Set It On Fire

Get ready for a trip into weirdness. A friend sent me this song, by a band called O.S.I., a Dream Theater side project. The group sampled a recording made by my mom Elizabeth Clare Prophet, in which she gives an “invocation” for the “binding of rock music and the forces of death and hell.” The recording they sampled and many others like it were published on a CD entitled Sounds of American Doomsday Cults: Church Universal and Triumphant.

Set it on Fire – 3:42

I could write volumes on this subject, and just how wrong the whole thing is. But you can listen for yourself. Here is the text of her commentary and invocation (which is mixed and blended with the music in such a way as to be mostly unintelligible.) You might think her voice was pitch shifted or sped up, but you would be mistaken. They may have gone a couple of semitones at most to put it in tune with the music–but by and large this is what she actually sounded like.

(Elizabeth Clare Prophet)”…So you may stand at this time, I’m going to make an opening invocation, and then we’re going to begin this, and when I come to the place where I want to do this insert—it’s a long insert, where the insert begins, you are going to roll this tape:”


(Elizabeth Clare Prophet)…by the power of the cosmic Christ descend into the earth to bind now the very cause and core of rock music and of death and hell itself, for rock is the rhythm of death and hell, and without that rhythm, death and hell cease to exist…

Bind now death and hell…

The light of God never fails, beloved Astrea, beloved Astrea, beloved Astrea, I call upon the electronic solar rings of the great central sun, the seraphim of god, I call for the electronic fire rings, I call for the rings of the great central sun, I call for the great central sun magnet, the full power of Helios and Vesta, descend now into this force field, descend now into this force field, descend now into this force field, let God’s will be done, in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the mother, we dedicate this service now to the casting of the beast…

…descend now into this force field, …descend now into this force field…

Yowza. Aside from the sci-fi “lord of the rings” motif, the whole concept of willing, wishing or chanting to change things you don’t like, or to change people you don’t agree with is abhorrent. Especially when it’s to impose your subjective theocratic tyranny on the rest of the world. When she called for the “binding of death and hell,” what did she think would happen? Who did she think she was, to pass judgement on hundreds of talented, sincere, hard-working, and creative musicians worldwide?

I suppose maybe the real crime of rock music in her eyes, if she was truthful to herself, was that it was more visceral, compelling, and convincing than her religion, even as ritual. It’s in tune with the earth, with our genes, our hormones. It takes no prisoners, and doesn’t submit to dogma. It’s strong, because it’s subject to the feedback of the market. Unlike religion, if people don’t like it, they won’t feel intimidated into buying it. Rock’s only ethos is to be true to the human spirit. Since death is a part of life, rock doesn’t promise to defeat (or sidestep) death. And death is the only reason religion exists at all. Religion IS DEATH AND HELL. Who else, anywhere, ever, talks about hell? Think about it.

I doubt my mom foresaw the rise of the internet, sampling, and collage-based music. I know she never thought her invocation against rock would be used as the basis for an actual rock song. (This wasn’t the first, she was also sampled by Negativland). Since she thought God would judge the world, I’m sure she believed He would prevent such an ‘atrocity.’

Guess not.

I find it ironic that more people will hear her words in this context of this song than through her own publications. I also wonder how I or anyone else could have ever taken them seriously. (I have a partial excuse, I was raised there.)

It’s easy to forget how far we all travelled down the road to unreality. In my lecture “Rock and Roll in America” in July of 1987, I helped her denounce rock music when I was a minister. It’s one of the moments in my life of which I’m most ashamed. To be honest, even when I did it, I knew it was wrong. But I played the role with gusto, selecting and splicing the clips together, so that I could play this music in front of a large audience, and get kudos for denouncing it. A part of me took perverse pleasure in sitting in judgement of my former rock idols. I believed God made me better than them, simply for taking a ‘stand’ against them, and for Him. Such is the mind-fuck that resulted when I combined an overwhelming cosmic fantasy with my own feelings of inadequacy, weakness, and youth. Mea culpa.

Since I’ve been out of that insane hallucinogenic trip for nearly 15 years, it’s really disgusting for me to hear these sounds again. To other people, it’s merely freaky. To me, it’s like reliving a nightmare. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Bind death and hell.” The hubris. Who did I think I was? Who did she think she was? Rock takes its rhythm from rituals that go back before the dawn of civilization. Back to when the first hominid with opposable thumbs picked up a bone or a stick and struck a hollow log:

Boom-boom-bop, boom-boom-bop, boom-boom-bop-boom-boom-boom-bop…

…And all the creatures moved and danced around the fire…as their neurons fired in time with their motions and the sound, they experienced a joy and bliss unattainable in any ‘cathedral.’ For nature was their cathedral. Something most of us have tragically lost. Mickey Hart came close to re-creating this magic on his recent Planet Drum tour. The best of rock music takes us back to that time, and keeps us in touch with our humanity. May it ever be thus.

