"Why are you a Witch?" This is the question most frequently asked of me, by the police, by our families, by the media. It isn't an easy question to answer without running comparisons between Christianity and the Craft; the world is far too complex for old answers to deal with.
One major factor drawing people to the Craft is that we feel a lack of opportunity for personal growth and/or psychic development. Many people simply cannot sit back and accept someone else's authority over their lives, and that means you have to do a lot of self-discovery; Witchcraft affords a system of instruction that demands questioning and includes hundreds of hours of ethical, as well as magical, training, and you simply have to find out what works best for you.
Another reason for becoming a Witch is to get religious training in combination with using our own intrinsic power (magick, if you will). The alternatives to the Craft usually develop from a desire for power, rather than a desire to be of service.
As a result of the ethical, magickal, and religious considerations being addressed by the Witch, we have been known to gravitate to various causes: vegetarianism, the ecology, personal freedom, gun control, with each Witch making the decisions that seem "right" to them (and believing nobody else qualified to make that decision for them). Few Witches will share the same ideas of what is "right", but we each try to understand that everyone has the right to make these decisions.
Another question has arisen: "Why do you think the police equate Wicca with Satanism?" I admit I was shocked to receive this question from a police officer in Florida. When the movies, the newspapers, and certain fundamentalist ministers are not busy trying to shove this equation down our throats, the police are next on the list. At CWR, we choose to believe that this is due to a lack of information (something that is NOT true for Hollywood and is usually not true for newspaper reporters); otherwise, we would not be publishing this newsletter. We hope that, by presenting topics on cults (whether called witchcraft, satanism, or whatever), we can provide you with the information you need to determine the difference between a cult and a religion.
Our first issue generated quite a bit of response from a number of police officers and departments, including a request for information on a specific group.
Let me state that, first and foremost, CultWatch Response, Inc., exists for the purpose of educating law enforcement officers and the media as to the reality of Witchcraft in America. We are not, and never intend to be, some kind of clandestine Wiccan Police Force, and we will not, now or in the future, release any information that we do not have firsthand knowledge of AND which is not acknowledged to be public information by the group involved.
It is, indeed, a terrible temptation to set ourselves up as the people the police turn to when they can't get the information to "bust" some "obviously unethical" group; we simply cannot obtain enough information to be certain of the charges, and it cannot become our job to interfere with police work on these and related issues. We can, however, help teach and inform the various law enforcement agencies (and the media) what to look for in determining "occult crime", and would be happy to do so on a first-hand basis; however, we also feel that there is adequate information available in print in dealing with these issues, although it is frequently overlooked by various people who are involved in presenting "occult crime" issues. We hope to fill in that gap, with this newsletter and with any other materials we can disseminate.
If you responded to our questionnaire in the last issue and have not heard back from us, please let us know; we have, to the best of our knowledge, given a written reply (at least) to every questionnaire and letter we have received, and have copies on file.
Being aware that this issue is late, I will end my ramblings and get to work.
IN THIS ISSUE OF CultWatch Response:
Rowan Moonstone presents the first part of her article on "Ritual Child Abuse";
Kerr Cuhulain re-presents the first part of his excellent series, "The Plight of the Pagan Cop";
Hal Mansfield submits an excellent article entitled, "Pseudo-Satanism in School Systems Today";
...and more on CultWatch Response, Inc. Who are we? What are we trying to accomplish? How do we expect to go about it? And a re-definition of our editorial policies, and more...
CWR NEXT ISSUE (Candlemas 1989):
Rowan Moonstone continues her treatise on "Ritual Child Abuse"; the second installment of "The Plight of the Pagan Cop" (a continuing series, not necessarily in consecutive issues); and a few surprises.
Gerald L. Bliss (Exec. Secty. & Editor) is a Second Degree Witch from Colorado Springs, CO, trained in a Neo-Gardnerian tradition in addition to having Discordian roots prior to his Wiccan training. He studied for two years at a Presbyterian college in Kansas and a State college in Colorado, and has a background in music, history, geography, math, and the Bible as a result of those studies.
