being of ours; I have hated life and
the gods as I thought of it. What brought him out of those great
deserts where his youth was spent, where his soul grew vast knowing
only of two changes, the blaze of day and night the purifier, blue,
mysterious, ecstatic with starry being? Were not these enough for
him? Could the fire of the altar inspire more? Could he be initiated
deeper in the chambers of the temple than in those great and lonely
places where God and man are alone together? This was my doing;
resting in his tent when I crossed the desert, I had spoken to him of
that old wisdom which the priests of the inner temple keep and hand
down from one to the other; I blew to flame the mystic fire which
already smouldered within him, and filled with the vast ambition of
God, he left his tribe and entered the priesthood as neophyte in the
Temple of Isthar, below Ninevah.
I had sometimes to journey thither bearing messages from our high
priest, and so as time passed my friendship with Asur grew deep. That
last evening when I sat with him on the terrace that roofed the
temple, he was more silent than I had known him before to be; we had
generally so many things to speak of; for he told me all his dreams,
such vague titanic impulses as the soul has in the fresh first years
of its awakening, when no experience hinders with memory its flights
of aspiration, and no anguish has made it wise. But that evening
there was, I thought, something missing; a curious feverishness seemed
to have replaced the cool and hardy purity of manner which was natural
to him; his eyes had a strange glow, fitful and eager; I saw by the
starlight how restless his fingers were, they intertwined, twisted,
and writhed in and out.
We sat long in the rich night together; then he drew nearer to me
and leaned his head near my shoulder; he began to whisper
incoherently a wild and passionate tale; the man's soul was being
"Brother" he said, "I am haunted by a vision, by a child of the
stars as lovely as Isthar's self; she visits my dreaming hours, she
dazzles me with strange graces, she bewilders with unspeakable
longing. Sometime, I know, I must go to her, though I perish. When I
see her I forget all else and I have will to resist no longer. The
vast and lonely inspiration of the desert departs from my thought, she
and the jewel-light she lives in blot it out. The thought of her
thrills me like fire. Brother give me help, ere I go mad or die; she
draws me away from earth and I shall end my days amid strange things,
a starry destiny amid starry races."
I was not then wise in these things, I did not know the terrible
dangers that lurk in the hidden ways in which the soul travels.
"This" I said " is some delusion. You have brooded over a fancy
until it has become living; you have filled your creation with your
own passion and it lingers and tempts you; even if it were real, it
is folly to think of it, we must close our hearts to passion if we
would attain the power and wisdom of Gods."
He shook his head, I could not realize or understand him. Perhaps
if I had known all and could have warned him, it would have been in
vain; perhaps the soul must work out its own purification in
experience and learn truth and wisdom through being. Once more he
became silent and restless. I had to bid him farewell as I was to
depart on the morrow, but he was present in my thoughts and I could
not sleep because of him; I felt oppressed with the weight of some
doom about to fall. To escape from this feeling I rose in adoration
to Hea; I tried to enter into the light of that Wisdom; a sudden
heart-throb of warning drew me back; I thought of Asur instinctively,
and thinking of him his image flashed on me. He moved as if in
trance through the glassy waves of those cosmic waters which
everywhere lave and permeate the worlds, and in which our earth is
but a subaqueous mound. His head was bowed, his form dilated to
heroic stature, as if he conceived of himself as some great thing or
as moving to some high destiny; and this shadow which was the house
of his dreaming soul grew brilliant with the passionate hues of his
thought; some power beyond him drew him forth. I felt the fever and
heat of this inner sphere like a delirious breath blow fiercely about
me; there was a phosphorescence of hot and lurid colours. The form
of Asur moved towards a light streaming from a grotto, I could see
within it burning gigantic flowers. On one, as on a throne, a figure
of weird and wonderful beauty was seated. I was thrilled with a
dreadful horror, I thought of the race of Liliths, and some long
forgotten and tragic legends rose up in my memory of these beings
whose soul is but a single and terrible passion; whose love too
fierce for feebler lives to endure, brings death or madness to men. I
tried to warn, to awaken him from the spell; my will-call aroused
him; he turned, recognized me and hesitated; then this figure that
lured him rose to her full height; I saw her in all her plume of a
peacock, it was spotted with gold and green and citron dyes, she
raised her arms upwards, her robe, semi-transparent, purple and
starred over with a jewel lustre, fell in vaporous folds to her feet
like the drift over a waterfall. She turned her head with a sudden
bird-like movement, her strange eyes looked into mine with a prolonged
and snaky glance; I saw her move her arms hither and thither, and the
waves of this inner ocean began to darken and gather about me, to
ripple through me with feverish motion. I fell into a swoon and
remembered nothing more.
I was awakened before dawn, those with whom I was to cross the
desert were about to start and I could remain no longer. I wrote
hurriedly to Asur a message full of warning and entreaty and set out
on my return journey full of evil forebodings. Some months after I
had again to visit the temple; it was evening when I arrived; after I
had delivered the message with which I was charged, I asked for Asur.
The priest to whom I spoke did not answer me. He led me in silence
up to the terrace that overlooked the desolate eastern desert. The
moon was looming white upon the verge, the world was trembling with
heat, the winged bulls along the walls shone with a dull glow through
the sultry air. The priest pointed to the far end of the terrace. A
figure was seated looking out over the desert, his robes were
motionless as if their wrinkles were carved of stone, his hands lay on
his knees, I walked up to him; I called his name; he did not stir. I
came nearer and put my face close to his, it was as white as the moon,
his eyes only reflected the light. I turned away from him sick to the
—September 15, 1893
While the philosophical concepts of ancient India, concerning
religion and cosmogony, are to some extent familiar and appreciated
in these countries, its psychology, intimately related with its
religion and metaphysics, is comparatively unknown. In Europe the
greatest intellects have been occupied by speculations upon the laws
and aspects of physical nature, while the more spiritual Hindus were
absorbed in investigations as to the nature of life itself; by
continual aspiration, devotion, introspection and self-analysis, they
had acquired vast knowledge of the states of consciousness possible
for man to enter upon; they had laid bare the anatomy of the mind,
and described the many states that lay between the normal waking
condition of man, and the final state of spiritual freedom and unity
with BRAHMA, which it was the aim alike of religion and science to
bring about. Most interesting among their ideas, was their analysis
of the states of consciousness upon which we enter during sleep.
Roughly speaking, they may be divided into two, which together with
the waking state, make a trinity of states through which every person
passes, whether he be aware of it or not. These states are known
as:—-Jagrata, waking; Svapna, dreaming; and Sushupti, deep sleep.
The English equivalents of these words give no idea of the states.
Passing our of Jagrata, the Indians held that, beyond the chaotic
borderland, we entered, in Svapna and Sushupti, upon real states of
being. Sushupti, the highest, was accounted a spiritual state; here
the soul touches vaster centres in the great life and has communion
with celestial intelligences. The unification of these states into
one is one of the results of Raj-Yoga; in this state the chela keeps
memory of what occurred while his consciousness was in the planes of
Svapna and Sushupti. Entrance upon these states should not I think be
understood as meaning that the mind has deserted its fleshly
tabernacle in search of such experience. Departure from the physical
form is no more necessary for this than for clairvoyence, but a
transfer of the consciousness in us from one plane to another is
Now as we generate Karma in the dreaming and deep sleep states
which may either help or hinder the soul in its evolution, it is a
matter of importance that we should take steps to promote the
unification of these states, so that the knowledge and wisdom of any
one state may be used to perfect the others. Our thoughts and actions
in the waking state react upon the dreaming and deep sleep, and our
experiences in the latter influence us in the waking state by
suggestion and other means. The reason we do not remember what occurs
in Svapna and Sushupti is because the astral matter which normally
surrounds the thinking principle is not subtle enough to register in
its fullness the experience of any one upon the more spiritual planes
of consciousness. To increase the responsiveness upon the more
spiritual planes of consciousness. To increase the responsiveness of
this subtle matter we have to practise concentration, and so heighten
the vibrations, or in other words to evolve or perfect the astral
principle. Modern science is rapidly coming to the conclusion that
the differences perceived in objects around us, are not differences in
substance, but differences of vibration in one substance. Take a
copper wire; pass electrical currents through it, gradually
increasing their intensity, and phenomena of sound, heat and light
will be manifest, the prismatic colours appearing one after the other.
Similarly by an increased intensity in the performance of every
action, the consciousness is gradually transferred from the lower to
the higher planes. In order to give a point, or to direct the
evolving faculties into their proper channel, continual aspiration is
necessary. Take some idea—the spiritual unity of all things, for
example—something which can only be realized by our complete
absorption in spiritual nature; let every action be performed in the
light of this idea, let it be the subject of reverent thought. If
this is persisted in, we will gradually begin to become conscious upon
the higher planes, the force of concentration carrying the mind beyond
the waking into Svapna and Sushupti. The period between retiring to
rest and awakening, formerly a blank, will begin to be spotted with
bright lights of consciousness, or, as we walk about during the day
such knowledge will visit us. "He who is perfected in devotion
findeth spiritual knowledge springing up spontaneously in himself" say
Krishna. Patanjali recommends dwelling on the knowledge that presents
itself in dreams; if we think over any such experience, many things
connected with it will be revealed, and so gradually the whole
shadowy region will become familiar and attractive, and we will gain
a knowledge of our own nature which will be invaluable and which
cannot otherwise be acquired.
—January 15, 1893
Beyond waking, dreaming and deep sleep is Turya. Here there is a
complete change of condition; the knowledge formerly sought in the
external world is now present within the consciousness; the ideations
of universal mind are manifest in spiritual intuitions. The entrance
to this state is through Jagrata, Svapna, and Sushupti, and here that
spiritual unity is realized, the longing for which draws the soul
upwards through the shadowy worlds of dreaming and deep sleep. I have
thought it necessary to supplement the brief statement made in the
previous number by some further remarks upon concentration, for the
term applied without reference to the Turya state is liable to be
misunderstood and a false impression might arise that the spiritual is
something to be sought for outside ourselves. The waking, dreaming
and deep sleep states correspond to objective worlds, while Turya is
subjective, including in itself all ideals. If this is so, we can
never seek for the true beyond ourselves; the things we suppose we
shall come sometime realize in spiritual consciousness must be present
in it now, for to spirit all things are eternally present. Advance to
this state is measured by the realization of moods: we are on the
path when there surges up in the innermost recesses of our being the
cry of the long imprisoned souls of men; we are then on our way to
The Bhagavad-Gita which is a treatise on Raj Yoga, gives prominence
to three aspects of concentration. Liberation is attained by means
of action, by devotion, by spiritual discernment; these aspects
correspond respectively to three qualities in man and nature, known
as Tamas, Rajas and Satva. The Tamas is the gross, material or dark
quality; Rajas is active and passional; the attributes of Satva are
light, peace, happiness, wisdom. No one while in the body can escape
from the action of the three qualities, for they are brought about by
nature which is compounded of them. We have to recognize this, and to
continue action, aspiration and thought, impersonally or with some
universal motive, in the manner nature accomplishes these things. Not
one of these methods can be laid aside or ignored, for the Spirit
moveth within all, these are its works, and we have to learn to
identify ourselves with the moving forces of nature.
Having always this idea of brotherhood or unity in mind, by
action— which we may interpret as service in some humanitarian
movement— we purify the Tamas.
By a pure motive, which is the Philosopher's Stone, a potent force
in the alchemy of nature, we change the gross into the subtle, we
initiate that evolution which shall finally make the vesture of the
soul of the rare, long-sought-for, primordial substance. Devotion is
the highest possibility for the Rajas; that quality which is ever
attracted and seduced by the beautiful mayas of fame, wealth and
power, should be directed to that which it really seeks for, the
eternal universal life; the channels through which it must flow
outwards are the souls of other men, it reaches the One Life through
the many. Spiritual discernment should be the aim of the Satva,
"there is not anything, whether animate or inanimate which is without
me," says Krishna, and we should seek for the traces of THAT in all
things, looking upon it as the cause of the alchemical changes in the
Tamas, as that which widens the outflowing love of the Rajas. By a
continued persistence of this subtle analytic faculty, we begin
gradually to perceive that those things which we formerly thought were
causes, are in reality not causes at all; that there is but one cause
for everything, "The Atma by which this universe is pervaded. By
reason of its proximity alone the body, the organs, Manas and Buddhi
apply themselves to their proper objects as if applied (by some one
else)." (The Crest Jewel of Wisdom). By uniting these three moods,
action, devotion and spiritual discernment, into one mood, and keeping
it continuously alight, we are accompanying the movements of spirit to
some extent. This harmonious action of all the qualities of our
nature, for universal purposes without personal motive, is in
synchronous vibration with that higher state spoken of at the
beginning of the paper; therefore we are at one with it. "When the
wise man perceiveth that the only agents of action are these
qualities, and comprehends that which is superior to the qualities of
goodness, action and indifference—which are co-existent with the
body, it is released from rebirth and death, old age and pain, and
drinketh of the water of immortality."
—February 15, 1893
While the yellow constellations shine with pale and tender
In the lilac-scented stillness, let us listen to Earth's
All the flow'rs like moths a-flutter glimmer rich with dusky
Everywhere around us seem to fall from nowhere the sweet dews.
Through the drowsy lull, the murmur, stir of leaf and sleep
We can feel a gay heart beating, hear a magic singing come.
Ah, I think that as we linger lighting at Earth's olden fire
Fitful gleams in clay that perish, little sparks that soon
So the mother brims her gladness from a life beyond her own,
From whose darkness as a fountain up the fiery days are thrown
Starry worlds which wheel in splendour, sunny systems,
Vast and nebulous traditions told in the eternities:
And our list'ning mother whispers through her children all
Come, the yellow constellations shine with pale and tender
—October 15, 1892
Faint grew the yellow buds of light
Far flickering beyond the snows,
As leaning o'er the shadowy white
Morn glimmered like a pale primrose.
Within an Indian vale below
A child said "Om" with tender heart,
Watching with loving eyes the glow
In dayshine fade and night depart.
The word which Brahma at his dawn
Outbreathes and endeth at his night;
Whose tide of sound so rolling on
Gives birth to orbs of golden light;
And beauty, wisdom, love, and youth,
By its enchantment, gathered grow
In age-long wandering to the truth,
Through many a cycle's ebb and flow.
And here all lower life was stilled,
The child was lifted to the Wise:
A strange delight his spirit filled,
And Brahm looked from his shining eyes.
—December 15, 1892
The East was crowned with snow-cold bloom
And hung with veils of pearly fleece;
They died away into the gloom,
Vistas of peace, and deeper peace.
And earth and air and wave and fire
In awe and breathless silence stood,
For One who passed into their choir
Linked them in mystic brotherhood.
Twilight of amethyst, amid
The few strange stars that lit the heights,
Where was the secret spirit hid,
Where was Thy place, O Light of Lights?
The flame of Beauty far in space—
When rose the fire, in Thee? in Me?
Which bowed the elemental race
To adoration silently.
—February 15, 1893
Men have made them gods of love,
Sun gods, givers of the rain,
Deities of hill and grove,
I have made a god of Pain.
Of my god I know this much,
And in singing I repeat,
Though there's anguish in his touch
Yet his soul within is sweet.
—March 15, 1893
It was the fairy of the place
Moving within a little light,
Who touched with dim and shadowy grace
The conflict at its fever height.
It seemed to whisper "quietness,"
Then quietly itself was gone;
Yet echoes of its mute caress
Still rippled as the years flowed on.
It was the Warrior within
Who called "Awake! prepare for fight,
"Yet lose not memory in the din;
"Make of thy gentleness thy might.
"Make of thy silence words to shake
"The long-enthroned kings of earth;
"Make of thy will the force to break
"Their towers of wantonness and mirth."
It was the wise all-seeing soul
Who counseled neither war nor peace
"Only be thou thyself that goal
"In which the wars of time shall cease."
—April 15, 1893
Dusk wraps the village in its dim caress;
Each chimney's vapour, like a thin grey rod,
Mounting aloft through miles of quietness,
Pillars the skies of God.
Far up they break or seem to break their line,
Mingling their nebulous crests that bow and nod
Under the light of those fierce stars that shine
Out of the house of God.
Only in clouds and dreams I felt those souls
In the abyss, each fire hid in its clod,
From which in clouds and dreams the spirit rolls
Into the vast of God.
—May 15, 1893
Still as the holy of holies breathes the vast,
Within its crystal depths the stars grow dim,
Fire on the altar of the hills at last
Burns on the shadowy rim.
Moment that holds all moments, white upon
The verge it trembles; then like mists of flowers
Break from the fairy fountain of the dawn
The hues of many hours.
Thrown downward from that high companionship
Of dreaming inmost heart with inmost heart,
Into the common daily ways I slip
My fire from theirs apart.
—June 15, 1893
With Thee a moment! then what dreams have play!
Traditions of eternal toil arise,
Search for the high, austere and lonely way,
Where Brahma treads through the eternities.
Ah, in the soul what memories arise!
And with what yearning inexpressible,
Rising from long forgetfulness I turn
To Thee, invisible, unrumoured, still:
White for Thy whiteness all desires burn!
Ah, with what longing once again I turn!
—August 15, 1893
Heart-hidden from the outer things I rose,
The spirit woke anew in nightly birth
Into the vastness where forever glows
The star-soul of the earth.
There all alone in primal ecstasy,
Within her depths where revels never tire,
The olden Beauty shines; each thought of me
Is veined through with its fire.
And all my thoughts are throngs of living souls;
They breath in me, heart unto heart allied
With joy undimmed, though when the morning tolls
The planets may divide.
—September 15, 1893
In day from some titanic past it seems
As if a thread divine of memory runs;
Born ere the Mighty One began his dreams,
Or yet were stars and suns.
But here an iron will has fixed the bars;
Forgetfulness falls on earth's myriad races,
No image of the proud and morning stars
Looks at us from their faces.
Yet yearning still to reach to those dim heights,
Each dream remembered is a burning-glass,
Where through to darkness from the light of lights
Its rays in splendour pass.
—September 15, 1893
Oh, be not led away.
Lured by the colour of the sun-rich day.
The gay romances of song
Unto the spirit-life doth not belong.
Though far-between the hours
In which the Master of Angelic Powers
Lightens the dusk within
The Holy of Holies; be it thine to win
Rare vistas of white light,
Half-parted lips, through which the Infinite
Murmurs her ancient story;
Hearkening to whom the wandering planets hoary
Waken primeval fires,
With deeper rapture in celestial choirs
Breathe, and with fleeter motion
Wheel in their orbits through the surgeless ocean.
So, hearken thou like these,
Intent on her, mounting by slow degrees,
Until thy song's elation
Echoes her multitudinous meditation.
—November 15, 1893
—The soul is its own witness and its own refuge.
Unto the deep the deep heart goes.
It lays its sadness nigh the breast:
Only the mighty mother knows
The wounds that quiver unconfessed.
It seeks a deeper silence still;
It folds itself around with peace,
Where thoughts alike of good or ill
In quietness unfostered, cease.
It feels in the unwounding vast
For comfort for its hopes and fears:
The mighty mother bows at last;
She listens to her children's tears.
Where the last anguish deepens—there—
The fire of beauty smites through pain,
A glory moves amid despair,
The Mother takes her child again.
—December 15, 1893
Dark head by the fireside brooding,
Sad upon your ears
Whirlwinds of the earth intruding
Sound in wrath and tears:
Tender-hearted, in your lonely
Sorrow I would fain
Comfort you, and say that only
Gods could feel such pain.
Only spirits know such longing
For the far away;
And the fiery fancies thronging
Rise not out of clay.
Keep the secret sense celestial
Of the starry birth;
Though about you call the bestial
Voices of the earth.
If a thousand ages since
Hurled us from the throne:
Then a thousand ages wins
Back again our own.
Sad one, dry away your tears:
Sceptred you shall rise,
Equal mid the crystal spheres
With seraphs kingly wise.
Though swift the days flow from her day,
No one has left her day unnamed:
We know what light broke from her ray
On us, who in the truth proclaimed
Grew brother with the stars and powers
That stretch away—away to light,
And fade within the primal hours,
And in the wondrous First unite.
We lose with her the right to scorn
The voices scornful of her truth:
With her a deeper love was born
For those who filled her days with ruth.
To her they were not sordid things:
In them sometimes—her wisdom said—
The Bird of Paradise had wings;
It only dreams, it is not dead.
We cannot for forgetfulness
Forego the reverence due to them,
Who wear at times they do not guess
The sceptre and the diadem.
With wisdom of the olden time
She made the hearts of dust to flame;
And fired us with the hope sublime
Our ancient heritage to claim;
That turning from the visible,
By vastness unappalled nor stayed,
Our wills might rule beside that Will
By which the tribal stars are swayed;
And entering the heroic strife,
Tread in the way their feet have trod
Who move within a vaster life,
Sparks in the Fire—Gods amid God.
—August 15, 1894
When the breath of twilight blows to flame the misty skies,
All its vapourous sapphire, violet glow and silver
With their magic flood me through the gateway of the eyes;
I am one with the twilight's dream.
When the trees and skies and fields are one in dusky mood,
Every heart of man is rapt within the mother's breast:
Full of peace and sleep and dreams in the vasty quietude,
I am one with their hearts at rest.
From our immemorial joys of hearth and home and love,
Strayed away along the margin of the unknown tide,
All its reach of soundless calm can thrill me far above
Word or touch from the lips beside.
Aye, and deep, and deep, and deeper let me drink and draw
From the olden Fountain more than light or peace or
Such primeval being as o'erfills the heart with awe,
Growing one with its silent stream.
—March 15, 1894
One thing in all things have I seen:
One thought has haunted earth and air;
Clangour and silence both have been
Its palace chambers. Everywhere
I saw the mystic vision flow,
And live in men, and woods, and streams,
Until I could no longer know
The dream of life from my own dreams.
Sometimes it rose like fire in me,
Within the depths of my own mind,
And spreading to infinity,
It took the voices of the wind.
It scrawled the human mystery,
Dim heraldry—on light and air;
Wavering along the starry sea,
I saw the flying vision there.
Each fire that in God's temple lit
Burns fierce before the inner shrine,
Dimmed as my fire grew near to it,
And darkened at the light of mine.
At last, at last, the meaning caught:
When spirit wears its diadem,
It shakes its wondrous plumes of thought,
And trails the stars along with them.
—April 15, 1894
I heard them in their sadness say,
"The earth rebukes the thought of God:
We are but embers wrapt in clay
A little nobler than the sod."
But I have touched the lips of clay—
Mother, thy rudest sod to me
Is thrilled with fire of hidden day,
And haunted by all mystery.
—May 15, 1894
—After reading the Upanishads
Out of the dusky chamber of the brain
Flows the imperial will through dream on dream;
The fires of life around it tempt and gleam;
The lights of earth behind it fade and wane.
Passed beyond beauty tempting dream on dream,
The pure will seeks the hearthold of the light;
Sounds the deep "OM," the mystic word of might;
Forth from the hearthold breaks the living stream.
Passed out beyond the deep heart music-filled,
The kingly Will sits on the ancient throne,
Wielding the sceptre, fearless, free, alone,
Knowing in Brahma all it dared and willed.
—June 15, 1894
We must pass like smoke, or live within the spirits' fire;
For we can no more than smoke unto the flame return.
If our thought has changed to dream, or will into desire,
As smoke we vanish o'er the fires that burn.
Lights of infinite pity star the grey dusk of our days;
Surely here is soul; with it we have eternal breath;
In the fire of love we live or pass by many ways,
By unnumbered ways of dream to death.
—July 15, 1894
I have wept a million tears;
Pure and proud one, where are thine?
What the gain of all your years
That undimmed in beauty shine?
All your beauty cannot win
Truth we learn in pain and sighs;
You can never enter in
To the Circle of the Wise.
They are but the slaves of light
Who have never known the gloom,
And between the dark and bright
Willed in freedom their own doom.
Think not in your pureness there
That our pain but follows sin;
There are fires for those who dare
Seek the Throne of Might to win.
Pure one, from your pride refrain;
Dark and lost amid the strife,
I am myriad years of pain
Nearer to the fount of life.
When defiance fierce is thrown
At the God to whom you bow,
Rest the lips of the Unknown
Tenderest upon the brow.
—September 15, 1894
The Robing of the King
—"His candle shined upon my head, and by his light I walked
through darkness."—Job, xxix. 3
On the bird of air blue-breasted
glint the rays of gold,
And a shadowy fleece above us
waves the forest old,
Far through rumorous leagues of midnight
stirred by breezes warm.
See the old ascetic yonder,
Ah, poor withered form!
Where he crouches wrinkled over
by unnumbered years
Through the leaves the flakes of moonfire
fall like phantom tears.
At the dawn a kingly hunter
passed proud disdain,
Like a rainbow-torrent scattered
flashed his royal train.
Now the lonely one unheeded
seeks earth's caverns dim,
Never king or princes will robe them
radiantly as him.
Mid the deep enfolding darkness,
follow him, oh seer,
While the arrow will is piercing
fiery sphere on sphere.
Through the blackness leaps and sparkles
gold and amethyst,
Curling, jetting and dissolving
in a rainbow mist.
In the jewel glow and lunar
radiance rise there
One, a morning star in beauty,
young, immortal, fair.
Sealed in heavy sleep, the spirit
leaves its faded dress,
Unto fiery youth returning
out of weariness.
Music as for one departing,
joy as for a king,
Sound and swell, and hark! above him
Fire an aureole encircling
suns his brow with gold
Like to one who hails the morning
on the mountains old.
Open mightier vistas changing
human loves to scorns,
And the spears of glory pierce him
like a Crown of Thorns.
As the sparry rays dilating
o'er his forehead climb
Once again he knows the Dragon
Wisdom of the prime.
High and yet more high to freedom
as a bird he springs,
And the aureole outbreathing,
gold and silver wings
Plume the brow and crown the seraph.
Soon his journey done
He will pass our eyes that follow,
sped beyond the sun.
None may know the darker radiance,
King, will there be thine.
Rapt above the Light and hidden
in the Dark Divine.
—September 15, 1895
Twilight a blossom grey in shadowy valleys dwells:
Under the radiant dark the deep blue-tinted bells
In quietness reimage heaven within their blooms,
Sapphire and gold and mystery. What strange perfumes,
Out of what deeps arising, all the flower-bells fling,
Unknowing the enchanted odorous song they sing!
Oh, never was an eve so living yet: the wood
Stirs not but breathes enraptured quietude.
Here in these shades the Ancient knows itself, the Soul,
And out of slumber waking starts unto the goal.
What bright companions nod and go along with it!
Out of the teeming dark what dusky creatures flit,
That through the long leagues of the island night above
Come wandering by me, whispering and beseeching love,—
As in the twilight children gather close and press
Nigh and more nigh with shadowy tenderness,
Feeling they know not what, with noiseless footsteps glide
Seeking familiar lips or hearts to dream beside.
Oh, voices, I would go with you, with you, away,
Facing once more the radiant gateways of the day;
With you, with you, what memories arise, and nigh
Trampling the crowded figures of the dawn go by;
Dread deities, the giant powers that warred on men
Grow tender brothers and gay children once again;
Fades every hate away before the Mother's breast
Where all the exiles of the heart return to rest.
—July 15, 1895
Still rests the heavy share on the dark soil:
Upon the dull black mould the dew-damp lies:
The horse waits patient: from his lonely toil
The ploughboy to the morning lifts his eyes.
The unbudding hedgerows, dark against day's fires,
Glitter with gold-lit crystals: on the rim
Over the unregarding city's spires
The lonely beauty shines alone for him.
And day by day the dawn or dark enfolds,
And feeds with beauty eyes that cannot see
How in her womb the Mighty Mother moulds
The infant spirit for Eternity.
—January 15, 1895
Within the iron cities
One walked unknown for years,
In his heart the pity of pities
That grew for human tears
When love and grief were ended
The flower of pity grew;
By unseen hands 'twas tended
And fed with holy dew.
Though in his heart were barred in
The blooms of beauty blown;
Yet he who grew the garden
Could call no flower his own.
For by the hands that watered,
The blooms that opened fair
Through frost and pain were scattered
To sweeten the dull air.
—February 15, 1895
From the cool and dark-lipped furrows
breathes a dim delight
Aureoles of joy encircle
every blade of grass
Where the dew-fed creatures silent
and enraptured pass:
And the restless ploughman pauses,
turns, and wondering
Deep beneath his rustic habit
finds himself a king;
For a fiery moment looking
with the eyes of God
Over fields a slave at morning
bowed him to the sod.
Blind and dense with revelation
every moment flies,
And unto the Mighty Mother
gay, eternal, rise
All the hopes we hold, the gladness,
dreams of things to be.
One of all they generations,
Mother, hails to thee!
Hail! and hail! and hail for ever:
though I turn again
For they joy unto the human
vestures of pain.
I, thy child, who went forth radiant
in the golden prime
Find thee still the mother-hearted
through my night in time;
Find in thee the old enchantment,
there behind the veil
Where the Gods my brothers linger,
Hail! for ever, Hail!
—May 15, 1895
They bathed in the fire-flooded fountains;
Life girdled them round and about;
They slept in the clefts of the mountains:
The stars called them forth with a shout.
They prayed, but their worship was only
The wonder at nights and at days,
As still as the lips of the lonely
Though burning with dumbness of praise.
No sadness of earth ever captured
Their spirits who bowed at the shrine;
They fled to the Lonely enraptured
And hid in the Darkness Divine.
At twilight as children may gather
They met at the doorway of death,
The smile of the dark hidden Father
The Mother with magical breath.
Untold of in song or in story,
In days long forgotten of men,
Their eyes were yet blind with a glory
Time will not remember again.
—November 15, 1895
"The mountain was filled with the hosts of the Tuatha de
—Old Celtic Poem
See where the auras from the olden fountain
The sacred sign upon the holy mountain
Shines in white fire:
Waving and flaming yonder o'er the snows
The diamond light
Melts into silver or to sapphire glows
Night beyond night;
And from the heaven of heavens descends on earth
A dew divine.
Come, let us mingle in the starry mirth
Around the shrine!
Enchantress, mighty mother, to our home
In thee we press,
Thrilled by the fiery breath and wrapt in some
The homeward birds uncertain o'er their nest
Wheel in the dome,
Fraught with dim dreams of more enraptured rest,
Wheel in the dome,
But gather ye to whose undarkened eyes
The night is day:
Leap forth, Immortals, Birds of Paradise,
In bright array
Robed like the shining tresses of the sun;
And by his name
Call from his haunt divine the ancient one
Our Father Flame.
Aye, from the wonder-light that wraps the star,
Come now, come now;
Sun-breathing Dragon, ray thy lights afar,
Thy children bow;
Hush with more awe the breath; the bright-browed races
Are nothing worth
By those dread gods from out whose awful faces
The earth looks forth
Infinite pity, set in calm; their vision cast
Adown the years
Beholds how beauty burns away at last
Their children's tears.
Now while our hearts the ancient quietness
Floods with its tide,
The things of air and fire and height no less
In it abide;
And from their wanderings over sea and shore
They rise as one
Unto the vastness and with us adore
The midnight sun;
And enter the innumerable All,
And shine like gold,
And starlike gleam in the immortals' hall,
The heavenly fold,
And drink the sun-breaths from the mother's lips
Fail from the light and drop in dark eclipse
To earth again,
Roaming along by heaven-hid promontory
And valley dim.
Weaving a phantom image of the glory
They knew in Him.
Out of the fulness flow the winds, their son
Is heard no more,
Or hardly breathes a mystic sound along
The dreamy shore:
Blindly they move unknowing as in trance,
Is half with us, and half an inner dance
Led by the King.
—January 15, 1896
O hero of the iron age,
Upon thy grave we will not weep,
Nor yet consume away in rage
For thee and thy untimely sleep.
Our hearts a burning silence keep.
O martyr, in these iron days
One fate was sure for soul like thine:
Well you foreknew but went your ways.
The crucifixion is the sign,
The meed of all the kingly line.
We may not mourn—though such a night
Has fallen on our earthly spheres
Bereft of love and truth and light
As never since the dawn of years;—
For tears give birth alone to tears.
One wreath upon they grave we lay
(The silence of our bitter thought,
Words that would scorch their hearts of clay),
And turn to learn what thou has taught,
To shape our lives as thine was wrought.
—April 15, 1896
[* This is unsigned but is very possibly G.W. Russell's. It
memoriam to William Quan Judge (W.Q.J), the leader of the
and European Theosophical Societies at the time, one of the
founders of the Theosophical Society, and close co-worker
—[St. John, i. 1-33]
In the mighty Mother's bosom was the Wise
With the mystic Father in aeonian night;
Aye, for ever one with them though it arise
Going forth to sound its hymn of light.
At its incantation rose the starry fane;
At its magic thronged the myriad race of men;
Life awoke that in the womb so long had lain
To its cyclic labours once again.
'Tis the soul of fire within the heart of life;
From its fiery fountain spring the will and thought;
All the strength of man for deeds of love or strife,
Though the darkness comprehend it not.
In the mystery written here
John is but the life, the seer;
Outcast from the life of light,
Inly with reverted sight
Still he scans with eager eyes
The celestial mysteries.
Poet of all far-seen things
At his word the soul has wings,
Revelations, symbols, dreams
Of the inmost light which gleams.
The winds, the stars, and the skies though wrought
By the one Fire-Self still know it not;
And man who moves in the twilight dim
Feels not the love that encircles him,
Though in heart, on bosom, and eyelids press
Lips of an infinite tenderness,
He turns away through the dark to roam
Nor heeds the fire in his hearth and home.
They whose wisdom everywhere
Sees as through a crystal air
The lamp by which the world is lit,
And themselves as one with it;
In whom the eye of vision swells,
Who have in entranced hours
Caught the word whose might compels
All the elemental powers;
They arise as Gods from men
Like the morning stars again.
They who seek the place of rest
Quench the blood-heat of the breast,
Grow ascetic, inward turning
Trample down the lust from burning,
Silence in the self the will
For a power diviner still;
To the fire-born Self alone
The ancestral spheres are known.
Unto the poor dead shadows came
Wisdom mantled about with flame;
We had eyes that could see the light
Born of the mystic Father's might.
Glory radiant with powers untold
And the breath of God around it rolled.
Life that moved in the deeps below
Felt the fire in its bosom glow;
Life awoke with the Light allied,
Grew divinely stirred, and cried:
"This is the Ancient of Days within,
Light that is ere our days begin.
"Every power in the spirit's ken
Springs anew in our lives again.
We had but dreams of the heart's desire
Beauty thrilled with the mystic fire.
The white-fire breath whence springs the power
Flows alone in the spirit's hour."
Man arose the earth he trod,
Grew divine as he gazed on God:
Light in a fiery whirlwind broke
Out of the dark divine and spoke:
Man went forth through the vast to tread
By the spirit of wisdom charioted.
There came the learned of the schools
Who measure heavenly things by rules,
The sceptic, doubter, the logician,
Who in all sacred things precision,
Would mark the limit, fix the scope,
"Art thou the Christ for whom we hope?
Art thou a magian, or in thee
Has the divine eye power to see?"
He answered low to those who came,
"Not this, nor this, nor this I claim.
More than the yearning of the heart
I have no wisdom to impart.
I am the voice that cries in him
Whose heart is dead, whose eyes are dim,
'Make pure the paths where through may run
The light-streams from that golden one,
The Self who lives within the sun.'
As spake the seer of ancient days."
The voices from the earthly ways
Questioned him still: "What dost thou here,
If neither prophet, king nor seer?
What power is kindled by they might?"
"I flow before the feet of Light:
I am the purifying stream.
But One of whom ye have no dream,
Whose footsteps move among you still,
Though dark, divine, invisible.
Impelled by Him, before His ways
I journey, though I dare not raise
Even from the ground these eyes so dim
Or look upon the feet of Him."
When the dead or dreamy hours
Like a mantle fall away,
Wakes the eye of gnostic powers
To the light of hidden day,
And the yearning heart within
Seeks the true, the only friend,
He who burdened with our sin
Loves and loves unto the end.
Ah, the martyr of the world,
With a face of steadfast peace
Round whose brow the light is curled:
'Tis the Lamb with golden fleece.
So they called of old the shining,
Such a face the sons of men
See, and all its life divining
Wake primeval fires again.
Such a face and such a glory
Passed before the eyes of John,
With a breath of olden story
Blown from ages long agone
Who would know the God in man.
Deeper still must be his glance.
Veil on veil his eye must scan
For the mystic signs which tell
If the fire electric fell
On the seer in his trance:
As his way he upward wings
From all time-encircled things,
Flames the glory round his head
Like a bird with wings outspread.
Gold and silver plumes at rest:
Such a shadowy shining crest
Round the hero's head reveals him
To the soul that would adore,
As the master-power that heals him
And the fount of secret lore.
Nature such a diadem
Places on her royal line,
Every eye that looks on them
Knows the Sons of the Divine.
—April 15, 1896
"Those who there take refuge nevermore
Ere I lose myself in the vastness and drowse myself with the
While I gaze on the light and beauty afar from the dim homes
May I still feel the heart-pang and pity, love-ties that I
May the voices of sorrow appealing call me back to their
Ere I storm with the tempest of power the thrones and dominions
Ere the ancient enchantment allures me to roam through the
I would go forth as one who has reaped well what harvest the
May my heart be o'erbrimmed with compassion, on my brow be the
crown of the wise.
I would go as the dove from the ark sent forth with wishes and
To return with the paradise-blossoms that bloom in the eden
When the deep star-chant of the seraphs I hear in the
May I capture one tone of their joy for the sad ones
in the night.
Not alone, not alone would I go to my rest in the Heart of the
Were I tranced in the innermost beauty, the flame of its
I would still hear the plaint of the fallen recalling me back
To go down to the side of the mourners who weep in the shadow
—May 15, 1896
"They took Iesous and scourged him."—St. John
Age after age the world has wept
A joy supreme—I saw the hands
Whose fiery radiations swept
And burned away his earthly bands:
And where they smote the living dyes
Flashed like the plumes of paradise.
Their joys the heavy nations hush—
A form of purple glory rose
Crowned with such rays of light as flush
The white peaks on their towering snows:
It held the magic wand that gave
Rule over earth, air, fire and wave.
What sorrow makes the white cheeks wet:
The mystic cross looms shadowy dim—
There where the fourfold powers have met
And poured their living tides through him,
The Son who hides his radiant crest
To the dark Father's bosom pressed.
—June 15, 1896
The children awoke in their dreaming
While earth lay dewy and still:
They followed the rill in its gleaming
To the heart-light of the hill.
Its sounds and sights were forsaking
The world as they faded in sleep,
When they heard a music breaking
Out from the heart-light deep.
It ran where the rill in its flowing
Under the star-light gay
With wonderful colour was glowing
Like the bubbles they blew in their play.
From the misty mountain under
Shot gleams of an opal star:
Its pathways of rainbow wonder
Rayed to their feet from afar.
From their feet as they strayed in the meadow
It led through caverned aisles,
Filled with purple and green light and shadow
For mystic miles on miles.
The children were glad; it was lonely
To play on the hill-side by day.
"But now," they said, "we have only
To go where the good people stray."
For all the hill-side was haunted
By the faery folk come again;
And down in the heart-light enchanted
Were opal-coloured men.
They moved like kings unattended
Without a squire or dame,
But they wore tiaras splendid
With feathers of starlight flame.
They laughed at the children over
And called them into the heart:
"Come down here, each sleepless rover:
We will show you some of our art."
And down through the cool of the mountain
The children sank at the call,
And stood in a blazing fountain
And never a mountain at all.
The lights were coming and going
In many a shining strand,
For the opal fire-kings were blowing
The darkness out of the land.
This golden breath was a madness
To set a poet on fire,
And this was a cure for sadness,
And that the ease of desire.
And all night long over Eri
They fought with the wand of light
And love that never grew weary
The evil things of night.
They said, as dawn glimmered hoary,
"We will show yourselves for an hour;"
And the children were changed to a glory
By the beautiful magic of power.
The fire-kings smiled on their faces
And called them by olden names,
Till they towered like the starry races
All plumed with the twilight flames.
They talked for a while together,
How the toil of ages oppressed;
And of how they best could weather
The ship of the world to its rest.
The dawn in the room was straying:
The children began to blink,
When they heard a far voice saying,
"You can grow like that if you think!"
The sun came in yellow and gay light:
They tumbled out of the cot,
And half of the dream went with daylight
And half was never forgot.
—July 15, 1896
Their wise little heads with scorning
They laid the covers between:
"Do they think we stay here till morning?"
Said Rory and Aileen.
When out their bright eyes came peeping
The room was no longer there,
And they fled from the dark world creeping
Up a twilight cave of air.
They wore each one a gay dress,
In sleep, if you understand,
When earth puts off its grey dress
To robe it in faeryland.
Then loud o'erhead was a humming
As clear as the wood wind rings;
And here were the air-boats coming
And here the airy kings.
The magic barks were gleaming
And swift as the feathered throng:
With wonder-lights out-streaming
They blew themselves along.
And up on the night-wind swimming,
With pose and dart and rise,
Away went the air fleet skimming
Through a haze of jewel skies.
One boat above them drifted
Apart from the flying bands,
And an air-chief bent and lifted
The children with mighty hands.
The children wondered greatly,
Three air-chiefs met them there,
They were tall and grave and stately
With bodies of purple air.
A pearl light with misty shimmer
Went dancing about them all,
As the dyes of the moonbow glimmer
On a trembling waterfall.
The trail of the fleet to the far lands
Was wavy along the night,
And on through the sapphire starlands
They followed the wake of light.
"Look down, Aileen," said Rory,
"The earth's as thin as a dream."
It was lit by a sun-fire glory
Outraying gleam on gleam.
They saw through the dream-world under
Its heart of rainbow flame
Where the starry people wander;
Like gods they went and came.
The children looked without talking
Till Roray spoke again,
"Are those our folk who are walking
Like little shadow men?
"They don't see what is about them,
They look like pigmies small,
The world would be full without them
And they think themselves so tall!"
The magic bark went fleeting
Like an eagle on and on;
Till over its prow came beating
The foam-light of the dawn.
The children's dream grew fainter,
Three air-chiefs still were there,
But the sun the shadow painter
Drew five on the misty air.
The dream-light whirled bewild'ring,
An air-chief said, "You know.
You are living now, my children,
Ten thousand years ago."
They looked at themselves in the old light,
And mourned the days of the new
Where naught is but darkness or cold light,
Till a bell came striking through.
"We must go," said the wise young sages:
It was five at dawn by the chimes,
And they ran through a thousand ages
From the old De Danaan Times.
—August 15, 1896
Two small sweet lives together
From dawn till the dew falls down,
They danced over rock and heather
Away from the dusty town.
Dark eyes like stars set in pansies,
Blue eyes like a hero's bold—
Their thoughts were all pearl-light fancies,
Their hearts in the age of gold.
They crooned o'er many a fable
And longed for the bright-capped elves,
The faery folk who are able
To make us faery ourselves.
A hush on the children stealing
They stood there hand in hand,
For the elfin chimes were pealing
Aloud in the underland.
And over the grey rock sliding,
A fiery colour ran,
And out of its thickness gliding
The twinkling mist of a man—
To-day for the children had fled to
An ancient yesterday,
And the rill from its tunnelled bed too
Had turned another way.
Then down through an open hollow
The old man led with a smile:
"Come, star-hearts, my children, follow
To the elfin land awhile."
The bells above them were hanging,
Whenever the earth-breath blew
It made them go clanging, clanging,
The vasty mountain through.
But louder yet than the ringing
Came the chant of the elfin choir,
Till the mountain was mad with singing
And dense with the forms of fire.
The kings of the faery races
Sat high on the thrones of might,
And infinite years from their faces
Looked out through eyes of light.
And one in a diamond splendour
Shone brightest of all that hour,
More lofty and pure and tender,
They called him the Flower of Power.
The palace walls were glowing
Like stars together drawn,
And a fountain of air was flowing
The primrose colour of dawn.
"Ah, see!" said Aileen sighing,
With a bend of her saddened head
Where a mighty hero was lying,
He looked like one who was dead.
"He will wake," said their guide, "'tis but seeming,
And, oh, what his eyes shall see
I will know of only in dreaming
Till I lie there still as he."
They chanted the song of waking,
They breathed on him with fire,
Till the hero-spirit outbreaking,
Shot radiant above the choir.
Like a pillar of opal glory
Lit through with many a gem—
"Why, look at him now," said Rory,
"He has turned to a faery like them!"
The elfin kings ascending
Leaped up from the thrones of might,
And one with another blending
They vanished in air and light.
The rill to its bed came splashing
With rocks on the top of that:
The children awoke with a flashing
Of wonder, "What were we at?"
They groped through the reeds and clover—
"What funny old markings: look here,
They have scrawled the rocks all over:
It's just where the door was: how queer!"
—September 15, 1896
They sat with hearts untroubled,
The clear sky sparkled above,
And an ancient wisdom bubbled
From the lips of a youthful love.
They read in a coloured history
Of Egypt and of the Nile,
And half it seemed a mystery,
Familiar, half, the while.
Till living out of the story
Grew old Egyptian men,
And a shadow looked forth Rory
And said, "We meet again!"
