Monday 28 March 2011

Moral Cretins

A guest post from Mogg Morgan

The so-called Kidwelly Sex Cult Case probably raises all sorts of mixed emotions amongst the UK’s many occultists and Pagans. It has just the kind of lurid details that make it difficult to focus on the core issues in the case and the temptation must surely be to keep one’s head down and hope the scandal blows over. And after all, rational discourse largely stops as soon as the boogeyman of Aleister Crowley or to give him his full name “Mr Aleister Satanist Crowley” or “Sir Aleister Notorious Crowley”, enters the narrative.

Let me say right out that I think the culprit Colin Batley and his accomplices are moral cretins (The same term was applied to Karen Mathews – who faked the kidnapping of her own neglected daughter in order to claim some putative award). People like Colin Batley claim they are following the imperatives of the Devil, Satan or Aleister Crowley for the bad they do. And the courts and the media are happy to accept that the long dead libertine Aleister Crowley and his works are somehow responsible for the wrong people do. I’m not sure if they ever bother to discover which came first, the Batley’s violent, abusive personality or his interest on Crowley and his Thelemic religion – it is just assumed that one must have caused the other. But I say that in the end the evil people do is down to their own moral failings.

The details they are reported from the trial show to my admitted practice eye that these people have misinterpreted and misunderstood Crowley and more especially his Thelemic Religion that has many thousands of law abiding modern disciples. Contrary to what you may hear in the press and indeed even in some Pagan commentary, in my opinion Thelema is not an immoral creed. Its famous axiom “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” (reported as “Do what thou wilt” in some new reports) is an ideal intended for an enlightened community of refined adults. Its core myth is found in the Early European novels of Rabelais, where he envisions an ideal community as an escape from the chaos, crime and madness of the times. Its motto is indeed “Do what thou wilt” (Fais ce que voudras) but this commune can only function if certain kinds of behaviour are excluded. In other words perverts such as Colin Batley would be excluded from the Thelemic community, for the simple reason they are dominated by their most base desires.

Crowley emphasises this very point in a pamphlet called Liber II, widely circulated amongst all true seekers of the Thelemic religion. He is at great pains to emphasis that “Do what thou wilt” is not the same as “Do what you want”. In comparative religion this approach is more akin to yoga and indeed it is in the widely despised Tantrik texts that the explanation of Crowley’s system really lays. But in short Thelema aims to develop enlightened, compassionate human beings.

For a more modern version of the rules of an ideal community – see John Rawls’ “A Theory Of Justice” which contains a “thought experiment” not unlike Rabelais’s “Abbey of Thelema”. The whole is the subject of the Harvard University’s first freely available online course on Justice – see
For press reports of the trail see

The Kidwelly group’s actions show them to know none of this. They are merely venal criminals who use the widespread fear and ignorance of Paganism and magic as a smokescreen for their abusive personalities. This case has very little to do with any genuinely held religious beliefs but is about one person using his power over others to fulfil his own perverted needs. I venture to guess that his personality was formed long before he ever heard the name Aleister Crowley and absorbed the popular myths about Satan and the Devil, As 'cult leader' he found a way to gain power over other gullible or otherwise vulnerable people.

It is easy for us to be sidetracked by the sensational details, which shows just how powerful the image of “cult leader” is in mainstream society. The details of the trial make me seriously doubt that he ever had contact with a genuine, Thelemic or Crowleyian group or was aware of the appropriate training in the tradition. His knowledge of Thelema is superficial and minuscule and based on unsupervised reading and uninformed secondary sources, perhaps even the media. I have no problems condemning what Colin Batley has done and feel sure I am not alone in my condemnation.

Mogg Morgan with contributions from Kym and Floortje

Caring For The Pagan Patient

Thank you for your regular readership - who'd have known that a such niche subject would have so many people returning to read about it?

It makes me hopeful that the wider community of Pagans can contribute to the non-Pagan understanding of the needs of Pagans in hospital. Well over a decade ago I wrote a small booklet on the subject that has been thoroughly plagiarised and it's overdue a revamp.

But any information will be so much more meaningful if it comes from the horses mouth rather than me simply giving my limited experience and understanding of what the greater body of Pagans might need.

