Beyond Heaven's Gate: 4 Notorious Alien-Worshipping Cults Around the World

To some members of these cults, aliens represent humanity's only hope.

A lot of people believe in aliens—more than half of Americans, if some reports are to be believed.

Why UFOs? Well, the general psychological consensus is that as traditional religious beliefs decline, people will still be looking for meaning. Aliens and UFO lore are free from the dogmatic chains of typical organized, theistic religions, yet a belief in aliens is still a belief in a higher power and possibly a higher purpose to our inexplicable and difficult days.

People have always looked to the stars to find meaning, but some place more importance on aliens than others. Some even believe that aliens are seeking communion with the human race, looking to bring us into the next, rapturous phase of our evolution. Some say the aliens haven't made contact because they're waiting for us to evolve to their level, but we keep on destroying our planets or each other. Some say the aliens are out to get us; others say they're here to save us. The field of ufology goes deep and gets weird, but here are four UFO cults around the world to get your brain's gears whirling on the subject of our possible, silent extraterrestrial saviors.

Thailand: The UFO Kaokala Group

Member of the Kaokala Group

Thailand's reigning UFO cult has woven Buddhism's ancient traditions with very New Age beliefs in portals and alien saviors, and the fusion is the Kaokala (full title: Kaokala Coordination for Disasters Warning Group). The Kaokala group was founded by Ajarn Wassana Chuensumnaun, who says she's been talking directly to aliens for over two decades. The aliens hail from Pluto or a planet called Lokukatapakadikong, she says, and they resemble the "Grey" aliens you typically see in sci-fi films or in alien abductee reports.

Kaokala members often take off on mountainside retreats, where they meditate and commune with the aliens. Kaokala members believe that aliens are benevolent beings who are attempting to save us from annihilation. The extraterrestrials are constantly predicting World War III and nuclear apocalypse, and they'ree attempting to create a "new generation" of humans to spread their messages. Many of the group's members feel they've personally encountered aliens during meditations.

They have received some pushback from the Buddhist community, but the group's members firmly believe that their religion and their communion with extraterrestrials are compatible. "Some people think Buddhism doesn't have anything to do with other civilizations," said one member in (what else) a Vice exposé. "But Buddhism is about the universe, right? Some think it's only about praying and meditation, but it's more about outer space. I see comments, but I try to avoid them. I don't fight people."

"They'll visit us over different generations," another member predicted forebodingly. "Before the nuclear disaster, during the disaster, after the disaster and for a restoration period. When it will begin, we don't know."

Brazil: Sunrise Valley

Sunrise Valley Worshiper

80,000 people follow the religion known as "Vale do Amanhecer" ("Sunrise Valley"), a new faith that fuses Christianity, Islam, and Judaism with a resolute belief in extraterrestrials.

Members of Sunrise Valley, which is based in Brazil, believe that humans are all actually reincarnated aliens. According to the religion's doctrine, aliens first touched down on Earth 32,000 years ago and have been continuously reincarnated; they say we are all the latest incarnation, the Jaguars.

The religion was established in 1959, when a widowed truck driver named Aunt Neiva Zelaya experienced psychic visions that she believed were visitations from extraterrestrial spirits.

Followers believe in ritual and perform many of them. They have a multitude of dramatic holidays, and they often wear elaborate costumes and perform rites. The religion has sparked some tensions with more traditional faiths in Brazil, who call it a cult. But for believers, it's the only way forward.

Taiwan: Chen Tao (True Way Cult)

Taiwan's True Way Cult emerged when Hon-Ming Chen, a former professor, broke off from academia and joined a series of cults. Eventually he made his way to the US, homeland of alien cults, and created what became the Chen Tao, a cult that utilizes cosmology, Buddhism, Taoism, flying saucers, and Christian apocalyptic prophecy (among others).

Chen's cosmology proposed that the universe was born out of a nuclear war that happened 4.5 trillion years ago. It said that each person is part of the same magnetic field that forms the heavens and also God, and everyone has a "spiritual light energy" that they are intended to develop throughout their lives. He detailed these tenets in a book called God's Descending in Clouds (Flying Saucers) on Earth to Save People.

