~ Steve Salerno
In the P.S. to my previous Access post, I hinted that I had learned a little more about the mysterious Rasputinian origins of the vaguely cultish but freewheeling and endlessly amusing sex-and-money org, Access Consciousness. Rasputin's role is not widely talked about in Access circles today, apparently, and even Access founder Gary Douglas wrote, in a comment to one of my other Access posts, that "Rasputin went away 5 years ago." He added that very little of Access today is based on anything Rasputin said. That's all well and good, but I've always been somewhat of a history buff myself, and I think the story of how Access came to be is very interesting. I came across an old Access document that tells the tale in some detail.
I cannot provide links to this document, because it doesn't exist online as far as I know, but I read it, and I have to say, Dear Ones, that this is an amazing success story. It is the tale of how one man was able to lasso not only Rasputin but a diverse range of other imaginary friends,* ultimately using the lot to build an empire. Granted, that empire isn’t nearly so grand as those of others in the imaginary-friends industry, such as J.Z. Knight and her 35,000-year-old pretend pal Ramtha, or Esther and Jerry Hicks and their imaginary collective, Abraham, or even, arguably, Vladimir Megre and his made-up nekkid blonde babe, Anastasia. Or, for that matter, Gary “Just change one letter in the guy’s last name” Renard, who began his imaginary-friends career by gabbing with a disembodied couple in his living room. (“But I’m not mental, I promise!”)
Imaginary friends can land a body in the loony bin, but they can be very lucrative for a lucky few. J.Z. Knight’s success is legendary; not only has she made a fortune over the past couple of decades, but it could accurately be said that Ramtha was the entity who got the whole hustledork-moviemercial ball rolling with What The Bleep Do We Know?!?, which is basically just a huge promo for Crazy J.Z.’s Ramtha act, with some fake quantum fizzix, hammy acting (shame on you, Marlee Matlin), and bad animations thrown in. Jerry and Esther and Abe are also legendary; much of the original Secret DVD was framed around them, but then Rhonda Byrne got too greedy and they had a bit of a falling-out. Still, Esther’s Follies are an undisputed mega-success; Esther-Jerry-Abe throw lavish sea cruises a couple of times a year, and they make kazillions of dollars doing this and putting on other events and selling shiploads of products. Vlad Megre’s Anastasia books have reportedly sold millions of copies, and they have inspired Anastasia communes all over the world. Gary Renard…well, he may still be mental, but he keynotes at New-Wage expos all over, and he’s been in a few hustledork moviemercials himself.
And Gary Douglas? Hmmm...no lavish cruises yet that I'm aware of, although some Accessories are planning to send 300 people off in a boat next year to work on de-manifesting a big glob of plastic in the ocean. That doesn't sound exactly like the lap of luxury, Abe-Hicks style; in fact, the last I heard, the Accessories had yet to even acquire a seaworthy vessel. Still, Gary has done all right for himself, especially after he hit upon the idea, some years ago, of pulling in a younger guy (that would be Dain “I want to be an Oprah boy” Heer) to attract a core fan base of horny and well-heeled women, thus assuring a steady income for Access for many years to come. Shades of Grigori Rasputin, whose core client base was well-born women. Genius!
Which brings us to the person who really deserves more credit than he seems to be getting these days from the Accessories: the aforementioned Rasputin, or “Raz,” as Gary liked to call him back in the days when the two were intimate. Veteran Accessories probably know the Raz tale by heart, but many other folks don't. The old Access paper I read begins, “Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. The truth of how Access came to be is one of those things…”
So come along, Dear Ones, and let’s look at some “truth,” Gary Douglas style.
Access, according to the Gary fairy tale I read, had its real roots in the mid-sixties. It was during that time, so the narrative says, that “a sensational new book hit the market, The Mad Monk of Moscow.”
When I read this, I immediately went a-Googling. As I may have mentioned in a few previous posts (such as my first Access post, as well as here and here), I am utterly fascinated by Russia and Russian history, and Rasputin in particular. (Peter the Great was pretty fascinating too, though from a different era than Rasputin, of course.) Alas, I could find nothing about a book specifically called The Mad Monk of Moscow. Surely, even if it were long out of print, there would be something about it, particularly if it had been as sensational as Gary implied.
Granted, there have been many books published about Rasputin. His story is quite well known, in fact. And many, many writers have referred to him as the “Mad Monk,” even though he wasn’t really a monk. He was possibly quite mad, though there's some argument about that...but for that matter, I wouldn't vouch for the mental health of some of his followers, both before and after his death.
