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African Songye Power Figure
African Songye Power Figure
Vermilion on a stone is a common form of a Hindu murti
Vermilion on a stone is a common form of a Hindu murti
Reproduction of the Athena Parthenos statue at the original size in the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee.
Reproduction of the Athena Parthenos statue at the original size in the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee.
Heathen altar for Haustblot in Björkö, Sweden; the larger wooden idol represents the god Frey.
Heathen altar for Haustblot in Björkö, Sweden; the larger wooden idol represents the god Frey.

In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object that is venerated or worshipped for the deity, spirit or daemon that it embodies or represents. In several traditions, including the ancient religions of Egypt, Greece and Rome, and modern Hinduism, cult images in a temple may undergo a daily routine of being washed, dressed, and having food left for them. Processions outside the temple on special feast days are often a feature. Religious images cover a wider range of all types of images made with a religious purpose, subject, or connection. In many contexts "cult image" specifically means the most important image in a temple, kept in an inner space, as opposed to what may be many other images decorating the temple.

The term idol is often synonymous with cult image.[1][2][3] In cultures where idolatry is not viewed negatively, the word idol is not generally seen as pejorative, such as in Indian English.[4]

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  • ✪ 10 Dark Mysteries Involving Strange Cults
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  • ✪ Mars And Beyond With Dr. Robert Zubrin


