Olga G

OlgaMy name is Olga and this is my personal declaration and experience with The Gnostic Movement and Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub).

I was a Teacher of the Gnostic Movement from February 2008 until its closure. I taught Gnosis in Toronto Canada, and in the UK in London, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. I have previously always been interested in spirituality and had the support of my family.

Joining The Gnostic Movement

In mid-2002, my social circle was introduced to some people who talked to us at great lengths about Gnosticism. I was personally very interested to explore this new spirituality and leave behind what in my opinion was the closed mindedness of atheism. I attended a group and started learning about Gnosticism.

In October of 2002, one of my friends came across a library event organized by Gnosticweb, a name of one of The Gnostic Movement’s websites, and a name it used as a not-for-profit entity in Canada.

I was already very interested in Gnosticism and therefore wanted to try out Gnosticweb’s events. One of my friends from a previous Gnostic school, and who had introduced me to Gnosis, had already attended a few of Gnosticweb’s classes and highly recommended my friends and I to go. My curiosity in Gnosticism was quickly developing into a deep interest as I was learning about the connection between religions, the universe and some of history’s great philosophers.

The fact that the courses and events were free really resonated with me. It allowed me to explore the teachings without any monetary expectation.

My first activity with TGM was a walk that was being organized in a public park that I had found out about from one of my friends. When I arrived, I couldn’t pick out the instructor until he said hello. He seemed very down-to-earth, composed with a calm voice that wasn’t overpowering anyone else in the gathering. The teacher very briefly explained the activity and purpose of the walk, and we launched right into the activity which basically explored mindfulness and being in the present moment. There seemed to be a structure, methodology and purpose in the way the instructor was gently keeping a focus on the activity, keeping us focused on the exercise of the walk, and learning about the practical functioning of being in the present moment. These kind of guided practices were common in the Gnostic Movement. This structured focus ultimately led me to have a very elated experience of the present moment, sensations of happiness and peace I had never felt before, and this was all thanks to the practical and experience-oriented emphasis on the activity. I left the park feeling completely amazed and blown away at what I had experienced in maybe one and a half hours’ time. When I went for lunch with some friends after the walk I quickly noticed how a lack of discipline and structure to maintain mindfulness was missing from my life. As a result I decided to continue pursuing the future events run by Gnosticweb.

During my time at the Gnostic Movement, the centers and activities accepted all individuals, cultures, ethnicities, genders, etc. Everyone was welcome at the center. Individuals with their own interests in spirituality would come to the center to share their love of what they were into, and did not feel intimidated to share it with others. People with crystals, psychic cards, beads and various topics would meet up to share discussions with others interested in spirituality, and found a safe place to do it at the Gnostic Centers.

When I was at the London Gnostic Centre, a Muslim man, in devout dress would regularly attend and always be positive and grateful of his time at the center. He would often bring us gifts like chocolate and a CD of beautiful voices singing. Other times we had attendance from other faiths, people in religious attire, and we kept our center open and welcome to everyone.

TGM and other Gnostic groups

Within the first year of studying Gnosis, for a few months, I was attending two groups simultaneously, the first was the one which I came to by invitation from some friends that were already participants and familiar with Gnosticism and the second was The Gnostic Movement. The groups ran in different parts of the city. I noticed very quickly on, the very strong and opposing opinions and judgements that the first Gnostic group had towards TGM. Some seemingly respectable figures were saying very unpleasant and hostile things against TGM and its spiritual teacher Belzebuub. There was one person from that group who I had become acquainted with and who I respected, who had also invited me to take part in some drama classes he was teaching in another part of the city. As I got to know him more and more, I noticed that he would occasionally say very peculiar and harsh things, including that he would ‘’karate kick’’ anyone who would stand in the way of his faith. It was the first time I really encountered anyone zealously angry in the name of their religion. This put me off, and I no longer felt very comfortable around him and stopped spending time with him.

