- Could it be that a 17th century British mystic and poet,
who spent most of her life in austere poverty and seclusion in London,
was an abductee? A close perusal of Jane Lead's rare, three volume work,
A Fountain of Gardens(1700) indicates that this might have been the case.
Couched in archaic English and laden with imagery drawn from the Bible,
Jane Lead's visions, by their high strangeness, and their references to
themes that would later be touched upon by those who claim to have been
taken aboard UFOs, indicate that at least a similar mental process was
at work. Between February 9, 1678, and her final, incredible visits in
December of 1678 with the inhabitants of the "Magia-School" which
was, she said, "such a place, that was as the Scene of another World"
Jane Lead witnessed a golden flying machine; robots ("living statues");
a suited figure flying in the sky; the Frankenstein-like vivification of
an artificial body ; a "thunderbolt-shaped stone" that perhaps
was a robotic probe; child-like beings that moved with superhuman quickness;
a "star" on which she rode and an "eye"in which people
lived and traveled. Moreover, she left a sketch of this aerial "eye"
that is a perfect likeness of a flame-emitting, lenticular craft. Finally,
and most remarkable of all, Jane Lead tells of a future time when these
otherworldly beings and their descendants shall be recognized by everyone.
- Who was Jane Lead?
- According to The Dictionary of National Biography, Mrs.
Jane Lead or Leade (1623,Äì1704) was the daughter Of Schildknap
Ward from Norfolk, England. At an early age the future mystic heard a
miraculous voice during a Christmas celebration at her home, and this seemed
to have changed forever the direction of her life. She became contemplative
and serious in her religious pursuits, apparently against her family's
wishes. At 21 she married William Lead, a distant relative some six years
her senior. Shortly thereafter, he died, leaving Jane with one daughter,
Barbara, to support. Jane Lead would never marry again.
- Lead later began to read the mystic works of Jacob Boehme,
the German shoemaker- seer, who attempted to use the alchemical process
to describe inward spiritual states and religious intuitions. Boehme
was the first of the "Theosophists"-- a vague term that can be
roughly defined as "God-scientist." Theosophists attempted to
plum the mysteries of God and to describe the supernatural worlds through
divinely directed visions. Boehme's terminology and methodology can be
found in modified form in many of Lead's own descriptions of other worlds.
It was shortly after her introduction to Boehme's writings that she too
began to maintain a diary of her visions. She would use these numinous
encounters as the basis for her own theosophical writings. Her books include
The Heavenly Cloud (1681), The Revelation of Revelations (1683), The Enochian
Walks With God, Found out by a Spiritual Traveler, whose Face towards Mount
Sion above was set. With an experimental account of what was known, seen,
and met with there." (1694), and other rare publications. Living
in poverty, and facing blindness in her old age, Jane Lead continued to
toil on in obscurity. It was not until one of her books reached Holland
and was translated into Dutch and German, that the power of her visions
began to be internationally recognized. Soon a group of disciples gathered
around her, and the Philadelphians,Äìa secret society of seers
and theosophists,Äìwas formed, with Jane as their guiding light.
In 1697 this group held regular meetings at Westmorland House in Lambeth,
drew up its own constitution, and proceeded to spread the revelations of
Jane Lead. We can only imagine that Mrs. Lead, who died at 81 on August
19, 1704, had much secret lore that she shared with her disciples and did
not dare pass on in writing. Still, the impressive record she left behind
for all to see is a testament to a gifted woman who might truly have been
taken to another world.
- The Record
- Abductions seem to run in a clearly identifiable pattern:
first, the potential subject has close visual sightings of other-worldly
craft. After the initial sightings physical contact takes place. As we
see from the record of her diary, Jane Lead appears to have had just such
an initial, visual contact in 1676, a full two years before her actual
abduction. Lead eloquently recounts how she witnessed an anomalous sight
in the morning sky over London. Using the only terminology she knew, Lead
called it an "eye". She was so impressed with the beauty of this
remarkable sight that she sketched it and included it in volume one of
A Fountain of Visions. In order to preserve the integrity of her accounts,
I present them here in her original English.
- "July the 16th. 1676.
- A Vision of God's Flaming Eye.
- This Morning...In a moment there appeared to me an Azure
blue Firmament, so Oriental as nothing of this, in this visible Orb could
parallel with it. Out of the midst hereof was a most wonderful Eye, which
I saw Sparkling, as with flaming Streams from it. Which I am not able
to figure out, after that manner in which it did present it self unto me.
