Oct 19, 2020

CultNEWS101 Articles: 10/19/2020

Astrology, Video, Nigeria, Mental Health, Covid-19, Orthodox Jewish Community, Legal, Conspiracy Theories, QAnon

Cults in the Occulture: #9: Astrology
"Astrology by most accounts is the queen of the occult arts of divination that include Tarot, Kabbalah, and reading tea leaves. I [Joseph Szimhart] first seriously explored astrology in the late 1970s, getting my first professional reading of my horoscope from Alan Oken at his Voice of the Turtle gift shop in Santa Fe NM. I needed to know my rising sign, moon and sun signs to apply for entry into the Keeper of the Flame fraternity of a large Theosophy-based sect run then by Elizabeth Prophet. Astrologers seek precise information about birth time and place to better "read" your star chart or horoscope. After I defected from  Prophet's cult in 1980, I learned how to cast a horoscope using an ephemeris, then got a good idea how to do a reading from professionAl astrologers I knew. One old astrologer told me she only had to glance at a person's chart to do a reading. "It is all intuitive," she said. After two years of research I found that astrology is horrible as a predictive tool and totally unreliable reference as to a person's character. Astrologers who know how to read a chart with its thousands of relational aspects can easily get most customers to agree with a reading. It comes down to an influence game. Astrology can effect national decisions. I point to how in 1948 the New Indian government had to consult an astrologer for the auspicious moment when to sign their declarations of independence from Great Britain. After Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981, his wife Nancy consulted a celebrity astrology to name dates and times when the president could safely travel, thus causing havoc and unnecessary delays among White House staff decisions. Time Magazine had a cover feature in 1988 about "Astrology in the White House." I mention that fundamentalist Christians have published books against astrology saying it is deceptive and is a tool of the devil. Skeptics have proven that astrology has no basis in reality, though it remains a popular psychological and cultural means for self reflection among young adults with a resurgence of interest since 2014. I warn that astrology can be easily overvalued and cause harm in relationships as well as decision- making."
"When Alvan Godwin suffered a psychotic episode linked to schizophrenia in November 2018, his parents took him to church for prayers. His mother was of the opinion that his illness was a 'spiritual attack' linked to evil spirits.

"My mum thought it was something spiritual from her side of the family. So they took me for prayers with the hope that I'd be cured of whatever was wrong," he told CNN.

"My aunt advised my dad that they should take me to camp for prayers against evil spirits. I remember I was laying down on the ground and people were all over me praying. I didn't want to react but the prayer wasn't working," Godwin said.

He added that when they realized on the way back home from camp that the expected healing didn't happen, they brought in another pastor to pray for him at home.

In parts of Nigeria, it is common to attribute mental illness to supernatural factors such as witchcraft or repercussion for sins against God, according to a report in the Integrative Journal of Global Health.

As a result, people with perceived symptoms of disorders are believed to be possessed or in need of unorthodox healing from traditional healing centers, and at Christian and Islamic faith-based facilities.

At the time Godwin was 18 and he recalls being overwhelmed with fear, hearing voices and crying in distress.

"I felt irritation all over my body. The sound of the fan in the room made me paranoid, I felt like it was rolling too fast and it would cut off and kill me. There were so many confusing voices talking to me in my head," he said.

Godwin's family doctor eventually referred him to a specialist after hearing about his symptoms, "that's when we went to the psychiatric hospital," he said.

In his case, he was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and placed on drugs. "I was so relieved to know what was going on with me. My parents too were relieved knowing it was nothing spiritual," he said."

"Outspoken protester Harold "Heshy" Tischler was taken into custody Sunday evening in connection with an alleged assault during protests against new anti-coronavirus restrictions in an Orthodox Jewish area of Brooklyn, New York police say.

Some members of the Orthodox Jewish community protested in the Borough Park neighborhood for multiple nights last week in response to the measures, which limit gatherings in houses of worship in areas identified as Covid-19 clusters.

Jewish Insider reporter Jacob Kornbluh claimed on a verified Twitter account that during protests Wednesday night he was brutally assaulted after Tischler "recognized me and ordered the crowd to chase me down the street."

Confirming Tischler's detention Sunday, a New York City Police Department spokesman said that charges of inciting a riot and unlawful imprisonment in connection with the incident surrounding Kornbluh are pending.

"The New York City Police Department Warrant Squad has taken Harold 'Heshy' Tischler into custody. He will be charged with inciting to riot and unlawful imprisonment in connection with an assault of a journalist that took place on October 7, 2020 in Brooklyn," the department said on Twitter."

The Guardian: The QAnon orphans: people who have lost loved ones to conspiracy theories
" ... "Inasmuch as QAnon has been likened to an online cult, it's possible that evidence about who tends to join cults – people who feel lonely or are struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression and are searching for emotional connection and group affiliation – might apply to some who get immersed into the online world of QAnon," Pierre said.

This analysis has resonance for Crystal Wade, 35, who met her best friend, Denise, in beauty school. After Crystal moved to another state, she and Denise kept in touch digitally and regularly had hours-long phone conversations.

"We used to talk about everything," said Crystal. "If I was upset, she was the first person I'd call, and she'd bring me back down to earth. She made me feel grounded."

In April 2020, Denise began seeing a new boyfriend, whom Crystal never met. Denise was concerned about his social media postings, however, and seemed embarrassed about how incoherent he was online. She shared her boyfriend's accounts with Crystal.

"There were no periods in his sentences," Crystal said. "It went from gods, to demons, to Katy Perry."

He was posting QAnon conspiracy theories, and to Crystal's disappointment, her friend seemed to believe parts of it. QAnon's allegations are often based in a smattering of truth, such as Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking activities and the entertainment industry's struggle with widespread sexual abuse and harassment. But in the conspiracy world, there are no coincidences, and everything is interconnected to a farcical degree. "He was taking it to another level," said Crystal. "Hidden messages in music videos, illuminati symbolism, celebrities abusing kids to have eternal youth."

Denise's relationship lasted only two months, and from what Crystal heard about it, it seemed very volatile and at times hostile – and the conversations she had with her best friend turned increasingly towards the subject of the occult. "She'd say it wasn't his fault he was being such a terrible person to her, he's suffering because he's being possessed by demonic forces," said Crystal.

Denise had been interested in new age spirituality and was not particularly religious, but the boyfriend seemed to influence her towards an apocalyptic version of Christianity. Denise soon threw away her tarot cards, believing they were "inviting demons" into her house, and began frequently posting Bible verses on social media.

"I would never judge a friend for being religious," said Crystal, "but it was overnight and didn't seem organic at all."

Crystal tried to handle the situation delicately, reasoning that her friend was going through a traumatic time. After the relationship ended, however, Denise began to talk about "Pizzagate", a conspiracy theory that served as the precursor to QAnon.

Crystal froze once Denise mentioned it; she had, until then, not yet realized how deep her best friend had fallen into conspiracy thinking. "My stomach dropped," she said. "I felt sick."

In 2016, the Pizzagate conspiracy theory falsely alleged that Hillary Clinton and other prominent figures in the Democratic party were trafficking children, and that victims were being held at Comet Ping Pong, a pizzeria in Washington DC. In 2020, alongside a deluge of Covid-19 misinformation, Pizzagate has experienced a resurgence.

Denise began to send Crystal videos. One of them, titled "PedoGate 2020", opens with a chilling piano theme. A soft-voiced narrator then claims that a hidden message in a photograph of Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain is linked to trafficking children. It also makes bizarre and seemingly-unconnected allegations tying together Instagram hashtags, Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis, and internet personality Bhad Bhabie."

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