That Dangerous Dabbling
Many "cult-bashers" talk about "dabbling" (trying a few things from a magazine article or book and reading a few more books) as being "the first and least dangerous step into Satanism". But is it the least dangerous?
Not according to Steven Daniels, a probation and parole officer in Green Bay, WI (as quoted in the November 27, 1988 Appleton, WI Post-Crescent, as reported by Maija Penikis). "Teen-age dabblers" are the least sophisticated, but account for a great deal of crime. They are mostly white, intelligent, alienated, bored and somewhat affluent.
"They surround themselves with a barrage of heavy metal music whose lyrics are filled with drugs, fantasy, suicide, violent sex -- primarily against women."
"Self-styled" occultists account for 28% to 35% of the sociopathic serial killers. "They pick and choose whatever they want out of the satanist beliefs to give themselves 'permission' to be as brazen and bizarre as they want to be. They are the dangerous ones," Daniels said.
Also not according to Sandi Gallant, an officer with the San Francisco Police Department. In an article from the Nov. 16, 1988, Juneau (Alaska) Empire, she is quoted as saying: "I am less concerned about cult groups acting together than I am with the individual who's dabbling in satanism on his own, looking for a way to justify doing sick things."
Why do certain witch-bashing ministries say that dabbling is less harmful? Because the people they consider "experts" as being "former witches" were dabblers. These people are very invested in believing that they weren't very deep into satanism. An article in Cosmopolitan, a book by Zolar or Paul Huson (most of this type of thing we call "Witchcrap", but it is still very dangerous if believed), a copy of the Necronomicon (a hoax, but a dangerous hoax), and they think they can call themselves "Witches" and start throwing around terms like "White Witch" if they really think they are basically good.
To us here at CWR, the only difference between the "dabbler" and the "self-styled occultist" is that the latter has gotten more serious. There is no training, no actual study, no belief system other than what the person selects from dubious, sensationalized materials.
We have been using the term, "legitimate witch". While we make no claims as to what is and is not legitimate (determining this is what Goddess gave each of us brains for), here are some guidelines. All of these are basic concepts, and there will be exceptions.
1. Legitimate witches do not charge for lessons, other than paying for renting the teaching space and making whatever copies are necessary, etc. This is written into the Craft Laws.This is a start. There will be exceptions, and there are many more things that most trained, experienced, legitimate witches do/are. If you have questions, contact us here at CWR, and/or refer to Kerr Cuhulain's "A Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca", available from CWR for $10 ppd. CWR will soon be publishing a variety of brochures on the Craft for further information.
2. Legitimate witches do not publish how-to books containing harmful or manipulative spells. Major legitimate published witches include Raymond Buckland, Marion Weinstein, Margot Adler, Scott Cunningham, Doreen Valiente, Starhawk, and Stewart Farrar. This list excludes legitimate Ritual Magicians (such as Israel Regardie), since Ritual Magick is not a form of our religion (and many do not practice RM as a religion at all).
3. Legitimate witches do not teach the Craft to minors without informed parental permission. They seldom teach minors at all, since there are legal problems even with written permission.
4. Legitimate witches never ask their students for blind obedience, and usually encourage inquisitive examination of everything they are taught.
5. Legitimate witches do not break the laws of their country of residence, with exceptions sometimes being made in areas of civil disobedience and matters of conscience.
In This Issue...
- Matamoros Cult Killings, by Kerr Cuhulain
- Reviews by Rowan Moonstone
- Plight of the Pagan Policeman, Part V
- and whatever we can squeeze into 6 pages of text...
