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Christian Testimony - Part 1

Exposure to Christianity
Conversion To Christianity
Life as a Christian
Christian Conspiracy Theorist
Religious Studies
Energy Healing
Left Hand Path

Last Updated: 21 September 2022


From my mid teens onwards, I was into anarchism and hardcore punk, which morphed into cannabis smoking, psychedelics, the jungle and festival scenes, and superficially, the occult. I thought the occult was cool when I was in my mid teens.

In the late 80s and early 90s, a few of my friends were Chaos Magicians, including the author Nicholas Hall. They were by far the most exciting of my circle of mainly stoner friends, and it was always a pleasure to see them. I never actually read anything about Chaos Magic, partly put off by domineering brother, who although he wasn't a Christian, seemed to have the fear of God in him and thought it was too intense for a weak willed person 'nice guy' like me, but evidently his psychologically abusive behaviour suited me just perfectly. Books on the subject seemed hard to come by from most magical book stores. I did used to buy magical themed incense from one of them.

More of an influence was my exposure to new age and Wicca during during the summer of 1990 whilst in Spain, and I read a few books on natural magic. I never really understood the occult or the different branches and approaches and loosely thought of myself as a pagan although I didn't really have any knowledge of it. I assumed that was also what Chaos Magic was about, because one of my two Chaos Magician friends was also a pagan.

I started developing a strong interest in psychology, psychoanalysis and NLP from the age of 19 or so, in the early 90s. After 10 years of psychological addiction to cannabis, and several failed attempts at stopping for more than a month or two at a time, I finally quit in 1995 when I became an evangelical Christian.

Below I will try to summarise my experience with Christianity, how I became a christian, what it was like being a Christian and why my interests and philosophy changed. I also describe a brief period of mental illness that marked a definite end point to my Christian faith of 17 years. I am now an agnostic and more interested in psychology, philosophy and esotericism. A few stories are included just for fun.

Exposure to Christianity  

I had known some children at school who were Christians of varying types, and they usually hung out together, and were generally rather boring and straight-laced, had bad haircuts and listened to U2. They all seemed nice but in general I would not have wanted to hang around with any of them. They were untouchable by the school bullies who just left them alone and who thought they were freaks.

At around the age of 16 I gave up art and chose to do religious studies instead, not because I was at all interested in it, but because I stood a better chance of getting a top grade. It was taught by a Christian. So one term we spent studying the Gospel of Luke and one term was on Islam. Some of it I found relatable.

One exception to social stigma of Christians at school was a guy I went on to play in a band with. He was a Christian but was quite laid back about it and at this point in the Sixth Form in 1989 I had stopped hanging around with people in my previous circles as I was so fed up with them and started hanging around with these totally uncool kids where we'd just goof around and insult each other all the time and joke with the canteen staff with sexual innuendoes. He just said one day that he liked me look, that I looked a bit like Paul Simonon of The Clash and would I like to play bass in his Christian rock band, I said yes ok then.

I couldn't really play the bass much but my brother had one so I started practising on that. I was just keen on playing in a band. The songs weren't brilliant but not terrible either, mainly hair metal, 80s rock and folk rock covers, and he alleges that it was a grass roots punk influenced band but I never really saw any punk influence in there. As a result I insisted that I do a bass solo halfway through the set covering various punk songs I liked, playing bass chords etc. to try to emulate the guitar, which was my condition for playing in the band.

The other band members were his Christian friend, who was in my physics class, who I previously hadn't spoken to much but seemed ok, and his younger brother, who I thought was great as he was so enthusiastic and prepared to practice a Naked Raygun track I tried to get everyone to rehearse who tried playing it with regular chords rather than power chords and who gave up after a couple of minutes. I was later told that the main reason my friend wanted me in the band was my spikey hair and I cut it right before we played our first gig as I was after the acid house look and he was most disappointed! We played two gigs and then quit and didn't have so much do to with them after that, as I'd joined another more indie oriented band. I did enjoy rehearsing and playing with the Christian rock band and thought they were all really nice guys.

In 1991 I was a student in London and a Christian evangelist randomly approached me outside the student union building and talked his way into scheduling a date to visit me at my halls of residence, which I agreed to mainly because of assertiveness issues and had completely forgotten about it 5 minutes later. I was listening to some Black Flag and other punk bands in my room with an American friend of a friend and we were dividing up some weed on my desk and I heard this knock at the door and the Christian guy was standing there and I had a WTF moment and remembered why he was there and invited him in and my friend looked at both of us and made his excuses and left and said he'll come back later. The Christian had a funny shocked expression on his face when he saw all the weed. After 30 minutes of my becoming extremely bored, he finally left which was a relief.

I had previously been living above a quasi-Rastafarian Jamaican family in 1993 and used to visit them to hang out and buy and smoke Sensei, so it is possible that they had some sort of theistic influence.

