A Nod to school, and other “4th Way” cults from Cultic Studies hero, Margaret Singer

In the spirit of self-empowerment through education, and to veer briefly away from our globally shared trauma, called coronavirus made worse by incompetence and corruption from the White House, and connected propaganda outlets, Faux News and the Trump cult (RIP Republican Party) , today I wanted to share a little tidbit from Margaret Singer’s book, Cults in Our Midsts.

On page 43, in a chapter on the history of cults, she outlined a brand of cult that developed in the 70s, spiritual cults ” … cults to expand awareness”.

School definitely falls in this category: “Personal spiritual experiences were uprooted, aided by talismans and seers. Potions, oils, crystals …. became the tools of the breed of pied pier that led these groups. As is not the case in other categories, many female leaders flourished here … the California-based Fellowship of Friends and certain other “Fourth-Way” groups whose teachings are based on the works of G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky. 

Sound familiar, Sharon, Robert?

Ms. Singer was a hero. You can learn more about her in this New York Times tribute: https://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/07/us/margaret-singer-a-leading-brainwashing-expert-dies-at-82.html

Brilliant Article …

Hey all – just needed to share this article: None of This Is Normal

Here’s a quote from it: “It wasn’t normal in 2016 when Trump was elected.
And we are a thousand — a hundred thousand — miles from normal now.

And yet, we’re expected to carry on, like we can respond to this with increased normalcy as a counterbalance. Writers will write more. We can cook more. We can clean and organize more. We have a lot of free time now and so we will use it, like industrious ants, like worker bees. But that’s bullshit. It’s not easy to just “carry on.” It’s like sitting at your desk at work and seeing a co-worker suddenly hike down his pants and shit in his little trash can. You can’t simply shrug that off and be like, “That Gary always finds his own path!” and then keep filling in the fucking spreadsheet on the screen in front you. A man just shat in a trashcan in the next goddamn cubicle. You have to acknowledge that. You have to stop and deal with that.”

It goes on from there. Enjoy!

Tips for Sanity and Safety

“You don’t have to be scared and you can protect your family,”
Dr. David Price.

Hi Everyone, 

I hope that you are home, healthy and safe. I wanted to share some helpful information. First, if you’re tired of hearing bad news, and need a calming voice to help you manage stress right now, try this podcast out: Unlocking Us with Brené BrownConversations that unlock the deeply human part of who we are, so that we can live, love, parent, and lead with more courage and heart.

I really like Brene Brown. She’s smart, grounded and centered. Her work is rooted in social science research. She’s worth a try. 

Secondly, speaking of calming voices, recently I listened to ICU doctor, David Price, from New York City, offer simple, sane and helpful advice about how to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy.  He wants empower us with facts and tamp down the panic. He says that if you understand the basics of this disease, you will also understand why the following steps can keep you healthy and flatten the curve of this pandemic. 

Basically, if you wash your hands and avoid touching your face, you mitigate risk significantly. 

Here’s why. After months of dealing with coronavirus the medical world understands the disease much better. First … 

About the Illness, Itself: 

  1. First, what is Covid19:  it is a virus that comes from the common cold family but is new to humans. Our bodies don’t know how to protect us from it, yet. Common symptoms include fever, cough & sore throat. Some have reported loss of taste. The virus works its way through the body and the lungs are most adversely effected – that’s why people with asthma need to be especially careful. About 80% of people who get the Coronavirus, just don’t feel good for roughly a week, and then recover. 
  2. Duration: typically, it lasts 5 days to 14 days. Most people start feeling better around day 5. People who aren’t recovering typically get short of breath in days 3 to 5 but do start to feel better around the 7-day mark. But shortness of breath does signal – call your doctor.
  3. How it spreads: according to this doctor, the most common spread of Covid19 comes from sustained contact with someone who has been infected, in other words, either people with fever or aches, or people who are about to get sick within one to two days. Sustained contact means 15 to 30 minutes in a contained space. Additionally, the transmission most commonly occurs from hands to face contact. The overwhelming majority of transmission occurs from one person touching someone else who has either has the virus or is about to develop it in the next one to two days and then touches his/her face. 

