Sedona/Verde Valley Cults
Cults in the Sedona/Verde Valley region.
Most people kind of hope that we were moving towards an age of rationality and reasoning where people will finally be able to think for themselves but it seems that the opposite is happening. Over the years many have made the Sedona/Verde Valley area their home in search of spiritual answers. Sedona is considered by many to be The Place for new-age thinking in the United States. Some consider Sedona’s Harmonic Convergence in the 80s to be the focal point of the New Age Movement when and where many spiritual leaders of the time gathered to the region for what may be considered the intention of building some kind of spiritual United Nations. Indeed the people found here are a culturally diverse group including male and female, old and young, married and single, all living in different states of awareness as if prompted by an inner calling. Remarkably, the small region without question has a high density of religious organizations without actual churches. There are many independent “gurus” of all kinds along with channelers, energy workers, psychics, shamans, spiritual healers, and even tech cults referred to as the new religious movement. “New religious movement” is often a euphemism used by cult apologists in an attempt to spin a supposedly “politically correct” term for groups more commonly called “cults.” Before dying at age 82 in 2003, Margaret Singer, arguably one of the world’s preeminent expert on cult brainwashing and psychology, estimated there might be as many as 5,000 new religious movements operating in the United States alone. By its primary definition, the term cult just means a system of religious beliefs or rituals. In modern usage, the term cult is often used by the general public to describe any religious group they view as strange or dangerous.
Without question, one person’s cult has been called another person’s inarguable truth, and over millennia many spiritual or cultural belief systems have been called cults which have acted more like an organization that engages in non-mainstream beliefs and practices, typically secretive especially the satanic cults. If people followed religious leaders today like the first Christians described in Acts, they would be called a cult-like “Jonestown” and “Heaven’s Gate.” The goal of a cult leader is the same regardless of the jargon: confuse, disassociate and control. It is about “being led away from yourself.” Any organization or religion can be used as a front to hide ritual abuse activity, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Masonry, Mormonism, Shamanism, Scientology, and Satanic religions; however, not all Satanists commit crimes and not all occultism is Satanism. Not all cults are religious, weird and/or have compounds where members live together in a community. Some so-called “cults” may be benign. In the 1980’s many adults and children came forward around the world disclosing they were victims/perpetrators of satanic ritual abuse [SRA] and/or were witness to satanic ritual murders. In the vast majority of reported cases of ritual abuse, it was the testimony of the allegedly abused children themselves that damned dozens of innocent people. However, by the early 1990s when courts began tossing out convictions based on recovered memories and coached testimony the media backed away. Some claim most if not all of the stories about the allegedly evil acts of these groups or movements have proven to be little more than urban myths and legends, however, in Arizona mutilated animals are not uncommon. In one case, a dog’s head is seen separated from its body. In another, a calf is seen with its throat cut and is partially skinned.
Over the years there have been more than a few local groups making national headlines from an area where some religious cults are said to be providing the context in a place world famous for spiritual experiences.
Tech Bro Guru Bentinho Massaro
If anyone Bentinho Massaro is the perfect example of how a person can start and run a cult by first at a very young age claim divinity and special god-like powers. As well as referring to himself as Superman, or a god with godlike powers, Massaro presented the idea visually by wearing Superman t-shirts in his online posts of self-portraits posted on top of mountains with images of human beings in fantasy landscapes and with superpowers. For all perhaps too intensive purposes Bentinho’s rhetoric encouraged his followers to take risks in theirs. His teaching at the time was explicit in demanding students to go “all in” ultimately to “discard fear altogether.” Massaro stated:
“We are fearing more of life. So don’t fear death, be excited about it.”
Bentinho Massaro became one of the internet’s youngest and most prominent gurus plastered across the Internet, spreading influence to an almost limitless audience straddling the thin line between teacher and cult leader. It’s evident that what worked to formulate the level of success of Massaro had little to do the specifics of any sound spiritual ideas. Bentinho told his followers to not focus on the content, rather focus instead on what he is transmitting which often ended up to be sexual relations with followers. After a little foreplay to lead someone down the guru’s path Bentinho taught a mashup of Advaita Vedanta and the Law of Attraction at times attracting over 500 people to his in-person retreats where he peddled in unrealistic promises such as “find complete happiness in two steps” among other totally unrealistic approaches. How and why anyone would or could ever consider listening to a kid in his 20s about enlightenment and the meaning of happiness is a good question? Massaro for all intensive purposes also advocated, crudely, that followers separate themselves from their friends and families:
“Fuck your relationships. They mean nothing. Let them go, let them go. Don’t give a fuck about your family. Don’t give a fuck about your children. Don’t give a fuck about your parents. Don’t give a fuck about your partner.”
