Finding the courses online
In the summer of 2005, I was searching the internet for information on dreams and out-of-body experiences. I wanted to know more as I had several experiences which I could not place as a young child. My search led me to the site called Mysticweb.org where an online lectures in dreams was offered for free. The free aspect stood out from the start, quite unique in these times, so I enrolled. I had to wait some time for the new round to begin which allowed me to get my hands on a copy of the Astral Travel and Dreams book that accompanied the course. Once the course started, the website changed to Gnosticweb.com.
Life as an online student
The content in the course was clear and there was also an emphasis on being very practical and doing the exercises instead of just reading. I took this very seriously and was determined to at least have one experience during this round. The book suggested that it should be possible to have an out-of-body experience within the course’s time frame if I put in the effort, and so that is what I did. As a result I had my first lucid dream a few weeks into the course.
The forums were always abuzz which made it sometimes hard to keep up with all that was going on. Questions were answered quickly and often the teachers would clarify things from their experience. Here, it first dawned on me that some people had a deep understanding of dreams and OBEs, much deeper than other people I spoke to outside TGM.
I loved the course and towards the end I realised that my astral experiences were going to be limited due to my own psychology. Naturally, I took the Self-Knowledge course to learn more. I learned about awareness, self-observation and how these can give self-knowledge as well as bring clarity. At the time I struggled to get a feel for how both work because I took a very mental approach towards it. Often I would resort to the forums for clarification where students or teachers helped me to try a different approach.
Later in the Gnostic Wisdom course I was taught about the more esoteric parts of the work which includes the technique to eliminate the egos. I remember receiving that specific lesson of the course early in the morning. I was surprised how simple the technique was. Being determined to apply it as much as I could that day, I went for it, and that same night I had a dream where I was asking for the elimination/inner-death over and over again. It shocked me and was a great lesson which I understood only later. It was a reflection of how I was applying it and what I should change.
It was difficult as an online student to talk to others outside the program of my experiences or struggles, leaving me sometimes with a feeling of isolation. I also noticed that going against the egos was like leading a different life than the one I was living. Many activities in my life involved feeding pleasure or were obstructing my own spiritual growth. Stopping these and aiming for change within resulted in some of my friends dropping away and for circumstances in my life to change. This was difficult as I did not understand fully what I put in motion. Again, those on the forums helped me a great deal which I’m very grateful for.
The Wales Retreat
I understood that being an online student could only get me so far, so when the opportunity arose, I attended the retreat in Wales — my first one in 2007 and second in 2008. It was truly amazing to meet so many people that are all searching for spiritual knowledge. Everyone was very welcoming and there seemed to be this care for each other. Here, many doubts regarding gnosis were taken away, and I saw the people around me actually living these teachings. How cool is that!
Attending the Melbourne Center
After finishing my university degree in September 2009, I traveled to Australia to visit the Gnostic centers. Before my travels I was attending the Trainee Teachers Course online; therefore, I could join the new round in Melbourne. I loved every moment of being there as there was so much learning going on. I tried to help out wherever possible. Firstly with little things like preparing the center and cleaning. Later I had the opportunity to give a lecture. Having to wait before I could teach showed me that it was important to gain experience with the various practices. Once someone has a strong foundation, they are in a better position to show others. Personal experiences speak from person to person while intellectual knowledge is limited.
I attended the International Australian Retreat in 2009. The month prior to the retreat, there was a large emphasis on building momentum with our own practices. This way everyone would go to the retreat with this strength and experience behind them in order to gain more as well as support others. This really helped me to start the retreat on the right note. Several things stood out in particular. One being the silence that I managed to attain in a visualization practice. I never knew I could get my mind so focused. Second being the peace I had after the retreat. As the theme of the retreat was investigation, I chose to investigate peace. Throughout the retreat I lacked it, struggled to be in the moment and to observe. Only after the retreat when I drove back with my car, an incredible sense of peace came over me. I couldn’t believe it — everything around me looked so alive, vivid and beautiful. Where did this amazing feeling come from? Luckily it stayed with me the entire day and I felt so happy. In retrospect, this retreat was mainly about learning and overcoming obstacles. I can recall many people saying they faced difficulties of some kind. It is hard to put into words, but times like these create a special bond between people, like a sort of brotherhood. Many became good friends which I’m still in contact with.
The Perth Center
In June 2009 I arrived in Perth where I attended the center for almost 3 months as by then my visa ran out. As the team was small, many opportunities came up to help, like postering, preparing the center before a lecture, and supporting the teachers during weekend events. I learned more about being responsible, taking initiative, and working with others. At the same time I was given to opportunity to support the Technical team with fixing issues on new websites. It was great for learning new skills in web development.
Every weekend advanced practice sessions for the teachers and trainee teachers took place. These allowed me to go deeper into the various practices, to experience more clarity and focus. At certain weekend evenings, we’d come together to spend the night exploring a practice. The level of activity as well as the structured approach were key elements in allowing me to experience what I did.
Gnostic Retreat Monastery
At the end of September, I returned to my hometown where I felt a great longing to return to a center. I missed the activity along with the opportunities to help out. I wished to live close to a group again which became a reality after the Slovakian retreat in August 2010. Soon after the retreat I moved to Edinburgh to support the Gnostic Monastery. I appreciated the amount of effort the teachers made to start up and run such a grand project. The castle was amazing and even had a tower. With each retreat you could feel the place become more vibrant. At this point I heard of certain former participants who turned against Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub) and TGM but did not understand the full extent of what was happening. In February 2011 the Movement suddenly closed and only then I understood how significant it really was.
In summary, my time with The Gnostic Movement brought me some of the most life-changing circumstances, from the mystical experiences to the valuable lessons learned by helping others. In spite of it not being around anymore, I’m thankful for having found it and for the deeper meaning and purpose it gave my life. That is something which can’t be taken away.