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6 Cults Shrouded in Mysticism and the Culture They’ve Inspired

Throughout the centuries there have been numerous groups–typically labeled as cults–that are surrounded by an unwavering belief in the paranormal or supernatural connections between worlds. These cults have ranged from entirely peaceful to large and lethal movements that claimed lives as they grew in size. Cults like the Manson Family and Johnstown were unquestionably some of the most deadly movements that have popped up throughout modern times. Although it’s fair to say that these particular cults weren’t actually led by true followers of any particular paranormal or supernatural belief system, they had followers willing to die or even kill for one person’s twisted views, religious beliefs, or teachings. We decided to take a look at some of the most famous paranormal and supernatural societies that helped to inspire and ultimately birthed many mystical and paranormal beliefs that still exist today.

Theosophical Society

Blavatsky and Olcott

Madame Helena Blavatsky was a Russian occultist, medium, and philosopher who co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875. She published her first doctrine, Isis Unveiled in 1877 which outlined the Theosophical world-view which closely associated Hermeticism and Neoplatonism. There are now various branches of theosophical beliefs, though they all hold certain common characteristics. There was a deeper spiritual reality and direct contact with transcending human consciousness; this is known as a mystical experience.

They also emphasize esoteric doctrine, which leads to small factions within the larger name of the society. Theosophists maintain a healthy fascination with the supernatural or extraordinary occurrences to achieve higher psychic and spiritual powers. Finally, theosophy displays a preference of monism, which is the view that reality is constituted of one principle, such as mind or spirit. The Theosophists Society strives to combine all forms of religious, spiritual, and inner teaching of sacred texts; to provide the deepest form of self-connection with the “divine wisdom”.

Order of the Solar Temple

The Solar Temple was founded in Geneva in 1984, tracing its roots back to a break-away group of Knights Templar. This secret society’s leader, Joseph Di Mambro, brainwashed his followers into believing he was a reincarnation of one of the Knights Templar. His daughter was believed to be the “Cosmic Child” that would lead them to a planet near the Sirius star after their deaths. The Solar Temple began doing a mixture of rituals, making altars, as well as conducting occultist acts, and ceremonial sexual acts on its members. Their focus was on the worldwide catastrophe in the form of an apocalyptic event in the mid-1990s. This is what led to famous strings of murder-suicides that spanned a few years; this resulted in the loss of 74 members, the order is best known for this world-wide action.

Heaven’s Gate

Heaven’s Gate focused its beliefs on making it back into the Kingdom of Heaven from their Earth-bound soul deposits. They believe Jesus was the first “prepped vehicle” chosen to lead their followers to the next level and into the Kingdom of Heaven. Now, some 2000 years later their leaders still uphold the task of leading the order in the name of the “father’s’’ original task by combining cosmic beings and Christian ideologies. In 1997 Marshall Applewhite and 38 of his followers believed the Hale-Bopp Comet was the key to leaving Earth and the beginning of their cosmic journey into space and on to their next level of existence. The group committed mass suicide in attempts to free their souls and join their fellow cosmic beings; this led to the cult being front and center of worldwide media for quite a while.

Bohemian Grove

This San Francisco based gentlemen’s club is known for its all-male membership club made up of the most prominent men in the world. Ranging from business leaders, artists, musicians, government officials, and even former presidents; there is no shortage of powerful men within this group. The Grove is particularly famous for holding the Manhattan Project planning meeting in September 1942, as well as being a pop-culture parody–thanks to Richard Nixon. Though on the surface the Grove looks to be another “normal” high society club, many reports have brought out a darker looking side to this group. Allegedly they partake in worshiping a large stone owl called Moloch, burning bodies, Satanic practices, and sacrificing virgins. Throughout the 140 years that the Grove has been operating, their societal values have remained incredibly secretive.

Order of Thelema

Aleister Crowley in 1902

Founded by famous English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, and novelist Aleister Crowley formed in the twentieth century. It is a complicated set of magical, mystical, and spiritual beliefs that can range from atheistic to polytheistic views. Thelema is based out of the Book of the Law, which led Crowley to label himself as a prophet and encourage followers to ascend to higher states of existence to unite themselves with one’s ultimate purpose in life. Followers of the Order of Thelema practice large ranges of magick and mysticism, as their concepts are rooted in occultism; there is no shortage of rituals, spirits, and paranormal experiences here. Aspects of Thelema and Crowley’s other writings gave birth to the development of Wicca, Modern Paganism, Chaos Magick, some variations of Satanism and Scientology.

