Jim Jones and the rainbow family
Updated: Sep 5
I suppose what everyone wants to know about cult leaders is whether or not they “really believe” or whether the whole show is an act for power, sex, and money. Are they like the villain in a cartoon, the archetypal Scooby-Doo villain, who just chuckles to himself when the rubes buy his “supernatural” disguise—or do they think their “healing powers” and “telepathy” are real? Jim Jones, whose Peoples Temple committed mass suicide in the Guyanese jungle, provides a useful way to address this question.
As with most people, the Jones character was apparent from a very young age. By ten, Jones was engaged in his own makeshift religious services—often held in attic-like spaces. He had a natural facility for religion and began to trail about every church in his small Indiana hometown to pick up tips. As with most small American towns, Jones was surrounded a great many little churches—yet the one he preferred the most was the most disreputable, the little Pentecostal outfit stuck on the town’s edge; and it was here he became a little preacher—before his mother put a stop to it. However, before he went to the churches Jones went to a men’s club where the men paid him in snacks to swear—Jones always had a remarkable fluency with language, and so he started to build his preacher’s vocabulary with profanity. This fact will become significant later.
Although he was banned from the pulpit himself, Jones continued to preach throughout his teenage years—and he continued to draw an audience. He also built up his own personal zoo in the back garden—with an eye to tempting more “parishioners” to his performances; and this remained a constant throughout his life—at one time he sold monkeys for a living, and he died with his pet chimp. His menagerie doubled as test subjects for his early ventures into healings; and Jones seems to have learned some hypnotic suggestion at this time, particularly the ability to make poultry squat and stand at will—a power he later deployed as a preacher to impress curious outsiders. Sometime during the youthful Jones “ministry” he became interested in science and his sermons turned into scientific lectures, complete with a microscope. His animals moved from being fetish creatures in a quasi-Pentecostal “snake wrangling” ceremony to being test subjects for live animal experiments—at one time Jones attempted to graft one duck’s leg onto another duck in order to create a “three-legged duck”. Needless to say, the experiment failed.
Character is pretty much fixed from birth and Jones, particularly in the way he treated his animals, had already displayed a cold and callous disregard for their welfare—they were not “real” to him. Indeed, the whole Jones story played out in miniature in his childhood: the Freudian compulsion to repeat is, perhaps, real—if not rooted in the mechanisms Freud identified. Hence Jones, at one point, locked his congregation in his little self-made church; and on another occasion he locked two friends in an attic and smiled up at them when they looked out from the tiny window at the attic’s end. In this, Jones displayed both sadism and also a desire not to be abandoned—he wanted to keep people with him at all costs. The Jim Jones story was all played out in microcosm from ten to twenty: callous cruelty, natural facility for wacky faith-healer type preaching, an interest in science combined with religion, sadism, egocentrism, and, above all, a desire not to be abandoned.
One final element: the pathological element in Jones was also apparent early on. There is a photograph of him from high school and in the photograph he holds a little mirror—Jones, in a pathological act, wants to ruin the photograph for everyone. At one point, Jones acquired a BB rifle and with it he shot—bold as brass—his best friend in the chest, “just to see what would happen”. The pellet didn’t penetrate very far and was soon carried out by the blood flow. Sometime later, the two boys went for a walk and Jones pointed the rifle at the boy and threatened him if he refused to do what he said. Eventually, the two boys drifted apart and had a fist fight in which Jones was pummelled because he tried to stop a basketball game (marked as “sinful”, Jones liked to designated everything as “sinful”)—his friend being a great athlete, whereas Jones was the priestly swot who always carried a Bible under his arm (in the school photo they are at opposite ends).
However, there seems to have been an attraction between them. The boy visited Jones before they left school to make up the argument: Jones, in a more serious repeat of the earlier incidents, fired a real firearm at the boy as he left his home. Again, there is a connection between the acute fear of abandonment felt by Jones and the desire to kill anyone who tried to leave him or disobey him. The boy’s final encounter with Jones was when Jones helped him get a job as a medical orderly—Jones used to menace him by throwing artificial limbs at him; finally, Jones forced his supposed friend to carry an amputated limb down to the hospital furnace to burn—Jones greatly relished the way the flesh burned, though it disgusted the friend; and he relished his friend’s disgust. They never spoke again.