And over Aileen a maiden
Looked back through the ages dim:
She laughed, and her eyes were laden
With an old-time love for him.
In a mist came temples thronging
With sphinxes seen in a row,
And the rest of the day was a longing
For their homes of long ago.
"We'd go there if they'd let us,"
They said with wounded pride:
"They never think when they pet us
We are old like that inside."
There was some one round them straying
The whole of the long day through,
Who seemed to say, "I am playing
At hide-and-seek with you."
And one thing after another
Was whispered out of the air,
How God was a big kind brother
Whose home was in everywhere.
His light like a smile come glancing
From the cool, cool winds as they pass;
From the flowers in heaven dancing
And the stars that shine in the grass,
And the clouds in deep blue wreathing,
And most from the mountains tall,
But God like a wind goes breathing
A heart-light of gold in all.
It grows like a tree and pushes
Its way through the inner gloom,
And flowers in quick little rushes
Of love to a magic bloom.
And no one need sigh now or sorrow
Whenever the heart-light flies,
For it comes again on some morrow
And nobody ever dies.
The heart of the Wise was beating
In the children's heart that day,
And many a thought came fleeting,
And fancies solemn and gay.
They were grave in a way divining
How childhood was taking wings,
And the wonder world was shining
With vast eternal things.
The solemn twilight fluttered
Like the plumes of seraphim,
And they felt what things were uttered
In the sunset voice of Him.
They lingered long, for dearer
Than home were the mountain places
Where God from the stars dropt nearer
Their pale, dreamy faces.
Their very hearts from beating
They stilled in awed delight.
For Spirit and children were meeting
In the purple, ample night.
Dusk its ash-grey blossoms sheds on violet skies
Over twilight mountains where the heart-songs rise,
Rise and fall and fade again from earth to air:
Earth renews the music sweeter. Oh, come there.
Come, ma cushla, come, as in ancient times
Rings aloud and the underland with faery chimes.
Down the unseen ways as strays each tinkling fleece
Winding ever onward to a fold of peace,
So my dreams go straying in a land more fair;
Half I tread the dew-wet grasses, half wander there.
Fade your glimmering eyes in a world grown cold:
Come, ma cushla, with me to the mountain's fold,
Where the bright ones call us waving to and fro:
Come, my children, with me to the Ancient go.
—October 15, 1896
While the earth is dark and grey
How I laugh within: I know
In my breast what ardours gay
From the morning overflow.
Though the cheek be white and wet
In my heart no fear may fall:
There my chieftain leads, and yet
Ancient battle-trumpets call.
Bend on me no hasty frown
If my spirit slight your cares:
Sunlike still my joy looks down
Changing tears to beamy airs.
Think me not of fickle heart
If with joy my bosom swells
Though your ways from mine depart:
In the true are no farewells.
What I love in you I find
Everywhere. A friend I greet
In each flower and tree and wind—
Oh, but life is sweet, is sweet.
What to you are bolts and bars
Are to me the hands that guide
To the freedom of the stars
Where my golden kinsmen bide.
From my mountain top I view:
Twilight's purple flower is gone,
And I send my song to you
On the level light of dawn.
—November 15, 1896
Our legends tell of aery fountains upspringing in Eri, and
how the people of long ago saw them not but only the Tuatha
Some deem it was the natural outflow of water at these places
was held to be sacred; but above fountain, rill and river
the enchanted froth and foam of invisible rills and rivers
forth from Tir-na-noge, the soul of the island, and
the sunlight of its mystic day. What we see here is imaged
from that invisible soul and is a path thereto. In the heroic
Epic of Cuculain Standish O'Grady writes of such a fountain,
prefixes his chapter with the verse from Genesis, "And four
went forth from Eden to water the garden," and what follows in
I would I could weave in
The colour, the wonder,
The song I conceive in
My heart while I ponder,
And show how it came like
The magi of old
Whose chant was a flame like
The dawn's voice of gold;
Who dreams followed near them
A murmur of birds,
And ear still could hear them
Unchanted in words.
In words I can only
Reveal thee my heart,
Oh, Light of the Lonely,
The shining impart.
Between the twilight and the dark
The lights danced up before my eyes:
I found no sleep or peace or rest,
But dreams of stars and burning skies.
I knew the faces of the day—
Dream faces, pale, with cloudy hair,
I know you not nor yet your home,
The Fount of Shadowy Beauty, where?
I passed a dream of gloomy ways
Where ne'er did human feet intrude:
It was the border of a wood,
A dreadful forest solitude.
With wondrous red and fairy gold
The clouds were woven o'er the ocean;
The stars in fiery aether swung
And danced with gay and glittering motion.
A fire leaped up within my heart
When first I saw the old sea shine;
As if a god were there revealed
I bowed my head in awe divine;
And long beside the dim sea marge
I mused until the gathering haze
Veiled from me where the silver tide
Ran in its thousand shadowy ways.
The black night dropped upon the sea:
The silent awe came down with it:
I saw fantastic vapours flit
As o'er the darkness of the pit.
When, lo! from out the furthest night
A speck of rose and silver light
Above a boat shaped wondrously
Came floating swiftly o'er the sea.
It was no human will that bore
The boat so fleetly to the shore
Without a sail spread or an oar.
The Pilot stood erect thereon
And lifted up his ancient face,
(Ancient with glad eternal youth
Like one who was of starry race.)
His face was rich with dusky bloom;
His eyes a bronze and golden fire;
His hair in streams of silver light
Hung flamelike on his strange attire
Which starred with many a mystic sign,
Fell as o'er sunlit ruby glowing:
His light flew o'er the waves afar
In ruddy ripples on each bar
Along the spiral pathways flowing.
It was a crystal boat that chased
The light along the watery waste,
Till caught amid the surges hoary
The Pilot stayed its jewelled glory.
Oh, never such a glory was:
The pale moon shot it through and through
With light of lilac, white and blue:
And there mid many a fairy hue
Of pearl and pink and amethyst,
Like lightning ran the rainbow gleams
And wove around a wonder-mist.
The Pilot lifted beckoning hands;
Silent I went with deep amaze
To know why came this Beam of Light
So far along the ocean ways
Out of the vast and shadowy night.
"Make haste, make haste!" he cried. "Away!
A thousand ages now are gone.
Yet thou and I ere night be sped
Will reck no more of eve or dawn."
Swift as the swallow to its nest
I leaped: my body dropt right down:
A silver star I rose and flew.
A flame burned golden at his breast:
I entered at the heart and knew
My Brother-Self who roams the deep,
Bird of the wonder-world of sleep.
The ruby body wrapped us round
As twain in one: we left behind
The league-long murmur of the shore
And fleeted swifter than the wind.
The distance rushed upon the bark:
We neared unto the mystic isles:
The heavenly city we could mark,
Its mountain light, its jewel dark,
Its pinnacles and starry piles.
The glory brightened: "Do not fear;
For we are real, though what seems
So proudly built above the waves
Is but one mighty spirit's dreams.
"Our Father's house hath many fanes;
Yet enter not and worship not,
For thought but follows after thought
Till last consuming self it wanes.
"The Fount of Shadowy Beauty flings
Its glamour o'er the light of day:
A music in the sunlight sings
To call the dreamy hearts away
Their mighty hopes to ease awhile:
We will not go the way of them:
The chant makes drowsy those who seek
The sceptre and the diadem.
"The Fount of Shadowy Beauty throws
Its magic round us all the night;
What things the heart would be, it sees
And chases them in endless flight.
Or coiled in phantom visions there
It builds within the halls of fire;
Its dreams flash like the peacock's wing
And glow with sun-hues of desire.
We will not follow in their ways
Nor heed the lure of fay or elf,
But in the ending of our days
Rest in the high Ancestral Self."
The boat of crystal touched the shore,
Then melted flamelike from our eyes,
As in the twilight drops the sun
Withdrawing rays of paradise.
We hurried under arched aisles
That far above in heaven withdrawn
With cloudy pillars stormed the night,
Rich as the opal shafts of dawn.
I would have lingered then—but he—
"Oh, let us haste: the dream grows dim,
Another night, another day,
A thousand years will part from him
"Who is that Ancient One divine
From whom our phantom being born
Rolled with the wonder-light around
Had started in the fairy morn.
"A thousand of our years to him
Are but the night, are but the day,
Wherein he rests from cyclic toil
Or chants the song of starry sway.
"He falls asleep: the Shadowy Fount
Fills all our heart with dreams of light:
He wakes to ancient spheres, and we
Through iron ages mourn the night.
We will not wander in the night
But in a darkness more divine
Shall join the Father Light of Lights
And rule the long-descended line."
Even then a vasty twilight fell:
Wavered in air the shadowy towers:
The city like a gleaming shell,
Its azures, opals, silvers, blues,
Were melting in more dreamy hues.
We feared the falling of the night
And hurried more our headlong flight.
In one long line the towers went by;
The trembling radiance dropt behind,
As when some swift and radiant one
Flits by and flings upon the wind
The rainbow tresses of the sun.
And then they vanished from our gaze
Faded the magic lights, and all
Into a Starry Radiance fell
As waters in their fountain fall.
We knew our time-long journey o'er
And knew the end of all desire,
And saw within the emerald glow
Our Father like the white sun-fire.
We could not say if age or youth
Were on his face: we only burned
To pass the gateways of the Day,
The exiles to the heart returned.
He rose to greet us and his breath,
The tempest music of the spheres,
Dissolved the memory of earth,
The cyclic labour and our tears.
In him our dream of sorrow passed,
The spirit once again was free
And heard the song the Morning-Stars
Chant in eternal revelry.
This was the close of human story;
We saw the deep unmeasured shine,
And sank within the mystic glory
They called of old the Dark Divine.
Well it is gone now,
The dream that I chanted:
On this side the dawn now
I sit fate-implanted.
But though of my dreaming
The dawn has bereft me,
It all was not seeming
For something has left me.
I fell in some other
World far from this cold light
The Dream Bird, my brother,
Is rayed with the gold light.
I too in the Father
Would hide me, and so,
Bright Bird, to foregather
With thee now I go.
—December 15, 1896
"Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims within his ken."
I who had sought afar from earth
The faery land to greet,
Now find content within its girth,
And wonder nigh my feet.
To-day a nearer love I choose
And seek no distant sphere,
For aureoled by faery dews
The dear brown breasts appear.
With rainbow radiance come and go
The airy breaths of day,
And eve is all a pearly glow
With moonlit winds a-play.
The lips of twilight burn my brow,
The arms of night caress:
Glimmer her white eyes drooping now
With grave old tenderness.
I close mine eyes from dream to be
The diamond-rayed again,
As in the ancient hours ere we
Forgot ourselves to men.
And all I thought of heaven before
I find in earth below,
A sunlight in the hidden core
To dim the noon-day glow.
And with the Earth my heart is glad,
I move as one of old,
With mists of silver I am clad
And bright with burning gold.
"From me spring good and evil."
Who gave thee such a ruby flaming heart,
And such a pure cold spirit? Side by side
I know these must eternally abide
In intimate war, and each to each impart
Life from their pain, with every joy a dart
To wound with grief or death the self-allied.
Red life within the spirit crucified,
The eyes eternal pity thee, thou art
Fated with deathless powers at war to be,
Not less the martyr of the world than he
Whose thorn-crowned brow usurps the due of tears
We would pay to thee, ever ruddy life,
Whose passionate peace is still to be at strife,
O'erthrown but in the unconflicting spheres.
—March 15, 1896 (This is unsigned, but in AE's "Collected
In a chapter in the Secret Doctrine dealing with the origin of
language, H.P. Blavatsky makes some statements which are quoted here
and which should be borne well in mind in considering what follows.
"The Second Race had a 'Sound Language,' to wit, chant-like sounds
composed of vowels alone." From this developed "monosyllabic speech
which was the vowel parent, so to speak, of the monosyllabic languages
mixed with hard consonants still in use among the yellow races which
are known to the anthropologist. The linguistic characteristics
developed into the agglutinative languages.... The inflectional
speech, the root of the Sanskrit, was the first language (now the
mystery tongue of the Initiates) of the Fifth Race."
The nature of that language has not been disclosed along with other
teaching concerning the evolution of the race, but like many other
secrets the details of which are still preserved by the Initiates, it
is implied in what has already been revealed. The application to
speech of the abstract formula of evolution which they have put
forward should result in its discovery, for the clue lies in
correspondences; know the nature of any one thing perfectly, learn
its genesis, development and consummation, and you have the key to
all the mysteries of nature. The microcosm mirrors the macrocosm.
But, before applying this key, it is well to glean whatever hints
have been given, so that there may be less chance of going astray in
our application. First, we gather from the Secret Doctrine that the
sounds of the human voice are correlated with the forces, colours,
numbers and forms. "Every letter has its occult meaning, the vowels
especially contain the most occult and formidable potencies." (S.D.,
I, 94) and again it is said "The magic of the ancient priests
consisted in those days in addressing their gods in their own
language. The speech of the men of earth cannot reach the Lords, each
must be addressed in the language of his respective element"—-is a
sentence which will be shown pregnant with meaning. "The book of
rules" cited adds as an explanation of the nature of that element-
language: "It is composed of Sounds, not words; of sounds, numbers
and figures. He who knows how to blend the three, will call forth
the response of the superintending Power" (the regent-god of the
specific element needed). Thus this "language is that of incantations
or of Mantras, as they are called in India, sound being the most
potent and effectual magic agent, and the first of the keys which
opens the door of communication between mortals and immortals." (S.D.
From these quotations it will be seen that the occult teachings as
to speech are directly at variance with the theories of many
philologists and evolutionists. A first speech which was like song—
another and more developed speech which is held sacred—an esoteric
side to speech in which the elements of our conventional languages
(i.e. the letters) are so arranged that speech becomes potent enough
to guide the elements, and human speech becomes the speech of the
gods—there is no kinship between this ideal language and the
ejaculations and mimicry which so many hold to be the root and
beginning of it. Yet those who wish to defend their right to hold
the occult teaching have little to fear from the champions of these
theories; they need not at all possess any deep scholarship or
linguistic attainment; the most cursory view of the roots of
primitive speech, so far as they have been collected, will show that
they contain few or no sounds of a character which would bear out
either the onomatopoetic or interjectional theories. The vast
majority of the roots of the Aryan language express abstract ideas,
they rarely indicate the particular actions which would be capable of
being suggested by any mimicry possible to the human voice. I have
selected at random from a list of roots their English equivalents, in
order to show the character of the roots and to make clearer the
difficulty of holding such views. The abstract nature of the ideas,
relating to actions and things which often have no attendant sound in
nature, will indicate what I mean. What possible sounds could mimic
the sense of "to move, to shine, to gain, to flow, to burn, to blow,
to live, to possess, to cover, to fall, to praise, to think"? In fact
the most abstract of all seem the most primitive for we find them most
fruitful in combination to for other words. I hope to show this
clearly later on. It is unnecessary to discuss the claims of the
interjectional theory, as it is only a theory, and there are few roots
for which we could infer even a remote origin of this nature. The
great objection to the theory that speech was originally a matter of
convention and mutual agreement, is the scarcity of words among the
roots which express the wants of primitive man. As it is, a wisdom
within or beyond the Aryan led him to construct in these roots with
their abstract significance an ideal foundation from which a great
language could be developed. However as the exponents of rival
theories have demolished each other's arguments, without anyone having
established a clear case for himself, it is not necessary here to do
more than indicate these theories and how they may be met.
In putting forward a hypothesis more in accord with the doctrine
of the spiritual origin of man, and in harmony with those occult
ideas concerning speech already quoted, I stand in a rather unusual
position, as I have to confess my ignorance of any of these primitive
languages. I am rather inclined however, to regard this on the whole
as an advantage for the following reasons. I think primitive man (the
early Aryan) chose his words by a certain intuition which recognised
an innate correspondence between the thought and the symbol. Para
passu with the growing complexity of civilization language lost it
spiritual character, "it fell into matter," to use H.P. Blavatsky's
expression; as the conventional words necessary to define artificial
products grew in number, in the memory of these words the spontaneity
of speech was lost, and that faculty became atrophied which enable
man to arrange with psychic rapidity ever new combinations of sounds
to express emotion and thought. Believing then that speech was
originally intuitive, and that it only need introspection and a
careful analysis of the sounds of the human voice, to recover the
faculty and correspondences between these sounds and forces, colours,
forms, etc., it will be seen why I do not regard my ignorance of
these languages as altogether a drawback. The correspondences
necessarily had to be evolved out of my inner consciousness, and in
doing this no aid could be derived from the Aryan roots as they now
stand. In the meaning attached to each letter is to be found the key
to the meaning and origin of roots; but the value of each sound
separately could never be discovered by an examination of them in
their combinations, though their value and purpose in combination to
form words might be evident enough once the significance of the
letters is shewn. Any lack of knowledge then is only a disadvantage
in this, that it limits the area from which to choose illustrations.
I have felt it necessary to preface what I have to say with this
confession, to show exactly the position in which I stand. The
correspondences between sounds and forces were first evolved, and an
examination of the Aryan roots proved the key capable of application.
———— Note:—In an article which appeared in the Theosophist,
Dec. 1887, I had attempted, with the assistance of my friend Mr. Chas.
Johnston, to put forward some of the ideas which form the subject
matter of this paper. Owing to the numerous misprints which rendered
it unintelligible I have felt it necessary to altogether re-write it.
It is advisable at this point to consider how correspondences arose
between things seeming so diverse as sounds, forms, colors and forces.
It is evident that they could only come about through the existence
of a common and primal cause reflecting itself everywhere in different
elements and various forms of life. This primal unity lies at the
root of all occult philosophy and science; the One becomes Many; the
ideas latent in Universal Mind are thrown outwards into manifestation.
In the Bhagavad-Gita (chap. IV) Krishna declares: "even though myself
unborn, of changeless essence, and the lord of all existence, yet in
presiding over nature—which is mine—I am born but through my own
maya, the mystic power of self-ideation, the eternal thought in the
eternal mind." "I establish the universe with a single portion of
myself and remain separate;" he says later on, and in so presiding he
becomes the cause of the appearance of the different qualities. "I am
in the taste in water, the light in the sun and moon, the mystic
syllable OM in all the Vedas, sound in space, the masculine essence in
men, the sweet smell in the earth, the brightness in the fire" etc.
Pouring forth then from one fountain we should expect to find
correspondences running everywhere throughout nature; we should
expect to find all these things capable of correlation. Coexistent
with manifestation arise the ideas of time and space, and these
qualities, attributes or forces, which are latent and unified in the
germinal thought, undergo a dual transformation; they appear
successively in time, and what we call evolution progresses through
Kalpa after Kalpa and Manvantara after Manvantara: the moods which
dominate these periods incarnate in matter, which undergoes endless
transformations and takes upon itself all forms in embodying these
sates of consciousness.
The order in which these powers manifest is declared in the
Puranas, Upanishads and Tantric works. It is that abstract formula of
evolution which we can apply alike to the great and little things in
nature. This may be stated in many ways, but to put it briefly, there
is at first one divine Substance-Principle, Flame, Motion or the Great
Breath; from this emanate the elements Akasa, ether, fire, air, water
and earth; the spiritual quality becoming gradually lessened in these
as they are further removed from their divine source; this is the
descent into matter, the lowest rung of manifestation. "Having
consolidated itself in its last principle as gross matter, it revolves
around itself and informs with the seventh emanation of the last, the
first and lowest element." (S.D. I, p. 297) This involution of the
higher into the lower urges life upwards through the mineral,
vegetable, animal and human kingdoms, until it culminates in
spiritually and self consciousness. It is not necessary here to go
more into detail, it is enough to say that the elements in nature
begin as passive qualities, their ethereal nature becomes gross, then
positive and finally spiritual, and this abstract formula holds good
for everything in nature. These changes which take place in the
universe are repeated in man its microcosm, the cosmic force which
acts upon matter and builds up systems of suns and planets, working in
him repeats itself and builds up a complex organism which corresponds
and is correlated with its cosmic counterpart. The individual spirit
Purusha dwells in the heart of every creature, its powers ray forth
everywhere; they pervade the different principles or vehicles; they
act through the organs of sense; they play upon the different
plexuses; every principle and organ being specialised as the vehicle
for a particular force or state of consciousness. All the sounds we
can utter have their significance; they express moods; they create
forms; they arouse to active life within ourselves spiritual and
psychic forces which are centered in various parts of the body. Hence
the whole organism of man is woven through and through with such
correspondences; our thoughts, emotions, sensations, the forces we
use, colours and sounds acting on different planes are all correlated
among themselves, and are also connected with the forces evolving
present about us, in which we live and move. We find such
correspondences form the subject matter of many Upanishads and other
occult treatises; for example in Yajnavalkyasamhita, a treatise on
Yoga philosophy, we find the sound "Ra" associated with the element of
fire, Tejas Tatwa, with the God Rudra, with a centre in the body just
below the heart. Other books add, as correspondences of Tejas Tatwa,
that its colour is red, its taste is hot, its form is a triangle and
its force is expansion. The correspondences given in different
treatises often vary; but what we can gather with certainty is that
there must have existed a complete science of the subject; the
correlation of sound with such things, once understood, is the key
which explains, not only the magic potency of sound, but also the
constuction of those roots which remain as relics of the primitive
The thinking principle in man, having experiences of nature through
its vehicles, the subtle, astral and gross physical bodies, translates
these sensations into its own set of correspondences: this principle
in man, called the Manas, is associated with the element of akasa,
whose property is sound; the Manas moves about in akasa, and so all
ideas which enter into the mind awaken their correspondences and are
immediately mirrored in sound. Let us take as an instance the
perception of the colour red; this communicated to the mind would set
up a vibration, causing a sound to be thrown outwards in mental
manifestation, and in this way the impulse would arise to utter the
letter R, the correspondence of this colour. This Manasic principle
in man, the real Ego, is eternal in its nature; it exists before and
after the body, something accruing to it from each incarnation; and
so, because there is present in the body of man this long-traveled
soul, bearing with it traces of its eternal past, these letters which
are the elements of its speech have impressed on them a
correspondence, not only with the forces natural to its transitory
surroundings, but also with that vaster evolution of nature in which
it has taken part. These correspondences next claim our attention.
The correspondences here suggested do not I think at all exhaust
the possible significance of any of the letters. Every sound ought
to have a septenary relation to the planes of consciousness, and the
differentiations of life, force and matter on each. Complete mastery
of these would enable the knower to guide the various currents of
force, and to control the elemental knower to guide the various
currents of force, and to control the elemental beings who live on the
astral planes, for these respond, we are told, "when the exact scale
of being to which they belong is vibrated, whether it be that of
colour, form, sound or whatever else," (Path, May, 1886) These higher
interpretations I am unable to give; it requires the deeper being to
know the deeper meaning. Those here appended may prove suggestive; I
do not claim any finality or authority for them, but they may be
interesting to students of the occult Upanishads where the mystic
power of sound is continually dwelt upon.
The best method of arranging the letters is to begin with A and
conclude with M or OO: between these lie all the other letters, and
their successive order is determined by their spiritual or material
quality. Following A we get letters with an ethereal or liquid sound,
such as R, H, L or Y; they become gradually harsher as they pass from
the A, following the order of nature in this. Half way we get letters
like K, J, TCHAY, S, or ISH; then they become softer, and the
labials, like F, B and M, have something of the musical quality of the
earlier sounds. If we arrange them in this manner, it will be found
to approximate very closely to the actual order in which the sounds
arise in the process of formation. We begin then with
A—This represents God, creative force, the Self, the I, the
beginning or first cause. "Among letters I am the vowel A," says
Krishna in the Bagavad. It is without colour, number or form.
R—This is motion, air, breath or spirit; it is also abstract
desire, and here we find the teaching of the Rig-Veda in harmony.
"Desire first arose in It which was the primal germ of mind, and
which sages, searching with their intellect, have discovered in their
hearts to be the bond which connects Entity with non-Entity." The
corresponding colour of this letter is Red.
H (hay) and L—Motion awakens Heat and Light which correspond
respectively to H and L. That primordial ocean of being, says the
book of Dzyan, was "fire and heat and motion:" which are explained
as the noumenal essences of these material manifestations. The
colour of H is Orange, of L yellow. L also conveys the sense of
Y (yea)—This letter signifies condensation, drawing together, the
force of attraction, affinity. Matter at the stage of evolution to
which this refers is gaseous, nebulous, or ethereal: the fire- mists
in space gather together to become worlds. The colour Y is green.
W (way)—Water is the next element in manifestation: in cosmic
evolution it is spoken of as chaos, the great Deep; its colour, I
think, is indigo. After this stage the elements no longer manifest
singly, but in pairs, or with a dual aspect.
G (gay) and K—Reflection and Hardness; matter becomes crystalline
or metalic: the corresponding colour is blue.
S and Z—A further differentiation; matter is atomic: the
abstract significance of number or seed is attached to these letters:
their colour is violet.
J and Tchay—Earth and gross Substance: this is the lowest point
in evolution; the worlds have now condensed into solid matter. The
colour of these letters is orange.
N and Ng—Some new forces begin to work here; the corresponding
sounds have, I think, the meaning of continuation and transformation
or change: these new forces propel evolution in the upward or
ascending arc: their colour is yellow.
D and T—The colour of these letters is red. The involution of
the higher forces into the lower forms alluded to before now begins.
D represents this infusion of life into matter; it is descent and
involution, death or forgetfulness, perhaps, for a time to the
incarnating power. T is evolution, the upward movement generating
life; the imprisoned energies surge outwards and vegetation begins.
Ith and Ish—These correspond respectively to growth or expansion
and vegetation; the earth, as Genesis puts it, "puts forth grass and
herbs and trees yielding fruit." The colour of these letters is
B and P—After the flora the fauna. B is Life or Being, animal and
human. Humanity appears; B is masculine, P feminine. P has also a
meaning of division, differentiation or production, which may refer to
maternity. The colour here is blue.
F and V—The colour is violet. Evolution moves still upwards,
entering the ethereal planes once more. Lightness and vastness are
the characteristics of this stage: we begin to permeate with part of
our nature the higher spheres of being and reach the consummation in
the last stage, represented by
M—which has many meanings; it is thought, it is the end or death
to the personality, it is the Receiver into which all flows, it is
also the Symbol of maternity in a universal sense, it has this meaning
when the life impulse (which is always represented by a vowel) follows
it, as in "ma." It is the Pralaya of the worlds; the lips close as it
is uttered. Its colour is indigo.
O—The last vowel sound symbolizes abstract space, the spirit
assumes once more the garment of primordial matter; it is the
Nirvana of eastern philosophy.
I will now try to show how the abstract significance of these sound
reveals a deeper meaning in the roots of Aryan language than
philologists generally allow. Prof. Max Muller says in the
introduction to Biographies of Words. "Of ultimates in the sense of
primary elements of language, we can never hope to know anything," and
he also asserts that the roots are incapable of further analysis. I
will endeavour now to show that this further analysis can be made.
I should not be understood to say that all the so-called roots can
be made to yield a secret meaning when analysed. Philologists are
not all agreed as to what constitutes a root, or what words are roots,
and in this general uncertainty it should not be expected that these
correspondences, which as I have said are not complete, will apply in
every instance. There are many other things which add to the
difficulty; a root is often found to have very many different
meanings; some of these may have arisen in the manner I suggest, and
many more are derived from the primary meanings and are therefore not
intuitive at all. The intuition will have to be exercised to discover
what sensations would likely be awakened by the perception of an
action or object; or if the root has an abstract significance, the
thought must be analysed in order to discover its essential elements.
I described previously the manner in which I thought a single
sensation, the perception of the colour Red, would suggest its
correspondence in sound, the letter R. Where the idea is more
complex, a combination of two, tree or four sounds are necessary to
express it, but they all originate in the same way. The reader who
desires to prove the truth of the theory here put forward can adopt
either of two methods; he can apply the correspondences to the roots,
or he may try for himself to create words expressing simple, elemental
ideas by combining the necessary letters; and then, if he turns to
the roots, he will probably find that many of the words he has created
in this way were actually used long ago, and this pratice will enable
him more easily to understand in what sense, or on what plane, any
particular letter should be taken. I think it probably that in the
Sacred Language before mentioned, this could at once have been
recognized by a difference in the intonation of the voice. This may
have been a survival to some extent of the chanting which was the
distinguishing characteristic of the speech of the Second Race.
(Secret Doctrine, vol. II, p. 198) In the written language it is not
easily possible to discover this without much thought, unless
endeavour has previously been made to re-awaken the faculty of
intuitive speech, which we formerly possessed and which became
It is not possible here to go into the analysis of the roots at
much length: I can only illustrate the method which will be found to
apply more surely where the roots express most elemental conceptions.
Let us take as example the root, Wal, to boil. Boiling is brought
about by the action of fire upon water, and here we find the letters
W, water, and L, light or fire, united. In War, to well up as a
spring, the sounds for water and motion are combined. A similar idea
is expressed in Wat, to well out; the abstract significance of T,
which is to evolve, come forth or appear, being here applied to a
special action. A good method to follow in order to understand how
the pure abstract meaning of a letter may be applied in many different
ways, is to take some of the roots in which any one letter is
prominent and then compare them. Let us take D. It has an abstract
relation to involution or infusion; it may be view in two ways,
either as positive or negative; as the exertion of force or the
reception of force. Now I think if we compare the following roots a
similarity of action will be found to underlie them all. Id, to swell;
Ad, to eat; Dhu, to put; Da, to bind; Ad, to smell; Du, to enter;
Da, to suck.
I am not here going exhaustively to analyse the roots, as this is
not an essay upon philology, but an attempt to make clear some of the
mysteries of sound; those who wish to study this side of the subject
more fully can study with this light the primitive languages. A few
more examples must suffice. The root, Mar, to die, may be variously
interpreted as the end of motion, the cessation of breath, or the
withdrawal of spirit, R being expressive of what on various planes is
motion, spirit, air and breath. In Bur, to be active, life and
movement are combined,: in Gla, to glow, reflection and light; the
same idea is in Gol, a lake. We find combined in Kar, to grind,
hardness and motion: in Thah, to generate, expansion and heat; in
Pak, to comb, division and hardness, the suggestion being division
with some hard object; the same idea is in Pik, to cut. In Pis, to
pound, the letters for division and matter in its molecular state are
combined: in Fath, to fly, lightness and expansion: in Yas, to gird,
drawing together and number; in Rab, to be vehement, energy and life;
in Rip, to break, energy and division. In Yudh, to fight, the
meaning suggested may be, coming together to destroy. Without further
analysis the reader will be able to detect the relation which the
abstractions corresponding to each letter bear to the defined
application in the following words. Ak, to be sharp; Ank, to bend;
Idh, to kindle; Ar, to move; Al, to burn; Ka, to sharpen; Har, to
burn; Ku, to hew; Sa, to produce; Gal, to be yellow or green;
Ghar, to be yellow or green; Thak, to thaw; Tar, to go through;
Thu, to swell; Dak, to bite; Nak, to perish; Pa, to nourish, to
feed; Par, to spare; Pi, to swell, to be fat; Pu, to purify; Pu,
to beget; pau, little; Put, to swell out; Flu, to fly, to float;
Bar, to carry; Bhu, to be, to become; Bla, to blow as a flower;
Ma, to think; Mak, to pound; Mi, to diminish; Mu, to shut up, to
enclose; Yas, to seethe, to ferment; Ys, to bind together, to mix;
Yuk, to yoke, to join; Ra, to love; Rik, to furrow; Luh, to shine;
Rud, to redden, to be red; Lub, to lust [?]; Lu, to cast off from;
Wag, to be moist; Wam, to spit out; So, to sow, to scatter; Sak,
to cut, to cleave; Su, to generate; Swa, to toss; Swal, to boil up;
Ska, to cut; Skap, to hew; Sniw, to snow; Spew, to spit out; Swid,
to sweat; etc. An analysis of some sacred words and the names of
Deities may now prove interesting.
It has been said that before we can properly understand the
character of any deity we would have to know the meaning and the
numbers attached to each letter in the name, for in this way the
powers and functons of the various gods were indicated. If we take as
examples names familiar to everyone, Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra, the
three aspects of Parabrahm in manifestation, and analyse them in the
same way as the roots, they will be found to yield up their essential
meaning. Form the union of B, life, R, breath, and Ma, the producer,
I would translate Brahma as "the creative breath of life." Vishnu
similarly analysed is the power that "pervades, expands, and
preserves;" I infer this from the union of V, whose force is
pervasion, Sh, expansion, and N, continuation. Rudra is "the breath
that absorbs the breath." Aum is the most sacred name of all names;
it is held to symbolize the action of the Great breath from its dawn
to its close: it is the beginning, A, the middle, U, and the close M.
It is also an affirmation of the relation of our spiritual nature to
the universal Deity whose aspects are Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra. I
shall have more to say of the occult power of this word later on.
Taken in conjunction with two other words, it is "the threefold
designation of the Supreme Being." Om Tat Sat has a significance
referable to a still higher aspect of Deity than that other Trinity;
the Om here signifies that it is the All; Tat that it is
self-existent or self-evolved; I think the repetition of the T in Tat
gives it this meaning: Sat would signify that in it are contained the
seeds of all manifestation. H.P. Blavatsky translates this word as
Be-ness, which seems to be another way of expressing the same idea.
The mystic incantation familiar to all students of the Upanishads,
Om, bhur, Om, Bhwar, Om, Svar," is an assertion of the existence of
the Divine Self in all the three worlds or Lokas. Loka is generally
translated as a place; the letters suggest to me that a place or
world is only a hardening or crystalization of Fire or Light. In Bhur
Loka the crystalization of the primordial element of Fire leaves only
one principle active, the life principle generally called Prana. Bhur
Loka then is the place where life is active; we have B, life, and R,
movement, to suggest this. In the word Bhuvar a new letter, V, is
inserted: this letter, as I have said, corresponds to the Astral
world, so the Bhuvar Loka is the place where both the Astral and Life
principles are active. It is more difficult to translate Svar Loka:
there is some significance attached here to the letter S, which I
cannot grasp. It might mean that this world contains the germs of
Astral life; but this does not appear sufficiently distinctive, Svar
Loka is generally known as Devachan, and the whole incantation would
mean that the Deity is present throughout the Pranic, Astral and
Devachanic worlds. It is interesting to note what is said in the
Glossary by H.P.B., about these three words (p. 367): they are said
to be "lit by and born of fire," and to possess creative powers. The
repetition of them with the proper accent should awaken in the
occultist the powers which correspond to the three worlds. I think by
these examples that the student will be able to get closer to the true
significance of incantation; those who understand the occult meaning
of the colours attached to the letters will be able to penetrate
deeper than others into these mysteries.
I may here say something about the general philosophy of
incantation. There is said to be in nature a homogenous sound or tone
which everywhere stirs up the molecules into activity. This is the
"Word" which St. John says was in the beginning (the plane of
causation); in another sense it is the Akasa of occult science, the
element of sound, it is the Pythagorean "music of the spheres." The
universe is built up, moulded and sustained by this element which is
everywhere present, though inaudible by most men at this stage of
evolution. It is not sound by the physical ears, but deep in the
heart sometimes may be heard "the mystic sounds of the Akasic
heights." The word Aum represents this homogeneous sound, it stirs
up a power which is latent in it called the Yajna. The Glossary says
that this "is one of the forms of Akasa within which the mystic word
calls it into existence:" it is a bridge by means of which the soul
can cross over to the world of the Immortals. It is this which is
alluded to in the Nada-Bindu Upanishad. "The mind becoming insensible
to the external impressions, becomes one with the sound, as milk with
water, and then becomes rapidly absorbed in chidakas (the Akasa where
consciousness pervades). The sound..... serves the purpose of a lure
to the ocean waves of Chitta (mind), ...the serpent Chitta through
listening to the Nada is entirely absorbed in it, and becoming
unconscious of everything concentrates itself on the sound." We may
quote further from another Upanishad. "Having left behind the body,
the organs and objects of sense, and having seized the bow whose stick
is fortitude and whose string is asceticism, and having killed with
the arrow of freedom from egoism the first guardian, ....he crosses by
means of the boat Om to the other side of the ether within the heart,
and when the ether is revealed he enters slowly, as a miner seeking
minerals enters a mine, into the hall of Brahman. ...Thenceforth,
pure, clean, tranquil, breathless, endless, imperishable, firm,
unborn, and independent, he stands in his own greatness, and having
seen the Self standing in his own greatness, he looks at the wheel of
Let no one think that this is all, and that the mere repetition of
words will do anything except injure those who attempt the use of
these methods without further knowledge. It has been said (Path,
April, 1887) that Charity, Devotion, and the like virtues are
structural necessities in the nature of the man who would make this
attempt. We cannot, unless the whole nature has been purified by
long services and sacrifice, and elevated into mood at once full of
reverence and intense will, become sensitive to the subtle powers
possessed by the spiritual soul.
What is here said about the Aum which is the name of our own God,
and the way in which it draws forth the hidden power will serve to
illustrate the method in using other words. The Thara-Sara Upanishad
of Sukla-Yajur Veda says "Through Om is Brahm produced: through Na
is Vishnu produced; through Ma is Rudra produced, etc." All these
are names of gods; they correspond to forces in man and nature, in
their use the two are united, and the man mounts upwards to the
I have been forced to compress what I had to say in these articles,
I have only been able to suggest rather than put forward ideas, for
my own knowledge of these correspondences is very incomplete. As far
as I know the subject has been untouched hitherto, and this must be my
excuse for the meagre nature of the information given. I hope later on
to treat of the relation of sound and colour to form and to show how
these correspondences will enable us to understand the language which
the gods speak to us through flowers, trees, and natural forms. I
hope also to be able to show that it was a knowledge of the relation
of sound to form which dictated the form of the letters in many
—5/15, 6/15, 7/15, 8/15, 9/15, 1893
Where we sat on the hillside together that evening the winds were
low and the air was misty with light. The huge sunbrowned slope on
which we were sitting was sprinkled over with rare spokes of grass; it
ran down into the vagueness underneath where dimly the village could
be seen veiled by its tresses of lazy smoke. Beyond was a bluer shade
and a deeper depth, out of which, mountain beyond mountain, the sacred
heights of Himalay rose up through star-sprinkled zones of silver and
sapphire air. How gay were our hearts! The silent joy of the earth
quickened their beating. What fairy fancies alternating with the
sweetest laughter came from childish lips! In us the Golden Age
whispered her last, and departed. Up came the white moon, her rays of
dusty pearl slanting across the darkness from the old mountain to our
feet. "A bridge!" we cried, "Primaveeta, who long to be a sky-walker,
here is a bridge for you!"
Primaveeta only smiled; he was always silent; he looked along
the gay leagues of pulsating light that lead out to the radiant
mystery. We went on laughing and talking; then Primaveeta broke his
"Vyassa," he said, "I went out in thought, I went into the light,
but it was not that light. I felt like a fay; I sparkled with azure
and lilac; I went on, and my heart beat with longing for I knew not
what, and out and outward I sped till desire stayed and I paused, and
the light looked into me full of meaning. I felt like a spark, and
the dancing of the sea of joy bore me up, up, up!"
"Primaveeta, who can understand you?" said his little sister Vina,
"you always talk of the things no one can see; Vyassa, sing for us."
"Yes! yes! let Vyassa sing!" they all cried; and they shouted and
shouted until I began:—
"Shadowy petalled, like the lotus, loom the mountains with their
snows: Through the sapphire Soma rising, such a flood of glory throws
As when the first in yellow splendour Brahma from the lotus rose.
"High above the darkening mounds where fade the fairy lights of
day, All the tiny planet folk are waving us from far away; Thrilled
by Brahma's breath they sparkle with the magic of the gay.
"Brahma, all alone in gladness, dreams the joys that throng in
space, Shepherds all the whirling splendours onward to their resting
place, Where at last in wondrous silence fade in One the starry race."
"Vyassa is just like Primaveeta, he is full of dreams to-night,"
said Vina. And indeed I was full of dreams; my laughter had all
died away; a vague and indescribable unrest came over me; the
universal air around seemed thrilled by the stirring of unknown
powers. We sat silent awhile; then Primaveeta cried out: "Oh, look,
look, look, the Devas! the bright persons! they fill the air with
We saw them pass by and we were saddened, for they were full of
solemn majesty; overhead a chant came from celestial singers full of
the agony of farewell and departure, and we knew from their song that
the gods were about to leave the earth which would nevermore or for
ages witness their coming. The earth and the air around it seemed to
tingle with anguish. Shuddering we drew closer together on the
hillside while the brightness of the Devas passed onward and away;
and clear cold and bright as ever, the eternal constellations, which
change or weep not, shone out, and we were alone with our sorrow. To
awed we were to speak, but we clung closer together and felt a comfort
in each other; and so, crouched in silence; within me I heard as
from far away a note of deeper anguish, like a horn blown out of the
heart of the ancient Mother over a perished hero: in a dread moment I
saw the death and the torment; he was her soul-point, the light she
wished to shine among men. What would follow in the dark ages to come,
rose up before me in shadowy, over-crowding pictures; like the surf
of a giant ocean they fluctuated against the heavens, crested with
dim, giantesque and warring figures. I saw stony warriors rushing on
to battle; I heard their fierce hard laughter as they rode over the
trampled foe; I saw smoke arise from a horrible burning, and thicker
and blacker grew the vistas, with here and there a glow from some
hero-heart that kept the true light shining within. I turned to
Primaveeta who was crouched beside me: he saw with me vision for
vision, but, beyond the thick black ages that shut me out from hope,
he saw the resurrection of the True, and the homecoming of the gods.
All this he told me later, but now our tears were shed together.
Then Primaveeta rose up and said, "Vyasa, where the lights were
shining, where they fought for the True, there you and I must fight;
for, from them spreads out the light of a new day that shall dawn
behind the darkness." I saw that he was no longer a dreamer; his
face was firm with a great resolve. I could not understand him, but I
determined to follow him, to fight for the things he fought for, to
work with him, to live with him, to die with him; and so, thinking
and trying to understand, my thought drifted back to that sadness of
the mother which I had first felt. I saw how we share joy or grief
with her, and, seized with the inspiration of her sorrow, I sang about
her loved one:—
"Does the earth grow grey with grief For her hero darling fled?
Though her vales let fall no leaf, In our hearts her tears are shed.
"Still the stars laugh on above, Not to them her grief is said;
Mourning for her hero love In our hearts her tears are shed.
"We her children mourn for him, Mourn the elder hero dead; In the
twilight grey and dim In our hearts the tears are shed."
"Vyassa," they said, "you will break our hearts." And we sat in
silence and sorrow more complete till we heard weary voices calling
up to us from the darkness below: "Primaveeta! Vyassa! Chandra!
Parvati! Vina! Vasudeva!" calling all our names. We went down to
our homes in the valley; the breadth of glory had passed away from
the world, and our hearts were full of the big grief that children
—October 15, 1893
——————— * Note—Kaliyuga. The fourth, the black or iron
age, our present period, the duration of which is 432,000 years. It
began 3,102 years B.C. at the moment of Krishna's death, and the first
cycle of 5,000 years will end between the years 1897 and 1898.
Parvata rose up from his seat under the banyan tree. He passed
his hand unsteadily over his brow. Throughout the day the young
ascetic had been plunged in profound meditation, and now, returning
from heaven to earth, he was dazed like one who awakens in darkness
and knows not where he is. All day long before his inner eye burned
the light of the Lokas, until he was wearied and exhausted with their
splendours; space glowed like a diamond with intolerable lustre, and
there was no end to the dazzling processions of figures. He had seen
the fiery dreams of the dead in Swargam. He had been tormented by the
sweet singing of the Gandharvas, whose choral song reflected in its
ripples the rhythmic pulse of Being. He saw how the orbs, which held
them, were set within luminous orbs still of wider circuit, and vaster
and vaster grew the vistas, and smaller seemed the soul at gaze, until
at last, a mere speck of life, he bore the burden of innumerable
worlds. Seeking for Brahma, he found only the great illusion as
infinite as Brahma's being.
If these things were shadows, the earth and the forests he returned
to, viewed at evening, seemed still more unreal, the mere dusky
flutter of a moth's wings in space. Filmy and evanescent, if he had
sunk down as through a transparency into the void, it would not have
been wonderful. Parvati turned homeward, still half in trance: as he
threaded the dim alleys he noticed not the flaming eyes that regarded
him from the gloom; the serpents rustling amid the undergrowths; the
lizards, fire-flies, insects, the innumerable lives of which the
Indian forest was rumourous; they also were but shadows. He paused
half unconsciously at the village, hearing the sound of human voices,
of children at play. He felt a throb of pity for these tiny being who
struggled and shouted, rolling over each other in ecstasies of joy;
the great illusion had indeed devoured them before whom the Devas
once were worshipers. Then close beside him he heard a voice; its
low tones, its reverence soothed him: there was something akin to his
own nature in it; it awakened him fully. A little crowd of five or
six people were listening silently to an old man who read from a
palm-leaf manuscript. Parvati knew his order by the orange-coloured
robes he wore; a Bhikshu of the new faith. What was his delusion?
