I came across the Gnostic Movement in 2002 after hearing an interview by a teacher of The Gnostic Movement about Astral Travel on a popular radio channel. I was very interested in the subject because I was already having out of body experiences but did not know what they were.
Starting as an online student
I wrote down the details of the organisation and of its website called mysticweb.org. I found the website to be open as to its purpose (how to reach enlightenment), and what that entailed in regards to the courses that the Gnostic Movement was offering both online, and in person. At that time, it consisted of a course in Astral Travel and Dreams, a self-discovery course (Searching Within), and a course on esoteric wisdom (Journey to Enlightenment), which you had to complete the other two courses to begin.
During the online course, I received the weekly content in an email, with a pdf explaining the topic to look at for the week, along with an exercise to try. I also had access to some basic web forums where I could ask questions about the topic, and get answers from the volunteers who were helpful, open, and genuinely interested in helping people progress from what I read.
Taking classes in-personWhat I found most helpful though were the pdf’s that were written by Mark Pritchard. They were easy to understand and given in a step by step way. The content also directly correlated with some of the experiences I had been having, which helped to make sense of why they happened, and the reason for it.
Then around that time, a course was being offered close to where I lived, so I decided to start attending in person as well. The class itself had a welcoming presence and the people attending were from all walks of life. I felt very comfortable being there, and wanted to learn.
It was explained at the beginning of the course who the Gnostic Movement was, and the succession of spiritual teachers who ran The Gnostic Movement, being Samael Aun Weor, then Rabolu and now Belzebuub. It was also mentioned that the courses were free and funded by donations, which I thought seemed like a perfect way to make them available to everyone. I would usually make a donation, and since the donation box was clear, I saw that there never seemed that much money collected after a class, just a few small notes and coins.
Over the next 8 weeks of the course, I followed the exercises and texts, and had success in having a conscious out of body experience, along with waking up in my dreams, and more people shared that they also had similar success in the class.
I then went ahead and completed the Self Discovery Course, which delved into the psychology of the self. Again, Mark Pritchard had authored the pdf’s that were available and they were written in an easy to understand language, that was simple for myself to grasp. There were also several books by Samael Aun Weor as part of the course as well. I downloaded them all and read them in great detail.
I then went ahead and took the Journey to Enlightenment course, which delved into a lot more detailed information about how to actually change fundamentally as a human being and the process of enlightenment. It was explained what was required to walk the spiritual path, and how sexuality (alchemy) in a faithful and seriously committed (marriage) relationship was not only essential to spiritual transformation but was the most sacred of all relationships. This really resonated within me and made sense.
In his writings, Mark also made it very clear that if someone wanted to gain knowledge, experience, and change fundamentally, they had to do that themselves, within themselves, which required dedication to the purpose, and that it came down to the individual and that there was no one to follow in a sense.
Role models within The Gnostic Movement
One of the major reasons for myself wanting to get more involved in The Gnostic Movement, was the fact that I could see that the people who worked within it, were attempting to live by example. I had seen many other groups and people proselyting different ideas, views and theories, but it just seemed unnatural and kind of fake.
Yet, the people I met in The Gnostic Movement were not like that, instead the people I was around with had high moral values and maintained them in their way of living, and that was something that I wanted to be more part of.
What also caught my attention was that no matter the level within the organisation, there was a mix of age, and male / female participants, and that there was no place for feelings of superiority, or of gender bias. The teachings and people’s actions within the organisation made it clear that women and men were equals, and decency and common courtesy was something I saw coming naturally within the Gnostic Movement. The people I knew within The Gnostic Movement led by example whereby love, care, and the free will of every person was respected, and the organisation itself held these values as its highest regard. I was taught these values through the courses of the Gnostic Movement, which ultimately came from Mark. His example and leadership was impeccable for the whole time of my involvement, from public to personal situations, and even through and after the hate campaign. The standards and morals that Mark lives by are written within his words, and the way he lives his life.
Mark’s example made me want to change myself to be more responsible, dependable, with respect for all people and things, no matter what their background was. And this propelled me to get more involved, because I enjoyed being around people that held these values as well.
Involvement with administration and finances
It was toward that time that I realised that The Gnostic Movement worked at a grass roots level based on the support and work of a few volunteers. Because the lectures, the level of presentation, and the information presented was done so well, somehow I expected there to be lots of people involved, making it happen behind the scenes but this wasn’t the case. So I started helping out, by cleaning up at the centre, and travelling to help set up for courses that were running in other parts of the city, helping with the odd jobs and the likes.
