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Anatomy of a mass suicide: The dark, twisted story behind a UFO death cult

Anatomy of a mass suicide: The dark, twisted story behind a UFO death cult  86

Benjamin E. Zeller

In March 1997, all 39 members of the religious group Heaven’s Gate committed suicide. But why?

Excerpted from “Heaven’s Gate: America’s UFO Religion”

On March 22 and March 23, 1997, all thirty-nine active members of Heaven’s Gate committed suicide, exiting the Earth, as they referred to the act. In three waves, members ingested a poisonous mixture of barbiturates and alcohol, and as their breath slowed and bodies shut down, they asphyxiated under plastic bags that they had tied over their heads. Members followed guidelines they had researched several years earlier, and laid down their earthly lives in what can only be called ritual precision and attention to detail. In keeping with the group’s customs, each member wore an identical uniform, but in their final months the group’s members had added a customized “Heaven’s Gate Away Team” patch that positioned them as merely visitors to this planet rather than inhabitants, invoking the concept from the Star Trek universe of visitors from a traveling spaceship.

They also covered themselves in purple shrouds, the shroud an echoing of nearly universal ancient burial customs, and the purple a reminder not only of the Easter season but, as Robert W. Balch and David Taylor have pointed out, Nettles’s favorite color. Each member carried a five-dollar bill and three quarters, a standard practice that members of the group had followed to avoid being stranded without money for transportation. Members of each wave had cleaned and tidied after their compatriots had died, removing the plastic bags and draping the shrouds over their deceased companions. Applewhite ended his life on the second day of the suicide, along with his closest helpers. When ex-member Neoody, informed of the exits by a mailing he had received from the group, found the bodies on March 26, there was nothing left of Heaven’s Gate. Neoody called the 911 telephone emergency hotline to report the deaths, then left.

The most radical thing one can say about the Heaven’s Gate suicides is also the simplest: the suicides were religious acts. Members understood them not as deaths but graduations, cutting aside the decaying matter of Earth so as to free their true selves to journey to the Next Level in the heavens. Were they suicides? Yes, certainly to outsiders such as myself and (presumably) most readers of this book. But for the adherents of Heaven’s Gate, no they clearly were not. Members of the group defined suicide as “to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered,” a definition they crafted at least several months before the actual suicides. By that logic those who remained on Earth had committed the true suicides, rejecting the promise of eternal life as perfected beings in the Next Level. Members of Heaven’s Gate merely exited a world they had long rejected.

Why, journalists, scholars, and the general public have asked, did the adherents of Heaven’s Gate ultimately choose to commit suicide in March 1997? Unlike the members of the Peoples Temple living in Jonestown, Guyana, who committed mass suicide and murder in 1978, no network of hostile outsiders sought to take down the group. Nor did government forces raid the home of Heaven’s Gate, nor did its leaders face any sort of criminal or civil charges, as happened in the cases of the Branch Davidians and Christian survivalists at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. In each of those examples, outside forces combined with inside ones to lead to violence and death among members of a new religious movement. This leads to a curious point: in most cases of millennial violence, something or someone instigated the final violent end of the group. This is precisely what appeared not to have happened in the case of Heaven’s Gate, which makes it all the more surprising that thirty-nine people— plus more later—chose to end their lives.

This chapter argues that members of Heaven’s Gate chose to commit suicide in March 1997 because their dualistic theology had long led them to view this act as a possible necessity; their model of graduation from the human world required that they take some step to depart; and the combination of a lack of government persecution and the appearance of the Hale-Bopp comet and its related publicity served to force the issue. Members had expected government forces or other Luciferian agents to kill them, and paradoxically the absence of any overt oppression led adherents to decide they had to end their own lives rather than rely on the government to kill them. This being said, ultimately I do not think we can accept any specific argument of why members chose to commit suicide at that particular time. Certainly they might have waited for another cosmic sign, or waited longer for government action against them. Theoretically Applewhite might have crafted a theological rationale for staying on Earth indefinitely. None of these things happened. Scholars can point to influences and historical developments, but reducing the individual choices of so many people to one or even a handful of causal forces is difficult. The best evidence died with the members of Heaven’s Gate.