10 Dark Mysteries Involving Strange Cults. Most people can’t understand the decision to join a cult. It’s hard to fathom the motivation behind someone who abandons everything for a group with controversial and unorthodox beliefs and practices. The potentially horrific nature of cults really came into the spotlight in the 1960s, when cult leader Charles Manson convinced members of his “family” to commit a series of barbaric murders. This demonstrated that people who have been brainwashed by cults are capable of doing anything, which is why cult activity has been at the center of some bizarre unsolved murders and unexplained disappearances. 1. The Disappearance Of The Tarkington Children. Just over an hour's drive outside of Dallas, Tex., on 47 acres of fenced-in land on the banks of the Trinity River, America's longest-running law-enforcement standoff is taking place. Members of a militant group barricaded themselves from the rest of the world in January 2000 and have remained there for 10 years. John Joe Gray, a self-proclaimed "freedom fighter," is the man at the center of the standoff. The leader of the religious separatist group has warned that any government agents who attempt to remove them from the land should, "bring extra body bags." Gray would fight to the death if authorities came for him, he said during a 2000 interview with ABC News' John Quinones "I'm willing to die for it because how else could you live?" Gray said. "You know, what is freedom if -- they can take my land, you know. OK. They can take my life, but they can't take my freedom." Ten years ago was also the last time Keith Tarkington saw his children. "I haven't been with them all their life, but they still got me in them, you know?" Tarkington said. "I mean, ten years, that's ten Christmases, Easters, birthdays, all this I haven't been with my babies." Tarkington's two sons, Samuel James and Joe Douglass, were taken by his ex-wife Lisa in April 1999 to the barricaded compound run by Gray -- who is Tarkington's former father-in-law. Gray is wanted by Texas authorities for allegedly assaulting a police officer. During an altercation at a traffic stop, he allegedly tried to take a state trooper's pistol and bit him. But Gray, a deeply devout Christian, was already well-known to law enforcement by then for his different -- even extreme -- views of government. He believes government has taken away too many of his God-given rights. "I've put out literature about the new world order and what's going on," Gray said in an interview with ABC News in 2000. "And I've done that for years down there. And I think I upset a few people. They didn't like it." Authorities believe Gray might be capable of acting on those views. "There were things that he had on him that led me to believe that he posed a threat to the safety of people in another city," said Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe, who has been trying to bring Joe Gray to justice for 10 years. "That he was capable of building a bomb that he had plans to make a bomb to blow up a bridge in Dallas and that concerned me." Waco Siege Haunts Law Enforcement Though law enforcement wants to bring Gray to justice, a terrible specter lurks in the back of many of their minds: the Waco siege -- the stand-off at the Branch Davidian community in February 1993 that ended two months later in the fiery death of the sect's leader, David Koresh, and at least 76 of his followers, including about 20 children. Waco is about 75 miles from the Gray compound in Trinidad. Even though Tarkington has a court order granting him custody of his sons, the authorities have not moved on the compound. They've taken a cautious approach because of the passionate threats back then made by Gray and his militia to engage in an armed battle if there is an attempt to raid the compound. "They say, 'We don't want another Waco.' David Koresh ... you know, he's just about like Joe Gray. We don't want another Waco epidemic on our hands,'" Tarkington said. "And I said, 'I don't either, but I want my kids back.'" Law enforcement has been scarred by Waco, and by the 1992 incident at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where Randy Weaver and his family confronted federal agents in a 16-month standoff that ended with the deaths of Weaver's wife and son and a U.S. Marshal. "You look at things like Waco, you look at things like Ruby Ridge, and I'm not sure that it is worth going out there and taking that chance," said Henderson County Sherriff Ray Nutt, who's the fourth Henderson County sheriff since the standoff began. "I'm not willing to risk my deputy's lives, and I really don't want to end up having to kill a bunch of them folks up there," he said. "Nightline" paid a visit to the Gray compound. Since we were told the group is deeply suspicious of outsiders, we carefully approached the gates hoping not to create alarm. Sons Jonathan and Timothy Gray came out to see who was waiting at the locked fence. They talked with us for a while. We asked if Joe, their father, would also come out. He did, and told us his whole story for the next hour. They told us that they don't trust the government and don't believe that their story will be told fairly. They also told "Nightline" they are free and live behind the fences according to God's law. Gray said that on the compound, which has no electricity or running water, his family lives well, raises their own food and livestock, and prays. He and his sons told us they will defend this place with their lives, if it comes to that. When we asked about Tarkington's children, Gray said they're no longer here. Most people in the area believe that the boys were taken by their mother to grow up among supporters of Gray. "Ten years, my kids are getting older by the minute," Tarkington said. "We don't want to hurt nobody, I haven't seen my kids in 10 years, tell me something, who's getting hurt?" Sheriff Nutt said he sympathizes with Tarkington, but assaulting the compound won't get his children back. He said that, in a sense, justice is being served. "They're still out there. [Gray's] still in his own prison," Nutt said. "They've done no damage to anyone in the ten years they've been out there. They haven't won -- we just haven't been able to arrest them yet." Even though it's been ten years, Lowe is convinced he'll eventually get his man. "I don't think we're scared. I think that there's an obligation to be smart in this business and to use your bullets and fire when it makes a difference," Lowe said. There's only one thing that would make a difference to Keith Tarkington. "I ain't never going to give up looking for them and someday I'll find them," he said. "I just hope whoever has those takes good care of them and hope they know I love them. I'm not giving up." 2. The Disappearance Of Charles Southern. Southern was employed as an English professor at a community college in Chicago, Illinois in 1987. He was a member of Conscious Development Of Body, Mind and Soul, a spiritual movement founded by Terri Hoffman. Many consider the sect to be cult-like in its beliefs. Southern's status position rose in the organization during his membership and he began teaching classes and leading meditation groups. He also visited Hoffman's home in Dallas, Texas. Former participants with the organization said that Hoffman often held meditation sessions with selected members. She apparently said that she was being attacked by "Black Lords" and requested that the members build a 'psychic shield' around her for protection. The former members stated that many of the sessions' particpants became fearful of the "Black Lords'" supposed attacks and developed emotional problems as a result. Southern's family discovered that he was walking the streets of Chicago and speaking incoherently during 1987. Southern was hospitalized afterwards. His family visited him daily, as did two members of Conscious Development Of Body, Mind and Soul. Southern resumed his normal routine after his release, but friends said that he seemed disenchanted with Hoffman. Nevertheless, Southern remained active in her organization. Southern planned to travel to India for two weeks in December 1987 during his college's winter break. His mother said that she was concerned about Southern during this time and offered to visit with him prior to his scheduled departure. He declined and told his mother he was simply not feeling well. Southern has never been heard from again. His family checked his residence after Southern's scheduled arrival time home passed without a word from him. They discovered that his passport was inside his house and no entry stamps from India were recorded. A vial of a drug similar to the poison curare was found inside one of Southern's drawers. His winter dress hat and coat were folded inside-out and placed on a ceremonial stool; Southern's family later learned that this was a Nigerian tribal symbol for death. His relatives also located two poorly-written notes which appeared to be Southern's wills. There was no sign of him inside the residence. Hoffman told Southern's family she was not involved in his disappearance. She has never been charged in connection with Southern's case. Almost one dozen of Hoffman's associates have died untimely deaths through the years, many by suicide. Hoffman was named as beneficiary in several of the cases and collected thousands of dollars in cash, property and other assets. One family filed a wrongful death suit against her. Authorities do not know if Southern chose to leave of his own accord or if other forces were at work. It is possible that he suffered another emotional breakdown that served as the catalyst to his disappearance, but nothing is certain. Southern's case remains unsolved. 3. The Murder Of The Mills Family. The son of Peoples Temple defectors murdered 25 years ago walked out of Berkeley jail a free man Thursday and will not be charged with his parents’ or sister’s slayings, a prosecutor said. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office refused Thursday to file triple-murder charges against Edward Michael Mills, 43, citing questions about the evidence and a lack of time to review the case. Mills stood accused of shooting his parents, Al Mills, 51, and Jeannie Mills, 40, and his younger sister, Daphene Mills, 16, the evening of Feb. 26, 1980, at their cottage at 2731 Woolsey St. in Berkeley. Edward Mills’ family had once been members of the Rev. Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple but defected in 1975 from the cult and became some of its most outspoken critics. Jones led the 1978 mass murder-suicide of 900 Temple followers at a compound in Jonestown, Guyana. “No charges have been filed,” said prosecutor Chris Carpenter, who was involved in the case in 1980. “Because of the arrest, we had to make a decision by noon (Thursday). We did not feel that was sufficient time toreview all the material.” Prosecutors have 48 hours from the time of a person’s arrest to file criminal charges. Carpenter said his office would be willing to review additional material because there are still questions about the evidence. “But my understanding is that while we remain open to reviewing additional material, the Berkeley Police Department is going to close the file,” he said. Officer Joe Okies, police spokesman, said that without additional information, the case is closed at this point. Cold case investigator Russell Lopes reopened the case two years ago, citing “new forensic evidence and subsequent interviews” to link Mills to the crime. Because he was 17 years old at the time, Mills would have been prosecuted as a juvenile had a charge been filed? Lopes was frustrated with the prosecutor’s decision Thursday. “Eddie Mills gets away with murder, and it’s outrageous,” he said. Mills was detained Saturday by U.S. Customs as he arrived at San Francisco International Airport from his home in Japan. Mills was not available for comment Thursday, but his older sister, Linda Mertle of Point Richmond, expressed relief that her brother is a free man again. “I’m just glad he’s home,” she said. “This has been the most horrible vacation anyone could ask for.” Mertle said Mills had come to the Bay Area with his two small children to visit family for the holidays. Mertle was not certain why police targeted her brother after 25 years. “My personal opinion is it’s an easy way out. They don’t want to do the footwork to find out who really did this.” Mertle did not provide a theory on who killed her parents and stepsister. “I know Eddie did not do it, I don’t care who did it, it’s so far in the past now,” she said. At the time of the murders, Mills family members were under police protection because they feared “hit squads” had organized to kill them for leaving the Temple. But police discounted those theories and focused on Mills, then 17. The teen told police that on the night of the murders, he had taken a long shower and gone to his bedroom, where he smoked marijuana and watched television. He told police he hadn’t heard shots or shouts. Tests showed some microscopic gunpowder residue were on his hands, but not enough to provide conclusive evidence, police said following the crime. The victims were all shot in the head at close range with a .22-caliber pistol. They were discovered in the blood-splattered bedrooms when Edward Mills’ grandmother stopped by for a visit. The murder weapon was never found. 