I had a crack smoking celebrity daughter friend from University, who overnight became a Christian in 1992 and refused to see or talk to her old stoner friends who I knew and they explained this to me at the time and I said surely not, I don't believe it, and I'll give her a call and see for myself and at first her cultish Christian boyfriend wouldn't let me talk to her but I insisted and spoke to her and she explained that we had nothing in common and sorry but this is goodbye. We were all relieved that she'd stopped smoking crack and evidently if that's what she needed to do to stop then great but we'd thought she'd lost the plot. I also bumped into her on facebook a few years ago and she was now into Sufism and was a total stoner again and regretted being involved in the Christian cult.

Around 1993 I started becoming interested in Islam, I am not sure exactly why, perhaps as it seemed exotic, and had an interest in the Middle East. I watched a number of educational tv documentaries about it although never actually converted to Islam but was entertaining the idea. My stoner friends all thought this was very odd, disturbing and/or amusing.

At the end of 1993, I was studying at the University of Amsterdam for 4 months and I would regularly just say in in the evenings by myself in the ground floor flat and smoke hash and weed and listen to music, despite my lungs being shot and my health being poorly. One evening I was playing some reggae quite loudly and doing hot knives in the kitchen and I had a knock at the door and it was the neighbour in the 1st floor flat next door (not the flat above me) who had come over to complain about the volume. She was about 30 and I expected her to be quite hostile but she was really friendly, and I can't recall why but I invited her in or she invited herself in. I went into the kitchen to turn the gas stove off and turn the music down and she spotted the hot knives and could probably smell it and looked slightly taken aback. We ended up talking for a while and she told me she was a Christian. The next day I told my flat mate, another student from England, and how she seemed really cool and I kept singing her praises for weeks afterwards which he thought it was funny. There was something about her that I found really agreeable, which may have been a combination of being an actual nice woman (I didn't meet very many) and the religious aspect. I can't recall but I think I may have spoken to her a few more times and didn't mind her talking a little about Jesus, not excessively but a little.

I knew a 16 year old Christian girl at work at my temp job in 1994 who was on work experience. I didn't take her very seriously but she told me some stories about her Church, Holy Trinity Brompton, in London, and how people there would make animal noises during the services, and I thought it sounded amusing so I said I would go along. I elected to go on an Alpha Course at that church rather than just go to a service, on her recommendation, and went along expecting to be entertained in an ironic way, but I really enjoyed it, even though I didn't literally believe in what was said. Everyone else there was a few years younger than me. There was something attractive about it although I felt extremely uncomfortable when there was a group prayer and I was expected to ask for something in the prayer and I asked for 'guidance'. I got on well with one of the girls there. Around this time I would lie awake at night debating about whether God existed or not and it was driving me crazy, and it was right before the Alpha weekend which was from what I understood a full pressure environment (even more pressure than the course) so I decided to quit the course half way through.

Over the rest of 1994 and 1995 I drifted away from any interest in Christianity, quite the opposite, I was in a cultish martial arts school which emphasised bullying and strength, and felt trapped in that environment, and was listening heavily to Rollins era Black Flag and other LA hardcore punk bands, and constant Jungle, had been reading Henry Rollins' Get In the Van book and had gained an unhealthy glee from it all, which gave me an adrenaline buzz. I was under constant adrenaline with the martial arts school too, and felt that when I instructed students I wanted to 'destroy' them. My brother at the time was loosely Christian inspired by my old Jamaican neighbours and I used to talk to him about him and try to destroy his belief in weakness and one time when arguing about it on the phone with him I felt very strange and disembodied that I was momentarily hovering above myself, it felt good and empowering but very weird.

Conversion To Christianity  

In the end of 1995 I went to speak to my Christian neighbour in the ground floor flat of my building, to give her a women's self defence class leaflet from the martial arts school I was attending, which I was told to do, and was sure it would be received well. We had never spoken much at all prior and I had no idea she was religious, I had assumed she was a yuppie. She first gave me a lecture on why it was Satanic, which I thought was a ridiculous thing to say, and then when we were debating it, she invted me in to continue the discussion, and went into a long monologue about Christianity. I was initially totally uninterested in what she was saying, but oddly became increasingly unable to comprehend anything she was saying, until I literally couldn't understand a single sentence. I could hear the individual words but something in my head was stopping me being able to connect them into sentences so I could barely understand anything. At the same time, the walls started vibrating and moving around and her face was changing shape, expanding into grotesque shapes.

I thought this was an interesting experience and that I'd just sit there and soak it up and see what happened next. She sensed something wasn't quite right as I looked perplexed and just carried on with her monologue. I then felt an overwhelming urge to run away and get as far away from the woman as possible, but I resisted it and just sat there. All of a sudden these psychotic-type symptoms disappeared and I felt a sense of mental clarity return and a feeling of a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. I told my neighbour about all of this and she was very excited. So she put the question to me whether I wanted to become a Christian or not, and I thought let's try it. Whether or not I believed it intellectually, I cannot say, but it felt like I needed to do it on an emotional level. She was however not impressed at all that I chose not to kneel down but instead said I'd just continue to sit on the chair whilst we do it, implying I had an attitude. She also gave me grief about still saying I was going to continue to use Chinese medicine for my poor health at the time.

