Tag Archives: cults

13 Cults and Secretive Religions, and the Best Documentaries About Each

“Wild Wild Country” is earning strong buzz on Netflix for investigating the rise and fall of a spiritual cult that made headlines in Oregon throughout the 1980s. The documentary is one of many titles in the fascinating subgenre of controversial religious documentaries.

RAJNEESH MOVEMENT, “WILD WILD COUNTRY”

Netflix’s six-part series chronicles the rise and fall of the Rajneesh movement, founded by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in the 1980s. The cult established Rajneeshpuram, a 64,000-acre Oregon ranch, and poisoned the local community in order to win a political election.

BUDDHAFIELD CULT, “HOLY HELL”

Will Allen was a member of the Buddhafield movement for 22 years and the footage he recorded inside the cult provides the basis for “Holy Hell.” Allen also shot interviews of ex-members to paint a chilling portrait of group founder Michel Rostand.

SCIENTOLOGY, “GOING CLEAR”

Alex Gibney’s “Going Clear” is considered the definitive Scientology documentary with a thorough history of the religion, founder L. Ron Hubbard, and its manipulative and life-threatening policies under current leader David Miscavige.

FLDS, “PROPHET’S PREY”

Amy Berg’s film takes aim at Warren Jeffs, leader of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Jeffs currently runs the cult from prison, where he’s serving a life sentence for raping two teenage girls. 

PEOPLES TEMPLE, “THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PEOPLES TEMPLE”

Stanley Nelson’s Tribeca-winning documentary centers on Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones, who established the Jonestown settlement in Guyana. Jones famously carried out a mass suicide, poisoning 918 members in 1978.

THE FAMILY, “CHILDREN OF GOD”

John Smithson’s 1994 “Children of God” interviews one family about being raised in The Family, a cult in which sexually abusing children was common practice. Rose McGowan and Joaquin Phoenix were born into The Family, but fled with relatives when they were children.

BRANCH DAVIDIANS, “WACO: THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

William Gazecki’s 1997 Oscar-nominated documentary looks at the 1993 Waco incident with the Branch Davidians, a religious cult run by David Koresh. An ATF raid led to a shootout and a 51-day FBI standoff that resulted in the deaths of Koresh and 82 of his followers.

MANSON FAMILY, “MANSON”

Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick’s 1973 Oscar-nominated documentary provides an intimate look at the Manson Family with interviews with Charles Manson and his former members, plus footage that takes viewers inside the family’s Devil’s Canyon compound. 

HEAVEN’S GATE, “HEAVEN’S GATE: THE UNTOLD TRUE STORY”

“Haven’s Gate” was a San Diego-based UFO religious cult founded in 1974 by Marshall Applewhite. Sergio Myers’ film tells the origin story leading up to March 1997, when 39 members participated in a mass suicide in order to reach an extraterrestrial spacecraft.

THE SOURCE FAMILY, “THE SOURCE FAMILY”

Jodi Wille’s 2012 documentary tells the story of Father Yod, who founded the group and created a commune in the Hollywood Hills. After clashes with Los Angeles authorities, the cult ultimately fled to Hawaii.

AUM SHINRIKYO CULT, “A”

Tatsuya Mori’s 1998 documentary about the Aum Shinrikyo cult follows a 28-year-old group spokesperson who had to sever all family ties to join the sect. The cult carried out the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack, which killed 12 people and affected over 1,000 others.

STRONG CITY, “THE CULT AT THE END OF THE WORLD”

Strong City, aka the Lord Our Righteousness Church, was a remote religious community in New Mexico founded by Michael Travesser. Directed by Ben Anthony, the 2007 film follows the cult in real time as Travesser tells his followers that the world will end in October 2007.

SYMBIONESE LIBERATION ARMY, “GUERRILLA: THE TAKING OF PATTY HEARST”

The Symbionese Liberation Army was a domestic terrorist organization active between 1973 and 1975. Robert Stone’s PBS documentary investigates the SLA’s kidnapping of Patty Hearst when she was 19, where she was sexually assaulted and brainwashed.

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10 Strange And Obscure Secret Societies

Secret societies like the Illuminati and the Freemasons always seem to get the limelight. However, a good number of lesser-known groups have their own strange stories to tell that make them just as interesting as their more famous counterparts.

