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            To the Editor of Light.


            SIR, – I shall be glad to have space for some animadversions, not on the recent interesting letters which bore the heading, “Have Animals Souls?” but on that heading itself. For, defining soul, as I believe it ought to be defined, to be that principle in virtue of which organic life subsists, it follows necessarily that, as organised beings, animals have souls, and could not subsist without them. In this view the question to be asked is, not whether animals have souls, but whether they have souls capable of surviving their bodies. For if, as stated in the Hermetic books (e.g. Asclepios, Part I.), souls are not all of the same quality, but differ in mode and duration, it may well be that there are some kinds which are capable, and some which are incapable, of continuance after death. In which case the question about the animals would be, as just said, not whether they have souls, but what kind of souls they have. Ancient belief – which was founded not on the preferences or prejudices of the uninstructed majority, but on the knowledges of the initiated few – was unanimous on this subject. Animals not only had souls, but had souls capable of continuance after death. As with men, it was not the death of the body that put an end to them, for they passed through many bodies. But neither were they immortal in themselves, nor were they immortal as animals, but passed on into higher forms according to the mode and degree of their unfoldment – form being the expression of qualities – until the human was reached.

            This question, or rather a question which involves it, was raised coincidently in The Theosophist, for February, p. 274, by a Hindu contributor, who asked for references, other than those of The Perfect Way, in support of retrogressive incarnation (i.e. from the human back to the animal), and an answer in affirmation of the doctrine was given in the same number, consisting in a citation from Plato’s Phaedo, and some references to the earlier

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Greek philosophy; according to which there is an interchange of souls, by transmigration, between men and animals, according to the developments and deserts of the individual. Among the further references which might have been adduced, and of which your readers may like to be informed, are the almost identical statements in the Divine Pymander, Book IV., and the Bhagavad-Gita, c. xvi; the rituals and symbols of ancient Egypt, and notably the Sphinx, which unites all extremes of life in one form; the life of Apollonius of Tyana, who is said to have recognised the soul of King Amasis doing penance in the body of a lion; the Biblical parable of Jacob’s ladder, on which the souls were seen ascending and descending; and the teaching of the Kabalah. For the Kingdoms of Edom, said in Genesis to pass away and perish, while only the Kingdom of Israel endured, are explained in the Kabalah as denoting the various elementary stages in the elaboration of man which precede and lead up to the perfected humanity, and which, being provisional only, are necessarily incapable of permanence. Meanwhile, until the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel, or advent of the man perfect, the soul concerned ascends and descends this ladder of evolution, gathering according to its needs the experiences requisite for its full edification in the Divine image, when, and when only, “the gift of God, even life eternal,” is attained.

            According to this doctrine – formerly universal, and it is to be hoped again to become so, being eminently logical and just – there is one soul of men and animals, having many modes and degrees, and passing from form to form in accomplishment of its pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of which the starting-point is the dust of the ground, and the goal the throne of the Most High.

            So far, however, is this doctrine of an universal soul common to all creatures from obtaining recognition as yet even among professed initiates in spiritual mysteries, and so slender sometimes is the amount of intelligence brought to the study of those mysteries, that we find volume after volume purporting to be written by proficients in Occultism, in which the animals are confounded with “the animal,” and condemned accordingly as inherently and wholly evil, and even pronounced to be therefore lawful subjects of any cruelty which man, in his selfishness, may choose to inflict upon them. As if man were not, by the very indulgence of such selfishness, degraded below the level not only of the human but of the animal, down to that of the infernal, from which there is no redemption.

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            It is not, however, because animals have souls and continue after death that we are bound to be just and merciful to them, but because we ourselves have souls of which the principles of justice and mercy are the very life-blood, and which we degrade and destroy by being unjust and unmerciful. Suffer as the animals may through our ill-treatment of them, we ourselves suffer yet more thereby. So that the notion, so prevalent, that humanity – meaning men and women – can be benefited by methods involving the ill-treatment of animals is utterly absurd and false. Humanity cannot be benefited by aught that is, by its very nature, subversive of humanity. May the opening in your pages of the question of the souls of animals be the means of bringing all Spiritualists to a sense of the obligation in regard to animals imposed on them by their faith!