Life as a Christian  

I felt like I was relearning the whole purpose of life. After carrying on smoking weed and listening to reggae for a week or two, trying to enjoy the best of both worlds, I gave up smoking so was effectively straight edge for a number of years afterwards. I fairly quickly synthesised my ideas and rudimentary understanding of NLP and psychology with my own Christian faith.

I thought it probably a good idea to start meeting other Christians and going to church, and after talking to my neighbour briefly about it - she went to Kensington Temple - much to her dismay I said I was going to try going back to Holy Trinity Brompton again which she thought was too middle classed.

So I started going back to Holy Trinity Brompton and joined a home group where I got along with everyone quite well. I felt slightly uncomfortable at times, especially during prayer, and was never speaking in tongues like everyone else. I was always trying to do the perfect Christian and felt extremely insecure about it. The members of the group stated on multiple occasions that our group was being attacked by Satan. I always felt that I had to keep conditioning myself to 'top up' my faith or it would trickle away. I kept it quiet from my martial arts friends, and dropped my previous social circle of stoner friends without telling them what was going on as I didn't have the confidence. I felt like I was living a double life and I had an awkward moment when bumping into my Christian friends on the tube whilst with my martial arts friends. I was unable to evangelise with the rest of my home group on the street as I was too embarrassed to profess my faith to people. There was one Christian at my former job, and I had talked to him briefly about religion, UFOs and such like in the past, and had kept in touch with everyone there after leaving for another job, and I spoke to hi on the phone shortly after becoming Christian to excitedly share the news with him but asked him to please not tell anyone, and the first thing he did was to tell all my former work colleagues, which made things extremely awkward when I next saw them, as I had been quite the 'Jack the lad' previously and always making rude jokes. I got the feeling he only did it to use me as a case study to justify and give credibility to his own position, purely egotistical motivations.

I went to see Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames, a play, at the Kensington Temple, on recommendation from my neighbour, which I took a quasi-Catholic quasi-new ager friend to see, and we were both rather appalled that it was a cynical and sensationalist attempt to scare children and convert them to Christianity, which it seemed very successful at doing.

I attended another Alpha course at the same church in 1996, and got along with everyone quite well, although somehow it felt a little underwhelming compared with the previous time. There was one couple who attended the course, and the girlfriend was an evangelical Christian but the boyfriend wasn't. He said he believed in God and had hoped that attending the course could help understand her girlfriend better and bring them closer together and maybe sell the idea of Christianity to him. He said he was spiritual and thought he believed in something and thought sex was wrong but that love making within a loving relationship was ok, I can't recall if he was against sex before marriage or not. She evidently wanted him to convert to being a Christian so there was always that dynamic in their relationshp. It was a high pressure environment and he looked increasingly uncomfortable as the course went on, and I thought I would try to reassure him that I felt in a similar way when I first went to an Alpha course and how it gradually affected me over time and it didn't seem to be helping, in fact he looked even more flustered and frequently went red in the face, which in hindsight was quite amusing. I was at the time surprised that what I said didn't help.

I didn't attend the Alpha weekend, as I had scheduled a week's work experience with my old Chaos Magician friend who was a tree surgeon in Wales. I knew it was going to be challenging. I told my fellow Alpha course members about it and asked them to pray for me but they didn't seem very interested.

I got to Wales by train feeling exhausted, discovering he not only had pets but his cat and had a dozen kittens, and I was allergic, and then they were immediately smoking hash after my arrival, and I just thought I don't think I can handle this so I just started smoking with them. We had a great week overall and plenty of lad's banter, mocking each other, a little sparring, climbing trees, trying out his chainsaw and briefly smashing up his old car. We went to visit a few stone circles and unknown to them I would go around looking at any signs of magic having been performed and try to destroy them. I would mention seeing something and we would both slag it off, his opinion being that they were idiots or posers but me not sharing my reasons. A few times I felt an unpleasant icy chill going up my arm when I touched the purple ritual items in question.

Unknown to me, the living room I was sleeping in was his ritual room, and had these strange dreams every night that he or another person were talking me out of my religious faith. I also could hardly sleep because of the kittens madly scurrying around all throughout the night and felt exhaused and emotionally battered. So I spent the rest of the week sleeping in a tent in his allotment. I returned to London again and did not smoke any more hash and was quite relieved although I became extremely sick afterwards with a blood infection and when I went to visit my parents as I was so ill, to get some TLC, my brother practically threw me out of the house as he said I had some spiritual entity or energy attached to me and couldn't handle it at all. He was extremely spiritually sensitive at the time and unable to tolerate very much of anything.

