If you've ever had a long conversation with me, we've probably talked about the wicked world of religious cults. I probably use the word 'cult' enough to make most people uncomfortable. Hey, I like to think of our HORRID family as a small, non-religious cult.
Most people know that true crime has shaped my life and art since I was a kid, and a special fascination lies within the rituals and practices of cults like the Manson Family and The People's Temple. As soon as I began creating Volume Two Issue One: The Serial Killer Encyclopedia, I knew I would have to create one specifically for these cults. I love doing research about this. Getting lost in Murderpedia, or losing all concept of time and space by being stuck in a dark hole of click-bait articles with titles like The Creepiest Cults You've Never Heard Of or 31 Terrifying Facts about Aum Shinrikyo to Keep you Up at Night are my favorite weekend plans.
During my web sleuthing for the upcoming Cult Encyclopedia issue, I stumbled upon a Reddit thread about how the Heaven's Gate website and email are still very alive and active. For those of you that don't know, Heaven's Gate was a 1970s UFO cult led by Marshall Applewhite (nicknamed Do) and Bonnie Nettles (nicknamed Ti) that believed that they could reach The Next Level by riding the comet Hale-Bopp to an extraterrestrial spacecraft. The culmination of Heaven's Gate came in 1997 when the bodies of 39 members, including Marshall Applegate, were found to have committed a mass suicide. There are few surviving members.
So, obviously, I emailed them. Here is the transcription of my very interesting conversation with surviving members of this cult. Photos for proof below. I would like to mention, while I do not judge or mock anyones personal religious beliefs, I do not condone or support any cult activity or undermining of serious violent acts such as suicide.
Me: Hello,I am researching and writing a book about various religious groups and beliefs and was doing research into Heaven's Gate. Is there anything you'd like my readers to know? Thanks, I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing back from you!
Them: There is a real, physical level above the human one on this planet. It is called the Next Level. They created earth and all the life on it.
Me: How do humans reach it?
Them: They would train under an Older Member from the Next Level (Do) when he is available on this planet. He is not available at this time.
Me: Because he commuted revolutionary suicide, right?Do we know when he will be available again? Is reincarnation or rebirth part of the belief system of Heaven’s Gate. Is there anything you can tell me about the importance of some of the rituals the group would take part in, like juice cleanses and castration of members by other members, allegedly? Thank you for all of the information!
Them: We do not know when Do will return. It will be within the next 1000 years. Reincarnation is a fact of life of human existence. We are not aware of anything you call a ritual. They just did juice cleanses, like many people do. It was irregular to do so. There was never a ritual associated with a voluntary medical procedure of castration that was done by only seven people. Those individuals elected to do it over Do’s objections.
Me: Oh, I guess I used ritual to describe it because a ritual is just something you do in connection with a religion, no negative implication was meant by it. Can you provide any current information on your religion- such as how many members you currently have and what the plans or goals are during your wait for Do to return? Do the current members support the mass suicide that occurred? What is your stance on that? Thanks so much!
Them: We NEVER participated in rituals. You do not know how insulting that is to a Next Level Member or a student. We never performed acts out of rote. The Group came to an end in 1997 when Do departed the planet. There is no group, no members or anything to join. It is not a religion. It was not a suicide. They transferred over to new, space-capable, Next Level bodies and left their human vessels behind. Only they were allowed and guided by the Next Level to do this. Humans see it as a suicide. It was a transfer.
Me: Who are you then?
Them: We are students’ of Ti and Do that joined at the beginning in 1975.
At this point, I stopped responding. I do not know if I will continue.