"The Running Grave," a new novel by Robert Galbraith, delves into the dark, enigmatic world of cults, drawing striking parallels to real-life communities. One such community – the one I suspect the cult from the book - the United Humanitarian Church - is closely based on is Zendik Farm, which I explore through an in-depth interview with Helen Zuman, survivor of the group and author of "Mating in Captivity."
Zendik Farm and The Running Grave: A Comparative Analysis
In my engaging two-part interview with Helen Zuman, we dive deep into her experiences at Zendik Farm. Helen's memoir sheds light on the farm's unique lifestyle, from creating and selling their products to their unconventional views on sex and monogamy. These insights offer a fascinating comparison to the fictional Running Grave cult, revealing common themes and practices such as:
- making their own stuff to sell (in her case books and magazines)
- buying in food and not actually living off the land
- their radical take on sex and the “set-up”
- the hierarchy and how that determines jobs and shunning
- the pressure to give money along with the favour you get from the leader when you do give money
- a matriarchal figurehead who wants members to move away from monogamy because it harms your spiritual journey
And many more.
If you are just getting started with learning about cults then all of these things might seem astonishing and unique, but as your journey into cults continues you will, as I have, start to notice a lot of similarities between them all.
Insights from Helen Zuman
If you’ve read the Running Grave, but haven’t heard of Zendik Farm, then parts one and 2 of my interview with Helen are a great place to start your learning journey, or you can just dive straight in to “Mating in captivity” and draw all your own connections.
Revisiting the first part of my interview with Helen, which has been recently remastered, offers a fresh perspective on her journey. Her deep understanding of cult dynamics, including recruitment tactics and internal hierarchies, provides invaluable knowledge for anyone interested in learning about cults. Helen's growth post-Zendik Farm exemplifies the transformative journeys many undergo after leaving such communities. You can check out the blog and link to the episode HERE.
Beyond Sensational Headlines: A Deeper Understanding of Cults
It's essential to move past the sensational headlines often associated with cults. My previous blog touched upon the importance of focusing on survivor testimonies and the real impact of cults on individuals. This approach allows for a more nuanced and respectful conversation around the topic.
This second part of Helens interview was a joy to return to. She is extremely knowledgeable about the cult space and topics surrounding it and it really shows in the later parts of this interview. Learning about cults can be tricky and a lot of media out there focuses on the salacious headlines and tags like “Sex cult” etc. but as I went into in the previous blog, this is detrimental to the progression of cult awareness and also survivor testimonies – Why would someone speak out to warn others if their story is just going to be reduced to the sex part?
Helen’s growth and journey post-Zendik is very clear. She has taken the time to learn about cults, their inner workings and what tactics leaders use when recruiting. These things were relatively new for me at the time, but now they are what drives my lines of questioning in interviews.
Your Journey in Learning about Cults
I am eager to hear about your journey in understanding cults. Have my podcast and blogs sparked new thoughts or questions? What have you learned, and what more would you like to know? Your insights could be instrumental in shaping future content.
Feel free to contact me through my website or directly via email. Your experiences and curiosity drive this conversation forward, and I look forward to hearing from you.
If you haven't heard the remastered second episodee of my interview with Helen Zuman, you can listen free HERE.
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