10: The Order Of Chaeronea

The Battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C. saw the defeat of the Sacred Band Of Thebes, an elite ancient Greek fighting unit consisting of 150 soldiers and their male lovers. Years later, in 1899, Chaeronea lent its name to a slightly related but very different group—the Order of Chaeronea, an English political organization for gay men.

Cecil Ives founded the group as a means to communicate without fear of persecution. He patterned the order like a true secret society, devising ceremonies and passwords for its members. He also devised a strict set of rules, which kept members from using the society for sexual meet-ups.

Many prominent gay intellectuals joined—Oscar Wilde was reportedly a member. The organization soon spread around the world, enabling Ives to promote gay rights through books and numerous lectures. The order became a modern precursor to 20th-century rights organizations. After Ives’s death, the movement faltered, gaining steam again during the 1990s, especially in the US, and inspiring several offshoots.

9: The Knights Of The Apocalypse

This group formed in 1693 to protect the Catholic Church against the supposed coming of the Antichrist. Members were noted for their peculiar habits, such as bringing swords to work and wearing clothing with an elaborately drawn star on the breast.

The society’s strange behavior could be blamed on the founder himself, a merchant’s son by the name of Agostino Gabrino. A certifiably insane man, Gabrino was known to have disrupted two church masses by waving a sword and proclaiming he was the “King Of Glory.” At his group’s founding, he declared himself a “Monarch of the Holy Trinity” and devised a bizarre set of rules for his knights, which included the practice of polygamy and exclusive marriage to virgins.

A year after the group began, one knight betrayed its existence to the Inquisition. The order was disbanded, and its knights were thrown into prison.

8: The Order Of The Occult Hand

This group had just one goal. Its members inserted one particular phrase—“it was as if an occult hand had“—into newspapers and other publications.

The group had its beginnings when Joseph Flanders, a reporter for the Charlotte News, innocently used the phrase in a report. His friends liked the wording so much that they conspired to copy it as often as possible. Pretty soon, other reporters and journalists from all over the world began using the phrase in their own stories.

The conspiracy was undone in 2004, when James Fanega, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, managed to track down the perpetrators and list the publications they had infiltrated. However, the group bounced back in 2006 when leader Paul Greenberg and the chief members announced that they had picked a new phrase to carry on the tradition. So far, no one has succeeded in finding out the new phrase, which Greenberg claims has already appeared in many major outlets.

7: The Calves’ Head Club

Shortly after the execution of King Charles I in 1649, his opponents formed the Calves’ Head Club to mock his memory. Members met once a year on January 30—the execution’s anniversary—and celebrated a very bizarre dinner, replete with a symbolic axe hung high over the dining room. The menu itself included calves’ heads (which represented the king’s royal office and supporters), a cod’s head (which represented the king himself), and a large pike and boar’s head stuffed with a smaller pike and an apple respectively (which represented the king’s tyranny).

The members had their own anthem that praised the king’s death, and they toasted it with wine from cups made of calf skulls. They also burned a copy of the king’s autobiography while swearing by John Milton’s treatise supporting his execution—Milton himself allegedly founded the group.

After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, The Calves’ Head Club had to meet secretly. The club finally met its demise in February 1735, when a mob invaded a meeting and almost lynched several members.

6: The Arioi

The Arioi was a secret society that existed in Tahiti well before any Europeans found their way to the island. The group dedicated itself to the worship of its patron deity Oro, and it traveled extensively in search of new recruits.

To attract new applicants, members did elaborate ritual dances. Anyone could ask to join, but only the most handsome and beautiful were eventually selected, since the society linked beauty to spiritual prowess.

Members had to memorize their rituals perfectly to be recognized; otherwise, they were mocked mercilessly. In addition, the society preached a very free lifestyle, as evidenced by some of their sexually charged rituals. Their behavior evidently disgusted Christian missionaries assigned to the place, with one describing them as “privileged libertines who engaged in abominable, unutterable, and obscene exhibitions.”

For all their profligate habits, the Arioi had a strict rule that forbade childbirth; children would interfere with members’ duties. They routinely aborted the unborn and killed infants. Parents whose children did survive were demoted within the society.

Christian proselytizing eventually put an end to the Arioi by the 19th century.

5: The Scotch Cattle

In response to unfair working conditions, Welsh miners in the 1820s formed a secret union called the Scotch Cattle, named for the fearsome breed of Highland cattle. Each mining town in the region had its own chapter, led by a leader called “the Bull.” Together, members intimidated and attacked those perceived to oppose their cause. Their targets were not limited to oppressive bosses; scabs were also fair prey.

