Something Wicked This Way Comes 😈
My week-long encounter with Keith Raniere and NXIVM
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“By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes” is the inauspicious announcement by three witches warning MacBeth of pending danger in William Shakespeare's play, Macbeth, whose interior nucleus caused his downfall. Macbeth was a mormaer, in today's terms, meaning the equivalent of an Earl; unsatisfied with this position, his greed motivated him to murder King Duncan to replace him on the throne. The murder was followed by other crimes, like killing a child to cover up his lies, displaying the erosion of his conscience as his soul plummeted into a state of wickedness. When calling out to Macbeth, “ something wicked this way comes,” the witches were referring to him as subhuman - a thing. A clear warning a ghoulish murderous thing is coming. So watch out and pray.
Good Lord, deliver us from ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night
When meeting Keith Raniere for the first time, my inner being felt immediate apprehension. My higher self warned me something was not right when I felt goosebumps as he approached me to make an introduction. I'm not sure what it was; I couldn't put my finger on it, but it was my intuitive voice expressing concern for the cells in my body. It wasn't that I could hear it, as much as I could feel the message loud and clear as Keith reached forward to shake my hand. My logical thinking was in opposition to my intuition, and I feared he sensed the anxiety I was trying to hide. I greeted him with a warm smile as he welcomed me to his retreat in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. He looked just like his photo on the program cover, sporting long hair and a beard with glasses and named “The Vanguard,” lending a cultish sentiment to the organization he called NXIVM. He was oddly handsome with eyes that pierced you. Although he was friendly towards me, I was pleased he quickly turned his attention to Jonathan and mainly focused on him for the remainder of our week-long stay.
High-up, influential members looked forward to meeting us during a pre-show meet and greet. After my introduction to Keith, I met Nancy Salzman, his partner and co-founder of NXIVM, with whom I felt a genuine warmth: a beautiful lady with a radiating smile. Nancy explained a little about NXIVM - what they expect to accomplish and why influential people, including powerful CEOs, heiresses, Hollywood actors, and other luminaries, were attracted to their group. She said one of the reasons she and Keith highly respected The Pendragons was because our accomplishments had raised us past the pinnacle in the art of magic. Keith thought of our story as an example of “success,” using our performance that weekend to promote his Executive Success Programs (ESPs) to members of NXIVM, where programs cost around $5,000 when I was there in 2005.
Keith was “The Vanguard,” and Nancy was “Perfect,” subtitles given to themselves separating them from the members. I was excited to be in Nancy’s presence because her enthusiasm was infectious, and she convinced me of her love for helping people through their ESP program. The cost was outrageous, but I acknowledged these wealthy people could afford it and wanted to reach their full potential. Both Keith and Nancy were magnets for these types of people desiring to achieve higher goals past their exceeding successes. The common denominators I witnessed in the followers of Keith and Nancy were success, money, and power. Regardless of those strengths, these people flocked to Keith, starving for “more.” Although prosperous, affluent, and influential, these personalities were attracted to Keith because he appealed to their need for additional achievement. Higher achievements, but at what price? Research tells us people often attach their self-worth, happiness, and legacy to personal accomplishments. In reality, many continue the same unfulfilled course despite money, power, and influence. So, someone like Keith Raniere came along to implement a program enabling them to transcend their objectives. Welcome to the Executive Success Program (ESP). The program developed by Keith Raniere was created to help individuals evolve the emotional and intellectual skills necessary to reach their top potential in all areas of life. So, at $5,000 for a class? It is a hefty price when you consider enrolling in several of these classes, plus the cost of attending Vanguard Week, a ten-day celebration held every year in honor of Keith’s birthday at the Silver Bay Resort in Lake George, New York. Members of NXIVM were required to attend. But the wealthy did join, and they did so by the thousands. It’s estimated over 18,000 enrolled in his ESP classes. Over 18,000 rich enrollees were searching for hope in a bottle.
Nancy Salzman stood smiling at me, a smile which would someday crack, as she introduced me to NXIVM philosophy and encouraged me to attend an ESP class while staying at Lake George., which became an extended stay due to Hurricane Katrina, which turned into a bad storm when traveling over Lake George, before dissipating into the North Atlantic Ocean. I needed more information about their organization, and I was open to hearing more about NXIVM. Across the room, Keith had Jonathan’s attention, convincing him of the benefits of ESP. Keith was a mild-mannered gentleman who earned your trust by listening to you and maintaining control of conversations. During the meet and greet, Nancy and I connected, and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind being a volunteer for a mind-reading effect I would perform that evening. I was elated when she agreed because I knew her effervescent personality would deliver the punch that particular piece needed by choosing the right volunteer. I was getting more excited about the evening when I spotted two familiar ladies walking towards me to remind me showtime was in about one-half hour. As they made their acquaintance, I searched my memory, trying to remember where I’d seen these women. Then it dawned on me I’d met them briefly after one of our shows the previous year while touring the New England states. They, along with a few other NXIVM members, followed our tour and patiently waited until we finished our after-show meet and greets to speak with Jonathan. At the time, I recall thinking it was a little weird they came to every show and targeted Jonathan for conversation. But Magic has its share of groupies, just like music, so I was used to over-the-top fans, although their constant presence following our shows gave me the creeps. Seeing them here at this show as part of the NXIVM group allowed me to connect the dots, and I realized they had been stalking us because they wanted us to perform at Vanguard Week. Their names elude me, and I’ve lost all the communication I had through emails with the group, but these two ladies became our handlers for the remainder of our week-long stay. As they walked us backstage for final prep before our show, one remarked how impressed Keith was with us, building our confidence in Keith. At the same time, one of them bragged about Keith’s accolades and mentioned he was known for having one of the world’s highest IQs. At the time, I did a quick Google search of Keith and found his name mentioned in several prominent magazines discussing his high IQ. Time magazine featured Keith on the cover before 2005 when we performed in New York for Vanguard week. But now I can’t find those magazines because they have been replaced with Keith on the cover talking about his life as a sex enslaver. At the time, both Jonathan and I were impressed by this man. But regardless, he still gave me goosebumps or chilly willys. My higher self gave me a clear warning about this individual. Years later, when I read about his leadership in a sex slave operation, my higher self was vindicated, and I was so happy I followed my intuition.
