The Emergence of New Hybrid/Composite Groups and Counseling Approaches-- A Study of Friends Landing

January 1999
By Rick Ross

Topics in this Report

Friends Landing
WhiteWind Swan Fisher
"Spherical Reality"
The Circles
Dream Camp
Apprentice Program
Funds for Friends Landing
Thought Reform?
Is Friends Landing a "cult"?
An Intervention



A developing phenomenon within the fast-growing marketplace of spirituality, human potential groups and counseling--is the composite nature of many new groups and/or approaches. Some of these groups/approaches incorporate and combine facets of various belief systems such as "New Age" mysticism, Eastern religious traditions, UFO beliefs, the bible, meditation, Native American beliefs--often coupled with human potential themes, therapy and/or self-help and realization. They are often led or facilitated by charismatic leaders or some situations professional counselors who may make spiritual claims in addition to their official credentials.

Three well-known examples of hybrid/composite groups are "Heaven's Gate", which included elements of UFO beliefs, mysticism and the bible; the Solar Temple of Switzerland, which was a composite of "New Age" beliefs, holistic healing and arcane Christianity and Aum of Japan, which combined Buddhism, Hindu and apocalyptic beliefs. Many composite/hybrid groups, unlike the three previously cited, are relatively benign, though somewhat unusual and present no meaningful potential danger to society.

Friends Landing

One relatively new group offering what seems to be a composite approach is "Friends Landing", a "center for conscious living" founded in 1983--first located in Northern California. The group was started and is still led by WhiteWind Swan Fisher, a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor (MFCC). Friends Landing moved from California and now occupies a 60-acre site located near Springfield, Oregon. Ms. Fisher claims to be both a professional counselor and a "Shaman teacher of consciousness". According to the group's published material ("Friend's Landing Spherical Reality Certification Program") "WhiteWind has worked and studied in family systems and reconstruction, Huna and Native American traditions and with Depak Chopra at the Sharp Institute Mind and Body Center". Ms. Fisher claims to express "internal wisdom", which she receives "intuitively" by "spiritual experience". Her teachings are described as "state of the art methods of self discovery". She often calls her work "Dream coaching". Friends Landing also includes others who work as "Dream Coaches" and "Dream Coach apprentices". Services offered by the group and WhiteWind include such things as massage therapy, hypnotherapy, "realigning addictive family systems", "religious system dysfunction", "wilderness experiences" and "special support needed for entrepreneurs and other leaders".

WhiteWind Swan Fisher


Ben Fisher, third husband of WhiteWind and "Dream Coach" at Friends Landing

WhiteWind Swan Fisher was born Susan Briggs Kilborne June 18, 1954. After her first divorce in 1977 Susan Kilborne married John Joseph Musumeci in 1979. She then became Susan Kilborne Musumeci and that union produced two children--Nicole and John. WhiteWind married her third and current husband Ben Fisher in 1996. Ben is a hypnotherapist and "Dream Coach" at Friends Landing.

According to her biography (Friends Landing Newsletter Winter 1998) WhiteWind is the product of a family "affected by alcoholism" and divorce. The Kilborne family supposedly "identified her as a seer" at a young age. At "age eight [little Susan] was 'co-creating' with her 'troll dolls'" and by the "4th grade" she supposedly gathered together her first group composed of "hurt" kids. Later in life Susan Kilborne pursued a career in counseling. She obtained her MA in psychology from Azuza Pacific University and became a licensed professional in California.

During the 1980s Susan Kilborne Musumeci (a.k.a. WhiteWind) moved to Hawaii. It was there that she spent time with "Kahunas" and other spiritual teachers (e.g. shamans)--and claimed she was "recognized as seer and shaman herself". Later returning to the mainland Susan Musumeci settled in Berkeley, California and became a "strong presence". In 1983 Ms. Musumeci "left her formal practice as a therapist". According to WhiteWind this was due to a "discrepancy between traditional psychology's frame and [her] increasing shamanic understanding"--that understanding "contrasted with&prevalent notion[s] in traditional psychology".

By 1994 Susan Kilborne Musumeci's ideas about counseling seemed to have caused her serious problems. According to a civil suit filed by Lynn Sheffield, a former "patient" of Ms. Musumeci, she had intentionally and negligently inflicted "emotional distress" through her work. Ms. Sheffield also claimed damages for "medical malpractice", "sexual battery", "fraud" and "negligent misrepresentation". Ms. Musumeci denied all these claims. But before meaningful discovery was completed and the case went to court--the suit was dismissed at the request of the plaintiff Ms. Sheffield. Such a dismissal often occurs due to a settlement. However, this suit appears to have dismissed because of concerns about the statute of limitations and also that Susan Musumeci had no malpractice insurance or meaningful assets to cover the claim. She had also recently declared bankruptcy.


Marie "Bree" Freyre longtime companion of WhiteWind and "Cofounder" of Friends Landing

Ms. Musumeci also is included within three tax liens. She is listed on one lien for $389,203.00 and another for $33,038.55. A tax lien was also filed against "Friend's Landing" in 1997 for $7,172.00. The property for "Friends Landing" in Oregon is actually deeded to Barbara Kilborne--WhiteWind Swan Fisher's mother. Barbara Kilborne declared bankruptcy in 1992 claiming her daughter Susan Musumeci and her friend Marie Fryer (Friends Landing spells her name Freyre a.k.a. "Bree") "Dependents of Debtor Living with debtor".

"Spherical Reality"

A belief system known as "Spherical Reality" seems to have become largely the principal basis for much of WhiteWind Swan Fisher's teachings through Friends Landing. This belief system described as a "newly forming framework" is supposedly a "synergistic expansion of the knowledge of psychology and religion" and "offers a relevant paradigm and way of seeing what a human being is all about". Friends Landing claims that Spherical Reality is "a new paradigm", "unique lens"--that "provides a way of viewing human beings". For participants at Friends Landing it "provides the foundational perspective of a new vision that assists [them] to focus" "the attention of the mind" (quotations from "Friends Landing Spherical Reality Certification Program" handbook).

