Thursday, March 22, 2007

10 Years Ago: Heaven's Gate

Comet Hale Bopp had a devastating effect at the end of the 20th century. Within hours of the Hale-Bopp inspired Heaven’s Gate suicide episode, researcher Brad Steiger, myself and others were on the air speculating that the cult, led by Marshall Applewhite, had it origins in “The Two,” the original “Bo and Beep” UFO cult of the 1970s.

The bizarre story of Heaven’s Gate begins in 1972 when Marshall Applewhite met a psychiatric nurse named Bonnie Lu Nettles. She introduced him to astrology, mysticism, and mediation. Over time and in various guises, they take on the different names: as “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon” in 1973, as “Guinea” and “Pig” in 1974, then later that year as “Bo” and “Peep,” and finally as “The Two” in 1975. Before long, they had gathered a cult around them, but fearing assassination, split up the group and went “underground” in 1976.

That year Brad Steiger’s book about “The Two”, UFO Missionaries Extraordinary, was published. In 1982, a NBC-TV movie was broadcast about Bo and Peep entitled The Mysterious Two, starring John Forsythe and Priscilla Pointer.

Nettles died of cancer in 1985, and five years later Applewhite began to rebuild his group into what would become known as Heaven’s Gate. By the mid-1980s, he was using the name “Do,” and if not already, would soon become a eunuch. A half a dozen of his male followers would follow his lead and get castrated. By 1993, Applewhite (as “Do” or “Doe”) used the media again to gather his flock, placing ads in USA Today. In February 1997, once Hale-Bopp was clearly “speaking” to Applewhite, he and several members of his group showed up at a book signing for Lee Shargel. Applewhite conveyed to Shargel, the author would later tell ABC-TV, that Applewhite thought Shargel’s science fiction novel Voice in the Mirror contained messages from aliens to Applewhite for his group.

On March 22, 1997, 39 members of Heaven’s Gate (21 women, 19 men) consumed phenobarbitol, some suffocating with plastic bags, and all dying by suicide. All were dressed exactly alike in black clothing, down to their black shoes with their ddidentical white Nike check-mark logo. The 39 had packed tote bags and each had one $5 bill and 75 cents in quarters in their pockets. The deaths occurred in shifts, so those that remained could correctly arrange the bodies and place the purple triangular shrouds on the bodies. The police found the corpses at their Rancho Santa Fe, California compound on March 26, after being alerted by Richard Ford, an ex-member who has received a Federal Express package of two videotapes from Applewhite.

When the story broke, the media was in a fog about the cult and were looking for simple answers about “how this could have happened.” But there were no simple solutions to the Heaven’s Gate incident. Reporters jumped from one factoid to another rumor without regard to the complexity of the story or how its various elements tied together. They shied away from the twilight language of dates and astrological connections related to the event that were key to deciphering the clues as to why this happened and when. While many of these little twilight details were conscious on the part of the cult members, others were only known to the leaders, and still a few more seemed to work on a purely subconscious level. More attention to the twilight language involved in such episodes could provide advance warning of future mass suicides and murders.

The Heaven’s Gate cult watched closely for subtle signs from the cosmos. But the moment their suicides occurred was extremely important in Marshall Applewhite’s delusional system. The Hale-Bopp Comet’s closest approach occurred on Saturday, the 22nd of March 1997. For the Heaven’s Gate cult, this was the “marker” they were waiting for. They believed a spaceship was following behind the comet, speculation that had begun to circulate via the Art Bell show and on the Internet previously. (It would later turn out the controversy was begun by photographs that had been faked; there was no “companion” with the comet.)

Heaven’s Gate was not just concerned with spaceships and comets. They were also very attuned to the calendar and March 1997 was a very hot month. There was a solar eclipse on March 9th. March 20th was the Spring Equinox. March 22nd was the closest approach of Hale-Bopp. Then there was a lunar eclipse on March 24th. At the same time, the 23rd was Palm Sunday, the 28th Good Friday, and the 30th Easter Sunday.

One of the Heaven’s Gate relatives explained the “timing” issue. Suzanne Sylvia Cooke was one of the 39 people who died by suicide on March 22. Her husband Wayne told CBS’s "60 Minutes" that he wished he had had the courage to follow the other members of Heaven’s Gate. He said: “They left when a comet came. A comet has significance, historically. They left in the Easter Week. That has significance historically. They left by laying down their bodies, that has enormous impact. Obviously a stage is being set by the next level for this world, for others, to examine this.”

Wayne Cooke’s network broadcast interview was a suicide note to the world but few understood that. On May 6, 1997, Cooke and another ex-member of Heaven's Gate tried to “exit their vehicles” in an Encinitas Holiday Inn Express four miles from the cult's Rancho Santa Fe mausoleum. Cooke was found dead with a plastic bag on his head.

