The Gentle Wind Project

Alternate Names of the Group:

    Gentle Wind Retreat,
    Gentle Wind/Turning Point,
    The Gentle Wind School

Founder:

John Miller AKA “Tubby”

Leaders

John Miller and Mary Miller AKA "Moe," "Mo,” Mary Elizabeth Carreiro, Claudia Panuthos

Co-leaders

Shelly (Diane) Miller, Carol (Mugsie/Mapes) Miller, Joan Carriero, Pam (Colleen) Ranheim

The following information was submitted by former members of the Gentle Wind Project:

Description of Group:

A psychotherapeutic / new age group. Some original members were reportedly therapy clients of the group's founders. People are recruited through seminars, newsletters, and offers of free “healings” by members of the group. “Healings” are said to come from the “spirit world” through the use of "healing instruments" that repair "damages to the aura" and "break the cycle of reincarnation," causing evolution to take place. These instruments are said to be designed by the “spirit world”; then the designs are “channeled” through “telepathic impressions” to the leader of the group, John Miller, who designs them on the computer. They are then produced by group members in several workshops owned by the group, and are made available to purchasers for “contributions” ranging from approximately $400 to upwards of $20,000. After someone buys an instrument, they may continue to "upgrade" to more advanced instruments. They thus become an “instrument keeper” and begin receiving newsletters and are invited to seminars. They are encouraged to acquire more instruments, and are given “information” about their lives via telephone or other personal communication.

People who are “instrument keepers” are encouraged to share their instruments with as many people as possible; at one time there were high quotas demanded of instrument keepers. The more costly the instrument, the more problems it purportedly can solve, with descriptions of alleviating many of the problems of human existence, including pain. Former members report that they believed these claims while they were in the group, but saw the futility of the claims after they left the group. Over twenty years, there have been over 100 variations of healing instruments developed. Hoped for outcomes of curing cancer, curing the common cold, ending drug addiction and alcoholism, have all been made, then usually forgotten as another instrument is designed with new claims. Even though the desired outcomes are only achieved by chance, members continue to believe that they must acquire the latest model. Followers report wanting nothing more than the most advanced “healing instrument,” and have a great desire to spread these among friends, relatives, and strangers in order to change the course of their very existence, to “break the cycle of reincarnation.”

The group members claim that these instruments are only available through Gentle Wind and that the Gentle Wind Project is the only group on the planet that is aligned with the “most advanced spirits from the spirit world.” This is supposedly the only Project that is actually “saving the planet” with the help of the spirit world. These advanced spirits have been assigned various names by group leaders since Gentle Wind began in the late 1970s, including the Brothers and Sisters, the Inner World, the Company, and now the Spirit World.

John “Tubby” Miller is purportedly the chief "guru" but never appears at meetings or in interviews. †Mary Miller (not a relative or legal wife), AKA Moe, Claudia Panuthos, Mary Elizabeth Carriero, generally conducts the seminars and gives interviews, as well as authoring most of the groups’ newsletters and books. A former member reports that, at last count, five other women lived with John Miller, as part of his “group family” at a house in Durham, NH (though the legal address for the Gentle Wind Project remains in Kittery, ME, and another home in Kittery is used as the main office). According to former members, all decisions for the group come from John Miller and the women living with him.

Former members of the group report believing that John Miller was the highest evolved human being on the planet, and that the women around him should be used energetically to preserve his environment so that he could be protected and, through him, the instruments could be produced. Even though the members of the group have reportedly given up all of their possessions to devote themselves to Gentle Wind, the group leaders have typically amassed vast properties and money. The group, through their board of directors (the members living with John Miller or nearby) own several valuable homes, and many cars, including BMW's and Corvettes. They are a "nonprofit group" whose tax returns are available to the public through www.guidestar.com (search for Gentle Wind Retreat). †The main leaders of the group generally spend six months in Melbourne Beach, Florida and the remainder of the year in Kittery, Maine and Durham, New Hampshire. They have also lived in Blue Hill, Yarmouth, and other towns in Maine.

In addition to having their living expenses, recreation, transportation, and clothing supplied by the non-profit corporation, each of the top ring of hierarchy receives a salary of $25,000 and up, as reported on the Gentle Wind taxes, while other group members work for free or minimum wage.