The fact that I couldn’t find any information about a book called The Mad Monk of Moscow doesn’t mean it never existed; it just means that after minutes of intensive research I could not find anything on the Interwebs. However, there was a schlocky 1966 movie called Rasputin, The Mad Monk, starring Christopher Lee in the title role. The movie poster features a large mug of Lee-as-Rasputin, piercing eyes and all. Perhaps an equally schlocky throwaway book-based-on-the-movie was published at the time. For the purpose of this story, I suppose, it really doesn’t matter. Credibility-wise, the existence of a specific book is the least of Gary’s problems, as far as I’m concerned.
What really matters here is that the cover of the mad-monk book apparently made a deep impression on Gary. According to the fairy tale:
Although Gary Douglas never read it, he remembered seeing the cover of the book with Rasputin’s eyes prominently displayed. He promptly forgot about it until twenty-five years later.(I added the emphasis on the words, “Gary Douglas never read it,” because it’s relevant to a detail later that pops up later on in the narrative.)
As you’ll soon see, Raz’s eyes play a very important part in this tale.
The turning point
Flash forward to 1987, when, according to Gary, he went to a party and saw a man channeling a being called Bashar. (Whether or not it was this Bashar, channeled by one Darryl Anka, I couldn't begin to tell you.) The story goes that Gary wondered how come that guy could do stuff like this and Gary couldn’t. “He is no better looking than I, he’s no taller, he certainly doesn’t speak any better – he’s from New Jersey,” Gary groused. But that’s all we are told about Gary’s thoughts on the Joisey channeler. The narrative then continues:
Over the years, Gary explored his universe, attending many lectures and reading many books. At one point, he attended a large gathering of people who had come to witness Penny Torres channel a being known as MaFu.Oh. My. God. What a small Whirled. As it happens, Penny Torres, aka Swami Blonde – yet another player in the imaginary-friends industry – has been a source of profound inspiration to me as well, as evidenced here, and here, and here (scroll down to "The blonde leading the gullible"). As a tawdry imitation of Crazy J.Z., Swami Blonde simply can’t be beat. Some worship her, some insist she’s on crack, but you have to admit that she’s very entertaining.
Gary was so profoundly affected that, for an hour or two later, he was unable to talk. As Gary describes it, “I was so far out of my body, I could not find how to use it. Later, all I had to do was think about that night and I would be instantly out of my body.”
Anyway, apparently Gary eventually recovered from his thunderstruck state after being in the presence of Bad Penny and MaFu. His life was busy and, according to the story, “he didn’t think about it again.” (Uh-huh, I believe that.) Then, about two years later – and by this, I am assuming Gary means two years after he saw the Penny and MaFu show – his sister-in-law, Virginia, came out for a visit from Pennsylvania. Assuming that the fairy tale was told in anything resembling chronological order (which, given Accessories' disregard for such details, is probably an iffy assumption at best), this would have been in 1989 at the earliest, since I’m operating on the assumption that most of this tale takes place after the 1987 party with the Joisey channeler. And presumably there was at least some passage of time between the '87 party and the Penny/MaFu incident. But the story is really quite vague about these details, as such stories often are.
During her visit, Gary's sis-in-law Virginia wanted to visit a channel; I’m sure California was crawling with them at the time, and probably still is. So Gary and his wife arranged for Virginia to visit “a lovely lady” named Yvonne, who channeled a being named Dr. W. According to the story, at one point as Virginia was chatting with Dr. W., she said, “I think someone wants to channel through me.” At once, Dr. W was gone and a being announcing herself as Penelope began speaking. The story continues: “The next day, Gary called Yvonne and asked if she could help bring this being called Penelope in for Virginia, and received a positive response.”