4. The Disappearances Of Chantelle And Leela McDougall. One of Western Australia's greatest mysteries has gained international exposure as Australian Federal Police try to re-ignite new leads into the case of missing Nannup mother Chantelle McDougall and her daughter Leela. The 30-year-old and her six-year-old daughter went missing in October 2007, together with partner Gary Feldman, 45, and friend Antonio Popic, 40. Mr Feldman was only ever known in Australia as Simon Kadwell, a false alias he picked up from England before emigrating in 2000. He was also Leela's father. Since their disappearance, he has been linked to a sect based on a doomsday book called Servers of the Divine Plan, which calls on "servers" to take up their positions on Earth before the world's imminent end and rebirth. The family and their lodger, Mr Popic, who lived in a caravan on their South-West property, mysteriously vanished, leaving behind wallets, credit cards and dirty plates on the table. They were last seen in a Busselton car yard north of Nannup heading towards Perth, where they sold Ms McDougall's car for $4000. The money remains untouched in her bank account. Ms McDougall's parents, Jim and Cathy McDougall, have not given up hope of finding their daughter and granddaughter safe and well, but remain convinced it was Mr Feldman who persuaded them to disappear. "Originally this guy - Gary Feldman, as we know him now - claimed to be some sort of religious guru and he enticed them into his little flock that way," Mr McDougall said. "(It) was September two years ago that we found he was English, and his parents were from England, and he had taken money off people, and that his name was Gary Feldman, and the real Simon Kadwell was quite a nice guy in England." He said his daughter was a vulnerable and naive teenager when she met Mr Feldman in Victoria. "He was operating in Melbourne when Chantelle met 'Simon Kadwell', if you want to call him that. Chantelle was only a teenager, only 16 or 17. She's 30 now," Mr McDougall said. "That guy had other young girls with children and when they moved over there (to WA) she went over to help with the kids and it went on from there. Gary Feldman, as we know him now, claimed to be some sort of religious guru and he enticed them into his little flock that way. "I think she was fairly naive in believing in what this guy was telling her." Mr McDougall thought they may have travelled to Brazil, after Ms McDougall suggested the family was planning a holiday there months before they disappeared. But there has been no evidence to show the group left Australia. "We did a bit of work but everything we found was a dead end, in the end. So we never really got anywhere ... we couldn't find any reason about where they had been, where they had gone, so there was just no clues to help to find them," Mr McDougall said. "It is unresolved and completely strange but also it is very frustrating for us and the police and Missing Persons and everybody because there are four people missing, not just one person missing." AFP Missing Persons Co-ordination Centre team leader Rebecca Kotz agreed, saying: "This case is so baffling to police because there are no leads." Investigators have so far worked with WA Police, Scotland Yard and US authorities. However this week, as a part of Missing Person's Week, they have stepped up the campaign by involving the global missing children network, which has 19 member countries. "All of the profiles that are submitted (to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children), of which Leela was one of our Australian profiles, will be featured all around the world," Ms Kotz said. She said the centre has started a Facebook page this year which includes every profile on AFP's website Although Ms McDougall and her daughter's physical appearances may have changed, her parents say the pair was unlikely to go unnoticed. "Leela was very loud child, she wasn't quiet and she loved to know exactly what you were doing." Mrs McDougall said. "She would go up and talk to different people and ask them what they were doing and she loved to dance, play little jokes and that. "So I don't know how you would keep a childlike that quiet, you would notice her, and Chantelle was always a very kind, thoughtful and caring sort of person. "She liked to joke too and she was happy and things like that, and if she was in a community people would notice her." Although they still visited WA to see Mr Popic's family - who were too traumatised by the disappearance to speak publicly - they could no longer bring themselves to go to Nannup, saying it was "too heartbreaking". "It never gets any easier. You always relive it every day of your life, every day it gets a little bit harder," Mr McDougall said. 5. The Suspicious Suicide Of Bethany Deaton. A grieving mother still has unresolved questions after her daughter died inside a van parked along Longview Lake. Did Bethany Deaton commit suicide to be free from a sham marriage just 10 weeks after she exchanged vows with her husband or did someone in her husband's alleged religious cult want her dead? "I can accept either scenario. I can accept either thing. It's the uncertainty," said Carol Leidlein, Bethany Deaton's mother... Her daughter, Shannon Leidlein, concurred. "There's no question in my mind. I want the truth," she said. KCTV5's Jeanene Kiesling traveled to a Dallas suburb this week to interview Carol and Shannon Leidlein. They and Tyler Deaton, Bethany Deaton's husband, will appear at 9 p.m. Saturday on KCTV5 as part of 48 Hours' fall from Grace Broadcast. Just days before Micah Moore was set to go on trial last fall for Bethany Deaton's murder, the case was dropped by prosecutors. "It's a lot of grief. It's exhausting to try and live with two completely different scenarios playing out and not knowing what happened," Shannon Leidlein said. "We all just have to learn to cope with both scenarios and grieve both sides." Her sister was a successful nurse with a seemingly bright future. She believed in God and wanted to travel to Egypt to be a missionary with her husband, Tyler Deaton. Bethany Deaton's mother and sister just cannot believe she would take her own life in such a manner and write such a suicide note. One of the few facts not in dispute is that Bethany Deaton was found dead inside the van on Oct. 20, 2012. She was in the back seat with a white trash bag covering her head. An empty pill bottle and a note were found near her body. "My name is Bethany Deaton. I chose this evil thing. I did it because I wouldn't be a real person and what is the point of living if it is too late for that? I wish I had chosen differently a long time ago. I knew it all and refused to listen. Maybe Jesus will save me," Bethany Deaton allegedly wrote in her suicide note. Her family was devastated when authorities broke the news. "Gone? She's dead and we just couldn't even cry. It just sucked the air out of us, just sucked everything out of us," Carol Leidlein recalled. The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Bethany Deaton's death a suicide. Her numb parents traveled north to Kansas City for a funeral service and returned to Texas to lay their daughter to rest in an Arlington cemetery. But Jackson County Sheriff's Office detective Penny Cole treated Bethany Deaton's death as a homicide from the start. She said too many things did not add up and the more she learned about what she calls a cult and its members the more she became convinced Bethany Deaton did not take her own life. On the day of the scheduled burial, authorities called to tell Bethany Deaton's family that they needed her body back. Micah Moore had walked into the Grandview Police Department and confessed to murdering Bethany Deaton. He provided graphic and intimate details including of her death. Police questioned Moore and Tyler Deaton, who were part of a religious community. Moore claimed that he killed Deaton to cover up sexual abuse in a religious cult. He claimed that while she and her husband had shared a home with Moore and several other men, they had sexually assaulted Bethany Deaton and drugged her. Bethany Deaton was seeing a therapist, and Tyler Deaton ordered the murder because the men were afraid she was going to tell her therapist about the assaults, Moore claimed. Tyler Deaton was the head of a prayer group which once had tied to the International House of Prayer and both his wife and Moore were members of the prayer group. "My gift and something that is also a curse is that I am charismatic," Tyler Deaton told 48 Hours. "I've owned that from the beginning and I'll own that to the end. I can be electric and magnetic. It can affect people." Members saw Tyler Deaton as a prophet. He told members what to wear, when to eat and even controlled their romantic relationships, according to a friend of the couple and a former member of the group. Detectives said Tyler Deaton used his power over members of the so-called cult to manipulate men into sexual relations with him. Boze Herrington, who was a member of the group, said Tyler Deaton insisted on the sex as a way to "discover his masculinity." He told 48 Hours that he doesn't believe Bethany Deaton killed herself, saying Moore's confession and pointing the finger at Tyler Deaton makes sense. "She had gotten married 2 1/2 months earlier," he said. "It was like the fulfillment of her dreams and suddenly she was dead? Newlyweds don't kill themselves." While Tyler Deaton denies that the group was a cult, Bethany Deaton's family disagrees. Court documents painted a sordid picture of Tyler Deaton, accusing him of being a closeted gay man who manipulated male members into having sex with him while ignoring his wife and shaming her, eventually driving her to kill herself. Moore's attorneys said the doctrines taught by the community, led by Tyler Deaton, affected Moore's mental state and led to a psychotic break. They claimed that he was a distraught and confused young man due to Bethany Deaton's suicide and Tyler Deaton's removal of spiritual leader from their extremely close-knit religious community. Bethany Deaton was all smiles when she married Tyler Deaton in August 2012. Ten weeks later, she was dead. Bethany Deaton and her sisters grew up in Arlington, TX, where they were home schooled. Bethany went to college at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, and met Tyler Deaton. They were friends when they moved to Kansas City and began dating. They would marry, but family members noticed the groom treated his new bride more like a sister. Her mother hoped all was well when her daughter returned to Kansas City. But then the family noticed that Bethany Deaton was distancing herself from her family, but they thought it was because she was a newlywed and they wanted to give her space. "How did this happen in 10 weeks? Ten weeks when she seemed so happy and why didn't we know," Carol Leidlein said. "Tears would just roll down our faces and that was as composed as we could be. It was heartbreaking. Devastating." The medical examiner changed the manner of death from suicide to undetermined, but a lack of a thorough autopsy hampered the investigation. The medical examiner never examined the contents of Bethany Deaton's stomach and she was embalmed before they could be. Tyler Deaton was questioned, but never charged. And Carol Leidlein was haunted by what Moore told detectives about the abuse her daughter endured. "It's horrifying to imagine