E. M.


II (1)


            To the Editor of Light.


            SIR, – I have been long ill and am still too great an invalid, to enter into any controversy; but I should like, apropos of the subject of Mrs. Penny’s interesting letter of March 19th on animals and their after-life, to relate a pathetic little story which I heard from a well-known Spiritualist in Paris. At a certain séance held in that city, a clairvoyante saw and described spirits whom she beheld present. Among the sitters was a stranger, an English gentleman, unknown to anyone in the room. Looking towards him the clairvoyante suddenly exclaimed: “How strange! Behind that gentleman I see the form of a large Setter dog, resting one paw affectionately on his shoulder, and looking in his face with earnest devotion.” The gentleman was moved, and pressed for a close description of the dog, which the clairvoyante gave. After a short silence he said, with tears, “It is the spirit of a dear dog which, when I was a boy, was my constant friend and attendant. I lost my parents early, and this dog was my only companion. While I played at cricket he always lay down watching me, and when I went to school he walked to the door with me. He constituted himself my protector as long as he lived, and when he died of old age I cried bitterly.” The clairvoyante said: “This dog is now your

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spirit guardian. He will never leave you; he loves you with entire devotion.”

            Is not that a beautiful story?

            I don’t think, however, that I should have been moved to give it here but that, while I was at Nice a few days ago, someone sent Lady Caithness a new journal just issued by an “occult” society, or lodge, in which there was a passage which deeply grieved both of us. It was a protest against belief in the survival of the souls of animals. Such a passage occurring in any paper put forth by persons claiming to have the least knowledge of things occult is shocking, and makes one cry, “How long, O Lord, how long?” The great need of the popular form of the Christian religion is precisely a belief in the solidarity of all living things. It is in this that Buddha surpassed Jesus – in this divine recognition of the universal right to charity. Who can doubt it who visits Rome – the city of the Pontiff – where now I am, and witnesses the black-hearted cruelty of these “Christians” to the animals which toil and slave for them? Ill as I am, I was forced, the day after my arrival, to get out of the carriage in which I was driving to chastise a wicked child who was torturing a poor little dog tied by a string to a pillar – kicking it and stamping on it. No one save myself interfered. To-day I saw a great, thick-shod peasant kick his mule in the mouth out of pure wantonness. Argue with these ruffians, or with their priests, and they will tell you “Christians have no duties to the beasts that perish.” Their Pope has told them so. So that everywhere in Catholic Christendom the poor, patient, dumb creatures endure every species of torment without a single word being uttered on their behalf by the teachers of religion. It is horrible – damnable. And the true reason of it all is because the beasts are popularly believed to be soulless. I say, paraphrasing a mot of Voltaire’s, “If it were true that they had no souls, it would be necessary to invent souls for them.” Earth has become a hell for want of this doctrine. Witness vivisection, and the Church’s toleration of it. Oh, if any living beings on earth have a claim to Heaven, surely the animals have the greatest claim of all! Whose sufferings so bitter as theirs, whose wrongs so deep, whose need of compensation so appalling? As a mystic and an occultist, I know they are not destroyed by death; but if I could doubt it – solemnly I say it – I should doubt also the justice of God. How could I tell He would be just to man if so bitterly unjust to the dear animals?

anna kingsford.

rome, 28th March.


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III (1)


            To the Editor of Light.


            SIR, – No doubt the Spiritual Reformer is the paper to which I alluded. I did not know its title when I wrote my last letter to Light, because I never had the publication in question in my own hands. The passage which called forth my comments was read to me by Lady Caithness.

            In reply to Mr. Read, (2) I will briefly state what my belief on the subject is, a belief spontaneously and logically arrived at by my own interior mental processes, aided by the “inner light,” of which our good friends the “Quakers” make so much, and rightly; and also emphatically taught and maintained by the schools of Brahman, Buddhist, Platonic, and Hermetic initiates, whose humble disciple I am. I understand that the Theosophists also hold the same doctrine; indeed I know of no “Occultist” really worthy of the name who repudiates it. The teaching of Hermetic science is in accordance with the tenets of evolution. It maintains that the “soul” is elaborated, individualised, and made permanent by means of successive and progressive incarnations. Beginning in the realm of the elemental and inorganic, it gradually makes its way upward and onward, perpetually enduring and striving, through the organic world – plant-life and animal-life – into the human. At every “death” an astral relict of persona is shed, and this is, progressively, less and less evanescent as the selfhood ascends in the scale. Thus the ghosts of horses, dogs, and domesticated, intelligent animals have almost as much “personality” as those of average human beings. But the real “Soul” or Ego, is not resident in the ghost. It may remain connected with it under certain conditions for a