To answer the initial question: it is impossible to disentangle the cult leader’s nature from his eventual role as cult leader. Jones was a smart man (IQ 115-118), handsome, and also charismatic: there were many ways he could have earned money and adulation from people that would have been much easier and less stressful than running a cult. To run a cult itself makes you unpopular, limits your success automatically, due to the peculiar beliefs associated with cults—for Jones, his peculiar belief was an obsession with multiracialism. Although cult leaders often act in a Machiavellian way, with a consciousness that the cult is “not real”—or not the only reality, anyway—at the same time their entire character is tied up with the cult from the start. From age ten, Jones began to spontaneously confect his own religion; and this was not to do with some Machiavellian attempt to become popular—it was just his nature, his vocation really. At the same time, he began to try to trap and possess people forever—a tendency that foreshadowed the eventual mass suicide he oversaw in Jonestown.
So cult leaders are basically not cynical—even people like L. Ron Hubbard, who famously said that the best way to get rich would be to found a religion, choose the cult route, actually a very difficult route in many ways, because it is in their nature to do so (in Hubbard’s case he loved a good sci-fi yarn—Scientology was just a permanent sci-fi yarn made real). Occasionally, as with all people who have a vocation, cult leaders look outside themselves and see the situation objectively—i.e. even a professional politician will sometimes look outside himself as to what he looks like from “the other side”. Yet this degree of insight should not be mistaken for the idea that cults are just “con games” for power, sex, and money—no, the cult is sincere and is anchored in its founder’s nature; although it just so happens that the nature of people who found cults is to misuse money, abuse power, and manipulate people for sex.
The particular hook for the Jones cult was multiracial equality; hence, as depicted above, Jones cultivated a “rainbow family”—he really called it that—with a child from every main race in the world. The multiracial issue was key for Jones from his very earliest preaching; and, hilariously, he was a “Human Rights Commissioner” in Indianapolis responsible for interracial relations—and later was offered the same position in San Francisco, although by that time he had grown too grand for such a diminutive rank.
My view is that Jones had Indian blood—and not a minor quantum, either. This notion was remarked upon in his childhood due to his very straight black hair; and I think, to look at his face, he seems to be what I would characterise, probably incorrectly, as “Pueblo”. Whatever the specifics, there is indisputably something Amerindian about his face. Later, his first son was remarked to be “a little Indian” and seemed to look very Indian—a real chip off the old block. This notion was cemented for me by the fact that when Jones brought his by-then thriving ministry to San Francisco in the 1970s, he was particularly generous to an activist in the American Indian Movement who participated in the “uprising” at Wounded Knee. I think there was a kinship there; and this explains why Jones saw multiracialism as so important—although frankly, I think he also preyed on blacks, who eventually made up 70% of his congregation (70% of the victims at Jonestown), because he realised they were more gullible and malleable than whites. Easier to exploit, in other words.
So far as his parents went, Jones had Welsh blood from his mother—and it is from his mother, an ambitious woman with a little college education, that he got his drive and intelligence. She married an older man, a WWI invalid and a Quaker, who basically did hardly any work—he just lay on the sofa; and his quasi-pathological behaviour perhaps indicates that Jones inherited his anti-social tendencies from his father. His Quaker blood probably contributed to the equalitarian, basically Marxist, views Jones was later to enunciate. For the most part, however, Jones was his mother’s child—it was her ambition that fired him. Further, she at one time said “snakes were her friends” and Jones subsequently dreamed that a large snake tried to harm him—I suspect Celto-Indian blood that interacted with American soil to call forth negative spiritual aspect in the Jones personality.
However, the basic Jones pattern does not seem explainable in environmental terms. As with many such people, Jones was essentially “born this way”—although he was left to wander as a child and seems to have been mildly neglected, he was in no sense abandoned by his parents. His need to “own” an audience absolutely—even unto death—seems to me to be more related to a certain psychopathic trait, one also seen in Jeffrey Dahmer (he owned people by eating them; if he liked you, he ate you to keep you). As with Dahmer, Jones was also homosexual—although I suspect he was not truly homosexual, rather he had a disordered sexuality and sometimes used homosexual acts for purposes of dominance and/or sadism.