    It’s unclear whether this disease can be transmitted through the air, but medical professionals currently believe that this aerosol transmission would require 15-30 minutes of contact with the sick person in a closed room, without a mask. 

Practical Protective Measures: Small Acts that make a Big Difference: 

1) Clean hands equal healthy person. Know where your hands are and keep them clean at all times. Just keep washing your hands. Additionally if you need to go out keep sanitizer with you. Purell after you touch doorknobs, elevator buttons, grocery carts, etc. Typically, coronavirus does not get transmitted simply from touching something that an infected person touched before, but, as Dr. Price advises, “out of an abundance of caution we also make sure that everything we touch, we’re cleaning our hands.”  

2) REPEAT, AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE: this is much easier said than done. We all need to grow awareness of and change that habit. Some professionals have recommended wearing masks, just to break us of the face-touching habit. You don’t need a medical-grade mask to change your behavior. Please leave those to the medical professionals who are busting their butts to save the rest of us.  

3) Repeat: Since Covid19 definitely spreads from sustained contact with someone who has been infected or is about to get sick, the social distancing is critical – so, stay home as much as possible and limit face to face contact to those in your immediate vicinity. 

When you grocery shop bring Purell with you, keep 3-6 feet of distance between you & other shoppers, use the Clorox wipes provided to clean off carts and Purell your hands like crazy after you open doors, push carts, touch the ATM pad, etc.

4) Shrink your social circle: every person that you come across has two or three other contacts. Find your isolation group, i.e. family, or housemates and set boundaries. Large social circles pose the most risk. If you need to maintain contacts outside of that circle, for your mental health, use the phone, use Facetime, or other online meeting applications. 

What to do if you, or a family member, gets sick: most cases transmit through home & family contact. So, here are three simple guidelines from this video: 

1) If you, or a loved one, develops a fever, but are otherwise fine, isolate the patient in a separate room, away from the rest of the family. Ideally, the affected person should use a separate bathroom and set of dishes. If the person has to be in a room with others Dr. Price suggests that he or she wears a mask. And, again, wash your hands, don’t touch your face. 

2) If you have a cold, and aren’t sure if it’s Covid 19, take the precautions for one to two days. Isolate. If you’re feeling better within that timeframe, you don’t have Covid 19. 

3) Important exceptions: vulnerable populations – people over 60, people recently treated with chemotherapy, people with underlying conditions like asthma or compromised immune systems. 

4) When do I go the hospital? If you have shortness of breath – if you can’t get up and go to the bathroom without getting winded, go to hospital. 

“When you understand this disease and know exactly what to do to prevent getting it, it allows us for the next couple of weeks to months to sustain the system that we have … if you can protect yourself and you know that your family is safe, I think that is incredibly empowering,” Dr. David Price.

Here’s Dr. Price if you want to watch it yourself.

Podcast Recommendation …

Here’s another interview with Steve Hassan that offers lots of great info. It’s his second with the podcast, Trumpcast. I really like this journalist, Virginia Heffernan! She’s smart and funny.

Mr. Hassan’s recent book, The Cult of Trump, is getting a lot of attention, both praise and criticism, as you can imagine. I haven’t read it yet. But I’ve listened to Ms. Heffernan interview him twice. Both interviews were well worth it! Educational, fascinating and at moments, hopeful! So, without further ado …


The Gentle Souls Guide to Managing Coronavirus: Medical and Mental Health

Let’s face it, life’s been weird since 2016. This week, though, was a particularly heinous shitshow. My opinion: with honest leadership at the top, our country would not be shutting down (are you tired of all the “winning” yet?). A Clinton White House would have heeded experts; testing would have been in place and a vaccine on its way.  Most of us would be living pretty normal lives, more vigilant, yes? But quarantined, no.

But, of course, the putin puppet/cult leader/ “president” can’t interrupt his delusions. He lies and his monkeys repeat his lies. The sycophants praise him. They don’t care about the human costs. That’s how cults work. 

