Australian Author Mary Garden – ‘The Serpent Rising’ Book Review

Guru & Cult Critic Mary Garden – Author From Australia
Mary Garden was born in Whakatane, New Zealand in 1950. She went to Waikato University & Hamilton Teachers College in 1966 from where she graduated with a B.Ed and a Teachers College Diploma. After a year’s teaching and obtaining a Diploma in Teaching from the NZ Department of Education, she spent a year doing post-graduate studies at the University of Auckland. She abandoned her studies in 1973 to go to India where she spent seven years exploring Eastern mysticism and becoming entangled with various gurus. In 1980 she settled in Queensland, Australia, married, had two children and became an Australian citizen. She moved to Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland in 1990. For four years she held a major role in Maleny’s Black Possum Publishing Co-operative. Mary Garden was involved in the Crystal Waters Permaculture Village nestled in Mary River Valley near Maleny. She owned a house there for seven years, ran the Sunday cafes at the Crystal Waters Kitchen for some of that time. Her book “The Serpent Rising: a journey of spiritual seduction” is based on her alleged experiences in India in the 1970’s with various gurus including Rajneesh, Sathya Sai Baba and Balyogi Premvarni. She also co-authored (with Bernard Gunther) “Bhagwan’s Neo-Tantra”. Since 1999 she has divided her time between Kookaburra Park Eco-village in the Wide Bay Burnett region. She is particularly interested in exploring and investigating alternative lifestyles and eco-villages as well as the ever-persistent need for gurus and New Age ‘fixes’ and writing about these things. (Refs: 010203).

Mary Garden’s Views About Meditation:
In an article entitled “Can Meditation Be Bad for You”, Mary Garden made the argument that people who practice meditation can frequently be seen to be depressed, neurotic, psychotic, suicidal, given to hallucinations, withdrawn, obsessive, mentally imbalanced, emotionally imbalanced, fearful and anxious. Mary Garden cited about a dozen references all warning about the severe side effects of meditation and how mystical experiences may actually be caused by seizures or a brain malfunction due to sensory deprivation and decreased brain flow to the parietal lobe.

Amusingly, Mary Garden confessed that she was an ardent practitioner of meditation in the 1970’s (meaning that her alleged experiences with various gurus during that time may have been distorted, exaggerated, imagined or hallucinated as the result of her rigid and mind-altering meditation practices):

Mary Garden: “I meditated a lot in the 1970s and thought I was superior to those who didn’t. Thankfully I didn’t have a breakdown (though sometimes I was surely ‘out of my mind’). I had all sorts of bizarre and strange experiences and in the early days often felt bliss and ecstasy. There were a few occasions where I felt as though I was ‘one with the universe’, and I once began hallucinating that the trees outside were vibrating with white light, convinced I could hear the sacred Om sound booming through the Himalayan night…When I finally gave up on seeking enlightenment in the late 1970s and returned to worldly life, I also gave up meditating–except for the occasional sitting still for a few minutes here and there, watching my breath in the Vipassana way.”

In the 1970’s Mary Garden apparently experienced the advanced, psychotic and hallucinatory manifestations of meditation when she claimed she saw trees “vibrating with white light”, heard the Om mantra “booming through the Himalayan night”, had an experience of cosmic consciousness, felt her forehead was “blazing with light”, imagined she was turning into a demon (discussed later on this page), experienced strange symptoms of kundalini arousal and sometimes felt she was “surely out of my mind”. Mary Garden also discussed her depression, paranoia, desperation, anger and anxiety during that time. Consequently, how is one to give credence to Mary Garden’s alleged experiences with Rajneesh, Sathya Sai Baba and Balyogi Premvarni when she was “hallucinating” (her word) and mentally unstable (due to her meditation practices) at that time? Thank you, Mary Garden! Mary Garden also recalled her alleged experiences almost a decade after they happened (“The Serpent Rising” was first published in 1988).

Mary Garden And Leo Rebello:
Dr. Leo Rebello, N.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., F.F.Hom, MBA, is the Director of Natural Health Centre, Bombay. He has delivered over 10,000 lectures in 63 countries (including WHO, UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNDP, UNEP, UN-HABITAT conferences), has written 30 books and has been interviewed by the world media.