The "principles of "Spherical Reality" are broken down into "four quadrants":


  1. "Source dipping"-- "silence and meditative contemplation"


  2. "Intuited expression"--"articulating a life of authenticity"


  3. "Physical spontaneity"--the "interplay of all the senses"


  4. "Witness"--that is the "celebration and the stillness of wisdom"


WhiteWind has moved beyond the established boundaries of most professional counselors through the "new paradigm" of "Spherical Reality". She states--"I also took it beyond transpersonal psychology to a shamanic realm". She thus became a "spiritual counselor" or "shaman" rather than staying within the professional parameters of a typical MFCC. Friends Landing then became essentially her "school of consciousness". At this school "WhiteWind manages the flow of vision" through the "unique lens" of "Spherical Reality". Ms. Fisher's associates and apprentices work "together to complete the vision of an evolving organization" (quotes from Friend's Landing Newsletter Winter 1998).


Friends Landing offers a ten-month "Spherical Reality Certification Program" which costs $5,000.00. However, this does not include additional fees for retreats or related expenses such as food. The program consists of a series of meetings on weekends. These sessions are held in the Bay Area of California (e.g. Walnut Creek) and may run one full day and/or only a few hours. There are also two "retreats" or "wilderness experiences" in Oregon. At the end of this program participants are "certified" by "Friends Landing" (it is unclear how such a certification is accredited outside of Friends Landing).

The Circles

Friends Landing is structured into "circles" (smaller groups). According to Friends Landing "a circle is a gathering of people who meet regularly, biweekly or monthly and on retreat each year. They are a "microcosm of the world" An "environment" where people are "stimulated and revealed" "in the mirrors of others". This may be "enjoyed or not" (quotes from brochure for "World Dream Camp" 1998).

Dream Camp


WhiteWind Swan Fisher relaxing during "Dream Camp" in the Friends Landing hot tub.

WhiteWind Swan Fisher and her "Standing Tall Circle" at Friends Landing also sponsor "Dream Camp". This is a thirteen-day program that costs $1,750.00 per person. Participants are requested to bring bedding and may sleep outdoors near a "camp house" or in a "tent area". WhiteWind leads the program and it is designed to "unfold" participants and encourages "manifesting right action". The staff at "Dream Camp" have years of experience in creating an "environment for [this] unfolding". "Dream Camp" supposedly "will support you to consciously weave&[a] song [from] a story in you&a special information loop essential to the evolution of consciousness". Within this camp those involved are encouraged to experience "ritual with others" and are "fully witnessed". WhiteWind warns--"This is a spiritual, shamanic and educational event [and] not a psychological group or encounter" (quotes from brochure for "World Dream Camp" 1998).

Apprentice Program

Many of the people who attend programs through Friends Landing may become more deeply involved and move on to the "Friends Practitioner Certification and Circle Leader Apprentice Program". The requirements for this program are an apprenticeship "for a minimum of four years with Friends Landing", "individual sessions, circle membership, Dream Camp attendance and completion of the Spherical Reality Certification Program". After that certification "3 years or more in a circle" is required. Subsequently, "they may be eligible to start a circle and complete the training while being mentored". The "infrastructure for the larger group which exists today" consists of "associates [who] have apprenticed with WhiteWind for 5 to 10 years". They then became "The Standing Tall Circle, a core group of people dedicated to transpersonal shamanic evolution".




Scott Hall, a "Life Balance Mentor" at Friends Landing

Chrysta Lee, one of the first "practitioners" who began working with WhiteWind in the late 80s, advises that the experience of Friends Landing "requires an environment" and lauds the "consistent reflection" she receives within that environment. Chrysta concludes that "Friends Landing, through the clear, congruently enacted intention of its leadership, provides an environment in which each of us can learn to discern". Friends Landing "Life Balance Specialists" or "mentors" will "support you in creating environments for remembering who you truly are". Mentor services at Friends Landing were developed to provide "relevant designs that are more useful to people than traditional means of support". And "as people become conscious they require different kinds of support". Such mentors may influence a "shift [in] attitudes", "a new lifestyle", or "to determine priorities". It is suggested they might "locate general counsel and support".

Funds for Friends Landing

Friends Landing appears to be incorporated as a private for-profit business. The programs, camps and individual sessions generate income for the group.


Anhei Morningsong manages the Friends Landing Resource Library for Conscious Living in addition to her work as a counselor

However, they also claim to have a tax-exempt, incorporated, non-profit educational entity called "The Greater Family of Friends". This entity was supposedly founded to "aid in the education and development of people and programs associated with conscious living". The "Greater Family of Friends" maintains the "Library of Conscious Living", which was donated by Friends Landing, Incorporated. This library contains close to "1,000 books, audiotapes and videotapes (available soon)". It also "contains items for use at retreats" such as "art supplies, drums, rattles, other musical instruments, exercise equipment and many different sets of oracle cards" (Friends Landing Newsletter Winter 1998). It is suggested to potential program participants interested in Friends Landing that--"you may raise funds for this course by seeking tax deductible donations to The Greater Family of Friends Scholarship Fund. The money you raise can be applied to a scholarship on your behalf".

One father of a current member summarized his son's expenses saying--"Rent on an 8x40 foot trailer in the compound- $450 per month plus utilities&Dream Camp - $1,550 per year, Spherical Reality - $3,000 per year,&Standing Tall Circle - $1,800 per year--total of $11,500 per year".

WhiteWind and/or Friends Landing seem to control additional businesses such as the development of Paulownia trees within the Friends Landing 60-acre retreat site and a garden rock carving company called "Ancient Rites" in Springfield, Oregon.

