KATHARINE, KATHERINE OR CATHERINE or EMILY BATES:
File Four: LIFE BY DATES LATE 1885 TO END 1893
including THE PERIOD WHEN KAT WAS A MEMBER OF THE HERMETIC ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN
PROBLEMS WITH SOURCES WRITTEN BY KAT HERSELF
One reviewer described Seen and Unseen as an autobiography, but it isn’t one really and Kat didn’t call it that herself, she preferred to think of it as “Psychic reminiscences” - with all that that implies about its accuracy. It’s based on her spiritual experiences and the people she had met through spiritualism. References to her life outside spiritualism – especially her early life – are mentioned in a few words if at all and usually without specific dates. Her two travel books suffer from the same problem. In them, Kat does mention a lot of places she had already visited – though again without dates – but both are written as guides for travellers who might choose to follow the same route, and concentrate on the pleasures and pains of Kat’s current travels, rather than journeys in the past.
Seen and Unseen seems to have made Kat rather a star in the spiritualism world. She was encouraged to write several more books between 1908 and 1920, on her experiences in spiritualism; on where she thought the movement ought to be going in the future; and on the new age of Mankind’s spiritual evolution that she was taking part in. Some events mentioned in earlier books are elaborated in the later ones, in a way that worries me: I can’t decide whether Kat is just allowing more detail of a particular event to be published; or whether she was adding more and more invented superstructure to an original core of a spiritualistic event that she had experienced, often many years before. In Do the Dead Depart?, she described her own method as a medium as intuitional automatic writing, by which she meant that a general outline of the event was supplied by the spirit guide with the medium then filling in the detail. I’m not sure of the dividing line, in that case, between Kat’s method, and fiction.
And then there are the people. Especially in Seen and Unseen Kat makes no bones about mixing up real names with pseudonyms and it’s not always obvious which is which! So with most of the people she meets or knew before, I’ve no real idea who it is I should be researching.
It’s clear that some of her novels are set in places Kat had visited; but under the circumstances I’ve thought it better not to assume that the incidents that occur in them actually happened to Kat.
Kat’s a bit of a trickster!
for Kat’s description of Seen and Unseen: Do/Dead p10.
For Kat’s method of intuitional automatic writing: Do/Dead pp167-168 and p185. There’s also a lot of being wise after the event; but that’s true of all kinds of prediction.
GETTING TO THE START – SHORT FORMS FOR THE SOURCES
GR1; GR2 A Year in the Great Republic, Kat’s account of her travels in Canada and the US.
She is named on the original cover as E Catherine Bates. 2 volumes, London:
Ward and Downey 1887.
KSS Kaleidoscope: Shifting Scenes from East to West. Kat’s account of her time in Australasia, the Far East and Alaska. She’s named on the original cover as E
Katharine Bates. London: Ward and Downey of Covent Garden 1889.
S/U Seen and Unseen London: Greening and Co 1907; New York: Dodge Publishing Company 1908.
The page numbers are from my own copy, printed 2016 by Filiquarian Publishing Llc, see www.Qontro.com
Do/Dead Do the Dead Depart? I can’t say which name appeared on the front cover of the
British edition as I can’t find any copies of it. E Katharine Bates is the name on
the title page of the American edition published New York: Dodge Publishing
Company 1908. My page numbers are from a modern reprint by
www.forgottenbooks.com of the US edition.
P/Sci/Chr Psychical Science and Christianity where Kat’s name is E Katharine Bates on the
front cover. London: T Werner Laurie. No publication date but the British Library stamp says “1 SEP 09”.
P/Realm The Psychic Realm on whose front cover Kat’s name is given as E Katharine Bates. London: Greening and Co 1910.
PHFL Psychic Hints of a Former Life by E Katharine Bates. London: Theosophical
Publishing Society of 161 New Bond Street. 1912.
Cope The Coping Stone: its True Significance by E Katharine Bates. London: Greening and Co Ltd 1912. The dates given are very vague in this one.
OLD Our Living Dead: Some Talks with Unknown Friends by E Katharine Bates with a
Preface by Alfred E Turner. London: Kegan Paul Trench Trubner and Co Ltd
C/Dawn Children of the Dawn by E Katharine Bates (sic). London: Kegan Paul Trench Trubner and Co. NewYork: E P Dutton and Co 1920. Kat’s last published work.
GETTING TO THE START – LAYOUT
As with my other great life-by-dates – Isabel de Steiger – what was happening will be in italics with the sources and my comments in Times New Roman.
1880s to ?1900
Kat was a close friend of the radical Church of England cleric Dr Alfred Williams Momerie.
Source: Do/Dead p9.
