The following is from Cheri Walsh:

Perspectives from the Hilltop

"Visualize yourself standing before a gateway on a hilltop. Your entire life lies out before you and below. Before you step through, pause and review the past--the learning and the joys, the victories and the sorrows--everything it took to bring you here." –The Book of Runes

This quote captures a place where I stood not long ago in relation to my CUT experience. It took both time and distance to get me there…

I had been fired from CUT staff.  Mrs. Prophet (hereafter ecp) did not fire me herself.  She had a spokesman deliver the "pink slip" message. I was told at the time it was because of a back injury I had suffered on the last stump lecture tour I went on. That was the official version to my face. Then there was the official version told to people who noticed me missing—I had left to go to school. Then there was the "real" reason which probably only "inner circle" staff were privy to. I haven’t heard that one in full, but I suspect it included a few choice words such as rebellion, too independent, too lazy to work, dweller, negative, etc.

I was so hurt, disheartened, confused, scared, insecure and just plain bummed when I left the ranch that for a long time afterward I did not hardly even think about the church or ecp. When anything about CUT came to mind I quickly dismissed it. I did not have positive feelings about ecp and the whole organization but I was determined not to be negative about the church, so I simply squelched all thoughts and feelings about it.

This ostrich approach served me well. Psychologically, I was very fragile. About two years later, I bottomed out and turned the corner to a better and brighter future. Soon I began to work my way up to the gateway on the hilltop.

When I finally stood at that portal to my future, I wanted nothing more than to move through it and forget the past. But, alas, the past met me at the gate and insisted that I pause to review. It started to intrude itself at odd moments during the day and finally invaded my dreams. I knew it was time to take my head out of the sand, listen to my soul and allow healing and resolution to begin.

This was a big step for a former CUT member. Up to that time, any kind of negative thoughts and feelings about ecp or the organization I automatically viewed as (horrors!) "CRITICISM!" Now I thought that perhaps this "criticism" was really a discernment that I had ignored for far too long. I decided to take an honest look at CUT from a different vantage point and embarked on a search for information.

The search wasn’t a central focus in my life but eventually I ran across the CUT Info Site and the CUT discussion forum. I was shocked at some of what I read there but I was careful not to swallow everything whole. Soon I was able to confirm from other sources the things that shocked me the most—Moira’s abortion and ecp’s immorality. My shock turned to embarrassment and anger at being deceived for so long.

If I had known about either of these things when I was on staff, I would have left staff instantly—and I mean instantly. These were just too big to ignore and justify. I expected—and demanded--more of my supposed guru.

And so, things moved on from there. I soon got in touch with some of my friends whom I had left behind at the ranch. I was delighted to find most of them had left the church and saw things the way I did. I find that honest sharing with those who have been through the same CUT experience is a great comfort and key to my personal healing.

I suppose this healing process will go on for a long time to come. It’s like a parallel universe that allows me to go on with my present life but also affords me the opportunity to go back and re-view past events and, more importantly, to deal with my unresolved feelings around those events.

Now I no longer resist the past as episodes come to mind. Sometimes I bump into things that remind me of CUT in some way a couple of times in one day. It’s okay. I understand that life demands balance and resolution and I think this is nature’s way of helping us heal from less-than-positive experiences. I am ready to deal with it. I can look back now with less charge and a better perspective. Now I am a willing student of what my past as well as that of others has to teach me.

I used to be a critic of those who left staff and spoke out about their negative experiences and the dishonesty in CUT. I could never understand why they couldn’t just go in peace and get on with their life. Now I am on the other side of the fence and I understand why it is sometimes necessary to speak out. It is not criticism in the CUT sense of the word. It is part of recovery and reclaiming one’s soul.  It is part of taking back portions of self that have been given or taken away.  It is an affirmation of the truth as one sees it today. It is a validation that you weren’t crazy after all. In my case, it is also breaking a silence that some might construe as consent. I want those who know and respect me to know that I no longer consent to or espouse what CUT was or is today and I do not consider ecp a true spiritual teacher.

