The following is a full spoiler recollection of the Society event Divulgence: Level 8-16, the latest ticketed installment of the ongoing immersive experience The Society and TheBoanthropic. It is a direct continuation of the prior event Genesis: Level 1-7, recollected here. Both Genesis and Divulgence are expected to be revived sometime in the future.
What are the seven central tenets of Society life?
There are none.
We last met in daylight. It had been months since the Genesis of my path up the Mountain, but at last, Divulgence had come. In all that time, I had remained banded–the piece of string that Autumn Joy had tied around my wrist under the tree on that hot July morning still as strong as my devotion. For seventy-nine days it had absorbed fresh water from the rain, salt water from the sea, and the sweat from my body as it traveled with me through time zones, across countries, and finally to the doorstep of this place rendered sacred by what dwelt within. It may sound like only a small step from level seven to eight, but as I opened the door, walking out of the night air and into the darkness, there was no telling how far this hour’s journey would take me.
The atmosphere was heavy, dense, still. The large room was dimly lit and cluttered with strange artifacts from previous tenants. The Society bifurcated the space of Divulgence by hanging a collection of sheets along a wire that ran from one wall to another, obscuring whatever was happening on the far side of the room from my sight. The primary feature of the section I found myself in was a heptagram made with tape taking up the majority of the floor. Along the edges were three small tables with Society members dressed in their vestral whites talking quietly to themselves; their faces illuminated by yellow candlelight.
At one table a pair was playing a game of “tens” with a deck of cards, another housed a game of “speed scrabble,” while at the third a lone Society member busied herself with a map of the world and a collection of rubber stamps. Tad Shafer, a representative of The Society was dressed head to toe austerely in black, lurking in the shadows at the far right in a bar-like area, keeping a vigilant distance. Each little station also included a couple of chairs sitting just outside the heptagram, a place for Seekers to rest and socialize with the visiting brother-sisters before their Divulgence began. Eric Andrew Hoff, a high leveled Society member and one of the group’s most visible representatives, stood at an opening in the sheet partition, serving as a gatekeeper of sorts between one portion of the experience and the next. The room was warm and quiet, the light was low and pink, the distant sound of falling rain played quietly over a speaker in the back. The whole space felt somehow like a womb.
I took my place at a seat next to the a man and woman playing speed scrabble. I greeted them as enthusiastically as I could while maintaining a whisper tone. The woman rose up in her chair without actually standing to give me a half-hearted, tentative kind of embrace, seemingly most concerned about staying on her side of the tape. The man barely acknowledged me, much more interested in scouring his tiles for an option he may have overlooked. Gone was the warmth and welcoming experienced in the hills of Genesis. Here they both exhibited something closer to a chilly indifference, at least where I was concerned. They were instead absorbed by their own small personal pleasures to a quietly decadent degree whilst regarding my presence with a casual flippancy. I was not quite a nuisance; I don’t think I registered with them enough to become one.
The woman identified herself as Kari, and I realized that by total chance I had sat down next to the wife of the Prudent Necessary himself, Tad Shafer. Instinctively I looked up towards his direction and saw that he was staring right at me, frowning. I then asked the pair how long they had been on the path compared to my relatively slight couple of months. Kari was vague in her answer, while the unidentified brother-sister thought for a moment and then realized with surprise that it was his ten-year anniversary. This was cause for celebration! Kari raised her hand with the air of an aristocrat calling for her manservant and cleared her throat in the direction of Tad. He approached immediately and Kari requested that they be given popsicles. Without saying a word, Tad returned to the bar where he pulled two of the ice-cold treats from a cooler, unwrapped them both, placed them carefully side by side on a single plate, and returned to our table. Neither Kari nor her companion thanked Tad as he left the plate and returned to his spot in the shadows. Each chose their popsicle, toasted to ten years, and enjoyed.
When one meets a member of the Society, one is struck by the wealth of nuance present in the way they behave and carry themselves. The minutest behavior betrays an entire world bubbling under the surface, an entire ideology shown in glimpses as intriguing as they are brief. I can honestly say it hadn’t consciously occurred to me that there was a reason my chair sat just barely outside of the heptagram while the pair and their table were close to the edge but completely inside the line. They were subtle with their warnings, something as simple as “watch your toe,” as my foot hovered dangerously close to the point of crossing. It took two more warnings like this over the course of our conversation for me to fully realize what it was they were trying to help me avoid. “What is the significance of the heptagram?” I asked. A cloud seemed to pass over their faces, and I could see that Kari was wrestling with something. Without saying a word to me, she again raised her hand to signal that Tad should join us at the table. As he knelt down beside her she whispered something in his ear that I couldn’t make out. Tad turned and looked at me for a moment, then whispered into Kari’s ear something that I did hear: “Don’t answer his question.”
After delivering his whispered order, he gave her two firm, deliberate kisses on the temple that she seemed entirely unaware of; me, my question, and Tad already miles away as she gratefully returned her attention to the game. Not consciously ignoring any of us out of tension or spite, but rather exhibiting a childlike tunnel vision. Blissfully detached. Tad left without giving any of us another look and I sat there in confused silence. They had not made eye contact with each other during this entire exchange. The power dynamic at play between Tad and the Society members, especially with his own wife, was both fascinating and confounding. There was a definite edge to their interplay, almost an air of menace, but from one moment to the next I couldn’t say from which direction that menace was coming. Tad returned to the bar where he began performing a series of odd tasks like squeezing random citrus fruit into a large slow-cooker for some purpose that never seemed to be completed during my stay. Just one of a galaxy of easily missable details that added an extra inscrutable layer onto an ambiance already thick with mystery and unspoken dread.