Source of specific dates in Dr Momerie’s life: Dr Momerie: His Life and Work written and edited by “his wife”, who is (p226) Vehia Herne, née Canning, widow of Charles Edward Herne who had died in 1893. She and Dr Momerie were married on 7 December 1896. Published Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons 1905. P261: Dr Momerie died on 6 December 1900. The book is mostly about Dr Momerie’s struggles with the Church of England hierarchy and his employers at King’s College London and elsewhere. There’s no mention of his social life or friends. P122 , p149, p166: he was appointed KCL’s Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in 1880; but his radical, forward-looking views caused KCL to sideline him in April 1889. He held a post as preacher at the Foundling Hospital as well, but resigned from it (p183) in May 1891 and (p200) he didn’t preach in England again until 1896. For most of 1891-96 he was travelling. From 1896-1900 he hired public rooms to preach (p236) firstly the Queen’s Hall and then the Portman Rooms.
Dr Momerie is in DNB Supplement 1901.
Comment by Sally Davis on dates for it: in her reference to Dr Momerie Kat only says “at one time”. She didn’t mention knowing his wife. So the 1880s seem the most likely time for Kat to have been a friend of his.
OCTOBER 1885 TO SEPTEMBER 1886
Kat and her new friend, the woman she calls Miss Greenlow, were travelling in Canada and the United States.
Source: GR1 and 2; see my files on Kat in North America for further details.
WHILE KAT WAS IN BOSTON
Kat’s sceptical attitude towards spiritualism, psychism and life after death was overturned by a series of seances she attended.
Comment by Sally Davis: it’s not exaggerating to say that these seances changed the direction of Kat’s life. She became convinced that there was life after death, and wrote a series of books trying to persuade others. Ironically, it was through the rationalist Lankesters that Kat gained her entrance to spiritualist society in Boston: Phebe Lankester had given Kat a letter of introduction to her Boston acquaintance Edna Hall. Edna Hall arranged for Kat to attend a séance – a séance Kat approached in the expectation of observing a fraud. Later, Maria Porter took Kat and Miss Greenlow to a séance with the Berry sisters. Kat’s conversion to spiritualism enthusiast was quick and total: soon she was visiting mediums and attending seances everywhere she went. My own understanding of why she changed so completely is that spiritualism fulfilled a need in Kat that I’m not sure she ever fully acknowledged. There are more details of Kat’s youth in my life-by-dates files. Here I’ll just say that Kat’s childhood was characterised by the loss – usually through death though sometimes through absence abroad – of those she loved and needed most. In 1885 she realised that seances could put her back in touch with those who had died. Kat’s scepticism was definitely undermined when mediums gave her messages from dead relations; for example pp211-215 in which a spirit claiming he was her father’s dead elder brother communicated with her. The spirit spoke with a strong American accent and did not display the polished social manners Kat remembered in her uncle – but still she thought the communications were genuine. Later in her life, Kat acted as her own medium and communicated with her dead relations and friends on a daily basis.
If she had maintained her original attitude towards spiritualism and messages from the dead, I don’t think Kat would have joined the Order of the Golden Dawn.
Sources: Kat gave equal coverage in GR1 to American spiritualism and Boston theology – a chapter each - with discussion of the theory, and reference to her own experiences at church services, and seances. GR1 chapters 3 and 4.
Kat also mentions seances in Boston in S/U, but in this much later book she there’s no hint of any scepticism about spiritualism.
SEVERAL TIMES DURING NOVEMBER 1885 TO SUMMER 1886
Kat was told in seances that her mother was with her on her travels in the USA. She was also told that her mother’s spiritual development in the existence beyond death, was much more advanced than her father’s.
Comments by Sally Davis: Kat was pleased at being told – by several different mediums – that her mother was watching over her welfare from the life beyond. In a later book, she details two occasions when she acted as her own medium to call on her mother for reassurance, at points in the wild West where she and Miss Greenlow seemed in danger of their lives. Being told – possibly by the same several different mediums – that her mother was now on a higher spiritual plane than her father, was a very different matter. It’s clear from GR1 and 2 and later books that Kat was more distressed by this than she could admit even to herself. She couldn’t remember her mother, who had died when she was an infant, but she had been told by people who did remember her that she was “impulsive and fascinating, but far more faulty and less saintly” than her husband. Kat did remember her father, albeit not well: a Church of England cleric who had died of a wasting disease when she was nine. She described him as having a “beautiful” nature, but also as a “rigid Evangelical”, and I think perhaps she had compensated for his neglect of her (through his creed, his illness and then his death) by making a saint of him. Consequently she did not want to believe what the mediums were telling her: she argued with some of them – it seems they all refused to back down - and she embarked on an anxious search for a second opinion, which she got, finally, from an amateur medium in Denver Colorado.
When I’ve been able to find out anything about them, I’ve given a few more details of the mediums Kat went to, in my travel files for the year in the great republic.
Sources: GR1 pp237-242, Do/Dead pp47-68.
