And finally, it's Joanna Southcott's box!
August 16, 2003 1:24 PM   Subscribe

The Panacea Society is a small group in England that has existed since the 1920s, waiting for Jesus to return to Earth and move into the house they've set up for him in Bedford - the new Jerusalem. Built on the prophecies of Octavia, a vicar's widow obsessed with the prophecies of 18th/19th century English prophetess Joana Southcott, the Panaceans are the keepers of a box of prophecies left by Joanna. "War, disease, crime and banditry will increase until the Bishops open Joanna Southcott's box" is still being placed in newspapers on their behalf as they send out linen squares, breathed upon by Octavia before her death, that will, if placed in jugs of water, will heal and protect. Harmless neighborhood church group or money-grubbing cult? As they receive more attention (including a documentary shown on Channel 4) and their members slowly die off, it'll be interesting to see what happens...
posted by Katemonkey (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
From her headquarters in Albany Road, Mrs Klein tells me, `We believe the town of Bedford is situated at the geographical centre- point of England, and was long ago chosen by God to be the future location of the "New Jerusalem"...'

A Messiah will rise out of Bedford, eh? Well, since Bedford has been described fairly accurately by the Idler as:

Neither truly Home Counties, East-Midlands or Anglia , Bedford hasn't the wit or personality for the rotten-borough status to which the local burghers aspire.

So, make up your own minds. Fascinating documentary, though: the Panaceans had all the makings of one of those odd little societies that you can still find in Bloomsbury back-streets, dating back to the early 1900s, whose existence is only divulged by odd messages in the classifieds section of the Daily Mail.
posted by riviera at 3:11 PM on August 16, 2003

please to be squeezing shut your charming chakra, kind sir, for the blazing golden light emanating therefrom casts a harsh glare across my farm animal pr0n. bless you!
posted by quonsar at 3:27 PM on August 16, 2003

That introduction reads like a goth kid trying to mimic the style of victorian letters or something. It's not a bad story though - could be a fun anne rice style novel, or maybe is...

Of course, the beliefs, if they are sincere, are no crazier than other versions of christianity. And at least this one tries to be balanced toward women.
posted by mdn at 5:27 PM on August 16, 2003

Fascinating documentary. I think my favourite moments were when the secretary of the Society on why she was doing the job - I really did expect Him to come in the year 2000. He didn't, so I suppose I shall plod on until he does - and the minutiae of preparing 18, Albany Rd. for the return of Jesus - Of course, He will have a radiant body and won't need it, but we did put in a bathroom, like a normal house. The secretary even writes to herself every three months for a fresh supply of magic linen to make the panacea. Just so they have an accurate record, you understand.

Such an amazingly English religion, plodding on with fixtures and fittings, keeping accurate records. It made me quite homesick.

Interesting that the film didn't touch on the Society's alleged anti-Semitism, I thought. Save for the occasional fleeting shot of advertisments that one couldn't quite catch, but that featured the phrase 'The JEWS' in rather ominous bold type, the subject wasn't touched on.

Whatever, their pamphlets looked so pretty, I'm sending off for a square of linen immediately. Come to think of it, joining up might not be a bad idea - there's a hell of a lot of cash waiting for the last Panacean standing, and the old girls aren't getting any younger...
posted by jack_mo at 7:10 AM on August 17, 2003

And a single, supergiant continent figures into all this how exactly?
posted by Guy Smiley at 11:02 PM on August 17, 2003

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