But according to this Form it was, as much as I am able to give an account
of it, it was thus, or after this manner. There was a flaming Eye in the
midst of a Circle, and round about it a Rainbow with all variety of Colours,
and beyond the Rainbow in the Firmament, innumerable Stars all attending
this Flaming Eye. From which the Word said, the Earth and the Heavens shall
flye, and nothing abide, but what can live in this Eternal Eye, as ministering
Stars of Glory, before the Throne of him: who like to this Circling Eye,
which thou hast seen, hath neither Beginning or End."
- What Lead appears to have seen could be interpreted as
a flame-emitting, lenticular craft accompanied by smaller aerial craft,
or robotic probes. Notice that she, like many modern UFO witnesses, has
difficulty describing the object she saw. Moreover, she was so moved by
this sight, that she was driven to sketch it,Äìa common enough
recourse among contemporary witnesses. Notice, too, the apparent telepathic
rapport between the woman and the UFO. This also jives with many sightings
of the "high strangeness" variety. Please note that unlike the
revelations of Boehme, Swedenborg, and other religious visionaries, the
speaker from the apparent UFO does not identify itself as God, or even
of angelic origin; rather it speaks of earth and heaven-shaking power,
ministering "Stars of Glory" and a Throne in this "Circling
Eye." This distinction should be kept in mind while reading Lead's
accounts. The beings she encounters, act peculiarly "un-angelic".
- True to pattern, two years later the contacts intensify.
In 1678 Lead appears to have experienced close encounters of the third
kind. The most complete and compelling account of these events leading
up to the woman's apparent abduction can be found in the third volume of
A Fountain of Gardens. There one can see, in diary entries scattered over
one year, a sequence of increasingly incredible encounters beginning with
the appearance of a golden winged airship:
- "February 9. 1678
- A Transport.
- In the Morning after I was awakened from Sleep, upon
a sudden I was insensible of any sensibility as relating to a corporeal
Being, and found my self as without the clog of any Earthly Body, being
very sprightly and airy in a silent place, where some were beside my self,
but I did not know them by their Figures, except one, who went out, and
came in again: and there was no speaking one to another, but all did set
in great silence, and I my self with my Eye fixed forward. And I did suddenly
see at a pretty distance, where I was, a rich splenderous thing come down
all engraven, with Colors, the Ground thereof being all of Gold. It was
in the form of a large Ship with Wings, I cannot say, whether more than
four, which spread themselves out, being like varnished Gold, it came down
with the greatest swiftness as is imaginable. Upon which amazing sight,
I asked some by me, do you not see this wonderful sight? And they said
no. But I saw my self, or something like my self, leaping and dancing and
greatly rejoicing to meet it. But when I came up to it, then it did as
suddenly go up again, withdrawing out of sight, unto the high Orb from
whence it came. After which I found my self in my Body of sense, as knowing
I had been ranging in my Spirit from it for a while, that I might behold
this great thing."
- This particular vision is strikingly similar to modern
accounts of abductions by UFOs. Notice how Lead describes herself as feeling
disembodied and staring straight ahead as if she were in a trance. She
then feels surrounded by figures,Äìshe does not call them human
beings,Äìone of which she recognizes. In the middle of her
silence she sees a glorious flying machine, which she approaches. Her
sense of time appears to become truncated at that point, and, just as many
abductees observe, the UFO appears to leave almost as soon as it arrives.
However, in retrospect, the witness finds that hours, or even days, are
missing. There is also the peculiar point of similarity of emotional states.
Rather than being afraid, Mrs. Lead approaches the anomaly joyfully; just
as many abductees relate that they too experience profound transports of
fear or joy in the presence of the unknown craft. Finally, Lead tells of
the "high Orb" from which the craft descends and to which it
returns. Once again, in modern UFO parlance, this would be described as
the "Mother Ship."
- Whether this is a description of a real "close encounter"misidentified
as the visit of an angelic messenger, or a description of a strikingly
similar psychological state, it gives one pause. Nevertheless, this sighting
and Lead's consequent mental condition leads me to define this experience
as the first of her abductions.
- In the following months, Jane Lead witnessed other remarkable
sights, including "living statues" that appear to have been some
form of robot, a flying figure clothed in a new, "Coelestial Body"
and the vivification of an artificial being, or android.
- "March 25, 1678.
- The Living Statues. A Vision.
