A cult can even be a sect of a religion, my religion has one main sect and many offshoots that are so small the chance of you speaking to a Baha'i of those sects are like finding sharks teeth, it happens but it just doesn't happen enough. I follow the main sect of the Baha'i Faith which isn't a cult by most people's standards, unless your a clergy member in Iran's government, but the two other "main", again they're so small saying its a main sect is ridiculous, is a little iffy, one is most definitely a cult and the other there isn't enough info, they are the I don't know much about one is the Orthodox Baha'is, they only have around 100 members and doesn't recognize the Universal House of Justice, are they a cult? I don't know but they are covenant breakers though that doesn't mean they're bad people or that their going to hell. The other is very much a cult and they are called Baha'is Under The Covenant, which they follow a former Hands of The Cause member, which was a legit mainstream Baha'i organization of leadership, who was kicked out of the Hands of The Cause and put in jail for touching a 15-year-old girl inappropriately, so yes its a cult. My point is that even within a recognized religion that's known to not be a cult, there can be cults.
Some notable cults can be identified as: The Manson family - Charles Manson brought a group of misplaced young people and called them his family. He once is noted as telling his followers that he 'wanted to go on a killing spree'. In 1969 he took his followers to the Beverly hills home where they killed five people. One being the actress Sharon Tate. They wrote 'PIG' on the front door in Tate's blood.
Heavens gate - In the 70's the founders of the heavens gate cult Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie nettles went on a trip across america where they met several people they called 'the crew' These people would become their followers they were told to go on juice cleanses of lemonade, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup to 'erase sexual thoughts' The followers were also told Marshall was the second coming of Jesus Christ. He also told them that 'god is an alien' in 1997 one of the most notable events of cult history. The followers of the cult donned matching black cloaks and a matching Nike shoes. They all began to drink vodka and eat applesauce containing barbiturates. They also put plastic bags on their head to ensure their death. They believed the world was ending and that if they all killed themselves at the same time they would be able to access 'heaven' but that was not the case. Its sickening that one person could cause on of the most notable mass suicides of all time.
There are so, so many more examples. But one thing seems to stay the same at least in my eyes. The leaders of the cult all have an extreme god complex. Because many believe they are god.
There is actually two definitions of cults, ones neutral and the other is bad, very bad. The first one, the one that people often uses and is bad is a following of something that is dangerous and restrictive, think Heaven's Gate, Scientology, Jonestown, organizations that brainwash individuals into believing something, often leading to terrible events. The other definition is a following that starts a religion, like the cult of Abraham, not the modern-day meaning of cult but the one used in history, the cult of Abraham was a cult and not a religion because it had too few followers not because it was a bad thing, on the contrary actually, or even Christianity started out as a cult, again not a cult as in brainwash but a cult as in a following that is too few to be considered a religion, every religion starts out as a cult but grows to be a religion. As for the popular definition, be mindful of what is being called a cult, my religion is called by some a cult but that's because it isn't with the status quo of what things are "supposed" to be in Islamic Iran, one religion will call another religion that does not believe the same way they do a cult so before you call a religion a cult be sure to do your homework and decide that for yourself.
Cult leaders all have in common that they are narcissists (google "narcissism and cults"). But of course, not all narcissists are cult leaders, they just have a similar mindset.
Narcissists create a cult purely for their own needs (attention and money are common motifs). They do this by creating a problem that does not exist and then offer a solution for it. By offering that solution, they look like a hero trying to save people, but in reality, they just make others dependent on them. And this dependency they abuse to get money from their followers.
For example: A leader may claim that in the near future aliens will invade earth. That is a lie, but they use that story to make people feel afraid. In their fear, people ask what can be done to save earth and the cult leader will provide the solution to just follow their lead (and do whatever they say, like donating all money to the cult). This is why cults are bad. They manipulate people.
The cult leader is basically creating their own reality and forcing other people to live in that reality as well. It's abuse because the reality of a cult leader is not the real reality. When someone questions the cult leader, they are challenging the safe made-up reality the leader needs. This the cult leader perceives as a threat to their life. And like a typical narcissist, a cult leader thinks that they are entitled to deal with such a threat however they like. This includes murder. But more commonly, the cult leader will gaslight anyone by rationalizing any oddities. The aliens that are supposed to invade earth don't come? Well, then that's because the praying in the cult was successful.
Cults are very difficult to break free from, both physically and emotionally. Leaving may result in murder for being a traitor (but that is not necessarily the case). It is usually also difficult to leave emotionally, because once a person has dedicated years of their life and all their money to the cult, they will emotionally refuse to accept that it was all just a big scam. So they start lying to themselves instead of facing the reality that they wasted a lot of time and money for someone who never cared to help them in the first place.
We watched ABC's Documentary on Jonestown in psychology class. Specifically, part 2 began by getting into the minds of who people trusted Jim Jones and how they only realized how bad Jonestown was once it was too late to run. I was going to write out their points, but it's best to watch it yourself, to get the true feel and idea of how deeply he controlled these people through sexuality, threats, and money. He had blackmail on everyone, a way to protect himself and only himself if accusations were to rise.
