but you can't take the country out of Salem.”
–Radio and TV Commercial Jingle, Salem Cigarettes
Law, Coven, Cult, and Consciousness,
The Inquisition: The Holocaust of Witches
The Witch Manifesto, The Hammer of Witches,
Celtic Fairies, Halloween, Werewolves, Virgin Sacrifice,
Hitler and Jewish Magic, Astrology, Shape-Shifting, and
W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell)
Popular witchcraft is a strange country. Bounded on the left by science and on the right by religion, this “Mesopotamia of the Mind” lies somewhere between the flowing together of two great rivers: one a natural stream, the other a man-made canal. According to Egyptologist Margaret Murray’s theory, Wicca, or the Old Religion–the religion of nature and human nature–pre-dated Judeo-Christianity. The other witchcraft, a latter-day media phenomenon, has long since been channeled by the alternately commercial and hysterical tides of Western Culture.
Left to itself, witchcraft could have maintained a quiet flow as supportive to the Christian mainstream as Merlin was to Camelot. Can society educate away its fears? Damned by laws, however, witchery has always risen boiling to civilization’s floodgates. Can society legislate away its fears? The establishment, controlling nature with technology and suppressing dissent with politics, uses the legal system to repress witchcraft which it sees as too powerful. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” So says I Samuel xv.14. Witchery, more often than not, has led the charge of human rights and social revolution: without witches, no feminism, no gay liberation, no civil rights for racial equality.
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are full of Demonology. The archetypal biblical story of rebellion features the Archangel Lucifer whose name means “Light-Bearer.” Fighting God, Lucifer fell from heaven to hell to wander the earth as the wild one–the new Satan–in search of souls. The brightest becomes the darkest. The conservative state ethic of western culture–rarely separated from muddled-class churches–has long seen the need to write laws protecting the status-quo from the threatening freedoms of the progressive human rights movements, including the various occult liberation fronts.
Babylonian King Hammurabi in 1900 B. C. legislated against witchcraft and image worship because too many of his tribes had too many exorcists telling people too many things that contradicted Hammurabi’s political control. The outlaw status of seers and witches can be seen by connecting the dots from the ancient Bible to the most modern state laws, all of them influenced by the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church which, reported in an update by Newsweek, is the oldest functioning legal system in the world. Mosaic Law, written for a middle-eastern ethic that originally had no Devil, said: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Exodus xxii.18. In Christianity, magic and mysticism are called Gnosticism, and in Judaism, Kabbalah. Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism each handle the mystical esoterica behind their standard creeds with, respectively, Sufism, Tantrism, and Dark Zen.
The Bible is a written collection of oral folk tales from a popular culture of 4,000 to 2,000 years ago that had an opinion on absolutely everything. It is the traditional weapon of choice used by literalists to support their review-proof opinions. Always quoted as the ultimate argument from authority, the Bible is a gun. Often it is aimed at thinkers, scientists, occultists, women, homosexuals, and dark-skinned races. The Bible is a catch-22 that, in its circular argument, fails Logic 101: “Believe the Bible because the Bible says you must believe the Bible.” The Old Testament is the folklore of primitives wandering the flat-earth of the ancient desert. The New Testament contains the stories and letters popular in the polytheistic Roman Empire, yet it has power. It threatens contemporary people who cannot shake the superstition that the Bible is some kind of magic book. Waving a Bible at a Christian is like holding up a crucifix to a vampire: both crumble before the symbol.
History tells how this conditioning became the superstition that “the Bible will get you if you don’t watch out.” Scriptural quotations have been invoked for centuries to judge people, to convict people, and to kill people. Thus the Bible, like a loaded handgun, scares people. And why not? For centuries, for instance, in cases of occultism, Bible quotes have been offered in evidence at more than one witch trial, and have bent lawmakers’ attitudes toward the occult from ancient law to contemporary law.
The Bible is based on the fundamental belief in God and angels as well as in Satan and Devils, and in all of these spirits must Jews, Catholics, and Protestants believe.
Once upon a time, in the Bible stories of sex and violence, a no-doubt priapic Satan dressed in black leather boldly bragged that all the kingdoms of the world were his to give when he tempted Jesus Christ to kneel in Satanic worship.
“Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and the Devil said to Him, ‘All these will I give You, if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’ Then the Devil left Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” Gospel according to Matthew 4:8-11.
In the polar battle between good and evil, “Witch, be warned and beware!” In the anti-witch hysteria between the years 1500 to 1900 more than 250,000 people were tried, tortured, and killed. This is the “Withering of the Witch” by an assortment of biblical laws. In the classic American opera, Porgy and Bess (1934), lyricist DuBose Heyward has a Black preacher sing the warning that what one reads in the Bible, “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”
Leviticus xix.26: “Neither shall ye use enchantment nor observe dreams.”
Leviticus xix.31: “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.”
Leviticus xx.6: “And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a-whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul and will cut him off from among his people.”
Leviticus xx.27: “A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones; their blood shall be upon them.”
Deuteronomy xviii.10-12: “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.”
11 Kings ix.22: “What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?”
1I Kings xxiii.24: “Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations . . . did Josiah put away.”
Isaiah viii.19: “When they say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards, that peep and that mutter, should not a people seek unto their God?”
St. Paul, Letter to the Galatians, v.19-20: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft.”
When worlds collide, change happens.
Constantine the Great (274-337) was a pagan warrior who in 324 became emperor of the entire Holy Roman Empire. He grafted witchcraft and Christianity together, until he didn’t. He was, as Roman emperor, a God as well as the Pontifex Maximus (the high priest) of paganism. In combining church and state, he refused to choose between the Old Religion of paganism and the new religion of Christianity. He put the byzantine into Byzantine Roman emperor as he ruled the western and eastern Roman empire from the city of Byzantium which he renamed Constantinople in 324. That city carried his name until 1930 when it was renamed, Istanbul.
As Constantine united the empire politically, he united religion theologically–after he had a little, well, seance. He mixed together the Sun God with Christ on the Cross after seeing–just before a battle–a vision of a cross appear in the sky. He heard the words, “In hoc signo, vinces,” which means “In this sign, you will conquer.” This led inevitably to the cross the Crusaders soon emblazoned on their shields as they marched against Islam. That Latin phrase of those onward-marching Christian soldiers entered modern popular culture as the motto on every pack of Pall Mall cigarettes. Because Constantine won the battle as the vision predicted, he legalized Christianity with the Edict of Milan in 313. In a way, he introduced a brief period of religious tolerance into the Roman Empire, because he also allowed the ancient practices of paganism to continue.
In fact, in an act of cultural genius, Constantine invented the official fusion of paganism and Christianity.
As emperor, he interpreted the anti-witch laws in the Bible to be against workers of evil charms only. As legally as Christian priests, pagan priests attended to the public altars and observed traditional pagan worship. In the middle of his reign, Constantine began to co-opt paganism by baptizing it. His mix-master legislation made the birthday of the Sun God into Christmas, and Sunday into a day of rest. His laws turned the pagan rites of spring into Lent and Easter. He minted pagan Gods on coins, even while he dug out the site in Jerusalem of the crucified, buried, and risen Christ, where he built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and prohibited any residency by Jews. His mother, Saint Helena, found the True Cross of Jesus which can be found in splinters in Catholic churches around the world, most accessibly in Sainte-Chapelle, Paris.
Emperor Constantine, straddling the fusion of the Old Religion and the new, lived a holy Roman life, leaning with age more toward the Christian, although he refused to be baptized until he was on his death bed. In his old age, he had tried for a time to stamp out paganism, but shortly before he died, still straddling the Old Religion and the new, he confirmed the privileges of the pagan priests serving ancient Gods. His waffling did not please the Catholic Church, but the second of his sons, Constantius, his favorite, militantly persecuted pagans, heretics, particularly women and homosexuals for whom in 342 he legislated “exquisite punishment.” He closed the temples and wrote, “Let superstition cease. Let the folly of sacrifices be abolished.” Constantius was a Christian Triumphalist. He and his successors wrote extremely stringent Holy Roman laws against witchcraft and paganism in their crusade to control sexual behavior. Those laws, ironically written by these former pagans, set up the fall of civilization into the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages that eventually led to the Inquisition, which was the Holocaust of Witchcraft.
Constantine also mixed some of the pagan redes, or sayings, into sayings of Christ, who said, “Do what you will, but do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Centuries later, the thumbnail aphorisms of the rede summed up the creeds of Saint Augustine, the Great Beast Aleister Crowley, and the Founding High Priest of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey.
Jesus Christ said, “Love is the greatest commandment. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Saint Augustine wrote, “Love God and do what you will.”
Aleister Crowley wrote, “Do what you will is the whole of the law. Love is the law. Love under will.”
The Wiccan rede or pagan rule of white magic is, “And it harm none, do what thou wilt.”
The Devilish rede for Anton LaVey’s modern Church of Satan is, “If it harms no undeserving person, do what you will.”
The gay rede is, “If it harms only yourself, do what you will.”
Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was lawyer, legislator, and inventor of the Western Tradition of Black Magic. He was born into a strict Puritan family from whom he rebelled after his mother told him he was the Devil himself. Taking her seriously, he joined the Order of the Golden Dawn founded in 1887 out of the secret societies of the soldier mystics of the Knights Templar, the Masons, and the Rosicrucians with emphasis on yoga, guardian angels, and the laws of the mystical occult. Later, as head of the Golden Dawn, which counted mystical Irish poet W. B. Yeats (who hated Crowley) in its secret membership, he taught the practice of magic, tarot, and Kabbalah. These were his ways to cause social change and to raise self-consciousness, according to his Greek code word thelema, meaning the “free will to create one’s real self.” He wrote nearly one hundred books, including Magic in Theory and Practice, Magic without Tears, and The Book of the Law.
Born in England, traveling worldwide, and living in Scotland where he enjoyed flashing his kilt, he was known to cynics and churchmen as the “other Loch Ness Monster.” Long a famous attraction through books, stage lectures, and radio, Crowley achieved popular canonization four years after his death when his literary executor, John Symond, published his controversial biography, The Great Beast (1951). Had he lived until the 1960s and 1970s, Magister Crowley would have been everything pop culture expects of the essential hippie guru: the larger-than-life personality who is charismatic author, teacher, naturist, sexual satyr, and drug conjurer advocating free love, self-help, and repeal of repressive laws.
Crowley would not have done well under the draconic Justinian Code written in 534 at the order of the Roman Emperor Justinian who hated paganism and its witchcraft and sexuality. Paganism meant tribalism. Tribalism meant trouble to Imperial Rome. In the Migration of Nations, wandering tribes of Vandals, Visigoths, and Huns were terrorists attacking the sprawling Roman empire. Justinian needed to pull Rome’s huge self together. The spinning centrifuge of empire was flying apart trying to control millions of people in thousands of cultures across hundreds of thousands of square miles. Justinian knew that a common language (Latin), a common religion (Christianity), and law applied universally could tame the outsiders. The Justinian Code, also known as Corpus Juris Civilis, was based on the logic of Greek legal principles. Justinian’s ten judges reviewed thousands of ancient laws scattered through previous civilizations. They codified the dissonance into 4,000 laws which in a Christian context became the code of one comprehensible Roman Law. This was not a survey; Justinian made the Code into actual law. His modernization of law still serves as the base of contemporary civil law, which, with English common law, governs the modern societies of Western civilization.
