Growing up, I had many interesting dream experiences that somehow told me there was more going on in life, yet I never looked into them deeply or researched the topic until I was in my early 20s. Searching for “astral travel” on the internet quickly brought me to the websites run by The Gnostic Movement.
The personal experience articles I read appealed to me greatly as they gave it more of an honest and ‘real’ foundation than other astral projection sites I saw around. But what intrigued me most was the connection to ancient gnosticism. It made sense that these experiences weren’t anything new, but that people had been having them throughout history, and in fact were the basis of much knowledge found in major religions.
Ultimately, I didn’t want to believe what any particular group or person was teaching on face value. I wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. So I spent about a year just browsing The Gnostic Movement’s websites, reading the forums, seeing people’s experiences, and dipping into some of the free books available. It was during this year that I had a spontaneous conscious astral experience by realizing I was in a dream – I was in a park, took a small jump to test gravity (I floated), and felt an object in front of me with an incredibly heightened sense of touch. Waking up the morning after and reflecting on the experience was just awesome. I believe it took place due to the inspiration I gained from everything I had read on The Gnostic Movement’s website Mysticweb.org.
After this year I decided to join the courses and give it a good effort to see if I could experience more of what people wrote about – overcoming suffering, depression, addictions, and having more astral experiences all interested me. So I got Belzebuub’s books The Peace of the Spirit Within and A Course in Astral Travel & Dreams. These books were eye-opening in themselves, but it was really the practices he taught that made a difference.
In mid-2006 I started the astral course The Gnostic Movement was running online. After four weeks I was encouraged by someone posting in the forums to attend the center in Brisbane where I lived.
Although I was apprehensive about going due to my overall fear of being in new places and meeting new people, I found it such a welcoming environment that I continued for the rest of the course. By the end, there were only two or three regular students including myself. The guy teaching was really helpful with advice and leading the practices. I continued to have more success waking up in dreams every few nights and remembering many dreams usually every night. Through these early experiences I understood that I existed beyond my physical body – an indescribable feeling in itself!
At The Gnostic Movement’s Brisbane center, I practiced awareness of the present moment, mantras, astral projection, and meditation. ‘Gnosis’ was at the core of what was taught, which more specifically was ‘self-knowledge.’ The focus was on learning about ourselves mainly through self-observation and dreams. Rather than being caught up in daydreams, worries, and low emotions, which had been my normal way of life, I was able to feel more spiritual qualities, not be depressed or lazy, and spend my time in much more beneficial activities. Every week when courses were running, we would meet at the center for group practices, discuss how things were going, what insights we may have gained, and of course have a tea and relaxed chat in the cafe afterwards.
At the beginning of 2007 I attended my first international retreat run by The Gnostic Movement at the Bunya Mountains in Queensland, Australia. Here I met many more people than those at the Brisbane center, some who had been involved for many years. There was a harmonious sense of community among everyone. As a pleasant surprise, Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub) arrived and led many of the practices and talks for the duration of the retreat. Any stereotypical ideas I had of him as a spiritual teacher were quickly put to rest. He was one of the most down-to-earth people I had ever met. I still value the amazing chats by the campfire he had with us all.
Being so inspired at this retreat, I wanted to be involved more and go further with the experiences I had already had. So I continued with the courses and then joined the teacher training course. I learned more about running the organization and how to best help out. I was very keen with everything, as I kept practicing spiritual exercises and getting more personal experiences in dreams and daily life.
There were so many mystical experiences from this time. Doing group mantras as simple as the vowel ‘O’, would produce deeply relaxing and spiritual states. Regular astral experiences meant I could investigate various aspects of that dimension and visit special places (such as the Great Sphinx in Egypt). In many dreams Belzebuub would provide guidance that helped inspire me. In the center we would often listen to music composed by Beethoven, Mozart, Handel, Bach, and others, in a meditative state, giving insight into how spiritual music can be. We also meditated regularly on negative inner states we wanted to change – through these practices I was able to reduce irritation and anger, jealousy, fears, hurt pride, and so on, bringing positive changes to all relationships and areas of my life.
At the first international retreat I attended in the USA in mid-2007, there were a number of talented musicians, each of whom contributed various performances throughout the time there. This so inspired me that I decided to get back into playing music, which I had all but given up a few years previous. Through the taught practices like awareness of the present moment and mantras, my music ability has been enriched greatly, not to mention appreciation for great musical works throughout history. Towards the end of The Gnostic Movement, we even had a musical group together and would play every Sunday morning at the center. These were some of my favorite times with others involved with The Gnostic Movement.
In mid-2009 I moved to the Bay Area center in California, to be involved with the many activities which were happening there. In a few months I had become a qualified teacher in The Gnostic Movement, and was involved in numerous projects. Being so involved, I was able to develop skills I never had before such as marketing, public speaking, web skills, event management, art appreciation, and video production. The latter has even led me to become a successful video professional, even though I never studied this at school! I never thought I could even do video editing, but working on various projects in The Gnostic Movement gave me the experience I needed to get started.
Apart from these real life skills, through The Gnostic Movement I greatly increased my knowledge of ancient texts, religions, and esoteric theory. Most importantly, it was from trying to understand these areas through personal experience that I gained most benefit. For example, it’s one thing to read about “knowing yourself,” but another to consistently observe what’s happening inside every day, seeing aspects you need to change, and then managing to actually change them and become a better person. This was really the greatest of all things I gained.
The friendships I formed through my time in The Gnostic Movement have been deep and long-lasting. Many are still my friends today, and I hope will remain so for the rest of my life. The common bond we shared through the centers, retreats, practices and experiences is still there, even though the organization from which we all benefited so much is gone. It is terribly sad for me that it no longer exists, however the memories and knowledge I gained will remain with me.