1. Cult never wanna be seen as dangerous cult, even if it is. it appears and sees itself too as very helpfull and supportive, that they have the biggest and or the only truth. 2. Cult members are tied much stronger than people on the village.Subordinates watch over each other and have no privacy left, when living in some cult home. their masters are not watched so much, unless they have their masters too, you know the ladder, or pyramid of society in small scale. 3. They try to get new members, not all the cults, though, some have enough members and live so isolated that they become closed society accepting none, but then they are rarely called cults. When they try to get new members they grab their attention through some point of interest, be it philosophy, salvation, god, family, etc., even sex. (there re cults that make new members by making them marry their members) 4. Cults tend to be short living, lead by single person, breaking down when the person die, because they fail to refill this leader position. Some survive loss of their creator, usually led by council, which controls the rest.
I found a flyer on my campus for the Heaven's Gate cult before their mass suicide. It fascinated a friend of mine, so I gave it to him. He did some careful analysis and found it was an interesting document because of all the overlapping fonts. Somebody went to a lot of work on what appeared to be a pretty mundane flyer.
The doctrine of the cult, the idea of evolving to the level above humanity, strikes me as one appealing to people who have been kicked around by bad decisions and bad luck, desperate for dramatically changed lives.
Some cults sometimes stay out in the open, restricting secrets to a select few, but the rest do stuff for the community like food pantries, soup kitchens, greenhouse gardening, crafting pottery and such, that sort of thing. Heck, we have one of those Freemason buildings nearby in which they help with unionizing workers and teaching construction tradecraft to newcomers. Or this one Xaverian cult building that usually has most of it's followers live in a gated suburban community near their church and only lets regular people visit twice a year to buy from their giant rummage sale/festival (it's a bit creepy going there each year, but the prices at the rummage sale are awesome).
Not sure if the cults are active during this virus outbreak though, especially the ones that cut off contact with the outside world.
Some years ago, one of my lab colleagues, a friend, 'fell in' with a guy visiting from US, who was collecting new members & sponsors for a sorta-kibbutz out in Nevada. My friend became his UK 'GoFer', a valuable 'facilitator', and was invited back to US for a few weeks...
I read some of their hand-outs and, to put it politely, my nape-hair stood. They might just be 'New Age Evangelicals', or they might be well on the way to drinking the cool-aid...
So, rather than lose my friend, I suggested he take reasonable precautions. Sure, he could trust his friend, but what of the others ?? So, leave emergency cash, copies of documents etc at the nearest town's poste-restante facility. That way, in-extremis, he could report he'd been robbed, produce list of reference numbers for ID, visa & passport, credit card & return ticket etc etc, fly away home.
In fact, probably safer to have such an emergency cache at *two* nearby towns...
When he arrived back, splendidly tanned but mildly disillusioned, he reported that, within hours of arrival on-site, his ID, money, valuables etc had been 'secured' for safety. Like hotels say, if it ain't in our safe, it's your loss.
As a lab-tech, he had enough 'technical' skills to soon be allowed a lot more wriggle-room than most of the others. Wasn't 'freedom' but you really, really don't want to annoy the guy who's keeping your essential well-pump running, figuring why your toilet won't flush clear, checking oil, water, gas and tire-tread on the weary pick-up truck, happy to do the logistics of planning and hauling in weekly supplies from the 20-some miles-distant farm store...
( Yeah, verily, the majority of the 'Assembly' could not organise a beer-fest in a brewery, while the rest would probably die of thirst... )
They didn't want him to leave, were very reluctant to return his documents. Happens he'd taken the additional precaution of getting spare keys cut in town for the pick-up truck, compound gate, tool-shed / work-shop etc, and buying a few spare padlocks. First, though, he took the polite route of mentioning that his multi-national employers and site colleagues knew where he was, would be *aggrieved* should he not return on schedule...
Cults are scary, especially if you're a threat to their organizations, they'll use powerful connections and resources to keep tabs on you or attack indirectly. At least one particular one that I know of does that. I've met strangers on the streets who knows me by name, and of my immediate family, and I overheard them in conversations about the schools I used to attend and stuff. So, I've been doing my best to dodge them as much as possible. It's a long incredible story. But this much I know, they can operate similarly like CIA or "men in black". If they wanted to. They're very secretive, and they have powerful resources and connections. It's part of the reason I frequently relocate from place to place. it's...well it's a crazy thing. XD
My family's background stemmed from cults and even witchcraft. I reached a turning point in my life, where I became a Christian, and rescued my immediate family from impending destruction. But all by the grace of God who enabled me to. Since then, I had to adapt a military mindset, and became a lateral thinker. I often walk on eggshells in real life, or as I prefer to call it, "Going Black ops". XD
I guess I'm also working on a novel and graphic novel, based on my real life experience, and much of it includes my dealings with the scary cult. But I use a lot of visual metaphors for the sake of personal security. Never a dull moment I always say. XD
Generally, cults are very secretive. They'll blend in with any culture like the norms, and are very good at not attracting attention to themselves. Some of them, will even jokingly poke fun at their own cults and say, they don't believe in magic and stuff, just to be more believable. Some of them are incredible actors and can even convince you that they don't believe in such nonsense and stick to a very consistent story and will have enough connections to back them up on it. They'll pretend not to know one another, and be like, "Oh I saw so and so the other day", etc etc. They blend in so well, that they can be found among the grocery stores, the hospitals, pretty much anywhere, and no one will know the difference. As far as the public eye is concerned, they are just another person among the masses of norms. Cults are very diverse in names, and in the way they function, as though they have nothing to do with one another, but yet, on the down low, they are mostly connected with one another. They can even go as far as to rival one another, for the sake of appearing to not have any direct connections. Well that's as much as I know. Hope that helps.
