When Ramtha Talks Thousands Listen In
By Brad Sevetson The Olympian August 13, 1989
Yelm’s most famous resident is 35,000 years old, attracts an international following and lives — so to speak — in a fenced, sprawling mansion just outside town.
He is Ramtha, a reputed ex-warrior from the lost continent of Atlantis who comes to Thurston County via a channeler named J.Z. Knight.
Since moving to Yelm in the early 1980s, Knight has sparked local curiosity and attracted thousands of followers — dubbed “Ramsters” by local residents ,— to the southeast Thurston County town. Her followers have included actresses Shirley MacLaine and Linda Evans.
Ramtha preaches a New Age philosophy centering on self-reliance and the quest for what he considers a full knowledge of God. The movement has encountered little public resistance from local residents, most of whom describe Ramtha’s devotees as gentle, well-educated and cooperative.
“I have never met anybody who’s against it. They just find it intriguing,” said Marly Steckler, who tends bar at the downtown Yelm’s Stop Inn Lounge.
Nobody knows exactly how many Ramtha devotees have moved to Yelm, but estimates range from the hundreds to more than 1,000. At least a few followers hail from as far away as England, Australia and New Zealand.
Thousands of people flock to the mansion for major events, which can cost as much as $1,500, but even routine gatherings can draw a crowd.
Last Tuesday evening, cars began arriving as early as 5 p.m. for a 7 p.m. “Advanced Consciousness and Energy Workshop” with an admission price of $30.
One sore point is traffic along state Route 507, which increases dramatically whenever a Ramtha meeting lets out. The problem might worsen: Knight appears to be increasing the frequency of her gatherings, and she has submitted plans to pave a 540-vehicleparking lot and convert her 24,000 square-foot riding arena to a meeting hall.
Knight keeps a low profile in town, but court papers filed in a recent divorce showed that Ramtha Dialogues brings in about $3 million a year. According to the documents, she and her husband spent about $40,000 a month and had 17 vehicles, including two BMWs, a Mercedes and a Rolls-Royce.
The mansion has six fireplaces, a swimming pool, a sauna and a tanning salon. It has been valued at $1.5 million.