by Sophia diGregorio
This article deals with the potential dangers of joining Wiccan and neo-pagan groups that I have written about elsewhere, but in less graphic terms than I plan to in this article. Whenever you discuss a topic like this, there is a risk of offending someone, but I think this is something that should be discussed so that people – especially women, who are most often the targets of such machinations – can be warned.
The fact is this: There are people who create religious societies, covens, orders or groups so they can use them to lure women, children and sometimes men into situations for their own depraved sexual pleasure.
Often, their targets are women who have just left Christianity and who are sometimes in a traumatized and highly suggestible state from their experiences at the hands of Christian abusers. They try to get to these women, lure them into their discussion groups and give their own version of what paganism means. Some men target women who are already pagans because they have the opinion that such women are morally “loose” and lack the societal protections that Christian women enjoy. They see them as easy targets because they may be persuaded that paganism or other aspects of the occult are really about cavorting around naked in the woods having sex.
When Joseph Smith founded the Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), he essentially founded a witchcraft-based sex cult and put the wrapping of Christianity on it to lure girls as young as 14 and to persuade men to hand over their wives to him. (Smith was a black magician and a con man, from an entire family of witches and witchcraft accusers going back to Salem, Massachussetts.) The Mormon organization was not the first, but may be regarded as a standard prototype for how sexual perverts successfully lure victims by establishing religious cults. Many other cult leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh have used the same pattern. Although their lure was Christianity, the model is the same except that with modern Wiccan and neo-pagan groups the leaders promise women freedom from Christianity – something better and more liberating.
Gerald Gardner’s neo-pagan cult of Wicca is another example of this same model. He used the lure of paganism and the occult to get his hands on women, denigrate and ritualistically rape them. Despite the Wiccan’s “We’re not Satanists,” claim, the original Wiccan organizations looked very much like Satanic covens.
This brilliant model was copied by men who came after Gardner, such as Alex Sanders. There are some old videos him performing his pornographic rites still circulating. You’ll find them once in a while on YouTube before they’re pulled for violating the Terms of Service. The rite shown in the video at the following link, which is very disturbing, is similar to the Five Points of Fellowship washing and anointing rite performed by Mormons in the LDS temples as they were performed in the 1990s, when my family was a member of this cult: http://youtu.be/xF69UCJ9YHA
Women who have been sexually objectified and abused in Christian churches often have no idea what to expect from Wicca or paganism, which when compared to Christianity is more accepting of women. New mini-cult leaders have popped up everywhere. They advertise at sites like WitchVox and pretend to be spiritual leaders, they hold discussion groups, perform handfastings, etc. But, their real purpose is to have perverted sex or to watch as others have sex in a ritualistic setting. Or, simply to get their hands on women and children who make up the vast majority of people interested in paganism and the occult.
We see this same gender dynamic at work in Christianity, interestingly. It is usually women who are most interested in spiritual matters, but it is men who are most often the spiritual leaders. In Christianity, this can be explained by its inherent misogyny and prohibition of women in leadership roles – or even to speak in churches, in some cases. But, in neo-paganism, it’s a little harder to explain away. In both instances, the result is often the same – the men use their leadership positions and their authority to sexually abuse women and children.
Present-day Wiccan apologists justify these problematic aspects of Wicca’s origins by pointing out that Wicca (and many aspects of neo-paganism) was absorbed by the women’s movement by the 1970s. It is true that by the 1960s witchcraft, in general, was becoming very appealing to a lot of women who were awakening to the harsh realities of life in the conventionally accepted social structure. This is illustrated in the movie, “Season of the Witch,” also, entitled “Jack’s Wife” and “Hungry Wives ,” (Please, see related blogpost, entitled “Season of the Witch,” aka. “Hungry Wives” and “Jack’s Wife” and the article, “Review of Season of the Witch” (1973) or “Hungry Wives.”) It is, also, true that a feminist named Z. Budapest took Wicca in hand and molded it into a women’s religion. Although her style of Wicca still has some very strong sexual overtones, hers was the first documented women-only coven.
Read the book, “What’s Next After Wicca? Non-Wiccan Occult Practices and Traditional Witchcraft” by Sophia diGregorio.
My Personal Experiences
I was very young when I escaped the Mormon cult. At that time, it was relatively rare for people to leave the organization and there was no formal procedure in place for doing so. Fortunately, this has now changed, but few people leave this organization without having to leave behind family members and other important aspects of their lives. I was both relieved to be out of the cult, but traumatized by my experience with them. A friend directed me toward a weekly meeting of elderly women who sat around a table and taught and discussed occult subjects. These ladies were witches, but they were a traditional variety and not Wicans and I remember that many of them were very skeptical about it when the subject of Wicca was first brought up to us.
This was the early 1980s, so Wicca had not come to be the popular cultural phenomenon it is today. In fact, it had only been fully introduced to the U.S. by Raymond Buckland about 10 or 15 years earlier. Wiccans were personae non gratae at this time. Possibly this was not true on the west coast, which is where Wicca seemed to take hold in the U.S., but I was not in in California. I was in one of the original Voodoo centers of the U.S (we call it Hoodoo now to distinguish from other practices), a hotbed of Satanic activity and Spiritualist and metaphysical studies in years past. I was a very young person among a group of this old stronghold of occultists from that time.
