Monday, August 07, 2006

Way down upon the Swami river...

The other day I got an intriguing email from my favorite new-age-spam delivery service, which, I have come to believe, exists solely to make my blogging job easy. I never asked to be on this service’s email list. I can only believe they chose me because the Ascended Masters told them I am a person of enlightenment. Or maybe it was the word "cosmic" in my email address (auto spam-mailers are unable to detect irony). So who am I to reject these gifts that are so freely given?

Anyway. The subject line of this email was "An Offering For Peace," and, in light of the troubling developments in the world of late, I was interested. In the body of the email was a large headline: "Om Isa Mafu." Ooo, that sounded holy. Just reading those three words made my sixth and seventh chakras tremble. Immediately below the headline was a picture of a disheveled looking blonde with a big red splotch of something on her forehead. This wasn’t one of those refined little dots that adorn the third-eye area of women of various spiritual traditions. This was a huge unsightly stain. Given the fact that the woman looked as if she’d been partying a little too hard, I figured she just got her dot smeared and didn’t know about it when someone snapped her pic. But surely she had veto power about the photo. Maybe she just liked that particular pic, thought it made her look hot or something. But for S’iva’s sake, why didn’t she have someone Photoshop that splotch?

Well, I have to admit my curiosity had been stirred, so I read on. I learned that the "offering for peace" was a video of a Darshan, or a session with a holy being, that had taken place at the blonde’s digs on July 31. According to the email:
This very important Darshan with Mafu is being offered for free in an effort to further assist in bringing peace to this world. It is filled with the Guru’s unimaginable love, great wisdom and penetrating shakti. Mafu offers a beautiful prayer for peace as well as a powerful Guided Meditation. Please join us online in this important ‘Call for Peace’ as Mafu’s guest. This video was recorded Monday, July 31 at Mafu’s Paramatman Dharma Ashram high in the verdant mountains above Ashland, Oregon. Mafu, an enlightened Master, is channeled by Swami Paramananda Saraswatti.
The italics are all theirs; maybe they went to the Helen Gurley Brown School of Copywriting. Still curious, I followed the link in the email. And after exploring Mafu/Swami-Blonde’s web site a bit, I came away with several observations.

First, although "verdant mountains above Ashland, Oregon" sounds pretty poetic, almost sublime, I really think the Swami needs to do something about the physical address of her Ashram, which is – and I am not kidding – 12800 Dead Indian Memorial Road in Ashland.

Second, there seems to be a bit of confusion about just who this Mafu/Blonde person is. When I clicked on the Photos link on the site, the first big pic that popped up was not of the hot blonde, but of a butch-looking brunette who has a "don’t f- - - with me" look in her eyes. I thought at first that maybe this was the blonde’s g.f., or perhaps one of her most enlightened students. Then there was even more identity confusion when I hit the About Us link. The first thing I saw was an androgynous being – I'm guessing a woman – with very short gray hair. Apparently this is Sri Isa Mafu, an enlightened master who "has come to remind humanity of its Divine nature and awaken within us the realization that we are the source of love, of power and of peace." But I think it's actually the blonde in disguise.

Immediately below that pic is another photo of the blonde as herself, more or less, looking as if she is either having an orgasm or a hot flash. According to the web site, the blonde is "Swami Paramananda Saraswatti," who also goes by the name "ammagi," with a lower-case initial. (Kinda like k.d.) It seems Swami-Blonde is merely a channel for Mafu. And when she's deep into Mafu mode, she wears her hair really short. I think that's what's going on, anyway.
At any rate, the channeling bit explains why, when I followed one of the video links in the original email, I saw the blonde speaking in a dreadful foreign accent of some sort. And that big red splotch is there on her forehead, big as life. To add to the confusion, there is yet another video clip featuring the butch brunette, who has lots of stuff painted on her forehead (maybe she went to the face-painting booth at a Renaissance festival or something). And she is speaking in a different, but equally dreadful, foreign accent.

Now, before someone starts accusing me of being a xenophobe, I realize the word "foreign" is relative, but I am assuming that Swami-Blonde/Butch Brunette is a native-born US denizen, and the accents that emerge from her/their mouth(s) are…well…foreign. For them. Not the accents they were taught at home, in other words. (Naturally this brings to mind the famous quotation from Penn Jillette of the famous magician team Penn and Teller: "Channeling is just bad ventriloquism. You use another voice, but people can see your lips moving.")