Leo Rebello alleged that the publisher for Mary Garden’s book “The Serpent Rising” contacted him for a book review. Since the request mentioned negative information about various gurus, Leo Rebello (an Anti-Guru advocate) contacted Mary Garden expressing an interest to review her book. As a result, Mary Garden sent Leo Rebello an autographed copy. After reading “The Serpent Rising”, Leo Rebello informed Mary Garden that he refused to review the book because he considered it “semi-pornographic”. As a result, Mary Garden teamed together with Anti-Sai-Baba Activists and publicly smeared Leo Rebello:

Leo Rebello: “Now let us come to Mary Garden’s book The Serpent Rising, with which this nuisance started. Mary Garden of Australia has documented some of her forays into sex, drugs, and vagrancy in that book. Here are some nuggets: Sai Baba, she says, is a hermaphrodite & homosexual – page 44 and talks of surrendering to him – page 16. Then she runs away from him because he played footsie with her but did not call her to his bedroom. She is therefore disappointed and runs away to Rishikesh in the Himalayas. There she gets pregnant from Balyogi – page 203. She then aborts a 4-month fetus (a boy according to the nurse who puts the fetus in the dustbin) in a Delhi Nursing Home and feels it was a murder – page 211. Next she has encounters with Rajneesh in his dark chambers in Pune, etc. etc. The cover page shows Rajneesh working on her. Prior to meeting all these ‘unholy men’ like Satya Sai Baba, Balyogi Premvarni and Rajneesh (her words), Mary enjoyed drugs & sex with older men in Auckland, by the time she was 16 – page 5. Infact her sexual experiments started at a very young age when the neighbour took her and her sister in a hen house and made them do felatio. And such a pornographic book she has dedicated to her two children. The details about her husband are missing. I received the said book on 2nd December, 2003. After reading it I wrote to her that I was disappointed with her book and I will NOT be reviewing the same since it was semi-pornographic. So, she got wild and pressed into service Robert Priddy (;;); Ravi Chandra (; and these other persons with emails like;;;;;;; (I do NOT know any one of them), and they started spamming me.” (Reference)

It is a fact that Mary Garden, Robert Priddy and various Ex-Devotees herded together and collectively smeared Leo Rebello on the internet. Robert Priddy (a known and malicious defamer) publicly published Leo Rebello’s emails (including Mary Garden’s responses) on (which was subsequently deleted for defamatory content). Although Leo Rebello’s emails were defamatory, he never dispersed his accusations publicly like Mary Garden and Robert Priddy did. Robert Priddy duplicated Rebello’s emails on his Anti-Sai websites and removed them only after Leo Rebello threatened him with a million-dollar legal suit for defamation.

Mary Garden – Promiscuity Rising:
“The Serpent Rising” was originally published as a work of fiction and Mary Garden even resorted to using the pseudonym “Helena Pearson” in the book. In an interview with Kelly Worden and co-host Robert Humelbaugh, Mary Garden confessed that when she first wrote “The Serpent Rising”, she was still “confused and ambivalent about her experiences” in India. Putting these intriguing facts aside, it is undeniable that Mary Garden’s book “The Serpent Rising” is “semi-pornographic” in nature. The book revolves almost exclusively around Mary Garden’s sexual desires and sexual experiences.

Mary Garden’s strange sexual experiences started at the tender of six when she began to have recurring nightmares of demon-like creatures crawling over her and sliding their slippery hands up & down and in-between her legs. While still a child, Mary Garden claimed that a neighbor forced her and her younger sister into performing oral sex on him in a hen house. Although her younger sister remembered the incident vividly, Mary Garden claimed she had no recollection of the event. When Mary Garden was sixteen, she stated her first year at College was a “constant round of sex, alcohol, parties and sometimes experimenting with drugs” (including LSD). These stories are important to remember because they provide an illuminating backdrop to Mary Garden’s alleged encounters with Sathya Sai Baba, Balyogi Premvarni and Rajneesh.

Mary Garden And Sathya Sai Baba:
Mary Garden blindly, instantly and gullibly believed (admittedly) that Sathya Sai Baba was God incarnate based solely on stories she heard about him and his miracles. Mary Garden decided to visit Sathya Sai Baba and spent a total of four months with him in India and he completely ignored her (not even looking at her). The only attention Mary Garden received from Sathya Sai Baba was when he touched her toes with his own while standing close to her. That’s it.

