The Secret Cult

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.

The Secret Cult

Postby Guest » Sun Jul 04, 2004 6:22 am

Yes hello, I was just wondering if anyone's read the book, what kind of stuff it contains and your comments on it... is there truth to it? Is it worth looking into?


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The Book

Postby adrasteia » Sun Jul 04, 2004 9:53 am

You can find the first chapter here:
-all I have read of it myself- although I don't think it's very easy to find in print any more.
It's quite sensationalist, but as far as I know nothing in it was refuted as being slanderous by either Ses or St. Vedast/St. James.


The Secret Cult

Postby erikdr » Sun Jul 04, 2004 3:25 pm


I already bought (and used) it during my School years in the eighties.
Indeed in terms of facts it is not far from what I experienced.

The 'problem' is that it is a bit biased - the way these journalists describe meditation ANY meditation would be close to brainwashing, and any SERIOUS (--> committed) religion would come awfully close to a cult.

Which is not to say that in those years the SES/SOP did not act as a cult - it's just that the book is overdone, and hence at times shoots with cannons on mosquitos. But for bare facts, it is quite a good start - in some sense they perfectly predicted the disasters which fell upon the Amsterdam school in the nineties, and which leave us with at least 3 schools here of which 2 still slightly power-hungry ;-)

<Erik> :B-fly:


Postby TB » Sat Jul 10, 2004 12:51 am

I am interested in how little circulation and publicity the book appears to have had. Web searches show very limited references. I found only one copy available in the UK. The book is referred to in the bibliograpgy of another 4 books on Amazon on similar subjects. Is it just that the book is topical to those who have been directly associated with the school and some academic interest from a few others who follow cults and similar. It does not appear to have gripped the public's imagination as something to protect young innocents from.

It could just be a storm in a teacup from a biased and sensationalist view. Or it could be that without direct association most people have no interest. Either way, I would like to source a copy, I was a student of the school for a number of years, the specifics and principles of SES are of interest.

Am I off the mark from these observations?

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Postby Goblinboy » Wed Aug 11, 2004 4:20 am

Hi TB,

It's worth seeking the book out, even though it was published twenty years ago. Despite claims of sensationalism from some critics, it's written in a reasonably measured style.

The information on The School of Philosophy in Australia and how it was regarded by the SES in the UK alone is remarkable (Different Guest - you should get a copy - you won't believe what you read).

There's currently one copy available via

Other booksearch engines to try from time to time include and

I wonder if Mike has progressed his idea of getting the publisher's permission to put the whole text on his website?



[url error fixed - mike]

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Postby a different guest » Wed Aug 11, 2004 10:31 am

The information on The School of Philosophy in Australia and how it was regarded by the SES in the UK alone is remarkable (Different Guest - you should get a copy - you won't believe what you read).

At US$8 plus shipping from the UK - I might have to give it a miss. Can you "hum a few bars" as to what it says about us colonials? :)

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Postby mgormez » Thu Aug 12, 2004 10:04 pm

Goblinboy wrote:I wonder if Mike has progressed his idea of getting the publisher's permission to put the whole text on his website?

No, not yet. I am so busy that often I've to put plans on the back burner for a later time and hope it lingers in the back of my mind when I have some time.

In the meantime, if someone I trust wants to scan it so it can be mailed to interested parties (the book is out of print) I'd be willing to send my book to such a person.
Mike Gormez

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Postby Goblinboy » Fri Aug 13, 2004 3:58 am

a different guest wrote:[Can you "hum a few bars" as to what it says about us colonials? :)

Just scanned a few scraps concerning the School of Philosphy (SES) in Australia - mostly testimony from ex-members. Extraordinary stuff. Resonates with a lot of the postings on this list.

Pp 68 - 70

In trying to understand the direction taken by the SES branch in Australia one must remember how the-cult views criminals. MacLaren has taught that they are lost souls on the way out of existence altogether: Thus it is that SES members in this former penal colony are looked on rather differently..- as one of the cult's former top members has revealed. .
Anthony Ravesi, a pharmacist, joined the SES, known in Sydney and Melbourne as the School of Philosophy, when it first began in 1967. It had been. started by two Australian-born Greeks, Michael Mavro and his wife Nina, who had spent eight or nine years in London at MacLaren's knee
- before returning to Sydney. .
Ravesi came to London in the late sixties and returned to Sydney in 1970, remaining at the top of the cult until the end of 1980. He describes himself then as a 'conformist'. He was a trustee of the SOP's million~dollar building in Kent Street, in the heart of Sydney. When Ravesi left,the SOP had 700 to 800 members there. Two others from the top group left at the same time - no longer able to accept the extraordinarily strict regime: On . some residential courses women were made to swing ten- or twelve-pound sledgehammers until they were exhausted. Ravesi explains:

