On an autumn evening in 1869, while experimenting with a mysterious force called electricity, 30-year-old Cyrus Teed had a vision he would later call his Illumination.
The spirit of God came to him in the form of a beautiful woman in gold and purple robes who carried the Mercury’s Caduceus.
This “God-spirit” told Teed the secrets of the universe and his place in it. The spirit revealed to him that God was both male and female, and men and women, as well as all races, were equal. The spirit also told him that he was chosen to explain (or interpret) the truths of the Bible to the masses. The spirit also told Teed that the earth is hollow, and we live inside it.
Later, Cyrus Teed would adopt the name Koresh, Hebrew for Cyrus, which, in ancient Hebrew, means Shepherd. His followers were called Koreshans, and their religion, a mixture of science and theology, was called Koreshanity.
Teed had been a student of alchemy for years and claimed he had changed lead to gold. Alchemists believed through the application of alchemical processes, the physical body can be maintained through infinity, unless physcially injured or destroyed. Perhaps this in part led him to his other belief, one that would have profound implications for the Koreshans in later years: only through celibacy could one hope to obtain eternal life.
Teed was raised a Baptist but was once a member of the Shakers, another religious organization that shared may of Teed’s beliefs, including communal/utopian living. Teed later invited them to become a part of the Koreshan Unity, but they declined, perhaps being unable to accept his unique theory of Cellular Cosmogony, the belief that…
To learn more about the Koreshan Unity and its beginnings, take a guided tour of the historic settlement or purchase The Allure of Immortality, now available in paperback in the ranger station.