“Bind death and hell,” my ass.

Comments (24 comments)

Abogada de la diabla / October 16th, 2006, 10:40 pm / #1

As another who was raised under Elizabeth, I too have a PTSD episode when I even read an invocation by her, let alone hear it. I love your take on rock and roll now. I frankly cannot imagine my life without it, and I consider the early auditory deprivation I experienced as criminal. The only plus side was that my ear was excellently tuned with ample servings of classical music.
I guess she never did envision her voice being sampled in this way. No doubt were she coherent now, she would have to do another expose — on DJ mix tapes.

Chris / October 16th, 2006, 11:47 pm / #2

god Dad, I am sooo sorry you had to live through that. You will always be my hero for saving me from that hell (for lack of a more pathetically disgusting word). To all you CUT sympathizers, I feel nothing but happiness and graciousness towards the life that I have been privileged to live. My Father feels nothing but pain and regret in regards to his “nightmare”. But I guess that’s fuckin religious justice for ya.

Aaron Kinney / October 17th, 2006, 9:42 am / #3

Hey guys,

Nice to see Chris commenting here too! How was your tour bro?


That was profound. Your take on this whole situation now is much, much more healthy. And you definitely see the underlying factors in the religious denunciaton of independent-minded artistic expression. I think this paragraph of yours absolutely NAILS IT:

I suppose maybe the real crime of rock music in her eyes, if she was truthful to herself, was that it was more visceral, compelling, and convincing than her religion, even as ritual. It’s in tune with the earth, with our genes, our hormones. It takes no prisoners, and doesn’t submit to dogma. It’s strong, because it’s subject to the feedback of the market. Unlike religion, if people don’t like it, they won’t feel intimidated into buying it. Rock’s only ethos is to be true to the human spirit. Since death is a part of life, rock doesn’t promise to defeat (or sidestep) death. And death is the only reason religion exists at all. Religion IS DEATH AND HELL. Who else, anywhere, ever, talks about hell? Think about it.

Wow. Fucking wow. Religion IS DEATH AND HELL. Sooooo true. I mean, thats the EXACT reason that I named my blog “Kill The Afterlife”.

I mean, talk about projection! Religion invents and obsesses over hell and death and master-slave morality, and then ACCUSES a life-affirming, individualist, boundary-breaking form of artistic expresion as doing exactly that!

I love all your writing Sean, but this entry was especially moving. You really went deep here. Excellent work. Your intellect never fails to impress me.

darkeros / October 17th, 2006, 4:36 pm / #4

hey Sean…

Thank you for continuing to so boldly wrestle with and expose this dark madness of your past. It serves many! and most importantly you and your family.

Your words of “I have a partial excuse, I was raised there…” struck deep, as I willingly chose this madness for a period of my life. I was coming out of years of drug use and criminal behavior and thus the rhetoric preyed upon my guilt and the evil rock ‘n roll became a temporary scapegoat for my irresponsible behaviors.

The rhythm and lyrics of rock ‘n roll evoke the sexually ecstatic energies that Elizabeth and most in this country deem as evil yet play out in distortions behind their own closed doors. I consider musicians to be our contemporary shamans as they directly dance with and express these and the other more volatile energies through their artistic expression, which otherwise suppressed cause the psychological and social pathologies we see rampant.

Rock’n roll and other forms of ecstatic ‘dark’ art are truly the catharsis for our deeper connection to ourselves… long ago split off and destroyed by the religions of the world.

Thank you, Sean, for continuing to expose the outrageous unconsciousness that many still choose to live by.

BlackSun / October 17th, 2006, 8:22 pm / #5

I’m overwhelmed by the expressions of support posted here. It is a profoundly painful process to hear these words of “judgement” repeated, and realize this belief system tore my family apart. My mom was as much a victim of her beliefs and unacknowledged archetypes as any of her followers. This is why I continue to push for greater consciousness and engagement. For if we fail to engage our unconscious fears and archetypes, they will take us out of the game. The imaginary forces my mom spent her life battling fundamentally came from her own unresolved psychology. This is what she acknowledged to me at the end. It’s profoundly sad for us all.