So if you've ever been in hospital, please share your experience here, at a sister blog, Caring For The Pagan Patient. If you know someone who has been or is or will be an inpatient, let them know about this resource and encourage them to contribute. Ask the question on your own blog or webpage. When you have your next Pagan gathering, bring it to your friends attention: ask them  to consider how they might get their spiritual needs met if they have to become an inpatient, ask those who have been patients how it was for them, what, if anything, they would have done differently, what they really needed and didn't get, what they didn't expect and were pleasantly surprised by. You know the kind of thing - what would you want your non-Pagan carers to know about your needs?

It's been impossible to get this project going in the past but with 540 hits in the last couple of weeks - I know, we should all write about Satanic Abuse if we want a massive increase in traffic! -  I'm hopeful we can move this along a little.

Enjoy the huge Full Moon and consider how simple and satisfying it is to contribute to the health and welfare of your sisters and brothers.


 "Several well known Pagans have joined with Peter Dybing in his effort to raise $30,000 to assist victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Selena Fox, Starhawk, Patrick McCullum, T. Thorn Coyle, Anna Rowe, M Macha Nightmare, Star Foster, Jason Pitzl-Waters, Morgana, Ivo Dominguez Jr, Holli S Emore, and Katrina Messenger have all made statements in support of this charity initiative.

Dybing has set up a fundraising page to gather donations from Pagans to send to Doctors Without Borders. This organization has teams on the ground in Japan and is setting up medical treatment centers."

Like everyone else, I am speechless at what has happened - what is happening - in Japan. As well as passing the message on about Doctors Without Borders, if you're on Facebook take the time to read these translations of tweets from Japanese people.

This earthquake has reminded me of that Japanese goodness that had recently become harder and harder to see.  Today I see no crime or looting: I am reminded once again of the good Japanese spirit of helping one another, of propriety, and of gentleness.  I had recently begun to regard my modern countrymen as cold people … but this earthquake has revived and given back to all of us the spirit of “kizuna” (bond, trust, sharing, the human connection).  I am very touched.  I am brought to tears.

We're living through extraordinary times, many of us are facing unpleasant futures one way or another, and the Japanese are showing that grace under pressure is possible, none moreso than the people who have been working in the nuclear facilities for a week. More, that just allowing our natural urge to reach out and work with and for each other makes life infinately more bearable, whether that's committing a slow and fairly certain suicide to try and avert meltdown or cheering people up by offering them a toilet and a place to rest. It's a natural instinct in us. If dogs can manage it for each other, so can we.

Pagan Complacency

Of course, it doesn’t help when Paganism is associated with this behaviour as it is in today’s Daily Mirror but theology has to be considered and created without PR in mind. 

Over the last couple of days I’ve heard Pagans saying things along the lines of, “I don’t see what Satanic abuse has to do with Paganism, do we really want to be associated with that?” and I find my heart just sinking. 

It’s as Nottingham, Orkney, Cleveland and Rochdale never happened. 

Ian and Penny Campbell, both Wiccans, after being found totally innocent, were as welcome in their community as a fire in an orphanage. Their children were put into care. Here’s a transcript of part of the first four-hour formal police interview:

Police Officer: "Do know anyone else who, or have you heard of anyone else who, practices the occult?"
Ian Campbell: "No. I don’t know of anyone who practices that kind of religion."
PO: "Have you any knowledge of the use of statues in practicing the occult? What about the ritualistic killing of animals? Ritualistic dress, as in gowns, that type of thing? Do you have any books about witchcraft?"
IC: "Umm, Wicca witches and things like that? Yes in the kitchen?"
PO: "Wicca witches? What’s that?"
IC: "Well paganism, you don’t know about paganism?"
PO: "I don’t."
IC" "It is not against the law. Paganism is basically about people who believe in mother Earth. It’s not witchcraft as in, you know, flaming voodoo sort of things."
PO: "I have information that you were involved in devil-worshipping ceremonies. Have you ever been into devil worship?"
IC: "Not at all."
PO: "The information we have is that it has taken place and that you did use it to dress up in a long white gown and wore masks, as did your wife, and that you carried out some sort of ceremony during which there was dancing, and that your children were dressed up in a similar manner to yourselves and there was music being played, described as Indian music. And also that during this, some form of chanting and praying took place. Further to that, there was information given to us that whilst this was being conducted, it was being videoed on a camcorder. Have you been in a position of seeing any videos which would depict serious sexual abuse? People being killed, and I’m not talking acting here? Have you ever drank the blood of a chicken? Have you ever witnessed anybody else doing that? Ever drink the blood of any other animal?"

