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emeraldimajia

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Sex, Money, Mind Control: The Zendik FAQ [Dec. 27th, 2011|05:00 pm]
emeraldimajia
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Yes—as of July 2018—the Zendik FAQ is still here. But, before you read it, I'd like to offer some context.

I posted this FAQ nearly ten years ago, when Zendik was still going strong and I was hoping to curb its abuses by providing detailed information about how its particular brand of mindfuckery worked (I pretty much ignored Zendik's positive aspects, since you could hear all about those from any current Zendik, or read about them at zendik.org). Since then, Arol has died, the Farm has dissolved, and each of us who lived there has gone about composting her Zendik years in her own particular way.

I am choosing to let this FAQ stand, as a historical record. However, I no longer consider it my most illuminating, or nourishing, account of life at Zendik. That honor goes to my memoir, Mating in Captivity (She Writes Press, 2018), available here, at many libraries (if yours doesn't have it, you can request that they order it), and wherever books are sold. In the book I tried, per Tristine Rainer's advice, to "tell the whole truth, with love"; many years of turning my pile (far more fragrant and fertile now than it was in 2008) made that mission possible.

One more thing: If you've found my FAQ by googling "zendik," after meeting someone who used to live there, please do not use it to dismiss that person, or her intelligence, or her unique experience. We Zendiks were, and are, a wildly divergent band of highly idiosyncratic badasses. We moved to Zendik in hopes of doing something beautiful, while escaping the everyday catastrophe of business as usual. As I've said elsewhere, Zendik harbored some of the smartest, boldest, kindest, imaginers and creators I have ever met. Most of us have gained significant wisdom and insight from our Zendik (mis)adventures.

Okay, on to the very vintage, yet potentially still useful, Zendik FAQ.
Click here for the Zendik FAQCollapse )
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-09-12 07:40 pm (UTC)

Excellent FAQ

Wow Helen, probably your best synopsis of Zendik yet. I enjoyed reading it, and based on my few months there in 2000, I believe it to be a rather accurate snapshot of a lot of what went on there...

But seriously, what the hell has been going on there the last 2 years? Seems hard to find any real info...and what little I find on the net is depressing at best...:(

later,
Jason in Cincinnati
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[User Picture]From: emeraldimajia
2008-09-14 12:55 pm (UTC)

Re: Excellent FAQ

Hi Jason,

Good to hear from you.

Most of what I know about what's been going on there in the past couple years is included in the FAQ. Otherwise--same old, same old.

If you really want to slide down the Zendik-related rabbit hole, laughing all the way (don't miss the "day in the life" rundown by "El Diablo"), check out Operation Awakening.

Thanks for reading and commenting,
Helen
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-09-21 02:06 am (UTC)
okay I'll make a serious stab at responding to this by starting with the honesty section.

my experience with this aspect of zendik is like this: lying to outsiders works for me in a circumstance where i need to accomplish something in direct relation to immediate survival so that part is correct. if i didn't understand that and apply that understanding i'd be a martyr and a dumbass besides, to put it in simple terms. i mean, who doesn't lie to outsiders, besides a moron, common. speaking for myself as myself I most certainly encourage what is generically termed "lying" to outsiders, so in that light, sure, i'll both homour and honour the sentiment that closure is expected by zendik from any given party with no guarantee of it being returned. if i'm lying to myself, what should I expect? is this really a discussion of cult politics or is it just basic physics and common sense, besides? if i'm in a war because i'm having trouble understanding this and am interested in saving my world i sure as hell am going to suspend my morality for it. if i'm abasing myself, i might as well make it intentional if i want to win, that is an absolute yes. if i'm attacking myself i might as well face it. absolutely.

the part about disclosure requirement doesn't make sense to me because no one is required to be there, unless there is interest and as an individual you have the balls to risk it but even then if you're dissatisfied with the result you're really not stuck there at the risk of being killed for what you know and in my own experience no one there has ever used that as leverage against me, so i really don't know where you're coming from with that at least in my current state of mind. i mean, i can blame my personal irrational fears on an imaginary heirarchy too, sure, but no, i'm not going to get anything out of that, so we're in agreement there as well. as far as grovelling is concerned that's something you should do if that's something you do, as with anything else. if resistance is something you do, you should do it and if dismissing is something you do, you should do it. blah blah blah.

no, i still don't see anything wrong with this, it is what it is, its a flat statement of the obvious, stated plainly. if you don't want to experience these things, don't go there, it's not for you, you stupid lazy lifeless square. abasing? sure. why lie to myself. you suck and i'm not required to compromise my freedom to call it out and tell you to go fuck yourself, besides. if you're not going to give me a fucking break i'm going to give myself one and if you don't feel that's fair, tough. that's reality, yeah, it sure is. idiot. now tell me to get some class if that's what it's your turn to do or whatever, unless you're incapable of doing so because you've reached your exhaustion point from wasting your energy being wrong. when you get time to gather your energy again, come around and tell us how it is, as if you're the only one that knows, maybe. no problem. call it art if it pleases, see if I care, because I know damn well I'm talking to no one but myself here, and when I need to flatter myself I'm capable of doing it thoroughly without anyone else's help as you can see, and that's what makes me complete, and where the state of completion is heresy, onward the revolution. pfft. send me greeting cards from space.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-01-05 07:05 pm (UTC)

Oneness or Separation?

