Dogma and Destiny: My 2017 Interview With the Survivor of the Heaven’s Gate Cult

As a society, we are quick to mock people who have a different set of beliefs or ideals then us. Even more so if those ideals are outside of the paradigm of what is seen as normal or accepted by the masses. The major problem with that is the very ideal that normalcy is subjective. Who are we to judge others, when it could be said many of our own beliefs could be seen as weird or strange by outsiders?

I say this because I am about to talk with one of VERY FEW (two who talk to people, two totally off the grid, even from the group) surviving member of the Heaven’s Gate group (cult can be a dirty word and one I don’t intend to toss around here callously) who were left behind specifically to field such questions as these and help spread the further understanding of what Heaven’s Gate set out to achieve. I am writing this with the sole hope of giving people more insight into them, their beliefs, and who they were as people.

Before you write off what they did (which was amass suicide’ in 1997, under the belief that the world was about to be “recycled”. Their belief was a spacecraft was hidden behind the Hale Bopp comet and would essentially “take them home“), here is your chance to educate yourself more about what happened. While many people may find that easy to laugh at, take a look at some of the ideals of Scientology (aliens thawed from volcanoes who then possess us) or even Christianity (talking bushes and parting seas) and you realize, all our beliefs have an element of the unbelievable to them. So why were the Heaven’s Gate members mocked and laughed at for what they believed in, when most of what we believe is just as surreal in nature?

Perhaps if we get some genuine information from one of the few surviving members who stayed here on Earth specifically to educate the masses on their movement, we will all have a better understanding of them, what they did, why they did it, and what comes next for them. I contacted them through their still working site, and though they do not answer every inquiry, I got very lucky (and I think the respect I showed had a great deal to do with that).

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It is THAT easy!

First off, thank you for taking the time to do this. I will not undermine what you believe in any way. Enough of us (mass media) have done that already and that is not our job. Our job is to inform and maybe you can help me with that.

First and foremost, what do you believe is the biggest misunderstanding or misconception about Heaven’s Gate?

HG: The first biggest misunderstanding is that they committed what would be equivalent to human suicide, which they did not.

The Group knew in 1997 that the human body cannot take prolonged space travel and activity. The human body was designed to work on this planet. This means that those particular individuals, and those individuals only, were going to get new space-capable bodies when they graduated off this planet. Since this had never happened before on this planet, there was a question of shedding their bodies before or after they entered the craft. It would have caused no issue at all if they had done it after they boarded the craft. No one on this planet would have known anything about it.

It was determined that this dramatic event was to happen to catch the attention of the world. Two thousand years ago there had been a crucifixion and resurrection to attract the attention of the world when Jesus went back to the Next level with no graduates off this planet. This time there would be graduates and they wanted it to be noted.  

This act was a one-time event only. Humans can find no consolation in suicide because they just reincarnate into their next life here on this planet to repeat the same lesson and steps again. In this case, and in this one only, those individuals broke the cycle of reincarnation and their loss of bodies was just symbolic. They took on their new Next Level bodies (smaller, grey, large-set eyes, etc.) and joined other Members of that Kingdom to perform the tasks assigned to them, in the literal universe.

The second biggest misunderstanding is that they were brainwashed, to any degree or form. That is completely untrue. Many people have been associated with the Group can all testify that none of the individuals since it’s origin as a Group in 1975 were ever gullible or weak-minded.  Many individuals could come and go out and into the Group as they deemed fit. We, alone, are examples of individuals who joined in 1975 and have trained directly under Ti and Do for years but still exert the same degree of mental toughness and independence that was evident in the Group as a whole. We know it makes society more comfortable to think that those people in that “cult” have much less character and strength than society as a whole, but the truth is just the opposite. And that is what worries human social structures.

Third, there is a rumor floating out there that members of that group could have only been taken into the Group against their will. Somehow they were recruited and hurried off without full consent. That is ALSO completely erroneous. All individuals were given careful time to think things through. We met with members of the Group and talked things over. There were barriers even put up to deter those from entering. The Group wanted people to wash out if they had even an inkling of doubt. If they did come in and found it wasn’t what they wanted, they could leave within hours or days, which many did. No one was ever kept against their will.

