Heaven's Gate and UFO Cults
Messengers of Deception

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Heaven's Gate & UFO Cults
Messengers of Deception

Although not widely known to the mainstream media, Heaven's Gate was known in UFO circles as well as a series of academic studies by sociologist Robert Balch.

They also received coverage in Jacques Vallée's Messengers of Deception, in which Vallée described an unusual public meeting organized by the group.

Vallée frequently expressed concerns within the book about contactee groups' authoritarian political and religious outlooks, and Heaven's Gate did not escape criticism.

In January 1994, the LA Weekly ran an article on the group, then known as The Total Overcomers. Through this article Rio DiAngelo, a surviving member of the group, discovered the group and eventually joined them.

DiAngelo was the subject of LA Weekly's 2007 cover story on the group. Louis Theroux contacted the Heaven's Gate group while making a program for his BBC Two documentary series, Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends, in early March 1997.

In response to his e-mail, Theroux was told that Heaven's Gate could not take part in the documentary as "at the present time a project like this would be an interference with what we must focus on".

According to Jacques Vallée in his 1979 book Messengers of Deception, the group began in the early 1970s when Marshall Applewhite was recovering from a heart attack during which he claimed to have had a near-death experience.

He came to believe that he and his nurse, Bonnie Nettles, were "the Two", that is, the two witnesses spoken of in Book of Revelation 11:3 in the Holy Bible.

After a brief and unsuccessful attempt to run an inspirational bookstore, they began traveling around the country giving talks about their belief system.

As with some other New Age faiths they combined Christian doctrine (particularly the ideas of salvation  and apocalypse) with the concept of evolutionary advancement and elements of science fiction, particularly travel to other worlds and dimensions.

Applewhite and Nettles used a variety of aliases over the years, notably "Bo and Peep" and "Do and Ti".

The group also had a variety of names. Before the name Heaven’s Gate was used and stuck it was known as Human Individual Metamorphosis. 

At the time Vallée studied the group, it was called HIM (Human Individual Metamorphosis). The group re-invented and re-named itself several times and had a variety of recruitment methods.

Marshall himself believed he was directly related to Jesus, meaning he was an "Evolutionary Kingdom Level Above Human". The only way a human could live through the recycling would be to leave Earth.

Heaven's Gate was an American UFO Religion based Cult in San Diego, California, founded and led by Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997) and Bonnie Nettles (1928-1985).

On March 26th, 1997, in a period that Comet Hale-Bopp was at its brightest towards Earth, police discovered the bodies of 39 members of the heavens gate group, who had died by suicide.

Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr. (May 17th, 1931 – March 26th, 1997), known among his followers as "Do", was the leader of the Heaven's Gate religious group. A self-proclaimed prophet and messiah, he died in the group's mass suicide of 1997.


Heavens Gate Initiation Tape

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.

The group believed in several paths for a person to leave the Earth and survive before the "recycling", one of which was hating this world strongly enough: "It is also possible that part of our test of faith is our hating this world, even our flesh body, to the extent to be willing to leave it without any proof of the Next Level's existence".

The members of the group added "-ody" to the first names they adopted in lieu of their original given names, which defines "children of the Next Level".

This is mentioned in Applewhite's final video, "Do's Final Exit", that was filmed on March 19th, 1997, just days prior to the suicides.

Group members gave up their material possessions and lived a highly ascetic life devoid of many indulgences.

The group was tightly knit and everything was shared communally. Seven of the male members of the group, including Applewhite, voluntarily underwent castration in Mexico as an extreme means of maintaining the ascetic lifestyle.

The group funded itself by offering professional website development for paying clients under the name Higher Source. Cultural theorist Paul Virilio has described the group as a cybersect, due to the group's heavy reliance on computer mediated communication as a mode of communication prior to the group's collective suicide.

UFO Cults

UFO religion is an informal term used to describe a religion that equates UFO occupants with gods or other semi-divine beings.

Typically, the UFO occupants are held to be extraterrestials and that humanity either currently is, or eventually will become, part of a preexisting extraterrestrial civilization.

Others may incorporate UFOs into a more supernatural world-view in which the UFO occupants are more akin to angels than physical aliens, though, ultimately this distinction may become blurred within this worldview.

Adherents believe that the arrival or rediscovery of alien civilizations, technologies and spirituality will enable humans to overcome their current ecological, spiritual and social problems.

Issues such as hatred, war, bigotry, poverty and so on are said to be resolvable through the use of superior alien technology and spiritual abilities.

Such belief systems are described as millenarian in their outlook. UFO religions have predominantly developed in technologically advanced societies, particularly in the United States, Canada, France and the United Kingdom.

The term flying saucers and the popular notion of the UFO originated in 1947. The 1950s saw the creation of UFO religions, with the advent of the contactees. The 1990s saw renewed interest, though such religious groups had never gone away.

The Heaven's Gate group achieved notoriety in 1997 when one of its founders convinced 38 followers to commit mass suicide. Members reportedly believed themselves to be aliens, awaiting a spaceship that would arrive with Comet Hale-Bopp. The suicide was undertaken in the apparent belief that their souls would be transported onto the spaceship, which they thought was hiding behind the comet.

They underwent elaborate preparations for their trip, including purchasing and wearing matching shoes. For a time, group members lived in a darkened house where they would simulate the experience they expected to have during their long journey in outer space.

Heaven's Gate Do's Final Exit Statement

This is Applewhite's final video, "Do's Final Exit", which was filmed on March 19th, 1997, just days prior to the suicides.

The suicide was accomplished by ingestion of phenobarbital mixed with applesauce or pudding, washed down with vodka.

Additionally, plastic bags were secured around their heads after ingesting the mix to induce asphyxiation.

Authorities found the dead lying neatly in their own bunk beds, faces and torsos covered by a square, purple cloth.

Each member carried a five dollar bill and three quarters in their pockets.

The theory behind this is an excerpt from Mark Twain’s 1907 story, Captain Stormfield’s Trip to Heaven.  When the Captain sets off on an excursion into outer space he takes along a passport and money for his fare.

"The fare to get to heaven on the tail of a comet was $5.75."

All 39 were dressed in identical blue shirts and sweat pants, brand new blue-and-white Nike Windrunner athletic shoes, and armband patches reading "Heaven's Gate Away Team" (one of many instances of the group's use of the Star Trek fictional universe's nomenclature).

The adherents, between the ages of 26 and 72, are believed to have died in three groups over three successive days, with remaining participants cleaning up after each prior group's death.

Fifteen members died on March 24th, 15 more on March 25th, and nine on March 26th. Leader Applewhite was the third to last member to die; two women remained after him and were the only ones found without bags over their heads.

One of the group's members did not kill himself: weeks before the suicides Rio Di Angelo agreed with Applewhite to leave the group so he could ensure future dissemination of Heaven's Gate videos and literature. He videotaped the mansion in Rancho Santa Fe; however, the tape was not shown to police until 2002, five years after the event.

The mass death of the Heaven's Gate group was widely publicized in the media as an example of cult suicide. Two former members of Heaven's Gate, Wayne Cooke and Charlie Humphreys, later committed suicide in a similar manner to the group. Humphreys had survived a suicide pact with Cooke in May 1997, but successfully committed suicide in February 1998.