Thought Reform?

Robert Jay Lifton, a psychiatrist and distinguished professor at the City University of New York, has studied the psychology of extremism for decades. His work began through his research of techniques of coercive persuasion utilized by the Communist captors of prisoners of war during the Korean Conflict. He first published his book "Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of 'Brainwashing' in China" in 1961. That book became pivotal, beginning in the 70s, for an understanding of the phenomenon of "cults" and their undue influence--what some critics have called "mind control".

Lifton outlined within Chapter 22 of his book a set of criteria, or eight psychological themes, which describe a thought reform milieu or environment. In combination these themes appear to energize a collective framework through which individuals may be manipulated by an organization or an individual.

These themes are:


    1. "Milieu Control"--control of an environment--frequently through isolation and the control of information and association. Essentially controlling this milieu to largely exclude accurate feedback or an outside frame of reference.

      This criteria appears to apply to Friends Landing through the group's choice of a retreat/compound setting. This 60-acre enclosure surrounded by an electrified fence provides a contextual environment for much of the group's important activities such as "Dream Camp"--that "provides a true scholarly milieu for creative thinking and integration". According to her biography "WhiteWind left her formal practice as a therapist to create a more real and genuine environment".

      "Milieu Control" might also apply to a broader range of activities offered by the group through various weekend programs and lectures in which those who express interest and enthusiasm for WhiteWind's teachings often surround potential members. As explained within their newsletter, "In essence and intention, Friends Landing is a school of consciousness. It creates environments that allow the desirous person to activate and build new neurological systems". Likewise--"Teachings by circle leaders support creative emergence in an environment of combined witness".


      Chrysta Lee, one of the first "Friends Landing Practitioners" has worked with WhiteWind since the late 80s
      Chrysta Lee, one of the first "practitioners" who began working with WhiteWind in the late 80s, advises that the experience of Friends Landing "requires an environment" and lauds the "consistent reflection" she receives within that environment. Chrysta concludes that "Friends Landing, through the clear, congruently enacted intention of its leadership, provides an environment in which each of us can learn to discern".

      One participant at "Dream Camp" commented--" I was encouraged not to wear a watch, read or listen to the news--but rather to "feel" what was happening next. They assured me that I would get into the 'rhythm'".

    2. "Mystical Manipulation"--personal manipulation that seeks to provoke a pattern of behavior and assumes a near mystical quality.

      It seems that such personal manipulation may exist within the process of various activities offered by Friends Landing. According to its "Mission Statement" Friends Landing presents services to "identify and express feelings", "choose responses to life circumstances" and practice "meditative techniques", "dream interpretation" and "mind/body exercises." The group also offers "hypnotherapy." Such activities could offer an avenue for personal manipulation.

      WhiteWind talks of a "mystical magnetism" between "specific individuals"--and claims that "the only thing she really has to offer people is "her own genuine moment allied with their conscious intent". It seems her "genuine moment" may be premised upon her "internal wisdom" or the "teachings [she] receive[s] intuitively through spiritual experience". And this process, in her words, is "beyond transpersonal psychology" and in a "shamanic realm". Such experiences can be seen as subjective and within an environment controlled by a group/leader--it is relatively easy to manage such experiences for the purpose of "Mystical Manipulation."

      There are other activities that offer seeming opportunities for "Mystical Manipulation" at Friends Landing.

      Friends Landing also teaches skills "for navigating life's journey" and "intuitive processes that lead to the heart's guidance". All this culminates supposedly "into identifying and living important life dreams". According to Chrysta Lee longtime member and "practitioner" at Friends Landing this may all be seen as "shedding our conditioned thoughts and behaviors". And she adds "To shed the husk of conditioning our essence requires an environment of alive family of consciousness, sparking one another's dreams".

      This "shedding" seems to be accomplished in part through group practices that encourage "consistent reflection" in which "Friends Landing invites, insists upon and faithfully supports the true expression of [a participants] being". As Chrysta states she was "challenged and supported to shed the ego identity."

      Regarding its teaching of "Spherical Reality" the group explains that it provides "simple yet profound tools [to] create a more potent remedy for people in their own healing processes". And through the "unique lens" of "Spherical Reality" comes the "intuited expression, metaphor as the needed first dialogue of the soul in the evolution of articulating a life of authenticity."

      "Dream Camp" is a program offered by Friends Landing. An attendee of one recent "Dream Camp" notes--"There was a ritual where camp participants could get up and 'express' (mostly to other participants role-playing their relatives) in the circle, anything that he/she was angry about. All such activities were video taped. One woman called on people in the circle to represent her uncles, who abused her as a child. She yelled and screamed at them. Other people she chose in the circle stood at her side to support her. There was so much extreme emotion expressed. I wondered why some group members, after so many years--still had so much anger to express".

      The same "Dream Camp" participant offers another example--" On the first day of Dream Camp, I was very emotional all day. My son explained that many people get like this--because of the "energy" there. They call it a "release". I honestly told him I was not completely happy he was part of such an unusual alternative group. However, I went on to make new friends and tried to keep an open mind to all these new experiences."

      Of course the members of Friends Landing can always seek special help from WhiteWind. As Chrysta Lee explains--"As needed throughout. I meet with WhiteWind to learn to notice how I get in the way of my dreams, to learn new navigations in my life."

    3. "Demand for Purity"--essentially "black and white thinking"--a harsh line drawn between what the group labels "absolutely good" (typically itself and its beliefs) and the outside world, which is often considered in negative terms.

      The "Demand for Purity" seems to be expressed in its positive purity through Friends Landing's claim to a "new paradigm" and "unique lens." This can often be seen by the "clear congruently enacted intention of its leadership." That is--"one's willingness to act congruently on the desire of the heart, which is to behave outwardly in way consistent with the inner heart's intent each moment." Chrysta Lee expresses the pure benefits of this process--"through participating with a shield circle I share my deepest heart and experience myself". Moreover, according to the group a "unique synergy among [them] all has carried [them] beyond where [they] were individually". A seeming purity of purpose and process has allowed them "to participate fully in the creation of their universe."