Matamoros Cult Killings
by Kerr Cuhulain
We have received quite a collection of articles from numerous newspapers on the Matamoros incident. They run the entire spectrum from good to bad. Many of these papers are contradictory, calling the Matamoros cult members Satanists, Santeros, or practitioners of Voodoo, and then refuting this in an adjacent article by another reporter. What really happened down there? Was it a Satanic cult? If not, who started these rumors? We do not propose to go into many details of the incident here. Basically, this group was shipping 450 kg (1000 lb) of marijuana per week into the United States and believed that their rituals would protect them from prosecution. Here is what some of the experts had to say about the Matamoros cult in the papers:
Sgt. Jesse Hernandez, Fort Worth P.D. Gang Intelligence Unit (tracks ritualistic crime): "And from all indications these killings are going to be part of Palo Mayombe." 1
Dr. Raphael Martinez, administrative officer at the Dade/Miami Criminal Justice Council (a Miami-based expert on Santeria and other folk religions): (In speaking about this cult's apparent use of human body parts in their rituals) "... are definitely part and parcel of Palo Mayombe. ...To compare these people with practitioners of Santeria or even with practitioners of Palo Mayombe is like saying that what Jim Jones did in Guyana is a good example of Christianity... When these beliefs fall into the hands of already sick people, they do really weird things." 2
Det. Jaime Escalante, investigator for the Homicide Division of the Houston P.D., reported that drug smuggling was often related to Palo Mayombe. 3
Joseph Murphy, theology professor at Georgetown University: "The killings at Matamoros have as much to do with Santeria as Christianity has to do with Jonestown. Human sacrifice is a psychopathic occurrence, not Santeria." 4
Dr. Charles Wetli, deputy chief medical examiner of Dade County, FL, commenting on Santeria: "The basic tenets are not ones that encourage human sacrifice." 5
Wade Davis, a Boston anthropologist and Voodoo expert, discounted that the Matamoros cult was practicing voodoo, which also does not involve human sacrifice. 6
Even Tom Wedge, author of The Satan Hunter, has gone on record as saying that the Matamoros killings were not related to Satanism. 7
What did the Matamoros cult members believe? Well, from the evidence at the scene and the intelligence gathered so far, it would seem that they based their beliefs on Palo Mayombe, a Cuban spirit religion. This religion was created when slaves from the Bantu tribe in the Congo brought their tribal beliefs to Cuba, where it was combined with the Catholic beliefs of their owners. This belief is far more succinctly explained in Migene Gonzalez-Wippler's book, Santeria: African Magic in Latin America (Original Products, New York, NY, 1973).
The paraphernalia recovered at the scene in Matamoros included four cauldrons (one large and two small) which can be identified from their contents (some of the victims' brains, blood, human and animal bone, turtle shells, chicken and goat heads, gold colored beads, etc.) as ngangas, a form of charm used in Palo Mayombe. Also found was an altar with ritual candles, broken glass, cigars, chilis, and bottles of cane liquor, also consistent with Palo Mayombe.
Where this group differs from Palo Mayombe groups is in the source of their human body parts. Where these parts are normally obtained by Mayomberos (followers of Palo Mayombe) from graves or purchased from medical supply houses, the Matamoros cult members kidnapped and killed to obtain them.
The paraphernalia and statements of the accused in no way suggest that they were Satanists. Their rituals and paraphernalia do not resemble any Satanic ritualism that has been reported to date. Nor was this group practicing Santeria, another faith formed by syncretism of African tribal beliefs with Catholicism. In the case of Santeria, it was Yoruba (Nigerian) tribal beliefs that were involved. Nor is Palo Mayombe related to Voodoo, a religion formed from the syncretism of Nagos, Ibos, Aradas, and Dahomean tribal beliefs with Catholicism in Haiti.
Unfortunately, many of those involved in both the investigating of and the reporting of this incident are apparently ignorant of the existence of these faiths, never mind the differences between them. They therefore fall back on their limited knowledge of occult related crime, obtained from TV, the newspapers, and the many self-appointed "experts" out there. As a result, they came out with statements which the press reported as follows:
Lt. George Gavito, Cameron County Sheriff's Dept. (investigator at the scene): "They prayed to the devil so the police would not arrest them, so bullets would not kill them and so they would make money." 7 This is mostly true, except that they were not praying to the devil.
Carlos Tapia, Cameron County Sheriff's Deputy: "Apparently Sara (Aldrete) was leading a double life; as a witch in Mexico and as a dean's honor roll student at Texas Southmost College." 8 Again, almost true, but Aldrete did not practice Wicca.
Helen Kilroy (mother of victim Mark Kilroy): "I think that (the suspects) must have been possessed by the devil." 10 Obviously this woman is not an expert witness on this subject.
