8 craziest cults. one of the taiwanese cults even made the cut(no. 3). i use that as an example when i’m trying to explain what a cult is to my students. i’m a little surprised scientology didn’t make the cut, but i guess they haven’t been involved in any mass suicides. no. 6 inspired a song by the legendary pink dots:

The Order of the Solar Temple was a secret society based upon the new age myth of the continuing existence of the Knights Templar. According to historians, OTS was started by Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret in 1984 in Geneva. The two convinced their followers that they were members of the 14th Century Christian Order of the Knights Templar during a previous life, and that Di Mambro’s daughter Emanuelle was “the cosmic child”, and that she was the result of a virgin birth. She would lead them after death to a planet which was said to orbit around the star Sirius, but in order to do so they would have to die in a fire, as was prophesied for the end of the world.

…mass suicides and murders were conducted at two villages in Switzerland, and at Morin Heights — 15 inner circle members committed suicide with poison, 30 were killed by bullets or smothering, and 8 others were killed by other causes. Many of the bodies when found were drugged, possibly to prevent the members from objecting. The buildings were then set on fire by timer devices, purportedly as one last symbol of the group’s purification. In western Switzerland, 48 members of a sect died in another apparent mass murder-suicide. Many of the victims were found in a secret underground chapel lined with mirrors and other items of Templar symbolism. The bodies were dressed in the order’s ceremonial robes and were in a circle, feet together, heads outward, most with plastic bags tied over their heads; they had each been shot in the head. It is believed that the plastic bags were a symbol of the ecological disaster that would befall the human race after the OTS members moved on to Sirius.

excerpt from the legendary pink dots lyrics:

Take a seat son. There’s something I really must tell you. Now me and
your Ma, we’ve always been positive people, haven’t we son? But for the
last year or so, it’s all been a facade. We’ve been putting on a brave
face. It’s a sick world we live in. This is a sick neighborhood we live
in. And there comes a time when you just have to stand up, take your
life into your own hands, decide for change. That’s why me and your Ma,
have decided to go to a new place. It’s a place called Sirius. Now you
can’t drive to Sirius, son. Can’t walk there, can’t get an aeroplane
there. Only one way to Sirius son, and think of it a bit like closing
your eyes on all the sickness and the degradation, and when you open
them up again, you’re in this garden! Where everybody there loves you,
where everybody supports everybody else. It’s that kind of place! So now
I’ve come to the point of this little talk. Are you coming along?
Think about it. I don’t want to force you into anything. I’m not that
kind of father, am I? I’ve never forced you into anything in your entire
life. I’ve only ever been there for you. Making sacrifices for you. When
you were down, when you needed someone, who was there with a shoulder to
cry on? Me, always me! Always there for you, always listening. And now,
just once, I’m asking you to listen to me. What’s it gonna be? Don’t
look at me like that, son! You can trust me!

i’d heard that the song had been based roughly on a real event, but didn’t really know the details until now. via obiter dictum.