I started attending the home group led by the Alpha course leader, as the previous home group had disbanded as people had moved away, although the vibe wasn't the same and it felt slightly disappointing somehow, perhaps as they were more conservative in their faith and were generally slightly older. A few times I would be sat in church during a service and I couldn't get this jungle track 'Sacred - Do It Together (Baggy's Mix)' out of my head. I had this adrenaline addiction with jungle from previously and part of the music I felt a spiritual connection with, which I felt at the time was in conflict with my Christian faith and tried to blot it out even though it made me feel good, spiritual and anxious all at once. These types of incidents gradually decreased.

Not strictly relelvant, but whilst working for a forestry company in 1997, doing both manual and clerical work, I was looked upon with disdain by the manager, Robin, at the office who thought I was too dopey and spaced out. I was looking for a local church and attended a couple, and at one church I spotted him in the congregation after the service and he saw me and looked totally shocked, as if I was the last person he expected to be there and wondered what I was doing there as if it was some kind of joke. He approached me and smiled and we chatted briefly and when I next saw him in the office he was completely different, really friendly and welcoming and so pleased to see me! This contrasted with how he was with everyone else and was very grumpy and short tempered with them but not quite as badly as he had been with me before. This is not really relevant to this article but I found it amusing.

In 1997 I decided to go contact my old neighbour's church The Kensington Temple, as I felt slighty insecure about my faith and thought maybe there was some residual spiritual baggage from when I was hanging around with my occultist friends, having slept a few nights in this one friend's ritual rooom, and visiting stone circles etc. So I arranged an appointment to see their resident 'exorcist' and I was expecting something profound to occur but was rather disappointed when the first thing we did was argue about martial arts and Chinese medicine, which he said I had to give up or it wouldn't do any good. I said I would consider it seriously and he said a prayer or two for me and touched mmy head a few times and sent me on my way, feeling rather underwhelmed.

Over the course of 1996 and 1997 I listened to jungle, punk and hardcore decreasingly, as I felt that jungle made me feel weird and uncomofortable and post-hardcore bands just sounded too depressing, and after only being able to listen to Goo Goo Dolls and Urge Overkill, I stopped that entirely. I started listening to classical, prog rock, rock and 80s metal instead, the metal side of things wasn't exactly spiritually pure but it felt less anti-establishment and negative and on more of a groove and it reminded me of when I was a young teen and was into those bands, perhaps an attempt to regain that child-like feeling. In 1997 I made a clean break and decided to clear out my CD and vinyl collection of anything I deemed to be spiritually detrimental and took all my old punk, rave and reggae records to the recycling centre to put in the crusher. I didn't want to sell them as I didn't want anyone else to listen to them. I tried to persuade my brother who was loosely a Christian to do the same but he wasn't convinced and 'salvaged' 'a few of my classic reggae albums before I disposed of them, to return them a decade later, which was a pleasant surprise! When I arrived at the dump, and stood over the crusher, the other person there saw me throwing all these records in and he had a look on horror on his face! I just looked back and him and smiled. I also threw out all the art I'd drawn from around the age of 17 to 21, which one piece was of a graffiti art/psychedelic style and the others were made up of tiny circles in the style of Nick Blinko including various Lovecraftian and superficially occult themes. All of which I regretted in later years.

In around 1996 or 1997, I went to see The Cure at Wembley Arena. My brother had been listening to The Cure again and we both loved them. We had seen them before at Wembley in 1987. We sat down and when they started playing, it felt like the most horrible noise in the world, we could barely hear the music they were playing somehow because of mental block. It sounded totally oppressive and spiritually repugnant, and every second felt like torture, even though when listening to the records the day before we loved it. After about 5 minutes we both looked at each other and asked if the other was feeling the same. We said we'd give it another 5 minutes and it didn't get any better so we got up and left the concert and walked down the empty corridors which felt rather awkward and half expected someone to stop us and ask us why we were leaving.

I knew an American punk girl at University during my first year, and she had been arrested in the US in possession of cannabis and ever after she chose not to smoke even though she wanted to and when there was no danger of her getting caught. Her friends in London were into harder drugs and the occult. I hung out with them a couple of times after she left London when she was visiting. However in 1996, when she got in contact to say she was coming to London, I told her that if she was going to hang out with these people then I refused to go and see her. I said that they were a bad influence, and that she should have some friends whose lives did not revolve around drug taking. She became very angry and said well that's that then as she refused to give up her friends. In hindsight I felt it was extremely amusing and I don't regret it but that I could have expressed it in a slightly more gentle manner. I got back in touch with her on facebook in 2021 and apologised for what I'd said and explained that it was nothing personal but I was a little carried away with religion at the time and she never commented but I noticed that she is now a Christian, wealthy and successful in her career and constantly posts glamorous selfies.

