cults These Women Thought They Were Getting Tattoos, But They Were Actually Being Branded By A Secretive Cult  

Jessika Gilbert
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There have been cults of one kind or another for almost as long as there have been people to join them, regardless of their creepy cult practices or however deranged the leader may be. It seems as though it doesn't matter how irrational, far-fetched, or even brutal a cult leader's creed may be, there are always enough people to fill its ranks. 
Whether it's a cult based on religion, superstition, or nothing more than one man's belief that he is the Chosen One, people will flock to it in hopes of finding some kind of meaning to their lives. 

Such is the case with Keith Raniere's cult - a cult that brands women as a crude and brutal form of initiation. But when one strips away the veneer of respectability and peeks behind the façade created by its leader, it isn't difficult to see the true foundation upon which Raniere's cult is built. Continue reading to learn more about the cult where women are branded and enslaved for nothing more than profit and power.

It Began With A Pyramid Scheme

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Nxivm (pronounced as Nex-ee-um) began in 1998 and advertised as a 'self-help' group. According to the official website,

"Nxivm is a new ethical understanding that allows us to build an internal civilization and have it manifest in the external world. It allows us to explore our most fundamental nature and to begin to redirect our power of creation, a power that we all possess in a very human sense. It is a place where humanity can rise to its noble possibility."

Nxivm offers workshop-style classes. A sixteen-day course is $7500.00; A three-day course is $1200.00. After joining the group, there are monthly fees and an opportunity to earn money by bringing in potential members. Former members claim that the group is actually a cult and the classes are often led by Nxivm co-founder Nancy Salzman, a hypnotist who many claim is responsible for brainwashing students during classes. Whatever the case may be, Nxivm is a pyramid scheme organization and has had upwards of 12,000 people taking courses offered.

Keith Raniere Is The Leader

Keith Raniere Is The Leader is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list These Women Thought They Were Getting Tattoos, But They Were Actually Being Branded By A Secretive Cult
Photo:  Lauren Larson/Twitter

Keith Raniere is the group's leader who most describe as charismatic and inviting. Raniere is no stranger to businesses that appear to be pyramid schemes. In fact, one of the first jobs he had out of school was a salesman for Amway. Upon leaving Amway, Raniere would start his own company, Consumers' Buyline, a members-only buying club. Raniere was successful, but it was short-lived after being under investigation by the New York attorney general, who accused Raniere of running a pyramid scheme. It wasn't long before Raniere began Nxivm.

Nxivm Has All The Makings Of A Cult

Nxivm Has All The Makings Of A... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list These Women Thought They Were Getting Tattoos, But They Were Actually Being Branded By A Secretive Cult
Photo:  Wayne Stadler/Flickr

Former members and cult experts alike are adamant that Nxivm is a cult and Raniere a cult leader. In fact, a lot of Raniere's qualities and belief system have led people to compare him to David Koresh, the notorious leader of the Branch Davidians. Taking advantage of students by having secret sexual trysts is common among cult leaders and something practiced by both Koresh and Raniere. Raniere has revealed to his followers his desire to create his own country with its own currency, much like Jim Jones creating Jonestown in Guyana. Raniere has been accused of separating members from their families in order to keep his teachings a secret and, as most cult experts would agree, alienate them, so the leader has complete control over their lives.

Other strange, cult-like activities within the group include brain activity experiments and forcing members to watch graphic and violent films portraying gang rape, murder, and dismemberment.

Raniere Makes Excessively Grand Claims About Himself

Raniere Makes Excessively Gran... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list These Women Thought They Were Getting Tattoos, But They Were Actually Being Branded By A Secretive Cult
Photo:  NXIVMInfo/Twitter

Raniere claims to have been a child prodigy and considers himself to be a genius. On his website, he boasts that he was speaking full sentences by the time he was one year old. At the age of 12, he taught himself high school mathematics in 19 hours. A year later, he excelled in college-level math. He also claims to have started college at the age of 16. Raniere brags that he was in the Guinness World Records in 1989 for having the highest IQ. Records indicate that Marilyn Vos Savant actually held that title until 1989, when Guinness discontinued the category.