that being done to her but also some things started to make sense," she said. As Moore prepared to go on trial, his defense team filed motions seeking to have his confession and the charges thrown out. Before a judge could rule, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker in a statement said she was dismissing the murder charge. She said Moore's DNA was not found on the bag used to suffocate Bethany Deaton, but her DNA was found on the bag. DNA samples were taken from multiple persons close to the victim and her associates, but without positive results. Handwriting analysis of a note found with the victim concluded she had written it. Seroquel was not found in the victim's system, although Moore stated in his confession to police that she was given the drug. She allegedly bought the over-the-counter pills that she took. Baker said that her decision was reached after consulting with Bethany Deaton's family, but her mother says that was not the case. "There wasn't a discussion. We were informed that this is what we are probably going to be doing," Carol Leidlein said. "We were told that six weeks prior to them dismissing the charges." They wanted a judge or jury to hear the evidence, but believe prosecutors wanted a certain conviction and a judge was likely to toss out Moore's initial confession. The family's unanswered questions include why would a registered nurse who had access to potent and lethal drugs choose to tie from generic Tylenol PM, which wouldn't kill her instantly. They wonder if Bethany Deaton was manipulated to write the note and what she learned about her husband before her death including his sexual relations with two of his groomsmen. "Our desire is to know the truth. We want to know the truth. If it was suicide, I would like to know that but I don't feel that in my heart," Carol Leidlein said. The family is grateful for the support and prayers they have received in the months since Bethany Deaton's death. "I miss my sister," Shannon Leidlein said. "I wish she was still here." In his interview with 48 Hours, Tyler Deaton said his marriage wasn't perfect, but there are no "foundational facts" that point to his wife being murdered. "Bethany and I's relationship was definitely strained," Tyler Deaton said. "But just because it was strained doesn't mean it was murderous." He said he believes Bethany Deaton took her own life. "I think it makes the most sense that Bethany killed herself," he said. "I don't think it makes the most sense that Micah did it." While charges were dismissed against Micah Moore, the prosecutor's office and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office still consider the case open. The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office refused comment, including on why Bethany Deaton's stomach contents weren't examined. Cole said she is committed to investigating every possible lead because she doesn't believe that Bethany Deaton took her own life. "I think her life was taken by someone and I can't say I have an opinion because I have to base what I do on evidence and facts but what I have seen in my investigation leads me to believe Bethany did not kill herself," the detective said. "I think Tyler had great influence over everyone in his community. I think he had an immense amount of influence in every aspect of their life." Cole hopes that over time someone will come forward with vital information. "Someone knows more and they need to speak up and speak up for Bethany because she would have done that for them," the detective said. As they try to recover and move on, Bethany Deaton's family has no desire to talk to Tyler Deaton. Shannon Leidlein said he has proven to be a manipulator who can't be trusted. "He promised to take care of my sister, which is the most sacred promise one can make. He promised my Dad that and my family that. And we accepted him into the family as a brother and son," she said. "Regardless of the method of death, he didn't keep that promise. That was a fraud. A complete fraud." 6. The Murder Of John Gilbride. THE BOY grew up to become an image of his dead father, their smiles so wide and similar. A living ghost that haunts Jack Gilbride. Gilbride, 75, is connected to and divided from both of them by blood. His son, John Gilbride, was mired in a chaotic custody battle with his ex-wife, the former Alberta Africa of the MOVE organization, when he was slain by an unknown assassin in South Jersey 12 years ago today. Gilbride hasn't seen his grandson Zack, the object of that custody battle, since 2004. That's when the supervised visits at Africa's house in Cherry Hill became too painful and frustrating. He sees Zack's familiar face only on the Internet today, in pictures, but he hoped that the itch of adolescence or even glances in the mirror would have planted questions in the boy's head as he grew into a man. "They could be brothers. They could be twins," Gilbride said of his son and grandson this week from his home in Herndon, Va. Gilbride wrote a 271-page book about his son called "A Father's Sacrifice: Unconditional Love," in 2012, hoping that somehow Zack would get a chance to read it. "I really wrote it just for him," he said. The Daily News reached out via social media to Zack, who no longer uses the Gilbride name, shortly after his 18th birthday in May, to see if he'd like to talk about his father. He declined. In the weeks and months that led up to John Gilbride's slaying, MOVE was preparing for a confrontation over Zack, boarding up their windows in West Philly and holding marches and demonstrations on both sides of the river. Tony Allen, a former MOVE member who's become a vocal critic of the group, said he used to "stalk" Gilbride for the organization during the custody battle. "This was an ongoing crusade and it was all of the resources of the organization, all directed at discrediting John," Allen said recently. "At any given time they knew where he was.” On the night of Sept 27, 2002, at about 11:30 p.m., the custody battle ended when a gunman approached John Gilbride as he sat inside his 1985 Ford Crown Victoria LTD outside his apartment in Maple Shade. Multiple shots were fired through the driver's-side window, striking Gilbride in the head and chest. John Gilbride, a baggage supervisor for US Airways, was scheduled to have his first unsupervised visit with Zack, then 6, the next morning. MOVE had vowed to never let that happen. A spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office said recently, "There are no new developments in that investigation.” In past interviews, a Philadelphia police liaison to MOVE suggested that Gilbride could have been killed over gambling debts and told the Daily News he doubted that MOVE was involved. Gilbride and Allen have long wondered whether investigators were reluctant to take a hard look at MOVE, always mindful of the 1985 confrontation that led to the bombing of the MOVE house on Osage Avenue, which killed 11 MOVE members and burned most of the neighborhood, permanently scarring the city. Gilbride said there was a clear motive, but "still, I can't accuse her [Alberta] of something I can't prove.” Alberta Africa, now Alberta Wonderlin, was visibly distraught in the days after Gilbride's 2002 slaying. She and MOVE members sometimes said he was killed by the government and often questioned whether he was dead at all. After the slaying, Jack Gilbride said that he and his wife had several visits with Zack at the home in Cherry Hill and that they were always difficult. There were often MOVE members in the house watching them, he said. Zack mostly ignored the Gilbrides and played with a friend he remains close with today. When Gilbride's wife died of multiple myeloma in 2004, he went to visit Zack a few more times alone, but finally had enough. He thinks his last visit was around December of that year. "I stood up, around 3 p.m., and said, 'I am leaving.’ I said, 'This is ridiculous. ' " In the decade that's passed, Gilbride and his daughters tried to call a few times, unsuccessfully. They'd heard that Zack was into fencing and swimming and piano. Today, seen through posts he's made on social-media sites that Zack is living every young man's dream: snowboarding, playing piano and going to electronic dance and hip-hop shows, surrounded by friends, drinks, high fashion and finely tuned lattes. According to his Instagram page, he's made frequent trips to Amsterdam, Spain and Poland in recent years. Zack appears to be intelligent and talented, he said, someone he could see "being comfortable at a cocktail party," but they remind him of everything they've missed together - the weddings, birthdays and funerals, including his grandmother's. Gilbride also thinks there could be tactical reason for Zack's travels, based on old conversations he had with his son. Gilbride said John told him once that when he and Alberta were out walking one night in Paris that "she laid out her plans for Zack's future. He'd be educated, and trained and feel comfortable socializing with the rich in Europe and be able to [raise] money for the MOVE organization. " Zack has also posted pictures of himself in West Philadelphia, where MOVE relocated to 45th Street and Kingsessing Avenues after the 1985 bombing, but none of his posts appear to any have political or religious messages. When the Daily News reached out to the MOVE organization to discuss how Zack was doing, a woman simply said "fine.” When asked to discuss the anniversary of the John Gilbride slaying, MOVE referred comments to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office. "We don't know what happened to him," the organization responded in an email. When the Daily News sent a text message recently to a cellphone number affiliated with Alberta Wonderlin and her husband, Gary, there was a confusing reply that appeared to come from Zack himself. "I was only a child when that stuff happened with John," the message said. "It's because of people like you and this government that I don't have my father right now.” Gilbride doesn't believe that Zack sent the message. At least, he doesn't want to believe it. "I think I'm right, but I could be wrong," Gilbride said. "If it is him, and he's that well indoctrinated that he doesn't even believe his father was murdered, there's not much I can do.” As he gets older and the prospect of an arrest seems no closer than it did 12 years ago, Gilbride said he simply wants his grandson to know that his father loved him and fought for him. If Zack reads the book to the end, he would find a handwritten note on the last page, just 40 words long. Jack Gilbride found the note in his son's belongings after he died, a letter from a worried father to a son too young to read it. "Please Zack as you get older don't forget that I died fighting to stop your mother from taking you away from me forever," John Gilbride wrote. "No matter where you are, I am with you and I love you more than anything Zack.” 7. The Disappearance Of Rose Cole. The mystery of Rose Lena Cole is one that stays on my mind constantly. I’ve been putting off featuring her here for a couple reasons. The first and most significant reason is that, although she has received no press coverage in the media, she is high profile in the MP community, so I have figured that most of my readers are already familiar with this story. It’s also a complicated one that is difficult to dissect and still have it make sense. Rose Cole was born on December 23, 1956 and lived with her father and siblings in Flint, Michigan. In September 1972, at the age of 15, she ran away from home, and somehow found herself at the mercy of the courts. After a comment Rose reportedly made about selling drugs, she was sentenced to a ‘treatment program’ called Synanon in Oakland, California. Synanon was later found to be a cult, with its leaders having violent tendencies against anyone who attempted to leave, or help its residents leave. It was eventually shut down by the government. We do have some record of her time at Synanon, thanks to some letters she sent home, which were saved by her family. Much of the writing from while she was in Synanon was poetry, desperate pleas to come home, and feeling that her family no longer wanted her. She mentioned a girl named Ruth who she had become friends with, and a man named Rick, who she disliked. Neither Rick or Ruth have ever been identified or located. Rose eventually ran away from Synanon, and