SEPTEMBER 1886 TO EARLY 1887
Kat was using notes and diaries written during her travels, to prepare A Year in the Great Republic for publication.
TUE 20 JUNE TO SAT 25 JUNE 1887
The Empire celebrated the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession. On the Wednesday, 21 June 1887 there was a procession of carriages through London.
Comment by Sally Davis: I mention the Jubilee because Kat does, at the beginning of KSS: it was a date that stuck in her mind. Perhaps she was in London for the festivities. The Queen’s escort for the procession was comprised of Indian regiments. Though Kat’s brother Charles had not served in any of them himself, perhaps he knew some of the officers involved.
Wikipedia on Queen Victoria’s jubilee: the exact 59th anniversary of her accession was 20 June 1887. Times Mon 20 June 1887 p5, p6, p9 gave details of the arrangements in London and elsewhere, which went on until the Saturday, 25 June 1887.
“SHORTLY AFTER THE JUBILEE OF 1887” so end of June/early July
SATURDAY 13 AUGUST 1887
Kat sailed from Plymouth on the Ionic, on her way to Tasmania via Tenerife and South Africa.
Source: KSS pp1-2 with a date of “Shortly after the Jubilee of 1887”; p6 for the exact date; p275; S/U p36. Although it didn’t work out as planned, the arrangements were for Kat and Miss Greenlow (her travelling companion in North America) to meet up in Australia; they would then travel on together in the Antipodes, in China, Japan and Alaska.
SEPTEMBER TO OCTOBER 1887
Kat was in Tasmania.
Source: KSS pp12-29.
OCTOBER TO DECEMBER 1887
Kat was in Australia.
Source: KSS pp32-59.
Kat caught typhoid during her stay in Melbourne, and was very ill for a fortnight. During the time she was ill, she had her first automatic writing message from “I was on earth was known as George Eliot”. (Amongst other things) George Eliot told Kat that within a year, she would receive a great gift..
Source: S/U pp36-39. Kat’s book Psychical Science and Christianity (1910) is dedicated to the friends (dead and still living) who had encouraged Kat to write it. The friends are identified by sets of initials: “G.E.” is one of the sets. Kat had seen George Eliot several times while she was alive, but had never been allowed to meet her.
13 OCTOBER 1887
Kat’s two volume A Year in the Great Republic was published in the UK.
A Year in the Great Republic by E Catherine (sic) Bates as author of Egyptian Bonds. In two volumes. London: Ward and Downey 1887.
Source though not for the actual publication date: A Year in the Great Republic by E Catherine (sic) Bates, as author of Egyptian Bonds. London: Ward and Downey. Volume 1: Canada and East Coast. Volume 2: going West and then back home.
Times Thurs 13 October 1887 p12: new publications. Advert for Ward and Downey’s latest list.
Comment by Sally Davis: volume 1’s chapter 4 is called Spiritualism in America but the state of spiritualism in the USA is not what it’s about. It’s Kat’s first attempt to put into published words what her later books on spiritualism elaborate: that spiritualism can be a genuine way in which to contact dead friends and relations, and also entities at a higher level of spiritual development. Though still acknowledging that there was a great deal of fraud in spiritualism, she detailed the séance experiences which convinced her that some spiritualist encounters were real. She put spiritualism in a list which also included theosophy, Buddhism and Christian Science, seeing them all as beginning to lift “the veil between ourselves and the spirit world”. She argued that a belief in spiritualism could be reconciled with a belief in Christianity, though for it to take the place of Christianity would be evil. And she suggested that a group of “earnest intelligent inquirers” should come together to use seances in a systematic manner to “attract to themselves spirits of the highest order with which earthly communication is possible”, a process that would benefit all Mankind; this was an idea that Kat continued to put forward with increasing urgency in her later books.
Source for Kat’s views on life after death: GR1 chapter 4 pp157-246; quotes p177, p186.
DECEMBER 1887 TO FEBRUARY 1888
Kat was in New Zealand, visiting both South and North Islands.
Source: KSS pp61-106.
31 DECEMBER 1887
While Kat was staying at the Kitchener family’s sheep ranch on South Island New Zealand, George Eliot communicated with Kat again in a séance. Eliot told Kat that she would shortly become clairvoyant. A few hours later Kat had her first clairvoyant experience.
Comment by Sally Davis: Kat had met Arthur Kitchener, who managed the ranch for the family, a few weeks before, on the boat from Australia to New Zealand.
Source: S/U pp39-40, pp41-43.
Kat returned to Australia.
31 MARCH 1888
Kat and Miss Greenlow met up in Brisbane.
Source: KSS p110.
APRIL TO ?JULY 1888
Kat and Miss Greenlow were in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan.
Source: KSS pp110-221.
AROUND MAY 1888
Kat’s Year in the Great Republic caused her to be noticed for the first time by the London Spiritualist Alliance.
