The Cassiopaea site, driven primarily by the work of Laura Knight-Jadczyk and her husband Ark Jadczyk, has come up quite a few times here on RI. I can understand that, since at least superficially their ideas are somewhat consonant with the prevailing winds on this board, to mix my metaphors. Yet I want to explain why I think most of you would do well to steer clear of the site and its related sites, and more specifically steer clear of Laura, Ark, and their followers.
Some may speculate that it's because of their anti-Semitism. First let me say that my association with the group ended about a year before I read an article by Laura that was posted on Rense--something like, "Moving Companies, the Mossad, and 9/11." The article's implicit anti-Semitism shocked me, actually.
When I was a part of the group, there was none of that. In fact, at one point, Laura claimed to be reincarnated from a Jewish person killed in the Holocaust. Her article was posted about the time that Rense really started firing up anti-Semitic rhetoric, and after I read Laura's article in disbelief, I don't think I was ever a visitor to Rense again.
(Aside: There was a time when you could go there for some really interesting information. I remember in particular an eye-opening article written by a Hurricane Andrew survivor posted years before Katrina, which, if it had been widely read and acted upon, might have prevented the horrible treatment of Katrina survivors; there was some really valuable UFO stuff, chemtrail info, paranormal musings... it was fun for a while, but after that Laura article came out, it really hit me that Rense had changed forever and the party was over.)
So yeah, obviously, a possible anti-Semitic viewpoint is an important reason to be wary of the Cassiopaea sites, but actually that's not why I'm concerned. What concerns me is Laura's incredible ability to explain everything so darn reasonably, to so smoothly bait the hook, cast perfectly, and reel you in, to create a such a fascinating, immersive environment for the susceptible... and I think that many on RI would be susceptible. Damn if it doesn't seem a bit like an ARG, and I'm afraid I may have given her the idea.
Certainly, after I discussed gaming in a post to her mailing list (years ago, understand, and in relation to underhanded tactics I suspected was going on outside the group), she got heavily into game theory. Probably coincidental, but if Laura and the group put together a rabbit hole based on some of my ideas, even if they were just a teeny little part of the inspiration, I feel remorse. Of course, I'm quite sure Laura and the gang wouldn't even remember me, so I'm probably wildly over-dramatizing there.
Nevertheless, I do have personal experience with Laura et al--met them, broke bread with them, rubbed elbows with them online for a year or so and for a week in person. It was... an experience. And I'm glad I was able to deprogram myself before I divorced my husband and moved off to France to join their "school," which may well have happened had I not snapped out of it. And it was reading an article about how cults work that did it.
I'm not saying it's a cult... I don't know. But I do know that there are many similarities between how cults work and how the Cassiopaea group worked. I'll tell my tale, which believe it or not is as brief as I could make it, and see what you think.
This is going back a few years, now, and my memory is awful--and I've consciously avoided thinking about the whole thing so as not to fall back into the trap. So I apologize for an vagueness in my telling, and please feel free to ask for clarification and I'll try my best. I kind of feel stupid--"like anyone cares, girl!" but maybe it'd be helpful to someone. Sorry if I'm just being long-winded and self-important.
At any rate...
Right after 9/11, I really hit the Web looking for answers in a way I never had before. I don't remember exactly what led me to their site (which even for the time was pretty primitive in design), but it was one of the few that proposed that the events of 9/11 weren't exactly what they seemed. Add to that the fact that I had been seriously interested in the concept of alien abduction, the paranormal, parapolitics, and was also something of a spiritual seeker, and you might understand how the site initially attracted me.
What really hooked me, though, was the profile about her, published in the St. Petersburg daily newspaper and written by a Pulitzer Prize winner. It gave legitimacy to her claims in a way I'd never seen before... it took a rigorously intuitive approach, you might say.
At that time, Laura had what was basically her autobiography on the site, in addition to a wealth of articles on subjects varying from the well-trod to the esoteric, and a book-length work called The Wave Series, I think. I was so intrigued that I read the articles and her autobiography for days on end. Her reputed life story was like a conspiriti-paranormal soap opera. While I remained skeptical (in the true sense of the word) I was also fascinated.
The group had set up a mailing list, which had at that time two tiers--one for newbies and one for the initiated (and I don't use that word idly). The newbies could discuss the material at the site and Laura's husband, Ark, would occasionally answer questions. Then if you had read the Wave Series, you could petition to be granted entrance into the "higher up" mailing list.
So I read it. If it'd been printed, it would've been hundreds of pages, I'm sure. Now, Laura is a brilliant autodidact. She's also extremely prolific.