      The negative aspect, which relates to the "Demand for Purity" regarding outside world seems somewhat more subtle at Friends Landing. The group claims "Spherical Reality" is a "more potent remedy than other paradigms of the past that separate from the source of life" and it "is a synergistic expansion of the knowledge of psychology and religion." It also "provides a true scholarly milieu for creative thinking and integration." Published material for course information advises "one thing is certain if considering the course: you are at the forefront of an age of information and service." There is what appears to be a constant implication that other processes, paradigms or milieus are not as meaningful.

      Chrysta Lee is somewhat more forthcoming saying--"Our conditioning, the behavior we learn in order to fit in with our particular family system as young children, functions much like the husk of a corn&once the corn has matured we must remove the husk in order to receive ripened meal just as we must shed the behaviors which served us earlier in life, but now prevent us and others from experiencing the unique creative expressions of life we are. To shed the husk of conditioning our essence requires an environment of alive family of consciousness, sparking one another's dreams. Friends Landing is such an environment, one which contrasts greatly with [other] environments."

      Again, here the observations of one "Dream Camp" participant seem to fit who remarked--" An odd, but common thing within the group-was that almost anything happening to someone was explained as being caused by something spiritual and/or supernatural. More obvious explanations such as personal responsibility seemed to be constantly overlooked in favor of something mystical instead. For example, good things that happened to someone while at Dream Camp--would be attributed to the "great energy" of the people and our location. Bad things, like an infection in a dog's eye--were attributed to old "conditioning" or holding in feelings. Old conditioning somehow caused something negative (e.g. infection) to arise somewhere else".

    4. "Cult of Confession"--total disclosure--a "purging milieu" regarding purity that exploits vulnerabilities and promotes submission.

      The "Cult of Confession" seems to be expressed within Friends Landing through a process of self-revelation encouraged by the group and suggested is such statements as "now we have the potential of a harvest of awakening where people can choose to reveal a greater vision of who they are". The group claims a "unique unfolding" process that is "witnessed" by its members. One of the "four quadrants" of "Spherical Reality" is "(4) witness to the blossom of lived experience". This seems to imply a need for group participants to have their experiences of "who they are" "witnessed" by others in the group. This appears to be a type of group confessional process.

      Within its "Medicine Circles" Friends Landing members are involved in "many levels of learning including introspection [and] sharing". This "sharing" includes "an environment of combined witness". Likewise the Friends Landing "Mission Statement" pledges to "increase the excellence and skill to&identify and express feelings". Again--all of this expressing, sharing and witnessing could be seen as a purging and/or confessional process.

      It also seems that Friends Landing's "Life Balance Mentor" services may solicit and support a kind of confessional process. Their sessions seem to revolve around "shift[ing] attitudes" and are also used to "determine priorities and your personal goals of interest or clean up; enhance your daily rituals with your loved ones". This would seem to engender a need for personal confession to "clean up" or to identify bad "attitudes" and mistaken "priorities."

      Chrysta Lee states--"shedding our conditioned thoughts and behaviors is analogous to the way an ear of corn comes into being", which she claims is predicated largely "through the consistent reflection [she] receive[s]." Chrysta outlines a process in which "Friends Landing invites, insists upon, and faithfully supports the true expressions of my being. Through participating with a shield circle I share my deepest heart and experience myself mirrored by every being present." Again--this sounds like a confessional process.

      A "Dream Camp" participant recounts, " There was a ritual where camp participants could get up and "express" (mostly to other participants role-playing their relatives) in the circle, anything that he/she was angry about. All such activities were video taped. One woman called on people in the circle to represent her uncles, who abused her as a child. She yelled and screamed at them. Other people she chose in the circle stood at her side to support her. There was so much extreme emotion expressed".

      There are also individual sessions that seem to include personal confessions. Chrysta states--"As needed throughout, I meet with WhiteWind to learn to notice how I get in the way of my dreams, to learn new navigations in my life, and to connect deeply with source in myself, in all life". It seems reasonable to suppose such sessions would include confessions about how Chrysta "get[s] in the way of [her] dreams" and/or has poorly navigated her life.

    5. "Sacred Science"--the group's dogma, most often the leader's interpretation of text, history or world events which cannot be questioned. Those basic assumptions are "sacred" and beyond individual reason or critical analysis--becoming a kind of "science."

      "Sacred Science" appears to be expressed in Friends Landing through various claims made about its "new paradigm." "Spherical Reality provides the foundational perspective of a new vision&a newly forming, yet ancient paradigm." It also provides "a way of viewing human beings&[and] contexualizes humans."

      Friends Landing's literature and WhiteWind use seemingly pseudo-scientific descriptions about their methodology such as how "Spherical Reality highlights uniquely articulated nutritional pathways". And how "these pathways become active as the 'organicity' of the individual's consciousness and their world bears itself forward in its own rhythmic and cyclical manner. Respect for this rhythm is key."

      Again--"Spherical Reality" is a "unique lens" and "reveals what 'nutrition' is needed to inspire balance in individuals [e.g. 'Life Balance Mentors']". And this belief system provides "simple yet profound tools" such as the "four quadrants" or principles--previously outlined above. These are the "tools to navigate [participants] into reality and they subsequently are "at the forefront of an age of information."

      According to the group's literature "WhiteWind teaches state of the art methods of self discovery and helps people navigate their way to genuine freedom". WhiteWind's methodology has also been described as a "synergistic expansion of the knowledge of psychology and religion". She has said she has gone "beyond transpersonal psychology to a shamanic realm"-- identifying herself as a "teacher of transpersonal concepts."