Speaking of spiritual teachers, one of the clearest memories of my CUT experience turns out to be an ironic prophecy. It was a beautiful morning in the fall of 1973 in Santa Barbara at Ascended Master University when ecp delivered instruction from the Corona Class lessons on false teachers. I was all ears to hear Jesus’ guideline to discern a false teacher and it was this: By their fruits ye shall know them.

In the almost thirty-three years since that moment, from time to time the lesson would come to mind. But it wasn’t until I learned of the plethora of shattered lives and families in the wake of CUT/ecp that I was ready to make the connection to CUT and ecp. It seems there are a lot of rotten CUT/ecp fruits that are just now coming to light. Yes, indeed we were duped. Life has a way of always outing the truth. And the truth does set us free.

Even so, realizing the awful truth and dealing honestly with one’s feelings about the CUT experience is not easy. I feel constant regret for dedicating a quarter of a century of my life to CUT. I gave up a career, family and retirement pension to say nothing of any kind of financial security. At this time in my life, these are big losses.

There are few gains: publishing training, living in the Paradise Valley for ten years, fishing often on the Yellowstone River, visiting the beauty of nature in a thousand ways every day while I lived in Montana, hard-won wisdom…can’t think of much else right now. Perhaps as time goes on I will be able to count more gains.

In the meantime, I continue to learn as I reflect on life in CUT and hear of the experiences of others. There have been a few surprises along the way. One of the most startling realizations I had in recent months is that one of the fruits of the CUT experience for not a few of us are elements of what is called "post-traumatic stress disorder" or "PTSD" for short.

Let me give you a brief clinical explanation of what PTSD is all about. I will italicize points which I think are especially pertinent to the CUT experience. Author David V. Baldwin, PhD. writes:

Traumatic experiences shake the foundations of our beliefs about safety and shatter our assumptions of trust.

Because they are so far outside what we would expect, these events provoke reactions that feel strange and "crazy...." Even though these reactions are unusual and disturbing, they are typical and expectable. By and large, these are normal responses to abnormal events….

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common diagnostic category used to describe symptoms arising from emotionally traumatic experiences. This disorder presumes that the person experienced a traumatic event involving actual or threatened death or injury to themselves or others -- and where they felt fear, helplessness or horror….

The three main symptom clusters in PTSD are:

1. Intrusions, such as flashbacks or nightmares, where the traumatic event is re-experienced.

2. Avoidance, when the person tries to reduce exposure to people or things that might bring on their intrusive symptoms. (The European diagnostic description puts it this way: "Commonly there is fear and avoidance of cues that remind the sufferer of the original trauma.")

3. And Hyperarousal…such as hyper vigilance or increased startle response….

We create meaning out of the context in which events occur. Consequently, there is always a strong subjective component in people's responses to traumatic events….

Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD….

In the "purest" sense, trauma involves exposure to a life-threatening experience…Yet, many individuals exposed to violations by people or institutions they must depend on or trust also show PTSD-like symptoms -- even if their abuse was not directly life-threatening.

Although the mechanisms of this connection to traumatic symptoms are not well understood, it appears that betrayal by someone on whom you depend for survival may produce consequences similar to those from more obviously life-threatening traumas.

While PTSD is the "prototypical" traumatic disorder, some people…present variations on this theme. Depression, anxiety, and dissociation are three other disorders that may sometimes arise after traumatic experiences, but Somatoform disorders (sometimes called psychosomatic disorders which are disorders thought to be caused by psychological factors) are also seen in some populations.

The differences may result from how the particular individual deals with or expresses [his/her] stress, and probably depend some on the individual's subjective interpretation of the stress as well. Individual differences affect both the severity and the type of symptoms experienced….

As you might expect, risk for PTSD increases with exposure to trauma. In other words, chronic or multiple traumatic experiences are likely to be more difficult to overcome than most single instances….