It all sounds pretty crazy I know. Eh, but whether it's convincing or not, it matters not to me. As a writer and artist, it makes one hell of an interesting story. So, from personal experience, I just write and draw a visual metaphor, under the genre of science fiction fantasy. Eh, it works for me. XD
Witchcraft is one of many visual webs of ensnarements, which regardless of intent, proves extremely dangerous. The catalyst in exchange for something, is often sacrificial. While it resolves one problem, it is usually at a cost, that opens a whole new problem. It's like a curse in disguise, similar to what a blessing in disguise would be. My mom used to practice witchcraft, and so have my grandparents. The use of it, opens unwanted spiritual gateways, and well...I've seen how my grandparents and my mom, had been demon possessed. I was too young to notice this. My sister and I used to make fun of my Uncle, cause we thought he was very good at changing his face and voice. To us it was normal, like it was a talent of his. When I was old enough to know better, the change of his face was literally unnatural, and his voice, sounding like a thousand people, was...it was something else. My sisters and I were tormented in a lot of ways growing up. And I used to come up with a story to explain to my teachers about why I was scratched up or bruised, or why I was late for classes. I used to draw a lot of comic stories and shared them in school. While my stories seemed very vivid and interesting, half of what I drew were based on stuff that really happened. And somehow it was just easier to share stories from a more fictional sense, cause, there's no way sceptics will believe this sort of thing. I wish I could simply record it all by camera and just showed what happened. It would be so much easier than sounding like a total nutcase. Heck, a lot of this stuff that went on, doesn't make any sense to me either. But I'm just sharing from the perspective of what I could make of it. But, in truth, witchcraft is too dangerous. Humans can practice it, and I honestly don't know if it's something someone is born with. My mom said she was born into it, but that's off the records. I'm just repeating what she told me. But I personally don't know about how true that really is. All I know, is that nothing good came of it. It almost destroyed my family. I personally would not recommend it.
Oh!! It's really exciting that you wanna discover more about cults. A lot of aspects about it remind me of, like, a mini-dystopia.
- Cults squander critical thought and weaponize the community to prevent people from opposing the ideals and morals that are being imposed on the members. - They also penalize members in a way that makes examples to the other members, which makes putting them in order more efficient. - Strict rules are put in place in order to prevent people from convening together, and ratting out on fellow members that are violating the rules is encouraged or even necessitated in order to avoid punishment yourself. Communication is key for everyone, but is limited to the upper echelons. - As for location, they can either be in plain sight or hidden far away into the forest, but the thing is that the members are discouraged or prohibited from interacting with the outside world (in order to further the first point listed above).
There's actually this really interesting webcomic that was recommended to me--it's made by one of the people that was subjected to the Elan School cult. It's heart-breaking the type of stuff he underwent, and how the other students were so desensitized to this that they just went along with it. Here's a link to the first chapter of the comic: elan.school/rude-awakening/
The groups we call cults are almost always shallow, in one or more definitions of the word shallow. Epicureanism is an ancient example. Their leader Epicureus was only really a party dude at heart, and you may know where I'm going with this. Think of a group and then think of how your life would change from the inside.
I belong to a group that's been described as a cult, but it's not all so shallow. It does, however, come right after the leader of my group exited a cult she herself was in, and she decided to put pen and divine wisdom to paper based on having left.
I'm kind of surprised at how little new Crowley material has been produced lately, considering everything Crowley has been made public domain for the past couple of years. I thought there would have been a huge outpouring of Crowley artwork (and quotes t-shirts) at least.
They have a pretty wide range of characteristics. Probably the only defining characteristic they all share is a group of people with beliefs that go counter to popular beliefs. Sometimes you'll also see it used to mean a group of people who fixate on one part of a religion or thing - like a cult of a saint or a cargo cult.
If you want a generic, things-went-wrong religious cult to look up I can think of a few off the top of my head:
depends. some consider every religion a cult, myself included. for others they consider cults to be those things that force women into extreme submission with any means possible, that force children to marry adult/old males, follow a religious text just way too close... data mines on their members and when they want to leave uses that back at them (blackmails), including other questionable things such as drinking a certain beverage and mass suicide, all gathered on a compound for extreme measures...
catch all generic is this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult I don't rely on wiki to know the answers due to being edited with ease, however it's a start.