Vicki M. Copeland (Co-Founder) is a Second Degree Witch from Oklahoma City trained in the Georgian tradition. She has been engaged in private research on occult crime for the past three years,and maintains extensive newspaper and magazine clippings on occult crime, as well as Witchcraft, dating back to the early 1970's. She currently is the Oklahoma chapter head for the Witches League for Public Awareness; her work with WLPA has put her in close contact with many law enforcement officers and others who have dealt with the question of "occult-related" crime. (Editor's Note: CultWatch Response, Inc. is neither connected to nor endorsed by the WLPA, regardless of Vicki's close association.) Recent efforts include assisting Thomas Zane in Florida with a revision of his college-level training material for law enforcement officers concerning Witchcraft, and working with Dr. Lowell Streiker on his forthcoming book "New Age Comes to Main Street" for a chapter concerning Witchcraft. The majority of her published works are under the pseudonym, "Rowan Moonstone".
We are also developing a network of Witches and other Pagans across the country to be able to deal with the issues presented to CultWatch Response, Inc., by the various local and state police departments and service organizations. As these people wish to come forward and outline their credentials, they will be published herein.
Consider carefully the following scene. An old man is on trial. He confesses to heinous crimes including denying God, desecrating the cross, and finally, sacrificing his own baby daughter to the devil. Some current day survivor of a ritualistic child abuse Satanic cult you ask? No. this case history belongs to one Pierre Vallin who was tried in France in 1438. The judges of his day condemned him as a heretic, idolater, apostate, and invoker of demons.(1) Today, many similar stories are being told by supposed survivors of ritualistic child abuse cults and devil worshipping groups, and yet the actual evidence in no more real than that presented at Vallin's trial.
The current round of accusations had their beginning in 1981 with the publication of "Michelle Remembers" by Dr. Lawrence Pazder. During therapy sessions with Michelle Smith, Dr. Pazder began to uncover horrible memories of a ritualistic nature in his patient. She told stories of ritualistic rape, animal mutilation and human sacrifice, culminating in something she called the "Feast of the Beast". It is a horrifying account of torture that would do credit to Stephen King, however, it has absolutely no corroborating evidence. Dr. J. Gordon Melton of the Institute for the Study of American Religion says, "It was Michelle's fantasy, and Pazder encouraged it."(2)
Perhaps the most widely publicized account of supposed ritualistic child abuse today is the McMartin Daycare Center case in California. In Aug. 1983, Judy Johnson, of Manhattan Beach, CA, brought a case of alleged child sexual abuse to the authorities. By Feb. 1984, allegations of human sacrifice were also surfacing. By 1985, police had dug up a great deal of ground which supposedly held remains of ritualistically slaughtered animals. They found 2 tortoise shells. As the case progressed into more bizarre areas, even some of the prosecutors began to doubt the evidence and the methods of gathering it, until finally Glenn Stevens, a member of the prosecution team resigned, stating "Kee MacFarlane (the psychologist interviewing the children involved) could make a 6-month-old baby confess to being molested."(3) Despite numerous allegations of Satanic and/or ritualistic activity from the children involved, no hard physical evidence has ever been produced, and even the stories the children tell conflict from child to child. No two children tell the same story.
The same facts hold true for any number of the supposed child abuse cases which have been brought to trial. As one newspaper story stated, "The principal obstacle confronting them, say those investigating the various cases, is the almost total lack of physical evidence including bodies to confirm the children's allegations."(4) According to Arthur Lyons, in his book "Satan Wants You", of the thirteen cases which have come to trial in nine different states, none has produced any physical evidence, and no convictions have been obtained,(5) and in the May 1985 story entitled "The Devil Worshippers" (which ran on the "20/20" television series), San Francisco police officer Sandi Gallant admits that no bodies have ever been found, despite numerous allegations of their existence.
