After moving about the country, Heaven’s Gate made a final stop at a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe in California. This is where the mass suicide of the group would take place. In this article, you will learn more about the mass suicide that rocked headlines.
Co-founder Bonnie Nettles would not live to see the mass suicide or die with her partner , cancer took her life in 1985. Marshall Applewhite went on to lead Heaven’s Gate alone up until his suicide with the group in 1997. Before they gained the following that would become Heaven’s Gate, the duo tried to run an inspirational bookstore, but it failed and they started to travel the nation giving talks about their belief system. The New Age approach that they took was combined with Christian ideas regarding salvation and the apocalypse. Heaven’s Gate also believed that they could travel to other worlds and dimensions.
Aliases and names played a role in the group, and Applewhite and Nettles went by many, including ‘Bo and Peep.’ The group also went through several different name changes. Before it was called Heaven’s Gate, it was known as Human Individual Metamorphosis (HIM). The group went through many different changes over the years and reinvented itself as a way to recruit new members. Marshall would tell people that he was directly related to Jesus and went by the title of being “Evolutionary Kingdom Level Above Human.”
The Beliefs of Heaven’s Gate
The belief system of Heaven’s Gate centered on the theory that Earth was going to be recycled and the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately. They felt that it would be wiped clean, renewed, and then rejuvenated. The group was formally against suicide, as they viewed it as turning against the ‘Next Level’ that they were supposed to enter. They believed that their ‘human’ bodies were merely vessels that were meant to help them on their journey. It was common for member to refer to their bodies as ‘vehicles.’
The belief system involved several paths that a person could leave the Earth and survive before the ‘recycling’ of the planet took place. One was to hate the world so strongly that it was a test of their faith. Members of the group were referred to as “children of the Next Level.” It was a belief that being eligible for the Next Level as a member, humans would have to shed every attachment to the planet. Members were expected to give up all of the characteristics that linked them to being human. This included family, friends, sexuality, individuality, jobs, money and their possessions.
It was these basic beliefs that remained with the cult for many years. They would still make small changes to their belief system, such as adding other New Age concepts as they went along. One of the concepts involved the belief in extraterrestrial walk-ins, which is similar to the notion that people could be possessed by spirits. At one point, Applewhite and Nettles started to describe themselves as walk-ins , that a being from another planet had entered their body.