The Justinian Code came down to a rede of natural law: “To live an honest life, to harm no one, to give each person what he actually deserves, and to attribute to each what is his own.”
The problem for witchcraft is that the term “natural” is so open to private interpretation. The Nazis painted the third line, “To give each person what he actually deserves,” on a sign over the entrance to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Justinian, trying everything to avert the coming Fall of the Roman Empire, feared tribal paganism, heathen homosexuality, and female sorcery as practiced, for instance, by the wild Goth women he fought. So he pronounced the lot of them “unnatural,” and persecuted them all in bloody shows at the local Hippodrome where the Cross once seen by Constantine was multiplied in thousands of fiery crucifixions. Justinian and his actress-wife, Theodora, were made legendary in the tell-all book written by Procopius, Secret History/Historia Arcana (1623). Justinian’s “phobic authority” influenced medieval judges to embrace a relative moral law that was not necessarily an absolute natural law. In this way, a fearful church and state, owning religion and law, yanked the focus of history. “Witches, healers, pagans, and homosexuals didn’t need astrologers with crystal balls to know their rising sign was in shit, and they’d best go way underground.” As Justinian appropriated ancient laws he liked, the Church continued Constantine’s appropriations of ancient folk traditions.
Christianity, particularly as preached city to city by both Jesus Christ and Saint Paul, was characteristically always an urban religion that had a certain attitude about the simple folk who lived in the country or on the heath. Pagan in Latin means simply “someone who lives in a rural area.” Heathen means “someone who lives out on the heath or the moors.” Witch may derive from the old Anglo-Saxon word wicca meaning “wise” in the way werewolf and weird come from the word weir meaning “country.”
Constantine had begun the fusion. Popular culture followed his lead. The pagan feast of the Winter Solstice was eagerly accepted as the Christ Child’s Christmas. The pagan celebration of spring, Beltane, with its May Pole, became the May Day procession to crown the Blessed Virgin Mary with flowers. The autumn feast of Samhain (pronounced sow-en), the pagan feast celebrating the crossing between the world of the living and the world of the dead, became Halloween, the Eve of All Saints, the day before the Christian feast of All Souls. The Catholic Church took to its popular heart the functions of white magic, because, to be accepted beyond politics, the new religion had to comfort old human needs with religious rituals previously addressed by the Old Religion. As quickly as pagan white magic became Christian ritual, heathen sorcery that could not–and would not–be absorbed was written up into church law as sin, heresy, and witchcraft. The good women of white-magic covens went to convents. The rebel women of black-magic circles remained outside the pale. Thus early on, squelching the competition, primitive Christianity, by the time it turned positively medieval, gave the Catholic Church a monopoly on bell, book, and candle. Contemporary blessings, exorcisms, and most of Catholic ritual are remnants of this baptism of the old white magic.
Centuries before John Van Druten (1901-1957) wrote the 1950 Broadway hit comedy, Bell, Book, and Candle, filmed in 1958 with Kim Novak as a white witch whose brother writes a book on black magic, the Catholic Church had co-opted these three conjure symbols. For instance, the “minor orders” leading up to the major ordination to the Catholic priesthood are, in fact, historical vestiges of white sorcery. They are four.
The order of porter, bestowed as the sound of one bell is rung once, entrusts the keeping of the church door to the cleric who admits only the initiated to the heart of the consecratory rites.
The order of lector, with its giving of the sacred book to the ordained, symbolizes more intense study of the tenets of the sect.
The third order of exorcist, bestowed amid much incense, remains the militant equivalent of the white magician’s use of his power to break curses and cast out evil forces.
The last minor order, that of acolyte, gives the cleric not only the duty of tending the candles but also the privilege of blessing objects like bread, salt, houses, and automobiles.
Grimoires, which are books of spells (handled by the lector of the coven), talk of witches’ ability to blow into locks to open doors, and to blow on candles that light themselves. Essentially, Christendom helped itself to what it preferred in pagan religions and named what was left over the work of Satan.
Pope Innocent VIII (1432-1492) ruled popular culture because the medieval Church was the sole medium of its time reaching the people through pulpit, epistle, and pronouncement in Papal bulls. For the first fourteen centuries of Catholicism, witch-hunting was sporadic and unorganized, though often intense. On December 5, 1484, Pope Innocent issued his Papal bull, Summis Desiderantes. His intent was to ratify the anti-heretic campaign of Jacob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer. What he did was fan the smouldering bias against witchcraft to full flame. The Bible taught that witchcraft was real. The Church taught that witchcraft was a sin because it was a lapse back into paganism. The medieval Church was the sole medium of its time reaching people through pulpit, epistle, and pronouncements in Papal bulls. Summis Desiderantes codified the Catholic laws against witchcraft in much the same way that the Justinian Code modernized the old laws into new laws.
Pope Innocent’s Summis Desiderantes made witchcraft more than a sin. It made witchcraft a heresy, and turned witch-hunting into a blood sport. Its ratification of Jacob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer led the two Dominican priests and sadists to write their witch-hating book, Malleus Maleficarum, also known as The Hammer of Witches (1486). Never underestimate the murderous power of Malleus Maleficarum. It was the seminal document which systematized Christian doctrine defining witchcraft as heresy, and women’s sexuality as Satanic. Malleus Maleficarum invented and prescribed “everything anyone had ever wanted to know” about witchcraft and its erotic practices, including the form of trial–by torturers who were “not afraid to ask anything” in their sado-masochistic interrogations of any person accused of witchcraft.
Malleus Maleficarum was perfect for the Gutenberg printing press invented thirty years earlier. Gutenberg had been motivated to publish the Bible in a mass-market way so everyone could have one. Malleus Maleficarum was a kind of lurid cautionary tale warning of witchcraft, sex, and women, and the ways to strip, torture, and kill them. It was a best seller, second only to the Bible for the next two hundred years when John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress was published in 1684. Its first twenty-nine editions averaged a new printing every six years until four years after the Salem, Massachusetts, witch trials in 1692. Printed in German, French, Italian, and English, the sado-masochistic erotica of the document “turned on” the whole of the European Continent, particularly Spain where Hispanic panic over witches rose to the formal level of the Inquisition, 1478-1808. The Spanish Inquisition, codified by Malleus Maleficarum and authorized by Pope Sixtus, was administered by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who funded the voyage of Christopher Columbus who landed in a whole new world of heathens, magic, and gold.
In his twenties, the gay British dramatist Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) focused on man’s pact with Satan in his Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, which popular 1960s director Peter Brook staged in London in the 1940s with Aleister Crowley as technical advisor. In 1584, Reginald Scot in England wrote the popular Discourse of Witchcraft to refute the fantasies of Malleus Maleficarum. Scot aimed to defend the simple, the poor, and the aged, particularly women, who, when they were melancholy and old were accused of sorcery as defined by the hate-filled Malleus Maleficarum. In The Tempest (1610), Shakespeare, who often used white magic (Midsummer Night’s Dream) and horror (three witches open Macbeth), reflected the European mindset characterizing the new American world and its native inhabitants. His antagonist, the dark Caliban–the deformed offspring of Sycorax the witch, clashes with the white-magic powers of his protagonist, Prospero, who controls the genial spirit, Ariel.
Queen Elizabeth I caused the first real persecution of witches with the first English Witchcraft Act, 1563, because her Protestant advisors, fearfully anti-Papist, confused folk magic with Catholicism, because Rome had incorporated so much of the Old Religion in its rituals. In 1642, Puritan censors closed Shakespeare’s Globe theater because in England as in New England, playhouses, music, dance, and laughter were things of the Devil. But, of course! Furthering the anarchy, mystic British poet and painter William Blake (1757-1827) in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell defined the Devil as “the imagination.” A powerful elite of British aristocrats in the 18th-century celebrated Satan, attended the Hellfire Club founded in London by Sir Francis Dashwood, and desecrated an altar or two. The Greek Goddess Hecate who ruled the underworld became their Goddess of Witchcraft.
Salaciously detailed, the Malleus Maleficarum merchandised itself as theology, but its sub-text was its sado-masochistic obsession with naked women, deviant sex, and blood-lust torture.
Not to believe in witches was as much heresy as the practice of witchcraft.
No one in that absolutely theological time could, really, dismiss the Malleus Maleficarum as a mad Dominican porno-book, for that was heresy too.
In 250,000 words, Malleus Maleficarum builds many specious arguments. R. H. Robbins in The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology reveals how the book’s premise depends on the fantastic sacrifice of logic to fit a preconceived theological line. In the worst case of linguistics ever, the Dominican authors say that femina (woman) is derived, quite erroneously, from fe (faith) and minus (less); and diabolus (Devil) from dia (two) and bolus (death), which kills body and soul. In all three parts of Malleus Maleficarum, rational arguments are ignored. The first two parts deal all the witchcraft cards from the Bible to prove witchcraft is a reality all people must confront. The third part details the procedure for the ecclesiastical court’s trial of the witch whom the civil court would then order to execution. Such casuistry meant that legally the church courts themselves never ordered an execution. The Malleus Maleficarum with its fine legal persuasiveness transcended sectarian lines, and became conveniently ecumenical. R. H. Robbins connected the dots of the Christian conspiracy against witchcraft. “The Protestants, who otherwise so strongly opposed the Catholic aspects of the Inquisition, accepted the Malleus Maleficarum as their authority and code against witches.”
When the Catholic priest, Martin Luther, basically invented Protestantism on Halloween, 1517, by nailing his theses to the Wittenburg church door, he remained for all his humanist Reformation a firm believer in the punishment of witchcraft, because he believed that each Christian was personally living a life constantly in battle with the real presence of Satan. The Protestant Reformation was a pious and fundamentalist movement based on an absolutely literal interpretation of the Bible which leads directly to today’s American fundamentalism. Terrorized by the biblical image of Satan, all of western civilization–Catholic and Protestant alike–pivoted around the Malleus Maleficarum and its fundamentalist medieval cartoons (as simplistic as stained-glass windows) of the Devil and his witches copulating at midnight sabbaths where easily seduced women oiled Satan’s privates with the juice of unbaptized babies. The H. Adrian Smith Collection at Brown University includes thousands of books, texts, and graphics from the 16th century onwards depicting both truths and popular fantasies about witchcraft and magic.
Almost as suspect in western civilization was the concept of “Christian mysticism.” Male mystics were often self-punishing monks who meditated in pederastic union with the infant child Jesus and the adolescent Jesus teaching in the Temple, or in homosexual union with the naked, athletic, crucified Jesus. Female mystics, also often sexually self-abusive, sought mystical union in erotic terms with the nursing infant Jesus and the powerful adult Jesus. While women like Hildegard von Bingen, Saint Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, and St. Catharine of Sienna may well have achieved pure mystical marriage with Christ, popular culture–with its fantasies of women behind bars–has long considered convents to be covens.
Aldous Huxley, most famous for Brave New World (1931), portrayed this sexual-religious hysteria in his historical novel, The Devils of Loudun: A Biography (1951), based on an event in a French town in 1632 when the local priest was accused of bewitching a convent of nuns. The book became the 1965 Broadway play, The Devils, by John Whiting. In 1971, British director Ken Russell used the book and the play to create his outrageous and much-censored film, The Devils, a brilliant excess of sex, violence, and camp urged on by the set design of the gay British painter and designer, Derek Jarman.
