Another Courtly Love Tale

ANNA KINGSFORD

& EDWARD MAITLAND:

LIVING COURTLY LOVE

PART TWO: AN INSTANCE OF COURTLY LOVE

Having written quite a bit about ‘courtly love' on this website (click here for a sample), I found it intriguing to see that the intertwined lives of Kingsford and Maitland met all my courtly love expectations.  

The result?  A birthing of a plethora of occult ideas and ideals between the two.  They both acknowledged they could not have caused this creative explosion alone!  That is what the outcome of a true courtly love arrangement ought to be.

Heretofore my closest example of an ideal courtly love situation was semi-fictional and involved a poet in love with a dead woman!  Through that love of Beatrice, Dante was brought into the presence of God.  The same was true for Kingsford and Maitland.  

RECONSTRUCTING A CASE OF COURTLY LOVE

Selvidge (see Part One) set the stage for this enquiry by suggesting that the relationship between Maitland and Kingsford was celibate and led to occult revelations on the part of Kingsford.  My further readings suggested that Maitland was also no stranger to intuitive knowing, though between the two she was the primary revelator.

What I am planning to do is dissect the story of Kingsford’s life as told by Maitland.  I am focusing on clues as to how Maitland’s relationship with her influenced and enhanced her occult forays into the unknown.  These revelatory forays had begun in her childhood.

The book I was able to read online is located for anyone to use on the excellent website constructed in her (and his) honor at  http://www.anna-kingsford.com/index.htm.  The book is Anna Kingsford, Her Life, Letters, Diary and Work, By her Collaborator, Edward Maitland, Illustrated with Portraits, Views and Facsimiles, in Two Volumes, Third Edition, Edited by Samuel Hopgood Hart (John M. Watkins, 1913). Another subtitle is:  {"Behold, I send unto you prophets" (Matt. 23:34)}.  

Maitland himself shortened that title to Life of Anna Kingsford. I use neither the full title nor the shorter version in this Part Two, or in Part Three.  All cited excerpts in both Parts are from this same book.

In the very first part of the book her childhood is mentioned as being a relatively happy one with many siblings and much spare time spent in her father’s considerable library, giving her the intellectual wherewithal to write stories and poems from a very early age.  We also come to understand that her future husband was a cousin, older, which may explain some of the laxness in their later marriage, but that is just hinted at and then not explored further by Maitland.  

She was not a well child, or adult for that matter.  It is implied but not stated that given her painful encounters with doctors after physical problems, and also after reporting visions to her family which were then reported to the doctors and seen by them as evidence of illness, I see her being strongly drawn to a cousin who believed in her supernatural gifts.  He wanted to rescue her from doctors doing terrible things to her to make those visions stop.  She also wanted to get away from them.  He believed.  Perfect.

This cousin/husband really believed in her episodes as manifestations of spiritual gifts.  This makes it more understandable why later, as her husband, he sends her to where and to whom she thought might help her develop her gifts.  This husband’s is guilty of an astounding selflessness.  

Then there came a religious organization, and not the Anglican one for which her husband was a minister,  that validated one of her visionary episodes.  This caused her to leave her husband’s church, with no apparent protest from him, and this is where I want to start citing from the book itself:

LIFE OF ANNA KINGSFORD, (Vol. 1), CHAPTER I, EARLY LIFE

(From pages 14-15 –forgive the long paragraph, it is as it is)

From this point forward, she was a Catholic.  But she was active in more than religion.  It is obvious that she was fond of and loved men, from the above, including her male relatives.  This is an important prerequisite to having a courtly love relationship with one.

She soon rose to being a leader among the suffragettes of her day, pleading their cause in a London weekly she had purchased, which she edited.  (From pages 16-17)

But she became disillusioned at the meanness of the feminist movement toward men, to her they were not an enemy to be vanquished.  It was up to women to show themselves their equals or superiors.  She kept adamantly teaching the basic feminist principle that women and men are equals, but devoted herself to her own further development.  She felt that women ought to be who and what they wanted to be, but they should not be prevented from striving to be all they had the potential for being.  No one should stand in their way in terms of education or political office.

