Part Ten: A Fork in the Road

As the weeks turned into months, I began to think about my future on staff.  In terms of working on Mrs. Prophet’s household staff indefinitely, I had several areas of concern.

One area was my basic ignorance of child-rearing.  A few weeks into my job, Sean had a rash of some kind and he applied a concentrated detergent to kill the fungus.  It gave him a bad chemical burn.  I felt responsible because I was with him when he decided to try the detergent as a cure.  I didn’t see any problem with it at the time.  I told Mrs. Prophet about my part in the incident and she assured me that I was capable of doing the job.  Her assurance didn’t allay my doubts about myself, though.

Another concern for me was the fact that my life was taken up with mundane details from morning to night.  I didn’t decree much and missed almost all services.  I was totally out of the loop when it came to any staff functions such as staff meetings and decree sessions.  I could have lived with that if there had been the reward of learning cosmic things from the messenger by being in her presence every day.  I can’t say as that ever happened.

There were a few rare occasions when our conversation involved more than the mundane details of everyday life, though.

For example, one morning we were in her master bathroom getting her ready for the day.  We got into a discussion of Catholic nuns all taking the name of Mary.  She thought it was so ridiculous.  She could not imagine why anyone would do that.  I think she saw it as a surrender of one’s identity. 

As a Catholic, I totally understood that it was a matter of respect to the Blessed Mother.   Most nuns in the early days before Vatican II were known as Sister Mary something.  Most gave up their given names and took names of saints.  That’s how a nun could end up with a name like Sister Mary Stephen.  Catholics thought nothing of it.   If the nuns were surrendering a portion of identity, it was no different than the CUT teaching of surrendering the lesser self to the guru and Christ Self.

Mrs. Prophet’s attitude and understanding was so ignorant that I laughed out loud when she made her serious declaration of how ridiculous it was.  It was a totally spontaneous reaction on my part.  For a tenuous moment, it could have gone either way.  The gods smiled on me that day, and Mrs. Prophet laughed, too, and had me explain why I laughed.

Mrs. Prophet was not only ignorant of Catholic doctrine but she had what I called a “Protestant” attitude towards the Catholic Church.  She would often put the Catholic Church down in her lectures and public comments and that used to irk me.  But at the same time that she bad-mouthed the Church, she often tried to incorporate the Catholic understanding of things into the teachings. 

Her lack of true appreciation and knowledge of Catholic doctrine sometimes distorted things and made her look ridiculous.  For instance, she had no understanding of the Catholic teaching about the Immaculate Conception.  Whereas the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception refers to Mother Mary’s soul being free of the stain of original sin because she was to be the mother of Jesus, Mrs. Prophet mistakenly thought it applied to Mary’s conception of Jesus.  She came up with a mishmash teaching about every conception being immaculate because it is sacred and we are all the sons of God, blah, blah, blah.  I think some staff pointed this out to her and a couple of feeble attempts were made to correct it.   But she never quite got it and would revert to her mistaken understanding.  I thought it made her look stupid to anyone who knew Catholic doctrine.

If you tired to point out to her these problem areas, you had to be careful how you presented the problem.  She would easily take offense if she thought you were challenging her authority.  Then the whole point was lost and she would continue in her ignorant way.  Sometimes she would listen only after someone in the outside world had pointed out her ignorance.  Then she was all ears to hear and correct her error. 

Working on the household staff for those few months, I caught glimpses of how Mrs. Prophet operated.

She was a master at controlling her environment.  She decided who was in her presence at all times.  She didn’t like surprises.  If someone she wasn’t expecting would show up at a meeting she had called, or someone whom she had not personally approved to come to her house arrived there, it could escalate into a major incident.

I learned not to invade her environment with unnecessary noise.  One evening, M.B. and I were in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner.  Mrs. Prophet was in the living room.  M.B. and I were carrying on a conversation and I think we were laughing about something.  Mrs. Prophet interrupted our conversation by yelling from the living room for us to be quiet.  After that, I was always cautious and quiet around her.

Mrs. Prophet was also adept at controlling who knew what information.  I observed this early on when Randall would come to dinner.  I sensed the conversation was careful.  There wasn’t open discussion. 

I would come to learn that this was something that was basic to CUT society.  I think it got worse as the years went on.  There were strict controls on who knew what.  It started at the top and ran the whole gamut of staff and beyond. 

After the move to California in 1976 and especially at the Ranch after 1986, these levels of “trust” evolved into the layers of staff ranging from volunteers, to community members, to probationary staff, to permanent staff, to inner-circle staff.  The structure was explained as levels of initiates and rings of disciples around the guru.

This social structure was often reflected in the pecking order of participation in decree sessions called “tags.”  These ranged from the generic, “anyone-can-attend” tags to secret, inner-circle decree sessions.

As I mentioned earlier in this story, during my early days at La Tourelle, tags were called only once in a while and they were usually only one person who would decree for an hour and then another person would take over and decree for an hour and so on.  Tags rarely went on overnight.