The psychopathic element to Jones is also evident in the cult doctrine he eventually created. Jones started out as a straightforward preacher with a particular bent towards “healing”—towards the Pentecostal preaching that often, as it happened, united black and white congregations in its primitive religious expressions. However, his youthful interest in science effectively led him to abandon Christianity. This probably fully happened just after he left high school. Jones had tried a little preaching already, but he eventually settled on a job as a hospital orderly. Notably, this was not the best-paying job on offer—factory work was more lucrative. However, Jones adored the starched white uniform—so like a doctor’s uniform—and quickly picked up, with the verbal tilt to his IQ, a full medical vocabulary. In other words, Jones took the job because it fulfilled his narcissistic need to be self-important, special, and the centre of attention.
However, his exposure to the harsh realities found in hospital life also seems to have destroyed his childhood Christianity. Shortly afterwards, Jones married a nurse and began to attend Communist Party USA meetings—at the time, with McCarthyism at its height, the meetings were watched by the FBI; and so Jones began to experience paranoia for the first time. What seems to have happened is that Jones lost his faith in a conventional sense and became a Marxist; however, as a psychopath, he did not react as people normally do to such a transition.
It is true, for example, that Communists would form front organisations and work with sympathetic fellow-travellers who were often, for example, genuinely religious Quakers—and it is also true that the left, due to bureaucratic entropy, will often de facto take over an organisation and “wear it as a skin suit”. However, what even Communists do not do is think as Jones did: “I like Communism, multiracialism, and the Soviet Union, but I live in America where everyone hates these things. However, Americans like Christianity and churches; therefore, I will set up a Christian church and preach Marxism and multiracialism. Problem solved.”
Normal people, even Communists, do not think in this way—anymore than a Christian would think to set up a church in Mecca disguised as a mosque, since Christian preaching is banned in Saudi Arabia. Even people with extreme views, such as Communism, have an emotional attachment to those views and a desire for a certain consistency in those views that means they would not tolerate running a fake church even if it preached undiluted Marxism—they have some sense that the whole “Christian thing” is one piece with the capitalist system they want to eliminate. However, for a psychopath, no such normal emotional scruples exist; they are hyper-Machiavellian, almost to the extent that a conspiracy theorist would imagine is typical in man. They are untroubled by social norms, so if setting up a church in which they preach the opposite of Christianity will get them what they want—well, why not?
Of course, Jones, being human, was not entirely consistent. At the same time as he moved to a Marxist position, he was also really into faith healings—almost the opposite position to what a dialectical materialist would think is possible. As with many such faith healings, these were faked—the old chicken gizzard passed off as cancer routine was key to the Jones act, along with planted assistants. However, in a move similar to many paranormal investigators in the USSR, Jones seems to have genuinely thought that people have latent “psytronic powers” as yet undiscovered by science—and his own genuine ability to hypnotise people and predict dreams seemed to corroborate this fact. For the most part, he engaged in all the tricks found in a stage magician—he relied on “seeing” car number plates and insurance numbers, the usual guff.
I imagine that even today most American churches are voluntarily “segregated”, simply because that is how human beings are. However, it is probably true that when Jones first started his operation in Indianapolis that the segregation was much more a social norm even if voluntary—and in some places enforced by law. So the Jones schtick, to run a multiracial church, was genuinely new and socially peculiar. Jones entered the ministry pretty much by picking up a Bible and starting to preach, but his formal route into the clergy was through Methodism—in particular, he was struck by a Methodist pinboard that announced the Church’s commitment to “social justice” and listed the principles, essentially the socialist principles of post-war progressive liberalism, to which the Church adhered.
So Jones started to preach a multiracial Gospel—and made sure he regularly appeared in the newspapers along the way. Naturally, given the tensions around the civil rights movement, Jones attracted genuine negative reactions to his ministry—and to his insistence on mixed-race adoption (the children he adopted were treated with cruelty, and one child was eventually repatriated to his birth parents—in particular, Jones used to torment the child with his pet monkey).
However, Jones liked to embellish the negative responses he received: on one occasion he deliberately planted glass in his own food at a picnic and caused a ballyhoo about it—an event that would be repeated on multiple occasions. On another occasion, he went upstairs after dinner at a friend’s house and was found with a broken window and a rock; in a classic Agatha Christie twist, it was observed that the glass was outside the window—Jones had broken it himself and claimed a “racist” attacker had sniped at him through the window. The friend did not believe him, and Jones was exiled from his home. At around this time, friends and relations also developed “problems” with their cars—Jones would fiddle with your engine or your tires throughout his life.
