Breaking the Spell

My Life as a Rajneeshee, and the long journey back to freedom

Jane Stork

Netflix made a huge splash with their multi-part documentary, Wild Wild Country, about the Bhagwan cult. While a lot of the focus was on Bhagwan and his loyal secretary Sheela, another member Jane Stork (formerly known as Ma Shanti B) was a pivotal member. While many of the former members tell their stories throughout the documentary, Stork seems to be the only member of the inner circle who is truly (publicly) remorseful. Her book documents her early childhood in Australia (a bit lengthy, feel free to skim these first few chapters). But after living the “ideal” life of wife and mother, Stork admits to being very unfulfilled…and very angry. Her first counseling sessions are with Bhagwan members and she is rapidly sucked into their world.

From cleaning toilets in the ashram, to increasingly higher positions, Stork does what she is told, mindlessly and with utter devotion to her master. Marriage, family and especially her children, are neglected and ignored.  It is only when the cult comes apart at the seems and she and Sheela flee, that she starts to have some small inkling of what she has been participating.

This is a thoughtful, gripping story of a woman coming out of the nightmare of religious mania.