In the marriage of these two prejudices of “witchcraft” and “Christian mysticism,” the cross-dressing Joan of Arc was burned at the stake at Rouen in May 30, 1431. When Joan after her death worked certifiable miracles, the Catholic Church, by then long expert in co-opting the alternative world, ruled her magic was not the work of a witch, but of a saint, and canonized her, whom they had burnt, as Saint Joan of Arc in 1920. Joan was always popular. Her execution drew ten thousand people, largely because, the “English authorities in France...in many ways were less interested in Joan the heretic than in Joan the witch” whose trial fell “at a period when witch-persecution was quite rapidly on the increase....She insisted too much on the visions she said that she had” and “she died, too, for her defiance of the established theological orthodoxy of her time” which, of course, made her an outsider, a sorceress, a witch. FOOTNOTE Title, Edward Lucie-Smith, pp. 213, 260, 261
The Malleus Maleficarum is typical of hysterical laws which gain so much popular momentum that they become enforced for their own sake to maintain the establishment status quo rather than for the protection of individuals in a just society. For instance, the Catholic charge of “witchcraft,” ironically–like the earlier Imperial Roman charge of “Christianity” by Nero, and like the contemporary American charge of “marijuana”–was a convenient crime to trump up to persecute people who had been guilty of no more than perhaps radical views. Each charge in its day led to conviction.
Christianity has done more for witchcraft than the Old Religion left to its own devices could ever have popularized for itself. Most of the popular image of witchcraft comes from confessions of people being murdered by Christians who tortured them until the victims said what they were forced to say. People under torture have very few original ideas. George Burr in Johnson’s Encyclopedia indicated how Christianity forced witchcraft into a polar opposite.
Born into an atmosphere of belief in magic, the early Church seems never to have questioned its reality, while she greatly broadened its scope by systemizing as magic all the marvels of rival faiths. Her monotheism and her identification of religion with ethics led her to look on the gods of the heathen as Devils and on their worship as witchcraft. Her conversion of the Germanic people brought in a host of fresh demons; and it is the name of the seers of this northern faith, witega, Wicca, which gives us the word witch.
Until the Age of Reason,1650-1800, intellectual skepticism of anything was the exception, because everyone believed on faith in magic, witchery, and shape-shifting. Until Bacon, Locke, Descartes, and Kant in the 18th century, the church, state, and art reinforced the ancient popular notions. In the Old Testament, David’s harp had exorcised Saul’s bad spirits, because music, wrote William Congreve, has “charms to soothe the savage breast.” This axiom is often misquoted as “charms to soothe the savage beast” to cover lycanthropy, the ability to turn oneself into an animal, specifically, a werewolf. In the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, was changed lycanthropically into a wolf, the way that Dracula changes into a vampire bat, or that in a movie a man implanted with an animal heart by a mad doctor becomes the animal. Such shape-shifting is part of both white and black magic. Merlin changed Arthur into many different animals. Satan is always a trickster changing shapes. As the pagan horned God, he appears as a goat, and in the Old Testament as a serpent, and in the New Testament as a pig.
In modern popular culture, Doctor Frankenstein, who began studying alchemy which is essentially about changing essences, is able to alchemize a man-beast in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (1818). Frankenstein, when all popular genres, horror to comedy, are considered, seems largely the legend of Pygmalion which has also been re-written musically as My Fair Lady. Gay Hollywood director James Whale contributed the first great addition to Mary Shelley’s original myth when he created the sympathetic monster in his movie, Frankenstein (1931); director Herbert Strock added the changeling-angst of teens in the 1950s drive-in movie, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein; director Paul Morrisey made the arty addition of soft-core erotica in the film, Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein; and Mel Brooks added comedy and camp in Young Frankenstein. Off-Broadway, the Frankenstein myth secured the franchise on camp, homoerotica, cosmetics and masks, as well as narcissism in the character of Doctor Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show. Shape-shifting is an infinite and essential “magic” ritual constantly repeated in the “make-over” of the “plain girl” so often featured on television talk shows, and in film comedies such as Auntie Mame (1958). The purpose of the “make-over” is universally to create the girl into a sorceress with power over men.
In the New Testament, Christ met with Satan repeatedly, casting out evil spirits as, at one showdown, he drove the Devil–who had taken the shape of swine–off the sea cliff. The Greek and Roman literary classics reinforced the popular biblical imagination. Zeus Lycaeus, Plato, and Pliny all write of metamorphoses of man to animal. In fact, Ovid’s most famous book is titled, Metamorphoses, and is the mythic history of shape-shifting from the beginning of the world to Greco-Roman times. Ancient storytelling has an enduring fascination with man-beasts such as centaurs and satyrs. Inevitably, according to format, Satan is the bright Archangel changed to the Dark Beast. The erotic satire, Satyricon, written in 61 A. D. by Petronius, featured a folktale episode in which a vengeful wizard keeps setting perpetual fire to the thighs of a young witch, who burns all the way into1970 when Federico Fellini was Oscar-nominated as Best Director for his 1969 film Fellini Satyricon. In Merrie England, where the continental legislation of Malleus Maleficarum carried no weight because sheer distance from Rome made papal decrees ineffectual, witchcraft was, before the Protestant Reformation, rarely more than a minor felony. Minor felonies, however, often received major punishment.
Mary Stuart, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James I–all panicked by witches–legislated most vociferously against witchcraft, which, ironically, seems so much a part of English culture. Parliament under George II, one reign before the American Revolution, minimized Henry VII’s “Statutes against the Egyptians,” naming necromancers at worst as merely rogues and vagabonds. Such increasingly permissive attitudes toward witchery stem largely from the popular belief, as horror-film actor Vincent Price has pointed out, that the British witches brewed up the storm that sank the Spanish Armada in 1588. Several British covens, led by Gerald Gardner, have announced that their collective powers prevented Hitler’s total invasion of England. Nevertheless, witchcraft collided with law during World War II. In 1944, Helen Duncan became the last person jailed in England under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. She served nine months for trying to raise the dead spirits of war victims so their survivors could receive messages. The press was simultaneously thrilled, outraged, and finally sympathetic.
As a result, in 1951, the enlightened, perhaps grateful, repeal of English anti-witch laws sprang British practitioners Gerald Gardner and Sybil Leek from their underground activity. Gardner then educated into the craft of Wicca the young Ray Buckland, a Brit of gypsy descent, who, out of his lineage as a Gardnerian witch, has become one of the most popular writers on the history and rituals of the occult. Ray Buckland often appears on television talk shows and was advisor to Orson Welles on his film Necromancy and to William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist. The influential Buckland, who came to America in 1962, is almost single-handedly responsible for the fast growth of the Old Religion in the United States. His classic Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft serves as a perfect guide to Wicca. He has authored more than twenty-five books, including Advanced Candle Magic: More Spells and Rituals for Every Purpose, Color Magic: Unleash Your Inner Powers, and Gypsy Witchcraft and Magic.
American legislation has followed the British pattern toward permissiveness. As laws against witchcraft have disappeared, so have laws outlawing sex. The first colonial legislation against witches appeared in 1655 in the Puritan laws of New England. William Bradford writing his diary, Of Plymouth Plantation (1642-1650), legally detailed the crime and punishment of a list of sins common among the colonists: bacchanalian drunkenness, witchcraft, homosexual sodomy, and buggery, as in the case of the young Thomas Granger who for “buggering a mare, a cow, two goats, diverse sheep, two calves, and a turkey,” was hanged on September 8, 1642, but only after the mare, the cow, the goats, the sheep, the calves, and the turkey were killed before his eyes. In 1691 and 1692 at the Salem trials, the 1655 definition was invoked: “Witchcraft is fellowship by covenant with a familiar spirit, to be punished with death.” The score at the Salem witch trials was:144 accused, 54 confessed, and 19 hanged. FOOTNOTE: JF ARTICLE ON WILLIAM BRADFORD
American embarrassment over the Salem hysteria has caused modern legislation concerning occult practice to be rather “hands off.” The Constitutional right to free exercise of religion supports occult practices performed in the name of the “Old Religion.” The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof....” As a result, where state laws exist, they are carefully worded, and rarely enforced. Where once American legislation supported by theologian John Wesley banned witchcraft as “in effect giving up the Bible,” religious righteousness against witches has given way to religious protection of witches.
In the jurisprudential history of American crime and punishment, state laws are, in fact, in a curious state and getting curiouser. In Delaware, cameras are forbidden at the whipping post and dueling is as taboo as movies which ridicule religion. California laws legislate about frog-jumping contests, train wrecking, and dumping sawdust into Humboldt Bay. Louisiana has statutes on interracial dancing, tattooing of minors, possession of piranhas, and atheism at state universities. Indiana has outlawed glue-sniffing, switchblades, and unreturned library books. In the final analysis, law more than any other social phenomenon is an index of the mindset of the times.
Washington, D.C., has more soothsayers per capita than any other American city. One Southern congressman consults his favorite clairvoyant weekly for fecal readings, proving (like the Sabbath ritual of kissing Satan’s ass) that separation of church and state is more honored in the breach than the observance. San Francisco Demonologist Anton LaVey, who includes congressmen and senators in his Church of Satan, claims that Washington, D. C., has more than twice the national average of Satanists. LaVey, establishing his new Grotto in Washington, found that in the bureaucratic District of Columbia, anything occult is legal as long as it is licensed.
District of Columbia. 47.2342. Mediums, clairvoyants, soothsayers, fortune tellers, palmists or phrenologists, by whatsoever name called, conducting business for profit or gain, directly or indirectly, shall pay a license tax of $250 per annum. No license shall be issued hereunder without the approval of the mayor and superintendent of police, nor shall any license be issued hereunder to any person not an actual resident of the District of Columbia for two years next preceding his date of application:
Provided, that no license shall be required of persons pretending to tell fortunes or practice palmistry, phrenology, or any of the callings herein listed, in a regular licensed theatre, or as a part of any play, exhibition, fair, or show presented or offered in aid of any benevolent, charitable, or educational purpose: And provided further, that no license shall be required of any ordained priest or minister, the fees of whose ministrations are not the private property of such ordained priest, minister, or accredited representative of such priest or minister.
The District’s two-year residency requirement is simply a sophistication of the solid-citizen Maine statute against outsiders of transient status, such as Irish tinkers, gypsies, and hippies.
Maine. 17.3758. Undesirable persons generally. All rogues, vagabonds and idle persons going about in any town in the country begging; persons using any subtle craft, jugglery or unlawful games or plays, or for the sake of gain pretending to have knowledge in physiognomy, palmistry, to tell destinies or fortunes, or to discover lost or stolen goods ...be committed to jail or to the house of correction in the town where the person belongs or is found, for a term of not more than 90 days.
New England laws typify American occult legislation: every statute builds on the premise that the occult is essentially a fraudulent business. The emphasis is caveat emptor.