I don’t recall tags becoming an around-the-clock thing on a regular basis until we had moved to Camelot.  By the early 1980’s, they were in full swing.  A tag ranged from one to four people.  At first, they were two hour sessions.  Then they were three hours. 

The taggers usually decreed in proximity to the physical location of the messenger.  At her homes, there were designated decree areas.   Over the years, these ranged from cleaning closets to a back office off the laundry room to a small guest bathroom.  When the messenger was on campus at Camelot, there were several locations the tag could be.  It depended on where the messenger was working or where she wanted the tag to be.  Most of the time, the tag was in a Winnebago parked at the back of the chapel.  There were similar set-ups at the Ranch after we moved there.  

The tag had a large notebook with all the information that taggers were to decree about.  Some of it was sensitive material.  Anyone who was giving the church "trouble"--e.g. the Internal Revenue Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service--were decreed upon.  Any former staff or church members who had left and turned against the church were also decreed about.  

The information arrived in the tag through various methods.  Sometimes a typed message  came from one of Mrs. Prophet's secretaries.  Or Mrs. Prophet would call the tag directly and tell them what kind of energy she was feeling and what the tag should decree on.  Sitting by the telephone was considered a hot seat since Mrs. Prophet might call at any moment.  There were staff who did nothing but coordinate getting taggers and information to the staff.  Sometimes the tag coordinator would send new information to the tag.  It was all a trip as I look back on it today.

Tags evolved over time.  At first, all staff could be part of a tag.  Then there was a tag for permanent and probationary staff only and so on.  I think the various tag categories came about partly because the organization had grown too large for Mrs. Prophet to know each staff member individually.  She wasn’t sure who she could trust with what information.

I think another factor that influenced her growing lack of trust was what was happening in her life.  After Mrs. Prophet’s divorce from Randall King, she became what I would call paranoid.  I think she was afraid Randall might harm her in some way. 

I found this out one night in the early ‘80’s when I had occasion to drive her home from the Camelot campus to one of her beachfront homes in Malibu.  After we drove into the garage and closed the garage door behind us, we got out of the car.  I mistakenly pushed the garage door button and it opened again.  Mrs. Prophet literally ran to the light switch, turned it off and dashed into the house muttering that I had placed her in danger.

In 1981 or ’82, there was a crisis of some sort at Camelot, Mrs. Prophet hand-selected a special group of staff to hold special decree sessions and tags on the crisis.  I didn’t make the cut so I can’t say what the issue was.  I think it may have been when Monroe Shearer left staff or when Sean was in a rebellious stage.  Anyway, that tag group became known as the “special tag” and from that time on there was always an elite group of staff personally approved by the messenger as “special taggers.”

There were also subsets of “special taggers” whom Mrs. Prophet selected to decree on top-secret issues.  I guess you could a call these inner-circle tags.  

These elite “in-the-know” groups of staff became a point of division and mistrust among staff.  Many of the so-called “special taggers” felt superior to the rank-and-file staff who weren’t chosen to be part of the “special tag.”  Special taggers often treated the rank-and-file staff with disdain and arrogance. Sometimes, if Mrs. Prophet wanted to reward a staff member for something, she would allow that person to become a part of her special tag.

The implication was that the special taggers were higher initiates and closer to the guru than those not selected to be special taggers.  Which tag group you belonged to helped to define your community standing.

Even above the special taggers on the ladder of staff society were the subsets of inner-circle staff.  Most of these people really looked down on the rest of the staff. Their condescension was sometimes overt and sometimes subtle but always demeaning to those whom they perceived beneath them.  It was human nature at its worst.  Murray Steinman was one of the inner-circle staff who always conveyed (usually non-verbally) that he was really in-the-know and superior to everyone else. 

I am getting ahead of my story here.  Back to early 1976 at La Tourelle in Colorado Springs.

During those few months I was working in the household, there was a staff meeting at La Tourelle about A.K. leaving staff.  It was always a big deal when anyone left staff in those days.  There was a sense of high drama around A.K. leaving.  He had been one of Mark Prophet's closest staff members.

One morning I mentioned to Mrs. Prophet that I had heard about the staff meeting.  I told her I could not understand how anyone could leave staff.  She told me to get the tape of the staff meeting and listen to it, which I did.

In the meeting, Mrs. Prophet described how she had a vision of a giant hand removing a link from a huge chain that represented the Great White Brotherhood.  After the link was removed, the chain was put back together again.  She said the vision represented A.K. being removed from the chain of the Great White Brotherhood.

Hearing the dire spiritual consequences of A.K. deciding to leave staff had a tremendous impact on me.  It was scarey stuff.  I vowed to remain faithful to the Great White Brotherhood no matter what.  Little did I know that my resolve was soon to be tested.

One Thursday night in late April, Mrs. Prophet came home late—about 12:30 am.  I was there as usual and I told her that Moira had been up very late because she just wouldn’t go to sleep. 

