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Sinnett tries his "experiments" on Holloway, Mary and Cleather

Nov 09, 2004 10:46 AM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

In 1884, Sinnett believed he was in contact 
with the Master K.H., independent of H.P.B. 
acting as mediator. Sinnett wrote in his 
book "The Early Days of Theosophy": 

"About this time [early July 1884] Mrs. 
Holloway, a wonderfully gifted American 
psychic came to stay with us. . . . .She 
used to get vivid clairvoyant visions of 
the Master, - could pass on messages to me 
from K.H. and on one occasion he actually 
made use of her to speak to me in the first 
person." p. 27 

What is not clear from his account is that Mr. Sinnett 
actually "hypnotised" Laura Holloway.

Notice what Master Morya writes about Mrs. Holloway 
in a letter to H.P.B.:

"Had she [Mrs. Holloway] been docile to advice given 
to her, had she avoided to fall daily under magnetic 
influence that, after first experiment, dragged her 
down from the lofty plane of seership to the low 
level of mediumship, she would have developed by 
this time sufficiently to trust in herself with 
her visions." 

I believe one can reasonably conclude that this refers to Mr. 
Sinnett's "hypnotising" of Mrs. Holloway.

Master Koot Hoomi writes on this very subject to Sinnett himself:

"I have never bound you to anything thro' Mrs. H[olloway]; never 
communicated with you or any one else thro' her -- nor have any of 
my, or M.'s chelas, to my knowledge, except in America, once at Paris 
and another time at Mrs. A.'s house. She is an excellent but quite 
undeveloped clairvoyante. Had she not been imprudently meddled with, 
and had you followed the old woman's and Mohini's advice indeed, by 
this time I might have spoken with you thro' her -- and such was our 
intention. It is again your own fault, my good friend. You have 
proudly claimed the privilege of exercising your own, uncontrolled 
judgment in occult matters you could know nothing about -- and the 
occult laws -- you believe you can defy and play with, with impunity -
- have turned round upon you and have badly hurt you."

Sinnett continued to do his "experiments" as can be seen in the 
following two accounts.


In The Autobiography of Alfred Percy Sinnett, he wrote: 

"On the 26th of April 1886. . . we went . . . to the Albemarle 
Club . . . to meet a lady who was . . . desirous of making my 
acquaintance . . . . . I will give her a fictitious name and call her 
Mary. . . . shortly afterwards I tried a mesmeric experiment with her 
(in accordance with her wish) and obtained remarkable results - she 
went very easily into a trance in which she became unequivocally 
clairvoyant. . . .I became convinced that she clairvoyantly saw the 
mountain region in Tibet where the Master K.H. resided. . . . . It 
became obvious that Mary might become a link between myself and the 
Master. . . . . Mary came to stay with us . . . in February 1888 and 
our regular mesmeric sittings were resumed almost every evening, the 
Master [KH] talking to me through her in most cases. In this way I 
gathered a great deal of miscellaneous occult information. . . . . 
Mary left us to go to her own home in May 1888 having had mesmeric 
sitting almost every evening while she was with us, at most of which 
the Master spoke to me, - or rather dictated to her what he wished to 
say. She would pass into a higher condition in which she could be in 
touch with him and be enabled to repeat his words to her in reply to 
my questions or remarks." pp 33 & 38-39 


In 1887-1888, Mr. Sinnett tried to hypnotize another Theosophist. 
Mrs. Alice Leighton Cleather has left us a record of her experiences 
with Mr. Sinnett in this regard:

