A Cult Leader Explains His Craft|
An Interview with Cultologist and Part Time Cult Leader El-Mir
"Now is a great time to do this interview," he says. "Aum Shenrikio, Heaven's Gate, and Scientology have all made cults really popular again. I mean, I have deep sympathy for the families of cult victims, but I think it's a good thing because we need to revive cult awareness."
El Mir is, for want of a better word, a cultologist. He has studied cults for over 30 years, since his "fascination started with leaders like Jim Jones and Charles Manson." Unlike most cult experts, however, El Mir is himself a cult leader. He believes that having a cult of his own will lead him to understand them better. It is a live experiment.
"I formed the Golden Apple Cabal in 1977.
It has 13 official members, members of the inner circle, but the total number of members is constantly changing. Some people are members without knowing, but the higher members all have little membership cards." El Mir shows me his credentials. I don't get time to read the writing on the laminated card, but I notice that El Mir is not who he says he is. "El Mir is just one of the names I use in public," he says. According to El Mir every respectable cult leader has a false identity, or two. He risks all if he reveals his real name. "I cannot operate an efficient cult if people read this article and realize that El Mir is me. Don't tell them where I live and what I look like, okay?"
I hesitated, a good journalist would demand the facts and I desperately wanted his real name, but I decided to let it go for the sake of the interview. He went on to say that The Golden Apple Cabal is also only one name for his cult. "We've got loads of different disguises, every decent cult has a front or two."
There are 13 'real' members of the Golden Apple Cabal, but according to El Mir hundreds of people work for him. "Most haven't a clue what is going on. That is the beauty of cults. I even have secrets from the other 12 higher members, it all works on lies and disinformation, that is how a cult retains power."
El Mir explains that cults operate and survive by attaining and sharing occult knowledge, knowledge beyond current human understanding, or, more simply, secrets. "There is nothing spooky, scary or demonic about the occult. Traditionally occult knowledge has been used for bad things, but it is not bad in itself." El Mir believes that all cults have secrets which they entice new members with. "Every cult has something to offer, they exploit the weaknesses of individuals. They typically offer knowledge or wisdom that the individual thinks he or she needs. Often it is knowledge of eternal life, or techniques for enlightenment or happiness. We all desire to live forever, to be enlightened, to be happy. And they are the weaknesses that cults exploit.
"Many cults are pretty harmless," he says. "An obvious example is the cult which helps you to give up smoking. They tell you they have this secret knowledge about quitting, you go to some of their sessions, they promise you more and more secret knowledge while at the same time asking you for more and more money. Eventually you end up with some rather basic and obvious information on giving up cigarettes and an empty bank account. But this isn't necessarily a bad cult," he explains. "Most people have spent so much time and energy (and money) on giving up smoking that they magically end up quitting. Many do it out of embarrassment, they don't want to look like they have been duped so they pretend to their friends that it really does work. But many people really believe it works - and because they believe it, it becomes true for them."
This is the big cult secret which El Mir is at first reluctant to share. "It is all lies, but the cult makes it become true by pretending that it is. Take a cult TV program for example. The X-Files is a great cult, and it is not just a cult because it is popular in a certain segment of society, it is popular because it promises certain bits of secret information. Sure, it is fiction but parts aren't and that is where the magic happens. When you blur real life with fiction you can subtly persuade people that your fictions are also real. We all get swept away by storytellers, human psychology is such that many people enter the X-Files fantasy for an hour a week, they believe it is true."
El Mir explains that this is why we jump at scary parts in the movies. "It is because the moviemaker has persuaded you that what you are seeing is real. It is the same with adverts, many people really think that Budweiser really is the king of beers. Is it actually the best beer? I don't think so, but if you tell me enough times then I start to believe it and end up ordering a Bud when I go to a bar." A cult works on the same principles he says. "Cult leaders are basically expert psychologists and advertisers who know how to alter what people think is real. They find a weakness, they find something cool and of the moment and they repeatedly tell you something is true until you start to believe it."
The blurring of reality and the use of basic psychological tactics is where El Mir says the cult magic starts to work. "This is what happened in the Heaven's Gate cult," he says. "The leader, Marshall Applewhite, made these people believe that there were aliens coming to Earth with the Hale Bopp comet. He promised them the secret knowledge of eternal life, and who wouldn't want that? He told them that it was their last chance to 'become more than human'. He told them that if they committed suicide they would join the aliens and achieve immortality. Applewhite was a genius! To persuade people to take their own lives is a really hard thing to do. But he did it by exploiting these people's weaknesses and mixing them with current cult trends and simple psychology. Aliens and comets and the millennium are all cult symbols now and it was easy for him to combine them into a lethal mixture capable of taking human lives."
According to El Mir, the bad reputation that cults have is unfair. He believes that we are all unwitting members of cults and that we are manipulated by cult leaders everyday. "The Heaven's Gate cult was bad, not because it was a cult, but because it was run by a mad man who started to believe in his own fictions. He believed that suicide was the way to achieve immortality and he took 38 believers with him. But what the media have missed so far is the simple fact that everything is a cult. The media and the government don't want to admit this because what I am telling you now is the key to destroying all cults, religions and governments."
El Mir is hesitant again, he is about to share the biggest secret of all. The secret which renders his own cult powerless. "I can tell you because most people won't read this article, serious people won't publish it, and most of the people who do get to read it won't believe it all. And that is the key to all of this. When people start to believe something, or anything, they become a cult member. We think it incredible that people can be led to commit suicide by one man but it has happened throughout history. In Guyana the Reverend Jim Jones told 900 people to drink cyanide, and they did, like robots. And hundreds of young people who believed that military action in Vietnam was necessary were also led to death by one man, a president - the ultimate cult leader."
According to El Mir the president of the United States is just another cult leader, "but the cult is so big we forget it is just a social fiction. We have a weakness for wanting protection, someone to look over us. We have a psychological need for a big brother government. Clinton realized this and through simple cult techniques like public relations and media propaganda he persuaded us that he should be elected to rule us. Clinton is a magician. He can affect our reality by telling us what is true and what is not. If he says a war in the Middle East is necessary then hundreds of people will suddenly believe it to be true."
Magic according to El Mir is simply altering reality through your thoughts, beliefs and desires. "Magic is real, we are all sorcerers but we have forgotten. That is why I run a cult. It is not a bad cult, there will be no deaths, it is a cult that aims to destroy bigger evil cults like the cult that says violence and death can solve our problems."
But El Mir wouldn't reveal his cult's practices, saying that "if I tell you what we are up to then we become powerless. If Clinton told you that we are going to war because his friends who build weapons are short of cash, then nobody would take him seriously. It is the lies and secrets which make the magic happen." All El Mir revealed was that his cult teaches people to recognize and avoid other cults. "All my cult members begin to realize after a while that they are in a cult. And they trust me. I guess I could tell them to kill themselves but that doesn't interest me. I am more keen on taking the life out of evil corporations and societies. We never harm any individuals, we just like to put a spanner in the works occasionally."
El Mir teaches people that everything is a cult, and you just have to choose a good one. "We only threaten commonly held beliefs and cultural conditioning. We basically provide therapy through communication - the best thing is that this work is fun, look up El Mir in an encyclopedia if you don't believe me!"
Tags : psychedelic
Rating : Teen - Drugs
Posted on: 2001-05-01 00:00:00