Connecticut. 53.270. No person shall advertise, by display sign, circular or handbill or in any newspaper, periodical, magazine or other publication or by any other means, to tell fortunes or to reveal the future, to find or restore lost or stolen property, to locate oil wells, gold or silver or other ore or metal or natural product, to restore lost love, friendship or affection, to reunite or procure lovers, husbands, wives or lost relatives or friends or to give advice in business affairs or advice of any kind to others for or without pay, by means of occult or psychic powers, faculties or forces, clairvoyance, psychometry, psychology, spirits, mediumship, seership, prophecy, astrology, palmistry, necromancy or like crafty science, cards, talismans, charms, potions, magnetism or magnetized articles or substances, oriental mysteries or magic of any kind. No person shall obtain money or property from another by fraudulent devices and practices in the name of palmistry, card reading, astrology, seership or like crafty science or fortune telling of any kind where fraud and deceit is practiced. No person shall hold or give any public or private meetings or seance of any kind in the name of any religious body, society, cult or denomination and therein practice or permit to be practiced fraud or deception of any kind with intent to obtain from another anything of value. Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be fined not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred dollars for each offense or imprisoned not more than six months or both. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prevent advertising or holding any bona fide meeting of spiritualists for purposes of worship according to their faith.
In Michigan and Colorado, seers Jeane Dixon and Peter Hurkos are legally Bonnie and Clyde. Jeane Dixon is the syndicated newspaper astrologer who, much in demand in Washington, D. C., political circles, in 1956 predicted in general terms the death of President John F. Kennedy. Jeane Dixon was the official astrologer whom Nancy Reagan called to advise Ronald Reagan when elected governor of California in 1966 and again in 1970. Peter Hurkos, whose “God-given gifts” Pope Pius XII praised, was the psychic detective who tracked the Boston Strangler, and worked on the Manson-Tate murders.
Michigan. 150.270. If any person shall publish by card, circular, sign, newspaper or any other means whatsoever, that he or she shall or will predict future events, the said publication may be given in evidence to sustain an indictment under this chapter. Any person whose fortune may have been told as aforesaid, shall be a competent witness against all persons charged with any violation of this chapter. Nothing contained in...this act shall be deemed to apply to services conducted by a duly ordained minister of any spiritualist church incorporated under the laws of the State of Michigan.
Colorado. 40.24.1. Practice of clairvoyancy–unlawful. No person shall practice or exercise the vocations or calling of clairvoyancy, palmistry, mesmerism, fortune telling, astrology, seership, or like crafty science, readings, sittings or exhibitions of a like character within the state of Colorado, and for which a fee or charge is made or accepted.
Colorado. 40.24.2. Advertisements barred. No person shall advertise that he carries on or conducts such a vocation or calling within the state of Colorado.
Colorado. 40.24.3. Penalty. Any persons violating any of the provisions of this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars or imprisonment for a term not to exceed six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Massachusetts in the most telling about-face of American jurisprudence legislates not so much against witchcraft as it does against the actual motivation of its own Salem trials. In 17th-century Massachusetts the plaintiff’s motivation was frequently–exactly as in the Inquisition–simple lust for the property of the accused. In 20th-century Massachusetts the approach is reversed, but the destination is the same: the occult can be allowed until it interferes with the rights of property owners. Like British psychic Sybil Leek in her famous fight with her landlord who evicted her because she was a witch, witches in Massachusetts must be careful not to devalue property even through infamy which is a kind of theft.
Massachusetts. 266.75. Whoever, by a game, device, sleight of hand, pretended fortune telling, or by any trick or other means by the use of cards or other implements or instruments, fraudulently obtains from another person property of any description shall be punished as in the case of larceny of property of like value.
Supplemented by laws against cursing God the Father, denying God the Son, and reproaching God the Holy Ghost, Trinitarian Massachusetts shies understandably away from overt proscription of anything possibly supernatural.
Pennsylvania, similar to many states in statute revision, has amalgamated all its old legislation against occult practice into neat statements allied more to Better Business Bureau legalese than to theological disputation. The Pennsylvania statutes, in fact, read as if the famous Dutch hex belt no longer exists in the very real way Arthur Lewis chronicled through tape-recorded interviews in his book, Hex: A Spell-Binding Account of Murder in Pennsylvania (1969).
Pennsylvania. 4870. Fortune telling. Whoever pretends for gain or lucre, to tell fortunes or predict future events, by cards, tokens, the inspection of the head or hands of any person, or by any one’s age, or by consulting the movements of the heavenly bodies, or in any other manner, or for gain or lucre, pretends to effect any purpose by spells, charms, necromancy, or incantation, or advises the taking and administering of what are commonly called love powders or potions, or prepares the same to be taken or administered, or publishes by card, circular, sign, newspaper or other means that he can predict future events, or for gain or lucre, pretends to enable anyone to get or to give good luck, or to put bad luck on a person or animal, or to stop or injure the business or health of a person or shorten his life, or to give success in business, enterprise, speculation, and games of chance, or to win the affections of a person, or to make one person marry another, or to induce a person to make or alter a will, or to tell where money or other property is hidden, or to tell where to dig for treasure, or to make a person dispose of property in favor of another, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one (1) year, or a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500) or both.
New York typifies the American feeling that even black witches are straight out of Halloween and Hallmark cards, and are not to be taken seriously except when they attempt to peddle fraud to the public. In the states which bother with legal notice of occultists, the accused can be guilty of no more than a class B misdemeanor as a disorderly person.
New York. 165.35. Fortune telling. A person is guilty of fortune telling when, for a fee or compensation which he directly or indirectly solicits or receives, he claims or pretends to tell fortunes, or holds himself out as being able, by claimed or pretended use of occult powers, to answer questions or give advice on personal matters or to exorcise, influence or affect evil spirits or curse, except...for the purpose of entertainment.... Fortune telling is a class B misdemeanor.
Louisiana exports artifacts of voodoo and black sorcery to the world. Yet, despite its Catholic culture, Louisiana has no state laws restricting the incoming revenues from the multi-million dollar sales. On the other hand, Hawaii was influenced by a Puritan Christianity of the kind dramatized by James Michener in his novel, Hawaii, which became the 1966 movie starring Julie Andrews as a prim New England missionary. Onward-marching Christian soldiers have legally stamped out many practices native to the Polynesian culture. Hollywood has twice filmed Bird of Paradise (1932 and 1951) because of the pagan exotica of totem and taboo. Popular culture cannot resist curses cast on stolen locks of hair and a Polynesian chief selecting his beautiful daughter as a virgin sacrifice to the Volcano God. Once upon a time immersed in spirits, Hawaii has made it legally–but not really–impossible to get back to mana, the Hawaiian word for supernatural powers.
Hawaii. 772.6. Sorcery, etc.; penalty. Any person who attempts the cure of another by practice of sorcery, witchcraft, anaana, hoopiopio, hoounauna, hoomanamana, or other superstitious or deceitful methods, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $200 or imprisoned not more than six months.
Hawaii. 772.7. Fortune tellers; penalty. Any person who pretends to tell fortunes for money or other valuable consideration shall be fined not more than $1000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
Illinois, one of the more legally enlightened states, repealed its statutes against occult practices on July 28, 1961. In 1962, Illinois was the first of the states to modernize its sexual code making homosexual acts legal. The repeal of both laws shows how closely witchcraft and sexual behavior are connected. Historically, in both instances, the laws have tended to be attempts by a few to legislate the morality of the many.
In Ohio, individual rights of morality and religious practice become even more complicated when combined with education. Some American universities such as Brandeis, Northwestern, South Carolina and Alabama, New York University, and Bowling Green State University have pioneered courses in witchcraft history and practice. However, establishing a school specifically for occult education is legally difficult in mid-America.
Ohio. 5141. The secretary of state is not authorized to accept for filing articles of incorporation for a corporation not for profit whose purpose it is to establish and conduct schools for the study of astrology and allied subjects.
Ohio, so often retrograde in progressive social-thinking, has also ruled on statute 2911.16, finding that “it does not violate Art. I.7 of the Constitution of Ohio which guarantees religious freedom.”
Ohio. 2911.16. Practicing astrology, fortune telling, clairvoyancy, or palmistry. No person, not legally licensed to do so, shall represent himself to be an astrologer, fortune teller, clairvoyant, or palmister.
Whoever violates this section shall be fined not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned not less than thirty days nor more than three months, or both.
Beyond all the statutes lies the barrister’s admission of occulta to the courtroom. Robert Heinselman of the California Bar has written on “The Effect of Superstitious Beliefs and Insane Delusions upon Competency,” an article in Case and Comment 21 No. 6, applicable to cases like Charles Manson.
The Manson Family, guided by its insane guru, Charles Manson, killed the movie-star wife and the unborn child of Roman Polanski who directed Rosemary’s Baby. Besides stabbing Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, who had made her 1965 Hollywood debut in Eye of the Devil with David Niven, the Manson Family slaughtered five others in the Polanski home on the night of August 9, 1969: Abigail Folger, heiress to the San Francisco coffee fortune; her lover, Voyteck Frykowski, Polish playboy and photographer; teenager Steven Parent; and famous hairstylist Jay Sebring (Thomas J. Kummer) who, the press alleged, as if the victim were somehow responsible, had leather, whips, and chains stored in the trunk of his car.
Overnight, literally, as Friday night turned to that infamous Saturday, August 9, the Manson-Tate murder in Hollywood changed the way American popular culture regarded the occult. The hoopla of Halloween turned to terror of cult. In all media, suddenly, American popular culture seriously began to believe in witches, sex cults, and Devil worship. By coincidence, later on that same Saturday, August 9, Disneyland–the epitome of children’s popular culture–cut the opening ribbon on its scary “Haunted Mansion” ride. Critics on Friday, August 8, had grumbled that, because the mansion’s white gothic architecture resembled the White House, it seemed poor taste to have a death-ride so soon after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Before the end of opening day, August 9, a man had smuggled a gun onto the Haunted House ride and fired off a shot, just as the news media were revealing the bloody massacre up at the Polanski mansion.
Ghosts rarely show up in courtrooms as one does in Thackeray’s Irish Sketchbook to say, “Here am I that was murdered by the prisoner at the bar.” Ghosts do cause occasional legal decisions. The Supreme Court of Indiana in a family-property suit (Craven vs. Craven Ind. 103 N.E. 333) ruled that
a ghost which fails, for a period of 45 years, to appear and make known a will disposing of real estate in a certain manner, is guilty of laches, so that one claiming under the will cannot set up the record title against a title acquired by adverse possession.
Consequently Nephew Craven did not inherit his Uncle Craven’s estate. The Supreme Court ruled the 45-year statute of limitations for ghosts “must be the law, else no title would be secure, however long it may have been occupied under a ‘claim of right.’”
Similarly, charges that a person is a witch have been deemed too ridiculous to take the time of busy American courts. However, “While a charge of witchcraft is no longer libelous per se, the jury may find it libelous when published in a community whose members believe in witchcraft to some extent, concerning a woman whose livelihood depends upon the respect and goodwill of members of the community.” This decision was handed down in the case of Oles vs. The Pittsburgh Times (2 PA. Superior Court 130). The case concerned a newspaper article stating that a young boy was obsessed by Devils through contact with an elderly woman whom the child’s parents believed to be a witch.
In November 1969, in Newall, West Virginia, Frank Daminger asked damages of $150,000 from ten neighbors who, he contended, called him “a male witch, warlock, and Devil’s consort, [and] burned a cross on his lawn, and tried to hire thugs to beat him up.” One of the defendants, Thelma Franszek, countered to the jury that Daminger took her and two other women to moonlit Nessly Chapel cemetery and performed what he called a “black mass.” She said he scattered salt, muttered incantations, and promised on a weathered tombstone he would “communicate with the dead.” Daminger’s lawyer said his client was trying to debunk the occult, but the women ran away before he could make his point.
