At the top of the hill, twelve white-robed women filed into a clearing in the forest. In the centre grew a frangipani tree in full bloom, emanating elegant fragrance. On the other side, veiled by a pink thicket of quisqualum, a dark entrance was barely visible.
“Wait, my sisters, and anoint yourself with the sacred oil,” said Elysia, the group’s leader. “We have arrived for your ascension. You first, Arcolia. Your vibrational energy is exceptional.”
Through the hoop pines, the solstice sun flickered its morning rays across the clearing, illuminating the mouth of the cavern. Arcolia smiled serenely at the other women, knowing her journey to the photon band had succeeded. Finally, she was to be initiated into the Frangipani Sisterhood.
Grasping her carved quartz sound bowl, Arcolia followed Elysia to the secret sanctum of the High Priestess Frantia.
“Just smell these high frequency aromas, Wendy, absolutely spectacular,” Carol gushed and beamed.
I had to admit they were delicious.
Carol had always loved yoga classes. She stumbled across the Frangipani Path through a goat meditation yoga workshop at Byron Bay. On her return, she paid up eagerly for the introductory 12 week online Franginitiate course. A cool thousand seemed like a lot to me for a couple of zoom sessions a week with Mother Frantia. And the scented oils and lotions to complement the meditation exercises cost a mint too, as did the Frangipani chakra toning tapes.
After the sixth week, Carol was hooked.
“Mother Frantia tells me I have perfect potential to become one of their best teachers. During meditation, she introduced me to my Archangel guide Razeel from the Pleiades. He spoke to me and promised to reveal all my past lives and merge them into me. First I must achieve the ceremonial initiation into the Frangipani Sisterhood.”
“What do you mean he ‘spoke’ to you. Did you actually see him?” I struggled to conceal my mirth.
“I saw a golden cloud in the zoomroom and his voice came from the cloud. They call it sound alchemy.”
Sounded like a lot of hooey to me.
“Where does the money go, Carol?”
“The Frangipani Sisterhood has a wonderful network of retreats, oracles, sound healers and spiritual trainers. It’s really exclusive. They only take women who are truly suited for the holy tasks. Because of my potential, they’re giving me a really big discount.”
Four weeks of arcane ministrations and meditations at these retreats would still cost her $60,000.
“Nothing but the best, look at the gorgeous website, Wendy. The High Sisters can levitate. I’ve seen them in my net sessions.”
“Carol, anything can be faked over the internet. More likely they lift your bank account and leave you with a credit card burden.”
“No, my darling, these are holy women who have gained their knowledge at the best ashrams in India and Native American sweat lodges. Mother Frantia even met the Dalai Lama and stayed in a real ancient Egyptian temple of Isis near Cairo. The sisters have thousands of years of experience with only the best mystic guides and past lives from all over the world and time. And their Archangels visit from throughout the galaxy. We come from the stars and return to them eventually, you know. I’m longing to bathe in my Archangel’s divine energy.”
None of my sensible questions could divert her enthusiasm, not even when I told her if she could prove any of this, the Australian Skeptics Association would give her a cool million.
“It’s not about the money, don’t be so crass, Wendy. These are sweet, loving, enlightened women!”
In a month, Carol had finished her course and attained her Franginame, Arcolia. She received a plaque of commemoration recognising her candidature which she displayed proudly in her tasteful meditation room.
The retreat itinerary was frantic. First, some Maori chanting with taonga puoro communication with the deities, then chakra tonings, frangiopathy, a didg and drum circle, frangireiki and a variety of yoga styles, karanas and kahuna massage. Set in lush rural seclusion, the lodgings seemed very luxurious, clean and white on the web, with shining devotee faces grinning ecstatically at each other as they carried scented candles through aisles strewn with frangipanis. The food at least looked interesting – a panoply of exotic oriental menus, with frangipanis ever present in the food or as decorations.
Still, I was worried. What if they wanted even more of her hard-earned savings? I searched the net and located the company which owned the web site in Sydney. I rang the number, pretending to be an Ayurvedic artisanal frangipani oil maker.
“Oh, we’re just an accountancy firm,” a woman’s efficient voice replied. “You will want to speak with the company direct. They are based in the US. We just handle their local branch business. You can email them from their site.”
I was running in dwindling, swindling circles.
In case, I kept a careful record of the information and took screenshots of the Frangipani site.
Next week, I farewelled my friend as she flew down to Brisbane to begin her adventure.
“Email me, Carol, let me know how you go.”
“No phones on this trip, darling, the G vibrations interfer with the cosmic floral light codes and disrupt my DNA transformation, but there’s net access at the retreats. Can you make sure you cuddle Pussums every day for me?”
Every few days I received another happy note from her and my fears began to subside.
At the end of the four weeks a longer message arrived.
“We’re at our final retreat now, somewhere near Bellingen, darling. It’s so gorgeous here, and the guru, Swami Bababaa, he’s a dream boat. He stands in the temple of the Goddess and sees women as they truly are. His Arcturan tantric techniques are out of this world. I’ve never experienced anything like it. After my ascension to immortality tomorrow, he says I can stay on and teach. He is sure I have the gift. Please look after my cat till I can pick her up. Sunshine and celestial moonbeams to you.”
Sadly I stared at Pussums. The grey cat blinked back at me. Though I trusted she was well, I missed my friend.
After that, I received short emails sporadically about her wonderful new life embedded in the Frangipani Path community, the glories of psychometric angelic instruction with new initiates and the sublime wisdom of Bababaa. Yet Carol never asked about Pussums and didn’t respond to my questions about her exact location. One of the emails hinted she was considering a mission post at a new floral ashram in Bali.
Months passed. Then one year. My curious concerns transmuted to unease and I began considering a jaunt to the covid-ridden Northern NSW wilds to search for my friend.
Then, out of the blue the phone rang. It was a mutual acquaintance, Lucy, another yoga enthusiast on whose husband Carol once practised her new tantric skills. Whether Lucy knew or cared, I’d kept my mouth shut.
“Quick, turn on the news, they’ve found Carol!”
At the bottom of a mineshaft around two hundred women’s bodies had been discovered by bushwalkers, who’d smelt something strange above and beyond the sweetness of a frangipani grove.
Immediately I checked the Frangipani Sisters website. It had vanished along with all associated social media.
I collected my saved information, copied it to a USB stick and headed to the police station. Though I may not be able to bring Carol back, I could pursue justice for her and the others.
Yet it turned out the Australian retreats had been sold and they never found the Frangipani grifters who’d completely emptied their victims’ accounts as well. FBI corporate searches hit a dead end since the parent structures had dematerialised along with their fraudulent progenitors. Perhaps they’d ascended to some far flung tax haven in the West Indies, or had set up another sting for gullible fools elsewhere. Like their floral namesake, also the emblem of Palermo in Sicily, the scammers were great survivors even under extreme heat.
Today I can’t look at or smell a frangipani blossom without feeling nauseous.