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Formed in the 1930s, the I AM movement is an offshoot of theosophy, and was itself the origin of several of the New Age religions.

Also known as the Ascended Master Teachings movement, Ascended Master Activities, or the I AM Activity, adherents believe that their doctrine was given to mankind by Ascended Masters, individuals who once lived in physical bodies, but acquired the mastery and knowledge to become immortal, free of the cycles of karma and reincarnation, achieving oneness with God.

Guy Ballard, who studied theosophy and the occult, is credited, along with his wife Edna, with founding the I AM movement. Ballard visited Mount Shasta, California in 1930. While hiking in the mountains, he met another hiker, who identified himself as the Count of St. Germain. Ballard told of his encounter in his book, Unveiled Mysteries, According to Ballard, Germain had gone through a series of reincarnations, finally reaching the status of an Ascended Master. Ballard himself, Germain revealed, had also been reincarnated many times throughout history, one of these reincarnations being George Washington.

After a series of experiences on mountain ranges, Ballard, his wife, and his son, became the sole Accredited Messengers of Saint Germain, from whom they received the nucleus for what became the Ascended Master Teachings that are still in use by adherents of the I AM movement.

The I AM movement had its peak in the 1930s, although it is still active today on a smaller scale.

In 1939, the movement was criticized severely in the media. As a result, hecklers would disrupt meetings, so that they were suspended for a time and, when resumed, they were for members only. Its decline was exacerbated by the death of Guy Ballard in December of 1939.

Edna Ballard claimed that her husband was now an Ascended Master, but this was met with skepticism and disillusionment, as the Ballards had taught that death would not come in in the process of becoming spiritually enlightened.

Problems for the movement continued with Edna and her son, Donald, were accused of mail fraud and fraudulent solicitation of funds in 1942. Their conviction was later overturned by the US Supreme Court. She continued to lead the movement until her death in 1971.

Central to the teachings of the I AM movement is that of Ascended Masters, believed to be individuals who have completed the reincarnation cycle of re-embodiment.

The I AM movement considers itself to be Christian, as Jesus is considered to be one of the more important Ascended Masters.

American patriotism is also central to the movement, as Ascended Master St. Germain is believed to have inspired the writing of the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence, while Guy Ballard was George Washington in another incarnation.

The movement teaches that the "Mighty I AM Presence" is God, who exists in and as each individual's Higher Self. A light known as the "Violet Flame" is generated by the "I AM Presence" and may surround individuals who call forth the action of the Holy Spirit for forgiveness or mercy.

The ultimate goal of adherents of the I AM movement is to attain the perfected condition of the saints through self-purification, or to become an Ascended Master when leaving their body rather than experiencing an ordinary death. In pursuit of this goal, adherents will practice self-assessment, take care in their use of language, and show devotion to the Divine, as well as showing gratitude. Meditation, affirmations, repeated prayers given aloud, and invocations, such as for the Violet Flame, are also important.

The power of positive thinking is also emphasized, in much the same manner as in several of the New Age groups.

The I AM movement maintains its headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois, and a reading room in Mount Shasta, California. Its publishing company, Saint Germain Press, is located in the headquarters complex.

The movement holds several annual conclaves at their I AM Temple in Chicago, and other classes and conclaves are held in hundreds of locations in America, Australia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America.

The I AM movement is the focus of topics in this category.



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