Episode 226: The Family: An Australian Kidnap Cult

On this episode of The Sofa King Podcast, we look into the strange Australian kidnapping cult called “The Family.” Their sinister motto: unseen, unheard, unknown. This cult differs from many modern cults because its leader was a woman instead of a man. Yoga teacher Anne Hamilton-Byrne met up with Dr. Raynor Johnson in Melbourne and started experimenting with LSD in 1963.

They started to meet up at a place called Santiniketan Park and would talk about religion and philosophy with other academics and professionals. This turned into a strange group of LSD popping spiritualists, and soon after, The Family was born.

Eventually the group banded together and bought some property, and in1968 they constructed a meeting hall, Santiniketan Lodge. From this lodge, the cult spread. They continued to recruit from medical professionals and other intellectuals, and eventually, Anne Hamilton-Byrne realized that her Master (a formless being from the dimension of light) told her a couple things. One thing was that she was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ in a female body. The other one was that they needed to start kidnapping children to train, abuse, and give LSD to in order to prepare them for the apocalypse and the coming of the UFOs. (Sigh…)

This group got pretty wild and controlled the Newhaven Psychiatric Hospital. This was a place for upper class individuals with mental problems to discreetly go for treatment. Here, they were given LSD and shock treatment and convinced that Anne was Jesus Christ. This place was also good for kidnapping cult members who wanted to escape and give them shock treatment.

So, how many children did The Family kidnap? How did they get away with having so many without the Australian government get wind of it? Why did they abuse the children and give them all crazy blonde creepy zombie haircuts? How did they eventually get caught? What was operation Forrest, and how did it get them extradited from New York to Australia? Listen, laugh, learn.

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