Three nights later, Gary and his wife and Virginia and Yvonne were meditating with friends in Gary's living room. Gary says he suddenly zipped out of his body and floated into the ethers, “trying to pull energy into Yvonne so she could channel Penelope." And then, and then…
“…Suddenly, I see these large eyes looking at me. Whoosh, he was in my body and he started breathing, breathing in and out. Unnerved, I told him to go away, and he finally did. I realized that it was these eyes on the cover of the book, 'The Mad Monk of Moscow' that I had read twenty-five years earlier! I knew nothing about him, just that he was the mad monk of Moscow. Here, my friend is channeling the kind Dr. W., my sister-in-law is channeling sweet little Penelope, and another friend is channeling the archangel Michael. So I get the Mad Monk of Moscow? Maybe you just sort of go oops. Next day, I went to Yvonne’s house and he started making noise again, like getting used to using my vocal chords. The next day, he started talking and he’s been talking ever since.”Raz is apparently not talking any more, at least not to Gary, but he was still doing so at the time the above was written. Once again I’ve added my own emphasis in that passage. Earlier in the story we were told that Gary didn’t read the mad monk book. The sentence above, however, makes it sound as if he did read the book. Maybe he meant that he just read the cover. (Or maybe he read the book, or at least flipped through it and read some juicy passages, and then "forgot" what he'd read.) I'm thinking that the real issue is that he just needed a better editor for his fairy tale. Again, though, it is probably not relevant, and it's far from the most serious credibility problem this story has.
According to the tale, Gary’s wife, who knew nothing about Rasputin, was curious about him, so she started asking questions of Raz, through Gary, and writing down the answers. Finally Gary’s own curiosity got the better of him, so he “hotfooted it down to the library” to do some research. Amazingly, according to Gary…
“About 80% of the information that Rasputin reported coincided with the textbooks. The other 20% we couldn’t verify, such as how many children he had. With his wife, he had three children. But he had so many mistresses (the boy was definitely into sex, drugs and rock and roll!) that we could never prove whether he had other children or not. So those kinds of things, we couldn’t prove. He talked about where he was born and about his death.”Some historians believe that Raz was kind of into guys as well as mistresses, but the story doesn't reveal whether Raz let on anything about that to Gary. There have also been conflicting stories about Raz's death (and if you follow that link, be sure to read the section titled, "Recent evidence"). I wonder if Raz set the record straight when he talked to Gary.
Although Gary channeled Rasputin for a couple of years, according to the story, "he often felt mistrusting of him.” In addition to not really trusting Raz, Gary was frustrated by his clients, because when they came for readings they basically wanted Gary to predict their futures for them. Gosh, it’s soooo annoying to a pretend psychic (some would say that “pretend psychic” is a redundancy) when people ask for predictions about specific details that can easily be proven wrong. Far better to stick with the vague and the abstract, and the vaguer, the better. Instead, Gary’s clients would ask silly questions such as, “Where’s my next house?” “Will my next lover have beautiful hair?” Gary finally got fed up and said he didn’t want to be a Ouija board any more. With that, the relationship between Gary and Raz was “put on hold.”
There's a party in my head: more imaginary buds show up
But the voices in his head wouldn’t leave him alone. Gary next worked with “a wise, ancient Chinese man” named Tchtsin. The problem was that Tchtsin talked so softly that others in a group couldn’t hear him. No worries; along came Brother George, a friar from the 14th century, described as “a robust, rowdy kind of guy, who would laugh uncontrollably.” (Probably the way some of you are laughing right about now.)
And then, and then…
In 1990, Gary went away to a meditation camp in Colorado. While there, a group of beings named Novian came in. Never having been human, Novian was very hard on his body. They would take about one breath and talk for twenty minutes, lower Gary’s blood pressure and heartbeat to the point that, on a 92-degree day he would be freezing. He needed to drink several cups of hot tea and wear a down comforter to raise his temperature.Okay, so we’re in 1990 now. And again, I’m still assuming that we’re moving ahead with the story chronologically. The real significance of Novian appearing at this time in Gary’s life was that “they” began imparting information about the Bars. But back in those days, Gary had no idea what to do with this information, and after a few sessions he exploded, belligerently asking Novian, “You know what? If you can’t give this information through Rasputin, I am not doing it anymore. This f--king hurts, and I’m just not going to do it.”
The very next day, his old buddy Raz returned, and began talking to Gary about what is now known as Access.
According to the fairy tale, it’s important to realize that at this time, Gary was still leery of Raz. Well, yes, of course. Initial leeriness is a crucial element in every imaginary-friends tale, and for that matter, it's a part of virtually every New-Wage guru's frauduct marketing program. Phony skepticism is a huckster's favorite tactic to make even the craziest schemes more credible to the saner world. “I know it sounds crazy…” “I was once skeptical, just like you…” and so on.