The paranoia Jones managed to generate culminated in his belief—his “vision”—that Indianapolis would be blown up in a nuclear armageddon. Thanks to a magazine article about “the ten place to survive nuclear war”, Jones shot off to Ukiah in California—congregation in tow.
It was in California that Jones really began to develop a unique outlook for his cult. He had managed to uproot entire families to move across the country with him—his charismatic hold was firm. In Ukiah, he built a peculiar church that was half swimming pool and half church. A move partly motivated by the desire for the multiracial congregation to enjoy their recreation in peace. In Ukiah, Jones developed his worldview through a rejection of the Bible: he threw the Bible across the church and eventually stamped on it. His message, delivered in typical holy-roller fashion, was that the Bible had been used to oppress black people for centuries—now its time was over.
In a way, this was necessary—for there had always been a tension in the way Jones was at once rational and at the same time recruited people with the most naïve religious sensibilities possible, people who believed in faith-healing. The contradiction was never fully resolved, for Jones continued to whip out the chicken gizzards at regular intervals to remove “tumours”—although he began to justify the mechanism in more rational terms, in terms of latent “psytronic” powers not necessarily associated with spirituality at all.
Over time, Jones switched to preaching straightforward socialism to his congregation. His youthful profanity—if you recall, he started out swearing for men in exchange for pretzels—returned. Jones began to swear and curse throughout his performances. Essentially, he descended further and further into radical transgression: first, the Bible was jumped on—now he cursed like a trooper. This initially shocked his conservative black congregation, but through the usual social pressure common in cults they soon found themselves cursing along with the preacher—save for one or two prissy holdouts.
Aside from his special relationship with snakes, I think Jones was motivated to do this because he had a strong sadistic streak—as already exposed in the way he treated his friends, his adopted child, and his animals. I think it gave him pleasure to transgress in this way, to force people who were sincere Christians to contradict all their principles. His program caused some problems from a recruitment perspective, for people would turn up in the expectation they were about to hear a marginal if “traditional” Christian preacher. Jones had to introduce a pre-screen to his public events to weed out people who would protest that he did not preach the Bible and swore a blue streak. In one comic incident, a lady who objected that the preacher had praised “Marx” extensively throughout his sermon was fobbed off by an eager Jones acolyte with the excuse that Jones really said “Mark”, as in “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John”—the lady had merely misheard.
However, given it was the 1970s and San Francisco was relatively nearby, Jones and his Christo-Marxist cult could count on a pool of people who were only too happy to hear “the Gospel of Marx” preached in old-time revival style. Hence Jones acquired a crop of young college-educated whites (from Berkeley) who came to play a crucial role in the organisation. As one girl’s story ran: she had a successful career in psychological testing at Berkeley—one weekend she was chilling out with a drink and a spliff, taking care of her pet dog. She wondered if she should go out this weekend, or perhaps do something else…she wanted something deeper and more purposeful. She found Jim Jones.
The Jones schtick, the multiracial angle, was just what young San Franciscan would-be revolutionaries wanted to hear. Jones was a man who practiced what he preached; he could show you his rainbow family right here, right now—he had a white kid, a black kid, and an Asian kid. In the Peoples Temple all people were welcome. Incidentally, notice that it’s “Peoples Temple” not “People’s Temple” or “Peoples’ Temple”. The implication is that it is a place where many peoples (as in races or nations) gather together to worship—just a place where a lot of peoples happen to be around, although it does not use the possessive form (it is not the “temple of the peoples”—“the peoples’ temple”; no, it belongs to Jim Jones—thank you very much).
Ironically, the new white staffers soon became the leadership cadre. In an overwhelmingly black organisation, Jones was surrounded by a white leadership caste—aided by a few trusted black men to provide the muscle. In other words, it was a rational division of labour; and a division of labour that merely reflects typical leftist hypocrisy. Whatever Jones said about “racism” he was a practical psychopath who wanted to get things done. Since Jones was effectively soaking his congregation for their cash, with humble female cleaners making donations in the $90,000 territory. Jones had effectively established the exact system he claimed to criticise. He oversaw a predatory white caste that fleeced “poor black folks” of all their money; it was a typical Animal Farm moment where it turned out that the revolutionary liberators were worse than the deposed elite—Jones engaged in projection: the problem was not Amerika, the problem was him.