I had been involved with this group for a year or two before the subject of Wicca was brought up by a new member, who had been studying this subject. She offered to demonstrate a ritual for us and a few of us participated in this sort of mock Wiccan ritual. I became friends with this lady for a short while until it occurred to me that she seemed to be questioning her sexuality and exploring a lot of new things after being newly sprung from a very aggressive anti-woman religion, which I won’t name lest anyone reading this might recognize the people involved. I think she was very traumatized at this time and was open to all kinds of new ideas that she might have rejected out of hand before her departure from this mind control religion. She was the one who suggested I read “Drawing Down the Moon” and suggested I stay far away from the work of Aleister Crowley. She said to avoid Crowley because he had perverted Wiccan rites and rituals – as it turns out this is not true, rather Gardner’s rites and the foundation for Wicca seem to have come almost entirely from Crowley’s work, although, much seems to be derived from freemasonry (Gardner like Joseph Smith was a low level initiate who claimed to be a high level one).
Of course, I read them both. “Drawing Down the Moon” tells the story of neo-paganism in the U.S since the early 1970s, a movement I was unaware of and with which I did not resonate. I found it very hippyish and bizarre, but my friend was originally from the southwest and closer to the age group that accepts the ideas of the hippy era, which my own generation very much rejected. (I’m part of the tail end of the “Me Generation” – Dress for Success, Just Say No to Drugs and all that.)
When I know nothing about a public figure, I like to start with their autobiographies and fortunately, Crowley wrote his own hagiography (biography of a saint), entitled “The Confessions of Aleister Crowley,” which is now, unfortunately, out of print last time I checked. Since then I’ve read numerous others – the man was brilliant, a talented writer and an accomplished occultist who has the ability to convey his own personal discoveries with regard to the Kabbalah, meditation and ritual in a very straightforward and instructional yet friendly way. I have different feelings about Crowley’s personal life, but unlike Gardner, Sanders, Cochrane and others who followed in his footsteps, Crowley was a genuine occultist – yes, admittedly a pervert – but, also, a serious student and teacher of the occult and students of witchcraft can learn a great deal from his writings and those of his associates.
I didn’t hear much more about Wicca until I journeyed westward. I had read about the neo-paganism in Colorado in “Drawing Down the Moon” and as it turned out, by the late 1980s and early 1990s, Colorado Springs and Denver were still strongholds of Wicca and neo-paganism stemming from the 1970s. It was here that I learned more about what these people are all about.
Since I was an occultist, a professional psychic and a witch, when I met people who told me that they too were witches and were going to some meeting or other, I was interested in going along. Up to this point my experiences with other witches had actually revolved around the study of witchcraft, that’s what I expected to find – other students of the occult, other psychics, other witches, but this is not what I found.
My experiences among neo-pagans were varied, but weird, as follows:
One one occasion I was invited to a Wiccan drumming circle. I was expecting an outdoor event, but instead it took place inside an older home in an older residential area, with a large open room (probably ordinarily the dining room). Once inside, there was little conversation unless it was down in the kitchen or some other room of the house. In the main room a good twenty or more people sat around on chairs patting various types of drums, despite their lack of rhythm. After a while, we left. I have no idea what the purpose of the drumming circle is. The people involved were the furthest thing from musicians I’ve ever seen, so it can’t be about music.
On another occasion, a man invited me to a pagan event that was taking place at someone’s farm house on the outskirts of town. When I arrived, I saw a bunch of guys leaping over a fire. They looked pretty drunk and, in fact, there was a keg or two of beer on the premises. After the fire was put out, I was informed by my host that the participants were now going inside to join a “puppy pile.” I had never heard this term before, so I had to have it explained to me. This is where the people lie around in a “pile” engaging in hugging, caressing and touching. I quickly jumped in my car and got the hell out of there.
Another time, I attended a pagan discussion group, which began with a few people sitting on the floor of a Unity church after hours discussing paganism This first meeting seemed fine. Some time passed and the man conducting this pagan group had begun to amass a few followers. The next time I attended one of his meetings he was standing up at the front of the church like a preacher, which offended some of the pagans in attendance, who left and did not return. But, a few others – all newbies without a clue – were intrigued by what this man had to say.
What was odd about this man was that as he got more power, he got more “familiarity” with women in attendance. The second and last time, I attended his meetings he said “good-bye” to me by pawing me up and down. Shortly after this he began hosting discussions on subjects like “Pagan Sexuality,” clearly trying to feel out (no pun intended) new prospects to see how susceptible they were to his sexual suggestions. As it turns out, he was conducting a swing club in the name of paganism, luring unsuspecting and often traumatized women while disguised as a knowledgeable pagan spiritual leader.
They went on to form a coven of sorts, in which they practiced the Great Rite in a very literal sense. They actually went into the woods, gathered around in a circle and watched as two people had ritualistic sex. Paganism and ritual was the backdrop for their particular sexual fetish. This is all fine and good, except that some of the people this man had lured were women who had recently been exposed to Christian spiritual abuse and were in a state of high suggestibility and completely ignorant about paganism, apart from the perversions being preached by this man.
My position on this matter is this: If you want to have a swing club or any other kind of sex club whose participants are informed and consenting adults, that’s your business, but represent it for what it is. Do not try to disguise it as a pagan group, call yourself a witch, a spiritualist, etc. and try to lure unsuspecting women so that they can be pawed and coerced into sexual activity.
Just as in every other instance, these pagan men and witches some of whom ran around in their robes and other garb carrying staves, were extremely unattractive men who devised this ruse in order to avail themselves of the bodies of innocent and often vulnerable women. It’s not much different from what Christian churches have been doing forever, but it is no less repugnant.
Furthermore, many people who have been abused by the churches and turn to some form of paganism, tend to harbor the same wide-eyed innocence as many church-goers. They have the idea that their spiritual leaders are knowledgeable and have good intentions, however, just as with Christians, this is all too often not the case.
This article is to be continued in the next blogpost, entitled “How to Study Traditional Witchcraft and Occultism:Witchcraft Versus Witchcraft Theater.”
“What’s Next After Wicca? Non-Wiccan Occult Practices and Traditional Witchcraft” by Sophia diGregorio