The group usually first sent a warning letter to the offending party. If it was ignored, the members—with blackened faces and dressed in cowskins—would invade the unlucky man’s home at midnight and destroy his property. Sometimes, the members would also beat the man; before leaving, the group would always paint a red bull’s head on the vicitm’s front door.

The Scotch Cattle continued its operations until the 1840s, when more organized trade unions took its place.

4: The Order Of The Peacock Angel

This secret society first formed in Britain in the 1960s, founded on the ancient religious beliefs of the Yezidis—a group that has faced accusations of devil worship from Muslims and Christians alike. The group actually worshiped Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel, represented by either a stone statue of a peacock or by a real live bird.

Members believe that the Peacock Angel has the power to answer prayers, and they revere it accordingly. Their meeting room is usually filled with hallowed images of the Peacock Angel; the altar itself is placed in the middle and contains the main symbol of veneration. Members often do a slow ritual dance around the altar while they silently express their wishes. The dance gradually takes on a frenzied pace as religious fervor builds. It ends in ecstatic bliss, with the members satisfied that they are now filled with the Peacock Angel’s divine power.

3: The Leopard Society

Although it had adherents in East Africa, the age-old bloodthirsty Leopard Society thrived mainly in West African nations such as Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Members of this cult engaged in ritual human sacrifice and cannibalism. Dressed up in a leopard skin and armed with sharp metal claws and teeth, a member would ambush and maul an unwary victim to death. Afterward, the leopard-man collected the victim’s blood and used it to make a potion that he believed would give him supernatural powers.

Following a spate of killings after World War I, colonial authorities in Sierra Leone and Nigeria wrongly thought they had successfully suppressed the cult. The Leopard Society again reared its ugly head after the Second World War, killing more than 40 people. Locals refused to provide any information about the cult because they believed in the leopard-men’s invulnerability. Only after the authorities managed to kill a member in 1948 did several witnesses express their willingness to help.

That breakthrough allowed authorities to find the cult’s hideout, imprison 34 members, and hang another 39. To spread the story that the members were just human, the authorities allowed several local chiefs to view the executions.

2: The Bald Knobbers

This secret vigilante group sprang up in response to the rampant crime and lawlessness that plagued southwest Missouri after the Civil War. Led by their founder, a hulking veteran named Nat Kinney, the Bald Knobbers of Taney Count—so-called because they held secret meetings above bare mountaintops—proceeded to take the law into their own hands. Wearing their coats backward and sporting odd, horned masks, the Bald Knobbers employed such heavy-handed tactics as whipping, beating, and even killing suspected criminals. Eventually, some Bald Knobbers began to use their membership to protect their own criminal activities.

The group’s notoriety peaked in 1887 when they killed two critics and injured their families. Authorities arrested 20 members and executed four others. A year later, Kinney—who had already left the group before the shootings—was killed by an opponent of the organization. Although minor conflicts continued after that, the Bald Knobbers had effectively reached their end by 1889.

1: The Secte Rouge

According to Zora Neale Hurston, an African-American author who traveled to Haiti in the 1930s, the Secte Rouge—also known as Cochon Gris or Vinbrindingue—was a secret society that practiced ritual cannibalism and grave robbing. Although she had no firsthand experience with the society, she had three indirect encounters with the cult.

The first occurred in 1936, when Hurston heard an odd beating of drums late one evening. She wanted to go out to investigate, but her house girl warned her to stay inside, or else they’d risk the cult’s wrath. The second time happened when she questioned a man burning rubber tires near her house. The man explained that the tire smoke was to deter the cult members from abducting his child. Finally, she saw militiamen on a secret operation to suppress an unknown group in a remote area of the island.

All this, plus accounts from locals who swore of the group’s existence, painted the portrait of a murderous cult that met at night in a cemetery and engaged in macabre rituals, including waylaying travelers for human sacrifices.

+: The Skoptsy

In line with some of the craziest rituals ever performed in the name of religion, the Skoptsy of Russia castrated themselves in the belief that it would lead to salvation. Founded in the mid-18th century by two peasants named Andrei Ivanov and Kondratii Selivanov, the Skoptsy believed that genitals and breasts appeared only after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit; consequently, these organs must be removed to live a perfect life.

Shortly after the group’s founding, authorities arrested the two leaders and exiled them to Siberia. Selivanov managed to escape and traveled to St. Petersburg, where he titled himself the Messiah and claimed to be the reincarnation of Tsar Peter III. His preaching attracted many followers. It also attracted renewed attention from the authorities, who arrested him repeatedly and finally locked him up in a monastery for good.

