The Satanists of Orange County, Florida (the most hellish state, obviously) had a very active 2014, and these plucky goat-worshipers show no signs of showing down. Since November they’ve been attempting to distribute “The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities” outside of schools, their argument being that if Bible distribution is allowed, so should Satanist materials. Curious as to what a Satanic kids’ book would look like, I checked out the book, and frankly, it’s really cute! Lots of talk about acceptance and dealing with ignorance and fear, plus coloring and word-jumbles—who could object?
The organization responsible for such wholesome edutainment is The Satanic Temple, who as a “dot-org” appear to be a legitimate non-profit, and list their missions statement as:
to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people. In addition, we embrace practical common sense and justice.
As an organized religion, we feel it is our function to actively provide outreach, to lead by example, and to participate in public affairs wheresoever the issues might benefit from rational, Satanic insights. As Satanists, we all should be guided by our consciences to undertake noble pursuits guided by our individual wills. We believe that this is the hope of all mankind and the highest aspiration of humanity.
They also include “Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty” among their flock, which leads me to believe a fair amount of their participants are actually just activists for separation of church and state—good on ‘em, I say. If you want larger PDFs of the activity book, you can find them here.
Doorways to Danger is a 1990 British short film warning of the risks in flirting with the occult. Here’s the description from the Amazon listing:
Dabbling in the occult is widespread and often thought of as harmless entertainment. But this video shows why it is dangerous to get involved with spiritism, fortune telling, witchcraft, magic, and Satanism. The program introduces the real life stories of those who have been involved in these activities and shows the way out based upon a Biblical perspective.
A description also opens the video, and what comes next is pure gold: A cheesy montage of occult images with a song poem-esque number underneath warning of the hazards of looking up your horoscope and fooling around with a ouija board. And we’re off!
The anecdotal evidence that follows—offered up by supposed experts and decidedly non-experts alike—often seems scripted and/or total B.S., and the “slippery slope” examples given as gateways to full on devil worship (playing Dungeons and Dragons; watching Ghostbusters II!) are a hoot-and-a-half. One of the highlights is the segment with the band Heartbeat (“one of Britain’s top Christian groups”), who we get to see recording and then have an obviously rehearsed conversation about occult dabbling. The late ‘80s fashions they’re sporting will also surely induce a chuckle or two (and dig those hairdos!).
The video was produced by an organization calling itself the “Christian Response to the Occult.” Forming in 1982 by the Deo Gloria Trust, “to give a Christian answer to the inroads that occultism was making into society at that time,” the group later merged with the existing and ideologically similar, Reachout Trust.
Here’s Tom Poulson, the director of the CRO and the man behind Doorways to Danger:
We have a divine commission both to warn and inform our friends, family and neighbours that there is an enemy of God, actively engaged in both blinding them to and drawing them away from Jesus. We neither want to shout ‘FIRE!’ so loudly that people rush towards it, nor remain silent and see people receive life-endangering burns from their involvement with the occult.
Indeed, no one actually shouts “FIRE!” in Doorways to Danger, but to say that believing in things like “bad luck” could lead you into the arms of Satan comes pretty damn close.
In 1973, Evangelical comedian Mike Warnke wrote a book called the The Satan Seller. A book that would propel him to fame as one of the most trusted knowledge bases in the field of Satanism and the occult (“trusted” by idiots like Bob Larson, but I digress). Warnke’s book details his experiences with ritualistic killings, child murder, orgies and rape until he was “saved” by Jesus after a six-month stint in Vietnam.
Warnke was an instant sensation to legions of Christians, and became a beacon of hope in their never-ending war between good and evil. He released volume upon volume of recordings, comedic and otherwise and has told his story to Oprah, Larry King and 20/20. Many directly credit Warnke’s incredible popularity with the sudden panic about Satanic ritual abuse and cult activity in the late 80s and early 90s.
When I saw the edited clip below, taken from a VHS recording of his 1989 comedy stand-up performance called Do You Hear Me, I was unprepared for the moment when Warnke veers off his righteous path into NSFW territory and launches into a gruesomely detailed account of a satanic ritual to the audience. Dispensing this type of hellfire was a matter of routine for Warnke, but I was completely incredulous.
Shockingly, Warnke’s own family and friends laughed at the idea when Trott and Hertenstein asked them if he had lived in witches coven with 1,500 people, was ever a dope fiend or did LSD. However it was Mike Warnke himself who made his exposure as a liar-liar-pants-on-fire recovering Satanist pretty easy. My favorite example of this is a story Warnke was fond of telling about how Charles Manson attended one of his blood-soaked sacrificial rituals in 1966. The problem with this juicy tidbit was that Manson was busy that year doing his second bid in Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution due to a parole violation. (I guess it was the 80s, and Warnke probably thought to himself “No one will call me out on this if they can’t google it!” (Or something.)