The old man lifted his head for a moment as the ascetic came
closer, and then he continued as before. He was reading the "Legend
of the Great King of Glory." Parvati listened to it, comprehending
with the swift intuition and subtlety of a mystic the inner meaning
of the Wonderful Wheel, the elephant Treasure, the Lake and palace of
Righteousness. He followed the speaker, understanding all until he
came to the meditation of the King: then he heard with vibrating
heart, how "the Great King of Glory entered the golden chamber, and
set himself down on the silver couch. And he let his mind pervade one
quarter of the world with thoughts of Love: and so the second quarter,
and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world,
above below, around and everywhere, did he continue to pervade with
heart of Love, far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure." When
the old Bhikshu had ended, Parvati rose up, and went back again into
the forest. He had found the secret of the True—to leave behind the
vistas, and enter into the Being. Another legend rose up in his mind,
a fairy legend of righteousness, expanding and filling the universe, a
vision beautiful and full of old enchantment; his heart sang within
him. He seated himself again under the banyan tree; he rose up in
soul; he saw before him images, long-forgotten, of those who suffer
in the sorrowful old earth; he saw the desolation and loneliness of
old age, the insults to the captive, the misery of the leper and
outcast, the chill horror and darkness of life in a dungeon. He drank
in all their sorrow. For his heart he went out to them. Love, a
fierce and tender flame arose; pity, a breath from the vast;
sympathy, born of unity. This triple fire sent forth its rays; they
surrounded those dark souls; they pervaded them; they beat down
While Parvati, with spiritual magic, sent forth the healing powers,
far away at that moment, in his hall, a king sat enthroned. A
captive was bound before him; bound, but proud, defiant,
unconquerable of soul. There was silence in the hall until the king
spake the doom, the torture, for this ancient enemy. The king spake:
"I had thought to do some fierce thing to thee, and so end thy days,
my enemy. But, I remember with sorrow, the great wrongs we have done
to each other, and the hearts made sore by our hatred. I shall do no
more wrong to thee. Thou art free to depart. Do what thou wilt. I
will make restitution to thee as far as may be for thy ruined state."
Then the soul no might could conquer was conquered, and the knees
were bowed; his pride was overcome. "My brother!" he said, and
could say no more.
To watch for years a little narrow slit high up in the dark cell,
so high that he could not reach up and look out; and there to see
daily a little change from blue to dark in the sky had withered that
prisoner's soul. The bitter tears came no more; hardly even sorrow;
only a dull, dead feeling. But that day a great groan burst from
him: he heard outside the laugh of a child who was playing and
gathering flowers under the high, grey walls: then it all came over
him, the divine things missed, the light, the glory, and the beauty
that the earth puts forth for her children. The narrow slit was
darkened: half of a little bronze face appeared.
"Who are you down there in the darkness who sigh so? Are you all
alone there? For so many years! Ah, poor man! I would come down to
you if I could, but I will sit here and talk to you for a while. Here
are flowers for you," and a little arm showered them in handfuls; the
room was full of the intoxicating fragrance of summer. Day after day
the child came, and the dull heart entered into human love once more.
At twilight, by a deep and wide river, sat an old woman alone,
dreamy, and full of memories. The lights of the swift passing boats,
and the lights of the stars, were just as in childhood and the old
love-time. Old, feeble, it was time for her to hurry away from the
place which changed not with her sorrow.
"Do you see our old neighbour there?" said Ayesha to her lover.
"They say she once was as beautiful as you would make me think I am
now. How lonely she must be! Let us come near and speak to her"; and
the lover went gladly. Though they spoke to each other rather than to
her, yet something of the past—which never dies when love, the
immortal, has pervaded it—rose up again as she heard their voices.
She smiled, thinking of years of burning beauty.
A teacher, accompanied by his chelas, was passing by the wayside
where a leper was sitting. The teacher said, "Here is our brother
whom we may not touch. But he need not be shut out from truth. We
may sit down where he can listen." He sat down on the wayside beside
the leper, and his chelas stood around him. He spoke words full of
love, kindliness, and pity, the eternal truths which make the soul
grow full of sweetness and youth. A small old spot began to glow in
the heart of the leper, and the tears ran down his withered cheeks.
All these were the deeds of Parvati, the ascetic; and the Watcher
who was over him from all eternity made a great stride towards that
—November 15, 1893
Priest Merodach walked with me at evening along the banks of the
"You feel despondent now," he said, "but this was inevitable. You
looked for a result equal to your inspiration. You must learn to be
content with that alone. Finally an inspiration will come for every
moment, and in every action a divine fire reveal itself."
"I feel hopeless now. Why is this? Wish and will are not less
strong than before."
"Because you looked for a result beyond yourself, and, attached to
external things, your mind drew to itself subtle essences of earth
which clouded it. But there is more in it than that. Nature has a
rhythm, and that part of us which is compounded of her elements shares
in it. You were taught that nature is for ever becoming: the first
emanation in the great deep is wisdom: wisdom changes into desire,
and an unutterable yearning to go outward darkens the primeval beauty.
Lastly, the elements arise, blind, dark, troubled. Nature in them
imagines herself into forgetfulness. This rhythm repeats itself in
man: a moment of inspiration—wise and clear, we determine; then we
are seized with a great desire which impels us to action; the hero,
the poet, the lover, all alike listen to the music of life, and then
endeavour to express its meaning in word or deed; coming in contact
with nature, its lethal influence drowses them; so baffled and
forgetful, they wonder where the God is. To these in some moment the
old inspiration returns, the universe is as magical and sweet as ever,
a new impulse is given, and so they revolve, perverting and using,
each one in his own way, the cosmic rhythm."
"Merodach, what you say seems truth, and leaving aside the cosmic
rhythm, which I do not comprehend, define again for me the three
"You cannot really understand the little apart from the great;
but, applying this to your own case, you remember you had a strange
experience, a God seemed to awaken within you. This passed away; you
halted a little while, full of strange longing, eager for the great;
yet you looked without on the hither side of that first moment, and
in this second period, which is interchange and transition, your
longing drew to you those subtle material essences I spoke of, which,
like vapour surround, dull and bewilder the mind with strange
phantasies of form and sensation. Every time we think with longing
of any object, these essences flow to us out of the invisible spheres
and steep us with the dew of matter: then we forget the great, we
sleep, we are dead or despondent as you are despondent."
I sighed as I listened. A watchfulness over momentary desires was
the first step; I had thought of the tasks of the hero as leading
upwards to the Gods, but this sleepless intensity of will working
within itself demanded a still greater endurance. I neared my
destination; I paused and looked round; a sudden temptation
assailed me; the world was fair enough to live in. Why should I
toil after the far-off glory? Babylon seemed full of mystery, its
temples and palaces steeped in the jewel glow and gloom of evening.
In far-up heights of misty magnificence the plates of gold on the
temples rayed back the dying light: in the deepening vault a starry
sparkle began: an immense hum arose from leagues of populous streets:
the scents of many gardens by the river came over me: I was lulled
by the splash of fountains. Closer I heard voices and a voice I
loved: I listened as a song came
"Tell me, youthful lover, whether
Love is joy or woe? Are they gay or sad together
On that way who go?"
A voice answered back
"Radiant as a sunlit feather,
Pure and proud they go; With the lion look together
Glad their faces show."
My sadness departed; I would be among them shortly, and would walk
and whisper amid those rich gardens where beautiful idleness was
always dreaming. Merodach looked at me.
"You will find these thoughts will hinder you much," he said.
"You mean—" I hesitated, half-bewildered, half-amazed. "I say
that a thought such as that which flamed about you just now, driving
your sadness away, will recur again when next you are despondent, and
so you will accustom yourself to find relief on the great quest by
returning to an old habit of the heart, renewing what should be laid
aside. This desire of men and women for each other is the strongest
tie among the many which bind us: it is the most difficult of all to
overcome. The great ones of the earth have passed that way themselves
"But surely, Merodach, you cannot condemn what I may say is so much
a part of our nature—of all nature."
"I did not condemn it, when I said it is the strongest tie that
binds us here: it is sin only for those who seek for freedom."
"Merodach, must we then give up love?"
"There are two kinds of love men know of. There is one which
begins with a sudden sharp delight—it dies away into infinite tones
of sorrow. There is a love which wakes up amid dead things: it is a
chill at first, but it takes root, it warms, it expands, it lays hold
of universal joys. So the man loves: so the God loves. Those who
know this divine love are wise indeed. They love not one or another:
they are love itself. Think well over this: power alone is not the
attribute of the Gods; there are no such fearful spectres in that
great companionship. And now, farewell, we shall meet again."
I watched his departing figure, and then I went on my own way. I
longed for that wisdom, which they only acquire who toil, and strive,
and suffer; but I was full of a rich life which longed for excitement
and fulfilment, and in that great Babylon sin did not declare itself
in its true nature, but was still clouded over by the mantle of
—December 15, 1893
Out of her cave came the ancient Lilith; Lilith the wise; Lilith
the enchantress. There ran a little path outside her dwelling; it
wound away among the mountains and glittering peaks, and before the
door, one of the Wise Ones walked to and fro. Out of her cave came
Lilith, scornful of his solitude, exultant in her wisdom, flaunting
her shining and magical beauty.
"Still alone, star gazer! Is thy wisdom of no avail? Thou hast
yet to learn that I am more powerful knowing the ways of error than
you who know the ways of truth."
The Wise One heeded her not, but walked to and fro. His eyes were
turned to the distant peaks, the abode of his brothers. The
starlight fell about him; a sweet air came down the mountain path,
fluttering his white robe; he did not cease from his steady musing.
Like a mist rising between rocks wavered Lilith in her cave. Violet,
with silvery gleams her raiment; her face was dim; over her head
rayed a shadowy diadem, the something a man imagines over the head of
his beloved—-looking closer at her face he would have seen that this
was the crown he reached out to, that the eyes burnt with his own
longing, that the lips were parted to yield to the secret wishes of
"Tell me, for I would know, why do you wait so long? I, here in
my cave between the valley and the height blind the eyes of all who
would pass. Those who by chance go forth to you come back to me
again, and but one in ten thousand passes on. My delusions are
sweeter to them than truth. I offer every soul its own shadow; I pay
them their own price. I have grown rich, though the simple shepards
of old gave me birth. Men have made me; the mortals have made me
immortal. I rose up like a vapour from their first dreams, and every
sigh since then and every laugh remains with me. I am made up of
hopes and fears. The subtle princes lay out their plans of conquest
in my cave, and there the hero dreams, and there the lovers of all
time write in flame their history. I am wise, holding all experience,
to tempt, to blind, to terrify. None shall pass by. Why, therefore,
dost thou wait?"
The Wise One looked at her and she shrank back a little, and a
little her silver and violet faded, but out of her cave her voice
"The stars and the starry crown are not yours alone to offer, and
every promise you make, I make also. I offer the good and the bad
indifferently. The lover, the poet, the mystic, and all who would
drink of the first Fountain, I delude with my mirage. I was the
Beatrice who led Dante upward: the gloom was in me, and the glory
was mine also, and he went not out of my cave. The stars and the
shining of heaven were delusions of the infinite I wove about him. I
captured his soul with the shadow of space; a nutshell would have
contained the film. I smote on the dim heart-chords the manifold
music of being. God is sweeter in the human than the human in God:
therefore he rested in me."
She paused a little, and then went on.
"There is that fantastic fellow who slipped by me—could your
wisdom not keep him? He returned to me full of anguish, and I wound
my arms round him like a fair melancholy, and now his sadness is as
sweet to him as hope was before his fall. Listen to his song." She
paused again. A voice came up from the depths chanting a sad
"What of all the will to do?
It has vanished long ago, For a dream shaft pierced it
From the unknown Archer's bow.
What of all the soul to think?
Some one offered it a cup Filled with a diviner drink,
And the flame has burned it up.
What of all the hope to climb?
Only in the self we grope To the misty end of time;
Truth has put an end to hope.
What of all the heart to love?
Sadder than for will or soul, No light lured it on above;
Love has found itself the whole."
"Is it not pitiful? I pity only those who pity themselves. Yet
he is mine more surely than ever. This is the end of human wisdom.
How shall he now escape? What shall draw him up?"
"His will shall awaken," said the Wise One. "I do not sorrow over
him, for long is the darkness before the spirit is born. He learns
in your caves not to see, not to hear, not to think, for very anguish
flying your delusions."
"Sorrow is a great bond," Lilith said.
"It is a bond to the object of sorrow. He weeps what thou can
never give him, a life never breathed in thee. He shall come forth,
and thou shalt not see him at the time of passing. When desire dies,
will awakens, the swift, the invisible. He shall go forth, and one
by one the dwellers in your caves will awaken and pass onwards; this
small old path will be trodden by generation after generation. You,
too, oh, shining Lilith, will follow, not as mistress, but as
"I shall weave spells," Lilith cried. "They shall never pass me.
With the sweetest poison I will drug them. They will rest drowsily
and content as of old. Were they not giants long ago, mighty men and
heroes? I overcame them with young enchantment. Will they pass by
feeble and longing for bygone joys, for the sins of their proud
exultant youth, while I have grown into a myriad wisdom?"
The Wise One walked to and fro as before, and there was silence,
and I thought I saw that with steady will he pierced the tumultuous
gloom of the cave, and a heart was touched here and there in its
blindness. And I thought I saw that Sad Singer become filled with a
new longing to be, and that the delusions of good and evil fell from
him, and that he came at last to the knees of the Wise One to learn
the supreme truth. In the misty midnight I hear these three voices,
the Sad Singer, the Enchantress Lilith, and the Wise One. From the
Sad Singer I learned that thought of itself leads nowhere, but blows
the perfume from every flower, and cuts the flower from every tree,
and hews down every tree from the valley, and in the end goes to and
fro in waste places gnawing itself in a last hunger. I learned from
Lilith that we weave our own enchantment, and bind ourselves with out
own imagination; to think of the true as beyond us, or to love the
symbol of being, is to darken the path to wisdom, and to debar us from
eternal beauty. From the Wise One I learned that the truest wisdom is
to wait, to work, and to will in secret; those who are voiceless
today, tomorrow shall be eloquent, and the earth shall hear them, and
her children salute them. Of these three truths the hardest to learn
is the silent will. Let us seek for the highest truth.
—February 15, 1894
That we are living in the Dark Age we all know, yet we do not
realise half its darkness. We endure physical and moral suffering;
but, fortunately or unfortunately, we are oblivious of the sorrow of
all sorrows—the Spiritual Tragedy. Such a rust has come over the
pure and ancient spirit of life, that the sceptre and the diadem and
the starry sway we held are unremembered; and if anyone speaks of
these things he is looked at strangely with blank eyes, or with eyes
that suspect madness. I do not know whether to call him great, or
pity him, who feels such anguish; for although it is the true agony
of the crucifixion, it is only gods who are so martyred. With these
rare souls memory is not born: life flows on, and they with it go on
in dreams: they are lulled by lights, flowers, stars, colours, and
sweet odours, and are sheltered awhile from heaven and hell; then in
some moment the bubble bursts, and the god awakens and knows himself,
and he rises again with giant strength to conquer; or else he
succumbs, and the waves of Lethe, perhaps in mercy, blot out his brief
I knew such an one many years ago, and I tell of him because I know
of no deeper proof of the existence of a diviner nature than that
man's story. Arthur Harvey, as I have heard people describe him, in
his early years was gentle, shy, and given to much dreaming. He was
taken from school early, came up from the country to the city, and was
put to business. He possessed the apathy and unresisting nature
characteristic of so many spiritual people, and which is found notably
among the natives of India; so he took his daily confinement at first
as a matter of course, though glad enough when it was over, and the
keen sweet air blew about him in spring or summer evenings, and the
earth looked visionary, steeped in dew and lovely colour, and his soul
grew rich with strange memories and psychic sensations. And so
day-by-day he might have gone on with the alternation of work and
dream, and the soul in its imaginings might never have known of the
labours of the mind, each working by habit in its accustomed hour, but
for an incident which took place about two years after his going to
One morning his manager said: "Harvey, take this letter; deliver
it, and wait for an answer." He started up eagerly, glad for the
unwonted freedom from his desk. At the door, as he went out, the
whole blinding glory of the sunlight was dashed on him. He looked
up. Ah! what spaces illimitable of lustrous blue. How far off! How
mighty! He felt suddenly faint, small, mean, and feeble. His limbs
trembled under him: he shrank from the notice of men as he went on
his way. Vastness, such as this, breaking in upon the eye that had
followed the point of the pen, unnerved him: he felt a bitter
self-contempt. What place had he amid these huge energies? The city
deafened him as with one shout: the tread of the multitude; the mob
of vehicles; glitter and shadow; rattle, roar, and dust; the black
smoke curled in the air; higher up the snowy and brilliant clouds,
which the tall winds bore along; all were but the intricate and
wondrous workings of a single monstrous personality; a rival in the
universe who had absorbed and wrested from him his own divine dower.
Out of him; out of him, the power— the free, the fearless—whirled
in play, and drove the suns and stars in their orbits, and sped the
earth through light and shadow. Out of him; out of him; never to be
reconquered; never to be regained. The exultant laugh of the day;
the flame of summer; the gigantic winds careering over the city; the
far-off divine things filled him with unutterable despair. What was
he amid it all? A spark decaying in its socket; a little hot dust
He found himself in a small square; he sat down on a bench; his
brain burning, his eyes unseeing.
"Oh! my, what's he piping over?" jeered a grotesque voice, and a
small figure disappeared, turning somersaults among the bushes.
"Poor young man! Perhaps he is ill. Are you not well, sir?" asked
a sympathetic nurse.
He started up, brought to himself, and muttering something
unintelligible, continued his journey through the city. The terrible
influence departed, and a new change came over him. The laugh of the
urchin rankled in his mind: he hated notice: there must be something
absurd or out of the common in his appearance to invoke it. He knew
suddenly that there was a gulf between him and the people he lived
among. They were vivid, actual, suited to their places. How he
envied them! Then the whole superficies of his mind became filled
with a desire to conceal this difference. He recalled the various
characteristics of those who worked along with him. One knew all
topical songs, slang and phrases; another affected a smartness in
dress; a third discussed theatres with semi-professional knowledge.
Harvey, however, could never have entered the world, or lived in it,
if he had first to pass through the portals of such ideas! He
delivered his letter; he was wearied out, and as he returned he
noticed neither sky nor sunlight, and the hurrying multitudes were
indifferent and without character. He passed through them; his mind
dull like theirs; a mere machine to guide rapid footsteps.
That evening, a clerk named Whittaker, a little his senior in the
office, was struck by Harvey's curious and delicate face.
"I say, Harvey," he said, "how do you spend your evenings?"
Harvey flushed a little at the unwonted interest.
"I take long walks," he said.
"Do you read much?"
"Do you go to the theatre?"
"Whew! what a queer fellow! No clubs, classes, music-halls—
anything of the sort, eh?"
"No," said Harvey, a little bitterly, "I know nothing, nobody; I
am always alone."
"What an extraordinary life! Why, you are out of the universe
completely. I say," he added, "come along with me this evening. I
will initiate you a little. You know you must learn your profession
as a human being."
His manner was very kindly; still Harvey was so shy that he would
have found some excuse, but for that chance expression, "out of the
universe." Was not this apartness the very thing he had just been
bitterly feeling? While he hesitated and stammered in his
awkwardness, the other said: "There, no excuses! You need not go to
your lodgings for tea. Come along with me."
They went off together through the darkening streets. One cheerful
and irreverent, brimful of remark or criticism; the other silent,
his usual dreaminess was modified, but had not departed, and once,
gazing up through the clear, dark blue, where the stars were shining,
he had a momentary sense as if he were suspended from them by a fine
invisible thread, as a spider hung from her roof; suspended from on
high, where the pure and ancient aether flamed around the habituations
of eternity; and below and about him, the thoughts of demons, the
smoke, darkness, horror and anguish of the pit.
I Cannot tell all the steps by which the young soul came forth from
its clouds and dreams, but must hurry over the years. This single
incident of his boyhood I have told to mark the character and
tendency of his development; spirituality made self-conscious only
in departing; life, a falling from ideals which grew greater, more
beautiful and luminous as the possibility of realizing them died away.
But this ebbtide of inner life was not regular and incessant, but
rather after the fashion of waves which retreat surely indeed, but
returning again and again, seem for moments to regain almost more than
their past altitude. His life was a series of such falls and such
awakenings. Every new experience which drew his soul from its
quietude brought with it a revelation of a spiritual past, in which,
as it now seemed, he had been living unconsciously. Every new
experience which enriched his mind seemed to leave his soul more
barren. The pathetic anguish of these moments had little of the moral
element, which was dormant and uncultivated rather than perverted. He
did not ponder over their moral aspect, for he shared the superficial
dislike to the ethical, which we often see in purely artistic natures,
who cannot endure the entrance of restraint or pain upon their beauty.
His greatest lack was the companionship of fine men or noble women.
He had shot up far beyond the reach of those whom he knew, and
wanting this companionship he grew into a cynical or sensuous way of
regarding them. He began to write: he had acquired the faculty of
vigourous expression by means of such emotions as were tinged with a
mystical voluptuousness which was the other pole to his inner, secret
and spiritual being. The double strain upon his energies, which daily
work and nightly study with mental productiveness involved, acted
injuriously upon his health, and after a year he became so delicate
that he could carry on neither one nor other of his avocations without
an interval of complete rest. Obtaining leave from his employers, he
went back for a period of six weeks to the village where he had been
born. Here in the early summer and sunshine his health rapidly
improved; his mind even more than his body drank deep draughts of
life; and here, more than at any period in his life, did his
imagination begin to deal with mighty things, and probe into the
secret mysteries of life, and here passed into the long descended line
by which the human spirit passed from empire; he began to comprehend
dimly by what decadence from starry state the soul of man is ushered
into the great visible life. These things came to him not clearly as
ideas, but rather as shadowy and shining vision thrown across the air
of dawn of twilight as he moved about.
Not alone did this opulence of spiritual life make him happy,
another cause conspired with it to this end. He had met a nature
somewhat akin to his own: Olive Rayne, the woman of his life.
As the days passed over he grew eager not to lose any chance of
speech with her, and but two days before his departure he walked to
the village hoping to see her. Down the quiet English lane in the
evening he passed with the rapid feet that bear onward unquiet or
feverish thought. The clear fresh air communicated delight to him;
the fields grown dim, the voice of the cuckoo, the moon like a yellow
globe cut in the blue, the cattle like great red shadows driven
homeward with much unnecessary clamour by the children; all these
flashed in upon him and became part of him: ready made accessories
and backgrounds to his dreams, their quietness stilled and soothed
the troubled beauty of passion. His pace lessened as he came near
the village, half wondering what would serve as excuse for visits
following one so soon upon the other. Chance served as excuse. He
saw her grey dress, her firm upright figure coming out from among the
lilac brushes at the gate of her father's house. She saw Harvey
coming towards her and waited for him with a pleasant smile. Harvey,
accustomed to introspect and ideal imaginings, here encountered no
shock gazing upon the external. Some last light of day reflected
upward from the white gate-post, irradiated her face, and touched
with gold the delicate brown hair, the nosrtils, lips, chin, and the
lilac of her throat. Her features were clear-cut, flawless; the
expression exquisitely grave and pure; the large grey eyes had that
steady glow which shows a firm and undisturbed will. In some
undefinable way he found himself thinking of the vague objects of his
dreams, delicate and subtle things, dew, starlight, and transparencies
rose up by some affinity. He rejected them—not those—then a strong
warrior with a look of pity on his face appeared and disappeared: all
this quick as a flash before she spoke.
"I am going doctoring," she said. "Old nurse Winder is ill, and my
father will not be back until late." Mr. Rayne was the country
"May I go with you?" he asked.
"Oh, yes, why not? But I have first to call at two or three places
on the way."
He went with her. He was full of wonder at her. How could she
come out of her own world of aspiration and mystic religion and show
such perfect familiarity, ease and interest in dealing with these
sordid village complaints, moral and physical? Harvey was a man who
disliked things like these which did not touch his sense of beauty.
He could not speak to these people as she did: he could not
sympathize with them. The pain of the old woman made him shrink into
himself almost with more disgust than pity. While Olive was bending
over her tenderly and compassionately, he tried to imagine what it was
inspired such actions and such self-forgetfulness. Almost it seemed
for a moment to him as if some hidden will in the universe would not
let beauty rest in its own sphere, but bowed it down among sorrows
continually. He felt a feeling of relief as they came out agin into
It was a night of miracle and wonder. Withdrawn far aloft into
fairy altitudes, the stars danced with a gaiety which was more
tremendous and solemn than any repose. The night was wrought out of
a profusion of delicate fires. The grass, trees, and fields glowed
with the dusky colours of rich pottery. Everywhere silence;
everywhere the exultant breathing of life, subtle, universal,
penetrating. Into the charmed heart fell the enchantment we call
ancient, though the days have no fellows, nor will ever have any.
Harvey, filled up with this wonder, turned to his companion.
"See how the Magician of the Beautiful blows with his mystic breath
upon the world! How tremulous the lights are; what still ness! How
it banishes the memory of pain!"
"Can you forget pain so easily? I hardly noticed the night—it is
wonderful indeed. But the anguish it covers and enfolds everywhere I
"I could not bear to think of pain at any time, still less while
these miracles are over and around us. You seem to me almost to seek
pain like a lover. I cannot understand you. How can you bear the
ugly, the mean, the sordid—the anguish which you meet. You— so
"Can you not understand?" she said, almost impetuously. "Have you
never felt pity as universal as the light that floods the world? To
me a pity seems to come dropping, dropping, dropping from that old
sky, upon the earth and its anguish. God is not indifferent. Love
eternal encircles us. Its wishes are for our redemption. Its
movements are like the ripples starting from the rim of a pond that
overcome the outgoing ripples and restore all to peace.
"But what is pain if there is this love?" asked Harvey.
"Ah, how can I answer you? Yet I think it is the triumph of love
pushing back sin and rebellion. The cry of this old nature being
overcome is pain. And this is universal, and goes on everywhere,
through we cannot comprehend it; and so, when we yield to this
divine love, and accept the change, we find in pain a secret
sweetness. It is the first thrill that heralds an immense dawn."
"But why do you say it is universal? Is not that a frightful
"If God is the same yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow, then the life
of Christ on earth was a symbol—must be a symbol—of what endures
for ever: the Light and Darkness for ever in conflict: a crucifixion
This belief, so terrible, so pathetic, so strange, coming from this
young girl affected Harvey profoundly. He did not reject it. The
firmness and surety of her utterance, the moral purity of her
character, appealed to him who felt his own lack of clear belief and
heroic purpose. Like all spiritual people, he assimilated easily the
spiritual moods of those whom he came into contact with. Coming from
her, the moral, pathetic, and Christian doctrine had that element of
beauty which made it blend with his ideal paganism. As he went
homewards he pondered over her words, her life, her thoughts. He
began to find an inexpressible beauty in her pity, as a feeling
welling up from unknown depths, out of the ancient heart of things.
Filled with this pity he could overcome his dislike of pain and go
forth as the strong warrior of his momentary vision. He found himself
repeating again and again her words: "We find in pain a secret
sweetness—a secret sweetness—a secret sweetness." If he could only
find it, what might he not dare, to what might he not attain? And
revolving all these things upon his restless pillow, there came over
him one of those mystic moods I have spoken of: wandering among dim
originals, half in dream and half in trance, there was unfolded within
him this ancient legend of the soul:—
There was a great Gloom and a great Glory in nature, and the
legions of darkness and the glorious hosts were at war perpetually
with one another. Then the Ancient of Days, who holds all this within
himself, moved the Gloom and the Glory together: the Sons of the
Bright Fire he sent into the darkness, and the children of Darkness he
brought unto the gates of the day. And in the new life formed out of
the union of these two, pain, self-conscious, became touched with a
spiritual beauty, and those who were of the Hosts of Beauty wore each
one a Crown of Thorns upon the brow.
Harvey rose up early; as he walked to and fro in the white dawn,
he found the answers to every question in his mind: they rose up
with a sweet and joyful spontaneity. Life became filled with
happiest meaning: a light from behind the veil fell upon the things
he had before disliked, and in this new light, pain, sorrow, and the
old moralities were invested with a significance undreamt of before.
In admitting into his own mind Olive Rayne's ideas, he removed
something of their austerity: what he himself rejected, seen in her,
added another and peculiar interest to the saintly ideal of her which
he had formed. She had once said, peace and rest were inconceivable
while there existed strife and suffering in nature. Nowhere could
there be found refuge; drawing near unto the divine, this pain only
became wider, more intense, almost insufferable, feeling and
assimilating the vastness of divine sorrow brooding over the
unreclaimed deep. This pity, this consciousness of pain, not her own,
filling her own, filling her life, marked her out from everyone he
knew. She seemed to him as one consecrated. Then this lover in his
mystic passion passed in the contemplation of his well-beloved from
the earthly to the invisible soul. He saw behind and around her a
form unseen by others; a form, spiritual, pathetic, of unimaginable
beauty, on which the eternal powers kept watch, which they nourished
with their own life, and on which they inflicted their own pain. This
form was crowned, but with a keen- pointed radiance from which there
fell a shadowy dropping. As he walked to and fro in the white dawn he
made for her a song, and inscribed it.
To One Consecrated
Your paths were all unknown to us: We were so far away from you,
We mixed in thought your spirit thus— With whiteness, stars of gold,
The mighty mother nourished you: Her breath blew from her mystic
bowers: Their elfin glimmer floated through The pureness of your
The mighty mother made you wise; Gave love that clears the hidden
ways: Her glooms were glory to your eyes; Her darkness but the Fount
She made all gentleness in you, And beauty radiant as the morn's:
She made our joy in yours, then threw Upon your head a crown of
Your eyes are filled with tender light, For those whose eyes are
dim with tears; They see your brow is crowned and bright, But not its
ring of wounding spears.
We can imagine no discomfiture while the heavenly light shines
through us. Harvey, though he thought with humility of his past as
impotent and ignoble in respect of action, felt with his rich vivid
consciousness that he was capable of entering into her subtlest
emotions. He could not think of the future without her; he could
not give up the hope of drawing nigh with her to those mysteries of
life which haunted them both. His thought, companioned by her, went
ranging down many a mystic year. He began to see strange
possibilities, flashes as of old power, divine magic to which all the
world responded, and so on till the thought trembled in vistas ending
in a haze of flame. Meanwhile, around him was summer: gladness and
youth were in his heart, and so he went on dreaming— forecasting for
the earth and its people a future which belongs only to the spiritual
soul—dreaming of happy years even as a child dreams.
Later on that evening, while Olive was sitting in her garden, Dr.
Rayne came out and handed her a bundle of magazines.
"There are some things in these which may interest you, Olive," he
said: "Young Harvey writes for them, I understand. I looked over
one or two. They are too mystical for me. You will hardly find them
She took the papers from him without much interest, and laid them
beside her on the seat. After a time she took them up. As she read
her brows began to knit, and her face grew cold. These verses were
full of that mystical voluptuousness which I said characterised
Harvey's earlier productions; all his rich imagination was employed
to centre interest upon moments of half-sensual sensations; the
imagery was used in such a way that nature seemed to aid and abet the
emotion; out of the heart of things, out of wild enchantment and
eternal revelry shot forth into the lives of men the fires of passion.
Nothing could be more unlike the Christ-soul which she worshiped as
underlying the universe and on which she had reliance.
"He does not feel pity; he does not understand love," she
murmured. She felt a cold anger arise; she who had pity for most
things felt that a lie had been uttered defiling the most sacred
things in the Holy of Holies, the things upon which her life depended.
She could never understand Harvey, although he had been included in
the general kindliness with which she treated all who came near her;
but here he seemed revealed, almost vaunting an inspiration from the
passionate powers who carry on their ancient war against the Most
The lights were now beginning to fade about her in the quiet garden
when the gate opened, and someone came down the path. It was Harvey.
In the gloom he did not notice that her usual smile was lacking, and
besides he was too rapt in his own purpose. He hesitated for a
moment, then spoke.
"Olive," he said tremulously, "as I came down the lanes to say
good-bye to you my heart rebelled. I could not bear the thought:
Olive, I have learned so many things from you; your words have meant
so much to me that I have taken them as the words of God. Before I
knew you I shrank from pain; I wandered in search of a false beauty.
I see now the purpose of life—to carry on the old heroic battle for
the true; to give the consolation of beauty to suffering; to become
so pure that through us may pass that divine pity which I never knew
until you spoke, and I then saw it was the root of all life, and there
was nothing behind it—such magic your words have. My heart was glad
this morning for you at this truth, and I saw in it the power which
would transfigure the earth. Yet all this hope has come to me through
you; I half hold it still through you. To part from you now—it
seems to me would be like turning away from the guardian of the
heavenly gateway. I know I have but little to bring you. I must make
all my plea how much you are to me when I ask can you love me."
She had hardly heard a word of all he said. She was only conscious
that he was speaking of love. What love? Had he not written of it?
It would have emptied Heaven into the pit. She turned and faced him,
speaking coldly and deliberately:
"You could speak of love to me, and write and think of it like
this!" She placed her hand on the unfortunate magazines. Harvey
followed the movement of her arm. He took the papers up, then
suddenly saw all as she turned and walked away,—what the passion of
these poems must have seemed to her. What had he been in her presence
that could teach her otherwise? Only a doubter and questioner. In a
dreadful moment his past rose up before him, dreamy, weak, sensual.
His conscience smote him through and through. He could find no word
to say. Self-condemned, he moved blindly to the gate and went out.
He hardly knew what he was doing. Before him the pale dry road wound
its way into the twilight amid the hedges and cottages. Phantasmal
children came and went. There seemed some madness in all they were
doing. Why did he not hear their voices? They ran round and round;
there should have been cries or laughter or some such thing. Then
suddenly something seemed to push him forward, and he went on blankly
and walked down the lane. In that tragic moment his soul seemed to
have deserted him, leaving only a half- animal consciousness. With
dull attention he wondered at the muffled sound of his feet upon the
dusty road, and the little puffs of smoke that shot out before them.
Every now and then something would throb fiercely for an instant and
be subdued. He went on and on. His path lay across some fields. He
stopped by force of habit and turned aside from the road. Again the
same fierce throb. In a wild instant he struggled for recollection
and self-mastery, and then the smothered soul rushed out of the clouds
that oppressed it. Memories of hope and shame: the morning gladness
of his heart: the brilliant and spiritual imaginations that inspired
him: their sudden ending: the degradation and drudgery of the life
he was to return to on the morrow: all rose up in tumultuous
conflict. A feeling of anguish that was elemental and not of the
moment filled him. Drifting and vacillating nature—he saw himself as
in a boat borne along by currents that carried him, now near isles of
beauty, and then whirled him away from their vanishing glory into
gloomy gulfs and cataracts that went down into blackness. He was
master neither of joy nor sorrow. Without will: unpractical; with
sensitiveness which made joy a delirium and gloom a very hell; the
days he went forward to stretched out iron hands to bind him to the
deadly dull and commonplace. These vistas, intolerable and hopeless,
overcame him. He threw himself down in his despair. Around his head
pressed the cool grasses wet with dew. Strange and narrow, the
boundary between heaven and hell! All around him primeval life
innocent and unconscious was at play. All around him, stricken with
the fever of life, that Power which made both light and darkness,
inscrutable in its workings, was singing silently the lovely carol of
Little heaps of paper activities piled themselves up, were added
to, diminished, and added to again, all the day long before Harvey at
his desk. He had returned to his work: there was an unusual press
of business, and night after night he was detained long beyond the
usual hours. The iron hand which he had foreseen was laid upon him:
it robbed him even of his right to sorrow, the time to grieve. But
within him at moments stirred memories of the past, poignant anguish
and fierce rebellion. With him everything transformed itself finally
into ideal images and aspects, and it was not so much the memory of an
incident which stung him as the elemental sense of pain in life
itself. He felt that he was debarred from a heritage of spiritual
life which he could not define even to himself. The rare rays of light
that slanted through the dusty air of the office, mystic gold fallen
through inconceivable distances from the pure primeval places, wakened
in him an unutterable longing: he felt a choking in his throat as he
looked. Often, at night, too, lifting his tired eyes from the pages
flaring beneath the bright gas jet, he could see the blueness deepen
rich with its ancient clouds of starry dust. What pain it was to him,
immemorial quiet, passivity and peace, though over it a million
tremors fled and chased each other throughout the shadowy night! What
pain it was to let the eyes fall low and see about him the pale and
feverish faces looking ghostly through the hot, fetid, animal, and
His work over, out into the night he would drag himself wearily—
out into the night anywhere; but there no more than within could he
escape from that power which haunted him with mighty memories, the
scourge which the Infinite wields. Nature has no refuge for those in
whom the fire of spirit has been kindled: earth has no glory for
which it does not know a greater glory. As Harvey passed down the
long streets, twinkling with their myriad lights fading into blue and
misty distances, there rose up before him in the visionary air solemn
rows of sphinxes in serried array, and starlit pyramids and
temples—greatness long dead, a dream that mocked the lives around
him, hoarding the sad small generations of humanity dwindling away
from beauty. Gone was the pure and pale splendour of the primeval
skies and the lustre of the first-born of stars. But even this memory,
which linked him in imagination to the ideal past, was not always his:
he was weighted, like all his race, with an animal consciousness
which cried out fiercely for its proper life, which thirsted for
sensation, and was full of lust and anger. The darkness was not only
about him, but in him, and struggled there for mastery. It threw up
forms of meanness and horrible temptations which clouded over his
soul; their promise was forgetfulness; they seemed to say: "Satisfy
us, and your infinite longing shall die away: to be of clay is very
dull and comfortable; it is the common lot."
One night, filled with this intolerable pain, as he passed through
the streets he yielded to the temptation to kill out this torturing
consciousness: he accosted one of the women of the streets and
walked away with her. She was full of light prattle, and chattered
on and on. Harvey answered her not a word; he was set on his stony
purpose. Child of the Stars! what had he to do with these things? He
sought only his soul's annihilation. Something in this terrible
silence communicated itself to his companion. She looked at his face
in the light of a lamp; it was white, locked, and rigid. Child of
the Stars, no less, though long forgetful, she shuddered at this
association. She recoiled from him crying out "You brute—you brute!"
and then fled away. The unhappy man turned homeward and sat in his
lonely room with stupid, staring eyes, fixed on darkness and vacancy
until the pale green light of dawn began to creep in upon him.
Into this fevered and anguished existence no light had yet come.
Drunken with wretchedness, Harvey could not or would not think; and
the implacable spirit which followed him deepened and quickened still
more the current of his being, and the GLOOM and the GLORY of his
dream moved still nearer to each other. Mighty and mysterious spirit,
thou who crownest pain with beauty, and by whom the mighty are bowed
down from their seats, under they guidance, for such a crowning and
for such agony, were coiled together the living streams of evil and
good, so that at last the man might know himself—the soul—not as
other than Thee!
The ways by which he was brought to that moment were unremembered;
the sensations and thoughts and moods which culminated in the fire of
self-consciousness could be retraced but vaguely. He had gone out of
the city one Sunday, and lying down in the fields under the trees, for
a time he grew forgetful of misery. He went once more into the world
of dreams. He, or the creature of his imagination, some shadow of
himself, lived in and roamed through antique forests where the
wonderful days were unbroken by sense of sorrow. Childhood shared in
an all-pervading exultation; through the pulses of youth ran the
fiery energy that quickened the world; and this shadow of the dreamer
dwelling amid the forests grew gradually into a consciousness of a
fiery life upon which the surface forms were but films: he entered
this kingdom of fire; its life became his life; he knew the secret
ways to the sun, and the sunny secrets living in the golden world.
"It was I, myself," rushed into Harvey's mind: "It was I. Ah, how
long ago!" Then for the first time, his visions, dreams and
imaginations became real to him, as memories of a spirit traveling
through time and space. Looking backwards, he could nowhere find in
the small and commonplace surroundings of his life anything which
could have suggested or given birth to these vivid pictures and ideas.
They began to move about swiftly in his mind and arrange themselves
in order. He seemed to himself to have fallen downwards through a
long series of lines of ever- lessening beauty—fallen downwards from
the mansions of eternity into this truckling and hideous life. As
Harvey walked homewards through the streets, some power must have
guided his steps, for he saw or knew nothing of what was about him.
With the sense of the reality of his imaginations came an energy he
had never before felt: his soul took complete possession of him: he
knew, though degraded, that he was a spirit. Then, in that supreme
moment, gathered about him the memories of light and darkness, and
they became the lips through which eternal powers spake to him in a
tongue unlike the speech of men. The spirit of light was behind the
visions of mystical beauty: the spirit of darkness arrayed itself in
the desires of clay. These powers began to war within him: he heard
voices as of Titans talking.
The spirit of light spake within him and said—"Arouse now, and be
thou my voice in this dead land. There are many things to be spoken
and sung—of dead language the music and significance, old world
philosophies; you will be the singer of the sweetest songs; stories
wilder and stranger than any yet will I tell you—deeds forgotten of
the vaporous and dreamy prime.
The voice came yet again closer, full of sweet promise, with
magical utterance floating around him. He became old—inconceivably
old and young together. He was astonished in the wonders of the
primal world. Chaos with tremendous agencies, serpentine powers,
strange men-beasts and men-birds, the crude first thought of awakening
nature was before him; from inconceivable heights of starlike purity
he surveyed it; he went forth from glory; he descended and did
battle; he warred with behemeths, with the flying serpents and the
monstrous creeping things. With the Lords of Air he descended and
conquered; he dwelt in a new land, a world of light, where all things
were of light, where the trees put forth leaves of living green, where
the rose would blossom into a rose of light and lily into a white
radiance, and over the vast of gleaming plains and through the depths
of luminous forests, the dreaming rivers would roll in liquid and
silver flame. Often he joined in the mad dance upon the highlands,
whirling round and round until the dark grass awoke fiery with rings
of green under the feet. And so, on and on through endless
transformations he passed, and he saw how the first world of dark
elements crept in upon the world of beauty, clothing it around with
grossness and veiling its fires; and the dark spirits entered by
subtle ways into the spheres of the spirits of light, and became as a
mist over memory and a chain upon speed; the earth groaned with the
anguish. Then this voice cried within him—"Come forth; come out of
it; come out, oh king, to the ancestral spheres, to the untroubled
spiritual life. Out of the furnace, for it leaves you dust. Come
away, oh king, to old dominion and celestial sway; come out to the
Then another voice from below laughed at the madness. Full of
scorn it spake, "You, born of clay, a ruler of stars? Pitiful toiler
with the pen, feeble and weary body, what shall make of you a spirit?"
Harvey thrust away this hateful voice. From his soul came the
impulse to go to other lands, to wander for ever and ever under the
star-rich skies, to be a watcher of the dawn and eve, to live in
forest places or on sun-nurtured plains, to merge himself once more in
the fiery soul hidden within. But the mocking voice would not be
stifled, showing him how absurd and ridiculous it was "to become a
vagabond," so the voice said, and finally to die in the workhouse. So
the eternal spirit in him, God's essence, conscious of its past
brotherhood, with the morning stars, the White Aeons, in its
prisonhouse writhed with the meanness, till at last he cried, "I will
struggle no longer; it is only agony of spirit to aspire here at all;
I will sit and wait till the deep darkness has vanished."
But the instruction was not yet complete; he had learned the
primal place of spirit; he had yet to learn its nature. He began to
think with strange sadness over the hopes of the world, the young
children. He saw them in his vision grow up, bear the burden in
silence or ignorance; he saw how they joined in dragging onward that
huge sphinx which men call civilization; there was no time for
loitering amid the beautiful, for if one paused it was but to be
trampled by the feet of the many who could not stay or rest, and the
wheels of the image ground that soul into nothingness. He felt every
pain almost in an anguish of sympathy. Helpless to aid, to his lips
came the cry to another which immemorial usage has made intuitive in
men. But It is high and calm above all appeal; to It the cries from
all the sorrowing stars sound but as one great music; lying in the
infinite fields of heaven, from the united feelings of many universes
It draws only a vast and passionless knowledge, without distinction of
pleasure or pain. From the universal which moves not and aids not,
Harvey in his agony turned away. He himself could fly from the
struggle; thinking of what far place or state to find peace, he found
it true in his own being that nowhere could the soul find rest while
there was still pain or misery in the world. He could imagine no place
or state where these cries of pain would not reach him: he could
imagine no heaven where the sad memory would not haunt him and burn
him. He knew then that the nature of the soul was love eternal; he
knew that if he fled away a divine compassion would compel him to
renew his brotherhood with the stricken and suffering; and what was
best forever to do was to fight out the fight in the darkness. There
was a long silence in Harvey's soul; then with almost a solemn joy he
grew to realize at last the truth of he himself—the soul. The fight
was over; the Gloom and the Glory were linked together, and one
inseparably. Harvey was full of a sense of quietness, as if a dew fell
from unseen places on him with soothing and healing power. He looked
around. He was at the door of his lodgings. The tall narrow houses
with their dull red hues rose up about him; from their chimneys went
up still higher the dark smoke; but behind its nebulous wavering the
stars were yet; they broke through the smoke with white lustre.
Harvey looked at them for a moment, and went in strangely comforted.
