By Dr. Jane Shaw
In 1919, within the wake of the upheaval of global conflict I, a impressive crew of English ladies got here up with their very own method to the world's grief: a brand new faith. on the middle of the Panacea Society was once a charismatic and autocratic chief, a vicar's widow named Mabel Bartlrop. Her fans known as her Octavia, they usually believed that she was once the daughter of God, despatched to construct the recent Jerusalem in Bedford.When the final residing individuals of the Panacea Society printed to historian Jane Shaw their giant and painstakingly preserved documents, she started to reconstruct the tale of a close-knit utopian neighborhood that grew to incorporate seventy citizens, millions of fans, and a global therapeutic ministry achieving 130,000 humans. Shaw deals a close portrait of Octavia and describes the religion of her committed fans who believed they might by no means die. Vividly instructed, via turns humorous and tragic, Octavia, Daughter of God is ready a second on the creation of modernity, while a new release of newly empowered girls attempted to re-make Christianity of their personal photograph, delivering a desirable window into the anxieties and hopes of the interwar years.
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In 1919, within the wake of the upheaval of global struggle I, a extraordinary team of English girls got here up with their very own way to the world's grief: a brand new faith. on the middle of the Panacea Society was once a charismatic and autocratic chief, a vicar's widow named Mabel Bartlrop. Her fans referred to as her Octavia, they usually believed that she was once the daughter of God, despatched to construct the hot Jerusalem in Bedford.
Extra info for Octavia, Daughter of God: The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers
Then in April 1911, as she was writing about the Epistle to the Hebrews, ‘suddenly and spontaneously the power of “inspirational” writing’ was given to her. ‘Thoughts not my own poured through my mind as I held the pen, and even the pen became the force of an instrument of an exterior force, and wrote the teachings of another. ’28 Through this rapid process of automatic writing, she ﬁnished the second half of the book in record time – just three or four months. After she had received the letter from Mabel, she sent her this book, written by divine inspiration, and the correspondence began.
Minnie Oppenheim continued to ‘channel’ messages that she believed were for Mabel, especially from Joanna Southcott. Mabel also began tentatively to trust her own ‘light’, her own states of vision. 20 She did not learn how to do this in a disciplined way for some time. She was still searching for a way to ‘hear’ and trust what she believed to be direct inspiration from God. The problem with such ‘direct inspiration’ is, of course, one of knowledge. How do we know or how can we test what is true and what is not true?
The experience of opening up these letters, which I had known to be sealed for so long, in the evening dusk, was rather chilling, especially as I now knew what came next in Mabel’s life. The ‘consequences’ that Mabel described were a breakdown when she had become exhausted and weakened after receiving no positive response to her many letters to bishops and other clergy. ’27 The strain of rejection and disappointment was too much. She admitted herself into a mental hospital in Northampton, and remained there for a year and a half: from April 1915 to October 1916.