sent a couple more letters home from Chinatown in San Francisco. These letters expressed some fear of being found by Synanon and brought back. She no longer signed her full name, but only her initials. In her last letter, she said she would not be contacting her family again until she turned 18 and could not be ordered back to Synanon. She additionally stated that she was staying in a big house with an older couple, and that she’d contracted a kidney infection. The last letter was written on her sixteenth birthday, December 23, 1972. It was not mailed until February 3, 1973 – she’d added a note saying she’d just gotten a stamp. This is the last positive contact we have from her. Interestingly, a court document dated January 1974 was located, which was a dismissal of all charges against Rose. The document strongly implies that Rose was present at this court date, but her family members all denied that she was in fact present. During the time that Rose has been missing, her father and step-mother split up, and her father remarried again. A child of this later wife has recently come forward to say that Rose called sometime between 1979-1982 (the period that Rose’s father was married to this wife) and stated she’d been living on the street for a year. It is unknown whether she was referring to the streets of San Francisco, or elsewhere. WHEREAS: A petition has been filed for proceedings and disposition in accordance with the Juvenile Code, Chapter 712A of C.L. 1948, as amended, and upon investigation and hearing, upon due notice, as provided by said laws and said child appearing in Court with parent or guardian and from the evidence and admissions of said petition are true and that said child is subject to the power of this Court, which ORDERS, as follows: ON THE COURT’S OWN MOTION, This matter be and the same is hereby dismissed. This is one of several cases (Melinda Creech and Ida Dean Richardson-Anderson come to mind) where the missing person was in the custody of the government at the time they went missing. In each of these cases, including this one, the government has been uncooperative in trying to help the families locate the person THE GOVERNMENT WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR! I just don’t get it. I do get that people run away, and that the government can’t watch every single person 24 hours a day, but can you imagine if YOU lost someone else’s child and wouldn’t cooperate with the child’s family? You’d be locked up in a minute – so why does the government get away with it so easily? I hope Rose just got on with her life under a new identity somewhere. I think it’s just as likely as any other scenario. It’s also possible that she ended up back at Synanon, or that something happened to her on the streets of San Francisco, or that she could still be a part of San Francisco’s massive homeless population. Many, many wonderful people have worked very hard to figure out what might have happened to Rose, to no avail. A few former Synanon residents have been contacted, but none could be sure if they’d ever seen her. A multitude of UID’s have been compared, but all have been ruled out. I am trying to find someone who may have been familiar with Chinatown in the early to mid-1970. We’ve thought of trying to locate free clinics (since she said she had a kidney infection, it insinuates that she saw a doctor), but the odds of anyone remembering her are so slim… unless Chinatown was less touristy then, where a girl like Rose would have stood out among the Chinese population. There is also the idea of finding an old San Francisco city directory – and try to contact older Chinatown couples who lived in a house – but, of course, we don’t know how much older (She was 15-16, so 30 would be older!) and we don’t know nationality or anything else. We would also like to locate Ruth, the friend of hers from Synanon, but we don’t know her last name. Rose’s parents are deceased, but her siblings are still searching for her. 8. The Murder Of Maureen Dutton. WAS it a cult killing? Was it a bogus doctor? What about a young man in a leather jacket? No-one knows for sure who murdered young mum-of-two Maureen Dutton. She was a woman with two children, a normal family, loving husband and nice home in a quiet part of Liverpool. Yet Maureen Dutton was brutally stabbed to death in her own front room. Her toddler son David and baby boy Andrew were the only witnesses to the horrific crime There were no particularly incriminating clues surrounding the Knotty Ash murder, which gave police little to go on. It also explains the multitude of theories. On one foggy December day in 1961, 27-year-old Mrs Dutton was at the family’s Thingwall Lane home with her two children. She had hoped to take two-year-old David to see the Christmas crib at Childwall Parish Church. But the freezing fog that had lingered over the city for days moved in quickly, virtually trapping people indoors. The last conversation she is known to have had was with her mother-in-law Elsie, who phoned shortly after 1pm to say she could not come and babysit her 22-day-old grandson Andrew because of the fog. When Brian Dutton, a research chemist for ICI in Widnes, returned home at 6.10 that night he was puzzled to see the house in darkness. Entering slowly, he began to grow worried when he saw the family’s lunch lying half-eaten in the morning room. And when he pushed open the door to the living room he made the most grisly of discoveries. There in the middle of the room was his wife – dead after suffering multiple stab wounds. His son David was sitting in a daze staring at his prone mother having apparently witnessed the killing. His brother Andrew lay in a basket just yards away. Police scoured the area but found no murder weapon and neighbours could not pinpoint anyone seen acting suspiciously. The seemingly motiveless killing then began to spawn numerous theories, none of which could be discounted entirely. All police knew was that nothing had been stolen.And it appears Mrs Dutton opened the door to her killer as there were no signs of a struggle or forced entry at the house. The newspapers quickly splashed news of the “Knotty Ash Murder” all over the city and Old Swan Police Station became the centre of operations. Mrs Dutton was stabbed 14 times by someone she had apparently allowed into the house. Possible leads – including a seemingly crazy woman on a bus muttering how she had done something terrible and needed to escape the city – came and went, but nothing that could be classed as hard evidence materialised. Then police were told by a woman who, like Maureen Dutton, had recently given birth that she was called on by a bogus doctor who examined her. When the woman’s husband made enquiries about the mystery doctor he was told there was no doctor operating in the area at the time and he called the police. The focus of the investigation swung towards tracking the fraudster but, in the background, one constant kept cropping up. Neighbours began to talk of a good-looking young stranger in a leather jacket seen nearby. By January 17, police had amassed 20,000 statements and put together an identikit of what they believed the man could look like. It was carried on the ECHO’s front page the next day – the first colour identikit to be published in a newspaper. More than 60 people responded within the first 24 hours. And while many were mistaken about the identity of the mystery man as names were quickly discounted police began to build a picture about the suspect. But he was never found. One of the most bizarre theories detectives considered, for a short while, was that Mrs Dutton was killed by a Polynesian cult as a sacrifice to their God Tiki. In a twist, a 24-year-old male nurse living in Upper Parliament Street was arrested and charged with theft of drugs and equipment from three Liverpool hospitals in 1962. He was also said to have masqueraded as a doctor and had a reversed swastika tattoo on his arm – the identification mark of a Tiki-worshipper. Police thought it was the breakthrough they had been waiting for. But soon he, too, was eliminated from inquiries and detectives were back to square one – exactly the same place as they remain today. 9. The Disappearance Of Alexander Olive. Alexander was initially abducted by his non-custodial father, Ulysses H. Roberson, on November 9, 1985 from his home in San Francisco, California. His mother, Rosemary Olive, went to Roberson's South Lake Tahoe, California home in December 1985 and demanded to know her son's whereabouts. Roberson refused to divulge the information and assaulted Rosemary, breaking her jaw. He fled afterwards, but was arrested in Los Angeles, California for the assault on Rosemary. Ulysses told the arresting officer that he did not know Alexander's whereabouts, and speculated he was living with Rosemary's relatives in the San Francisco Bay area. He was convicted and served one year in jail for abusing Rosemary, who won a court order seeking Alexander's return to her custody. The child has never been located. Ulysses was the prime suspect in Alexander's disappearance since the onset of the investigation. A photograph of him is posted below this case summary. He is often referred to as a "cult-like figure" in the press and allegedly lured many women into abusive relationships over the years. Ulysses advertised himself as an astrologer and promised horoscopes to female victims, then began abusing them. He is reportedly a charismatic man who often lured other women into abusive situations by offering drugs or alcohol as a means of coercion. Ulysses was convicted of raping a young girl and abusing a young boy in Washington after Alexander disappeared. Investigators lacked enough evidence to charge him in Alexander's presumed death for years, although in 1997 Pamalar Lewis, one of Ulysses's girlfriends, claimed she saw Ulysses beat Alexander with a piece of firewood in South Lake Tahoe shortly after the child was abducted. Lewis stated that Ulysses found Alexander hiding in the unheated garage. The witness said that Ulysses remarked the child had "spunk," saying he was "almost dead" after the abuse and still had the strength to hide. Prosecutors were unable to locate additional evidence to substantiate Lewis's story at the time, although investigators believed that Roberson had indeed murdered Alexander. Authorities were able to persuade an additional witness, Raj Roberson, another of Ulysses's girlfriends, to testify against Ulysses in his son's case in 2001. Raj stated that she saw Ulysses beat Alexander in late 1985, and later saw the child's lifeless body floating in the bathtub. Raj said that Ulysses loaded his son's remains into his van and forced Raj, who was pregnant, into the passenger's seat. She said that Ulysses ordered her to keep her eyes closed during the journey and threatened to kill her if she disobeyed. Raj remembered little about the ride, but said that Ulysses stopped the van near a body of water in the South Lake Tahoe region. He then allegedly continued to drive for an additional two to three hours before stopping at a remote location in California or Nevada. Authorities believe Ulysses buried Alexander's body somewhere in that area. DNA tests in 2001 proved that Alexander's blood was located on clothing found in Ulysses's van in 1986. This evidence, along with Raj's statements, allowed investigators to charge Ulysses with Alexander's murder in October 2001. At his preliminary hearing, several of Ulysses's children testified he had severely abused them all and Alexander in particular. They said Alexander was singled out for abuse because he was biracial, small, and often soiled himself. Ulysses was not tried until the autumn of 2009. Prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder with the special circumstances of torture and racial bias. He maintained his innocence and his defense presented witnesses, including one of Ulysses's daughters, who testified that they saw Alexander alive after his supposed murder. In December 2009, Ulysses was convicted of second-degree murder; the jury believed he had murdered his son, but didn't believe the child's death was premeditated. He faces a sentence of fifteen years to life in prison. If he had been convicted of first-degree murder with either of the special circumstances, he would have faced life without parole. Authorities are continuing to search for Alexander's remains. His mother has kept