The cult fizzled out when a central prediction did not occur. Chen predicted that at 12:01 AM on March 31st, 1998, God would appear on a single TV channel across America. When no such thing happened, Chen disappeared from public view and the cult disbanded (or did they?).

USA: Aetherius Society

Aetherius Society

The USA has no shortage of alien cults (and no shortage of cults in general), but one of its more famous UFO-worshiping cults, Heaven's Gate, all met their end in the 1970s. Still, cult belief in aliens has persisted, branching off into a labyrinthine garden of star-gazers.

The Aetherius Society was founded by George King in the 1950s. King claimed he had made contact with extraterrestrials who called themselves "Cosmic Masters" and said their main goal was to help humanity and advance them into the New Age. "The main purpose of this Society is to help as many people as possible to prepare themselves for the coming New Age. We do this by improving world karma and using spiritual energy to help others – often in direct cooperation with advanced alien intelligences," their website reads.

The group combines UFO stories, yoga, ideas from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity; and much more. They believe that worldly destruction may be avoided when humans learn to cooperate with their alien masters, that spiritual energy can be used to heal the world, and that a new powerful messiah is on his way—a messiah who, like Jesus and Buddha, is also a Cosmic Master.

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Travel Tips

Three Things to Consider When Planning Your Vacation

There are plenty of things to consider when planning your vacation. Make sure you have all your bases covered by the time you buy your plane ticket!

Going on vacation is wonderful after months of stress and work. There's just one last hurdle before hopping on that plane: planning.

There can be an overwhelming number of things to consider when planning your vacation (COVID-19 not least), but putting them in an itemized list helps. Here's a quick cheat-sheet for you to get a jump-start on that.

Vacation VacationUniversity of Kentucky

Remember Your Budget

If you make a budget, which you definitely should, stick to it. Don't spend more than what you can afford when you start vacationing. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, so saddling yourself with debt will only dampen the fun of your trip. How much are you spending on living accommodations, food, activities, travel? How much are you setting aside in emergency funds in case something happens?

Plan for the Length of the Trip

Are you going out of town for a few months, or do you only have a week off? How much time you have can affect where you can go and how much you can enjoy it. If you only have a week and a half for a trip, then it's best not to go somewhere that's a 16-hour flight away. Half the trip is going to be spent on planes, and the other half will be spent being jet-lagged.

Trip length can also affect how you have to deal with your home while you're away. If you're away for long periods of time, do you need to hire people to cut your grass? Do you need to hire house sitters or babysitters? There are even things to know if you need to board your dog. Keep all these in mind for extended vacations.

Consider the Weather

You never want to ruin your vacation by heading somewhere beautiful in its offseason. Depending on the time of year, most activities could be canceled due to weather restrictions. Some places are ideal for winter trips, and other destinations are made to be enjoyed during the summer heat. Plan accordingly, and don't show up in a swimsuit when it's 50 degrees outside.

That rounds up the basics, but there are plenty more things to consider when planning your vacation. Give yourself wiggle room if any unique considerations pop up in your planning process.

There has never been a better time to learn a language than right now. While we can't really travel, we can still get ready to explore the world and other cultures through film, music, and food. But the key to all of this is language. It can be hard getting started on your own and so we found the perfect solution: Rosetta Stone.

We've been loving hunkering down and digging into Rosetta Stone, a language learning app with many different languages, the best lessons, and an affordable subscription. It's flexible and made to work for you, no matter what level you're starting at. Jump back into French without dusting off your highschool books or pick up Mandarin with a clean slate.

Thinking about Rosetta Stone for your language lessons? Here are the answers to your most pressing questions:

What languages do they offer?

With Rosetta Stone, you can choose from 25 different languages including Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese. When you get the Unlimited Languages subscription you gain access to all 25 and can switch between languages. While you may be intensely learning German, you can take a break and pick up some conversational Korean — all in one app.

What are the features?

What makes Rosetta Stone's lessons really work are the incredible learning features.

Phrasebook will teach you short, useful expressions that are sure to come in handy during your travels, letting you see the practical application of what you're learning. Seek & Speak brings the fun back into learning by having you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and taking photos of them to get the translated name. Even in an app, Rosetta Stone turns any environment into a classroom.