Yet some evidence remains, namely the group members’ writings and videos. Several scholars have tackled the question of why the events in Heaven’s Gate ended as they did. The opinions of Robert W. Balch and David Taylor most closely match my own, and since they are the two sociologists with the longest-standing research background in the study of the group, their interpretation relies on the most support. “[T]he suicides resulted from a deliberate decision that was neither prompted by an external threat nor implemented through coercion. Members went to their deaths willingly, even enthusiastically, because suicide made sense to them in the context of a belief system that, with few modifications, dated back to Ti and Do’s initial revelations,” the two sociologists wrote in their 2002 analysis of the Heaven’s Gate suicides. They note several factors predisposing the group to suicide, including not only their belief system and its dualistic cosmology, but also the attrition of less committed members, the organization of their leadership system, and their perception of an external conspiracy against them. They also identified a series of precipitating factors, notably the aging of Applewhite, the end of active proselytizing, the arrival of Hale-Bopp comet, and Easter.

Balch and Taylor’s analysis is correct, and I am in basic agreement with it. I am less convinced that the precipitating factors represented a truly convincing case for suicide, but since the only individuals who can conclusively indicate if this is so are now deceased—or in the Next Level, if one accepts their own belief system, and regardless beyond our ability to interview—this question will remain permanently unanswered and unanswerable. I also think that the lack of government persecution against the movement was far more influential than any other factor in pushing the group members toward deciding to commit suicide, as their past statements indicated that they expected this to happen imminently. The lack of any government siege against them would not only have represented a failure of expectations but a basic logistical problem in how to get their souls to the Next Level. (That is, members faced the same problem they had for nearly two decades: how to get themselves to the Next Level if the government was not going to kill them and free their souls to journey onward.) Further, the metaphysical dualism of the movement’s thought is equally important as their worldly and cosmological dualism.

Historian of religion Catherine Wessinger offers another paradigm for the end of Heaven’s Gate based on her model of catastrophic millennialism. Wessinger calls Heaven’s Gate a “fragile millennial group,” meaning that the movement existed in an unstable state because of its millennial theology, its hierarchal model of leadership, and the aging of its leader Applewhite. Yet importantly, the group had existed in basically the same theological and social form for years, and while fragile, it nevertheless had endured. No particular sense of fragility characterized the movement in 1997, as Wessinger herself notes: “Applewhite . . . had feelings of persecution dating back twenty-five to thirty years, but at the time of the suicide, the group was not really persecuted.” In Wessinger’s view, the suicides resulted from a group that slowly closed itself off from the outside world based on decades of rejection by outsiders, combined with a theology that created an unstable worldview. “The decision to ‘exit’ planet Earth was made in response to internal weaknesses that were caused by Do and the other leader, Bonnie Lu Nettles (called ‘Ti’), who died in 1985. But the group’s uncomfortable relationship with mainstream American society contributed to the Heaven’s Gate believers’ group suicide,” Wessinger explains.

The internal weaknesses to which Wessinger refers emerge from the group’s theology of grafting and hierarchy, wherein the Next Level communicated and related to Earth only through a chain of mind linking the Next Level to Ti, Ti to Do, and Do to the members of the Class, i.e., the adherents of Heaven’s Gate. Ti had already exited her human vehicle, but Do remained as a conduit to the Next Level. “What would happen to the students after his death,” Wessinger envisions the members asking. In her analysis, the theology of grafting had resulted in an unstable situation wherein members relied entirely on Applewhite-asDo to enable their connection to the Next Level. As Applewhite aged, his followers presumably reasoned, would they not stand to lose any chance of salvation? James R. Lewis makes a similar argument in his analysis of the Heaven’s Gate suicides, explaining that “there seemed to be no other viable solution to the problem of what followers would do after he passed away.”

