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Seattle Met: The Ancient Spirit That Settled in Small-Town WA.!

JZ Knight.
Credit: Seattle Met, Illustrations by Jonathan Bartlett.

Ancient Spirit That Settled in Small-Town Washington

An hour south of Seattle, JZ Knight channels a god-like warrior named Ramtha. To outsiders it can look like a cult, a religion, a 40-year-long fake. Clearly, something otherworldly has come to a sleepy corner of Thurston County.

Excerpt by Allison Williams, Seattle Met:

Let’s put aside for the moment whether Ramtha is best described as a god, or the God—or a ghost, or an alien, or a total fiction. According to legend, he appeared to 30-year-old JZ Knight in her Lakewood kitchen as an apparition of golden glitter in a haze of blue aura. He stood seven feet tall, clad in a robe of purple and white and pure light, in the same room her two young boys had left crusty cereal bowls and the remains of peanut butter toast.

Nearly half a century later, Knight has built upon that initial encounter to fashion herself a New Age mogul, a spiritualist who drew an Oscar winner and a Dynasty star to her orbit, a figure of mystery. The being she calls Ramtha enters her body and speaks with her voice to dispense mystical wisdom to rapt students of her Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment. Visitors come to her compound in Yelm, some 60 miles south of Seattle, ringed by low walls and a curlicued iron gate, to seek a glimpse behind the curtain of the universe and perhaps at the audacity of power over our own existence. 

Knight’s vision—or, depending on whom you ask, willingness to play host to this foreign entity—has reshaped a small town that has grown accustomed to the unlikely god next door. In the 1970s less than 1,000 people lived in Yelm, a nearly literal one-stoplight town 20 miles east of Olympia. Rust mottled the downtown water tower, and a sign hung on the high school’s chain link fence to prohibit horseback riding on the ball fields. A veritable John Mellencamp song, Pacific Northwest style.


Ramtha’s circle grew, extended to Hollywood. In a memoir, the famously spiritual actress Shirley MacLaine called her relationship with Ramtha “deep, seeming to speak to another time and place.” Airline executive Steve Klein read those words in the Tucson, Arizona, airport, having picked up the book en route to Thanksgiving 1985. Raised Jewish, Klein felt an awareness of having past lives. He sought videos of Knight’s channeling on VHS, then made his way to Phoenix’s Ramada Inn, already sure he recognized the being. “This is my frequency,” he says today.

Soon, Klein was attending Knight’s presentations around the world, sharing insight with her staff about optimizing business travel to earn mileage rewards. He was eventually hired to work in community outreach for the school; though still a student, he has since retired and no longer represents the school. 


Ramtha is supposedly all-powerful, ageless, on a dimension beyond humanity. So why does he need a Washington mom of two? Because, Klein maintains, Ramtha isn’t a religion. “He is not going to give us the opportunity to corrupt his message by having us focus on an image of him.” Klein considers Ramtha an ideal—he spells out each letter for emphasis—not an idol.


The word [“cult”] hangs heavy over Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment. Over Knight. Over Yelm. “‘Cult’ is a dirty little four-letter word that people use when they don’t like something,” says Steve Klein, the former staffer, who still considers himself a student.

Read more of the full story.

Blogger Klein was interviewed and quoted for this story.

Posted by Steve on November 17, 2022 at 12:31 am | Permalink

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