Channelers in particular seem to be fond of describing how they initially resisted/were appalled by/were profoundly suspicious of the voices in their heads, but as time went by, they came to accept it as a gift from Spirit, blah-blah-blah. Consider, for instance, the tale of how Esther Hicks got started "receiving," with lots of help and encouragement from hubby Jerry, an ex-carnie type who'd apparently been inspired by Jane Roberts and Seth. In the beginning, Jerry had to push Esther to get into the channeling biz. If you don't know their story, do follow that link.
Maybe it's just me, but those stories of initial skepticism and resistance don't seem all that credible when told by folks who, by their own admission, had observed other channelers and wondered, "Why can't I do that?"
But back to our story. Despite Gary's suspicious mind, Raz was apparently adept at seeing things others couldn’t. One day, according to the tale, a friend contacted Gary and asked if he and Raz would see a lady from Los Angeles for a session.
Rasputin scanned her body and said, “You have a problem with your chest.” Gary could hear her wheezing, and assumed that she had hay fever. Rasputin did his routine with her and told her all of the things that she was going to accomplish in the future to heal herself When he finished the session, she asked if she needed to go back to her doctor. Rasputin said, “Yes, you need to prove to you that you have healed yourself” At the time, Gary thought, “That’s weird. Why would Rasputin care if she went back to her doctor to see if her hay fever was cured?” It didn’t make sense at the time, and he remembered it.A year later, Gary ran into the friend who’d referred the L.A. lady to him, and he asked how she was doing. Gary’s pal said, “Oh, she recovered from her breast cancer.” Gary was flabbergasted; he’d had no idea! But then he realized that if he had known his friend's friend had anything as serious as breast cancer, “he would not have let the information come through. The liability and the implications would be too great.” Eventually Gary figured out that Raz had altered his, Gary's, hearing and his perceptions so he could work with the lady. (That could have been why Gary heard the woman wheezing, which normally isn’t a symptom of breast cancer.)
The story, I noticed, does not specify whether the woman in fact healed herself of breast cancer, as Raz had predicted, or if she went to her doctor and entered into conventional treatment. To the folks who later became known as Accessories, such trivial details apparently didn’t matter. Details never seem to matter to those who want to believe.
Anyway, at this point Gary decided that he should “stop operating from a place of mistrust and start trusting Raz a little more diligently.” Even so, Raz was not to be completely trusted:
…It didn’t mean he didn’t pay attention or question it. Raz says, “Don’t trust us. If you do, we will lie to you. You are the source for everything…”Um-kay.
The point, according to the story, is that after hearing about the breast-cancer incident Gary stopped being quite so skeptical and started “allowing a lot more information to come through.” At this time he was describing himself as “a part time closet channel.” But he was still a real estate agent and antiques dealer by day, and he feared that people in Santa Barbara would shun him if they knew what he was doing on the side. The story says that until 1990, he only channeled for out-of-towners who were recommended by friends.
Another major milestone
The year 1990 apparently marked a major turning point for Gary, in more ways than his attendance at that Colorado meditation camp where he first met Novian.
Suddenly, Gary’s real estate business folded. He went from $100,000 year income to $4,000 income. He lost his house, his car, and his “friends” and filed bankruptcy. Wealthy “friends” would no longer talk to him.Bad times, then. Could it be that his real estate business folded because Gary was so discombobulated by the voices in his head that he couldn’t really do business effectively any more? Could it be that a combination of midlife burnout and years of observation of others' performances had convinced Gary that the bad ventriloquism that is channeling was an easier way to make a buck (especially in a place like California) than selling real estate? Or could it just be that the Universe had grander plans for Gary Douglas?
According to the fairy tale, it was a stroke of “luck” that a friend of Gary’s happened to be taking an entrepreneurs class. He convinced Gary to take it too, recommending that Gary stand up and announce to the people in the class that he was a channel. Gary hesitated, insisting to his friend that it would ruin his business. To which his friend responded, “What business?” So Gary took the plunge and proclaimed his channeling talents to the sixty Santa Barbarians in the class.
Three people walked away, five asked if he meant he had cable TV, and ten asked when and where he worked, who he channeled, and what his fees were. Gary says that was a big lesson. He began to come out of the closet. Ever after, he told people that he is a psychic and a channel.Gary’s journey was to take more amazing turns. A businessman and client named Ralph, who had been with Gary when the latter was channeling the friar, the Chinese guy, and Novian, invited Gary to go to New York to assist with a channeled massage. Yes, you read that right: that’s massage, not message. Being suspicious, Gary asked, “Do I have to take my clothes off, do I have to touch your body, do I get paid?” None of that homo stuff for Gary, and he sure wasn’t going anywhere to do anything if he didn’t get paid for it.