Judy Strader (18-yr.-old friend of Aldrete's at Texas Southmost College), claimed that aldrete wore a necklace with a pentagram, 11 a fact played up in several articles. However, all of the other students interviewed stated that Aldrete wore "medallions" and said that Aldrete would not allow anyone to touch them.
The Associated Press articles picked up on these remarks, and earlier articles (April 12-13, 1989) had numerous references to the Matamoros group as "a satanic cult of drug smugglers" or "voodoo practicing". It is also in the AP articles that Sara Aldrete is repeatedly referred to as having been called "the witch" by cult members. In fact, they called her "la bruja". This is often translated from the Spanish as "the witch", with witch being used in the manner in which it is often defined in common English dictionaries. It is more properly translated in this case as "the sorceress", a point that AP missed. Someone familiar with the works of Carlos Castaneda might have picked up on this, though.
Some articles speculate that cannibalization was taking place at Matamoros, probably due to the fact that the cauldrons (ngangas) were found just outside of the hut where the homicides took place. Again, lack of knowledge of Palo Mayombe beliefs leads these speculators to try to interpret what they see in terms of their popular beliefs and urban legends.
Predictably, several of our anti-Pagan friends have jumped on the bandwagon to try to use this incident to sell their Satanism theories. It is interesting to note that many of these people are apparently confused by Matamoros, since it does not fit neatly into their definitions of Satanic systems. They claim that this incident is Satanic, but had to admit that there were major discrepancies. Horn's statement is typical: "Where there's drugs involved, often you will find Satanism. What is odd is that the bodies were not cremated."
All of these individuals made similar comments. The fact that this cult didn't go to fantastic lengths to destroy the evidence goes against the theories being taught by fundamentalist "occult crime experts" at present. If the average "satanic cult" takes as few precautions as these suspects did, then there certainly can't be many around or we'd have found them all over the place by now. This is what true experts, such as the FBI's Kenneth Lanning, have been saying for some time.
In fact, the most revealing comment with regards to these alarmists and sensationalists comes from Lindell Bishop, Director of Criminal Justice for the Central Texas Council of Governments in Benton, TX: "If we didn't do anything else but go into the business of conducting seminars on satanism, we'd do a booming business." 12
The staff at CWR concurs wholeheartedly with this sentiment. Anti-Paganism is a large and lucrative business!
1. Dallas Morning News, 4-13-89, "Cult leader sought in U.S., Mexico", by Lee Hancock
2. Dallas Morning News, 4-13-89, "Use of body parts common in Cuban occult religion", by Lee Hancock
3. Corpus Christi Caller Times, 4-15-89, "Mexicans descend on Matamoros in search of missing relatives", by Joel Williams
4. New York Newsday, 4-14-89, "Human sacrifice link irks Santeria flock", by Michael Powell
6. USA Today, 4-13-89, "A perverse twist on ancient rites", by Jeanne DeQuine
7. Sunday Oklahoman, 5-7-89, "Mexican ritual slayings underscore need for cult cops", AP news story
8. Corpus Christi Caller Times, 4-12-89, "Missing Spring Break reveler among victims", by David Hanners
9. Corpus Christi Caller Times, 4-14-89, "Remains of 13th victim discovered", by Eloy O. Aguilar
10. USA Today, 4-13-89, "Cult godfather hunted", by Julie Morris and Steve Marshall
11. same as Footnote 3
12. Corpus Christi Caller Times, 4-14-89, "The Smoking Gun?", by Shelley Emiling
by Rowan Moonstone
The Edge of Evil--- The Rise of Satanism in North America by Jerry Johnston, Word Publishing, Dallas, 1989
At first glance, I wasn't too hopeful for this book. Any volume dedicated to Sean Sellers with a forward by Geraldo Rivera has two strikes against it to begin with.
Fortunately, my fears were not borne out at all. Johnston has traversed the country looking for research in this book. In the course of his travels, he has talked with police officials, health care professionals, authors, and teens in trouble. The picture that emerges overall is one in which the alleged international Satanic conspiracy does not exist, but one in which there are a great number of lonely, unhappy teenagers looking for acceptance and a sense of belonging.