@Abogada, right on. I too am grateful for the classical influence. But still, classical music, great as it may be, was ultimately a European phenomenon, and kept us fixated on cultures which repressed individual expression. So our musical upbringing kept us completely out of touch with the profound changes which swept the world in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Thank goodness for the radio, Walkmans, and headphones!

@Chris, you are everything a father could want, and your music makes me proud every day. Our family will continue in its proud tradition as entertainers. Ironically, even your grandparents were expert entertainers. If you keep going the way you are, you will no doubt exceed their popularity.

@Aaron, Thanks for the kudos. You’re no slouch yourself. Your blog continues to inform and elevate the debate. I admire the fact that you continue to engage with theists, even though it ultimately may be somewhat futile. If you make even one theist question their assumptions long enough to engage in critical thought, you’ve done your job. Keep up your afterlife assassinations!

@darkeros, thanks for your perspective and support. Re: the partial excuse, my excuse was only good until I left the church the first time at 19. When I came back, I was participating as an adult, and take full responsibility for my mistakes.

Everyone, you are what make my life worthwhile. Without my friends and family, I would have nothing. Thank you for your presence in my life.

say no to christ / October 18th, 2006, 2:05 pm / #6

Wow Sean, you are lucky to have made it out at all. To make it out without bitterness and hate is heroic. And it is so heart warming to see the special bond you have with your son. Now I have to go wipe my eyes, you guys got all mushy on me and my female hormones won’t let me read stuff like that without tearing up. sniff, sniff

Aaron Kinney / October 19th, 2006, 10:52 am / #7

SNTC, that is so sweet!

Group hug everybody! Let the healing continue :)

BlackSun / October 19th, 2006, 1:28 pm / #8

Yes, sntc, thank you. I’d like to hear how you got so sane. Were you raised religious? Or were you lucky enough to have secular parents? Do you get any trouble from friends or family about raising your kids secular?

Alice Flynn / October 19th, 2006, 5:41 pm / #9

Hi, Sean, I’m glad I found your blog and can read the insights and support you are providing. I wasn’t a member, but cared very much for children I knew whose parents brought them into CUT. In reading your post on rock music, it brought back an experience I had when I went to a picnic in Paradise Valley on Memorial Day weekend where there were many CUT members around me. As someone in the parking lot of the campground was playing rock music on their car stereo, I saw small children, about 5 years old, putting their hands over their ears and saying in horror, “rock music, rock music”. I felt so sad and so angry at the same time to see the anxiety instilled in these kids by their parents.
Take care.
All the best, Alice.

Rhianna Newton / October 19th, 2006, 9:34 pm / #10

If I were regularly producing such works, I would have the concern that somebody, somewhere, will eventually take legal action against an artist who so blatently violates intellectual property laws.

From a believer’s point of view, the potency of the broadcast decree may ironically cancel out the clearly intended blasphemy.

Having grown up in the Ascended Teachings myself, I find that my own post traumatic stress is triggered most often when engaging with a repressive individual or situation: others tell me I tend to overreact. ;-)

Decrees, however, I personally find comforting to listen to, much like a lullabye or music box that one remembers from childhood.

That’s just me. We all have our own set of perceptions and experiences.

This site weaves from your own complex personal cultural tapestry a work of art built upon a foundation of reason and integrity to yourself that I often find inspiring, whether or not I agree with each and every post you write.

BlackSun / October 21st, 2006, 3:23 pm / #11

@Alice, you are correct. I remember as a young child I was told I could not tap my feet to music I would hear in stores, offices, etc. I would get in trouble for moving my body at all to the rhythm. This came to a real confrontation when I was about 9 years old and went to a slumber party. The kids were playing Carole King’s “Tapestry.” I had been so conditioned to fear this music that I asked to be driven home. I never lived down the insult to my friend, and was ostracized by my schoolmates for the entire year. Now that I look back on it, the idea that anyone could be offended by such mellow music as Carole King is absolutely absurd.

@Rhianna: Thanks for reading and for your appreciation. If you like to listen to tapes of decrees and find them soothing, more power to you. I personally can’t divorce the sound from the underlying extremist attitudes of my parents and their followers. I also think that decrees contain hypnotic elements which prevent clarity of thought. Most of the decrees are vague fantasies combined with non-sequiturs. Others have unavoidable implications which clearly lower self-esteem, and can’t be good for the psyche.

For example, what does this verse mean?

