Many years ago when I was in secondary school in the UK, religious education was a topic that held me intrigued. The teacher was very intellectual and well versed in the different theologies and had a keen interest in any new archaeological findings such as the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, the Essenes, and the Nag Hammadi documents. Whilst the education was Catholic, these documents ‘outside’ of the New Testament captivated my curiosity, they seemed to be secrets that led somewhere but I didn’t really know where. The classes seemed thorough but something was missing. A practical real life element, something to experience rather than memorize. The cryptic religious messages seemed only to produce a yearning inside of me to uncover secrets that seemed to be purposefully withheld, like what did the ‘Sphinx’ actually represent? What were the pyramids about and who really built them and why? Why did Jesus really let himself be crucified and what did it really mean? Why not explain the messages so ordinary people could understand?
Over the years as I read different religious texts I instinctively tried to correlate different words in different languages, written at different times, to the same meaning or experience/s, but it became too difficult and just an intellectual exercise. I could hypothesize but the conclusions were still intellectual and could easily be opposed by another interpretation or idea.
As time passed I became embroiled in ordinary daily life, trying to survive, make money and pay bills. In between such tasks I would seek pleasure to alleviate the emptiness of purpose such mundane existence brought on. The inner uneasiness was still there; that there had to be more to life than living and dying in such meaningless manner. It was easy to see that life was based around family, procreation and death, so I felt an aversion to adhering to such plan, but at the same time felt nature pushing me and everyone else in that direction. There had to be a greater purpose and I continued in agitated fashion to try and find it.
The uneasiness led me to read books that were unusual. Some of the eclectic books I recall reading back in the early days were by Erich von Daniken, that argued that all the mystical and transcendental experiences of ‘burning bushes’ and ‘clouds in the sky’ throughout the Bible were just UFOs and aliens affecting humanity. I read books on Parapsychology, the Paranormal, Supernatural, UFOs, Spiritualism, Rasputin, Crowley, Ghosts, Poltergeists, Kirlian Photography, Steiner, Ouspensky, Gurdjieff and so on. I was perplexed by Gurdjieff’s statement ‘To write a book for Conscious Man would be easy, but to write a book for donkeys’. I knew and felt that I was one of the donkeys he was referring to, but I didn’t really know why.
I tried meditating on my own, practicing different techniques I found in books, but most didn’t console the uneasiness, even though sometimes the meditations would make me feel better, more peaceful and rejuvenated. I tried a religion that was a contemporary form of Buddhism that some relatives were hooked on, but in the end felt there was something seriously missing even though I found the chanting of mantras uplifting. I investigated Dowsing Rods and Pendulums and used techniques to visualize making money and obtaining wealth and sometimes they did work. I joined a Yoga class for a while, but soon dropped out as it seemed to be solely focused on keeping fit.
I would often listen to Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ and couldn’t help but wonder what the story was really about. I knew the references to grail and spear, good and bad magicians meant something but the missing ‘secret’ perplexed me and once again seemed to have been left out on purpose. The prelude to the Opera often stopped me in my tracks and would put me into a different inner state of timelessness. I would somehow feel the agony and enlightenment of Parsifal when kissed by Kundry; I would feel the pain of the wound in Amfortas; but I didn’t know why. Strangely though I knew it was extremely important, which I suppose is why I would watch it so often, even in a drunken stupor (hardly entertaining for a party!). I remember once my brother bought me a DVD copy of it for my birthday. That really surprised me, as he didn’t have a clue what it was and didn’t like it. Yet it made me wonder if I was obsessed perhaps unhealthily with it.
Star gazing always provoked the same awe and wonder within me. Looking into time and space that was unimaginable to the mind. It would produce a silencing effect, just with one thought that the light from the nearest star (our Sun) took eight minutes to reach us, but the light from the nearest star Sirius in the night sky took four years, then others thousands. The dimensions and scale seemed to shock my mind into silence.
I had spent lots of money on ‘New Age’ books, tapes and gadgets which I eventually felt disenchanted about. These included self-hypnosis tapes, Hemi-Sync tapes, Subliminal tapes and so on. I had bought different tapes to learn Astral Projection but none of them worked and I felt defrauded, it was clear some people were making a lot of money from selling these things. They may have worked for some people but not me. I read many books that dealt with the different brain frequencies and which ones were associated with meditation and astral experiences, like lucid dreaming and remote viewing; the alpha and theta states and bought a light-machine to flicker at these frequencies. I did have an experience with this machine, but couldn’t repeat it. It was the first time I fully consciously felt my astral body separate from the physical. It surprised me that it felt so ‘physical’.