If she in fact is writing the material herself, she's on a par with Thomas Aquinas (or Steven King) in terms of sheer volume. The Wave Series basically followed her on her intellectual journeys, sometimes touching on some of the material in her autobiography as it related to theories on archaeology, anthropology, quantum physics, morality, ethics, Sufism, conspiracy, Fulcanelli, Oak Island, Rosslyn, holy bloodlines, reincarnation, channeling, lizard people, etc. At no time did she claim THIS IS THE TRUTH AND YE WHO CHOOSE TO DISBELIEVE WILL BE BANISHED TO HELL! Instead, she always presented it as, "Look, this is what I've discovered and here is all the evidence I have at this time to explain it, and these are my conclusions."
In other words, it was right up my alley at the time. I can't emphasize this enough, because it may explain what came next.
Her writing drew me in. As I was reading this incredibly dense and complex material, I'd sometimes internally argue with it, sometimes openly scoff, and sometimes a light-bulb would go on over my head. I was pointed in some very interesting directions. I was immersed in Laura, in other words, so I became highly motivated to join this inner circle mailing list.
You had to literally petition to get in, by writing sort of an essay, as I remember, about the material and what you hoped to accomplish by joining the mailing list. Guess whatever I wrote impressed Ark enough, because I was admitted. I forget how many members there were... like any mailing list, there were many lurkers and a handful of regular contributors. But it was such an intellectually stimulating group of folks--everyone putting forward theories, putting pieces of puzzles together, sharing odd experiences, and sharing personal triumphs and tragedies.
And Laura was a regular contributor, several posts a day, it seemed. She'd post material that would eventually end up in some public post on the website, but as she was working out her ideas. It was sort of like joining a Beatles fan club and having John Lennon send you his sketches and drafts of his lyrics. She was a celebrity of sorts, and her personality was incredibly forceful.
Maybe you can see where this is going...
So, it sounds like paradise (or it did to me at the time), but this paradise had its serpent, too, in the form of (and I may have the name wrong) an author by the name of Jay Wiedner (?) who she claimed was harassing her. Seems he'd been in on the whole channeling thing right from the start--he used to hypnotize her to get her in the proper frame of mind to channel. Does the site now mention that she did this through a Ouija board? According to her, this guy was probably CO-INTEL and tried to control the whole experience and use the information obtained for his own purposes.
He eventually (again, allegedly, from her POV) took "the transcripts"--that is, after a session, which was tape recorded, Laura or one of her friends would listen to it and transcribe it. There were, predictably, hundreds of pages of material. He claimed, as I recall, that they belonged to him since it was all his idea, or some such, I don't know. Lawsuits ensued, I believe. Mudslinging was the norm between these two... he eventually put up a parody site with much scatological humor at her expense, nicely setting up an "enemy" for us.
Always, he'd float the accusation that Laura led a cult, and much time on the mailing list was devoted to "proving" that it *wasn't* a cult.
There was another enemy, someone named Frank in the transcripts, who stabbed Laura in the back somehow. In fact, after a while, at least half of her voluminous posts to the mailing list involved describing how these insidious CO-INTEL ops were trying to bring her and Ark down, man. It really created an oppositional environment.
Every once in a while, someone would question something Laura had written, and that member of the group became the target of so much... I'd say "anger" but it was more bloodless than that... "excoriation." The hapless questioner would try to defend him/herself with logic and by quoting various posts that flew back and forth, trying to show that what he/she was accused of wasn't so. Eventually, that questioner would be banned from the list, and after banned, would be subject to much ridicule and scorn from Laura as well as other members of the group.
The posts from Laura, Ark, and everyone else created such heavy traffic that I'd be reading and contributing for hours each day. Sometimes I'd correspond with Laura herself, which was a thrill. I offered to do things for her and "the cause" that were within my professional area of relative expertise. I was immersed, and because it was so immersive, I rarely had time to read anything else or to get an outside perspective on things.
Again, you can probably see what's coming... but wait, there's more.
So, about a year of this goes by. I'm really into the group. Then, Laura announces that there's to be a conference of sorts and that any of the list members could come. She wasn't charging for it--on the contrary, she was able to arrange for very favorable rates at a hotel close to her house in Florida. Since I'd grown up around there and hadn't been back since childhood, since I hadn't been on a vacation in ages, since I wanted to do something that seemed important, I went. Yep, I went and met Laura and Ark in person, as well as a few other heavy contributers to the mailing list and some of the chief "lieutenants." I'd say there were about 20 of us in all.