Whether horsetrainer Daminger is a “warlock” or not, the 20th-century legal system obviously allows witches at long last a courtroom role other than defendant.
In general, occult legislation where it exists aims more to protect society from adventurers into the occult than to repress the occult itself. Throughout history the witch has been not only persona but index of the state of his or her times. Since legislation is one of the surest touchstones of popular feeling, the changing legal posture regarding witchcraft indicates the changing attitudes of western culture as it widens its concepts of psychology and religion to embrace paranatural phenomena and practices. The decline of the witch laws indicates the generally decreasing attempts to legislate choice in moral, religious, and political beliefs.
No longer does the United States outlaw the use of witchcraft. Only the abuse is proscribed. Washington, D. C., may be full of Macbeth’s witches, but those witches have their license to practice so long as they do not defraud. Since the 1914 case of the United States vs. Fay (83 Fed 839), American witches are permitted to use the United States mail for their own purposes. The U. S. postal system has long been used as a national tool of occult and erotic censorship. For instance, the ban against mailing “frontal nudity” effectively censored the content of heterosexual and homosexual publications until the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in 1969 that frontal nudity was legal, thus launching the adult entertainment industry, and changing the centerfolds in Playboy. Similarly, in 1914, the Supreme Court, liberated the literature of witches’ whose brochures may be as outrageous as they like in their claims, so long as their claims are patently absurd, and do not exploit desperate hope.
To be guilty of fraud through the federal mail, their circulars “must involve something more than absurd claims which could not appeal to a rational being.” Permissible, therefore, ruled the 1914 Court was a witch’s “manifest hoax and humbug, like a proposition to take a person on a flying trip to the moon, to fit out a traveler for a submarine voyage...(or any such thing that) belies the...laws of nature (and) cannot, in the nature of things, deceive any rational being.” What else have witches promised that came true? Not permissible would be a claim to cure disease. Healing places with healing waters, such as the shrine at Lourdes where the Blessed Virgin appeared to visionary Bernadette Soubirous, are very careful of claiming cures and miracles which are thoroughly researched and documented.
The state of witchery, like most popular culture, has always been more sophisticated than the laws of its times. Fundamentalist witchcraft is about the liberation of the individual from both traditional morality and self-restraint. Occultists, generally a free-swinging and loose group of unorganized practitioners, fall easy prey to any lawmakers seeking dragons to slay for their political, religious, or business agenda. Fighting such prejudice is the work of the very serious legislative lobby called the American Federation of Astrologers, Washington, D. C.
Located in Library Court, a tiny mews of garages three blocks east of the Capitol building, the American Federation of Astrologers resides in a two-story white-washed brick office guarded by its incorporation date, 4 May 1938, 11:38 a.m. E.S.T. Heaps of books, as well as a friendly German Shepherd chained near the door of the hectograph room, make the office seem a cosy enterprise. Actually, the AFA is the world’s largest astrological membership and accreditation association. It is also a small publishing house whose brochures and books are neatly displayed. Pamphlets explain “Aims and Objectives,” “Codes of Ethics,” and “Applications for Membership” which is $15.00.
The AFA spokesperson, a tad dismayed at the hippie popularization of astrology, is weary of the uninitiated adventurers who call out of “like, you know, curiosity.” He wishes that the Broadway musical Hair had never announced “The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” He recommends Astrology by Louis MacNeice as the best history of the subject, and A to Z Horoscope Maker and Delineator by Llewellyn George as the astrological bible. He explains that Llewellyn George in 1901 established his Llewellyn Publications Company as well as the Portland School of Astrology in Oregon, where he separated the science of astrology away from magic and witchcraft, setting the tone for the AFA. As a publisher, the AFA has a long tradition of producing historical books, such as The Five Books of Manilius, London, 1697, transcribed and published by the AFA in 1953, as well as contemporary books such as The Astrologer’s Guide by Guido Bonatus and Jerome Cardan, and The Textbook of Astrology by Alfred John Pearce, both 1970. Once callers have studied some basic books, the AFA’s “Astrology Liberation Front” can draft them in its purposeful lobbying with both legislative groups and public image.
The AFA aims to unite astrologers and local astrological organizations into a standard system of study and practice for their own protection, to encourage students of astrology, and to clarify astrology as a science. The AFA proposes to accomplish its objectives by:
a. Establishing a definite Code of Ethics to be subscribed to and practiced, particularly by professional astrologers and teachers, and to use every means at its disposal to eliminate the charlatan and faker.
b. Establishing standards of practice in accordance with the Code of Ethics and by securing the enactment of legislation which will require these standards, thus protecting both the public and the ethical astrologer, and bringing legal recognition to astrology as a science.
c. Carrying on a public educational program as to the value of astrology as a means to a fuller and richer life.
d. Conducting scientific research into astrological problems, encouraging and assisting scientists in other fields of knowledge to honestly and conscientiously investigate the claims of astrology and publicize their findings. This work has already started and a central depository has been established for former and contemporary astrological writings at the nation’s capital–Washington, D.C.
Such militancy is not confined to the AFA. The revolutionary 1960s inspired the whole of the Occult Liberation Front. The OLF has linked itself to various popular movements which prior-generation witches like seer Sybil Leek never predicted. Witchcraft and the new liberal, in fact, hardly seem strange bedfellows. Revolution grows from the oppressed minority, from the subculture caught outside the established power structure. At Salem, it was the Caribbean Outsider Tituba–the Black woman in a white community–who was blamed for the colony’s woes. The Devil, himself defined biblically as an Outsider, has always provided Christians with a convenient scapegoat to blame for their own sins. Witches, their image cast in the Devil’s image by Malleus Maleficarum, have always found–like Jews and homosexuals–their ostracism constant. Their persecution rests on a premise of establishment fear: coming from outside the pale, the witch has knowledge (and consequently power) that those conditioned within the establishment can never have to wield against that very establishment.
Professional Manhattan mystic Dr. Leo Louis Martello, who calls himself “The Gay Witch,” has surfaced in the mainstream media through his books, It’s Written in the Cards, and The Weird Ways of Witchcraft (1972 ), and his television appearances on talk shows with Allan Burke, Gene Rayburn, Mike Douglas, and David Susskind. Born a Catholic in 1931, he exited the Church and founded the American Hypnotism Academy in New York when he was nineteen in 1950. Bearded and hip, Dr. Martello is both a witch-lib activist and a gay-lib activist who was one of the founding members–with Arthur Evans who years later wrote Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture (1977) and Village Voice columnist Arthur Bell–of the Gay Activists Alliance of New York (GAA) in 1970. Leo Louis Martello uses witchcraft to introduce and interpret his sexual preferences to a mainstream culture which frowns equally on witchcraft and homosexuality.
Although he speaks respectfully of Anton LaVey’s Satanic Church, Dr. Martello claims to be neither white nor black sorcerer. He follows the hereditary line of his grandmother who was a Sicilian witch or strega. Like her, he is an Old Religionist. In his book, Witchcraft: The Old Religion, he defines witchcraft as the underground religion of outsiders whose rituals of sex are sacred.
As a militant occultist, Martello wrote his famous 1968 Witch Manifesto demanding $500 million in damages from the Catholic Church and $100 million in reparation from Salem, Massachusetts. Further Witch Manifesto demands were for the repeal of the remaining laws against witchcraft, and for a “National Witches Day Parade” similar to the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. On Halloween, 1970, with the support of the ACLU, he created and hosted a “Witch-In” in New York’s Central Park forming one of the first public magical faery circles which drew more than 1000 people. The Witch-In was filmed as a documentary by the production group called Global Village. He also founded the “Witches Anti-Defamation League,” one of the first pagan civil rights organizations.
“The 1964 Civil Rights Act,” Martello claims, “can be the basis for the establishment of Witchcraft Temples. If convents can have tax free status, so can covens, from which the former derived their name. Witchcraft seminaries are not constitutionally obliged to follow the same pattern as Christian theology schools. Witches, recognized by their own covens, their work, their beliefs, are entitled to the same privileges as other priests and ministers.” FOOTNOTE
Martello’s New York activist coven, balancing the gender power of male and female, intends to use witchcraft as a form of guerrilla theater and psychic warfare in order to liberate witches as human beings. “A witch,” Martello maintains, “is a human being subject to the same trials and tribulations as anyone else. The one difference is the witch’s capacity to adjust, to use mind power, and to right wrongs. Witch comes from the Anglo-Saxon wicca meaning wise. All witches were innate psychologists long before the word ever existed. It’s the ability to penetrate the surface to detect subtleties.”
Martello’s will-to-power, self-consciousness, and self-help is optimistically American. Martello follows Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Transcendentalist guru, who taught self-reliance and personal divinity. Martello makes the Old Religion seem a kin to Yankee ingenuity. “In the Old Religion of witchcraft which identifies with nature and with reason,” he says, “power comes from self-mastery. A witch controls his own Wheel of Fortune. He is not a creature of fate or luck or destiny. He directs his Destiny. He uses the Fates. He makes his own Fortune.” Witches stand next to Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking, and Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), the founder of Christian Science and its philosophy of self-help.
The new exorcism is not against witches.
The new exorcism comes from witches who themselves cast out pessimism and infirmities from the human condition.
Louise Huebner, “The Official Witch of Los Angeles County,” promises health and wealth in her Power through Witchcraft. Three titles of Alfred Canton spell their own ritual exorcism: Unitrol: The Healing Magic of the Mind, How to Heal Yourself, and Ridding Yourself of Psychosomatic Health Wreckers. To negotiate through the dangers in the underworld of magic, Ms. Dion Fortune (1891-1946) authored Psychic Self-Defense. On the offensive, she wrote Winged Bull to portray her nemesis, Aleister Crowley, as a bisexual villain ambivalent about gender. Fortune was a lesbian in search of a utopian matriarchy. She preferred the Wicca of Gerald Gardner because Gardner emphasized the role of the Goddess, which made a High Priestess essential. The library of occult books grows larger daily as people seek self-help solutions to problems unanswered by religious institutions.
Witch Power, because it develops natural abilities, has always helped humans evolve toward social improvement. Leo Louis Martello views history with a cool that accounts for his enormous popularity in the hip underground, as well as in the ranks of gay liberation who follow radical activist Harry Hay. In his writing, Martello references the Mattachine Society, a virtually “secret network of homosexuals” founded by Hay in Los Angeles in 1951. The biography of Hay, written by Stuart Timmons who spun his title off Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Trouble with Harry (1955), is The Trouble with Harry Hay.
As Harry Hay was among the first in America to distinguish gays as “a distinct minority of outsiders” exactly like Blacks and women, Martello defined radical “gay witchcraft.”
Actually, Richard Feiherr von Krafft-Ebing invented the word homosexual in 1893, so that he could analyze sexual outsiders for what he was the first to claim was not simply behavior, but an indelible part of personality. U. S. military policy, invoking Krafft-Ebing, confirmed this “outsider personality” in 1940 by changing from punishing soldiers for homosexual acts to discharging them for being homosexual. Such personalizing of discrimination–by definition against a person’s true self–was actually an upgrade in the social and legal evolution of gay identity “grateful” for any recognition.