The other former member, Chuck Humphrey of Denver, was found unconscious but alive and was taken in critical condition to Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas. Both two men had been found with small tote bags next to them, dressed in the same black outfits as their Heaven’s Gate mates, wearing black Nikes, with purple shrouds next to them, and a five dollar bill and three quarters each of their pockets. Like those who went before, they both ingested phenobarbital washed down with vodka. Cooke said in his videotaped “exit statement,” which was sent to family members and CNN, that he wanted “…very much to join my classmates and my teachers ... I've never doubted my connection with them.” He concluded his comments by saying “Goodbye” with a smile eerily similar to the expression Applewhite had on his face in a video repeatedly shown by the media after the Heaven’s Gate bodies were found.

At a San Diego news conference after the March mass suicide, Humphrey, 56, said, “I left the group because it had been 15 years, because many of the things we were told were going to happen didn't... I got tired of waiting.” In his “exit statement” he erroneously states: “By now you should be aware that I ... too have exited my vehicle... I do not pretend to have accomplished my task of overcoming this human vehicle and gaining the degree of control I would have liked, but nonetheless, I know who I am and that I must go back with them whether I am ready or not... I'd rather gamble on missing the bus this time than staying on this planet and risk losing my soul.” Humphrey felt like a failure because his exit plan had misfired.

Humphrey and Cooke were not alone. A week after the Heaven’s Gate episode, Yuba County deputies checking out a trailer in a remote canyon near Marysville, California (population 9,900) discovered the remains of a man who had gassed himself to death. The victim was identified as Robert Leon Nichols, 58, a former roadie with the rock band Grateful Dead. Nichols was last seen alive on St. Patrick’s Day. Nichols was lying on his back in bed with a clear plastic bag over his head, and had hung a model spacecraft, made of silver foil, from his ceiling. A hose ran under the bag to a propane tank and a 3-by-3-foot purple shroud covered his upper torso. Nichols reportedly left a suicide note that said, in part, “I'm going on the spaceship with Hale-Bopp to be with those who have gone before me.”

The New York Post pointed out that the Nichols note was dated 10 a.m., Thursday, March 28, 1997, two days after the Heaven’s Gate 39 bodies were discovered but several hours before the public was told how the cultists died and that their bodies were covered with purple shrouds.

On May 7, 1997, as researcher Antonio Mendoza quotes Dick Joslyn of Tampa, a former member of the Heaven's Gate cult, at least six other cultist might also be interested in trying suicide. Joslyn, who had been in contact with Chuck Humphrey, the cultist who survived the latest passage to the “next level,” said his friend had grown frustrated by the lack of attention given to the group's ideas. “He was a little discouraged by the inability to get the word out. He made it clear to me that when his work was done, he would go too.”

Another former member who goes by the name of Sawyer said that Humphrey, one of the brains behind the Higher Source web design team, “was supposed to spread information about the ‘next level’ and maintain the Internet site.” When someone “commandeered” the site and Humphrey could no longer work on it, he tried to kill himself.

The New York Times, meanwhile, was whipping up anxieties by quoting Aaron Greenberg, a former Heaven’s Gate member from Oregon, who said that he knew of 60 to 80 members who might be ready to die by suicide, and that about 1000 people had passed through the cult. The media alleged, through Greenberg and others, that two groups of surviving Heaven’s Gate followers – one from Canada and the other from New York State – were converging on a secret site in the southwest. Greenberg claimed: “This is not a good thing. Remember what they say in the videotapes: ‘Come join us, the time is now, the window is small.’”

On May 16, 1997, Charles Humphrey, fully recovered from his suicide attempt, persuaded a judge to release him from a psychiatric facility so he could write a book and go on the speaking circuit. But Humphrey failed to get the media to pay attention, so on February 20, 1998, Humphrey, who saw himself as one of the remaining Heaven's Gate members on spaceship Earth, died by suicide in a tent in the Arizona desert.

The cultist was found with his head sealed in a plastic bag and pipes running to a car's exhaust pipe and a tank marked “carbon dioxide.” He was dressed in black sweatpants and a black T-shirt with a patch on the sleeve that read “Heaven's Gate Away Team.” Like those who went before him, he wore a pair of brand new black Nike sneakers, kept a purple shroud next to him, and carried a five-dollar bill plus three quarters in his pocket.

On March 22, 1997, just as the Heaven’s Gate 39 were dying by suicide, a documentary film about the Order of the Solar Temple cult aired on French television, and, in what was probably not a coincidence, five members of the Order of the Solar Temple killed themselves that day in a “Christic Fire.” The Order of the Solar Temple, founded in 1986, keyed their suicides to the equinoxes and solstices of the year.

The above is a passage from Chapter 7: "Cultic Copycats" in The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow's Headlines (NY: Paraview Pocket - Simon and Schuster, 2004).


Anonymous said...
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Judas Disney said...

Two comets in 2013.

Thematic links to "twin" events; auspicious births & deaths of leaders & eras/epochs are associated with comets.

Notable deaths include the death of Julius Caesar with the Great Comet of 44 B.C. Notable births include Napoleon Bonaparte. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) both was born & died during two different passings of Halley's Comet.

Anonymous said...

might be interesting to examine the courtney brown connection here, the hoax originating in hawaii that led to his predictions about hale-bopp, the subsequent suicides, and the discrediting of the remote viewing technique. remote viewing had been gaining some semblance of acceptability before these events, but the hale-bopp hoax took courtney and remote viewing out of the limelight for some time. it's never been discovered who set brown up or what their motives were. in fact, when you read articles about these incidents, there is a definite lack of curiosity about who the hoaxers were or why they did it. odd, that.