I bought books on Pyramid Power and created pyramids to use with magical symbols for concentration, plus keep razor blades sharp and preserve food etc., but still my inner uneasiness was agitated. I was intrigued with the elaborate Tarot pack created by Crowley, but found his writings jumbled and confusing and I had an uneasy feeling about his sexual exploits. I thought about moving to Latin America and looking for a ‘Don Juan’ from Castaneda’s books, but realizing this would be highly unlikely, I decided to move to Australia. Too much time had been wasted in wondering and I was determined to put aside books and theories and join groups that could help me experience things to validate so many theories, but ultimately help me find the real peace and happiness that so many mystical texts alluded to.
Once I landed in Australia I started visiting all the New Age shops and searching through all the Occult and Spiritual magazines and schools in Sydney, including the Theosophical library to see what groups I could join. The first place I joined was a Spiritual Church in Sydney. The group sang some songs to generate ‘energy’ followed by the leader going into a mild channeling trance and telling me and everyone else in the audience that ‘so and so’ was with us/me and says ‘x’. We did exercises to develop psychic faculties, like holding objects and sensing who they belonged to and telling a story about the owner etc., but I soon became dissatisfied and didn’t want to ‘earn’ a living by being a psychic which seemed to be their final aim. I attended talks by different groups at the Theosophical Society, but was disenchanted by people toying with Dowsing Rods, singing hymns and sensing auras. I felt they were taking ‘kindergarten’ stuff for something substantial and the ‘end of the road’. I listened to some groups trying to entice people to join their own communities or natural communes away from city life; they were attractive propositions but again something of substance seemed amiss.
I joined another Yoga group that believed that Bob Marley plus other ‘questionable’ individuals were Self-Realised and had fully awakened the Kundalini. I wasn’t convinced even though I could feel all the sensations they were talking about. I decided to look for a free ‘Magical’ group like the ‘Golden Dawn’ or a Gurdjieff group, or possibly join a Masonic Lodge, or any group that would help me to experience other dimensions, so I could know things for myself.
The Gnostic Movement
One day whilst searching in a new age shop in Sydney, I had enquired with the lady at the counter if she knew about any groups locally that ran free meditation classes or similar free practice sessions. She looked at me surprised and said no, but someone had come in only a few weeks before and left their details saying they did such a thing. Strangely she had not even put it on her notice board. Fortunately the lady went into the back room and came out with a piece of paper which had a telephone number written on it.
When back home, I phoned the number and spoke to a gentleman who explained the courses wouldn’t be running again for a few months, but they would phone me when they start. At the time I didn’t know the gentleman’s name but he spoke slowly and carefully with a Welsh accent. It seemed a strange conversation (English accent, Welsh accent, in the middle of Australia!) but then I thought to myself I am probably looking for eccentric people! So I left my details and honestly thought I would never hear back from them. Later I was introduced to the man who I had phoned – Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub).
A few months later I received a phone call from a lady with a very sweet, gentle voice saying I had enquired about attending their courses. At the time I couldn’t remember phoning them (I had lost the number and obviously didn’t recognize the voice) but it sounded very pleasant so I thought I would go along and see what it was all about. I subsequently learnt the lady I had been speaking to was Mark’s wife.
These two phone conversations were the beginning of many years contact with Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub). To this day I am deeply indebted to him for all the efforts he has made to achieve spirituality and enlightenment plus the enormous efforts he has made to help other people do the same.
Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub) and The Gnostic Movement
I went to the first lecture and was intrigued so I kept going back. Bit by bit I realized that what was being said was effortlessly slotting into place, answering many of my burgeoning questions related to religion, spirituality and psychology and refreshingly it all made sense and I was given simple exercises to try.
After a while I was made aware that the group was founded on teachings presented by a Latin American, Samael Aun Weor. Subsequently, after his death, the school and teachings continued through someone called Rabolu. In the early days I was skeptical particularly as the word ‘Christian’ was used in their name and I had become somewhat wary of organized religion. However the teaching incorporated aspects of Tibetan Mysticism, which included concepts such as the Pythagorean transmigration of souls or reincarnation. So clearly the word Christian was being used in new or unusual way, and it was only later that I learnt why. When I did, so many of the missing pieces slotted into place and I had a new way of reading old texts, including Christian, and understanding the references. The missing key, or cornerstone that had been missing for so long had finally been found and encrypted messages could be decrypted.