However, there were still things in it that disturbed me greatly. First and foremost was the list of sources which Johnston considers reputable. I would hardly recommend Passport Magazine to anyone as excellent research material. Although Johnston takes great issue with the purported "W.I.C.C.A. Letters" and rightly labels tham a hoax of the first water, he goes on to believe the Satanic ritual calendar published in the same volume. This calendar is so extensive that if it were to be truly followed, there would be Satanic rituals on one out of three nights of the year!
Other sources cited as credible by Johnston were Chick Publications magazine Battlecry. Chick has published some of the most extreme anti-Catholic hate literature on the market today, and his research has been called into question by such authorities as Gordon Melton and Christianity Today. I hardly think these are sterling recommendations.
By far the most ludicrous story is taken from Larry Kahaner's book Cults That Kill in which a supposed former cult member talks about killing cattle in a Tulsa, OK field. Obviously, the author has never dealt with cattle. Recently I had an experience of picking some lilacs from around the outside of a pasture in which were cattle that were not familiar with me; I was shortly forced to leave the area because of the hostility of the livestock. I was afraid they were going to come through the barbed wire fence to trample me. I cannot imagine cattle standing still to be butchered by strangers. A single cow might be killed, but the remainder of the herd would stomp the intruders rather thoroughly. As for the 200-foot boom that was supposed to be mounted on the top of the van which allowed the cultists access to the field without leaving footprints... the sheer physics of a 200-foot boom that could lift a 1500 lb. cow off the ground would necessitate that the van be more massive than a tractor trailer rig.
Johnston even went to Oklahoma to interview a Witch. I WISH he had come to Oklahoma City, where I was living at the time. The lady that he spoke with was a solitary with seemingly little knowledge of the Craft and, as a result, came across as a bit of a flake. Perhaps this is just Johnston's writing, but I wish he had sought out someone knowledgable in the Craft.
I cannot recommend this book whole-heartedly, but neither can I condemn it outright. The best I can say is... read it with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism. And check the sources (and their sources, and...)
Satanism, Is Your Family Safe? by Ted Schwarz and Duane Empey, Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids,MI; 1988
Unlike most Christian books on the subject of Satanism, this book has a great deal of things to recommend it. On the other hand, the historical research is so sloppily done that it cases doubt upon the veracity of the findings of the authors.
On the positive side, Schwarz and Empey seem to have a good grasp on the fact that there is a great deal of hysteria surrounding this issue. On page 8 they write, "In recent times, Satan, like the Bible, seems to have become a scapegoat for the bigots, the crazies, the troubled and the lost. Many otherwise well-educated individuals define whatever they fail to understand as 'satanic'." They also readily recognise the fact that the Christian religion has had it's share of problems, to wit: "History, of course, is filled with Christians who have misinterpreted the Bible. They have justified such acts as slavery, the supression of women, and the denial of other human rights by either quoting the Bible out of context or simply creating Bible passages where none existed." (pages 71-72)
But for all their fine words, the two authors then buy into the theory of a Satanist behind every tree and rampant ritualistic child abuse. They go deeply into detail on a case involving a family called the "Cambridge" family, but refuse to give any details of the case, assuring the readers that, "Although extensive documentation is available concerning ritual child abuse, drug abuse, and murder, charges have not been filed due to technicalities relating to the statue of limitations, the unwillingness of witnesses to testify, and similar difficulties." As I have pointed out frequently before, there is NO statute of limitations on murder. Another point to consider is the fact that IF these heinous crimes took place, it would seem that the victims of them would want the perpetrators caught and stopped before someone else got hurt. The excuses seem entirely too "convenient" for my taste!
Finally, there is the point of the absolutely unexcusable research concerning the origins of Voodoo. "Voodoo began in France with peasants conbining concepts from the Knights Templar, the Catholic Church, & remnants of the Druid Teachings" (p. 35). Nothing could be further from the truth. Any interested person who cares to do the most basic research can find out that Voodoo is a mixture of the Yoruba religions native to Africa and Roman Catholicism, which originated during the slave trade. The only connection it has to the French at all is the fact that many of the slaves were bought and sold on the French held islands of Haiti, Martinique, and other Caribbean islands. Voodoo has almost nothing in common with Druidism.