Cult of Cthulhu and Necronomicon

This particular cult was brought on by the creations of H.P. Lovecraft; originally only a fictional work that featured various cults that worshipped Cthulhu, the destroyer of humanity, and bringing of an era of chaos. Over the years this fictional work has inspired the creation of real cults that combined Lovecraft’s mythology with other beliefs such as Occultist dark arts and Satanism. Most of these groups use Lovecraft’s Necronomicon as a means by which they derived their beliefs and structured their cults. These beliefs combined with the dark arts caused these groups to take on a violent slant, as well as the ritualistic use of magic from Satanic teachings. This has accumulated into the establishment of a little known, yet mightily feared reputation. Lovecraft’s works have inspired many aspects to horror culture of literature, well as horror movies, and is said to be the father of cosmic horror. The cults that use his writings to influence their belief systems are still around today and doing their best to grow in numbers as they prepare for the end of days.

Though these cults or orders are just a few in the long list of paranormal or mystic beliefs, there are hundreds of groups that can fall into this category. Most of them are still practicing their beliefs to this day in one form or another, but surprisingly not all of them are to be feared as criminal or dangerous. One thing they all share is the belief that there is another world across the veil from our own and it can be connected with. Within that connection, they believe we are able to heighten our inner connection to the higher powers we may follow or believe in.

The need to connect to these higher powers in life not only helped masses of people to find a community to belong in, but it also helped to shape government as we know it today and business communities as well. These groups also influenced hundreds of books, movies, TV shows, and a large amount of horror culture to become what it is today–such as American Horror Story: Cult. There is an endless list of examples that can be used to highlight these groups and their beliefs being used to wow us on the big screen and have elicited jaw-dropping horror within each of us. Without the belief in the paranormal and mystical world, horror would simply be stuck in the slasher and gore realm.

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Indie Horror Short Horror Stories

“Rose” – The Ghost of The White Eagle

By Modern Cauldron and Tritone.

White Eagle Hotel Sign

Cameron exhaled a tired sigh as the group made their way into Portland, the paranormal team had been on the road for what feels like years now. The trip started early November and it was now January. The last stop on this trip finally came at 12 am as they turned onto Russell Street, they pulled up to an old brick building with two old single-pane windows looking out from the upstairs hotel. An old fashion wooden sign swung in the air as if to greet them and moved just enough to make the eerie creek all paranormal investigators like to hear.

“White Eagle Saloon!” exclaimed Nicole as she climbed out of the vehicle. Cameron clamored out, looking exhausted and less than impressed at her over-joyed excitement. 

“I can’t believe they call this the most haunted hotel in Oregon” he stated daftly as he rolled his eyes. Nicole cut him a look as if to say chill out, before spinning around to practice her opening segment under the old sign. Their technical intern Jessie gathered the bags and gear while shaking his head wondering what he had gotten himself into on this one.

The team entered the dimly lit saloon, the bar is old but had been beautifully maintained. It felt like a mixture of a speakeasy and an old English pub. Over the arched door to the back, there was a large painting of a crystal ball that read Palmistry. There were a few tables scattered about the floor surrounding a small stage where hundreds of bands must have played over the years. Gas-lantern-looking lights adorned the walls and gave off a mellow soft glow. The bar felt old and sleepy yet oddly comforting. Nicole checked in with the bartender as the boys started to take a closer look around. Jessie made his way to a wall which harbored pictures of the bar’s history, some seemed to date back to the early 1900s. He took the time to study one of a man named Sam Warrick before he moved down to another portrait of a beautiful young lady in a white dress. His eyes drifted down to the plaque on the wall beneath it which simply read, Rose. Cameron slapped him on the back and scared the skin off of him.

“Ready to settle in? Nicole has our room keys.” Jessie laughed nervously back at him and watched his friend leave the bar area.

White Eagle Saloon Inside

The old door to the hotel was outside the bar and led to a steep and narrow staircase. After almost 100 years of service, each step creaked as they walked up, protesting the weight of the gear they had brought with them. The floor that the rooms were on was much cooler than the floor below; it was even more dimly lit than the saloon, but it felt just as cozy and homey as they struggled with their bags down the narrow hallway to their rooms.

They unloaded their gear in the rooms, Nicole was in room 2 which had the window that overlooked the street. Inside of the room, there was a small sitting chair, a standing Chester drawer, a vanity table with a lace cloth across it, and a large painting in the corner across from the bed of a beautiful landscape–it felt like she had stepped into a different time. The boys were sharing room 3 just next door, it didn’t have a window but it was slightly larger. In their room, there were two single beds both with side tables, there was a large oakwood table with chairs and a long dresser drawer. Around the room, Jessie noticed pictures of the man Sam, on a wall was a shelf with a few old-timey items: a shaving kit, a flask, a wooden hairbrush, and a stopwatch. He figured they were probably personal items of Sam or supposed to look as if they were.