While Martello had trouble with the New York Police Department, the radical Harry Hay, as double outsider (gay and Communist), was called before the United States Senate’s House Un-America Activities Committee, because he demanded the repeal of anti-gay laws. Editor Marvin Cutler published some of Hay’s writing as well as information about the founding of the Mattachine Society in the book Homosexuals Today (1956) which followed hot on the heels of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today (1954). The secret society of homosexuality is important because it mirrors the secret societies of both mainstream religion and the pagan occult, and is often the unspoken soul of both.
The Mattachine name comes from the Italian word mattachino: a court jester who dares to tell the truth to the king. When Harry Hay in the 1950s tried to tell the truth, the gay truth, and nothing but the gay truth to HUAC, the senators dismissed him as irrelevant because he came off more homosexual than Communist. Harry Hay and others, during the 1960s counter-culture rise of hippie consciousness, according to Leo Louis Martello, began expressing a new idea about the visionary value of the separate consciousness of “radical faeries.” This was a compliment generally to the consciousness-raising of the Gay Activist Alliance of New York, and specifically to activist Martello who had already, in 1968, advanced the idea of radical gay Wicca in his two books, Witchcraft: The Old Religion and The Witch Manifesto. [Leo Louis Martello: 1931-2000] Typically, radicals in the 1960s and 1970s have taken terms of aspersion thrown at them, and turned those negative words positive, as in the case of the epithet, fairy. In gay culture, the mattachine jester with powdered face and outrageous clothes came out beyond “radical faery” into the comic, drag, and benevolent burlesque of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, founded in San Francisco, and perpetually threatened with lawsuits by the Catholic Church.
Folklore fairies easily came to be pop-culture gays and drags. During the exodus from Ireland during the Potato Famine in the 1840s, Irish immigrants brought to the United States from their pagan-basted Christian culture their celebration of Halloween, the Celtic New Year. The introduction of this Celtic feast of Samhain has as a holiday become one of the best loved (by gays) and most feared (by Christian fundamentalists) in the American calendar of pop culture feasts.
All gussied up, Halloween has never been revealed more romantically or fearfully than through the eyes of the Irish-American actress, Margaret O’Brien, in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). The classic MGM musical-comedy was nostalgic perfection infused with the gay sensibility of director Vincente Minnelli and the star, his wife, Judy Garland. Minnelli anchored his notion of Halloween on seven-year-old Margaret O’Brien who had “the map of Ireland on her face.” Dressed as a hobo boy, Margaret O’Brien charged out bravely into a Halloween of tricks and treats, scary neighbors, haunted houses, and bonfires. The enormity of the night soon sent her running home crying. Minnelli said he intended his Halloween mise en scene to invade the repressed unconscious of the audience. Minnelli’s Margaret O’Brien hit a pop culture nerve. She was innocence in search of mischief. She was every girlchild who had grown up pagan on the Irish heath. She channeled so much primal power, such wizened pathos, into her performance that she was awarded a Special Oscar for Outstanding Child Actress. This Irish notion coming out of Samhain is not everything about all fairies, but it is a distinct thread through the Celtic fairy realm that leads to the changeling underground of American pop culture where gay fairies continue to evolve from traditional to radical.
In Celtic lore, where time is cyclical, the two major fairy feasts are Beltane (May Day) and Halloween when fairies come from their underground mounds, called sidhe, to celebrate the natural world of spirit, of unbridled eros, and of imagination. On ancient pagan Halloween, a trickster feast, human men dressed as women, and human women as men, and some dressed as animals, and others wore masks and swept the paths clear with brooms. They went knocking door-to-door, in order to confuse the fairy spirits on the night when the border between the shadow world separating the dead and the living was so at its thinnest that the fairies could escort the dead come back to look into their old haunts. In 1518, Johannes de Tabia identified as witches the Mascarae who blackened their faces to become the Blind Man of conjure rituals, which, for the Mascarae consisted of dancing to ecstasy and drinking henbane to cause visions. The Mascarae enter popular culture in the words, mask, mascara and masquerade.
In Irish lore, fairies were originally the Tuatha de Danaan, the supernatural warrior people of the Goddess Dana, who first conquered the Firbolgs, the original people of Eire. In turn, the fairy Tuatha were conquered and driven underground from where they emerged as the wee folk, leprechauns, and banshees to live mischievously alongside humans who ambivalently loved and feared the “fair folk.” Fairies had “glamour” or “enchantment,” which is the ability to turn one thing into another, and the inability to leave well enough alone, always going too far. To protect themselves from fairy mischief, people nailed horseshoes over doors, carved faces in pumpkins, hung wreathes of dried pansies in the closets, and sprinkled rooms with urine to scare off fairies too fastidious for human soil. To attract fairies and their angelic favor, women, as sign of their trust in “healing fairies,” hung hollyhock in their closets to prevent miscarriage, put shepherd’s purse under their beds to avoid hemorrhage, and yarrow in the pillow to tighten the uterus and cause contractions to bring down the afterbirth. Like witches and magicians, homosexuals get most of their power granted from the straight world that fears their fairy evil eye.
The “fair folk” were so powerful, and so respected for both good deeds and mischief, that humans thought it was bad luck to call the Tuatha de Danaan, or the Sidhe, by their actual names, so they shortened “fair folk” to fairy. Ancient Jews likewise would not say the name of “Yahweh.” In modern times, the invented words homosexual and gay actually follow in time the traditional and legitimate term fairy. Then as now people thought they had to be careful of their attraction to fairies, because too much time spent with the “fair folk” meant a person could get a “fairy stroke” and become too all-knowing to speak straight, or act straight, that is, simply–without “glamour.”
Irish hags, the women who most interacted with fairies, were women whose wise blood of menstruation meant the spirit of the Goddess was in them. These hags joined the Danaan Sidhe in their pursuits of hunting, fighting, riding about on display, as well as in the dancing and music beloved by all fairies. In modern culture, as the word fairy has evolved from simple Celtic identity to slur to pride, so has the onomatopoetic term fag hag inched toward acceptability.
Chasing Danny Boy: Powerful Stories of Celtic Eros, the first anthology of gay Irish fiction, has its title story set on the Summer Solstice and Mid-Summer’s Eve. “Chasing Danny Boy” is a homosexual retelling of the traditional Irish myth of Dermid (Dearmid) and Grania, as collected by Lady Augusta Gregory in her Complete Irish Mythology (1902), with a Preface by W. B. Yeats of the Order of the Golden Dawn. Dermid and Grania are the Celtic Romeo and Juliet who must overcome, and then positively use, the tidal pull of seductive fairies and benevolent fag hags who help them become a heterosexual couple united under the white magic veil of the Bridal Sisters. Dermid’s adolescent rock group dare call themselves by the ancient name, “Tuatha de Danaan,” and their fairy energies, conjured by eros, involve music, fighting, changing sexual identity, and shape-shifting with drugs that take them to the underworld of the “Other World.”
Radical witches and radical fairies operate off the word radical which comes from the Latin, radix, which means root. Radicals of whatever type are actually people trying to live at the root of things. Radical witches and radical fairies, who are an evolving identity step beyond standard gay fairies, come in as many denominations as Protestants. They may be Druids, or they may be followers of the Old Religion of Wicca, and they might practice either white or black magic.
Gay witch Martello acknowledging the radical visionary value of straight and gay women wrote:
In the Middle Ages the witch was the only truly liberated woman. All others were forced into roles as wife, mother, mistress, nun, etc. The witch was usually single and she had sex with whom she pleased. She was respected, envied, feared, and somewhat held in awe. But because she was anti-establishment, she represented a threat to male chauvinists. Her independent free spirit prevented them from having any real hold on her.
The female witch was the first suffragette, the forerunner of today’s Women’s Liberation Front, and the Women’s International Terrorist Corps from Hell (W. I. T. C. H.). The latter are political witches using street and guerrilla theater, as have the Hippies, the Yippies, the Crazies, and many other radical groups. Combining the profound, the profane and the put-on, modern political witches are using the same techniques the Medieval Mattachines (who were court jesters who cleverly told the truth in disguised, play-acting form....) This technique is effective because it uses other people’s ammunition against them. For centuries the church and society have ruled by guilt and fear. One of their chief weapons was sex. Today modern witches are using liberated sex as a hex to “blow the minds” of the Establishment. Revolutionary witches can properly be called WITCHES (Wit plus Che, from Che Guevara).
At the First Washington Peace March in October 1967, Abbie Hoffman’s Yippie legions made a match: “Pentagram versus Pentagon.” They formed a magic circle around the Pentagon in order to levitate the Pentagon building and exorcise its Demons. Their famous attempt, however much a put-on, affirmed the enormous popularity of the occult in the guerilla theater of the New Politics. The second American Revolution calls together different minorities, and includes their excluded bodies, hearts, and minds through meditation, astrology, ritual gatherings, drug mysticism, and music-induced trances. For centuries, witches have been the artificial niggers, the artificial Jews, the artificial radicals because the Christian power structure has cast them as the ultimate outsiders.
A premise explaining popular bigotry is that the lowest class of the over-culture hates the outsider because it feels the outsider threatens to enter the over-culture and surpass the lowest class, proving that the lowest class is indeed the bottom it always feared it was. Consequently, blue-collar whites voted for George Wallace for President in 1968 to keep Blacks out of industrial management. New York construction workers beat up student intellectuals who pointed out that the hardhat workers were dupes of the military-industrial complex. The lowest classes of the over-culture are always uneasy-riders in every rising subculture.
James Baldwin, who knows a thing or two about subcultures, says in his book of essays, The Fire Next Time: “To affirm you’re not the bottom, you’ve got to point out by pecking order who the bottom is.” FOOTNOTE A Black American homosexual who escaped to France, Baldwin wrote about outsiders in his book of essays, Nobody Knows My Name, in his drama, Blues for Mister Charlie, and in his shockingly frank homosexual novel, Giovanni’s Room, which was published in 1957, at the same time that Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer dared dramatize one homosexual, two female witches, and cannibalism of the queer outsider eaten alive by the under-class.
Racism and witchcraft have been of a piece since Christianity, in epistles by St. Paul and in diatribes by Martin Luther, named the Jew as Demonic outsider, who in medieval times was accused of causing the plague of Black Death by poisoning the wells of Europe. In his 1965 book, The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and Its Relation to Modern Anti-Semitism, Joshua Trachtenberg (d. 1959) prepared a composite portrait which “though lacking a single allusion to the Jews...is as descriptive of the medieval conception of the Jew as of the heretic and sorcerer and witch it actually delineates....The ‘demonic’ Jew was the product of a transference in toto of a prevailing corpus of belief concerning one hated and hunted class in European society to another whose conspicuous independence placed it in a similar category.” FOOTNOTE Rabbi Trachtenberg means that when reading about witches, heretics, homosexuals, or Jews, all four words become synonyms, because all outsiders were treated the same by the established culture of church and state.
History has taught Jews, witches, women, and homosexuals that exclusion leads to elimination which leads to extermination. While Adolf Hitler, who was no stranger to the occult, was creating the Third Reich in the 1930s, Rabbi Trachtenberg was writing the seminal book, Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Magic (1939). More details than overview have come to light regarding Hitler’s use of occult symbolism and philosophy: for instance, Aryan superiority based on an ancient society of elite warriors as expressed by the Thule Society. Hitler, the artist, turned the legs of the ancient swastika to the left, which, in magic, is a sign of turning sinister, to evil, so the swastika becomes, with its axis in Berlin, a moving circular scythe with four blades mowing down territory in a wide magic circle being cut widdershins, counter-clockwise.