As crude as these words sound, they are hardly unprecedented in the Sedona “spiritual” circles. It appears some truly desire “being led away from themselves” along with their pocketbooks or they are victims of a cleverly spun spell of the master of illusion who extensively believed in Unidentified Flying Objects.
The internet’s influence made it easier than ever to attract vulnerable seekers. On December 9, 2017, 34-year-old Cult 2.0 follower Brent Wilkins somehow, unfortunately, believed he could fly by jumping off an area the Midgley Bridge in Sedona, Arizona while on a spiritual retreat to see guru Bentinho Massaro. Speculations have spun into a vortex of questions of why, was it that he found out his millennial-aged guru, Bentinho Massaro was perhaps a fraud? Or could hints at why a person would choose to leave this world be found in what Wilkins reportedly wrote shortly beforehand:
“I wanted to take the jump... That was my first jump, and my first attempt to fly.”
Reports indicate Brent had given to the chase your dreams scheme and decided one day despite protests of family and friends to give everything to chase enlightenment, following the guru, somehow leading to the Sedona/Verde Valley on a 12-day retreat far from a life left behind. At the retreat, Massaro reportedly teaches that the physical world was an illusion, that nothing was real, including death was never the end. During the retreat Massaro reportedly stated:
“Wake up to something important, otherwise kill yourself.”
Furthering to loosen the grasp and meaning life had on his followers Bentinho Massaro also stated:
“Looking forward to death makes you truly come alive.”
Trading stable life with family and friends to follow Massaro stumbling down a path to enlightenment that ended only when he threw himself into Sedona’s Oak Creek Canyon. No doubt it appears one person took the teaching a little too serious. Concerns over these statements prompted an official investigation into the matter by the Sedona police department sending in detectives asking, “Tell me about Brett.” With all the talk of being a God or Superman and death making a person truly come alive, Massaro responded “He was the guy that was all-in or all-out, and he was so in... He believed it to the core of his being.” After Wilkins’ death sparked a chorus of cult accusations, Massaro fled the area.
In all fairness who really can say why Brett did what he did and all indications point to the fact Massaro didn’t directly have an involvement to warrant any real blame. However, It’s frustrating to see people have so low a bar for “awakening.” When socially engineered imitations like Massaro are taken for the real deal, humanity takes a step closer to the edge of oblivion. We are witnessing the birth of a new era — Cult 2.0. There will no doubt be a rise of cult leaders who use technology to grow their enterprises. Bentinho Massaro has perhaps offered a glimpse of what is to come. Do we really need facts to dismiss someone who claims to be a superhuman guru-avatar posing as a god wanna-be? Has the spiritual enlightenment scene really sunk this low? Anyone can get caught up further by getting recordings of “The Eye of the Vortex Retreat” in Sedona held on Oct. 23rd - 27th 2017. For a $277.00, anyone can access all audio downloads and streaming access to all videos of the “Self/God/I” master and transcend circumstances through intoxication with the infinite intelligence of bliss. Massaro termed the event:
“The profound bliss of Self/God/I-I becomes evermore pristine upon resting in it until one begins the journey of dissolving into it and making undiluted happiness a permanent state of being.”
Happiness a permanent state of being!? OK... Nonetheless; people are drawn, ever so, to charismatic know it alls that tell them how to live their lives and achieve a blissful state without doing any work. No one can do this for you. As Nisargadatta Maharaj always said: The true Guru is within. True spirituality is not about being under the illusion of some self-obsessed cult leader. The true spiritual path is a journey within. Nobody should ever give their power away to someone else, that’s a recipe for a disaster.
Spiritual Warrior James Arthur Ray
A frequent guest on “Oprah” who helped write the best-selling documentary and book, “The Secret,” acclaimed motivational speaker and guru James Ray showed just how dangerous some people can be. Sweat lodges are usually safe. People use them all the time, however, around 2:30 PM on October 8th, 2009, at the 70-acre Angel Valley Retreat center many had spent more than $10,000 to be there, in what Ray called his “Spiritual Warrior” program where he asked participants to shave their heads, spend 36 hours in the smoking red hot desert meditating without food or water before entering into a 120-degree, makeshift “sweat hut” that turned into a death trap. The sweat hut has traditionally been used as a ceremonial sauna in rituals practiced by some Native Americans. During the experience, the tent is gradually filled with steam generated by pouring water on to fire-heated rocks brought inside the dome. 60 people huddled around steaming fire-heated rocks hoping to cleanse their bodies when 3 died and many others were taken to the local hospital after being overcome by the teachings of the guru. When paramedics arrived at the retreat center, one of them reportedly asked “what happened here? is this a mass suicide?” The tragedy and ensuing prosecution drew international media attention. Ray pleaded not guilty to three counts of manslaughter. After a four-month trial, James Arthur Ray was found guilty of negligent homicide and sentenced to two years in prison. Ironically just before the deaths, Ray wrote:
“Still in Spiritual Warrior … for anything new to live something first must die. What needs to die in you so that new life can emerge.”