The third observation I had – and this one is really profound – is that both the hot blonde and the butch brunette like to wear lots of eyeliner. Also, the brunette has a bald spot (I guess that would be the fourth observation).
I’m sure you are burning with curiosity by now about who Swami-Blonde/Butchy Brunette/Mafu really is. So was I. For that information, of course, I had to go outside the Blonde/Mafu’s web site. It seems that originally the Swami was named Penny Torres, and she was once a mere housewife in Oregon. Who knows what profound hungers and longings caused her to embark upon the road not taken? (Well, actually, it’s the road frequently taken these days. And come to think of it, it’s not even the road that gets taken. It’s the people who give money to channelers.) 

Perhaps Penny was motivated by the astonishing success story of another blonde channeling superstar, J.Z. Knight, famous oracle of the Ascended Master Ramtha®. As you may know, J.Z. (who, apropos of nothing, was born in Roswell, New Mexico, one year before the aliens crashed there) has made tons and tons of money over the years. J.Z. is even featured in the movie, What The Bleep Do We Know? (See my August 3 post for more info.) J.Z. is nothing if not serious about her work. She even trademarked and copyrighted Ramtha® – I didn’t know you could do that with a disembodied master – and a few years ago she sued a European woman who was encroaching on her Ramtha®-channeling territory. J.Z. won, and you will be relieved to know that Ramtha® is now officially safe from being channeled by fakes.
My guess is that Penny Torres knew a good thing when she saw it, and voila! Mafu was manifested. She gathered up a few folks who weren’t so crazy about J.Z. anymore, and a brand new cult…oh, I mean spiritual movement…was born. Judging from the fact that Penny/Swami/Mafu has conducted Darshans in such far-flung places as Maui (of course) and Australia, it would appear that she/he/it/they are making a pretty penny, so to speak, off of hungry seekers.

It should be obvious from all of the above that I have a bit of an…um…issue with channelers. But I have just as much of an issue with some of the folks who have issues with channelers. For example, when I Googled Mafu, one of the first sites I came upon after the expected Mafu site was one called This site, not surprisingly, listed Penny Torres as a fake, and went on to explain, "In reality the ancient swami orders of Sankara do not admit women."

So far, so good. But then I detected a bit of misogyny in the next sentence: "As much as females may seek to steal, there is no such thing as a female ‘swami.’" And then, lest there be any doubt about the spuriousness of Swami-Blonde’s credentials, and the writer’s feelings about women spiritual leaders, he goes on to describe her as, "Just another out-of-control female on a sex-and-power trip, sowing more spiritual confusion in the world." He continues:
Generally absurd ‘channelers’ do not merit inclusion on But now that Torres is ripping off India and the Swami Order, she is violating holy ground. Torres/Mafu is a digusting affront to the dignity and the purity of Sankara's ancient swami order, and another fine case of what females do to pollute traditions and twist eternal Dharmic standards. Stealing all things from the male, and violating the realms only they can protect, females degrade ancient things... [Torres] is truly an offensive poseur to be loathed by intelligent spiritual men.
You tell ’em, buddy. And don’t let us gals get on ships either, and for the love of Kali, don’t let us near fresh milk when we’re in our periods. (Is it just me, or can you too imagine the above writer…er…lavishing extra attention upon his lingam while looking at pics of this despicable blonde vixen? Or photos of J.Z. in her younger days?)

Interestingly enough, the Fake Guru site links to another site called Celibacy.Info, which has several links to information on the fine art of "sexual self-restraint."***

Several other sites purporting to expose the falsity of channeling are little more than born-again Christian fundamentalist forums that thunder about the "end times." According to this P.O.V., channeling and all that other occult stuff is just another sign of the coming Apocalypse that the Bible warned us about.

So…given a choice between self-righteous, misogynistic celibates who practice Eastern spirituality, and self-righteous, misogynistic born-again types…who ya gonna pick? If that were all I had to choose from, I’d go with Swami-Blonde myself.

