Attracting funding and followers from a well-publicized lecture tour, Dr. Pike preached that he had conducted intensive seances with a variety of innovators, scientists, and prophets, from Benjamin Franklin to Elijah. Enumerating a total of 23 luminaries that he had been able to contact from beyond the grave using his “electro-bio-mechanical spiritual energy amplifier,” Pike began to build a base of followers. With their donations and his continued popularity on the lecture circuit guaranteeing his financial security (he was by all accounts a genial, humorous, and entertaining orator with a mesmerizing effect on audiences), Pike closed his medial practice and set about completing what he at first called “The Project.”

At various times it was also known as “Project 23,” “The Electro-Mechanical Messiah Project,” the “Bio-Electro-Mechanical Project 23” and so on. For the remainder of his life, Pike continued rearranging various permutations of “electric,” “mechanical,” “biology,” “messiah,” and “23” to suit his ever-evolving purposes and plan. Thankfully, the project had a relatively simple elevator pitch, which Pike continuously delivered to rapt audiences. An excerpt from an 1877 speech perhaps explains his goals best:

“Our first messiah was a messiah of flesh, holy and incorruptible, for all the human race knew at the time was flesh, machines being in their infancy and electricity even more so. And, like some infants you may personally know, they were a long time a-raising! But that time has now come, with electricity and machinery past those first few wobbly steps. This is a new world dawning; a world of energy and a world of steel joining the world of flesh. You might expect, then, a messiah of volts, a messiah of metal, to each arise about two thousand years distant from the other. But we have seen that spiritual energy, like electricity, moves quickly, and the Father of All is increasing His pace to match ours. Thus I say to you: look for the coming of a messiah that is not just electricity, not just machinery, not just flesh, but all three in holy trinity. It will be inhabited by a messiah, yes, but we will not wait on another virgin birth. The going rate of one every five thousand years is simply too slow. No, my friends: the electro-mechanical messiah approaches, and I know this because we are going to build it, together.”

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