“Violet Fire, thou love divine.
Blaze within this heart of mine.
Thou art mercy forever true.
Keep me always in tune with you.”

We’re talking about an invisible fire, which has qualities of mercy. Why do we need mercy? Why do we need the violet flame in our hearts? This implies some deficiency, which goes back to the Christian presumption of imperfection and original sin. What do we need mercy for? Are we talking about mercy for ourselves? For others? Why shouldn’t we adopt the Golden Rule and simply treat others as we would like to be treated? Why the need to make up this whole fantasy about a violet colored flame? And repeat it over and over again. You see how this type of thing just makes your head spin? How many people who repeat verses such as the above THOUSANDS OF TIMES, ever consider the implications of what they are saying? Or do most simply put themselves into an alpha state and repeat the words. What kind of message does this send to your subconscious when repeated so intensively. I consider it destructive. Before you allow yourself to listen to these words again, you should objectively analyze what you are taking into your psyche.

I don’t consider that decrees have power to change the world. There’s simply no evidence that affirmations have any affect at all except on the mind of the user. You become what you focus your attention on. If these affirmations are constantly reinforcing that you are “imperfect without god,” you will tend to act that out in your life in various ways.

Here is a affirmation I could get behind:

“I affirm that my entire human self has value, including my darkness. I am an integrated being, complete with all my flaws, drives and desires. I am a rational agent, and I will not feel guilty for my mistakes. I will not feel guilty about my purposeful actions unless they become self-destructive. If I desire a better world, I will engage in such transformation through direct action. I will maintain ethical and mutually beneficial relationships. I do not live my life in the service of others, though such benefits may result as a by-product of my own self-interest. I reject the need for anyone’s mercy, approval, or forgiveness.”

With regard to I.P. laws, I think sampling of this type IS allowed. Either way, the record company which released the O.S.I. album appears to either be relying on “fair-use” provisions in the law, or they have decided to accept whatever legal challenges might be thrown their way by CUT.

As far as believers are concerned, of course the irony would be lost on them. From their point of view, they would take this song as a personal attack by a member of “death and hell.” This further illustrates the insular and totally subjective nature of their belief system.

To declare invalid such broad swaths of culture as “rock music” with a wave of the hand or an “invocation” is the height of arrogance. Remember the list of rock musicians: Along with Metallica and the various metal bands were people like Elton John, Billy Joel, the Beatles, etc.

Who could claim with a straight face these top-tier musicians were actually agents of “death and hell?”

say no to christ / October 23rd, 2006, 1:50 pm / #12

Oh yeah, besides pagans and gays being my only friends, DOGS have always been there for me as well. I was the weird girl who spent way too much time with her dogs, but it paid off. ;) lol

say no to christ / October 23rd, 2006, 1:38 pm / #13


You asked if I was raised in religion. Yes, I was raised catholic. I was taught all my life that I was inferior to males and that my natural body fucntions were dirty and shameful(I couldnt buy feminine products untill my daughters started their periods and I didnt want them to feel the shame I did) and that I was to stay pure till marriage. Well, when my stepfather sexually abused me, I felt tainted and unworthy and that it was all my fault. When I finally told my mother what was happening to me she believed me and got help. Unfortunately at the time that I told, around the mid 80s(I was 10)a religous psychiatrist had his new theories about sexual abuse passed into congress and put into full use. This new revelation was that famliy perpatrators were less dangerous than a stranger that molests children. They told my mother that it was best to keep the family together and that it was my mothers fault because she didnt give my stepfather total authority over her children. They told me that I wouldnt amount to anything if I didnt forgive and love him no matter what he did. Luckily, Alison Arngrim, aka, Nelly Olson from little house on the prarie, with PROTECT fought hard and changed these laws just recently. Now people who molest their own get the same treatment as a stranger who molests.
Heres a link to lean more about the laws on sexual abuse and the fight to change them.

Anyway, as you can imagine my self esteam was shot and the religious councling only made it worse. BUT, for some reason my instincts stayed intact. I knew what they were teaching and saying was wrong. Not knowing how to handle it, I became rebelous and down right hateful and angry and most of all angry at god for never answering my prayers, to just make it all stop and letting it happen in the first fucking place.

