This is how the story goes: In 1975, two messengers from a higher kingdom, California, to be exact and took over the bodies of a 40-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman.
These two Older Members attracted several followers, who abandoned their jobs and families, gave up sex, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. They disappeared to study a three-tiered level of evolution that includes space aliens and sophisticated, amorphous, androgynous beings who live in the Kingdom of Heaven.
After 18 years in near-isolation, during which Te, the female Older Member, was recalled to the Next Level (she died and doctors couldnt figure out why), two dozen of the original 100 crew members are still with the program. Earlier this year, they were sent around the country by Do, their male leader, to offer an accelerated classroom for people interested in advancing to the Next Level.
Four people from this group, the Total Overcomers, are in Santa Fe right now. Theyre holding a public meeting at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Wild Oats on St. Francis Drive. Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday night at the Crystal Centre in Taos.
"Were not looking for recruits," insisted one of the Overcomers, Steel (the members took on new names when they went into seclusion, and they dont use last names). "All were doing is presenting information," added June, the lone woman of the quartet.
Use the word "woman" carefully. Like the world they hope to someday inhabit, the Overcomers soul are androgynous. And as if to prepare for their life, the members dress in baggy clothing, with shirts always buttoned to the neck, and wear close-cropped hair.
What are the people all about? First, it might be useful to list what theyre not.
The Overcomers say they dont proselytize . While theyre serious about their beliefs, they display flashes of humor and seem rooted in the "real world." They lack the far-off, glazed look of Moonies. They use the Bible in their conversations, but theyre as likely to discuss its flaws as its lessons. They eschew New Age mumbo-jumbo.
"We know what it sounds like, but were not a cult," said a member named Mat.
"No guns; no Waco," June and Steele chimed in simultaneously.
In the Overcomers view, there are three levels of civilization. Two of them are: the earth as we know it, and the Evolutionary Kingdom Level Above Human. In between is a world populated by space aliens, who take on human or reptilian forms and fly around in UFOs. While some of these aliens are basically food, many are evil Luciferians, who snatch humans and vegetation for genetic experimentation, and have contributed to the destruction of the planet.
Periodically, the higher kingdom sends messengers to earth, who occupy human "vehicles" (or "containers") for a time and put out a call for a crew to spiritually battle the Luciferians. The Overcomers believe that at age 29, Jesus became one such messenger (although they dismiss the Christian notion that Jesus was the single son of a single God). Do (as in Do-Re-Mi) and Te ( as in a drink with jam and bread) fit into the same category.
Hearing the Older Members speak, June said, "was almost like a smelling salt."
"Schools about to start, is how I felt," Mat agreed.
The school analogy works well for the Overcomers. In their view, most people operate at an elementary-school level of understanding. They describe their years in the wilderness as a learning process, where they slowly graduated to the high-school level. The Older Members are their links to an even higher level.
When the time comes to advance to the Next Level, a space ship will come to transport all those who deserve to go. The trick is knowing what the right space ship looks like and not to be captured by a Luciferian UFO.
The Overcomers are in town to let people know that the planet is at a crossroads not an apocalyptic one, necessarily, but a time of great change. "At this point in time, the civilization is coming to some sort of climax," June said. With the changes will come an opportunity for souls to ascend to the Next Level without the 18 years of fasts, study and meditation that the current Overcomers have gone through.
"Were telling people heres a window of opportunity, where you can graduate from the human level to the Kingdom level," said Oliver, the fourth crew member.
The Overcomers are a little vague about how the undereducated can get there. Theyll only say that at their meetings they discuss what they know and ask people to help them. That means assigning newcomers minor tasks at first. The crew will only ask newcomers to join the group of all the crew members feel that they have the necessary commitment.
Joining, of course, means leaving behind friends and family, which is the hardest part about getting people interested in the Next Level. If that component didnt exist, the movement, the Overcomers acknowledge, would be a lot wider.
The Overcomers say theyre sensitive to the "earthly" needs of people, and that they tend to discourage folks from joining. Whats more, "were not saying that whoever doesnt join us now is doomed," June said. "There will be other opportunities to advance."
Theyve put up posters around town, and the free sessions are likely to get a good turn-out. "Santa Fe and Taos," June said, "is an extremely open-minded area for some reason."