Throughout my time as a new Christian, I always felt a certain social awkwardness at church services and church gatherings, either a result of lack of familiarity with prescriptive proceedings compared with many people there who had been to church all their lives, and also trying to relate to the overall vibe of a home group and always felt I was making an effort to blend in with the overall dynamic.

I had been accustomed to smoking cannabis at least 2 to 3 times a week prior to becoming a Christian, as I couldn't afford to smoke every night, and whilst I still had an interest in fitness and martial arts, when I gave up cannabis, I found I had more time and felt more energy to do things and so embarked on more hardcore fitness training and more time doing weight training. I evidently missed some of the endorphins fromm the cannabis and working out in the early evenings on the weekend made me feel better able to relax afterwards. I didn't really have much of an interest in work or a career at this point, it was all about fitness and bulking up, those were my only real aspirations, apart from my spiritual struggle. In hindsight I was suffering from self-esteem issues and depression without any developed sense of my own value, besides my physical body and adventures. Religion had some positive effect here but it was very much compartmentalised. I started to take work more seriously over the next few years and whilst I was not enjoying it, I did feel more empowered and gradually became more politically and socially conservative over that time and more into spending money, which coincided with my extreme sports interests. I became a workaholic. So whilst there was a shift away from drug dependency, I merely shifted the focus of the compulsion/psychological addiction from one activity to another without really addressing the problem. I combined all these interests and inclinations with psychology and NLP and it all became one big spiritual quest for me personally, which I felt was a refinement of my earlier ideas and values.

I always felt an outsider in the various congregations I joined since moving out of London, finding it hard to relate to them, and never stuck around for very long in each one. As a Christian urban professional, I found it increasingly hard to relate to Christians I spoke with, many seemed a bit 'out there' or almost like hippies in a one way, which was the opposite of where I wanted to be, although I couldn't relate to any of the people I met in work or social circles either, nor the old drug taking crowd. I felt like I was doing all the hard work of being a Christian but without enjoying any of the fruits and getting no thanks for any of it in this world or 'above', not that I was expecting any, it just felt like a lonely, solitary existence.

I went on a few Christian dating sites in the mid noughties, and whilst I met a few reasonably nice women, only one I would say was very nice, she was a senior nurse in the NHS in London, but things fizzled out after the 2nd date but we still kept in touch. For the large part I found the people on these sites argumentative and would seem to give me lectures about everything, especially regarding my irregular church attendance down to health reasons and my interest in reading about Christian history. I had a successful date with one girl who I invited to come to see Rush live, as a had a spare ticket, and afterwards I said I was feeling fatigued and could we email for a while and she said she wasn't interested in anything other than in person dating, which I can understand up to a point, but it seemed rather mercenary and I never spoke to her again. Another woman I met on a Christian Dating site was Canadian and we spoke on the phone a few times and got on really well, albeit she kept talking about having sex a lot which made me feel slighly awkward, and when she was over visiting the UK with her 17 year old daughter we spent an evening together and had dinner. A while later I in touch to see how she was keeping and she told me she'd met a Scottish man on line and had abandoned her 17 year daughter (I can't recall but I think she had a younger daughter as well, perhaps 15?) with her mother in Canada and had moved to Scotland to be with this guy! I was happy for her, but was rather surprised, and it all seemed rather selfish and flakey to leave her daughter(s?) behind like that, when she could easily have a waited a few years. This Scottish guy was single I believe, couldn't he have moved to Canada himself? Very strange priorities.

A few moderately amusing stories from my years at an evangelical church in St Albans in the mid-noughties are this girl I talked to at Christian party close to my home, it turned out that her current boyfriend had seen her around and noticed that she was a Christian and he pretended to be a Christian so he could start dating her. He hung around with their home group and managed to secure dates with this girl, but the other members of the group were scratching their heads and he wasn't acting like a Christian and were asking each other who he was and questioning his Christian credentials. He eventually admitted that he wasn't a Christian and his reasons for pretending and the couple briefly stopped dating. Then he claimed that he had now actually converted to Christianity for real becauase of the fellowship, which she believed, and they got back together again. However, wasn't that just the same line he said last time? Was he not just adapting his lie to raise his game and get the girl again? They both thought it was funny but it all seemed highly suspect. He seemed to be to be totally unrepentent about the whole thing and still seemed to be a little insincere, seemingly primarily interested in the physicality of their relationship, which I did not ask any questions about. If they were sleeping together, the insistence of his being a Christian to date wouldn't make so much sense either.

Another time, I was looking for a house or flat or room share as I needed to move house as my landlady friend was bringing her family back in, so I had a look on the church noticeboard as I thought a flat share with some Christians would be a good experience. The only notice I found about it was by a woman who wanted a tenant and she was in St Albans. I thought this was lucky and asked the Pastor about it, who had a grey import Subaru WRX STi with tinted windows, which I'm sure he enjoyed driving illegally, and he was less than enthusiastic and merely said that he would not advise it. I probed into why he made such a remark and why he had the notice up if he did not approve of it, and he informed me that she was a single mother and had a sexual relationship with her last Christian tenant from the church, and he seemed to be implying that she was looking for a husband or boyfriend more than just a tenant. I ignored his advice and went to see the room and it was all fairly ok, she seemed nice enough, albeit I did get a bit of an uneasy sense I was being cross examined to see if I might make a good member of the household, and decided to give it a miss.