I do not disagree with Wessinger and Lewis that this particular theological position played a role in the members’ decisions to accept suicide, but I do not see it as an underlying cause, rather at most a supporting factor. Adherents did express a single-minded dedication to their leader, and they clearly did not want to lose their connection to the Next Level through him. But the example of Nettles’s death and the continued Next Level activity of Ti offers a powerful counterexample of the resilience and stability of Heaven’s Gate’s belief system. Despite the death of her vehicle, Ti continued to live, and while the death of Applewhite surely would have rocked the movement’s members, there is no reason to assume that one or more adherents would not simply have accepted the mantle of “senior student” and become a sort of surrogate to Do. As a parallel, one can look to the continued activity of a small network of former members of the group, who even fifteen years after the death of Applewhite and their co-religionists, persist in their beliefs and connection to the movement. Do literally transcended Applewhite as a human being, and therefore the death of Applewhite would not have meant the death of Do, as members very clearly indicated through the actual suicides. Nor was Applewhite’s death particularly imminent in March 1997, though he had expressed concerns that he might be suffering from cancer. The aging of Applewhite might have predisposed himself and members to look for signs of the end, but it did not in itself cause the end, or serve as a sign.

I would therefore disagree with Wessinger that the movement was fragile in the sense of social instability. Of course there is no way to know how the adherents would have responded to Applewhite’s death, since in fact the vast majority accepted his decision to force the issue of their departure by choosing to exit their vehicles, that is, to commit suicide, on their own terms. Yet Wessinger is correct to highlight the role of the group’s negative relationship with broader culture, their “sense of alienation from society,” as she calls it. This form of dualistic thinking serves as one of the theological forces enabling the suicides.

While Balch and Taylor and Wessinger offer helpful models for the suicides, several other scholars have proffered overly reductionist approaches that either rely on circular logic or fail to account for empirical realities. Robert Jay Lifton has described the exits as the result of Applewhite’s “own decision to force the end—of his own journey, of his megalomanic self, and of the small cult of ‘grafted’ followers that had come to constitute his entire world. In destroying that world, he was destroying everything.” It is difficult to argue against Lifton’s position since he provides no specific evidence of Applewhite’s alleged psychological state nor why Applewhite chose March 1997 as the time to destroy the world. Rather, Lifton envisions the group member as sliding toward a “shared delusion” that he characterizes as possessing elements both “poignant and absurd,” such as the Away Team patches.

Lifton’s inability to take seriously the Heaven’s Gate suicides and lack of evidence as to why one should root the deaths in pathological psychology rather than theology makes his model rather unhelpful. That being said, Lifton is correct to note that the decision to end the group’s terrestrial existence rested with Applewhite alone.

Sociologist Janja Lalich’s model of the Heaven’s Gate suicides is in some ways far more helpful, for she recognizes that for members “[t]he mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult was not a delusional or insane act . . . Rather, it was the ultimate and inevitable next step within the self-sealing system of their community.” While “self-sealing” seems too strong a position—several members left after the group decided to consider suicide, and one member departed just weeks before the suicides—she is correct that the acts made sense for adherents of this worldview. Yet Lalich places too much stock in her model of “bounded choice” which she argues creates a “complete dependency of the members on the leaders, built around an intricate system to oversee that degree of control which led to their bounded choice of their own demise.” While members did depend in a soteriological sense on their leaders, this sense of dependency was neither absolute nor entirely bound, as the examples of defections and continued activities of former members after the suicides indicate. Yet even if Lalich is correct that such a dependency exists, the materials produced by adherents of Heaven’s Gate in their final years did not credit this sort of hierarchal dependency as the reasons they chose to commit suicide. Rather, a close examination of the documents they produced indicates that members chose to commit suicides because they had come to reject the world just as they had long believed that they had to reject their bodies. They sought transcendence, not bounded choice. However, Lalich is correct to root the suicides in a concept of binding, but rather than see their choices as bound, it is best to see the members themselves as binding themselves to Applewhite.

