If I’d Had a Life Coach, Would I Have Joined a Cult?

by helenzuman in Coaching, Cults, Zendik

I am an ex-cultist; I am a life coach. As a life coach, I use a tool called the Model (developed by Life Coach School founder Brooke Castillo). It’s based on these premises: that circumstances—facts—are neutral, i.e., don’t mean anything until we have a thought about them. That our thoughts create our feelings, which drive […]

Mourning a Murderer

by helenzuman in General

I wrote this piece months ago, and recorded it for my podcast; I am posting it now from the Isle of Skye. On Monday, December 27, 2021, my friend Lyndon McLeod shot and killed five people, wounded two more, and was shot to death himself, in Denver, Colorado. I first got wind of the shootings […]

Hitching with Mavis

by helenzuman in Cults, General, Memoir, Zendik

This is an excerpt from Mating in Captivity, my memoir of five years in a cult called Zendik Farm. In this scene, I’m on an “out,” which I’m hoping will fix what I see as my lack of commitment to Zendik. The first thing I noticed about the woman who pulled over for me, about […]

How to Eat Chocolate

by helenzuman in General

I still remember, in my early twenties, eating a large bar of Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate one night when I was home alone, and then puking it up into the toilet. Back then, I had no standards for the kind of chocolate I ate, and used chocolate as an escape. (As a kid, I ate […]

Why My Chocolate Is Awesome

by helenzuman in General

This is Holy Crack! You can buy it on Etsy, at Chocolate Church. It’s awesome. Here’s why: It’s made of the highest-quality ingredients—the kind that both nourish your body and help regenerate the web of life. The cacao is raw, organic, direct trade, and imported by a company just across the Hudson River from the […]

The Art of Making Money

by helenzuman in General

If I had to choose one thought that’s governed my relationship with cash, throughout my past, I would go with “It’s hard to make money.” Meaning, the things I have to do to make money are hard, as is the process of finding or developing new income streams. Recently, when I hear Stacey Boehman (of […]

The Cult of Busyness

by helenzuman in Cults, General

Back in 2011, I signed up to write a column for the Carroll Gardens Patch. Each month, I was to turn in a five-hundred-word story, with photographs, then promote the hell out of it through my personal networks. My pay? Fifty dollars per column. At first, I was just thrilled that I was getting published. […]

What Is a Sex Cult?

by helenzuman in General

If you google the term “sex cult,” you’ll find plenty of supposed examples—including, most notably, NXIVM, the Rajneeshees (profiled in Wild, Wild Country), and the Children of God. What you won’t find is a definition. No one—not even Wikipedia, or the Urban Dictionary*, or dictionary.com—seems to know what it means. Is it a cult whose […]

Can I Trust You with My Teeth?

by helenzuman in General

About seven and a half weeks ago—the day I discovered that Vice UK’s ten-minute video about my Zendik story was on its way to going viral—I started feeling intense pain in my teeth. Checking my trusty Prescription for Nutritional Healing for an entry on toothache, I found only an entry on tooth decay: according to author […]

A Word That Signals Warning

by helenzuman in Cults, General

This year, the Communal Studies Association awarded Mating in Captivity the 2020 Timothy Miller Outstanding Book Award—and sent me a beautiful wooden plaque, handcrafted in Amana, Iowa, which now hangs to the left of my desk on my (wooden) studio wall. In addition, they asked me to record an acceptance speech, to be aired at their […]