Sedona, Arizona -- Greg Kay, at the "Aquarian Concepts Community," tells a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune that his "cosmic destiny" is to be an "interuniversal architect," but meanwhile he is engaged in hard labor shoveling dirt. Now he calls himself "Mahu'Seen." Kay believes that some day that he will be designing things "on other inhabited worlds."
This may sound wacky, but within the so-called "spiritual community" set within an area in Arizona that has become something of a "New Age Mecca" it has perhaps become increasingly commonplace to make such claims.
The "Cosmic Family," which numbered about 70 in during 1997, is led by man known as "Gabriel of Sedona."
But Gabriel was born Tony Delevin on July 5, 1947, in Pittsburgh. The son of a steelworker Delevin once studied theology at Duquesne University and was a charismatic Catholic. Later, he attempted a music career, but failed. Delevin also claimed to have spent time in monasteries and once ran a Pentecostal ministry in Tucson.
Duane Faw, a retired Marine Corps general, recalled Delevin from the early 1980s.
"Gabriel demanded $10,000 a month," she said. "He...[wanted]...to live like he was famous."
Tony Delevin then ended up in Arizona and slept in a tent within a commune at the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. It was then that Delevin claimed he was contacted by "celestial beings."
"I am the commander of a fleet of three thousand spacecraft that will participate in the evacuation of the planet when the change point comes," he says one space alien told him. "You are needed to help us prepare for this evacuation. It will not be an easy task. You will be called a fraud and a deceiver ..."
A celestial being named Paladin allegedly told Delevin, "Your level is the highest and most important on the planet today."
Gabriel later claimed to be the only "audio fusion material complement" on earth able to conduct "fusing" with celestial beings.
And he also claimed that he is the highest "spiritual specimen" on earth and that in past lives he was St. Francis of Assisi, Alexander the Great and the apostle Peter.
The man from Pittsburgh concocted his own strange idiosyncratic theology composed of Christianity, spiritualism, UFOs and excerpts from the Urantia Book.
The Urantia Book is a 2,097-page book published in 1955, that includes teachings on Jesus, the universe and mankind. Fans of the controversial book have been a ready resource for new recruits for Gabriel and they have come from Europe, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Delevin claims that his teachings are a continuation of the Urantia Book.
In 1997 the media became interested in Tony Delevin and his followers because of the parallels between his "Aquarian Concepts Community" and "Heaven's Gate," a cult that a man named Marshall Applewhite led to mass suicide. He too had a kind of "Doomsday sci-fi theology."
Gabriel told a reporter after Applewhite and his 38 loyal followers killed themselves that they should have thought "to stay behind and make a difference here, and not go up there."
But like Applewhite the prophet from Pittsburgh made dark predictions. Gabriel once claimed that the world would end May of 2000 or 2001. He told his followers the Chinese Red Army and "earth changes" would cause this. Again, much like Applewhite, Gabriel foretold that he and his followers would be rescued by friendly spaceships and/or maybe even teleported.
Delevin reportedly routinely predicted global disasters, earthquakes, floods and "distortion waves" that would cause chaos in cities with over 20,000 in population. California would be submerged in the ocean and the East Coast wiped out, according to Tony's "transmissions." And because of all these dire predictions Gabriel once told his flock they couldn't travel more than five miles from his commune.
Of course there was always an escape clause provided by Gabriel to avoid all the calamity, if earth turned to God through his theology, everything might be OK.
"And that is possible," said the seer of Sedona, "but the problems on this planet are so immense that right now, the earth herself -- which is a living organism and part of God -- basically is dying."
Gabriel said, "Someday we will be in control of the whole planet. I look forward to that day. All the land, all the resources on the planet, belongs to God -- and Divine Administration." And "Planetary Headquarters" would be just five miles from his spread in Sedona.
However, in 1997 Tony Delevin and his faithful lived humbly in group housing next to Oak Creek.
The community enforced very strict rules, including every member turning over all their assets to Tony's control. And members also took on new names, given to them from outer space through Gabriel, leaving their past lives behind.
Gabriel's rules for his followers also reportedly included no Illegal drugs, no smoking and only moderate alcohol consumption.
According to the 1997 San Diego Union-Tribune report everyone in the community is expected to "separate from family members, friends and associates."
Anyone who broke the rules would be expelled.
"You have to serve God your father with all your heart and serve your brothers and sisters. If you can't do that, we love you dearly but you have to leave," said Santeen, Gabriel's second-in-command.
Some ex-members told reporters that Santeen was the real power and the brains behind Gabriel. Formerly known as Kevin Heinold, he joined the group in 1992.
The former Pentecostal street preacher also made music with his very own choir called "Bright and Morning Star" and peddled its CDs and his various books through New Age bookstores and on the Internet.
Gabriel sold what he calls "transmissions" for hundreds of dollars, claiming "cosmic beings" speaking through him.
In 1997 it was reported that amongst his devotees Delevin had a physician, a lawyer, a college basketball coach and two former Roman Catholic nuns, one that claimed Gabriel was her father in a previous life in 1st century Rome.