To his relief, Gary was told that his only job would be to channel information and instructions for Ralph’s massage therapist. Ralph lay on the table and the massage therapist began to work while Rasputin, through Gary, gave instructions about touching points on the head. It turned out not to be a massage after all, but…hold on to your hats… a Bars session. Spooky, huh?
Gary and Ralph went to lunch afterward, and Gary was thinking about what had just happened. He thought to himself, “Oh, this must be a skill for massage therapists.” He was quickly corrected, presumably by Raz.
Suddenly, someone psychically whacked him between the ears with a 2 x 4. “This is a class, you dummy.” “Okay, it’s a class – I got it.” Then he got ‘hit’ again. He had never been hurt before. So he got that it was important.When he returned to Santa Barbara, Gary gathered four friends together and told them he was going to start a class. Naturally, his pals wanted to know what it was about.
He was stumped. “Energy work?”Notice that when his friends asked him questions, Gary apparently answered their questions with another question – a foreshadowing, perhaps, of the Access credo that questions are empowering, and answers disempowering.
“How much does it cost?” they inquired.
“Seventy five dollars?”
“How long is it?” they wanted to know.
Gary delivered the first Bars class for four people, demonstrating the points on the head. (Do follow that link, and you’ll see a detailed diagram about the "aging toaster" that is your head. Who knew?) Actually it was Raz who delivered the Bars info; Gary was merely the channel. According to the story, Raz always kept Gary’s eyes shut, so Gary walked around the room with his eyes closed the entire time, feeling a bit uncomfortable.
When the class was over, Gary asked his friend Larry what he got from it. Larry said, “Well, it seems to access this and it seems to access this and it seems to access that and ...” Gary thought that was pretty cool. Now he had a name for what he and Raz were doing. And from that day forward, it was called Access.
An end...and a beginning
Like any good teacher, Raz was apparently preparing Gary to eventually strike out on his own. The fairy tale says that Rasputin facilitated the Bars class through Gary for the first six times he taught the class. On the seventh class, Rasputin left midway through and left it up to Gary to teach. And for each class after that, Raz left earlier and earlier and would not return until the end of the class, at which time he would chat about what the students had accomplished.
Couched in all of this, perhaps, is the true made-up story of why Raz finally went away for good. Towards the end of the fairy tale we are told:
Rasputin has become increasingly more silent so people can recognize that the answers are in all of us. As he has offered less information, more and more people have come forward with answers. That has created a whole new possibility…Now, hold on just a doggone minute. “More and more people have come forward with answers?!?” Aren’t answers the very things that blind us to new possibilities and keep the Universe from delivering all the goodies we want and deserve? Gary himself says so right in this video. Then again, it's possible the Raz tale was written before the leaders of Access discovered that answers are in fact disempowering.
Today, of course, Access is about much more than the Bars. That's only the starting point, much like the "free personality test" offered by Scientologists. These days, progressing in Access will set you back considerably more than $75.00. Some contend that Access didn't really take off till Gary brought the young Dr. Dain Heer into the fold (ca. 2001). It appears, however, that Gary was able to attract some moneyed women to Access in pre-Dain days, such as Curry Glassell, the scion of a well-known Houston philanthropic family. I suspect there's a whole 'nother sad story there. On her facilitator page Curry implies that she's been involved in Access at least since 1996, but, judging from some of the news stories about her fight for her inheritance, it certainly doesn't appear that all life comes to her with Access's storied "ease, joy, and glory."
Some of you might be thinking that there is nothing all that unusual about the Raz story. After all, whole entire mainstream religions, some of which are almost unimaginably rich and very powerful, have been founded on the hallucinations and/or made-up stories of individuals or even groups of people. So why pick on Access? Since I do not want to disempower you, I'll answer that question with another: Why not?
What's important is that you now know more about Access’ Raz-matazz origins. I’m sure Oprah's people and, for that matter, the Lifetime TV folks, will be duly impressed.
PS ~ I’ve probably linked to this before, but here’s some commentary on one of Gary Douglas’s 2007 TV appearances. Apparently he fooled some Aussie TV producers into thinking he was a doctor who had some sort of expertise on autism. They weren’t fooled for long, though.
* I'm not suggesting Rasputin is entirely imaginary; he was of course a historical character. I am suggesting that the relationship between Raz and Gary Douglas is the product of an abundantly rich imagination.
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