And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy.
—The Revelation 11:3
How does one come to understand their messianic blessings? For DO, that journey began in a Houston psychiatric hospital in 1972. Marshall Herff Applewhite, or Herff, as the charismatic son of an itinerant Presbyterian minister was then called by his friends, had been a talented musician, well-liked teacher, choir director, and singer with the Houston Grand Opera. But those days were over. He’d left his wife and children after a tryst with a male student led to his requested resignation from a university position. Herff was adrift, torn by his sexual desires, and shaken by voices in his head.
In the hospital, Herff met Bonnie Lu Trousdale Nettles, a registered nurse whose investigations into astrology and theosophy were guided by communications with a 19th-century monk named “Brother Francis.” Bonnie became instant friends with Herff, giving him a crash course in metaphysics. In the folie à deux that ensued, Bonnie and Herff decided they had known each other in previous lives, and hit the road to discover their joint purpose. They camped, ran out on motel bills, got arrested. They wrote a manuscript called “I Can’t Believe That — But You Must,” in which Bonnie framed Herff’s visions in messianic terms. Destined to illuminate humanity, they began signing their letters the “Two Lampstands” or the “Two Candlesticks.” Then, one summer, on the banks of the Rogue River in Oregon, among the wildflowers and sugar pines, Bonnie and Herff were struck by a “vibration like thunder,” a simultaneous disclosure that they were the two witnesses foretold in the Bible’s vision of Apocalypse.
This is what they told a group of 80 people assembled at Joan Culpepper’s house in Studio City in 1975. By then, they had abandoned their given names, instead calling themselves “The Two,” “Guinea and Pig” and “Bo and Peep.” After 30 minutes, they concluded by saying, “If you follow us, you must obey everything we say. That includes giving up your possessions, your family and yourself.” Culpepper, a local psychic guru, whose motto was “Weird turns me on,” thought Bo and Peep were too weird. But many of her guests were awestruck. Nearly a third of the audience — people from all walks of life — left with their new leaders shortly thereafter, traveling the highways looking for more recruits. “There are lot of advanced souls in Southern California,” Bo and Peep later remarked about their newfound flock.
There was no name for the movement then. Mostly they talked about “the Group.” Others referred to HIM, for “Human Individual Metamorphosis,” the title of the mimeograph they’d hand out at meetings. In 1975, the group made a big stir at a motel in the seaside town of Waldport, Oregon, when 20 new disciples abandoned their possessions, bid loved ones final farewells and vanished. On the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite reported: “A score of persons... have disappeared. It’s a mystery whether they’ve been taken on a so-called trip to eternity — or simply been taken.”
The group went underground. Bo and Peep rechristened themselves as DO and TI, harmonic bookends of the musical scale vibrating in the ether. Their travels were bankrolled by a $300,000 trust fund belonging to a member, but DO and TI sent out their followers in groups of two as ascetic nomads. They slept in tents, begged for food, and suffered instructional hardships to “clarify the butter,” as TI put it, separating the pure from the polluted. They covered a vast territory: Spokane, San Diego, Newport, Denver, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Amarillo, Tulsa. They constantly uprooted themselves to avoid detection by members’ families.
“Jesus said it wouldn’t be easy,” the flock was instructed. “He asked for a total commitment, and that means walking away from everything, including your families.”
Severing all ties fit their belief system, in which DO and TI had come to see themselves as extraterrestrial representatives from the Evolutionary Level Above Human. DO, they’d decided, was the very same alien spirit that had inhabited Jesus, and TI was his Heavenly Father. Updating esoteric, early Christianity by way of science fiction, their millennial paradise could be found only by renouncing terrestrial attachments and shedding one’s “container” or “vehicle” to ascend into space and live eternally with the Chief of Chiefs, or God. Like DO and TI, the followers took new names; the choices ranged from biblical to whimsical: Peter, David, Joshua, Wink, Window, Marty, Moneybags, Fanta. In early interviews, DO refused to talk about his wife and children, referring to them as relatives of “his vehicle.” His devotees followed suit. As new spiritual entities temporarily residing in physical bodies, they were no longer the same people, unrelated in their minds to their former families.
Nancie Brown was one mother who never stopped looking for her son. David had joined at the beginning, and after the Jonestown tragedy in 1978, she got worried and started trying to track him down. She checked at DMVs and Salvation Army offices across the country, ran his Social Security number with police — nothing. Eventually she found a sociologist named Robert Balch who had spent time inside the group early on and had written some academic articles about his experience. Several other parents had made the same discovery, and Balch had their numbers. Nancie assembled names and addresses, put together a newsletter, and pieced together an information network. She became a detective, one step behind her son as he traveled with the group through dozens of places over nearly two decades. DO and TI saw her as an agent of “Luciferian forces,” also biblically predicted, and her efforts drove them deeper into hiding.
Tags: New, World, Order, Secret, Societies, Illuminati, Anti, Jesus, Christ, Satan, UFO, Aliens, Intruders, Phoenix, Lights, Sightings, Star, Wars, Hale, Bopp, Comet, Heaven's, Gate, Triangle, Military, Flare, Mind, Control
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