While Schwarz and Empey do offer some valuable advice to parents with teens who may become involved with the occult as dabblers, and while they do point out that the only "occultic" crimes for which we have hard evidence have been done by teens who come from dysfunctional families, I do not feel that this book would be useful to CWR readers. The authors' scholarship is entirely too much in question for their findings to be accepted without a great deal of corroborating evidence.
Kerr Cuhulain's "A Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca" is now in print. It is a professionally produced publication of approx. 40 pages. The first printing is almost gone, but we have printed another run already; don't miss it! Only $10.00 ppd.
CWR will be publishing an expanded version of Rowan Moonstone's "The Origins of Halloween", with additional source material. The price will be $1.00 ppd., with volume discounts. Order now!
EX-CULTIST SOUGHT BY TEXAS AUTHORITIES
CWR has received several articles from Texas concerning one Marti Johnston, who is associated with the Cult Awareness Council. In January, 1989, at a meeting in Anahuac, TX, she spoke of witnessing a child sacrifice of an 8-year-old girl from the Tomball, TX area eight years earlier. Shortly after this presentation, Tomball police officer Leroy Michna sought contact with Ms. Johnston in connection with this alleged crime. When his attempts were unsuccessful, he obtained the help of Harris County Assistant D.A. Casey O'Brian. In an article from the Daily Pasadena Citizen, Feb. 25, 1989, O'Brian is quoted as saying,"It was referred to me. I attempted to get hold of Marti Johnston. For whatever reason she won't talk to us. We don't know where she is."
Authorities in the Tomball area say there are no reports of missing girls dating from the time period in which Ms. Johnston claims to have seen the child abducted and killed. "We have no homicide to link it to. Why she would make those claims and then be hesitant to talk with authorities is reason to question her motives," said O'Brian in the Houston Chronicle, March 6, 1989.
Johnston's location is known to Dorothy Seabolt of the Houston Cult Awareness Council, according to the Chronicle article, but Ms. Seablot refuses to disclose Ms. Johnston's location because of fear for Johnston's life. She claims that Johnston has received death threats, and has had to move numerous times in the past to avoid being killed by cult members.
We here at CWR are most happy to see the police investigating these claims. If there is evidence, lets find those responsible for the crime and pub them behind bars where they can hurt no one else. If there is no evidence, let's defuse the hysteria before somebody gets hurt.
For further information on this case, refer to the following newspaper articles:
"Crowd Hears About Satanic Cults", Anahuac (TX) Weekly, Feb. 8, 1989 "Assistant DA Wants to Talk to Cult Expert", Humble Echo (Channelview, TX) Feb. 22, 1989 "DA Seeking 'Sacrifice' Information", by Virginia Hahn, Daily Pasadena (TX) Citizen, Feb. 25, 1989 "Tale of Child's Ritual Slaying Vexes Lawmen", by Bill Disessa, Houston Chronicle, March 6, 1989
PLIGHT OF THE PAGAN POLICEMAN
by Kerr Cuhulain
The other day I went looking for a Sergeant to affirm the affidavit on the back of an appearance notice that I'd issued to a party that I'd arrested for theft. Very briefly, this involved plunking it down in front of someone the rank of Sergeant or higher, taking an oath on religious scripture (eg: Bible, Koran, etc.) or making an affirmation (no scripture required). Being a Wiccan officer, I affirm my affidavits. This practice is rather rare, since Wiccan policemen are a rather rare commodity these days. Consequently, I often find that if the NCO that I plunk my affidavit in front of doesn't know me, he won't know the correct wording. So I have a copy of the correct wording on the back of my appearance notice book and a small contingency package for those special situations.
As luck would have it, the only Sergeant available then was one newly assigned to our division and one who didn't know me. He'd never had a Pagan officer plunk an appearance notice for affirmation in front of him before. I therefore had to explain at length the procedure and reassure him that this was not some practical joke. Satisfied at last that this was a legal procedure under the Oaths Ace, he signed the affidavit. He did not ask me what my beliefs were and I didn't volunteer the information. He then left the room.
Now while this was happening, a Corporal, also newly arrived, was watching this procedure from across the roe of NCO's desks. As I walked away with my completed affidavit he said, "Well! Can you beat that! There ARE some agnostics in this department!"
I stopped to squint at him. "Meaning me?"
"What makes you think that I'm an agnostic?"
