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So was this materialization/precipitation "a big CON" too?

Nov 13, 2002 10:10 AM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

A Mahatma Letter in a Pillow:
So was this materialization/precipitation "a big CON" too?

Testimony of A. P. Sinnett
October 20, 1880 
Simla, India

Accompanied by our guests [Madame Blavatsky, Colonel
Olcott, and Alice Gordon], we went to have lunch one
day on the top of a neighboring hill. The night
before, I had had reason to think that my
correspondent, Koot Hoomi, had been in what I may call
subjective communication with me. After discussing the
subject in the morning, I found on the hall table a
note from Koot Hoomi, in which he promised to give me
something on the hill which should be a token of his
(astral) presence near me the previous night.

We went to our destination, camped down on the top of
the hill, and were engaged on our lunch, when Madame
Blavatsky said Koot Hoomi was asking where we would
like to find the object he was going to send me. Up to
this moment there had been no conversation in regard
to the phenomenon I was expecting. The usual
suggestion will, perhaps, be made that Madame
Blavatsky "led up" to the choice I actually made. The
fact of the matter was simply that in the midst of
altogether other talk Madame Blavatsky pricked up her
ears on hearing her occult voice—at once told me what
was the question asked, and did not contribute to the
selection made by one single remark on the subject. In
fact, there was no general discussion, and it was by
an absolutely spontaneous choice of my own that I
said, after a little reflection, "inside that
cushion," pointing to one against which one of the
ladies present was leaning. I had no sooner uttered
the words than my wife cried out, "Oh no, let it be
inside mine," or words to that effect. I said, "Very
well, inside my wife's cushion"; Madame Blavatsky
asked the Mahatma by her own methods if that would do,
and received an affirmative reply. My liberty of
choice as regards the place where the object should be
found was thus absolute and unfettered by conditions.
The most natural choice for me to have made under the
circumstances, and having regard to our previous
experiences, would have been up some particular tree,
or buried in a particular spot of the ground; but the
inside of a sewn-up cushion, fortuitously chosen on
the spur of a moment, struck me, as my eye happened to
fall upon the cushion I mentioned first, as a
particularly good place; and when I had started the
idea of a cushion, my wife's amendment to the original
proposal was really an improvement, for the particular
cushion then selected had never been for a moment out
of her own possession all the morning. It was her
usual jampan cushion; she had been leaning against it
all the way from home, and leaning against it still,
as her jampan had been carried right up to the top of
the hill, and she had continued to occupy it. The
cushion itself was very firmly made of worsted work
and velvet, and had been in our possession for years.
It always remained, when we were at home, in the
drawing room, in a conspicuous corner of a certain
sofa, whence, when my wife went out, it would be taken
to her jampan and again brought in on her return.

When the cushion was agreed to, my wife was told to
put it under her rug, and she did this with her own
hands, inside her jampan. It may have been there about
a minute, when Madame Blavatsky said we could set to
work to cut it open. I did this with a penknife, and
it was a work of some time, as the cushion was very
securely sewn all round, and very strongly, so that it
had to be cut open almost stitch by stitch, and no
tearing was possible. When one side of the cover was
completely ripped up, we found that the feathers of
the cushion were enclosed in a separate inner case,
also sewn round all the edges. There was nothing to be
found between the inner cushion and the outer case; so
we proceeded to rip up the inner cushion; and this
done, my wife searched among the feathers.

The first thing she found was a little three-cornered
note, addressed to me in the now familiar handwriting
of my occult correspondent. It ran as follows: 

My "Dear Brother,"

This brooch No. 2 is placed in this very strange place
simply to show to you how very easily a real
phenomenon is produced and how still easier it is to
suspect its genuineness.

The difficulty you spoke of last night with respect to
the interchange of our letters I will try to remove.
An address will be sent to you which you can always
use; unless, indeed, you really would prefer
corresponding through — PILLOWS.

—Koot' Hoomi Lal Sing. [Caps added.]

While I was reading this note, my wife discovered, by
further search among the feathers, the brooch referred
to, one of her own, a very old and very familiar
brooch which she generally left on her dressing table
when it was not in use. The whole force and
significance to us of the brooch thus returned, hinged
onto my subjective impressions of the previous night.
The reason for selecting the brooch as a thing to give
us dated no earlier than then. On the hypothesis,
therefore, that the cushion must have been got at by
Madame Blavatsky, it must have been got at since I
spoke of my impressions that morning, shortly after
breakfast; but from the time of getting up that
morning, Madame Blavatsky had hardly been out of our
sight, and had been sitting with my wife in the
drawing room. She had been doing this, by the by,
against the grain, for she had writing which she
wanted to do in her own room, but she had been told by
her voices to go and sit in the drawing room with my
wife that morning, and had done so, grumbling at the
interruption of her work, and wholly unable to discern
any motive for the order. The motive was afterwards
clear enough, and had reference to the intended
phenomenon. It was desirable that we should have no
arriere pensee [after thought, mental reservation,
suspicion] in our minds as to what Madame Blavatsky
might possibly have been doing during the morning, in
the event of the incident taking such a turn as to
make that a factor in determining its genuineness. Of
course, if the selection of the pillow could have been
foreseen, it would have been unnecessary to victimize
our "old Lady," as we generally called her. The
presence of the famous pillow itself, with my wife all
the morning in the drawing room, would have been
enough. But perfect liberty of choice was to be left
to me in selecting a cache for the brooch; and the
pillow can have been in nobody's mind, any more than
in my own, beforehand.

Quoted from:
Sinnett, A. P. The Occult World. London: Trubner &
Co., 1881, pp. 108-113. 

[Note: The above extracts have been transcribed from
the original source but material not relevant has been
silently deleted. The original text, however, can be
found from the bibliographical reference. Explanatory
words added by the editor are enclosed within

Daniel H. Caldwell
"...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things
at their right value; and unless a judge compares
notes and hears both sides he can hardly come to a
correct decision."
H.P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist, July, 1881, p. 218.

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