When my family moved to SC to be near my stepfathers family so he could begin his healing and to avoid the shame of what he did in California. I was thrown into a culture shock. California has its fair share of christian nuts, but nothing like the holy rolers of the bible belt. Being catholic in the south is a automatic free pass to hell and boy they let you know it! So, I hung out with the outcast kids mostly, pagans and gays. And I have to admit that their views had the biggest infuence(and a very positive one) on the direction my life took. I would have never made it through school and having to look my rapist in the face and be nice to him till I left home at 18. I still had to deal with him for a few more years after, but I damn sure wasnt nice about it and I did eventually cause my mothers and stepfather divorce. Unfortunately at the cost of my siblings. To this day they blame me for everything including being molested. They just werent able to keep their instincts intact with all the councling that was forced on them.

When I met my husband I was an unwed mother raising my two year old son with my best friend who is gay and still my best friend. My son’s father is a good person and an even better person for being honest and letting me know he just wasnt ready to raise a child and has never tried to interfear in our lives nor would I take his choice away to be a father and force it on him. Being a father is NOT a god given right it is a privilege and should NOT be forced!
Anyway, my husband impressed me and my best friend cuz he didnt care about my best friend being gay and didnt care that my son’s father was half black. That says a lot about a person living in the south and attending the Citadel. He moved in with me and eventually enlisted in military due to an unplanned, but not unwelcomed pregnancy. We still joke around about how he got me pregnant and went into the military to get me to marry him, cuz at the time I didnt want to get married. Not that I didnt want to marry him, I didnt think I was worthy of marriage. I was too tainted, sexually abused and an unwed mother.

Yes, my husband did enlist in the military with a college degree only because they didnt have the slots availible for officers at the time. 4 years later he was commissioned as an officer and it was at this time I took a shot at becoming a christian due to pure pressure from the uppity christian officers wives. My passed had made me a very angry agnostic at best. (If there was a god, why did he allow horrible things to happen to inocent children?) All my life I had felt like there was something wrong with me and I just didnt fit in, so I figgured I would try even though I really didnt like the other wives and their snotty little cliques. So, I began reading the bible and dragging the family to church. On base churches usually dont have classes for kids. My husband and I were more comfotable with that. And this is the point in my marriage when I found out my husband was an atheist. I did think it was adorable the way him and my son would kick their foot and say “I dont wanna go to church”. Well, I did give it a fair shot, but I didnt like how it was changing me and when I read the bible I would be horrified and consult with other christians that would try and explain it away in the most retarded ways ever. So, I just said no thank you and went back to being agnostic. It wasnt until my mid twenties when my career in dog grooming took a sharp turn towards canine behavior due to my gay boss, owner and vet at the animal hopsital I worked at sent me to school for canine behavior to further his business and my career. I saw an ad on campus about goddess archaeology. I had been around pagans since middle school and never really took them seriously about goddess worship. After I finished getting my dergee in canine behavior I took a couple of the basic classes in goddess archaeology and realized my friends werent so silly after all. BUT, I just couldnt get into it they way they did. I began doing more and more research and realized that all religions trace back to ancestor worship and all ancestor worhip traces back to mother worship. And with further questioning of my pagan friends and paganism, I realized most pagans were not theists and were actually atheists who prcatice silly rituals to honnor nature and the primal ancestors and there just wanst any need for a god or goddess for me.

I had said early on that I had always felt like I just didnt fit in and something was wrong with me, but now I know it is NOT me it is EVERYONE else. My atheist husband, my gay pagan best friend, my career and my journey to atheism helped my realize that.


Rhianna Newton / October 27th, 2006, 4:02 pm / #14


As usual, your posts are thought provoking and insightful, whether I totally agree with all of your views or not. You posted so many different points that could result in many different threads of discussion.

Music being such a powerful “hot-button” among Ascended Master believers, my answer here is to the question you posed:

“Who could claim with a straight face these top-tier musicians [Elton John, Billy Joel, the Beatles, etc.]were actually agents of “death and hell?”

There has been discussion about this within the Ascended Master Teachings as well as outside of it. Not every Ascended Master believer takes such a strong position. I also know Christians with similar beliefs–a dear friend was banned by his mom, a fundamentalist Christian, from listening to the Beatles throughout our teenage years. (I believe he has since become an avid Beatles collector.)

I agree with you that they are great artists, and that Neal Peart is a literary genius, overshadowing, I feel, Rush much as Sting overshadowed The Police in the 80s.

My (not to be considered speaking “officially” on behalf of anybody else in any way) understanding of what I believe Ascended Master believers believe (which I hope can be corrected if incorrect or incomplete) is as follows:

1. Music as a form of prayer.

Ascended Master believers believe that vocal prayer is the most powerful form of prayer, and that vocalized music is vocal prayer. They believe that prayer is most powerful when invoked as a two step process: 1) visualization of a result and 2) describing the result verbally as though it had already occurred.