In addition to the fascinating Selling Satan, cult-busting website Holy Smoke has also posted articles and sidebar columns that were originally published in Cornerstone (volume 21, issue 98 in 1992) that contain much of the blow-by-blow on Warnke’s jaw-dropping tall tales. I highly recommend you read both if this has at all piqued your interest.
Although the allegations of out-and-out fabrication were quite specific and damaging to his credibility (to say the least), Warnke never addressed the charges of his critics in his book Friendly Fire (as excerpted on the Thanks Mucho blog):
I was in the middle of the worst period of my life. For nearly 22 years I had reigned as the number-one Christian comedian in the world, performing to sellout crowds around the globe ... My books and tapes were steady best-sellers ... I even had my own private plane.
Then suddenly, it all fell apart. In the summer of 1992, a Christian magazine published an article that called into question virtually every aspect of my life, my Christian testimony, and my ministry. I was accused of lying about my testimony—in particular my past involvement with the occult and as a satanist—and of operating a false ministry.
The fallout was immediate. My concert schedule dried up and disappeared. My record company pulled all my tapes from the stores and cancelled my contract. Many people I thought were my friends were no longer talking to me. For months I was subjected to a very brutal and very public whipping by the media, both Christian and secular…
Was I a fake, a charlatan, a deceiver, and a liar? No. I never lied about my testimony and I never ran a fake ministry…
The trouble with classic silent movies is that they can be a bit of a schlep. If you’re not down to read title cards and accept nearly 100-year-old conceptions of cinematic pacing, silent film may not feel like leisurely entertainment. This is why when I suggest folks watch the 1922 Swedish/Danish documentary, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, I strongly recommend they go for the 1968 William S. Burroughs-narrated version.
For one, the Criterion Collection version is 104 minutes long to the ‘68 version’s 77 minutes, cutting out some “fluff.” Bigger doesn’t always mean better, film buffs! Second, you get Burroughs’ genuinely spooky-as-hell voice perfectly setting the mood. Third, the new soundtrack is absolutely amazing! We’re talking weirdo jazz and early groovy synth work. I like a little camp in my horror, but it in no way relegates this classic to kitsch.
Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages was the most expensive Swedish film ever made at the time, and the movie itself is absolutely beautiful. The high production values are apparent in the elaborate scenery, costumes and props. While the film itself is nominally a documentary chronicling the hysteria surrounding the occult in Europe (primarily during the Middle Ages), most of the actual footage is reenactment of these superstitious delusions. We’re talking satanic masses, sex with the devil, broom rides, and all kinds of black magic.
Based largely on the Malleus Maleficarum, the 15th century German guide to witch and demon identification, director Benjamin Christensen makes it perfectly clear that the mass delusion of witchcraft was the true horror, and the inquisitors the real monsters. My favorite part is the depiction of witches cursing the clergy with lust; isn’t that convenient? That way, anytime a priest couldn’t keep it in his pants, he could blame a woman for seducing/bewitching him! I guess some things never change!
It was producer Brian Butler who suggested doing a piece on these comically feuding “Satanists,” some whimsical characters he found on the Internet. They called themselves “The Syndicate of the Five Points,” a reference both to the pentagram and also that they were five Satanic covens who were joining their membership together. Each component part of the Syndicate was a “cult” consisting of a “leader” and no followers.
Initially these would-be cult leaders were all friendly towards each other and would meet and hang out and bullshit about the Dark One, evil and stuff, at shopping mall food courts and so forth, but wouldn’t you know it, one of them had to go off and marry his Christian girlfriend (on Richard Simmons’ Dream-maker TV show, no less!). Then there was “The Cartoon” that tore them apart.
I don’t want to give too much away, you’ll just have to watch it. The less said beforehand, the better.
One thing I will mention is that if you watched one of the earlier clips I’ve posted here, Brice Taylor: Mind Controlled Sex Slave of the CIA, Bob Hope and Henry Kissinger, you’ll already be familiar with the late Ted Gunderson, who was a special agent of the FBI in Southern California and at one time had about 700 agents under him. That’s actually true. How a complete idiot like Gunderson—an amusing, total nut-job of the conspiracy theory set who believed any darn thing he was told—ever got in a position of power like that is a question I’ve mused about elsewhere. From the time between his earlier on-camera interview in the Brice Taylor piece and when this one was shot a month or two later, the number of “practicing Satanists” in America had dropped by one million. Remarkable, don’t you think, unless of course, Ted was just making this shit up off the top of his head, which was exactly what he was doing.