—March 15-June 15, 1894
—"Arhans are born at midnight hour..... together with the holy
flower that opes and blooms in darkness."—The Voice of the Silence
We stood together at the door of our hut: we could see through the
gathering gloom where our sheep and goats were cropping the sweet
grass on the side of the hill: we were full of drowsy content as
they were. We had naught to mar our own happiness—neither memory
nor unrest for the future. We lingered on while the vast twilight
encircled us; we were one with its dewy stillness. The lustre of
the early stars first broke in upon our dreaming: we looked up and
around: the yellow constellations began to sing their choral hymn
together. As the night deepened they came out swiftly from their
hiding places in depths of still and unfathomable blue; they hung in
burning clusters; they advanced in multitudes that dazzled: the
shadowy shining of night was strewn all over with nebulous dust of
silver, with long mists of gold with jewels of glittering green. We
felt how fit a place the earth was to live on, with these nightly
glories over us, with silence and coolness upon its lawns and lakes
after the consuming day. Valmika, Kedar, I and Ananda watched
together; through the rich gloom we could see far distant forests and
lights—the lights of village and city in King Suddhodana's realm.
"Brothers," said Valmika, "How good it is to be here, and not
yonder in the city where they know not peace, even in sleep."
"Yonder and yonder," said Kedar, "I saw the inner air full of a
red glow where they were busy in toiling and strife. It seemed to
reach up to me; I could not breathe. I climbed the hills at dawn to
laugh where the snows were, and the sun is as white as they are
"But, brothers, if we went down among them and told them how happy
we were, and how the flowers grow on the hillside, and all about the
flocks, they would surely come up and leave all sorrow. They cannot
know or they would come." Ananda was a mere child though so tall for
"They would not come," said Kedar. "All their joy is to haggle
and hoard. When Siva blows upon them with his angry breath they will
lament, or when the Prets in fierce hunger devour them."
"It is good to be here," repeated Valmika drowsily, "to mind the
flocks and be at rest, and to hear the wise Varunna speak when he
comes among us."
I was silent. I knew better than they that busy city which glowed
beyond the dark forests. I had lived there until, grown sick and
weary, I had gone back to my brothers on the hillside. I wondered
would life, indeed, go on ceaselessly until it ended in the pain of
the world. I said within myself—Oh, mighty Brahma, on the outermost
verges of they dream are our lives; thou old invisible, how faintly
through our hearts comes the sound of thy song, the light of thy
glory! Full of yearning to rise and return, I strove to hear in the
heart the music Anahata had spoken of in our sacred scrolls. There
was silence, and then I thought I heard sounds, not glad, a myriad
murmur. As I listen it deepened, it grew into passionate prayer and
appeal and tears, as if the cry of the long- forgotten souls of men
went echoing through empty chambers. My eyes filled with tears, for
it seemed world-wide, and to sigh from out many ages, long agone, to
be and yet to be.
"Ananda! Ananda! where is the boy running to?" cried Valmika.
Ananda had vanished into the gloom. We heard his glad laugh below
and then another voice speaking. Presently up loomed the tall figure
of Varunna. Ananda held his hand and danced beside him. We could see
by the starlight his simple robe of white. I could trace clearly
every feature of the grave and beautiful face, the radiant eyes; not
by the starlight I saw, but because a silvery shining rayed a little
way into the blackness around the dark hair and face. Valmika, as
elder, first spake.
"Holy sir, be welcome. Will you come in and rest?"
"I cannot stay now. I must pass over the mountain ere dawn; but
you may come a little way with me—such of you as will."
We assented gladly—Kedar and I; Valmika remained. Then Ananda
prayed to go. We bade him stay, fearing for him the labour of
climbing and the chill of the snows, but Varunna said: "Let the
child come; he is hardy; he will not tire if he holds my hands."
So we set out together and faced the highlands that rose and rose
above us; we knew well the way even at night. We waited in silence
for Varunna to speak, but for nigh two hours we mounted without
words, save for Ananda's shouts of delight and wonder at the heavens
spread above us. But I was hungry for an answer to my thoughts, so I
"Master, Valmika was saying, ere you came, how good it was to be
here rather than in the city where they are full of strife, and Kedar
thought their lives would flow on into fiery pain and no speech would
avail. Ananda, speaking as a child indeed, said if one went down
among them they would listen to his story of the happy life. But,
Master, do not many speak and interpret the sacred writings, and how
few they are who lay to heart the words of the gods! They seem,
indeed, to go on through desire into pain, and even here upon our
hills we are not free, for Kedar felt the hot glow of their passion
and I heard in my heart their sobs of despair. Master, it was
terrible, for they seemed to come from the wide earth over, and out of
ages far away."
"There is more of the true in the child's hope than in your
despair, for it is of much avail to speak though but a few listen.
Better is the life which aids, though in sorrow, than the life which
withdraws from pain unto solitude. Yet it is not well to speak
without power, for only the knower of Brahma can interpret the sacred
writings truly. It is well to be free ere we speak of freedom; then
we have power and many hearken."
"But who would leave joy for sorrow, and who being one with Brahma
may return to give council?"
"Brother," said Varunna, "here is the hope of the world. Though
many seek only for the eternal joy, yet the cry you heard has been
heard by great ones who have turned backwards, called by these
beseeching voices. The small old path stretching far away leads
through many wonderful beings to the place of Brahma; there is the
first fountain, the world of beautiful silence, the light that has
been undimmed since the beginning of time—the joy where life fades
into being; but turning backwards, the small old path winds away into
the world of men, it enters every sorrowful heart, and the way of him
who would tread therethro' is stayed by its pain and barred by its
delusion. This is the way the great ones go; they turn with the path
from the door of Brahma the warriors and the strong ones: they move
along its myriad ways; they overcome darkness with wisdom and pain
with compassion. After many conquered worlds, after many races of
men, purified and uplifted they go to greater than Brahma. In these,
though few, is the hope of the world; these are the heroes for whom,
returning, the earth puts forth her signal fires, and the Devas sing
their hymns of welcome."
We paused where the plateau widened out; there was scarce a ripple
in the chill air; in quietness the snows glistened, a light
reflected from the crores of stars that swung with gay and glittering
motion above us. We could hear the immense heart-beat of the world in
the stillness; we had thoughts that went ranging through the heavens,
not sad, but full of solemn hope.
"Brothers! Master! Look, the wonderful thing! and another, and
yet another!" We heard Ananda calling; we looked and saw the holy
blossom—the midnight flower—oh, may the earth again put forth such
beauty—it grew up from the snows with leaves of delicate crystal, a
nimbus encircled each radiant bloom, a halo pale yet lustrous. I bowed
down before it lost in awe. I heard Varunna say:—"The earth, indeed
puts forth her signal fires, and the Devas sing their hymn; listen!"
We heard a music as of beautiful thought moving along the high places
of the earth, full of infinite love and hope and yearning.
"Brothers, be glad, for One is born who has chosen the greater way.
Now I must pass onwards. Kedar, Narayan, Ananda, farewell! Nay, no
further; it is long way to return, and the child will tire."
He went on and passed from our sight. But we did not return; we
remained long, long in silence, looking at the sacred flower.
Vow, taken long ago, be strong in our hearts to-day. Here where
the pain is fiercer, to rest is more sweet. Here where beauty dies
away, it is more joy to be lulled in dreams. Here the good, the true,
our hope, seem but a madness born of ancient pain. Out of rest, dream,
or despair, let us arise. Let us go the way the Great Ones go.
The emotion that haunted me in that little cathedral town would be
most difficult to describe. After the hurry, rattle, and fever of
the city, the rare weeks spent here were infinitely peaceful. They
were full of a quaint sense of childhood, with sometimes a deeper
chord touched—the giant and spiritual things childhood has dreams of.
The little room I slept in had opposite its window the great grey
cathedral wall; it was only in the evening that the sunlight crept
round it and appeared in the room strained through the faded green
blind. It must have been this silvery quietness of colour which in
some subtle way affected me with the feeling of a continual Sabbath;
and this was strengthened by the bells chiming hour after hour: the
pathos, penitence, and hope expressed by the flying notes coloured the
intervals with faint and delicate memories. They haunted my dreams,
and I heard with unutterable longing the astral chimes pealing from
some dim and vast cathedral of the cosmic memory, until the peace they
tolled became almost a nightmare, and I longed for utter oblivion or
forgetfulness of their reverberations.
More remarkable were the strange lapses into other worlds and
times. Almost as frequent as the changing of the bells were the
changes from state to state. I realised what is meant by the Indian
philosophy of Maya. Truly my days were full of Mayas, and my
work-a-day city life was no more real to me than one of those bright,
brief glimpses of things long past. I talk of the past, and yet these
moments taught me how false our ideas of time are. In the ever-living
yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow are words of no meaning. I know I
fell into what we call the past and the things I counted as dead for
ever were the things I had yet to endure. Out of the old age of earth
I stepped into its childhood, and received once more the primal
blessing of youth, ecstasy, and beauty. But these things are too vast
and vague to speak of; the words we use to-day cannot tell their
story. Nearer to our time is the legend that follows.
I was, I thought, one of the Magi of old Persia, inheritor of its
unforgotten lore, and using some of its powers. I tried to pierce
through the great veil of nature, and feel the life that quickened it
within. I tried to comprehend the birth and growth of planets, and to
do this I rose spiritually and passed beyond earth's confines into
that seeming void which is the matrix where they germinate. On one of
these journeys I was struck by the phantasm, so it seemed, of a planet
I had not observed before. I could not then observe closer, and
coming again on another occasion it had disappeared. After the lapse
of many months I saw it once more, brilliant with fiery beauty—its
motion was slow, rotating around some invisible centre. I pondered
over it, and seemed to know that the invisible centre was its
primordial spiritual state, from which it emerged a little while and
into which it then withdrew. Short was its day; its shining faded
into a glimmer, and then into darkness in a few months. I learned its
time and cycles; I made preparations and determined to await its
The Birth of a Planet
At first silence and then an inner music, and then the sounds of
song throughout the vastness of its orbit grew as many in number as
there were stars at gaze. Avenues and vistas of sound! They reeled
to and fro. They poured from a universal stillness quick with unheard
things. They rushed forth and broke into a myriad voices gay with
childhood. From age and the eternal they rushed forth into youth.
They filled the void with reveling and exultation. In rebellion they
then returned and entered the dreadful Fountain. Again they came
forth, and the sounds faded into whispers; they rejoiced once again,
and again died into silence.
And now all around glowed a vast twilight; it filled the cradle
of the planet with colourless fire. I felt a rippling motion which
impelled me away from the centre to the circumference. At that
centre a still flame began to lighten; a new change took place, and
space began to curdle, a milky and nebulous substance rocked to and
fro. At every motion the pulsation of its rhythm carried it farther
and farther away from the centre, it grew darker, and a great purple
shadow covered it so that I could see it no longer. I was now on the
outer verge, where the twilight still continued to encircle the planet
with zones of clear transparent light.
As night after night I rose up to visit it they grew many-coloured
and brighter. I saw the imagination of nature visibly at work. I
wandered through shadowy immaterial forests, a titanic vegetation
built up of light and colour; I saw it growing denser, hung with
festoons and trailers of fire, and spotted with the light of myriad
flowers such as earth never knew. Coincident with the appearance of
these things I felt within myself, as if in harmonious movement, a
sense of joyousness, an increase of self-consciousness; I felt full
of gladness, youth, and the mystery of the new. I felt that greater
powers were about to appear, those who had thrown outwards this world
and erected it as a place in space.
I could not tell half the wonder of this strange race. I could
not myself comprehend more than a little of the mystery of their
being. They recognised my presence there, and communicated with me
in such a way that I can only describe it by saying that they seemed
to enter into my soul breathing a fiery life; yet I knew that the
highest I could reach to was but the outer verge of their spiritual
nature, and to tell you but a little I have many times to translate
it, for in the first unity with their thought I touched on an almost
universal sphere of life, I peered into the ancient heart that beats
throughout time; and this knowledge became change in me, first, into
a vast and nebulous symbology, and so down through many degrees of
human thought into words which hold not at all the pristine and
I stood before one of this race, and I thought, "What is the
meaning and end of life here?" Within me I felt the answering ecstasy
that illuminated with vistas of dawn and rest, it seemed to say:
"Our spring and our summer are unfolding into light and form, and
our autumn and winter are a fading into the infinite soul."
I thought, "To what end is this life poured forth and withdrawn?"
He came nearer and touched me; once more I felt the thrill of
being that changed itself into vision.
"The end is creation, and creation is joy: the One awakens out of
quiescence as we come forth, and knows itself in us; as we return we
enter it in gladness, knowing ourselves. After long cycles the world
you live in will become like ours; it will be poured forth and
withdrawn; a mystic breath, a mirror to glass your being."
He disappeared while I wondered what cyclic changes would transmute
our ball of mud into the subtle substance of thought.
In that world I dared not stay during its period of withdrawal;
having entered a little into its life, I became subject to its laws:
the Power on its return would have dissolved my being utterly. I
felt with a wild terror its clutch upon me, and I withdrew from the
departing glory, from the greatness that was my destiny—but not yet.
From such dreams I would be aroused, perhaps by a gentle knock at
my door, and my little cousin Margaret's quaint face would peep in
with a "Cousin Robert, are you not coming down to supper?"
Of these visions in the light of after thought I would speak a
little. All this was but symbol, requiring to be thrice sublimed in
interpretation ere its true meaning can be grasped. I do not know
whether worlds are heralded by such glad songs, or whether any have
such a fleeting existence, for the mind that reflects truth is deluded
with strange phantasies of time and place in which seconds are rolled
out into centuries and long cycles are reflected in an instant of
time. There is within us a little space through which all the threads
of the universe are drawn; and, surrounding that incomprehensible
centre the mind of man sometimes catches glimpses of things which are
true only in those glimpses; when we record them the true has
vanished, and a shadowy story— such as this—alone remains. Yet,
perhaps, the time is not altogether wasted in considering legends like
these, for they reveal, though but in phantasy and symbol, a greatness
we are heirs to, a destiny which is ours, though it be yet far away.
—August 15, 1894
—A Paper Read Before the Dublin Lodge.
In asking you to consider with me the influence of the system of
thought called Theosophy upon one's view of all the things which are
included in the term Life, I have to preface my remarks by the
confession that I have not extracted my ideas from portly volumes, or
indeed, engaged in any great research; and I have further to ask you
to believe that what you will hear is the most unbiased statement, as
far as possible, on the subjects which will necessarily come under
The outlook of any individual mind is not a constant quantity; it
is to some extent determined by education, environment, and the
innate tendencies; but it is always subject to alteration; it is
constantly feeling the influence of subtle forces and circumstances,
and it changes with every fresh experience and every new sensation.
Still these influences seldom evince their presence by a great
reversal of the mental attitude, and we are best able to sense them
by seeing how the actions of the individual, which are very largely
the voluntary or involuntary expression of his standpoint, represent
at different times changes in that standpoint. Indeed, one's own
experience will supply plenty of material to work upon; for, I
daresay no one will insist that his present attitude towards the rest
of the universe is identical with that of ten or five years ago, or
even one year. A little examination will show that the mental
processes which precede some definite action are altered in some
important manner from those of 1890. The question which is of
importance is to find out how the change has come about, and whether
one is to allow extraneous events to mast his mental conclusions, or
one is to become, through wisdom acquired by effort, the conscious
master of his destiny.
Theosophy has for its leading tenet the absolute unity in essence
and correlation of all life, whether visible, invisible, material,
intellectual, spiritual, and this affords at once a clue to the
consideration of the present subject; for, according to the view
which the individual thinker takes of the powers and relations of the
mind itself will be his view of the duties and responsibilities which
these powers and relations involve; in other words, Ethics or moral
philosophy must be based upon metaphysics. Now, I wish to be as brief
as possible in pointing out the theosophic view of the mind, and soul,
and their powers and relations; and were it not that it is necessary
for the unity of my remarks, I would take refuge in referring to the
numerous able, intellectual, and forcible expositions of this matter
which you have heard in this room.
Theosophy, to put it as concisely as possible, accepts the universe
as "the unfolding of a Divine life, functioning in every form of
living and nonliving thing." Man is viewed as a compound being, a
spark of this divine universal spirit being clothed with the body. The
immortal indestructible part of man consists of this spark of
universal spirit, its vehicle the human spirit, and the mind or
intellectual faculties. It uses as a dwelling the body, with its
animal life, its passions and appetites, to which mankind is so prone
to attach tremendous importance. The connecting link is the mind,
which, being full of agitation, strong, and obstinate, senses all the
material existence, is moved by the hopes and fears, and the storm of
existence. The lesson, ever insisted on as having to be learnt, is
that the lower part of man, the body, and its attachments, have to be
conquered and purified; and the only way to teach it its true
functions is by suffering; and when this is done, we shall have got
somewhere nearer the goal, when we shall identify our consciousness
with our true self, not with the illusion. The powers of the mind to
sense all existence, and its relations towards the rest of our being
as the connecting link, bearing the contact with external things
towards the soul, and at times being the vehicle of the Wisdom which
is one of the attributes of that which has no attribute: I say, then,
these powers and relations of the mind, which one finds everywhere
treated of in Theosophical literature, are the determining factors in
the formation of our Ethics. And since, from Socrates down, we are
taught that self-knowledge is necessary for guidance of one's conduct,
the knowledge of the mind and its capacities is at once shadowed forth
as of immense value. It has at least three elementary powers—viz.,
the power of knowing, the power of feeling, and the power of acting.
These powers, though distinguishable, are not separable; but rather
when we distinguish knowledge, feeling, and action, what we call by
these names will be found, when accurately examined, to be
combinations of the three elements, differing only in respect to the
element which preponderates. Locke would have us suppose that when I
say "I know," it means that an object is inserted into my
consciousness as into a bag. But no bag could produce the phenomenon
of knowledge. To produce it requires the putting forth of an active
power, which we call intelligence. The knowledge of an object always
produces in the mind some emotion with regard to it: this emotion is
normally pleasure. Sometimes the difficulties which beset the
acquisition of knowledge are so great and cause such dissatisfaction
and pain that the mind is tempted to banish them, together with the
object which excites them, from its consciousness. Knowledge and the
emotions to which it gives rise induce those actions which are the
result of the inherent activity of the mind stimulated by them. Thus
we see that the antecedents of all action include intelligence as an
active power: and Ethics, more particularly Theosophical Ethics, are
seen to have practical value, and not merely a speculative interest.
Having digressed thus far from my subject, the point to which I
proceed to address myself is, the working out on the individual of
the system of which I have tried to shadow forth the greater truths.
The first class I will deal with are the indifferent. To them,
Theosophy presents the widest possible field of, and reasons for,
activity that can be desired. It shows that no action is without its
direct permanent result, and that consequently the position of the
indifferent is absolutely untenable. No one who has studied
Theosophical literature can ever find there a justification for mere
laissez-faire. It points out the enormous value of what we call
trifles, and the comparatively trifling value of what the indifferent
would take most note. Theosophy always insists on action in some
direction, preferably conscious, well-directed action, with pure
The Agnostic is, as it were, Theosophy's special care—It shows
him at once the directions in which further, fuller, and greater
knowledge of every branch of science or philosophy can be gained. It
says to him "pursue your previous method of inquiry, and remember,
taking nothing for granted, do not accept other's authority. Seek
for knowledge: we can only point the way we have ourselves gone.
Investigate every nook and corner of your mind, and learn how to
control it and your sense perceptions. Then you will no longer
mistrust your results as possibly imperfect, but you will have
attained to some closer contact with Truth." To both the Agnostic
and the indifferent, the study of Theosophy will bring a consciousness
of the responsibility towards others, which is the basis of our
universal brotherhood. It will tend to remove the personal element
which has hitherto done so much to cloud and obscure one's
investigations; and it will gradually lead to the elimination of the
anxiety as to results, which will bring us (by the removal of remorse
or approval) to calmness of mind, in which condition great work can be
The appeal of theosophy to the scientific investigator is
practically identical with the last. It will show him what so many of
his confreres are more or less tacitly recognizing, that the hopeless
and soul-deadening belief of the Materialist (that all the growth of
the race, the struggling towards a higher life, the aspirations
towards virtue shall absolutely vanish, and leave no trace), is a
crushing mental burden which leads to absolute negation; it will
show the spiritual nature of man in perfect consistence with the true
theories, and as dependent on fundamental laws and causes.
Coming from the region of unbelief to belief, to use these words in
their narrowest sense, let us consider what way Theosophy will affect
a believer in doctrines of some system of religious thought. To take
the ordinary Protestant first; Theosophy is apparently likely to fail
on account of its taking away the personality of the Deity, and the
habit of prayer: for to both of these doctrines the earnest churchman
is attached. But if it does do so, what does it substitute? It puts
forward an atonement, not an atonement of 1,861 years ago, but a daily
atonement to be carried out in each one's life, and having as great an
influence on one's fellows; it suggests the possibilities are within
each one of us, if we but seek the true path. Also, and this is a
small point, it removes the horrible canker of church government,
which ministers so powerfully to the idea of separateness and
personality: and lastly, it offers, in place of mouthing prayers to a
God whom one is taught to fear ten times to the once that love is
insisted on, a union with that higher self which, if pursued, brings
peace, wisdom, an infinite compassion, and an infinite love.
What has Theosophy to offer to the Roman Catholic? All that it
offers to the Protestant; with this addition, that not merely one
woman is exalted, but all womankind as being of the same essence and
spirit of all nature. It shows that there is no superiority, but that
by effort, by training, by aspiration, everyone, both man and woman,
shall be found worthy of being taken into heaven, and joined again to
the one source of life and being. It shows the whole doctrine of
saintliness and blessedness to have a source in Truth, though overlaid
And what of the other sheep? What of that soul which, feeling
compelled by its intuitions to recognise the essential divinity of
man, yet find no expression in the churches which will fit into its
emotional nature? What of him whom, for want of a better word, I
shall call a Symbolist, who is always striving to express in some form
of art or thought, that divine energy which is wisdom, consciousness,
and energy all in one? Does not Theosoophy afford the very best
outlet for his soul force? Are not its ideas on a level with, if not
higher than, what his most sublime moments of feeling can bring before
him? Surely if anyone can find peace in its bosom, the symbolist,
ever struggling to express his sense of the True, the Beautiful, which
are, after all, but a second reflection of the Higher mind, with its
knowledge of the essence of all life, can therein do his noblest work
for Humanity in company with those who, having previously done all
they could for the race through a sense of duty arising from
intuitions they declined to recognise, have found in the doctrines of
Theosophy the broadest possible field for such work, and the purest
And now, changing from particular types, how do we look upon
Theosophy as a power in Ethics? We find the elimination of the
selfish instinct insisted upon as necessary for the progress of the
Ego through its material envelope to a full and complete knowledge of
its higher self; we find the doctrine of Brotherhood put forward in
its noblest aspects; we find as a necessary corollary that
responsibility is increased and widened with an accompanying sense of
power to accept and carry on that responsibility; with the growth of
higher feeling within us comes a sense of added strength; we learn
gradually to work without consideration or anxiety for results; we
grow more tolerant of our neighbor's shortcomings, and less so of our
own; we find that by disengaging ourselves from the objects of the
senses, we become indifferent to small troubles, and more free to
assist our neighbor when they press on him; with the knowledge of the
causes of present conditions lying in past action, and our present
actions going to be the causes of future conditions, we place
ourselves in a position to work to the full extent of our powers to
set in motion such causes as will bring about the happiest results for
Humanity as a whole; we learn to look upon death, not as the opening
of the spiritual life, but as a release from a weight which keeps
under the spiritual life, which is always with us, now as well as
before birth and after death; we learn to sense the methods by which
the universe works out its destiny; we find every day growing
stronger that sense of immortality, of absolute union with the
universal soul, which at first merely manifested itself in strange
feelings and emotions; we find the clues to the control of our
physical and mental faculties, and are not surprised to discover the
ten-thousand- fold increase in value these faculties then bear; we
put ourselves more and more in harmony with what we feel to be the
source of all Truth; we find ourselves gradually able to give
expression to those dumb feelings which we could not find words for,
of its grandeur and greatness; until finally we come, after many
incarnations, after suffering, after despair sometimes, to a knowledge
which transcends all human knowledge, to a bliss which is above our
present ideas, to a peace which the world cannot give, which
surpasseth all understanding, and are then ready to give up that
bliss and peace, and to use that knowledge for the divine compassion
towards our fellows who are following.
But how are we to hope for this progress? What are we to do to
realize these ideas? Is it by wishing for it that this state will
come about? Is there no everyday way of getting forward? These are
some of the questions which will rise naturally to the lips of any
here who are not thoroughly acquainted with Theosophical ideas: and
what have we to say in reply? Are we to confess Theosophy is a
doctrine only for the learned, the cultured, the wealthy? Are we to
acknowledge that Christianity or Agnosticism is more practical, easier
for the men in the street to grasp? Are we to say that Theosophy is
not a gospel for to-day? No: a thousand times no! If there is one
result of a study of Theosophy, it is the gaining of Hope, a sure and
certain Hope, which soon becomes Trust, and later, knowledge. I
affirm most strongly that there is no one to whom Theosophy in some of
its myriad aspects does not appeal, and appeal strongly enough to
cause it to be the ruling passion of his existence; but I do also
affirm as strongly, that in Theosophy, as in all other things, what
are necessary are, pure motive and perseverance. It costs no one
anything to spend an hour a day in meditation on some aspect of life;
in thinking of our eternal nature and striving to place ourselves en
rapport with our highest ideals of purity, nobility, Truth. Then
cannot we get the idea of universal brotherhood firmly fixed in our
consciousness as an actual reality to be attained, and always act upon
that basis. To me, the thought of the absolute unity of all life,
affords as high an ideal for putting into practical shape as my
deficient development allows me. Cannot we get this ideal or some
other ideal so essential a part of our thought that it colours all our
feelings, emotions and actions? We will then be doing our part in the
struggle. We will not be of the Laodiceans, who were neither hot nor
cold. Let us try this: let us see whether it will have such an
effect, and if we, by our personal experience, have convinced
ourselves of the reality of this, let us progress further, and by
further trial find out the greater truths beyond. Reincarnation and
Karma are essentially doctrines for the poor and needy; mental and
physical. Intellectual subtleties are not needed in Theosophy: it is
spiritual perception, and who will dare say to the poor that they have
less of this than their fellows?
The only region where the "exclusiveness" argument can have even a
momentary hold is with regard to Occultism. There is in most people's
mind a distrust of anything secret. But remember, believe only in
what your own test has shown you to be true: and learn not to
condemn those who have found some irresistible impulse urging them
forward to seek further. Besides, anyone who is not clear in his
motive in studying Occultism had better pause before he pledges
himself to anything, or undertakes that the result of which he does
not know even dimly.
And before passing from this digression, let me insist strongly
once again on the fact that true progress will come only to those who
seek to attain it.
They who would be something more Than those who feast and laugh
and die, will hear The voice of duty, as the note of war, Nerving
their spirit to great enterprise, And knitting every sinew for the
Again, get rid of indolence, or its synonym, indifference. The
real hereditary sin of human nature is indolence. Conquer that, and
you will conquer the rest. We cannot afford to rest with what we have
done; we must keep moving on. In this, indeed, to stand still is to
go back—worse still, to keep others back.
In conclusion I may, perhaps, be permitted to give you a few
remarks as to the influence Theosophy has had upon myself. It has
furnished me with satisfactory reasons for living and working; it has
infused an earnestness in that work which I prize as one of the
valuable things of my life's experience. It has ministered to that
inmost sense of worship and aspiration which all of us possess; it
has shown me that by expanding one's consciousness in that of the
universe, one gains more knowledge and opportunity for helping on
humanity; and it has pointed out where the materials for a scientific
basis of ethics can be found, and also what will be the outlines of
the future building; and finally it has shown that if the objects of
our desires be changed, and many things we held dear are no longer
prized, it is owning simply to the acquirement of larger and fuller
—September 15, 1894
We are continually called upon to give comfort, and it is a problem
to many what to say. For there are people who can see no outlet from
their pain other than this, that they shall obtain that which they
desire. The lover longs for the one who is absent or cold; the poor
demand wealth; the tortured cry out for relief from suffering; and so
on through all phases of human life we continually meet such people.
We, perhaps free from such afflictions, have schooled ourselves into
a heroic mood. These are not things to sorrow over, we think;
therefore, we are in a dilemma. We cannot aid them, for their ideals
often seem ignoble to us—their wish accomplished would only bring on
the renewal of old pain, and bind them closer to the weary wheel. Yet
we cannot be cold, we who would identify ourselves with all life, for
the soul must "lend its ear to every cry of pain, like as the lotus
bares its heart to drink the morning sun." In the many cases where
the suffering is unavoidable, and cannot be otherwise received, what
are we to do? Some, a little above the ignoble view that the only
relief is in the satisfaction of desire, say reverently to those in
pain: "It is God's will," and some accept it as such with dull
resignation. But with some the iron has entered the soul—the words
are empty. "What have I to do with God, or He with me?" they demand
in their hearts. They join in the immemorial appeal and fierce revolt
which at all times the soul of man makes against any external
restraint. We who are disciples of old wisdom may touch some chord in
them which may awaken eternal endurance.
It is not, we say, a pain imposed upon us by any eternal power;
but the path we tread is one which we ourselves very long ago
determined. To the question, "What have we to do with God?" we make
answer that we are the children of Deity—bright sparks born in the
Divine flame, the spirit in its primal ecstacy reflected in itself the
multitudinous powers that throng in space. It was nourished by divine
love, and all that great beauty thrilled through it and quickened it.
But from this vision which the spirit had, it passed to climb to
still greater heights—it was spiritual, it might attain divinity.
The change from the original transcendental state of vision to that
other state of being, of all-pervading consciousness, could only be
accomplished by what is known as the descent into matter where spirit
identifies itself with every form of life, and assimilates their
essences. This cyclic pilgrimage it undertook, foreseeing pain, but
"preferring free will to passive slavery, intellectual, self-
conscious pain, and even torture, 'while myriad time shall flow,' to
inane, imbecile, instinctual beatitude," foreseeing pain, but knowing
that out of it all would come a nobler state of life, a divinity
capable of rule, a power to assist in the general evolution of nature.
It is true in the experience of many that going deep within
themselves, an elemental consciousness whispers comfort; it says all
will be well with us; it is our primal will which so orders. And so
we justify the pain and hearts that break; and that old appeal and
fierce revolt we make dies out in the inner light which shines from
"the Goal, the Comforter, the Lord, the Witness, the resting-place,
the Asylum, the Friend." We can then once more go forth with the old,
heroic, Titan will for mastery, seeking not to escape, but rather to
meet, endure, and assimilate sorrow and joy alike; for so we can
permeate all life—life which is in its essence one. This is the true
centre on which all endurance must rest; this is the comfort the soul
may take to itself; and beyond and after this we may say we struggle
in a chaos indeed, but in a chaos whose very disorder is the result of
law. That law is justice that cannot err. Out of confidence in this
justice may spring up immortal hopes; our motives, our faith shall
save us. We may dare more, give ourselves away more completely, for
is not the root of this law declared to be beauty, harmony,
compassion. We may trust that our acts shall have full fruition, and
remain careless of the manner, nor seek for such results. We may look
upon it if we will as the sweetest of the sweetest, the tenderest of
the tenderest; and this is true, though still it is master of the
fiery pain. Above all it is the law of our own being; it is at one
with our ancestral self. In all this lies, I think, such consolation
as we may take and offer for pain. Those who comprehend, in their
resignation, shall become one with themselves; and out of this
resignation shall arise will to go forth and fulfil our lofty destiny.
—May 15, 1894
The teaching of the Secret Doctrine divides the period during which
human evolution proceeds upon this globe into seven periods. During
the first three-and-a-half of these, the ethereal humanity who
appeared in the First Race gradually become material in form, and the
psychic spirituality of the inner man is transformed into
intellectuality. During the remaining three-and-a-half periods,
there is a gradual dematerialization of form; the inner man by slow
degrees rises from mere brain intellection to a more perfected
spiritual consciousness. We are told that there are correspondences
between the early and later periods of evolution; the old conditions
are repeated, but upon higher planes; we re-achieve the old
spirituality with added wisdom and intellectual power. Looked at in
this way we shall find that the Seventh Race corresponds to the first;
the Sixth to the Second; and the Fifth Race (which is ours)
corresponds with the Third. "We are now approaching a time," says
the Secret Doctrine, "when the pendulum of evolution will direct its
swing decidedly upward, bringing humanity back on a parallel line with
the primitive Third Root Race in spirituality." That is, there will
be existing on the earth, about the close of Fifth Race, conditions in
some way corresponding with those prevailing when the Third Race men
began their evolution. Through this period may be yet distant
hundreds of thousands of years, still it is of interest to forecast
that future as far as may be, for the future is concealed in the
present, and is the outcome of forces working to-day. We may find out
from this enquiry the true nature of movements like the Theosophical
One of the most interesting passages in the Secret Doctrine is that
which describes the early Third Race. "It was not a Race, this
progeny. It was at first a wondrous Being, called the 'Initiator," and
after him a group of semi-divine and semi-human beings." Without at
all attempting to explain the real nature of this mysterious Being or
Race, we may assume that one of the things hinted at is the
consciousness of united being possessed by these ancient Adepts.
Walking abroad over the earth as instructors of a less progressed
humanity, their wisdom and power had a common root. They taught
truth from a heart-perception of life, ever fresh and eternal,
everywhere pervading nature and welling up in themselves. This
heart-perception is the consciousness of unity of inner being. The
pendulum of evolution which in its upward swing will bring humanity
backwards on a parallel line with the primitive Third Root Race,
should bring back something corresponding to this primeval hierarchy
of divine sages. We should see at the end of the Kaliyuga a new
brotherhood formed from those who have risen out of material life and
aims, who have conquered self, who have been purified by suffering,
who have acquired strength and wisdom, and who have wakened up to the
old magical perception of their unity in true Being. "At the end of
the Kali, our present age, Vishnu, or the "Everlasting King,' will
appear as Kalki, and establish righteousness upon earth. The minds of
those who live at that time shall be awakened and become pellucid as
crystal." —(Secret Doctrine, II, 483)
Passing beyond the turning point of evolution, where the delusion
of separateness is complete, and moving on the that future awaiting
us in infinite distances, when the Great Breath shall cease its
outward motion and we shall merge into the One—on this uphill
journey in groups and clusters men will first draw closer together,
entering in spirit their own parent rays before being united in the
source of all light and life. Such a brotherhood of men and women we
may expect will arise, conscious in unity, thinking from one mind and
acting from one soul. All such great achievements of the race are
heralded long before by signs which those who study the lives of men
may know. There is a gestation in the darkness of the womb before the
living being appears. Ideals first exist in thought, and from thought
they are outrealized into objective existence. The Theosophical
Society was started to form the nucleus of a universal brotherhood of
humanity, and its trend is towards this ideal. May we not justifiably
suppose that we are witnessing to-day in this movement the birth of a
new race corresponding to the divine Initiators of the Third; a race
which shall in its inner life be truly a "Wondrous Being." I think we
will perform our truest service to the Society by regarding it in
this way as an actual entity whose baby years and mystical childhood
we should foster. There are many people who know that it is possible
by certain methods to participate in the soul-life of a co-worker,
and if it is possible to do this even momentarily with one comrade,
it is possible so to participate in the vaster life of great
movements. There will come a time to all who have devoted themselves
to this idea, as H.P. Blavatsky and some others have done, when they
will enter into the inner life of this great Being, and share the
hopes, the aspirations, the heroism, and the failures which must be
brought about when so many men and women are working together. To
achieve this we should continually keep in mind this sense of unity;
striving also to rise in meditation until we sense in the vastness
the beating of these innumerable hearts glowing with heroic purpose:
we should try to humanize our mysticism; "We can only reach the
Universal Mind through the minds of humanity," and we can penetrate
into their minds by continual concentration, endeavouring to realise
their thoughts and feelings, until we carry always about with us in
imagination, as [wrote] Walt Whitman, "those delicious burdens, men
—November 15, 1893
We went forth gay in the twilight's cover;
The dragon Day with his ruddy crest
Blazed on the shadowy hills hung over
The still grey fields in their dewy rest.
We went forth gay, for all ancient stories
Were told again in our hearts as we trod;
Above were the mountain's dawn-white glories;
We climbed to it as the throne of God.
We pitched our tents in a sheltered nook on the mountain side. We
were great with glee during the day, forecasting happy holidays
remote from the crowded city. But now as we sat round the camp fire
at dusk silence fell upon us. What were we to do in the long
evenings? I could see Willie's jolly face on the other side of the
fire trying to smother a yawn as he refilled his pipe. Bryan was
watching the stars dropping into their places one by one. I turned to
Robert and directed the general attention to him as a proper object
for scorn. He had drawn a pamphlet on some scientific subject from
his breast-pocket and was trying to read it by the flickering light.
"Did you come up to the mountains for this," I asked, "to increase
your knowledge of the Eocene age? Put it by, or—we will send it up
as a burnt offering to the stars."
"Well," he said, looking rather ashamed, "one must do something,
you know. Willie has his pipe, Bryan is holding some mysterious
intercourse with the planets, and you have the fire to take care of.
What is one to do?"
This went to the root of the matter. I pondered over it awhile,
until an idea struck me.
"There is Bryan. Let him tell us a story. He was flung into life
with a bundle of old legends. He knows all mystery and enchantment
since the days of the Rishees, and has imagined more behind them. He
has tales of a thousand incarnations hidden away in secretness. He
believes that everything that happened lives still in the memory of
Nature, and that he can call up out of the cycles of the past heroic
figures and forgotten history, simply by his will, as a magician draws
the elemental hordes together."
"Have a dragon and a princess in it," said Willie, settling himself
into an attitude of listening.
"Or authentic information about Eocene man," suggested Robert.
"I could not tell a story that way," said Bryan simply. "I could
never invent a story, though all the characters, heroes and princess,
were to come and sit beside me so that I could describe them as they
really were. My stories come like living creatures into my mind; and
I can only tell them as they tell themselves to me. Today, as I lay
in the sunlight with closed eyes, I saw a haze of golden light, then
twilight trees appeared and moving figures and voices speaking; it
shaped itself into what is hardly a story, but only an evening in some
We waited while Bryan tried to recall his misty figures. We were
already in sympathy with his phantasmal world, for the valleys below
us were dim-coloured and quiet, and we heard but rarely and far away
the noises of the village; the creatures of the mountain moved about
in secretness, seeking their own peculiar joys in stillness amid dews
and darkness. After a little Bryan began.
I saw in my vision one of the heroes of the antique world. He
rode for many, many days, yet saw no kindly human face. After long
wanderings and toils he came to the Gardens of Twilight, the rich and
rare gardens of the primeval world, known by rumour to the ancient
Greeks as the Hesperides. He looked around with wonder; the place was
all a misty dazzle with light, a level light as of evening that flowed
everywhere about; the air was rich with the scent of many blossoms;
from each flower rose an odour that hovered about it as a delicate
vapour. While he gazed, one of the spirits of the garden came nigh
him in the guise of a beautiful human child.
"How came you here?"
"I wandered for many years," he said, "I fought with the dragons
that lie coiled in citron scales on the highways; I warred against
oppression; I made justice to prevail, and now that peace is on the
land I might have rested with peace in mine own heart, but I could not
yet. So I left behind the happy hearths and homes of men and rode
onward, a secret fire burning ceaselessly within me; I know not in
what strange home it will be still. But what gardens are these?"
"They are the Gardens of Twilight," answered the child.
"How beautiful then must be the Gardens of Day! How like a faint
fine dust of amethyst and gold the mist arises from the enchanted
odorous flowers! Surely some spirit things must dwell within the air
that breaks so perpetually into hues of pearl and shell!"
"They are the servants of Zeus," the child said. "They live within
these wandering airs; they go forth into the world and make mystery
in the hearts of men."
"Was it one such guided me thither?"
"I do not know; but this I know, whether led by the wandering
spirits or guided by their own hearts, none can remain here safely
and look upon the flowers save those who understand their mystery or
those who can create an equal beauty. For all others deadly is the
scent of the blossoms; stricken with madness, they are whirled away
into the outer world in fever, passion and unending hunger and
"I do not care if I pass from them," said the wanderer. "It is
not here my heart could be still and its desire cease, but in the
They passed on and went deeper into the Gardens of Twilight, which
were ever-changing, opalescent, ever-blushing with new and momentary
beauty, ever-vanishing before the steady gaze to reveal beneath more
silent worlds of mystic being. Like vapour, now gorgeous and now
delicate, they wavered, or as the giant weeds are shadowing around the
diver in the Indian wave sun-drenched through all its deeps of green.
Sometimes a path would unfold, with a million shining flowers of
blue, twinkling like stars in the Wilky Way, beneath their feet, and
would wind away delicately into the faery distances.
"Let us rest," said the child, leaning against a tree. She began
swaying a hand to and fro among the flowers; as her fingers touched
the bell-like blooms of burning amethyst they became stained with the
rich colour; she seemed to lose herself in dreams as one who toils
not for delight, living ever amid rich joys. He wondered if she was
as unreal as the gardens, and remembering her words, they seemed
familiar as if they were but echoes of the unuttered thoughts that
welled up as he moved about. While he watched the flitting
phantasmagoria with a sense expectant of music which never came,
phantasmagoria with a sense expectant of music which never came, there
arose before him images of peace, vanishing faster than passion, and
forms of steadfast purity came nigh, attired, priestess-like, in white
and gold; they laid their heads against his breast; as he looked
down, their eyes, eager and flamelike, grew passionate and full of
desire. He stretched out his hand to pluck blossoms and twine wreaths
for their beautiful heads.
"Do not! Do not!" cried the child. "See how every blossom has
There were serpents coiling about the roots of every flower, or
amid the leaves, waiting with undulating head and forked tongue to
strike the uncautious hand. He shook off the drowsy influence of the
scents and o'er-burdened air; the forms vanished. He remembered the
child's words: "None can remain in safety an equal beauty." He began
to ponder over the meaning of the gardens.
"While we sit here, late lingerers in the glory of twilight, I will
tell you a story which my fancy brings me," he said. "I thought one
came here long ago and built himself a mighty world in a dream of many
"He had lived with kings and counselors; he had wrought in magical
arts, and the great and wise of the earth were his fellows. When a
time came for him to depart he turned away sadly from the towers of
men. He passed, without knowing it, through the strange defiles which
lead to these gardens; but the light did not break upon him in
iridescent waves foamy with flowers and sparkling with vanishing
forms; the light was hidden in the bosom of the twilight; it was
all-pervading but invisible; the essence of the light bathed his
soul; the light was living; the light was exhaustless; by it
everything was born; touched by it everything went forth in ecstasy,
blind, seeking for realization.
"The magician brought with him the seeds of human desire and wisdom
and aspiration. The light broke into his moody forgetfulness and
kindled long-forgotten fires. He awoke from his darkness and saw
before him in happiest vistas the island city of his lounging. Around
him were the men and women he knew; acting on his secret wishes the
multitudes hailed him as king, they bowed before him as wise, they
worshiped him as all-powerful.. It was not strange to him, and rapt in
royal imaginations for countless years he held sway over the island
city. He dreamed of it as a poet, and there was no more beautiful
city than this city of his dream. There were places that shot up,
pinnacle upon pinnacle, amid the jewel- light of the stars; there
were courts and porticoes full of mysterious glory and gloom,
magnificence and darkness; there were fountains that jetted their
pearly mists into the light; around them with summer in their hearts
lay the island inhabitants, each one an angel for beauty. As the
dream of the magician deepened in rapture, the city wavered and
changed more continually; its towers pierced more daringly into the
way of the stars; for the darkness below he summoned birds of fire
from the aerial deeps; they circled the palaces with flaming wings;
they stained the air with richest dyes and rained forth emerald and
blue and gold on the streets and sculptured walls and the inhabitants
in their strange joys.
"His dream changed; he went forth no more but shut himself up in
his palace with his wisest princes, and as he took counsel with them,
the phantasmal and brilliant towers without faded and fell away as a
butterfly droops its wings. For countless years he lived in the
intoxication of thought; around him were sages who propounded wisest
laws, and poets who sang of love, humanity and destiny. As his dream
deepened still more in its rapture, they sang of mightier themes;
there was continual music and light; there was no limit of glory or
dominion which the human soul might not aspire to; his warriors
stepped from star to star in dreams of conquest, and would have stayed
the seraph princess of the wind and wave and fire, to make more
radiant the retinue of this magician of the Beautiful.
"Again his desire changed. He sought to hold no further sway over
these wide realms beyond him; he shut himself up in an inner chamber
in lonely meditation, and as he entered into a deeper being the sages
and poets, who were with him at his royal feasts, vanished and were no
more. He, the wise mind, pondered within himself, finding joy in the
continual inward birth of thought following thought, as in lonely seas
wave rolls upon wave. From all things he had known or experienced he
drew forth their essence and hidden meaning, and he found that he had
been no less a king in his old unconsciousness than he now was, and
that at all times nature had been obeisant and whatever had happened
had still been by his own will. Through the light, thin fretted by
the fire of his aspirations, he sometimes seemed to see the shining
Law in all things and the movement through the thought-swept fields of
heaven of the universal imagination. He saw that this, too, had been
a minister to him. He drew nigh to himself—divinity. The last
rapture of his soul was his radiant self-conception. Save for this
vesture the light of illusion fell from him. He was now in a circle
of whitest fire, that girdled and looked in upon the movements of
worlds within its breast. He tried to expand and enter this flaming
circle; myriads of beings on its verges watched him with pity; I
felt their thought thrilling within me.
