The Blackburn Cult, or How Housewives Founded a Sect with human sacrifices
Categories: North AmericaBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/the-blackburn-cult-or-how-housewives-founded-a-sect-with-human-sacrifices
The Blackburn cult, founded by two ordinary American women, has become one of the most mysterious and sinister cults of the 20th century. Numerous scandals and mysterious deaths were connected with him, but the police were never able to charge anyone. Until now, this sect raises many questions for researchers, to which, it seems, there will be no answers.
This strange story began in 1922, when two very ordinary women from the same Los Angeles family-May Otis Blackburn and her daughter Ruth Wieland Rizzio said that they had seen angels and were able to communicate with them. According to them, these were the archangels Gabriel and Michael, who came into contact with the American women in order to write a "Book of Revelations"based on communication with them.
The angelic book was supposed to contain answers to all the questions of the universe, explain the structure of the Universe and tell about some "lost dimensions" where the greatest treasures of the world are stored. The completion of the work on the book, according to the women, should open the Seventh Seal and give rise to the End of time.
Why the higher entities needed two California housewives as co-authors was unclear, but even more strange was the fact that like-minded people began to gather around May and Ruth. The women said that when the End of the World comes, only prepared people will be able to be saved, and these "chosen ones" began to come to the house of the two newly-appeared prophetesses.
Oddly enough, but the cult did not have a specific name and everyone called it as they wanted: "The Divine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven", "The Cult of the Great Eleven", "The Big Eleven Club". But outside of the sect, it was most often referred to simply as the "Blackburn Cult", after the name of the main founder.
To a modern educated person, the ideology of the cult will seem very strange, because it was a strange vinaigrette of the postulates of different religions and philosophical trends. There were provisions from early Christianity, elements of Kabbalah, fragments of the ancient cult of the goddess Hecate, and a lot of paganism taken from different parts of the planet.
May Blackburn very quickly settled into the role of the central figure of the new faith and began to call herself the Queen and High Priestess. In addition, she liked to call herself "The Heel of God", insisting on her exclusivity. May assured her followers that after the writing of the "Book of Revelations" and the completion of the Apocalypse, there will be no other power on earth except for the 11 queens. Of course, one of them was Blackburn herself.
It all sounded incredibly stupid, but people began to gather around Blackburn anyway, and often very wealthy ones. Therefore, the sectarians had more than enough money to hold the most extravagant events. The ministers of the cult often traveled to the Mojave desert to a place that was popularly called the Devil's Hole.
The hole of the Devil is a geological formation in the form of a huge well, at the bottom of which there is a lake with toxic water. What exactly attracted the sectarians to this place is still unknown. But even then everyone knew well that the rites of the Blackbourne cult were not so harmless. Rare eyewitnesses and disillusioned sectarians told about unbridled sexual orgies and animal sacrifices.
Outdoor rituals stopped when the cult became too numerous and began to demand the creation of its own spiritual center. For this purpose, a plot of land was purchased in the Santa Susana area in Ventura County, California. There, with the money of the sect, a luxurious temple was built with a throne room, which was decorated with gold.
The appearance of the sanctuary served to spread even more terrible rumors. It was said that some people, having entered the temple, never returned. It is not known for sure whether this is true or not, but history knows several cases of disappearance associated with the Blackburn cult. The first missing person was May's husband named Samuel Rizzio. Allegedly, he once hit his powerful priestess wife and then disappeared into the water.
There were many hypotheses about where Samuel went, and even several attempts were made to find his remains. But the search was a fiasco, and without a body, the police could not show something to the cultists. In addition to May's husband, several other people have disappeared at various times: Frances Turner, Harlin Sartoris, Catherine Boltz and Eddle McGuffin. But in these cases, the cops could not even find a connection between their disappearance and visiting the sect.
But the most terrible was the story of a 16-year-old girl named Willa Rhodes. She was one of May Blackburn's closest assistants until 1925, when she went missing. For four years, the police unsuccessfully tried to find Willa and in 1929 found her remains. The body was hidden in the house of the girl's foster parents under the floor, in a masterfully created burial chamber.
Rhodes ' corpse lay in a strict cedar coffin, completely sealed and filled with salt and spices. In addition to the wooden sarcophagus with the girl's body, there were seven mummified dog corpses in the tomb. The terrible discovery caused a serious public outcry and curses and threats began to be heard against the cultists.
During the investigation, the girl's foster parents unexpectedly repented and told that Willa died from an infection associated with a tooth abscess, and they buried her without an examination, because they did not want a hype. But May Blackburn was so confident in her invulnerability that she refuted the testimony of the spouses and stated that the girl did not die, but was immersed in a deep sleep until the New World era following the apocalypse.
According to the high priestess of the cult, Willa must be resurrected in order to take her place on one of the 11 golden thrones as queen. As for the dogs, they symbolized the "Seven Notes of the heavenly trumpet of Gabriel" and were supposed to help Rhodes get out of stasis after the Last Judgment.
After this delusional story, police experts once again carefully examined the girl's body, but again they found no evidence of her violent death. Representatives of the Blackburn cult again escaped punishment. Neither Willa's parents nor May were even detained and no charges were brought against them.
Almost immediately after the discovery of the girl's body, another scandal broke out, this time related to money. Oil magnate Clifford R. Babney, one of the main sponsors of the sect, said that May Blackburn had deceived him. The businessman told the police that he gave May and her henchmen more than 50 thousand dollars in cash and several land plots, in exchange for the honor of seeing with his own eyes the book that angels write.
Of course, no book was shown to Mr. Babney, which made him disillusioned with the new religion and soberly look at the solid expenses. I must say that the land on which the sectarian temple was built also once belonged to a magnate and he wanted to return it back.
Immediately after Babney's statement, other deceived people began to come to the police, who gave May more than 200 thousand dollars. Today, this amount looks even more impressive, since at the current exchange rate it is $ 3 million (215 million rubles). All this led to the fact that in 1931, May Blackburn was still arrested and accused of fraud on a particularly large scale. But it was still not possible to put the founder of the cult behind bars.
After several court sessions, the California Supreme Court dropped all charges against the woman, as it found no evidence that she maliciously lured money, and did not accept it as voluntary donations from believers. But the scandal around the sect did not pass without a trace and the adepts began to leave it one by one. No one believed in the angel book anymore, and soon May and her daughter Ruth were left alone again.
In 1936, May Blackburn made an attempt to cash in on her former glory and published the book "The Origin of God", similar to the revelations of a mentally ill person. The book sold very poorly and did not even recoup the funds invested in it. The high priestess of the cult and the Queen of the World, May Blackburn, died in 1951 in poverty.
It is still unclear why the frankly delusional cult has become so popular and where some of its supporters have gone. There are many hypotheses, including several conspiracy theories related to this mysterious sect, and enthusiasts still do not give up hope of finding the truth.