The Truth is- All Come From One, and All ARE One. Your consciousness is part of the whole, from which it came from. Therefore, when you attack any other, you are really attacking yourself. Separation is an illusion you have the choice to believe in. Do you wish to remain sick? You can always choose again. I love you, as I love myself.
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-09-30 05:29 pm (UTC)

Great Work

Thanks, Helen and great job on these FAQs. And happy again to see that Zendik-googlers are finding them. :-) Take care.
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[User Picture]From: emeraldimajia
2008-09-30 10:12 pm (UTC)

Re: Great Work

You're welcome. I do my best to scuttle the revolution.
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[User Picture]From: maxmovesfreely
2008-10-04 06:08 am (UTC)

Helen Strikes Back

Finally a retributive insurgency against Zendik Farm and its propaganda machine from an intelligent and independent ex-member. I think your perspective and the assessment that it offers is a much-needed deterrent to prospective visitors. I visited Zendik Farm in January of 2000 for about one month, and returned a year and a half later for about two weeks. I certainly don't have a chip on my shoulder about the experience; I wasn't there for a long enough period. I even urged my friends to "check it out", just to see what a cult looks like first-hand, and to have a very engaging short term experience. I remember you, Helen, and I remember Jyre and Mazz, but I wouldn't expect to be remembered. I left the day after my first "input" session. A room full of people ganging up on me to influence my behavior tricked the cult-alarm. But, before this moment, I was slowly considering and contemplating every challenge that any Zendik member offered, except for the notion that H.I.V does not exist. There was a definite appeal in the general message. And, I have to say that almost everyone there was attractive and very welcoming. I remember feeling heartbroken after leaving. My idealism and my faith in the potential of the human-collective was seriously wounded. But, that was a necessary development. Anyhow, thank you for putting this information onto the web. Someone had to, and I hope you get an ego-jack from the idea that it was you who finally did. ;)
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[User Picture]From: emeraldimajia
2008-10-05 06:28 pm (UTC)

Re: Helen Strikes Back

Absolutely! My ego is jacked through the ceiling! And what a wonderful feeling that is! :)
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-12-06 06:34 am (UTC)

Time?

You opened my eyes.

Glad you made it out, hope your life is becoming all you could ever hope it would be.

Good luck!


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[User Picture]From: roadriverrail
2008-12-19 09:48 pm (UTC)
Just happened across the FAQ. During a point of rather serious alienation and depression in my second year of college, I actually thought about spending some time with ZF while I sorted myself out. I got about three emails into the exchange with them when I caught a hint of what would be in store for me there. Years later, I started to hear even more about it and was completely boggled. Your FAQ has confirmed pretty much everything I'd suspected.

Thank you for making this available.
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[User Picture]From: emeraldimajia
2009-01-03 11:53 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. And thanks for your feedback--I appreciate it.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-01-05 06:36 pm (UTC)

I Escaped Them

As an idealistic young man, I visited the Zendiks in the early '80's in Topanga Canyon, California. They were known as the last of the 60's hippie communes. I went to live with them in the desert near Palm Springs about 2 years later. My stay lasted only two weeks. I experienced Arol's venom after professing my belief in Jesus Christ, and soon found myself surrounded by a crowd of angry, yelling Zendiks, who I thought were about to kill me. I jumped in my truck and got the hell out of there. Many times during my stay, members told me "We're not a cult."
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From: (Anonymous)
2013-11-09 11:54 pm (UTC)
I too visited the Topanga location in'84. My friend Nia/Niad, as named by them, really Kathy from Ventura, lived with them in the late '80's in the Palm springs loccation. I helped her get away from them in Irvine at a Grateful Dead concert (where they went to sell their magazine) by hiding her in a port-o-potty all day until they left. Nia if you see this find Heather Shaub Wargo on FB.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-01-13 03:27 am (UTC)

501(c)(3) Status

Helen- Have you scrutinized their Form 990s? Since you claim they're not a legitimate 501(c)(3) organization, you should look at the Form 990s filed by them during your stay there. I'm sure the IRS would appreciate any tips on organizations taking advantage of taxpayer dollars. For instance, the officers of this org. are all listed as having no compensation (which is typical for charity, but you seem to indicate may not be accurate). If you haven't done so, you should look into it. You can view their annual tax filings at http://www.guidestar.org/pqShowGsReport.do?npoId=575962.
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[User Picture]From: lpsposergrl
2009-01-13 06:15 am (UTC)
I stumbled across this while trying to find out information about the farm and I'm really glad I did. I've thought about living on a commune after I graduate from college and this one had been in the back of my mind. I'm definitely going to reconsider now, given what I've read here. It doesn't sound at all like it would be conducive to my spiritual goals. I'm sorry you stayed there so long and put up with this. Thank you for this information.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-03-01 12:02 am (UTC)
This might me irrelevant, but a Zendik follower was illegally selling stuff at New York Comic Con this year, spreading propaganda. I immediately recognized it as a cult after reading the magazine I was handed - but not after I was very weirdly conned out of ten bucks.

