What happens when you combine hardcore hallucinogenic drugs and dangerous cults? A terrifying and often deadly situation.
Cult leaders are known for being megalomaniacs who will use a variety of tactics to influence their followers. One of the craziest ways these people institute control is turning their group into a drug cult, one driven by drugs like LSD, Acid, and methamphetamines. These drugs already put people in a vulnerable state, but when users are being led by a psychopath hell bent on revenge - or who has visions of grandeur about their place in the world - things can get crazy pretty quickly, and even lead to cult murders.
From the famed Charles Manson to the lesser-known Antares of the Light, these acid cults took drug use to an entirely new and horrifying level.
Charles Manson Used LSD To Brainwash The FamilyPhoto: California Department of Corrections / Wikimedia Commons
Charles Manson is one of the most recognizable American cult leaders from the 20th century. He and his cult, called the Manson Family, believed there was an impending race war called "Helter Skelter," inspired by The Beatles song of the same name. They believed committing murder would exacerbate said war, and in 1969 killed nine people including Director Roman Polanski's pregnant wife Sharon Tate.
While it's difficult to determine the influence LSD had on the cult, Manson did dose his followers with the drug before ranting about the coming race war. Those rants, along with copious drug use, poisoned the minds of the cult members. His brainwashing techniques also allowed him to keep his hands clean of any actual murder. Manson never technically killed anyone - he just influenced his followers to do so on his behalf.
The Aum Shinrikyo Doomsday Acid Cult Released Sarin Gas In The Tokyo SubwayPhoto: YouTube
On March 20, 1995, 10 members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult released sarin gas on three of Tokyo’s subway lines. At least 13 people died, 54 were injured, and around 5,000 people experienced residual health problems. At the time it was Japan’s deadliest terrorist attack.
Aum Shinrikyo follows the doomsday cult playbook pretty solidly. It had a charismatic leader named Shoko Ashara who believed he was the reincarnation of Christ. They believed the world was going to end in 1997, and that the United States was going to bring about the apocalypse. Ashara used a number of methods to brainwash his followers, including LSD.
Members of the cult had to give up all of their possessions, they couldn't have sex or masturbate, they ate strictly rice and veggies, and they had to routinely confess their darkest secrets and failures to “The Lord of Hell,” essentially a high priest. What separates them from most cults is their use of liquid LSD to invoke visions in their followers.
Studies show people on LSD tend to have poor judgment, and are known to act impulsively. The inductees of Aum Shinrikyo were forced to take LSD before becoming official members, which helped Ashara instill his influence over them.
Jim Jones’s Amphetamine-Addled Mind Killed HundredsPhoto: Nancy Wong / Wikimedia Commons
The Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ, commonly referred to as the Peoples Temple, was a cult started by Jim Jones in 1955. Initially started as a Christian "religious" movement that embraced socialist policies and racial equality, it quickly devolved into a super strict faction with Jones at the helm.
The group had a strict no-drug policy. The only member who seemed to be above that rule was the cult’s leader himself, Jim Jones. He was known to take several drugs, including amphetamines and barbiturates. That, mixed with his undiagnosed mental illness, caused him to become extremely paranoid.
The church moved to Guyana in 1977 and formed a commune there called Jonestown. Jones cut off everyone from the outside world. When members of the media and the US government started becoming critical of the situation in Jonestown, Jones began putting into motion a plot for everyone in the group to commit mass suicide.
In 1978, US Congressman Leo Ryan traveled to Guyana to investigate the cult with a delegation of people. While some cult members wanted to travel back to the US with Ryan, he concluded there wasn't enough evidence to support the claims of abuse. He and members of his group went to the airport, but were gunned down by members of the cult's "police" force. Ryan died, as well as an NBC cameraman, a newspaper photographer, a reporter, and at least one defector.
After that, Jones forced (or simply coerced) 918 members of his cult to drink cyanide mixed into Flavor-Aid. Believing that The Peoples Temple would face impending doom, Jones gave a recorded goodbye. The tape of his final sermon is chilling.
“Mad Dog” McCafferty Took PCP And Formed A Cult Based On His VisionsPhoto: YouTube
Archibald McCafferty grew up in an abusive household in Scotland, and from a young age showed serial killer tendencies: namely, the murder of animals. He was in and out of jail after his parents emigrated to Australia, and by the time he was an adult, he formed a cult-like gang of prison buddies. In 1972, he got married. A year later, his wife accidentally suffocated their infant son.
Enraged, McCafferty took a heavy dose of PCP and heard the voice of his dead son telling him to kill seven people. He believed if he did, his son would be resurrected. He enlisted his buddies - who were also PCP users - and they named themselves the "Kill Seven" cult. The first to die was George Anson, a WWII veteran McCafferty had previously planned to beat and rob.
They kidnapped a man named Ronald Cox, drove him to the baby’s grave, and executed him. McCafferty then killed Evangelos Kolias, a local driving instructor. He planned to use the car to visit his ex-wife, and murder her and her parents. But that fell apart when one of the members of his gang went to the police after he sensed he might be the seventh victim.