      Combined together these various claims and descriptions seem to form the basis for a type of "Sacred Science" that is expressed at Friends Landing.

    6. "Loading the Language"--characterized by a vocabulary of words and phrases within the group that promotes thought stopping and dispenses with critical analysis through "thought terminating cliches."

      There seems to be a substantial vocabulary of "Loaded Language" within Friends Landing. This includes words and/or terms such as "expressed", "express", "paradigm", "new paradigm", "witness", "navigate", "integrity", "navigations", "conditioning" and "co-creating". Other words or phrases often also seem to have been redefined by the group such as "heart's guidance", "intuitive processes", "dreams", "support the dreams", "dreams of the heart", "manifest dreams", "intention", "mirror", "creative emergence", "combined witness", "consciousness", "fully supported", "participate fully" "congruently enacted intention" and "true expression".

      One attendee of "Dream Camp" remarked--" I remember joking with the group that I felt like a foreign exchange student--their environment, customs and language were so alien to me. I was encouraged not to wear a watch, read or listen to the news--but rather to "feel" what was happening next. They assured me that I would get into the 'rhythm'. I really wanted to understand their terminology. The language they used was so different. People would say "ho" when in agreement with what others were saying. There were many references to 'releases', 'witnessing' people or feelings, 'expressing' and especially 'conditioning'. I heard these terms over and over. They said everything came from 'conditioning', which was usually referred to negatively. To be real and 'awake', I was told--one had to get rid of the 'conditioning'. It was unclear to me why we needed this new language to grow spiritually".

    7. "Doctrine Over Person" --subjecting oneself to a constant cataloguing of feelings, thoughts and actions that rigidly shape the subject to the group's mold to the exclusion of individual personality, manner, expression and potential--typically cloning the leader.

This appears evident in the testimony of Chrysta Lee when she speaks of the effects of "shedding [her] conditioned thoughts and behaviors". She goes on to discuss how Friends Landing led her to "shed the ways of social platitudes, which are taught and expected most everywhere". Through this "shedding process" Chrysta learned WhiteWind's teachings "as needed throughout&[she met] with WhiteWind to learn to notice how [she got] in the way of [her] dreams, to learn new navigations in [her] life". This shedding can be seen as the shaping of Chrysta to conform to the "navigations" (doctrinal view).

Chrysta also points out that WhiteWind helped her to learn to notice her "conditioning" such as how her "kindness is marbled with performance", which she "understood to mean covert desire and manipulation". This could be seen as a cataloguing of feelings, thoughts and actions. Chrysta appears to express her doctrinal compliance by articulating in the same expressions used by WhiteWind. "Spherical Reality" seems to be the prevalent mold or device that is essentially the group's doctrine.

This process of "Doctrine Over Person"--shaping and validation seems to be expressed by Chrysta as she explains how she would "pull out mask after mask, role after role I had developed to fit in with the world as I knew it". But "through the consistent reflection [she received] at Friends Landing [she learned]&my essence, my true self, attempting to express through each of these roles". Here Chrysta again appears to be cataloguing her thoughts and feelings consistently reflecting the concepts/doctrines of Friends Landing.

"Doctrine Over Person" also seems to be reflected in the "apprentice work" at Friends Landing. According to a group handbook "at the end of the Circle Leader Apprentice Program&certification means&they have passed through many initiations of being true to themselves, transmuted much of their conditioning and found a constant memory of self as source". Ironically--"being true to themselves" and again shedding their "conditioning" seems to mean doctrinal compliance.

A father comments about the effects of Friends Landing apprentice process upon this son. He states--" The group's Leader, WhiteWind Swan Fisher now seems to have enormous influence over every aspect of my son's life".

A mother notes simply--"my son is not thinking critically". She also cites a specific example: "It was very disturbing though when WhiteWind would yell at someone and humiliate him/her in front of the group--in the name of 'teaching'. When she asked the group if they understood why she had to do that, they all nodded in agreement. It seemed that I was not the only one who felt uncomfortable. When I asked my son about this later, he defended WhiteWind and said--she was being a friend to each person that she yelled at. It made me sad that he tolerated such behavior so blindly--which would never be so easily accepted in our family". However, as a reflection of doctrinal compliance within certain groups such behavior might be considered acceptable.


  1. "Dispensing of Existence"--the dismissal and/or denigration of much of what lies outside the group. A sharp line is often drawn between the group and its claims--as opposed to everything and everyone else.


This appears to be expressed repeatedly through the seeming denigration of outside frames of reference, approaches, attitudes or "conditioning". The subtle implication that if Friends Landing is "a center for conscious living"--others and their approaches might be somehow less "conscious". Perhaps others are also unable to see the truth without the "unique lens" of "Spherical Reality".

WhiteWind as the founder and leader of Friends Landing seems to express such sentiments through her stated view that "traditional psychology" has "no understanding of mystical magnetism". Friends Landing contrasts the "discrepancy between traditional psychology's frame and WhiteWind's&shamanic understanding". Through WhiteWind's teachings and counsel her students can "participate fully in the creation of their universe". Again--this would seem to imply that others may not "participate fully" and that traditional psychology is inferior to what is experienced at Friends Landing.

Another example would be the training at Friends Landing. Such "training begins with recognition that real education occurs only when the full human being is engaged. This allows for true progression of the organicity of consciousness". Again--this is the "true scholarly milieu for creative thinking and integration". The pattern here conversely appears to be that others may not be fully engaged, involved in "real education", in a "true progression" and/or have the "organicity of consciousness".

Friends Landing again appears to question the values of western culture stating--"the overall paradigm of western culture and much of the world has been dualistic in nature. It blocked the memory of self as source and wove a world of language, institutions and businesses that predominantly operated from fear and protections". But "Spherical Reality provides the foundational perspective of a new vision&on self as source and wellness".