Fortunately there is a whole community of skeptics, who, though they sometimes come across as a little stuffy and self-righteous themselves, at least manage to call the channelers on their fakery without proselytizing or being misogynistic. You can start with CSICOP, publishers of Skeptical Inquirer Magazine. They have a lot to say about channeling, and about many other related matters.

Or you could just skip the serious stuff altogether and become a follower of Swami Beyondananda. I know I’ve mentioned him here previously, but I couldn’t pass up another op (since we were discussing Swamis anyway). He’s funny intentionally. And he doesn’t have a big red splotch on his forehead either.

*** Naturally I am just joking in the paragraph about the righteous writer and his lingam, since I am assuming he is a practitioner of celibacy, as described on the web site to which he links – and true celibates also abstain from solo sex. Or they're supposed to, anyway.
Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment purposes only. I am not a licensed debunker and I am in no way suggesting that I have any concrete proof that channelers, including those featured in this post, are fakes (since, I am told, you can't prove a negative). But I still think Swami-Blonde needs to do something about that red splotch.

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Anonymous said...

Connie, you are one funny gal. Penny's astral ears must surely be burning!!

Penny Torres has made a mountain of moolah channeling for dollars, though her legitimacy is seriously in question (thank Athena!) these days. Many followers are leaving the flock and some tidbits about the abuse are trickling out.

I've seen her channel (she does NOT answer questions but spends the time relaying folksy stories about those marvelous times when she was a leper--ah, those were the days!) and I was definitely not impressed. I suspect the feeling was mutual. During my sparodic contact with her she seemed annoyed by my inability to fawn, or perhaps it was my look of open disbelief mixed with amusement.

I hear those ascended masters just HATE that.

Thanks for the chuckle.

Cosmic Connie said...

You're welcome, Mystical Me, and thank *you* for the additional insight into Penny/Swami/ammagi or whatever she is calling herself this week. That woman seriously needs to brush up on her accents (a good acting coach might be just the ticket), and she could probably use a competent makeup artist as well. But I think we have to give her some points for creativity, anyway.

And I am sure that if her popularity as a Swamette ever wanes to the point where she has to put the old ashram on Dead Indian Memorial Road on the market, she will find a way to build another mountain of moolah. You can't keep a good charlatan down!

Anonymous said...

Mafu and Channel Penny Torres aka Ammagi - Beware

I had been with their movement 'the foundation for meditative studies' for 15 years and had been in their residency program twice and was involved in previous mastery courses before the current one. I knew to leave for it was more being run by Penny who is on crack and extremely violent. Their are regular severe beatings going on within the residency program and it is creeping into the outer circle. It has been spoken in the earlier years that the fastest way to work through soul issues so one can enlighten is to be physically beaten, next is to be screamed at by Penny. Mafu rarely does it because people started leaving. Ocassionally the beatings leak out to the general public. Penny is very foul mouthed and is an ordained Swami by Muktanandas sucessor Nityananda. When I left, the nightmares with Penny coming into my dreams to continue holding my mind saying if I didn' t return she would continue attacking me psychically and it follows me into the day. I have spoken to many others who have left who say they are haunted by her as well. They have told their inner core Mastery students that they will die if they ever leave the Mastery course. Mafu and Penny are very suductive and it is easy to get caught up. They are always raising money. Mafu empowered penny to work with us in our dreamstates to help work through issues and she has become increasingly mad through her drug abuse and is very scary and when she is on she can be seductively sweet and is a master at manipulation and mind control. It is a worshipping cult where there is bowing and strict obedience if you are in their residency or mastery course and some peole are buying into that they will be beat to assist them to enlighten which is mostly behind closed doors. Please be careful, for they do not let go once you commit. They are in Ashland Oregon. their ashram is Paramatmandharma.

Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, that is pretty scary stuff. Penny doesn't look like a crack ho to me, but I guess appearances can be deceiving. And I'm still not certain who this Mafu is, but now I don't think I want to know. :-( Seriously, though, thank you for writing, and I hope you find peace outside of the Mafu/Penny cult. You were smart to get away.

TheBlade said...

Good job Connie, I enjoyed the read. Keep haulin' those creeps onto the choppin' block!

Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Blade. There are plenty of creeps out there, and unfortunately, no matter how much I make fun of them, or Jody skewers them, folks will keep flocking to them. Anyway, glad you stopped in.

Anonymous said...

What is amazing to me.. is how distorted her face is after the many face lifts.

I was around years and years ago, I do not recognize her. She looks very very old these days... and a bit creapy.

She preaches through Mafu that you can change everything... but the Channel still needs a suregon.

LOL. So much for the New Age accountablity.

Cosmic Connie said...

But she looks so almost normal in those poor-quality videos she keeps sending me links to. :-)

What is amazing to me is that this woman actually has followers. Rolling my eyes...

Anonymous said...

It is also amazing that they would tell their students that if they leave the program, they will die.

The funny thing is, Mafu already told the Mastery groups years ago that ALL of his students had a few more life times and woild die because we were coming backwards in time..

It is quite amusing to watch now that I am away.

I would say that DEATH is one way to control your students and keep the money coming in.

Anonymous said...

What is distrubing is...

When you listen to MAFU.. the words SOUND SO GREAT.

Then, the personality of the Channel gets involved.

It is AMAZING.. the CRAZY STUFF that you read about in these type of groups.

How can the human ego understand all the crazy stuff.

Are we are known by our GOOD WORKS... as many have said before and not the words we speak?

One could argue that in the process of these terrible things... still someone has gained a benefit.

Who Knows. It is sad to hear these crazy stories

Cosmic Connie said...

I agree, Anon; the words do sound great, and occasionally wise. That's very often the case with gurus of all types. I acknowledge that some folks derive some subjective benefit from these phony gurus, even if it is a short-term benefit. But I would think there are so many other sources with more integrity than our Swami Blonde seems to possess.

Julian Lee said...

Can you really read the report of "anonymous" at 11:17 p.m. and have issues with our review of this fake swami scammer at I can't see why. Nothing was said that Penny Torres has not glaringly demonstrated.

Cosmic Connie said...

Julian, although I can see how my biting comments may have caused confusion, I was not actually taking issue with the point that Penny/Mafu is a Whirled-class phony and scammer. What I was taking issue with was what I perceived as a humorless and self-righteous tone on the Celibacy site, as well as a subtle (or not so subtle) thread of misogyny, disguised as a concern that sex is degrading to women. But hey, that's just me. I think you and I are definitely on the same page when it comes to our general view of Penny/Mafu -- despite how we may differ in our rationale for that view.

Anonymous said...

Hi Connie!
Penny Rue Torres from Grass Valley, CA is the older sister of one of my dearest childhood friends. At one time, I knew the whole family well.
Those of us who knew Penny in her pre-Mafu days were mind-boggled when this whole thing started. Penny married a Whittier, CA policeman in the early 80's. Mafu allegedly manifested himself (an apparition, I suppose) in their bedroom in the wee hours of the morning and I was told her husband actually saw him as well.
She dragged most of her family into this circus including her parents (devout Catholics) who accompanied her to India. Her father contracted a fatal disease during that trip and apparently Mafu/Penny was unable to heal him.
Go figure. I know that her sister (my best friend at one time) went to Oregon along with their mother to work with Penny. That was when I lost my friend. She is no longer in Oregon, but she also is not the same person I knew and I miss her. I can tell you that Penny always liked to be the center of attention and wanted to be an actress or a singer. She partied with Kiki Dee and some of her friends in LA and was hoping to become a back-up singer with the band. I remember her always being fairly pretty, brash, dramatic and rebellious. I wonder if she uses a Ouija board now. She threw the one her sister and I played with into the fireplace in a fit of rage declaring it "an instrument of the devil!" She was still Catholic at that time! I think she's just been doing this for so long now that she actually believes it all herself.

Anonymous said...