Sources: Spectator 8 May 1888 quoted in Light volume 8 1888 p246, a brief mention in the editorial of the issue of Sat 26 May 1888. The mention quoted the Spectator as saying GR was a valuable contribution to British understanding of American social and intellectual life. Kat was obviously unknown to MA Oxon (William Stainton Moses) Light’s editor, as he calls her “Mrs” rather than ‘Miss’. He corrected that error in Light volume 8 1888 pp285-86 when his editorial in the issue of Sat 16 June 1888 was mostly taken up by his review of GR. In general his attitude towards it was positive. He concentrated, of course, on Kat’s chapter in volume 1, Spiritualism in America. Stainton Moses approved Kat’s decision to stick to the facts as she viewed them, and not to theorise. However, he wasn’t so keen on her assertion that the opinion of an expert was to be preferred to that of a layman; in Stainton Moses’ opinion, that depended on the expert – some of them had very narrow views (he was thinking of members of the Society for Psychical Research, of course).
Comment by Sally Davis: why the long delay between publication, and these reviews, I wonder?
24 JULY TO 8 AUGUST 1888
Kat and Miss Greenlow travelled across the Pacific to Canada.
Source: KSS pp223-224 including two specific dates.
15 AUGUST TO SEPTEMBER 1888
Kat and Miss Greenlow travelled by boat along the west coast of North America to Alaska; and back. They reached Glacier Bay on 23 August 1888. During the voyage, Kat caught a flu-ey cold that she couldn’t shake off.
Source: KSS pp225-273 with a specific day for Glacier Bay p244.
Kat arrived in Toronto from the Candian west coast after her voyage to Alaska. She was so ill that she had to rest up with her friends there for several weeks.
Source: KSS pp273-74 though without a date other than getting there on the day the new governor-general opened the exhibition.
Comment on the date by Sally Davis: the Times of Tue 11 Sep 1888 had a report issued at Toronto on Mon 10 September, saying that Lord Stanley would be opening the annual exhibition “To-morrow” - that is, Tues 11 September. However, wikipedia on the Ottawa SuperEX says that the 1888 exhibition was opened on 20 September 1888 by Charles Magee as president of the exhibition association. Governor-general Lord Stanley was there, but looking on. At the SuperEX’s website, //theex.com, there’s a mention that Edison’s phonograph was on show in 1888. Perhaps Kat saw it, if she was well enough.
See his wikipedia page; and archive.gg.ca for an assessment of the governor-generalship of Frederick Arthur Stanley, first Baron Stanley and 16th Earl of Derby. He was appointed on 1 May 1888 and sworn in on 11 June 1888.
Source for Kat’s arrival, on the day the exhibition opened: KSS pp273-74.
SHORTLY AFTER HER RETURN FROM CANADA
Kat met Frederick Myers of the Society for Psychical Research for the first time. She had already sent him an account of some of her psychic experiences in Australia.
Source: S/U p46 and see his wikipedia page for a detailed account of Frederic W H Myers’ life (1843-1901). He had married Eveleen Tennant in 1880. They lived in Cambridge. In 1883 Frederic Myers was a founder member of the Society for Psychical Research. He conducted a great deal of research on mediums himself, often working with William Crookes, for example in 1895 when they caught Eusapia Palladino cheating.
AT SOME POINT AFTER THIS, IT’S NOT CLEAR EXACTLY WHEN
Kat invited Frederic Myers to lunch in Charles Bates’ rooms in Oxford Terrace, so the two men could meet. There was one other person at the lunch, a woman, that Kat doesn’t name.
Source: P/Realm 27-28.
WEDNESDAY 28 NOVEMBER 1888
Kat may have gone to a meeting of the London Spiritualist Alliance; though if she did, her name was not published correctly.
Source: Light volume 8 1888 p596 issue of Sat 1 December 1888 though the name is “Mrs A Bates” so it may not be Kat at all. The LSA held conversaziones once a month. The format was: a talk prepared by a member or a guest; discussion of the speaker’s topic; a period of socialising. The normal venue was the Banqueting Hall of St James’s Hall, off Piccadilly. The speaker at the conversazione of Wed 28 November was future member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Robert Masters Theobald. His topic was: Spiritualism and Religion – Points of Affinity and of Divergence. The weather that evening was bad and the audience was smaller than usual but several other future GD members did turn up apart from – possibly – Kat: Annie Louisa Procter; Rose Pullen Burry; Charles William Pearce; Maria Burnley Scott (under her correct married name of Mrs Ross); and Isabel de Steiger.
Kat spent a fortnight in Yorkshire with a family she calls the Waverlys.
Source: S/U p75.
2 APRIL 1889
Kat went to a meeting of the London Spiritualist Association to hear Edward Maitland’s talk: The Probable Course of Development and Ultimate Issue of the Present Spiritual Movement. Isabel de Steiger, who was already a GD member, also went to this meeting.