After four months of being constantly ignored, Mary Garden had a couple of “murky dreams” about Sathya Sai Baba when she was seriously ill and dehydrated from dysentery. The first “murky dream” that Mary Garden had was of floating, dancing and embracing Sathya Sai Baba in the sky while both of them were naked. Mary Garden had an “intense sexual arousal” and a “deep almost unbearable longing for an orgasm”. Just when she thought that Sathya Sai Baba “would enter her” with his penis, he would disappear (which happened several times) and she compared this erotic interaction to that of Radha and Krishna. Mary Garden claimed that in the dream she could see entire galaxies of stars sparkling in Sai Baba’s eyes, his skin felt like velvet, she was in “complete ecstasy” and her heart was “exploding with love”. When she awoke from the dream, she said: “For hours afterwards I lay there feeling as if I was bathing in the sweet aftermath of an explosive orgasm.”

In Mary Garden’s second “murky dream” of Sathya Sai Baba, she claimed the Guru was floating six inches off the ground and he had a “gigantic long penis, resembling the head and neck of an ancient dinosaur”. The “monstrous penis” approached the crowd and circulated among the people, nudging and caressing them. When Mary Garden awoke from this dream, she was sweating profusely due to her illness. Strangely, this dream happens to be the only one that Mary Garden discusses in interviews when she speaks against Sathya Sai Baba (no mention is made to her sexual dream in which she desired coitus with him). Disturbingly, Mary Garden subsequently changed the details of this dream and now claims that Sathya Sai Baba’s “monstrous penis” (instead of “nudging and caressing” people) actually wrapped itself around student’s necks and strangled them!

Flip-flopping, Mary Garden blindly, instantly and gullibly believed (admittedly) that Sathya Sai Baba was a fraud, a homosexual, a hermaphrodite, a sexual abuser and the Devil incarnate based solely on critical comments made to her by a woman named Joanna (who operated a restaurant called “Jo-Jo’s” in Bangalore). Because of Joanna’s critical comments, Mary Garden left Sathya Sai Baba and ran away to the Himalayas.

Mary Garden is currently a critic of Sathya Sai Baba and is closely allied with Ex Devotees (whose Anti-Sai websites she constantly references in interviews). Mary Garden’s defection from Sathya Sai Baba was based solely on rumors and gossip (which originated from Tal Brooke) that she never independently verified or confirmed for herself in any manner whatsoever.

Mary Garden And Balyogi Premvarni:
Mary Garden’s alleged involvement with Balyogi Premvarni is perhaps the most disturbing (and lengthy) section in “The Serpent Rising”. A chronological summary goes like this:

  1. When Mary Garden first visited Balyogi Premvarni, she was smitten by his “extraordinary beauty”, “couldn’t stop looking at him”, was “completely mesmerized” by him and was “overcome by his power and his beauty”.
  2. Balyogi Premvarni allegedly kissed and had sex with Mary Garden under the pretext of awakening her kundalini and she was awed by the softness of his skin and the fluidity of his movements. After sex with the yogi, Mary Garden felt her heart opening and being flooded with love. Mary Garden claimed that she did, in fact, experience signs and symptoms of kundalini arousal during and after sex with the yogi, which included: “dizziness”, feeling a “a fiery liquid moving at the base of the spine, at the tailbone, and rising upwards to the top of the head”, being “energized” after sex, her mind becoming “still and peaceful”, feeling her forehead “blazing with light”, envisioned herself (as in the case of Sai Baba) as Radha and the yogi as Krishna and always felt in an “orgasmic state” after sex.
  3. Mary Garden hoped the yogi would become a householder so she could marry him.
  4. As in the case of Sai Baba, Mary Garden felt that Balyogi Premvarni might be a madman or a demon and decided to run away.
  5. Mary Garden changed her mind about running away and decided to stay with Balyogi Premvarni.
  6. Mary Garden had her mother wire her some money and decided to leave Balyogi Premvarni, informed him or her plans and left. Although she left the yogi’s ashram for good she left her passport, birth certificate and other references at the yogi’s ashram (how she was going to get her money or leave the country without a passport remains a mystery).
  7. Mary Garden returned to the yogi’s ashram to pick up her passport, birth certificate and references and angrily left the ashram again.
  8. While in Delhi, a devotee of Balyogi Premvarni found Mary Garden after being instructed by the yogi where to find her and asked her to return.
  9. Mary Garden returned to Balyogi Premvarni’s ashram and had an experience of cosmic consciousness, which the yogi allegedly bestowed on her. Mary garden resumed having sex with the yogi and continued to have symptoms of kundalini awakening.
  10. Balyogi Premvarni predicted that Mary Garden would leave him, which she adamantly denied would ever happen.
  11. Mary Garden became pregnant with Balyogi Premvarni’s baby and had an abortion. The attendant told Mary Garden “it’s a boy, you slut” as she tossed the fetus into a metal bucket.
  12. Mary Garden began to have intense feelings of hate and anger and said: “I sometimes expected to see horns sticking up out of my head and my upper eye-teeth elongated and hanging over my bottom lip. I would feel a peculiar sensation in these two teeth and I’d sense them growing and protruding, though they never did.” As in the case of Sai Baba, Mary Garden again began to see Balyogi Premvarni as evil and demonic.
  13. Balyogi Premvarni had a new female devotee and Mary Garden was jealous and infuriated. Mary Garden said: “My lotus flowers were no longer in bloom. I burned some of the poems I had written for Swamiji. I contemplated burning down the ashram or even killing Swamiji.”
  14. Mary Garden ran away from Balyogi Premvarni again.
  15. Despite all this trauma, Mary Garden continued to write letters to Balyogi Premvarni.
  16. Mary Garden decided to return once again to visit Balyogi Premvarni.
  17. Mary Garden finally left Balyogi Premvarni, this time for good.