"Had it not been for H. P. B., it is just possible that I myself 
might have figured as one of Mr. Sinnett's sensitives. I was seeing 
a great deal of both him and his wife, before H. P. B. moved into 
London from Maycot; and one day Mr. Sinnett suggested that I should 
allow him to make the experiment of trying to 'release' my soul from 
the body, as I might then have some interesting experiences. I 
thought so, too, although I then knew nothing of the dangers of such 
irresponsible practices. . . . However, on receiving from Mr. Sinnett 
the assurance that he would be able to bring my soul safely back 
again, I consented to submit to the experiment. His method proved to 
be the usual one. He asked me to lie down and close my eyes, and 
then proceeded to make mesmeric passes. He told me that I should 
soon 'go off,' and would then become conscious on 'a higher plane.' 
After what seemed to be about ten minutes, and I was beginning to 
wonder when 'I' should be 'released,' Mr. Sinnett said in a low 
voice: 'Now you can't move your right arm.' Naturally I did so
at once, and lifted my forearm, opening my eyes at the same time to 
look at him. I have rarely seen anyone so taken aback; he had 
evidently thought I was 'off.' He seemed also quite annoyed by the 
failure of the experiment, but said we would try again another day. 
We never did, however, for soon afterwards H. P.B. moved into London, 
and I happened to mention the incident to her. She was really angry, 
and absolutely forbade me to permit Mr. Sinnett, or anyone else, to 
try such experiments again. Later on, of course, I came to learn the 
extreme danger of such practices, and that in the wrong hands they 
are forms of Black Magic. I relate these few incidents, out of many 
that could be cited, in order to show the very questionable basis on 
which Mr. Sinnett's claim to 'independent communication' [with
the Masters] rested...." Alice Leighton Cleather, "H. P. Blavatsky:
As I Knew Her," pp. 32-33

In an appendix to the above work by Mrs. Cleather, Basil Crump added 
the following observations:

"There was also another source of self-deception of some importance 
in diasgnosing Mr. Sinnett's case. He quotes (p. 104) [Early
Days of Theosophy in Europe] an article by his wife in which she says 
that he was a student of 'the higher aspects of mesmerism.' She calls 
his method the 'pure and more spiritual form' why which 'the true 
Ego, by the effort or assistance of the mesmerist, is really cleared 
of close connection with the lower principles,' but 'still, of 
course, in close magnetic touch with the operator.' 

If the reader will compare this with Mrs. Cleather's account...
[see above] of Mr. Sinnett's abortive attempt to hypnotise her, in 
order to 'release her soul,' it will be clear that he was, at the 
time he lost direct touch with the Master K.H. through his 
treacherous and disloyal attitude towards H.P.B. (in 1884-5), 
endeavouring to regain it by getting hypnotic control over suitably 
sensitive organisms. . . . Hence H.P.B.'s anger when she heard of
attempt on Mrs. Cleather, who was fortunately for herself much too 
positive; and it is evident from Mr. Sinnett's account that she also 
at once put a stop to his attempt to make use of Mrs. Holloway, for 
he says (p. 61) she was 'angrily jealous' and 'insisted on Mrs. 
Holloway leaving us and coming back to the Arundales' (with whom H.P. 
B. was staying). Mrs. Holloway. . ., who is very indignant at what 
she terms 'the falsity of Mr. Sinnett's assertions,' is dealing with 
them fully in her book, and is also printing several letters she 
received from her own Masters, and H.P.B.'s, at that period. . . .

"The real reason for H. P. B.'s anger at Mr. Sinnett's hypnotic 
practices was that they were sheer Black Magic, fraught with grave 
moral and psychic danger to the subject. In her Esoteric 
Instructions she explains what happens to the Ego under such control, 
which will be seen to be quite different from Mrs. Sinnett's 
description. Under the head of "Colours, Sounds, and Forms" in 
Instruction No. I she says:

'A good clairvoyant, morevover, if he had an opportunity of seeing a 
Yogi in the trance state and a mesmerised subject, side by side, 
would learn an important lesson in Occultism. He would learn to know 
the difference between self-induced trance and a hypnotic state 
resulting from extraneous influence.

'In the Yogi, the 'principles' of the lower Quaternary disappear 
entirely. . . . Nothing [visible] but hardly perceptible vibrations 
of the golden-hued Prana [Life] principle and a violent flame 
streaked with gold rushing upwards from the head, in the region where 
the Third Eye rests, and culminating in a point. . . .

'On the other hand, in a subject in an artificially produced hypnotic 
or mesmeric trance, an effect of unconscious when not of conscious 
Black Magic, unless produced by a high Adept, the whole set of the 
principles will be present, with the Higher Manas paralysed, Buddhi 
severed from it through that paralysis, and the red-violent Astral 
Body entirely subjected to the Lower Manas and Kama Rupa (the green 
and red animal monsters in us).'

"Observe that, far from the Higher Ego or Soul (Higher Manas) being 
freed from the body, as Mrs. Sinnett describes it is 'paralysed' and 
the unfortunate subject is left at the mercy of the lower nature and 
the hypnotiser's will." See Alice Leighton Cleather, "H. P. 
Blavatsky: As I Knew Her," pp. 61, 63-64.


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