Then, on one occasion I saw this person with some of the students from his drama group at the library where TGM was giving one of its courses. As far as I knew, the drama students had no connection with any of the Gnostic groups, and yet he had brought about five or so who were all surrounding him like a gang. I had known most of them from his drama classes, and had always very friendly relations with them. This time however, I felt threatened and challenged, recalling the hostile things this person had last said to me, and seeing their intimidating body language and the way they glared aggressively at me and the people I was with. The group gestured over to me to come with them, suggesting that I was with the ‘’wrong’’ group. This was confusing to me, because I knew these drama students had no interest in spirituality – let alone Gnosis, but it seemed that this person had somehow influenced them. I was left feeling very troubled and anxious knowing that this person had come all the way there as though to stir up trouble. Later on, I would occasionally see this person in the street and feel very uneasy. It was a very bizarre experience to see someone change so negatively just because people held different views to his spiritual beliefs and values.

On another occasion, while attending TGM’s astral courses, a person who was a lecturer from another Gnostic group was making snide and arrogant remarks to the TGM teacher and laughing loudly when he didn’t know the answer to one of his questions. This same person also started being insulting towards Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub).

Another thing that happened to me was while I was participating in both Gnostic groups for some time, I came to a crossway of needing to choose between the two groups, as I was getting more involved with both of them, and moving closer to more senior activities like teaching and helping. While it was clear that the first Gnostic group that I had joined didn’t want me to be part of TGM and was pressuring me to leave, TGM on the other hand gave no such pressure.

Around this time the first group I had joined was acting noticeably different. For example during a lecture, the instructor would keep moving a picture of Samael Aun Weor, (the only Gnostic teacher they accepted) into the center of his lecture board, as though continuously drawing attention to it and adjusting its position every couple of minutes. It was unusual behavior that really felt out of place, uncomfortable and as though there was this underlying pressure to choose and recognize the importance of this particular Gnostic teacher above any other. While individuals in the group were treating me very kindly and giving me a lot of attention that made me feel welcome, I also felt that overall, they were in different ways trying to convince me to be part of their group, and implying how wrong TGM was. Some otherwise friendly individuals became emotional and passionate in expressing negative opinions about TGM, and how their doctrine was the right one. They invited me and some of my friends to an intro talk for a more advanced course, explaining that we could advance into a higher ‘’chamber’’ or level, but that we couldn’t hold any links with TGM if we wanted to take the step. The instructors would call me on the phone very often and leave messages awaiting my decision. I felt very uneasy about the insistent phone calling and behavior of them trying to pull me into their organization and it really put me off and made me feel uncomfortable, even though I had originally been fond of many of them.

This behavior was opposite to TGM which left me alone and gave me time to decide on my own. TGM always respected my free will to make my own choices, and never tried to entice me with any promises of advancement. I felt it was only the other Gnostic group tugging on me and trying to persuade me.

Eventually, my decision was made based on who was respecting my free will to make my own choices. The first group made so many attempts to be extra nice, pleasant, and friendly, while the Gnostic Movement made no change to how they treated me at all, which made me realise how genuine they were and how the others, with all due respect, were possibly acting to gain me as a student or to convince me to have the same opinion as them. I realized how much freedom there was with TGM to take part in its courses without any pressure of any kind, that they stood by their principles to not interfere with my own judgements and that’s when I realized I was among very honest people who made no attempts whatsoever to interfere with my free will and personal decisions.

Meeting Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub)

Retreat 2004
Having a look at a waterfall at the retreat in 2004

I have met Mark on a retreat and when he visited the Gnostic group I was in. My impression of him was someone who was very down to earth, modest, humorous, kind and wise.

From what I could tell, Mark didn’t seem to pull attention to himself unnecessarily or stand out in the crowd like someone seeking fame or public acceptance. On the contrary, he was always quite soft spoken, and discussed without raising his voice to attract attention. This was very different to previous spiritual figures or teachers I had encountered who would speak and accentuate their words very deliberately to be heard and to stand out, others would walk and gesture in certain ways to be seen and be noticed, or they would dress in elaborate clothing, however my impression of Mark was a normal person who was very approachable and I never felt as though he was raising himself up above me or anyone else.