"He will never attain it!"
"Ah, the Beautiful Bird, his plumage is stained!"
"His glory will drag him down!"
"Only in invisible whiteness can he pass!"
"How he floats upwards, the Beautiful Bird!"
"These voices of universal compassion did not reach him, rapt in
aspiration and imperious will. For an instant—an eternity—the
infinitudes thrilled him, those infinitudes which in that instant he
knew he could never enter but as one with all on the days of the great
return. All that longed, all that aspired and dared, all but the
immortal were in that movement destroyed, and hurled downwards from
the highest heaven of life, the pilgrim spark began once more as a
child to live over again the round of human days."
"The spirit of the place o'ermastered you," said the child. "Here
may come and dream; and their dream of joy ended, out of each
dreaming sphere comes forth again in pain the infant spirit of man."
"But beyond this illusive light and these ever-changing vistas—
what lies? I am weary of their vanishing glories. I would not wish
to mount up through dreams to behold the true and fall away
powerlessly, but would rather return to earth, though in pain, still
eager to take up and renew the cyclic labours."
"I belong to the gardens," said the child; "I do not know what
lies beyond. But there are many paths leading far away."
Before them where they stood branched out paths of rich flowers.
Here a region of pinks lured on to vistas of delicate glory; there
ideal violet hues led to a more solemn beauty; here the eyes were
dazzled by avenues of rich, radiant, and sunny green; another in
beautiful golden colours seemed to invite to the land of the sun, and
yet another winded away through soft and shadowy blues to remote
spiritual distances. There was one, a path of white flowers ending in
light no eye could pierce.
"I will choose this—the path of white flower," he said, waving
farewell to the child. I watched the antique hero in my vision as he
passed into the light; he seemed to shine, to grow larger; as he
vanished from my eyes he was transfigured, entering as a god the
region of gods."
"Did you really dream all that?" said Willie. "How jolly it must
be! It is like stepping from sphere to sphere. Before the night of
one day you are in the morning of another. I suppose you have some
theory about it all—as wonderful as your gardens?"
"Yes!" said our sceptic, "I had an uneasy consciousness it was not
all pure story. I felt an allegory hiding its leanness somewhere
beneath the glow and colour."
"What I want to know is how these things enter the imagination at
"With what a dreadfully scientific spirit you dissect a fantasy!
Perhaps you might understand if you recall what sometimes happens
before sleep. At first you see pictures of things, landscapes,
people you know; after a time people and places unknown before begin
to mingle with them in an ever-widening circle of visions; the light
on which these things are pictured is universal, though everyone has
around himself his own special sphere of light; this is the mirror of
himself—his memory; but as we go deeper into ourselves in
introspection we see beyond our special sphere into the great of
universal light, the memorial tablet of nature; there lie hidden the
secrets of the past; and so, as Felix said a little while ago, we can
call up and renew the life of legend and tradition. This is the
Astral Light of the mystics. Its deeper and more living aspect seems
to inflame the principle of desire in us. All the sweet, seductive,
bewitching temptations of sense are inspired by it. After death the
soul passing into this living light goes on thinking, thinking, goes
on aspiring, aspiring, creating unconsciously around itself its own
circumstance in which all sweetest desires are self-fulfilled. When
this dream- power is exhausted the soul returns again to earth. With
some this return is due to the thirst for existence; with some to a
perception of the real needs of soul."
"Do you really believe all that?"
"Oh, yes! But that is only a general statement."
"I wonder at your capacity for believing in these invisible
spheres. As for me I cannot go beyond the world I live in. When I
think of these things some dreadful necessity seems heaped upon me to
continue here—or, as you might put it, an angel with a flaming sword
keeps everywhere the avenues to the Tree of Life."
"Oh!" said Willie, "it seems to me a most reasonable theory. After
all, what else could the soul do after death but think itself out? It
has no body to move about in. I am going to dream over it now.
He turned into the tent and Robert followed him. "Well, I cannot
rest yet," said Bryan, "I am going up for a little to the top of the
hill. Come, Felix, these drowsy fellows are going to hide themselves
from the face of night." We went up, and leaning on a boulder of rock
looked out together. Away upon the dream-built margin of space a
thousand tremors fled and chased each other all along the shadowy
night. The human traditions, memories of pain, struggle, hope and
desire floated away and melted in the quietude until at last only the
elemental consciousness remained at gaze. I felt chilled by the
vacancies. I wondered what this void was to Bryan. I wished to see
with his eyes. His arm was around my shoulder. How I loved him—my
nearest—my brother! The fierce and tender flame, comrade to his
spirit, glowed in my heart. I felt a commingling of nature, something
moved before my eyes. "Look, Bryan!" I whispered, "this is faery!" A
slight upright figure, a child, stood a little apart shedding a
delicate radiance upon the dusky air. Curiously innocent, primeval,
she moved, withdrawn in a world only half-perceived of gorgeous
blossoms and mystic shadows. Through her hair of feathery brown
drifting about her the gleam of dust of gold and of rich colour seemed
to come from her dress. She raised her finger-tips from the flowers
and dashed the bright dew aside. I felt something vaguely familiar
about the gesture. Then Bryan said, "It is one of the Children of
Twilight." It was a revelation of his mind. I had entered into the
forms of his imagination.
"This is wonderful Bryan! If I can thus share in the thought of
one, there can be no limit to the extension of this faculty. It seems
at the moment as if I could hope to finally enter the mind of
humanity and gaze upon soul, not substance."
"It would be a great but terrible power. As often as not we
imagine ourselves into demons. Space is thronged with these
dragon-like forms, chimaeras of the fearful mind. Every thought is an
entity. Some time or other I think we will have to slay this brood we
have brought forth."
But as we turned backwards I had no dread or thought of this future
contest. I felt only gay hopes, saw only ever-widening vistas. The
dreams of the Golden Age, of far-off happy times grew full of meaning.
I people all the future with their splendour. The air was thronged
with bright supernatural beings, they moved in air, in light; and
they and we and all together were sustained and thrilled by the breath
of the Unknown God.
As we drew nigh to the tent, the light of the fire still flickering
revealed Robert's face within. He was sleeping. the warmth of the
sun had not yet charmed away the signs of study and anxious thought.
"Do you know the old tradition that in the deepest sleep of the
body the soul goes into itself. I believe he now knows the truth he
feared to face. A little while ago he was here; he was in doubt; now
he is gone unto all ancient things. He was in prison; now the Bird
of Paradise has wings. We cannot call him by any name, for we do not
know what he is. We might indeed cry aloud to his glory, as of old
the Indian sage cried to a sleeper, 'Thou great one, clad in raiment;
Soma: King!" But who thinking what he is would call back the titan
to this strange and pitiful dream of life? Let us breath softly to do
him reverence. It is now the Hour of the King,
"Who would think this quite breather
From the world had taken flight? Yet within the form we
Wakes the Golden King to-night.
"Out upon the face of faces
He looked forth before his sleep; Now he knows the starry
Haunters of the ancient deep;
"On the Bird of Diamond Glory
Floats in mystic floods of song; As he lists, Time's
Seems but as a day is long.
"When he wakes—the dreamy-hearted—
He will know not whence he came, And the light from which
Be the seraph's sword of flame;
"And behind its host supernal
Guarding the lost Paradise, And the Tree of Life eternal
From the weeping human eyes."
"You are an enchanter, Bryan. As you speak I half imagine the
darkness sparkles with images, with heroes and ancient kings who
pass, and jeweled seraphs who move in flame. I feel mad. The
distance rushes at me. The night and stars are living, and—speak
unknown things! You have made me so restless I will never sleep."
I lay down. The burden of the wonder and mystery of existence was
upon me. Through the opening of the tent the warm night air flowed
in; the stars seemed to come near—nearer—full of kindly intent—with
familiar whispering; until at last I sank back into the great deep
of sleep with a mysterious radiance of dream showering all about me.
The skies were dim and vast and deep
Above the vales of rest;
They seemed to rock the stars asleep
Beyond the mountain's crest.
Oh, vale and stars and rocks and trees,
He gives to you his rest,
But holds afar from you the peace
Whose home is in His breast!
The massy night, brilliant with golden lights enfolded us. All
things were at rest. After a long day's ramble among the hills, we
sat down again before our fire. I felt, perhaps we all felt, a mystic
unquiet rebelling against the slumbrous mood of nature rolled round
her hills and valleys.
"You must explain to us, Bryan, why it is we can never attain a
real quiet, even here where all things seem at peace."
"We are aliens here, and do not know ourselves. We are always
dreaming of some other life. These dreams, if we could only rightly
interpret them, would be the doors through which we might pass into a
real knowledge of ourselves."
"I don't think I would get much wisdom out of my dreams," said
Willie. "I had a dream last night; a lot of little goblin fellows
dancing a jig on the plains of twilight. Perhaps you could tell us a
"I remember one dream of a kind I mean, which I will tell you. It
left a deep impression upon me. I will call it a dream of
I awoke from sleep with a cry. I was hurled up from the great
deep and rejected of the darkness. But out of the clouds and dreams
I built up a symbol of the going forth of the spirit—a symbol, not a
memory—for if I could remember, I could return again at will and be
free of the unknown land. But in slumber I was free. I sped forth
like an arrow. I followed a secret hope, breasting the currents of
life flowing all about me. I tracked these streams winding in
secretness far away. I said, "I am going to myself. I will bathe in
the Fountain of Life;" and so on and on I sped northwards, with dark
waters flowing beneath me and stars companioning my flight. Then a
radiance illumined the heavens, the icy peaks and caves, and I saw the
Northern Lights. Out of the diamond breast of the air I looked forth.
Below the dim world shone all with pale and wintry green; the icy
crests flickered with a light reflect from the shadowy auras streaming
over the horizon. Then these auras broke out in fire, and the plains
of ice were illumined. The light flashed through the goblin caves,
and lit up their frosty hearts and the fantastic minarets drooping
above them. Light above in solemn array went forth and conquered the
night. Light below with a myriad flashing spears pursued the gloom.
Its dazzling lances shivered in the heart of the ice: they sped along
the ghostly hollows; the hues of the orient seemed to laugh through
winter; the peaks blossomed with starry and crystalline flowers,
lilac and white and blue; they faded away, pearl, opal and pink in
shimmering evanescence; then gleams of rose and amethyst traveled
slowly from spar to spar, lightened and departed; there was silence
before my eyes; the world once more was all a pale and wintry green.
I thought of them no more, but of the mighty and unseen tides going
by me with billowy motion. "Oh, Fountain I seek, thy waters are all
about me, but where shall I find a path to Thee?" Something answered
my cry, "Look in thy heart!" and, obeying the voice, the seer in me
looked forth no more through the eyes of the shadowy form, but sank
deep within itself. I knew then the nature of these mystic streams;
they were life, joy, love, ardour, light. From these came the breath
of life which the heart drew in with every beat, and from thence it
was flashed up in illumination through the cloudy hollows of the
brain. They poured forth unceasingly; they were life in everyone;
they were joy in everyone; they stirred an incommunicable love which
was fulfilled only in yielding to and adoration of the vast. But the
Fountain I could not draw nigh unto; I was borne backwards from its
unimaginable centre, then an arm seized me, and I was stayed. I could
see no one, but I grew quiet, full of deep quiet, out of which memory
breathes only shadowiest symbols, images of power and Holy Sages,
their grand faces turned to the world, as if in the benediction of
universal love, pity, sympathy, and peace, ordained by Buddha; the
faces of the Fathers, ancient with eternal youth, looking forth as in
the imagination of the mystic Blake, the Morning Stars looked forth
and sang together. A sound as of an "OM" unceasing welled up and made
an auriole of peace around them. I would have joined in the song, but
could not attain to them. I knew if I had a deeper love I could have
entered with them into unending labours amid peace; but I could only
stand and gaze; in my heart a longing that was worship, in my thought
a wonder that was praise. "Who are these?" I murmured? The Voice
answered, "They are the servants of the Nameless One. They do his
bidding among men. They awaken the old heroic fire of sacrifice in
forgetful hearts." Then the forms of elder life appeared in my
vision. I saw the old earth, a fairy shadow ere it yet had hardened,
peopled with ethereal races unknowing of themselves or their destinies
and lulled with inward dreams; above and far away I saw how many
glittering hosts, their struggle ended, moved onward to the Sabbath
of Eternity. Out of these hosts, one dropped as a star from their
heart, and overshadowed the olden earth with its love. Where ever it
rested I saw each man awakening from his dreams turned away with the
thought of sacrifice in his heart, a fire that might be forgotten, but
could never die. This was the continual secret whisper of the Fathers
in the inmost being of humanity. "Why do they not listen?" I
marveled. Then I heard another cry from the lower pole, the pit; a
voice of old despair and protest, the appeal of passion seeking its
own fulfilment. Alternate with the dawn of Light was the breath of
the expanding Dark where powers of evil were gathered together. "It is
the strife between light and darkness which are the world's eternal
ways," said the Voice, "but the light shall overcome and the fire in
the heart be rekindled; men shall regain their old angelic being, and
though the dark powers may war upon them, the angels with their love
shall slay them. Be thou ready for the battle, and see thou use only
love in the fight. Then I was hurried backward with swift speed, and
awoke. All I knew was but a symbol, but I had the peace of the mystic
Fathers in my heart, and the jeweled glory of the Northern Lights all
dazzling about my eyes.
"Well, after a dream like that," said Willie, "the only thing one
can do is to try and dream another like it."
—Oct. 15, 1894-Jan. 15, 1895
I am minded to put down some intuitions about brotherhood and trust
in persons. A witty friend writes, "Now that I have made up my mind,
I intend looking at the evidence." A position like that is not so
absurd as at first it seems. It is folly only to those who regard
reason alone and deny the value of a deep-seated intuition. The
intuitive trust which so many members of the T.S. have in William Q.
Judge, to my mind shows that he is a real teacher. In their deepest
being they know him as such, and what is knowledge there becomes the
intuition of waking hours. When a clamour of many voices arises
making accusations, pointing to time, place and circumstance; to
things which we cannot personally investigate, it is only the spirit
within us can speak and decide. Others with more knowledge may give
answering circumstances of time, place and act; but, with or without
these, I back up my intuition with the reason—where the light breaks
through, there the soul is pure. Says a brother truly:
"The list of his works is endless, monumental; it shows us an
untiring soul, an immense and indomitable will, a total ignoring of
himself for the benefit of his fellow-members. This is not the
conduct of the charlatan, not of the self-seeker. It is that of one
of those brave and long-tried souls who have fought their way down
through the vistas of time so that they might have strength to battle
now for those who may be weaker."
Others may have been more eloquent and learned, but who has been
so wise? Others may have written more beautifully, but who with such
intimations of the Secret Spirit breathing within? Others have
explained intellectually tattvas, principles and what not, but who
like him has touched the heart of a hidden nobility? Has he not done
it over and over again, as here?
"Do what you find to do. Desire ardently to do it, and even when
you shall not have succeeded in carrying out anything but some small
duties, some words of warning, your strong desire will strike like
Vulcan upon some other hearts in the world, and suddenly you will find
that done which you had longed to be the doer of. Then rejoice that
another has been so fortunate as to make such a meritorious Karma."
Or he speaks as a hero:
"To fail would be nothing, but to stop working for Humanity and
Brotherhood would be awful."
Or as one who loves and justifies it to the end:
"We are not Karma, we are not the law, and it is a species of that
hypocrisy so deeply condemned by it for us to condemn any man. That
the law lets a man live is proof that he is not yet judged by that
To know of these laws is to be them to some extent. "What a man
thinks, that he is, that is the old secret." The temple of Spirit is
inviolate. It is not grasped by speech or by action. "Whom the
Spirit chooses, by him it is gained. The Self chooses his body as its
own." When the personal tumult is silence, then arises the meditation
of the Wise within. Whoever speaks out of that life has earned the
right to be there. No cunning can stimulate its accents. No
hypocrisy can voice its wisdom. Whose mind gives out light—it is the
haunt of the Gods. Does this seem to slight a guarantee for
sincerity, for trust reposed? I know of none weightier. Look back in
memory; of the martyrdom of opposing passions, out of the last
anguish came forth the light. It was no cheap accomplishment. If some
one meets us and speaks knowing of that law, we say inwardly, "I know
you have suffered, brother!" But here is one with a larger wisdom
than ours. Here is one whose words today have the same clear ring.
"The world knows him not." His own disciples hardly know him: he
has fallen like Lucifer. But I would take such teaching as he gives
from Lucifer himself, and say, "His old divinity remains with him
"After all you may be mistaken," someone says. "The feet of no
one are set infallibly on the path." It may be so. Let us take that
alternative. Can we reject him or any other as comrades while they
offer? Never. Were we not taught to show to those on whom came the
reaction from fierce effort, not cold faces, but the face of
friendship, waiting for the wave of sure return? If this was a right
attitude for us in our lesser groups, it is then right for the whole
body to adopt. The Theosophical Society as a whole should not have
less than the generous spirit of its units. It must exercise the same
brotherly spirit alike to those of good or evil fame. Alike on the
just and the unjust shines the Light of It, the Father-Spirit. Deep
down in our hearts have we not all longed, longed, for that divine
love which rejects none? You who think he has erred, it is yours to
give it now. There is an occult law that all things return to their
source, their cycles accomplished. The forces we expend in love and
anger come back again to us thrilled with the thought which accepted
or rejected them. I tell you, if worse things were true of him than
what are said, if we did our duty simply, giving back in gratitude and
fearlessness the help we had received from him, his own past would
overcome the darkness of the moment, would strengthen and bear him on
to the light.
"But," some push it further; "it is not of ourselves, but of this
Society and its good name, we think. How can it accomplish its high
mission in the world if we seem to ignore in our ranks the presence of
the insincere person or fraud?"
I wish, my brothers, we could get rid of these old fears. Show,
form, appearance and seeming, what force have they? A faulty face
matters nothing. The deep inner attitude alone has power. The
world's opinion implicates none of us with the Law. Our action many
precipitate Karma, may inconvenience us for an hour; but the end of
life is not comfort but celestial being; it is not in the good voice
of the world today we can have any hope: its evil voice may seem to
break us for a little; but love, faith and gratitude shall write our
history in flame on the shadowy aura of the world, and the Watchers
shall record it. We can lose nothing; the Society can lose nothing.
Our only right is in the action, and half the sweetness of life
consists in loving much.
While I wrote, I thought I felt for a moment the true spirit of
this pioneer body we belong to. Like a diver too long under seas,
emerging I inhaled the purer air and saw the yellow sunlight. To
think of it! what freedom! what freshness! to sail away from old
report and fear and custom, the daring of the adventurer in our
hearts, having a reliance only upon the laws of life to justify and
A Reverend and learned professor in Trinity College, Dublin, a
cynic and a humorist, is reported once to have wondered "why the old
Irish, having a good religion of their own, did not stick to it?"
Living in the "Celtic twilight," and striving to pierce backward into
the dawn, reading romance, tradition and history, I have endeavoured
to solve something of the mystery of the vast "Celtic phantasmagoria,"
I can but echoe the professor. In these legends, prodical of
enchantment, where Gods, heroes and bright supernatural beings mingle,
are at league or war together, I have found not misty but clear traces
of that old wisdom-religion once universal. There are indeed no
ancient Irish Scriptures I am aware of, but they were not needed. To
those who read in the Book of Life, philosophy and scripture are but
as blinds over the spiritual vision. But we today— lost children of
the stars—but painfully and indirectly catch glimpses of the bright
spheres once our habitations, where we freely came and went. So I
will try to tell over again some of these old stories in the light of
philosophy spoken later. What was this old wisdom-religion? It was
the belief that life is one; that nature is not dead but living; the
surface but a veil tremulous with light—lifting that veil hero and
sage of old time went outwards into the vast and looked on the
original. All that they beheld they once were, and it was again their
heritage, for in essence they were one with it—children of Deity.
The One gave birth to the many, imagining within itself the heaven of
heavens, and the heavens, and spheres more shadowy and dim, growing
distant from the light. Through these the Rays ran outward, falling
down through many a starry dynasty to dwell in clay. Yet—once God or
Angel— that past remains, and the Ray, returning on itself, may
reassume its old vesture, remains, entering as a God into the
Ancestral Self. Every real scripture and every ancient myth, to be
understood truly, must be understood in this light. God, the angelic
hierarchies, the powers divine and infernal, are but names for the
mightier Adam in whose image man was made and who is the forgotten
Self in humanity. Mystic symbolism is the same the world over, and
applying it to the old Celtic romances, phantasy and faeryland are
transformed into history and we are reading about the ancient Irish
Ireland was known long ago as the Sacred Island. The Gods lived
there: for the Tuatha De Dannans who settled in Eire after conquering
the gigantic races of Firbolgs and Fomorians (Atlanteans) were called
Gods, differing in this respect from the Gods of ancient Greece and
India, that they were men who had made themselves Gods by magical or
Druidical power. They were preeminently magi become immortal by
strength of will and knowledge. Superhuman in power and beauty, they
raised themselves above nature; they played with the elements; they
moved with ease in the air. We read of one Angus Oge, the master
magician of all, sailing invisibly "on the wings of the cool east
wind"; the palace of that Angus remains to this day at New Grange,
wrought over with symbols of the Astral Fire and the great Serpentine
Power. The De Dannans lived in the heart of mountains (crypts for
initiation), and today the peasant sometimes sees the enchanted glow
from the green hills he believes they still inhabit. Perhaps he
believes not foolishly, for, once truly occult, a place is preserved
from pollution until the cycle returns, bringing back with it the
ancient Gods again.
The cycles of the Gods is followed in Irish tradition by the cycle
of the heroes. The Gods still mingled with them and presumably
taught them, for many of these heroes are Druids. Fin, the hero of a
hundred legends, Cuchullin, Dairmud, Oisin and others are wielders of
magical powers. One of the most beautiful of these stories tells of
Oisin in Tir-na-noge. Oisin with his companions journeys along by the
water's edge. He is singled out by Niam, daughter of Mannanan, king
of Tir-na-noge, the land of the Gods. She comes on a white horse
across the seas, and mounting with her Oisin travels across the ocean;
after warring with a giant Fomor he passes into Tir-na-noge, where
for a hundred years he lives with Niam and has all that heart could
wish for. But desire for Eire arises within him and returning, he
falls off the magic steed, and becomes an old man weary with years.
It is purely occult. Oisin, Niam, her white steed, Tir-na-noge, the
waters they pass over, are but names which define a little our
forgotten being. Within Oisin, the magician, kindles the Ray, the
hidden Beauty. Let us call it by what name we will, so that we spare
the terms of academic mysticism or psychology. It is the Golden Bird
of the Upanishads; the Light that lighteth every man; it is that
which the old Hermetists knew as the Fair or the Beautiful—for Niam
means beauty; it is the Presence, and when it is upon a man every
other tie breaks; he goes alone with It, he is a dying regret, an
ever-increasing joy. And so with Oisin, whose weeping companions
behold him no more. He mounts the white horse with Niam. It is the
same as the white horse of the Apocalypse, whereon one sits called
Faithful and True. It is the power on which the Spirit rides. Who is
there, thinking, has felt freed for a moment from his prison-house,
and looking forth has been blinded by the foam of great seas, or has
felt his imagination grow kingly in contemplation—he has known its
impelling power; the white horse is impatient of restraint.
As they pass over the waters "they saw many wonderful things on
their journey—islands and cities, lime-white mansions, bright
greenans and lofty palaces." It is the mirror of heaven and earth,
the astral light, in whose glass a myriad illusions arise and fleet
before the mystic adventures. Haunt of a false beauty—or rather a
veil hung dazzling before the true beauty, only the odour or incense
of her breath is blown through these alluring forms. The transition
from this to a subtler sphere is indicated. A hornless deer, chased
by a white hound with red ears, and a maiden tossing a golden lure,
vanishes for ever before a phantom lover. The poet whose imagination
has renewed for us the legend has caught the true significance of
these hurrying forms:
"The immortal desire of immortals we saw in their eyes and sighed."
"Do not heed these forms!" cried Niam. Compare with this from
another source: "Flee from the Hall of Learning, it is dangerous in
its perfidious beauty. .... Beware, lest dazzled by illusive radiance
thy Soul should linger and be caught in its deceptive light. .... It
shines from the jewel of the Great Ensnarer." There are centres in
man corresponding to these appearances. They give vision and entrance
into a red and dreadful world, where unappeasable desire smites the
soul—a dangerous clairvoyence. But in the sphere beyond their power
has to be conquered, and here Oisin wars with the giant Fomor. De
Dannan and Romorian passed from Eire wrestle still in the invisible
world, say the legends. We, too— would-be mystics—are met on the
threshold of diviner spheres by terrible forms embodying the sins of a
living past when we misused our spiritual powers in old Atlantean
days. These forms must be conquered and so Oisin battles with Fomor
and releases the power— a princess in the story. This fight with the
demon must be fought by everyone who would enter the land of the Gods,
whether in conscious occult adventure or half-consciously after death,
when the strange alchemist Nature separates the subtile from the gross
in the soul in this region which Oisin passes through. Tir-na-noge,
the land of Niam, is that region the soul lives in when its grosser
energies and desires have been subdued, dominated and brought under
the control of light; where the Ray of Beauty kindles and illuminates
every form which the imagination conceives, and where every form
tends to its archetype. It is a real region which has been approached
and described by the poets and sages who, at all times, have
endeavoured to express something of the higher realities. It is not
distant, but exists in earth as the soul within the body, and may be
perceived through and along with the surface forms. In a sense it
corresponds with the Tibetan Devachan, and in this region Oisin lives
for a hundred years, until desire to see Eire once more arises and he
parts from Niam. Nor the details of his return, the drowsy land in
which he slumbers; how he fell off the white horse and became an old
man with the weariness of his hundreds of years upon him—I must refer
the reader to the legends. He will read not alone of Oisin, but of
many an old hero, who, hailed by the faery (divine) voice, went away
to live in the heart of green hills (to be initiated) or to these
Dear children of Eire, not alone to the past but to today belong
such destinies. For if we will we can enter the enchanted land. The
Golden Age is all about us, and heroic forms and imperishable love.
In that mystic light rolled round our hills and valleys hang deed and
memories which yet live and inspire. The Gods have not deserted us.
Hearing our call they will return. A new cycle is dawning and the
sweetness of the morning twilight is in the air. We can breathe it if
we will but awaken from our slumber.
In the recently published Story of Early Gaelic Literature,
attention is directed to the curious eastern and pantheistic character
of some archaic verse. Critics are for ever trying to show how some
one particular antique race was the first begetter of religion and
mystic symbolism. Perplexed by the identity between the myths and
traditions of different countries, they look now here, now there, for
the original. But it was not in any land but out of the Christ-Soul of
the universe that true wisdom at all times was begotten. Some
ignorant peasant, some Jacob Boehme, is pure and aspires, and lo! the
God stirs within him and he knows the things that were taught in elder
days and by unknown people. Our own land, long ago, had its Initiates
in whom the eye of the seer was open. This eye, concealed in the
hollow of the brain, is the straight gate and the narrow way through
which alone the mortal may pass and behold the immortal. It is now
closed in most men. Materialism, sensuality and dogmatic belief have
so taken the crown and sceptre from their souls that they enter the
golden world no more knowingly—they are outcast of Eden. But the
Tuatha De Dannans were more than seers or visionaries. They were
magicians—God and man in one. Not alone their thought went out into
the vast, but the Power went along with it. This mystic Power is
called the Serpentine Fire. It is spiritual, electric, creative. It
develops spirally in the ascetic, mounting from centre to centre, from
the navel to the heart;* [* "He that believeth on me, out of his
belly shall flow rivers of living waters. This spake he of the
Spirit."—John, vii, 38] from thence it rises to the head. He is
then no more a man but a God; his vision embraces infinitude.
The action of this Power was symbolized in many ways, notably by
the passage of the sun through the zodiacal signs * (centres in the
psychic body) [* "The twelve signs of the Zodiac are hidden in his
body."—-Secret Doctrine, II, 619] A stone serpent was found a little
while ago in Ireland marked with twelve divisions. The archaic verses
alluded to have the same meaning:
"I am the point of the lance of battle. [The spinal cord, the
Sushumna nadi of Indian Psychology.] I am the God who
creates in the head of man the fire of the thought. Who is it throws
light into the meeting on the mountain? [The
meeting of the mortal and the immortal on Mount Meru, the
pineal gland.] Who announces the ages of the moon? [The
activity of the inner
astral man.] Who teaches the place where courses the
The Serpentine Power is the couch of the sun, the casket of spirit.
Hence the Druids or Magi who had mastered this power were called
Serpents. Though St. Patrick is said to have driven the serpents out
of Ireland, traces still remain of the serpent wisdom. Lest the
interpretation given should seem arbitrary I will trace further
explicit references to the third eye. Diarmuid, the hero and darling
of so many story-tellers, whose flight with Grania forms one of the
most mystic episodes in Celtic romance, is described as having a spot
in the centre of his forehead which fascinated whoever gazed. He is
called the "Son of the Monarch of Light." He is the Initiate, the
twice-born. This divine parentage has the sense in which the words
were spoken. "Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born
again." In the same sense a Druid is described as "full of his God."
From the mystic Father descends the Ray, the Child of Light. It is
born in man as mind, not reasoning: earthly not sensual, but as the
heaven-aspiring, thinking mind. In itself it is of the nature of
fire. The man who knows it becomes filled with light, aye, he moves
about in light within himself.
The following description of a giant, taken from the story of
Diarmuid, refers to still another aspect of our occult nature.
"He has, but one eye only in the fair middle of his black forehead.
.... He is, moreover, so skilled in magic that fire could not burn
him, water could not drown him, and weapons would not wound him.
...... He is fated not to die until there be struck upon him three
blows of the iron club he has. He sleeps in the top of that Quicken
tree by night, and he remains at its foot by day to watch it. ....
The berries of the tree have the virtues of the trees of faeryland."
The Quicken tree is the network of nerves in the magnetic astral
body. Readers of the Upanishads will remember the description of the
arteries, thin as a hair split a thousand times, which proceed from
the heart, and in which the Ego rests during deep sleep. It has just
the same significance in the legend. The meaning will be still better
understood by a comparison of the youthful Finn in his encounter with
a similar one-eye Titan. There is a most interesting version of this
in Curtin's Irish Myths and Folk-Tales. Too long to quote in its
entirety, the story runs as follows. Finn meets a giant who carries a
salmon in his hand. This Titan has "but one eye as large as the sun
in the heavens." He gives the fish to Finn to cook. The moment the
giant closed his eye he began to breathe heavily. "Every time he drew
breath he dragged Finn, the spit, the salmon, and all the goats to his
mouth, and every time drove a breath out of himself he threw them back
to the places they were in before." While Finn is cooking the salmon
he burns it, and in trying to hide the blister he burns his thumb. To
ease the pain he put his thumb between his teeth, and chewed it
through to the bone and marrow. He then received the knowledge of all
things. He was drawn up the next minute to the giant's eye, and
plunged the hot spit (a bar of red-hot iron, says another account)
into the eye of the giant. He passes the infuriate giant at the door
of the cave something after the fashion of Ulysses, by bringing the
flocks out and himself escaping under the fleece of the largest goat
The meaning of this story, with all its quaint imagery, is not
difficult. It is an allegory describing the loss of the third eye.
The cave is the body. The fish is a phallic symbol, and the cooking
of it refers to the fall of the early ethereal races into generation
and eventually into gross sensuality. The synthetic action of the
highest spiritual faculty, in which all the powers of man are present,
is shown by the manner in which everything in the cave is dragged up
to the giant's head. When Finn destroys the eye by plunging into it a
bar of red-hot iron, it simply means that the currents started in the
generative organs rose up through the spinal cord to the brain, and,
acting upon the pineal gland, atrophied or petrified it. The
principle of desire is literally the spirit of the metal iron, and a
clairvoyent could see these red fires mounting up by the way of the
spinal canal to the brain and there smothering any higher feelings.
The escape of Finn under the fleece of the ram means that, having
destroyed the spiritual eye, he could only use the organ of psychic
clairvoyance, which is symbolized here, as in the mysticism of other
countries, by the ram.
This symbolism, so grotesque and unmeaning today, was once
perfectly lucid and was justified in its application. A clairvoyant
could see in the aura of man around every centre the glow, colour and
form which gave rise to the antique symbol. One of the Gods is
described as "surrounded by a rainbow and fiery dews." Cuchullin,
whose hair, dark (blue?) close to the skin, red beyond, and ending in
brilliant gold, makes Professor Rhys elaborate him into a solar myth,
is an adept who has assimilated the substance of the three worlds, the
physical, the psychic and the heavenworld; therefore his hair (aura)
shows the three colours. He has the sevenfold vision also, indicated
by the seven pupils in his eyes. Volumes of unutterably dreary
research, full of a false learning, have been written about these
legends. Some try to show that much of the imagery arose from
observation of the heavenly bodies and the procession of the seasons.
But who of the old bards would have described nature other than as
she is? The morning notes of Celtic song breathe the freshness of
spring and are full of joy in nature. They could communicate this much
better than most of their critics could do. It is only the world
within which could not be rendered otherwise than by myth and symbol.
We do not need scholarship so much as a little imagination to
interpret them. We shall understand the divine initiators of our race
by believing in our own divinity. As we nourish the mystic fire, we
shall find many things of the early world, which now seem grotesque
and unlovely to our eyes, growing full of shadowy and magnificent
suggestion. Things that were distant and strange, things abhorrent,
the blazing dragons, winged serpents and oceans of fire which
affrighted us, are seen as the portals through which the imagination
enters a more beautiful, radiant world. The powers we dared not raise
our eyes to—heroes, dread deities and awful kings—grow as brothers
and gay children around the spirit in its resurrection and ascension.
For there is no pathway in the universe which does not pass through
man, and no life which is not brother to our life.
While one race sinks into night another renews its dawn. The
Celtic Twilight is the morning-time and the singing of birds is
prophetic of the new day. We have had to welcome of late years one
sweet singer after another, and now comes a volume of lyrics which has
that transcendental note which is peculiar to our younger writers. It
is full of the mystery and commingling of the human and the divine
"Hail, thou living spirit!
Whose deep organ blown
By lips that more inherit
Than all music known;
Art is but the echo of thy mysterious tone."
These lyrics, I imagine, have been wrought in solitary wanderings,
in which the forms and shows of things and human hopes and fears have
been brooded upon until the intensity of contemplation has allied them
with that soul of Nature in which the poet finds the fulfilment of all
dreams and ideals. And in this refining back to an Over-Soul there is
no suggestion of the student of academic philosophy, no over-wrought
intellectualism. Such references arise naturally out of his thought
and illuminate it. One can imagine how such lyrics were engendered:
"I stood and twirled a feathered stalk,
Or drank the clover's honey sap,
Happiest without talk.
"The summer tidal waves of night
Slowly in silence rippled in:
They steeped the feet of blazing light,
And hushed day's harsher din."
This aloofness from conflict, it if has hindered him from fully
accepting and justifying life, the highest wisdom of the poet, has
still its compensations. He has felt the manifold meaning of the
voices through whose unconsciousness Nature speaks, the songs of
birds, the aerial romance and intermingling of light and shadow, and
has vision of the true proportion of things in that conflict he has
turned his back on:
"All things sip,
And sip at life; but Time for ever drains
The ever-filing cup in rivalship,
And wipes the generations from his lip,
While Art looks down from his serene domains."
—June 15, 1895
They bring none to his or to her terminus or to be content and
full, Whom they take they take into space to behold the birth of
stars, to learn one of the meanings. To launch off with absolute
faith, to sweep through the ceaseless rings and never be quiet again.
Here is inspiration—the voice of the soul. And we, who professed
to bring such wisdom, what have we to say? Have we uttered with
equal confidence such hopes, or with such daring and amplitude of
illustration? Let us confess we have not. There are one or two
exceptions which will occur to everyone. Now, as we adventure afresh,
let us see what it is has brought despondency and failure in our work
upon us in the past. I think it is because we have been saying
things we have never realized; we have been repeating without
imagination the words of those few leaders. We have lowered their
heroic tone because we thought we were speaking to a fallen people
who could not respond to our highest. But it was not the way, it was
not the way. It is not with the dust we have brotherhood, but with
the ancient spirit it clouds over. To this spirit we must speak heart
to heart as we know how. I would not willingly recognize aught in
anyone but the divine. Often indeed the form or surface far removed
from beauty makes us falter, and we speak to that form and so the soul
is not stirred; it will not respond. But an equal temper arouses it.
To whoever hails in it the lover, the hero, the magician, it will
answer, but not to him who accosts it as Mr. So-and-So. Every word
which really inspires is spoken as if the Golden Age had never passed.
The great teachers ignore the personal identity and speak to the
eternal pilgrim. Do we not treasure most their words which remind us
of our divine origin? So we must in our turn speak. How often do we
not long to break through the veils which divide us from some one, but
custom, convention, or a fear of being misunderstood prevent us, and
so the moment departs whose heat might have burned through every
barrier. Out with it— out with it, the hidden heart, the love that
is voiceless, the secret tender germ of an infinite forgiveness. That
speaks to the heart. That pierces through many a vesture of the Soul.
Our companion struggles in some labyrinth of passion. We help him,
we think with ethics, with the moralities. Ah, very well they are;
well to know and to keep, but wherefore? For their own sake? No,
but that the King may arise in his beauty. We write that in letters,
in books, but to the face of the fallen who brings back remembrance?
Who calls him by his secret name? Let a man but feel for that is his
battle, for that his cyclic labor, and a warrior who is invincible
fights for him and he draws upon divine powers. Let us but get that
way of looking at things which we call imaginative, and how everything
alters. For our attitude to man and to nature, expressed or not, has
something of the effect of ritual, of evocation. As our aspiration so
is our inspiration. We believe in life universal, in a brotherhood
which links the elements to man, and makes the glow-worm feel far off
something of the rapture of the seraph hosts. Then we go out into the
living world, and what influences pour through us! We are "at league
with the stones of the field." The winds of the world blow radiantly
upon us as in the early time. We feel wrapt about with love, with an
infinite tenderness that caresses us. Alone in our rooms as we
ponder, what sudden abysses of light open within us! The Gods are so
much nearer than we dreamed. We rise up intoxicated with the thought,
and reel out seeking an equal companionship under the great night and
Let us get near to realities. We read too much. We think of that
which is "the goal, the Comforter, the Lord, the Witness, the resting-
place, the asylum and the Friend." Is it by any of these dear and
familiar names? Alas, our souls are becoming mere bundles of
theories. We follow the trail of the Monad, but often it is only in
the pages of The Secret Doctrine. And we talk much of Atma, Buddhi,
and Manas. Could we not speak of them in our own tongue and the
language of today will be as sacred as any of the past. No wonder
that the Manasa do not incarnate. We cannot say we do pay reverence
to these awful powers. We repulse the living truth by our doubts and
reasonings. We would compel the Gods to fall in with our philosophy
rather than trust in the heavenly guidance. We make diagrams of them.
Ah, to think of it, those dread deities, the divine Fires, to be so
enslaved! We have not comprehended the meaning of the voice which
cried, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord," or this, "Lift up your heads
O y gates. Be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of
Glory shall come in." Nothing that we read is useful unless it calls
up living things in the soul. To read a mystic book truly is to
invoke the powers. If they do not rise up plumed and radiant, the
apparitions of spiritual things, then is our labor barren. We only
encumber the mind with useless symbols. They knew better ways long
ago. "Master of the Green-waving Planisphere, ..... Lord of the Azure
Expanse, .... it is thus we invoke," cried the magicians of old.
And us, let us invoke them with joy, let us call upon them with
love, the Light we hail, or the Divine Darkness we worship with silent
breath, hymning it in our hearts with quietude and more enraptured
awe. That silence cries aloud to the Gods. Then they will approach
us. Then we may learn that speech of many colors, for they will not
speak in our mortal tongue; they will not answer to the names of men.
Their names are rainbow glories. Yet these are mysteries and they
cannot be reasoned out or argued over. We cannot speak truly of them
from report, or description, or from what another has written. A
relation to the thing in itself alone is our warrant, and this means
we must set aside our intellectual self-sufficiency and await
guidance. It will surely come to those who wait in trust, a glow, a
heat in the heart announcing the awakening of the Fire. And, as it
blows with its mystic breath into the brain, there is a hurtling of
visions, a brilliance of lights, a sound as of great waters vibrant
and musical in their flowing, and murmurs from a single yet
multitudinous being. In such a mood, when the far becomes near, the
strange familiar, and the infinite possible, he wrote from whose words
we get the inspiration:
"To launch off with absolute faith, to sweep through the ceaseless
rings and never be quiet again."
Such a faith and such an unrest be ours: faith which is mistrust
of the visible; unrest which is full of a hidden surety and radiance.
We, when we fall into pleasant places, rest and dream our strength
away. Before every enterprise and adventure of the soul we calculate
in fear our power to do. But remember, "Oh, disciple, in thy work
for thy brother thou has many allies; in the winds, in the air, in
all the voices of the silent shore." These are the far-wandered
powers of our own nature and they turn again home at our need. We
came out of the Great Mother-Life for the purposes of soul. Are her
darlings forgotten where they darkly wander and strive? Never. Are
not the lives of all her heroes proof? Though they seem to stand
alone the eternal Mother keeps watch on them, and voices far away and
unknown to them before arise in passionate defence, and hearts beat
warm to help them. Aye, if we could look within we would see vast
nature stirred on their behalf, and institutions shaken, until the
truth they fight for triumphs, and they pass, and a wake of glory ever
widening behind them trails down the ocean of the years.
Thus the warrior within us works, or, if we choose to phrase it so,
it is the action of the spiritual will. Shall we not, then, trust in
it and face the unknown defiant and fearless of its dangers. Though we
seem to go alone to the high, the lonely, the pure, we need not
despair. Let no one bring to this task the mood of the martyr or of
one who thinks he sacrifices something. Yet let all who will come.
Let them enter the path, "Yes, and hope," facing all things in life
and death with a mood at once gay and reverent, as beseems those who
are immortal—who are children today, but whose hands tomorrow may
grasp the sceptre, sitting down with the Gods as equal and companions.
Who are exiles? as for me
Where beneath the diamond dome
Lies the light on hill or tree
There my palace is and home.
We are outcasts from Deity; therefore we defame the place of our
exile. But who is there may set apart his destiny from the earth
which bore him? I am one of those who would bring back the old
reverence for the Mother, the magic, the love. I think,
metaphysician, you have gone astray. You would seek within yourself
for the fountain of life. Yes, there is the true, the only light.
But do not dream it will lead you further away from the earth, but
rather deeper into its heart. By it you are nourished with those
living waters you would drink. You are yet in the womb and unborn,
and the Mother breathes for thee the diviner airs. Dart out thy
furthest ray of thought to the original, and yet thou has not found a
new path of thine own. Thy ray is still enclosed in the parent ray,
and only on the sidereal streams are you borne to the freedom of the
deep, to the sacred stars whose distance maddens, and to the lonely
Light of Lights.
Let us, therefore, accept the conditions and address ourselves with
wonder, with awe, with love, as we well may, to that being in whom we
move. I abate no jot of those vaster hopes, yet I would pursue that
ardent aspiration, content as to here and today. I do not believe in
a nature red with tooth and claw. If indeed she appears so terrible
to any it is because they themselves have armed her. Again, behind the
anger of the Gods there is a love. Are the rocks barren? Lay thy
brow against them and learn what memories they keep. Is the brown
earth unbeautiful? Yet lie on the breast of the Mother and thou shalt
be aureoled with the dews of faery. The earth is the entrance to the
Halls of Twilight. What emanations are those that make radiant the
dark woods of pine! Round every leaf and tree and over all the
mountains wave the fiery tresses of that hidden sun which is the soul
of the earth and parent of they soul. But we think of these things no
longer. Like the prodigal we have wandered far from our home, but no
more return. We idly pass or wait as strangers in the halls our
Sad or fain no more to live?
I have pressed the lips of pain: With the kisses lovers
Ransomed ancient powers again.
I would raise this shrinking soul to a more universal acceptance.
What! does it aspire to the All, and yet deny by its revolt and inner
protest the justice of Law. From sorrow we shall take no less and no
more than from our joys. For if the one reveals to the soul the mode
by which the power overflows and fills it here, the other indicates to
it the unalterable will which checks excess and leads it on to true
proportion and its own ancestral ideal. Yet men seem for ever to fly
from their destiny of inevitable beauty; because of delay the power
invites and lures no longer but goes out into the highways with a hand
of iron. We look back cheerfully enough upon those old trials out of
which we have passed; but we have gleaned only an aftermath of wisdom
and missed the full harvest if the will has not risen royally at the
moment in unison with the will of the Immortal, even though it comes
rolled round with terror and suffering and strikes at the heart of
Through all these things, in doubt, despair, poverty, sick feeble
or baffled, we have yet to learn reliance. "I will not leave thee or
forsake thee," are the words of the most ancient spirit to the spark
wandering in the immensity of its own being. This high courage brings
with it a vision. It sees the true intent in all circumstance out of
which its own emerges to meet it. Before it the blackness melts into
forms of beauty, and back of all illusions is seen the old enchanter
tenderly smiling, the dark, hidden Father enveloping his children.