Source: a report on the talk, and a list of notable people present, in Light: A Journal of Psychical Occult and Mystical Research published London: Eclectic Publishing Co of 2 Duke Street Adelphi which is where I think the LSA usually held its meetings. Volume IX January-December 1889; number 432 issued Sat 13 April 1889 pp179-82.
Comment by Sally Davis: the usual format of evenings like this was the talk and questions, followed by time to socialise. Kat never mentions her in any of her published works but it’s quite likely that a mutual acquaintance introduced her to Isabel at an LSA event.
27 MAY 1889
Kat’s Kaleidoscope was published in the UK.
Kaleidoscope: Shifting Scenes from East to West by E Katharine (sic) Bates. London: Ward and Downey of Covent Garden. 1889. Dedicated to the people in Canada who nursed Kate during her illness; they’re not named, unfortunately.
Times Mon 27 May 1889 p12 new publications. Kaleidoscope was described as “A lady’s travels through Australasia, China, Japan and America”. Price 12 shillings.
Kat became a member of the Society for Psychical Research. She remained a member for 15 years.
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research volume 4 1889-90. Published by the Society and it’s for members only; p203 confirms that even associates and corresponding members had to have been elected. On p65 in the issue of May 1889, the list of new associate members includes Miss Bates c/o London and County Bank Maidstone. On p281 issue of July 1890 the list of new full members included W T Stead. And on p317 issue of November 1890 list of new associate members included Kat’s brother, Colonel Charles Ellison Bates of 35 Oxford Terrace Hyde Park.
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research volume 9 1893 and 1894. Published for the Society in London by Kegan Paul Trench Trübner and Co. On p374 both Charles and Kat Bates are still in the list of members.
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research volume XI 1895. On p605 both Charles and Kat Bates are in the list of members, Kat still not giving any other address for correspondence than her bank.
NOTES SOCPR MARCH 2018 SHE’S STILL A MEMBER 1901/02
Source for Kat leaving the Society after 15 years as a member: OLD p136.
Kat’s novel George Vyvian was published. It was her second novel and the first with a spiritualist/reincarnation theme. In volume one, one soul is in the body of a man with power over the man who has the other soul; the man with the power does the other man a great wrong. In volume two, after they have died, both their souls are sent back to live in a human body again, this time with their positions of power reversed.
Times Wed 18 December 1889 p8 new books. Advert in which the book is described as “Now ready at all the libraries”; perhaps it had been available in bookshops for a few days. Two volumes; no price given.
George Vyvian. (A Novel) by E Katharine Bates. London: Hurst and Blackett 1889. The British Library’s copy is presumably typical: it is bound in red and at the top right hand of the cover of both volumes is a kind of ‘starburst’ design with the word ‘ARES’ in the middle. In a section at the beginning of volume two, the souls of a woman and her daughter meet in Ares, which is a country inhabited by souls after the death of their human body. Perhaps Kat was beginning to formulate the future which, in her later books on spiritualism and reincarnation, she envisaged for hersel: one in which she would meet again the friends and relations she had known while living as Emily Katharine Bates 1846-1922.
I must say that the last thing I would want to do in my after-life is be reunited with some of my relations!
Kat’s book has a typically Victorian plot. The great wrong done by the man with power to the man without, is to encourage him to marry a young woman of his household, not telling him she is pregnant with his child. To me the great wrong was done the woman who the man with power was casting off so he could marry a woman with money; but in treacly Victorian style the saintly cast-off rises above it, doesn’t complain, marries the man whom she is foisted on, and dies a good death soon afterwards.
21 JANUARY 1890
Kat went to a soirée organised by the London Spiritualist Alliance, at St James’s Hall. Isabel de Steiger was also amongst the guests.
Source: coverage of the event and a guest list: Occult and Mystical Research published London: Eclectic Publishing Co of 2 Duke Street Adelphi. Volume X January-December 1890; number 479 issued Sat 25 January 1890 p43.
Kat went on her first visit to India, travelling with an unnamed woman friend.
Source: S/U p52.
Comment by Sally Davis: the travelling companion is just called “a young friend”. I think Kat would have said so, if it had been the Miss Greenlow of America, Canada and Japan.
AT THE START OF THIS TRIP TO INDIA
Kat visited Lahore.
Source: S/U p53 but with no details of what Kat did there.
Comment by Sally Davis: Delhi, Agra and Benares [Varanasi] were all typical stops on a British visitor to India’s itinerary. Lahore wasn’t, though: Kat went there to see where her brother Charles Ellison Bates had his last posting. He had been stationed there during the 1870s.
?DECEMBER 1890/JANUARY 1891
Kat and her travelling companion were in Delhi. Kat spent her time going round the particular places associated with the 1857-1859 fighting, including Ludlow Castle, which she was shown round on the day the Tsarevich was due to stay there.