By contrast to Lalich and Lifton, and in keeping with Balch and Taylor, Wessinger, Lewis, and others, I understand the Heaven’s Gate suicides as ultimately driven by theology and worldview, and members making what sociologist Rodney Stark and his collaborators would call rational choices to remain within the group, accept Applewhite’s decisions, and end their lives. By the end of 1996, the members of Heaven’s Gate had reconfigured their worldview in a starkly dualistic manner. They upheld two forms of dualism: one a metaphysical dualism that distinguished the body from the true self, found in the mind or soul; the other a second form of dualism that I call “worldly dualism,” which distinguished the members of Heaven’s Gate and their movement as good, saved, and wholesome, and separated from a bad, damned, and corrupt outside world. These two forms of dualistic thinking had long been developing, and both clearly emerged from the thought and teachings of Nettles and Applewhite as far back as 1974, when they taught that human beings had to overcome and transcend the world to achieve eternal heavenly salvation, and to abandon human and terrestrial existence.

Yet the early 1990s clearly had reshaped both forms of dualism into more strident form that envisioned the Earth as not merely something to graduate from, but something to hate, human bodies not merely things to evolve out of, but vehicles to willfully destroy through suicide. As this chapter will demonstrate, the best explanation for this more strident dualism is that members of Heaven’s Gate had given up on the world and had decided after years of widespread rejection that the broader society, especially mainstream Christians, was beyond any attempt to reach and save. They had also given up on their bodies, witnessed the death of Nettles and the aging of Applewhite, and fought the demons of sensuality and humanness for decades.

Both types of dualism had to combine and ferment before adherents would seriously entertain the possibility of suicide. These two forms of dualism informed how the group’s members thought about the world and the self, and enabled the idea of suicide. Yet other factors contributed as well. Most importantly, the hoopla surrounding the appearance of the Hale-Bopp comet and claims that a UFO trailed the comet signaled to them that their time had come to an end, and that the whole world would at last see their commitment to the Next Level. In the end members chose to commit suicides because they had rejected the intrinsic value of the world and the human body, and because their leader, Applewhite, had indicated that the time was right to discard their attachments to both of them. The vast majority of members accepted this logic and chose to exit their human bodies.

In other words, there was a very clear reason that members chose suicide: because they did not perceive the actions they chose as suicides. They looked to them merely as a form of graduation from an unwanted terrestrial existence on an undesirable planet in disagreeable bodies, to a cosmic existence in the Next Level in perfected new bodies. For members, suicide was the only logical choice within their worldview. Members had expected and even hoped that a government raid would end their earthly lives, but when that did not transpire they chose to end their lives themselves. In order for the adherents of this religious movement to have made this choice, several historical developments had to occur, culminating in how members of the group responded to the appearance of the Hale-Bopp comet and a rumored extraterrestrial companion.

Excerpted from “Heaven’s Gate: America’s UFO Religion” by Benjamin E. Zeller. Copyright © 2014 by Benjamin E. Zeller. Reprinted by arrangement with NYU Press. All rights reserved.




The remains of “witches” burned at the stake for killing children in the 17th century were found by archaeologists

The remains of "witches" burned at the stake for killing children in the 17th century were found by archaeologists 99

In the Polish city of Bochnia, archaeologists unearthed the charred remains of two women. The discovery was made during restoration work in the local market.

They are believed to have lived approximately 300 years ago. According to scientists, it is known that in 1679 three women were burnt in this place. So far, two skeletons have been found, but experts have no doubt that they will soon find a third one, according to Express.

Researchers believe that the victims were accused of witchcraft and murder of children. After that, they were probably burned in the city market. Such punishment was common in the Middle Ages, from the 5th to the 15th centuries. Historians believe that the public burning allegedly showed “witches” going to hell.

Archaeologists will continue to investigate the remains, but they have already stated that the women were buried right at the place of execution. According to experts, in that era it was customary: people convicted of such a crime could not be buried near the church.

According to historical sources, at least 13 women accused of witchcraft were executed in Bochnia. Before the execution of the sentence, they were kept in the neighboring town hall and, most likely, tortured in order to get a confession of their deeds. In addition, the archives contain the names and crimes of the “witches”.

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Which castle in Europe is considered the most mystical: you will be surprised

Which castle in Europe is considered the most mystical: you will be surprised 100

Many castles have survived in Europe, which to modern people seem incredibly beautiful and majestic. Their main purpose was to deter enemies if necessary.

That is why such factors as a good location, a moat, a rampart and other opportunities to repel potential enemies played a strategic role.