Some of the allegations of ritualistic abuse have been proven to be physically impossible. Take for example the case cited in "Satanism: Is Your Family Safe?" by Ted Schwartz. "In one police case, there was definite proof of child molestation but the allegation went much further - children being forced to drink blood that had been taken from their bodies. One boy said that the blood was taken from the back of his leg, and that story was repeated by others, yet the pediatricians examining the children said that there were no veins that could be used in this manner in the areas the children described." (6) Schwartz's book also illustrates an excellent example of how children can confuse issues. He relates a story of a child who told of witnessing a murder from the window of her mother's bedroom. The scene she described fit the facts quite well until police took her in the bedroom and asked her to point out which window she observed the crime from. She pointed to the television set, and it was only then that authorities realised she was describing a scene from a movie which happened to fit many of the facts of the actual crime which was committed.(7)
Certainly crimes of violence and abuse against children do happen, and happen all too frequently. BUT another-all present danger in the phenomenon of "ritualistic child abuse" is the "Salem syndrome", so named for the infamous witch trials in the Massachusetts colony, in which 19 innocent people were accused of witchcraft, condemned, and executed, all on the evidence of hysterical children who later admitted to fabricating the entire story. It behooves everyone involved, parents,law enforcement personnel, medical personnel, and educational authorities, to view these stories with a critical eye for FACTS which can be proven, not hysterical reactions based on unfounded rumors and allegations.
(Next Issue: Part II, "Breeders and Baby Killers" )
(1) Russell, Jeffrey B., "A History of Witchcraft, Sorcerers, Heretics and Pagans", Thames & Hudson, 1980, p.78.
(2) A.S. Ross," A Presumption of guilt. Child Abuse Cults: How Real?" San Francisco Examiner, 9-29-86, p. A7.
(3) Gorney, Cynthia, "The Terrible Puzzle of McMartin Preschool in California, the Long-Running Trial of a Baffling Child Molestation Case", The Washington Post, 5-17-88.
(4) Crewdson, John, "Satanism Haunts Tales of Child Sex Abuse", The Chicago Tribune, 7-29-85, p. 10.
(5) Lyons, Arthur, "Satan Wants You", The Mysterious Press, N. Y., 1988, p.2.
(6) Schwartz, Ted & Duane Empey, "Satanism: Is Your Family Safe?" Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1988, p 181.
(7) ibid., p. 184.
(NOTE: This article is on the hazards of "pseudo-satanism", written by a person who has done a lot of work in negating the effects of the "common cult". As you will read, the author does not believe that Witchcraft, Satanism, and/or "pseudo-satanism" are connected. Feel free to direct your comments to either Hal or CWR. Ed.)
This paper is designed to provide observations and opinions from our center on the issue of Pseudo-Satanism and the links to our school systems. Our intention is to provide topics for discussion, and this is not intended to be the last word on this topic. We also have covered things in a general manner to keep it as simple as possible on a complex problem. The topics presented are in no particular order, and we would appreciate any feedback as to what information the reader may have.
1. GROWTH OF PSEUDO-SATANISM
There seems to be a growth of this "religious" system within our public schools. Our office has had a great increase of calls in this area. Other centers across the U.S. and Canada have also received increased calls. Police departments, school systems, and mental health facilities have increased their attention on Satanism. The media has certainly increased coverage, though many reports seem to be sensationalized.
2. WHY THE INCREASE
There have been many theories on why we are seeing such an increase in satanism or pseudo-satanism. We have selected a few that we feel best fits. One is the effect of changing value systems and socio-economic shifts. Any time you have radical changes in society, you have increases in cult activity. This has been proven down through the ages to include the Industrial Revolution, Renaissance, etc. One reason that causes us great concern is certain family patterns: too many families are shifting responsibility of teaching basic moral values to schools and law enforcement officials. Basic right-from-wrong differentiation needs to be taught at home; not to do so invites disaster. Another pattern too often seen is that whenever we find an adolescent we also find a family that avoids talking about AIDS, drugs, cults, sex; they simply don't talk. The parents had no clue their child was involved, despite obvious signs.
3. WHO GETS INVOLVED
There seem to be two distinct backgrounds. One - the curious, intellectual, bright kids. The tend to dabble in the occult and experiment with magick. The lure, in this case, seems to be the magick. The other background, which is more dangerous, is that of the substance abuser. In this profile, self-confidence and esteem are very low. Some turn to pseudo-satanism to boost the self image, as if to say, "I'm special; I'm magickal; don't mess with me." Control by the leader of such a group over someone with this background can be very powerful; that power can be used by the leader to get his group to sell drugs for him, with the fear of saying anything about it because "the Devil will get me". Whichever background is in play, it is important to remember that "belonging" needs are very important to an adolescent, which is why you frequently see the gang mentality surface in many of these groups.