"Well...uh...you don't believe in God."
I picked up the Websters dictionary on the Sergeants desk and, flipping it open read the definition of agnostic to the Corporal: "one who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable." I then continued, "What makes you think that I don't believe in something other than Jehovah?"
The Corporal now had a puzzled expression on his face. He stammered, "But...you must be an atheist. There isn't anything else."
I flipped to another page: "Atheism: `a disbelief in the existence of deity.' There are plenty of other deities out there. What about Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism...?"
"Oh, but those are false faiths."
"What's real then?"
The Corporal puffed himself up and adopted his best sermon for the pulpit posture. He then said: "I'm a Catholic. The source of our problems is that people have turned away from the Bible. I believe that the problems of the world today would all be solved if we did what it tells us to do in the Bible."
"What about Lebanon?", I replied,"or Northern Ireland? You've got different Christian sects running about saying, `My way or the highway', and bumping each other off."
The Corporal had a condescending smile on his face as he replied: "That's just the point! It says right in the Bible, `Thou shalt not kill.'"
"It says in the next chapter to go into Canaan and kill everything that you find there," I shot back.
I started to leave at this point , having reports to be written. He was rapidly leafing through his Bible to see if I was right. I grabbed some papers from my briefcase and started for the report writing room door. He called after me: "Wait a minute. Do all of you non-Christians use the affirmation thing?"
"Nope. Some of us use the Chicken Oath."
"The Chicken Oath."
The Corporal was starting to turn purple. "This is a joke, right?"
I walked over to my briefcase and extracted some papers from my contingency packet. These papers were excerpts from the British Columbia Courts Operating Manual. These excerpts listed the following real and legal oaths used by the occasional Oriental who ends up on the witness stand in my province:
"7. CHINESE NON-CHRISTIAN OATHS:
"A) PAPER OATH (Civil)
"The witness writes his name on a piece of paper and takes the following oath while burning the paper: `The evidence which you shall give to the Court shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or your soul shall be consumed by fire as is this paper.'
"C) SAUCER OATH ( Civil and Criminal)
"The witness, on taking the stand, kneels down, and the Clerk places in his hand a China saucer whereupon the witness breaks it against the box. The Clerk then administers the following oath, `You shall tell the truth, the whole truth; the saucer is cracked and if you do not tell the truth, your soul will be cracked like the saucer.'
"D) CHICKEN OATH (Civil and Criminal):
"The witness is handed a piece of paper with the following writing: `Oath made by (witness signs his name). Being a true witness, I shall enjoy happiness and my sons and grandsons will prosper forever. `If I give false evidence I shall die on the street, earth will destroy me, and I shall forever suffer in adversity, and all my offspring will be exterminated. In burning this Oath, I humbly submit myself to the Will of Heaven which has brilliant eyes to see. The _______year of the Reign of ______________ the day, the _____________ Moon.' (witness signs his name.)
"The witness having signed his name twice, and a cock having been procured, the Court (and Jury) adjourns to a convenient place outside the building where the full ceremony of administering the oath is performed. A block of wood, an axe or knife, not less than three punk sticks, a pair of candles and Joss paper being obtained, Chinese candles are stuck in the ground and lighted. The oath is then read out loud by the witness, after which he wraps it in Joss paper as used in religious ceremonies. The witness then lays the cock on the block and chops its head off, then sets fire to the oath from the candles and holds it until it is consumed."
I've omitted the criminal version of the "paper oath" and a "candle oath", but you get the point. The Corporal looked as if his world was collapsing around his ears as he read this. I suppose that he had imagined that the legal system was exclusively Christian and that he was surrounded by Christian officers at work.
"This is real?"
I started to leave again, but he called to me one last time. "Wait! Wait! What do YOU believe in then?"
I paused in the doorway. "You really want to know?"
"Objective, professional and fair police work."
"No! No! I mean what do you BELIEVE in?"
"I don't understand," he said, a thousand yard stare on his face.
"You got that right," I said as I turned and left the room.
Fortunately, not all Catholics are as intolerant as this guy seems to be. I wonder what he'll do some day if he makes Sergeant and someone asks him to affirm an affidavit? Maybe they'll ask for a Chicken Oath. That I'd like to see!
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