Well, this is a really old thread, but it reminds me of an "interesting" conference I attended a few years ago. Please excuse my necro-posting!
Several years ago, a friend of mine who I used to admire told me about a conference she was attending in San Diego. It was called Maitreya Sangha, and was put on by a group that blended Theosopical teachings with Masonic principles that were open to both men and women. Mind you, I'd not encountered any of the things regarding the Masons that I have today, so I had no negative conceptions of this. And while I'd had an instinctual aversion to Annie Besant's work, it was all the rage in the metaphysical community, and so I thought maybe I just wasn't aware enough to understand it.
So, I made my reservations, booked a flight, and was on my way to what turned out to be a very enlightening experience-- just not the kind of enlightenment they promised.
First off, I have never seen such a large group of Stepford-wife type people in my life. Each day, they gathered in the teaching hall to drone on and on about "this ray," and "that ray," and I could never follow any of it. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open. I seemed to suffer from a profound sleepiness that went into my very bones, and I had to nap heavily in between speakers.
I began to be suspicous, when I realized that all the double-speak they were doing only sounded high-minded. It actually meant very little. I realized that probably most of the people who were nodding their heads like good little puppets had no idea what they were saying, either. It's just that no one wanted to admit that the Emporer had no clothes for fear of looking unenlightened and stupid. The conference leaders even stated that if you didn't understand what they were saying, you just weren't capable or evolved enough.
Then came one of the many ceremonies, and the only one I attended. It was this long, drawn-out affiar that looked like a bastardized Catholic ceremony, but with the leader sitting on a high throne, looking like a court jester who had displaced the king. It lasted for 3 hours. Fortunately for me, someone in my vicinity kept farting, so I was able to incite laughter from people to keep from being hypnotized by this crap.
I eventually wound up "skipping out" of the conference and just enjoying the city. My friend became very angry with me, saying I had a closed mind, and that all this was sacred. She was buying it hook, line, and sinker. I kept trying to tell her that something felt very, very wrong about all this, but I couldn't put it into words. Now, years later, I'm reading and learning things that tell me what was wrong, but I didn't know back then.
One victory I scored happened the day after the ceremony. My friend kept saying, "this was an ancient ceremony, and there was a LOT of energy behind it put forth by all the people who have done it in the past." Now, I knew intuitively that this ceremony was trumped up by the jester/king guy on the throne, but she wouldn't believe me. At breakfast, we sat next to one of the Stepford-wife people, who was gushing about the beautiful ceremony. I asked how old the ceremony was, and she said, "Oh, it's one of the oldest-- 3 years, at least!" Ha! My friend was not pleased that I had revealed the truth, however.
Incidentally, this conference took place in a Catholic school that was out for the summer. I wondered why they would allow such a heathen organization to meet in their building, but now I think I see the kindred, evil spirit.
For those who are interested, I found a couple of links to this organization: