Re: The Masters and Spiritualism.
Nov 17, 2001 10:08 AM
by Blavatsky Archives
Brigitte's latest "essay" on the Masters and Spirtualism [see her
essay at the end of this email] contains interesting material. But
once again Brigitte is writing reams of material and unfortunately
this material contains (1) numerous questionable assumptions (piled
one upon the other), (2) statements with no supporting documentation,
(3) misleading conclusions, (4) errors of facts, etc.
It would take pages to critique all of of these mistakes, etc. in
what she has written.
Due to lack of time, I will focus on just one or two paragraphs to
illustrate what I have written above.
"Also the famous theosophist Massey, proved to be the subject of a
number of acts of Blavatskian engineered legerdemain. With the able
assistance of the Spiritualist Mary Hollis-Billing (1837-?) whose
cooperation was guaranteed when Blavatsky assured her that her spirit
guide, Ski, was none other than an Indian Master(a similar pattern as
the John King/Mahatma coup Blavatsky tried to pul on Olcott per
above), Blavatsky was able to insinuate some correspondence into
various locations, including MasseyŐs coat pocket, apparently
"Hollis-Billing later admitted to the fraud ( See Leslie Price, The
British Letter in Theosophical History, 1:3, 1985, 54-59 for C. C.
Massey's correspondence with Henry Sidgwick regarding the debacle
over Blavatsky's use of Mary Hollis-Billing to engineer phenomena.)"
Now let us look more closely at some of Brigitte's statements:
(1) Brigite writes: "Hollis-Billing later admitted to the fraud (
See Leslie Price, The British Letter in Theosophical History, 1:3,
1985, 54-59. . . ."
Where in this article in Theosophical History does Mrs. Hollis-
Billings herself admit to the alleged fraud?
The article by Leslie Price can be found at:
Have I overlooked something in this article? I can't find anything
written by Mrs. Hollis-Billings where she "admitted to the fraud".
Where did Brigitte get that tidbit of info???
(2) Brigitte again writes: ". . . [Mrs. Hollis-Billings']
cooperation [in the fraud] was guaranteed when Blavatsky assured her
that her spirit guide, Ski, was none other than an Indian
Master. . . ." This alleged cooperation was in the early part of
Where and when did HPB assure Mrs. H-B that Ski was an INDIAN
MASTER?? Brigitte does not give the source for her statement.
Read HPB's letter to Mrs. H-B from 1881 which can be found at:
Does this letter read like one from a trickster [HPB] to her
confederate [Mrs. H-B]?
As far as I know, HPB only met Mrs. H-B in person when HPB was
passing thru London in Jan. 1879 on her way to India. From this brief
acquaintance, was HPB willing to trust this medium enough to invite
her to be a confederate in a fraud against C.C. Massey?
For those interested, one can read what Mrs. Hollis-Billings actually
wrote about Madame Blavatsky at:
(3) Again Brigitte writes: ". . . Blavatsky was able to insinuate
some correspondence into various locations, including MasseyŐs
coat pocket, apparently miraculously."
Again where does Brigitte get her facts that Blavatsky was able to
insinuate some CORRESPONDENCE into Massey's coat pocket?
Massey himself wrote:
"One evening in January 1879 I had come down to Norwood by train, and
found a company of some half-dozen persons assembled in the dining-
room of Dr. and Mrs. Billing's house. Madame Blavatsky was not in the
room when I entered, but joined us very shortly afterwards. I had
hung up my overcoat in the hall outside. Madame Blavatsky turned to
me and asked if I would like to name some article for myself to be
produced then and there. Having for some time been in want of a card
case—a want I had certainly not mentioned to any one present or,
I believe, to anyone at all—I named that article."
"I [was] immediately afterwards dissatisfied with that particular
article I had named, as a test [and] wished to substitute another
choice, but was told I was too late. I was to go into the hall, and
put my hand in the pocket of my overcoat. Be it observed—and this
can state most positively—that no one but myself left the room
I had asked for the card case, and I went out into the hall as
directed, unaccompanied by anyone. The hall was just outside the
room, which had no other door than the one I went out at. I at once
put my hand into the pocket of my overcoat, and there, sure enough,
was an ivory card case, which I still have. It was a large, square,
lady's card case, not the small oblong one used by men. The card case
was not in my pocket when I entered the house. Madame Blavatsky
was "not prepared" for my desire. I have long regarded the incident
as inexplicable (except by occult power) on the facts present to my
recollection." Massey, Charles C. Quoted in "Mr. C. Reimers, Mrs.
Hollis-Billing, and Madame Blavatsky." The Light (London), August 30,
Where is the reference to "correspodence", letters in this
phenomenon? Does Brigitte have another source to back up her
Notice Brigitte's assessment of these cases: "apparently
miraculously". But why does Brigitte use this loaded
term "miraculously"? HPB herself certainly denied that she
I must stop for now. I could write ten times this much illustrating
what I have said about Brigitte's essay. I will later ask Brigitte
about her undocumented assertions about the Davenports and HPB.
I also will try to ask Brigitte about her views of mediumship in
general and the paranormal. For example, does Brigitte believe that
all mediums are frauds or somehow deluded? Does she accept even the
possibility of psychic phenomena? Our background assumptions and
views can influence how we approach testimony and evidence.
Daniel H. Caldwell
> Chuck: "how to read letters in sealed envelopes? Training methods?
> It's an old spiritualist trick. Any good book on stage magic will
> have a method. Whether or not HBP used those methods is another
> matter of course."
> There where probably many places where one could learn about this
> during Blavatsky's time, this as mesmerism and later spiritualism
> wide spread.
> I myself once went into a spiritualist drive in church, trew in a
> folded piece of paper and had some amazing results, but probably
> that was just a case of syncronicity.
> Blavasky on the other hand was a close friend of the Davenport's
> tought Houdini. Houdiniwrote about the Davenports in his
book : "hey
> (the Davenports) had always used trickery; however, for publicity
> reasons, they let their audiences decide for themselves as to the
> true source of their sensational demonstrations. (1)
> Also Harry Kellar (1849-1922) another famous stage magician was a
> student of the Davenports. It are these same "learned" ability's,
> that lay on the foundation of Blavatsky's later "phenomena" in
> and elsewhere.
> First Blavatsky together with a few other people run a small
> spiritist group with medium -performances in Cairo for a few weeks,
> next in New York she tried to do something similar with a "magic
> club "( wich she later claimed she had been told to do this by a
> Master) upon wich soon followed the idea together with some
> like Emma Hardings-Britten who was working on writing "Art Magic"
> at the time and seemed to have had a major influence at first, the
> TS whas started with as its goal the study of practical occultism.
> (See John Deveney Astral Projection or Liberating of the Double and
> the Work of the Early Theosophical Society")
> It is also from the Davenport's environment (she was a frequent
> quest at their house) Blavatsky first heared of a spirit guide
> John King. The Davenport's by the way used exactly the same kind of
> cabinet as Blavatsky later used in Adyar, and of wich Moncure
> Conway.reported: "After dinner the young men were all eager to have
> me go into the sacred room, though Mme. Blavatsky was rather
> reluctant. It was a small room and its only furniture the so-
> called "shrine," - really a cabinet such as Spiritualists
> use, though smaller, and such as Mme. Blavatsky herself probably
> when a spirit-rapping medium in America.."
> New information is in the proces of being published soon by Patrick
> Deveney about this early spiritualist period of Blavatsky, and
> also bring proof that Blavatsky whas not making certain travels
> are claimed , and are used as evidence to make it look as if
> Blavatsky met spirit guide John King much earlier and it would
> have been some kind of real Master. Some of the new information
> involved regarding the conjuring of "phenomena" and Master
> Are when Baburao had been hired by Thackersey at Blavatsky's
> request to deliver goods from "Master Goolab Singh" (see Old Diary
> Leaves, second series,46-61) with earliest stagings reminding of
> some of the later Master "appearances" like the Christofolo doll
> incident in Adyar... Such occasions occurred in 1876 when
> orchestrated the appearance of an "elemental" in her New York
> apartment by the simple means of promising a maid five dollars if
> would dress for the part. It seems she never paid the debt.
> John King was a spirit guide (and soon also John
> Katie) channeled by Jennie and Nelson Holmes. The "Kings", father
> daughter, gained much notoriety from an 1874 incident. It appeared
> that the Holmes' had employed Katie King as more than just a spirit
> guide: the elderly Robert Dale Owen (1801-1877)claimed publicly
> the jewellery he had been giving "Katie King",via the Holmes, had
> turned up in the possession of a woman by the name of Eliza White,
> who acknowledged that she had been employed by the Holmes' to
> impersonate the spirit.
> Yet Writing in 1875, Blavatsky claimed her own association with the
> mysterious John King :
> [T]he spirit John King is very fond of me, and I am fonder of him
> than of anything on earth. He is my only friend, and if I am
> to anyone for the radical change in my ideas of life, my efforts
> so on, it is to him alone ...
> Blavatsky apparently attempted to rehabilitate the reputation of
> Philadelphian Spiritualism - or at least so she had said at the
> It is during this period, however, that a subtle readjustment in
> explaining Spiritualist phenomena can be discerned in Olcott:
> Try to get private talk with "John King" - he is an initiate, and
> frivolities of speech and action are meant to cover serious
> There can be little doubt that Olcott's references to King's
> as an "initiate" were mediated to Olcott by Blavatsky. This shift
> from imaging the spirit entities as discarnate humans of no
> religious hue or status, to conceiving of them as in some sense
> spiritually adept is evidence of early Blavatskian revisionism.
> the middle of 1875, Blavatsky would assign the impetus for the
> inception of Spiritualism, and indeed the governance and direction
> esoteric orders as a whole, to a band of living adepts she called
> An attempt in consequence of orders received from T*** B*** [Tuitit
> Bey?] through P*** [the elemental?] personating J. K. [John King?].
> Ordered to begin telling the public the truth about the phenomena &
> their mediums. And now my martyrdom will begin! I will have all the
> Spiritualists against me in addition to the Christians & the
> Thy Will, oh M:. [ Morya or Mazinni ? ] be done!
> Olcott's occult tutelage passed from Tuitit Bey to Serapis Bey at a
> very early stage. From the middle of 1875 until the latter part of
> 1879, Olcott received many Masters letters' from Serapis, sometimes
> concentrated volleys, at other times only intermittently. Arriving
> regular mail (postmarked from Philadelphia and Albany), the first
> several letters are in the main unremarkable and concern themselves
> with relatively mundane details of Blavatsky's and Olcott's
> life. The central topics appear to be Blavatsky's financial woes
> her by now failed second - and bigamist - marriage to the Georgian
> Michael Betanelly.
> At one time Serapis exhorted Olcott to approach relatives of his
> divorced wife for money for the sake of the Cause'; at another he
> attempted to involve Olcott in highly questionable business deals
> with Betanelly, Blavatsky's erstwhile husband. Serapis' assured
> Olcott that his "distant future is at Boston" and that "there are
> millions in the future in store for Betanelly". In fact, there is
> little about Serapis' self-revelation which would justify
> Theosophical claims that with the emergence of Blavatsky's Masters
> new spiritual dispensation had begun.
> Reg. John King of whom everybody knew (why otherwise the same name
> Crookes wrote a book in which he reprinted a first person report by
> Conan Doyle about how the woman who impersonated Kastie King tried
> seduce him, by sitting in front of hime naked and said the clothes
> went into the spirit world.) that it was a spirit guide, is said by
> theosophical writers to have really showed up in Blavatsky's life
> during certain travels accompanied by Albert Rawson., however a
> closer look at this shows that .Rawson as he himself publicly told
> group meeting of th.. was at the time in jail for steeling, so he
> could not have been travelling with HPB, or HPB with him for that
> Also the famous theosophist Massey, proved to be the subject of a
> number of acts of Blavatskian engineered legerdemain. With the able
> assistance of the Spiritualist Mary Hollis-Billing (1837-?) whose
> cooperation was guaranteed when Blavatsky assured her that her
> guide, Ski, was none other than an Indian Master(a similar pattern
> the John King/Mahatma coup Blavatsky tried to pul on Olcott per
> above), Blavatsky was able to insinuate some correspondence into
> various locations, including MasseyŐs coat pocket, apparently
> Hollis-Billing later admitted to the fraud ( See Leslie Price, The
> British Letter in Theosophical History, 1:3, 1985, 54-59 for C. C.
> Massey's correspondence with Henry Sidgwick regarding the debacle
> over Blavatsky's use of Mary Hollis-Billing to engineer phenomena.)
> (1) A scrapbook compiled by the Davenport Brothers about their work
> has provided further evidence of trickery, according to sceptic Joe
> Nickell. Nickell saw the scrapbook on show at Lily Dale Assembly
> was permitted to study it. It gives indications how their phenomena
> were produced, while suggesting that the surviving brother Ira who
> owned it was nevertheless a Spiritualist.
> The phenomena were defended by Arthur Conan Doyle. Among the places
> where Nickell reports his findings is:
> Joe Nickell " Davenport Brothers: Investigating the Houdini-Doyle
> Dispute" ACD (the journal of the Arthur Conan Doyle Society) vol. 9
> June 1999 p. 81-91.
> The Society's web site is at:-http://ww.ash-
> (2)For more on that period in Blavatsky's life see:
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