All things have their compensations. For what is absent here there
is always, if we seek, a nobler presence about us.
Captive, see what stars give light
In the hidden heart of clay: At their radiance dark and
Fades the dreamy King of Day.
We complain of conditions, but this very imperfection it is which
urges us to arise and seek for the Isles of the Immortals. What we
lack recalls the fulness. The soul has seen a brighter day than this
and a sun which never sets. Hence the retrospect: "Thou has been in
Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the
sardius, topaz and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, the jasper, the
sapphire, emerald .... Thou was upon the holy mountain of God; thou
hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire." We would
point out these radiant avenues of return; but sometimes we feel in
our hearts that we sound but cockney choices, as guides amid the
ancient temples, the cyclopean crypts sanctified by the mysteries. To
be intelligible we replace the opalescent shining by the terms of the
anatomist, and we speak of the pineal gland and the pituitary body in
the same breath with the Most High. Yet when the soul has the vision
divine it knows not it has a body. Let it remember, and the breath of
glory kindles it no more; it is once again a captive. After all, it
does not make the mysteries clearer to speak in physical terms and do
violence to our intuitions. If we ever use these centres, as fires we
shall see them, or they shall well up within us as fountains of potent
sound. We may satisfy people's minds with a sense correspondence,
and their souls may yet hold aloof. We shall only inspire by the
magic of a superior beauty. Yet this too has its dangers. "Thou has
corrupted thy wisdom by reason of they brightness," continues the
seer. If we follow too much the elusive beauty of form we will miss
the spirit. The last secrets are for those who translate vision into
being. Does the glory fade away before thee? Say truly in they
heart, "I care not. I will wear the robes I am endowed with today."
Thou are already become beautiful, being beyond desire and free.
Night and day no more eclipse
Friendly eyes that on us shine, Speech from old familiar
Playmates of a youth divine.
To childhood once again. We must regain the lost state. But it
is to the giant and spiritual childhood of the young immortals we
must return, when into their clear and translucent souls first fell
the rays of the father-beings. The men of old were intimates of wind
and wave and playmates of many a brightness long since forgotten. The
rapture of the fire was their rest; their outgoing was still
consciously through universal being. By darkened images we may
figure something vaguely akin, as when in rare moments under the
stars the big dreamy heart of childhood is pervaded with quiet and
brimmed full with love. Dear children of the world so tired today—
so weary seeking after the light. Would you recover strength and
immortal vigor? Not one star alone, your star, shall shed its happy
light upon you, but the All you must adore. Something intimate,
secret, unspeakable, akin to thee will emerge silently, insensibly,
and ally itself with thee as thou gatherest thyself from the four
quarters of the earth. We shall go back to the world of the dawn,
but to a brighter light than that which opened up this wondrous story
of the cycles. The forms of elder years will reappear in our vision,
the father-beings once again. So we shall grow at home amid these
grandeurs, and with that All-Presence about us may cry in our hearts,
"At last is our meeting, Immortal. Oh, starry one, now is our rest!"
Brothers weary, come away;
We will quench the heart's desire Past the gateways of
In the rapture of the fire.
—October 15, 1895
—By AE and Aretas (G.W. Russell and James M. Pryse)
While our vision, backward cast,
Ranged the everliving past,
Through a haze of misty things—
Luminous with quiverings
Musical as starry chimes—
Rose a hero of old times,
In whose breast the magic powers
Slumbering from primeval hours,
Woke at the enchantment wild
Of Aed Abrait's lovely child;
Still for all her Druid learning
With the wild-bird heart, whose yearning
Blinded at his strength and beauty,
Clung to love and laughed at duty.
Warrior chief, and mystic maid,
Through your stumbling footsteps strayed,
This at least in part atones—
Jewels were your stumbling-stones!
The birds were a winging rapture in the twilight. White wings,
grey wings, brown wings, fluttered around and over the pine trees
that crowned the grassy dun. The highest wings flashed with a golden
light. At the sound of voices they vanished.
"How then shall we go to the plains of Murthemney? We ought not
to be known. Shall we go invisibly, or in other forms? We must also
fly as swiftly as the birds go."
"Fly! yes, yes, we shall—fly as the birds. But we shall choose
fairer forms than these. I know where the Birds of Angus flock.
Come, Liban, come!"
The crypt beneath the dun was flooded with light, silvery and
golden, a light which came not from the sun nor from the moon; a
light not born from any parent luminary, and which knew nothing
opaque. More free than the birds of the air were the shadowy forms of
the two daughters of Aed Abrait, as they gazed out from that
rock-built dun upon a place their mortal feet had never trod. Yet
timidly Liban looked at her more adventurous sister. Fand floated to
the centre of the cavern, erect and radiant. Her eyes followed the
wavy tremulous motion of the light as it rolled by. They seemed to
pierce through earth and rock, and search out the secret hollows of
the star, to know the vastness, and to dominate and compel the motion
of the light. Her sister watched her half curiously and half in
admiration and wonder. As the floating form grew more intense the
arms swayed about and the lips murmured. A sheen as of many jewels
played beneath the pearly mist which enrobed her; over her head rose
the crest of the Dragon; she seemed to become one with the shining,
to draw it backwards into herself. Then from far away came a wondrous
melody, a sound as of the ancient chiming of the stars. The sidereal
rivers flowed by with more dazzling light, and the Birds of Angus were
"Look, Liban, look!" cried the Enchantress. "These of old were
the chariots of the children of men. On these the baby offspring of
the Gods raced through the nights of diamond and sapphire. We are not
less than they though a hundred ages set us apart. We will go forth
royally as they did. Let us choose forms from among these. If the
Hound should see us he will know we have power."
With arms around each other they watched the starry flocks hurtling
about them. The birds wheeled around, fled away, and again returned.
There were winged serpents; might which would put to flight the
degenerate eagle; plumage before which the birds of paradise would
show dull as clay. These wings dipt in the dawn flashed ceaselessly.
Ah, what plumage of white fire rayed out with pinions of opalescent
glory! What feathered sprays of burning amethyst! What crests of
scarlet and gold, of citron and wavy green! They floated by in
countless multitudes; they swayed in starry clusters dripping with
light, singing a melody caught from the spheres of the Gods, the song
which of old called forth the earth from its slumber. The sound was
entrancing. Oh, fiery birds who float in the purple rivers of the
Twilight, ye who rest in the great caverns of the world, whoever
listens to your song shall grow faint with longing, for he shall hear
the great, deep call in his heart and his spirit shall yearn to go
afar; whatever eyes see you shall grow suddenly blinded with tears
for a glory that has passed away from the world, for an empire we no
"They bring back the air of the ancient days. Ah! now I have the
heart of the child once again. Time has not known me. Let us away
with them. We will sweep over Eri and lead the starry flocks as the
"If we only dared. But think, Fand, we shall have every wizard
eye spying upon us, and every body who can use his freedom will
follow and thwart us. Not these forms, but others let us take. Ah,
look at those who come in grey and white and brown! Send home the
radiant ones. We will adventure with these."
"Be it so. Back to your fountains, O purple rivers! King-Bird,
Queen-Bird, to your home in the hollows lead your flock!" So she
spoke, but her words were shining and her waving arms compelled the
feathered monarchs with radiations of outstretched flame. To the
others: "Rest here awhile, sweet singers. We shall not detain you
captive for long." So she spoke, but her hands that caressed laid to
sleep the restless pulsations of the wings and lulled the ecstatic
Night, which to the eye of the magian shows more clearly all that
the bright day conceals, overspread with a wizard twilight the vast
hollow of the heavens. Numberless airy rivulets, each with its own
peculiar shining, ran hither and thither like the iridescent currents
streaming over a bubble. Out of still duskier, more darkly glowing
and phantasmal depths stared the great eyes of space, rimmed about
with rainbow-dyes. As night moved on to dawn two birds shot forth
from the dun, linked together by a cord of golden fire. They fled
southwards and eastwards. As they went they sang a song which tingled
the pulses of the air. In the dark fields the aureoles around the
flowers grew momentarily brighter. Over the mountain homes of the
Tuatha de Danaans rose up shadowy forms who watched, listened, and
pondered awhile. The strayed wanderers amid the woods heard the
enraptured notes and forgot their sorrows and life itself in a
hurricane of divine remembrance. Where the late feast was breaking up
the melody suddenly floated in and enwreathed the pillared halls, and
revellers became silent where they stood, the mighty warriors in their
hands bowed low their faces. Still on and on swept the strange birds
flying southwards and eastwards.
Still in many a peasant cot Lives the story unforgot, While the
faded parchments old Still their rhyming tale unfold. There is yet
another book Where thine eager eyes may look. There within its
shining pages Lives the long romance of ages, Liban, Fand, their
glowing dreams, Angus's birds, the magic streams Flooding all the
twilight crypt, Runes and spells in starry script; Secrets never
whispered here In the light are chanted clear. Read in the tales of
Eri If the written word be weary.
Never is there day so gleaming
But the dusk o'ertakes it; Never night so dark and
But the dawn awakes it: And the soul has nights and days
In its own eternal ways.
The air was cool with the coming of winter; but with the outer
cold came the inner warmth of the sun, full of subtile vitality and
strength. And the Ultonians had assembled to light the yearly fire in
honor of the Sun-God, at the seven-days' feast of Samhain. There the
warriors of Ulster rested by the sacred fire, gazing with closed eyes
upon the changing colors of the sun-breath, catching glimpses of
visions, or anon performing feats of magic when they felt the power
stirring within their breasts. They sang the songs of old times, of
the lands of the West, where their forefathers live ere the
earth-fires slew those lands, and the sea-waves buried them, leaving
only the Eri, the isle where dwelt men so holy that the earth-fires
dared not to assail it, and the ocean stood at bay. Lightly the
warriors juggled with their great weapons of glittering bronze; and
each told of his deeds in battle and in the chase; but woe to him who
boasted or spoke falsely, magnifying his prowess, for then would his
sword angrily turn of itself in its scabbard, convicting him of
Cuchullain, youngest but mightiest of all the warriors, sat moodily
apart, his beardless chin resting in the palms of his hands, his eyes
staring fixedly at the mirror-like surface of the lake upon whose
sloping bank he rested. Laeg, his charioteer, lying at full length
upon the greensward near by, watched him intently, a gloomy shadow
darkening his unusually cheerful face.
"It's a woman's trick, that," he muttered to himself, "staring into
the water when trying to see the country of the Sidhe, and unworthy
of a warrior. And to think of him doing it, who used to have the
clearest sight, and had more power for wonder-working than anyone
else in the lands of the West! Besides, he isn't seeing anything
now, for all the help of the water. When last I went to the dun some
women of the Sidhe told me they had looked up Cuchullain and found he
was getting too dim-eyed to see anything clearly now, even in his
sleep. Its true enough, but to hear it said even by women!"
And the discontented charioteer glanced back contemptuously at a
group of women a short distance away, who were following with their
eyes a flock of wild birds circling over the plain.
"I suppose they want those birds," he continued, conversing
familiarly with himself. "Its the way of women to want everything
they see, especially if its something hard to catch, like those wild
But Laeg's cynicism was not so deep as to keep his glance from
lingering upon the bevy of graceful maidens and stately matrons.
Their soft laughter reached his ear through the still evening air;
and watching their animated gestures he idly speculated upon the
plane he felt sure they were arranging.
"Yes; they want the birds. They wish to fasten the wings to their
shoulders, to make themselves look like the women of the Sidhe. They
know Cuchullain is the only man who can get the birds for them, but
even Emer, his wife, is afraid to ask him. Of course they will coax
that patient Ethne to do it. If she succeeds, she'll get no thanks;
and if she fails, she'll have all the blame, and go off by herself to
cry over the harsh words spoken by Cuchullain in his bad temper.
That's the way of Ethne, poor girl."
He was right in his conjecture, for presently Ethne left the group
and hesitatingly approached the giant warrior, who was still gazing
vacantly at the glassy surface of the water. She touched him timidly
on the shoulder. Slowly he raised his head, and still half dazed by
his long staring, listened while she made her request. He rose to his
feet sleepily, throwing out his brawny arms and expanding his chest as
he cast a keen glance at the birds slowly circling near the ground.
"Those birds are not fit to eat," he said, turning to her with a
"But we want the wings to put on our shoulders. It would be so
good of you to get them for us," said Ethne in persuasive tones.
"If it's flying you wish to try," he said, with a laugh, "you'll
need better wings than those. However, you shall have them if I can
get within throwing distance of them."
He glanced around for Laeg. That far-seeing individual was already
yoking the horses to the chariot. A moment later, Cuchullain and the
charioteer were dashing across the plain behind the galloping steeds.
As they neared the birds, Cuchullain sent missiles at them from his
sling with such incredible rapidity and certainty of aim that not one
of the flock escaped. Each of the women was given two of the birds;
but when Ethne, who had modestly held back when the others hurried
forward to meet the returning chariot, came to receive her share, not
"As usual," said Laeg stolidly, "if anyone fails to get her portion
of anything, its sure to be Ethne."
"Too sure," said Cuchullain, a look of compassion softening his
stern features. He strode over to Ethne, and placing his hand gently
on her head said: "Don't take your disappointment to heart, little
woman; when any more birds come to the plains of Murthemney, I
promise to get for you the most beautiful of them all."
"There's a fine brace of them now, flying towards us," exclaimed
Laeg, pointing across the lake. "And I think I hear them singing.
Queer birds, those; for I see a cord as of red gold between them."
Nearer and nearer swept the strange beings of the air, and as their
weird melody reached the many Ultonians at the Samhain fire, the
stalwart warriors, slender maidens, the youthful and the time-worn,
all felt the spell and became as statues, silent, motionless,
entranced. Alone the three at the chariot felt not the binding
influences of the spell. Cuchullain quietly fitted a smooth pebble
into his sling. Ethne looked appealingly at Laeg, in whose sagacity
she greatly trusted. A faint twinkle of the eye was the only sign
that betrayed the thought of the charioteer as he tried to return her
glance with a look of quiet unconcern. She hastened after Cuchullain,
who had taken his stand behind a great rock on the lake shore which
concealed him from the approaching birds.
"Do not try to take them," she entreated; "there is some strange
power about them which your eyes do not see; I feel it, and my heart
is filled with dread."
The young warrior made no reply, but whirling his sling above his
head sent the missile with terrific force at the two swan-like
voyagers of the air. It went far astray, and splashed harmlessly
into the lake, throwing up a fountain of spray. Cuchullain's face
grew dark. Never before in war or the chase had he missed so easy a
mark. Angrily he caught a javelin from his belt and hurled it at the
birds, which had swerved from their course and were now flying swiftly
away. It was a mighty cast, even for the strong arm of the mightiest
warrior of Eri; and the javelin, glittering in the sun, was well on
the downward curve of its long flight, its force spent, when its point
touched the wing of the nearest bird. A sphere of golden flame seemed
to glitter about them as they turned downward and disappeared beneath
the deep waters of the lake.
Cuchullain threw himself upon the ground, leaning his broad
shoulders against the rock.
"Leave me," he said in sullen tones to Ethne; "my senses are dull
with sleep from long watching at the Samhain fire. For the first
time since I slew the hound of Culain my right arm has failed me. My
eyes are clouded, and strange music murmurs in my heart."
His eyes closed, his heavy breathing was broken by sighs, and
anguish distorted his features. Ethne watched him awhile, and then
stole quietly back to where the warriors were and said to them:
"Cuchullain lies slumbering by yonder rock, and he moans in his
sleep as if the people of the Sidhe were reproaching his soul for
some misdeed. I fear those birds that had the power behind them.
Should we not waken him?"
But while they held council, and some were about to go and awaken
him. Fergus mac Roy, foster-father of Cuchullain, arose, and all drew
back in awe, for they saw the light of the Sun-God shining from his
eyes, and his voice had the Druid ring as he said in stern tones of
"Touch him not, for he sees a vision; the people of the Sidhe are
with him; and from the far distant past, even from the days of the
sunken lands of the West, I see the hand of Fate reach out and grasp
the warrior of Eri, to place him on a throne where he shall rule the
souls of men."
To Cuchullain it did not seem that he slept; for though his
eyelids fell, his sight still rested on the calm surface of the lake,
the shining sand on the shore, and the great brown rock against which
he reclined. But whence came the two maidens who were walking toward
him along the glistening sand? He gazed at them in speechless wonder;
surely only in dreamland could so fair a vision be seen. In
dreamland, yes; for a dim memory awoke in his breast that he had seen
them before in the world of slumber. One wore a mantle of soft green,
and her flaxen hair, strangely white but with a glint of gold, fell
about her shoulders so thickly it seemed like a silken hood out of
which looked a white face with gleaming violet eyes. The other maiden
had dark brown eyes, very large, very luminous; her cheeks were rosy,
with just a hint of bronzing by the sunshine, a dimple in her chin
added to the effect of her pouting red lips; her dark brown hair was
unbound and falling loosely over her deep crimson mantle, which
reached from her waist in five heavy folds. The recumbent warrior felt
a weird spell upon him. Powerless to move or speak, he saw the two
maidens advance and stand beside him, the sunlight gleaming upon their
bare arms and bosoms. They smiled upon him and uplifted their arms,
and then from their fingers there rained down upon him blinding
lightnings, filaments of flame that stung like whipcords, a hail of
rainbow sparks that benumbed him, darting flames that pierced him like
javelins; and as he gazed upward through that storm of fire, writhing
in his agony, he saw still their white arms waving to and from,
weaving a network of lightnings about him, their faces smiling upon
him, serene and kindly; and in the eyes of her with the crimson mantle
he read a tenderness all too human. Eyes that shone with tenderness;
white arms that wove a rainbow-mesh of torturing fires about him;
his anguish ever increasing, until he saw the arms stop waving, held
for an instant aloft, and then swept downward with a torrent of flame
and a mighty crash of sound like the spears of ten thousand warriors
meeting in battle, and then—he was alone, staring with wide-open
eyes at the blue, cloud-mirroring surface of the lakes and the white
sand gleaming on the shore.
"Trouble me not with questions," said Cuchullain to the warriors
gathered about him. "My limbs are benumbed and refuse to obey me.
Bear me to my sick-bed at Tete Brece."
"Shall we not take you to Dun Imrish, or to Dun Delca, where you
may be with Emer?" said they.
"No," he replied, a shudder convulsing his strong frame; "bear me
to Tete Brece.
And when they had done so, he dwelt there for a year, and on his
face was always the look of a slumberer who is dreaming; not once
did he smile, nor did he speak one word during that year.
When the soul has many lives
Fettered by Forgetfulness, Hands that burst its long-worn
Cruel seem and pitiless. Yet they come all tenderly,
Loved companions of the past; And the sword that sets us
Turns our pain to peace at last.
What shadows turn his eyes away
Who fain would scale the heavenly heights;
There shines the beauty of a day,
And there the ancient Light of Lights.
And while he broods on visions dim
And grows forgetful of his fate,
The chariot of the Sun for him
And all the tribal stars await.
The Slumber of Cuchullain, and the Message of Angus
Within the door at Tete Brece, under the shadow of the thatch, the
couch of Cuchullain was placed, so that if he willed he could gaze
over the rich green fields to the distant rim of blue hills. Yet
rarely opened he his eyes or gazed with outward understanding during
that weary year. Often the watchers round his bed, looking on the
white rigid face, wondered if he were indeed living. But they dared
not awaken him, for the seers had found that his slumber was filled
with mystic life, and that it was not lawful to call him forth. Was
the gloom of the great warrior because he was but the shadow of his
former self, or was that pale form indeed empty? So pondered Fergus,
Conail, Lugard and Ethne, faithful companions. But he in himself was
wrapped in a mist of visions appearing fast and vanishing faster. The
fiery hands that smote him had done their work well, and his darkness
had become bright with remembrance. The majesty of elder years swept
by him with reproachful glance, and the hero cowered before the
greatness of his own past. Born out of the womb of the earth long ago
in the fulness of power—what shadow had dimmed his beauty? He
tracked and retraced countless steps. Once more he held sceptred sway
over races long since in oblivion. He passed beyond the common way
until the powers of the vast knew and obeyed him. As he looked back
there was one always with him. Lu, the Sun-God, who in the bright
days of childhood had appeared to him as his little feet ran from home
in search for adventures. Remote and dim, nigh and radiant, he was
always there. In solemn initiations in crypts beneath the giant hills
he rose up, gemmed and starred with living fires, and grew one with
the God, and away, away with him he passed into the lands of the
immortals, or waged wars more than human, when from the buried lands
of the past first came the heroes eastward to Eri and found the
terrible Fomorian enchanters dwelling in the sacred isle. In dream
Cuchullain saw the earth- scorning warriors rise up and wage their
battle in the bright aether, and the great Sun-Chieftain, shining like
gold, lead his glittering hosts. In mountainous multitudes the
giantesque phantoms reeled to and from, their mighty forms wreathed in
streams of flame, while the stars paled and shuddered as they fought.
There was yet another face, another form, often beside him;
whispering, luring, calling him away to he knew not what wild
freedom. It was the phantom form of the child of Aed Abrait, with
dark flowing tresses, mystic eyes, her face breathing the sweetness
of the sun, with all the old nobility of earth, but elate and apart,
as one who had been in the crystal spheres of the unseen and bathed
in its immortalizing rivers and drunk the starry dews.
Come, Cu. Come, O hero," she whispered. "There are fiery
fountains of life which will renew thee. We will go where the Sidhe
dwell, where the golden life-breath flows up from the mountains in a
dazzling radiance to the ever-shining regions of azure and pearl
under the stars. Glad is everything that lives in that place. Come,
Cu, come away." And she passed from beside him with face half turned,
calling, beckoning, till in his madness he forgot the bright Sun-God
and the warriors of Eri awaiting his guidance.
It was again the feast of Samhain. About twilight in the evening
a shadow darkened the door. A man in blue mantle stood outside; he
did not enter but looked around him a little while and then sat down,
laughing softly to himself. Fergus, Conail and Lugard rose
simultaneously, glad of the pretence of warning off the intruder as a
relief from their monotonous watch.
"Do you not know," said Conail sternly, "that one lies ill here
who must not be disturbed?"
The stranger arose.
"I will tell you a tale," he said. "As I was strolling through
the trees I saw a radiance shining around the dun, and I saw one
floating in that light like a mighty pillar of fire, or bronze ruddy
and golden: a child of the Sun he seemed; the living fires curled
about him and rayed from his head. He looked to the north and to the
west, to the south and to the east, and over all Eri he shot his fiery
breaths rainbow-colored, and the dark grew light before him where he
gazed. Indeed if he who lies here were well he would be mightiest
among your warriors. But I think that now he clasps hands with the
heroes of the Sidhe as well, and with Druid power protects the
Ultonians. I feel happy to be beside him."
"It is Lu Lamfada guarding the hero. Now his destiny will draw
nigh to him again," thought Cu's companions, and they welcomed the
"I see why he lies here so still," he continued, his voice strange
like one who is inspired while he speaks. "The Sidhe looked out from
their mountains. They saw a hero asleep. They saw a God forgetful.
They stirred him to shame by the hands of women. They showed him the
past. They said to Fand and Libau, 'Awake him. Bring him to us. Let
him come on the night of Samhain.' They showed the chosen one from
afar, in a vision while hid in their mountains. The Tuatha de
Danaans, the immortals, wish for Cuchullain to aid them. The
daughters of Aed Abrait are their messengers. If Fand and Liban were
here they would restore the hero."
"Who are you?" asked Laeg, who had joined them.
"I am Angus, son of Aed Abrait." While he spoke his form quivered
like a smoke, twinkling in misty indistinctness in the blue twilight,
and then vanished before their eyes.
"I wonder now," muttered Laeg to himself, "if he was sent by the
Sidhe, or by Liban and Fand only. When one has to deal with women
everything is uncertain. Fand trusts more in her beauty to arouse
him than in her message. I have seen her shadow twenty times cooing
about him. It is all an excuse for love-making with her. It is just
like a woman. Anything, however, would be better for him than to lie
in bed." He went off to join the others. Cuchullain was sitting up
and was telling the story of what happened last Samhain.
"What should I do?" he asked.
"Go to the wise King," said Laeg, and so they all advised, for ever
since the day when he was crowned, and the Druids had touched him
with fire, a light of wisdom shone about Concobar the King.
"I think you should go to the rock where the women of the Sidhe
appeared to you," said Concobar when appealed to.
So Laeg made ready the chariot and drove to the tarn. Night came
ere they reached it, but the moon showed full and brilliant. Laeg
waited a little way apart, while Cuchullain sat himself in the black
shadow of the rock. As the warrior gazed into the dark, star-speckled
surface of the waters, a brightness and a mist gathered over them, and
there, standing with her robe of green down—dropping to her feet and
trailing on the wave, her pale flaxen hair blown around her head, was
Liban. She smiled strangely as before, looking through him with her
"I am one of the Sidhe," she said, and her voice sounded like a
murmur of the water. "You also, O warrior, though forgetful, are one
of us. We did not indeed come to injure you, but to awaken
remembrance. For now the wild clouds of demons gathered from the
neighboring isles and we wish your aid. Your strength will come back
to you exultant as of old. Come with me, warrior. You will have
great companions. Labraid, who wields the rapid fires as you the
sword, and Fand, who has laid aside her Druid wisdom longing for you."
"Whither must I go with you, strange woman?" asked Cuchullain.
"I will send Laeg with you," said Cuchullain. I do not care to go
to an unknown place while I have my duties here." He then went to
Laeg, asking him to go with Liban.
"He is longing to go," thought Laeg, "but he mistrusts his power
to get away. He has forgotten all he knew and did not wish to appear
nothing before a woman. However, it can do no harm if I go and see
what they do."
Oh, marvel not if in our tale
The gleaming figures come and go, More mystic splendors
shine and pale
Than in an age outworn we know.
Their ignorance to us were wise:
Their sins our virtue would outshine: A glory passed
before their eyes:
We hardly dream of the divine.
In world may come romance,
With all the lures of love and glamour; And woesome
tragedy will chance
To him whom fairy forms enamour.
There slain illusions live anew
To stay the soul with coy caresses; But he who only loves
Slays them again, and onward presses.
For golden chains are yet but chains,
Enchanted dreams are yet but dreaming; And ere the soul
its freedom gains
It bursts all bonds, destroys all seeming.
"Yes, I'll go with the maid in the green mantle," muttered Laeg to
himself; "but I'll don the crimson mantle of five folds which it is
my right to wear in the land of the Sidhe, even though my earthly
occupation is only the driving of a war-chariot."
He began chanting softly; a golden gleam as of sunshine swept
circling about him; then as the chant ceased a look of wild
exultation came to his face, and he threw up his arms, so that for an
instant he had the aspect he wore when guiding the great war-chariot
of Cuchullain into the thick of battle. His swaying form fell softly
upon the greensward, and above it floated a luminous figure clad in a
crimson mantle, but whose face and bare arms were of the color of
burnished bronze. So impassive and commanding was his face that even
Liban faltered a little as she stole to his side. Cuchullain watched
the two figures as they floated slowly over the dark expanse of the
lake, till they suddenly disappeared, seemingly into its quiet
surface. Then with his face buried in his hands he sat motionless,
absorbed in deep thought, while he waited until the return of Laeg.
The recumbent form of Liban rose from the crouch where it had lain
entranced. Before her stood the phantom figure of Laeg. All in the
house save herself were asleep, but with the conscious sleep of the
Sidhe, and their shades spoke welcome to Laeg, each saying to him in
liquid tones such as come never from lips of clay:
"Welcome to you, Laeg; welcome because of her who brings you, of
him who sent you, and of yourself."
He saw about him only women of the Sidhe, and knew that he was in
one of the schools established by the wise men of Eri for maidens who
would devote their lives to holiness and Druid learning; maidens who
should know no earthly love but fix their eyes ever on the light of
the Sun-god. But not seeing Fand among them, he turned with an
impatient gesture to Liban. She read his gesture aright, and said:
"My sister dwells apart; she has more knowledge, and presides over
all of us."
Leaving the room, she walked down a corridor, noiselessly save for
the rustle of her long robe of green, which she drew closely about
her, for the night was chill. An unaccustomed awe rested upon her,
and to Laeg she whispered:
"The evil enchanters have power tonight, so that your life would
be in danger if you had not the protection of a maiden of the Sun."
But a smile wreathed for an instant the bronze-hue face of the
shadowy charioteer, as he murmured in tones of kindness near to pity,
softening his rude words:
"Till now nor Cuchullain nor I have ever felt the need of a woman's
protection, and I would much rather he were here now than I."
Drawing aside a heavy curtain, Liban entered her sister's room.
They saw Fand seated at a little table. A scroll lay on it open
before her, but her eyes were not fixed on it. With hands clasped
under her chin she gazed into the vacancies with eyes of far-away
reflection and longing. There was something pathetic in the
intensity and wistfulness of the lonely figures. She turned and rose
to meet them, a smile of rare tenderness lighting up her face as she
saw Liban. The dim glow of a single lamp but half revealed the
youthful figure, the pale, beautiful face, out of which the
sun-colours had faded. Her hair of raven hue was gathered in massy
coils over her head and fastened there by a spiral torque of gleaming
gold. Her mantle, entirely black, which fell to her feet, made her
features seem more strangely young, more startlingly in contrast with
the monastic severity of the room. It was draped round with some dark
unfigured hangings. A couch with a coverlet of furs, single chair of
carved oak, the little table, and a bronze censer from which a faint
aromatic odor escaping filled the air and stole on the sense,
completed the furniture of the room, which might rather have been the
cell of some aged Druid than the chamber of one of the young maidens
of Eri, who were not overgiven to ascetic habits. She welcomed Laeg
with the same terms of triple welcome as did the mystic children of
the sun who had first gathered round him. Her brilliant eyes seemed to
read deep the soul of the charioteer.
Then Liban came softly up to her, saying:
"Oh, Fand, my soul is sad this night. The dark powers are
gathering their strength to assail us, and we shall need to be pure
and strong. Yet you have said that you feel no longer the Presence
with you; that Mannanan, the Self of the Sun, shines not in your
Fan placed her hand upon her sister's flaxen head, saying with a
voice mingled joy and pathos:
"Peace, child; you, of us all, have least to fear, for though I,
alas! am forsaken, yet He who is your Father and Yourself is even now
here with you."
Liban fell on her knees, with her hands clasped and her eyes
uplifted in a rapture of adoration, for above her floated one whom she
well knew. Yet unheeding her and stern of glance, with his right arm
outstretched, from which leaped long tongues of flame, swordlike,
into space, Labraid towered above gazing upon foes unseen by them.
Slowly the arm fell and the stern look departed from the face.
Ancient with the youth of the Gods, it was such a face and form the
toilers in the shadowy world, mindful of their starry dynasties,
sought to carve in images of upright and immovable calm amid the
sphinxes of the Nile or the sculptured Gods of Chaldaea. So upright
and immovable in such sculptured repose appeared Labraid, his body
like a bright ruby flame, sunlit from its golden heart. Beneath his
brows his eyes looked full of secrecy. The air pulsing and heaving
about him drove Laeg backward from the centre of the room. He appeared
but a child before this potent spirit. Liban broke out into a wild
chant of welcome:
"Oh see now how burning,
How radiant in might, From battle returning
The Dragon of Light! Where wert thou, unsleeping
Exile from the throne, In watch o'er the weeping,
The sad and the lone. The sun-fires of Eri
Burned low on the steep; The watchers were weary
Or sunken in sleep; And dread were the legions
Of demons who rose From the uttermost regions
Of ice and of snows; And on the red wind borne,
Unspeakable things From wizard's dark mind borne
On shadowy wings. The darkness was lighted
With whirlwinds of flame; The demons affrighted
Fled back whence they came. For thou wert unto them
The vision that slays: Thy fires quivered through them
In arrowy rays. Oh, light amethystine,
Thy shadow inspire, And fill with the pristine
Vigor of fire. Though thought like a fountain
Pours dream upon dream, Unscaled is the mountain
Where thou still dost gleam, And shinest afar like
The dawning of day, Immortal and starlike
In rainbow array."
But he, the shining one, answered, and his voice had that melody
which only those know whom the Sun-breath has wafted into worlds
"Vaunt not, poor mortal one, nor claim knowledge when the Gods know
not. He who is greatest among all the sons of evil now waits for the
hour to strike when he may assail us and have with him all the hosts
of the foes of light. What may be the issue of the combat cannot be
foreseen by us. Yet mortals, unwise, ever claim to know when even the
Gods confess ignorance; for pride blinds all mortals, and arrogance
is born of their feebleness."
Unabashed she cried out:
"Then rejoice, for we have awakened Cu, the warrior-magician of
old times, and his messenger is her."
Then he answered gently, pityingly:
"We need the help of each strong soul, and you have done well to
arouse that slumbering giant. If through his added strength we
conquer, then will he be the saviour of Eri; beloved by the Gods, he
will cease to be a wild warrior on earth, and become a leader of
mortals, aiding them on the way to the immortals. Wisely have you
awakened him, and yet—"
He smiled, and such was the pity in his smiling glance that Liban
bowed her head in humiliation. When she raised it he was gone, and
Laeg also had vanished. She arose, and with a half-sob threw herself
into the arms of her sister. So they stood, silent, with tearless
eyes; for they were too divine for tears, although, alas! too human.
Slowly the chariot rolled on its homeward way, for Laeg, seeing
the weakness and weariness of Cuchullain, held the great steeds in
check; their arched necks and snorting breath resenting the
restraint, while the impatient stamping of their hoofs struck fire
from the pebbly road.
"Well," said Cuchullain moodily, "tell me what happened after you
went away with that woman of the Sidhe."
Briefly and without comment of his own Laeg stated what he had
seen. Then long Cuchullain pondered; neither spoke, and the silence
was broken only by the stamping of the steeds and the rumble of the
chariot wheels. Dark clouds drifted athwart the moon, and the
darkness gave more freedom of speech, for Cuchullain said in measured,
"And what do you think of all this?"
"What do I think?" burst forth Laeg with sudden fire; "I think
you had better be leaving those women of the Sidhe alone, and they
you. That Fand would lose her soul for love, and the spell they've
cast over you is evil, or it wouldn't make a warrior like you as
helpless as a toddling babe."
In letting loose his pent-up wrath Laeg had unconsciously loosened
as well the reined-in steeds, who sprang forward impetuously, and the
jolting of the car was all that Cuchullain could bear in his enfeebled
state. Recovering himself, the charioteer drew them in check again,
inwardly upbraiding himself for carelessness.
Sorrowful and broken was the voice of the warrior as he said:
"On the morrow, Laeg, you shall bear a message to Emer. Tell her
the Sidhe have thrown a spell of helplessness upon me while deceiving
me with false visions of my aiding them in their war with the evil
enchanters. Ask Emer to come to me, for her presence may help to
rouse me from this spell that benumbs my body and clouds my mind."
Then Laeg sought to console him, saying:
"No, no; the Sidhe wrong no one. Their message to you was true;
but their messengers were women, and you were a warrior. That is why
the mischance came, for it is ever the way with a woman to become
foolish over a warrior, and then there is always a muddle. And when
Emer comes—," he checked his indiscreet utterance by pretending to
have a difficulty in restraining the horses, and then added
confusedly: "Besides, I'd rather be in your plight than in Fand's."
"Has Emer come?" asked Cuchullain, drawing himself up on his couch
and resting on his elbow.
"Yes," said Laeg dejectedly; "I have brought her. She has been
talking to me most of the journey. Now she'll be after talking to
you, but you needn't mind; it isn't her ususal way, and she isn't as
unreasonable as might be expected. She puts most of the blame of your
illness on me, though perhaps that is because it was me she was
talking to. Insists that as I can go to the Plain of Fire where the
Sidhe live I ought to be able to find a way of curing you. She has
expressed that idea to me many times, with a fluency and wealth of
illustration that would make a bard envious. Here she comes now.
I'll just slip out and see if the horses are being properly cared
He had not overstated the case, for the sweet face of Emer was
clouded with wrath as she approached the sick-bed of her husband.
Bitterly she reproached him for what she claimed was only a feigned
illness, and expressed her conviction that no theory would account
for his conduct save that, faithless to her his wife, he had fallen
in love. But Cuchullain made no answer, for not only was he
invincible in battle, but also wise in the matter of holding his
tongue when a woman warred against him with words.
"You are looking stronger," said Laeg, when next he saw him alone.
"Yes," he returned, "the speech of Emer has roused me a little
from my torpor. I have been thinking that possibly we were wrong in
disregarding the message brought by the women of the Sidhe. They
surely have power to break this spell, and doubtless would have done
so had you not fled from them so inconsiderately."
"I was thinking the same when Emer was coming here with me,"
observed Laeg. "Her speech roused me a little too."
Cuchullain was silent awhile and then said reflectively:
"Do you think we could find Liban again?"
"There would be no difficulty about that," Laeg replied drily.
"Then," said Cuchullain with sudden energy, "let us go once more
to the rock of the visions."
Our souls give battle when the host
Of lurid lives that lurk in Air, And Ocean's regions
Come forth from every loathsome lair: For then are
cloudland battles fought
With spears of lightning, swords of flame, No quarter
given, none besought,
Till to the darkness whence they came The Sons of Night
are hurled again.
Yet while the reddened skies resound The wizard souls of
Within the demon ranks are found, While pure and strong
the heroes go
To join the strife, and reck no odds, For they who face
the wizard foe
Clasp hands heroic with the gods.
What is the love of shadowy lips
That know not what they seek or press, From whom the lure
for ever slips
And fails their phantom tenderness?
The mystery and light of eyes
That near to mine grow dim and cold; They move afar in
Mid flame and mystic darkness rolled.
Oh, hero, as thy heart o'erflows
In tender yielding unto me, A vast desire awakes and grows
Unto forgetfulness of thee.
Again Liban stood before them, and her eyes were full of reproach.
"You doubt the truth of my message," she said. "Come, then, to the
Plain of Fire, and you shall see the one who sent me."
"I doubt you not," said Cuchullain quietly; "but it is not fitting
that I should go when the message is brought by a woman, for such is
the warning I have had in vision from Lu Lamfada. Laeg shall go with
you, and if he brings back the same message, then I shall do the
bidding of the Sidhe, and wage war against the evil enchanters, even
as when a lad I vanquished the brook of wizards at Dun-mic-Nectan."
"Where did Liban take you this time, Laeg? Have you brought back
a message from the Sidhe?"
"I have seen the Chief," said Laeg, whose doubts had vanished and
whose whole manner had changed. "Cuchullain, you must go. You
remember how we went together to Brusna by the Boyne, and what
wonders they showed us in the sacred crypt. Yet this is a place more
marvelous—thrice. Well indeed did Liban call it the Plain of Fire,
for a breath of fire is in the air for leagues and leagues around. On
the lake where the Sidhe dwell the fishers row by and see nothing, or,
mayhap, a flicker of phantasmal trees around the dun. These trees are
rooted in a buried star beneath the earth; when its heart pulsates
they shine like gold, aye, and are fruited with ruby lights. Indeed
this Labraid is one of the Gods. I saw him come through the flaming
rivers of the underworld. He was filled with the radiance. I am not
given to dread the Sidhe, but there was that in him which compelled
awe: for oh, he came from the homes that were anciently ours—ours
who are fallen, and whose garments once bright are stained by the lees
of time. He greeted me kindly. He knew me by my crimson mantle with
five folds. He asked for you; indeed they all wish to have you
"Did he say aught further?"
"No, he spoke but little; but as I returned by Mag Luada I had a
vision. I saw you standing under the sacred Tree of Victory. There
were two mighty ones, one on each side of you, but they seemed no
greater than you."
"Was Fand there?" asked Cuchullain.
"Yes," said Laeg reluctantly; "I saw her and spoke to her,
although I did not wish to. I feared for myself. Ethne and Emer are
beautiful women, but this woman is not like them. She is half divine.
The holiest Druids might lose his reason over her."
"Let us go thither," said Cuchullain.
The night was clear, breathless, pure as diamond. The giant lights
far above floated quietly in the streams of space. Below slept the
lake mirroring the shadowy blue of the mountains. The great mounds,
the homes of the Sidhe, were empty; but over them floated a watchful
company, grave, majestic, silent, waiting. In stately procession
their rich, gleaming figures moved to and fro in groups of twos and
threes, emblazoning the dusky air with warm colors. A little apart,
beyond the headland at the island's edge, two more commanding than the
rest communed together. The wavering water reflected head-long their
shining figures in its dark depths; above them the ancient blue of the
night rose as a crown. These two were Labraid and the warrior of
Murthemney restored to all his Druid power. Terrible indeed in its
beauty, its power, its calm, was this fiery phantasmal form beside the
king of the Sidhe.
"We came to Eri many, many ages ago," said Labraid; "from a land
the people of today hold no memory of. Mighty for good and for evil
were the dwellers in that land, but its hour struck and the waters of
the ocean entomb it. In this island, which the mighty Gods of Fire
kept apart and sacred, we made our home. But after long years a day
came when the wise ones must needs depart from this also. They went
eastward. A few only remained to keep alive the tradition of what
was, the hope of what will be again. For in this island, it is
foretold, in future ages will arise a light which will renew the
children of time. But now the world's great darkness has come. See
what exhalations arise! What demons would make Eri their home!"
Away at the eastern verge a thick darkness was gathering; a pitchy
blackness out of which a blood—red aerial river rolled and shot its
tides through the arteries of the night. It came nigher. It was
dense with living creatures, larvae, horrible shapes with waving
tendrils, white withered things restless and famished, hoglike faces,
monstrosities. As it rolled along there was a shadowy dropping over
hamlet and village and field.
"Can they not be stayed? Can they not be stayed?" rang the cry of
The stern look on Cuchullain's face deepened.
"Is it these pitiful spectres we must wage war against? Labraid,
it is enough. I will go—alone. Nay, my brother, one is enough for
Already he was oblivious of the Sidhe, the voices of Fand and Laeg
calling him. A light like a wonder-mist broke dazzling about him.
Through a mist of fire, an excess of light, they saw a transcendent
form of intensest gold treading the air. Over the head of the god a
lightning thread like a serpent undulated and darted. It shed a
thousand dazzling rays; it chanted in a myriad tones as it went
forward. Wider grew the radiant sphere and more triumphant the chant
as he sped onward and encountered the overflow of hell. Afar off the
watchers saw and heard the tumult, cries of a horrible conflict,
agonies of writhing and burning demons scorched and annihilated,
reeling away before the onset of light. On and still on he sped, now
darkened and again blazing like the sun.
"Look! look!" cried Laeg, breathless with exultation as the
dazzling phantom towered and waved its arms on the horizon.
"They lied who said he was powerless," said Fand, no less exultant.
"Cu, my darling," murmured the charioteer; "I know now why I loved
you, what burned within you."
"Shall we not go and welcome him when he returns?" said Liban.
"I should not advise it," Laeg answered. "Is it to meet that fury
of fire when he sinks back blind and oblivious? He would slay his
dearest friend. I am going away from here as fast as I can."
Through the dark forests at dawn the smoke began to curl up from
dun and hamlet, and, all unconscious of the war waged over their
destinies, children awoke to laugh and men and women went forth to
breathe the sweet air of morning.
Cuchullain started from a dream of more ancient battles, of wars
in heaven. Through the darkness of the room he saw the shadowy forms
of the two daughters of Aed Abrait; not as before, the mystic maidens
armed with Druid power, but women, melting, tender, caressing. Violet
eyes shining with gratitude; darker eyes burning with love, looked
into his. Misty tresses fell over him.
"I know not how the battle went," he sighed. "I remember the fire
awoke. .... Lu was with me. .... I fell back in a blinding mist of
flame and forgot everything."
"Doubt it not. Victory went with thee, warrior," said Liban. "We
saw thee: it was wonderful. How the seven splendors flashed and the
fiery stars roved around you and scattered the demons!"
"Oh, do not let your powers sink in sleep again," broke forth Fand.
"What are the triumphs of earthly battles to victories like these?
What is rule over a thousand warriors to kingship over the skyey
hosts? Of what power are spear and arrow beside the radiant sling of
Lu? Do the war-songs of the Ultonians inspire thee ever like the
terrible chant of fire? After freedom can you dwell in these gloomy
duns? What are the princeliest of them beside the fiery halls of
Tir-na-noge and the flame-built cities of the Gods? As for me, I
would dwell where the great ones of ancient days have gone, and
worship at the shrine of the silent and unutterable Awe."
"I would go indeed," said Cuchullain; "but still—but still—: it
is hard to leave the green plains of Murthemney, and the Ultonians who
have fought by my side, and Laeg, and—"
"Laeg can come with us. Nor need Conchobar, or Fergus or Conail
be forgotten. Far better can you aid them with Druid power than with
the right arm a blow may make powerless in battle. Go with Laeg to
Iban-Cind-Trachta. Beside the yew-tree there is a dun. There you can
live hidden from all. It is a place kept sacred by the might of the
Sidhe. I will join you there."