Music that describes an unwanted outcome would be as counterproductive to helping a person get where they want to go as praying for an unwanted result. With that in mind, the Beatles song “Helter Skelter” ( and a Billy Joel song I love: “Allentown” would be on the do-not-play list.

The above point of view is shared by many Christians, who use music as a part of their worship and prayers, believing it has the power as a form of prayer.

1a. Rhianna’s personal response to this – on utilizing music therapy to expunge pain, versus EMDR, a technique accepted among Ascended Master believers that may accomplish the same results. Also, why Ascended Master believers would not use the music therapy that I describe:

I personally take a more Jungian view of “visualization leading to results”, believing that psychologically, in order to get from here to there, a process is required.

If a person has experienced a great loss, it may not be possible to move on without grieving first. “Allentown” could be used to tie into a place where catharsis expunges the grief, after which it is appropriate to move to a different place, step by step, visualizing more positive outcomes. Music therapy has been used in just such a way to resolve greif, by starting with music that emulates the person’s present psychological state, and moving slowly from one form of music to another, gradually moving the person into a more positive psychological place, but allowing them the time to experience it all and work through whatever needs to be worked through in the process.

The problem with skipping the grieving process is that like the “Dweller” described in the Ascended Master Teachings, if not directly dealt with and expunged at the conscious level, it wants to be fixed and therefore will come back, inhibiting the ability to really reach that desired outcome until resolved completely.

EMDR is a secular psychological technique that is also condoned within the Ascended Master Teachings, and has been used to expunge pain. I have used it and it did work for me. Ascended Master devotees would more readily accept EMDR than catharsis involving utilization of music, because of the multiple issues associated with secular music: in addition to overt messages, music also often incorporates subliminal messages, and there are further issues with beliefs about how rhythm affects the body and mind.

2. Subliminal messages.

It is well understood in secular advertising that music often reaches listeners at subliminal levels, resulting in unintentional thoughts and emotions experienced by the listener.

In the Ascended Master Teachings, a goal (similar to goal of cognitive psychology–not always achieved but aspired to nonetheless) is to be consciously aware of one’s thoughts and feelings at all times.

This is not in order to supress thoughts and feelings that are quote unquote “bad”, but rather in order to understand and direct them in a way that results in positive life experiences rather than negative ones.

Cognitive psychologists share the belief with Ascended Master believers that one’s thoughts and feelings result in a person taking actions that result in good or not so good life outcomes. These outcomes can be changed by becoming conscious of how previous thoughts and feelings have lead to the present situation, and changing those thoughts and feelings selectively and appropriately, in order to reach more desired outcomes.

Ascended Master believers believe that when somebody else is in control of your thoughts and feelings, using subliminal means to achieve this control, then they are basically driving you toward their own goals for you. The outcome you would most prefer may not match their goals for you.

Therefore it would be necessary to be aware when listening to music, understanding the types of subliminal messages that might be occurring, recognizing them when they occur, and making choices accordingly (not to listening to music that places you into an unintended thought process.) If one does not have the ability to recognize subliminal messages (and many of them are quite subtle) then it would be safer to avoid the possibility altogether.

3. Music can interfere with the natural rhythm of electrical and neurological pulses flowing through the human body.

As I understand the Ascended Master Teachings, the most seriously problematic issue related to music is the belief that certain rhythmic patterns can interrupt a person’s natural electrical and neurological rhythmic “flow”. In other words, the heart beats in a rhythmic pattern, resulting in the circulatory system moving according to that rhythm, and all of the body’s processes are used to functioning in that natural rhythm. The Ascended Master believers furthermore believe (acupuncturists share this view) that the body has electrical energy “currents” flowing in the same rhythm.

Listening to a rhythmic beat, according to Ascended Master Teachings, can result in the body “tuning in” and adapting its own rhythm to match or approximate the music’s beat. Some rhythms are considered to be in synch with the body (the 3/4 waltz, for example) and others are not. The body does not use synchopated rhythm so synchopation is always considered problematic.

Most modern music (not limited to rock: much contemporary classical and most jazz, even country western and folk have this issue.)

(Tom Miller’s music is exempted from some of the above rules, and the music of the classical composer Mahler, as far as I can tell.)