Then the medical professionals, and public health officials have to correct the lies. We get mixed messages. People panic. In my 55 years, I’ve never seen Americans freak out and empty grocery store shelves of hand sanitizer, chicken cutlets, frozen meals and toilet paper.

My brother & sister-in-law are medical professionals. I trust their opinions. They believe in science (imagine that). Both of them feel that the mass hysteria over covid 19/coronavirus is overblown. Use common sense. Take precautions. Do the socially responsible thing and keep social distance, for now. This post is my attempt to do two things:

1) Provide factual information gleaned from a YouTube video explicitly for ER professionals (provided by said brother). I’ve listened and boiled it down to essentials for us civilians: 

  • MITIGATING the SPREAD: Social distancing is most important right now. Thanks to the Trump admin, it’s too late for containment. Travel bans are stupid. Coronavirus is here — obvious to most except for those in delirious state of cult coma. So avoid crowds as much as possible. Stay home. Wash hands. And clean surfaces. This virus is transmitted through respiratory drops that live on surfaces. It is not airborne. You can go outside. You can go to the store. Try to avoid touching your face (hard I know). 
  • TESTING: obviously sane people know that we need testing. The purpose is: 1) to protect healthcare workers. 2) to protect the most vulnerable – the elderly, or those whose health is already compromised 3) for surveillience of the data so medical and public health professionals can do their work. Of course, as testing increases, reported cases will, too. Better to know. 4) to determine the best treatment. Medical experts need the financial backing and support of policy makers for this; needless to say, there’s no treatment right now. Isn’t that “great”?
  • ABOUT VACCINES: speaking of treatment, anyone with two braincells realizes that developing and testing vaccines takes time. The experts in this video estimate roughly 6-12 months. But since the those at the top are hindering, rather than helping, it’s hard to say for sure.  The interviewee on this podcast, Dr. David Talen, did say there are some “promising candidates”, fingers crossed.
  • WHAT TO DO IF FEELING SICK: Stay home. Call your doctor. Monitor for symptoms. Isolate. Sleep. Watch bad movies. Steam your throat. Drink tea. Don’t run to the ER immediately. If ERs get flooded by people who don’t need acute care, it exposes the more vulnerable patients to the virus. Some countries have started offering drive through testing sites. Apparently, Southern California hospitals are establishing outdoor triage and testing. 
  • MORE TESING means LOWER MORTALITY RATES: South Korea has had the most aggressive testing and lowest reports of deaths. And, according to Dr. Talen, South Korea has provided the most accurate data. Imagine that.

If you feel inclined to geek out, as I did, here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp29gmsJJ4A 

2) Offer suggestions for maintaining mental health: One healthcare professional in the Podcast said his biggest concern was the social consequences. Fear as a contagion. Gentle Souls absorb their environments, so you need to do your best to mitigate your exposure. Staying sane should be a top priority: say no; set boundaries; limit news and social media. Eat healthy. Get rest. Go outside and take a walk. Connect to family and friends. Calm down your nervous system with the healthiest activities that you can muster. Yoga. Meditation. Music. Art. Take a run. Whatever it is that calms and centers you. Go there. Do that.

Someone sent a poem out on a listserv today … I can’t really say it better. So see below. Inhale and exhale. We’ll get through this.

Don’t call yourself a Christian

When you’re recovering from a cultic misadventure, watching hypocrisy is triggering. You’ve probably realized that some group cranked up the gaslight on you. You’ve started the process of trusting yourself, realizing that your gut instincts and emotional response to abusive and illegal and unsavory practices were right on target. That’s why certain higher ups either dismissed or humiliated you for questions, or stating discomfort. You’ve been recognizing that the more you suffer in silence, wondering things like “am I crazy”, the more the cult, i.e. the narcissistic leader, benefits.