A month passed. In a chamber of the Dun the Yew-tree, Fand,
Cuchullain and Laeg were at night. The two latter sat by an oaken
table and tried by divination to peer into the future. Fand,
withdrawn in the dark shadow of a recess, lay on a couch and looked
on. Many thoughts went passing through her mind. Now the old passion
of love would rise in her heart to be quenched by a weary feeling of
futility, and then a half-contempt would curl her lips as she saw the
eagerness of her associates. Other memories surged up. "Oh,
Mannanan, Father-Self, if thou hadst not left me and my heart had not
turned away! It was not a dream when I met thee and we entered the
Ocean of Fire together. Our beauty encompassed the world. Radiant as
Lu thy brother of the Sun we were. Far away as the dawn seems the
time. How beautiful, too, was that other whose image in the hero
enslaves my heart. Oh, that he would but know himself, and learn that
on this path the greatest is the only risk worth taking! And now he
holds back the charioteer also and does him wrong." Just then
something caused her to look up. She cried out, "Laeg, Laeg, do you
"What is it?" said Laeg. Then he also looked and started. "Gods!"
he murmured. "Emer! I would rather face a tempest of Formorian
"Do you not see?" repeated Fand scornfully. "It is Emer the
daughter of Forgall. Has she also become one of the Sidhe that she
"She comes in dream," said Laeg.
"Why do you intrude upon our seclusion here? You know my anger is
no slight thing," broke out Cuchullain, in ready wrath hiding his
confusion. The shadow of Emer turned, throwing back the long, fair
hair from her face the better to see him. There was no dread on it,
but only outraged womanly dignity. She spake and her voice seemed to
flow from a passionate heart far away brooding in sorrowful
"Why do I come? Has thou not degraded me before all the maidens
of Eri by forsaking me for a woman of the Sidhe without a cause? You
ask why I come when every one of the Ultonians looks at me in
questioning doubt and wonder! But I see you have found a more
"We came hither, Laeg and I, to learn the lore of the Sidhe. Why
should you not leave me here for a time, Emer? This maiden is of
wondrous magical power: she is a princess in her own land, and is as
pure and chaste to this hour as you."
"I see indeed she is more beautiful than I am. That is why you
are drawn away. Her face has not grown familiar. Everything that is
new or strange you follow. The passing cheeks are ruddier than the
pale face which has shared your troubles. What you know is weariness,
and you leave it to learn what you do not know. The Ultonians falter
while you are absent from duty in battle and council, and I, whom you
brought with sweet words when half a child from my home, am left
alone. Oh, Cuchullain, beloved, I was once dear to thee, and if today
or tomorrow were our first meeting I should be so again."
A torrent of self-reproach and returning love overwhelmed him. "I
swear to you," he said brokenly, through fast-flowing tears, "you are
immortally dear to me, Emer."
"Then you leave me," burst forth Fand, rising to her full height,
her dark, bright eyes filled with a sudden fire, an image of mystic
indignation and shame.
"If indeed," said Emer softly, "joy and love and beauty are more
among the Sidhe than where we dwell in Eri, then it were better for
thee to remain."
"No, he shall not now," said Fand passionately. "It is I whom he
shall leave. I long foresaw this moment, but ran against fate like a
child. Go, warrior, Cu; tear this love out of thy heart as I out of
mine. Go, Laeg, I will not forget thee. Thou alone hast thought
about these things truly. But now—I cannot speak." She flung
herself upon the couch in the dark shadow and hid her face away from
The pale phantom wavered and faded away, going to one who awoke
from sleep with a happiness she could not understand. Cuchullain and
Laeg passed out silently into the night. At the door of the dun a
voice they knew not spake:
"So, warrior, you return. It is well. Not yet for thee is the
brotherhood of the Sidhe, and thy destiny and Fand's lie far apart.
Thine is not so great but it will be greater, in ages yet to come, in
other lands, among other peoples, when the battle fury in thee shall
have turned to wisdom and anger to compassion. Nations that lie
hidden in the womb of time shall hail thee as friend, deliverer and
saviour. Go and forget what has passed. This also thou shalt forget.
It will not linger in thy mind; but in thy heart shall remain the
memory and it will urge thee to nobler deeds. Farewell, warrior,
saviour that is to be!"
As the two went along the moon lit shore mighty forms followed,
and there was a waving of awful hands over them to blot out memory.
In the room where Fand lay with mad beating heart tearing itself
in remorse, there was one watching with divine pity. Mannanan, the
Golden Glory, the Self of the Sun. "Weep not, O shadow; thy days of
passion and pain are over." breathed the Pity in her breast. "Rise up,
O Ray, from thy sepulchre of forgetfulness. Spirit come forth to they
ancient and immemorial home." She rose up and stood erect. As the
Mantle of Mannanan enfolded her, no human words could tell the love,
the exultation, the pathos, the wild passion of surrender, the music
of divine and human life interblending. Faintly we echo—like this
spake the Shadow and like this the Glory.
Who art thou, O Glory,
In flame from the deep, Where stars chant their story,
Why trouble my sleep?
I hardly had rested,
My dreams wither now: Why comest thou crested
And gemmed on they brow?
Up, Shadow, and follow
The way I will show; The blue gleaming hollow
To-night we will know,
And rise mid the vast to
The fountain of days; From whence we had pass to
The parting of ways.
I know thee, O Glory:
Thine eyes and thy brow With white fire all hoary
Come back to me now.
Together we wandered
In ages agone; Our thoughts as we pondered
Were stars at the dawn.
The glory has dwindled,
My azure and gold: Yet you keep enkindled
The Sun-fire of old.
My footsteps are tied to
The heath and the stone; My thoughts earth-allied-to—
Ah! leave me alone.
Go back, thou of gladness,
Nor wound me with pain, Nor spite me with madness,
Nor come nigh again.
Why tremble and weep now,
Whom stars once obeyed? Come forth to the deep now
And be not afraid.
The Dark One is calling,
I know, for his dreams Around me are falling
In musical streams.
A diamond is burning
In depths of the Lone Thy spirit returning
May claim for its throne.
In flame-fringed islands
Its sorrows shall cease, Absorbed in the silence
And quenched in the peace.
Come lay thy poor head on
My breast where it glows With love ruby-red on
Thy heart for its woes.
My power I surrender:
To thee it is due: Come forth, for the splendor
Is waiting for you.
—November 15, 1895-March 15, 1896
Many are the voices that entreat and warn those who would live the
life of the Magi. It is well they should speak. They are voices of
the wise. But after having listened and pondered, oh, that someone
would arise and shout into our souls how much more fatal it is to
refrain. For we miss to hear the fairy tale of time, the aeonian
chant radiant with light and color which the spirit prolongs. The
warnings are not for those who stay at home, but for those who
adventure abroad. They constitute an invitation to enter the
mysteries. We study and think these things were well in the happy
prime and will be again the years to come. But not yesterday only or
tomorrow—today, today burns in the heart the fire which made mighty
the heroes of old. And in what future will be born the powers which
are not quick in the present? It will never be a matter of greater
ease to enter the path, though we may well have the stimulus of
greater despair. For this and that there are times and seasons, but
for the highest it is always the hour. The eternal beauty does not
pale because its shadow trails over slime and corruption. It is
always present beneath the faded mould whereon our lives are spent.
Still the old mysterious glimmer from mountain and cave allures, and
the golden gleams divide and descend on us from the haunts of the
The dark age is our darkness and not the darkness of life. It is
not well for us who in the beginning came forth with the wonder-light
about us, that it should have turned in us to darkness, the song of
life be dumb. We close our eyes from the many-coloured mirage of
day, and are alone soundless and sightless in the unillumined cell of
the brain. But there are thoughts that shine, impulses born of fire.
Still there are moments when the prison world reels away a distant
shadow, and the inner chamber of clay fills full with fiery visions.
We choose from the traditions of the past some symbol of our
greatness, and seem again the Titans or Morning Stars of the prime. In
this self-conception lies the secret of life, the way of escape and
return. We have imagined ourselves into forgetfulness, into darkness,
into feebleness. From this strange and pitiful dream of life, oh,
that we may awaken and know ourselves once again.
But the student too often turns to books, to the words sent back
to him, forgetful that the best of scriptures do no more than stand
as symbols. We hear too much of study, as if the wisdom of life and
ethics could be learned like ritual, and of their application to this
and that ephemeral pursuit. But from the Golden One, the child of the
divine, comes a voice to its shadow. It is stranger to our world,
aloof from our ambitions, with a destiny not here to be fulfilled. It
says: "You are of dust while I am robed in opalescent airs. You
dwell in houses of clay, I in a temple not made by hands. I will not
go with thee, but thou must come with me." And not alone is the form
of the divine aloof but the spirit behind the form. It is called the
Goal truly, but it has no ending. It is the Comforter, but it waves
away our joys and hopes like the angel with the flaming sword. Though
it is the Resting-place, it stirs to all heroic strife, to outgoing,
to conquest. It is the Friend indeed, but it will not yield to our
desires. Is it this strange, unfathomable self we think to know, and
awaken to, by what is written, or by study of it as so many planes of
consciousness. But in vain we store the upper chambers of the mind
with such quaint furniture of thought. No archangel makes his abode
therein. They abide only in the shining. How different from academic
psychology of the past, with its dry enumeration of faculties, reason,
cognition and so forth, is the burning thing we know. We revolted
from that, but we must take care lest we teach in another way a
catalogue of things equally unliving to us. The plain truth is, that
after having learned what is taught about the hierarchies and various
spheres, many of us are still in this world exactly where we were
before. If we speak our laboriously-acquired information we are
listened to in amazement. It sounds so learned, so intellectual,
there must need be applause. But by-and-by someone comes with quiet
voice, who without pretence speaks of the "soul" and uses familiar
words, and the listeners drink deep, and pay the applause of silence
and long remembrance and sustained after-endeavor. Our failure lies
in this, we would use the powers of soul and we have not yet become
the soul. None but the wise one himself could bend the bow of
Ulysses. We cannot communicate more of the true than we ourselves
know. It is better to have a little knowledge and know that little
than to have only hearsay of myriads of Gods. So I say, lay down
your books for a while and try the magic of thought. "What a man
thinks, that he is; that is the old secret." I utter, I know, but a
partial voice of the soul with many needs. But I say, forget for a
while that you are student, forget your name and time. Think of
yourself within as the titan, the Demi-god, the flaming hero with the
form of beauty, the heart of love. And of those divine spheres forget
the nomenclature; think rather of them as the places of a great
childhood you now return to, these homes no longer ours. In some
moment of more complete imagination the thought-born may go forth and
look on the olden Beauty. So it was in the mysteries long ago and may
well be today. The poor dead shadow was laid to sleep in forgotten
darkness, as the fiery power, mounting from heart to head, went forth
in radiance. Not then did it rest, nor ought we. The dim worlds
dropped behind it, the lights of earth disappeared as it neared the
heights of the Immortals. There was One seated on a throne, One dark
and bright with ethereal glory. I arose in greeting. The radiant
figure laid its head against the breast which grew suddenly golden,
and father and son vanished in that which has no place nor name.
—January 15, 1896
It is with no feeling of sadness that I think of this withdrawal.
He would not have wished for that. But with a faltering hand I try
to express one of many incommunicable thoughts about the hero who has
departed. Long before I met him, before even written words of his had
been read, his name like an incantation stirred and summoned forth
some secret spiritual impulse in my heart. It was no surface tie
which bound us to him. No one ever tried less than he to gain from
men that adherence which comes from impressive manner. I hardly
thought what he was while he spoke; but on departing I found my
heart, wiser than my brain, had given itself away to him; an inner
exaltation lasting for months witnessed his power. It was in that
memorable convention in London two years ago that I first glimpsed
his real greatness. As he sat there quietly, one among many, not
speaking a word, I was overcome by a sense of spiritual dilation, of
unconquerable will about him, and that one figure with the grey head
became all the room to me. Shall I not say the truth I think? Here
was a hero out of the remote, antique, giant ages come among us,
wearing but on the surface the vesture of our little day. We, too,
came out of that past, but in forgetfulness; he with memory and
power soon regained. To him and to one other we owe an unspeakable
gratitude for faith and hope and knowledge born again. We may say
now, using words of his early years: "Even in hell I lift up my eyes
to those who are beyond me and do not deny them." Ah, hero, we know
you would have stayed with us if it were possible; but fires have
been kindled that shall not soon fade, fires that shall be bright when
you again return. I feel no sadness, knowing there are no farewells
in the True: to whosoever has touched on that real being there is
comradeship with all the great and wise of time. That he will again
return we need not doubt. His ideals were those which are attained
only by the Saviours and Deliverers of nations. When or where he may
appear I know not, but I foresee the coming when our need invokes him.
Light of the future aeons, I hail, I hail to thee!
—April 15, 1896
Perhaps it is now while we are in a state of transition, when old
leaders have gone out of sight and the new ones have not yet taken
their place in the van, that we ought to consider what we are in
ourselves. Some questions we ought to ask ourselves about this
movement: where its foundations were laid? what the links are? where
is the fountain of force? what are the doors? You answer the first
and you say "America," or you say "India." But if that old doctrine
of emanations be true it was not on earth but in the heavenworld where
our minds immortal are linked together. There it was born and well
born, and grew downwards into earth, and all our hopes and efforts and
achievements here but vaguely reflect what was true and perfect in
intent above, a compact of many hearts to save the generations
wandering to their doom. Wiser, stronger, mightier than we were those
who shielded us in the first years; who went about among us renewing
memory, whispering in our hearts the message of the meaning of life,
recalling the immemorial endeavor of the spirit for freedom,
knowledge, mastery. But it is our movement and not the movement of
the Masters only. It is our own work we are carrying on; our own
primal will we are trying to give effect to. Well may the kingly
sages depart from bodies which were torment and pain to them. They
took them on for our sakes, and we may wave them a grateful farewell
below and think of the spheres invisible as so much richer by their
presence, more to be longed for, more to be attained. I think indeed
they are nearer heart and mind there than here. What is real in us
can lose no brotherhood with such as they through death. Still flash
the lights from soul to soul in ceaseless radiance, in endless
begetting of energy, thought and will, in endless return of joy and
love and hope. I would rather hear one word of theirs in my heart
than a thousand in my ears. I would rather think of my guide and
captain as embodied in the flame than in the clay. Although we may
gaze on the grave, kindly face living no more, there can be no
cessation of the magic influence, the breath of fire, which flowed
aforetime from the soul to us. We feel in our profoundest hearts that
he whom they call dead is living, is alive for evermore.
He has earned his rest, a deep rest, if indeed such as he cease
from labor. As for us, we may go our ways assured that the links are
unbroken. What did you think the links were? That you knew some one
who knew the Masters? Such a presence and such a Companion would
indeed be an aid, a link. But I think where ever there is belief in
our transcendent being, in justice, our spiritual unity and destiny,
wherever there is brotherhood, there are unseen ties, links, shining
cords, influx from and unbroken communication with the divine. So
much we have in our own natures, not enough to perfect us in the
mysteries, but always enough to light our path, to show us our next
step, to give us strength for duty. We should not always look outside
for aid, remembering that some time we must be able to stand alone.
Let us not deny our own deeper being, our obscured glory. That we
accepted these truths, even as intuitions which we were unable
intellectually to justify, is proof that there is that within us which
has been initiate in the past, which lives in and knows well what in
the shadowy world is but a hope. There is part of ourselves whose
progress we do not comprehend. There are deeds done in unremembered
dream, and a deeper meditation in the further unrecorded silences of
slumber. Downward from sphere to sphere the Immortal works its way
into the flesh, and the soul has adventures in dream whose resultant
wisdom is not lost because memory is lacking here. Yet enough has
been said to give us the hint, the clue to trace backwards the streams
of force to their fount. We wake in some dawn and there is morning
also in our hearts, a love, a fiery vigor, a magnetic sweetness in the
blood. Could we track to its source this invigorating power, we might
perhaps find that as we fell asleep some olden memory had awakened in
the soul, or the Master had called it forth, or it was transformed by
the wizard power of Self and went forth to seek the Holy Place.
Whether we have here a guide, or whether we have not, one thing is
certain, that behind and within the "Father worketh hitherto." A
warrior fights for us. Our thoughts tip the arrows of his quiver. He
wings them with flame and impels them with the Holy Breath. They will
not fail if we think clear. What matters it if in the mist we do not
see where they strike. Still they are of avail. After a time the
mists will arise and show a clear field; the shining powers will
salute us as victors.
I have no doubt about our future; no doubt but that we will have
a guide and an unbroken succession of guides. But I think their task
would be easier, our way be less clouded with dejection and doubt, if
we placed our trust in no hierarchy of beings, however august, but in
the Law of which they are ministers. Their power, though mighty, ebbs
and flows with contracting and expanding nature. They, like us, are
but children in the dense infinitudes. Something like this, I think,
the Wise Ones would wish each one of us to speak: "O Brotherhood of
Light, though I long to be with you, though it sustains me to think
you are behind me, though your aid made sure my path, still, if the
Law does not permit you to act for me today, I trust in the One whose
love a fiery breath never ceases; I fall back on it with exultation:
I rely upon it joyfully." Was it not to point to that greater life
that the elder brothers sent forth their messengers, to tell us that
it is on this we ought to rely, to point us to grander thrones than
they are seated on? It is well to be prepared to face any chance with
equal mind; to meet the darkness with gay and defiant thought as to
salute the Light with reverence and love and joy. But I have it in my
heart that we are not deserted. As the cycles went their upward way
the heroic figures of the dawn reappear. Some have passed before us;
others in the same spirit and power will follow: for the new day a
rearisen sun and morning stars to herald it. When it comes let it
find us, not drowsy after our night in time, but awake, prepared and
ready to go forth from the house of sleep, to stretch hands to the
light, to live and labor in joy, having the Gods for our guides and
—May 15, 1896
While we live within four walls we half insensibly lose something
of our naturalness and comport ourselves as creatures of the
civilization we belong to. But we never really feel at home there,
though childhood may have wreathed round with tender memories old
rooms and the quaint garden-places of happy unthinking hours. There
is a house, a temple not built with hands; perhaps we thought it a
mere cabin when we first formed it, and laid aside humbly many of our
royal possessions as we entered, for the heavens and the heaven of
heavens could not contain all of our glory. But now it seems vast
enough, and we feel more at home there, and we find places which seem
nearer of access to our first life. Such are the mountains. As I lie
here on the monstrous mould of the hillside covered with such delicate
fringes of tiny green leaves, I understand something of his longing
who said: "I lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my
aid." Oh, but the air is sweet, is sweet. Earth-breath, what is it
you whisper? As I listen, listen, I know it is no whisper but a chant
from profoundest deeps, a voice hailing its great companions in the
aether spaces, but whose innumerable tones in their infinite
modulations speak clear to us also in our littleness. Our lips are
stilled with awe; we dare not repeat what here we think. These
mountains are sacred in our Celtic traditions. Haunt of the
mysteries, here the Tuatha de Danaans once had their home. We sigh,
thinking of the vanished glory, but look with hope for the fulfilment
of the prophecy which the seer of another line left on record, that
once more the Druid fires should blaze on these mountains. As the
purple amplitude of night enfold them, already the dark mounds seem to
throw up their sheeny illuminations; great shadowy forms, the
shepherds of our race, to throng and gather; the many-coloured winds
to roll their aerial tides hither and thither. Eri, hearth and home
of so many mystic races, Isle of Destiny, there shall yet return to
thee the spiritual magic that thrilled thee long ago. As we descend
and go back to a life, not the life we would will, not the life we
will have, we think with sorrow of the pain, the passion, the
partings, through which our race will once more return to nature,
spirit and freedom.
We turned back mad from the mystic mountains
All foamed with red and with faery gold; Up from the
heart of the twilight's fountains
The fires enchanted were starward rolled.
We turned back mad—we thought of the morrow,
The iron clang of the far-away town: We could not weep in
our bitter sorrow
But joy as an arctic sun went down.
—May 15, 1896
When we were boys with what anxiety we watched for the rare smile
on the master's face ere we preferred a request for some favor, a
holiday or early release. There was wisdom in that. As we grow up
we act more or less consciously upon intuitions as to time and place.
My companion, I shall not invite you to a merrymaking when a bitter
moment befalls you and the flame of life sinks into ashes in your
heart; nor yet, however true and trusted, will I confide to you what
inward revelations of the mysteries I may have while I sense in you a
momentary outwardness. The gifts of the heart are too sacred to be
laid before a closed door. Your mood, I know, will pass, and tomorrow
we shall have this bond between us. I wait, for it can be said but
once: I cannot commune magically twice on the same theme with you. I
do not propose we should be opportunists, nor lay down a formula; but
to be skillful in action we must work with and comprehend the ebb and
flow of power. Mystery and gloom, dark blue and starshine, doubt and
feebleness alternate with the clear and shining, opal skies and
sunglow, heroic ardor and the exultation of power. Ever varying,
prismatic and fleeting, the days go by and the secret of change eludes
us here. I bend the bow of thought at a mark and it is already gone.
I lay the shaft aside and while unprepared the quarry again fleets
by. We have to seek elsewhere for the source of that power which
momentarily overflows into our world and transforms it with its
On the motions of an inner sphere, we are told, all things here
depend; on spheres of the less evanescent which, in their turn, are
enclosed in spheres of the real, whose solemn chariot movements again
are guided by the inflexible will of Fire. In all of these we have
part. This dim consciousness which burns in my brain is not all of
myself. Behind me it widens out and upward into God. I feel in some
other world it shines with purer light: in some sphere more divine
than this it has a larger day and a deeper rest. That day of the
inner self illuminates many of our mortal days; its night leaves many
of them dark. And so the One Ray expanding lives in many vestures.
It is last of all the King-Self who wakes at the dawn of ages, whose
day is the day of Brahma, whose rest is his rest. Here is the clue to
cyclic change, to the individual feebleness and power, the gloom of
one epoch and the glory of another. The Bright Fortnight, the
Northern Sun, Light and Flame name the days of other spheres, and
wandering on from day to day man may at last reach the end of his
journey. You would pass from rapidly revolving day and night to where
the mystical sunlight streams. The way lies through yourself and the
portals open as the inner day expands. Who is there who has not felt
in some way or other the rhythmic recurrence of light within? We were
weary of life, baffled, ready to forswear endeavor, when half
insensibly a change comes over us; we doubt no more but do joyfully
our work; we renew the sweet magical affinities with nature: out of
a heart more laden with love we think and act; our meditations
prolong themselves into the shining wonderful life of soul; we
tremble on the verge of the vast halls of the gods where their mighty
speech may be heard, their message of radiant will be seen. They
speak a universal language not for themselves only but for all. What
is poetry but a mingling of some tone of theirs with the sounds that
below we utter? What is love but a breath of their very being? Their
every mood has colors beyond the rainbow; every thought rings in
far-heard melody. So the gods speak to each other across the expanses
of ethereal light, breaking the divine silences with words which are
deeds. So, too, they speak to the soul. Mystics of all time have
tried to express it, likening it to peals of faery bells, the singing
of enchanted birds, the clanging of silver cymbals, the organ voices
of wind and water bent together—but in vain, in vain. Perhaps in
this there is a danger, for the true is realized in being and not in
perception. The gods are ourselves beyond the changes of time which
harass and vex us here. They do not demand adoration but an equal
will to bind us consciously in unity with themselves. The heresy of
separateness cuts us asunder in these enraptured moments; but when
thrilled by the deepest breath, when the silent, unseen,
uncomprehended takes possession of thee, think "Thou art That," and
something of thee will abide for ever in It. All thought not based on
this is a weaving of new bonds, of illusions more difficult to break;
it begets only more passionate longing and pain.
Still we must learn to know the hidden ways, to use the luminous
rivers for the commerce of thought. Our Druid forefathers began
their magical operations on the sixth day of the new moon, taking the
Bright Fortnight at its flood-time. In these hours of expansion what
we think has more force, more freedom, more electric and penetrating
power. We find too, if we have co-workers, that we draw from a common
fountain, the same impulse visits us and them. What one possess all
become possessed of; and something of the same unity and harmony
arises between us here as exists for all time between us in the worlds
above. While the currents circulate we are to see to it that they
part from us no less pure than they came. To this dawn of an inner day
may in some measure be traced the sudden inspirations of movements,
such as we lately feel, not all due to the abrupt descent into our
midst of a new messenger, for the elder Brothers work with law and
foresee when nature, time, and the awakening souls of men will aid
them. Much may now be done. On whosoever accepts, acknowledges and
does the will of the Light in these awakenings the die and image of
divinity is more firmly set, his thought grows more consciously into
the being of the presiding god. Yet not while seeking for ourselves
can we lay hold of final truths, for then what we perceive we retain
but in thought and memory. The Highest is a motion, a breath. We
become it only in the imparting. It is in all, for all and goes out to
all. It will not be restrained in a narrow basin, but through the
free-giver it freely flows. There are throngs innumerable who await
this gift. Can we let this most ancient light which again returns to
us be felt by them only as a vague emotion, a little peace of
uncertain duration, a passing sweetness of the heart? Can we not do
something to allay the sorrow of the world? My brothers, the time of
opportunity has come. One day in the long-marshaled line of endless
days has dawned for our race, and the buried treasure-houses in the
bosom of the deep have been opened to endow it with more light, to
fill it with more power. The divine ascetics stand with torches lit
before the temple of wisdom. Those who are nigh them have caught the
fire and offer to us in turn to light the torch, the blazing torch of
soul. Let us accept the gift and pass it on, pointing out the prime
givers. We shall see in time the eager races of men starting on their
pilgrimage of return and facing the light. So in the mystical past
the call of light was seen on the sacred hills; the rays were spread
and gathered; and returning with them the initiate-children were
buried in the Father-Flame.
—June 15, 1896
It was long ago, so long that only the spirit of earth remembers
truly. The old shepherd Tithonius sat before the door of his hut
waiting for his grandson to return. He watched with drowsy eyes the
eve gather, and the woods and mountains grow dark over the isles— the
isles of ancient Greece. It was Greece before its day of beauty, and
day was never lovelier. The cloudy blossoms of smoke curling upward
from the valley sparkled a while high up in the sunlit air, a vague
memorial of the world of men below. From that too the colour
vanished, and those other lights began to shine which to some are the
only lights of day. The skies dropped close upon the mountains and
the silver seas, like a vast face brooding with intentness; there was
enchantment, mystery, and a living motion in its depths, the presence
of all-pervading Zeus enfolding his starry children with the dark
radiance of aether.
"Ah!" murmured the old man, looking upward, "once it was living;
once it spoke to me. It speaks not now, but it speaks to others I
know—to the child who looks and longs and trembles in the dewy night.
Why does he linger now? He is beyond his hour. Ah, there now are
A boy came up the valley driving the grey flocks which tumbled
before him in the darkness. He lifted his young face for the
shepherd to kiss. It was alight with ecstasy. Tithonius looked at
him with wonder. A light golden and silvery rayed all about the him
so that his delicate ethereal beauty seemed set in a star which
followed his dancing footsteps.
"How bright your eyes!" the old man said, faltering with sudden
awe. "Why do your white limbs shine with moonfire light?"
"Oh, father," said the boy Apollo, "I am glad, for everything is
living tonight. The evening is all a voice and many voices. While
the flocks were browsing night gathered about me: I saw within it
and it was living everywhere; and all together, the wind with dim-
blown tresses, odour, incense and secret-falling dew, mingled in one
warm breath. They whispered to me and called me 'Child of the Stars,'
'Dew Heart,' and 'Soul of Fire.' Oh, father, as I came up the valley
the voices followed me with song; everything murmured love; even the
daffodils, nodding in the olive gloom, grew golden at my feet, and a
flower within my heart knew of the still sweet secret of the flowers.
There were voices in the night, voices as of star-rays descending.
"Now the roof-tree of the midnight spreading Buds in citron,
green, and blue: From afar its mystic odors shedding,
Child, on you."
Then other sweet speakers from beneath the earth, and from the
distant waters and air followed in benediction, and a last voice like
a murmur from universal Nature:
"Now the buried stars beneath the mountains And the vales their
life renew, Jetting rainbow blooms from tiny fountains,
Child, for you.
"As within our quiet waters passing Sun and moon and stars we
view, So the loveliness of life is glassing,
Child, in you.
"In the diamond air the sun-star glowing Up its feathered radiance
threw; All the jewel glory there was flowing,
Child, for you.
"And the fire divine in all things burning Yearns for home and
rest anew, From its wanderings far again returning,
Child, to you."
"Oh, voices, voices," cried the child, "what you say I know not,
but I ray back love for love. Father, what is it they tell me? They
embosom me in light and I am far away even though I hold your hand."
"The gods are about us. Heaven mingles with the earth," said
Tithonius trembling. "Let us go to Diotima. She has grown wise
brooding for many a year where the great caves lead to the underworld.
She sees the bright ones as they pass by where she sits with shut
eyes, her drowsy lips murmuring as nature's self."
That night the island seemed no more earth set in sea, but a music
encircled by the silence. The trees long rooted in antique slumber
were throbbing with rich life; through glimmering bark and drooping
leaf a light fell on the old man and boy as they passed, and vague
figures nodded at them. These were the hamadryad souls of the wood.
They were bathed in tender colours and shimmering lights draping them
from root to leaf. A murmur came from the heart of every one, a low
enchantment breathing joy and peace. It grew and swelled until at
last it seemed as if through a myriad pipes that Pan the earth spirit
was fluting his magical creative song.
They found the cave of Diotima covered by vines and tangled
strailers at the end of the island where the dark-green woodland rose
up from the waters. Tithonius paused, for he dreaded this mystic
prophetess; but a voice from within called them: "Come in, child of
light; come in, old shepherd, I know why you seek me!" They entered,
Tithonius trembling with more fear than before. A fire was blazing
in a recess of the cavern and by it sat a majestic figure robed in
purple. She was bent forward, her hand supporting her face, her
burning eyes turned on the intruders.
"Come hither, child," she said, taking the boy by the hands and
gazing into his face. "So this frail form is to be the home of the
god. The gods choose wisely. They take no warrior wild, no mighty
hero to be their messenger to men, but crown this gentle head. Tell
me—you dream—have you ever seen a light from the sun falling upon
you in your slumber? No, but look now; look upward." As she spoke
she waved her hands over him, and the cavern with its dusky roof
seemed to melt away, and beyond the heavens the heaven of heavens lay
dark in pure tranquillity, a quiet which was the very hush of being.
In an instant it vanished and over the zenith broke a wonderful
light. "See now," cried Diotima, "the Ancient Beauty! Look how its
petals expand and what comes forth from its heart!" A vast and
glowing breath, mutable and opalescent, spread itself between heaven
and earth, and out of it slowly descended a radiant form like a god's.
It drew nigh radiating lights, pure, beautiful, and starlike. It
stood for a moment by the child and placed its hand on his head, and
then it was gone. The old shepherd fell upon his face in awe, while
the boy stood breathless and entranced.
"Go now," said the Sybil, "I can teach thee naught. Nature herself
will adore you and sing through you her loveliest song. But, ah, the
light you hail in joy you shall impart in tears. So from age to age
the eternal Beauty bows itself down amid sorrows that the children of
men may not forget it, that their anguish may be transformed smitten
through by its fire."
—November 15, 1896
When twilight flutters the mountains over
The faery lights from the earth unfold,
And over the hills enchanted hover
The giant heroes and gods of old:
The bird of aether its flaming pinions
Waves over earth the whole night long:
The stars drop down in their blue dominions
To hymn together their choral song:
The child of earth in his heart grows burning
Mad for the night and the deep unknown;
His alien flame in a dream returning
Seats itself on the ancient throne.
When twilight over the mountains fluttered
And night with its starry millions came,
I too had dreams; the thoughts I have uttered.
Come from my heart that was touched by the flame
I thought over the attempts made time after time to gain our
freedom; how failure had followed failure until at last it seemed that
we must write over hero and chieftain of our cause the memorial spoken
of the warriors of old, "They went forth to the battle but they always
fell;" and it seemed to me that these efforts resulted in failure
because the ideals put forward were not in the plan of nature for us;
that it was not in our destiny that we should attempt a civilization
like that of other lands. Though the cry of nationality rings for
ever in our ears, the word here has embodied to most no other hope
than this, that we should when free be able to enter with more energy
upon pursuits already adopted by the people of other countries. Our
leaders have erected no nobler standard than theirs, and we who, as a
race, are the forlorn hope of idealism in Europe, sink day by day into
apathy and forget what a past was ours and what a destiny awaits us if
we will but rise responsive to it. Though so old in tradition this
Ireland of today is a child among the nations of the world; and what
a child, and with what a strain of genius in it! There is all the
superstition, the timidity and lack of judgment, the unthought
recklessness of childhood, but combined with what generosity and
devotion, and what an unfathomable love for its heroes. Who can forget
that memorable day when its last great chief was laid to rest? He was
not the prophet of our spiritual future; he was not the hero of our
highest ideals; but he was the only hero we knew. The very air was
penetrated with the sobbing and passion of unutterable regret. Ah,
Eri, in other lands there is strength and mind and the massive
culmination of ordered power, but in thee alone is there such love as
the big heart of childhood can feel. It is this which maketh all thy
exiles turn with longing thoughts to thee.
Before trying her to indicate a direction for the future, guessed
from brooding on the far past and by touching on the secret springs
in the heart of the present, it may make that future seem easier of
access if I point out what we have escaped and also show that we have
already a freedom which, though but half recognized, is yet our most
precious heritage. We are not yet involved in a social knot which
only red revolution can sever: our humanity, the ancient gift of
nature to us, is still fresh in our veins: our force is not merely
the reverberation of a past, an inevitable momentum started in the
long ago, but is free for newer life to do what we will with in the
I know there are some who regret this, who associate national
greatness with the whirr and buzz of many wheels, the smoke of
factories and with large dividends; and others, again, who wish that
our simple minds were illuminated by the culture and wisdom of our
neighbours. But I raise the standard of idealism, to try everything
by it, every custom, every thought before we make it our own, and
every sentiment before it finds a place in our hearts. Are these
conditions, social and mental, which some would have us strive for
really so admirable as we are assured they are? Are they worth having
at all? What of the heroic best of man; how does that show? His
spirituality, beauty and tenderness, are these fostered in the
civilizations of today? I say if questions like these bearing upon
that inner life wherein is the real greatness of nations cannot be
answered satisfactorily, that it is our duty to maintain our struggle,
to remain aloof, lest by accepting a delusive prosperity we shut
ourselves from our primitive sources of power. For this spirit of the
modern, with which we are so little in touch, is one which tends to
lead man further and further from nature. She is no more to him the
Great Mother so reverently named long ago, but merely an adjunct to
his life, the distant supplier of his needs. What to the average
dweller in cities are stars and skies and mountains? They pay no
dividends to him, no wages. Why should he care about them indeed.
And no longer concerning himself about nature what wonder is it that
nature ebbs out of him. She has her revenge, for from whatever
standpoint of idealism considered the average man shows but of pigmy
stature. For him there is no before or after. In his material life he
has forgotten or never heard of the heroic traditions of his race,
their aspirations to godlike state. One wonders what will happen to
him when death ushers him out from the great visible life to the
loneliness amid the stars. To what hearth or home shall he flee who
never raised the veil of nature while living, nor saw it waver
tremulous with the hidden glory before his eyes? The Holy Breath from
the past communes no more with him, and if he is oblivious of these
things, though a thousand workman call him master, within he is
bankrupt, his effects sequestered, a poor shadow, an outcast from the
Kingdom of Light.
We see too, that as age after age passes and teems only with the
commonplace, that those who are the poets and teachers falter and
lose faith: they utter no more of man the divine things the poets
said of old. Perhaps the sheer respectability of the people they
address deters them from making statements which in some respects
might be considered libelous. But from whatever cause, from lack of
heart or lack of faith, they have no real inspiration. The literature
of Europe has had but little influence on the Celt in this isle. Its
philosophies and revolutionary ideas have stayed their waves at his
coast: they had no message of interpretation for him, no potent
electric thought to light up the mystery of his nature. For the
mystery of the Celt is the mystery of Amergin the Druid. All nature
speaks through him. He is her darling, the confidant of her secrets.
Her mountains have been more to him than a feeling. She has revealed
them to him as the home of her brighter children, her heroes become
immortal. For him her streams ripple with magical life and the light
of day was once filled with more aerial rainbow wonder. Though
thousands of years have passed since this mysterious Druid land was at
its noonday, and long centuries have rolled by since the weeping seers
saw the lights vanish from mountain and valley, still this alliance of
the soul of man and the soul of nature more or less manifestly
characterizes the people of this isle. The thought produced in and
for complex civilizations is not pregnant enough with the vast for
them, is not enough thrilled through by that impalpable breathing from
another nature. We have had but little native literature here worth
the name until of late years, and that not yet popularized, but during
all these centuries the Celt has kept in his heart some affinity with
the mighty beings ruling in the unseen, once so evident to the heroic
races who preceded him. His legends and faery tales have connected
his soul with the inner lives of air and water and earth, and they in
turn have kept his heart sweet with hidden influence. It would make
one feel sad to think that all that beautiful folklore is fading
slowly from the memory that held it so long, were it not for the
belief that the watchful powers who fostered its continuance relax
their care because the night with beautiful dreams and deeds done only
in fancy is passing: the day is coming with the beautiful real, with
heroes and heroic deeds.
It may not be well to prophecy, but it is always permissible to
speak of our hopes. If day but copies day may we not hope for
Ireland, after its long cycle of night, such another glory as
lightened it of old, which tradition paints in such mystic colours?
What was the mysterious glamour of the Druid age? What meant the
fires on the mountains, the rainbow glow of air, the magic life in
water and earth, but that the Radiance of Deity was shining through
our shadowy world, that it mingled with and was perceived along with
the forms we know. There it threw up its fountains of life- giving
fire, the faery fountains of story, and the children of earth
breathing that rich life felt the flush of an immortal vigour within
them; and so nourished sprang into being the Danaan races, men who
made themselves gods by will and that magical breath. Rulers of earth
and air and fire, their memory looms titanic in the cloud stories of
our dawn, and as we think of that splendid strength of the past
something leaps up in the heart to confirm it true for all the wonder
This idea of man's expansion into divinity, which is in the highest
teaching of every race, is one which shone like a star at the dawn of
our Celtic history also. Hero after hero is called away by a voice
ringing out of the land of eternal youth, which is but a name for the
soul of earth, the enchantress and mother of all. There as guardians
of the race they shed their influence on the isle; from them sprang
all that was best and noblest in our past, and let no one think but
that it was noble. Leaving aside that mystic sense of union with
another world and looking only at the tales of battle, when we read of
heroes whose knightly vows forbade the use of stratagem in war, and
all but the equal strife with equals in opportunity; when we hear of
the reverence for truth among the Fianna, "We the Fianna of Erin never
lied, falsehood was never attributed to us"—a reverence for truth
carried so far that they could not believe their foemen even could
speak falsely—I say that in these days when our public life is filled
with slander and unworthy imputation, we might do worse than turn back
to that ideal Paganism of the past, and learn some lessons of noble
trust, and this truth that greatness of soul alone insures final
victory to us who live and move and have our being in the life of God.
In hoping for such another day I do not of course mean the renewal
of the ancient order, but rather look for the return of the same
light which was manifest in the past. For so the eternal Beauty
brings itself to the memory of man from time to time brooding over
nations, as in the early Aryan heart, suffusing life and thought with
the sun-sense of pervading Deity, or as in Greece where its myriad
rays, each an intuition of loveliness, descended and dwelt not only in
poet, sage and sculptor, but in the general being of the people. What
has been called the Celtic renaissance in literature is one of the
least of the signs. Of far more significance is the number of
strange, dreamy children one meets, whose hearts are in the elsewhere,
and young people who love to brood on the past, I speak of which is
all the world to them. The present has no voice to interpret their
dreams and visions, the enraptured solitude by mountain or shore, or
what they feel when they lie close pressed to the bosom of the earth,
mad with the longing for old joys, the fiery communion of spirit with
spirit, which was once the privilege of man. These some voice, not
proclaiming an arid political propaganda, may recall into the actual:
some ideal of heroic life may bring them to the service of their
kind, and none can serve the world better than those who from mighty
dreams turn exultant to their realisation: who bring to labour the
love, the courage, the unfailing hope, which they only possess who
have gone into the hidden nature and found it sweet at heart.
So this Isle, once called the Sacred Isle and also the Isle of
Destiny, may find a destiny worthy of fulfilment: not to be a petty
peasant republic, nor a miniature duplicate in life and aims of great
material empires, but that its children out of their faith, which has
never failed may realise this imemorial truth of man's inmost
divinity, and in expressing it may ray the light over every land.
Now, although a great literature and great thought may be part of our
future, it ought not to be the essential part of our ideal. As in our
past the bards gave way before the heroes, so in any national ideal
worthy the name, all must give way in its hopes, wealth, literature,
art, everything before manhood itself. If our humanity fails us or
become degraded, of what value are the rest? What use would it be to
you or to me if our ships sailed on every sea and our wealth rivaled
the antique Ind, if we ourselves were unchanged, had no more kingly
consciousness of life, nor that overtopping grandeur of soul
indifferent whether it dwells in a palace or a cottage?
If this be not clear to the intuition, there is the experience of
the world and the example of many nations. Let us take the highest,
and consider what have a thousand years of empire brought to England.
Wealth without parallel, but at what expense! The lover of his kind
must feel as if a knife were entering his heart when he looks at those
black centres of boasted prosperity, at factory, smoke and mine, the
arid life and spiritual death. Do you call those miserable myriads a
humanity? We look at those people in despair and pity. Where is the
ancient image of divinity in man's face: where in man's heart the
prompting of the divine? There is nothing but a ceaseless energy
without; a night terrible as hell within. Is this the only way for us
as a people? Is nature to be lost; beauty to be swallowed up? The
crown and sceptre were taken from us in the past, our path has been
strewn with sorrows, but the spirit shall not be taken until it
becomes as clay, and man forgets that he was born in the divine, and
hears no more the call of the great deep in his heart as he bows
himself to the dust in his bitter labours. It maddens to think it
should be for ever thus, with us and with them, and that man the
immortal, man the divine, should sink deeper and deeper into night and
ignorance, and know no more of himself than glimmers upon him in the
wearied intervals of long routine.
Here we have this hope that nature appeals with her old glamour to
many, and there is still the ancient love for the hero. In a land
where so many well nigh hopeless causes have found faithful adherents,
where there has been so much devotion and sacrifice, where poverty has
made itself poorer still for the sake of leader and cause, may we not
hope that when an appeal is made to the people to follow still higher
ideals, that they will set aside the lower for the higher, that they
will not relegate idealism to the poets only, but that it will dwell
in the public as the private heart and make impossible any nations'
undertaking inconsistent with the dignity and beauty of life? To me
it seems that here the task of teacher and writer is above all to
present images and ideals of divine manhood to the people whose real
gods have always been their heroes. These titan figures, Cuculain,
Finn, Oscar, Oisin, Caolte, all a mixed gentleness and fire, have
commanded for generations that spontaneous love which is the only
true worship paid by men. It is because of this profound and long-
enduring love for the heroes, which must be considered as forecasting
the future, that I declare the true ideal and destiny of the Celt in
this island to be the begetting of humanity whose desires and visions
shall rise above earth illimitable into godlike nature, who shall
renew for the world the hope, the beauty, the magic, the wonder which
will draw the buried stars which are the souls of men to their native
firmament of spiritual light and elemental power.
For the hero with us there is ample scope and need. There are the
spectres of ignoble hopes, the lethal influences of a huge material
civilisation wafted to us from over seas, which must be laid. Oh,
that a protest might be made ere it becomes more difficult, ere this
wild, beautiful land of ours be viewed only as a lure to draw money
from the cockney tourist, and the immemorial traditions around our
sacred hills be of value only to advertise the last hotel. Yet to
avert the perils arising from external causes is but a slight task
compared with the overcoming of obstacles already existent within.
There is one which must be removed at whatever cost, though the hero
may well become the martyr in the attempt. It is a difficulty which
has its strength from one of the very virtues of the people, their
reverence for religion. This in itself is altogether well. But it
is not well when the nature of that religion enables its priests to
sway men from their natural choice of hero and cause by the threat of
spiritual terrors. I say that where this takes place to any great
extent, as it has with us, it is not a land a freeman can think of
with pride. It is not a place where the lover of freedom can rest,
but he must spend sleepless nights, must brood, must scheme, must wait
to strike a blow. To the thought of freedom it must be said to our
shame none of the nobler meaning attaches here. Freedom to speak what
hopes and ideals we may have; to act openly for what cause we will;
to allow that freedom to others—that liberty is denied. There are
but too many places where to differ openly from the priest in politics
is to provoke a brawl, where to speak as here with the fearlessness of
print would be to endanger life. With what scorn one hears the
aspiration from public freedom from lips that are closed with the
dread by their own hearthside! Let freedom arise where first it is
possible in the hearts of men, in their thoughts, in speech between
one and another, and then the gods may not deem us unworthy of the
further sway of our national life. I would that some of the defiant
spirit of the old warrior brood were here, not indeed to provoke
strife between man and man, or race and race, but rather that we might
be fearless in the spirit of one who said "I do not war against flesh
and blood, but against principalities and powers"—and against
influences which fetter progress, against an iron materialism where
the beauty of life perishes, let us revolt, let us war for ever.