The lectures and topics presented weekly were under the umbrella of Gnosticism. Each topic had an exercise to try at home, at work or at night, and I soon started to corroborate what was being taught and found that the exercises did work. I remember learning about ‘awareness’ and ‘being in the moment’. After the session I walked home rather than catch the bus as I normally did. As I walked home, maybe for an hour or so, I found myself in a very different inner state as I approached the unit where I lived. I had tapped into and maintained an inner state that gave me real stillness, calm and ‘peace’ within even though I was walking most of the way down a very busy road with endless traffic. My new inner state was only disrupted when I had to converse with other residents in the shared accommodation. However, in this process it made me realize and value more the inner state I had previously been in and now lost. I knew something of substance was being taught by The Gnostic Movement, and felt it was just the beginning of something much bigger. It was a huge relief to find exercises that could give so much peace and real ‘happiness’. This type of experience was totally different to anything experienced before with drugs, alcohol, chocolate, exercise or any other pleasure-seeking stimulus. This was a technique independent of the external stimulus. It was something within that could be learned and developed psychologically and spiritually, though at the time I still didn’t really think of it as spiritual, perhaps a bit transcendental. I realized that I had experienced a similar state in early childhood, it would be sporadic and I just assumed everyone else also experienced the same.
The Centre Environment
The small Center I joined, run by Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub), felt very different from previous environments or schools I had attended. The atmosphere had an air of esoteric discipline combined with a sanctifying reverence. I very much enjoyed that simplicity and once commented about the environment being ‘minimalist’. I enjoyed very much the atmosphere and felt its presence as calming and ‘clean’ rather than energetically unsound as I had perceived in other halls, or school environments. Attending the center twice a week was something I very much looked forward to. In the early days I was very eager to learn more and experiment with the new exercises. I found myself feeling at home, almost content, like returning home after being lost for many years. On reflection I’m sure Mark probably found me disturbing to the peaceful habitat but I appreciated his patience and willingness to help me learn the new exercises.
Involvement in The Gnostic Movement
After attending for a year or so, and seeing that what was being taught had substance and was making a big difference in my life and how I interacted in it, I decided to commit more fully to the group and assist with helping in whatever ways I could. At first I didn’t have much money so instead would help go out and put up posters in the local area so that other people who may be interested could also attend and see if they saw value in it. I recall being very eager about what I had found particularly how our energies were linked to states of consciousness, and I told my brother expecting him to be fascinated as much as I was. However, he responded in a manner that showed me that not everyone had my interest, nor uneasiness to search for something more meaningful in life. I realized many people wouldn’t be interested but I didn’t let that stop me from helping those who would. I felt the message and exercises were very important, and for people suffering it may be the panacea they needed, if they wanted it.
Gradually I became more involved and eventually joined the organization established to promote and market the courses, which were all free of charge. I took on different roles with the structure of the Board, such as President, Treasurer, Auditor, etc and fulfilled those to the best of my ability. It was established as a non-profit Incorporated Association, which was the best legal structure to use at the time. At first I found it a bit strange, because I had ideas about spirituality not being ‘constrained’ by modern legal structures, or other forms of ‘rules’ and requirements, but soon realized there was no choice. The system had to be implemented to work within society, and it was for the protection of all volunteers involved and the public at large. It allowed for basic things such as public liability insurance and so on.
I eventually became a Teacher, giving classes, running courses and guiding exercise practices, plus running a local center and also participating in more national activities. The courses and teacher training were all guided by Mark at the time and it was very enjoyable. I quickly realized that trying to teach and help others was actually one of the best ways for myself to also learn. As I explained things to students I would also simultaneously acquire a greater understanding of what I was trying to teach or impart to others. This created a really nice, mutual exchange of learning on both sides. Such reciprocation created a very uplifting group environment to be in. I very much enjoyed the energy that was created by a group of people all eager to learn and know more. I found the energy and enthusiasm of new students very uplifting and it ensured that things progressed without ever becoming stale or stagnant. The atmosphere was alive. There was no pretension, just simple honest innocent interactions. It was a unique and special ambience.
The course themes would regularly change with emphasis on different topics, so that older students and teachers maintained a fresh approach. The fundamentals remained the same. This was excellent and very well coordinated. It also ensured that the centers nationally had a similar focus and aim, so it was easy to share ideas about marketing, share costs of printing and so on. The different centers would communicate regularly and the time and effort spent would be maximized by efficiencies. The famous quote ‘Sharing and Caring’ applied to the organization throughout.
I was part of the Gnostic Movement for approximately ten years. For most of this time it was coordinated by Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub) who was the most senior instructor. It was a wonderful unforgettable experience and it is a great shame that the organization closed.