Daily life in the 16-acre Arizona compound was rather regimented. Assigned jobs posted with precise instructions on what needed to be done.
An irrigation system was being built, vegetable, fruit, herb and flower gardens needed to be tended and the group had businesses, such as a jeep excursion company called "Spirit Steps Tours."
The commune also included a law office, school compound and medical clinic
One of Gabriel's inner circle was reportedly a clinical psychologist named Linda Cunningham, now known as Marayeh, who left both her husband and California practice to follow Delevin in 1993.
"I'm absolutely convinced that he is for real. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind," she says.
Cunningham now provided "counseling" within the compound to battle what she identified as "lower emotions" and "misplaced compassion."
Previously from 1973 to 1989 Cunningham worked at Synanon, a drug rehabilitation group called a "cult."
The Aquarian community controlled more than $1 million in assets, according to a 1995 Arizona financial disclosure report.
"Spiritual growth entails sacrifice and pain," said Kamon, a 52-year-old former paratrooper known as a "spiritual warrior."
Married couples in the community separated because Gabriel pronounced them "inappropriate relationships" and supposedly not of "divine pattern."
"Jesus said in the end times there will be separation -- husband and wife, father and son," devotee Dowan, 42, told a reporter, who separated from his wife after joining the group.
Polygamy is possible though, Gabriel taught that this could happen when a community reportedly reaches the "proper level of spiritual enlightenment."
There were numerous children in the group home-schooled at the "Starseed" and "Urantian Schools of Melchizedek." Gabriel said his school represent a "truly holistic, continuously evolving education program" and are "the only school of its kind on the planet."
Half the children did not live with their parents, according to Ni?nn, Gabriel consort, but with other adult members.
Gabriel's consort claimed that was done because of "constant conflict and misery." And that once they are separated parents and children can "become much closer, much better friends."
Gabriel and Ni?nn have preached to their faithful perched on a large cushion, bedecked with flowers, in the lotus position like gurus.
Santeen told a reporter in 1997, "Most of us are from Christian backgrounds."
"We have to get away from Allah and even Buddha," Gabriel told his flock. "And we have to get away from all of the divisions that separate us. How can Muslims and Christians...be killing each other? How can Irish Protestants and Catholics be killing each other? Because of the ignorance of the religions that they're in."
Ex-members say Aquarian Concepts Community is a "cult."
But Ninn told a reporter, "You join a [cult] and they want to own you," she says. "There's one leader -- a guru type -- who does all the thinking. You're brainwashed, stripped of your own identity. You give up everything. There's no more free will ... We're none of that," she said.
Ex-members claimed otherwise and told reporters that the group used control techniques, which were persuasive and debilitating.
Laura Wynne told the San Diego Union-Tribune that she spent 21 months in the community before leaving in 1995.
"Anytime you say 'no' to Gabriel, their reaction is, 'You leave!' That's the thing you cannot do in any cult "you cannot tell the management, 'No,' " said Wynne, who once worked in Synanon like Cunningham.
"Their message is, 'Cross us, and cosmically we can stop your motor," she explained.
Mark Sprague, a Houston computer programmer, was a member from 1992 to 1994.
"There is a vulnerability and Gabriel makes promises that he can fix them -- maybe not now, but sometime in the future," says Sprague.
Dr. Byron Weeks, an internist, spent about four months in the community before leaving in 1994. Gabriel once told the doctor he had been the apostle Luke.
"I began to see a burgeoning iniquity and an incredible megalomania in Gabriel," says Weeks, who labeled the group a "fanatical cult."
"They claim to be the exclusive and only pathway to the service of God," says Weeks, who retired to Idaho. Instead, he says he saw little love "and much greed, vengefulness, jealousy, hate, envy and lust."
"There appeared to be the beginning of fear that reigns with tyrants," the doctor told reporters.
When he left the community, he says that Gabriel told him he was doomed to eternal enslavement on a fallen planet called "Dandross." He also says Gabriel told him that he would be "summarily removed" from earth as punishment for leaving Aquarian Concepts; Weeks took this as a death sentence.
Weeks predicted that Gabriel will "inevitably end in disaster" and that "so many innocents, who just wanted to belong somewhere, will go down with him."
Sedona Police Chief Bob Irish told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he didn't take the concerns expressed by former members very seriously.
And Sedona Mayor Ivan Finley told a reporter, "It's not like they're considered that far out here."
The mayor might have been right. There are numerous fringe groups that populate the Arizona town.
For example, the Osho restaurant in 1997, run by the followers of the late Baghwan Shree Rajneesh.
Gabriel's followers seem to be convinced about his powers and prophesies.
Patrick Lawrence, M.D., told reporters that he believed the planet is in for it. He is now known as "Landau" and joined the group in 1994.
"The earth changes are already under way, of course," he told a reporter, "We have raped Mother Nature. What do we expect? We have a world that's about to go into labor and delivery. It's about to be 'upstepped.' "
Note: This news summary is based upon an article titled "Cosmic cataclysm" by Philip J. LaVelle and Frank Klimdo published by the San Diego Union-Tribune November 11, 1997
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