I was also there early on way before the Hindu thing appeared. I did sound and lived in the house and traveled with them all over for a years or so.Whatever it was at that time coming through here, it was not the her I knew. Mafu at that time was one of the funniest and most brilliant speakers I ever heard and I had 4 Teachers before Mafu.At that time he told me HE didn't have long and HE would leave so who knows who that is now!She is Total Evil pal;TOTAL. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Yup - I knew her waayyy back then too - small-town wack-job seeking attention. Her original name is Penny Rue. (Not makin' that up!) She pretended to speak in tongues... she was a dreadful actress and used that pathetic accent - at the time she called it "Russian" - to sound "sophisticated". When I saw footage of her doing it as a channeler, I nearly choked laughing, and then I was STUNNED that ANYone took her seriously for two seconds!!! She also faked a brain tumor for a while until she got bored with it. She was bugnuts and grotesquely ambitious, abusive and talent-free then, too. She did NOT like me because I had her number. *Unbelievable* what lost souls will buy, and let themselves get sucked into.

Anonymous said...

Amazing the jumble of truths mixed with mostly untruths here. I have been around Mafu & Ammagi for 25 years. I have watched Penny grow into an incredible psychic & healer
over the years, always going thru her failures & triumphs publicly. She is a valiant & commited spiritualist. I was there at her initiation into the Siddha lineage in Haridwar, India in 1989. It was an unexpected part of our journey there in India when yogi's & holy men seemed to come out of the woodwork to honor her at this sacred ceremony on the Ganges. True women are not usually honored in this way. It was a rare opportunity to be part of this celebration. To the person who said her father contracted a fatal disease in India, NOT TRUE. He was there for the ceremony, & I was at a party for him several years later in Oregon. He has since passed honorably & well loved.
I am so sad that people want to destroy what they don't or cannot understand. The pictures you speak of are from varying times spanning years, & nowhere is there a gray haired photo!
To the one who knew her way back... how well did you really know her...
Penny really DID have have brain tumor which she healed with the help of Lois Haddad
RE money, Why do people look down on anyone being successful doing what they do? Have you ever tried to channel & be responsible for an organization & everthing involved in it? It is a full time job & then some!!! I give her alot of credit for her stamina, commitment to what she believes in & to the people who study with Mafu. I know she works harder & longer hours than most people are even capable of. She also does alot of work with animals & humanitarian issues. She is a blessing to so many. I am a willing practioner of Mafu's wisdom & have seen many amazing things since 1986 when I
1st met Mafu. No one is threatening anyone that they will die if they leave. The focus is on honoring life. I hope this touches at least 1 person to look a little deeper. There is so much available thru this doorway as there are thru others.I suggest to question & look for answers before throwing stones at glass houses.

Cosmic Connie said...

Anon, no one is criticizing Penny/Mafu for being "successful." The criticism is about her phoniness.

Anonymous said...

After reading the last Anonymous comment on this blog about Mafu I decided to respond because I too was involved with this group back in the late 80's. My husband insisted that we go after he went to a Ramtha event and found out that Mafu was offering a retreat..a few thousand dollars. I have since learned much about group consciousness, NLP, and yes..dark spiritual forces that are used to gain power by those who really want to be "Enlightened". I probably know the last person who wrote here about her positive experience living and going to retreats at Penny/Ammagi's personal ranch at the time. We were the ones who built it for her..seriously worked and lived there in tents for the ability to see Mafu. Many people have told me I should write a book about my experience there, but it is bad enough that I still occasionally have horrible nightmares concerning my experiences. My ex-husband is still involved and I believe he has dark forces surrounding him. Unless you knew him before and after Mafu you would not know how much he has changed. I also knew Penny's family as they were always around. Her mother and I were very friendly. It is mind blowing to know and experience the kind of dark spiritual forces out there manifesting as something positive. People will literally sell their soul to get what is presented to them as a teacher who can help them become "Enlightened". It is frightening. All our money went to this "movement". Even after I left my ex-husband continued to spend every spare moment there even though we had young children who needed him. If I would have been able to see the future it would still have not prepared me for the pain and heart ache of still being affected by my past involvement. Please stay away from anyone who requires worship, power, and large sums of money for promises of spiritual progress. There are many dark entities posing as teachers of light. They can be very convincing and seem like great beings of light. Spirituality is an inner journey which requires only that you pay attention to your present moment and live here and now listening to YOUR inner voice. Belonging to a group is a powerful influence as are "out of body" beings who want to live and influence this physical realm. Be careful when it comes to spiritual teachings of any kind.