However, Jones was not a total hypocrite—and so much the worse for his poor son. When the inevitable interracial tensions arose within his “rainbow family”, the preacher’s own son, being white, was naturally called “white trash” and so on by his non-biological siblings; however, if he retaliated in kind, called them “nigger”, he was subject to strict discipline from his father. The entire incident replicates, at the familial level, the way Western multiculturalism has worked for about half a century now—total hypocrisy and sham, and all the worse for your own kin.
At about this time, Jones also began to introduce sexual experimentation into his cult—for his church, after a time in Ukiah, had grown from a bold social experiment in multiracial living into an actual cult. It encouraged people to break long-standing social norms and traditions—its multiracialism was the toe in the water in this regard, what followed next was to denigrate and abandon the Bible and private property and all sexual propriety. The typical path for a cult: share the property, share the women. Hence Jones, who had already initiated multiple affairs by this time, began to sanction such behaviour publicly—even fathered a son with a man’s wife but instructed the man to raise it as his own. Jones moved on to homosexual predation, always as the dominant partner—and he took particular pleasure in sodomising the more masculine men who were successful with women.
This was less about sexual pleasure and more about sadism and control for Jones. He was eventually caught by the police at a cruising spot—in a theatre restroom he “advanced towards an officer while masturbating” (Jones had a slick lawyer find a urologist to testify he had a prostate problem that required him to “jiggle” in the bathroom). However, Jones seems to have been mainly heterosexual but had, rather like Jimmy Savile, a peculiar relationship to sex in general—so that he would see an old woman on a porch and remark “she needs to be fucked”.
This oddness, sort of a quasi-autistic failure to relate to the world or feel about things normally, pervaded his sexuality. People, as with his pets, were things to be taken apart and experimented on. Later, in the Guyanese jungle, he would delight when his acolytes beat up a dissident. Hence I think Jones used homosexuality primarily to sadistically punish and control people and, secondarily, to stave off psychopathic boredom—revealingly, he rarely went with a black man; he only sodomised the white leadership cadre that could have threatened his position. When a parishioner enquired why “Father” never went with a black man, Jones responded that he felt black people had been through enough with slavery and sexual predation from slave masters already. What a saint!
Jones also used his homosexual acts as a control mechanism, for he would tell his congregation that he was “the only heterosexual in the church”—presumably true in the sense that he was always the dominant partner, always “the man”. This established a double-bind in the congregation, being a ridiculous assertion counter to reality that they were expected to believe; and such assertions induce psychic confusion that makes resistance to another person’s will difficult.
Jones eventually expanded out to invade San Francisco itself, a move that saw him enter the city’s politics—at the time, thanks to reforms in campaign funding, characterised by “neighbourhood alliances” and “community organising” of the sort that brought gay activist Harvey Milk to prominence (indeed, Milk did meet Jones). Essentially, the city’s politics had been balkanised, with sectional groups forming into “rainbow” coalitions (e.g. Asians, gays, Latinos). In a sense, this “rainbow” model has become the standard political form in the West since the 1970s.
The great advantage Jones had in San Francisco politics was that he could put warm bodies in the street at a moment’s notice. Anyone with experience in politics knows that mobilisation is always an issue: most people have jobs, families, hobbies—they don’t want to turn up and canvass a city block until 11:30 at night. On the other hand, if you have cult that can put willing bodies on the street—for abortion, for housing, for whatever—you have a real asset. Jones could provide a pleasingly multiracial and representative rent-a-mob for whatever cause was hot at the moment. The Peoples Temple was never very large; it was never going to contribute more than a few hundred votes to any candidate. Yet that was never the point, votes are nothing—canvassers and protesters are hard to come by, and Jones had relatable and presentable people on call (with a particular connection to the main black newspaper and a mainstream SF daily).
Hence Jones wrangled a position on a housing commission from Mayor Moscone (later slain along with Milk by disgruntled city supervisor Dan White), a position in which he brought a little crowd with him to cheer every statement and to spy on the notes the reporters made. And so it was that Jones met all sort of people, including, notoriously, Jimmy Carter’s wife. In fairness to the San Francisco left who sucked up to Jones, they were never entirely comfortable with him—it was always “strictly business”. The right might like to think there is a seamless link from Jones to Harvey Milk, but Milk himself more or less tolerated Jones as an ally—he wasn’t “into it”. Nevertheless, the fact is the San Francisco left, the national left even, was “pretty cool” (as they said back then) with Jones and company. Hence even dinosaur figures who walk the earth today, such as Dianne Feinstein, have a Jones connection.
