Monday, May 29, 2017

My Experience With A Cult

This month marks my one year anniversary of escaping a cult. That's right. Your's truly got suckered into joining what I now know to be a cult but at the time thought was a really cool semi-religious/philosophical movement. I will be as blunt and upfront as possible. I make no excuses. I was seduced into joining mostly because I ignored early warning signals.

Let me give you some back story. As a child I loved reading about Greek mythology. I remember my very first exposure to the Greek myths. I was enrolled in a version of daycare that was run by my then church. I can't remember how old I was but I was old enough to read. I remember going through the bookcase and found one odd book. The bookcase was filled with Christian books for kids, stories of Noah, the garden of Eden, the life of Jesus, even bibles with pictures for kids. That one odd book I discovered was about Greek mythology. After reading I formed the opinion that Greek mythology was way cooler than the Christian stories that adults told me. I was so very much interested in it that I began telling other kids about it. That's when trouble started. One of the adults heard me talking about other gods while holding the book. She yanked it out of my hand, swatted me on the butt, and forced me into a corner of the room. I became angry and said something, not sure what, but she then yanked me into the bathroom and washed my mouth out with that "pink lotion" liquid soap that used to found in nearly every public restroom. I think I threw up afterward. Her treatment (abuse) of my solidified my contrarian ways. I loved Greek mythology and was not going to let this woman stop me from enjoying it. From that time onward every time I went to the library I checked out books on Greek mythology. 

Fast forward to about a year and half ago. I'm online and am reading some old message boards. One post caught my eye. It was a woman communicating to some guy and telling him that the ancient Greek traditional "pagan" religion is not dead and never actually died out at all. She the provided a means of contacting another man who could be his teacher if interested. I was intrigued.

Now, my warning bell did alarm. The claim that the ancient Greek traditional religion survived the coming of Christianity sounded like pure hogwash to me. I've heard similar tales coming from Wiccans and other Neopagans, with all such claims being incredibly easy to debunk. However, I was curious enough to give it a shot. I emailed the man and introduced myself. Thus began my first contact with what turned out to be a cult and it's leader. 

I won't provide details or identify this man. I will state that my initial exchanges with the man were pleasant and rather fascinating. I asked him if it was true that the ancient Greek religion survived the coming of Christianity and he said yes and no, that the temple, public, and private worship were obliterated but that one single piece survived. That piece was one of the mystery religions that was able to survive because it morphed into more of a philosophical movement that was passed down through the centuries to chosen individuals. He the advised me that what has survived was the mysteries of Orpheus, or Orphism. I was aware of Orpheus due to my love of Greek mythology. 

For those who don't know, Orpheus was a demigod, the son of a King and one of the Muses. He was considered to be the best musician and poet. His music was so powerful that it charmed all of creation. His basic story goes as follows;

Orpheus was married to Eurydice. Eurydice ends up dying in some fashion, either while trying to flee being raped by a god or else being bit by a venomous serpent. Orpheus was so grieved that he took up his lyre and traveled down to the Underworld in order to retrieve his dead wife. Once there, he was able to secure an audience with king and queen of the dead, Hades and Persephone. He played such beautiful music and sang such beautiful songs that Persephone's cold heart melted and she began crying. Seeing her tears, Hades granted Orpheus' request of having his wife back from the dead as long he was able to obey one simple rule. The rule was that Eurydice would walk behind Orpheus and that at no time should he ever turn around to look at her until they were both back on the surface of the earth once more. Of course, this turned out to be a rule that Orpheus simply could not stop himself from breaking. He was so paranoid that he had been tricked that he eventually turned around to check if his wife was truly behind him. He saw the surprised and saddened look on her face as she was yanked back down into the Underworld. He begged for another audience with Hades but was declined. Orpheus returned to the world depressed. He wandered the earth spreading secret information about the gods and their proper worship. This would become the very first mystery religion, the Orphic mysteries. Eventually Orpheus was attacked by a group of Maenads (female worshipers of Dionysus) who decapitated him using their bare hands. His head was flung into a river and magically continued singing for a great time until the gods demanded it be silent.

This man said that what survived Christianity was this mystery religion, the teachings of Orpheus. He offered an invitation to become his student. I accepted. I began weekly sessions with him over Skype. The sessions were originally supposed to be just 45 minutes but usually lasted around 3 hours. I quickly became hooked. 

Now, I'm an intelligent man. I asked for evidence. I was provided such. He quoted me sayings from philosophers and great thinkers from 1100-1300 AD which to my amazement did seem to suggest they were alluding to the fact that the Greek worship of the old gods never truly died out. The temples were destroyed. The sacrifices and rituals stopped. Idols were smashed. But the teachers continued on disguised as philosophy. 

The teachings were of thus:

- The knowledge and worship of the 12 Olympians (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Ares, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Hestia) Note: In some versions of the 12 Olympians, Dionysus is listed as a member with the belief that Hestia gave up her throne for him. I was taught this was a false belief that was invented by Robert Graves. A god can not give up his/her throne. Dionysus, though an important figure, is not one of the 12 Olympians. Though other gods exist, only the great 12 Olympians are worshiped. 

-What the gods are. (This is completely different from what most people are led to believe. Think more along the lines of energy.)

-The gods have their own symbols, their own colors, their own numbers, their own favorite offerings. (This is very similar to what is found in African Traditional Religions).

-The Orphic Hymns are like "the bible" of the religion. They teach how to properly make offerings to the gods as well as what they like.

-The myths should not be taken literally. They are all meant to be viewed symbolically and allegorically. They are also just the opinions of the individual story-tellers. The myths often portray the gods as being human-like and imperfect. In reality the gods are perfect beings. 