Mrs. Prophet immediately laid into me and went on and on about everything from my being rebellious and out-of-alignment to my being dense and I don’t remember what else.  I was very upset when I left.  It was about 1:30 am.  On the way home, the car ran out of gas in the most dangerous area of Colorado Springs. 

As I walked to the nearest gas station, I wished that someone would mug and injure me so that I wouldn’t have to go back to the house in the morning. I thought any thing would be better than going back to face Mrs. Prophet the next morning.

And sure enough, first thing in the morning, she started raking me over the coals as only she could do.  Her tongue-lashing was beyond awful.  

I had squeezed some fresh orange juice for her and she found a small seed in it.  I remember her yelling that she wouldn’t serve it to a dog.   To this day, when I have orange juice I can hear her yelling those words. 

I felt smaller than an ant that morning.  I was badly shaken after all the terrible things that Mrs. Prophet had said to me.  I felt traumatized and I was glad when she left the house for the day.  

In the aftermath, I told someone that morning (I don’t remember if it was E. M. or D. D.) that I wondered if I were cut out for the job.  My remark got back to Mrs. Prophet later that morning.  Soon, I got a phone call to come down to Florence Miller’s office at La Tourelle right away.

Florence delivered an ultimatum from Mrs. Prophet:  Either choose to work in Mrs. Prophet’s household or there was no place for me on staff.  I asked Florence when she wanted an answer.  Florence went back to Mrs. Prophet with my question.  The answer came back that I could think about it over the weekend.  It was Friday afternoon.  I was forbidden to go back to Mrs. Prophet’s house.  I had to have E.M. bring me some things I had left at the house.

I wasn’t sure what I would decide.  On Saturday morning, I went to the bus station and hopped a bus to Denver.  I needed to get away to think about everything.  I was torn.  I didn’t want to go home and I didn’t want to stay on staff, either.  I was afraid of the spiritual consequences of leaving staff.  I was totally miserable.

By the time I got to Denver, I felt that if I went home to my mom's house,  family mesmerism would cloud my judgment.  So after I got to the bus station in Denver, I got on the next bus back to Colorado Springs. 

On the way back, I saw a formation of clouds that looked like an eagle.  In CUT, we were taught that one of the main outposts of the Great White Brotherhood in this system of worlds is located on Sirius.  There is supposedly a band of angels from Sirius who fly in a formation that looks like an eagle.  It is referred to as the mighty blue eagle from Sirius.   When I saw the eagle formation in the clouds, I took it as a sign that I should stay on staff.

I thought about leaving staff long and hard.  In the end, my fear of the consequences to my soul outweighed my dread and the misery of working for Mrs. Prophet.  On Sunday morning, I called Florence to set up a meeting with Mrs. Prophet to give her my answer.  I was told to come to La Tourelle.

When I got to La Tourelle, I saw a woman by the name of Mrs. Bashe.  She was a friend of Mrs. Prophet. 

Mrs. Bashe was the first of several rich, shallow, aloof, condescending, phoney and aristocratic women that Mrs. Prophet always gravitated towards.  She liked having these kind of women around her.  These were not blue-collar, down-to-earth kind of people.

On a previous occasion, Mrs. Bashe had heard Mrs. Prophet saying some terrible things to me when she was chastising me for something.  When I saw Mrs. Bashe that Sunday, she gave me a condemning look and I knew why.  I wished that I had a rock to crawl under in that moment.

Mrs. Prophet made me stew all day.  I waited for hours.  Finally, she called me to meet with her in the evening.  She asked me if I minded if Florence was part of the meeting and I said I didn’t mind. 

I told Mrs. Prophet of my decision:  No matter what, I had to serve her and her family. 

She said that since I had decided to stay, she could offer me a position working at La Tourelle.  I was to answer the phones and help out in graphics like I had done before.  I would no longer work in her house.

She told me that I had passed my test.  She said that I had come to the same place on the path several times in past embodiments and that I had always turned back at this fork in the road.  I had won a victory by making the right decision this time.

In the light of Mrs. Prophet’s instruction to me, I felt that I had successfully scaled a hurdle that I had failed in the past.  Even as I was relieved that I no longer had to serve on her personal staff, I also felt as though I had failed. 

Some of the staff were surprised to see me answering the phone when I started working again at La Tourelle.  I told one staff member that I was too dense to do the job at Mrs. Prophet's house right.  I remember she said that everyone was too dense to that job right.  Her remark was a small comfort to me at the time.  Kay Steinman took up the slack on Mrs. Prophet’s staff after I left.

When it was all over, I had lasted only twelve weeks on the job.  I hadn’t exactly gone into the situation with my eyes open.  I think “eyes wide shut” would describe it:  I was wide-eyed with awe but clueless as to what I was in for. 

For many years to come, I felt that because I had not been able to quietly take Mrs. Prophet’s verbal chastising that late April night, I had failed.

Another chapter of my staff service was about to begin.  It could only get better from here.

To be continued.