Judith Zebra Knight, known as J.Z. Knight, claims a 35,000-year-old Lemurian soldier appeared to her in 1977. Calling himself Ramtha, the spirit allegedly chose to share his knowledge and experiences with the world by allowing Knight to channel him. What followed was decades of making millions from audiences ecstatic to hear from an ancient being, during a wave of weird cults that purported to teach people to shape their future through thoughts. Knight founded Ramtha's School of Enlightenment (RSE) in 1988, drawing thousands of believers to her 80-acre compound in Washington state to hear the words of the supposed guru.
Knight and Ramtha continue to make money and pull in followers from their website with their promise to change lives through quantum physics, change reality through mindfulness, and convince people they are God. While Knight denies RSE is a cult, many former students disagree, detailing forced compliance from Knight and Ramtha. One of Knight's ex-husbands even claimed Ramtha forced him to take a woefully unfair divorce settlement and avoid using doctors to control his HIV-positive status.
Knight pulled herself out of a life selling cable television and into earning millions per year with books, videos, live teachings, and media appearances to spread the word of Ramtha. She says RSE is no cult, but litigation to silence former members and propaganda claiming alien technology is being hidden by the American government paint a different picture.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center's 2014 intelligence report on Ramtha and Knight, the latter twice filed suits against other women infringing the copyright on her 35,000-year-old mystic spirit. Judith Ravell of Berlin, Germany, claimed she too channeled the spirit of Ramtha for five years. Knight took her grievance to the Austrian Supreme Court, seeking damages for Ravell's connection with Ramtha. The courts decided that Knight owned the copyright for Ramtha and is the only one allowed to "channel" him.
Whitewind Weaver took classes at RSE before teaching her own her five-day seminar in August 2006. Knight went after Weaver for breaking the student contract with RSE that states followers are only to use the knowledge gained for personal use. The court ruled in favor of Knight in 2008 and ordered Weaver to pay $10,000 in damages.
In 2012, former RSE student Virginia Coverdale released video recordings of Knight purportedly channeling Ramtha as the entity went on a discriminatory tirade. According to The Seattle Times, the speech included defaming statements about Mexicans, Jewish people, and gay people.
In response, Knight unsuccessfully sued those that leaked the tapes and continued to receive support from RSE followers and students that contended the quotes were misinterpreted. Others distanced themselves from Knight and Ramtha, including Democratic party members who received contributions from Knight during their bids for election and re-election.
The Washington Senate Democratic Party and Washington Democratic Party donated Knight's benefactions to various organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and groups that champion same-sex marriage.
Knight married Jeffrey Knight in 1984 after seeing him in a magazine advertisement. The pair divorced in 1989, with each claiming the other's infidelity. In 1992, Jeffrey filed suit against Knight in search of a more substantial divorce settlement than the $120,000 he agreed to during their separation proceedings. His reason? Ramtha tricked Jeffrey into taking the small amount of money when he deserved a larger sum.
According to an article in People, Jeffrey and Knight purchased a ranch in Yelm, WA, where Ramtha's School of Enlightenment eventually stood. Jeffrey joined his wife and her 35,000-year-old spiritual advisor as they toured their way to $4 million annual salaries. At the end of the marriage, Ramtha reportedly pressured Jeffrey pressured into taking the paltry settlement instead of attempting to take a piece of the millions Knight made during their union.
Jeffrey eventually won a ruling in 1993 of $800,000, but it was reduced to $150,000 by an appeals judge to cover the costs of attorneys. Jeffrey passed in 1994 from an illness connected to his HIV status.
Actor Shirley MacLaine is well-known for her belief in reincarnation and various New Age notions. Her 1985 book Dancing in the Light helped propel Knight and Ramtha into the public eye through revelations about the entity and his teachings. According to a 1992 article about Knight, MacLaine's book attributed a breakthrough she had with some personal problems to the New Age guru and her channeled ancient warrior.
The book also claimed MacLaine was the reincarnation of Ramtha's brother, who lived in the fictional Atlantis thousands of years ago. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, MacLaine and Knight stopped speaking several decades ago.