|Dr. Cyrus Teed, aka "Koresh" -A proclaimed messiah|
-Quaternity and Quinternity's?
The extraordinary claims of persons claiming to be male and female Messiah's, along with their revelations claiming four and even five Persons in God, and that God is both male and female.
Case summary #1:
Born in 1839, Cyrus R. Teed from upstate New York became a medical physician and established a laboratory in which he carried out alchemical and electrical experiments.
After this purported vision, he changed his first name to "Koresh" (the Hebrew word for his first name "Cyrus") and after a number of years of travelling in New York, Chicago and other parts of the USA proclaiming his new religious and temporal theories, he eventually established the Koreshan Unity Settlement or "New Jerusalem", a Utopian community in Estero, Florida, which was based on his purported private revelations and beliefs, which later came to be called "Koreshanity".
|Koreshan model of the universe depicting his "hollow earth" theory of the earth surrounding the universe (Source Wikipedia)|
Cyrus Teed the "Messiah"? The failed utopia
Therefore, immediately after his death they kept him in a bathtub and accompanied him in a constant vigil, awaiting his resurrection or second coming, which they deduced would happen three days later on Christmas day. When no resurrection/reincarnation occurred, the local authorities forced them to bury his corpse on December 27, and this event essentially marked the beginning of the end of the Koreshan Unity Settlement, though it would continue to survive through some of its members for more than 50 years after Teed's death. In 1910, a hurricane destroyed his tomb which was on the southern end of Estero island, and washed his coffin out to sea.
|"Octavia, Daughter of God", by Jane Shaw|
Numerous single and widowed woman throughout England soon joined her, forming a Community called the "Panacea Society", that grew to include seventy residents, thousands of followers, along with an international healing ministry reaching some 130,000 people.
-Her back garden was the actual physical site of the original Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve had lived, and the town where she lived (Bedford, England) was to one day become the "New Jerusalem", which is one of the many parallel's to Dr. Teed's story above.
|The 'Secret box', when opened, is said to end time of darkness and open a new era|
In preparation for this grand event, Mabel bought a huge house that could sleep the 24 Anglican bishops of England, and she furnished it with the finest furniture and room arrangements. Mabel and the Panacea Society even took ads out in newspapers, bulletin boards and posters advertising all about the 'Secret box' in an attempt to persuade the Anglican bishops to gather all together and open the box. The story concerning this "secret box" became so well known in 20th century British culture that it was even satirized on the comedy show "Monty Python".
-Some of the alleged Divine powers that Mabel believed she possessed was the gift of healing. To this effect, she would physically breath directly into tap water, which was then sprinkled onto squares of cloth, which were then cut into small relic sized pieces by her followers, and spread about to various persons hoping for cures.
-Mabel also purchased an additional house for the second coming of Jesus, who she said was to come specifically to Bedford, and her followers were to be prepared to make Him personally welcomed. As the years passed, the Society decided to rent the house, with a special agreement with the tenants who were told only they may have to vacate the property at very short notice.
-Mabel was borderline fanatical is what concerned formal etiquette. She wrote: "Any person who makes an undue noise when eating toast, and declares they cannot avoid it, must leave off eating toast and must not take any other food which causes them to make a noise." Another strange eating practice was that the Panaceans were required to eat date pudding on Palm Sunday, because dates grow on palms.
Octavia appointed twelve female apostles—one from each of the signs of the astrological zodiac—and washed their feet in imitation of Jesus. She would celebrate her own form of mass and eucharist in what she called the ‘upper room’—a room in her house which served as the place of worship before a chapel was eventually built. Octavia believed that she received daily messages from God by the means of automatic writing. She sat down every afternoon at 5.30 p.m. to receive the purported message while in a trance-ecstasy, and after writing it she then took it straight to the chapel, where it was read as one of the lessons in evening prayer.
Like in the death of Dr. Cyrus Teed in the first story above, the greatest shock for the Octavia's followers certainly must have been Octavia's own death; for she was unexpectedly found dead in her bed one morning, October 16, 1934. "The shock was not just that of discovering a dead body," writes Jane Shaw in her book, "It was the horror of discovering that the beloved divine daughter had actually died in a community that promised immortality."
And again like in Cyrus Teed's story, her followers kept vigil with her body for three days in the expectation that Octavia would arise from the dead, before finally burying it in what one can only presume was great disappointment and disillusionment.
|Mother Paul-Marie (1921-2015) Foundress of the Army of Mary|
How about Five Persons in God? The story of Mother Paul-Marie and the "Quinternity"
But if one thinks Mabel Barltrop's "Quaternity" of four persons in God is quite a theological stretch, then one surely will be even more floored with the excommunicated Catholic group "Army of Mary" of Canada, and their belief that their foundress, Mother Paul-Marie (Marie-Paule Giguere, 1921-2015) is the Daughter of God and the Fourth "Person" of a purported five Person "Quinternity".
