The Poetry of Phil Ottman

Windows on one Branch Davidian's spiritual journey.

Branch Davidian Phil Ottman was in Canada at the time of the Mt. Carmel raid, but his mother Gladys and sister Ruth Riddle were among those inside. Fortunately, both survived, though his brother-in-law was among those killed in the fire.

I first met Phil in 1997 on the day of the memorial service. He and his mother had become involved with the Hidden Manna schism, and spent the anniversary telling people about Hidden Manna's two-volume book. He and his mother were back in 1998, again spreading the word of Hidden Manna. (Gladys' 1998 speech)

When I saw Phil in 1999, he had gone through a lot. He had come to doubt the Hidden Manna message and Renos Avraam's role as the Chosen Vessel of the Remaining Bride, even as his mother remained a fervent believer. However, that was only one element in the spiritual and personal ferment he had gone through the past year.

At the post-service lunch, Phil handed out xeroxes of three poems he had written. (His mother likes to write poetry, so perhaps he acquired the bug from her.) He asked if I would be willing to put these poems up on my site. Although I was willing, I suggested that perhaps it would be better to ask Mark Swett. Mark already had writings from a few of the survivors on his site, so I felt that adding Phil's work to Mark's site would make for a logical "division of labor" between Waco sites. Phil agreed this sounded reasonable, but the poems never did get added to Mark Swett's site, a failure I consider myself partly responsible for. However, Mark's recent decision to shut down his site closed the possibility that Phil's poems would be hosted there. Therefore, I have decided to go ahead and add these poems to my site.

These poems are clearly personal to him and reflect the emotions he was going through. A lot had happened in the past year on both a personal and spiritual level. He felt he had moved beyond his essentially intellectual understanding, and forged a deeper, emotional connection to God, in particular with the feminine Holy Spirit aspect. He wanted to share his poems, and through them, his experience.

A few warnings are in order. I have tried to preserve, as much as I can, the indentation and formatting that was in the handwritten original, but not all of it translated well to HTML. Also, there are many allusions to Branch Davidian concepts and key Scriptures that are likely to be obscure to those unfamiliar with Branch Davidian theology. For instance, "Battles of Shaking" begins with an allusion to David Koresh's poem, "Eden to Eden," from his unfinished Seven Seals manuscript, which would probably puzzle those who haven't read it. In fact, someone more familiar with Branch Davidian theology and the Bible than I, could probably see things that I don't. I also want to say that while these poems are infused with Branch Davidian references, they are not necessarily "typical" of a Branch Davidian's thoughts. Phil's break with Hidden Manna set him apart from other Canadian survivors, who remained with Hidden Manna, while distance separated him from the survivors living in the Waco area. The poems also reflect things he had on his mind at the time that the other survivors didn't. At the same time that he is a Branch Davidian, he remains an individual.

The Beauty State
Why Stop?
Battles of Shaking


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