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John Sweeney and Marc Headley Visit Scientology’s Odd New Mexico Vault

John_SweeneyOn January 7, BBC reporter John Sweeney’s book about Scientology, The Church of Fear, hits bookstores, and he thought of a great way to promote it.

About a month ago, he flew to the US and joined former church member and Blown for Good author Marc Headley for a trip to the Trementina vault in New Mexico.

Earlier this year, we put together a comprehensive article about the strange vaults that one of Scientology’s most secretive entities, the Church of Spiritual Technology, has also dug in California and Wyoming in order to secure L. Ron Hubbard’s writings and lectures against nuclear attack. For our piece, we had the help of a former CST employee, Dylan Gill, who gave us some rare insights about these strange facilities.

As his Sun article indicates, Sweeney and Headley were stopped at the gate before they could get inside the base and look around. What a shame. After all, Sweeney has demonstrated that he can put on a good show when he’s let in the door!

As Sweeney points out, it’s extremely odd that Scientology has gone to the great expense to dig a vast vault in the middle of nowhere for storing Hubbard’s writings on etched steel plates and gold compact discs inside titanium containers, and marked the place with a vast symbol carved into the desert that can only be seen from the sky.

But Sweeney misses a few things about the place that were explained to us by Dylan Gill, who actually helped build the place.


First, it’s hard to know whether the gold discs and steel plates and titanium containers have actually been fashioned and put into place. Gill told us that this was the plan for the vaults, but when he was there in the late 1980s, CST employees were still archiving on paper the millions of words left behind by Hubbard. Before a single steel plate could be etched, he explained, it had to be determined which of Hubbard’s writings, and in which edition, would be preserved. Since then, church leader David Miscavige has continued to tweak Hubbard’s output, and Gill explained to us that every new edition would put the archiving project back.

Also, he told us, as is typical with Miscavige, the plans for the containers were always being changed, which also put the project back even farther. And there was another problem: in a post-nuclear-war future, there would presumably be no electric grid. So devices had to be fashioned that could use solar power and still play back Hubbard’s lectures on CD, for example.

The vaults themselves had their own problems — fighting moisture at the vaults in California was an issue, he told us. But the one in New Mexico, he said, was definitely finished and ready for storing materials — if the archiving has ever been finished.

Another feature of the vaults that Gill told us about that usually doesn’t get mentioned in stories about them is that each comes with an “LRH house,” and the ones in Petrolia in Northern California and Trementina in New Mexico feature the CST logo carved into the ground.


Gill told us that the logos and the houses are paired for a reason — it’s not “aliens” that the symbols are meant to guide, but L. Ron Hubbard’s reincarnating spirit, his thetan, returning to earth.

From our story in February:

“That’s where LRH is supposed to go, when he returns,” Gill says. Once Hubbard adopts a new body, he’s expected to make his way to one of the CST bases. “That’s where he’s supposed to be raised and be taken care of,” Gill says. “So the symbol is a way for a spirit to find its way back to where it belongs.”

In other words, the “LRH Houses” were built, in fact, for raising a young, reincarnated L. Ron Hubbard. (It’s been almost 27 years since Hubbard left behind his body on January 24, 1986. But according to one Scientology theory, Sea Org workers get 21 years leave between life assignments, which would put the new Hubbard at about 6 years old.)

Gill later told us that the most likely place for Hubbard to return is another CST location that has the logo visible from the air, but has no vault — the Creston Ranch where Hubbard died in 1986. Here’s what it looks like from above…


It’s not a surprise that Sweeney and Headley got no further than a gate with a security camera on it. Not only are CST locations closed to the public, they are also kept strictly secret from Church of Scientology members. High-ranking former officials told us they were never told anything about CST, which is probably the church’s most hush-hush division.

CST also has its own headquarters, a complex in the mountains above Los Angeles, which has a vault and an LRH House, but no logo visible from the air (the terrain is too mountainous). It goes by the name “Rimforest” or “Twin Peaks,” depending on which Scientologist you’re talking to. Here’s a satellite view…


The place also has other buildings, and it’s where the archiving was going on that Gill told us about. Since 2007, it’s also been the rumored home of Shelly Miscavige, the wife of the church leader, who suddenly vanished from view after a career as one of the church’s most prominent executives.

It was John Brousseau — a Sea Org worker who left Scientology’s international base near Hemet, east of Los Angeles in 2010 — who told us that he saw mail for Shelly being forwarded to the CST headquarters. Is Shelly still there? For some reason, Miscavige refuses to produce her despite numerous press inquiries.

Maybe the vaults of Scientology are not so much “space alien cathedrals” as Sweeney called them. But the secrets they do protect are disturbing enough.


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