We three are classified by the Leader, Mr Mavro, as disciples of the devil and the fallen of Lu,dfer's band. To describe the character of Mr Mavro could be best done by drawing your attention to the characters of John Calvin, Hitler and the notorious Captain Bligh of Australian history. It is quite a statemeJIt to make, but it is the easiest way to do it. The Sydney school itself is run like a penal colony, with all the severities of one, because according to Mr MacLaren and Mr Mavro we in Australia are the'scum and dregs of Europe. These are the actual words used; they are not mine. As such we are 'unintelligent', weare.'not able to use our minds', we have 'a low level of consciousness', we are 'not able to think for ourselves' .You must r~member that every remark made in the school by its hierachy, Mr MacLaren, Mr Green, Mr Pincham and here - Mr Mavro, is part of the conditioning process. So, Mr MacLaren's remark that he still hears the ball and chains rattling in the streets of Sydney refers to Australia's heritage as being originally a penal colony, and as far as he is concerned we still area penal colony with the mentality of one, so the members of the school in Australia represent or comprise the stigma which subtly sounds in the Australian culture. It is the work of school here to change that and ~become the aristocrats of Australia, but first we have to be educated so as not to be the scum and dregs of the School. Ravesi describes the main bulk of SOP members as middle class working people: Compared to the SES school in London, the Sydney school would be the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers of the system.

He says there are very few professional people but theSOP's youth group could be changing this. . When Anthony Ravesi left the SOP in 1980 his wife and three children also left. They had to cope with the physical, mental and emotional problems of living a normal life. Ravesi has this comment to make about the argument, put by the SES~ that thousands have been through the teaching programmes with no ill effect:

Thousands have passed through the doors of the Sydney school without any 'side effects' also, but this is in the first 2 - 3 years (6.,.. 9 terms) of their involvement with the school, which is the major part of the screening processes of the school system. The mental conditioning begins with the first lecture without the students being aware of it and continues throughout school life. However, students are sifted out during the first two to three years, the more promising ones, those receptive to the teachings and showing a willingness to co-operate, pass through six terms before being allowed to receive the meditation and thus enter the 'inner workings' or inner sanctum of the school.

It is from this point that you are expected to conform, obey and commit yourself to the work of the school without question. 'Your will must now be given over to a higher will'. These are the ones who suffer. From leaving the school, although the screening continues even after this point. Nonconformists are placed in what is called 'side streams' as distinct from the ‘mainstream’. A student can find himself or herself in the side stream, for years, for the rest of life if necessary. There are side stream~ right through the hierarchy of the school; it is an inbuilt safety mechanism to protect the school from the outside and thus it has been able to avoid scrutiny for so long.

Pp269 - 274
Long after Anthony Ravesi wrote to us (see chapter 3), we received an extraordinary letter from his wife Celia. She outlines graphically some of her experiences and some of her views of the cult. She has intense feelings about the way the School in Sydney is operated by Michael Mavro and his wife Nina, aided and abetted by Leon MacLaren. MacLaren gave a lecture on one occasion that included the assertion, 'The Australian Aboriginals and the native animals must be allowed to die out. They are the last of an ancient civilization. ' On another occasion Celia was dining with MacLaren. She asked if there were any Maoris in the New Zealand School. He replied: 'No. They are not sufficiently intelligent. ' There were equally strong views expressed about people with physical disabilities.

Mr Mavro's habit was to stand at the end of the room and indicate by a facial gesture whether he approved of the student enrolling or not, just on appearance. Those who received the 'thumbs down' were either caught in time and refused, or given their money back with some excuse that the course might be too difficult or too practical for them, or a suggestion they try the WEA instead. Mr M. (as he was known) arrived while a student was in the process of enrolling a man with a hare-lip. He spoke in the distinct manner people with this impediment often have. Mr M. called over the senior man and said, 'See that he gets his money back. We don't want deformed people here'.

…My little girl loved dolls and I turned a blind eye when I knew she was playing with her sister’s dolls, but I didn’t buy her any or encourage it. The little boys were not allowed to play with guns. However, they were taught to box at Sunday School “to make men of the”…The mothers were invited to watch one day and had to maintain emotionless faces while their boys as young as seven and eight boxed, some of them with tears in their eyes. Punishing the boys with a thrashing was encouraged…I ran a group of children from two and a half to five years old. They too were not allowed to cry, especially when their mothers left them. They were ordered to stop and if they persisted we had to smack them. When I asked Mrs Mavro if they could not be given a hug and distracted by being taken of to do something, I was told for their own good they had to break the attachment to their mothers and must not cry when they left.