In 2003 I eventually passed the teachers training course and became a Trainee Teacher, becoming a teacher in 2005, and a member in 2007.
Since I basically became a representative of the organisation to the public, I took this responsibility very seriously, and followed and met the minimum standards of decorum, which was not that different than what was expected from me at my work. One of the requirements was specifically about if being in a relationship, that it should be a committed one with the intention to marry, which was fine as this was the case for my partner and I.
It was around this time that I also took over doing the accounts for the Brisbane arm of the Gnostic Movement. It was set up as a non-profit organisation, and as part of being responsible for this role, I would need to submit the monthly balanced ledger to the head treasurer of the organisation across Australia, who was in Sydney.
By taking on this role, I was shown all of the systems in place that made sure that all monies were accounted for. An example was that everything was paid for by cheque, which required two signatures to be valid. One signature was always the teacher that was in charge, and the other by the accounting person. This made sure that there was no way for any money to be funded off by an individual. It was not possible to transfer money from the account online, since it was disabled on purpose.
The ledger contained every donation through the donations box that was available at the public courses, and any donations made directly to the account. Again it was shown that everything was being accounted for that was being collected, and allocated appropriately. These ledgers were then used to submit quarterly for taxation purposes, and were also used for the yearly financials, which I later saw were submitted yearly to the appropriate body.
Taking part in the online arm of The Gnostic Movement
Meanwhile I also had the experience with taking the online courses, and I wished to be able to be of support with the online activities of The Gnostic Movement as well, and I started to help with anything computer related. Over time I ended up administering the web servers, helping with changes to the site, upgrading forums, creating new course system and general web administration. It was a great learning experience, and it was also very good for my career as a IT Developer and Manager, as I was exposed to different technologies that I didn’t necessarily use day to day at my normal job.
Dealing with online trolling and plagiarism
One of the major hurdles with the online activities was the problem of internet trolls trying to cause disruption on the forums, in the chatrooms, and in the courses. Sadly, most of the trolling originated from other gnostic groups.
For my part, I was involved in the technical side of providing new technical features to allow banning of users (which had not needed to exist until now), logging of chat-rooms, and removal of different features of the software as they started to be abused as a result of this constant harassment. An example was the personal messaging system that we had in place through the forums – It would allow students to communicate one-on-one with each other, but it had to end up being disabled since it was being used to cause disruption and harassment by those online trolls toward genuine members of the forum.
Another major issue that arose while working on the web team early on was the issue of plagiarism of the pdf’s and Mark’s courses that he had developed. It was important that the message was not filtered down/ changed or mixed with other things otherwise people would not be able to gain the full benefit of what was taught. So our aim was to ensure the pdfs could not be copied off and plagiarised, since the spiritual information was important to be given in its original form. At the time, we tried to come up with a way to allow the content of the pdf’s to be viewed, but not to be downloaded/saved to a user’s local machine, but we were unsuccessful in coming up with a solution that was both easy to use for the user and kept the content safe. As a result, the pdf’s could no longer be distributed, and the course information started to transfer across to books, video streams, and exercise only pdf’s.
Closure of websites
Toward 2010, The Gnostic Movement’s new website filled with new features that so many people helped to create was getting a lot of positive feedback from its users; however, the attacks started to occur, and over the next 8 months or so, this increased to the point whereby the organisation had no other choice but to close its doors.
In March 2011, I had to shut down all of the public facing sites, including Mysticweb, Astralweb, Gnostic Awakenings, and the Gnostic Judas site.
It was a terrible tragedy to see all of the work and efforts put in to be destroyed.
Working on online projects with Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub)
From 2007 to 2009, I took over as the web manager, as well as managing the technical team, and after the implementation of the new website Gnosticweb, I then went on to work more closely with Mark and became part of a more dedicated team working directly on his site, and moving into the areas of video on the web, and online video conferencing as he was trying to devote more time to teaching after giving up his administrative role in The Gnostic Movement, since it was taking too much of his time and stopping him from teaching.
It was very easy to work with Mark because he was always very understanding if anything went wrong, or when there were time delays and so on with the projects. Instead of being only concerned with the outcomes of the projects, and getting agitated and worried when things did not work, he would remain calm and patient. He was always asking how I was doing instead, and would also help me to find much simpler solutions to problems, without all the stress and worry that sometimes would blind me from seeing clearly.
