On Sunday I finally made it to the Builders Of The Adytum, a strange group whose beliefs combine Kabbalah and Tarot into an unusual, but enjoyable, philosophy.
The meeting was fun, with incense, chanting, music, a sermon and mention of the Philosopher’s Stone, transmutation, magical healing and mystical powers. I visited with Tim, my long-time partner in all things weird and wonderful, and we have been invited back to the group to join in with study sessions - something we are very much looking forward to. Although as a skeptic I find it hard to believe people when they tell me that they have figured out the secrets of the universe, nonetheless I enjoy hearing others’ ideas and seeing what kinds of people are attracted to these groups. Unsurprisingly, for most of these organisations, their membership is small but quite diverse.
One potential worry for us is that while at the event we bumped into someone who we had already met at the Ancient Mystical Order of the Rosicrucians (AMORC) last year. The AMORC group had "done their research" and found out from a google search that I’m a skeptic. Even so we had a good talk with the few AMORC members that we met on the day, explaining that we weren’t there to demean them, but rather were genuinely curious about their beliefs.
Tim and I have jokingly labeled the member of both AMORC and BOTA as our Marla Singer (watch Fight Club if you’re not sure what this means), and we’re hoping that he doesn’t scare the members of the BOTA group away from us. We’re genuinely interested in the group, even if we’re unlikely to ever get to the point where we pay membership fees, so I hope we are able to continue visiting until we have a good appreciation for what their beliefs are and what drives them. I’ve had an experience of being outed once before, by Nigel Antony Gray when I was attending Scientology meetings, and it was a bit disappointing to have to leave that particular escapade not when I wanted to, but when someone else had pulled the plug on it.
For those who really don’t understand why I do this kind of thing, I get that it can seem a little weird. Although some skeptics enjoy seeing what’s happening on the other side of the fence, I know many who either don’t have the time for nonsense, or find that seeing it up close makes them angry. After all, many of these groups are selling a false bill of goods - they promise to impart the secrets of the universe to you, and then they take your hard earned money and don’t deliver the goods. That’s something that we should all be angry about, although it’s often hard to find a way to turn that anger into meaningful positive action.