Recorded September 29, 1996.
Tag Archives | Heaven’s Gate
At 1700 SE Forest Hill Drive sits a very strange piece of Oregonian weirdness: The Temple of Oculus Anubis.
At first glance the property seems like nothing more than a wealthy man’s folly — arcane statues, decorations alluding to the Egypt of antiquity and a mysterious shroud of apocryphal rumors and sinister conjecture. But a little digging leads the viewer to some strange places, indeed, namely the Heaven’s Gate suicide cult.
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Every month, the bills get paid on time. The emails get answered, and any orders filled. Which, for HeavensGate.com, is positively extraordinary. Because as far as the public is aware, every last member of the suicide cult died 17 years ago from a cocktail of arsenic and apple sauce. A few stayed behind, though. Someone had to keep the homepage going.
Today, at first glance, the fully functional, 17-year-old website seems like just one more of the many GeoCities-era relics that litter the internet. Visitor counts, flashing text, Word Art gradients; the whole gang’s here and then some. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find that almost every link adds yet another layer to a wildly extensive dogma, totally earnest in its interweaving of disembodied space aliens, Jesus, secret UFOs, prophets to whom aliens speak, comets coming to save us, and the suicide it takes to get there.
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Quite possibly the craziest cult ever, Heaven’s Gate was founded by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. Heaven’s Gate members believed that the planet Earth was about to be recycled (wiped clean, renewed, refurbished and rejuvenated), and that the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately. While the group was formally against suicide, they defined “suicide” in their own context to mean “to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered,” and believed that their “human” bodies were only vessels meant to help them on their journey. Inconversation, when referring to a person or a person’s body, they routinely used the word “vehicle”.
This documentary investigates an incident in 1997, where thirty-nine members of the San Diego-based cult “Heaven’s Gate” committed mass suicide. They intended to reach an alien spacecraft which they believed to be following Comet Hale-Bopp, which was at that time brightly visible in the nighttime sky.