Vining through the ruins,
human ties remain.

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About the Author

Helen Zuman is a tree-hugging dirt worshipper devoted to turning waste into food and the stinky guck of experience into fertile, fragrant prose. She holds a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and a Half-FA in memoir from Hunter College. Raised in Brooklyn, she lives with her husband in Beacon, NY and Black Mountain, NC.

Mating in Captivity: A Memoir

A Harvard grad seeks a mate in a cult that forbids monogamy. To pursue love on her own terms, she must brave exile and learn self-trust. When recent Harvard grad Helen Zuman moved to Zendik Farm in 1999, she was thrilled to discover that the Zendiks used go-betweens to arrange sexual assignations, or “dates,” in […]

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Cycling Through Stories

by helenzuman in Cults, Memoir, Zendik

Once upon a time, in a coffee shop in Park Slope, I met up with a fellow ex-Zendik who’d lived at the Farm for a couple years (to my five). His outlook on his Zendik experience was essentially positive; he’d stayed as long as it served him, no longer. Soon after, I formed a hypothesis: […]

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How Cults, Like Weeds, Can Help Us Heal

by helenzuman in Cults, General, Zendik

News reports about the cult NXIVM­ — whose leader, Keith Raniere, now awaits trial in Brooklyn on charges of sex trafficking and forced labor — brim with horrifying details. Female “slaves” were branded with Raniere’s initials. They dieted to the point of gauntness, and handed over damning “collateral” as insurance against defection. Of course, the particulars of the story […]

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Spinning the Psychic Compass

by helenzuman in Zendik

In Chico, California, in April 2005, I got my first and only tattoo. It looks like a voluptuous “W,” with one end curving around the mole on my left forearm. It comes from a Zendik “mind-tuner” called The Psychic Compass; it’s linked to the following message: Do you dream of another, a higher reality? The […]

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