Source: S/U pp52-53. Kat had a lot of psychic experiences during her stay in Delhi and felt the city lent itself to psychic communications particularly well. However, she made no attempt to get to grips with Indian religion or mysticism, saying she thought they were “a sealed book for the English”. The Tsarevich in question was Nicholas II Romanov. Kat says that he was doing the India tour with his cousin Prince George of Greece.
Wikipedia has a timeline of Tsarevich Nicholas’ eastern trip, which began with his arrival at Bombay (Mumbai) on 12 January 1891; according to this, he didn’t visit Delhi. I checked to see whether Ludlow Castle was actually in Agra – which he did visit – but it’s in Delhi. So I’m not sure what Kat’s meaning here. I think that when writing the book, she may have got the two places mixed up – she wasn’t always careful about details like that.
8 JANUARY 1891
Kat’s friend, the woman she calls ‘Lady Wincote’ had a psychic visit from Kat; while Kat was in Delhi and Lady Wincote was in London.
Comment by Sally Davis: I think any member of the GD would call this contact astral travelling.
Source: S/U pp53-54 including the exact date. Kat was keeping a diary of her trip. I suppose it was thrown away when she died.
EARLY SPRING 1891
Kat and her travelling companion went on to Agra; and to Benares [Varanasi] where Kat met the young Swedish woman she called Mrs Bruegel, who became a friend.
Source: S/U pp56-59 though without dates and I’m not absolutely sure of the order in which they were visited. Alfred S Jones VC is named here as one of the men Kat knows who have told her of their experiences during the Mutiny. She had alluded to him in earlier works but never by name. She quoted Jones’ account of what happened to him at length.
CENSUS DAY 1891 fell either during Kat’s stay in India or while she was on her way back to England.
MAY 1891 TO 1894
KAT IN THE HERMETIC ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN
Though she was not in England on census day, Kat returned from abroad in time to be initiated during May 1891. The initiation took place at the GD’s Isis-Urania Temple in London. If all the members who joined that month were initiated on the same day, it will have been a busy evening: sisters Cecilia Macrae and Florence Kennedy and their sister-in-law Louisa Ida Macrae; Agnes de Pallandt; and Augustus Montague Cooper all joined in May 1891.
Kat gave the GD’s administrator, William Wynn Westcott, two addresses for correspondence: c/o the London and County Bank Maidstone; and c/o Oxford Terrace.
Source for Kat’s initiation: R A Gilbert’s The Golden Dawn Companion pp147-148.
Comments by Sally Davis: Kat was a great one for being acquainted with people but I’m not sure how many of her fellow initiates she will have met before that evening in 1891. If ‘Oxford Terrace’ was all the address Kat gave, letters aren’t likely to have reached her: she didn’t live in the street, at least not in any way that could be called permanent. She must have given Westcott the address of her brother Charles Ellison Bates - he lived in rooms at 35 Oxford Terrace - but somewhere along the line from Kat to Gilbert, the house number has been missed off. Oxford Terrace leads west from the Marble Arch end of Edgware Road.
Kat abided by the vows she had made and never published the GD’s name. However, she did write about her time in it in two of her books on spiritualism. She calls it “an occult society” but the details and the timing make it clear it was the GD.
In her Psychical Science and Christianity (published 1909) Kat said that in a particular séance, she had received a message about her membership of the GD from her spirit-contact “E.G.”, who told her that occult study was dangerous for people whose souls were not sufficiently evolved. There was a danger of magicians summoning entities less developed than themselves, rather than those more evolved than mankind. As a result of EG’s warning, she’d decided not to be a member any longer.
There’s a rather different account in Kat’s very last book, The Children of the Dawn (published in 1920) with no mention of taking advice from her dead friend EG. In this account, as a spiritualist, rather than a budding magician, Kat soon began to wonder where all the study was leading her: “[I] went through several degrees in it, wasting a good deal of time over purely mechanical knowledge which burdened the memory without illuminating the understanding”. Kat questioned her superiors in the Order about the need to spend “hours in mere feats of memory”. She was told that it was an important mental discipline, and that the next degree she reached would give her the key or a key to the whole thing, including the possibility of gaining “some power over elementals”. At that point she resigned, her “only desire” being “to give elementals a very wide berth”. However, she had liked some of the people she met in the society and hopes they achieved the powers being offered without being any the worse for it. Note that she had no problem believing elementals existed, she just didn’t want to tangle with them, she thought she would leave that to the angels (which she also believed in).
A list of members who had recently resigned from the Isis-Urania temple was issued in 1894; Kat’s name was on it. I’ve noticed in my research that dedicated spiritualists did not stay in the GD. In fact the GD didn’t encourage them to apply for initiation: printed information for prospective members from 1888/89 said that the Order would not welcome “any persons...who habitually allow themselves to fall into a complete Passive Condition of Will” - that is, the receptive, trance-like state of a medium at a séance.