TruAccent is a speech engine within the program that provides instant feedback on your pronunciation so you know if you're on the right track. You'll grow more confident about speaking aloud and it's like having an accent coach in the room with you.

How long does it take every day?

Rosetta Stone's lessons are bite-sized, so all you need is 5 -10 minutes a day to sneak in some practice and work towards your language goals. Of course, you can do more if you want but there's no regimented schedule or pressure to speed ahead.

How does it compare to in-person classes?

With the Rosetta Stone app, your learning is within your control and designed to move at your pace. The app will tailor to your particular interests, strengths, and weaknesses! Plus, with the recent explosion of online classes, most people have fallen away from in-person instruction anyway.

Rosetta Stone brings you expert teaching, fun engaging lessons, and a multitude of language options all on-the-go. Take your classes whenever and wherever works best for you, conveniently on the app.

Is it suitable for all levels?

Absolutely. When you first start, the app allows you to choose a study plan based on your experience level. So, if you're a beginner you can start from scratch and those with some proficiency can advance to where they're comfortable.

How much does it cost?

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month and grants access to all 25 languages, cheaper than Netflix. You get an education at a great value and the best part is no ads while you learn!

We look forward to our Rosetta Stone lessons and highly recommend it to anyone eager to learn a new language or even brush up on an old one. This program makes learning fun, practical, convenient, and most importantly affordable.

Say bonjour, to the go-to language learning app and have the world right at your fingertips!

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!

Like so many out there I haven't been traveling. With everything going on these days I've been staying home, which I love, but it does have me itching to travel. The international section of Netflix just isn't satisfying my travel bug like it used to (trust me, if it's been recommended I've watched it).

I was looking for another way I could travel without leaving home so I did the rounds of take-out food: Chinese, German, Italian, and Mexican. This was fun and tasty but a pricey way to explore the world.

A friend of mine suggested taking a prepping approach to travel and try Rosetta Stone: a language learning program that offers an annual plan with access to 24+ languages.

I've always wanted to learn a new language but have had trouble committing. I was a bit wary about starting Rosetta Stone but ultimately decided to give it a shot.

The Unlimited Languages plan works out to be $7.99 a month for 12 months (what a deal). While I was determined to learn Spanish in anticipation of my dream trip to Spain, this plan allows me to switch to any of the other 24+ languages.

I was excited to get started and use the app. I figured with all of the extra time I had until I could actually go on my trip, I'd aspire to be near fluent by the time it happened.

Jumping right in, I took a ton of lessons through their app and really binged the language. I loved the focus on conversational language, phrases, and vocabulary but after about a week I had burned myself out a bit.

I ended up pulling back and doing 10-minute lessons a day. This was manageable and easy to incorporate into my schedule whether it was by doing a lesson over my morning coffee or winding down right before bed. Learning in bite-sized amounts helped me digest the information and really process what I was being taught.

After a couple of weeks, I was getting really comfortable with Rosetta Stone and was actually enjoying the learning process… even though I wasn't a big fan of language when I was in school. What really set this experience apart for me was the Phrasebook and Seek & SpeakⓇ features.

Phrasebook teaches short, useful expressions that I know will come in handy on my trip. Seek & SpeakⓇ definitely brought the fun back into learning for me, as it has you do a scavenger hunt for everyday household items and take photos of them. Once you do this it gives you a translation of each item (I've never enjoyed looking for cucumbers in my fridge before).

Watching so many telenovelas I knew how important the accent is (in any language) but difficult without an in-person instructor. Rosetta Stone realizes that too and uses TruAccentⓇ. The speech engine within the program gave me instant feedback so I knew that my pronunciation was on the right track and it made me more comfortable speaking aloud.

Rosetta Stone turned out to be a great choice for me. Now I'm daydreaming about traveling and feel like when the time comes I'll be ready to. I'm so confident in my learning that I've branched out and have done some lessons in Italian and French! I'm thinking, after Spain… maybe Rome and Paris? My destinations list is endless now!

Honestly, with Rosetta Stone, I feel more inspired than ever to travel and all this inspiration is happening right in my home. I can't wait to take what I've learned on the road but until then the preparation is still incredibly fun and useful.

Update: The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers: Up to 45% off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Language Access!