Selivanov’s incarceration and subsequent death did nothing to dampen the sect’s growth. At its height, the Skoptsy were believed to number more than 100,000 and included members of the Russian elite. Following the Communist revolution, the sect’s numbers drastically declined. Today, it is estimated that there are just over 100 left, most located in the sect’s birthplace.

Reference

Gay History: Buddhafield – A Dark Story of a Gay, Speedo Wearing Guru, and Exploitation!

In 1985, recent film-school graduate Will Allen found what appeared to be an exciting alternative community in Los Angeles. Always curious about the meaning of life, Allen was lured by a charismatic South American-born guru known as Michel, who seemed able to answers his questions. With little hesitation, he joined Buddhafield, a group where love and enlightenment flowed in abundance.

It wasn’t until 22 years later that Allen realized he belonged to a cult.

When Will Allen, then 22, was forced to leave home in 1985 after his mother learned he was gay, his sister invited him to join a local alternative community and meditation group in West Hollywood, California she had been attending for nine months.[9][10] The group, led by Michel Rostand, eventually grew to one hundred members and began calling itself Buddhafield.

The group leader, Michel Rostand—a well-tanned disciplinarian who rarely wore more than Speedos or tight gym shorts—claimed that he could put people directly in touch with god.

Before he became an enigmatic leader to a group of hippies, Rostand was searching for fame in Hollywood. His biggest role was as an extra in the Roman Polanski classic, and a handful of gay porn. He also fancied himself a dancer, and told people he performed in the ballet.

His accomplishments weren’t much, but to him they were monumental. To him, he was a star.

Rostand utilized his acting talent to create a powerful persona that would capture the minds of more than 100 vulnerable souls. He started by holding weekly yoga and meditation sessions at a studio in West Hollywood, and soon the group grew.

Attracted to Michel’s messages of healing and self-fulfillment, newcomers often gave themselves over to Buddhafield readily. Calling him “The Teacher,” they ditched functioning society and moved into one of Buddhafield’s several houses together. Rape survivors, for example, felt cleansed, and lost souls found salvation through Michel’s tutelage and their newfound family. In joining Buddhafield, some sought to escape society’s authoritative decrees or replace drug habits with spiritual highs. Others were tossed out of their homes or contending with trauma or battling disillusionment with their respective religions. Most maintained low-end jobs to pay rent, but they rarely communicated with people who were not part of the roughly 100-member organization. Life as they knew it ended. And for more than two decades, they loved it. 

“It somehow felt good to be elite,” Coquet said of his 25 years in the organization. “There was something about it.”

Allen, Coquet and Cheiffo realized that, once they took the plunge, nothing could be halfhearted. Michel, who is also a well-read ballet dancer trained in hypnotherapy, led activities on six nights of the week. If anyone said they’d rather not attend, a friend would question their devotion, insisting that person was stuck inside their own muddled headspace. Supposed enlightenment waited beyond every doubt.

“We all thought we were going to be with him until we died,” Coquet said.

Sometimes the guidelines were more specific. Michel would hand down dictums on an individual basis. His biggest hangups were sexual, as the group later discovered in a dark way. He banned most members from fornicating, citing the release of energy that comes with an orgasm as an inferior high. Often seen in nothing but a Speedo and Ray-Bans, Michel was particularly interested in recruiting attractive young men. Even better if they were virgins. (He was raised Catholic and probably feared the AIDS epidemic that was sweeping the country, Coquet pointed out.) In truth, “everybody was fucking everybody” surreptitiously, one ex-member says in the movie.

Buddhafielders told themselves lies about what was going on, and they fed lies to outsiders too. When the mob appeared in public together, they fibbed about their affiliations. At a movie theater, they would claim to be a “movie club.” While on hikes, they were an “ecological group.” They had T-shirts to prove it.

The rare times anyone conversed with strangers about their personal lives, Buddhafielders lied about where they resided, fearing potential exposure. “Society is not going to understand it, so just don’t even try,” Coquet said of the Buddhafield groupthink. 

Barring fleeting skepticism, no insiders questioned Michel’s rules. They’d found tranquility. “There was truth in all of it,” Coquet said. “There were lies and weird manipulations, but they were based on something we really believed in.”

And for a long time, no one would rather return to normal society, anyway.

“‘This [was] such a great way to live, to see life from this way,'” Allen said, describing their justification. 

When we think of cults, we picture murder and nutty religious practices. But in Buddhafield, positivity abounded, and they kept up with current events throughout. “There was a lot of humor in everything we did,” Allen recalled. “[Michel] was very funny, and we laughed and laughed and laughed a lot.” 

Everyone lived, cooked, did yoga, meditated and attended seminars (including acting and ballet lessons) together. Some worked together too. Allen, Coquet and Cheiffo said they were temporarily employed at an Indian restaurant whose clientele included Barbra Streisand, Ally Sheedy and Michael Jackson. A cultlike faction of Sikhs apparently hired the trio to pose on their behalf because “people in that cult were too spacey to be waiters.” They donned traditional Sikh turbans to appear authentic.

Members paid Michel $50 for weekly hypnotherapy sessions called “cleansings.” Coquet, in fact, was a licensed therapist himself. Michel hired him to give non-hypnotic counsel, while Michel oversaw the sessions oriented toward metaphysical growth. Working closely with Michel lent Coquet and Allen unprecedented access to their teacher.

For his finest act, Michel performed what he called “the knowing.” Promising the most intimate connection to God possible, only privileged disciples were granted “the knowing.” No one wanted to leave before they’d experienced it. Cheiffo, a self-described “punk-rocker” who was loyal for 27 years and received “the knowing” seven months after arriving, said some waited 18 years hoping they’d be selected. The documentary’s subjects liken “the knowing” to an LSD trip: colors swirl, trees sway and divinity presents itself. Today, Allen, Coquet and Cheiffo recognize the manipulativeness of the practice. Michel would employ an ancient Hindu technique, pressing his fingers to the recipients’ eyes in such a way that intense beams of light would form. Using the spiritual teachings they’d been fed, members fixed deep meanings to the experience, often calling it, at most, “God” or, at least, “intoxication.” If it was ineffective, Michel claimed that person wasn’t spiritually prepared to receive “the knowing.”

“When I was actually revealed ‘the knowing,’ I was screaming bloody murder,” Coquet said. “It was so painful to me, and everything in my being was saying, ‘Get out of this house. Leave now.’ And I did everything I could do to just stay there and stick with it. There were other times when it was just amazing. I would put my hands on my eyes and have there be a light show.”

The warning signs were always there, but the tribe’s bond both strengthened and splintered after the FBI raided a Texas cult led by David Koresh in 1993. The standoff ended in flames, killing 76 affiliates of the Branch Davidians sect. Michel panicked. He changed his name to Andreas, effectively creating a new character for himself. Fearing a similar fate, he relocated Buddhafield to Austin. Mutual support within the institution fortified, yet somewhere in that process, a shift occurred. For those who’d been around since the beginning, Andreas’   purpose went from imparting enlightenment to ensuring the group stayed afloat. He was convinced he was a Christlike figure, and history tells us that most Christlike figures are executed.

Members had to derive positivity among themselves. Many were at Andreas’ every beck and call. They got little sleep, yet they were expected to remain alert at all times. One guy made Andreas ornate fruit salads every morning — they were mostly thrown away, but he continued nonetheless. Allen, who lived with The Teacher for 18 of his 22 years in Buddhafield, was tantamount to a personal servant, reading to Andreas and tucking him in nightly, among other tasks. As if being worshiped weren’t enough (some members called him “my lord”), Andreas’ “Howard Hughes neurosis” — Allen’s words — was satisfied at all hours. 

Because his role as therapist provided unique access to the mysterious leader, Coquet learned things few did. According to Coquet, Andreas claimed a “persecution complex” as a result of being molested as a young boy. Members later learned that, despite his sex regulations, Andreas was manipulating male Buddhafielders into sleeping with him. Advised never to say no to their teacher, disciples — gay and straight — would receive spiritual awakenings during “cleansings” and then convince themselves to give their bodies to Andreas. They were effectively being raped, but it carried the guise of consent. 

No one talked about it. “You’re just a sack of meat to this person,” one man says in the movie. “That’s when I began to hate him.”

Through it all, no one outright confronted Andreas — at least not to Allen, Coquet and Cheiffo’s knowledge. When someone was tempted to raise concerns, another member would encourage them to return to their spiritual center. Those who actually left were forced to “disconnect” from the group, just like in Scientology. (Buddhafielders were sometimes ordered to maintain ostensible friendships with these people to keep tabs on them, should anyone choose to contact the authorities.) But in 2006, a nostalgic apostate returned to Buddhafield after a decade. Unlike some of the current insiders, he was able to spot the change in Michel/Andreas’ spirit. He wasn’t a teacher anymore — he was a master, and a fussy one at that. 