Though Kat resigned from the Order, she was influenced by ideas that were current in theosophy, the GD and elsewhere, that mankind was in the process of entering a new cycle of history in which there was a possibility of reaching a higher level of spiritual development than in the past – if only Man would take it. Ellen Gaskell published similar arguments (see my file on her for more information); and in the 1920s Henry Pullen Burry was also trying to prepare a group of chosen people to act as guides to help mankind moved onto a higher spiritual plane (see my files on him).
The GD’s administrative notes show that Kat reached level 4=7 before she resigned. As she said, she’d had to do a great deal of study to get that far, in subjects including Hebrew, the Kabbalah and its symbolism, alchemy and its symbolism, geomancy, the Tarot pack; and correspondences between all those specialisms. She was never a 2nd Order member.
The 1909 account: Psy/Sci/Chr pp118-120.
The 1920 account: C/Dawn pp105-106.
The GD Companion p73 for the date by which she had resigned. P44 for the pledge of secrecy which you had to sign as part of your application, before the GD had even accepted you for initiation. And pp89-93 for the study necessary to achieve 4=7 level status within the Order.
GD’s attitude towards spiritualists: quoted in Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn. Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd 1972: p56.
Kat attended a training course for women interested in becoming Christian Scientists. The course began in the spring and took a summer break before continuing in the autumn. It involved silent meditation with a specific purpose. Kat was one of a group on the course who tried to use their silent meditation technique to rid London of its fogs. The technique didn’t work and in the December London had a fog which went on for a full seven days.
Source: Cope pp33-37. There’s no specific date given in the account but Kat associated the course with the illness and death of Lord Leitrim, which she read about in the Morning Post. The piece of news caught her eye because she was acquainted with his wife.
Comments by Sally Davis. Though Kat seems to have stuck the course out to its end, she wasn’t impressed by what it was offering. The failure of the fog-prevention meditation disillusioned her. She also decided that Christian Science focused too much on the material and physical ills of humanity and not enough on the spiritual; so it would not solve what Kat saw as the disease of the modern world.
The Lord Leitrim whose death Kat read about was the 4th Earl, Robert Bermingham Clements, who died in April 1892. He had married Lady Winifred Coke, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Leicester. Kat also knew Lady Winifred’s sister Gertrude, the Countess of Dunmore.
Sources for Lord Leitrim: wikipedia; and www.thepeerage.com which uses data from Burke’s Peerage.
Google led me to a D Phil thesis from Wolfson College Oxford 1991. Christian Science: An American Religion in Britain 1895-1940, by Claire F Gartrell-Mills: pii, piii, pviii, pp52-53. From the beginning Christian Science claimed to be a healing religion; and it arrived in the UK from the USA via wealthy women crossing the Atlantic on visits. 1892 came very early in the process of trying to get Christian Science accepted in the UK. The American woman who taught Kat and her fellow students was probably Anne Dodge, who arrived in 1890 and held the first Christian Science religious service to take place in London. At this stage, meetings and religious services were still being held in women’s drawing-rooms. Kat doesn’t name any of the other students on her training course, so I don’t know who was lending her drawing-room.
Kat met the journalist W T Stead.
Source: dedication of Kat’s novel The Boomerang in which she said they had been friends for twenty years when he died (April 1912). In The Boomerang’s book three there’s a portrait of him as William T Worthington, journalist and (p297) “Dauntless fighter” for causes; a medium, who was drowned in a shipwreck.
Kat was in lodgings in London during the flu epidemic in which Prince Albert Victor died. A few days after his death, the Prince came through to Kat during a séance, very upset at not being able to contact his still-living relations. She asked her spirit friend George Eliot to help him.
Comment by Sally Davis: Kat didn’t name the Prince in this account but she gave enough information about the dead young man for it to be easy to identify him. She received the spirit communication from him during one of the times when she was holding a séance on her own – something she seems to have been doing increasingly in the 1890s and 1900s. She started this particular séance grieving at the sudden death of the Prince, and with a sense of “dizzy helplessness” like beginning in an illness. She always felt strange when in London.
Source for Kat’s experience, though without names or a date: P/Realm pp101-04.
See wikipedia for the short life of Prince Albert Victor (1864 to 14 January 1892) eldest son of Edward and Alexandra, Prince and Princess of Wales.
Kat and Miss Greenlow visited Sweden and Russia, including Gothenberg, St Petersburg and Moscow, reaching Moscow “in the height of summer”. They made their way homewards via Stockholm and Christiania [Oslo]. Miss Greenlow then went back to England while Kat went climbing in the Dovre Feld mountains with Madame Bruegel. While they were in St Petersburg, staying at the Hotel de France, Kat had strong psychic experiences which – when she investigated them – she was able to associate with one suicide and one accidental death that had taken place in the hotel.