- ...Then I had a strange kind of Vision, of a sight of
two Statues, that were in a Room, where I was, and they were very beautiful,
having all perfect accomplishments to outward sight, greatly taking the
Eye whereupon I made towards them, but they moved not, then I concluded
they were formal Figures, that were not capable of Conversation with any,
as being without intellectuals or motion of Life. Whereupon I considering
they were very amiable, and what great pity it was, that they were not
in an active motion; I found in myself somewhat eagerly earnest to provoke
the stirring and awakening of a Life in them. And hereunto I was busying
all my internal abilities, and then they suddenly stirred, and made towards
me with great and sweet affableness of Spirit. Which though at first I
so much desired their acquaintance, yet when they spake, and came, and
took me by the Hand, I was somewhat shy and afraid of them. But they said,
,ÄòBe not surprised, though you see, that which was dead, and
slain to revive and live again. This is a Mystery, ye may further see
into, as ye do believe in the Resurrection.,Äô"
- Shortly after this vision, Lead witnessed what could
be interpreted as someone using a "flying suit" similar to the
rocket pack developed by Nasa in the 1970's. Here the astounded 18th century
woman struggles to describe a sight straight out of the future using her
own brand of archaic English. She attempts to cage the vision in an appropriate
Biblical context, yet she falters in the attempt.
- "May 8. 1678.
- A Call to the Mount of Divine Vision.
- ...Then, after this Word, there was a representation
of a Person, in the visible Firmament, walking there all Aethereal, Pure
and Bright. But while I fastened my Eye upon it, it descended, and as soon
as it came into this Region, the same that appeared so Coelestial, was
changed into a Terrestrial Corporeal form, like to the Inhabitants of this
World, but soon after the same ascended up, and walked in the Air, as it
was before all Aethereal. When I came to consider it, the meaning hereof
was opened unto me....That this clear and Aethereal Body, that in the Element
did appear, was for this end shewn, to convince us of that high, and pure
Region, or Eternal Element: Whereto we should Ascend, and there have our
Walks in a pure and uncorrupted Air, from the super Coelestial Heavens:
for that should be ever our settled Place and Home. For this Vision did
present our own Figures in a new Coelestial Body...."
- Much later, Lead appears to have been present as an android
was brought to life.
- "October 8. 1678.
- Formation and Animation
- There was presented the Formation of a visible Body,
as out of the mixed Matter, thin and clear, and every Member formed as
the Potter pleased. So the Figure of a Man was thus modellized before
my Eye, in all Comeliness; no one part defective: But there was no Life.
And I was call,Äôd upon to take notice of this Image, that
was so fair and comely, but here wanted a moving Life to act it. And it
was said to me, dost thou see this fair Portraid image. Which shews, what
the new Created Being is, as in a Figure transfer,Äô d: but
what can this do, till Breath of Life doth enter in? Then discoursed the
Spirit further this Matter with me....I was exhorted to be quiet, and sit
a while, and I should see Life would move. Which accordingly came into
every part, the Eye first moved, then motion throughout stretched the Arms,
and Feet, walking to and fro in all activity...."
- The rapid descent and ascent of an artificial craft,
in this case apparently some sort of probe, was witnessed by Lead while
in a similar psychological state as her encounter with the golden flying
- "October 28, 1678.
- The Jewel: Or, the Thunder-bolt.
- ....I did see in the Night, a Stone: the fashion of it
was like a Thunder-bolt, but it was clear, and of a Ruby and Purple Color:
and it was shot down, as out of the Aethereal Heavens, and immediately
caught up thither again..."
- Later, Jane Lead acquires a guide, who explains the mysterious
sights that, by this time, were rushing fast and furious upon the old woman.
As she says in an entry dated December 5, 1678, "This and much more
was opened [explained] and revealed from the Transparent Child-like stature
[sic], that appeared in such a swift Circling-motion unto me in the Vision,
which brought this Mystery to light." This being gives Lead much
information about the transfigured bodies that she sees, and promises a
future time when all humans would be clothed in these same indestructible
"arks" that were impervious to the "disasters of the elements".
Of course this message coincided nicely with Christianity's doctrine of
bodily resurrection, but the specificity of this new body, and how it apparently
allowed one to live on other worlds points to a far stranger interpretation.
- As one reads volume three of A Fountain of Gardens, one
slowly begins to realize that the "wisdom" discussed in its pages
was given to Mrs. Lead, not by God (though of course she believed this
herself), not by traditional Angels, but by the Princess and other beings
of the "Magia-School" whose other-worldly home Jane tells of
visiting in the final, remarkable pages of her book. True to the understanding
of her time, she calls them "Magia" or magicians, though clearly
they were much more than that. As she says under her diary entry for December
- "The School of Wisdom. A Transportation.
