The Order of the Ancient Way
The Order of the Ancient Way believes there will be no single day of armageddon, but that mankind will gradually wipe itself out - and within the next few years.
In an interview with leader Bob Crosbie, aged 60, and follower Denis McGowan, we were told the world as we know it will end due to man's actions on earth. Members carry cards, wear pentacles around their necks, live their lives in a similar fashion and help each other out. They refuse to see the group as a cult saying they do not follow a God. But there are spiritual and religious elements to the organisation. The Way claims to have possession of the fourth original bible, with the only other three being owned by the Vatican.
"There are people who devote their lives to protecting it," said Bob. There are said to be Way 'chapters' in every county in Ireland with members subscribing up to £40 a year 'for overheads.' They follow 12 rules, similar to the commandments, although one against homosexuality does say 'death shall visit those who break this law.' Today Bob Crosbie, whose wife and son also follow The Way, makes a living as a psychiatrist.
He also hypnotises and says he heals many ailments without charge, but says he does not try to spread his message through his work.
"If I can do something for someone then I can," he said. Crosbie claims to have stigmata similar to that of Capuchine monk Padre Pio, but there the similarity ends as Crosbie has no belief in God. The story of The Way and of Crosbie's life has been published in a book called 'The Seven Signs, The Seven Seals and The Seven Veils.' Crosbie told us he put it together in a bid to spread what he sees as his important message.
"There is misery, disease, debauchery, homosexuality and all these things and they mean that man is coming to the end of his days. "It is all prophesy. I can't put my hand on my heart and say there is no way he could be wrong, but when you look around you can see that it's a fair bet.
"It's going to be painful, its going be miserable, its going to be stupid and above all its going to be useless, absolutely useless. "And we want nothing to do with it."
The Order of the Ancient Way
By Jason Johnson
Soon the respectable tax inspector was turning his back on his Catholic religion as he became a senior figure in the cult which one expert has said is 'bad news.' And within months the couple's marriage was falling apart as the husband began to spend all his time with self-appointed High Priest of The Way, Bob Crosbie. "
He just started to go and see Crosbie all the time," said the single mum, who is no longer with her 'exalted priest' husband. "
After work, at the weekends, all the spare time he had he would spend with Crosbie talking about this Order of the Ancient Way.
"I used to want him not to go - but he just wouldn't leave it alone.
"He would love to spend time with Crosbie. And in the rule book for this thing he has to do everything that Crosbie tells him and give 'account' to him while naked and all sorts of things.
"It was terrifying. Now he's an Exalted Priest. I just don't know what happened him. No one does."
The plucky XX-year-old Sligo woman said she and her husband first met Bob Crosbie while out walking in the countryside in 1997. They heard all about The Way and how it is an alternative to Christianity with its roots founded long before Jesus was ever around. He told them of the rules of the cult and revealed that he was a 'caul bearer' - born with a wrap of skin over his face in the same way that Christ himself was.
Crosbie, who claims to be a stigmatic and a powerful healer, announced he was the supreme chief of the sect on the planet and how there had been attempts on his life by the established churches.
The husband, 38, was said to have been quickly impressed with Crosbie and was soon claiming the stranger had cured him of his nose-bleed condition.
"That's what he seemed to believe," she said. "He also said that Crosbie had cured him of asthma - but he never had asthma!
"He just had got a bad cold and that happened him every winter. "My husband brought me alone to see Crosbie a few times to talk about things but I didn't like it at all. "I never liked Crosbie and I didn't like the idea of this whole thing and what it seemed to be doing to Denis. "I told him that I was not going to go anymore and I told Crosbie that I wouldn't be back to his house." Crosbie told her that she had been 'thrown out' of the cult - even though she insists she was never part of it. She believes this was an excuse used by Crosbie after she sought advice from the Catholic Church about the small grouping.
The Sligo woman, who says she is much stronger after going through the 'hell' of living with a cult member, said she began to get more and more upset by what was going on. But that turned to pure despair when she found our her husband had become an 'exalted priest' in the Order of the Ancient Way - and he began wearing a pentacle around his neck. "I thought this was just crazy," she said.
"They were telling me it was one of the symbols that represented their people - but there was never any evidence of people being involved in this thing.
"There is a small group of them who get together on the longest and shortest days of the year, but they go on as if there are thousands and millions of them in all countries all getting ready for the end of the world."
She said her husband's bond with Crosbie grew stronger and that even at times when she expected him to be at home, he would be with Crosbie. He helped design membership cards on a computer, launched a website and contacted businesses and others to promote The Order of the Ancient Way.
"One Christmas Eve it was a very stormy night and I just wanted us to sit in as a family - but still he went round to Crosbie's place. "
Then on St Stephen's Day Denis drove Crosbie down to Dublin to 'heal' this girl who was suffering from cancer. She died later.
"I was begging him not to go, but he still went on ahead." said the Sligo women.
He started accusing her of being a 'control freak' when she protested at his lifestyle. "I began to just think that I should put up with it all - but I couldn't.
"I was even at the stage where I was telling people who were asking that they should go and see Crosbie for any problems they had.
"I don't know what came over me." She said her life became particularly uncomfortable when Denis began to talk about his new ideas in the presence of his son.
"I was really worried about what effect all this might have.
"By April I was out of my mind and Denis was thinking he was saving the world through Crosbie.
"We even went on holiday to Portugal and I thought things might be getting better.
"He was away from Crosbie and I found some humanity come out of him.
"I was relieved because we did start talking - but as soon as we came back to Ireland he was straight back in with Crosbie again, buying equipment and other things for this cult.
"I was sick with worry - and then he turned round and said he didn't love me anymore."
She said there was now a huge wedge between her and her husband - and that she was by this stage talking to cult experts who were warning her about The Way.
"I had a car crash soon after, and they seemed to think that this was some kind of judgement on me.
"Princess Diana used to say that there were three people in her marriage. She didn't have to put up with a third person the way I did."
She has now moved home and lives comfortably with her son. She says she feels sorry for him but fears that he is unlikely to ever remerge from The Way. Some close family and friends of Denis feel the same way, saying he can do what he likes but they just wish he hadn't got wrapped up in The Way.
"He's a smart man and I would never have thought he would get the answers he needed through something like this," said one, who declined to be named. She said she wanted to speak out in the hope that others might be warned away from extreme religions.
"I feel free now - but I went through a terrible time," she said.
"I hope no one else has to go through what I did."