Source: S/U pp61-67.
Kat spent six weeks in London, lodging at a house in Sussex Gardens.
Source: S/U pp69-74.
Using automatic writing, Kat received a message from a man who had lived in ancient Egypt. The message was about cycles of history and the future evolution of mankind.
Comments by Sally Davis: oh, I have such a problem with this story! Though I had already reached that conclusion before I read the book, in Do the Dead Depart? I found Kat describing herself as an intuitional automatic writer, and defining it as when the medium takes down a “broad general idea” from an “Unseen” source, “the whole detail being consciously added to by using the medium’s own brain capacity”. I’m not doubting that Kat had an experience which she understood to be such a message; but I think that as a suggestible woman, one with a strong imagination – she wrote novels, after all – she supplied most of the story’s details herself.
The Egyptian context is a reflection of Kat’s experiences in Egypt; and also of the Egyptian magic that was being used in some of the rituals the GD was developing. The information in the message was a ‘new cycle of history’ one: materialism and rationalism would be rejected and the two halves of Man – the physical and the spiritual – would be reconciled. Mankind would then renew its original, close relationship with a divine creator, that it had forsaken in the Fall. Psychics and clairvoyants would come into their own during the evolutionary process, by contacting entities that had already evolved to the higher level; they were already trying to get in touch using mediums in spiritualist seances.
My scepticism is not relevant. Kat seems to have been rather sceptical herself at first, and tried to bat the message away with a course on modern chemistry and working for for the Society of Psychical Research. However, neither of those challenges convinced her and in the end she saw herself as having the duty to make the new era known to the wider public.
Do/Dead p167; and Kat describing herself as an intuitional automatic writer, p185.
The account in P/Sci/Chr (published 1909): p33. It’s much shorter with nothing, really, about what the message contained. But it gives a date of “sixteen years ago”.
The account in Cope: p59, p65. The date’s given as (only) “Some years ago”, but Kat does mention where she was at the time – Worcestershire; so she might have been staying with her cousin Ellen Bearcroft. In this account, the message was that the Pyramids were symbols of the process Mankind had just completed, evolving from animal to human; with the chambers inside the Great Pyramid illustrating the “Unity of the Race” - a unity denied by Plato and writers since. The Sphinx represented the new era that Mankind was entering into; I don’t know why she was so specific, but Kat said that it had begun in 1881. In the new era, the riddle of the Sphinx would at last be solved. In the rest of Cope, Kat described the process by which Mankind would reunited its physical and spiritual sides; focusing on the importance of Christian belief in that process. By this time – 1912 – she was worried that the Christian churches were not taking the initiative in the process, and that, as a result, it was being guided by other spiritual groups – theosophists and magicians, for example.
UNDATED BUT BETWEEN 1893 AND FEBRUARY 1900
Kat went to visit Aldam Leatham and his wife Martha at Misarden Park in Gloucestershire. While she was there, Kat identified a figure in a piece of “white tufa”, taken from an Egyptian tomb, as the entity that had sent her the message about the Pyramids and the Sphinx. It was an elderly Egyptian man, and Kat thought of him as having been a priest. In 1912 but not before, she gave him a name – Ra.
Source: Cope p61 Kat gives the correct names to both the house in which it happened and its owner. She doesn’t date her visit but she does say that it was Aldam Leatham’s second wife she knew – Martha Millie Constable, whom he married in 1893. She didn’t know Aldam Leatham before the visit. During his first marriage, Leatham and his wife had visited Egypt several times. They had brought back ancient artefacts they had bought there and a lot of photographs they had taken. Kat recognised a head-dress on the piece of tufa as of the same design as the head-dress of the Egyptian messenger as seen in a spirit photograph Richard Boursnell had taken.
Comment by Sally Davis: given Kat’s love of fake names, I was surprised when Misarden Park and Aldam Leatham both turned out to be real! Edward Aldam Leatham (born 1828) was a member of a wealthy family of Yorkshire Quakers; he was Liberal MP for Huddersfield from 1868-86. He bought Misarden Park in 1875. E A Leatham’s family sold Misarden Park in 1911 to the Wills family, tobacco magnates from Bristol. I couldn’t find any mention in my sources of E A Leatham’s Egyptian collection. I wonder where it went?
The second wife Kat knew was Martha Millie Constable (1859-1942) daughter of Rev John Constable. She married E A Leatham early in 1893. He died in February 1900.
Sources for E A Leatham and his second wife:
www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday entry dated 1986 for Misarden Park.
Wikipedia on Edward Aldam Leatham
Probate Registry 1900; 1942.
That’s the end of this particular life-by-dates file. To carry on from 1900, look in FILE NAME FOR WEB
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
20 March 2018
Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: