When Scientology Was Hip: E-Meters in the Village

Categories: Scientology

HipHubbard.jpg
Drop out, tune in, and turn on the e-meter
Last week, we started a new feature on Tuesdays. We've asked freelancer Antoine Oman* to write us stories that look at things from Scientology's perspective. This week, he takes a look at Scientology in the 1960s -- ed.


I had the distinct pleasure last week to speak with a singular man named Roger Weller. I wanted to share with our readers what no one, in my experience, has explained with more perspicacity and feeling: what it was like to be in the Village in the 1960s while young people were thrilling to a new understanding of the cosmos.

"From 1965 to 1967 I did so much acid, I was a fucking wreck," Roger told me by telephone from his current spiritual oasis near Asheville, North Carolina.

He says that he started his spiritual awakening in 1965 when he left Greenwich Village to spend time in Berkeley, where living the proto-hippie life came with its austerities. "I fell into a commune on Spaulding Street. There was a bed in the basement. No shower, but there was a bathtub. I was taking a bath and this hot chick came and took a dump and I was trying to cover myself up. It really freaked me out."

Further travels to Provincetown on the Cape, to Florida, and another trip to Berkeley deepened Roger's immersion in America's counterculture. But by 1967, by his own admission, he was burnt out and looking for an escape from the drug culture.

"In 1967, Scientology was a natural to go to from the drug culture. The New York org, it was a cool thing," he says. "There was something interesting about it. Here I was, all freaked out on acid, and here were all these people who seemed so focused. I told them I wanted to go to India. They said I needed auditing."

He was brought into the org by a good looking girl. "The chick is looking at the e-meter, the needle going back and forth. 'Do you do any drugs?' she asked me. I said, 'Not really, I smoked a little pot this morning.'" Roger was told he'd need to be off drugs for six months before he could get any benefit from Scientology. He decided he could do that.

WellerJagger.jpg
Weller sent this photo of himself with Mick Jagger at a 1972 forum, where he said he gave the singer a Scientology book

"There were all these hot chicks. I bought this book 88088. It had all this out-of-body stuff. 'This is cool,' I thought. I can fly around the universe and not have to take any drugs."

The young men, meanwhile, also struck him in interesting ways. "There were guys a few years older, wearing ascots -- Hubbard wore an ascot. I thought it was odd, but they were really friendly to me. They were listening to me. It was just a very cool experience," he says. "Haight Ashbury had been all about crabs. It was not as great as everybody thinks it was."

Roger became an ardent member of Scientology and would stay in it for another 19 years. "I disseminated Scientology to so many people in the 60s, and the whole time I was in Scientology I was in the counterculture," he says. "I did have fun, going to lots of parties, and it wasn't so expensive when I was in. I met lots of people in Scientology in the 19 years I was in. Most of them are out now," he adds.

Roger himself left Scientology when L. Ron Hubbard decided to change planes of existence and left his body in 1986.

"I'm still a hippie today. I don't smoke pot or take drugs, and my hair is short, but I still do my own thing. I meditate. I'm still living outside society," he says.

Well, I for one am thrilled that Roger has given me that glimpse of what the Scientology experience was like when the whole world was in spiritual fluxion. Just talking to him has raised my vibration to 295.

Until next time, fellow seekers!

* Any resemblance of Antoine Oman to another writer who turned out to be an alter ego for a certain wiseass named Ortega is purely speculation on your part.

Previous stories by Antoine Oman:

Scientology Silent Birth: A Testimonial



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46 comments
Jay Vee
Jay Vee

LRH never looked remotely like Spy vs Spy. Obviously a poor photo shop.Great pic of Rog and Mick, tho-- classic.

subgenius
subgenius

Older disabled woman protester arrested in Clearwater yesterday for felony assault on a law enforcement officer.....accidently bumped into the Scientology goons harassing her in the exercise of free speech.....go to whyweprotest.net.......Scientology never was cool....tony could you get on this please....this shit is real for those whose boots are on the ground 

danlocke
danlocke

It's very refreshing to read this article. I met Roger at a close mutual friend's in the early 70's. I got "in"(as we used to say) in 1968, also after a fair amount of LSD. And Scientology was very very very cool.

In the late 60's and early 70's a lot of us were either burned out or felt at least slightly singed through drugs, but we ALL wanted to stay high. Getting high on life was what everybody truly wanted... could we pull it off without moving to India?

It was very cheap to buy courses and get auditing on an exchange basis with others. And 90% of people who have really tried auditing will tell you that all the stuff that you do all the way up to "Clear" is a lot of fun... because it is. (Still is! Google "independent Scientology" and line up some introductory auditing. It's cheap and they leave you alone if you only want a little and you ask them to... or do what everyone has always said and get one of the books and try it with a friend. It won't hurt you. And perhaps you scoffers and snivelers might have a pleasant night "off" from your own anxiety.)

All the way up to Clear, we were told, "Go in and audit; explore and investigate the REAL final frontier, the mind. Be respectful of where you are exploring and never invalidate what your co-counselor tells you. It may be that some or all of the past-life recalls you get are imagined, but that is not the 'point' of all this; you are here to help get the negative aspects of these past lives out of the way, to make life more fun, and to be more aware of the present."

People were VERY respectful of each other in our "co-audits" (when two people get together and use Dianetics and Scn to counsel each other). And we were not supposed to make a big deal about the past-life stuff: it was private to each of us.

But Ron was VERY public about his OWN past life recalls and would publish these recollections in his bulletins and taped lectures as "truth". One of the principle tenants used to be "what is true for you is what you have observed for yourself to be true", we were not supposed to eat it all up.

I knew that about OT3. I knew about it and read about it before I left the Church and I knew for myself that it was something that might be "true for Ron" but it was never true for me. And that is the case with a lot of former Scientologists. Why does such a preposterous story "work" in Scientology? Why would people "get better" in the "recollection" of such a story? There are reasons, and they are a little more complex reasons than naivité or gullibility. Another time.

People often scoff at Scientologists in the blogs and in the comments section. In this time period, there was little to scoff at and even much to admire: the lower grades of Scientology and Dianetics worked (and would still, if they were practiced as they were then), the services were delivered at a cost that could keep the organizations running, but not so high as to bankrupt a person, the "management" that existed at the time was mainly a bunch of other kids off on a boat in the Mediterranean: very, very soft at the time... and generally friendly! And it was gospel that ALL that there was to buy was a bunch of books that might have added up to a couple hundred dollars and the services, the one-on-one counseling for those who could afford it and the co-audit courses for the rest of us. There was no gauging for memberships and for buildings.

Those were the "good old days of Scientology" that so many talk about. It is still a pleasure to contemplate them!

Chuckbeatty77
Chuckbeatty77

Hubbard paid a slight tribute to Roger Weller.   In one of his tape lectures, Hubbard tells a sort of joke to his audience, and says, I paraphrase  "....and Roger was smoking Dianetics....."   Someone hopefully will clip that lecture, and put it on YouTube, the part about Roger smoking Dianetics.  Thanks Roger, great sharing of some cultural history.   I had a johnny come later similar experience, much watered down, but rather than do a summer of acid, I went searching and fell into the Scientology world for 3 decades, 1 decade more than you, sheesh!   At least you stopped smoking that Dianetics!   Good for you Roger!   -   Chuck Beatty

Mike
Mike

Tony, publish what you want but don't be so self-serving and present these articles as a Scientology perspective.  Satire, yes, Scientology perspective?  Not even.

Yap Yaphank
Yap Yaphank

The NY Org was for squares, the hip place to be was the Scientology Fifth Avenue Mission in the village. 

choocho
choocho

 I thought Burroughs introduced Hubbard to some of his Beat friends like Kerouac and they hated him.

Gary Lee-Nova
Gary Lee-Nova

Hilarious article! 

I'm embarrassed to admit that heretofore, I had never considered LRH as a Beatnik!!!

The pictorial illustration is pure platinum comedy! LAWL!!! 

Thank you for the laughs, Tony. Like wow, man; like far out, man!!!

Guest
Guest

wait.  Weller just walked away?  No Squirrel Busters?  No Paulette Cooper treatment?

Ah, the good old days.

Damian DeWitt
Damian DeWitt

The centrality of the e-meter to Scientology's "Bridge to Total Spiritual Freedom" is a major argument that Scientology is not and cannot be considered an authentic religion.

Scientology has claimed to the IRS that "auditing" is a sacrament in Scientology and that the e-meter is a "sacred artifact".  Hubbard said, "The e-meter knows all and tells all."

However, notice this. The e-meter relies on the availability of electricity. Prior to the discovery of electricity and the subsequent creation of electrical distribution systems and batteries Scientology would have been impossible. 

Were electricity and batteries to disappear tomorrow it would be impossible to find spiritual freedom through Scientology's auditing processes. 

A religion in which spiritual liberation depends entirely on the availability of electricity is no religion at all.

MarkStark
MarkStark

I can understand why 60's hippies wanted to get off the drugs 'n' crabs train and try Sciloontology. Even today, I see why people might get drawn into Sciloontology because of it being a counterculture, that sometimes appears fascinating and relatively safe. (Safer than crack or suicide.)

One girl joined in NYC because she saw Anonymous protesting it, and thought it had to be really special if it were being protested, like it needed her support as an underdog religion. She woke up though. It was the pressure for money and some other things. I'm sure everyone remembers her story from the NY Post.

Some people feel weird, confused but adventurous and Scientology is weird and often made fun of so they identify with it maybe?

Of course, for me, it always had a red flags and sirens quality about it.

The cult survived for 60 years by being secretive and ambiguous, and specializing in people's individual "ruin." Those were its strong points. Selling secrets and appearing to have all the answers.

When the veil is lifted by the web, what do they really having going for them? Empty promises, a scam. 

Guest
Guest

Freak'n cool, man.  Real blasts from the past.   This sentence says it all, and speaks truth:"I can fly around the universe and not have to take any drugs."

While I sailed in just a little later, people I knew had already begun.  You hear it from "old timers" all the time, how Scientology used to be fun, and naturally, saner residents clearly not from Planet Teejeack go WTF?   There were Parties, man.

Okay, no druggie drugs.  Alcohol, you bet, loud music, dancing and wild wild people all were ingredients.  I'd just add that some were also sci fi fans not due to Hubbard, but spectacular authors of the genre that sweated over actual scientific information and on the horizon breakthroughs.  Except for jet propelling backpacks,  look around your home and office and you'll see technology written about then.  We believed all of it.

I'd also add that psychiatry was considered quacko in the 50's, and going back even earlier let's just say a lot of prominent players went by the name of Dr. Frankenstein.  New age therapies sprouted like the prevalent mushrooms.  If you think Scientology is wacky,  you didn't live through the 60's, and most of those who did, don't remember much.

That's right.  I'm saying Scientology sounded sane And scientific back then.  Then again, remember I did elude to the fact that members at that time would more accurately be labeled "Scientology Users." 

roger weller
roger weller

chuck is the coolest guy. whenever im looking for someone or have a question related the scio, chuck has never let me down, he is the go to guy.i left 35 year ago and just took an interest last year, i wasnt sea org but i knew lots of staff at flag, aola, and asho,19 years worth, i told chuck tonight c.c. clled me in 77 i just made ans sold chick corea 150 world tour jackets,in satin so cc wanted to know if i could make ron a  black wool cape with red satin lining,i didnt make things i hired a company in l.a for chicks order, so i passed, chuck said hub got one and loved to wear it, my friend peter rundberg in los gatos did make him  a pair of sandals

subgenius
subgenius

Chuck and everyone else that was in, and got out, are super-awesome brave for admitting that they made a mistake. Especially one that cost them so many precious years of the only life we know we have. Many cons go on because the victims are too ashamed to admit they were duped. It takes a really smart person to admit they are stupid. Those like Hubbard that claim to know everything are obviously wrong. There is a great piece of research out there "Unskilled and Unaware" that shows how the dumber you are the more you overestimate your abilities. Makes a lot of common sense the more you think about it. 

roger weller
roger weller

mike scientology posted in urinals around n.y.c. stickers that said after drugs try scientology, lrh always wined about people on lsd on one hand on the other it was a majority of people they promoted too, tony was very easy on scientology in this funny piece, he left out some things i wish he kept in bout all the great music and other things, people know that scientology is funny from all the south park and  bill maher, i cant believe i stayed in as long as i did,you go do ot 8 , and see for yourself  what it is, and is it worth 300,000, that is a joke that they can still sell that story and am i responding to mike rinder?

Mike
Mike

OK, forgive me...I just read the asterick...satire...

roger weller
roger weller

your right  i knew howard rower, in 68 he was selling macrobiotics, might of had the first mac reat in n.y.c. in east village, but in 67 he didnt have a missin yet, so ny.org was the place,at one time howie lived next to dylan on the quiet end of mac dougal st, howie had lions, tigers on his roof. he was wild wewere on the purif together the first one at flag ,greg wilhere said lrh was csing us, he got reports daily,also karen black , bill franks, darby simpson, we were all  triping in the box, 10 days later i was the 2nd person to do nots drug rundown and was asked to give talk to the staff, which i did, the room was packed after lunch for a muster

subgenius
subgenius

Speak out, tell us more.....that's gotta be wild....and maybe add your name to the list of ex's that have spoken out.....whyweprotest.net

roger weller
roger weller

i dont think so i talked to allen ginsburg about bourroughs, allen said billy gave him an e mter, he thought the group was to fachist the beats were to way out , i first met ginsberg in berkeley in 65 at a fugs concert he was chanting and playing a harmonium he brought back from india, i did acid with the fugs that night , my first trip

subgenius
subgenius

who wouldn't, including Burroughs?

subgenius
subgenius

Poor lrh, because of his early life experiences, including long ocean voyages, as a young boy, ahem, he caught narcissistic personality disorder, megalomania, and a touch of "Zelig" syndrome (I made that one up with thanks to Woody Allen).....he'd be whatever he needed to be to get where he wanted to be....beatnik, cowboy, indian, guru, shit he was the fucking Village People now that I think about it.....and give him credit, he did invent the world's first pyramid brainwashing scheme....not, unfortunately the last....

roger weller
roger weller

they even gave me a check for 16,000 on my account, no hassle a set of oec books, and richard reise who became the senior cs at flag gave me 12 hours of free auditing not a sec check, at a hotel in hollywood on highland. very nice to me,  richard i read pasted recently . he was a good guy who got twisted. he was a yale grad and a Rhodes sclolar we talked a lot during lunches, ge told h me how he got in scientology, i did met great people when i was involved, it enriched my life and fucked me up at the same time. i should have done some auditing and moved on.i dont regret the experience, i am angry the way staff is and has been treated

con-cerned
con-cerned

yeah-good point-Weller has been forbidden to see or speak to his daughter Suede for 20 years.....these people are insidious-just as much as any cults.....I think he should have disclosed this part-the truly painful part of how they treated him afterwards, as well as not returning several tens of thousands of dollars they had of his money.....

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

Dude even got a REFUND. He told me there was some effort to convince to come back in, but he says they gave up pretty quickly.

Guest
Guest

Forgot to add:  hot naked sex in hot tubs was also Just Fine in scientology back in the day. See, now you're interested, right?  I won't even mention costumes, like some former bloggers of historical claims.

The difference is, it was real people from all walks that needed someone to talk to about their problems.   That is the absolute essential summation of it all back then.

Then came the ethics, the Sea Org, the Admin, the Management, the "organization", the GO, then OSA, oh, and the "OT ufo levels".  By then most understood it was not just a money scam.  It was Crazy meets Evil and Scientology Was, in fact, a Bad Trip and most jumped off the hamster wheels.  Enter Tommy David and Tom Cruise. 

Mike
Mike

Please, Dianetics is done without any electricity.  Auditing to clear using only Dianetics is possible.  The use of the emeter merely expedites the process.  This is a typical example of the difference between critical "thinking" and merely being critical (also "not knowing what you are talking about").

subgenius
subgenius

A religion in which spiritual liberation depends entirely on the availability of electricity is no religion at all.............well that's a pretty interesting obvious but completely overlooked  point......guess there can be no $cientologist back woods adventurers....campers.....etc

roger weller
roger weller

once you look behinfd the curtain, like the wizard of oz, nothing, i loved tonys picture of ron wearing the ascot. chuck beatty mentioned i was mentioned in a ron tape maybe n xdn course , he made a joke roger smoking a dianetics book, i wish i heard it ,

roger weller
roger weller

i did thought ot8 and couldnt flyer around with out drugs,the partys in the hollywood hills were like orgies, don gear ed at la org at a band clled the bank . they did old stones music, people were screwing in the showers, it was up beachwood canyon close to c.c.. joe cocker was ther one night. the more trained or ot the chick was the wilder she would be,this went on thru the 70s then ended, nobody cared, i was dating a couple sea org members in c.c. for traing from outer org, g.o. staff all fun.you could get laid 5 timea  aweek with different partners. that was  nuts but fun when your young

MarkStark
MarkStark

I read a long story from one of the original Dianetics believers and Hubbard collaborators, and he said they called themselves "Dianuts."  Not in front of Hubbard though.