According to former members, the next lower level of Gentle Wind’s hierarchy is made up of less than ten people who live in several other houses in Kittery and Florida. These workers generally put in long hours doing secretarial work, answering telephones, sending out press releases, selling instruments via telephone, arranging for seminars, and taking care of every detail requested by the top leaders. The former member giving this description was at this level for many years and reports that the people, mostly women, in this group, take all commands from John Miller and the women living with him, responding to any request without question. If anything is questioned, the member doing this would be chastised, receiving information that they are causing chaos, that the “energy is negative,” that their very presence is disruptive. At any point in this process, or without any previous warning, members can be “kicked out” and shunned by group members.

Former members report being completely influenced by “telepathic readings” that were believed to be channeled from the spirit world by the group leaders, John and Mary Miller, individually and for the entire group. Although these "readings" influence members very subtly, members report that they have become very influenced over the years and that they believe everything that is told to them by the leaders, whether it is a “reading” or simply normal conversation or opinions. Members become so dependent on “readings” or advice that they turn to the leaders for decisions about the simplest of daily activities. In similar fashion, they all follow the leader’s preferences, i.e. everyone becomes Celtics basketball fans, buys super gasoline rather than regular, cuts their hair short, feeds their pets the same way, earns a ham radio license, makes bowls on a lathe, buys a truck, and so on. Even without being told to follow certain norms, former members report that everyone began acting the same while taking their cues from the top hierarchy’s behavior and preferences. At other times, members were advised to follow certain procedures, such as wearing white clothing, or other such details, and all complied.

In the experience of former members, the members are influenced by all of the usual cult tactics: fear of rejection, fear of loss of spiritual evolution, watching what happens to other members in the way of rewards and punishments, selection of friends, influencing of relationships outside of the cult, easing people away from friends and family, spending time almost exclusively with other members, and so on. Group members use the same language and slang, copied from the leaders. The group leaders have written books and newsletters to describe “types” of people and members now often report that they are a certain “type” of person, sometimes who cannot manage to live with another “type” as defined by the group.

From what observers have learned, Gentle Wind began in the late 70s with the core group and then expanded to another level of followers by the early 80s. †It is still a small group, but is growing at an international level. Seminars have now been held in Eastern Europe, India, England, and Ireland, as well as throughout the U.S. The top two tiers of leadership include about 15 people. Instrument keepers who are reportedly very serious about the group possibly number 100 more. All instrument keepers could number as many as 300-600 people, or more. Thousands of people have attended seminars over the past ten years. Thousands of “healing instruments” have been sold. In addition to selling healing instruments for a suggested contribution, members and prospective members are encouraged to donate money to the group.

According to former members, the members of this group are largely made up of professionals who have had careers and responsible positions in the world. They are people who are highly motivated to help with the problems of the world – former social workers, new age healers, teachers, book publishers, health care workers, nurses, beauticians, store clerks, and musicians. Most members in the top tiers of the hierarchy are women – now more middle-aged than young. Men are not aware of many of the secrets of the group, such as the sexual rituals practiced. The few men involved in the project seem to be skilled carpenters and have helped with many group building projects for little or no pay. †Men and women who are health-care professionals have their credentials used on the website testimonials, even in cases where these people no longer practice their professions and haven’t for many years, and where the licenses and certifications might have lapsed.
Former members report that the testimonials on the Gentle Wind website are almost all from “true believer” members, and also mostly include original founding members or current serious instrument users who are very involved in the group. The lead testimonial is by Dr. Chu Fong, who died several years ago. He used the “healing instruments” in his own practice for awhile, although he was not a member of the group. Until recently, a former member reports that a testimonial was on the group’s website that she had asked to be removed two years ago. The testimonial stated that Gentle Wind had saved her family thousands of dollars in psychiatric bills. However, after that statement was made, this family actually had to spend thousands of dollars in psychiatric and legal bills to assist their sons in their recovery after being raised by parents who were Gentle Wind members.

The BITE Model Applied to Gentle Wind Project:

Behavior Control:

1) Members have gone through many stylized changes in hair styles (all very short), choices of food (changing over the years to sugar and junk food to Atkins diet, to juices – whatever John Miller was currently eating), choices of clothing (all wearing white, or all wearing blues, beiges and whites, and so on). Most members originally lived together in group homes, but now members also live in distant situations from each other while following group norms and assisting with seminar arrangements and publicity, even in isolation from the main group. There are small groups of members throughout the country, and people that set up seminars internationally, including London and Toronto.