Then the returnee heard from his friends that Andreas was a sexual predator. This “character,” as Allen described him, barged into his wife’s cleansing session — a strict no-no — and accused Andreas of hurting his disciples. Andreas denied it and later blamed Cheiffo for not being there to “protect” him. But the damage was done: Before leaving again, the former member wrote an email to the group outlining all of the abuse allegations. More victims came forward. A steady implosion set in.

A few Buddhafielders had already planted seeds toward exiting. Allen, for example, who’d been a kept man, got a job in 2003 so he could save money in case he decided to leave. Most were facing an uphill battle if they chose to reboot their lives, so they didn’t jump ship immediately upon learning of Andreas’ wrongdoings. Even some who had suffered his advances didn’t quit right away. In fact, some victims refuted the allegations altogether, still hoping to protect The Teacher. Instead, Buddhafield saw a gradual wave of departures as people accepted that they belonged to a cult. Andreas left for Hawaii, starting a new clan. Certain loyalists followed him, and he rounded out his numbers with locals who are devoted to him today. Now charging $100 a pop for therapy sessions, Andreas still has all his financial and personal needs secured. “Holy Hell” shows Allen and other ex-Buddhafielders confronting him on a Hawaiian beach. 

“He used to say, ‘In the world, but not of it,'” Cheiffo recalled. “Now, when this thing was over, we were not in the world. My God, it’s been so hard to get back into life. I feel like I was in a frickin’ convent — or jail, really.”

With few marketable skills, minimal income and intense intimacy issues, displaced Buddhafielders have had to piece their lives together. Legal recourse is not easy, so Allen hopes “Holy Hell” will draw attention to the darker side of Andreas’ actions — if he can get the movie distributed in Hawaii. But Allen, Coquet and Cheiffo say people they introduced to the group are still following Andreas, which means attacking from the inside would be like harming their own family. Andreas covered enough of his tracks to eliminate a potential criminal case. That’s why he called his therapy sessions “cleansings” and ensured his sexual encounters had a semblance of consent. They could bring civil cases for harassment or duress, but is it worth the effort and money?

Allen, Coquet and Cheiffo were in their 50s when they were forced to hit that bitter “reboot” button. They felt like “gypsy” 20-somethings. They were building careers, exploring relationships and learning how to be self-sufficient adults — things that enlightenment alone cannot accomplish. The struggle was roughest for Cheiffo, whose partner left her when she quit Buddhafield. Her dear friend of 17 years, who is still one of Andreas’ pupils, will no longer speak to her. 

“Later, we had to use humor to heal this whole thing,” Allen said of their 10 years outside of the cult. “We said, ‘We were laughing then — why aren’t we laughing now? Let’s get through this one step at a time, one day at a time.’ There was a lot of crying, a lot of tears and frustration and confusion, but eventually, after that, you have to laugh. You have to. Otherwise, what? You’re going to be a victim your whole life? You’re always going to suffer. It is funny to step back and laugh at yourself and not take yourself so seriously because that’s a problem

CULT WARNINGS AFTER WATCHING “HOLY HELL” DOCUMENTARY

Imagine spending over twenty-two years of your life believing you are one of the select few who knows the secrets of the universe– only to discover the world that you live in is really a brainwashing cult. This is the story behind Holy Hell. Will Allen, the filmmaker who made this documentary from 20 years of recording cult activities, woke up and decided to expose his former guru.

Unfortunately for this story, the Buddhafield cult still operates. Relocated to Hawaii, Gomez continues to manipulate new and old followers under his new moniker Reyji (God-King). Though he reportedly often travels in disguise it appears his influence has reached many in the area who are involved in yoga and other new age pursuits. This documentary seeks to provide not only closure for those who helped make it, but also serves as a warning for those who may be exposed to the group.

After watching, I was very disturbed at the ending as it did not seem to me that the former members had done their recovery “homework” by making the effort to really learn about unethical hypnosis and mind control. I was left to wonder if ex-members are still allowing cult-programmed phobias against cult experts to keep them from getting the help they might need to truly heal from the years of mind control abuse.

I encourage anyone interested in how cults work to watch this documentary.

Tim Alderman 2019.

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