Mark’s care and support as a friend and colleague
In all of our discussions, Mark was totally consistent in his high standard of respect, manners, and way of listening and saying what he meant. I also saw how non-challenging he was in every way in his personality – I could see early on that he was intuitive, respectful. It was really easy to work and speak with him because of his gentle nature and unobtrusive demeanour.
That care and understanding that he showed towards me, I have not seen in any other supervisor that I have worked with in my career. If at times, I had to work long hours (as it often happens in IT disaster/recovery situation) Mark would make sure that I would be able to get enough rest by moving deadlines ahead.
I personally got a lot out of the discussions with Mark that we had, and I learnt a lot from him over that time – how to care for other people, how to be responsible and thorough and dependable, especially when being involved in a project with other people. He really helped me with learning how to deal with pressure and stress, and how to keep a level head through events in life, by being a living example of how it was possible to do; he has always made time for me and has personally helped me through many of life’s tough times.
Under Mark’s guidance I developed many projects, some of the more major ones were:
- public and course forums
- real time chat system
- online course system for Mysticweb.com and GnosticAwakenings.com
- live interactive video and audio streaming system
- website creation and development of multiple sites including Gnosticweb.com, Absolute Publishing, and Belzebuub.com
I personally hold the time and efforts of the work done online under his guidance as very dear to me within the Gnostic Movement. I saw first-hand how the visionary insight that Mark had for wanting to spread gnosis online worked, and the positive and life-changing effect it had on people’s lives. In its first incarnation (mysticweb.org), there was hardly anything like it on the web at the time, and it was hugely popular.
By constantly bringing in new features, ideas, and changes, I was witness to the real purpose of the online courses, and Mark’s simple and true perseverance to help anyone that had access to an internet connection to have the possibility to change their lives fundamentally, and completely free, from beginning to end.
The Australian Retreat project
In late 2002 I visited a property that the Gnostic Movement was looking to purchase as a retreat. I saw that there was a small run down weatherboard house in poor shape, and it was very green, lush, and overgrown, but I could tell it had potential. I learned a few months later that The Gnostic Movement had purchased it with the goal to turn it into a retreat.
Mark’s financial and physical support of the retreat project
Later on, I met Mark was when he was caretaking for the retreat property that had been bought by The Gnostic Movement. He welcomed me with warm smiles, and spoke in a really down to earth way, clearly, and very similar to how his writings came across in the pdfs. This was refreshing to see that what he said and how he was in real life was the same, and I felt his humility and genuineness during our discussion.
When I stepped inside of the place I found that it was actually hotter than outside. I could tell that there was no insulation in the roof as the heat was radiating down and turning the place into an oven. It hit me at the time how basic things were, it barely had just enough to make it habitable, and the windows could not even be opened as they had no bug screens to keep bugs out.
By seeing Mark’s hard and difficult living conditions, I decided to help him with what I knew could be a help: several items so that he could get basic internet connection and a pc that he could use. Mark was very, very appreciative, and he thanked me sincerely for helping him in that way. I know for a fact that parts of this pc were still in use by Mark, over 10 years later; to me, this just demonstrates how Mark was always very responsible and took great care with what he owned.
Less than a year later, Mark ended up leaving the property in 2003 to go overseas, and other people moved in as caretakers. Mark would be in contact with us as the work progressed, and he routinely liked to see how everyone was doing, how things were coming along, and about every time we talked, he thanked everyone for what efforts people were putting in developing the retreat property.
Later on, I also learned that the Gnostic Movement would be unable to run retreats at the property because of issues with the council, and the decision to sell the property was raised by people in the project.
Shortly thereafter Mark returned from overseas, and I was informed that he had bought the property at a much higher price than what it had been bought for. By buying it, The Gnostic Movement was now free to look for a more suitable and bigger retreat property, without having to wait for years to sell this current one, and had ended with a lot more funds than it had started with.
However the property was still a building site in progress, nowhere near finished, and did not even have a proper kitchen. A group of us that had been working on the renovation project for The Gnostic Movement decided to continue to help out personally to try and help to finish off the work needed now that it was Mark’s personal residence. We all had decided that we wanted to give Mark a proper living environment, for him to work from as he was helping to bring gnosis to the world on a full-time basis.
Now that Mark was back, he also mentioned the vision he had for the property to still be used for the benefit of others, by wanting for it to become like an informal monastery for use as a spiritual retreat for advanced members. This again showed how selfless Mark was.