If this sounds familiar, then you, like me are probably exploding right now as the Republican Party props up, venerates and generates profits for our current predator and thief. If that’s so, I offer you, this 3-5 minutes of brilliance, written and performed the venerable Eric Schwartz, an incredible, somewhat hidden jewel and talent. I hope it provides some well-deserved catharsis and relief. Enjoy:

Full Reddit Post – “school”, not so invisible…

Good afternoon Readers – I was at the gym recently working out my aggression and anger about how members of the Trump Cult are actively bringing about the demise of Democracy. Isn’t that “great”.

While, I can’t do anything about Trump Worship (ahhh, ‘the imperfect vessel’ the ‘chosen one’), I can share the initial Reddit post that contradicts school’s claim of being “the invisible world.”

If you want to engage with Reddit users who are kind of curious, I suggest that you visit the site and check out their comments … and I suggest this visit, despite the fact that one commenter said: “That’s a really bizarre blog. Not sure what the person is on about but may just be a general rant about school on general. The writer is really incoherent.”

Speaking of incoherent 😉

If you don’t feel like falling down the Reddit hole, and want to know what was posted, here it is. And it is coherent:

I worked in a building with a supposed cult upstairs(longish read)

I worked in a building with a supposed cult upstairs (longish read)So over last summer I worked at a small business in the Faulkner Mills building in Billerica, MA. It’s a pretty historic building and used to be a textile mill back during the industrial boom in the northeast U.S, but now it’s just home to a couple of small businesses, as well as a little museum detailing some history about the town and the building. I should mention too that this building is overall pretty creepy, barely anyone else was ever usually there, and a few of the businesses inside the building seemed completely dead, as if no one had been working there for months yet they were still fully furnished.

So one day our boss decides to make things even creepier after my coworker and I tell her how weird we think the building is. She said that one floor above us, there was a cult that had been meeting every week for all the years she had been working there. She said that once a week, on the same day of the week, during the evening a bunch of weird people would come to the mill and all go upstairs to the floor above ours. Anytime she tried to strike up conversation with them, or casually ask what they were up to, they would be polite but dodgy, and just say that it was some support group or something. She described these people as older, and kind of hippy-like.

My boss then goes on to say that for a while she never thought much of it, until a note was slipped under the door of her business (and everyone else’s in the building) that read something along the lines of “The people upstairs are a cult, they are dangerous, do not trust them.” Of course this freaked her the fuck out, and she goes to the owner of the building to ask to see the security footage of whoever was in the halls passing these notes out. Upon viewing the footage, the person passing the notes out appeared to be a woman dressed in heavy snow gear, with a hat and scarf tightly wrapped around her face so it was completely unrecognizable to the cameras. The owner of the building, as it turns out, had been suspicious of these people long before these warnings came, as when they originally started renting the space they requested absolutely nobody be allowed upstairs except for the owner, and only when he absolutely needed to be up there.

I’ll also add that the stairs leading up to the supposed cult area are chained off and the door at the top has heavy locks on it. Also, I’m not completely sure about this but the windows of the upstairs area definitely appear to be blacked out somehow. I have never seen anything through them, which is weird cuz all the other windows in the building are transparent as a window should be. It could also be just dark the vast majority of the time up there, but the blackness in the windows seems… flatter then if they were just looking into a dark room, if that makes sense.

Sorry for the rambling, long ass post. I’m just trying to see if anyone else knows anything about this or can dig some stuff up on it. The only info I can find on this is this link, which is kind of hard to glean anything from but seems to confirm that yes, there is a cult, and it may be called “The Study.”

Update: The owner of the blog responded to my emails and gave very thorough responses (thank you if you’re reading this!!) to my questions about Faulkner Mills and what the hell happened there. The group is definitely Odyssey Study Group run by Sharon Gans as others have mentioned below. Faulkner Mill’s “classroom” was just a very small satellite sect of the main part of the cult in NYC, operating with a bunch of other locations in the Boston area. The people running these Boston “classes” retold the teachings of philosopher George Gurdjieff (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gurdjieff) as if they were ultra-valuable ancient secrets of old. The comments have provided the majority of links to do more research if you’d like. Also, I can now confirm that yes, the windows were in fact covered up by heavy curtains so I knew I wasn’t crazy for thinking they were blocked out all the time.