Keep your eyes on this fact: she was visited by an apparition of Mary Magdalene and took her name upon becoming a Catholic.  In fact, at some point in his narrative, Edward started to call her Mary instead of Anna.  We will do so too.  So do not be surprised if all of a sudden I say Mary instead of Anna.  Maitland did the same thing.

To get to the next chain in the link that proves their relationship is a significant case of courtly-love, we move to the next chapter: CHAPTER II, OUR FIRST ACQUAINTANCE.

In this chapter Maitland tells how they met, at a reception for contributors to the Examiner, her weekly. They very briefly exchanged ideas followed by letters and samples of each other’s writings.  They quickly saw that they were of the same mind regarding religion and the occult.  In their exchanges of letters she used yet other names for herself, Maitland felt it was a way for her to express the many women she had been (in previous lives, but neither she nor he yet believed in reincarnation).  

She explained her reason for being a vegetarian, killing for food was destructive and there could be no peace on earth until cruelty and violence of every sort was done away.  That is not an unusual reading of the state of animals in the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall.  It was her pacifism that led to her objecting to vivisection in medical school, which made her persecuted and unpopular, but she still graduated and practiced medicine.  She carries this anti-cruelty to animals ideology a step further on page 29:

As a vegetarian I find that interesting.  If I would stop overeating, I could reduce the size of my soul?

Maitland was also vegetarian.  If it had been otherwise they would not have been able to become as close as they did.

She invited Maitland to the parsonage to meet her husband and daughter. She mentions her husband in her letters with respect and admiration.  But Maitland (Edward) could not come at that time, his aged mother was ailing.

She was pleased that Maitland’s son was to study medicine and revealed her plans to do the same, but in Paris, since as a woman she could not enter an English university.

Then finally they meet and he describes her!  (Selected from pages 31-33):

To me, the first part of Maitland’s description of her shows a man head over heels in love.  The long second part gets to the turning of this into a protective feeling.  The third part, written after giving it even more thought, hones in on where she is vulnerable, and thus where he can actually serve her and protect her.  At this point, at least on his part, I believe that ‘courtly love’ has been entered into.  The gallant knight's first duty to his pedestaled 'lady' was to protect her, then love her and obey her, and help her in everything for which she requested or ordered help.

This what Anna/Mary looked like as a young woman in her twenties, perhaps a few years before meeting Maitland, but married with a young child:

In her last decade of good health, her thirties, she was (to me) an even more attractive woman:

In Chapter 3 there is just a hint of a courtly love drama detectable on pages 75-77 where it becomes clear that she is seen by Edward Maitland as the semi-divine “Seeress,” and that he exists to serve her.  His duty is to help her develop and augment her message and craft it into coherent forms that can be understood by others.  He is also her protector in terms of morals and physical safety and watches over her during her frequent bouts of illness.  This resembles the unreachable perfect Lady of the courtly love dramas whom the noble knight pledges to ever protect and honor. She in turn offers her purest love, blesses him, and tasks him with heroic acts that develop and perfect his valor.  Most often in courtly love pairings both are married, but never to each other.  To me his raising her onto this holy pedestal is consistent with a courtly love relationship.

CHAPTER X, PERSECUTED OF APOLLYON contains some insights into Jesus and Mary Magdalene that I found interesting from a courtly love perspective.  This is from a letter from Mary to Edward in which she is in good spirits, and it tells a lot, I think, about their relationship!  She mentions Jesus and Mary Magdalen traveling together to perform their  mission, and immediately sees that Edward needs to come and join her in Paris to perform their mission (Page 172).  This is remarkable because it suggests Jesus and Mary were partners in life and that there were parallels with Edward and Mary:

What comes next in the same letter is her scheming to get him to come and be with her in Paris, after her husband has left, to help her fulfill her mission, presumably as Jesus and Mary did.  She will change her daughter's [E for Emily] schooling from using a governess at home to a school away from home to make sure they have some privacy:

Maitland agrees to this arrangement, and so does her husband!  Mary in the meantime has consulted a Miss. D. (I do not know who either D. or C. are in these letters) and writes again:

On pages 172 and 173, Edward is puzzled about a recent reference to Mary Magdalen by Mary/Anna:

This monologue says much about their intent in terms of their relationship. I liked the comparison between the internally tormented Paul and peace-full Jesus.