There is also evidence that early traumatic experiences (e.g., during childhood), especially if these are prolonged or repeated, may increase the risk of developing PTSD after traumatic exposure as an adult…

(These excerpts from Dr. Baldwin are from

Do you see how this connects to the CUT experience that many of us had? I believe that many who were associated with CUT in the era of ecp had what could be termed "traumatic" (wounding) experiences. Then, too, there is trauma today in realizing one was duped! And then unraveling all the feelings around things that come up—that, too, can pack an emotional wallop. We aren’t finished dealing with CUT impacts on our lives.

Reading this information from Dr. Baldwin helps me understand why some of us came away in better or worse shape than others on staff. Those of us who had trauma of some sort in our own past were more likely to come away with PTSD after years of upsetting events on staff. It’s like our social "genes" had the right defects that enabled the PTSD to "take" after traumatic exposure on staff.

I can see where PTSD might fit in my case. How so? I observe it in my over-reactions in certain situations. I will give you an example. Manipulation and control by an authority figure is probably where I get the strongest reaction within myself. I simply can’t brook any authority figure telling me what to do and when to do it, especially if it is an arbitrary decision and I have no say in the matter. I believe this is my present-day response to allowing myself to be controlled 24/7 in virtually every way for many, many years on staff.

An essential element of my basic makeup is a profound need for freedom. When I was in the CUT mindset, I viewed this need as rebellion and I chided and punished myself about it for years. My lack of freedom chafed almost daily but I was determined to surrender and be an obedient, self-sacrificing and selfless servant. I allowed myself to be denied freedom for so many years that today anything that smacks of ever being in that position again triggers an over-reaction in me.

As you can imagine, this over-reaction to supervision is a big handicap when it comes to employment today in my life. Fortunately I have found a way to make a living with my own business. I am my own boss and no authority figure ever dictates to me. Thank God!! I am not sure I will ever "get over" this feeling and reaction but I’m not sure it really matters as long as I can find a way to pay my bills.

As I think about it, most of my PTSD symptoms stem from being controlled on staff. One incident stands out in my mind that was especially traumatic for me. It exemplifies the crazy-making control I felt so often.

I had an internal lump at the base of my sternum. I went to an outside doctor in Livingston and he told me to come back in a few months to see if it changed and perhaps do a biopsy on it.

In the meantime, a Keeper who was a doctor (not Pollack, can’t remember his name) came on staff and he was training to be a surgeon. I had been to him about the lump and he couldn’t even find it. Because of this, I did not want the young staff doctor involved in making decisions about my health. I simply did not have confidence in him.

I was scheduled to go back to the surgeon in Livingston and somehow ecp got wind of it (I don’t remember all the details.) Anyway, the gist of it is that ecp sent word to me through my supervisor that I should have the staff doctor handle it and forget about going to the surgeon in Livingston.

When I received this message, I was EXTREMELY upset. I hadn’t even been consulted! Ecp did not even talk to me! It still upsets me as I write about it. It made me crazy. I was so upset that I wasn’t myself for a few days. My whole system was out of whack, so much so that I had to go see the doctor (which I generally avoided at all costs). 

When I told Dr. Pollack my symptoms, he asked me if I had suffered any kind of emotional trauma. I knew it went back to my reaction to ecp’s message. I did not tell Dr. Pollack what had happened as it was not chela-like to have a negative reaction to anything ecp told you to do and I knew it would get back to ecp through Dr. Pollack. 

I felt totally controlled, manipulated and imprisoned. At the time, I thought there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I managed to get to the Livingston doctor anyway. 

I never quite recovered from that incident. It definitely contributed to my extreme aversion to authority figures making arbitrary decisions about my life.

I hope you get the point. I think many ex-staff are dealing with PTSD and don’t realize it.  Realizing it doesn’t make it easier for me to deal with my emotions, but I think it does make it easier to understand I am dealing with natural reactions to upsetting events.  I know that I can move on and get past it.

Recovery is a journey and each one has his/her own individual healing process. Those who are still in the ostrich stage are right where they need to be.  At this stage in my recovery, an important part of my moving on is dealing with the past. I do not dwell on the past but I am learning that it demands to be acknowledged, honored and resolved. I have not chosen it. It has chosen me. After all, it met me at the gate…