Less than a year after, Mark moved to America to try and get gnosis off the ground over there, and from that time onward for the next 6 months I caretook the property. Living there was not for the faint hearted. It did require a lot of upkeep, and nature was ready to overtake things if you didn’t keep up with maintenance. I needed to constantly watch my energy usage because of the small solar system. And there was still no real kitchen, so I kept on using the camping gas burners. On multiple occasions, various type of snakes and spiders would try to get inside the building.
Efforts to find a suitable retreat property
Several years thereafter, The Gnostic Movement was still looking for a retreat property but the funds were still quite low. Efforts to fundraise were made, and we got close to purchase several properties, but they fell through for various reasons. One was because we learned after making inquiries that a number of unknown “locals” liked to light fires and let the area burn to “clean up” the surrounding bushland. And since the safety of the public was a huge requirement, there was no way The Gnostic Movement would ever want to put anyone in harm’s way, and it was decided not to pursue this particular property. And the other property that we seriously considered buying, due to the cost of repairing the main road and the culling of wild animals and weed maintenance imposed by an environment covenant, was also abandoned after much professional inquiries were made.
Physical consequences of the online smear campaign
During the 9 years of my involvement with the Brisbane Gnostic Centre, The Gnostic Movement was well accepted in our local community, and the only feedback that we got from people about the courses and our purpose, was of a positive nature. We would have our regulars who would be coming and going through the courses, and, while there were some people more serious than others, everyone was relaxed, comfortable, and supportive of each other.
Vandalisation and theft at Brisbane centre
This was the case until the attacks started around May 2010. Things peaked in Brisbane in around September 2010, whereby there were really three dark events that took place, all within a month, to show what effects were occurring since the hate campaign started.
The first event occurred in late September 2010, at our local centre in Brisbane. There were some signs at the entrance of the centre where we would be advertising our current courses that were running. An unidentified person ripped down the signs, stole some of our advertising material, and proceeded to vandalise the remaining with graffiti. A neighbour in a close by shop, saw the incident occur, and let us know the description of the person involved, and this was reported to the police.
Graffiti and defacement of advertising material
The next set of events occurred in early October 2010 around the advertising and running of our public course in Astral Travel. We would hold these public meetings at a local university since we could not cater for the larger number of people at our local centre in Paddington.
On two occasions some of the teachers involved in organising the advertising found posters outside of the room, with the advertising material overwritten with “Beware it’s a CULT”. A poster was also found with the same defacing at a nearby shop.
On the evening of the event, a number of teachers arrived early to prepare the location, and found flyers, strewn throughout local student meeting rooms, and posters placed strategically around the location, with the same “This is a CULT” written over the advertising material. Some were also slid into locked glass cabinets around the location, making it impossible to remove them.
The university security was promptly notified and were on call in case of any issues that occurred. The events were later reported to the police.
It was at this time that things hit home for me how serious things really were. The safety of the students, teachers, and ourselves were at risk, and it could not be known how far people could be incited to go from that point on.
It just was not possible to keep public events going in that situation. This would be the last time that public courses were offered in Brisbane, and in February 2011, the centre closed its doors permanently.
Over the time of my involvement, I have worked closely with many members, teachers, students, on web projects, building projects, and organising the Gnostic Centre in Brisbane. My friendships were based on honesty, decency, and deep respect for one another and I knew it was reciprocated because we were people dedicated to wanting to help the world, as well as ourselves, and to spiritually change fundamentally. I held a full time job over this time, and am still working for the same employer since October 2002. I hold a close and loving relationship with my family, and my wife, whom I met through the Movement. The principles and values taught in the Gnostic Movement, and coming from the books, classes and topics by Mark, as well as the other gnostic texts, has only been a positive change in my life over the last 14 years, and continues to do so. My life has been forever changed for the better, and I can only thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for all that was done within the Gnostic Movement.
My biggest regret is not understanding the need for protecting the organisation and our teacher in a clear way at the times they occurred. By simply ignoring the lies that were made, and thinking that no-one could believe the ostentatiously falsehoods, and thinking that things would move on was a deeply incorrect way of acting at the time for me.
Unfortunately, this had a deep impact, as the spiritual school was decimated. This highlighted a huge misunderstanding that I will hold close to me and try not to make the same mistake ever again. So much time, effort, and good deeds were done by so many, and yet it was all washed away and lost, under a series of lies and un-truth that was spread. It has crystallised within me the need to truly defend and hold onto what is right, and to try and have the courage to confront that which opposes, however hard internally that may be. If it’s not done, the light will never have a chance to oppose and overcome darkness, especially in this current time, when we all need the light so much in our lives.