The secular science fiction book “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle, describes a hypnotic state and subsequent mind control that can result from many people’s bodies and minds adapting to a superimposed external rhythmic beat. In her book a superintelligence called “It” takes over the world by imposing a beat to which every person eventually submits, physically and psychologically, which opens the door to mind control that allows it to control individuals as though they were puppets. This very well written fictional account describes an extreme outcome of one of the issues that Ascended Master believers have with superimposed rhythm.

Anybody who has ever been to a good rock concert can probably relate to the trance-like state that can be induced by the powerful rhythms that blast through megawatt speakers into a large auditorium filled with people who are all swaying to a common beat.

So, with regard to your question:

> Who could claim with a straight face these top-tier musicians were actually agents of “death and hell?”

I don’t know whether they are or aren’t.

I believe that people who believe that these individuals are agents of “death and hell” should not listen to their music.

I furthermore believe that their right to not do so should be defended.

I believe that your right to listen (using earphones in public) to whoever/whatever you want to listen to should be equally defended.

The right of any adult to make an informed choice and do something that does not affect another in an adverse way should be defended.

BlackSun / November 2nd, 2006, 12:05 am / #15


That is an amazing story. I finally went over and checked out your link. Wow. I would have never believed such insanity was possible. This country has a shameful history of ‘child protection’: on the one hand, they commit gross abuses, such as in your case, where they put you back with the abuser. On the other hand, kids have been taken away from their parents for innocent nude photos flagged by nosy photo lab techs.

What’s clear is that government has no clue when or when not to intervene in a family.

As far as your oddyssey with religion goes, it’s just good that you got out. Your gay friend who stood by you, the father of your child–all these relationships show that our HUMAN connections are to be valued most. I can only imagine your atheist husband must love you very much, since he has stood by you through all your transitions and figuring things out.

It’s an inspiring story, though I’m sorry you had to go through it. Thanks for sharing this, amy.

BlackSun / November 2nd, 2006, 12:20 am / #16

@Rhianna, you raise some interesting points. I don’t think that music should be evaluated solely on whether or not it has ‘positive’ messages. Sometimes we need to engage in intense emotions, even anger or despair. Music helps us smooth out these feelings, even when it drives us deeper through a catharsis.

Regarding “subliminal messages,” I think this whole idea has been overblown. First of all, there is much in our minds we are not aware of even without external messages. So I don’t think that subtle embeds, whether visually or auditory, are any more dangerous than our own buried impulses. After all, advertisers or musicians are simply tying into human nature in any case. For a message to have any effect, it must resonate with something that is present in the first place.

So again, I think music is an aesthetic choice, which depends on your goals at the given moment.

One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to was at the Hollywood Bowl, where I saw Nine Inch Nails. Now I’m sure you and most religious people would consider NIN to be incredibly dark and violent. But there is an amazing power and drama to this music. I would suggest you check it out.

Andrew Newberg, in his book “Why God Won’t Go Away” shows how rhythm induces spiritual experiences. You already understand this. My contention is that the brain state is the whole of the experience, and it doesn’t matter whether you get there through prayer, meditation, or a Nine Inch Nails concert.

I think there is gold to be found in exploring human darkness. I reject totally the idea that we need to ‘cast out the dweller.’ The dweller is the shadow. We must explore and get to know the shadow. If we ‘cast it out,’ it will find its way back unless we figure out how to integrate it and make peace with it. People who try to achieve spiritual purity through supression or denial are walking time bombs.

As far as rights to listen or not listen? Of course. It is mostly the religious who are trying to take away this choice. I’m only advocating that people admit it is strictly an aesthetic choice, and not some cosmically significant decision.

We need to grow up and take responsibility for what we consume, and acknowledge artistry whether we personally prefer the art or not.

Rhianna Newton / November 8th, 2006, 5:16 pm / #17

I just noticed your response to my post. I will write a response to this soon but am just walking out the door, and don’t have time tonight.

Your zero/infinity discussion has been interesting also. Though this is perhaps the wrong thread, as a once engineer (I was, many years ago, trained in SW engineering, but consider myself more of a “domestic engineer” now having been out of the workforce raising kids for some time) I like your point about never quite reaching the point of zero because each “half” can theoretically be sliced once again, resulting in a nonzero remainder.

Philosophically, this paradox reminds me of the paradox I encountered trying to wrap my head around the Zen doctrine of “no-mind.”

Any thoughts on this?


Dan_B / April 23rd, 2007, 10:00 am / #18


Very interesting thread on the hell/rock music link. I tried the link to the sampled song but didn’t have success in downloading or hearing the file. Any chance you could fix that link?