-How to pronounce the names of the gods. (Modern English pronunciation of the names of the gods is completely incorrect. Take Zeus for example. Most English-speaking people pronounce it as "Zoos". This is incorrect. It's actually pronounced, "Zefs", with an "f" sound before the final "s". I will give the correct pronunciation below:

Zeus - "Zefs"
Hera - "E-rah" 
Poseidon - "Poe-see-thon"
Demeter - "Day-May-Tayr"
Athena - "Aht-hay-nah"
Ares - "Ah-rays"
Apollo - "Ah-pohl-on"
Artemis - "Ar-tay-mees"
Hermes - "Air-mees"
Aphrodite - "Ah-fro-the-tee"
Hephaestus - "Ee-fess-tohs"
Hestia - "Es-tee-ah"


- The 12 Olympians are worshiped in pairs, never singularly. There were 7 pairs. The two gods are wed, as in actually married, despite what the myths may say. Those pairs are:

Zeus-Hera
Poseidon-Demeter
Heres-Athena
Apollo-Artemis
Ares-Aphrodite
Hephaestus-Hestia
***Hermes-Aphrodite (A very special pair, a hermaphrodite.)

- We are all "children of the gods" so to speak. Each of us has both mortal and divine parents. For example, my divine parents were Aphrodite and Ares. (This concept is very similar to the view found in African Traditional Religions.) A person's divine parents will be one of the pairs listed above. To uncover your pair requires self-knowledge and introspection. 

- That we constantly die and are reincarnated.

- That Zeus loved us so that he sent his son Dionysus to free us from the constant cycle of birth-death-rebirth and suffering. (This is not copying from Christianity! This belief is older than Christianity. In Greek mythology, specifically the Orphic creation myths, humans were created after Dionysus was murdered and his remains were incorporated into what would become human beings. Thus humans are part-divine and have the potential of becoming gods.)

- How to become gods, our proper place in the Universe. 

So this is the information that I feel comfortable sharing at this time. I was truly fascinated with this material. The Orphic Hymns were like the bible of this religion. A completed Orphic creation myth has been compiled from sources. Certain rituals have been lost but the hymns themselves tell of how to worship the gods and what to offer them. 

So I fell for this line and sinker. Now, is this true? I'm still torn. Part of me thinks it's bull shit. Part of me thinks it may actually be true and just that I stumbled upon a complete perverted asshole who attempted to hijack it for his own sexual satisfaction. On to more warning signals....

On my very first Skype session, the first time this mans saw me and I saw him, he said to me (paraphrased):

"Well, I much prefer to take on young men as students, about 18-19 years old. However, you look very good for your age. You are a very attractive man. You definitely don't look your age. I would say you look like you are in your mid to late 20s."

What? What does my age have to do with becoming a student? Why did he add on the compliments? 

I soon began to uncover the reasons. He was in his mid 60s. He was gay. He was HIV positive. He preferred young men about 18-19 for sex partners. He had at least one past student as a lover. This past student had learning disabilities. This man complained on having to spend money on this boy in order to keep his affections. Ultimately the boy decided he wanted to nothing to do with this creep but the man still wants him back and is still trying to get him back. 

This man also dropped the following (paraphrased):

"Let me put it this way. I would definitely have sex with a man older than 18-19. Take you for example, I would enjoy having sex with you. It's just that I would not be able to have romantic feelings toward you. I really only develop romantic feelings for younger men. I would even have sex with a man my age."

I knew these were major red flags. So I was definitely not naive. I recognized this as troubling signs and kept a mental note of them. 

This man who now called himself my teacher claimed that he was brought into the religion after meeting another man on chat. The other man was an elderly man, a native of Greece, who was speaking out against Wiccans and other Neopagans who were claiming to be resurrecting the ancient Greek religion and worshiping the Greek gods. This elderly man was basically telling these people to leave it alone, that the Greek religion was not dead but has survived as philosophical teachings. So my teacher decided to contact the man and actually went to Greece. He was taken into the community and introduced to the elders. They were all normal people who knew fascinating information. 

My days with this cult were numbered. It seems I asked too many questions and have too many quaint ideas, such as that one should be given the freedom to form opinions that differ than your own. It appears that my teacher did not believe in such. We began to argue or petty things. He insisted that only his opinions counted and that I had to admit I was wrong even though my opinion could be backed up with actual evidence. Eventually it got to the point where he even demanded that I believe the gods were real beings, as if having actual bodies similar to humans. That's when the shit hit the fan because I refuse to accept such strict absurdities. My religious and spiritual beliefs demand far more freedom of movement. I tried to explain my belief, that ultimately there is only divinity and that people have just given different names to such across cultures throughout time but he would have nothing to do with it and wasn't interested. When I flat out refused to accept that the Greek gods have bodies like humans he basically said we came to an impasse and that he could no longer be my teacher, that I wasn't right for this religion. I politely informed him that his HIV medication may be effecting his thought processes, a known side-effect of certain medication, and he said he agreed to a point. Previously he had displayed memory problems and began missing and showing up late to scheduled class times, not to mention becoming irate and angry over the most inconsequential things. I also told him to leave 18-19 year old boys alone, that they preferred people their own age, and that yes, the only reason why one would give a 60+ year old man the time of day is if said man had money they were willing to spend on them, that such was the cost of having a young boyfriend. I also told him that an HIV positive person should never have sex with such a young person. That seemed to really piss him off. LOL 

So there you have it. I have experience with a cult. Hopefully, it will be the last experience with a cult that I ever have. If in the future you should happen upon a group that espouses some of the same info that I wrote about in this blog, be warned. Things may not be what they first appear. I'm still split on whether there is any truth to this at all or if this creep just made up everything. 






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