4. DRUG LINKS
There are definite ties with substance abuse and the Pseudo-Satanism movements. As one researcher found out through many interviews, not everyone who is a drug user is a satanist, but every pseudo-satanist is a drug user. This seems to be true in over 90% of the cases our center has been involved in and has been further confirmed by many drug rehabilitation facilities. This is where the most danger comes from, and if there is violence in these groups, it is most likely to be a link to a member who is a drug user. Drugs are used in rituals and rites of passage; many times, and obsession with death and dying occurs in these groups. That, plus the use of hallucinogenics, leads to paranoid behavior. Many suicides result from this double-whammy of drug use plus a self-destructive belief system. Secondary crime relating to support of the habit results from this, and a person's own dementia many times involves serious criminal behavior. This dementia leads to the more bizarre behavior to include digging up graves and perversions of all sorts of magnitude.
5. THE COVEN
What we have found in the majority of cases is a "do-it-yourself" coven. Usually it is one leader who is basing the group's beliefs on a certain group of books, movies, or combination of magick, beliefs, and practices from many religions. In fact, most have such a blending from so many different areas that they are not a legitimate ANYTHING, even though they call themselves Satanists. The more common books found in these groups include: The Necronomicon, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Satanic Bible, and any book dealing with Magick. These books can easily be found in many bookstores. Aleister Crowley is a very popular author with these groups, as is Anton LeVay (found of the Church of Satan). The number of members in these covens (or, more accurately, groups) can be any size, though most tend to be fewer than ten members. The leader can be male or female, although most tend to be male. The income level of families whose children are involved tends to be middle-to- upper class, with very few from lower class families. We see a racially mixed makeup, with a prevalence of Caucasians. These groups are very dynamic for one simple reason -- kids tend to graduate, move, or grow up. This is why so many of these groups are hard to pin down; most of these groups come and go. There are a few (very few) that have adult influences in the coven. These can be very dangerous, and tend to be more oriented toward drug distribution. Fear and guilt, along with paranoia, run strong in this kind of group, and control over members is extremely strong.
9. FANTASY ROLE-PLAYING GAMES
There has been a lot of speculation that games such as Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) lead some people to these groups. We tend to doubt that. There is no good objective evidence or study available that points to D&D as part of a cause-and-effect relationship. What can be said is that someone who is obsessed with the game (or any game or activity) is showing a symptom of a problem. When we say obsessed, we don't mean someone who plays D&D on the weekends with their buddies; we mean someone who does nothing else with their free time, substituting fantasy for reality. The problem may be pseudo-satanic activity, or it may be a drug problem, family problem, social problem, or simply acute depression. The important thing here is not to remove a symptom but to address the problem itself. Taking away the game rarely improves anything, much like putting a Band-Aid on a gushing wound.
7. SYMPTOMS OF PSEUDO-SATANISM
A lot of the symptoms in this area are identical to those of drug use: radical mood shifts, a drop in grades, introversion, and loss of sleep are all part of the picture. Other things to watch for include obsession with death and dying, wearing of jewelry with an inverted pentagram (the single point pointing downward), and an obsession with negative magick. It might be wise to visit the room with your child to see if there are remnants of these items and/or drug paraphernalia.
8. RITUAL SITES
These vary greatly, since each group will have its own operating rules. Most common show signs of mixed blood and urine, which is passed around during a power ritual. Small animal remains can be found. Symbols drawn on walls or trees are common, although there is usually a mix of these symbols. Sometimes herbs, oils, and candle drippings can be found, and there is usually a fire pit.
9. COMMON MISTAKES
One of the most common mistakes made when dealing with this subject is confusing Satanism and pseudo-satanism with Witchcraft and other systems; these are all separate, and most Witchcraft-based groups (i.e., Wicca) are not producing the violence. Any legitimate practitioner would be the first to tell you that. We need to take each case on its own merits. Most kids that are dabbling with devil worship are trying to shock their parents with spray- painted symbols; a legitimate Satanist is not going to be spray-painting anything, since it would call attention to them. Each case must be handled as being unique, as there are many different reasons that someone gets involved in these groups and each group has its own rituals, beliefs, etc. It is far too simplistic to lump everything together.