As Project Director with Buffalo Field Campaign my work to protect Yellowstone bison has made me aware of CUT, which has received millions of dollars from the federal government for the stated purpose of providing habitat for bison yet which still stubbornly refuses to show any tolerance for these rare and beautiful animals.

At the moment they are engaged in negotiations with Montana and the federal government as they attempt to squeeze several million more tax dollars from the treasury in exchange for their cattle grazing rights.

I find your site to be an invaluable reference as I try to better understand a group who professes universal love yet plays a critical role in the slaughter of the world’s only continuously wild bison herds.

BlackSun / April 23rd, 2007, 11:01 am / #19

Hi Dan_B, I had to think twice, because I have another Dan B who is a sometime contributor to this site.

Sorry about the link. This happened when I migrated everything over from the typepad site in February. It’s all fixed now.
Thanks for all your good work in support of the bison. I have done a complete about face since leaving CUT and I’m very supportive now of environmental causes.

People need to think long-term, I think the awakening is happening, but too slowly.

Morgaine / April 23rd, 2007, 11:07 am / #20


Is your organization part of or affiliated with NRDC?

Dan_B / April 23rd, 2007, 2:54 pm / #21

Thanks, Sean, for directing me to the song, for creating this critical forum, and for sharing your stories and ideas.

Morgaine, Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) is not part of or affiliated with NRDC. We are an independent nonprofit organization.

charles / December 1st, 2007, 7:08 am / #22

just the opening words of that invocation made me nauseous. somedays I hear the start of a decree in my head and I have to crush it with other thoughts. is this PTSD? I am likely the odd man out in responding to any of your posts, Sean. I’m an evangelical Christian, which I know you’ll immediately take issue with. but that’s alright with me. I come back to your site periodically, perversely, looking for news about your mother. and along the way I peruse your comments about religion and other things. I won’t try to take on your beliefs in a tete-a-tete debate. others have done that to no avail. what would be the point. ‘sides, its not why I come here. is there irony in the fact that I listen to rock now and again? (Summer of 69 rocks me, its the year I graduated from high school). but I also love classical music and am a singer by avocation. (boy, do I ramble or what…not enuf coffee yet this a.m.). I guess the reason I explore your site is looking for comments from the inside about ECP and her health. its a curiousity to me why I approach a subject that makes me ill. I suppose ultimately I am hoping for her release from suffering, though, please understand, not wishing for her death. the fact that she can no longer lead others down a dark alley is sufficient for me. best to you. Charles.

Shawn Bishop / July 23rd, 2009, 6:37 am / #23

Hello everyone,

I came upon this thread when trying to find out more information about the samples used in the OSI track. I run The Dividing Line Broadcast Network, a progressive rock internet radio station and I have featured Set It On Fire many times on my show as I found the samples fascinating and have always been curious as to where they came from. Wow – after reading this thread I'm totally blown away, not only by the sheer oddness of the whole "misuse of the 4/4 time" aspect, but I'm amazed by the many stories of the various members of the forums here. It is very heartening to see people who have been witness to such bizarre events (from the perspective of somebody who hasn't heard of them before) have the courage enough to dig beyond the surface and follow what they believe is right in their hearts despite the pressure from their surroundins. Sean's original post is very moving and I wholeheartedly salute everyone here who puts up a daily fight against what must often be overpowering memories of the past. Sean – if you're willing I'd love to do an interview with you on my show about your experiences. If you have an interest please contact me privately.

Best to all,

Shawn Bishop:
Station Owner – The Dividing Line Broadcast Network
Behind The Lines:

Dave Benser / February 28th, 2010, 4:15 am / #24

I was quoted in Parts one and two of the speech given at Grand Teton, Montana on Thursday, July 2,1987. My name is Dave Benser and I am the singer for a metal / punk crossover band called VSD. VSD stands for Violent Speed Death. We are currently enjoying the 25th Anniversary of the band. We have seven songs on youtube recorded live on Feb 6, 1987. The song titles are " Lubrication", "Life of Scum", "Phantasmagoria", "Girl Troubles", "Conformity Sucks", " Mental Breakdown" and the classic " Kill Your Kids".
I cannot express what a huge honor it is to be condemned alongside such greats as Metallica, Slayer, Venom, and Dark Angel. Had I known of this in the summer of '87, I would have used it alongside the article on VSD in the Washington Post to elevate our status even further.
We now have a VSD facebook page.
Just wanted to stop by and say hello. I would love to communicate further about rock and roll music and metal in particular. I have a BS Degree in Mass Communication.

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