Sawyer said...

Hale Bopp was finally established by scientists to have had a dual nucleus with each in orbit around a common center sort of the way Pluto and Charon do.

Also comet PanStarrs that perihelion in late march or early april of 2013 had a alleged "companion object" with it seen in a photo I have as a black dot flying in front of the comet's coma. It was posted by someone from NASA who said at the time he wondered what that was and hoped there was an explanation for it.

Another comet in 2014 had a companion object but was trailing quite a ways behind it but I forgot it's name though I can probably look it up.

Then there was an very large object following behind comet Ison after Ison emerged from diving into the sun.

Then this past December or January, comet honda was photographed and when zoomed in was actually two objects very very close to one another so that from a distance looked like one object or it was pixelated to look like one object.

I don't think these are coincidental but they could be, but I think they are links to the prospect that TI and DO evidenced being the Two Witnesses in the blueprint for this time period that was religizied as the Book of Revelation (revealing).

Plus revelation chapter 12 outlines TWO as being in the flesh as well with the main figure in that chapter being the "woman" - who DO said was describing TI's task to "birth" him.

Plus in that same record, mystery (the secret) babylon - The US is paid back in "double" for it's breaking of the Next Level's commandments.

The $5.75 was most interesting as the price of the fare to ride a comet's tail to Heaven according to Mark Twain - Samuel Clemmon's writings in around 1912. In the 1980's those that held jobs in the world had to sign out .75 to use to make an emergency call as we had no money of our own. Then as times changed that amount was changed to $5.

To anyone who likes to line up dates and names, etc. one may want to take a look at my Book, "TI and DO The Father and "Jesus" Heaven's Gate UFO Two Witnesses", especially in the appendix but also throughout the body as I go through history back into the early 1800's with earthquake and sci fi works, etc. to show the preparation for the return of these Two - Ti and Do. Here is a link to my book on my blog:

Section 1 of 7:

Sawyer said...

Corrections of this post:

1) Ti (nettles) didn't work in a psychiatric hospital. She worked in the premie baby ward of the nursery. She only met DO (Applewhite) because she was filling in for another nurse.

DO wasn't in the hospital then either. He said on several occasions that he was visiting a sick male friend. I don't know why the person was in the hospital. Perhaps they had a psyche ward but I have not seen any evidence of.

2) The last names they used starting in the late 1970's as I was there were TI (peep) and DO (Bo). They were also called by the media The UFO Two. They believed they were fulfilling the prophecy of the Two Witnesses though they didn't announce that and they didn't realize that until months after they first awakened to know their Souls had both come from outer space, the evolutionary kingdom level above human.

3) DO didn't rebuild the group after TI left. He simply continued what Ti helped him start. That essentially began in 1987 with DO saying to us that "we need to be who we are" referring to being the same souls who had been incarnate in the vehicles known as Jesus and his disciples.

4) Neither DO nor any of his students ever indicated Hale Bopp was "speaking" to DO. That's not the way he received communication from TI after she left her human vehicle.

5) I met shargal on the set of the geraldo show in around September of 1997 and he was talking about having met DO, etc. and I don't doubt that at all, but I think he misunderstood or read into what DO said. However, as DO kept his eyes and ears wide open for any little signs, I can imagine DO could have read his book and seen some things reported that he could have considered provided by the Next Level, the same way hollywood movies were used by the Next Level to provide confirmations of ideas DO and/or TI had had. I have a number of examples of that - Sound of Music, Star Trek, ET, Close encounters, etc. They and other words have been influenced by the Next Level ever since there existed this kind of media even hundreds or thousands of years ago. But the way it's worded in that little blurb can be taken as Lee's book being instrumental in DO's receipt of "messages" as if DO needed that to receive communication from TI. He had his own "phone" line, so why would he get anything crucial to the completion of this task indirectly through shargal's writing? Except for certain confirmation things that the Next Level wants others to have access too as well. The Next Level sets up the earth civilization with all that's possible to think and do. So inventors, etc. who are able because they have developed an interface/link to certain information can find it if they keep searching.

6) The plastic bags were used as insurance no one would slip into a coma from the drugs ingestion.

7) I don't know what so called "twilight language" connections are, nor astrological connections. There may be some but I haven't done that research though we were given astrology to play as a "game" while in the classroom.

8) There has been zero evidence that Marshall Applewhite was "delusional" though that is the populist trend to think and write. To the contrary there is a vast amount of data to suggest that they were exactly who they said they were - Two Members from The Evolutionary Kingdom Level Above Human.

9) I, Sawyer, don't recall saying that Rkkody (Humphrey) was one of the brains behind the Higher Source web design biz the group had. Rkkody wasn't even part of the group at the time of their exit though he was in touch with DO. I didn't even know anything about the Higher Source business. I might have said that Rkkody was a computer geek.

10) There never were two groups of surviving Heaven's Gate followers and I don't think anything Aaron may have said about that has any accuracy.