Lady Eleanor would have enjoyed the kind of respect that Jane Lead’s activities commanded in her readers and co-workers, but it was slow to come and short-lived. Jane Lead (1624–1704) was born in Norfolk out of a landed gentry family. Her father was a squire and magistrate, and she was educated at home. 1 When she was fifteen, Lead experienced a dramatic episode at Christmas when she was dancing and enjoying a good time. She was overtaken by sorrow as she understood that this was not the correct way to remember Christ’s birth, and then she heard a voice: “Cease from this, I have another dance to lead thee in; for this is vanity”. 2 The sentence was premonitory, since the voice uses the verb “lead” before Jane could even know it would be her married name. She withdrew to a long melancholic phase in which she studied the Bible and read extensively from her family library. After a six-month visit to her merchant brother in London, which brought her into contact with radical preachers and millenarians, in particular the sermons of clergyman Tobias Crisp—who preached free grace and universal salvation but denied any association with licentiousness—she returned to Norfolk and married another merchant, William Lead. The couple forged a stable relationship that bore four children. However, Jane understood life with her “first” husband to be under “the law of carnal command”, a preparation for her second, true marriage “with the Lord from heaven”. Much of William’s household estate had been lost upon his death in 1670 and Jane was left destitute. Despite her daughter’s insistence that they should stay with Jane’s brother, she resisted the family pressure and decided to live in spiritual partnership with John Pordage, former rector of Bradfield, physician and staunch follower of the theology of the German mystic writer Jakob Boehme (1575–1624). It was a bold move that alienated her from her family but brought her closer to her true vocation. Upon a visit of her daughter, that Jane enacted in her mind as a battle with “the adversary” in which she saw “many archers drawing against me”, she heard the voice of the Lord reaffirming her resolution to stay with her friends: “Stand by thy vow and solemn engagement, where by thou hast given away thy right as to the disposal of thy self”. 3 This test on a quintessential aspect of femininity, the choice between self over 173family, was definitely resolved in favor of the Lord. She began to write her spiritual diary and lead a contemplative life. Upon Pordage’s death in 1681, Lead took over his role as leader of the congregation and published Heavenly Cloud now Breaking, perhaps the text that best reveals the Behmenist influence on her work. 4 Lead began to display a powerful imagery to represent states of being in which biblical episodes, figures, or types appear only to reinforce the sensory and visual impact of her argument. When she describes the process of spiritual dying, in which the body of sin is crucified and all temporal things perish, including political strife, she receives the spirit of Daniel that makes her mourn at beholding “under what a law of sin and tyrannical bondage the saints are under”. 5 The procession of spirits continued with a serpent, a beast, and “the airy region”, which was also the serpent-prince whose job is to tempt. The same spirit of prophecy that disclosed “wonderful mysteries now in this last age” shows as well “the way for consummation”, and she was able to feel as if “the sin of the whole relapsed creation had been upon me”. 6 The gift of prophecy is the “testimony of Jesus the Lord” that is put to the service of the Church to have a knowledge of things to come. “Blessed are them [friends of the Lord] who understand the voice of prophecy and have it in themselves”. 7