From my experience around Mark, he was very collaborative and thoughtful, never imposing his view or opinion as the deciding factor. He would often welcome advice and consideration from others. In fact, as an early trainee teacher during a retreat in Canada which Mark was guiding in 2004, I proposed an alternative to a plan he had made which he agreed to, even though looking back it was not necessarily the best idea.

On another occasion, upon arriving to the Gnostic Centre our group had in the city, he took time to listen to each of us raise some points. He mentioned a few things about the way we had things set up and organised, all of which were in response to our own concerns and questions. It was up to us, after he left, to make a decision and to reassess what we wanted to do. All the decision making came from the group’s gathering and initiative to decide what was best.

Mark was also a very respectful person. He was always kind and considerate to all people. As a woman, I felt very comfortable around him and was always treated with utmost respect and equality. He created an air of civility and thoughtfulness wherever he went, and I felt this had an impact on the Gnostic study groups and centres he would attend, which as a result also had an overall air of respect and consideration of equality towards all genders, where women were treated considerately and with respect, not as objects of desire or inferiority, and like that many meaningful and trusting friendships were formed between men and women alike.

Mark’s respectful conduct

Mark’s teaching on alchemy and sexuality have had a huge impact on my life and on the sacred relationship between men and women. Growing up I have experienced and encountered several barriers of domination and frustration between men and women, but I found that Gnosticism provided a foundation based around love, respect and understanding that have deeply resonated and guided me in my life and in my relationships, which I have also observed in other Gnostic couples. In my encounters with these other couples I noticed there was an atmosphere of respect and collaboration that I did not normally perceive growing up in society, where one gender dominated the other. This mutual respect was the teaching that Mark provided, the atmosphere he created as well as the example he left behind where ever he would go. Mark was certainly a role model of how people especially women should be treated. It was unheard of that a woman would feel uncomfortable in any shape or form within the organization. On one occasion, when I wanted to ask Mark a question regarding alchemy, he referred me to speak to a woman teacher instead due to the delicate nature of the subject matter, which cancelled out any potential uncomfortableness that even I wasn’t aware would have existed. This careful attention in making sure the relationship between genders was respectful and courteous was always present around Mark.

Both men and women had senior roles within TGM, I myself was a Teacher and Director with many responsibilities while in the UK and witnessed that both sexes had equal opportunities within the volunteer network of the organisation.

Volunteering in The Gnostic Movement

When I first joined The Gnostic Movement, if I wanted to help with anything I would ask or let someone know I was available to help. It was never expected of me to volunteer or help. Getting involved in the organization as a volunteer and helper came from my own interest and initiative.

In the beginning of first joining the courses I felt it was a nice idea to help in order to show my support and positivity to what the teacher was doing. I would help in setting up the chairs at the weekly sessions, put up posters for an upcoming course etc.

As the courses progressed we learned about the topic of helping others spiritually as part of the Gnostic work. It gave a perspective as to why the teachings were given freely. Helping gave a chance for other people to learn about this work and have the same opportunities to experience spirituality. This was interesting and inspiring to me because it put into perspective what The Gnostic Movement had done for me, giving classes every week for free, which was helping me make positive changes in my life. Although I was the one working towards the personal changes, it was through the setup of the Gnostic group, attending courses and receiving the thoughtfully put together TGM topic material that was very helpful for me, it created a structure that I was benefiting so much from. It therefore made a lot of sense to me to share and help in the same way so that others could also benefit and experience some of the wonderful things I had already experienced.

I showed interest in wanting to help and eventually joined the Teacher’s Training course. The sessions and gatherings involved giving practice lectures and sharing feedback about certain practices the group had been assigned to do throughout the week as part of a Teacher’s Training Course. The longer I was part of the advanced courses, the more I saw the benefit of the organization and wanted to help with it.

