A UFO religion with an infamous ending still occupies web space chronicling its haunting manifesto.
Like a rogue planet drifting aimlessly through the infinite darkness of space, Heavensgate.com still roams harmlessly and quietly through the telephone wires and cable lines that were once lit up by a nation of shocked and confused internet surfers.
There is a stillness that is hard to ignore on the web pages of the former cult’s webpage. Like a quiet memorial, a mournful hush over a small swath of souls. Rainbow links still promise free orders of Heaven’s Gate VHS initiation tapes and a bright pink link to order a hard copy of their book for $45.
For many of us over thirty – Heaven’s Gate was a small anecdote in a newborn and continually strange 90’s news cycle that seemed fixated on high profile murder cases, the unexplained and cults. Birthing the X-File generation.
But for those that don’t know the story behind Heaven’s Gate, I will keep the description brief with respect for those who were involved. Formed in the early 1970’s by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles the couple was brought together with a shared interest in science fiction, religion and extraterrestrials.
As they molded their beliefs around their shared loves, they held a religious like intensity over the idea that the body was only a vehicle – a vessel to be discarded once ready, to move on to ultimate salvation. To move on to The Next Level.
After the death of Nettles from cancer in 1985, the doctrine of the group shifted to more of a cyber-culture throughout the 90’s. Eventually entering its final act in 1997. With the media circus surrounding the Comet Hale-Bopp, the group took the astrological phenomenon as a sign and decided to evacuate Earth once and for all.
After taping farewells to loved ones, thirty nine members (including leader, Applewhite) of the group ingested lethal doses of Luminal and Vodka. They were found days later.
So if the group committed mass suicide in 1997 why was their website still up? Was anyone on the other side still running it? Watching quietly as random lone wanders of the internet traversed its pages, opening links and reading decades old mission statements. Well I couldn’t figure it out but I found an email address and decided, what the hell. Why not? To my surprise I received a couple short replies back:
DC: Hi this is Colin. I’m a blogger for XXXXXXXXX blog. It’s a blog that kind of highlights random, alternative websites across the web. I know the history of Heaven’s Gate but was curious to see if anyone is still running the site. Any feedback would be appreciated. Take care.
Heaven’s Gate: Yes, we still run the site.
DC: Thank you for the reply. Is the religion still growing or is it just a few select members? Is their still literature out there? Do you still get frequent web traffic?
HG: The Group came to an end in 1997. There are no members or anything to join.
We still get traffic and the information is available: http://vimeo.com/heavensgate
DC: Thank you for the resources. Do you have any further comment on the group or anything you’d like to be known about the group?
HG: There is a real, physical level above the human one on this planet. It is called the Next Level and they created this planet and all the life on it.