The show started, and as an audience, the NXIVM crowd did not disappoint. As an entertainer, you learn to connect with your audience by creating a loop with them. This is why stage confidence is so important because it says confidence the audience embraces and, in response, gives you back a reaction based on your delivery. By appearing tenacious, fearless, and happy, you please the audience and win their allegiance. And you maintain that allegiance by constantly feeding the loop. These people already liked us, so that loop was easy to maintain as long as we performed well. I could not have had a more perfect volunteer for my mental illusion.
Nancy was great. In this effect, a volunteer is invited to think of an abstract thought or emotion and write it down on a piece of paper as confirmation following the magic. I can’t recall the word Nancy chose, but words are often preferred in our love, passion, hate, joy, jealousy, etc. You get the idea. As an empath, I read their thoughts and paint them. Volunteers are always amazed by this piece of magic and ask to keep the painting, which I sign before they collect it following our show. These are abstract paintings because I’m not as talented as an artist as a magician, so that style of artwork compliments the illusion. The reason participants like to keep the painting isn’t because of the art, but instead, the painting confirms to them someone read their mind, and that blows people away. I stopped performing the effect because, following the show, I would be asked for my 800 number as if I were a natural psychic, even though I announced that what I was performing was sleight of hand and nothing more. But people want to believe you can read their minds, and once they have that idea, it isn’t easy to convince them otherwise. They are disappointed when I don't admit to being a genuine psychic. People want to believe in real magic. That can be scary when you are performing as a mentalist. Nancy’s reaction was no different. Following the show, she was convinced I could read her mind and wanted to continue more off-stage. In the HBO series The Vow, Season 2, Episode 2, a photo shows Nancy and I onstage bowing after I correctly read her mind.
After our performance for the NXIVM audience, we were invited to join Keith, Nancy, and a few elite members, including Clare Bronfman, heiress to the Seagram fortune, for a late dinner. It was at dinner we found it was Clare who had paid our $25,000.00 performance fee. Later, it was discovered she bankrolled most of Raniere’s sex slave cult. At the finish of dinner, we were invited to Keith’s room for late-night socializing, which is common in the entertainment culture. Most performers I know rarely get to bed before 4 a.m. Jonathan chose to stay, but I said good night and took our dogs back to the house on the water we resided in during our stay. I think it was about done when Jonathan returned, excited about his developing acquaintance with Keith. Jonathan, who takes pride in his intellect, found camaraderie with Keith. But mostly, I think Jonathan temporarily bonded with him because Keith gave him the hope he needed to overcome the suffering he had from tinnitus (ringing in the ear), which was so severe he sought the help of neurologists and psychiatrists. Occasionally, during his episodes, his tinnitus would be like listening to a freight train. While seeking treatment, I believe it was at the prominent House Esr Clinic in Los Angeles that a doctor warned Jonathan sufferers occasionally took their lives and that treatment for this problem included learning to live with the condition. Keith had convinced us that his ESP program could offer Jonathan positive help. But it meant having to travel back and forth between Albany, New York, and our home in California, which presented a challenge because Jonathan didn't like traveling alone. During our stay, Jonathan took a few classes and continued meeting Keith. Keith wanted him to come back to New York and help him design a building for NXIVM incorporating magic effects. I can’t speak for Jonathan, but his change was dramatic. His attitude was more positive, and much of his anxiety melted away while taking these courses and meeting Keith.
Link to The Vow Season 2, Episode 2 Rapport on HBO
When we returned from New York, Jonathan began preparing to travel back to meet Keith in Albany. Jonathan‘s tinnitus and anxiety got the best of him, and he canceled plans as he didn't want to travel alone without me. Recently, Jonathan posted on Facebook the difficulty he had going to Los Angeles from the East Coast in September, so while driving to the airport with his wife, West, he canceled his obligations due to health issues. But one of the most significant factors I believe for Jonathan balancing his future with Keith was his suspicion he might get sucked into a cult. The same fear I had when I met Keith and why I stayed clear of him following our show and dinner. However, I did see him at a few other dinners and briefly chatted with him. For the most part, I kept an arm's distance from him and the entire company because I was listening to my intuition. Mostly, it was a relief for me to know Jonathan came to the same conclusion about this cult leader.
A Timeline of the Nxivm Sex Cult Case
Several members of the group, including the leader, Keith Raniere, were charged with various crimes and ordered to serve time in prison.
I hadn't heard about Keith for years until about a decade later, when he was arrested in Mexico for operating a sex slave cult as part of an inner circle of NXIVM called DOS, where his disciples, like actress Allison Mack, recruited women to become members of this secret group by promising them a world of achievement. Once they were members, there was no turning back as Mack kept files on these women, including photos of them in disturbing compromising positions, promising to release them if they didn't cooperate publicly. Compliance meant being branded, having sex with Keith, losing weight to the point of starvation, and severe psychological trauma. If India Oxenberg's testimony proves how these ladies were treated, they indeed met something wicked this way comes. For my part, my prayer for our Father to protect me from ghoulies and ghosties saved me from a monster.
Thanks for reading The Charlotte Pendragon Diaries by Charlotte Pendragon ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.