Studies: Cults

20Jan

Millerites

Some prophets have taken action concerning Apocalypse in the past without violence or suicide. Massachusetts farmer, Wllliam Miller – born in 1782 – became convinced that the Book of Daniel predicted the Second Coming of Christ between March 1843-44.
In the 1830s he began preaching, gaining a following of thousands. As the date arrived, thousands gathered to be taken up to heaven in the rapture. When it didn’t come, he recalculated, and again thousands gathered.
Failing once more, many of them went hungry after getting rid of their belongings or ignoring their farms. Remnants of the Millerites did, however, form the later Seventh Day Adventist movement.

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20Jan

Heaven’s Gate

The Higher Source computer cult, better known as Heaven’s Gate, killed themselves over three nights in March 1997 in their ranch near San Diego. Made up of short-haired, zombie-like computer wizards, they went out for a final meal and then helped each other to take vodka and drugs aided by strangulation.
They were led by elderly, white haired Marshall Appplewhite and his wife, known together as Bo and Peep. He had met her in 1975 after she nursed him through mental illness, and they had set up many cults previously.
However, they did not see themselves as dying over those nights. Rather, they were simply shedding their bodies to go to a flying saucer that was hidden in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet, thus surviving the coming end of civilisation.

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20Jan

Third Secret of Fatima

A famous prediction of the End Times is the Third Secret of Fatima, known only to the pope. In 1917 three children witnessed a globe of light that spoke with a woman’s voice near Fatima Portugal.
Venerated as the lady of the rosary, she supposedly gave the children secrets of the world. One of the children, Lucia, became famous and claimed to have further visions, finally writing the Third Secret in 1943.
Popes who have read it are appalled by our future. However, it is interesting that both the vision and final ‘secret’ happened at crucial times in both world wars. Prediction? Or an expression of fears for the future?

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20Jan

Mark Prophet

In 1958, Mark Prophet was announced a Messenger of the Masters by Ascended Master, El Morya. Just whether this character actually existed is unknown, but soon Mark began lecturing around America that God exists In us all is the female presence, and we must all raise our feminine principle to wed the soul to the universal Christ consciousness.
Soon, Mark married Elizabeth and they formed the Summit Lighthouse. In 1973 Mark died but was said to continue to appear to Elizabeth to dictate his wishes. This led to the Church universal and Triumphant in 1974.
The Church was headquartered in a ranch near Livingstone, Montana, which housed a commune. Elisabeth married again, to Ed Francis, who was charged with holding illegal weapons at the ranch. The Church is convinced Armageddon will come through nuclear war. To this end, by 1990 they had sold thousands of places in their shelters for $6,000 a time.

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20Jan

Unification Church

The Unification Church has come in for much derision. Known as the Moonies, after its founder Sun Myung Moon, they are famous for their mass wedding ceremonies, one involving 30,000 couples in Seoul in 1992. Such couples do not know each other before marriage, yet, despite its bizarre nature, apart from abstinence from the ‘luxuries’ of modern life, members live relatively normal lives after the ceremony.
Moon was born in 1920 Korea, having a vision of Jesus at sixteen where he became convinced he had to carry on his mission. From a peasant family, he set up his Church in 1954, gaining criticism for now living a luxurious lifestyle.
A mixture of Christianity and Shamanism, Moon believes he can bring peace and harmony to the world by marrying so many people from different ethnic backgrounds that a form of global person arises, free from the hates that fuel the world.

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20Jan

Joanna Southcott

The Southcottians were a 19th century British Christian sect that grew around Joanna Southcott. A deeply religious woman, she had a vision that she would give birth to the new Messiah, whom she named Shiloh. Dying in 1814, disciples waited for days by her dead body for the birth. When the smell became too bad, a doctor opened her up but found no child. Hence, it must have been spiritually born in heaven.
The Panacea Society was then formed, still waiting Shiloh (some believe he is now here in the personage of Prince William), and also keeping a box containing Southcott’s wisdom. This box can only be opened in the presence of twenty four Anglican bishops. So far, the bishops have declined to attend the opening of the box.

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20Jan

Aum Shinrikyo

The most violent modern cult was Aum Shinrikyo, or ‘supreme truth’, the ten thousand strong cult headquartered on the slopes of Mount Fuji, Japan, and headed by Shoko Asahara. Determined to bring about Armageddon so that he could rule everyone, Aum Shinrikyo became a mixture of Buddhism, occultism and fascism.
Fat, bearded and partially sighted, Asahara was born poor and was a bully, building up a huge stockpile of weapons and chemicals for his war. His cult was rounded up by armed police following a series of major crimes, the most infamous being his Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo underground on 20 March 1995, killing twelve and injuring thousands.
The Japanese authorities later discovered that his cult was based on his committing sexual and physical atrocities on his own members. Luckily, his attempts to get hold of a nuclear device failed.

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20Jan

Charles Manson

America has had many shocks, one of them being the Manson Family killings. Charles Manson had had a lifetime of abuse, crime and imprisonment. In the height of the 1960s he moved to California, becoming guru to a number of drug abusing hippies in a ranch in Death Valley.
Believing himself to be Christ, he was convinced the Beatles song, Helter Skelter, was a coded reference to armageddon. One night in August 1969 he sent his followers out to brutally murder actress Sharon date, wife of Roman Polanski, and four others at their home.
The following night they murdered Leno La Bianca and his wife. The Family was eventually arrested when follower, Susan Atkins, confessed to the crimes in prison. Manson remains in prison, unrepentant.

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20Jan

Gnosticism

Around the time of Christ, a cultish movement were the Gnostics. Known mainly through the Nag Hammadi Scrolls, found in Egypt in 1945, their name comes from ‘gnosis’, meaning knowledge. Some sixty schools of Gnosticism are known, including the Simonian and Valentinian.
Named after their leaders, most schools are thought to have indulged in orgies and often their beliefs included a ‘whore’, thought to be a survival of pagan fertility cults. However, their ideas are interesting.
Simon believed the world was created by thought, but thought was replaced by suffering. Valentinus believed was God was ultimate joy and truth rather than an entity.
The world was created by a lesser God called ‘terror’.The world locked man in terror, from which he must escape through meditation.
These are the general themes of Gnosticism – the idea that the physical world is evil. Only the higher, spiritual realms of consciousness are real. This is the knowledge behind their practices, and this beautiful world is reached through meditation, where the person becomes Christ-like.
Such views were anathema as Christianity grew as a major religion – a religion many believe to have actually begun in the Gnostic schools. Not everyone could be Christ-like, and God who created the world had to be good God. Hence, the Gnostics were ruthlessly suppressed.
Yet in the Gnostics we find all the elements of a cult from that day to this – the worship of a person as god-like, a predilection towards behaviour that would be classed as deviant, and an acceptance that there is something wrong with the world.

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I, CRIME WRITER
by Anthony North
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Flash Fiction in crime genre
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20Jan

Ann Lee

Ann Lee from Manchester was a female cult leader. She was a Quaker who, after all four of her children died whilst young, rejected sex. Forming the Shakers, so named for their ecstatic dancing which led to hysteria and hallucination, she became known as Mother Ann for reflecting the feminine aspects of God.
Moving to America in 1774, the Shakers grew to six thousand, but her rejection of sex led to persecution, Ann being branded a witch. Dying in 1784, she began to appear in Shaker meetings and headed a number of spiritual entities who appeared to the sect. Today, only one tiny Shaker community remains.

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I, PARANORMAL
by Anthony North
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Short essays on the Paranormal
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