The Cult Leader Training Manual

Words by Dr. Jack Andrew Lantern

First things first: you’ve got to decide what you want. Is it money, power or sex you’re after? Perhaps you’re the Antichrist, but currently lack the charm or brains to kickstart your following and bring about the end of days? Whatever the case, this article should help you in gaining and maintaining that power over your flock.

YOU’VE GOT TO MANIPULATE TO ACCUMULATE
Good cult leaders need an overwhelming sense of self combined with a desire for blind, unquestioned obedience. If this is found wanting, attend a few motivational coaching sessions and read some big banking CEO autobiographies. Removing yourself from society and repeating the mantra ‘I am the Messiah’ in front of the mirror will help you develop your god complex.

BRANDING AND IDENTITY KIT
Once you’ve crafted that unshakable ego, you need a name for your collective, a concept to worship and cause to rally behind. Choose an esoteric name with a peppering of prospective hope (such as ‘The Golden Dawn’ or ‘Fraternity of Inner Light’). Furthermore, Latin and other dead languages have an occult quality that draws attention while remaining obscure (think of ‘Ordo Templi Orientis’ and ‘Opus Dei’).

Your chosen deity or idol isn’t as important as you’d imagine, though. Your followers won’t see the intangible multi-tentacular space demon you’ve created, but for validity and persuasiveness, brainstorm something with foundations in another religion (making it seem like an idea they’ve known their entire lives).
Finally, decide on your cause. This is your call- to-arms for your followers. Who is the enemy? Is it the corrupt Illuminati governments with their blood- thirsty foreign policies? A satanic capitalist society that crushes the individual beneath its cloven hooves? Perhaps you could be more inventive, something along the leylining Wi-Fi connections that saturate the Earth with negative ions in order to enslave the population. Whatever you’ve chosen, plausible or not,you’re going to have to provide loose, circumstantial proof that washes with a few individuals. If you’re still searching for ideas, YouTube’s conspiracy theorists provides some excellent fertilizer for thought.

STRUCTURE
Consider your community’s internal framework. Imagine the shape of your cult like resembling an endless series of Russian nesting dolls, each slotting within each other. On those outer painted faces, illustrate the most simple, alluring and constructive features, with the more dark and manipulatory aspects cloaked beneath layers of mystery. As the individual uncovers more mysteries, he or she will believe they’re on the road to self-discovery, intent on reaching the centre, which doesn’t exist.

ACOLYTES
Next you need your first acolytes, who will be your inner circle. Strong and welcoming, they will spread your message and furnish you with converts. Organise them into two groups: sycophants and enforcers. The objective of the first is to ‘love bomb’ your audience, giving potential followers attention, while enforcers maintain compliance through strength and ‘tough love’.

For this inner-circle, it’s a good idea to find those who are already on the peripherals of society: the desperate, traumatised and socially damaged. They need your help in putting the pieces of themselves back together but in an order of your choosing. Once formed, these disciples act as your temple walls, deflecting you from any questions you’d rather not answer and helping you to build your mystifying persona.THE FIRST OF THE

FLOCK
Don’t worry about the class backgrounds or social divisions of your budding congregation. As savvy as your followers think they are, they’re not. Those from strong family backgrounds and seemingly satisfied lives still have a desire to ‘fill the void’. Everyone is looking for answers and the more terrifying an image of a ‘great beyond’ or the enemy you can create, the more likely the follower is to join you.

Offer something free early on and potential followers will give you something back. Personality tests, life coaching and past-life hypnotherapy are all efficient ways of pulling in an audience. After all, who doesn’t want to find out more about themselves?

Express empty appeals of salvation and obligation saturated in rhetoric like ‘Don’t you want to save yourself?’ and ‘When was the last time you felt great?’ Get them to that first ‘meeting’ and you’ll have them for life. Remember, keep the details on your Chthonic Fire Gods quiet now — you wouldn’t want to scare them off until they’ve seen all the good you can do them.
Watch your popularity, too. Think of the Tower of Babel, where the size of the group becomes either too large for you handle or external forces set in (no, not God, more likely a worried police force) bringing down everything you’ve built. Keep numbers controllable.

LOCATION
You’re going to need a place of ‘reflection’ – somewhere far from the media and police. A remote domain will isolate and solidify individual minds, making them rely upon you and the collective. By restricting their contact with the outside world, censoring news and administering false and negative information, you can create the image of a world falling into disarray. Meanwhile, if you live for a challenge and prefer city life, gather your worshippers in the urban world; hiding in plain site can work. If your adherents aren’t being monitored daily, ensure they adhere to self-censorship, believing everything outside your strict doctrine of beliefs are part of the enemy.

