Meditation and self

With the beginning of the school year, the Gnostic groups organize conferences and courses to attract new followers.

Throughout the Spanish-speaking world it is common to find advertising for free meditation and self-knowledge courses. The procedure is simple: two or three public conferences after which those interested are offered to continue with weekly classes.

But there are times of special intensity in this call, as it happens in these first days of September in Spain, when the general atmosphere is back to daily activities after the summer holidays and, therefore, back to the school year: the “return to school”.

In several Spanish cities, since the last days of August, posters inviting these meditation and self-knowledge courses have been seen. The convening entity is the Samael y Litelantes Gnostic Institute of Anthropology (IGA or IGASL).

This is how they are presented

The IGA is legalized as an association in Spain and in many other countries, and is presented as “an institution made up of men and women whose common interest is the study and practice of superior knowledge or Gnosis.” Indeed, the Greek word “gnosis” means knowledge.

“Gnosis seeks the comprehensive awakening of the consciousness of every man or woman who longs to achieve their inner liberation, their own self-realization,” they explain in their advertising. And they add that “An awakened conscience is a wonderful instrument that, beyond reason and intellect, allows us self-knowledge and entry into the unknown inner universe of ourselves.”

For this reason, “this Gnostic institute spreads the teaching by giving courses and conferences in the different study centers of the Spanish territory.” Specifically, they have 57 locations, so they cover a large part of the national territory.

To this end, they were registered in 2001 in the National Registry of Associations of the Ministry of the Interior, and even have their own trademark and logo, duly registered with the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office. They also have their own publishing house: Ediciones Gnósticas, based in Barcelona.

What’s behind

It is one of the many groups that were born from the movement initiated by the Colombian Víctor Manuel Gómez Rodríguez (1917-1977), who called himself Samael Aun Weor, and became one of the main figures of contemporary esotericism. His followers call him “Venerable Master”, “Avatara of the Age of Aquarius” and even “Our Lord the Christ”.

What he did was basically a mixture of the most diverse religions, doctrines and philosophies based on theosophical thought. His followers think that Samael’s many books and lectures constitute “the Fifth Gospel” for humanity.

And the current Gnostic groups, heirs to his doctrine, are organized at various levels, as initiatory sects that are: from the most exterior – what they call the “antechamber”, and which are the conferences and courses aimed at the public –; even successive «chambers» that constitute the most esoteric and «select», only for those who become more interested and committed.

The Gnostic Institute of Anthropology

When Samael Aun Weor died in 1977, the movement he had created fragmented into various currents, since various relatives and disciples claimed to be the ones designated to succeed him in the “patriarchy” of gnosis. One of the most important splits was headed by his widow, Arnolda Garro (the “venerable teacher Litelantes”): the Gnostic Institute of Anthropology.

When the founder’s widow died in 1998, his son, Osiris Gómez Garro, took over the management position, and after his death, his widow, María Inmaculada Ugartemendía, succeeded him. Over time, the group became known as the Samael y Litelantes Gnostic Institute of Anthropology, thus becoming the genuine spiritual heirs of the founder and his wife.

It is, therefore, a family line, compared to others that have led disciples of Samael, such as the Universal Christian Gnostic Movement, the Center for Self-Knowledge Studies or the AC Samael Aun Weor Gnostic Association for Anthropology and Science Studies; and many others that fill the Spanish and Latin American geography.

Stories of fear and manipulation

Former followers of Gnostic groups have revealed a scenario of manipulation and psychological abuse in small groups; who make their members believe that they are the chosen ones, the only ones who know the secrets of the universe and of the human being; and that only within the sect can they be saved from the coming cataclysm.

Usually, the stories of these direct victims of the Gnostic sects remain silent; either because they don’t want to –nor can they– give their testimony, after the harsh trauma of belonging to the group and their departure; or because they do not find space in media information that seeks the morbid and spectacular.

The murder of a baby

However, there was once a time when the IGA starred in the news of events in Spain. In 2015, within the framework of its XXII International Gnostic Congress, which was held in Santiago de Compostela and which brought together 600 people from 26 countries, a 6-month-old baby, the daughter of a married couple belonging to the sect, died.

The August 31the father found his daughter dead on the bed of the hotel room where the event was held, covered with a white towel and with two stones on top and, according to his own statements, he practiced “a ritual that Jesus did, […] and I asked God, I asked Christ, to bring the girl back.”

Subsequent investigations showed that the cause of death was “mechanical asphyxia of homicidal medico-legal etiology”; and suspicions were directed at the mother. The Argentine lawyer Hector Walter Navarroan expert in several cases related to the sectarian phenomenon, addressed the Court stating that it had not been an individual and insane act, but “the execution of practices taught by the sect.”

Risks… and complicity

In 2016, the mother was tried, who admitted the crime, showed her remorse and claimed to have heard voices that “spoke to her telepathically”; she thus came to the conviction that she “had to kill my daughter to save the universe.” Because after her death “a spaceship would come to take her to Sirius, which is the planet where the Christs live, who are beings who gave their lives to save the world.”

It was the lethal effect on a particular person of a group that harms its followers and indoctrinates them in irrational esoteric beliefs. It is not the only case of disturbances caused or enhanced by the Gnostic sects heirs of Samael Aun Weor, which have been repeated in Spain and in other countries, giving rise to aggressions, rapes and murders.

That is why it is not understood that, despite their legal nature as associations, there are public administrations – as is happening these days with the City Council of Benidorm (Alicante) – that expressly support their recruitment activities. An unacceptable institutional complicity that gives sects an aura of legitimacy and leaves citizens unprotected.

For more information

– Roberto A. Federigo, “What is gnosis? Can there be Gnostic Christians? Aleteia06/17/13.

– Luis Santamaría, “Who is Prince Gurdjieff announcing the imminent end of the world?”, Aleteia06/21/17.

Meditation and self-knowledge courses: the lure of the Gnostic sects