It’s also why we brought him into the piece as we couldn’t figure out how to make it work with just the Satanists alone—they were too boring, funny but not really funny enough—and we knew he’d be good value as their onscreen nemesis. Gunderson’s ridiculous paranoia elevated the piece to an entirely different, weirder place. How could we have done this without him? The man was was a genius of unintentional idiocy, a real-life Fred Willard character with a strong opinion on everything. Comedic gold for a show like mine.
Incidentally, Ted Gunderson is not the only one of this crew who is dead. “Spook,” the guy who claims to have strangled a dog, is burning somewhere in Hell. No great loss there, I’m sure most of you will agree.
I’m not quite sure what happened to Magister Nalls, but I have heard that he’s not really a Satanist anymore. The dude who calls himself “Desecration” was, I believe, the limo driver of former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan (who obviously surrounded himself with the finest security experts that money could buy if this “evil” wackadoodle passed the fuckin’ background check!).
Yet another segment from my UK TV series of 2000-2001, Disinformation. Produced by Brian Butler. Shot by Nimrod Erez. Edited by Nimrod Erez and Doug Stone. Music by Adam Peters and Brian Butler.
Thank God for Satan, as more than 60 Catholic clergy (66 perhaps?) gather in Rome for a 6-day (another 6!) conference on “Exorcism”, this week, at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, Rome. The event will examine how the web has made it easier than before to access information on Devil-worship and the occult, reports the Daily Telegraph:
“The internet makes it much easier than in the past to find information about Satanism,” said Carlo Climati, a member of the university who specialises in the dangers posed to young people by Satanism.
“In just a few minutes you can contact Satanist groups and research occultism. The conference is not about how to become an exorcist. It’s to share information about exorcism, Satanism and sects. It’s to give help to families and priests. There is a particular risk for young people who are in difficulties or who are emotionally fragile,” said Mr Climati.
Organizers of the event say the rise of Satanism has been dangerously underestimated in recent years.
“There’s been a revival,” said Gabriele Nanni, a former exorcist and another speaker at the course.
Over the course of 6-days, the exorcists will scrutinise the phenomenon of Satanism with “seriousness and scientific rigour”, avoiding a “superficial or sensational approach.”
In theory, any priest can perform an exorcism – a rite involving prayers to drive the Devil out of the person said to be possessed.
But Vatican officials said three years ago that parish priests should call in professional exorcists if they suspect one of their parishioners needs purging of evil. An exorcist should be called when “the moral certainty has been reached that the person is possessed”, said Father Nanni, a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. That could be indicated by radical and disturbing changes in the person’s behaviour and voice, or an ability to garble in foreign languages or nonsensical gibberish.
While the number of genuine cases of possession by the Devil remained relatively small, “we must be on guard because occult and Satanist practices are spreading a great deal, in part with the help of the internet and new technologies that make it easier to access these rituals,” he said.
The Vatican’s chief exorcist claimed last year that the Devil lurked in the Vatican, the very heart of the Catholic Church.
Father Gabriele Amorth said people who are possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron, scream, dribble and slobber, utter blasphemies and have to be physically restrained.
He claimed that the sex abuse scandals which have engulfed the Church in the US, Ireland, Germany and other countries, were proof that the anti-Christ was waging a war against the Holy See. He said Pope Benedict XVI believed “wholeheartedly” in the practice of exorcism.
The church’s International Association of Exorcists was set up in 1993, and meet in secret every 2 years, with the aim “of increasing the number of official exorcists worldwide.”
Since 2005, Catholic priests can sign up to learn how to cast away evil spirits from the possessed at the Vatican-backed college, the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum in Rome.
It runs a two-month course to teach the “spiritual, liturgical and pastoral work involved in being an exorcist.”
According to Father Giulio Savoldi, Milan’s official exorcist, requirements include “the supernatural force – the presence of God – and then suggest that the man picked to do this kind of work be wise and that he should know how to gather strength not just from within himself but from God.” The Roman Catholic’s new Exorcism RiteThe Roman Catholic’s new Exorcism Rite, which was updated in 1999 for the first time since 1614, stresses the importance of distinguishing who is really in need of an exorcism.
Father Savoldi said: “Those studying to become exorcists should also study psychology and know how to distinguish between a mental illness and a possession. And, finally, they need to be very patient.” He said the priest who undertakes the office should be himself a holy man, of a blameless life, intelligent, courageous, humble. He should avoid in the course of the rite anything resembling superstition and he should leave the medical aspects of the case to qualified physicians.
If that doesn’t turn your head, then you may enjoy Mark Kermode’s fascinating BBC documentary, Fear of God: The Making of ‘The Exorcist’, which examines the story of classic 1973 horror movie, with cast and crew, and discusses the true events inspired William Peter Blatty’s original novel.