Thankfully Eric at last invited me to step forward to the entrance of the area of Divulgence. I could see the silhouettes of the other Seekers playing across the curtain of sheets as I readied myself to join them. “Are you prepared to divulge tonight? Third Eye open?” As he stepped aside to grant my entrance, I saw many of my fellow Seekers already hard at work at various stages of their Divulgence. Some were crouched on the floor writing feverishly on a clipboard while others were crossing out whole blocks of text from a typewritten page. Some drew strange symbols on the wall while others sat prone with a white sheet draped over them like a ghost.
Though the quarters were cramped, they contained multitudes as each Seeker proceeded at their own pace through the path of introspection laid out before them; crisscrossing, milling about, radiating intense focus, intent, purpose, yet completely silent. Any speaking was done in serene, respectful whispers between a Seeker and one of the four or five members of the Society who were there to appraise their progress during the trials. Dutiful proctors, warm and encouraging, never appearing judgmental as I presented to them for approval truths I normally dared not even tell myself. As Eric once put it, “We don’t record all of your secrets. It’s not about me having the secret; it’s about you divulging to get somewhere else.” The serenity was occasionally interrupted by the announcement of a “Rebirth!” as each of the Society members flocked towards the Seeker in question as they completed the night’s tasks and ushered to a bed in the corner for a private ceremony before departing. Those of us still in process looked on at a distance, knowing that with any luck it would soon be us.
Out of respect for their process and to ensure genuine reactions if you ever decide to divulge next time they descend from the Mountain, I will not explicitly delineate the exercises and rights performed within Divulgence. There are roughly half a dozen tasks a Seeker must complete over the evening to qualify for the Rebirth ceremony and achieve level sixteen, each one building on the one that came before as the Seekers look inward for their own unique path to Third Eye Openness. Confronting your darkest fears and desires, giving them a face and a name. Exploring the meaning that they hold for you both conscious and unconscious. Stripping away the inessential. Identifying what you prize most. Having an authentic conversation with yourself about what you desire without judgment. Recognizing what you stand for, embracing the lenses through which you choose to view your world, breaking down your core beliefs to reach your core elements: the building blocks of you.
All of this culminates in the creation of your own unique seven-point manifesto and mantra that represents the attributes of life you use to access your Third Eye. This aspect of personalization is remarkable for the commentary from the Society that it represents. We all seek the same destination, the same state of Orgiastic Oneness, but every Seeker’s way of getting there is unique to who they are as individuals and what they bring with them to the experience. By knowing yourself and embracing these self-chosen tenets, you achieve a clarity of purpose and understand that allows you to truly know yourself, perhaps for the first time. All of this is for your own benefit. You aren’t doing anything for the Society. You are creating something entirely personal and for yourself that just happens to put you closer to the mindset necessary to exist within the Society.
The framework they provide is ingenious in its simplicity and devastating in its possibilities. Consider this: every Seeker is given identical materials and instructions yet has a completely different experience from anyone else who goes through; even those who do so at the same time less than three feet away. The method is theirs but the content is yours because it is derived from the contents of your soul. What more could you possibly ask for in an immersive experience? Divulgence proves again that the Society’s greatest strength is in moments of transcendence like these where we are reminded that true immersion comes from a fresh awareness and embracement of the reality you already live in, be it the world around you or the world within you. Everything you discover on the path is already there. The Society merely shows you the way.
As I chose my tenets, a Society member had me select a color from a cup of Sharpies and drew a seven-point symbol on the back of my hand, each of the arms capped by a small illustration representative of a word I chose to define myself with. This symbol is mine alone to wear with pride and devotion along with my band, another sign of my commitment to the path and to myself. The Society member smiled at me as she announced to the room that finally my time had come.
“We have a Rebirth!”
The attendants all dropped what they were doing and converged on me as I made my way to the bed. Eric was there, smiling at me, and after a moment of consideration, proclaimed, “A full stone rebirth.” As I laid down rocks and shells were placed on top of me. “Heavy stone on belly, lighter stone on groin, stone on heart, stone on third eye, stone in palm. Brother-sisters, breathe in.” I was surrounded by my brother-sisters, my uncle-cousins, my grandpa-aunts, all ushering me into my renewed state of being, encouraging me, coaxing my body and spirit along. “Your body is beautiful. Your body is new, your face is new, your hair is new, your forehead is new, your arms are new, your fingers are new, your clavicle is new, your ribs are new, your white blood cells are new, your breath is new, your body is beautiful, your body is beautiful, your body is beautiful, your third eye is open, your third eye is open, your third eye is open.”
With a sigh of contentment the other brother-sisters returned to my fellow Seekers as Eric and I were left alone. He leaned down, a breath away from my ear, and whispered acknowledgment that I had at last reached level sixteen. He went on to remind me that when the time was right, I would soon have the chance to reach level twenty-five. He asked me if I know what that meant. I did. I do. It means a deeper commitment. It means getting questions answered. It means attention from the Founder. It means being put in a position to either help a woman in trouble… or not. But beyond all that, beyond Divulgence, beyond the Resistance and the Black Rose and the Moonchild and the mystery of TheBoanthropic, it means more days and nights of facing, accepting, and ultimately learning to love what it is I am, both inside and out. They are so very good at what they do, instilling you with a sense of belonging— not just within the Society, but within yourself. Their domain exists beyond the physical world now. The Society walks freely across the hills and canyons of our hearts, stopping to smell every joy and fear that grows along the path as they journey with us, charting the topographical details of our souls. When they can so easily conquer the Mountain in our minds, is there any limit to what they can reach? Where will we go next? To what heights? To what depths?