Before they entered the dome, Ray warned them his final test was a symbolic death stating:
“You are not going to die. You might think you are, but you are not going to die.”
Many have wondered if mega-businesses similar to James Ray’s, regardless of what any mega-business is selling, are in actuality, cults. Answers to this question can perhaps be found in the fact James Ray’s trial attorneys tried to keep cult expert from testifying at trial. Ironically another odd and questionable thing Ray reported stated before the deaths:
“You will have to get to a point to where you surrender and its ok to die.”
According to Gayland W. Hurst, Ph.D. whose work on satanic cults in SATANIC CULT AWARENESS was published in the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) for the U.S. Department of Justice states:
“Near-death experiences: are used to promote 'out of body experiences' and are a common part of certain cult rituals.”
In another 2005 sweat lodge ceremony, EMS reportedly responded to a 911 call of a participant who had fallen unconscious during the activity. Also in the same year, a woman was said to of shattered her hand during a “martial arts” seminar by Ray while attempting to shatter a board. Instead of breaking the board the woman shattering several bones in her hand. Then in 2006 during another “spiritual warrior” retreat, a man reportedly somehow received an arrow in the head in a demonstration of mind powers. During a seminar in 2009 one attendee fell to her death. Less than two weeks after losing one of his students to a deadly fall, Ray selects a group of the high paying members hiking on a mountain trail overlooking Machu Picchu - blindfolded. When concerned local tour guides reportedly tried to steer the hikers away from steep drops around sharp turns, Ray became irritated at the interference. It seems he was going to teach his students about the value of living life to the fullest one way or another by flirting with death and no one was going to stop him.
It’s too bad in a civilized country like the USA so many people go for the ridiculous and dangerous at a premium price. It seems James Ray much like Bentinho Massaro also was normalizing death to his followers. The tactics and language are the same as hundreds of other cults over the years. Were the deaths at a ‘sweat lodge’ the inevitable result of misappropriation of ritual, or is the story more complex? I mean no one ever pays for a sweat lodge. Ever. Yet somehow people were being convinced to hand over their money which they did. Unfortunately and unknowingly for some followers, they had purchased a first-class ticket to truly experience the spiritual realms across the river into the afterlife once and for all giving rise to the nickname “The Death Dealer.”
Cursed Land of Paranormal and Occult
It all began when Joseph and his wife moved to Sedona Arizona. Josephs wife took a job as a manager at a local coffee shop. It was fine until a bizarre elderly lady apparently became a fixture there never buying anything, and she was rather quite odd. The lady would it seems also ask people for rides into the desert and then was rumored to force them to meditate while reciting a strange dialog she gave them. As time waned on the lady became worse; following people into the bathroom and into the dark corridors. Staff and patrons then started leaving, getting deathly ill, and they weren’t saying why. It was at this point things came to a head when Josephs wife asked the strange woman to leave at which point the lady calmly and coldly told her she would kill her; that she knew things. After some digging, it became apparent to Joseph that she wasn’t simply just an old lady - “she was a shapeshifter!” After more digging it into the mysterious woman was proven the lady was indeed heavily into witchcraft and was indeed by all indications a real witch, but not just any witch for she reportedly bears many characteristics of a Skinwalker. Patrons spoke of her shapeshifting into a lizard-like entity, that she had spells.
This is one of many tales and experiences people relate to the Sedona/Verde Valley area. Joseph also told the story of when a native American Indian medicine man asked a friend of his called JR for help searching for two native American Indian girls who went missing after apparently the girl’s tracks were followed out into the desert. JR agrees to go assist in the search in which the two girls are found ritualistically sacrificed. What is really troubling about this tale is that the person would go on to state this sort of thing is happening all the time in the area including the finding of human body parts being found all over. In addition, Joseph also states the American Indian tribes and leaders of Sedona hide the truth from the public. Normally nobody would give any credit to such tales but the guy even provided proof people in the area run around with human body parts along with items used to perform satanic rituals.
