Applewhite, Marshall

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Applewhite, Marshall Gender: M
Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr.
born on 17 May 1931 at 03:20 (= 03:20 AM )
Place Spur, Texas, 33n29, 100w51
Timezone CST h6w (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_taucol.18.gif 25°31' s_mo.18.gif s_taucol.18.gif 22°31 Asc.s_aricol.18.gif 04°59'


American cult leader who led 39 members of "Heaven's Gate" to their death by suicide on 3/27/97. Their bodies were found in a mansion near San Diego, and their macabre ritual had been carried out over the prior three days where they took Phenobarbital in apple sauce and vodka. They were all wearing new Nike shoes, had pockets full of quarters (for a video arcade in paradise?) and were draped in purple cloths.

Applewhite was the son of a Presbyterian minister born with good looks and a nice singing voice. Married with two kids, he left both his wife and the University of Alabama after a gay affair and took a job teaching music in the late '60s at the University of St. Thomas, Houston, TX. His divorce in 1968 after 16 years of marriage was a painful experience. Troubled by depression and sex demons, he checked into a hospital asking to be "cured" of his homosexual desires. When he met Bonnie Lu Tursdale Nettles in March 1972, he was adrift, in debt, without his former social connections. With his career as a professional in doubt, he had found himself in a spiritual wasteland.

Everything came together for them both. They felt so connected as soul-mates and beings from another dimension that they even gave themselves names that were connected, such as Bo and Peep, Guinea and Pig, Do and Ti. Their relationship was chaste, but their minds were complementary and their passions the same. They wanted to escape mankind's eternal predicament, to get out of life alive. They formed their own theology out of the clay of scripture and the occult, from the Bible and the stars, from séances and brimstone.

Their futures were one on the fateful day of January 1, 1973, as they began their odyssey across America, taking odd jobs and recruiting members who were "their people." Hundreds passed through the group in 24 years, leaving 39 core disciples.

They had been receiving instructions from God for some time when their shining moment arrived of "overwhelming mission" in July 1973 while camped along the Oregon Coast. They were to be "two lamp stands," God's earthly light. Once more they hit the road, ambling 8,000 miles in one month alone in their rusty old car, living from hand to mouth by selling blood to blood banks and working at menial jobs. They spoke to the people, God's truth under rewrite, even though they were finding their vision of eternity a hard sell. Their bleak doctrine underwent a long gestation.

On 5/18/1974, after nearly a year and a half on the road, the two returned to Houston to anoint Sharon Morgan as their first disciple. She folded $25 into her pocket and left notes for her husband and daughters, the youngest of whom was a two-year-old, to follow her personal messiahs. Only four weeks into the mission, Morgan began to have doubts about the divinity of their sojourn. The three were running up bills on her credit card, and Appelwhite had rented a car that he neglected to return. When they reached Houston, TX, Morgan's family was waiting for them. She reunited with sanity, and Applewhite was arrested for car theft, spending six months in jail.

He used the time to polish his manifesto and when released in early 1975, unveiled his new, improved revelation. They would not take their bodies with them in death, but death would provide them with new bodies within the sacred furnace of space, as they were to be resurrected in a "cloud of light," a spaceship!

They carried their new doctrine to the fertile ground for Guru-UFO-revelation religions, California. In May 1975, they had a meeting in Los Angeles with some 80 prospective devotees. Two dozen people joined them, their first flock. They set up their center in a Wyoming campground and sent their chelas out to canvass and recruit.

The press began to catch wind of the story, a new cult that soon reached the proportions of some 200. In June 1976, the faithful gathered in Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. They were told that smoking grass and having sex was forbidden, stop it or leave. After the departure, 70 people were left for instructions on The Next Level. One of the disciples had a convenient trust fund of more than $300,000. Though strict living arrangements and spiritual disciplines were observed faithfully, the group also laughed and played together. They had a cheerful and highly regulated social life with total repression of sexuality.

By 1981, some of the members began to get jobs. The trust fund was running low and the community required food and housing. In 1992 the group had living quarters in Laguna, southern California. They worked as computer programmers, produced videotapes of their message and had their own web-page. Few responded.

In 1983, Nettles lost an eye to cancer. It is indefinite when she was told that her metastasis was terminal however she did die, in the summer of 1985 in a hospital in Dallas, TX. Nettle's place at the side of Applewhite was generally taken by women, usually Susan Strom and Julie LaMontagne, a nurse who was most like Nettles.

In 1993, at the toss of a coin, one of the men agreed to castration. He had his testicles removed in Mexico in an operation that was botched, resulting in extreme swelling and pain. In 1996, Do had himself castrated to lead the way for several of the men in the group to follow his example.

The Next Level, that of leaving the earth in a space ship, remained elusive. In mid-August 1994, Applewhite suggested for the first time that "it may be necessary to take things into our own hands." When astronomers sighted the comet Halle-Bopp in July 1995, it was their message, finally. A space-ship was scheduled to be traveling in the wake of the comet that would pick up the cultists to go to the Next Level.

By the fall of 1996, the group was running a computer-consulting business and living in a gated estate in affluent Rancho Santa Fe, CA in an elegant house. Applewhite was 65. The group had settled to a small core of true believers who felt that it was time to get on with it. Farewell videos were bequeathed to the world. Happy prospects were written across photos and letters. The cult had gone on for 24 years when they left the earthly habitat for an the eternity of their dreams.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • associate relationship with Nettles, Bonnie (born 29 August 1927). Notes: 1972-1985


  • Relationship : Divorce dates 1968 (Divorce after 16 years)
  • Relationship : Meet a significant person March 1972 (Bonnie Lu Nettles)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Social : Begin Travel 1 January 1973 (Began traveling to recruit members)
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  • Misc. : Mystical Experience July 1973 (Received mission from God)
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  • Social : Joined group 18 May 1974 (Initiated first chela)
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  • Financial Crime Perpetration June 1974 (Stole a car with divine approval)
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  • Crime : Trial dates July 1974 (Given six months jail)
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  • Social : Joined group May 1975 (Started commune in Wyoming with two dozen)
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  • Death of Significant person June 1985 (Nettles died of cancer)
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  • Health : Medical procedure 1996 (Had himself castrated)
  • Death by Suicide 25 March 1997 (Drugs and suffocation, age 65)
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  • Social : Great Publicity 27 March 1997 (Cult suicide)
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Source Notes

B.C. in hand, LMR


  • Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Surgery (Castration)
  • Family : Relationship : Cohabitation more than 3 yrs (Nettles a partner for 13 years)
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage more than 15 Yrs (16 years)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (One and divorce)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids 1-3 (Two)
  • Lifestyle : Social Life : Friends (Cult unity)
  • Passions : Sexuality : Bi-Sexual
  • Passions : Sexuality : Celibacy/ Minimal (Sexual guilt and denial)
  • Passions : Sexuality : Sex Organs (Had himself castrated)
  • Passions : Criminal Perpetrator : Homicide by order (Led cult to suicide, 39 people died)
  • Personal : Death : Suicide (Cult ritual)
  • Vocation : Education : Teacher (Music dept at University)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Vocalist/ Pop, Rock, etc.
  • Vocation : Religion : Cult leader (Heaven's Gate)
  • Vocation : Religion : Spiritual Leader/ Guru
  • Notable : Famous : Criminal cases (Cult suicide leader)
  • Notable : Famous : Newsmaker