There were many levels of discipleship in Morningland. The most coveted and the most demanding were those that took the disciple into various inner circles. Apparently, there were different circles at different times – all kept in deep secrecy. These involved disciples who were the most trusted by Sri and Donato, and these are the disciples who saw things and knew things that could ultimately damage Morningland’s image or worse. For this reason, Sri and Donato made sure that anyone privy to these activities would keep their mouth shut.” (Pathena, Secrets of the Inner Circle)
This story begins way before Donato died. I was in the Inner Circle and I was one of Patricia’s First Three Chosen. Patricia brought in Saravati, Selendra, and me as the next tier in the Morningland hierarchy – what some people call the Inner Circle. This was in the works even before Donato’s death. But guess what? It was a secret. None of the Gopis in Long Beach knew. None of the Disciples knew. To everyone else in Morningland, I was Patricia’s “assistant.” Saravati was Melikia’s “assistant.” Selendra was Celta’s “assistant.” Only we six knew.” (Quota, Excommunication)
The explosive secret I held was about sex in the Inner Circle. Not about Donato and the Gopis – about Sri and the Inner Circle – which I was becoming part of. Yes, Sri Patricia, the spiritual leader of Morningland. Donato’s Wife and Twin Flame. The pure and supposedly celibate Mother of Morningland.” (Quota, Excommunication)
Quota goes on to reveal how Sri Patricia allegedly obtained sexual submission using what today is called sexual coercion. It involves verbal pressure, repeated requests, using guilt, shame, even threats and emotional blackmail to obtain submission.
Nasantta, Patricia [Sri Donato], and Melikia would tell me in counseling sessions that I had reached a point in my development (my Morningland development) to make a choice about my sexuality – whether to be with men or women. I thought it was a REAL choice, so I gave it a sincere thoughtful consideration and chose to remain with men. They’d say “ok” and in a few weeks come back at me with the same “choice,” and I’d consider it again. This went on for six months. Blackmailed with the threat of never writing for Patricia again and of not being able to move forward spiritually or make my ascension, I finally “chose” to make that completion after spending a solitary night in mental and emotional hell struggling to come to terms of what I had to do. It was the ultimate capitulation to another’s will to forsake myself at the most basic, fundamental level of being – my sexuality. I feel that at that point, I lost my Self.
She [Patricia] assembled a smorgasbord of partners, and I was only one of them. One of the hallmarks of our relationship was a lack of intimacy. There was no emotional or spiritual connection in the physical act and that was devastating to me. ” (Quota, Excommunication)
Quota was not alone. Frankie, another survivor was interviewed by Signal Tribune reporter and shared her painful Morningland experience, revealing the deeply damaging coercive influence:
When they were 14 years old [1980s], Tease and her twin sister were initiated into a Morningland order called the Daughters of Isis. … this was when Morningland clergy began to instruct the twin girls to watch pornography, grooming them for sexual abuse. ….Tease claims that Patricia would order the twins to have sexual relations with her, as well as with other high-ranking clergy members.” (Signal Tribune)
Parts of Sri’s behavior was observed by some of her former disciples who grew increasingly disillusioned by what they witnessed:
Sri no longer commanded our respect after witnessing her drug and alcohol problems – as well as her constant sexual innuendos toward the Brahmans of the new inner circle; there were so many cracks in the Morningland dyke that we were all spiritually drowning.” (Pindar, Upon Waking)
These alleged activities were taking place under the noses of many unsuspecting disciples who had no idea what went on behind closed doors and could never imagine such things were even possible. As Pathena states, Donato also relied on secrecy to safeguard his actions. While very likable, he was no saint, for he allegedly slept with the Gopis. Pindar adds:
. . . at this meeting that I learned about the sexual relationship between Donato and the Gopis, as well as the use of drugs and alcohol among them. . . . [We] explained to those gathered that we were closing down the [Escondido] temple due to the offenses we’d witnessed and unwittingly been part of. Reactions ranged from stunned belief to outright hostility (Duraka – a very formidable man – flung a chair so hard that it stuck in the wall on impact). Many cried and refused to believe allegations about the sex and drugs; all we could do was assure them that these charges were not based on here-say but personal experience. Some choose to blame us (which was perfectly understandable), but in-time most of those gathered began to understand the truth of what we were saying, and started putting bits-and-pieces together for themselves.” (Pindar, Upon Waking)
If you were in Morningland in the 80s, these paragraphs may or may not be news to you. If you were in ML more recently, then perhaps this information has no place to go in your mind. The image of Sri Donato as a perfect guru you were told has nothing to do with the person of flesh and blood, personality, and major character faults (to put it mildly). How do you reconcile with these conflicting images? You may be experiencing cognitive dissonance in this very moment. I suggest you continue to explore this website and allow these former members’ experiences to expand your perception of Sri Donato and Morningland. It was not just the good, but also the bad and the ugly. And today in 2023, these tactics have a name!
EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT COERCIVE CONTROL
FOUR COMMON PATTERNS OF COERCIVE CONTROL IN RELATIONSHIPS
Coercive control consists of the ongoing and increasing use of manipulative strategies that deny a victim their autonomy and sense of self. An imbalance of power and psychological and emotional exploitation are used to systematically harm a person (Tanasugarn, PHD)
Sexual coercion refers to any unwanted sexual activity that occurs after being pressured in non-physical ways. Sexual coercion can involve verbal pressure or manipulation and can include: repeated requests or feeling badgered into having sex, using guilt or shame to pressure someone—you would do it if you loved me, threatening the loss of the relationship or infidelity if one does not engage in sex, and other forms of emotional blackmail. (Jeglic, PhD)
HOW COERCIVE ABUSERS ENGAGE IN SEXUAL GROOMING
From anecdotal reports, adult grooming appears to follow many of the same behavior patterns as child sexual grooming. Victim selection – Gaining access and isolating the victim – Developing trust – Desensitization to touch and sexual content. . . . coercive control is emotional abuse that can cause psychological trauma. (Jeglic, PHD)