Toronto Centre 2004
Myself (in the middle) with two other volunteers in the main lecture room of the first centre we had in Toronto in 2004

I enjoyed my time helping in the preparations of the first Gnostic center in Toronto. It was exciting that we were going to have our own dedicated space to explore Gnosticism, meditation, astral projection and many of the various Gnostic practices we had learned, as well as hold many other activities and events. It was amazing to have this transition from libraries to a physical centre which was our own and which we could spend limitless time at. We were also creating a space that was in some way ‘’infused’’ with spiritual activity, so in my opinion it felt like having our own temple and space of worship, where I could go to in peace and quiet, find stillness, repose and reflect. It was such a benefit to my life and I thoroughly miss having an active gnostic centre that was not only an opportunity for others but a great help for my own spiritual betterment.

There was also general upkeep to keep the centre clean and tidy, to stock up the tea and coffee supplies, bring cookies and treats, to purchase cleaning products, or to bring flowers for the display at the front of the entrance. There were so many small ways one could find to show appreciation for the centre with ideas and involvement and it was something I loved being part of. It created an impression of belonging and caring for something bigger than yourself and I loved taking care of things. I don’t recall anyone ever expecting me to do things, it was just obvious that we were all there because we loved helping and watching the place thrive with activity and making sure it was all organised in the background so that the events would run smoothly and benefit all.

When I wasn’t at the Gnostic centre I saw there were opportunities to help the organization with administrative things like design, event registration, video conferencing technology, web work, printing posters, research and so on.

The types of activities I would get involved with were also interesting and thought provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of a variety of administrative work that would come my way. Sometimes I would work on media campaigns that were organizing interviews with TV and radio stations across Canada. I would correspond with journalists, producers and media stations to help coordinate live interviews with another TGM instructor. I felt these campaigns were so exciting and full of potential. I remember having a job interview for an international media company in the UK and the employer was deeply captivated by my TGM media experience. Also due to my thorough video conferencing skills I learned at TGM I got a job as a Video Conferencing Technician in London.

Although my 9-5 jobs were helping me pay the bills and giving me corporate experience, volunteering with TGM gave me a whole new range of opportunities and skill sets. Within TGM I got involved with several new projects that I previously had few or no skills in. One activity involved teaching and answering comments in public and course forums on TGM’s websites Gnosticweb, Astralweb and Mysticweb. While this seems like a light and simple activity, it was helping me enormously to learn how to be a better writer. In high school and university, I had often struggled with my essay writing assignments, but after a couple months of commenting in TGM’s websites and practicing my ability to explain things clearly and concisely, I could see a great improvement in the clarity and articulation of my writing, even the Teaching Assistant of one of my university classes who was aware of my struggles, noticed a massive improvement and was extremely happy for me giving me a high grade on my essay.

Becoming a teacher

The gatherings and the time I spent together with the teachers and other senior students were becoming more valuable to me as I moved on to the senior courses. Looking back at my time, I remember great moments reading and discussing spiritual texts and various Gnostic topics. It was a very special time as we sat together over tea and had discussions. I remember once walking home late one night with a friend and feeling like I was in another world, feeling very inspired from the evening’s talk and admiring the night and the stars as though there was a very special quality present in that moment and that our gatherings were becoming more and more meaningful.

In order to train to teach others, the training sessions were organised to give practice lessons. Public speaking was something I struggled with terribly. I had massive bouts of nervousness and had a hard time getting through them, but after a lot of personal persistence I managed to overcome many of my fears and developed a whole new confidence and ease to speak in front of large groups of people. I used this skill in many aspects of my life, including at work where I would train small to large number of people, or in instances where clear and technical communication were very important to ensure all avenues of a task were understood. The public speaking experience TGM gave me helped me learn how to communicate clearly, confidently and concisely.