However, Jones and his rainbow people really do stand as a metaphor for what the left ultimately is—namely, a paranoid cult that wants to kill itself. America today is Jonestown, the American left—the wider Western left—bears a strong resemblance to the “rainbow family”, the multiracial gay love-in; and the relation is not without direct connection to Jones—ultimately, the left is a cult that transgresses all traditions and norms under influence from charismatic leaders imbued with impractical, albeit beautiful, visions. The reality is hardship, hypocrisy, paranoia—and, eventually, death.
As Jones became more and more paranoid—as parents of his cult victims complained more and more—he decided to retreat to an agricultural commune, Jonestown, in Guyana (itself somewhat aligned to the USSR). Jones had enjoyed a brief sojourn in Brazil in his early church years, during which he claimed an ambassador’s wife hired him as a gigolo—this almost certainly never happened, Jones also claimed that girls desperate to have him at high school would leave their panties on his desk and that the elderly widow of a preacher whose sect he hoped to takeover begged him to take her on her husband’s coffin. These vignettes are insights into the imagination and self-conception of Jim Jones, not things that actually happened.
The mass suicide at Jonestown, the proverbial “drinking of the Kool-Aid” (spiked with cyanide), was not without precedent. Jones had put his disciples through many practice sessions in the build up—even in a fairly intense cult you cannot just tell people to kill themselves and expect them to do it. Jones also liked to play “suicide” on a smaller scale: he would give people a drink and then tell them it was poisoned and they would imminently die—then tell them it was all a test. Did they curse “Father” in their last moments or did they stoically accept their sacrifice? (Bottom line—don’t deface the Bible). The supposed reason why the commune had to commit suicide was that the “fascist, racist, imperialist” CIA was coming to destroy them—the answer was “revolutionary suicide”, a term flitched from the Black Panthers (a brother of a leading Panther was among the cultists).
By the time the suicide occurred, the cult preached undiluted socialism—albeit in a Christian form. The people, mostly black, had been taken all the way from naïve Christianity to straightforward Marxism—all their money was signed over to the USSR in event of their deaths. Jones had made some overtures to the Soviet ambassador to move his people over to the USSR, the ambassador was uncomfortable at the suggestion—was teased by his US counterpart, “Still chatting to Peoples Temple, eh?”—and yet was cognisant that to bring 1,200 or so people over to the USSR from America would be a propaganda boon.
As it happened, the Soviets never had a chance to deal with kooky Jim Jones in person. A US Congressman arrived with a small media circus in answer to a call from his constituents to find out what the hell had happened to their families in the jungle—he took a few people who wished to leave Jonestown with him. He was ambushed on the journey out—along with the newsmen—and slain on an aircraft landing strip. In the meantime, Jones—aware that by ordering the slayings he had crossed the point of no return—whipped his people into hysteria and then began to administer the Kool-Aid. He killed around 900 people in the end—including many women and children, some forcibly injected. The catalyst had been just the same as when Jones was a boy: people wanted to leave him—and he could not tolerate abandonment.
Rationally, he knew that once his victims saw that people could leave more would follow and the game would be up, though I suspect he could have massaged them back into line and recruited replacements. No, when his followers left him it hit Jones right in his most vulnerable psychological spot. “If I can’t have you, no one else will.” Naturally, Jones himself waited until everyone was dead and then shot himself—he had to maintain separation and superiority to the last, too good for Kool-Aid. He never bought his own bullshit, drank his own Kool-Aid.
There is a rumour, given the way his head was placed post-mortem and given there was an escape route complete with Cessna for Jones, that Jones intended to flee but was shot by one of his close aides before he could escape. I doubt this is true; for Jones to kill himself conforms to his own desperate need to control and be with other people forever—he was clever, he knew that after “revolutionary suicide” there was no way out. This was his way to possess everyone forever—buried like an old Viking warrior or Egyptian pharaoh with his slaves slain with him for the final journey to the afterlife.