And here's one from a (discredited) Channel 4 documentary

JOURNALIST: Do you remember the interview with Bea Campbell? The one that was filmed for the Channel 4 programme? 
JEAN: Yes. 
JOURNALIST: So, are you a witch? 
JEAN: No. I’ve never been into ought like that. 
JOURNALIST: Then why did you tell Bea Campbell that you were? 
JEAN: She came to see me at work. She had Chris Johnstone the social worker in tow. I was really angry about it. I’d only just got the job and the last thing I needed were social workers turning up and asking to speak to me. I told them I didn’t want to be in their program.
JOURNALIST: What happened then?
JEAN: Chris Johnstone said that if I didn’t do the interview and say that I’d been a witch, I’d never see me kids again. I was trying to get them out of care at the time. So I agreed to do it. I just thought I’d get me kids back.
JOURNALIST: So then you did the interview?
JEAN: First Bea Campbell took me to a bank and cashed a cheque and gave me £150. JOURNALIST: If you lied for Bea Campbell, why should we believe what you are saying now?
JEAN: Because now I know the truth. Chris [Johnstone] lied to me about getting me kids back. I was never going to get me kids back. And I were never a witch. 

Geoffrey Dickens, MP, tried to pass a bill on April 15, 1988 that would prevent children attending Pagan ritual. As he made his statement in the House of Commons he mentioned Chris Bray, the owner of a Pagan bookshop called the Sorcerers Apprentice, by name and Bray was hounded by the local and mainstream media and had to have police protection. On August 13 1989, Fundamentalist Christians broke into the shop and burned it to the ground. 

Pagans who don’t think the myth of satanic abuse is a problem for Paganism need to wake up. If you hadn’t noticed, the UK has become very Right Wing and one in 6 of us is functionally illiterate. Membership of conservative and extreme Christian groups has exploded. As a society we are unsettled, scared about losing our public services, our jobs, universal benefits, pensions, having to work longer for less. We’re being taught to find scapegoats – immigrants, people on benefits, asylum seekers, any minority group will do. In other words we’re primed for (oh the irony!) a witchhunt.

Actually, you just have to read a paper or listen to the radio or read some pages on the internet on SatanicRitual Abuse and Paganism.

Bear in mind that this is just the state of affairs in the UK. US and African Evangelicals have a direct influence on what British mainstream Churches believe and do, and they can be both hysterical and politically influential.There, jurors, lawyers, the whole shebang are childishly prejudiced.

Those of us who were Pagans in the 80’s and 90’s and had small children were pretty concerned. We noticed that the majority of the people who were accused of Satanic abuse weren’t Pagan which was selfishly reassuring, but what was desperately concerning was that the people doing the accusing were mainstream doctors, police officers, social workers, therapists, people in good standing with their professions and peers. 25 years on what I’m increasingly concerned about is that Satanic Ritual Abuse is totally accepted by many intelligent professionals with no apparent religious roots at all. 

Interestingly, being intelligent people, they are also feminists and there’s a strange link between SRA and 1980’s feminism – which is when I learned both feminism and Witchcraft. 

Patriarchy is known to hurt men as well as women, children, the Earth and all creatures on it. We forget that in the 70’s and 80’s married men were officially Patriarchs, they were the head of the family, and it was evident that this paradigm of men-in-power was bringing us all to the point of Silent Spring and mutually assured destruction. Feminists fiercely resisted this, developing our own family and community structures, creating relationships beyond dominion or submission for ourselves and for the natural world. This is the fertile grounds from which non-Wiccan witchcraft sprung. 

Other feminists took a different route, one of genuine man hating, which saw all men as rapists. Beatrix Cambell was one of those feminists. She was implacable in her belief that the family was the source of female oppression (which it often was) therefore fathers were routinely anally raping their daughters and the government was part of a huge conspiracy to cover it all up. She caused 112 children to be removed from their homes, invasively examined often more than once, and put into care. 14 months ago, she’s still going on about it in a mainstream broadsheet, with an OBE. 