After a few years, I went through maybe two full teacher training sessions before I could reasonably give a lecture. Confronting my public speaking fears was such a profound journey for me. I was left to work on my own capacity, no one was pushing me, I had to make the choice myself whether public speaking was something I wanted to do. I once shared my story with public speaking with another person in TGM who had also been struggling with it, and I later found out from her that she was motivated to try again and was able to overcome some of her fears too and began to teach Gnosis with much less nerves. I was so happy for her. I knew it was a common problem, but I knew that by tackling it, I was doing something bigger than myself, as I felt that I could help others overcome it if I could.

Finances and donations

Toronto Center 2008
Hanging out with some course attendees in the cafe at the Toronto Center in 2008. I’m wearing a white shirt on the right.

From the early days of first joining the Gnostic Movement I was very keen that everything was free of charge. Another mainstream spiritual group I wanted to attend was charging a lot of money and pressuring people in my opinion to accept their rationale for choosing to do so, with the mentality that if we cared enough for something, we would pay for it. I never felt such pressure within TGM and the approach that spirituality should be given freely really rang true to me.

As a TGM student in 2002, I was aware of the collection of donations at TGM’s lectures in libraries and how they were 100% optional. I also remember seeing a nearly empty donation box at the course lectures in the libraries, which showed me that there was normally not a lot of money coming in through donations, but the teachers never made a big deal of it. Instead they mentioned it a few times within a full 9 week course program that they accepted donations.

The teachers themselves did not seem to be living luxurious lives, which showed that they were not gaining financially from TGM. Most people had a full or part-time job, and would help with TGM in their spare time. This was the same case for me when I became a teacher in 2008. The only income I ever received was from my regular employment.

The Gnostic Centres in North America that I had visited were clean, simple and modest places where the courses would operate. They had lovely and inspiring spiritual elements in them such as printed artwork and modest spiritual statues.

As I progressed through into the advanced courses, until I became a teacher in Toronto and when I later travelled to the UK, I was aware that there was never a lot of money coming into the centres we were running. However we got by with what we had.

From my experience in a teacher’s role, and in the receiving end of donations, the majority of donations would come from those voluntarily supporting or running the Gnostic Group or Centre such as Trainees, Teachers and Members. Students in the beginner level courses were not privy to the financial needs within the center, unless there was a fundraiser specifically for that, but otherwise finances were never publicly discussed. In general, through my whole duration within The Gnostic Movement, the topic of money and donations was always approached respectfully. It was just a matter of fact that the courses and events ran by donation, and people were informed of this, but it never distracted from what was being taught or limited who could attend.

When running the financial accounts of TGM in London as a Director for the organization, paying bills for the centre, hydro, electricity, rent, coffee/tea etc. the centre was always just able to cover the running costs. All the money that we raised, whether from public donations, or donations between the senior students, teachers and members (of which was always the majority), all went towards the centre and paying for its expenses.

In the UK, every year the accounts had to be filed with Company’s House, the government body that oversaw UK companies, and had to be thoroughly completed, which we did.

Effectiveness of the spiritual practices

The practices and exercises taught in the Gnostic Movement were encouraged as a practical way to gain your own spiritual experience. Some of the practices I learned were for Meditation, Astral Projection, Inner Stillness, Concentration, Self-Observation, Reflection and so on.

The emphasis on practices helped me to understand how important it was to have a practical approach to Gnosis, and that even the little experiences gave me so much more than learning any new theory.

This practical approach was very different to the way Gnosis was introduced to me by the previous Gnostic group I had first attended. Although my initial introduction to Gnosis was very exciting and intriguing, with lots of interesting ideas that were presented to me, there really wasn’t a practical approach that involved my active participation, but rather a lot of lecturing. The previous Gnostic school had some practices and mantras, but not nearly as much as the emphasis given by TGM which encouraged a lot of practicing and trying out different exercises. As a result, this pulled me into a very personal and active experience of Gnosis. This new approach to life launched me into an exciting period of personal discovery and appreciation.