Members are often asked to give money to the group, and some former members report contributing large amounts of money. However, even those that aren’t asked for money seem to end up without money. Either they are working for the group at the expense of their own jobs, or they decide to contribute their income to the group’s goals, at least according to former members. †Some members have given up most or all of their personal money and then have been discarded by the group and have had to rebuild their lives. Status in the group was linked to the contribution of money or endless labor. Former members report that two elderly members with inherited wealth were taken care of into old age while their funds were used to support the group. The original members report to the public at seminars and in articles that they have given up everything to assist with the work of Gentle Wind – their careers, houses, insurance policies, cars. However, former members report that these original members have replaced anything they might have given up with several houses, several cars, and sizable income, as reported at www.guidestar.com.

2) Many lower-tier members have given up careers, family, children, and other activities to work for the goals of the group. † Former members report that each couple that originally entered the group together was broken up by the leaders; parents were often separated from their children, not always by direct suggestion, but by a “channeled reading,” i.e.: “You have done parenting in past lifetimes and your child doesn’t need you now. He will be better off with your ex-.” More examples of the group ending relationships and careers are similar: “Working in publishing is making you old and useless.” “Working as a lawyer is something your soul doesn’t want to do anymore.” “Your engagement to ______ is selfish and doing great harm to him.” “The two of you together have ruined your children.” “Your parents have driven stakes through your brains.” “No one would come to hear you sing except a bunch of drunks.” “_____is dragging this project down and needs to leave us alone.” “You don’t need to see that friend anymore.” “He is a ‘live-alone’ and isn’t suited to being in the family.” And so on.

3) According to former members, there are many other rituals practiced by the group, including sexual rituals – so-called “energy work.” †Members report that they believed the "energy" for the "healing instruments" came from the sexual “energy” from these rituals. New instruments were often produced after a group sexual ritual. When new inductees to these rituals were first invited to participate, they were advised never to tell anyone, since “people in the world wouldn’t understand.” They were also advised to not have any more sexual relationships with outsiders, including husbands, partners, and wives. Having a relationship outside the group just wasn’t ever done. Members report that this would have been impossible, as they were “on call” from the leader to be part of the “energy work” and would have felt disloyal to the group by continuing a relationship with a partner from before the group. Members were told that other men “just wouldn’t comprehend” the “energy work,” but that John Miller was so enlightened he could participate, and, in fact, orchestrate, the often daily group sex. One former member left the group after sixteen years, but couldn’t bring herself to talk about the so-called “energy work” for two years after leaving. For another it took over five years. After counseling from therapists who work with former cult members and victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, these members were able to tell their partners about what had happened in the cult, and then they began to understand the abuse that had been perpetrated by the cult leaders.
Allegedly, by the time members are invited to participate in these group sexual “rituals,” they are already true believers in the goals of the group and believe completely in the participation of the spirit world in the group’s work. Even though there have been a few top-placed members that have left the group, there has been no information shared with the public about these sexual rituals until now. The cautionary voices still seem to be in the heads of the former members. However, a few former members, including the above-mentioned people, now report that these rituals are seen as sexual abuse; that someone in a position of power abused them while they were under a form of mind control.


According to former members, the sexual rituals, called “energy work” involve the group leader, John Miller, and the women who live with him. At times in the development of the group, there were two tiers of hierarchy participating in these rituals, as determined by John Miller, including up to ten women living in houses scattered around the Kittery, Maine area. These former members report that participating in these rituals meant that a higher level of “initiation” – guaranteed evolution – could be earned by the member participating, and ensured healing for the entire earth. Being invited to participate was also an indication of a better position in the group’s hierarchy.

As in many cults, the sexual rituals were primarily used to enforce the power and control of the cult leader over the participants. By having members perform sexual acts that they normally wouldn’t do, and were contrary to their sense of self, the cult leader thereby assumed the ultimate control of the women’s minds and bodies. Power and control were the intent behind these rituals, not affection, love, or spiritual evolution, as they were represented. In this light, former members of the cult now can see that the leader perverted the sexual energy of the participants to his own abusive purposes. The women involved in the group were completely submissive and followed directions exactly as to what position, what partner, what to wear or not wear during the rituals, and, in some cases, were told to watch the activity rather than participate. Participation, or lack of it, was also used as a punishment, with one member reporting being told, “No one wants to have sex with you because you’re just too weird.”

