In the recent discussion concerning my web log entry LVX – The Light of Creation in Traditional Astrology, Sue Ward mentioned the influential role of the mystic Anna Kingsford. Unfortunately many people, although interested in the Western Mystery Tradition, are not aware of the importance of her contribution in the field of Hermetics and her influence on McGregor Mathers and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Anna Kingsford was born in 1846 in Essex. She was a precocious child and already wrote her first novel at the early age of 13. Later she became interested in animal welfare and women’s rights and advocated equal rights in education for girls and boys. In 1874 she enrolled in the Paris Medical School and qualified as a physician in 1880. During her medical studies she had a series of mystical illuminations which would shape her future life. She decided to teach the Western Mystery Tradition and became president of the Theosophical Society in 1883. In 1884 she was offered her own Hermetical lodge, but its existence was only short-lived. In May 1884 she formed, together with Maitland, the Hermetic Society. Due to her ill-health she could not continue to lecture there after 1886. McGregor Mathers, who had been giving lectures at the Hermetic society, was heavily influenced by Anna Kingsford. He founded his magical order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, in 1888, the year Anna died.
More information on Anna Kingsford may be found at http://www.anna-kingsford.com/english/index.htm.
In 1886 Anna Kingsford published her translation of Valentine Veigelius’ Astrology Theologized, The Spiritual Hermeneutics of Astrology and Holy Writ Being A Treatise upon the Influence of the Stars on Man and on the Art of Ruling Them By the Law of Grace, which had been originally published in 1649. It includes a Prefatory Essay, written by Anna Kingsford, on the True Method of Interpreting Holy Scripture.
A copy of her translation of Astrology Theologized can be read online at: http://www.anna-kingsford.com/english/Works_by_Anna_Kingsford_and_Maitland/Texts/014-OAKM-I-Astrology-web.htm#1
As an homage to Anna Kingsford, to astrology and the Hermetic arts, I want to give a short excerpt from her beautiful translation of Astrology Theologized, hoping to kindle some new interest in her and her work.
Astrology is Philosophy itself, or it is the whole light of Nature, from whence ariseth the universal natural Wisdom, or a solid, sincere, and exquisite knowledge of natural things: which light of Nature is twofold, external and internal: external in the Macrocosm, internal in the Microcosm.
The study of Astrology or Philosophy is conversant about the universal knowledge of all the wonderful and secret things of God, infused and put into natural things from above in the first Creation.
The exercise therefore of the Light of Nature is the most sagacious perscrutation (INTENSE SCRUTINY) and enucleation (TO PEEL OUT or EXTRACT) of the abstruse, internal and invisible virtues, lying hid in external, corporal and visible things; to wit,
- What should be the first matter of this great world whereof it was made.
- What the Elements should be, and those things which are bred of the Elements, and consist in them; of what kind is their creation, essence, nature, propriety and operation as well within as without.
- What might be in the stars of heaven, what their operation.
- What in volatiles, what in fishes, metals, minerals, gems; what in every species of sprigs and vegetables.
- What in animals, beasts, creeping things, and in the whole frame of the world.
- Lastly, what is in Man, who was made and created of all these; to wit,
What is that mass, or slime, or dust whereof the body of the first man was formed, and whence he received his soul, and what it is; and whence he hath the Spirit, and what he is: And so the Light of Nature, or Astrology comprehends in itself all the wisdom and knowledge of the whole universe; that is, all these are hid and learned in the School of the Light of Nature, and are referred to as Astrology, or are rather Astrology itself; to wit,
The Subject of Astrology is therefore double; the Macrocosm and the Microcosm, the greater world and the lesser world.
An article discussing Anna Kingsford’s nativity can be found in Primum Mobile, the web log of the Academy of Astrology.