Just outside the busy cities of Tacoma and Olympia in the great state of Washington, lies a tiny city called Yelm. Yelm has a population of less than 7000 people, and might well be a cozy small town, bursting with Americana and Mayberry-esque charm, if it wasn’t for the crazy people.

Right outside the Yelm city limits, on an 80-acre compound – sorry, campus, you’ll find Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment. It starts with professional channeller J.Z. Knight (not, as you may have guessed, a producer of rap music, but yes, her middle name is ‘Zebra’).

How could you not trust this face?

After dropping out of business school and moving to Tacoma to find gainful employment in the television industry, Knight was told by a psychic that an Enlightened One would appear to her in the near future. As luck would have it, Ramtha showed up in her trailer one night and spoke to her. I’m sure most of my readers are very familiar with Ramtha, but for the one or two of you who don’t keep up with current events, Ramtha was a Lemurian warrior who battled the Atlanteans over 35,000 years ago. He conquered three quarters of the known world before he was betrayed and defeated. Yes, that Ramtha.

Knight is the sole channeler of Ramtha, and has fortunately used this gift, not to rise to the ranks of super-villain but instead to open up Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment. The school preaches the teachings of this very real and very legitimate being to the lucky few who are accepted (or, whose checks clear). Students strive to learn a variety of useful skills, such as psychokinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, and I’m going to guess defense against the dark arts.

The school has been called a cult by such skeptical outsiders as Jeff Knight, who was J.Z.’s husband. Former students have launched similar criticisms as well, stating that they were kept loyal at first by fear. Specifically the fear of lizard people, who would fly to earth in a spaceship and devour the unfaithful. I’m not joking, they actually said this.

Come on, we all knew it would come to this.

Ramtha had some practical advice for those who attend the school’s various retreats (around $1000, as I’m sure you’re wondering). First, ditch your friends if they don’t believe you, or if they disagree with you. Leave them to be feasted upon by the lizard people. Also, your government is an illusion. This lesson led to several students not paying their taxes, at which time they learned that prison is not quite as much of an illusion as the government. Also, Ramtha figures it wouldn’t be a bad idea for everyone to construct underground shelters, because an army of Chinese communist soldiers will soon be invading from Mexico, focusing their attack on Seattle and the surrounding areas.

People believed this. They also believed some of Ramtha’s other prophecies, like the major war the USA would participate in at some point in 1985. This may have referred to the famous War for One-Eyed Willie’s gold, as depicted in the award-winning documentary film from that year, The Goonies. Also, there would be a major holocaust in 1988 (clearly this foretells the holocaust-like trade of Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings that year), and the discovery of a giant pyramid underneath Turkey which stretches to the center of the planet. That one’s still coming, I’m sure.

J.Z. found her way into court twice in order to protect her ‘intellectual’ property. Someone in Berlin claimed that she was also channelling Ramtha. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court in Vienna and dragged on for five years. Five years that a judge had to listen to testimony about who received messages from a dude who’d been dead for 35,000 years. The best part – the court awarded copyright to J.Z. as the ‘sole channeller’, and the other lady had to pay $800 in psychic damages.

Let that soak in for a minute. J.Z. Knight, who threatens her wayward students with man-eating lizard people from space if they don’t behave, has been legally recognized in the Austrian Supreme Court as genuinely able to channel this dead guy. And I thought the Americans had all the great idiot-judges stories.

If only they'd drawn Ping.

When Jeff Knight, J.Z.’s ex-husband (or as I’d like to think of him, the poor fool who let her get away) sued her, he alleged that he’d lost years of his life because he’d put off getting treated for his HIV because he’d been assured that Ramtha would cure him. The court decided against him, and he was dead before he could appeal.

Ramtha tells us that Jesus’ parables can be explained easily with photon waves and probability. He also states that murder isn’t necessarily wrong if you believe in reincarnation – how’s that for a lesson to be teaching to strangers who dropped $1000 for a workshop? Oh, and to add a little more batshit to Jeff Knight’s tale, Ramtha declared that HIV was nature’s way of getting rid of homosexuality. Ramtha sounds like a real prince.

There is video footage of Knight channelling Ramtha, but to get the deeper insights, one would have to prove themselves worthy (meaning, sufficiently financially liquid) by attending the school. She (or, I suppose, HE) appears in the film What The Bleep Do We Know?, which is a widely disputed film created by some of Knight’s former students and heartily endorsed by this 35,000-year-old being. My own father even recommended I check this movie out – I’m just going to block this fact out and remember that he also took me to see Star Wars when I was three.

One more story from the school: In 1990, more than a thousand students were blindfolded and set lose in an open field. They held their hands in the “consciousness and energy position” in front of them, and were told they needed to conquer their fears and just run. Their fears were, of course, proven to be valid when heads began colliding and several folks needed a trip to the hospital.

I don’t want to tell anyone how to live their lives, what to believe, or where to find spirituality in this world. As long as your beliefs don’t involve blowing people up or murdering ringing my doorbell to distribute literature to me at 8:00 on a Sunday morning, enjoy. But if your beliefs involve a talking dead guy, not paying your taxes and fearing that you’ll end up in the belly of a lizard person, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship with the universe. I’m just saying.