DAILY LIFE & CONDITIONING
Ritual management is important. Create regimented order with metronomic meetings at specific times, (say, Sunday at 10am by the fire pits), filling the days of your followers with arbitrary uniformity under the guise of social gatherings (‘community meetings’) and motivational sessions (‘power realisations’).

Keep followers pliable through physical labour, limited sleep and high-sugar, low-protein diets. Cultivating cropland is invaluable, creating a feeling of individual validity through communal work while also presenting the notion of ‘being one with the land’ and distinct from society’s destructive qualities. A word of caution: if keeping animals, it’s best to have them as farm ‘pets’ for nutrition but also to retain the serenity of the group. The murder of Percy the Pig can cause great animosity with land lovers.

EXPRESSION
The arts can be tricky to discipline and can make a mockery of your God(s). However, if censored correctly, daily hymns can prove successful. Choose songs that elevate both you and the God(s) while still retaining that sense of mystery and you’ll build that communal spirit (under the guise of self-expression) in no time.

FASHION
You’re going to need to look the part and there are two options. Under the pretence of abandoning social conventions, go for the hermit aesthetic. An itchy gown of hessian sack works well; the rough textiles reminding your congregation of the woes of this covetous mate- rial plane. Ensure your followers dress equivalently, creating a sense of togetherness through your image.

If ascetic fashion doesn’t fit your persona and you’re flamboyant, choose items that look so odd and grandiose that you transcend tastes. Aleister Crowley looked divine in his Egypto-Grecian garb that maintained his sense of aloofness across a century of declining religions. Have your followers scour second-hand shops to make their own clothing branded with your emblem. While fashion can bring your audience together, it can also help promote individual thought.

THE POWER OF CONFESSION
Have members confess sins and faults publicly and subject them to ridicule or humiliation by others. Revealing those exploitable weaknesses will keep them in the group through fear, guilt and fantasies of self-remorse. After this public hazing, you should speak up and absolve them as their munificent mother/ father figure.

Ultimately, use this mental breakdown as a form of spiritual awakening or ascendancy to a ‘next level’. Drive the point home that every moment is a crisis through statements like ‘time is running out’ or ‘con- fess now before it’s too late’. This should counter your flock’s long-term planning and have your followers looking critically to their past for further confessional sessions.

CRITICISM
Paranoia works here. Use your flock to assess the threat of betrayal. Thinly veiled stories such as the snake in the Garden of Eden aid you here. With suspicious eyes on each other, they remain distracted from you.

Sooner or later, every cult leader will face criticism. It’s how you move with the reproach that matters. Smile and remain calm. Treat the accuser like a teacher with a naive child, asking them personal questions as to why they feel this way. Misdirection pushes negative elements into the outside world and blames society or the individual for problems. Give the appearance of listening and provide delay tactics while working out how you can quash this naysayer.

If you’re a wrathful leader, sacrificial victims are a hot topic and dissenters make perfect candidates. Consider a Wicker Man in late winter — you want your croplands to flourish after all. In future, use your inner circle to divide critics from the group, with- holding your love until they’re running back for more.

WEALTH
If you’re after money, present yourself as hermetic; offering all their worldly goods up to your deities while keeping them somewhere secure. The poor man feels better than the rich man; you are aiding your followers by releasing them from their earthly ties and unloading them from the weight of this baggage.

SEX
Invoking the name of your deity trumps many other arguments. Suggesting ‘You are compelled by The Pink Wolf’ is a difficult argument to logically refute. This helps create your fertility rites and ritualistic sex sessions. In ancient fertility rites, sex was seen as a form of sympathetic magic for a prosperous harvest; yet another reason to keep a small farmland on hand.

If you’re advocating ‘Free Love’, remind followers to keep it within the family and sow the seed to ensure a next generation of followers who know nothing of the outside world; these will be your strongest advocates.

APPRENTICE BECOMES MASTER
This is only your starter pack. It will soon be time to construct your own holy book. Immortality is a wonderful peculiarity of the cult leader. Your doctrines and vision will outlive this mortal coil so it’s important to imprint them on your flock for future generations. If literacy isn’t your strong point; recruit a ghost writer. Alternatively, call the number at the end of the pamphlet to speak to one of our representatives here at True Freedom Ltd. Book yourself in for one our Power SeminarsTM and gain access to our Vault of All KnowingTM — we have advisers for all your needs.

We hope you’ve found this manual informative. It should go a long way in helping you orientate the tricky world of faith, fealty and following.
My flat is swarming with the black bodies of flies. It might well be that in choosing to tell you how one might start a cult, I have wrought hubris or the anger of the gods, or it could be that I’ve somehow summoned a god of plague and pestilence, but as my girlfriend comes in tutting and closes the window, I realise it’s the friends from fruit stalls two floors beneath us.

Whether you’ve chosen a forgotten pagan god or a multi-tentacular space demon, the tricks to amassing followers is pretty much the same.