10. EFFECTIVE DEFENSE
The most effective defense we have is education and information- sharing. No single center or organization has all the answers; we must work together on this problem. Cooperation must also exist among agencies that deal with adolescents. Getting adults to be aware of what is out there and teaching basic moral values at home would put a big dent in this problem. There is far too much sensationalism on both sides of this house; we need good data to provide patterns and information on how to counter them in a positive manner. There is a workable solution to this problem if we all work together.
11. LAST THOUGHTS
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, we would like your input on this situation and any thoughts you might have. If we managed to get you to think about this problem, whether you agree with our conclusions or not, we have accomplished what we set out to do. Please send your comments to: Hal Mansfield, Religious Movement Resource Center, 629 S. Howes, Ft. Collins, CO 80521. You are welcome to reprint this paper, share it, or throw it away if you like!
by "Constable Cuhulain" Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Lately there has been a fair amount of attention paid by the media to the subject of Satanic worship and its connection to criminal activities, particularly involving young people. "Devil worship", "Satanism", and "Witchcraft" are some of the terms used to describe it. We are treated to the usual descriptions of "covens" practicing "Black Mass" and equating Witchcraft with "Black magic".
It's not hard to see where these kids got their ideas from. For many years we have been bombarded with Hollywood's version of what Witchcraft is. More recently this has expanded into the realm of heavy metal rock and its accompanying videos. Originally, of course, Hollywood got its ideas on this subject from the inventors of Satan, the Christians. Now these impressionable young people take all of this in and, inevitably, some of them end up copying it. Hollywood has convinced many of them that they are practicing Witchcraft.
I speak from experience, but anyone who knows my city well has seen them. On one end of the scale we have the average young denizen of Granville Mall, selling drugs, stolen property, and sometimes themselves. Dressed in their jean jackets, emblazoned with rock logos (Motley Crue, Black Sabbath, and Ozzy Osbourne to name a few) their interest seems to be merely one of appearances, street image. On the other end of the scale is the "punks" who inhabit Robson Square. Outlandish multicolored hair and black (mostly leather) clothing. These individuals take their Satanism (and their anarchism) a bit more seriously. They are invariably equipped with: a) skateboards; b) liquor; and, c) felt pens. Some actually carry Anton LaVay's Satanic Bible around with them. They scrawl on the walls, drink like drains, and commit random acts of assault and/or mischief.
All this gives the press and/or the Christian clergy something to rant about (it also seems to divert attention from TV ministry scandals....hmmm). Kind of a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Now I am sure that none of this is news to you. You may well wonder what a police officer is doing writing about it. I can't really blame you because you (and some police officers) have probably developed a stereotyped image of me thanks to those same Hollywood producers. Sure, this situation gives me a great deal of work to do, but that's not the point. The point is you see, I am a Witch.
Now I learned long ago that Hollywood tends to use the words "Satanist" and "Witch" interchangably. And it doesn't take much imagination to figure out what would happen in most police departments if one of their members was found to be a Wiccan. That member would, in short order, be placed in the same category as the aforementioned little crooks, previous police record not withstanding. Not a pleasant prospect.
This hasn't deterred me, but all you Pagans out there could do me a big favour. Write to the movie producers and the news media and tell them to STOP using the name of our faith to describe Satanists, Devil Worshippers and crooks. Let's educate people to equate Wicca with goodness for a change. I don't expect it to reduce my work load, but it would do wonders for the job security department.
In the meantime, I'll continue chasing these youthful Hollywood stereotypes and hope the Christian society appreciates what this Pagan policeman is doing for them.
(NEXT ISSUE: Part 2 of this continuing series)
Each issue of CultWatch Response is published by CultWatch Response, Inc., a non-profit Corporation established under the laws of the State of Colorado, under a Public Domain Copyright. This entitles any person or group of persons to reproduce, in any form whatsoever, any material contained therein, so long as articles are not condensed, abbreviated, nor excerpted in any fashion and credit is given the original author.
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