Roughly 82 visitors mostly dressed in “Yelm casual” attended the Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment’s free open house and tour day last Saturday, Nov. 9.
With my curiosity getting the better of me, I went to report on the open house and see what was behind the copper-laden walls.
Before moving to the area, I had never heard of Ramtha — described as a 35,000-year-old enlightened Atlantean warrior channeled through JZ Knight — let alone the Ramtha School of Enlightenment.
About a year ago, I moved here from the north Puget Sound area with ambitions of making it as a local reporter. I was intrigued, as I assume many people are who have never driven through the area, upon seeing the large wall surrounding the RSE campus and Knight’s estate.
It’s a cliche, but it’s true: I knew I was not in Kansas anymore when I came to this community.
“We’ve got some interesting characters around here,” my former editor told me during the hiring interview.
Locals here know the story of Knight and the school well. It’s a fixture made for the already unique and quirky town of Yelm. But some, I assume, don’t know that much about Knight or the 120-acre campus.
For about a decade in the late 1980s, Knight and the campus were a thing of contention and hot debate in the area. Mike Wright, the school’s spokesperson, said the heat settled around 1997 when KIRO 7 ran a piece entitled “Reconsidering Ramtha,” which can be viewed today on YouTube, and after local authorities relaxed and realized that they were paying their bills and keeping to themselves without causing any trouble.
In many ways, the school has overwhelmingly been accepted by locals. A portion of the large population boom Yelm has experienced over the last couple decades could even be attributed, impart, to the school, locals and school officials say.
While Knight is not often seen in the area due to her “celebrity status,” her presence is felt throughout the community. The JZ Knight Humanities Foundation has helped local graduating seniors, fish passage and habitat restoration projects, among other shows of philanthropy.
But there has been contention recently in Ramtha’s prophecies. Most recently, throughout the last year, QAnon, a wide-ranging conspiracy theory, has seemingly gained approval from Ramtha and many of the school’s followers.
In 2014, allegations circulated from a former member that Knight made members drink a lye-based concoction. The school strongly denied the allegations and threatened legal action against the former member.
Knight was also wrapped up in a longstanding legal battle with Virginia Coverdale after the former student allegedly leaked a video of Knight purportedly making disparaging remarks about Mexicans, Jews and Catholics while channeling Ramtha.
Knight and JZK, Inc. ultimately won the lawsuit, alleging Coverdale violated a non-disclosure agreement, and was set to be awarded a reported $600,000, but not before Coverdale filed voluntarily for bankruptcy.
JZK, Inc. sought to preserve a portion of the judgement through the bankruptcy proceedings, but the court denied JZK's petition.
Believers in RSE’s teachings believe in the manipulation of reality and science (terms such as “quantum physics” are often included). Members base their understanding and focus of Ramtha’s teachings through a variety of activities (such as blind archery or remote perception).
Students often pay upwards of $1,500 per course, according to a 2006 article published by The Olympian.
Most, if not all, guests stayed for the three-hour long event on Saturday. Wright said the introduction events usually draw three types of people: people who say they were “drawn” to the school, people who tag along with their friends and people who come to just “see what’s behind the wall.”
I showed up to the event after a lengthy introduction by Wright, the evening’s presenter. Wright was giving the introduction in a large, 15,000-square foot auditorium that was renovated from a horse arena.
“A lot of people think the school of enlightenment is about love,” Wright said with a pause. “It’s not. Sorry … It’s about power.”
Attendees were then shown a 2014 video of a Ramtha-channeling Knight speaking to a South Korean audience about how she channels the spirit. The spirit began the recorded talk something akin to a “toast.”
Laura Mooney, a teacher with the school who was sitting next to me and guided me throughout the whole event, said Ramtha’s beginning remarks can often differ.
The video lasted about 30 minutes, with Ramtha ruminating on what contributes to human suffering and how there’s hidden potential in every human.
After a short break, during which Knight’s 13-year-old French bulldog Mon Ami came out for a visit, Wright began the process distributing pens and sheets of paper for “remote viewing.”
“Our brain is wired to process information remote from our physical bodies,” Wright told the crowd.
The essential premise of this technique is there is a box and that members are encouraged to “focus” on the box to see what’s inside.
Teachers encourage use of this technique to assist their financial health.
“When you know what the numbers are going to be, it’s not gambling,” Wright claimed. “There are practical applications.”
Printed on sheets of paper, Wright revealed that the items in the container were a turkey, a star, and a tree. I was wrong on all three counts, but a couple members claimed to guess at least one of the items right.
After a short campus tour where Wright disclaimed the “lizard people” speculation of the bronze-capped walls and where guests received a view of the training grounds where students applied techniques on activities such as “field work” and blind archery, guests were routed back inside to end the visit.
Before the tour, we were told to write on a second piece of paper our focused thoughts on what would be inside a second box, which hadn’t yet had its inside items selected.
Inside the box was an image of a key, a heart and an apple.
While I didn’t get any in the second box right either, Wright did congratulate me on guessing an apple on my first sheet.
“You must have been looking into the future,” he said.
This story was updated Thursday, Nov. 21, with corrected information.