Christian Conspiracy Theorist  

I became heavily emersed in the Christian conspiracy internet scene from 2004 to 2008, after my father introduced my brother and I to the 'Illuminati' and 911 conspiracy theories and occasionally listening to Alex Jones. I initially read Mike Ruppert's account of events preceding the 911 attacks on his From The Wilderness web site and David Rivera's Final Warning book, half of which was available to download from his web site. Ruppert's portrayal was more conservative that Rivera's which was very much concerned with the Illuminati conspiracy theory.

I agreed with about half of Rivera's interpretations, but he seemed unable to just describe in a non-religious manner, and attaching religious meanings to everything, including end times as well as his overall Christian conspiracy theory that anyone in the new age, freemasony or occult was out to destroy the family unit and destroy Christianity itself and they were all part of one big coordinated club. His interpretations were also politically biased in that he linked the Democrat Party to the Illuminati with the Republican Party being the voice of freedom. So beside this American right wing Christian bias I really liked his work at the time and contacted him.

I told him that this interpretation didn't seem to fit with current events and a large body of other more conservative conspiracy type material I'd been looking at, namely at the rise of the neo-conservatives, and how they were influenced by Marxism, and were Republicans not Democrats - and along similar lines although I did not mention it - Bohemian Grove attendees drew on attendees from both American political parties but tended to have a membership made up of the more conservative end of the spectrum. I made an attempt to stretch the facts and interpretation to fit his model, and he just thanked me for my message and said he was delighted to hear from someone who could string a sentence together, let alone actually say something intelligent. However he was not really able to comment beyond my wild hypothesis might be true. He was possibly a little overly personal and shared with me regarding his financial difficulties and how he couldn't afford to host his web site anymore and I did consider offering to have his web site hosted on the server I was using but decided against it as I thought my name would appear on some government database. The last time I contacted him he said he was looking into pagan origins of Christin festivals, namely that this was a 'conspiracy' to try to paganise Christianity. He was obviously not familiar with the widely documented process of Christianisation and the historical context of early Christianity and its spread.

When I first started reading about The Illuminati, I had stopped going to my local youth home group (I was one of the older members of the group!) in St Albans a few months earlier but got in contact with the group leader and asked him if he'd heard about all this? He did not reply. When I approached the subject with Christians in chat rooms on the internet, some seemed very interested but others not at all, and I couldn't see why they weren't concerned about it, as I saw no separation at all between the theories and my faith. It felt like 'faith+' to me and an extra edge, and became an obsession and fixation, fuelled by OCD and further fuelling the OCD itself, and causing me to feel increasingly anxious.

So over this time I gravitated more towards other Christians on line who broadly shared my world view, although Americans had their own conspiracy culture which was combined with being pro guns and so forth. Up until this time, I regarded the different churches in the UK are fundamentally good, if a few were a bit old fashioned and 'stuffy', but at this time I started to feel let down by the church and by Christians in general. I felt like most were turning a blind eye to what was going on.

I got a buzz from feeling superior to the most others around in, part of an elite club of people who knew the real 'truth' but had to be careful who I talked to about it as people could just assume you were crazy. I think I only spoke to one work colleague about it. Whilst I enjoyed the exclusivity and it made me even more narcissistic than before, I also because much more anxious and paranoid in general. I believed the documents I'd downloaded from the internet made me someone of interest to the government and 'Illuminati' and even told a coworker that I had a large amount of 'hot' material on my computer and she jokingly asked if I was referring to hardcore porn. I became reluctant to use the keywords 'Bilderberg' and 'Illuminati' in emails with my brother and father and tended to asterisk part of them out, in the even it might otherwise be monitored. I thought something similar might occur over the telephone line too. Every time there was a big news story about any kind of attack, I always felt very stressed about it, as I felt that I had to subscribe to whatever theory Alex Jones was peddling about it, and felt compelled to try to convince others around me in the workplace. I even told one Latvian girl from a Christian dating site about it, e.g. about the United Nations Meditation Room, during the date and she was fascinated!

One thing I noticed about the overall 'truther' scene was that it was very diverse in terms of opinion and interpretation, spanning national boundaries and ideologies, including both religious fundamentalists and atheists, drug culture types and straight laced types, and so on. This wasn't something I was initially expecting or keen on and tried to be polite and friendly to everyone even if I didn't agree with the or found their ideas and lifestyle abhorrent. At the same time I felt at the time it was interesting to hear others take on things even if I usually immediately dismissed them. This diversity also led to a lot of conflict within the scene with derogatory terms such as 'Illuminati Disinformation Agent' being thrown about to belittle others and attempt to undermine their credibility, which to an outsider can make for amusing ironic reading.