The instructions to wean the children early followed the same theme. The boys ahd to start weaning at four weeks and be weaned at six weeks. The girls about a fortnight later. The reasons given were that boys become more attached to their mothers and it is unhealthy. When my baby girl was about eight weeks old, Mr Mavro called me into his room and said that Mrs XYZ had said that I was not weaning the child…”Why not?” I was asked…Mr Mavro said that women get sensual pleasure from breastfeeding and it was not to be encouraged beyond the first weeks.

As soon as my daughter reached eight she was put to cleaning the flats of the bachelors, usually with another little girl and ladies. She was out four nights a week until she was eleven, attending one compulsory duty after another. At Mr Mavro’s house she was given the job of picking up the German Shepherd dog’s faeces with her bare hands. She was told that women should not be too proud to do this…She was also made to clean the toilets with her bare hands…

It all stretched away into old age, death, one's children marrying other School children, keeping it all going and the most terrible thought - being born again. As Mr MacLaren had said, we would be into another School family, going through the 'whole circus again and again until we had done the 'work' we were supposed to do. Incidentally, Mr MacLaren told the Senior Group after we had left that these people who had left the School would all be in School again in another embodiment. He told them that he himself had already chosen his future parents and his embodiment. We were told by Mrs. Mavro: 'Mr MacLaren is very powerful, he knows all about everyone of you; even if you are not in the room he knows what you are doing. One would not dare to think an impure thought in his presence.

Pp 278 - 279

Our children were subjected to. Inhumane, cold and cruel treatment. There is no. doubt that SOP. adults and parents lave their children. We were all what could be labeled 'good' parents. But we made the mistake of abdicating our rightful responsibilities to. our children in letting Mavro dictate how they should be raised. Mind you, the Mavros had no. children of their own and to. my knowledge had no. training in the care and education of the young.

A totally deaf little boy, about two. years old, was forbidden the use of hearing aids because his deafness was the result of his 'ignorance in a past life', and hearing aids would only increase his ignorance. (Many students did not take recourse to. medicine because we were told that it only played with the symptoms. Get to. the cause and you change the disease. We were required to. 'work' against physical ailments, thus erasing that problem far next time.) The children were taken from the breast as early as possible because the mothers had such heavy responsibilities in SOP. My san, aged one month, went to. SOP babysitters and child minders whenever I had evening duties. These were often young adults who had little knowledge of the care of the young. We were told that parents were frequently the worst people to raise their own children. We did not 'see' the needs of our children because our claims on them blinded us to their real needs. Hence we were not allowed to. say 'my' children, but always 'the' children. The emphasis was always on discipline, never, never love, warmth or affection. That would have been considered to. be 'wrapping them up in cotton wool' , or the expression of claims on them, and unnecessary. In eleven years in SOP I have never heard one word about loving our children, only about discipline, keeping them under observation, being strict because the outside world was so loose and evil…their friends could only come from SOP because everyone else was “bad company”…The were being turned into little nuns and monks who were pushed into young adulthood, against their will.

Like the children, women were always to be under authority and allowed no liberty to make up their own minds. MacLaren said that the education of girls and women should always be for plesing and being useful to men. Girls and women must always be restrained and kept under strict control, made to obey immediately and without question. A woman’s salvation was solely through service to a man. We were supposed to be treated as “goddesses” (a Hindu idea) in our own home, but in fact we were treated like dirt and blamed for all the ills of the world. If a senior student left SOP, it was the woman’s fault because we had not provided enough “space” for him.

SOP student seem to have a chattel/slave personality, an abnormal, maladjusted need to be told what to do, to give over personal responsibility to another, to deny control over one’s own life. This was called freedom – because then we would not then be under the rule of our own ideas and desires. We had absolutely no voice in our lives. We were not free to choose our own jobs, houses and cars, or to have children when we wanted, wear clothes of our own choice, or eat food to our own liking.

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Postby a different guest » Fri Aug 13, 2004 4:26 am

GB - thanks heaps for going to the trouble to post those excerpts. Oh ehgads! Excuse my while I make my ball and chain more comfortable while I compose a response.

Do you think the process of sidestreaming "unsuitable" members still happens? I mean Bella certainly had a mind of her own and stikes me as just the sort of person they might do this to.

And I've just rechecked the curriculum for the aussie schools - yes aussie history DOES get a mention, but only from "settlement to federation", the rest is all Greeks and Romans and other "proper" civilisations. So you have to wonder if Aboriginal Australia gets a mention at all! In NSW all govt schools celebrate NAIDOC week every year - learning dances and dreamtime stories etc. I wonder if they do that at the Sydney school. I bet not.

And geography is STILL a no no. The Vic school doesn't mention geography at ALL as part of it's curriculum, and the NSW school offers only the vary vaguest coverage. I quote "The syllabus begins in 3rd class and covers both the Earth as a whole and Australia, and deals with such areas as Climate, Landforms, Continents, Oceans and Care for the Environment. "

What on earth (excuse the pun) has the cult got against geography????