My colleagues aren’t mad or stupid but they probably read the Guardian alongside other papers and, being about 10 years older than me, they’d have experienced the full, exciting, creative force of second wave feminism. In all it’s aspects.  Of course, that Satanic Ritual Abuse and Recovered Memory Syndrome are being taught in universities is another really worrying reason. We expect teachers to teach truthfully, but how much do any of us vet 'experts' who've written books and done other lectures, and who look and sound not at all like a frothing loon?

So Pagans who think satanic ritual abuse has nothing to do with them had better wake up. 

We don’t need to make a fuss, though not so long ago the Pagan Federation would have automatically written to the Mirror to object to the word ‘Pagan’ being used in relation to the Batley's and have put out a press release making clear what Paganism does and doesn’t do. We’ve become complacent. We assume that, well, everyone knows SRA is a load of discredited old rubbish. 

They don’t. 

ADDITION: Nearly two years on Jason over at Wild Hunt has written about the subject "Those Dark Satanic Mills: The moral panic that won't die" and, presumably because it's been written by a big name American, people in the Pagan Federation have woken to the possibility that it might be an issue. 

Thursday 10 March 2011

Lost Lambs?

I'm sorry for the horrible non-editing on this post - for some reason blogger won't allow me paragraph returns or a decent font size. Life can be that random. Thanks for bearing with it.


Here we have a number of people who have done absolutely dreadful things over a long period of time, to each other, to children and to other adults. In March and April 2009 I wrote two entries for this blog, one about my principal that, given particular circumstances, I am as capable of heinous acts as any other person and that to forget this puts criminals into the role of Radical Other. Making people Other denies their humanity and limits the expansion of our own capacity to make contact: if I claim to be in contact with the Spirit of Tree or Land or Ancestor, how can I not be in contact with these people who raped and prostituted children?        
The April entry was about my understandings of Pagan theology which helps me define my own personal boundaries. Because I believe that the sexual aspects of our life are sacred then sex crimes become exceptionally dreadful. Because I believe that the people I visit are essentially my equals and not little lost lambs, then my role is not to save them. Because there is no hell then there’s no eternal damnation to save them from. Because there’s no hell I can’t grant absolution; each individual has to seek our own right relationship with the world and with ourselves.       
It’s well within the bounds of possibility for one of these people to request a Pagan chaplain. They’ve used the The Book of The Law and Egyptian iconography to dominate and control their victims, I’d put a fiver on a bet that they’ve used the pentagram, circle and quarters. They’ve demonstrated the need to feel different from the rest of their community, as well as the sense of superiority that the Occult can offer. Since our definition of A Pagan is someone who calls themselves A Pagan, then aren’t they entitled to a Pagan Chaplain?       
I’d say a very definite no. Paganism is not a religion of turning the other cheek, wise though that Christian philosophy can be. Paganism is not a religion of unconditional love, no matter what our New Age members say. Neither are we a religion of retribution, an eye for an eye has no place in our way of being. Since we share a concept of some kind of peaceful learning after death, then we can trust that learning to take place peacefully after death if it doesn’t happen before. Since we need no intermediary between our Gods and ourselves we can communicate with those Gods for ourselves.   Should this be a once and for all decision? Probably not. Perhaps after some years of good therapy and personal introspection these people might be ready to take full responsibility for what they did, without excuses, becoming changed in a manner that allows them to be useful and positive in the world again. The veracity of these feelings is incredibly hard to judge: to survive prisoners have to manipulate people and the Batleys are already past masters at this game, a game that the manipulator has to make themselves believe for the deception to be successful. People who have truly accepted their culpability, who have stood in the crucible of public and private shame and guilt, are rare. Might it be appropriate for what is in effect shunning or excommunication to be reversed so that being genuinely contrite (for crimes committed rather than for getting caught) has a purpose? Otherwise, why bother with painful introspection and personal growth?       
If we are anything, we are a religion of interconnectedness, relationship and balance. This doesn’t mean that we have to accept and absorb all human behaviour, it means we have to attend to the balance of our connections and relationships. Some people put themselves beyond the pale in one group and find healthy connection and relationship in others, but there are some behaviours that, on a purely ecological level, damage all human groups. Rape is one. Child sex is one. Massive abuse of power is one. Not all societies agree with those limitations, but all varieties of Pagans do, and it’s what makes Paganism as a philosophy more healthy than many others.       
When Colin and Elaine Batley, Shelly Millar and Jackie Marling were caught they woke up from their reality in which they were all-powerful. It was a lack of balance and interconnectedness that allowed their world to exist at all and now, being back in relation with the rest of the world, they’re suffering the rebalancing effects of imbalanced actions that all Pagans, all thinking people, find abhorrent. Who am I to get in the way of that natural law? Apart from anything else, who on Earth do I think I am, if I believe I can?