I myself started documenting what I was learning on my web site and over several years as I read more widely and was exposed to different perspectives particularly people from magical and occult communities, and realised they were not 'insiders' to any elite clubs or part of any coordinated global organisation or community out to defeat Christianity, I started to edit down my conspiracy articles gradually making them more and more conservative until in 2014, I thought their whole basis was fundamentally flawed and I didn't want to have to invest the time to verify each individual claim to find any that were based on hard fact. So I simply removed them all and replaced them with an article on the Psychology of Conspiracy Theories.

Some of it was evidently referencing historical facts but I did not have time to try to locate where all the claimed events were taken from, why connections were claimed and whether there was any truth behind them. Just because two people were members of the same Freemasonry organisation or even lodge does not necessitate a working relationship or even anything beyond casual acquaintance. I realised that much of Rivera's book, religious interpretation aside, was factually inaccurate and with the minimum of research could be disproven, so I'm not sure what sources he was using in his extensive research he spent decades doing. One of his 'insider' sources for the Illuminati was a former Wiccan. You really would have to be ill informed or credulous to take such a source seriously.

I had looked up The Bavarian Illuminati on the Catholic Encyclopedia and was confused by what I found, it was presenting the organisation as a short lived, libertarian and anti-royalist populated by freemasons but with no other agenda and evidence of any form of proto-Satanism. This wasn't what I wanted to see but first assumed it is because the Catholic Church is part of the Illuminati and they would write that. However in hindsight, I believe it was hugely more accurate than any account of the Illuminati that can be found on American Protestant web sites. Yes the Bavarian Illuminati did exist, for a time, but it was not what most commentators are making it out to be which a complete distortion of the facts to suit age old anti-enlightenment paranoia. The name has been popularised in film and more recently by scam organisations preying on gullible Africans.

Religious Studies  

Towards the end of my conspiracy phase, which took a few years, I started engaging in religious and esoteric studies, partly about the roots of Christianity and Gnosticism and associated texts, to understand what all the different texts were that were frequently mentioned. I was inspired by a few Christian television presenters I had seen in various TV shows looking at Christianity and Christian and Gnostic texts and proceeded to buy a different version of my Bible and also to start to read through a number of the Dea Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadi Library codexes.

I also began to look at some of the fundamental tenets of modern Christianity and how some had little historical precedence in early Christianity. I also looked at areas of Christian art where modern notions have no Biblical basis and where these ideas came from, particularly regarding Hell and claims of Jesus divinity.

This gradually changed my relationship with God and my view of God for the better I believed, as I took modern Christian interpretations of Hell with a pinch of salt, only lookinat what was in the New Testament, and trying to understand why there were fundamental differences in cosmology between the Old Testament and New Testament that cannot both be true. I became increasingly influence by New Thought Christian philosophy at this time.

Energy Healing  

I had been having energy healing sessions with practitioners on and off since around 2005. In my early 20s I started with traditional chinese medicine and had some rudimentary knowledge of Qi from learning kung fu, tai chi and qi gong. In 2005, I decided to try bio-energy healing with Seka Nikolic in London after hearing about her via Paul McKenna and having been the clinic health shop to buy supplements before. I started off with just one session initially and was so blown away by how good I felt afterwards, I came back for blocks of sessions on two more occasions in the following year or two, but the effect seemed to decrease with more sessions.

I got in touch with a Quantum Touch practitioner in Canada in 2006 by getting into an impromptu discussion in the comments on her review of a particular health product, and I think she suggested we continue on email. She told me she used to be a Reiki practitioner and that Quantum Touch was much better (they all say whatever they are currently doing is best!) Her husband was formerly an engineer and she told me that he was scientifically minded and that this was proof of the scientific basis of energy healing. We agreed to do a trade and she'd give me a number of remote sessions. I was sceptical such a thing was possible but I felt really good after the sessions and reported back each time to verify that was when she had done then (which she claimed she had done). The first time it felt very strange like there was someone behind me in the bed but after that I got used to it.

I had a similar arrangement going with a QT practitioner in the UK, who would do a combination of bio-energy healing, Reiki and QT on different days, all done remotely and on one occasion I thanked her by email for a session that I felt I had received strongly and she said she hadn't sent it yet, so the next day I got what felt like another session, which this time she was actually actively sending (she said). So what does this mean? One explanation could be that all the sessions were in fact experienced only because of belief on my part, and another could be that the sessions occur regardless of belief but that particular session was indeed driven by my own belief and nothing more. That does beg the question that if one can experience the same benefit through familiarity with an energy healing system, through intention alone, why does one need to 'learn' a system?

Left Hand Path  

It was around this time introduced to Left Hand Path Gnosticism (one particular kind called Bestian Gnosticism which is probably more a form of Hermetic Gnostic Satanism) by a Myspace friend of mine from a health group, who had formerly been a Wiccan, who I only befriended to influence her towards Christianity initially. I joined the Edward O'Toole's associated Bestian Gnostic facebook group 'Aestheteka'. At this time Edward O'Toole was offering to paint 'spirit sigil' acrylic paintings and I paid him a small sum to commission me such a painting, which was supposedly visualised whilst in 'astral'. I received the painting and although somewhat crude, I felt it was a reasonable representation of certain aspects of my life at the time.

This exposure and subsequent drive to read more about Gnostic Luciferianism led me to join a Yahoo Group by The Ordo Luciferi or Luciferian Order which at the time was being run primarily by Jeremy Crow. I felt a little awkward about it and still felt a revulsion to the idea of the occult but I found discussing philosophy with everyone fascinating and had a love/hate relationship with it.

In parallel I started writing arguably sensational articles about Satanism, which were originally written from a Christian perspective and intended to criticise the Left Hand Path, although if facts became evident that did not fit with my negative view of the Left Hand Path, I wasn't going to knowingly misrepresent them. One such article was on 'Satanism and the Far Right'. This was first written in March 2010, drawing upon multiple sources, and then later edited at the start of 2011. A large part of the article focussed on the Order of Nine Angles, which in hindsight was rather inaccurate in the first draft. I was discussing the O9A with my friend of mine on the now deleted Aestheka forum at the end of 2010 and Ryan Anschauuang of the O9A Nexion 'The Temple of THEM' joined the forum in order to comment on the post and get in contact with me regarding my article. He offered to answer any questions I might have in order to help to make it more accurate. He said he was impressed with the article although in hindsight I'm not sure why, as the first draft was not great, perhaps he was buttering me up. He often refused to directly answer certain questions, wanting me to figure it out myself, which was slightly frustrating.

There was nothing actually Neo-Nazi on his web site, although he had one blog about Australian nationalism on it. After updating my article as best I could, we stayed in contact albeit with decreasing frequency.

He informed me he was publishing a new limited edition O9A tarot deck, Emanations, which was an essentially extended version of the Sinister Tarot by Christos Beest. I decided to order one mainly as it was limited edition, but also I found some of the artwork interesting, which was probably the only thing I really liked about the O9A at the time, besides their anti-commercial stance. The deck came with a sigilised tarot bag and a black tourmaline crystal. It sat on the shelf mostly over the next year and a half and I never actually used it over that period.

He invited me to join his THEM yahoo group which I did out of curiosity. He offered to post a link to my article on his links section and said it might attract attention if he did and I agreed. Shortly afterwards two response or retaliation pieces were published on 2 different O9A blog sites, one of which was amusingly impolite and explaining how I had misrepresented the WSA352 and making digs about my being a Christian. Neither blog mentioned my web site nor the author they were referring to, which I felt was weak.

Rather narcissistically, I joined the O9A yahoo group anonymously to see what was being said about it, out of general curiosity and also for laughs to see what they were saying about E.A. Koetting as I knew they all hated him for name dropping the O9A to boost his credibility. The overall gist from Chloe was that they found some of what I'd written idiotic, which was true, and some of it insightful, and hoped I would write more on the O9A. I never did write another piece on the O9A (with this exception as it is relevant to a wider story) but instead revised my article in subsequent years to make it more conservative and less likely to be inaccurate, and not taking all the claims on the O9A blogs on face value without understanding the context like I had initially done.

The 'Satanism and the Far Right' article has since appeared on several web sites as a link or reference, including one O9A Nexion's links page, and as a reference on Rationalwiki's Satanism page, in the 'Esoteric Fascism' section on the reading list of four separate anti-fascist web sites: antifascistnews.net, anarcho-punk.net, antifasevenhills.noblogs.org and enoughisenough14.org; and finally, and less significantly, at least two conspiracy web sites. Of course I hope all parties have done their cross checking.

I suggested RA join Jeremy Crow's Luciferian Research Society, not that he had any interest in Luciferianism, and he produced an LRS logo on a post calling for members to produce artwork for the group. The artwork was quite good but the philosophical fit was not optimal as it seemed more collectivist in nature to me and was not used.

He put me on his mailing list and emailed out a newsletter with all recipients names and email addresses visible, which a number of people complained about, including myself albeit in a rather lame, passive aggressive manner. I asked him to remove my name from his mailing list. We later had a falling out after I made a suggestion regarding SEO for his web site which used a terrible URL, which he did not appreciate. We barely spoke after that.

I got talking to a female O9A member and music producer on facebook. I think she contacted me about my 'Satanism and the Far Right' web site article initially, and I briefly joined the O9A facebook group to have a look. We stayed in contact for a year or so, and whilst I did not agree with her views, and she seemed excessively fixated on David Myatt, she seemed otherwise very agreeable.

[Continue to Part 2]

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