In 2011 law enforcement officials busted an organization called the Goddess Temple for allegedly offering sexual services disguised as a form of “religious healing” all on the pretense of providing ‘neo tantric’ healing therapies. Detectives uncovered a variety of evidence through an extensive investigation proving male and female “practitioners” were performing sexual acts in exchange for monetary “donations” under the ruse of offering religious services. The group's website said at one point:
“Sex is a holy, sacred and divine healing force at the core (of) our beings. Once we embrace this force instead of deny it, we become successful, happy and powerful manifestors.”
Another person residing in the region made national headline news when FBI officials confirmed “law enforcement activity” at the Sedona-area home of Michael Lacey, a co-founder of Backpage.com some have called a “cyberspace cult.” The site became dominated by adult-oriented advertising that police, prosecutors, and advocates said were veiled solicitations for prostitution. After the raids came the immediate shutdown of the Backpage.com website along with a very informative notification stating the seizure was “part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, with analytical assistance from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.”
Prosecutors alleged Backpage.com was used to sell women and underage girls sold through the ads were coerced into acts of prostitution elevating the crime from prostitution to the federal crime of sex trafficking.
It wasn’t long after the raid of Backpage that Craigslist removed its personal section from their website for some strange reason...
Satanism and the Schoolgirl
Sometime in March 1989 at a secluded campus of Oak Creek Ranch School near Sedona, Arizona a family alleged in a federal lawsuit that their daughter was exposed to “the practice of Satanism by students at the school.” The parents stated the young girl would come home with vivid descriptions of how she and her friends dabbled with the devil. The distressed family stated on the record:
“They would experiment with Satanism by drawing a pentagram in the dirt, and put a rat or a frog or something like that in the middle of it, and douse it with lighter fluid and set it on fire.”
In court papers, the family tried to speak with the school director about Satanism on campus, but the person refused to talk to her. Instead, she says, he referred her to his lawyer. The fact this issue at all is on record in such a matter should be a sign something rather strange and odd is occurring in the region. Of course, there are those throughout the years who have completely denied the existence of Satanic groups among us attempting to debunk claims of systemic ritualistic occult abuse in America. At some point the federal government began to seek the truth, hoping to determine just how widespread the problem of Satanic ritual abuse really was. Dr. Gail Goodman was then commissioned under the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect to assess and study the claims being made by clinicians across the country. Goodman stated:
“We did find evidence for individuals or small groups who did bad things to children using Satanic themes. It’s heartbreaking to hear about some of their experiences, many of which we had documents on from their child protection records years ago.”
To most people, the Satanic cult panic had/has no basis and came to an end a long time ago once it was brought to the light of having existed. In reality, however, it merely went underground.
Over the years within the Sedona/Verde Valley a person has easily been able to find many elements of the occult including satanic practices performed out in the open as well as hidden. Within the so-called “spiritual community” set within an area in Arizona that has become something of a “New Age Mecca” it has perhaps become increasingly commonplace to find claims of those being a spiritual guide claiming to have a degree from some accredited and acclaimed Metaphysical University. As with all things people should investigate people and groups closely for sometimes these “guides” truly are leading people to face their ultimate fears in order to place them on the edge of death. The fact these strange paranormal cults exist at all and have been found out in the open popping up in such a small community should no doubt bring to light the reality they not only exist in the region but are at times unfortunately dangerous and can at times be deadly. When a Sedona Police Chief mentions he has heard several rumors about satanic rituals being performed “in the desert somewhere” combined with the fact there are reportedly a lot of people vanishing in the region a possible connection is perhaps being made. Strangely it’s not uncommon for the Sedona police to issue an arrest warrant for Sedona residents accused of drawing blood from local teenagers. When law enforcement searched the house rented by the alleged bloodsuckers, they reportedly find satanic paraphernalia and a book on satanic rituals. According to radio broadcast host, 38-year investigator, and Christian Pastor, Russ Dizdar, who has taught at the Police Academy as an expert on “dark forces” after having dealt with and researched the criminal element of the occult specifically satanic rituals states these types of behavior are in every single city in the United States by design often performed on animals and children. (Criminal statistics prove the sad fact that sexual crimes of all classifications are increasing in our modern civilization. This is particularly noticeable in sex offenses against children. Children are mostly ritualistically abused sexually. Humans are ritualistically sacrificed.) When these types of events are found Dizdar the ‘demonologist’ who has studied both the scriptures and has researched the underworld for over 40 years engaging the underground of satanic ritual abuse stated:
“Finding satanic ritual abuse means there’s a coven that knows how to birth this, breed them, split them, might put mind control principles in them, release demons in them, and raise them. These victims come from groups that know how to do this they are the most secretive, beyond the Mofia, beyond the Drug Lords, this is deeper and darker. We deal with them in the field all over hundreds and hundreds of possessions and demonic cases and in that whole underworld the symbolism that they use like a pentagram along with wearing hoods whilst in a circle, why they do what they do, and why and how they summon demons, well its all throughout the Old Testament.”