That is a key thing for people to know, and I think will help them understand the people involved more. Going off of that, much was said and speculated about Heaven’s Gate, who was involved, and what the tenants behind it were. It has recently come to my attention that the media’s coverage of Heaven’s Gate was very biased and one-sided, focusing on “leader” Applewhite, but letting the public know very little about the other “leader” Bonnie Peeples or “Peep” and “Ti”, as she was often referred by those closest to her.

Seemingly a very interesting person who was integral in the formation as well as follow-through with the ideals of Heaven’s Gate, I was hoping you could take this opportunity to tell the world a bit more about her, as when we know so little.

HG: First, just for the sake of remaining factual, her old human name was Bonnie Nettles (not Peeples). We honestly didn’t even know their old names until news broke in March of 1997.  

Even digging down a little into the information one would quickly discover that Ti was the foundation and core strength of the Group. She was stronger, wiser and far more knowing than Do. She had an undeniable knowledge and power to her. Do looked to her for everything and every tenant of the ways of the Next Level are due to her strength and capabilities are a teacher of those truths.

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Proof of conversation, as well as respect for the desire for anonymity.

Why do you think the media just seemingly chose to ignore her when she was SO important to Heaven’s Gate and focus almost singularly on Bo?

HG: The world responds to audio/visual communication. Do’s face and image was played on videotapes often after March, 26th, 1997 and there were no images of Ti to play. That is why the world became “Do-centric.” Also, the media has a tendency to focus on one image or person to blame and Do took the brunt of all this.  

There was also the unfortunate aspect of human culture that still doesn’t value that wisdom when it comes out of a female vehicle. Society tries to deny it, but it is clear that this is still a man’s world and that filter is still alive and well in 2017.

Cannot argue that, it really is and is sad to have not seen those patriarchal leanings change enough over the last decades.

So I know (I should say assume, most of us truly know very little about this subject) you are one of two representatives left. If I may ask, were you two specifically chosen to stay behind, did you choose to, and was that difficult for you? Or did it feel like an honor of sorts to be given such high responsibility?

HG: We are not representatives. That title was only given to Ti & Do. We are just former students of the Class who were given specific instructions to follow after the Group departed. A decision was made for us to remain behind and we chose not only to abide by that but to follow the tasks we were given to do. The Group knew that there would be questions and requests for information after they left. We were asked to maintain the website and emails to help point those interested to that information. The book and video tapes were made available to any who want it. We were also asked to maintain what is essentially all the physical and intellectual properties (to use a collective human term) since the Group expected issues to come up with them. We have maintained all of this and consider it an honor to do so.

Well this article is a testimony to how well you do that, so thank you. it is refreshing to see someone so committed to their beliefs in a time where the world seems so divided by them.

Sorry for the tonal change here, but because of the darker nature of how the world views suicide (in a word, archaically), were you two subject to any police questioning afterwards and did they seem sensitive to your situation or did you feel bullied?

I ask because a good friend of mine took his life at one point and I was subject to questioning by police and it was, in a word, gross (and cruel).

HG: We voluntarily offered to assist the police with identification of the bodies, through our attorneys. We answered the questions that we could, but did not feel bullied. We did feel after the whole affair was completed, that we were not treated with any kind of respect at all. They thought of us as crazy people.

Trust me from past trauma, I know all too well how the world views “different” people, and that was one of the reasons I was so committed to talk to you, honestly.

If I may, for you, what was the biggest draw of joining Heaven’s Gate and did you ever have any doubts or reservations?

If so, what?

HG: It was the recognition that their teachings were the truth and could answer all the questions of existence. We have never experienced any doubts or reservations in all our time and associations with the Group over 42 years.

Wow, 42 years, that is impressive!

So this question has intrigued me for years and I am hoping you can shed some light on the answer, as I cannot be the only one curious about this. Have you, as a sect, been approached by anyone since “the departure” that has expressed interested in joining or opening a new chapter, or do you feel your mission was achieved and that would just be lessening the impact of what you initially believed in and why Heaven’s Gate was formed?