However, there is one architectural object that does not fit into the traditional framework.

Which castle in Europe is considered the most mystical: you will be surprised
Photo: Pixabay

The majestic is one of the most famous landmarks in the Italian region of Apulia. Moreover, it will not be an exaggeration to say that this is the most mystical castle in the world.

Unlike other mystical places, this amazing castle is not hidden from prying eyes behind the mountains and forests. On the contrary, it is visible from afar. You drive along the freeway and see it, towering on top of the hill.  It doesn’t matter that the name of the building is translated as “castle on the mountain”, only those who have never seen real mountains in their life can literally take the name Castel del Monte. 

It was built on a castle on the very spot where the Maria del Monte monastery was located until the thirteenth century, hence the first name of the building, which few people remember today – castrum Sancta Maria de Monte.

Today, crowds of people frequently visit Castel del Monte. For this, many thanks to the magical world of cinema and the Italian director Matteo Garrone in particular, because it was in the unusual halls of this monumental structure that he settled the characters of his “Scary Tales” – the king who raised a flea, and the princess whom the eccentric father married to a cannibal. Curiously, until the twentieth century, the castle was in an abandoned state, and shepherds spent the night there. 

Today, the architectural structure is in the care of UNESCO, as a result, it was cleaned and put in order, but the interior decoration of the halls was not preserved – for that reason, Matteo Garrone had to hastily fill the space of the premises with the props brought to the castle.

Garrone chose Castel del Monte for the film adaptation of the tales of the Neapolitan Giambattista Basile for a reason, because this place is incredibly mysterious. Although located 16 kilometers from the city of Andria, Castel del Monte bears the honorary title of one of the most famous medieval castles in the world, in essence it is not a castle.

The fact is that in the understanding of a normal person of the Middle Ages, a castle could only be built for one of two purposes. The first goal, it is also the main one – defense and terrain control. In this case, one or another lord erected a small fortress, as a rule, on the top of a mountain, which helped to repel enemy attacks, and at the same time to influence the situation in the region as a whole. The second task is a fortified place to live. Sometimes castles grew to the size of cities, take, for example, the same Carcassonne, but their powerful walls, again, made it possible to hold back hordes of enemies.

But Castel del Monte is not intended for defense at all. Where are the walls and the moat with water? Where are there any decent defenses? 

This place also seems to be of little use for life. Of course, even Walter Scott in his “Ivanhoe” wrote that the concept of “comfort” did not exist in the Middle Ages, but this castle, even by medieval standards, is far from the home of a self-respecting lord. It’s okay that all the rooms inside are connected to each other, but, most importantly, there is no place for a stable and there is no kitchen. 

So, most of all, the castle looks like a kind of an old art object, built for the sake of ideas, such houses are sometimes designed by modern architects who have received absolute carte blanche for the implementation of their creative ideas coupled with an unlimited budget.

This association is quite appropriate if you know who built Castel del Monte. The castle was built on the mountain by the Emperor Frederick II Staufen – a legendary person in all respects. He not only managed to win the title of Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from competitors and lead the sixth crusade, but was also considered one of the most educated people of his time. 

He knew Greek, Latin and Arabic, founded a university in Naples, where not only Christians, but also Jews and Arabs taught, and this, by the way, is the height of tolerance by medieval standards. Frederick II as a whole was very far from Christian prejudices, here are illustrative examples: the emperor insisted that doctors study anatomy on corpses, and Frederick also had a warm attitude towards Fibonacci and even organized mathematical tournaments.

The emperor also had a penchant for writing: he is credited with writing an essay on falconry, and at his court he created a Sicilian school of poetry. At the same time, like all progressive people of his time, Frederick II was an admirer of a wide variety of mystical teachings, studied astronomy and astrology. 

With the personal life of the emperor, everything was also interesting, he earned the reputation of Bluebeard, because he was married four times, however, the church did not recognize his last marriage with his permanent mistress Bianca Lancia. Frederick II spawned a great many children – 20 legitimate, but for obvious reasons, no one scrupulously counted the bastards.