a low profile and is attempting to rebuild her life. 10. The Disappearance Of Carlos Castaneda’s Witches. Her mother named her Amalia. New age guru Carlos Castaneda named her Talia Bey. Her mother gave her life. The literary hoaxer turned cult leader’s final gift was most likely death. At least this is the conclusion some of Amalia Marquez’s family members are just now reaching, 16 years after she disappeared from Southern California along with three other still-missing women, Castaneda’s “witches.” A fifth woman’s remains were discovered in Death Valley in 2003. She, too, was intimately connected to Castaneda, who christened her his “Blue Scout.” Amalia would have turned 59 last Friday. An eerie coincidence to be sure. Because on her birthday two of her cousins, David Marin and Sarah Gutierrez, checked into a room at the Panamint Springs Resort, which sits along California’s State Route 190 on the southern edge of Death Valley National Park. They hoped to spend the following day searching for their cousin’s remains in the expanse of desert nearby, joined by a New York writer named Robert Marshall and Jennifer Stalvey, a private investigator who specializes in infiltrating cults. The search never happened. Miscommunications with park service honchos and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office turned what seemed to be a well-planned, months-long effort into an exercise in bureaucratic frustration on one level, sweet catharsis on another. The questions, though, remain. WHERE IS AMALIA? Is she dead? Did it end like Don Juan Matus, with an intense fire, the burning rising from the seat of her being, exploding into a ball of light, catapulting her into what Castaneda followers call the “second attention?” Or, was that ball of light the flash of a pistol? Was it the final, flickering, electrical gasps of her brain’s synapses as she plunged to the bottom of a Death Valley mine shaft? Or is she, in fact, still alive? She disappeared days after Castaneda died of complications of liver cancer on April 27, 1998. She took his ashes with her. “He was supposed to turn into a ball of light, burn from within and go up to heaven. He got liver cancer and instead of burning from within he died and was burned from without at the Culver City (California) mortuary,” says Marshall, who wrote a 2007 story about Castaneda’s dark legacy for Marshall is working on a biography of the man, loved by millions in the 1970s for a series of books about the teachings of a Yaqui Indian sorcerer, Don Juan Matus. The names of the other missing women are Regine “Gina” Thal, alias Florinda Donner-Grau; Maryann Simko, aliases Anna Marie Carter and Taisha Abelar; Dee Ann Jo Ahlvers, alias Kylie Lundahl; and the fifth woman, Patricia Partin, alias Nuri (sometimes Nury) Alexander. Unlike Amalia, the other women were mostly longtime Castaneda followers and concubines, meeting the man at the height of his fame. Amalia didn’t come along until the early 1990s. Castaneda forced his closest followers to go by aliases and distance themselves from their families; the tactic has served to complicate efforts to find the missing women. Amalia’s cousins reached out to Marshall last fall when Marin found his story in a Google search. “I sent an email to Robert saying I’m a cousin, is there any news and he said no, but I really wish they would have searched that mine. I sent an email and said what mine and he said this mine. Within 72 hours I contacted the park service, the sheriff’s office, the search dogs people and started looking for miners, because search and rescue in Inyo County blew me off when I contacted them,” Marin says. The group was especially looking to search the Big Four mine, an abandoned enterprise that sits at the base of Panamint Butte. A dirt road off State Route 190 runs through a sandy-colored dry lakebed for several miles, past the blackness of Lake Rock, dead-ending at the lower portion of the mine. The Panamint Dunes rise above the valley floor a few more miles away. It was on the edge of these dunes that hikers discovered skeletal remains in 2003, five years after a red Ford Escort was found abandoned at the end of that lonesome dirt road leading to the Big Four. It wasn’t until 2006 that DNA testing confirmed that it was Partin’s bones that were found. It was her car, too. Even though authorities learned after Partin was positively identified that she’d disappeared with four other women, no official search for the remains of the others was ever done. Even getting Amalia listed as a missing person was a battle from the start. Amalia’s younger brother, Luis Marquez, himself a former Castaneda follower, says nobody would help him until Partin was identified. “After Carlos Castaneda died, they kept his death secret for three or four months. I don’t know how long. Then it came out in the news that he had died. Maybe three months before. That’s how we found out. We tried to reach Amalia, my sister. But she wasn’t available anywhere. Later, maybe a year later or so, some people called and told us all the women had disappeared. They might have killed themselves. So we immediately went to Los Angeles and we tried to approach Cleargreen ... Nobody wanted to help.” Cleargreen is the name of a for-profit organization founded in 1995 by Castaneda and his followers. The company travels around the world hosting seminars and lectures and teaching Tensegrity, a catalogue of ritualistic, new age body movements, similar to Tai Chi. Calls to Cleargreen for comment on this story were not returned. Before her disappearance, Amalia was president of Cleargreen. MISSING PERSONS REPORT Luis eventually turned to the Los Angeles Police Department for help, almost to no avail. “We tried to file a missing persons report a few times and they didn’t want to do it,” he said. “They took it, many years after they went missing. It was a big fight.” The slowness of authorities to treat the women’s disappearances seriously may have permanently damaged any chance the family has of closure, Luis said. “They have made any possible investigation useless because of the time that has gone by. So much time has gone by, I hardly think anything can be done,” he said. Amalia’s family’s focus on the Big Four stems from a photo a hiker posted online. It appears to be a makeshift shrine — a circle of rocks that resembles a campfire ring with multicolored glass shards laid out in equal colored parts; five colors for five women — at the entrance to the mine. Could it be where Amalia and the other women consummated a suicide pact? One experienced park ranger, David Brenner, who happened to have found Partin’s car in 1998, doesn’t believe it. He sat down with Marin and his sister and explained how the mines in the area are abandoned, but almost continuously explored by spelunkers, government mine mappers and trespassers. He says the mines in that area have been searched hundreds of times. “To be honest, the Big Four Mine isn’t even that big,” he told the group. Marin says while he appreciates Brenner’s assistance, he’s discouraged by what he calls contradictory information from park service employees. “Here’s the challenge that we have. We have two members of the park service who say two completely opposite things. The one who helped me initially says, yeah, explore the mines, and shafts are a great place to disappear. David Brenner says the mines have already been explored hundreds of times and the shafts aren’t even vertical. We seek out the opinions of experts and they tell us two opposite things,” he said. Marston Motweiller, a retired Inyo County Sheriff’s investigator who worked Partin’s case, told Marin that the mines should be searched. When Marin initially reached out to Inyo County authorities a few months ago, they seemed to agree, assigning a detective named Dan Williams to the case. Williams was gung-ho about solving the mystery. By the time Marin and Gutierrez were prepared to travel to Death Valley, that enthusiasm had dissipated. Inyo County Sheriff Bill Lutze appears to have pulled the plug on any effort. In an email sent to members of their party shortly before they arrived, he disputed Marin’s version of events. “All contacts made included inquiries only — no definitive requests for assistance were made prior to March 28th. Mr. Marin was contacted by Undersheriff Keith Hardcastle on March 31st, 2014, and Marin explained his request. Mr. Marin was advised that the Sheriff’s Office did not have an open case or any missing person’s cases fitting the description he provided,” the sheriff wrote. Providing a brief glimmer of hope, the sheriff confirmed he would share information with the park service after a review of the pertinent case files. Asked via email why the sheriff’s office never searched the area for the other missing women after Partin’s remains were finally identified, Lutze didn’t respond. No one from Inyo County showed up last week to explain their position in person. A request for comment was left with Williams for this story but was also ignored. A spokesperson for Death Valley’s Chief Park Ranger Karen McKinley Jones confirmed that Marin had spoken to a park service employee about searching the mines but that the employee’s version of the conversation did not match Marin’s. The spokesperson said no one in the park service would ever advise anyone to go into an abandoned mine for safety reasons. Jones and other park rangers met with Marin and his sister for several hours, explaining that without the proper permits they could not conduct any type of search. But the rangers did provide the group a roadmap for acquiring permits, a seemingly daunting task once laid out. Brenner suggested the group get a permit to use a drone to search the area for more of Partin’s remains — not all of her was found — though clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration would likely be required. Marin and Gutierrez were grateful for the advice, but a sense of hopelessness quickly set in. “The whole experience was emotionally blanching,” Marin said. Now the group is weighing its options, which include filing for the required permits, or taking a different tack altogether, including tracking down former and current Castaneda and Cleargreen members who may know what happened. “Robert (Marshall) thinks there are probably at least five people who know what happened. But getting them to tell you the truth is the problem,” Marin said. Amalia was among a group of young girls who grew up in the same family together, lots of cousins as well as a sister. Gutierrez remembers her demonstrating a fiery, independent streak from an early age. Amalia was smart, too. She graduated from high school a year earlier than her peers. She traveled down the Amazon River by herself. She had a keen business sense and was generally much-loved by those who knew her. Gutierrez was immensely fond of her cousin. “I named my daughter after her,” she says. Her daughter was born just about the time Amalia was becoming more and more immersed in Castaneda’s cult. A card congratulating Gutierrez on giving birth is one of the last times she heard from her. “Sarita,” the card begins, “Congratulations on the ‘new kid on the block’-Amalia. This is to wish you and your family the best of all and to Amalia a very warm welcome to the world. Knowing she is in good hands may her life be full of beautiful and peaceful things. Take care, always, Amalia.” A few years later, Amalia would call her mother in Puerto Rico, where she was originally from, and ask for all of the family photos with her in them. She wanted to destroy them. It was then that the family realized Amalia was not simply working and traveling with some “flaky” group, but that something was wrong. When Amalia’s father lay dying some time later, he desperately wanted to hear her voice one last time. A call to Cleargreen was answered by a stranger, who supplied a brisk, “she knows her father is dying,” and nothing more. Amy Wallace, a Castaneda insider who wrote a 2003 book about her experience inside the cult titled “Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life With Carlos Castaneda,” recalled how Castaneda ridiculed Amalia for being too close to her family after that phone call about her dad. Her personal relationships were baggage that she needed to shed if she were to conform to his teachings. In the end, that’s exactly what she did. Her loved ones today are sure it got her killed.