While the practices given by TGM were extremely important, some theory was also given. The course system never felt very dogmatic to me, that I needed to accept things to be true, it was always encouraged for me to come to the truth myself, to gain my own experience and be on my own path to find the understanding I sought. I could put theories to the side and come to them later through my own personal investigation, study and experience.

In every weekly session with the TGM group, there was equal time put towards a lecture and a practice, unless there was a session just for a practice, to give everyone in the course a decent time to try out the exercises. For me the easy part was sitting in on a lecture, listening to the teacher talk and explain things, it felt harder to take time and do a practice especially when I struggled to concentrate. But I found it helpful to try the exercise with the group, guided by the instructor. The practices in a group were 10 times easier than when trying at home as there seemed to be a better focus and motivation when doing the practices together with other people. The follow up questions and feedback from people who managed to get some experiences or insights or even share similar problems that I had encountered was extremely beneficial.

In the beginning the TGM group could only afford to organize sessions in public libraries, such were the humble beginnings of the group which could only afford renting community venues for its sessions. And yet, on many occasions that I would participate, I would often have some little experiences with the groups which gave me some insight and encouragement towards my own spiritual work.

Astral projection

Before I came to The Gnostic Movement, I knew a little bit about Astral Projection already, mainly lucid dreaming as it was something I was familiar with in my childhood. Therefore the topic was already of interest to me because of my familiarity and I was excited to learn more about it and why it was the subject of a full course run by the Gnostic Movement.

The courses were filled with people talking about their interest in OBEs, who wanted to have such experiences, to fly out of their body and to explore another dimension of life. I remember having several conversations with people that were curious in the phenomena of Astral Travel or who already had their own experiences. It was an amazing and unique environment that felt rare to experience, it was a hub of like-minded people who freely discussed and shared their interests. The vibe in these sessions felt very positive, warm and open to me. I was equally excited to learn how to have my own astral experiences.

In the first few weeks the techniques were working as I was beginning to have regular astral experiences. This encouraged me to stick with the practices and continue to bring more amazing experiences into my life. Waking up in the morning after remembering that I had several out of body experiences or lucid dreams was a great way to start the day. I was waking up refreshed and excited every time I had an experience.

My sleep patterns were unaffected when I used the technique for astral projection at night and I would always have a full night’s sleep. The main difference this was bringing to my evenings was that previously I would just lie in bed thinking about a million things, recalling emotions, and worries, and sometimes would get extremely stressed and anxious as I would go to sleep. But the astral techniques, because they involved focusing my mind, my ‘’going to sleep’’ was much more relaxed and soothing then it had ever been. I always woke up feeling rested and refreshed.

Overall, incorporating astral practices into my life was incredibly inspiring. The experiences I had were so uplifting. Hearing about the experiences other people had were also very fascinating and encouraging.

Going to sleep with these focused techniques also calmed down my thoughts, and let me fall asleep less scattered. Since starting the astral techniques I noticed a big change to my dreams which also felt less scattered, more vivid, meaningful and sometimes filled with very important messages and lessons.

From this course onward, I knew my life was changing, and that I found something amazing. These experiences encouraged me that there was something more out there waiting for me to explore. And the most amazing thing was that I had experienced the reality of another dimension, whether it was floating up above my body, or flying through the hallways of my house into my neighborhood. I was having experiences and it was linked to the practical approach of the TGM courses I was taking part in.

Meditation

Before learning about Gnosticism, unless I was doing something entertaining or enjoyable, my thoughts, emotions and worries would take the best of me and I would often find myself in miserable and anxious states. Many times I would think about things that would cause me to stress. The techniques of meditation taught by TGM allowed me to see my thoughts and not let them take over me. I would sometimes complete meditations with tears of joy or with powerful insights about my psychology. Meditation gave me a method to direct my mind in a conscious way, and this would give me certain results that couldn’t happen if I was just daydreaming. The discipline of the exercise gave me the results. It made me realize every time how much I wanted to live within these peaceful, reflective and insightful states in a more permanent way.

