Celibacy and the Koreshans

The Koreshans believed celibacy was the “scientific” way to attain eternal life, but the practice was not mandatory. Members could also leave the Unity if they changed their minds about marriage and family. For example, Empress Victoria Gratia, Dr. Cyrus Teed’s female counterpart, left the Unity and attempted to form her own commune. Two years later, she married the Unity’s dentist, Dr. Addison Graves.

There were three levels of membership that existed in the Koreshan belief system:


The highest core group was the Celibate and Communal group. Members who attained this membership level forsook marriage and practiced celibacy.

This middle group allowed for marriage, but sexual relationships were only for the purpose of procreation.

This group was comprised of non-believers willing to work for the Unity. Members could marry and participate in the secular aspects of the Unity. Other than no drinking, tobacco use or profanity, no other requirements were made of them.

Within each of these three levels were three distinct branches, the Secular System, the Commercial System, and the Vocational System, for a total of nine groups.

However, the eventual demise of the Koreshan Unity was not because of celibacy. The main reason was they made no provisions for the transference of power upon Teed’a death. When Teed died, he was supposed to return from the dead and lead them. When he did not, lack of leadership and direction led to their decline.

To learn more about the Koreshans, take one of Koreshan State Park’s hour-and-a-half walking guided historic tours, 10am, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April – December, and 10am and 2pm, Wednesday – Sunday, January -March. Click here to purchase tour tickets online, or purchase them at the Ranger Station the day of the tour.

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