But did they live up to his vision of her as Mary and he as Jesus together? Perhaps they were not unaware of their inability to withstand temptation forever:  In a few more pages we have a very strong hint that there was a sexual component to their relationship, for a limited time anyway.

My next extract concerning courtly love is coming from CHAPTER XVIII, CONVERSATIONS WITH THE GENII [the Genii are spirit beings with their own personalities, like angels, whose function is to informs us].    

According to practitioners of courtly love in the fiction of Zoe Oldenbourg, jealousy is an integral art of courtly love (a notion perhaps true, but one I never liked).  Mary/Anna has a bout of jealousy, and later so does Edward Maitland.

First Mary/Anna’s bout of jealousy.  On pages 389-390, Mary is revealing to Edward that she knows all about his visits to a sensitive called Mrs. B., whom she blasts as an inferior out to steal him away from her.  I cite quite a bit of this because she is really dressing him down here, something I had not expected to find in this book since it was written by Maitland who is here being told off:

After all this negativity Mary turns slightly positive again on page 391 with some statements reflecting an experience of unity with all that is, very much like those inner experiences and feelings of unity described by other prophets, of other persuasions and other times:

But the euphoria fades and she quickly returns to her critical mode, but now begins to involve herself in the criticism, it is “us” and “we” now instead of “you”:

Note One:  Swedenborg will be discussed later when they suggest this mystic came to them to have them teach something he failed to get right during his career as a seer while alive.

Note Two:  Astrals are not true beings but temporary beings made of borrowed energy, ephemeral, who attempt to influence humans, usually not in a good way.

Note Two:  A planchette is a triangular board used like a Ouija board to receive messages from beyond.

Note Two:  The imagery here is that of the Zoroastrian chinvat bridge across which the dead soul must pass, following their guide, a beautiful young woman if they have been good (this is written for and imagined by men, get over it).  The bridge is very narrow and high, and if they have been good they will not fall off, they will enter paradise with their voluptuous guide.  If they have not been good, their guide is not beautiful and they fall off into a deep dark place of torment and agony.

Here comes the more interesting of all that has just been cited, a hint of passion having led them astray:

In the context of courtly love, the last paragraph could be seen as a call to abstinence of a sexual character, a call to repent after they have both been indulgent.  Does this suggest they have been intimate, sexually?  Maybe. Perhaps.  Probably.  It is hard to tell.

I have sometimes been asked what would happen to the creative power unleashed by ideal courtly love if the couple failed to maintain the higher standard and engaged in sexual activity.  Here we may have an answer. Something was blocking them at this point.  She blasts him for spending a lot of time with another woman, supposedly for spiritual purposes but she blasts that threatening relationship out of the water unmercifully and forbids him to see her again.  

Then she finally calls upon both of them to abstain, to not indulge their bodily desires.  

And that is the answer.  In a courtly love situation a “capacitor” captures the charge of true love that strong desire and strong restraint build up.  This love-charge splits the veil between worlds, resulting in creativity aided by the spirits of the world beyond our eyes, or so it seems.  

The same love-charge can also be discharged through sexual intercourse. In that case, if sperm meets egg just right, the miracle still happens:  the veil between worlds is opened and something new flows into this world that becomes a new person. But regardless of the outcome of the sex act, the capacitor is discharged.

This is not the end of courtly love, however, as Mary is perhaps telling Edward in this instance.  Their mutual capacitor needs to be recharged through abstinence!  Abstinence is difficult.

The next chapter of interest in terms of courtly love  is CHAPTER XI, THE BAFFLED SORCERER, and it involves a medium come to England from America with a familiar named Winona who, among many other items to be discussed in Part Three, tells Maitland that Mary is in great danger in Paris and needs to be rescued.  