4) Purportedly, members constantly share behavior to the leaders about their co-members. Eventually, it seemed that there were no true friendships among members; that all relationships were defined by the group leaders. The leaders could break up living situations, requiring members to live elsewhere. And, members began turning to their leaders with the most trivial thoughts and concerns. Making independent decisions became something to be avoided. If a secret or a confidence was told to one member, it would quickly reach the top hierarchy and there would be a reaction. The member who had told the confidence would then say something like, “I thought that Mary could help” or “John could help.” And so on. Normally no one from the lower tiers of the hierarchy spoke directly to John or even to the women surrounding him in his so-called “group family.” Almost all communication with John Miller was through one of the women living with him.

5) In typical fashion, it seems that members were kicked out of the group, then were shunned after being rejected by the cult, then invited back in, and so on, in a continuous cycle. Thus, people became increasingly fearful about going against the norms. But, also typical, is the fact that the norms were/are always changing. Rewards were given by material gifts (although they had almost always already been paid for by donations from the member receiving the gift), and also by being told that one had evolved to a higher level of initiation. Another reward was being included in the group sexual rituals. Another strange example of a reward is that the top tier of leadership each has animals, rather than children, and when these animals die they are “reincarnated” into the replacement pet, according to John Miller. Important members of the cult supposedly all had reincarnated pets. †

6) Some members were given new names. †Three of the five women living with John Miller have changed their last name to Miller; one of them is his legal wife who preceded the formation of the group. †A former member was told that "they are all married to each other" in regards to the core group. Other members outside of the top hierarchy have also changed their name to Miller, showing their complete devotion to John Miller, the group leader.

Former members say that they would often find great ways to rationalize that they were not in a mind-control group, mostly using the group’s belief that to be truly evolved, one must let go of power and the need to control and to turn oneself over to an evolved being for the good of spiritual evolution of self and the planet. While this is a very Zen-like belief, it loses meaning in a high control group, as members are turning the control over to the leader rather than to a higher power. Members of Gentle Wind are fearful of expressing an opinion that differs from the cult leaders. †If they are too independent, they can be kicked out of the cult. †This kind of pressure to conform put great stress on the (mostly) women in the group. Many of them had led very independent lives before gradually becoming immersed in the group.

Information Control

According to former members, the research published about the “healing instruments” is based on anecdotal results of “healing instrument” use by the founding members and the original top two tiers of leadership. Effects of the healing instruments were anecdotal, as supplied willingly and often by members, and were also judged behaviorally by the group leaders. This “research” was then compiled and written by Mary Miller, co-leader and founder of the group, who includes an MSW degree after her name though she hasn’t practiced social work in perhaps twenty years, and in a different state. Such articles have appeared in newspapers and in a few alternative health magazines such as the Thompson Letter for Doctors and Patients. Following publication of such an article, it is then quoted by the group in other places, using the magazine as the source of the quote. Former members report that statistics are used with great abandon. One month it might be reported that a million people have used the instruments throughout the world, and six months later, the figure might be increased to four million people.

Thought Control:

Rather than chanting or meditating, members practiced “telepathic readings" or “channeling” for people. †At the beginning of the group’s growth, members were all taught to do "readings" which felt mind-numbing to former members. †Group leaders taught new members these methods through hours of practice, and supervised the content of the readings.
The group leaders claim to be in constant contact with the “spirit world,” and therefore can often give new "readings" to members, ranging from comments on world affairs to what kind of car to purchase to how members should raise their children. †When these readings are happening, people's minds feel blank and they gratefully take in the information. The information received by former members was often devastating and very critical of members’ behavior. Many times former members were given audio tapes of the channeled reading and they then listened over and over to the tapes. It became a hypnotic sound that relaxed the member while the contents slid into the subconscious mind. †This information was not subject to critical thinking by the members, and constructive criticism was simply not practiced or allowed. †Members did not listen to opinions of family or friends from outside of the group, and dismissed any form of outside criticism of the group as coming from “less evolved” people.
Members also use the various “healing instruments” on a constant basis. Because of their years of conditioning in the group, they report that the use of these instruments also caused their mind to relax, go blank, to numb out. In one member’s experience, she was so conditioned to the need to use these instruments that it was the last thing she was able to give up after leaving the group.