Again and again--phrases such as "new paradigm" or "new vision" are used to explain the beliefs of the group. And the claim is made that this "new paradigm" is actually also an "ancient paradigm"--this appears to be an ultimate term that defines "the creator and beingness of all life". Again--all those outside this new and ancient paradigm are seemingly outside of the real "beingness of all life".

Chrysta Lee appears to dismiss much of the outside world and its values in her personal testimony titled "Harvest of Truth". She states--"to shed the husk of conditioning our essence requires an environment of alive family of consciousness&Friends Landing is [original emphasis] such an environment, which contrasts greatly with the environments I have known in my life. Most places I have gone in the world people have looked to see if I fit in with their system; do I talk, move, think, dress, and act like them? From my conditioned background I was used to asking the same question: Do I fit in here? It was not in my self-concept then to ask if it fit for me to be [original emphasis] there". Ironically, people in totalistic environments, such as Friends Landing seems to be--often talk, move, think and act alike to "fit in with their system".

Chrysta concludes--"I have experienced myself at Friends Landing; this environment has taught me new ways to be and allowed me space in which to practice those ways while my spirit was guardianed, new skin protected. Through participating with shield circle I share my deepest heart and experience myself mirrored by every being present". Here Chrysta's metamorphosis appears complete and her "new skin" is guarded/protected seemingly from the outside world.

Again, a father commented how --"WhiteWind Swan Fisher now seems to have enormous influence over every aspect of my son's life" and that his son appears to be "overwhelmed by his experiences at Friends Landing". This seems to demonstrate the dominance of Friend's Landing and the "Dispensing of Existence"--regarding the outside world.

Citing his son's schedule he outlines the following:


  • Assist in Friends Landing's YAA group activities - 8 days per year plus preparation



  • Lead Wilderness Walks for Friends Landing - 4 days per year plus preparation



  • Lead Wilderness Heartbeat Circle meetings for Friends Landing - 24 sessions per year plus preparation



  • Co-lead Friends Landing Men's Circle - 12 sessions per year plus preparation


He concludes--" His entire life is centered on Friends Landing".

The same father advises he and his wife are "deeply concerned" and have made "efforts to free him from what we see as the group's undue influence, but only have received harsh rebukes and a terrible letter. He has accused us of having 'no integrity' that we are 'betraying him,' that we want to 'control' him, are psychologically impaired and want to harm him. He has called us 'liars'". His continued involvement has resulted in "distancing himself from his family". He "has supposedly recently moved, but will not tell us where he lives or what his telephone is. We receive blistering E-mails about how we are interfering in his life".

Confirming again what appears to be a consistent pattern of their son's "Dispensing of Existence" the mother advises--"I miss my son--our long discussions about everything. He used to be so open, non-judgmental and never so defensive. We could discuss anything and share our opinions--still accepting and loving one another despite our differences. I am waiting for him to let us know where he lives and when he will see us again".


  • Note: All of the quotations attributed Friends Landing and its members are from the "Newsletter of Friends Landing Winter 1998 and the Friends Landing Spherical Reality handbook September 1998. Other quotations are attributed by the links provided.


It is important to note what Robert Jay Lifton said about the application of his criteria regarding "Thought Reform" or "Ideological Totalism". He states that--"The more clearly an environment expresses these eight psychological themes, the greater its resemblance to ideological totalism; and the more it utilizes such totalist devices to change people, the greater its resemblance to thought reform. But facile comparisons can be misleading. No milieu ever achieves complete totalism, and many relatively moderate environments show some signs of it. Moreover, totalism tends to be recurrent rather than continuous. But if totalism has at any time been prominent in the movement, there is always the possibility of its appearance, even after long periods of relative moderation".

Lifton also advised that--"Then, too, some environments come perilously close to totalism but at the same time keep alternative paths open; this combination can offer unusual opportunities for achieving intellectual and emotional depth. And even the most full-blown totalist milieu can provide (more or less despite itself) a valuable and enlarging life experience - if the man exposed has both the opportunity to leave the extreme environment and the inner capacity to absorb and make inner use of the totalist pressures".

Is Friends Landing a "cult"?

First it is meaningful to define terms. Much of this is discussed within this Web site at "FAQ".

A simple Webster's dictionary definition of the word "cult" in broad terms is as follows:

"1. a formal religious veneration; 2. a system of religious beliefs and rituals also its body of adherents; 3. a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious: also its body of adherents; 4. a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator; 5. a great devotion to a person, idea, thing; esp: such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad, b: a usually small circle of persons united by devotion or allegiance to an artistic or intellectual movement or figure."

It seems that Friends Landing might perhaps fit within such wide parameters, but so would some Star Trek fans, Barbie doll collectors, pilgrims who travel to a certain place or shrine and almost any deeply devoted group. However, when most people use the word "cult"--they are typically not speaking of a relatively benign group of devotees who may have somewhat unusual beliefs. Instead, they are more likely referring to a "destructive cult". Specifically, a "cult" that has somehow hurt people--who either are or were involved with that group. Obviously, such a "cult" might also be considered as potentially unsafe.

Robert Jay Lifton, the previously cited distinguished psychiatrist who largely defined the criteria for "thought reform", also wrote to better define the subject of "cult formation". It is obvious that within this framework Lifton is referring to "destructive cults" and not generally benign groups.

Lifton essentially believes that " Cults can be identified by three characteristics":


  1. A charismatic leaderwho increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power


    WhiteWind Swan Fisher, aka Susan Kilborne Musumeci, self-proclaimed "Shaman"
    Within Friends Landing WhiteWind Swan Fisher appears to be "a charismatic leader" and it seems she is increasingly the focus of the group and the formulator and controller of its "general principles". Friends Landing is described as "the unfolding of WhiteWind's life dream, evolved from her living practice of this understanding". She is "the main instructor and founder of Friends Landing and the creator of Spherical Reality". She is also described also as a "spiritual counselor", "seer", "teacher of transpersonal concepts" and the "Executive Editor" of the Friends Landing newsletter. Copyrights of group literature are held by "WhiteWind Creations". Summing it up--"WhiteWind manages the flow of vision and services Friends Landing provides overall".