Specifically, the members of this Community believe that the "Quinternity" is made up of God the Father, the Mother (Blessed Virgin Mary), the Son, the Daughter (Mother Paul-Marie) and the "True" Holy Spirit, united together forming one God, thus essentially adding two Persons to the Christian belief of the Holy Trinity.
This belief in the purported 'Quinternity' is reflected for example in the way in which the members of the Community make the visible Sign of the Cross upon themselves: While crossing themselves (on the four points) they say "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Mother, and of the Daughter, in the unity of the Spirit".
It should be noted however that this belief in the purported "Quinternity" was a recent addition to the Army of Mary Community itself, which back in the 1970's actually gained the initial support and official approval of Archbishop Maurice Roy of Quebec, whom back at that time officially declared the Army of Mary a "Pious Association".
A surprising private revelation came in late in the 1970's, when in the groups newspaper Marie-Paule Giguere declared that she was "The Lady of All Peoples", a revelation that purportedly came from "on-high". Another early example of an astounding revelation concerning the person of Marie-Paule can be found in her autobiography "Live of Love", Vol XII, page 102, where concerning her sufferings at that time, and also having foreseen certain trials that were forthcoming in her 'mission', the Lord purportedly tells her in an inner locution: "Accept; the fate of humanity hinges upon your 'fiat'. In addition, over time through her private revelations it was revealed and determined that she reportedly was the "Coredemptrix" and "Daughter of the Immaculate".
Beginning in the 1980's however, the Army of Mary and its associated 'Community of the Sons and Daughters of Mary' began to lose favor with Church officials, particularly in Canada. Serious Theological difficulties between the Catholic church and the proposals and conclusions of two theologian authors in the Army of Mary/Community of the Sons & Daughters of Mary, eventually led to serious divergence from the Catholic hierarchy, culminating with an official Excommunication issued by the Vatican in 2007.
Centered upon individuals, such cults are always of a limited time frame
We find in all of these extraordinary cases of alleged men and woman divine incarnations, that because they are directly centered upon individual cults of personality--that is, certain specific self proclaimed messianic type individuals--that the cult of followers surrounding them eventually dwindles to zero, thus ending in what is always a limited run time.
In Dr. Cyrus Teed's case, the last remaining leader of the community, Hedwig Michel, deeded the colony property to the State of Florida in 1961. It is now the Koreshan State Historic Site. As for Octavia and her Panacea society, the last follower, Ruth Klein died in 2012, putting an end to the society. Its assets, amounting to approximately 25 million pounds, are now looked after by the Panacea Charitable Trust, which awards grants for research into education, poverty and sickness. A Panacea Museum has been opened to tell the story of Octavia and her followers, but they are keeping the lid closed on the biggest mystery, that of the contents of the "Secret box", which Mabel spent most of her lifetime protecting and promoting.
|Mabel Barltrop, a self proclaimed female messiah|
When one contemplates the extraordinary lives and extravagant claims of these individuals, and the many others we also see in Wikpedia's the "List of Messiah claimants" referenced above, we see how such claims are really not new--in fact, it calls to mind the events depicted in Acts 5 wherein "...Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up...and he addressed the Sanhedrin: 'Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Yes! I believe Gamaliel offers the best advice concerning such persons: "Leave these men alone!..For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
And thus, looking over the historical record, we see that the vast majority of visionaries and mystics turn out to be false. So, concerning such persons, the best approach is to use the wisdom of Gamaliel and be extremely cautious and prudent about their private revelations and claims.
For even the most devout and intelligent persons have at times been mistaken about such charismatic leaders for a time, such as in the unforgettable story of Sr. Magdalena of the Cross, or more recently in the life of the great Pope of recent memory, Pope St John Paul II, who in a infamous 1994 letter that went viral which referred to Father Marcial Maciel, the enigmatic founder and leader of the Legionaries of Christ, as "An efficacious example to youth", when already prior to this commendation it had long since been revealed that Fr. Maciel had sexually molested young boys and men on numerous occasions, not to mention having fathered at least one child--scandalous facts for which Fr. Maciel was later publicly ordered by the Vatican "to conduct a reserved life of prayer and penance" after an investigation by Cardinal Ratzinger in 2006. In fact, Pope John Paul II had often publicly and privately supported Fr. Maciel over the years, and took him along as a key adviser on his trips to Latin America. So the point here is that one should be very cautious and prudent concerning such persons.
|St Padre Pio relic locket rosary|