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Postby Alban » Sat Aug 14, 2004 1:37 am

Thanks GoblinBoy...yes it's all so horribly familiar...especially the crap about disabilities being the result of bad deeds in past lives. As for weaning babies so young, depriving them of the nutrition that helps them grow into healthy and strong individuals, well that just sucks (excusing the pun).

What gets me, is how people can hear this stuff and just blindly accept it.

Do no alarm bells start ringing?

If you want to subject yourselves to this rubbish, then that's one thing, but how can anyone stand back and let their own children be treated like this?

...and there are still those that argue it's not a cult!

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Postby a different guest » Sat Aug 14, 2004 9:32 am

so Alban - have you got any theorys why the cult don't expost their children to the study of geography?


Postby Antises » Sat Aug 14, 2004 10:16 am

Alban wrote:...and there are still those that argue it's not a cult!

That's quite surprising because even senior members of the SES say that the SES is a cult. However, they also say that cults aren't necessarily evil although in modern times they have dark overtones, pointing out that cult is the root of culture.

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Postby Alban » Sat Aug 14, 2004 7:14 pm

a different guest wrote:so Alban - have you got any theorys why the cult don't expost their children to the study of geography?

I dunno, possibly because they're too busy filling their heads full of the other crap?


The Secret Cult

Postby erikdr » Sat Aug 14, 2004 7:15 pm

"That's quite surprising because even senior members of the SES say that the SES is a cult. However, they also say that cults aren't necessarily evil although in modern times they have dark overtones, pointing out that cult is the root of culture."

Well it all depends on how you want to define cults and religion. After all, religion comes from Latin 'that which binds' while many people nowadays would tend to call themselves religious but do not accept ANY rules from a community or a teacher, only from 'the supreme being itself'.

After my (long) SES years I saw a tendency in many of my friends to distance themselves from this group aspect of religion. And fall back to the 'new age' model where they pick and match exactly those elements which at a certain time they like. Exactly following the model which according to the authors of 'The Secret Cult' book is the only non-suspect model of religion, where really nothing can go wrong.

?'d argue that indeed not much can go wrong with this model, what I'd call new-age-consumerism or vicars-tea-party religion. But then, not much GOOD can come of that EITHER. It is far too lukewarm, too much driven by individual egos and resistance to change for the good, too little cohesiveness in a religious community to push ourselves towards our higher Nature.

So although myself I've come a long way from my SES years (now being a quite committed Buddhist), I would agree up to some extent with this statement that cults are not necessarily evil. Well, to phrase it differently:
In my opinion any REAL form of religion/spirituality is a COMMITTED religion, which also means that at times we individuals have to join in decisions taken by others. Ideally spoken, I'd like to have a liberal non-cult style which is still committed. But if not available, at times having something a little cultish could be definitely better than new-age-consumerism !

With folded palms,

<Erik> - Amsterdam
:evilbat: :grab:


Postby TB » Sun Aug 15, 2004 11:39 am

Hi GB, many thanks for posting the excerpts of the book for others to read, if Mike (or anyone else) does not get permission to post it entirely I will order a copy.

My impression from this limited selection is that each school location seems to be very subject to the ego of each school head and their interpretation of the material. My own experience in the South African school had very different ways regarding health, child rearing etc. It does match with the reincarnation of past wrongs into present lives etc, however did not bar entrance to different races, deformities etc that I was aware of.

As regards the debate on SES being a cult, it's a word that has no chance of objective rational analysis, it has too much negative press. Most people make emotional prejudgements without understanding the inner workings of a system sufficiently to make an informed judgement. It is possible, but unlikely, to establish the facts on the organisation, and measure them against prevailing morality and see if we want to label them as undesirable. This is a difficult undertaking and prone to distraction from emotions and politics. Why do we care if SES is a cult or not? Simply because we could then use the impact of this name and that alone will undermine it. Erik's point about the derivation of the terms like 'religion' highlight how easily we attach meanings to labels, instead of labels to meanings.

Who gives a damn if SES is a cult or not? Those who have direct experience of the school or it's education establishments know enough to decide if they want to expose themselves or their kids to it. Jim Jones of 'The People's Temple' culminated in the mass suicide in Guyana of more than 900 people, plus a few US congress bods killed by gunfire. Examples like this catch an ignorant public imagination when cults are mentioned. Labelling the SES as a cult carries, in my opinion, too much baggage to make it useful for understanding it. I'm unimpressed by much of its prescription and the St James stories are ugly. But orgies, suicides, alien linkups don't gel with my experience of the school, just some screwed up egos, and some rather outlandish ideas on certain things, some of which I happen to agree with, and some I don't.

Dang, I forgot what the original question was!

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