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longer or shorter period – as, no doubt, it was enchained by affection to the ghost of the good dog whose history I recounted in Light. This association of Soul and Astral may be the result of meritorious affection, or it may be, on the contrary, the enforced penalty of materiality. Other conditions, such as premature or violent death, may cause it, or special circumstances, peculiar to individual souls. But, sooner or later, the soul disentangles itself from this intermediary state, and passes on to other births, shedding its lower personality, and going on to animate other and higher natures. Thus all animals are potential men, – men in the making – and must inevitably, in process of evolution, develop human conditions. No animals are immortal or “glorified” as animals; but, also, no animal perishes, – no, not even the lowest. It is embarrassing, however, that Mr. Read should have chosen “flies” to illustrate his remark, because flies and a whole class of creatures psychically connected with them belong to the kingdom of “Beelzebub,” “god of flies,” in order to explain whose position and function I should be compelled to enter into a long dissertation, chiefly Kabalistic. Suffice it to say here, that these creatures are by Hermetists regarded as débris and that they are included in the kingdoms of Edom, which represent the backwater stream of disintegrating “Soul.” Occultism is not a simple thing, but it is a perfect thing, and leaves no riddles unexplained. So that it comes to this: All creatures included in the “Kingdom of Israel,” or kingdom of the “Divine Intention,” are perpetually progressing and passing by the natural process of evolutionary development into higher forms. They are our younger brethren, and will some day put on humanity. As human beings they may obtain the “gift of God, which is eternal life through Christ our Lord.” For God is just. If Mr. Read’s views were correct, belief in a just and Divine origin and control of the universe would be impossible, for justice involves compensation, and animals have almost a monopoly of martyrdom. If it be a good thing to be immortal, no creature of God can be shut out from attaining to it. The contrary doctrine strikes a fatal blow at the solidarity of the universe, and makes of man a separate creation, unconnected with the rest of living beings. If animals are soulless then man is soulless, for he is flesh of their flesh physiologically and essentially. Hence I say that the very core and root-doctrine of the new dispensation must be and will be the recognition of the Buddhistic precept concerning the brotherhood of all living things, based on the truth that the

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universe is One, and that One Life (Atman) pervades and maintains it. Because all are eternal, we are eternal, and not otherwise. All things press towards the human, all evolution hastens to develop into man. – Faithfully yours,

anna kingsford.

ROME, 8th May.



            SIR, – In denying continuity to the souls of animals, Mr. Read destroys the lower rounds of the ladder of evolution by which man himself ascends, thus rendering man impossible, since we cannot have the upper without the lower part of the ladder. Can it be that in Mr. Read we have an Occultist who holds that man becomes man by some mode other than that of development from lower forms? It would be interesting in such case to know whence Mr. Read derives his doctrine. I, at least, know of no authority for it.

E. M.




(236:1) Light, 1887, p. 117.

(238:1) Light, 1887. pp. 161-162.

(240:1) Light. 1887, p. 219.

(240:2) In a subsequent letter (Light, 1887, p. 255) Anna Kingsford says: “Mr. Read has kindly sent me a copy of the Spiritual Reformer, which arrived here this morning. I lose no time in recognising Mr. Read’s explanation and my own misconception. I see that the person with whom I am really at issue is not Mr. Read at all, but another writer, from whose suggestions Mr. Read distinctly dissents. While I hope he will forgive me for my mistake, perhaps I may be allowed to add that as it is evident from the article in question that some Spiritualists do not draw the hard-and-fast line I wrongly attributed to him between the ultimate destinies of men and other animals, it may not be altogether regrettable that I was led to write as I did on the subject in these columns. I am extremely glad to have the Spiritual Reformer thus brought to my notice, and to find it a journal of a quality much needed in the present day.” – S.H.H.



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