After they had settled in, the team returned to the saloon for a few drinks and to gather their plans for the following day of filming. Two more team members would join them to help with reading equipment and examination of the building and its alleged Shanghai tunnels. Nicole always demanded to be a day ahead of the others, the only reason Jessie was with them ahead of schedule was due to the lack of space in the other car as well as the set-up of night vision cameras.

The three of them had a few beers as Nicole and Cameron bickered back and forth about details: lighting, walkthroughs, content about the haunting, and so on it went. Jessie found himself rather bored with the planning stage and decided to return to the room for the night. He left Nicole and Cameron to work things out. Walking up the stairs he noticed the creaking was much louder than earlier in the day, and he had a sudden, strong feeling of being watched, this feeling seemed to intensify as he made his way to the door of his room. Digging the key from his pocket he suddenly felt a firm tug at the back of his shirt, nearly untucking it, which almost caused him to lose balance. He whipped around to find he was alone in the hallway, he shook his head. When he turned back to the door he felt a light wind sweep across his neck, which sent him spinning around again. He tried to shake it off and laughed, clearly the long drive and extra round of beers were playing tricks on him. Once in the room he quickly got settled into the far bed and was fell into a deep sleep. 

“Come on Cameron, one more round” pled Nicole who gave him her best pouty face.

“Fine” he exclaimed and rolled his eyes at her again.

Nicole popped up and all but ran to the bar to order the drinks, before promptly slipping off to the ladies’ room. He sat studying the label he had almost peeled completely from his bottle in one single piece. This seemed to bring a smile to his face just slightly. Nicole returned to the table looking a little pale and upset before he could ask what was going on, she demanded to go see the room. A bit shocked, he picked on her over the light-weight drinker she was, but there was no bubble burst of the typical Nicole response he would have expected from her. He followed her up the stairs and sensed eyes on him as he took a last look down at the bar. All the sounds seemed to die away as he reached the top of the stairs almost bumping into Nicole who had suddenly stopped.

“This is where it happened you know. This spot right here is where she died,” Nicole said barely looking over her shoulder at him. He blinked hard and slow only to find she was gone in the small second it took to gather himself. 

Rose White Eagle Ghost Face

He slowly walked down the hall to room 2 and found the door was cracked open just enough; he saw her sitting in the chair by the window. He pushed the door all the way open and softly called to her. “She sat here night after night, wondering what life she could have,” Nicole said in a flat tone that had him shuttering with each word.

“How do you know that?” he asked slowly as he walked closer to her. He reached out to touch her shoulder, shaking slightly; suddenly she rolled her head around. Her face was ghostly white and haunting to gaze upon, her mouth opened and at first, no sound came out, then suddenly she shrieked a deafening wail that sent him scrambling from the room. The door slammed behind him as he backed into the wall and sank to the floor. He pulled his camera up and tried to explain what just happened to him. His mind raced uncontrollably and caused him to feel like the world was spinning around him. His first thoughts were to capture everything that just happened on film, then he remembered “Nicole…” What had happened to her, was she ok? He needed to muster enough courage to go back into the room to help her. He looked down the hall to the stairs and noticed the shadow of a figure, it was Nicole looking overly concerned.

“What are you doing? I came back from the bathroom and you were gone.” She looked as confused as she sounded. He was without words and stammered a confusing trail of details and she helped him up off the floor. She tried to calm him down and explain she couldn’t have been in the room, as she was downstairs but he wouldn’t listen. He clawed at the doorknob only to find it was locked. She pulled her key out and twisted the knob revealing an empty room. At this point, all of the colors ran out of his face and he was completely speechless. He swore what he saw was real, and that they needed to gather their things and leave RIGHT NOW. Nicole wouldn’t have it, she thought he was just drunk and letting his mind get the best of him. She pushed him out of the room and ordered him to get some rest, she was now tired and feeling the rounds of beers as well. “If you can’t handle night one here Cameron, I’m seriously worried about you,” she laughed him off. “Get to bed and get yourself together before tomorrow, I have too much riding on this.” She further mocked as he slowly dragged himself back to sanity. 

He nervously opened the door to room 3 to find Jessie sleeping hard in the far bed as if nothing has happened. He settled into the bed fully dressed and continued to search his mind for any form of peace. It’s just the exhaustion and too much to drink, he tried to reason with himself, everything will be fine. I just need to sleep. As he spoke to himself his eyes got heavier and heavier and he felt the biting cold gnawing at his body. He wanted to get up but couldn’t find the strength within himself to do so. He resigned himself to roll over and tuck himself into a loose ball. Tomorrow will be better, he repeated to himself over and over again until the dark cloud of sleep took ahold of him and carried him off.