The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

The Dialogue: What Readers Had to Say About Our Archive Coverage of Oregon’s Rajneesh Cult

"The orgies are an urban myth. At least when I was there."

Last week, WW dug up reports from three decades ago, when thousands of Rajneeshees took over the tiny town of Antelope, Ore. ("Bhagwan but Not Forgotten," WW, April 4, 2018). A firsthand account from our freelance reporter, who was one of 3,000 homeless people bused to the compound in attempts to sway local elections, showed what life inside the place was really like. We also chronicled where some of the key players in the cult saga—mastermind Ma Anand Sheela and head guru Bhagwan—are now. Here's what our readers had to say.

Johnny Green, via Twitter: I went [to Rajneeshpuram] in 1999 when a lot of the property was still the same. It was a very weird place that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Dennis Osborne, via Facebook: The orgies are an urban myth. At least when I was there.

Linda Doubek, via Facebook: What an insane time!

An_t_farm, via Twitter: Trump would have loved [Ma Anand Sheela]. Probably would have pardoned her too.

Steve Warne, via Facebook: Wouldn't want to be in Sheela's care facility. Yikes.

Jorge Carolinos, via wweek.com: Literally no one thought well of the Rajneesh from day one, it was universally considered a cult.

Scott Falconer, via Facebook: I find it disturbing how intelligent cult members and other members of insular groups come off while interviewed.

Tduncan, via wweek.com: Rajneeshpuram was a total clusterfuck. Sheela is narcissistic, double-crossing the con man Bhagwan. But the food was good.

Mike Smith, via Facebook: One interesting trait that nearly all "cult leaders" share is that they rarely blink when addressing their flock, or people in general. Eye contact is key.

Vladiator hmandinejad, via wweek.com: This cult doesn't sound at all like they were ever that progressive nor enlightened, not even in the beginning!

Subcomandante Goatz, via wweek.com: After all this time, why can't people just let Bhagwans be Bhagwans?

Eggs Ackley, via wweek.com: What happened to the 85 Rolls Royces?