- In the Night, after my first Sleep, I was consulting,
whereunto the moving Star had brought us, and [perceived] it still was
in its circling motion....Then, after all this Opening and Spiritual Parly
I was over-set, and cast as into a Trance, and had all my outward Senses
drowned, and was brought by the Spirit into such a place, that was as the
Scene of another World. For the Ground where the Inhabitants moved, was
as clear as Crystal and the same above was the same below all light and
clear. The Spirit that brought me in, led me to do Obeysance to one, that
was the Princess of that World. Who appeared great and full of Majesty,
resembling the Face of a Woman, all cloathed as in waved Clouds. I was
something abashed to come near her: but the Spirit animated me. And She
directed my Guide, to bring me into acquaintance with the residue, that
did move there in distinct Figures. But they at first looked somewhat
Strange upon me, and shy: because I had no such clarified Body. Whereupon
I did strive to make my Apology in way of Speech: but that did much displease.
For, it was advised, this was the Magia-School; where all of Mortal Language
was to be excluded. For all was understood by the operation of the Magia:
here was no Speech, but all Power acted. Then one I was brought to, that
had such a composure in his Countenance, as one might read profound Wisdom,
signally resident upon him. I would have had them move free, and familiar
with me, for I loved, and was much affected with them. But they saw, I
was not versed in their high Method, and looked upon me as a stranger in
their Region. And being very eager to ask them questions, what the denominated
were? And who was the Soveraign Ruler here? And I was big with many Queries,
but received a check, as being a young Novice, that did not understand
the Magia-Rules. Then suddenly I was bound, and could move no way, but
no Hand touched me. And this was to let me know, what Soveraignty they
could put forth. And then as suddenly I was set free, and found my self
- Then heard I the Majestical Princess, that ruled all
in that Sphere, say in a breath as soft as Air: ,ÄòDo not despise
the unlearned, that are not acquainted with this high Art. For this thing,
time is allowed, for the fiting her out thereunto. But know, O Spirit,
before thou goest from hence, that this is the only one thing, that is
worthy to be learned, whereby Nature's Beast may become tamed, and to a
Heavenly Figure renewed by the Magia-working Power.,Äô Then
brought I was into my Bodily Sense, where I was given to understand , what
all this transportation tended to. Which I was cautioned to remind, and
lay up as a secret: and watch the turn of the Wheel...."
- Here we truly see a 17th century mind struggling to come
to terms with what many would identify as a clear case of abduction. Notice
how Lead's description of the brightness of this other world is congruent
with modern abduction accounts. Moreover, the disembodied woman's face,
and the "wise being" are part and parcel of many modern reports.
Furthermore, Jane does not define these immortal beings as benevolent.
Instead she faithfully records being paralyzed when she became too eager
to investigate where she was. Furthermore she is summarily commanded not
to talk, though she had many questions; and is told she does not know the
"rules." Moreover she describes the inhabitants of this other
world as keeping her in isolation because she has no "clarified"
body as they did. And though she professes to feel "love" for
these beings, they behave with an almost clinical coldness towards her.
Notice the final, chilling injunction not to speak of what she saw and
to keep her eye to the "turn of the Wheel"!
- Four nights later, Jane Lead again found herself among
the members of the Magia-School, where she was given an incredible vision
of an "Eye" which appears to have been the same flying craft
that she had seen and drawn two years earlier. A remarkable dialogue ensues
in which Jane Lead is invited aboard the "Eye" but she demurs
saying that she only has a mortal body.
- "The Theosophical Eye
- ....And there was presented unto me an Eye, from which
went forth bright Beams of Light, which had a wonderful attractive Power
to draw the Spirit of my Soul into it, as the Center of Wisdom's Light
and vast comprehension, which must expose it self to the Infinitum of all
Beings. And it was said to me, ,ÄòNow thou art to be tried,
whether thou can'st leave all Visibilities, and come to live in this Theosophical
Eye: which can generate all kind of working Powers, that may cast the model
of the new Creation.,Äô Then replyed my Spirit, ,ÄòHow
shall I that am in Mortality, possibly be able to live in this bright Circling
Eye? Although my Will do unfeignedly hereunto aspire, yet I cannot find
the way that may fix me there; neither can I come so suddenly to such an
Abnegation, as to forget and forsake my own Creaturely Being.,Äô"
- The beings answer:
- "...there is an Essence of Love, that may constrain
thee to come up to all the Magia-Rules. Although, yet the way seemeth
uncouth, and as incredible for thee to pass into this Eye, as a Camel into
the Eye of a Material Needle. But do thou know, that the Time is now come
about, in which the Father of Magical Spirits will put those of his own
immediate Line into it."