We shot the breeze, had group discussions, lounged around the pool, and Laura conducted a hypnotic past life regression with a member of the group. That was the first time I'd ever seen that kind of thing--I'd read about it, of course, since hypnotism was one way Laura had made money at one time. (You're probably rolling your eyes even now... but she had a way of explaining it, believe me, so that she was one of the good guys; and it was at her site that I first read about Greenbaum and implanted screen memories, etc., which would make it seem that she was promoting herself as an ethical hypnotist somehow... you had to be there.) Others gave presentations--*I* even gave a presentation, although it was pretty short.
We went to her house and shot the breeze some more. One guy had built an orgone weather-buster kind of thing--I forget what it was called--and supposedly called a storm down us one afternoon. To be sure, there was a terrible storm after he set it up, and in watching the weather reports, it *did* seem to center on the general area... but as I pointed out at the time, bad storms had been predicted that morning, hours before he even set up the device. I got a lot of stares for that.
The conference was held about the time that Laura had begun pushing this model of behavior based on some Christian writer's work. I can't remember the details... it involved something like "A" behaviors and "B" behaviors, and that "A" behaviors were affirmational and energy-creating, while "B" behaviors were negative and energy-draining. Terms like "emotional vampire" and "service to self (STS)" began to be thrown around. My comment about the storm was taken as an example of "B" behavior, STS behavior that should be immediately rooted out from oneself.
So despite the fact that much of her work was built upon questioning authority, and the group constantly trumpeted this quality as "proof" that it wasn't a cult, apparently questioning Laura's authority was frowned upon at best.
All of this jargon arose partially from research Laura and the group had been conducting on psychopathy (based on works I've seen cited here at RI). There was this other idea, something about certain kinds of people--psychopaths--being "portals" for evil which resides somewhere *else*... I can't remember much here, it was towards the end for me... but the upshot was that if someone around you began to behave in a certain way, you were obliged to separate yourself from that person or you ran the risk of getting sucked in or becoming a portal yourself... something like that. It was heavily implied that most of our mates, those who weren't also in the group, were portals, and that we'd be much better off by separating ourselves from them...
...and if we were good students, and did these things, we might get to go live with Laura and Ark in France, where we could all study together--because putting our minds together made us so much more powerful--and do what we could to combat the gathering evil around us...
...oh, and BTW, we've set up this fund for donations, and isn't the information you get from us worth $20, $50, $100 a month?... and we'll email you personally to bug you about it if you don't donate...
Listen, I was raised an agnostic. I was always a skeptic--in the old sense, in that I didn't believe that I'd ever be able to know the truth, in that I doubted Truth and even "myself" existed in any objectively verifiable way--in that I wondered if "objective verification" itself was an illusion. I was always one to question authority, a quality that attracted me to Cassiopaea in the first place. I was a smart cookie, too--educated, widely read, up on pop culture as well as the world of ideas, politically aware. I was about the last person you'd expect to be in a cult.
But when I returned from the conference, and was seriously considering divorce, I felt an emotional upheaval. Away from Laura and the group, I felt a split between my old self and the self I was becoming. I was at a crossroads, for sure. I began some serious introspection, and, as was customary with the group, I brought up my doubts and feelings on the list. For instance, I mentioned observing some behavior in the group at the conference that contradicted what they thought was happening. It was minor--the group prided itself on egalitarianism between the sexes and believed in the necessity for mingling--but socially, I noticed that when we were all gathered together in the conference room initially, it was pretty much the men on one side and the women on the other side of the room, with some back and forth, but physically there was a divide.
Well, this public observation meant apparently that I was an emotional vampire, and Laura herself posted that I needed to get in line tout de suite or I would bring the whole group down, somehow. I apparently needed to cultivate more "A" behavior if I wanted her and the group's approbation.
Funnily enough, someone had made yet another accusation of the group being a cult, and someone posted information about cults as a way of proving that we weren't a cult. (Plus there was always the "That's ridiculous--how can you have a cult over the internet?" argument.) Ironically, though, as I read it, it hit me that that's EXACTLY what was going on--or what was probably about to go on, unless I got out.
So I got out.
So in retrospect, what the H-E-double toothpicks was going on? I don't have any answers, to this day. Was it a conscious effort to create a cult? Was it a case of Laura and/or Ark being "handled"? Were they victims of Bluebird or the like? Was it just some well-meaning folks who got carried away?
I don't know. What I've come up with is that the situation at least mimicked cult programming processes. But, I mean, it's no Scientology. It's certainly no Heaven's Gate.
The moral of the story is, I guess, be aware that what might look appealing from the outside might not be so appealing when you're on the inside.