Cycling Through Stories

by helenzuman, June 29, 2018 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: […]

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 […]

Cult Stories: Novels vs. Memoirs

by helenzuman in Cults, Memoir, Zendik

Since beginning work on my Zendik book, more than ten years ago, I’ve read dozens of cult memoirs. (In 2008, on a train from New York to Seattle, I binge-read maybe seven or eight.) Many are terrible; some are decent; a few kick butt. The terribles fall into two categories: self-published exposés with a side […]

My Cult and Infinite Growth: A Tale of Two Stories

by helenzuman in Cults, Zendik

[I wrote this essay in June 2014. A month later, a man I met at the Northeast Permaculture Convergence became the first to respond to my admission of cult involvement with a version of, “Yeah, me too.”] I spent most of my twenties trapped in a story. The story, roughly, was this: The mass of […]