All very creepy. I had to come online to find out more.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-03-14 05:49 am (UTC)

Been there done that.....

I was a member once, so I know exactly what you are saying. I left the farm 5 months pregnant by a member. There birth control method doesnt work for everybody. As for testing for STDs, they should inform new people that herpies is their disease of choice. I only found that out later, but I was lucky and didnt get infected. Zendik farm is a great place for old guys/women that want young partners. I guess I was lucky my family was poor or I may not have been kicked out and would have lost more than a few belongings...probably my child.
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From: keckos
2009-04-13 03:37 am (UTC)

Very sad

From your small photo I think you just may be the same member who sold me a Zendik mag in Washington, DC after one of the big anti-war protests in '03. She had a great big smile on her face and was more dancing than walking, as she told me she lived in this "crazy" (her word) artist commune that produced the magazine. Maybe she was really happy because she was in the flow and had made lots of money that day, but I read it as just genuine love for the Farm. I'm happy I bought it anyway, because I found a lot to value in it. But it's very sad to hear how badly it has degenerated now, I guess because of the loss of Wulf (who I guess was already gone then, but the Farm had not yet moved from the place he'd built in NC, to the space in WV).

I found this site today because I wanted to refer a friend to the Farm that created that magazine, so I did a Google search. I obviously will now warn my friend away from it, but am happy to also find out about Echowood.

I'm also wondering now if there is, or should be, a group on Ning or something, about communes. Where people can share information about them, not just which are good and which are bad, but also what makes them good or bad, and how to create a good one.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-04-14 01:20 am (UTC)

Re: Very sad

Thats weird... I was in D.C. a couple of days ago and two people came up to me and were selling these stickers and magazines about zendik. I thought it was interesting and they told me they were fighting the "profit corporations that don't give a fuck" and "wanted equality for artists." I thought I would do some research and I came up to this. Reminds me a lot of the Jones Farm and Charles Manson. It's interesting, yet melachonic, and shocking.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-05-28 05:22 pm (UTC)

RE: Amazing gift for connecting through your writing

Helen~

I commented on one of your posts earlier today; I googled Zendik today just to keep up and found your blog. I was previously enamoured with the group back when they were in NC, but disconnected my feelings after a visit that left me feeling negative vibes. I have never found such a specific, personal account of time spent at Zendik. I went on to read more of your blogs and truly appreciated your writing style, your descriptiveness, your ability to connect through your writing. I feel I know a real part of you through reading about your day-to-day, your thoughts, ideas...I hope you make great money when your book starts to sell...is it finished and available yet? Put me on your email list when you get it published: freestarocean@yahoo.com. My heart reaches out to your artist's soul, beautiful sister~ Love and Light, (ms.) Ryan in Athens, GA
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[User Picture]From: emeraldimajia
2009-07-20 10:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Amazing gift for connecting through your writing

Hi Ryan. Thanks for writing. My book is not available yet, but it will be...I don't know when. Shaping it has been a long journey. I appreciate your words of support, and wish you all the best in your artist's quest. (My first selling trip ever as a Zendik was to Athens.)
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-07-20 03:01 am (UTC)

Wow.

ok.. thanks for the info. i went to warped (07). and a young man, prob 19 or so, sold me a Stop Bitching shirt and 2 stickers for about $15. i liked it, and thought i approved. but now, until today, i pity the people in Zendik. i want to burn the shirt and rip the sticker cause of how FUCKED it is. the guy also asked me ta consider joining. now i know. HELL FUCKING NO..
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[User Picture]From: wonderbink
2009-09-09 04:08 am (UTC)
The Zendiks were out in force trying to sell things to the crowds at Dragon*Con again this year. I used the Google app on my iPhone and came across your journal.

I'd actually picked up a couple of those magazines about ten years ago and I murkily recall seeing what may have been an article written by you in there, when you were still "Hellion." (I eventually tossed the magazines into the recycle bin, so I can't dig them up to be sure.) I do remember finding the philosophy overly simplistic and the artwork amateur at best, but didn't think that it was particularly harmful to anybody involved beyond perhaps stunting their artistic and intellectual growth.

I'm quite disturbed to find that it was much, much worse than I imagined. I observed the Zendiks more closely for the rest of the convention (it went on for four days) and noticed a certain tightness to their smiles, a forced cheerfulness as they held up their T-shirts to the costumed crowds that passed on by. As I read more of your journal upon my return home, I understood the fear behind those grinning faces. Now I feel a bit bad for taunting them as I did. (I laughed derisively as one of them trotted out the 'underground art magazine' line and I looked another in the eye and told him "you can't change the world by hiding from it, you know.")

Anyway, I just wanted to congratulate you for breaking free from them and let you know that your words are making more people aware of where the money they give to those poor kids is really going.
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