- Here the beings are apparently telling Jane Lead that
she too is of this "line." Remarkably, other of her contemporaries
shared this distinction and were also being taken up into the "Circling
Eye" As Lead reports:
- "But, Where is the Man or Woman, it may be replyed,
that could fly above their Region? True it is, we are ignorant in this
our present Age of any such, though I doubt not, but some there may be
in this very time, though unknown. But I am assured [by the beings] that
the time is come, when the Starry-Birth shall break away by the Magia-Wheel,
when once it doth but touch. Then we shall see that marvelous thing, as
dark and heavy Iron upon the water to float and swim. And though this
Magia-School hath been shut up, and the Magical Children, who thereunto
do belong, have had a long Holy Day wherein time hath been loitered away;
now the idle time is over. The high Theosophical Eye doth run to and fro
to attract, and gather them up, who are apt to learn Heavenly Philosophy."
- Who are these "Magical Children" that are being
taken aboard this craft? Jane Lead answers with the knowledge she gathered
from her encounter with these beings:
- "We know by several marks who may attain thereunto.
First, they have a Signature different from others. Which ariseth from
an inward Birth-Ground, more pure and clarified, that gives a quick and
sharp understanding to comprehend from the Center-line of Life, that runneth
into God's deep free and doth not stick nor stay.... That hereby it may
be an ascendant above the order of these outward Stars, and inhabit in
the Circling Eye as a close Student. And may there from its Light-Glance,
as an Eye in that Eye, read the Trinity Book, in which the Rules of the
Magia are expressed apart.... "
- The third volume of A Fountain of Gardens sets forth
the Magia Rules, concerning a new understanding of nature, man, and the
celestial regions. The primary rule succinctly expressed during this final
encounter is an astonishing one. As Lead says: "The First Rule given
out was, that henceforth, we unlearn and unknow all, which the wise and
rational Spirit hath in its unrefined Morality disciplin,Äôd
and exercised our Senses in making a fair shew in the mixed complexion
of Darkness and Light, Evil and Good. All of which we are to disavow,
and to alter the whole property...." The way of the Magia-School and
its members is of ultimate knowledge that will lead to "....learn[ing]
and understand[ing] another way, in which we may command both Sun, Moon,
and Stars, and break their Bands." That is, by obtaining this understanding
mortals could break free of the inhibiting factors of the earthly world
and enjoy an immortal body and infinite power.
- Jane Lead's earlier mystical writings belong to a more
traditional Christian context, while those set forth in A Fountain of Gardens,
volume three, sound a new note. The apocalypse is in process, she says.
A new revelation is descending from the skies, and all mankind must be
prepared to face and accept it. The future that Jane Lead speaks of is
not the future of traditional Christianity. Indeed, the members of the
Magia-school already experience the enlightened state that Lead seems to
equate with the transfiguration of Christ and the paradise of believers
promised in the Book of Revelations. Lead revises traditional Christian
cosmologies to make room for this group of powerful beings that are neither
human nor angelic, yet somehow speak and act in the interests of God.
- Jane Lead's visions, though expressed in quaint and archaic
English, and obscured in part by theosophical terminology, nevertheless
escape the strictures imposed upon them by time and point of view, to inhabit
their own region of the numinous. No matter how Jane Lead struggles to
force what she sees into the Procrustean bed of conventional theology,
the strangeness and specificity of her visions, call us back time and again
to wonder over the real import of their message.
- Though some may call this reading of A Fountain of Gardens
unjustly skewed, I would invite them to go directly to the source and compare
for themselves what the British mystic encountered in 1678 with the patterns
and motifs of modern-day abduction cases. What can at least be concluded
is that Jane Lead's accounts show a similar psychological mechanism at
work. Many perhaps will take the next step and say that this remarkable
woman of the eighteenth century was taken on a trip to another world where
she parlayed with beings that offered her new rules for mankind. Jane
Lead, in turn, promulgated the wisdom of the "Magia-School" for
all to read in her remarkable spiritual diaries. Much more needs to be
said about the legacy of Jane Lead and the Philadelphians. I invite others
to join me in this task.
- Copyright 1999 by Jesse Glass.