It’s not something I take lightly nor something I like to do but in case of more trouble for others in the future I would like to put some of my personal observations online. So it must be clear that this is my personal opinion and experience. Since 2003 is a group active in the Netherlands called the Temple of Starlight. It’s head Ina Custers van Bergen I know from back in the 90’s. In this periode we, my wife and I, attempt to work together with Ina. This was not a success and we split up. We both took our own path. Many years later I came across her again on Facebook and we have contact. During that contact again I was hoping for working together. It was all promising. She asked me to do proofreading for het book ‘The Mystery of the Sea. The summer before the book came out I spend time proofreading this book. Then later on she invited me to join a temple training workshop in Rotterdam. I said I will do that. So I joined and I really enjoyed it. Its was nice to have something close and I met a nice group of people. So I decided to continue with the temple trainings.
At that time the only point I had was that the temple trainings were not cheap. Then because I’m a very curious person I decided to join her Solo magical training. This was a very expensive course (285 Euro’s now) for 5 lessons. But I really would like to dig deeper in the tradition she claims. She claims to be in the tradition of Dion Fortune and a legitimate lineage holder. Then I started the solo training. I discussed with her the possibilities of skipping some of the lessons because its all at the beginners level. Ina said that this is not possible. So I have had to start at the beginning. I know afterwards it was a mistake to do this but I didn’t know that at the start.
I’m a practitioner for 24 years now but always keen on learning new things. So the first book I did partly I stepped in half way but the lessons were too boring for me. The only thing that was interesting were the Skype session every fortnight. We shared experiences and discuss the materials. This was the value for me. In the meanwhile I decided to continue with the temple trainings. My main goal was group work, and do the temple work nearby, not to be initiated. So far so good. Then there was a retreat at Autumn. I joined it together with my wife. It was just before I had a surgery. Then after the surgery things changed.
One of the things I found was remarkable is that the lessons in the solo training had no sources. It was without notes and without a bibliography. That was odd. I’m not used to that since I have a scientific approach concerning sources and written materials. Another point was that the English of the book was very badly written. Sometimes Dunglish, and strange sentences. That while there is a native English speaker in the group. The readability was sometimes bad too because pictures were to prominent so it wasn’t possible to read the text.
I asked Ina once why are the lessons so expensive? She replied “Because quality cost money”. I was puzzled. I wrote to her later that the quality of the written material is very bad and that I miss cross references. So its wasn’t very fair to ask that high prices. Because I was not active for a reasonable time in the Temple of Starlight because of the recovery of my surgery. I had the time to evaluate the situation in the Temple of Starlight (ToS). I’m from a complete different tradition. I’m a Thelemite and I’m used to find things out for myself. Plus I’m used to think for myself and experiment and investigate the validity of my personal magical Work. During the retreat all this came on the surface. Also the whole accumulation of knowledge and experience. This was a good sign. However I had some critics about the contend of the lessons, the way we do rituals in the ToS etc. So I had a chat with Ina on Fb. In that chat I told her what my ideas were concerning the materials etc. She argued back and at a certain point she said she would like to drop the discussion. I told here that the solo training add nothing new to my knowledge or experience. She said later on it will be interesting for you. I thought, later? How many books later? Each book plus lessons is 285 Euro’s. Ina said she wanted to stop the conversation because fb chat isn’t the right place to do so. She was right but the main things were already said.
I slept over it and the next morning I decide to resign from the ToS. Then the day after as reply there was send an invoice. I have to pay 3x tempeltraining I didn’t attend because of my surgery. So I was shocked. I wrote back that I wasn’t willing to pay 3x 79 Euro’s for something I could not attend. The day after I had a letter by email from the Board! I even didn’t know there was a board. Plus a name under the letter I didn’t know. In that message he stated in the name of Ina that I should pay it because she was so nice to let it pay me in parts. It was a formal letter, not even written by herself but on her behalf. I was very angry about that. Especially that her reply on my resignation was an invoice! And that she hide behind rules to push me to pay. Is it all about money?
Why do I write this? Because its not an story in itself. There are many ex members that have a similar or even a more bizar experience with the Tos. So my story is even very mild. People who were member for many years who were put aside. I was just participant for 6 months. What makes it clear is that the ToS is really acting as a cult. There are Taboos. For example one isn’t allowed to discuss the works of Crowley and when one has critics nothings has been done to it. Ina tend to acts like she needs feedback but she never change lessons as I’ve heard from ex members. Also Ina is very good at manipulating people and using NLP techniques to poison ones mind with her ideas. She never really is able to work with others. People have to work for her in the way she dictates! This explained to me why people suddenly were away. Or suddenly resigned. They saw how she operates and how she works. She is putting it in certain words so one is curious to continue. But the movie isn’t getting better. Does she train people to be Adepts and be independent thinkers? No not at all. During the trainings I was puzzled by the fact that none of the older members write rituals themselves for the ToS, were energetic passionate about what they are doing and why are there so few? Its not allowed to have ones own ideas of doing things in the Temple. Its all planned and written out by Ina (not actually written but used from old Sol materials as some other ex members told me. I don’t know since I never was involved into the SOL).
In my opinion its a harming way of dealing with members or ex members. What I also found out is that suddenly she had many mutual friends on Facebook. I asked others about it and they had the same experience. It seems she invite all the members from the friends list like my friend list in order to hope to benefit from it. Many friends on my fb friendslist are Thelemites or individuals who never like to be involved into the ToS. Its a very aggressive way of expanding the influence. Also the fear she has what people say about her and the ToS. Have so called spies that report to her what has been said on the internet about the ToS.
I wrote this as a warning for those who have the intention to join. Not because I think the ToS is bad as such but its not what it claims to be and it can cost you loads of money. The ToS has cult like tendenties and the materials are very poor. its doesn’t have the quality its claims. Its not really contributing but something to the Hermetic tradition.
Another note, its very, very vague the claims Ina makes. Its not clear what education she exactly have had and where. When one looks at the CV its all generally formulated and not specific. I wondering if she has any real higher education. I thinks its very dangerous to play with peoples mind and certainly when money is involved. So for all serious practitioners, be warned! Its not what it seems.
The moral of the story….
Those who claim to be more enlightened than others usually aren’t. Those who claim to have all the answers usually don’t. Those who offer to sell you the secrets are only after your money and have nothing more to offer than their own ego trip.
In the words of André Gide: “Trust those who seek the truth but doubt those who have found it.”
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Question: Did you sign a contract to attend a certain number of trainings?
No I did not sign anything.
Nevertheless its not about signing or not. Its about the way she dealt with the situation. I’m fully responsible for my own actions, and the costs. My point is that she is manipulating and isn’t able to deal with critics. Beside this she isn’t strong enough to just call me and ask what was going on. Plus my story is not one that stands alone. Many other people experienced more or less the same.