Consequently, Mary Garden’s alleged involvement with Balyogi Premvarni was one of infatuation, lust, sex and desire. Mary Garden found Balyogi Premvarni to be sexually attractive, obviously desired to have sex with him, found sex with him to be fulfilling, wished he would become a householder so she could marry him, became jealous and infuriated when he acquired another female devotee and entertained thoughts of homicide and violence to revenge what she perceived to be a betrayal. Mary Garden conceded that when she wrote “The Serpent Rising”, she was still “confused and ambivalent” about her experiences in India and one could certainly reason that her book was an act of revenge against her ex-lover who dumped her for someone else.

Mary Garden And Bhagwan Rajneesh:
After Mary Graden’s disastrous relationship with Balyogi Premvarni, she returned to Australia to teach for six months before returning to India to join the Rajneesh cult. Mysteriously, Mary Garden did not go into depth about her involvement with Rajneesh and the copious amounts of sex that must have surely transpired during her year-long stay at his ashram in Poona (where she was initiated as a sannyasin under the name “Ma Prem Sagara”). The book cover to “The Serpent Rising” shows Mary Garden receiving a personal blessing from Rajneesh (meaning that she was no novitiate, but that she was heavily involved in the cult and their unrestrained practices of madman screaming, uncontrollable laughing, flailing dances, spaced-out meditations and wanton sex):

Mary Garden even helped Bernard Gunther with the compilation of his book for Rajneesh entitled “Neo Tantra: Bhagwan Rajneesh on Sex Love Prayer and Transcendence”.

Mary Garden – “The Serpent Rising” – In Conclusion:
In conclusion, Mary Garden’s book “The Serpent Rising” is more believable as a work of fiction. Mary Garden’s motives, confusion and ambivalence behind her book casts a serious shadow of doubt on her credibility, reliability and accuracy as an author. Mary Garden struggled (and still struggles) very hard to portray herself as a “victim” of cults and blamed various gurus for her naiveté and sexual exploits under the guise of spirituality. Since Mary Garden explicitly stated she was not hurt or damaged by her encounter with Sathya Sai Baba, one is left to wonder why she speaks against him the most. I suspect Mary Garden does this because it is far easier for her to talk about other’s alleged sexual improprieties rather than her own.

As a highlight to Mary Garden’s strange obession with sex, she authored a poetry book in 1992 entitled “Coming Together: a Journey through Passion”, which was written “about the beauty and power of sex without using the language of guilt of hostility”. A reviewer of the book said that some of the poems and cartoons (of a naked couple) in the book may “shock” and “offend” readers. Taking into consideration Mary Garden’s rather risque life history, why should anyone be surprised?

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?”


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