HG: Yes, many times. We get asked weekly to reform the group and set up new chapters all around the world. Just this week alone we we asked to identify and direct people to our “chapters” in New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, England, Chicago and Southern California. We are constantly being chastised because we refuse to set up anything, anywhere. We do not have instructions [n]or are we “called’ to be teachers or leaders. That is only a role that can filled by an Older Member from the Next Level. In this planet’s’ case, that sole Member is who we once called Do. When he returns, which he will, it will be in the form of another human body that we simply don’t know. He had been down to this planet many times to advance human civilization along.

Regarding people asking or wanting to be a part of it, that response is exactly what I suspected!

Going to change tones real quick again, hope you don’t mind. Please only answer what you feel comfortable with. Do you have a favorite TV show? Favorite food? How do you spend your days when NOT answering inquiries from people like me?

HG: Like every else, we work full time jobs to earn a living and also pay for all the expenses of maintaining the information of the Next Level.  We do regular house work and chores and try to maintain the least amount of social contacts we need to function in real life. We try to treat others with the greatest respect we can give in our daily contacts because all humans deserve acknowledgement of the burdens they carry. We don’t have any favorite food or shows.

Very interesting. So in that same vein, when your time on this mortal coil eventually and inevitably runs out, do you feel like you get reunited with the souls from Heaven’s Gate or is it genuinely a “miss the ride” deal?

If so, does death scare you?

HG: We do not know when we will die a natural death. No one knows that. We do not expect to be immediately picked up and rejoin the Group. Most likely, we will reincarnate, like every other human on this planet, and will be given a chance to join a new Group when Do forms it upon his return in the undetermined future. One thing we do know regarding this:

We will eventually enter the Next Level under the care of Do, Ti and the other Members of that Level.  

We just have to wait and press forward into doing the best we can and by following the ways of the Next Level. We do not fear death, as most do, because we know what comes after it. The time in any human body are just “bus stops” in our evolution forward if we all take advantage of our lessons during incarnations.

I think of you spoke to more people from different spiritual beliefs and backgrounds, you would find out that is one thing many of us very much do have in common with Heaven’s Gate is that we also believe the body is, indeed, nothing more than a vessel.

Now to jump to something a little more “pop culture”, As of yesterday, a trailer for a new video game came out (Far Cry 5) where the player fights a group of religious zealots in Wisconsin called Eden’s Gate. Upon hearing that I kind of flinched. Eden’s Gate seems a little TOO close to the name you guys had for your group, yet mirrors them not even remotely in ideals. In it’s place, you have a group of gun-wielding, God-mongers who kill people and take their things, while forcing their own religious beliefs on them.

It was jarring to hear the name of the “bad guys” in the game.

Does that “cult” stigma still follow you guys and how do faux representations like that make you feel at the end of the day? Is it frustrating to be that widely misunderstood and misrepresented in the most extreme of ways, still to this day?

(trailer for those interested, and a very far-off take on a group who committed no acts of violence on any humans and had no weapons whatsoever.)

HG: We aren’t happy when people throw around the cult label when trying to dismiss the understandings of the Group without even giving it a second’s thought. We have dealt with people trying to take advantage of the Group’s image and likeness for years.  We just have to take it in stride and move forward with what we supposed to do.

That is an admirable stance to take, and the higher road. The world casts stones at that which it doesn’t understand and if anything, that is more a reflection on the people casting stones than anyone else.

Last, if you could have the world carry ONE THING AWAY from the Heaven’s Gate experience, what is the one thing you hope people remember or believe?

HG: Ti and Do were here to teach the true meaning of goodness and the true final process necessary to get to the Next Level from earth.

Well, I hope this interview helps spread your ideals in a way where Heaven’s Gate and their actions are at least better understood by the masses, so quick to judge other’s Dogma while refusing to see the potential inconsistencies in their own.

It took honesty and bravery to answer these, so I thank you for your time, I respect your commitment to your beliefs, and I hope the rest of your time here in this corporeal existence is good to you. If you ever hear of any room in another craft, let me know. You sound more rational than most people in this country right now.

Featured image: screen shot of Heaven’s Gate Initiation Tape.