    The focus of all the group's training seems to be essentially WhiteWind. According to the Friends Landing newsletter--"All of the associates have apprenticed with WhiteWind for 5 to 10 years and have worked together to complete the vision of evolving an organization". And that organization seems focused largely upon WhiteWind's "unique power of vision".

    WhiteWind's powers appear to also sustain the group. She claims to posses an "internal wisdom (teachings [she receives] intuitively through spiritual experience)". WhiteWind offers through her "shamanic understanding&her own 'genuine moment allied with [the believer's] conscious intent". This "response of realness to people in all situations provides the earth where the seeds of divine self grow".

    Again--as Chrysta Lee states--"As needed throughout. I meet with WhiteWind to learn to notice how I get in the way of my dreams, to learn new navigations in my life, and to connect deeply with source in myself, in all life". Her poem ("All Worlds Becoming") published within the group's newsletter is "dedicated in grateful appreciation to WhiteWind and the living vision of Friends Landing" Within that poem Chrysta claims--"Your story, my story, linked through the weave of all worlds&new marrow of the Bone's dream". This seems to be her response to the "internal wisdom" WhiteWind offers.

    Again, the concerned father noted--"WhiteWind Swan Fisher" was the person at Friends Landing that "seems to have enormous influence".

    One "Dream Camp" participant states--" During my stay at Dream Camp--several things confused me. Why did it appear that everything centered on WhiteWind's needs? Why did people wait on her and seem intimidated by her"? She adds commenting on her son's relationship with WhiteWind--" She instructs him on fiscal responsibility and he holds her in the highest regard--getting defensive over any criticism of her or her ideas. He tells her everything, which is discussed with him. She is his teacher, therapist, "Shaman", friend, and employer. Where are any meaningful boundaries in this relationship"?

  2. A processI call coercive persuasion or thought reform

    This has been outlined and possible examples offered that may relate to Friends Landing within a previous analysis.

  3. Exploitation--economic, sexual, and otherwise--of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie


There are allegations regarding the economic exploitation by the parents of a member of Friends Landing.

One mother states--" During my visit, my son asked if my husband and I would fund or loan him money for a "Spherical Reality" course, which WhiteWind was giving. The cost was $5,000.00 for ten weekend seminars. I told him we wouldn't. My son called me at home the next week and told me that WhiteWind had suggested that he ask his relatives for money to pay her for the course. I told him I was uncomfortable with this idea--why couldn't he just wait and take the class when he was out of school? What was the urgency? My husband agreed with me and called our son. Our son suggested he speak directly to WhiteWind. My husband called her, as suggested-- her response was an explosion of insults about my husband, my son and me.

The father of the same member advises--" he also began spending large amounts of money, (about $300/qtr.) on meetings he was attending at Friend's Landing. he asked us to help him pay for another course from WhiteWind. The name of this course is "Spherical Reality" and it costs $5,000.00. We told him no and that we didn't support this. Next we heard he was going to call all his relatives and ask them for money to take the course. This did not sit well with me--so I called him about it. He told me WhiteWind suggested that he do this, and said if I had a problem with this--talk to WhiteWind about it. I spoke with her by phone and advised it seemed unethical for her to suggest to a young man under her influence to solicit his family for money to pay her".

The father concludes that his son's payment to WhiteWind and Friends Landing totaled about "$11,500.00 per year. He also states--" According to my son he receives little or no compensation for the sessions he leads for the group. He also advises us that he is obligated to work in one of the group's businesses in order to get the money to attend the courses that WhiteWind tells him he needs to attend. It seems that the more he works, the more indebted he becomes".

A mother has concerns about other exploitation of her son and offers the following example:

"During [a] visit I noted a pattern in WhiteWind's behavior. In one instance, she asked my oldest son to bring some water for her--explaining it was too difficult for her due to pain in her knees. However, later I watched WhiteWind walk briskly to a garage about 100 yards away. A bit later she moved quickly to take a phone call in another room. Another example of this pattern of behavior occurred about 1: 00 AM one morning. A younger member of WhiteWind's family who was extremely distressed over personal problems wanted cigarettes in the middle of the night. WhiteWind advised her go wake up my son to fetch cigarettes. He promptly dressed and drove to a store ten miles away--so the young girl would not be without cigarettes that night. This left me with a large 'clang' in my stomach".

There may be some emotional abuse at Friends Landing.

A "Dream Camp" participant remarks--" things bothered me at Dream Camp, but since I was one of the few newcomers, I felt more comfortable observing the group and not commenting. It was very disturbing though when WhiteWind would yell at someone and humiliate him/her in front of the group--in the name of 'teaching'. When she asked the group if they understood why she had to do that, they all nodded in agreement. Another troubling incident occurred one evening when WhiteWind went to dinner. She harshly reprimanded the kitchen staff because the salt and peppershakers were put twelve inches away from where she had instructed them to be placed. In a group that claims and values higher consciousness and spiritual growth-- how could this trivial oversight be met with such a harsh response"?

There have been serious allegations of sexual abuse made regarding WhiteWind Swan Fisher.

Such claims are made within the lawsuit filed by a former member/client of Friends Landing, which included the claim of "Sexual Battery". The plaintiff, Ms. Lynn Sheffield, states that WhiteWind (then known as Susan Kilborne Musumeci) "used her powers and abilities as a therapist and her knowledge and background to engage in sexual contact and touching with [her], including but not limited to genital fondling, masturbation, oral sex and various other sexual behavior". And also that WhiteWind relied upon the trust engendered by their professional relationship "with a deliberate course of conduct on her part toward [Ms. Sheffield] which was designed to cause her to succumb to her sexual advances and sexual behavior". The plaintiff concludes " Had [she] not been suffering from her mental illnesses/conditions and emotional problems, and if the mental illnesses/conditions had not been aggravated by said defendant, she would have never permitted or consented to the sexual touching of her by defendant, resulting in sexualized therapy and sexualized acts between the two of them, which acts constituted a harmful or offensive touching and battery upon her person".