Ancient Near East and Egypt

The use of images in the Ancient Near East seems typically to have been similar to that of the ancient Egyptian religion, about which we are the best-informed. Temples housed a cult image, and there were large numbers of other images. The ancient Hebrew religion was or became an exception, rejecting cult images despite developing monotheism; the connection between this and the Atenism that Akhenaten tried to impose on Egypt has been much discussed. In the art of Amarna Aten is represented only as the sun-disk, with rays emanating from it, sometimes ending in hands.

Cult images were a common presence in ancient Egypt, and still are in modern-day Kemetism. The term is often confined to the relatively small images, typically in gold, that lived in the naos in the inner sanctuary of Egyptian temples dedicated to that god (except when taken on ceremonial outings, say to visit their spouse). These images usually showed the god in their sacred barque or boat; none of them survive. Only the priests were allowed access to the inner sanctuary.

There was also a huge range of smaller images, many kept in the homes of ordinary people. The very large stone images around the exteriors of temples were usually representations of the pharaoh as himself or "as" a deity, and many other images gave deities the features of the current royal family.

Classical Greece and Rome

All ancient Greek temples and Roman temples normally contained a cult image in the cella. Access to the cella varied, but apart from the priests, at the least some of the general worshippers could access the cella some of the time, though sacrifices to the deity were normally made on altars outside in the temple precinct (temenos in Greek). Some cult images were easy to see, and were what we would call major tourist attractions. The image normally took the form of a statue of the deity, typically roughly life-size, but in some cases many times life-size, in marble or bronze, or in the specially prestigious form of a Chryselephantine statue using ivory plaques for the visible parts of the body and gold for the clothes, around a wooden framework. The most famous Greek cult images were of this type, including the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, and Phidias's Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon in Athens, both colossal statues now completely lost. Fragments of two chryselephantine statues from Delphi have been excavated.

The acrolith was another composite form, this time a cost-saving one with a wooden body. A xoanon was a primitive and symbolic wooden image, perhaps comparable to the Hindu lingam; many of these were retained and revered for their antiquity. Many of the Greek statues well-known from Roman marble copies were originally temple cult images, which in some cases, such as the Apollo Barberini, can be credibly identified. A very few actual originals survive, for example the bronze Piraeus Athena (2.35 metres high, including a helmet).

In Greek and Roman mythology, a "palladium" was an image of great antiquity on which the safety of a city was said to depend, especially the wooden one that Odysseus and Diomedes stole from the citadel of Troy and which was later taken to Rome by Aeneas. (The Roman story was related in Virgil's Aeneid and other works.)

Abrahamic religions

Members of Abrahamic religions identify cult images as idols and their worship as idolatry - the worship of hollow forms. The Book of Isaiah gave classic expression to the paradox inherent in the worship of cult images:

Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.

— Isaiah 2.8, reflected in Isaiah 17.8.

One could avoid such a degrading paradox by adopting the early Christian idea that miraculous icons were not made by human hands, acheiropoietoi. Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians make an exception for the veneration of images of saints - they distinguish such veneration from adoration or latria.

The disparaging of man-made (as opposed to divine) works as idols can provide a useful pejorative, especially in religious discussions.[5]

The word idol entered Middle English in the 13th century from Old French idole adapted in Ecclesiastical Latin from the Greek eidolon ("appearance", extended in later usage to "mental image, apparition, phantom") a diminutive of eidos ("form").[6] Plato and the Platonists employed the Greek word eidos to signify perfect immutable  "forms".[7] One can, of course, regard such an eidos as having a divine origin.[8][9]


Frans Hogenberg, The Calvinist Iconoclastic Riot of August 20, 1566, in Antwerp, the key moment of the Beeldenstorm in 1566, when paintings and church decorations and fittings were destroyed in several weeks of a violent iconoclastic outbreak in the Low Countries. Several similar episodes occurred during the early Reformation period.
Frans Hogenberg, The Calvinist Iconoclastic Riot of August 20, 1566, in Antwerp, the key moment of the Beeldenstorm in 1566, when paintings and church decorations and fittings were destroyed in several weeks of a violent iconoclastic outbreak in the Low Countries. Several similar episodes occurred during the early Reformation period.

Christian images that are venerated are called icons. Christians who venerate icons make an emphatic distinction between "veneration" and "worship".

The introduction of venerable images in Christianity was highly controversial for centuries, and in Eastern Orthodoxy the controversy lingered until it re-erupted in the Byzantine Iconoclasm of the 8th and 9th centuries. Religious monumental sculpture remained foreign to Orthodoxy. In the West, resistance to idolatry delayed the introduction of sculpted images for centuries until the time of Charlemagne, whose placing of a life-size crucifix in the Palatine Chapel, Aachen was probably a decisive moment, leading to the widespread use of monumental reliefs on churches, and later large statues.

The Libri Carolini, a somewhat mis-fired Carolingian counter-blast against imagined Orthodox positions, set out what remains the Catholic position on the veneration of images, giving them a similar but slightly less significant place than in Eastern Orthodoxy.

