Jan 7, 2020

Santa Fe, Bill Tate, and me: How an artist became a cult interventionist

Santa Fe, Bill Tate, and me: How an artist became a cult interventionist
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Joe Szimhart

How did you get into cult deprogramming? That question always came up when I lectured about the cult problem. This memoir answers that question and more. My cult intervention career began in 1980 in Santa Fe, NM five years after I moved there.

During my first day exploring Santa Fe, I met Bill Tate at his cluttered gallery on Canyon Road. I introduced myself as an artist recently graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in search of a career. Bill Tate and I would become good friends. On my first day in Santa Fe, I encountered weird leads to three new religious movements based on the Theosophical Society and occult revelations of Helena Blavatsky: the Agni Yoga Society, the "I AM" Activity, and Church Universal and Triumphant or Summit Lighthouse.

My prior interest in modern artists like W. Kandinsky who valued Theosophy and in William Blake who created a unique poetic theosophy created a foundation from which I launched into seeker mode. I wanted to find out how real the world of mysterious, quasi-mythical masters guiding the human race was and whether I was called to play a role in that elite brotherhood.
The Church Universal and Triumphant sect claimed to carry on the teachings of the "I AM" Activity and the Agni Yoga movements, so I participated in three "CUT" conferences with thousands of other seekers during 1979 and 1980. By the end of 1980, I was disenchanted with "CUT."

The memoir describes that process of disenchantment and how my research led to a means to educate others victimized by strange teachings and manipulative cult leaders. As the reader, you will learn how one artist entered the shadowy world of deprogramming in 1985 to work on hundreds of cases internationally.

You will encounter a sampling of interventions and the basis upon which people would reconsider their devotion to deceptive cults and abusive relationships. You will learn how skepticism, properly applied, can lead to a healthier spiritual orientation. You will find another reason why Santa Fe is "The City Different" and New Mexico is "The Land of Enchantment." And you will learn something of Bill Tate, who once wrote that I was his best friend.


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