But with all this I, like others who have narrowly watched the
signs of awakening life, do not doubt but that these things will pass
as greater potencies throng in and impel to action. Already the rush
of the earth-breath begins to fill with elation our island race and
uplift them with the sense of power; and through the power sometimes
flashes the glory, the spiritual radiance which will be ours
hereafter, if old prophecy can be trusted and our hearts prompt us
true. Here and there some rapt dreamer more inward than the rest sees
that Tir-na-noge was no fable, but is still around him with all its
mystic beauty for ever. The green hills grow alive with the
star-children fleeting, flashing on their twilight errands from gods
to men. When the heart opens to receive them and the ties which bind
us to unseen nature are felt our day will begin and the fires awaken,
our isle will be the Sacred Island once again and our great ones the
light-givers to humanity, not voicing new things, but only of the old,
old truths one more affirmation; for what is all wisdom, wherever
uttered, whether in time past or today, but the One Life, the One
Breath, chanting its innumerable tones of thought and joy and love in
the heart of man, one voice throughout myriad years whose message
eterne is this—you are by your nature immortal, and you may be, if
you will it, divine.
—Jan. 15, Feb. 15, 1897
Our deepest life is when we are alone. We think most truly, love
best, when isolated from the outer world in that mystic abyss we call
soul. Nothing external can equal the fulness of these moments. We may
sit in the blue twilight with a friend, or bend together by the
hearth, half whispering, or in a silence populous with loving thoughts
mutually understood; then we may feel happy and at peace, but it is
only because we are lulled by a semblance to deeper intimacies. When
we think of a friend, and the loved one draws nigh, we sometimes feel
half-pained, for we touched something in our solitude which the living
presence shut out; we seem more apart, and would fain cry out—"Only
in my deep heart I love you, sweetest heart; call me not forth from
this; I am no more a spirit if I leave my throne." But these moods,
though lit up by intuitions of the true, are too partial, they belong
too much to the twilight of the heart, they have too dreamy a temper
to serve us well in life. We should wish rather for our thoughts a
directness such as belongs to the messengers of the gods, swift,
beautiful, flashing presences bent on purposes well understood.
What we need is that this interior tenderness shall be elevated
into seership, that what in most is only yearning or blind love shall
see clearly its way and hope and aim. To this end we have to observe
more intently the nature of the interior life. We find, indeed, that
it is not a solitude at all, but dense with multitudinous being:
instead of being alone we are in the thronged highways of existence.
For our guidance when entering here many words of warning have been
uttered, laws have been outlined, and beings full of wonder, terror,
and beauty described. Yet there is a spirit in us deeper than our
intellectual being which I think of as the Hero in man, who feels the
nobility of its place in the midst of all this, and who would fain
equal the greatness of perception with deeds as great. The weariness
and sense of futility which often falls upon the mystic after much
thought is due, I think, to this, that here he has duties demanding a
more sustained endurance just as the inner life is so much vaster and
more intense than the life he has left behind.
Now, the duties which can be taken up by the soul are exactly those
which it feels most inadequate to perform when acting as an embodied
being. What shall be done to quiet the heart-cry of the world: how
answer the dumb appeal for help we so often divine below eyes that
laugh? It is sadder than sorrow to think that pity with no hands to
heal, that love without a voice to speak, should helplessly heap their
pain upon pain while earth shall endure. But there is a truth about
sorrow which I think may make it seem not so hopeless. There are fewer
barriers than we think: there is, in fact, an inner alliance between
the soul who would fain give and the soul who is in need. Nature has
well provided that not one golden ray of all our thoughts is sped
ineffective through the dark; not one drop of the magical elixirs
love distills is wasted. Let us consider how this may be. There is a
habit we nearly all have indulged in: we often weave little stories in
our minds expending love and pity upon the imaginary beings we have
created. But I have been led to think that many of these are not
imaginary, that somewhere in the world beings are thinking, loving,
suffering just in that way, and we merely reform and live over again
in our life the story of another life. Sometimes these faraway
intimates assume so vivid a shape, they come so near with their appeal
for sympathy that the pictures are unforgettable, and the more I
ponder over them the more it seems to me that they often convey the
actual need of some soul whose cry for comfort has gone out into the
vast, perhaps to meet with an answer, perhaps to hear only silence. I
will supply an instance. I see a child, a curious, delicate little
thing, seated on the doorstep of a house. It is an alley in some
great city; there is a gloom of evening and vapour over the sky; I
see the child is bending over the path; he is picking cinders and
arranging them, and, growing closer, as I ponder, I become aware that
he is laying down in gritty lines the walls of a house, the mansion of
his dream. Here spread along the pavement are large rooms, these for
his friends, and a tiny room in the centre, that is his own. So his
thought plays. Just then I catch a glimpse of the corduroy trousers
of a passing workman, and a heavy boot crushes through the cinders. I
feel the pain in the child's heart as he shrinks back, his little
love-lit house of dreams all rudely shattered. Ah, poor child,
building the City Beautiful out of a few cinders, yet nigher, truer in
intent than many a stately, gold- rich palace reared by princes, thou
wert not forgotten by that mighty spirit who lives through the falling
of empires, whose home has been in many a ruined heart. Surely it was
to bring comfort to hearts like thine that that most noble of all
meditations was ordained by the Buddha. "He lets his mind pervade one
quarter of the world with thoughts of Love, and so the second, and so
the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above,
below, around, and everywhere, does he continue to pervade with heart
of Love far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure."
The love, though the very fairy breath of life, should by itself
and so imparted have a sustaining power some may question, not those
who have felt the sunlight fall from distant fiends who think of them;
but, to make clearer how it seems to me to act, I say that love,
Eros, is a being. It is more than a power of the soul, though it is
that also; it has a universal life of its own, and just as the dark
heaving waters do not know what jewel lights they reflect with
blinding radiance, so the soul, partially absorbing and feeling the
ray of Eros within it, does not know that often a part of its nature
nearer to the sun of love shines with a brilliant light to other eyes
than its own. Many people move unconscious of their won charm,
unknowing of the beauty and power they seem to others to impart. It
is some past attainment of the soul, a jewel won in some old battle
which it may have forgotten, but none the less this gleams on its
tiara and the star-flame inspires others to hope and victory.
If is true here than many exert a spiritual influence they are
unconscious of, it is still truer of the spheres within. Once the
soul has attained to any possession like love, or persistent will, or
faith, or a power of thought, it comes into psychic contact with
others who are struggling for these very powers. The attainment of
any of these means that the soul is able to absorb and radiate some of
the diviner elements of being. The soul may or may not be aware of
the position it is placed in and its new duties, but yet that Living
Light, having found a way into the being of any one person, does not
rest there, but sends its rays and extends its influence on and on to
illumine the darkness of another nature. So it comes that there are
ties which bind us to people other than those whom we meet in our
everyday life. I think they are more real ties, more important to
understand, for if we let our lamp go out some far away who had
reached out in the dark and felt a steady will, a persistent hope, a
compassionate love, may reach out once again in an hour of need, and
finding no support may give way and fold the hands in despair. Often
indeed we allow gloom to overcome us and so hinder the bright rays in
their passage; but would we do it so often if we thought that perhaps
a sadness which besets us, we do not know why, was caused by some
heart drawing nigh to ours for comfort, that our lethargy might make
it feel still more its helplessness, while our courage, our faith,
might cause "our light to shine in some other heart which as yet has
no light of its own."
—March 15, 1897
"I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
No one kneels to another, nor to one of his kind that lived
of years ago." —-Walt Whitman
I have prefixed some ideas about spiritual freedom addressed to
the people of Ireland with these lines from the poet of another land,
because national sentiment seems out of date here, the old heroism
slumbers, alien thought and an exotic religion have supplanted our
true ideals and our natural spirituality. I hope that the scornful
words of one who breathed a freer air might sting to shame those who
have not lost altogether the sentiment of human dignity, who have
still some intuitions as to how far and how wisely a man may abase
himself before another, whether that other claim divine authority or
not. For this is the true problem which confronts us as a nation, and
all else is insignificant beside. We have found out who are the real
rulers here, who dictate politics and public action with no less
authority than they speak upon religion and morals, It was only the
other day that a priest, one of our rulers, declared that he would not
permit a political meeting to be held in his diocese and this fiat was
received with a submission which showed how accurately the politician
gauged the strength opposed to him. And this has not been the only
occasion when this power has been exerted: we all know how many
national movements have been interfered with or thwarted; we know
the shameful revelations connected with the elections a few years
back; we know how a great leader fell; and those who are idealists,
God's warriors battling for freedom of thought, whose hope for the
world is that the intuitions of the true and good divinely implanted
in each man's breast shall supersede tradition and old authority,
cannot but feel that their opinions, so much more dangerous to that
authority than any political ideal, must, if advocated, bring them at
last to clash with the priestly power. It is not a war with religion
we would fain enter upon; but when those who claim that heaven and
hell shut and open at their bidding for the spirit of man, use the
influence which belief in that claim confers, as it has been here, to
fetter free-will in action, it is time that the manhood of the nation
awoke to sternly question that authority, to assert its immemorial
right to freedom.
There live of old in Eri a heroic race whom the bards sang as
fearless. There was then no craven dread of the hereafter, for the
land of the immortals glimmered about them in dream and vision, and
already before the decaying of the form the spirit of the hero had
crossed the threshold and clasped hands with the gods. No demon
nature affrighted them: from them wielding the flaming sword of will
the demons fled away as before Cuculain vanished in terror shadowy
embattled hosts. What, I wonder, would these antique heroes say
coming back to a land which preserves indeed their memory but emulates
their spirit no more? We know what the bards thought when heroic
Ireland became only a tradition; when to darkened eyes the elf-lights
ceased to gleam, luring no more to the rich radiant world within, the
Druidic mysteries, and the secret of the ages. In the bardic tales
their comrade Ossian voices to Patrick their scorn of the new. Ah,
from the light and joy of the faery region, from that great
companionship with a race half divine, come back to find that but one
divine man had walked the earth, and as for the rest it was at prayer
and fasting they ought to be! And why? Because, as Patrick explained
to Ossian, if they did not they would go to hell. And this is the
very thing the Patricks ever since have been persuading the Irish
people to believe, adding an alien grief unto their many sorrows,
foisting upon them a vulgar interpretation of the noble idea of divine
justice to cow them to submission with the threat of flame. Ossian,
chafing and fuming under the priestly restriction, declared his
preference for hell with the Finians to paradise with Patrick. His
simple heroic mind found it impossible to believe that the pure,
gentle but indomitable spirits of his comrades could be anywhere
quenched or quelled, but they must at last arise exultant even from
torment. When Ossian rejects the bribe of paradise to share the darker
world and the fate of his companions, there spake the true spirit of
man; spark of illimitable deity; shrouded in form, yet radiating
ceaselessly heroic thoughts, aspirations, deathless love; not to be
daunted, rising again and again from sorrow with indestructible hope;
emerging ever from defeat, its glooms smitten through and through
with the light of visions vast and splendid as the heavens. Old bard,
old bard, from Tir-na-noge where thou, perchance wrapt by that beauty
which called thee from earth, singest immortal songs, would that one
lightning of they spirit could pierce the hearts now thronged with
dread, might issue from lips which dare not speak.
I do not question but that the heroic age had its imperfections,
or that it was not well that its too warlike ardour was tempered by
the beautiful, pathetic and ennobling teaching of Christ. The seed of
new doctrines bore indeed many lovely but exotic blossoms in the
saintly times, and also many a noxious weed. For religion must always
be an exotic which makes a far-off land sacred rather than the earth
underfoot: where the Great Spirit whose home is the vast seems no
more a moving glamour in the heavens, a dropping tenderness at
twilight, a visionary light on the hills, a voice in man's heart;
when the way of life is sought in scrolls or is heard from another's
lips. The noxious weed, the unendurable bitter which mingled with the
sweet and true in this exotic religion was the terrible power it put
into the hands of men somewhat more learned in their ignorance of God
than those whom they taught: the power to inflict a deadly wrong upon
the soul, to coerce the will by terror from the course conscience had
marked out as true and good. That power has been used unsparingly and
at times with unspeakable cruelty whenever those who had it thought
their influence was being assailed, for power is sweet and its use is
not lightly laid aside.
As we read our island history there seems a ruddy emblazonry on
every page, a hue shed from behind the visible, the soul dropping its
red tears of fire over hopes for ever dissolving, noble ambitions for
ever foiled. Always on the eve of success starts up some fatal figure
weaponed with the keys of the hereafter, brandishing more especially
the key of the place of torment, warning most particularly those who
regard that that key shall not get rusty from want of turning if they
disobey. It has been so from the beginning, from the time of the
cursing of Tara, where the growing unity of the nations was split into
fractions, down to the present time. I often doubt if the barbarities
in eastern lands which we shudder at are in reality half so cruel, if
they mean so much anguish as this threat of after-torture does to
those who believe in the power of another to inflict it. It wounds
the spirit to the heart: its consciousness of its own immortality
becomes entwined with the terror of as long enduring pain. It is a
lie which the all- compassionate Father-Spirit never breathed into the
ears of his children, a lie which has been told here century after
century with such insistence that half the nation has the manhood
cowed out of it. The offence of the dead chief whose followers were
recently assailed weighed light as a feather in the balance when
compared with the sin of these men and their shameful misuse of
religious authority in Meath a little while ago. The scenes which
took place there, testified and sworn to by witness in the after
trials, were only a copy of what generally took place. They will take
place again if the necessity arises. That is a bitter fact.
A dim consciousness that their servitude is not to God's law but
to man's ambition is creeping over the people here. That is a very
hopeful sign. When a man first feels he is a slave he begins to grow
grey inside, to get moody and irritable. The sore spot becomes more
sensitive the more he broods. At last to touch it becomes dangerous.
For, from such pent-up musing and wrath have sprung rebellions,
revolutions, the overthrow of dynasties and the fall of religions,
aye, thrice as mighty as this. That Thought of freedom lets loose the
flood-gates of an illimitable fire into the soul; it emerges from its
narrow prison-cell of thought and fear as the sky-reaching genie from
the little copper vessel in the tale of Arabian enchantment; it lays
hand on the powers of storm and commotion like a god. It would be
politic not to press the despotism more; but it would be a pity
perhaps if some further act did not take place, just to see a nation
flinging aside the shackles of superstition; disdainful of threats,
determined to seek its own good, resolutely to put aside all external
tradition and rule; adhering to its own judgment, though priests
falsely say the hosts of the everlasting are arrayed in battle against
it, though they threaten the spirit with obscure torment for ever and
ever: still to persist, still to defy, still to obey the orders of
another captain, that Unknown Deity within whose trumpet-call sounds
louder than all the cries of men. There is great comfort, my fellows,
in flinging fear aside; an exultation and delight spring up welling
from inexhaustible deeps, and a tranquil sweetness also ensues which
shows that the powers ever watchful of human progress approve and
applaud the act.
In all this I do not aim at individuals. It is not with them I
would war but with tyranny. They who enslave are as much or more to
be pitied than those whom they enslave. They too are wronged by being
placed and accepted in a position of false authority. They too
enshrine a ray of the divine spirit, which to liberate and express is
the purpose of life. Whatever movement ignores the needs of a single
unity, or breeds hate against it rather than compassion, is so far
imperfect. But if we give these men, as we must, the credit of
sincerity, still opposition is none the less a duty. The spirit of
man must work out its own destiny, learning truth out of error and
pain. It cannot be moral by proxy. A virtuous course into which it
is whipt by fear will avail it nothing, and in that dread hour when it
comes before the Mighty who sent it forth, neither will the plea avail
it that its conscience was in another's keeping.
The choice here lies between Priest and Hero as ideal, and I say
that whatever is not heroic is not Irish, has not been nourished at
the true fountain wherefrom our race and isle derive their mystic
fame. There is a life behind the veil, another Eri which the bards
knew, singing it as the Land of Immortal Youth. It is not hidden
from us, though we have hidden ourselves from it, so that it has
become only a fading memory in our hearts and a faery fable upon our
lips. Yet there are still places in this isle, remote from the
crowded cities where men and women eat and drink and wear out their
lives and are lost in the lust for gold, where the shy peasant sees
the enchanted lights in mountain and woody dell, and hears the faery
bells pealing away, away, into that wondrous underland whither, as
legends relate, the Danann gods withdrew. These things are not to be
heard for the asking; but some, more reverent than the rest, more
intuitive, who understand that the pure eyes of a peasant may see the
things kings and princes, aye, and priests, have desired to see and
have not seen; that for him may have been somewhat lifted the veil
which hides from men the starry spheres where the Eternal Beauty
abides in the shining—these have heard and have been filled with the
hope that, if ever the mystic truths of life could be spoken here,
there would be enough of the old Celtic fire remaining to bring back
the magic into the isle. That direct relation, that vision, comes
fully with spiritual freedom, when men no longer peer through
another's eyes into the mysteries, when they will not endure that the
light shall be darkened by transmission, but spirit speaks with
spirit, drawing light from the boundless Light alone.
Leaving aside the question of interference with national movements,
another charge, one of the weightiest which can be brought against
the priestly influence in this island, is that it has hampered the
expression of native genius in literature and thought. Now the
country is alive with genius, flashing out everywhere, in the
conversation even of the lowest; but we cannot point to imaginative
work of any importance produced in Ireland which has owed its
inspiration to the priestly teaching. The genius of the Gael could
not find itself in their doctrines; though above all things mystical
it could not pierce its way into the departments of super-nature
where their theology pigeon-holes the souls of the damned and the
blessed. It knew of the Eri behind the veil which I spoke of, the
Tir-na-noge which as a lamp lights up our grassy plains, our haunted
hills and valleys. The faery tales have ever lain nearer to the
hearts of the people, and whatever there is of worth in song or story
has woven into it the imagery handed down from the dim druidic ages.
This is more especially true today, when our literature is beginning
to manifest preeminent qualities of imagination, not the grey pieties
of the cloister, but natural magic, beauty, and heroism. Our poets
sing Ossian wandering the land of the immortals; or we read in vivid
romance of the giant chivalry of the Ultonians, their untamable
manhood, the exploits of Cuculain and the children of Rury, more
admirable as types, more noble and inspiring than the hierarchy of
little saints who came later on and cursed their memories.
The genius of the Gael is awakening after a night of troubled
dreams. I returns instinctively to the beliefs of its former day and
finds again the old inspiration. It seeks the gods on the mountains,
still enfolded by their mantle of multitudinous traditions, or sees
them flash by in the sunlit diamond airs. How strange, but how
natural is all this! It seems as if Ossian's was a premature return.
Today he might find comrades come back from Tir-na-noge for the
uplifting of their race. Perhaps to many a young spirit starting up
among us Caolte might speak as to Mongan, saying: "I was with thee,
with Finn." Hence, it may be, the delight with which we hear Standish
O'Grady declaring that the bardic divinities will remain: "Nor, after
centuries of obscuration, is their power to quicken, purify, and
exalt, yet dead. Still they live and reign, and shall reign." After
long centuries—the voice of a spirit ever youthful, yet older than
all the gods, who with its breath of sunrise- coloured flame jewels
with richest lights the visions of earth's dreamy-hearted children.
Once more out of the Heart of the Mystery is heard the call of "Come
away," and after that no other voice has power to lure: there remain
only the long heroic labours which end in companionship with the gods.
These voices do not stand for themselves alone. They are heralds
before a host. No man has ever spoken with potent utterance who did
not feel the secret urging of dumb, longing multitudes, whose
aspirations and wishes converge on and pour themselves into fearless
heart. The thunder of the waves is deeper because the tide is rising.
Those who are behind do not come only with song and tale, but with
stern hearts bent on great issues, among which, not least, is the
intellectual liberation of Ireland. That is an aim at which some of
our rulers may well grow uneasy. Soon shall young men, fiery-
hearted, children of Eri, a new race, roll our their thoughts on the
hillsides, before your very doors, O priests, calling your flocks from
your dark chapels and twilight sanctuaries to a temple not built with
hands, sunlit, starlit, sweet with the odour and incense of earth,
from your altars call them to the altars of the hills, soon to be lit
up as of old, soon to be the blazing torches of God over the land.
These heroes I see emerging. Have they not come forth in every land
and race when there was need? Here, too, they will arise. Ah, may
darlings, you will have to fight and suffer: you must endure
loneliness, the coldness of friends, the alienation of love; warmed
only by the bright interior hope of a future you must toil for but may
never see, letting the deed be its own reward; laying in dark places
the foundations of that high and holy Eri of prophecy, the isle of
enchantment, burning with druidic splendours, bright with immortal
presences, with the face of the everlasting Beauty looking in upon all
its ways, divine with terrestrial mingling till God and the world are
There waits brooding in this isle a great destiny, and to
accomplish it we must have freedom of thought. That is the greatest
of our needs, for thought is the lightning-conductor between the
heaven- world and earth. We want fearless advocates who will not be
turned aside from their course by laughter or by threats. Why is it
that the spirit of daring, imaginative enquiry is so dead here? An
incubus of spiritual fear seems to beset men women so that they
think, if they turn from the beaten track seeking the true, they
shall meet, not the divine with outstretched hands, but a demon; that
the reward for their search will not be joy or power but enduring
pain. How the old bard swept away such fears! "If thy God were
good," said Ossian, "he would call Finn into his dun." Yes, the heroic
heart is dear to the heroic heart. I would back the intuition of an
honest soul for truth against piled-up centuries of theology. But
this high spirit is stifled everywhere by a dull infallibility which
is yet unsuccessful, on its own part, in awakening inspiration; and,
in the absence of original though, we pick over the bones of dead
movements, we discuss the personalities of the past, but no one asks
the secrets of life or of death. There are despotic hands in
politics, in religion, in education, strangling any attempt at
freedom. Of the one institution which might naturally be supposed to
be the home of great ideas we can only say, reversing the famous
eulogy on Oxford, it has never given itself to any national hero or
cause, but always to the Philistine.
With the young men who throng the literary societies the
intellectual future of Ireland rests. In them are our future leaders.
Out of these as from a fountain will spring—what? Will we have
another generation of Irishmen at the same level as today, with
everything in a state of childhood, boyish patriotism, boyish ideals,
boyish humour? Or will they assimilate the aged thought of the world
and apply it to the needs of their own land? I remember reading
somewhere a description by Turgenieff of his contemporaries as a young
man; how they sat in garrets, drinking execrably bad coffee or tea.
But what thoughts! They talked of God, of humanity, of Holy Russia;
and out of such groups of young men, out of their discussions,
emanated that vast unrest which has troubled Europe and will trouble
it still more. Here no questions are asked and no answers are
received. There is a pitiful, blind struggle for a nationality whose
ideas are not definitely conceived. What is the ideal of Ireland as a
nation? It drifts from mind to mind, a phantom thought lacking a
spirit, but a spirit which will surely incarnate. Perhaps some of our
old heroes may return. Already it seems as if one had been here; a
sombre Titan earlier awakened than the rest who passed before us, and
sounded the rallying note of our race before he staggered to his
tragic close. Others of brighter thought will follow to awaken the
fires which Brigid in her vision saw gleaming beyond dark centuries of
night, and confessed between hope and tears to Patrick. Meanwhile we
must fight for intellectual freedom; we must strive to formulate to
ourselves what it is we really wish for here, until at last the ideal
becomes no more phantasmal but living; until our voices in aspiration
are heard in every land, and the nations become aware of a new
presence amid their councils, a last and most beautiful figure, as one
after the cross of pain, after the shadowy terrors, with thorn-marks
on the brow from a crown flung aside, but now radiant, ennobled after
suffering, Eri, the love of so many dreamers, priestess of the
mysteries, with the chant of beauty on her lips and the heart of
nature beating in her heart.
—April 15-May 15, 1897
I am a part of all that I have met:
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untraveled world .....
....... Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
We are no longer children as we were in the beginning. The spirit
which, prompted by some divine intent, flung itself long ago into a
vague, nebulous, drifting nature, though it has endured through many
periods of youth, maturity, and age, has yet had its own
transformations. Its gay, wonderful childhood gave way, as cycle
after cycle coiled itself into slumber, to more definite purposes,
and now it is old and burdened with experiences. It is not an age
that quenches its fire, but it will not renew again the activities
which gave it wisdom. And so it comes that men pause with a feeling
which they translate into weariness of life before the accustomed
joys and purposes of their race. They wonder at the spell which
induced their fathers to plot and execute deeds which seem to them to
have no more meaning than a whirl of dust. But their fathers had this
weariness also and concealed it from each other in fear, for it meant
the laying aside of the sceptre, the toppling over empires, the
chilling of the household warmth, and all for a voice whose inner
significance revealed itself but to one or two among myriads.
The spirit has hardly emerged from the childhood with which nature
clothes it afresh at every new birth, when the disparity between the
garment and the wearer becomes manifest: the little tissue of joys
and dreams woven about it found inadequate for shelter: it trembles
exposed to the winds blowing out of the unknown. We linger at
twilight with some companion, still glad, contented, and in tune with
the nature which fills the orchards with blossom and sprays the hedges
with dewy blooms. The laughing lips give utterance to wishes—ours
until that moment. Then the spirit, without warning, suddenly falls
into immeasurable age: a sphynx-like regard is upon us: our lips
answer, but far from the region of elemental being we inhabit, they
syllable in shadowy sound, out of old usage, the response, speaking of
a love and a hope which we know have vanished from us for evermore.
So hour by hour the scourge of the infinite drives us out of every
nook and corner of life we find pleasant. And this always takes place
when all is fashioned to our liking: then into our dream strides the
wielder of the lightning: we get glimpse of the great beyond thronged
with mighty, exultant, radiant beings: our own deeds become
infinitesimal to us: the colours of our imagination, once so shining,
grow pale as the living lights of God glow upon them. We find a
little honey in the heart which we make sweeter for some one, and then
another lover, whose forms are legion, sighs to us out of its
multitudinous being: we know that the old love is gone. There is a
sweetness in song or in the cunning reimaging of the beauty we see;
but the Magician of the Beautiful whispers to us of his art, how we
were with him when he laid the foundations of the world, and the song
is unfinished, the fingers grow listless. As we receive these
intimations of age our very sins become negative: we are still
pleased if a voice praises us, but we grow lethargic in enterprises
where the spur to activity is fame or the acclamation of men. At some
point in the past we struggled mightily for the sweet incense which
men offer to a towering personality: but the infinite is for ever
within man: we sighed for other worlds and found that to be saluted
as victor by men did not mean acceptance by the gods.
But the placing of an invisible finger upon our lips when we would
speak, the heart-throb of warning where we would love, that we grow
contemptuous of the prizes of life, does not mean that the spirit has
ceased from its labours, that the high-built beauty of the spheres is
to topple mistily into chaos, as a mighty temple in the desert sinks
into the sand, watched only by a few barbarians too feeble to renew
its ancient pomp and the ritual of its once shining congregations.
Before we, who were the bright children of the dawn, may return as
the twilight race into the silence, our purpose must be achieved, we
have to assume mastery over that nature which now overwhelms us,
driving into the Fire-fold the flocks of stars and wandering fires.
Does it seem very vast and far away? Do you sigh at the long, long
time? Or does it appear hopeless to you who perhaps return with
trembling feet evening after evening from a little labour? But it is
back of all these things that the renewal takes place, when love and
grief are dead; when they loosen their hold on the spirit and its
sinks back into itself, looking out on the pitiful plight of those
who, like it, are the weary inheritors of so great destinies: then a
tenderness which is the most profound quality of its being springs up
like the outraying of the dawn, and if in that mood it would plan or
execute it knows no weariness, for it is nourished from the First
Fountain. As for these feeble children of the once glorious spirits
of the dawn, only a vast hope can arouse them from so vast a despair,
for the fire will not invigorate them for the repetition of petty
deeds but only for the eternal enterprise, the purpose of the
immemorial battle waged through all the ages, the wars in heaven, the
conflict between Titan and Divinity, which were part of the
never-ending struggle of the human spirit to assert its supremacy
over nature. Brotherhood, the declaration of ideals and philosophies,
are but calls to the hosts, who lie crushed by this mountain nature
piled above them, to arise again, to unite, to storm the heavens and
sit on the seats of the mighty.
As the titan in man ponders on this old, old purpose wherefor all
its experience was garnered, the lightnings will once more begin to
play through him and animate his will. So like the archangel ruined
let us arise from despair and weariness with inflexible resolution,
pealing once more the old heroic shout to our fallen comrades, until
those great powers who enfold us feel the stirring and the renewal,
and the murmur runs along the spheres, "The buried Titan moves once
again to tear the throne from Him."
They torture me also.—Krishna
The night was wet: and, as I was moving down the streets, my mind
was also journeying on a way of its own, and the things which were
bodily present before me were no less with me in my unseen traveling.
Every now and then a transfer would take place, and some of the
moving shadows in the street would begin walking about in the clear
interior light. The children of the city, crouched in the doorways,
or racing through the hurrying multitude and flashing lights, began
their elfin play again in my heart; and that was because I had heard
these tiny outcasts shouting with glee. I wondered if the glitter and
shadow of such sordid things were thronged with magnificence and
mystery for those who were unaware of a greater light and deeper shade
which made up the romance and fascination of my own life. In
imagination I narrowed myself to their ignorance, littleness, and
youth, and seemed for a moment to flit amid great uncomprehended
beings and a dim wonderful city of palaces.
Then another transfer took place and I was pondering anew, for a
face I had seen flickering through the warm wet mist haunted me; it
entered into the realm of the interpreter, and I was made aware by the
pale cheeks, and by the close-shut lips of pain, and by some inward
knowledge, that there the Tree of Life was beginning to grow, and I
wondered why it is that it always springs up through a heart in ashes:
I wondered also if that which springs up, which in itself is an
immortal joy, has knowledge that its shoots are piercing through such
anguish; or again, if it was the piercing of the shoots which caused
the pain, and if every throb of the beautiful flame darting upward to
blossom meant the perishing of some more earthly growth which had kept
the heart in shadow.
Seeing to how so many thoughts spring up from such a simple thing,
I questioned whether that which started the impulse had any share in
the outcome, and if these musing of mine in any way affected their
subject. I then began thinking about those secret ties on which I
have speculated before, and in the darkness my heart grew suddenly
warm and glowing, for I had chanced upon one of those shining
imaginations which are the wealth of those who travel upon the hidden
ways. In describing that which comes to us all at once, there is a
difficulty in choosing between what is first and what is last to say:
but, interpreting as best I can, I seemed to behold the onward
movement of a Light, one among many Lights, all living, throbbing, now
dim with perturbations, and now again clear, and all subtly woven
together, outwardly in some more shadowy shining, and inwardly in a
greater fire, which, though it was invisible, I knew to be the Lamp of
the World. This Light which I beheld I felt to be a human soul, and
these perturbations which dimmed it were its struggles and passionate
longings for something, and that was for a more brilliant shining of
the light within itself: it was in love with its own beauty,
enraptured by its own lucidity; and I saw that as these things were
more beloved they grew paler, for this light is the love which the
Mighty Mother has in her heart for her children, and she means that it
shall go through each one unto all, and whoever restrains it in
himself is himself shut out; not that the great heart has ceased in
its love for that soul, but that the soul has shut itself off from
influx, for ever imagination of man is the opening or the closing of a
door to the divine world: now he is solitary, cut off, and, seemingly
to himself, on the desert and distant verge of things: and then his
thought throws open the swift portals; he hears the chant of the
seraphs in his heart, and he is made luminous by the lighting of a
sudden aureole. This soul which I watched seemed to have learned at
last the secret love: for, in the anguish begotten by its loss, it
followed the departing glory in penitence to the inmost shrine where
it ceased altogether; and because it seemed utterly lost and hopeless
of attainment and capriciously denied to the seeker, a profound pit
arose in the soul for those who, like it were seeking, but still in
hope, for they had not come to the vain end of their endeavors. I
understood that such pity is the last of the precious essences which
make up the elixir of immortality, and when it is poured into the cup
it is ready for drinking. And so it was with this soul which drew
brilliant with the passage of eternal light through its new purity of
self-oblivion, and joyful in the comprehension of the mystery of the
secret love, which, though it has been declared many times by the
greatest of teachers among men, is yet never known truly unless the
Mighty Mother has herself breathed it in the heart.
And now that the soul had divined this secret, the shadowy shining
which was woven in bonds of union between it and its fellow-lights
grew clearer; and a multitude of these strands were, so it seemed,
strengthened and placed in its keeping: along these it was to send
the message of the wisdom and the love which were the secret sweetness
of its own being. Then a spiritual tragedy began, infinitely more
pathetic than the old desolation, because it was brought about by the
very nobility of the spirit. This soul, shedding its love like rays
of glory, seemed itself the centre of a ring of wounding spears: it
sent forth love and the arrowy response came hate-impelled: it
whispered peace and was answered by the clash of rebellion: and to
all this for defence it could only bare more openly its heart that a
profounder love from the Mother Nature might pass through upon the
rest. I knew this was what a teacher, who wrote long ago, meant when
he said: "Put on the whole armour of god," which is love and
endurance, for the truly divine children of the Flame are not armed
otherwise: and of those protests, sent up in ignorance or rebellion
against the whisper of the wisdom, I saw that some melted in the
fierce and tender heat of the heart, and there came in their stead a
golden response which made closer the ties, and drew these souls
upward to an understanding and to share in the overshadowing nature:
and this is part of the plan of the Great Alchemist, whereby the red
ruby of the heart is transmuted into the tenderer light of the opal;
for the beholding of love made bare acts like the flame of the
furnace, and the dissolving passions, through an anguish of remorse,
the lightnings of pain, and through an adoring pity, are changed into
the image they contemplate and melt in the ecstasy of self-forgetful
love, the spirit which lit the thorn-crowned brows, which perceived
only in its last agony the retribution due to its tormentors, and
cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Now although the love of the few may alleviate the hurt due to the
ignorance of the mass, it is not in the power of anyone to withstand
for ever this warfare; for by the perpetual wounding of the inner
nature it is so wearied that the spirit must withdraw from a
tabernacle grown too frail to support the increase of light within
and the jarring of the demoniac nature without: and at length comes
the call which means, for a while, release, and a deep rest in regions
beyond the paradise of lesser souls. So, withdrawn into the Divine
Darkness, vanished the Light of my dream. And now it seemed as if
this wonderful weft of souls intertwining as one being must come to
naught; and all those who through the gloom had nourished a longing
for the light would stretch out hands in vain for guidance: but that
I did not understand the love of the Mother, and that although few,
there is no decaying of her heroic brood; for, as the seer of old
caught at the mantle of him who went up in the fiery chariot, so
another took up the burden and gathered the shining strands together:
and to this sequence of spiritual guides there is no ending.
Here I may say that the love of the Mother, which, acting through
the burnished will of the hero, is wrought to highest uses, is in
reality everywhere, and pervades with profoundest tenderness the
homeliest circumstance of daily life; and there is not lacking, even
among the humblest, an understanding of the spiritual tragedy which
follows upon every effort of the divine nature bowing itself down in
pity to our shadowy sphere; an understanding in which the nature of
the love is gauged through the extent of the sacrifice and pain which
is overcome. I recall the instance of an old Irish peasant, who, as
he lay in hospital wakeful from a grinding pain in his leg, forgot
himself in making drawings, rude yet reverently done, of incidents in
the life of the Galilean teacher. One of these which he showed me was
a crucifixion, where, amidst much grotesque symbolism, were some
tracings which indicated a purely beautiful intuition; the heart of
this crucified figure, no less than the brow, was wreathed about with
thorns and radiant with light: "For that," said he, was where he
really suffered." When I think of this old man, bringing
forgetfulness of his own bodily pain through contemplation of the
spiritual suffering of his own, nobly undergone, had given him
understanding, and he had laid his heart in love against the Heart of
Many Sorrows, seeing it wounded by unnumbered spears yet burning with
Though much may be learned by observance of the superficial life
and actions of a spiritual teacher, it is only in the deeper life of
meditation and imagination that it can be truly realized; for the
soul is a midnight blossom which opens its leaves in dream, and its
perfect bloom is unfolded only where another sun shines in another
heaven: there it feels what celestial dews descend on it, and what
influences draw it up to its divine archetype: here in the shadow of
earth root intercoils with root and the finer distinctions of the
blossom are not perceived. If we knew also who they really are, who
sometimes in silence, and sometimes with the eyes of the world at
gaze, take upon them the mantle of teacher, an unutterable awe would
prevail; for underneath a bodily presence not in any sense beautiful
may burn the glory of some ancient divinity, some hero who laid aside
his sceptre in the enchanted land to rescue old-time comrades fallen
into oblivion: or again, if we had the insight of the simple old
peasant into the nature of this enduring love, out of the exquisite
and poignant emotions kindled would arise the flame of a passionate
love which would endure long aeons of anguish that it might shield,
though but for a little, the kingly hearts who may not shield
But I too, who write, have launched the rebellious spear, or in
lethargy have ofttimes gone down the great drift numbering myself
among those who not being with must needs be against: therefor I
make no appeal; they only may call who stand upon the lofty
mountains; but I reveal the thought which arose like a star in my
soul with such bright and pathetic meaning, leaving it to you who read
to approve and apply it.
—July 15, 1897
I heard that a strange woman, dwelling on the western coast, who
had the repute of healing by faery power, said a little before she
died, "There's a cure for all things in the well at Ballykeele": and
I know not why at first, but her words lingered with me and repeated
themselves again and again, and by degrees to keep fellowship with the
thought they enshrined came more antique memories, all I had heard or
dreamed of the Fountains of Youth; for I could not doubt, having heard
these fountains spoken of by people like herself, that her idea had a
druid ancestry. Perhaps she had bent over the pool until its darkness
grew wan and bright and troubled with the movements of a world within
and the agitations of a tempestuous joy; or she had heard, as many
still hear, the wild call to "Come away," from entreating lips and
flame- encircled faces, or was touched by the star-tipped fingers, and
her heart from the faery world came never back again to dwell as
before at ease in this isle of grey mists and misty sunlight. These
things are not fable only, for Ireland is still a land of the gods,
and in out of the way places we often happen on wonderlands of romance
and mystic beauty. I have spoken to people who have half parted from
their love for the world in a longing for the pagan paradise of
Tir-na-nog, and many who are outwardly obeisant to another religion
are altogether pagan in their hearts, and Meave the Queen of the
Western Host is more to them than Mary Queen of Heaven. I was told of
this Meave that lately she was seen in vision by a peasant, who made a
poem on her, calling her "The Beauty of all Beauty": and the man who
told me this of his friend had himself seen the jetted fountains of
fire-mist winding up in spiral whirls to the sky, and he too had heard
of the Fountains of Youth.
The natural longing in every heart that its youth shall not perish
makes one ponder and sigh over this magical past when youth, ecstasy,
and beauty welled from a bountiful nature at the sung appeal of her
druid children holding hand in hand around the sacred cairn. Our
A wind blows by us fleeting
Along the reedy strand: And sudden our hearts are beating
Again in the druid-land.
All silver-pale, enchanted,
The air-world lies on the hills, And the fields of light
With the dawn-frail daffodils.
The yellow leaves are blowing
The hour when the wind-god weaves, And hides the stars
and their glowing
In a mist of daffodil leaves.
We stand in glimmering whiteness,
Each face like the day-star fair, And rayed about in its
With a dawn of daffodil air.
And through each white robe gleaming,
And under each snow-white breast, Is a golden dream-light
Like eve through an opal west.
One hand to the heart, another
We raise to the dawn on high; For the sun in the heart is
To the sun-heart of the sky.
A light comes rising and falling,
As ringed in the druid choir We sing to the sun-god,
By his name of yellow fire.
The touch of the dew-wet grasses,
The breath of the dawn-cool wind, With the dawn of the
And the world is left behind.
We drink of a fountain giving
The joy of the gods, and then— The Land of the
Has passed from us again.
Passed far beyond all saying,
For memory only weaves On a silver dawn outraying
A cloud of daffodil leaves.
And not indirectly through remembrance only, but when touched from
within by the living beauty, the soul, the ancient druid in man,
renews its league with the elements; and sometimes as the twilight
vanishes and night lays on the earth her tender brow, the woods, the
mountains, the clouds that tinted like seraphim float in the vast, and
the murmur of water, wind and trees, melt from the gaze and depart
from the outward ear and become internal reveries and contemplations
of the spirit, and are no more separate but are part of us. Yet these
vanishings from us and movements in worlds not realized, leave us only
more thirsty to drink of a deeper nature where all things are
dissolved in ecstasy, and heaven and earth are lost in God. So we
turn seeking for the traces of that earlier wisdom which guided man
into the Land of Immortal Youth, and assuaged his thirst at a more
brimming flood of the Feast of Age, the banquet which Manannan the
Danann king instituted in the haunt of the Fire-god, and whoever
partook knew thereafter neither weariness, decay, not death.
These mysteries, all that they led to, all that they promised for
the spirit of man, are opening today for us in clear light, their
fabulous distance lessens, and we hail these kingly ideals with as
intense a trust and with more joy, perhaps, than they did who were
born in those purple hours, because we are emerging from centuries
indescribably meagre and squalid in their thought, and every new
revelation has for us the sweetness of sunlight to one after the tears
and sorrow of a prison-house. The well at Ballykeele is, perhaps, a
humble starting-point for the contemplation of such mighty mysteries;
but here where the enchanted world lies so close it is never safe to
say what narrow path may not lead through a visionary door into Moy
Argatnel, the silver Cloudland of Manannan, where
"Feet of white bronze Glitter through beautiful ages."
The Danann king with a quaint particularity tells Bran in the poem
from which these lines are quoted, that
"There is a wood of beautiful fruit Under the prow of thy little
What to Bran was a space of pale light was to the eye of the god a
land of pure glory, Ildathach the Many-coloured Land, rolling with
rivers of golden light and dropping with dews of silver flame. In
another poem the Brugh by the Boyne, outwardly a little hillock, is
"Look, and you will see it is the palace of a god."
Perhaps the mystic warriors of the Red Branch saw supernatural
pillars blazoned like the sunset, and entered through great doors and
walked in lofty halls with sunset-tinted beings speaking a more
beautiful wisdom than earth's. And they there may have seen those
famous gods who had withdrawn generations before from visible Eire:
Manannan the dark blue king, Lu Lamfada with the sunrise on his brow
and his sling, a wreath of rainbow flame, coiled around him, the
Goddess Dana in ruby brilliance, Nuada silver-handed, the Dagda with
floating locks of light shaking from him radiance and song, Angus Oge,
around whose head the ever-winging birds made music, and others in
whose company these antique heroes must have felt the deep joy of old
companionship renewed, for were not the Danann hosts men of more
primeval cycles become divine and movers in a divine world. In the
Brugh too was a fountain, to what uses applied the mystical
imagination working on other legends may make clearer.
The Well of Connla, the parent fountain of many streams visible and
invisible, was the most sacred well known in ancient Ireland. It lay
itself below deep waters at the source of the Shannon, and these
waters which hid it were also mystical, for they lay between earth and
the Land of the Gods. Here, when stricken suddenly by an internal
fire, the sacred hazels of wisdom and inspiration unfolded at once
their leaves and blossoms and their scarlet fruit, which falling upon
the waters dyed them of a royal purple; the nuts were then devoured
by Fintann the Salmon of Knowledge, and the wisest of the druids
partook also. This was perhaps the greatest of the mysteries known to
the ancient Gael, and in the bright phantasmagoria conjured up there
is a wild beauty which belongs to all their tales. The suddenly
arising dreams of a remote divinity, the scarlet nuts tossing on the
purple flood, the bright immortals glancing hither and thither, are
pictures left of some mystery we may not now uncover, thought tomorrow
may reveal it, for the dawn- lights are glittering everywhere in
Ireland. Perhaps the strange woman who spoke of the well at
Ballykeele, and the others like her, may know more about these
fountains than the legend-seekers who so learnedly annoted their
tales. They may have drunken in dreams of the waters at Connla's
well, for many go to the Tir-na-nog in sleep, and some are said to
have remained there, and only a vacant form is left behind without the
light in the eyes which marks the presence of a soul. I make no
pretence of knowledge concerning the things which underlie their
simple speech, but to me there seems to be for ever escaping from
legend and folk-tale, from word and custom, some breath of a world of
beauty I sigh for but am not nigh to as these are. I think if that
strange woman could have found a voice for what was in her heart she
would have completed her vague oracle somewhat as I have done:
There's a cure for all things in the well at Ballykeele,
Where the scarlet cressets o'erhang from the rowan trees;
There's a joy-breath blowing from the Land of Youth I feel,
And earth with its heart at ease.
Many and many a sun-bright maiden saw the enchanted land
With star-faces glimmer up from the druid wave:
Many and many a pain of love was soothed by a faery hand
Or lost in the love it gave.
When the quiet with a ring of pearl shall wed the earth
And the scarlet berries burn dark by the stars in the pool,
Oh, its lost and deep I'll be in the joy-breath and the mirth,
My heart in the star-heart cool.
—September 15, 1897