Tuesday 8 March 2011

The Depths Of Human Darkness

Regular readers will know that I become mildly peevish when Pagans dive into the realms of fantasy and hyperbole. When fiction effects how people view us, how we view ourselves, our place in the world and how we treat others then flights of imagination and exaggeration have to be called to account.

The reason I’m writing about this today with some sense of urgency is because claims of Satanic Ritual Abuse are steadily working their way back into the therapeutic mainstream. Every single one of my colleagues is well educated and sensible, many have extensive experience of trauma and abuse work, and a number of them understand Satanic abuse to be a fact.

During my training as a psychotherapist we endured 2, two hour sessions with a woman who described sexual abuse and Satanic abuse in frothing detail. The class clearly experienced trauma, people were weeping in each others arms at the end of her descriptions of systematic forced abortions, child and animal torture for the purpose of Satanic ritual. She gave us all her contact details so we could arrange therapy privately with her. She dismissed all questions with a statement along the lines of, “You need to decide if you’re an abuser, if you’ve been abused yourself, if you want to do anything about abusers or just leave children to be sexually tortured to death.”

Unusually, our tutors left the room for both sessions, presumably because they knew the content was traumatising. One solemnly told us that she was counselling a number of people who had experienced Satanic abuse. The other was subdued and asked for our discussion to be confidential when I presented him with a folder full of evidence that Satanic Abuse does not exist.

Today my email contained a piece from a woman with high status within counselling, advertising herself as an expert in ‘satanic abuse, mind control and programming.’ It astonishes me that David Ike is dismissed as someone with florid delusions but the very same content has become mainstream in counselling in the UK.

So I want to be clear about nomenclature, what has been proved and what has not been proved, and how this might affect those of us who work with people who have experienced horrific abuse. Everything I’m going to write about here is easily referenced but I’m not going to reference anything because it’s important that you do your own research. Find legal, Intelligence and government reports, research the subject yourself – everything is very readily available on the internet.

Because what is happening now is that one person who believes that Satanic abuse exists teaches 3 people, who talk to 15 people, and so on. This is how myth is made, how peoples lives are wrecked and how people who really have been abused are further abused. You need to find, read and understand this information for yourself, weigh it up for yourself.

  • Satanic Ritual Abuse is supposed to be abuse for the purpose of worshipping Satan. People who describe it depict ritualistic acts of extreme abuse and a highly organised conspiracy. 
  • Some abuse is indeed ritualistic. The use of ritual during abuse is not an indication of Satanic Abuse. Ritual in abuse is used as another means of control. 
  • There is no evidence for Satanic abuse, anywhere in the world. Scientific, forensic, medical and law enforcement agencies have not found one shred of evidence for the claims made by people alleging Satanic abuse. 

  • Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, Rose and Fred West subjected their victims to unspeakable tortures and deaths because they were psychopathic sexual serial killers, not because they were Satanists.
  • Claims of Satanic abuse have been so thoroughly disproved that social work and therapy as professions suffered a loss of credibility. Too many social workers and therapists had made Satanic abuse their priority, creating a hierarchy of abuse in which Satanic abuse was so important that ‘ordinary’ sexual, physical and psychological abuse was ignored. 
  • Proponents of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) having lost credibility, are still pushing their wares as Sadistic Ritual Abuse (SRA). Sadistic ritual abuse occurs, but as a phrase it is almost always used by people who actually believe in Satanic abuse. They are almost always Evangelical Christians. Increasingly, they are mainstream therapists taught by organisations that hide their Evangelical Christian background.
  • Religious abuse does exist. Exorcisms are a growing phenomena occurring predominantly in African Christian communities. The abuse is so great that in the UK Project Violet, a special police unit, has been set up to work with these communities. Other specialist charities have been set up to address African Christian groups who torture and murder children predominantly, but also elderly women and occasionally men who are perceived to be possessed. Abuse of children and adults, particularly women, has been and continues to be widespread throughout religious institutions. 
  • Just as people who identify as members of any religion may use their religion as a way to control the people they abuse, so there will be people who identify as Pagan who will use Paganism as a way to control the people they abuse. 
  • The issue is abuse rather than religion. 
  • Ritual in abuse exists beyond religion. Religious iconography and terminology are used to control victims, to force their submission and their silence. 
  • Paedophilia has always existed but repeated reports on this practice have led to it becoming less unbelievable and paradoxically more accessible to people who might not have considered it as a practice before. Extreme abuse has also always existed and proponents of Satanic abuse have served to give abusers new ideas.
  • Louisiana, Illinois, Texas and Idaho have passed laws against specific acts that are often used in ritual abuse. These acts do not prejudice any religion. Other States are in the process of creating something similar.

Therapy has a shameful history in the myth-making of Satanic abuse. There is money to be made and status to be gained from writing books, offering counselling, supervision, teaching and talks. Time and again ‘recovered memory syndrome’ has been debunked by straightforward psychology experiments and this is what therapists who've ‘recovered’ memories of Satanic abuse in their clients were doing. This is recognised in current Crown Prosecution Service guidance to therapists who deal with abuse of any kind. It's resulted in children and some adults who've been abused being denied counselling or psychotherapy until after their court case has finished, which can be years.

To admit that what you have been doing as a therapist is not only morally, ethically and intellectually wrong but very clearly harmful; is based on nothing but pornographic tracts that have been systematically discredited; that you’ve made a deal of money from this, leads to profound and painful introspection, potential sanction from professional bodies, potential legal action and certainly loss of income. Who wants to go there? How much easier it is to defend your practice by saying it’s all a conspiracy and therapists who don’t believe it are either stupid, in denial or part of the problem.

I’ve worked with a number of people who were abused in ways that are so horrific that they became quite mad and quite dangerous. It’s clear that highly organized paedophile rings do exist and that paedophilia crosses all classes and social groups, so I’ve no doubt that people of influence are involved in some organized paedophile groups. Working ritual with these young people was delicate and heartbreaking. To begin with I had no idea of the depth of abuse that they’d been exposed to and I thank the Goddess with all my heart that I was training in Person Centered therapy, which purposely hands over power to the client. I didn’t require that ritual happen for any festival but brought the ritual stuff along so that we could do it if the patient wanted to. Reclaiming the beauty and simplicity of ritual was a very small part of some patients healing.

 I give thanks that I have a sound and solid understanding of ritual, psychologically, socially, spiritually and as an act of relationship. I thank the people who trained me as a Witch that I have an understanding of sexuality, sex, gender and their endless, healthful, joyful permutations, concepts that are still growing, healthfully, joyfully as well as at times with difficulty.

 I give thanks that I’d been around as the Satanic panic of the 80’s and 90’s burst and was discredited, so that I could speak knowledgeably and sensibly with patients and staff – and I give particular thanks to the Pagan individuals and groups who did so much to bring sanity to the debate.

I give thanks to my husband who attempted to ritually purify me every time I returned from those early encounters with patients, traumatised, contaminated and with a terrible (minuscule) empathy for their experience of the very worst of human nature. Human nature as part of it demonstrably is, without need for goats or knives or human farms, can be so infinitely destructive that we don’t need the fiction of Satanic abuse to explain it.

It’s curious that so many fine, upstanding professionals need Satanic Abuse to explore the depths of their own darkness. Perhaps they can frame studying Satanic Abuse as more professional and intelligent than buying sensational pulp books about witch crazes or concentrations camps or Fred and Rose West? But I wish they’d do it without dragging very vulnerable people with them into the filth that unexamined darkness becomes, and making them pay for the privilege.