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  • Interesting, I'm not familiar with the Shakers. I've got some reading to do... :-)

    June 18, 2007

  • ...like the Shakers?

    June 18, 2007

  • A fascinating cult from the turn of the 20th century. Founded by Cyrus Teed, aka "Koresh" (of no relation to David Koresh), the cult prided itself on scientific observation and enlightenment. A small commune was established to be the utopian "New Jerusalem" in the then-undeveloped swamp of Estero, Florida, a few miles from where I went to college. The grounds have been preserved and are open to the public today as a state park. If you're ever in the area, I recommend the tour.

    The Koreshans believed, among other things, in reincarnation, alchemy, and the Cellular Cosmogony. They were an aristocratic group of wealthy men and women from around the United States. Their commune was an unexpected haven for the arts, attracting the few local natives and homesteaders to plays and symphony concerts. They were industrious, self-sufficient people: the commune was fully wired for electricity (generated on-site), and the residents manufactured a variety of goods for sale to outsiders. They believed in gender equity, that is, fundamental equality of men and women despite physical differences. In many respects they were a progressive society far ahead of the rest of the country.

    The last Koreshan died in the 1980s. The cult might still be around today if its members had not practiced celibacy. At its peak, about 250 people were involved in the movement.

    June 18, 2007