And just think what Hubbard did for the ascot. Everyone is wearing them now, on Coltice.

Guest
Guest

P.S.  "“I told them I wanted to go to India. They said I needed auditing.”

What do they tell potential recruits in India?

Also, hats off to best line:

"Roger himself left Scientology when L. Ron Hubbard decided to change planes of existence and left his body in 1986."

Chuckbeatty77
Chuckbeatty77

Martin Gardner, the late great anti pseudo-science writer, his classic "Fads and Fallacies" goes right into this character of the "cranks" who come up with these new fad pseudo-sciences.   "Fads and Fallacies" is an all time must read.  Janet's book refers to it, and Gardner wrote some great articles over the years for the New York Review of Books, which are excellent and included in I think one of Gardner's later books.   I wish Martin were alive to witness the last 15 years of Scientology's reaction to the internet and the ex members who spurred each other to speak up.    Martin was a truly important cultural observer.   We need people like him, science skeptics who really do the detailed homework, and comparison.   I, as an ex Scientology long term scribe minded bureaucrat, 1975-2003, most have benefited from smart outside world media writers.   Thanks Tony!    

Ian McEllen
Ian McEllen

He was pretty clear on that, seems to me. Just a way to more fully explore the subject. I'm just waiting for scientology to shut all us critics up by demonstrating some of the easy-to-prove claims. There would be no more criticism if scientology would care to demonstrate an actual clear (as defined by Hubbard, not the modern definition under Miscavige), show the full-conscious exteriorization that's supposed to be so easy, or recollection from select points along the time track, or maybe even demonstrate cause over MEST.To paraphrase the common question, what, PHYSICALLY, can a scientologist do that I can't do by not spending a quarter million dollars?

danlocke
danlocke

Rog tops my list of mid to late 60's rock and counter-culture elbow rubbers. Should have his own Voice column. Tony O. - get him a hot chick for a personal secretary and he'll keep you in stories for the next 10 years that will have you clutching your gut in laughter. Needs a spell checker though and a grammarian. Got any hot chick grammarian staffers there at the Voice? He'll need at least an adjoining office and low 6 figures.

subgenius
subgenius

No one can top: "I did acid with the Fugs". I doubt that was the night they wrote "I couldn't get high."

Gary Lee-Nova
Gary Lee-Nova

Yeah, Uncle Bill expressed extreme disdain for LRH and the corrupt cult. 

WSB's essays on Hubbard & his scam are interesting reading. 

There is one rather charming short story titled "Ali's Smile" that prominently features the subject of scientology & scientologists. 

Satire of course, but cutting real close to the bone because of the study that Uncle Bill made of the cult in the UK in the later mid-1960s. 

Recommended reading for those interested. For the fanatical, there is an excellent recording of Mr. Burroughs reading the piece. 

A complete failure of OT powers is the happy ending.

subgenius
subgenius

And each one of these disconnection stories may seem small, but for the individuals it is huge.Something is no less tragic because of its scale.

Guest
Guest

damn him!  that means he's probably off the mailing lists (well, at least 3/4ths of them).

he's giving me evil, suppressive ideas.  keep up the good work

Gary Lee-Nova
Gary Lee-Nova

Can modern "stress tests" be done without electricity? 

Could I sit down at the stress test table and insist that we forego the expeditious use of the e-meter and get tested for stress? 

Probably worth trying: "Yeah, screw those cans and wires. I wanna do this one face-to-face! This guy on the internet was advertising electricity-free auditing. Let's do it!"

Ian McEllen
Ian McEllen

So, then why should someone buy these very expensive e-meters? And, what's the difference between non-e-meter auditing and talk or regression therapy?

Ian McEllen
Ian McEllen

I thought $cientology was compatible with all religions? What if you're die-hard fundamentalist Amish?

subgenius
subgenius

 hot chick grammarian ............do want

Ian McEllen
Ian McEllen

Exactly- so for those potential members that are fed the lie, that might be a good indication that not all is as they're being told. I don't care if someone wants to believe that all other gods are implants, just as long as they're not told that pretty important concept after already buying into (literally) the organization

Guest
Guest

It's not really compatible with ANY religion, since it believes other religions are false memory implants (the R6 implant, for example, is Jesus Christ implant, which was implanted 75 million years ago).  However, you don't learn this type of "high level" $cientology without losing a lot of money. 

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