Although Hitler, whose Nazi propaganda accused the Jews of practicing witchcraft, later publically turned against anything occult, early on he was trained as a public speaker and greatly influenced by his tutor, Dietrich Eckart, who was an anti-Semitic publisher and leader of the occult Thule Society. For all that, it is odd, in the precise way that the hidden core of magic is always odd, that in an American popular culture always looking for a new documentary or dramatic angle on history, no one has, on page, stage, or screen, ever delved into the story and particulars of the actual 1930s struggle of overt “Nazi Magic” versus overt “Jewish Magic.”
In 1966, Bernard Malamud won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, The Fixer. The book became the 1968 film scripted by the famous Dalton Trumbo who as a member of the Hollywood Ten (who were mostly all Jews) had suffered during the inquisition of the McCarthy witch hunts in 1951. The Fixer, based on a real incident, depicts a Jewish handyman–a fixer–accused of the ritual murder of a young Christian boy whose blood is drained for some imagined Passover celebration. Jews, according to malignant legend, murder Christian children as a way of continuing to kill Christ. This never-ending blood libel against Jews is typical of modern prejudice against all cult and all outsiders who must continually try to prove their innocence, and therefore their right to exist, against the most bizarre accusations. It has not been historically helpful that the first mention of witches sabbaths in the 11th century used the words sabbath and synogogue interchangeably as synonyms. FOOTNOTE Secret Societies , 168
In 1897, for instance, the controversial Protocols of the Elders first surfaced. The Protocols claimed that Jews were working a Satanic pan-national master plan to take over the Christian world. Repeatedly discounted as a slanderous forgery written by anti-Semitic authors, the Protocols keep re-surfacing among right-wing groups eager to profile whoever is their outsider. To calculate the Protocols’ universally applicable absurdity, for the word Jew, substitute the words witch, Satanist, homosexual, or woman.
The increasingly vociferous independence of women, Blacks, Native Americans, homosexuals, druggies, students, and witches–all in league with the American Civil Liberties Union–has shocked the American middle-class. Attacked for really the first time in its history, middle America, having rooted out Jews who were Communists in the 1940s and 1950s, seeks to continue to eliminate anyone who seems to need reporting to some kind of House Un-American Activities Committee. The Black Woman Tituba, the Jewish Fixer, and the popular witch are all pagans, heathens, fairies, and weird folk who all live “outside the pale” of St. Augustine’s urbane City of God. The forest (the weir) is the place of the suspicious outsider: the weird folk and the werewolf. “Country hillfolk,” “city ghettofolk,” “witchfolk,” and “queerfolk,” because their ways are not mainstream, are all outsiders come to ruin the law and order of the WASP God’s established City.
Why else would American southern-gothic novelist Flannery O’Connor state so dramatically the fears of her own Catholic religion in The Violent Bear It Away? In that novella, the hitch-hiking protagonist Tarwater is drugged and raped by a traveling salesman who wears a lavender neckerchief. Tarwater, a religious boy, should have known the color code that lavender indicates homosexual, and salesman denotes a traveling outsider. His should have been no surprise when he regained consciousness. After all, in O’Connor’s southern-gothic world, a queer pusher from the outside can be none other than the Devil himself. In precisely this way, middle-America is afraid that it will be drugged by hippies putting LSD in the water supply, or raped by Satanists on motorcycles, or murdered by cultists like Charles Manson. When one knows that a woman who has the spirit of the Goddess in her has “wise blood,” then O’Connor’s novel titled Wise Blood takes on a new level of meaning. She echoes Emily Dickinson who wrote that a person didn’t have to be a house to be haunted.
Like the chicken and the egg, witchery’s connection with drugs is legendary from the brewing of potions to the rubbing of ointments that give the sensation of flying.
British poet Thom Gunn (born 1929), interviewed in 1970 while lecturing at Princeton, said: “The traditional witch’s trip by broomstick was probably a mere phallic high on something like LSD. All their potions were simply primitive gestures at medicine. Witches quite obviously were the first pharmacists.”
Having taught previously at both Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, Thom Gunn may have an insight into the 1960s and 1970s occult and drug scene in San Francisco as much as into the traditional craft where secret nostrum vendors of potions–that is, drugs–have long been the norm. Thom Gunn’s poetry is known in the mainstream of world literature as well as in the “gaystream” of masculine literature for his shaman’s insight into the leather psyche ranging from The Sense of Movement (1959), Touch (1968), and Moly, and My Sad Captains (1971).
As the 1950s Beat scene of San Francisco grew into the 1960s hippie scene and then into 1970s gay liberation, art and sex and magic and drugs combined as never before in American popular culture. These real facts are more than right-wing fundamentalist fears. As sure as Benjamin Franklin was a member of the Hellfire club, American politicians are constantly rumored to be members of secret societies and practitioners of Satanic rituals–for instance, in the Bohemian Club, founded in San Francisco in 1872. Every Mid-Summer’s Eve in the redwoods north of the Golden Gate Bridge, the rich and powerful meet at the Bohemian Grove to take over the world, which, ironically, they already own. The Bohemian Grove is located in Monte Rio, California, part of the gayest resort west of Provincetown. The rumor in San Francisco, leaked by the gay waiters serving at the Bohemian Club and the Bohemian Grove, is that after his election as governor of California, Ronald Reagan, on the advice of Nancy Reagan’s astrologer, sacrificed a goat at the Bohemian Grove so that he would not be assassinated while in office.
American artists also stand accused of secret agenda. After years underground, art has dared rear its occult head. Religion has long inspired art; so has the occult. In the 1960s, artists in music, film, and theater have openly injected into mass media the civil disobedience of the first rebel, Satan; the magic rituals of witchcraft; the drugs and wisdom of Wicca; the sexual liberation of cult; and the erotic imagery of the occult.
Some artists, rock stars, and film makers are deadly serious. Some are merely toying with a fad. But it’s no wonder religionists are frightened by what they see boiling to the surface of America’s popular youth culture. Fright is the point of this new age of the witch where as in Act 1, Scene 1 of Macbeth, the three witches chant revenge, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” As religionists use the Bible as a gun to frighten nonconformists, so do those same outsiders use witchcraft as a weapon of revenge to terrify Bible beaters. Churches cast out Demons; covens summon Demons. What religionist, required by dogma to believe that evil spirits exist, wouldn’t run when someone cocks a left eyebrow, raises a hand in wizard-like gesture, and intones:
“Evil Spirits from all around,
walk upon this human ground.
Because they utter words of hate,
let them suffer a terrible fate.”
Legendary filmmaker Kenneth Anger, in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London, mixed sex with the drugs and magic of Aleister Crowley in his classic underground films of the “Magick Lantern Cycle” titled Scorpio Rising (1964), Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), and Lucifer Rising. Shot at the turbulent end of the 1960s, Lucifer Rising starred Anton LaVey, high priest of the Church of Satan, and Bobby Beausoleil, reportedly Anger’s lover, and definitely a member of the Manson Family, who was sentenced to life in prison for murder. A disciple of Aleister Crowley, guru Kenneth Anger said his idea of filmmaking was casting a spell using chaos and eros.
FOOTNOTE OR PUT IN BOX SO AS NOT TO DESTROY TENSES AND TIME OF TEXT. In many ways, Anger was the pop-culture recruiter for the Magic Mafia that circled the Crowley Connection to art and music in the 1960s and 1970s. Without Crowley via Anger, the United States Senate would never have disbanded the “Satanic” National Endowment for the Arts. Satanism connects the dots in this way. As Crowley influenced Anger, Anger influenced Warhol. Without Warhol, New York photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, would never have bothered posing himself in signature self-portraits as an Urban Satanist replete with horns and tail made from a leather whip which he used to illustrate A Season in Hell by poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891). The splendid Mapplethorpe, whom New Yorker magazine, punning on his scandalous Satanism, called “The Prince of Darkrooms,” was as Demonized on the floor of the United States Senate as previously had been pop-culture icons Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, and Ingrid Bergman for not living up to the pure woman she played in the movie, Saint Joan of Arc. Mapplethorpe’s perfect, pure, and formal photographs of flowers, faces, and fetishes were deemed Satanic. In the mother of all fundamentalist hissy-fits, Republican Senator Jesse Helms, equating art and pornography, single-handedly used the cause celebre of Mapplethorpe to destroy federal funding for any but the most censored of artists supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. END FOOTNOTE
Aleister Crowley, besides his draft-synopses for six articles on drugs, told all in his alchohol-and-heroin confessional, Diary of a Drug Fiend (1922). Aldous Huxley, turned on by his research for The Devils of Loudun, did hallucinogenics in the 1950s, and wrote about them in The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. Because of this Huxley title, pouty Botticelli rock star, Jim Morrison, named his group the Doors. The Beatles paid both Crowley and Huxley homage by including images of them on the cover of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). Was it coincidence that Sergeant Pepper, released exactly twenty years after the death of Aleister Crowley, opened its lyrics with, “It was twenty years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.”
Also in 1967, at about the same time that Kenneth Anger included footage of them in Invocations of My Demon Brother, the Rolling Stones released the album, Their Satanic Majesties. Mick Jagger composed the synthesizer score for Anger’s Demon Brother as well as taped sounds for Lucifer Rising. Upon the arrest of Mick Jagger and Keith Richard on drug charges, sixty British pop-culture personalities, including the Beatles, took out a full-page ad in the London Times, July 24, 1967, protesting the marijuana laws. The advertisement was “officially” signed by an organization called the Society of Mental Awareness, or, SOMA, from Aldous Huxley’s euphoric drug in Brave New World. Stanley Kubrick used Huxley’s drugged “vision quest” in the spacey last act of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Huxley never saw the movie. He died five years before, November 22, 1963, on the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Huxley, writing about “Shakespeare and Religion” noted that Shakespeare, tempering himself with common sense, believed sorcery between humans and Devils existed, and that magic works, albeit unreliably, because magicians, witches, and sorcerer are as fallible and foolish as all other humans.
While such bibliography of witchcraft, sex, and drugs will forever be a growing library, America’s leading Satanist, Anton LaVey, the founding High Priest of the Church of Satan in San Francisco, says that drugs are escapist and contrary to the realistic values of the Church of Satan because drugs cloud the ability to exercise choice.
Even on the comic side of family entertainment, witchcraft and drugs have entered pop culture. Jerry Herman’s 25-minute film, The Winter of the Witch, is a contemporary child’s fable about a witch (Hermione Gingold) who haunts a house owned by a boy and his mother. Hermione confides to the boy that witches don’t get the respect they used to. To prove her own powers, Hermione whips up some “Alice B. Toklas” hashish pancakes. So turned-on are the boy and his mother that they open a restaurant and with typical “head” fervor try to convert the rest of their straight neighborhood to a constant high. Parents Magazine commissioned and distributed this 1969 film. This theme continued with Juliet Binoche as the mysterious high-fashion outsider, dressed in red, whose secret recipe turns a French village around erotically in the film, Chocolat.
Marijuana, acid, and mescaline do not a warlock make–except perhaps in Los Angeles where the appearance passes for the reality. When East Coast newspapers termed Charles Manson an occultist, it was not a true witch they were meaning. Occult was used as an innuendo code word for drugs. An opium den frequented by heads is not the same as a coven of witches.