Retreats

Wales Retreat
The group visiting the Glastonbury Tor on the Wales Retreat

My first big retreat of well over 50 participants was at Buckland Hall in Wales UK in July 2008. It was a very pleasant retreat and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of such a large group of people, most of which I had only met or heard of virtually through TGM’s Gnosticweb online community of courses, forums and chats. This retreat was held in a very stunning mansion within a national park in Wales, the scenery was rolling hills and grazing sheep. It was very visually captivating, and even the food was perfect. We also visited the very mystical site of Glastonbury Tor and the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey.

In June 2010 I participated in a retreat organized by TGM in Slovakia. There were roughly 50 retreat participants in total, and I was fortunate to meet some old friends as well. The teachers guiding the retreat showed through their attitude and example great lessons and insights on not confining spirituality to a doctrine or religion. This down-to-earth approach emphasized how practical and accessible a spiritual journey with Gnosis can really be.

The Gnostic Monastery

In July 2010, a refurbished castle from the 15th century was leased near Edinburgh, Scotland and began operating as ‘’The Gnostic Monastery’’ – a teacher training facility and retreat centre. My husband and I since we were moving to Scotland were invited to be part of the project and help run events. It was a beautiful castle with two towers and 2.5 acres of land. The surrounding area was farm land as well as another 800 acres of government parks and trails. The nature was stunning. After TGM closed, my husband and I established the Esoteric Retreat Centre and ran retreats and spiritual events at the same venue. The TGM funds raised for the European Retreat Project were a couple of thousand pounds, which on closure of the organization were transferred in 2013 to a similar fundraising project of another non-profit organization called the Esoteric Retreat Centre.

The Esoteric Retreat Centre

We ran free workshops on spiritual subjects in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and invited people to the Esoteric Retreat Centre where we would host free retreats to explore the topics in more depth. The Esoteric Retreat Centre was a beautiful scenic building initially leased by TGM for the Gnostic Monastery. ERC also launched its own fundraiser to raise money for a permanent European Retreat.

However we were nowhere near the necessary funds to purchase a new property, but heard that another group in Canada who my husband and I knew, had recently purchased a retreat property. We therefore considered moving the retreat funds there as this group was actively doing something and had its own permanent place.

We brought the idea to members of a board for the European Retreat project and it was agreed to move the funds to the Canadian permanent retreat which belonged to a not-for-profit organisation. However, we all agreed that we would first refund any donations people had made to the Esoteric Retreat Center towards the European Retreat Project. I contacted all the people who had donated to the organization and offered to refund their money. The remaining went to the not-for-profit organisation in Canada with similar aims as the Esoteric Retreat Centre.

“Cult” accusations

After TGM closed, my husband and I started new workshops around the same area, and there were three posts made online, copy pasted in three separate websites suggesting our group was a cult. Sometime later in Edinburgh, all around the same time frame, my husband and I encountered some strange occurrences that seemed as though they were trying to sabotage our efforts to run spiritual groups. After TGM had closed and we were running our new groups in Scotland, my husband received a suspicious phone call from someone asking if our group does “psychic sessions” to “solve people’s problems”, to which my husband answered honestly no. In another lecture, seemingly unrelated but within the same time frame, someone in a lecture asked my husband who was teaching about astral projection if we gave “medical advice” for people with psychological issues, to which he replied we didn’t. Very soon after, the venue where we ran our Edinburgh workshops contacted us by email that they were concerned after someone had contacted them about us, and therefore no longer wanted to facilitate our events. After further communication to seek clarification, I was told that someone had accused us of being a cult, and they didn’t want us to use their venue. Hearing this was so upsetting to me, as it was a new beginning for us in Scotland and it all had been jeopardized based on the cult stigma and false accusations, ruining a series of sessions that were aimed at helping people.

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