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Brother XII: prophet, seducer, swindler…

Mom, thinking 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

I have breakfast out whenever possible, and as a result I’ve met some fascinating people. One, who has become a treasured friend, is author John Oliphant. John introduced me to his biography about Brother XII, the notorious sailor, seducer, swindler, occultist and spiritual cult leader, whose hutzpah had no bounds.

Oliphant’s well-researched true story of Brother XII is so intriguing, I keep giving my own copy of the book away and find myself again needing to buy another. Recently, after having given my last copy to my recuperating brother, who enjoys a good read, I had to borrow one from the library.

This saga of gold, sex and black magic, Brother XII’s dictatorial reign over his kingdom and the things he declared like: ‘I am the Messenger of the Fire, the Messenger of the Whirlwind, the Messenger of the Day of Adjustment. By the Wind ye shall mount to the Heavens — if ye be the children of discernment. But as for the stubborn and the deaf and the blind, the Wind of Destruction shall carry them away.’

One

The biography of Brother XII

Why do people believe this stuff? Why do any  of us join cults? What makes us willing to follow smooth-talking leaders of questionable groups? Life IS precarious and we can long for a road map to follow — with someone else making the decisions we find difficult.

Brother XII, spouting what to me is nonsense, managed to recruit thousands. Obviously, for many, an unguided path is just too scary. However, far too many cult participants end up broke, in trouble, or like Jim Jones’ followers, dead….

Connally

Socialite Mary Connally gave Brother XII a fortune

In the late 1920s, Brother XII, born Edward Arthur Wilson, in Birmingham, England, started a ‘spiritual community’ south of Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, on the West Coast of British Columbia. He had no trouble raising funds and easily attracted wealthy supporters including successful business men. Socialite Mary Connally, from North Carolina, was so entranced by Wilson that only three hours after meeting him, she wrote a cheque to him for $23,000. (A fortune in 1928.)

Brother XII

Brother XII (Edward Arthur Wilson)

Roger Painter, the ‘Poultry King of Florida’ regularly sent Wilson cheques for five and ten thousand dollars. In 1929, he was summoned to the colony, arrived with $90,000 in cash and promptly turned it over to his guru! (That’s over a million dollars today.) Painter later regretted squandering his fortune on Brother XII. ‘Today, I don’t have a nickel, he got it all.’

In the end, the swindler who urged his flock to give up all their personal possessions ran off with about $400,000 — a fortune at the time. However, if I tell you the whole story, you’ll miss out on a fantastic read.

John Oliphant, author of Brother XII

Author John Oliphant

A little more about my friend John Oliphant: He was educated at the University of British Columbia, where his interest in history (which I share) and religious studies led him to research Brother XII’s life. John lives in Vancouver and continues writing for numerous publications. He lived and worked in Hong Kong for a number of years and remains a curious and constant world traveler and writer.

For more information on Brother XII: http://www.BrotherXII.com

Or, if you want to read the book — you can get it, enjoy it, and then review it on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Brother-XII-Strange-Odyssey-20th-century/dp/0978097203/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463620406&sr=8-1&keywords=brother+xii

 

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Robbers, rogues and rapists….

Photo: Timothy Stark

Photo: Timothy Stark

There was a time I wrote often about fraud, but haven’t done so before in this blog. However, a friend has been taken by the ‘you’re having a problem with your computer and we can help you fix it’ phone scam, so it is time I did. This friend has a P/C, uses word and like most of us deals with the often baffling confusions of modern technology. He thought the call was valid.

After allowing them into his computer, his credit card was charged over $300 and his computer was so messed up, he had to bring it into a shop to have it straightened out — at additional cost. The credit card company would not refund his money, it had gone off to a faraway third world country and there was no possibility of reimbursement. I’ve received dozens of the same calls and I don’t even use a P/C. We are all possible victims of fraud.

Someone was recently wearing a T-shirt which read ‘Prey or Predator’. What it implied disturbed me — I don’t like to think humans must fall into one or the other category, but there certainly are a few predators out there and we really need to be wary. It isn’t that the world is going to the dogs, and it isn’t that you can’t trust any one anymore. There is nothing new about dishonesty. It hasn’t just arrived with the advent of the computer, it has always been a part of the human condition.

Mode of travel once upon a time

Mode of travel in the 12th century

We’ve had thieves and rogues aplenty throughout history. For instance, in the days of the Plantagenets, the English royal house of Anjou, (12th century) a journey from one British town to another was fraught with extreme danger. Murderous villains lurked in the bushes on the roadways, ready to terrorize and plunder hapless travelers. Women were so vulnerable they often dressed as men in an effort to avoid being raped as well as robbed by the highway men lying in wait.

Nothing is new. In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra’s priests, who mummified cats to be buried with humans for the trip to the other world, often filled those ‘mummies’ with sand instead of cats. They had a good scam going — cats were revered. Go further back and I am convinced the caveman raided his neighbor’s den to commandeer meat, berries and women, while the poor unsuspecting

One of our forefathers ready to steal from his neighbor

One of our forefathers ready to steal from his neighbor

chap next door was out doing what he should — hunting a mastodon. Not much changes.

Out to get you

Out to get you today

Despite history and the many warnings on the news, some of us continue to get needlessly burned. And, if you have already been cheated once, be even more alert. You are considered ripe for another try, thieves trade information about ‘easy marks’. You may be approached by a scam artist again, so be extra vigilant. I care about you.