It's been a crazy few days in Tension land.
One week ago, were were given the opportunity to talk to a newly awakened "Gatekeeper" named III. A guide figured aptly named "OOA_GUIDE" posted on the Tension Experience forums that we have been given the opportunity to ask III any 3 questions, and 2 questions would be answered.
After a day of discussion, we landed on these:
- Please explain to us clues/links/puzzles we have missed?
- Please explain to us what the OOA organization structure is?
- Please explain the significance of the numbers that you are giving us, specifically 242 and 8 from the found letter and the numbers mentioned in some phone calls?
After submitting these, we were told answers would be coming when III awakes, and he would answer in his own time.
On Saturday afternoon, Tension was back on Periscope - this time, their broadcast addressed to a specific participant in town from St. Paul, MN. It showed who we were lead to believe was III, in Echo Park, dropping two black envelopes in some bushes. Immediately, Megan, the out of town participant, was on her way to Echo Park, and started her own Periscope stream as she walked around the lake, searching for these two envelopes, while the rest of us were cheering her on. It was an extremely positive moment in the community.
When she found the envelopes, she collapsed onto the ground and opened them. Inside were three papers. One - an organizational chart of the OOA, positions listed in boxes connected by arrows. Second - a photocopied page from what appeared to be a scholastic journal, most of it crossed out with black marker, apart from two paragraphs in the middle, describing "8." Third, and ancient text, singed with flame, describing 242's dedication to Anoch and the creation of the Oracles.
After a forensic investigation from the wonderful @mkarrett/Melissa, we know that the redacted blocks contain the following:
In those now familiar sun-washed video farewells, the members of The Anoch Institute have and they had made up their own minds. Even the parents of one young woman found among the brainwashed tell us “she was happy, healthy, and acting under her own volition”
But despite claims that the 42 followers were not brainwashed or bullied by The Regent, there is evidence to the contrary. Far from being freely thought-out final acts, the followers are seen by some mental health experts and cule(?) scholars as largely the result of a sustained, calculated and ruthless program of psychological coercion.
I see them as victims of a hoax, said Dr. Louis J. Hammer, a UCLA psychiatrist and cult watcher. “There was treachery here.”
Hammer and others believe that members of “totalist” religious organization are subject to a form of psychological manipulation known as undue influence coercive persuasion or thought reform. And their analysis of The Anoch Institute practices from the insistence that members forsake family to the minute-by-minute schedules they had to keep suggest that the organizations was structured to undermine individuals identities, leaving them to ignore misgivings and do the groups bidding no matter how irrational”
However, the role of “thought reform” in cult behavior is hotly disputed in academic circles. Some scholars challenge the idea of psychological manipulation, arguing that followers are drawn into a cult by its philosophy as are observers of mainstream religions.
The very dubious of the psychological interpretation of the reported suicides, said Richard Hecht, chairman of the religious studies at UC Santa Barbara. A person is attracted to an organization like this because it espouses a “convincing narrative” in which the follower “finds meaning” he says. By implication, a follower is not passively brainwashed but actively “buys into” the message.
Needless to say, these answers brought to light just as many questions.
Later that evening, I was contacted by Aleister, who had previously called me in a panic in order to schedule a meeting. He said that unforeseen circumstances meant we needed to push our meeting from Sunday to Monday, 7pm, Studio City area. On Monday afternoon, I was given a zip code, and told to be in that zip by 7 that evening - they would call with an address. On my way north, Aleister let me know that III had awakened, and he could not meet with me, but is sending someone else in his stead, and that I should listen to what he has to say.
Here's my description of the events that transpired from the Tension Experience forums:
I just met with someone. I’m not sure I should give his name or location, for his own safety. He is an actor, one who worked with the OOA about 10 years ago. He questioned me on why I’m a part of Tension, why I’m taking part in something with the OOA.
-Because I’m interested in haunts, immersive theater, and ARGs. They billed themselves as such, and I am here to see what happens.
He asked if I knew what the OOA was about, what they were doing.
-They claim to be guiding participants towards enlightenment.
What do you think they’re doing?
-I'm not sure and I have not been involved in their inner workings. At their last event, they took one of their own, a girl known as Addison, against her will.
So why are you still a part of this? A part of the OOA?
- Nobody has reached out to me and given me any other choice. But to loop back on a previous question, I'm here to find out where Addison is.
He made me call Kim, someone I met through the Tension Experience who has become a good friend and secure confidant, but also a member of the Brotherhood of Seraph (a group working against the OOA). He gave me an envelope with her phone number on it, told me to open the envelope and read what was written on the paper inside - I was forced to pledge allegiance to the OOA and cut ties with Kimberly.
He told me he had an audition for a voiceover part. At the location were old people in suits, stoic, odd. As though they’d never cracked a smile in their lives. Sounded similar to the people we met at the mixer.
Instead of doing his piece in a recording studio booth, he was handed a phone. Into the phone, he was made to read essentially a Pledge of Allegiance to Anoch. While he was reading, he heard sounds on the other end of the phone that he did not describe other than that they made him very uncomfortable. At the end, they gave him a wad of cash, enough money to live comfortably off of for a couple months.
The next day, he received a call from his agent for an on-camera role. He went to the location – same people as before, though a different location.
Mid-way through a similar spiel as the VO gig, he was not comfortable saying the words they wrote for him.
When he resisted, they confronted him with very personal information from his past. Things he had never told anyone in his life – not his friends, his family, anyone. And threatened him that they would make it public if he did not do as they said.
He warned me – the reason that there are so many “industry” people involved with Tension is a front. They’ve attracted these people to make it seem like a theater piece, something fun and simple and just another haunted house. He says that this is not true. They are VERY serious and do not have good intentions.
He warned me I need to leave Tension. The OOA. Get away from them and not let them into my life.
I asked if I could share this info, go public, he said it was my decision.
And then he kicked me out of the location we were meeting at. Said I had to leave right then and there. I actually started typing this in my car outside the location, but he followed me out and I had to leave the property.. Typing this from a secluded alleyway now.
I’m not sure what to do. It’s not the first warning about the OOA we’ve received. And I feel unsafe posting this on their official forums, but I feel like this info needs to go out.
I know I’m reconsidering my association with this organization, and I guess asking that you all do this as well. Why are you here? What is the point? What are you actually looking for?
This is real. Yes, it says it’s just a game. “Performance Art” per Facebook. But are you really comfortable letting these people whom you’ve never met, who can’t give a straight answer, anything into your lives?
After I got home, I messaged Aleister. Told him he owes me answers. How did he know this man I met with? Why did he send an ex-OOA actor to dissuade me from associating with the OOA? Is Addison OK?
Al told me he can't answer my questions. This was my first real step towards enlightenment, and he cannot speak to this. But I should expect a phone call soon.