Historians still cannot solve the riddle of the Italian Castel del Monte, to which scientists have many questions

Castel del Monte was built by Frederick II from 1240 to 1250, that is, in the last decade of his life. The name of the architect is unknown, but many historians, not without reason, believe that he was the emperor himself – a painfully intricate design was the result. 

The fact is that, like many medieval mystics, Frederick was obsessed with the number eight, which symbolizes infinity, and it is constantly traced in the structure of the castle.

To begin with, the castle, when viewed from above, is a regular octagon, and an octagonal tower is erected at each corner of the structure. The shape of the inner courtyard of the castle also repeats the octagon. The castle has only two floors, the roof is flat, and the main entrance to Castel del Monte looks strictly to the east, because, as it was believed in the Middle Ages, the good news came from the east.

There are 8 rooms on each floor of the castle, all of them are connected to each other, so that Castel del Monte can be easily walked around the perimeter. The rooms are made in the form of trapezoids, and windows are cut through the walls. Toilets, wardrobes and spiral staircases are located in the corner turrets. 

By the way, the castle has a separate story with the stairs – usually in all castles they are “twisted” to the right, since this is optimal for the defense of the object, but in Castel del Monte, on the contrary, they are “turned” to the left, that is, the way it does nature, because it is to the left that the shells of mollusks or snail shells are twisted.

All rooms of the castle are exactly the same, the rooms differ from each other only in the location of the doors and the number of windows. In the decorative elements, the number eight again dominates: on the capitals of the columns there are eight leaves each, on the bas-reliefs in the rooms there are eight leaves or clover flowers.

Another interesting thing is that direct rays of sunlight fall into the windows of the second floor twice a day (with the first floor, this rule works only in the summer), so many assume that the mysterious castle is nothing more than a huge sundial, and at the same time astronomical device. 

In addition, twice a year, during the summer and winter solstice, sunlight is evenly distributed among all rooms on the ground floor. This, of course, is also no coincidence, so many historians suggest that the first floor of Castel del Monte is a kind of analogue of the solar calendar.

Here’s another curious reason for thinking – twice a year, on April 8 and October 8, the sun’s rays pass through the windows of the castle into the courtyard in such a way that they fall strictly on the part of the wall where in the time of Frederick II a certain bas-relief was carved, now lost. 

Well, and to make everything quite difficult, it is worth remembering that October in the thirteenth century was considered the eighth month of the year.

The castle bears the title of the most mysterious at all because there are many ghosts or other manifestations of mysticism

Frederick II died before he could finish the construction of the castle – the building of Castel del Monte was completed, but the interior decoration was not completed to the end. After the death of the emperor, there were legends in Europe that Frederick did not die, but disappeared in an unknown direction in order to reform the church and establish universal brotherhood and peace.

 A certain symbolism is seen in this, because the octagon, repeated in the structure of Castel del Monte, in the Middle Ages symbolized the transition from the world of the living to the kingdom of the dead, and at the same time the union of heaven and earth.

Everything is very simple here – a square was considered a symbol of the earth, a circle was a symbol of the sky, and an octagon was an intermediate figure that signified both unity and transition. However, scientists far from mysticism believe that the repeated use of the octagon is simply a reference to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, because Frederick II saw the dome over the cornerstone during his crusade.

Historians are confused by the dubious architecture of the object – in such a castle there was not a single chance to hide from an armed attack. No protective mechanisms were used during the construction.

In addition, the building itself boasts the ideal shape of a real octagon. The castle has also 8 turrets.

Scientists did not fit the theory that this castle was used by noble people in order to rest there after hunting. Castel del Monte looks too monumental and luxurious for this.

Some historians suggest that the purpose of the mysterious castle was to comprehend the secret sciences

Castel del Monte has encrypted and biblical symbols. The fact is that the castle has exactly five drainage basins and five fireplaces, many associate this with the phrase of the Baptist John from the Gospel of Luke:

“I baptize you in water for repentance, but the One who follows me is stronger than me; I am not worthy to bear His shoes; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

 So, it is easy to assume that Castel del Monte was for Frederick II an analogue of the temple, built according to his personal project, and this fully meets the ambitions of the emperor.

