A conversation with a remaining member of Heaven’s Gate, one of the largest mass-suicides in history

heavensgate.com screengrab

Following the Halloween episode of American Horror Story: Cult, which featured an actor portraying several members of well-known religious groups — I decided to reach out to the remaining members of Heaven’s Gate to find out where they stand on the current state of U.S. politics. What followed was a fascinating look at how they remain believers, two decades later.

The bodies of 39 members of Heaven’s Gate, including founder Marshall Applewhite or “Do,” were discovered by police in Rancho Santa Fe on March 26, 1997 — following one of the largest mass suicides in U.S. history. The members were each found laying in their bed and covered neatly with purple shrouds. Their matching attire included armband patches reading “Heaven’s Gate Away Team” and black and white Nikes. The scene, considering the number of deaths, was remarkably orderly in appearance — with no signs of struggle.

The members of Heaven’s Gate had consumed applesauce laced with phenobarbital and washed it down with vodka before placing plastic bags around their heads to induce asphyxiation and shed the “human bodies” that they were “wearing.” The suicides were conducted over the span of three days, with fifteen members taking their lives on March 24, fifteen more on March 25, and nine on March 26. Applewhite was the third to last member to die, the two women who followed him were the only ones who were not found with plastic bags around their heads.

Those who died were made up of 21 women and 18 men — ranging in age from 26 to 72.

Eight of the male members, including Applewhite, had undergone castration in Mexico to maintain an ascetic lifestyle prior to their deaths.

The reason they needed to die, the group believed, was that they were not of this planet and needed to shed their earthly “vessels” so that their souls would reach a “level of existence above human” and be accepted onto a spaceship that was trailing the Hale-Bopp comet. They believed that the Earth was going to be “recycled” and that this was their chance to reach the “Next Level.” Due to their belief structure, they argued in their final videos that their deaths were not suicide, but that remaining in their human bodies without moving their souls to the next level would actually be the real suicide.

Applewhite and his followers believe that he was chosen to fulfill biblical prophecies and that his bodily “vehicle” was inhabited by the same extraterrestrial spirit which once belonged to Jesus.

In their exit press release, Heaven’s Gate stated that they had only came to Earth “for the purpose of offering a doorway to the Kingdom of God at the end of this civilization, the end of this age, the end of this millenium. We came from that Level, that time, that space, and entered this one. And in so doing, we had to enter human bodies — which we did, for the most part, in the mid-seventies. Now it was time for us to leave those bodies (vehicles) — bodies that we borrowed for the time we were here (by previous arrangement) for this specific task.”

The group was extremely interested in tech and had a fascinating website featuring videos and explainers of their belief system. The site became quite popular among those who were interested in UFOs and was used as a tool for recruitment.

When the 39 members left this world, two members were chosen to stay behind and maintain the website — which is still up and running to this day.

Big League Politics spoke to one of those two members.

“We miss them because they were the finest people on the planet. They named us Telah,” they explained.

Telah, they said, stands for “The Evolutionary Level Above Human.” It is the name they prefer to be referred to as and the only one that was provided to BLP.

Speaking on maintaining the website, Telah explained that they are still doing it two decades later because that was their “assigned task.” They said that they are just “living a quiet lifestyle” and “taking care of the task that they gave us to do.”

“That is our assigned task.  We will always serve the Next Level.  An Individual is given tasks that take millennia.  Do has been given a task of returning to this planet again and again for over 7,000 years, to move mankind forward,” Telah explained.

When asked if they still consider themselves a member of the group, twenty years later, Telah stated that they do, and that they do not have any regrets about their involvement in Heaven’s Gate.

Telah added that though they are still members, “we would technically be considered a former member since the Group came to a physical end on 1997. We know we will always be a part of the Next Level because we were adopted into it and it is just a matter of time before we will rejoin them. It just won’t be in this lifetime.”

Naturally, I had to ask if Applewhite would have had an opinion on the current state of politics, or if the group was politically inclined in any way when they were active. Telah explained that they were not.

“No political interest or discussion at all.  We are not concerned in the short-term concerns of mankind.  This is only big-picture concerns for the evolution of mankind,” they said.

However, following the deaths in Waco and Ruby Ridge, Applewhite became very afraid that the US government would murder members of Heaven’s Gate.

Telah also told Big League that there are others who have joined and follow the word of Applewhite to this day.

When asked about their feelings about frequently being lumped in with Scientology, Telah was firm in that they do not care for the term “cult” and that any religion or belief system could also be considered one.

“Many lump us together with other group we have no relationship at all.  We have no ideology even close to Scientology.  It is funny how humans what to clump so many things together as “cults’ to ease their mind that their beliefs are acceptable.  Christianity is a cult with a lot of members, like Judaism, Hindu, Muslim, etc,” Telah said.

Big League asked Telah what they believe the biggest misconception of the group is in the media, and what people are getting wrong or misunderstanding about them.

“The biggest thing is that they were gullible and weak-minded,” Telah said. “Couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Those who wish to order a book or VHS copy of Heaven’s Gate videos can still reach Telah through the website.

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