A Hollywood starlet interviewed by Tom Burke in Esquire magazine’s pop-sational occult issue (March 1970) admitted the “witches” she knew were acid-freak poseurs in the occult. Bonafide witches, she said, “loathe publicity. And they’re about as sinister as Donald Duck. They’ve always been here. They’re nice, harmless people who got disillusioned with churches and started reading the Book of the Dead at home. And none of them are heads! They get their kicks from prescribed ritual–spreading rings of salt.... Acid freaks make up their own rituals as they go along. That’s their danger.”
Historically, however, witches have been purveyors as well as users of drugs. The aphrodisiac Spanish Fly was once the sole knowledge of the witch, as were aconite (wolfbane), belladonna, poppy, and castor oil. “Tannis root,” popularized by Rosemary’s Baby, was sold at the 1969 Detroit County Fair; but “tannis root” seems, with literary convenience, to have been Rosemary’s author Ira Levin’s purely phonetic invention from the word Satanas. Dorothy Jacob, author of A Witch’s Guide to Gardening, wrote in Popular Gardening Magazine (December 1965) that “what the physician prescribed to cure, the witch administered to kill. The difference lay in the strength of the dose and the occasion.” Obviously every witch worthy of the name had her own herbarium. Parsley was sowed on Good Friday for use in abortions; knotweed was the polygonum used to stunt a child’s growth to make him into a dwarf; and hemp was marijuana.
Contemporary witches, according to The Washington Post, anger Columbia University anthropologist Michael Harner when they over-anxiously disavow any use of drugs. “Their witchcraft,” he said, “is no more than a ritualistic survival, without the subjective experience that comes from the hallucinogenic trance state.” In short, he maintains, witchcraft requires drugs.
As interest in witchcraft spread across America in the wake of the Manson-Tate murders, the Washington Post/Potomac, May 10, 1970, reported that “Early witches were familiar with drugs and, from time to time, scholars claim to have discovered the original recipe. Erich Will Peuckert, a philologist at the University of Goettingen, revealed in a 1960 interview that he had created an ointment from ingredients recorded in a 16th-century work, Matica Naturis. The recipe included thorn apple, belladonna, parsley, and fat of an unbaptized infant. Peuckert explained that he successfully substituted supermarket lard for the last ingredient. The professor and a friend rubbed their bodies with the salve, fell into a 20-hour trance and described visions of a witches’ sabbath that, 400 years ago, would have led them speedily to the stake.”
When witches were not causing health, illness, or hallucination, they were receiving the blame for everything from missing children to plague to insanity. Often in the Middle Ages (which lasted from the Fall of Rome, 476, to Columbus arriving in America), entire villages were frequently gripped by hallucinatory behavior that seemed to be “the Devil’s work.” Of course, witches would be blamed for what modern science has determined was ergot poisoning. In his book, The Day of Saint Anthony’s Fire (1968), John G. Fuller goes deep into a modern news story that exonerates witchcraft. In 1951, in the tiny French village of Pont Saint Esprit 150 people tripped out into hallucinatory behavior when lysergic acid (LSD) was spontaneously formed in the village bakery where rye flour had been contaminated with an ergot fungus. A hippie acid trip taken voluntarily for mystic reasons is a different experience than a town of men, women, and children going erotic and psychotic and seeing God. The lesson is that as science, increasing knowledge, shrinks medieval theology, it also shrinks medieval witchcraft, by clarifying cause and effect that is not based on superstition. Will science eventually explain away both God and the Devil, both priest and witch?
If the black witch has become a devotee of mind-altering drugs, then the white witch has been refined into a gourmet.
More saucy than the books of Zen Macrobiotic Cooking is Marcello Truzzi’s Cauldron Cookery: An Authentic Guide for Coven Connoisseurs which contains witches’ recipes for those “special” occasions; Cooking with Astrology which brings together syndicated newspaper astrologist Sidney Omarr and gourmet Mike Roy “to guide you along the Stars’ path to master chefdom”; Dr. Leo Louis Martello’s guide to gay meals of destiny, Foods of Fate; Sybil Leek’s Astrological Cookbook; and Carroll Righter’s Your Astrological Guide to Health and Diet.
The canon of metaphysical books is enormous. Noted occult publisher, Samuel Weiser Incorporated, New York, lists 5000 different occult titles. Yet nowhere in the occult world have so many coughed up so much for so little as in the sideshow of astrology. Although essentially respectable as the science the AFA claims, astrology–even more than its sister palmistry–has a fatal attraction for everyone from the “Time Pattern Research Institute” to San Francisco’s Zodiac Killer, a serial murderer who wrote, “I am collecting souls to serve me as slaves in the afterlife.”
The New York Times reported that “Time Pattern Research” was mass-marketing computer horoscopes (30-page one-year projections) in 350 department stores and on 2000 college campuses. Atlanta’s “Aquarescope” for $10.50 mixes “IBM Technology” with “the Wisdom of the Ages” for a six-month forecast. “Kodiatronics” for three dollars programs its clients into its computer and allows four free phone calls “day or night, to hear an expert reading of your next 24 hours.” Subsequently, a dollar a month (billed quarterly) entitles the client to four calls a month. Each call, after four a month, costs twenty-five cents additional. “Maric Enterprises” offers “Dial-Your-Stars” in major cities with free telephone forecasts interrupted midway by a recorded commercial for deodorant or headache relief. Another horoscope-computer offers a zodiac-compatible dating service.
In a send-up of telephone psychics, Judy Holliday, working as a switchboard operator for “Suzanswerphone” (“Sue’s Answer Phone”) in the Betty Comden and Adolph Green Broadway musical Bells Are Ringing, spun a pop-culture plan for American business to cash in on star-crossed lovers:
“Hello Veronaphone. Yes Mr. Romeo, Juliet Capulet [the trickster] called. The message is: ‘To avoid getting married to other fellow am playing dead [shape-shifting]. This Friar Lawrence [the white witch] gave me a great big sleeping pill [the drug, the potion], but when I wake up [from the spell] we’ll head for the border.’ [go beyond the pale] Oh, don’t thank me. But if I’d got that message through on time, those two kids would be alive today!”
For those who prefer to cast their own horoscope, the Universe Book Club offers Grant Levi’s Heaven Knows What, which is a chart-maker costing only ten cents when four occult book selections are purchased during the first year’s membership. For those who desire more than Jeane Dixon’s or Sydney Omarr’s newspaper daily scopes, the Chicago Sun-Times entered the 1970s with “Astrodata,” a column based on a mammoth computer installation logging 27 million bits of zodiac information. The Sun-Times readers, perhaps never wondering about the mystic title of the newspaper itself, could check out their natal signs, their hard-to-calculate rising signs, and where their moon was. Parker Brothers has marketed a new astrology game to complement its fast-selling ouija board. Both are copyrighted almost perversely in–where else?–Salem, Massachusetts.
Perhaps the successful Parker Brothers consulted David Williams, retired Lt. Cmdr. USN and former President of the Astrologers Guild of America. Knowing the time and place of a business’ incorporation, zodiac data on investors and speculators, Williams anticipated every major bear and bull market of the 1960s. His seersmanship, in fact, has opened an entirely new field of financial astrology which he explained in his book, Astro-Economics: A Study of Astrology and the Business Cycle. Thomas Reider wrote Sun Spots, Stars, and the Stock Market, and Donald Bradley offered how to apply financial astrology in his book, Stock Market Prediction.
On the other hand, white witches like Alex Sanders claim they can make only others than themselves rich. Most witches concur that when they use their powers for selfish gain, their powers immediately diminish. Books on the Alexandrian tradition of Alex Sanders include King of the Witches by June Johns (1969) and What Witches Do by Stuart Farrar (1971).
For simpler taste and lower finance, there is the Sydney Omarr set of twelve recorded albums offered as promotional items by several national supermarket chains. Omarr “raps” glibly about “love, money, health, character, and future potential.” (Astro Records) In San Francisco, public relations man, James Bolen, launched Psychic, a slick magazine of the occult, in early 1969. By the beginning of the 1970s, Psychic reported that in the United States there were 10,000 full-time and 175,000 part-time astrologers each earning up to six figures; and that more than forty million Americans read horoscopes printed in over seventy percent of their daily newspapers.
The zodiac, in short, was a universal gimmick, long before the 1970s line, standard in pick-up bars, “What’s your sign?” It’s easy to popularize and profit from something everyone has and has an interest in: their own natal sign. Any manufacturer, appealing to at least twelve kinds of “individuality” and “self-expression,” can easily market mass-produced zodiac dishes, zodiac dresses, zodiac jewelry, zodiac incense, and zodiac rugs ad infinitum. But after all the mania, the professional charting done by a legitimate astrologer can cost twenty to thirty dollars (reasonable for the work-hours) unless the reader happens to be, like jovial clairvoyant Maurice Woodruff, a fashionable consultant to expensively pop people like Peter Sellers, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Pearl Bailey, Ginger Rogers, and Edward G. Robinson.
Human technology has reached the moon. Human metaphysics asks questions.
“Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins,” people muse. “The initials of those first men on the moon are the same as those of the first men on the earth. Adam, Abel, and Cain.”
Someone somewhere will explain what that means.
For a dollar, a yen, a buck, or a pound.
A BRIEF OCCULT GUIDE TO HERBS AND ROOTS
Acacia (an aid to psychic development)
Angelica Root (tends to prolong life)
Ash Tree Leaves (for good luck)
Balm of Gilead Buds (mend a broken heart)
Basil (protects every part of the body)
Betony (for relief of toothache)
Black Snake Root (softens a lover’s heart)
Buckeye (brings good luck and wards off rheumatism)
Clover Tops (a charm against witches and snakes)
Cloves (comfort for the sad)
Cumin Seeds (keep lovers faithful)
Damiana Leaves (aphrodisiac )
Dill (counteracts sorcerer’s spells)
Elder Bark (quiets nerves and protects the home)
Flax Seed (promotes peace in the home)
Hyssop (witches wash their hands in a hyssop brew before and after casting spells)
John the Conqueror Root (for victory in battle and bed)
Kola Nut (soothes the nerves)
Low John the Conqueror (grows money when wrapped in a bill and carried)
Marjoram (a charm against witchcraft; anyone in league with the Devil cannot abide the odor)
Mistletoe (insures love and devotion)
Mustard Seed (insures fidelity)
Indian Nutmeg (for gambling luck)
Orange Flowers (beneath a pillow these insure early and happy marriage)
Passion Flower (explains itself)
Patchouly (graveyard dust--to be mixed with evil things and buried far away from home)
Periwinkle (causes love between two people when sprinkled on the clothes of both)
Peony (for good luck in everything)
Poppy (assuages grief, aids sleep)
Rosemary (strengthens memory and the heart)
Sandalwood (carried for good luck)
St. Johnswort (hung over bed causes dreams of future mate)
Skunk Cabbage (repels evil)
Tonka Beans (keep one and give the other to a friend to insure friendship forever)
Valerian (induces harmony between husband and wife)
Waahoo Bark (used in uncrossing spells. Rub a brew of this on the head and shout Waahoo seven times)
Wormwood (for female troubles)
Yarrow (worn to weddings for seven-years’ happiness)