By the way, this hypothesis is confirmed by another curious detail. If you look closely at the entrance to the castle, you can see a giant letter F encrypted there. If inside the tomb of Frederick II, associations with the pyramids would be inevitable, and so Castel del Monte seems to be a kind of personal portal of the emperor, erected according to his plan and in his honour. 

At least when you stand in the courtyard of the castle and, with your head raised, look at the sky, imprisoned in an octagon of powerful limestone walls, even the most inveterate materialists have a feeling of belonging to the medieval magical tradition. 

The energy of this place is special, in the style of those “Scary Tales” by Matteo Garrone.

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Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene

Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene 101

On December 11, the Vatican unveiled its 2020 nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square. And as soon as the red drapery covering the stage was removed, the crowd found a towering, brutal and totem-like angel Gabriel watching them, along with an astronaut and a masked executioner (yes, those guys who kill people on death row).

Let’s say the applause after the opening was “polite”. Here are some images of the nativity scene.

An ominous angel looks down at the crowd while Jesus remains in the red cloth for a while (not sure why). Behind the figures is a neon light that should probably look like mountains on the horizon. However, at first glance, it looks like a lightning strike in a nativity scene.

Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene 102
An astronaut and a masked executioner are also included in the nativity scene.

In a press release, the Vatican Governorate announced that the nursery “is intended to be a sign of hope and faith for the entire world, especially during this difficult time due to the health emergency related to COVID-19.”

But this did not bring “hope and faith” at all. In fact, almost all observers hated it.

Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene 103

It is as if the Vatican purposely created something so ugly that devout Christians hate the play depicting the birth of Jesus. Satanists couldn’t have done better.

Ugliness with weapons

This nativity scene, titled “Monumental Christmas”, was originally created between 1965 and 1975 by students and teachers of the F.A. Grue art school in Castelli, Italy. The original work contained over 50 pieces, but only a few were selected for the Nativity scene at the Vatican, and they chose the horned-masked executioner.

The “Monumental Nativity Scene” is considered a tribute to the world-renowned pottery works of the Abruzzo region and gives a postmodern twist to the classic nativity scene.

In a conversation with a local newspaper, Italian art historian Andrea Chionchi asked if it was “a nightmare or a masterpiece.”

“Forget the sweet face of the Madonna, the tender radiant incarnation of the Child Jesus, the paternal sweetness of Saint Joseph and the pious miracle of the shepherds. For the first time in the middle of the colonnade, Bernini, the Vatican erected a work of the sixties in a brutal postmodern style.

The figures resemble the masks of the ancient and ferocious Samnites, the ancestors of the Abruzians, who professed a pantheistic, animistic, fetishistic and magical religion, somewhat reminiscent of the Andean goddess of fertility, Pachamama.

Castelli’s “Nativity Scene” is an outdated work, the product of a strongly ideological art school. The work offers a depiction of Castelli ceramics that is definitely not true, given that this remarkable art is renowned for its formal elegance and refined, subtle decorative inspiration, which are completely absent here.

References to Greek, Egyptian, and Sumerian character sculptures suggest a liberal historical-critical method of interpreting Scripture. Liberal Bible scholars have hypothesized about various aspects of the Bible as an adaptation of pagan cultures, and not as a result of divine revelation.

Although “ugliness” is subjective, this nativity scene almost tries its best to be as unpleasant to the eye as possible, which in turn is unpleasant to the soul. At least one could say that this scene is anti-Christian. I mean, who’s actually going to pray to this thing? You just can’t. And that’s kind of a target for the twisted minds behind this thing.

Moreover, in addition to its general ugliness, the nativity scene also contains many symbols and historical references that convey a rather egregious message: it is actually an anti-Christmas scene.

Anti Christmas

Usually in the center of the nativity scene is the baby Jesus. However, in this case, Baby Jesus is essentially a random toddler who just stands there and looks like a giant cork.

Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene 104


The focus of this play is not Jesus, but rather the angel Gabriel. It is surrounded by a massive halo, while Jesus still stands there like a giant cork. In addition, the angel rises above everything on a ribbed pillar. The overall shape of this column closely resembles an important symbol of Ancient Egypt: the Jed Column.

Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene 105
Right: A Jed Column dedicated to the goddess Hathor.

Jed is a common symbol in Ancient Egypt believed to represent the god Osiris, or rather his spine. While this symbol probably has an esoteric meaning in relation to the chakras (which are said to be based on the spine), the Jed also has a phallic character and is associated with fertility rites. In fact, the “erection of the Jed” was an important ceremony in ancient Egypt.

The erection of the Jedi ceremony is to symbolize Osiris’ triumph over Set. During the ceremony, the pharaoh uses ropes to lift the pole with the help of the priests. This coincided with the time of year when the agricultural year began and the fields were planted. This was only part of a 17-day celebration dedicated to Osiris. In general, the ceremony of the erection of the Jed personified both the resurrection of Osiris and the strength and stability of the monarch.

– Ancient origins, sacred symbol of the Jed Pillar

Did the Vatican trick its believers into witnessing the Jed Ascension ceremony? One thing is for sure: the Egyptian influence of this den sit well with what is immediately behind it.

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Immediately behind the nativity scene is the obelisk of St. Peter (originally from Egypt).

The general plan of the Vatican is Egyptian magic in plain sight. The phallic obelisk (representing Osiris and the masculine) faces the womb-like dome of St. Peter’s Basilica (representing Isis and the feminine). The same exact layout can be found in various power centers of the world, including Washington, DC.

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In Washington DC, an obelisk (Washington Monument) faces the dome of the US Capitol.

In Egyptian magic, the union of masculine and feminine principles (Osiris and Isis) gives birth to a “star child” (Horus). From an esoteric point of view, this star child is a powerful magical energy.

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The hieroglyph representing Sirius, the most important star of occult symbolism (read my article on this here), consists of three elements of the Egyptian trinity: an obelisk, a dome and a star.

So, the Vatican has an obelisk and a dome. Where is the star completing this trinity? It is there, but you have to look from above.

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The Obelisk of St. Peter is located right in the center of the eight-pointed star, also known as the Ishtar Star.

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The eight-pointed star also adorns the Christmas tree that stands next to the nativity scene this year.

Speaking of cosmic things, the Vatican nativity scene also depicts an astronaut. Why? God knows.

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It seems that the astronaut is holding / giving birth to something. There is also an eight-pointed star on the helmet.

Given the fact that this figure was created between 1965 and 1975, this may be a reference to the 1969 moon landing. But why in 2020 did the Vatican choose this thing to stand next to Jesus?

It is even more incomprehensible why an executioner in a horned mask is standing next to Jesus?

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Even he thinks to himself: “What am I doing here?”

In ancient times, executioners carried out death sentences for lawful convicts by chopping off their heads. In some cases, they wore grotesque masks with dark and menacing features to further intimidate prisoners, depersonalizing them as a person. In short, it is an odd figure to be placed next to the newborn baby Jesus, especially considering the fact that Jesus himself was ultimately sentenced to death.

Apparently this guy is here to represent the “Vatican’s opposition to the death penalty.” This is a rather weak argument that makes little sense. I mean, I’m pretty sure the Vatican is also against methamphetamine. Should they also add a methamphetamine dealer to the nativity scene?

In the scene literally called “Christmas,” this horned figure represents death. This is the complete opposite of “Christmas”. I don’t think Satanists would have done better by desecrating the scene depicting the birth of Jesus.


In a sense, this year’s nativity scene is a sad reflection of 2020. This is a collection of expressionless and socially detached figures who do not interact with each other, standing under the neon lights of phones and computers.

It also reflects how the occult elite has raised their ugly head this year, poisoning every aspect of our lives with their toxic program. Through their outspoken anti-Christian demonstration, the elite sought to prove that its toxic ideology was also ingrained in the Vatican.

Although the Monumental Nativity scene was created several decades ago, it was chosen for the Christmas scene in 2020 for a special reason: it contains certain symbols, conveying a certain energy. Like everything else that has happened this year, this scene demonstrates the control of the elite and the demoralization of the masses.

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