Occultists, witches, and Satanists share eight common sabbats during the year each holding special significance. In addition, Satanists hold member’s birth date in reverence. On these dates, there is a significant amount of activity amongst traditional worshippers. Recently it has been coming to light more and more in the local Sedona/Verde Valley community there has been some strange things taking place to animals in the region found to be occurring at multiple locations in the valley for some time now which has many people very concerned. One concerned citizen openly on Facebook within a local Bulletin Board stated:
“Verde Valley residents it’s time to wake up. Abuse of animals - puppies, kittens, calves you name it IS happening here and on a regular basis. From puppies being thrown out of moving cars or used as bait dogs and discarded in garbage bags to using calves as a punching bag. There is an element in this community that needs attention.”
One person in the community who does not wish to be publically identified attempted to infiltrate one of these groups who was using drugs and Craiglist to lure in unsuspecting victims says the rabbit hole goes very deep locally. There is no getting into these “secret clubs” without paying a heavy price. These groups often use drugs and other means to make followers or people they wish to use perform sexual acts to keep them under control secretly recording them to be used as leverage later on. There are rumors of orgies and other sexual deviant acts being performed at the Cottonwood Cemetery and other locations in the Sedona/Verde Valley. The person was not willing to go any further into the order or provide any further details other than to say these people run in packs and are treacherous. Of course not all cults are bad and end tragically, however, the brainwashing and drugs used in order to gain control over someone are completely out in the open and present today just as it was in the past. In 1997 the media became interested in “Gabriel of Sedona” otherwise known as Tony Delevin and his followers because of the parallels between his “Aquarian Concepts Community” and “Heaven’s Gate,” a cult where leader Marshall Applewhite led the group to mass suicide. Gabriel made dark predictions once claimed that the world would end May of 2000 or 2001. Again, much like Applewhite, Gabriel foretold that he and his followers would be rescued by friendly spaceships coming to the region. And because of all these dire predictions, Gabriel told his group of followers they couldn’t travel more than five miles from his commune. The community enforced very strict rules, including every member turning over all their assets to “the seer of Sedona’s control.” Gabriel told a reporter after Applewhite and his 38 loyal followers killed themselves that they should have thought “to stay behind and make a difference here, and not go up there.” Gabriel is concidered a low-grade cult figure. The goal of a cult leader is the same regardless of the jargon: confuse, disassociate and control. It is about “being led away from yourself.”
The many problems involved with the occult explosion is becoming a many-faceted puzzle confronting law enforcement today. When asked if these types of crimes are covered up by law enforcement officials Russ Dizdar the avid researcher and one of the leading authorities on Satanism secured by police departments to teach on the subject stated:
“In all the academy stuff I went to like advanced training on occult crime one thing was very clear they tell officers not to talk about satanic crime, not to bring it out in the public, not to scare the public, just deal with the crime and basically just I don’t want to say cover up but not put it out there. They think its going to incite panic in the community so their told strictly from higher ups and trainers not to discuss or publicize it talk to the news people that kind of stuff.”
Over the years the Sedona/Verde Valley region has been the focal point for spiritual enlightenment attracting many people of different faiths. Undoubtedly the area and its culture has also attracted many who have turned the journey into a business venture. There’s the Yoga Cult, more specifically Dahn Yoga chain, and others who have turned the journey into booming enterprises. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not there sure is a whole lot of strange and odd publicity specifically of the occult and cults coming from such a small region. Nevertheless, the region isn’t just some pie in the sky far out Sedona hippie New Age experiment. It’s Tech Guru meets James Arthur Ray in the land of the paranormal and occult. Who knows what could possibly happen next in the region where life seems to trade its tranquility for fame and tourism at the place where Gabriel of Urantia gathered his flock of followers while a student of Dahn Yoga died in the scalding desert finally finding the peace the masters had promised.
 The Yoga Cult
NOTE: This information has been taken from a chapter in the book the Sedona/Verde Valley Vortex and or will be added on the next update.
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