Sep 19, 2017

Philadelphia cave connected to first doomsday cult?

Kelpius Cave
Reading Eagle
September 19, 2017

In 1708, the Schuykill River exploded. Johannes Kelpius, the leader of a group of mystics settled along the banks of the Wissahickon Creek in what is now Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, was dying. Kelpius, a Romanian-born mystic, musician and writer, believed he would enter the spirit world, and that his body would disappear. His final act was giving a box to Daniel Geissler, a disciple who was supposed to throw the box in the river. When Geissler finally did throw the box into the Schuylkill, thunder and lighting came from the water. The box contained the philosopher's stone.

Or, so the legend goes.

Nick Bucci, a tour guide in Philadelphia, said a document in a German library verifies the story. Bucci believes it.

"You wouldn't be able to get the sound of thunder, an explosion, if it didn't explode," he said. "That's the logical conclusion of what happened."

Kelpius came to America from Germany in 1694 with two advanced degrees, said Eric Saberov, an educator at the Valley Green Canoe Club.

"There's a lot of legend and lore about him, and a lot of unknown things," Saberov said.

Saberov said that Kelpius used the philosopher's stone to heal the sick and turn lead into gold. Another story from Bucci claims that one half of the stone was saved and passed through Kelpius' family until 1900. Its whereabouts are unknown.

Saberov said Kelpius was obsessed with the number 40 because of its appearance in the Bible. He chose Philadelphia because it sits at 40 degrees latitude; kept 40 followers and built a tabernacle that was 40 by 40 feet.

Saberov said that he "lived in a hole in the ground" covered in animal skins, with his followers.

Bucci said the Cave of Kelpius was a place for Kelpius to meditate. He and his followers were educated men who isolated themselves from society.

Believing that the world would end in 1700, they lived in the woods to wait for "The Woman of the Wilderness," a biblical spirit who supposedly would appear to them and signal the apocalypse. When this didn't happen, they moved the date, again and again. People no longer believed them, and the group fell apart after Kelpius died.

It's hard to tell the truth from the fiction about this group, sometimes called America's first doomsday cult.

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