Ms. Sheffield also alleged "Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress" within her lawsuit. She stated that WhiteWind "deliberately seduced [her] by words and actions and by abuse&with a deliberate course of conduct on her part toward [her], so as to cause [Ms. Sheffield] to succumb to her sexual advances. In addition to sexually seducing [her], defendant [Susan Musumeci--WhiteWind] sexualized and eroticized the therapy&for defendant's [WhiteWind's] advantage and to satisfy her own needs, and without attention to and in utter disregard of [her patient's] needs, to [that patient's] detriment. As a proximate result of the intentional and careless acts of defendants as heretofore described, plaintiff sustained severe emotional distress, mental suffering, all of which has caused, continues to cause, and will cause her great physical and mental pain and suffering all to her damage".

Other claims were also made within the same lawsuit regarding WhiteWind's conduct.

It should be noted that WhiteWind denied all these claims in her answer to the court.


  • Endnote: The suit ended when Lynn Sheffield requested that it be dismissed. But again--this may have been secondary to a settlement, or as mentioned earlier an economic consideration due to concern about the viability of collection. There is no indication that the dismissal request by the plaintiff Ms. Sheffield was in any way a retraction or recanting of the claims made within the suit.


An Intervention

I was retained by one family regarding their son's involvement at Friends Landing. The parents of one member called me deeply concerned about their oldest son's commitment to the group. The father stated--"During [a] phone conversation WhiteWind exploded when I questioned her behavior. She hissed profanities and acted more like a deeply disturbed person than a 'spiritual leader'. At that moment I knew our son, and we--were in trouble. We then consulted with experts about mind control. We spoke with a psychologist prominent in the field, an author and an intervention specialist".

As an "intervention specialist" I subsequently reviewed materials sent to me by the family including literature from Friends Landing explaining the programs offered there. We spoke extensively by phone as I prepared to come to California for an intervention, which would take place at their home. We worked together with their son for three days--who was staying at home for a family visit. He agreed to cooperate and spoke voluntarily with both his family and me. We discussed his involvement in some depth, viewed educational videos and reviewed the group's literature together. However, he ultimately decided to return to the group.

His father later commented--"We arranged for a professional intervention, which were three of the most difficult days of my life. My son voluntarily cooperated, but obstinately sat through these sessions--nearly trance like much of the time. There were only a few moments of meaningful recognition. As soon as the three days he agreed to dialogue were over, though he said he would think it out alone, he returned promptly to the Friend's Landing compound, phoned us and said he would continue with the group".


Martin Starr, counselor and teacher at Friends Landing

Subsequently an effort was made by both the family and myself to contact leaders of the group (i.e. Martin Starr and WhiteWind). At the family's request I sent letters to both Martin Starr and WhiteWind. requesting they address the family's concerns by ending any further involvement with their son through Friends Landing. However, in a phone conversation with Martin Starr he offered no meaningful cooperation and WhiteWind refused any discussion--mail to her was returned unopened.

Not long after speaking briefly with Martin Starr and attempting to make contact with WhiteWind both the family and I received threatening letters from WhiteWind's brother and attorney Robert Kilborne IV. He defended his sister stating--"I would like to represent to you that I have known many people who have been tremendously helped by the work WhiteWind Swan does. As WhiteWind is my sister, I can tell you, from watching her help so many others over the years that her sole interest is in helping others reach a place of independence in their lives, free from the fears and emotional problems so many of her students face" (letter dated October 21, 1998). Such statements did not dissuade the family and I subsequently continued my effort on their behalf to contact WhiteWind and speak with Martin Starr again. At this point Mr. Kilborne made more threats writing --"I represent&Friends Landing, including WhiteWind Swan and Martin Starr. If Mr. Ross does not cease and desist [writing letters, leaving phone messages], I will retain an attorney in Eugene to file a protective order and I will seek sanctions and attorney fees" (November 5, 1998).

Mr. Kilborne assured the family--"My understanding from [your son] is that he is continuing to have contact with you and wishes to remain in a relationship with each of you, while continuing to work with others at Friends Landing" (October 21, 1998). However, the mother states--"I am waiting for him to let us know where he lives and when he will see us again. We are anxious to reunite him with our family--so we will be whole again. I love my son very much. I hope that one day, very soon, he will be able to see how Friends Landing has affected his life. I miss my son--our long discussions about everything. He used to be so open, non-judgmental and never so defensive. We could discuss anything and share our opinions--still accepting and loving one another despite our differences".

The father concludes--"It has been painful coming to this realization& How my wife and I and our family came to be in the position we now are in&how my son eventually was overwhelmed by his experiences at 'Friends Landing'. &I hope others may benefit by learning from our painful experience".


Robert Kilborne IV, WhiteWind's brother and Friends Landing's attorney

Just before Christmas the same concerned parents received another letter from Robert Kilborne. He said, "Because of your obvious dissatisfaction with the services of Friends Landing...They choose to no longer conduct business with you. As previously instructed, please do not contact Friends Landing or Whitewind Swan directly... I wish you a Merry Christmas, but it appears as though that will be impossible for you" (letter dated December 22, 1998).


  • Final Note: Again--all of the quotations attributed Friends Landing and its members are from the "Newsletter of Friends Landing Winter 1998 and the Friends Landing Spherical Reality handbook September 1998. Other quotations are attributed by the links provided.



Copyright © 1998 Rick Ross.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.