The intensified pathos that informs the poem Stabat Mater takes corporeal form in the realism and sympathy-inducing sense of pain in the typical Western European corpus (the representation of Jesus' crucified body) from the mid-13th century onwards. "The theme of Christ's suffering on the cross was so important in Gothic art that the mid-thirteenth-century statute of the corporations of Paris provided for a guild dedicated to the carving of such images, including ones in ivory".[10]

The 16th-century Reformation engendered spates of venerable image smashing, especially in England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, the Low Countries (the Beeldenstorm) and France. Destruction of three-dimensional images was normally near-total, especially images of the Virgin Mary and saints, and the iconoclasts ("image-breakers") also smashed representations of holy figures in stained glass windows and other imagery. Further destruction of cult images, anathema to Puritans, occurred during the English Civil War. Less extreme transitions occurred throughout northern Europe in which formerly Catholic churches became Protestant. In these, the corpus (body of Christ) was removed from the crucifix leaving a bare cross and walls were whitewashed of religious images.

Catholic regions of Europe, especially artistic centres like Rome and Antwerp, responded to Reformation iconoclasm with a Counter-Reformation renewal of venerable imagery, though banning some of the more fanciful medieval iconographies. Veneration of the Virgin Mary flourished, in practice and in imagery, and new shrines, such as in Rome's Santa Maria Maggiore, were built for Medieval miraculous icons as part of this trend.


Towards the end of the pre-Islamic era in the Arabian city of Mecca; an era otherwise known by the Muslims as جاهلية, or al-Jahiliyah, the pagan or pre-Islamic merchants of Mecca controlled the sacred Kaaba, thereby regulating control over it and, in turn, over the city itself. The local tribes of the Arabian peninsula came to this centre of commerce to place their idols in the Kaaba, in the process being charged tithes. Thus helping the Meccan merchants to incur substantial wealth, as well as insuring a fruitful atmosphere for trade and intertribal relations in relative peace.

The number and nature of deities in the pre-Islamic mythology are parallel to that of other polytheistic cultures. Some have been official Gods others of a more private character.

Muhammad's preaching incurred the wrath of the pagan merchants, causing them to revolt against him. The opposition to his teachings grew so volatile that Muhammad and his followers were forced to flee Mecca to Medina for protection; leading to armed conflict and triggering many battles that were won and lost, which finally culminated in the conquest of Mecca in the year 630. In the aftermath, Muhammad did three things. Firstly, with his companions he visited the Kaaba and literally threw out the idols and destroyed them, thus removing the signs of Jahiliyyah from the Kaaba. Secondly, he ordered the construction of a mosque around the Kaaba, the first Masjid al-Haram after the birth of Islam. Thirdly, in a magnanimous manner, Muhammad pardoned all those who had taken up arms against him. With the destruction of the idols and the construction of the Masjid al-Haram, a new era was ushered in; facilitating the rise of Islam.

Indian religions


A clay Ganesha murti, worshipped during Ganesh Chaturthi festival, and then ritually destroyed.
A clay Ganesha murti, worshipped during Ganesh Chaturthi festival, and then ritually destroyed.

The garbhagriha or inner shrine of a Hindu temple contains an image of the deity. This may take the form of an elaborate statue, but a symbolic lingam is also very common, and sometimes a yoni or other symbolic form. Normally only the priests are allowed to enter the chamber, but Hindu temple architecture typically allows the image to be seen by worshippers in the mandapa connected to it (entry to this, and the whole temple, may also be restricted in various ways).

Hinduism allows for many forms of worship[11] and therefore it neither prescribes nor proscribes worship of images (murti). In Hinduism, a murti[12] typically refers to an image that expresses a Divine Spirit (murta). Meaning literally "embodiment", a murti is a representation of a divinity, made usually of stone, wood, or metal, which serves as a means through which a divinity may be worshiped.[13] Hindus consider a murti worthy of serving as a focus of divine worship only after the divine is invoked in it for the purpose of offering worship.[14] The depiction of the divinity must reflect the gestures and proportions outlined in religious tradition.


Image of Siddha (Liberated soul) worshiped by the Jains
Image of Siddha (Liberated soul) worshiped by the Jains

In Jainism, the Tirthankaras ("ford-maker") represent the true goal of all human beings.[15] Their qualities are worshipped by the Jains. Images depicting any of the twenty four Tirthankaras are placed in the Jain temples. There is no belief that the image itself is other than a representation of the being it represents. The Tirthankaras cannot respond to such veneration, but that it can function as a meditative aid. Although most veneration takes the form of prayers, hymns and recitations, the idol is sometimes ritually bathed, and often has offerings made to it; there are eight kinds of offering representing the eight types of karmas as per Jainism.[16] This form of reverence is not a central tenet of the faith.

East Asian religions


In Shinto, cult images are called shintai. The earliest historical examples of these were natural objects such as stones, waterfalls, trees or mountains, like Mount Fuji, while the vast majority are man-made objects such as swords, jewels or mirrors. Rather than being representative of or part of the kami, shintai are seen as repositories in which the essence of such spirits can temporarily reside to make themselves accessible for humans to worship. A ceremony called kanjō can be used to propagate the essence of a kami into another shintai, allowing the same deity to be enshrined in multiple shrines.


See also


  1. ^ ""Idol" in the American Heritage Dictionary (2016.)". Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  2. ^ ""Idol" in Merriam–Webster (2017)". 2019-01-15. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  3. ^ "Idol" in the Oxford Living Dictionaries (2017).
  4. ^ "Idol", Harper’s Bible Dictionary, ed. Paul J. Achtemier, San Francisco, Harper and Row, 1985; but readily used by, for example, Swami Tejomayananada, in his Hindu culture, An Introduction, p. 66, Chinmaya Mission, ISBN 8175971657, 9788175971653
  5. ^ For example: Mahoney, Daniel J. (2018). "The Humanitarian Subversion of Christianity and Authentic Political Life". The Idol of Our Age: How the Religion of Humanity Subverts Christianity. New York: Encounter Books. ISBN 9781641770170. Retrieved 16 Jan 2019. Humanitarianism as Comte first proclaimed it is an 'idol' of the first order at the service of a soul-destroying illusion.
  6. ^ Harper, Douglas. "idol". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  7. ^ Smith, P. Christopher (2002). "Is Plato a Metaphysical Thinker? Rereading the 'Sophist' after the Middle Heidegger". In Welton, William A. (ed.). Plato's Forms: Varieties of Interpretation. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. p. 243. ISBN 9780739105146. Retrieved 16 Jan 2019. [...] what is seen and known is no longer the original transient physical thing coming to pass either temporally or locally but the static metaphysical eidos or intelligible 'look' a physical thing has about it, the conceptual form known by the mind's eye and of which the physical thing is now only a particular instance.
  8. ^ Smith, John Clark (1992). The Ancient Wisdom of Origen. Bucknell University Press. p. 19. ISBN 9780838752043. Retrieved 16 Jan 2019. The Platonic Forms become, in fact, thoughts of the Divine Mind [...].
  9. ^ Popper, Karl (2012) [1945]. The Open Society and its Enemies (7 ed.). London: Routledge. p. 146, 158. ISBN 9781136749773. Retrieved 16 Jan 2019. [...] the divine originals, the Forms or Ideas [...] the divine world of Forms or Ideas [...].
  10. ^ Metmuseum
  11. ^ Vaswani, J.P. (2002). Hinduism: What You Would Like to Know About. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-9049-1002-2. Hinduism also teaches us that all forms of worship are acceptable to God. We may use idols; we may go to temples; we may recite set prayers; we may offer a simple form of worship with flowers and a lamp; or we may perform an elaborate puja with set rituals; we may sing bhajans or join a kirtan session or we can just close our eyes and meditate upon the light within us.
  12. ^ "pratima (Hinduism)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  13. ^ Klostermaier, Klaus K. A Survey of Hinduism. 1989 pp. 293–5
  14. ^ Kumar Singh, Nagendra. Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, Volume 7. 1997, pp. 739–43
  15. ^ Zimmer, Heinrich (1953), Joseph Campbell (ed.), Philosophies Of India, London, E.C. 4: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, p. 182, ISBN 978-8120807396
  16. ^ "Hansa sutaria", Jain rituals & ceremonies, Jaina, archived from the original (Doc) on 2007-06-28

Further reading

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