So this time it is Edward who is jealous.  An older professor simply identified as O., one whom she needs, in order to get her M.D. degree, has been pursuing Mary (burning with passion for her, so to speak), and she is not aware of the danger he poses to her spiritual well-being (pages 217-218).  The most surprising part of this first discourse is the strong suggestion that Jesus and Mary had been sexually active at the beginning of their relationship, but as the relationship matured they moved their love to a higher plane.  I cannot help but think this is a hint that the previously cited call to no longer indulge their bodies but move to a higher plane of being is reflected in this revelation, and the revelation sanctifies their earlier physical relationship because Jesus and Mary’s relationship went through the same cycle (and she is the same Mary, with the same tendencies!!):  

I think it almost funny that in her revelation she is the older, more experienced soul, and in his revelation it is the opposite!  He recognizes this, and writes a very convoluted explanation for how both can be true.  I think it is simply funny, and shows they both have good self-images.

Maitland (pages 219-221) says that he:

Things get even more complicated, and interesting, on page 221:

Next, Maitland shows up without an appointment and has to wait with the medium’s wife, also a sensitive, who then goes into trance and says many of the same things Winona had said through her husband the medium, and other things besides.  

On page 223 he is again with Fletcher, with Winona speaking through him about the importance of some of his projects for the whole world.  Maitland was inspired and pleased that a spirit of a royal person of renown was present and encouraging him in his work.  But more important to our search for evidence of a courtly love relationship are pages 225-226 where Winona reports on progress being made to save Mary in Paris, by Joan of Arc:

So there is no jealousy on his part?  Go Fish!  

What happens in the remainder of the chapter is a plot for a movie. Maitland is joined by his female neighbor to go across the Channel to talk Mary out of having anything to do with O.  On the way he sees the neighbor woman in vision as he awakens from a slumber, clothed in armor. He tells her what he saw and she immediately states that Joan of Arc is her patron saint and she is often inspired by her and feels her influence on this journey.  Just like Mary/Anna!

Mary resents this ‘intervention’ and challenges the basis for Edward’s information about O.  She feels herself superior to any medium’s familiar and sets off to challenge Winona.  Instead she sees in Winona the genuine article and acknowledges that she has felt pursued, but O. was so gallant and charming it did not occur to her there was serious danger, spiritually. O. had ridiculed her cautious descriptions to him of her visions, suggesting they indicated medical problems that should be treated (just like had been the case with doctors in her youth).  She did not think she was falling under his spell.  But she was proven wrong when she fell into a trance state saying that she needed to go to O., now!  She was gently helped out of it by Maitland.  

She had insisted on coming to England to test Winona.  It turns out before she left Paris she had left a note in O’s inbox saying she would soon be back and, in essence, she was going to let him have his way with her at that time (it was written with a double meaning, it was supposed to refer to their method of studying, on which he had fixed ideas that she did not like, but now she realized it was likely to be interpreted as offering herself physically to this man who --she now knew-- wanted to bed her really, really bad).  

So after Winona convinces her that she is the real thing and tells the truth, Mary/Anna tells Edward of her note and she and Maitland go back to Paris to confront O. and prevent this from happening.  To their surprise (think of Joan of Arc’s continuing intervention!) he had never come during the four days they were gone, to fetch this note.  It was still in his box, unopened!  Of course she removed it and tore it up into little pieces.

She needed O. to graduate, but from now on controlled his access to her and was diligent about protecting her spiritual faculties.  All was well and she and Maitland resumed their great work together during her last year in Paris.  She did graduate, and practiced medicine in London until her untimely death.  Maitland was with her from this point on, helping her complete her spiritual mission.  A great story line for a movie!  

In Chapter 15 I did not find much to extract for my purposes here except that on pages 337 and 338 there is another reference to Mary Magdalen and how our Mary/Anna took her form in order to communicate with Christ, and how she is to be the forerunner for Christ’s second, spiritual coming and how Edward was her co-testifier of this return of the Christ, making again reference to how they should live together:

On pages 440-442, Maitland plays the final notes of the courtly love sonata, this is the fruition of his numerous claims to have been surprised that the name Mary Magdalen came up again and again in unexpected contexts:

So, it was all true!  She was the reincarnated Mary Magdalene and he the reincarnated John the Beloved apostle!  They did live together as saints!  They opened the doors to the celestial worlds very wide.  They let truth shine into the darkness.

But, the darkness perceived it not!

PAGE THREE: SELECTED KINGSFORD TEACHINGS

AN ADDENDUM ABOUT MARY MAGDALENE and 'MARY' KINGSFORD

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