Emotional Control

Emotional: Far from being relieved of mental and emotional distress, a claimed benefit in Gentle Wind’s advertising, former second-tier members report that they were depressed much of the time after years of spending thousands of dollars on the group leaders’ needs and on hundreds of “healing instruments,” and giving up so-called “unhealthy” careers, homes, and families. Living with the uncertainty of their status within the group, being subtly and sometimes not-so-subtly cut off from relationships and family, and also repressing their natural selves and opinions meant that stress and anxiety were internalized.

Members believed that the “healing” instruments should be “alleviating” all of their mental distress and that, if these difficulties continued, there must be a new condition or shortcoming that only needed to wait until the proper instrument was supplied by the “spirit world” to fix the problem. There was also a convenient loophole added in Gentle Wind’s literature that a very small percentage of people couldn’t be helped by the instruments because of “certain genetic difficulties,” a person’s “borderline personality,” “resistance of the human will,” and other vague excuses that varied from time to time.

Another common explanation for anxiety or depression among group members was that “the group is going through a difficult time ‘energetically’” or that “the spirit world must really be experimenting with me lately,” and so on. Personalities became suppressed as group members lost their individuality in order to conform to the norms of the group that were subtly put forth by the leaders and reinforced by each member.

As is often seen in many such groups, and cults, the members of Gentle Wind generally affected a blank facial expression while communicating, or, when needed, an inappropriate blissful grin. Conversations about real or personal issues, even death in a member’s biological family, were avoided or ended quickly, since individual reality was supplanted by cult reality. For example, when a serious issue was brought up in conversation, the response from another member would often be a bland, “Wow,” followed by a vacuous stare, which was a way of avoiding the potential discussion, and with the effect of belittling the speaker. Over time, this lack of validation inevitably resulted in depression, low self-esteem, and, in some cases, mental breakdown, particularly when a group member was “kicked out” and shunned by the group, or avoided by the group leaders.

Occasionally, when members became desperate under these circumstances, they were taken in by their biological families or acquaintances outside of Gentle Wind for caretaking or nurturing, or they received temporary help from counselors, psychiatrists, or treatment centers. However, active members would not divulge the fact that they were part of the Gentle Wind group, as they did not want caregivers to conclude that the underlying cause of their condition might be due to domination of their natural instincts by the group leaders. This would have conflicted with the belief system that the “healing” instruments were mystical and curative.

As a result, even though the Gentle Wind group was not a “closed group” that lived together under minute-by-minute scrutiny, the leaders’ early establishment of control resulted in the members’ inability to develop close or meaningful relationships with non-group members, or even with each other, as each relationship was primarily between an individual member and the group leaders, John (“Tubby”) and Mary (“Moe”). Members would quickly step over other members to move closer to the presumed benefits of proximity to the leaders. Gentle Wind members often attended school, worked, joined civic groups, health food co-ops, and other community groups, but their primary allegiance in all things was still to the Gentle Wind group leaders, and their underlying goal in outside relationships was to share the “healing instruments” with people, sell the healing instruments, and recruit new members for the group.

Some children raised by parents in the Gentle Wind group have reportedly suffered greatly in their development, after enduring a form of neglect while their parents were involved in the group’s work. Children of members have often undergone a rocky transition into young adulthood, leaving home early by choice or being turned out, and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. One mother lived in great fear that she would receive “spiritual information” from the group leaders requiring her to give up her children, as others had already been advised to do this with their own children. Former members report that adult children of members and former members have not taken up the cause of Gentle Wind and are concerned about parents that are still in the group.

Web Sites of the Group:

www.gentlewindproject.org

Links Critical of the Group:

equilibra.uk.com_page 1

equilibra.uk.com_page 2

Related Articles:

"Inside the 'Gentle Wind Project' - A Husband's Persepctive"

 

Combatting Cult Mind Control

Discussion Group FAQ  |  News  |  Contact

Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves

Copyright © 1999-2004 Freedom of Mind Resource Center, Inc.

Freedomofmind.com fully supports religious freedom and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The fact that a person’s name or group appears on our website does not necessarily mean they are a destructive mind control cult. They appear because we have received inquiries and have established a file on the group.