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The other Koresh

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Don’t worry, there are no dinosaurs.

This Friday, April 19, will mark the 20th anniversary of the fire that brought an end to the Waco siege, after a 50-day-long standoff between David Koresh, his followers and the FBI. Seventy-six people died in the inferno, and the name “Koresh” is forever infamous as a result. What most people don’t know is that a century earlier, there was another Koresh – also American and just as messianic, if less randy.

Cyrus Teed was born in 1839 in New York State. This was a time of great religious ferment in America, and utopians, prophets and saviors roamed the land, founding sects and communes and awaiting the arrival of paradise on Earth. Teed, an army medic by training, was fascinated by these groups and in 1873 paid his first visit to the Harmonists, a communist sect awaiting the return of Christ. The Harmonists were interesting, but he joined another group – the Shakers.

The Shakers were a big deal in the 1870s, and during Teed’s time there were 58 settlements dotted across the United States. Founded by a female Christ, who went by the name of Mother Ann, the Shakers were not only communists, but also celibate, with a tendency to release sexual tension during sacred worship by trembling, shaking, writhing and jumping up and down.

Teed liked the celibacy and communism, but he was developing his own ideas about salvation. He went into private medical practice and treated his patients with something he called “electro-alchemy.” Meanwhile, his updated version of this mediaeval science had led him to make great discoveries. In 1869 he not only discovered how to transmute base metal into gold (allegedly), but experienced a revelation regarding the nature of reality.

What had he discovered? That the Earth is a concave sphere and that we live inside it, on the inner edge; that God is half…

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Daniel Kalder is an author and journalist originally from Scotland, who currently resides in Texas after a ten year stint in the former USSR. Visit him online at www.danielkalder.com
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